Is It Time to Grow Your Small Business?

How long have you been running your small business?

Whether many years or only a short time, you want to do your best to have the right amount of funds in your bank account. Not doing so can make it quite difficult to keep your business healthy and moving forward.

With that in mind, is it time to grow your small business?

Where Should You Go for a Loan?

If you are leaning towards seeking a loan for your small business, where best to start?

Your first move should be going online to see the loan providers available to you as a small business owner.

Most offering small business loans are going to have websites. Some are also going to be present on social media sites. As a result, you can learn a fair amount of information about them in the process.

In the advantages to the web, check what options you have with an online business loan calculator.

With the calculator in hand, you are able to come up with what amount you would be eligible for. Also, figure out how much money you would be seeking in the process.

Second, get to know some of the loan providers out there.

  • Among the things you’d want to know:
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What kind of track record do they have?
  • Are they known for top-notch customer service?
  • How do they compare to their competitors?

In doing your research, you move closer to finding the right loan provider for your needs.

Growing When the Time is Right

Another important factor in this decision-making process is to know when the time to grow is.

With that being the case, you should look at several factors.

Among them:

1. Trends in your industry – One of the things you want to do is look at the trends in your industry. For example, are you seeing a lot of growth in your line of work with business, companies adding workers and more? If things appear to be pretty stagnant, this may then not be the best time to want to expand your business.

2. Your ability to stay on top of technology – Also take the time to look at the technology you are using. If you seem to be falling behind in the area of technology, is your competition taking advantage of this? If they are, it could be putting some distance between you and them in their favor. You may well decide you need to take out a small business loan to upgrade your technology needs.

3. Expanding in your area – Last, if you want to expand office space, do you have the means to do so now? You may be in a position where expanding is not an option. This can be due to limited growth possibilities where you are now located. It may mean taking out a loan and building a bigger office somewhere or expanding an office that is for sale.

No matter the reasons you contemplate to grow or not grow your small business, be sure to put thought into it.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

Starting a Business: How to Find the Right Technology Solutions for Your Company

Starting a business can be a complicated experience, but it is often rewarding. If you are starting a business, you should consider using technology solutions to make the business run more efficiently.

Use Technology for Time Management

Time management is a necessary part of starting a business. You need to have a timeline, goals for your time and know what you’re doing at all times. If you know these things, you’ll always know exactly when you need to be performing a task or something similar. It’s important to start doing this right away.

IT Operations Matter

Handling IT aspects can be hard especially for someone who has never worked in IT before. Using Managed IT operation services might make it easier for you to handle different aspects of IT. It may also make it easier for you to form connections with the people you’re working with since it can be easier to get started with your business if you handle the technological aspects of it.

Team up for Technology

If there is a piece of technology you really want but just aren’t quite ready to invest in right away, you might want to team up with another company that’s getting off the ground. Split the cost of the tool and then split your use of it. There are different ways you can do this, but the easiest is finding software that can easily switch between different systems or companies.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Technology is all about working smarter instead of working harder. Dedicate different tasks to the way you want to work and make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the tasks easier. It’s important to try different things and make sure you’re prepared for anything that could come in the way of your business being successful.

Research before Investing

Always do your research. The chances are you researched about your business before you invested your time and money in it. Do the same thing with technology you plan to use in your business. If you know what you want, start researching it right away so you can make the necessary changes. It’s important to focus on how technology can improve your business instead of how it could cost your business a lot of money.

Starting a business doesn’t have to be difficult. Even though it takes a lot of work, there are things you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

4 Ways Businesses Benefit From Outsourcing Services

In the past, small to medium-sized businesses had a much harder time competing with the ‘big boys’ industries  due to a lack of adequate infrastructure within their organizations. However, thanks to the most recent technological breakthroughs, this is no longer the case, as small businesses all around the world are given a more level playing field by outsourcing their non-core processes elsewhere. As such, these non-core processes can include anything ranging from marketing and design to IT support. Moreover, with the use of new cloud and project-management software, outsourcing these processes has never been simpler. Yet, how exactly do small businesses benefit from this lucrative arrangement? Keep on reading to find out.

Lower operating costs

Hiring new staff to take care of your in-house marketing and IT sectors is a huge investment for small business owners. According to the Training magazine, on average, companies spend around 1,000 US dollars per learner, and this does not account for the time and effort it takes to post job ads, review CVs, and interview potential employees. Also, the more workers you employ, the more money you have to spend on equipment, office space, workers compensation, and taxes. Hence, the most logical solution for small businesses is to go lean, in order to maximize efficiency and lower the cost of operating.

Outsourcing services helps small businesses do just that, as the cost of hiring another company to, for example, manage your company’s marketing efforts is much lower than doing it yourself. With larger corporations, it’s a totally different story, as they can handle their own in-house marketing sectors due to having a lot more resources at their disposal. This is why, by outsourcing, smaller companies can be at an equal footing with the big corporate giants, as it allows them to enlist the help of professional marketers at a much lower cost. 

Access to the latest technology

Another reason why outsourcing is so beneficial for small businesses is the fact that outsourcing companies bring their own equipment and technology into the fold. A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the legal industry, where Artificial Intelligence is seeing an increase in use. Especially so in the process of legal transcription, where sophisticated AI plays a crucial role in transferring raw video and audio data into a more accurate, readable format. Without this, legal firms would struggle to process vital materials in time for the next proceeding. By using this kind of human-aided AI services and technology, businesses save precious time and increase efficiency.

Increased focus on core business processes

The thing with some small businesses, and startups in general, is that they usually operate on a much tighter deadline and do so with a skeleton crew. By outsourcing all of their repetitive and time-consuming back office tasks, such as sales, marketing, and IT support, small businesses get to focus all of their attention on core-business functions, which greatly improves their overall efficiency and productivity. Thus, the key staff gets to work on improving critical business areas instead of wasting their time dilly-dallying with computer updates and composing new marketing strategies. Furthermore, apart from lowering the cost of re-training the existing employees to accept new roles, focusing on key business elements helps small businesses cultivate talent, which is crucial for staying ahead of the curve and gaining a real advantage over your competitors.

Acquire the assistance of business experts

Training your own staff members to perform non-core functions won’t yield immediate results. In fact, this approach will lead to many trials and errors before they finally get the hang of it. Moreover, some of these tasks take weeks, if not months, to learn, which is time better spent elsewhere.

Hence, it’s a good idea to employ the services of a company which is an expert in that field. This will not only bring in more results, but do so at a much faster pace. Plus, you get some real, concrete, advice from people who know exactly what they’re doing. Also, by outsourcing you’re actually opening the door of your business to global talent and not just settling for second-best in your immediate vicinity. At the end of the day, you get to pay for quality services which would otherwise be too costly on your own.

All in all, outsourcing services is a great way for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition by funneling priceless manpower and resources into development and growth instead of wasting it on irrelevant back office tasks.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

How to Secure Funding for Your Small Business

Nowadays, it’s common for small businesses to end up in financial struggles. A simple mistake can easily turn into a financial difficulty. Not only that, but it’s also common for business owners to run out of funding for their business development. In such cases, business owners tend to look for outside funding, in order to support their business further and ensure it remains operational.

In today’s business world, there are many funding sources available to small businesses. However, not every funding source is the right one for your current situation. That’s why it’s important to analyze your options properly, in order to determine the best course of action. That being said, here are a few ways to secure funding for your small business.

Apply for a bank loan

Many business owners first go to a bank when in need of funding. Banks are reliable sources of funding and you can always apply for a loan there. You should try out several banks and negotiate the best deal for your business loan. However, you must understand that it takes a bit of time for banks to approve your loan application.

Moreover, if you have a bad credit score, you might be denied a loan altogether or charged with very high interest rates, because you’re technically a risk. In order to avoid that scenario, try to improve your credit score before going to the bank for a loan, in order to avoid any inconveniences.

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Secure funding from an angel investor

Angel investors can be a great source of funding for your small business. They can supply you with the funding needed to fully develop your business and secure its financial stability. Once your business is stable on the market, angel investors will expect 25 to 30% return on investment. However, securing funding from angel investors isn’t easy.

You’ll have to be really passionate about your business and convince the investors that your business can be sustainable and profitable on the market. For that, you’ll need social proof, through market analysis, revenue forecasts and other statistics. If you do your homework right, you’ll be able to convince angel investors to support your endeavor. Also, don’t try angel investors if your agenda is to get rich fast, because they’ll dismiss you outright.

Seek alternative funding

As mentioned before, applying for a loan at the bank may not turn out so well if your credit score is bad. You may want to wait to improve your credit history, but you may not have the time to wait that long. In that case, you can seek out alternative lenders who will supply you with a loan.

For example, you can apply for bad credit loans. These types of loans have more flexible conditions towards people with bad credit scores. In other words, you won’t be denied a loan and you won’t have to wait too long to actually get a loan. That way, you can use quick cash to fund your business or consolidate your debt to improve both your financial situation and your credit score.

Seek out venture capital

Venture capital (VC) is a funding source similar to angel investors. You’ll still need a good plan and a good idea to convince venture capitalists to support your business financially. The difference is that venture capitalists seek a share of your company, in return for supporting you. What’s more, VCs only support business owners whose ideas have the potential to become lucrative enterprises in a short period of time.

Unlike angel investors, who support owners with passion about their business, venture capitalists are more supportive towards get-rich-fast attitude and ideas. As a matter of fact, venture capitalists expect your business to become very profitable in 3 to 5 years tops. If your business lacks that potential, you won’t be able to convince VCs to support you.

Try crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is yet another alternative funding source for your small business, only with fewer strings attached than angel investors or VCs. Crowdfunding is based on the concept of presenting your idea to your target audience, i.e. the crowd. If the crowd likes your ideas enough, they’ll donate funds to support your business financially. This type of funding can be ideal to fund startup ideas, but it can also be quite beneficial if you’re funding a small business by introducing new product or services features to the crowd.

Crowdfunding works on platforms, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and others. However, not all platforms have the same conditions and you must research them well before you decide which platform to choose for your crowdfunding campaign. The way it works is you set both the time and fund limit and your audience attempts to reach funding limit before the time runs out.

As mentioned before, there are a lot of funding options made available to finance your business. Which method you choose depends on your business model and needs. Make sure your research various methods well, so that you’re able to pick the best funding source for your small business.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Opening a Restaurant Can Mean Tasty Profits

If the notion of opening up a restaurant has crossed your mind a time or two, will you go for it? For many restaurant owners having done so over the years, the profits have been rather tasty.

That said do not be under the assumption that a restaurant is an instant ticket to a gold mine. As any owner can tell you, there will be many hours of work and sacrifices when it comes to doing things right.

With that in mind, will opening a restaurant be your next move?

Know All That Will Go into Such a Move

If you decide opening a restaurant is your calling, be ready for the responsibilities.

Among them:

  1. Mission – What is your restaurant’s mission going to be? Before you even open your doors, you need to know what it is you want to do. To do so, you want to know for one what your competition is going to look like. For example, if opening a steakhouse in town, are there many ones there now? If there are, how can you get a foothold in the market? While you may well be the one to make profits, you could be wedged out because there is too much competition. By knowing the demographics and what you hope to do, you better position your brand for success.
  2. Employees – Running a restaurant of course means you will have to employ many people. As such, you want to do your best to hire the right people the first time around. If you do not, it can mean time and money working against you. Some of your employees will be the first lines of contact customers have with you. As an example, the hostess or host at the front door. You also of course have the waiter or waitress to serve customers once they sit down. Make sure you do your best to get quality people in such positions. And never forget the importance of a good chef and support staff in the kitchen. As you can see, you have to hire the right people for the right jobs if you want to make a go of it.
  3. Inventory – It is also key that you have the right inventory for your restaurant. For instance, items from ordering the best steak knives to good dishware can’t be overlooked. If you are of the notion that ordering second-rate supplies will save you money, it can come back to haunt you. Diners want to be able to enjoy their meals and part of that is making sure the food and how it is eaten are both exemplary.
  4. Marketing – Last, be sure that you are good at marketing your restaurant. From social media to customer testimonials, make sure the world knows about you. When it comes to customers, let them help market your brand for you. Their testimonials and remarks on social media and your site can go a long way in sending you business. When a customer has good food and stellar customer service, they are more likely to speak about it.

Despite long hours and responsibility, running a restaurant can be a great decision.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

 

How Savvy Outsourcing Can Help Your Business Be More Profitable

One of the first things you need to learn as a small business owner is that you can’t do everything yourself. Not only will trying to do so ruin your personal life with stress, it will also make the business suffer. Many of us are familiar with the saying, “He’s a jack of all trades but a master of none,” and it’s one that couldn’t be more true than in the context of a small business owner.

Luckily, there are many different ways you can reduce your workload and stay focused on what’s really important to the business, one of the most prominent being outsourcing. Farming work to outside firms will make it easier for you to stay focused on the crucial tasks connected to the running of your business. And if you can succeed in choosing the right outsourcing partners, then this practice can also make your business more profitable.

Here are three ways outsourcing can turn into an improved bottom line.

Cut Down on Costs

Keeping overhead down is critical for any business, but it’s even more important for small businesses. You need every resource available to you to invest in the growth of your business, as not doing so could get you into trouble. And since poor cash flow management is consistently the top reason small businesses fail, it’s especially important you’re minimizing costs wherever you can.

Specialized firms are entirely dedicated to one task or one set of tasks, and businesses like yours are their customers. As such, they have both the skills and the motivation to offer the best price possible. Paying for someone to handle certain aspects of your business can be significantly cheaper than trying to do things on your own.

However, for this to work, it’s important you spend time determining which functions should and should not be outsourced. For example, don’t outsource things you do well just because it’s cheaper to do so. Instead, make up a list of things you struggle with, or of tasks that feel extraneous, and then look for help in these areas. Doing so will allow you to focus on your strengths while saving money on things that either you don’t do well or that distract you from growth.

Get More Bang for Your Buck

The other way that outsourcing helps boost profitability is that it allows you to get more out of the money you spend on the business. Let’s think up an example: your company is beginning to employ digital marketing tactics—a smart move considering the world we live in—and while you’re current marketing team is exception at building a brand and at generating leads through traditional mediums, they don’t have a lot of experience in the digital space.

In this scenario, you have two choices: A) train your staff and allow them the space to learn about this new, constantly-changing field, or B) bring in some digital marketing specialists to help you. The better choice for a small business is almost always option B. This is because by asking your current marketing team to switch their focus, you’re going to take them away from what they do best so that they can work on something with which they’re unfamiliar.

As a result, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you outsource. Not only would outsourcing your digital marketing in this context save you money, but by delegating to experts, you’re increasing your chances of success, meaning your foray into digital marketing will end up giving your company’s bottom line a big boost.

Enhance Employee Productivity

The more you can get out of your employees, the better you can expect your bottom line to be. Yet the people who work for you are still human beings. They have limits, and if you try to push them too far, then they’ll not only begin to resent you for all the stress you cause them, but their work will also begin to suffer.

Outsourcing can help you with this. It can take certain tasks off your employees’ plates so that they can focus on their job functions that actively contribute to company growth. For example, you could outsource a number of human resources functions to a professional employer organization (PEO) so that some of the more time-consuming and mundane aspects of their jobs, such as processing benefits, managing payroll and ensuring all compliance paperwork is filled out, is done for them.

Once they’re freed from having to spend large chunks of their days worrying about these responsibilities, your HR team can focus on other things, such as improving your candidate experience and enhancing your employer brand, both of which will help you recruit more effectively and increase profits.

Find the Right Outsourcing Options for Your Company

Smart outsourcing decisions can have a radical effect on your company. It will save you time and money, and it will allow everyone at the company, including you, to focus on what’s most important for the company to grow. However, remember that not all outsourcing options are created equal and that you’ll need to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before deciding to work with someone. But if you do your due diligence and choose the right people to help you, then outsourcing can be a way to truly transform your business.

About the Author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service. He started his first business when he was just 19, and since then has bought, run and sold several others, all of which operated in the digital space. Outsourcing has been a core strategy from the beginning, which makes Jock a big advocate of using this practice wisely.

Give Consumers What They Want With These Ecommerce Trends

The future of online retail isn’t just evolving, it is changing at an extremely rapid rate, a rate which many ecommerce owners are struggling to keep up with. It wasn’t that long ago that buying things online was considered remarkable and there were only a few companies out there that would provide this service. Some of them are even Nowadays, eCommerce sales are in the trillions of dollars, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop increasing any time soon.

Today, we look at the future of ecommerce with great optimism. The guys at Subscriptionly put together an infographic showing how brands both big and small are making improvements to their services, and making the entire online shopping process easier, more efficient, and quicker.

Industry experts have been following the movement of eCommerce since its beginning, and by also looking at consumer wants and needs, have come up with some predictions for the future of this industry.

One of the biggest changes that is set to come about in the near future is the rise of digital currency. Already, people all over the globe have started to use cryptocurrencies as a form of online payment method. As an immediate result of this, a few established ecommerce stores have started to accept certain cryptocurrencies, most commonly Bitcoin.

Over time, it is looking likely that the use of digital currencies will become more commonplace, therefore, people may favor stores that will let them pay using this method.

There are many perks with using this way of payment. For example, the transaction fees are much lower than credit card or PayPal fees.

Another benefit that people will be interested in is the fraud prevention that comes with it. All transactions that take place using digital currencies are recorded on a blockchain, a sort of digital ledger, making them safe and irreversible.

Speed is also a positive that comes with using digital currencies. When using a credit card to make a transaction, it will sometimes take hours or even days for the transaction to process. Some digital currencies are a lot quicker and could end up saving the user and store owner a lot of time.

If you are an ecommerce store owner, it may be worth taking the time to look into the various benefits of accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

You can find out more about this as well as various other trends that are set to change the course of ecommerce in the infographic below.

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