First Time Business Finances: Making Them Work For You

Finances in business are a fine balancing act—you need to spend money to make money, ensuring that you’re running a quality business and still making a profit. If you’re a new business owner, it’s a lot to get your head around, here are a few ways you can ensure you’re getting things right.

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Minimize overhead costs

When you first start out in business, there are lots of overhead costs that you need to pay. Depending on what you will be doing, it includes everything from renting premises to purchasing equipment, stock, hiring staff, getting insured and much more. The important thing here is to know where you should make savings and where you should spend a little extra, as you don’t want to affect quality.

For example, when it comes to your website, you’ll need to pay a proper web designer which won’t be cheap but is essential for a professional finish. But with equipment, you could save by buying second hand to begin with, or even hire equipment. You’d pay a fee for this but wouldn’t need to find a large upfront cost, plus if it breaks down (as long as it’s not your fault) the hire company will fix it for free.

Hired equipment could be anything from coffee shop coffee machines to fork lift trucks to professional printers depending on what your business does. Another way you can keep costs down initially is by outsourcing work rather than hiring your own staff. Hiring employees comes with a lot of costs and responsibilities, you have to pay for advertising the job listing, you need to spend time (which is money) going through CVs and interviewing candidates. You need to run background checks, and then train the successful candidates which all come with costs. Not to mention you need space and equipment for your employees to work from, and a HR department to manage them.

You can avoid these by outsourcing work to a third party company instead. They will have their own employees, equipment and everything else in place- you assign the task or even the entire departments work and they will do it for you. Again, while there are fees to pay, you avoid the huge upfront costs that come with recruiting your own staff. 

Automate what you can

Automating areas of your business saves you significant time and money. While you’ll need to pay upfront for the software, you’ll need to employ fewer human workers to keep things moving which is cost-effective. The staff you do have can be used to their best potential, instead of being stuck on tasks that a computer can do in minutes. Automating jobs makes everything quicker and more efficient, so be sure to research software and invest in any which is going to make life easier.

It could be accounting software to track the daily runnings of your business, to HR software to automatically plan rotas and so much more. Later down the line when your business is earning money, you could invest in custom-designed software that’s built specifically for your venture. 

Get an accountant

Speaking of accounts, accounting software is great but it’s worth hiring an accountant too. This is because when it comes to things like your tax return, it can’t all be automated. The tidy accounts kept through the software will make their life easier (therefore it will be cheaper for you) but you’ll need someone that knows what they’re doing to enter things manually and work out certain parts of your return. When it comes to things like claiming back expenses, these sorts of things will need to be entered manually and submitted so again, you can’t simply expect software to be able to do it all. 

Consider using savings 

Many businesses need to take out loans in the early days to get started. While this gives you upfront money that you can use to buy the things you need, it means you’re starting off in the red. If the business takes longer than expected to get going, interest rates and other costs can start mounting.

If you use your savings, you reduce the amount of debt that you start with. Maybe you have life savings, an inheritance or a company like Robinette Law has secured you a personal injury claim from a previous accident. Either way, use the money you have and supplement this with loans if needed as it will make the early days of your business easier to manage with less debt. 

Three Startup Costs That Are Totally Worth The Upfront Investment

If you've just started a business, you'll know first hand how expensive it can be to get things up and running. Whether you have the funding or you're backing yourself, it can be hard to know how to spend that limited startup budget to your best advantage. These ideas will help you make solid choices and build a strong foundation to ensure your future success.

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A Beautiful, Intuitive Website

Investing a portion of your limited startup budget on a professional-looking website is a must as soon as you can afford the spend. Getting your own website is not cheap, so it makes sense to use a template at first, allowing you to do the work yourself without having any coding experience. But if you offer a specific service or you're trying to sell a niche product, your generic template is going to become a little frustrating before long.

You won't have that much freedom to customize the look and functionality to suit your needs exactly. At this point (or right from square one, if you can afford to), it makes sense to take the plunge and hire a web designer to create the ideal site for your business. It will be pricey, but after a few months, it will have paid for itself in terms of sales and brand reputation building, and you'll be glad you've done it.

Brand Identity 

If you’re looking for ways to build trust in your business, your brand identity plays a crucial role. Whether you're promoting your company through social media channels, or in small ways in the real world by sticking your logo to your Poly Mailers, it's crucial that your brand's logo, copy, images and color scheme all line up to create a consistent brand identity.

At the earliest opportunity, it's recommended that you hire a well-regarded branding agency to ensure that your website, communications, and marketing materials accurately convey your company's vision and what your brand stands for. A solid brand identity is one of the main factors that sets established businesses apart from more provisional-feeling startups. Once you have a solid brand, you can start to build a reputation worthy of your amazing product. 

Teamwork

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Hire a Social Media Specialist 

Social media can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool if you know how to use it properly for business, and the fact is, despite using social media in our daily lives, most of us don't know how to get the most out of it. Whether your audience hangs out mostly on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, unlocking the potential for engaging with your customers and finding out about their preferences, interests, desires, and pain-points is crucial if you want to compete with other businesses who have successfully harnessed these platforms. Not only can you gain valuable insights on your customers, but you can actively elicit feedback in a friendly and approachable way. You will also benefit hugely by the free exposure, building brand recognition, and credibility. 

Launching a startup is nothing if not a learning curve, but you wouldn't have taken the plunge if you weren't obsessed with learning new things and challenging yourself. These tips will help you use your tight budget wisely and stay the course for those first exciting few months.

Easy Ways for Small Businesses to Invest in Tech

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By: Gloria Martinez

For many businesses, investing in technology is an overwhelming process that seems out of reach. Small business owners may think that brand-new tech is out of their reach financially, while others aren’t up to speed on the latest trends and worry about spending money on something that could easily become outdated in less than a year.

There are so many additions to technology coming out every day that it can be hard to keep up. However, the bottom line is that there are things your company really can’t live without. Security features and a streamlined website and app, for example, are a few of the things that could boost your business and keep your customers coming back for more, so it’s important to make sure those are updated and easy to navigate.

Investing in tech doesn’t have to be complicated or tricky. Think about the things that would make your business run more smoothly, then create a plan for getting your employees on board and trained to use them. The easier it is for your team to familiarize themselves with any new features, the faster your customers can take advantage of them. A smooth transition period is sometimes necessary to ensure that everyone can learn the ins and outs of a new feature without stress, so make sure you’re available to answer any questions your team members may have.

Read on for a brief guide on how to invest in tech for your small business and make it a success.

Hire a Web Developer

A web developer can help you take your company’s website to the next level by providing engaging but easy-to-use content and features. Customers don’t want to spend too much time looking for what they want; if it’s not easily accessible on the first page, many of them will move on to a different site. That’s where a developer comes in. They can ensure that your customers will have a smooth, quick experience without losing the benefits. A job board can help you find the right candidate. According to Upwork, a WordPress developer should have experience with the WordPress ecosystem, back-end systems like PHP, and website maintenance, to name a few.

Secure It

Investing in security is a must these days for businesses of any size, and small businesses are perhaps even more at risk for data breaches than large companies simply because they often don’t have the necessary resources to protect their customers’ sensitive information. So, it’s important to look for security tech that is built into the hardware of your processing system, something many companies are doing out of necessity. If a hacker gets access to your customers’ private data, it could wreak havoc for both of you.

It’s also important to think about physical security if you have a brick-and-mortar storefront or office. There are many types of affordable alarm systems on the market these days, but you can also think about motion-sensor lighting, keeping the landscaping neat and short, and other home-security DIY tools that you can utilize for business. Not only will this help your customers feel safe, but it will also allow your employees to feel comfortable as well.

Go Mobile

Just about everyone has a smartphone these days, and for the most part, we’re using those devices for all kinds of activities: shopping, reading, learning, listening to music, and watching movies, just to name a few. That’s why it’s important to make your business mobile-friendly. In this day and age, any business that doesn’t either have a mobile app or a mobile-friendly website is likely missing out on quite a few customers. Do some research to find out how to create an app that will make your customers’ experience even better, as well as how to integrate a mobile payment system that works on all levels. You want to keep things secure while making sure your customer has an easy experience, as well as keeping transaction fees down.

Create an Email Management System

These days, most businesses rely on email to stay in touch with their customers and to keep communication open with employees. As such, it’s essential to make sure you have a good email management system. Using the Google Suite can help immensely since you’ll have plenty of storage space as well as simple functionality, but you can also create lists of customers and keep those separate from junk mail or spam, automate messages. You can also create email marketing plans that allow you to keep your clients in the loop when it comes to your products or services.

Familiarize Yourself with SEO Practice 

Search engine optimization can help a business of any size find customers and market directly to them. It’s a way to integrate your company’s services with search engine data and analytics so customers will be able to see your website or blog posts first when they look up a certain keyword or phrase. Familiarizing yourself with these practices can help you find new customers as well as keep your current ones, so read up as much as possible and consider starting a blog if you haven’t already.

This is a great way to get your company’s name out there, but the writing needs to be punchy and concise, and you’ll want to integrate videos and images as well for the most impact. Consider hiring someone to tackle the job so you’ll have a dedicated blogger.

Investing in tech for your small business may seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s only as complicated as you make it. Do some research on the areas you’re interested in before making a decision, and think about your budget. How can you integrate the right technologies while still making sure your customers are well taken care of?

By considering the pros and cons carefully, you can ensure that your small business is up to date where tech is concerned without spending a ton of money or adding stress to your already full schedule. 

Gloria Martinez enjoys sharing her business expertise and hopes to inspire other women to start their own businesses and seek promotions in the workplace. She created Women Led to make an avenue for her vision to help women advance in the workplace and spotlight achievements.

How To Improve The Financial Health Of Your Business

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Entrepreneurs will always have finances on the brain! Money is what keeps your business ticking after all. Everyone once in a while, it’s a good idea to think about the state of your financial health. This doesn’t just mean how much profit you're making in the here and now. Your financial health refers to how well you are managing your finances overall.

Are there areas in which you are overspending? Could your cash flow stand to improve? Have you planned financially for the future? It’s as much about cutting costs as about investing in professional help to improve your finances. With all this in mind, let’s look at a few ideas. 

Cut your expenses 

Reviewing your expenses regularly is a great idea to improve your finances. A review will allow you to see if there are any areas where you can afford to make cutbacks. If you think that you’re suppliers aren’t giving you the best prices, perhaps it’s time to have a shop around. If you think that you’re overspending on marketing, put your on SEO hat and do it yourself! Little savings here and there can make a world of difference. 

Hire an accountant 

Hiring an accountant is a great investment to improve your financial health. An accountant will have the skills to manage your cash flow perfectly. They’ll be able to monitor your expenses against your budget and help you to maximize profits. In the event of an audit, it’s ideal to have an accountant to help you through the process.

With their services, you’ll ensure that you don’t miss any tax deadlines and incur penalties. Expert analysis of your finances can help you to plan effectively for the future. Most businesses will use accounting software these days, such as Quickbooks. An accountant will have in-depth knowledge of the latest software and will be able to provide you with training.

Hire an attorney 

The services of an attorney can be an excellent aid to financial health in many ways. When you draft contracts, you’ll want an attorney’s input to ensure that all is legally above board. Failing to get legal help when drafting contracts could lead to costly problems further down the line.

By investing in the services of an attorney, you’ll be able to protect yourself across a range of areas. Say you are hiring a new employee, your attorney can support you through the correct employment law legalities. Many businesses find themselves in debt at some stage. If this is the case, an attorney can assist in your financial situation. Tully Rinckey offers a range of excellent attorneys should you require such services. Here you’ll find attorneys with much experience and in-depth knowledge. 

Lastly, the power of budgeting should not be underestimated when it comes to financial health! The more detailed your budget is, the more chance you’ll have of improving your finances. Ensure that you keep your business account and person account separate. This way, your finances will not become confusing.

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Investments That Will Get Your Website Noticed

You can start a website without spending a penny. You can use Wordpress, Blogger, or another platform to start for free. This can be a great way to gain experience, learn more about running a website or blog, and develop new skills. It allows you to find out more about the online world and to really find out if you want to take it further. 

However, if you want to take your site further, growing an audience and making money as a blogger, or starting an online business, then you do need to start spending. You’ll need to go self-hosted and pay for hosting and a domain name at the very least. But, you might want to make more investment than that. Here are some of the other areas where you might want to consider investment if you’re going to get your site noticed. 

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Professional Web Design

Most of the websites out there look the same. They might use standard themes, that they’ve got for free, or cheaply, that they can customize slightly, but still look very similar to many other sites out there. There’s only so much that their owners can do to set them apart. Invest in custom web design and your website will stand out from the rest. But, it will also be designed to exactly meet your needs, which can mean that it works faster and more efficiently. 

A Logo

If you run a business or a blog that you hope to make money from, branding is crucial. It will help you to look more professional and get taken more seriously. If you’ve have artistic skills, you might want to design your own logo, if not, hiring help can be worthwhile.

A Camera and Editing Software

One of the first things that set a professional website apart is the photography. New sites and especially blogs often have small, low-quality photographs. They don’t look good online, and they don’t grab people's attention. It’s worth investing in a DSLR camera, and editing software, and practicing your photography skills. 

A VA

You might be trying to run a website around a business, job, or family, and it can be hard to give it everything that it needs. A virtual assistant can help you to manage all of your tasks, giving you the chance to focus on more important jobs. 

SEO

Many of us start our marketing efforts with social media. This can be very effective and is certainly worth your time. But, search engine optimization is even more critical. SEO will help you get found by search engines. Which can increase your traffic, and improve its quality. You might want to invest in either an SEO company or a course to help you to learn more for yourself.

Time

If there is one investment any website needs, it is time. Your time. You need to be committed to it. You’ll need to devote hours to making it work, but also to attract customers and viewers. The more you learn, the longer your to-do lists will get, and the more time you will need to commit to spending online.

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Top Money-Saving Tips For A New Business

For anybody entering the ever-growing world of business, the number one struggle in the first twelve months of operation is business funding.

When setting the business up, costs can sometimes spiral out of control. We are going to look at just a few money-saving alternatives you could employ in your industry. These options may save you a little money and also streamline your business is other ways.

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Outsource Where Possible

One of the first things a business that requires additional staff should consider is outsourcing. When calculated over the space of your first year of operation, it can be highly beneficial to outsource solutions, rather than to hire an entire team.

Given the rate of technological increases today, you can outsource almost any requirements of your business. There are three main jobs you should consider outsourcing initially, and they are shown below:

  • Accounting - Having your accountancy managed and ran outside of the business enables your first year’s accounts to be handled by experienced teams. These teams can guide through the tough times that your first year will present. The accountancy firms can also help you keep on top of costs.

  • Call Handling - Call handling services will free you up more time in your working day. Call handling is a great cost saver when it comes to customer service too.

  • Network Solutions - Having your IT and networking managed elsewhere in the first year of operation can not only save you money, it can also help you plan any future IT needs you may have. One thing you will always get with outsourced IT solutions is a 24/7 support service.

Cut The Business Phone Line

A huge expense for all businesses is the cost of a business rental phone line. The cost of this alone to small companies can be crippling. There is, however, a solution to this. This solution is called VoIP (voice over IP). This solution is a network-based phone service that offers a business based phone line with added extras.

Having VoIP Solutions can not only reduce your monthly bills; it can also enhance your business presence.

VoIP works by connecting to your network and is controlled by a customer dashboard. The customer dashboard itself allows you to divert calls and even set up area code numbers of your choice that will all divert to the same line.

Budget Marketing

When people think of a budget, they believe automatically it's bad. With marketing, this is quite the opposite. Any form of good marketing is generally free.

The very best form of marketing has always been word of mouth; this, of course, costs nothing. The modern age has, however, presented us with social media. Social media, on its own, can provide us with a great form of free advertising.

Whether you are creating a YouTube video or a video for Facebook, social media should always deserve your attention. Given the right angle, it has the opportunity to hit the eyes of millions and should always be factored into your long term marketing plan. 

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5 SECRETS OF FINANCIALLY SAVVY ENTREPRENEURS

Have you ever wondered how wealthy entrepreneurs made their fortunes? If you speak to a few of them, you'll realize that no two stories are the same. However, there are a number of habits among the financially successful that can lead to wealth. Just pay attention and apply the following to your own investments and business.

1). Considering the long-term is one of the top things that wealthy entrepreneurs do. It takes careful planning to build wealth. Those entrepreneurs who consider what their financial future will be in 5, 10, or 20 years take action and set realistic goals.

2). Smart entrepreneurs save more than 10% of their paycheck for a rainy day. They also have an emergency savings account for their business especially for when customers or clients don't pay their bills on time.

3). Wealthy entrepreneurs are smart with automated savings. They set up a payment system to make sure their bills are paid on time. They keep on top of all of their finances to make sure they don't accrue late charges and penalties.

4). Smart entrepreneurs live frugally. They don't spend money that they haven't earned to impress people. The majority of financially successful entrepreneurs I know don't care about impressing other people with the things that they own. They don't buy expensive homes, cars, and jewelry unless they can truly afford it or it's a smart long-term investment.

5). Most importantly, wealthy entrepreneurs create their own opportunities. They don't sit around and wait for things to happen on their own. They don't rely on someone else's luck or gamble on whether someone else is going to help them. They always help themselves.

What are some of your financial secrets?