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Can consumers find your business online?

If your business isn’t showing up in online searches, it’s as good as invisible. Consumers are increasingly using the internet to find and choose businesses: More than 51 percent of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product while conducting a search on their smartphone. And that’s exactly why local listings are so important. A local listing is an online profile that contains your business name, address, phone number and other details people need to find and visit your business. How does your business show up? Ensure your business and contact information are correct on over 50 online directories with our free scan tool. SCAN NOW >> But there’s more to getting listed than just entering your information. You have to claim, optimize and manage your listings. To help you make a great first impression and secure a top spot in the search engine results, Deluxe SEO Specialist Abel Johnson shares these expert tips: 1. Be accurate and consistent It might not seem like a big deal if your address is listed as “123 Main Street” on one local listing, and as “123 Main St.” on another. However, when your listings are inconsistent, you risk confusing potential customers — and search engines. Here’s a great example of how getting listed accurately helped one business stand out online and reel in a steady stream of local customers: Bluff City Outdoors was the only business in Alton, Illinois, that carried bait, tackle and specialty catfishing gear that the big-box stores didn’t have. Since Alton is a hotspot for trophy catfishing, Bluff City should’ve been popular with the locals. But when people searched online for bait and tackle shops, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, they’d find variations on a theme, including the store’s previous name — Rodney’s Bait & Tackle. The Deluxe team worked with owner Mark McMurray to update all of his listings with the right name, so people could easily visit the store. The lesson here: Keep your business name, address, phone number and other important information consistent across the board. This matters down to the smallest detail. Since many of online directories pull data…

Top 10 reasons to outsource your payroll

Hiring new employees is an exciting milestone for any small business. But staying on top of payroll can be confusing and time-consuming: if the business fails to comply with hundreds of ever-changing tax regulations, they’re subject to fines and penalties. More than 40 percent of small business owners make costly payroll mistakes every year. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that can give you back precious time and restore some peace of mind: delegating. Brian Pfeifer, Payroll Sales Senior Manager at Deluxe Corp., explains the most critical reasons to hire a professional service to handle your payroll. 1. Pay with confidence Deluxe Payroll Service takes care of everything. These trained professionals handle all the calculations, direct deposits and governmental tax remittances according to the latest rules and regulations. Deluxe Payroll also handles the required record keeping and reporting so that your payroll is processed efficiently, accurately and right on time. The owners of Lighthouse Sounds, a recording studio featured in the third season of Small Business Revolution — Main Street, have had a huge administrative burden lifted since outsourcing their payroll to Deluxe. Owners Jay “Hart” Stanley and Alex St. Cin are relieved to have everything from tax filing to employee social security number verification managed by experts. “Now that we have more engineers, I’m thankful Deluxe set us up with payroll services and took care of all that red tape, giving me more time to focus on the business,” Stanley says. 2. Avoid costly penalties Never worry about penalties for paying your governmental source remittances late. Deluxe ensures your taxes are paid on time, every time. 3. Stick to your budget Payroll services are an affordable option for most businesses. Whether your business has one employee or dozens, the flexible service plans are designed to grow with you, so you pay only for the payroll services you need. 4. Save time and energy When you outsource payroll to the experts, you (or your employees) become free to focus on your business. You won’t have to worry about payroll during vacation or illness, or someone else preparing your payroll and keeping your…

Linking eChecks & QuickBooks for Simpler Payments

This informative webinar will show how easy it is to link Deluxe eChecks with QuickBooks® for a payment solution that speeds up — and simplifies — your accounts payable process. Learn how to: Eliminate double entries completely Create hundreds of eChecks in minutes Deliver payments at the speed of email Do all of this without changing your current processes As a bonus, you could win a free one-on-one consultation to help make sure you’re saving the maximum amount of time and money with eChecks and QuickBooks. About the presenter: Steve Gaida is the Head of Retail ePayments & Transactional Solutions at Deluxe Corp. QuickBooks and Quicken are registered trademarks of Intuit, Inc. The post Linking eChecks & QuickBooks for Simpler Payments appeared first on Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.

7 reasons not to cut your marketing budget

Whether your business is in the middle of a rough financial period, or you’re just looking for ways to save money, it makes sense to examine your budget and start making cuts. But which expenses are necessary and which should be eliminated? As you review your records, you may see that your most recent email or social media campaigns didn’t directly result in a noticeable boost in sales. So is that a sign that you should cut your marketing budget? The answer is, without question, no. In fact, marketing is exactly what you need to bring in more customers and keep your business chugging along. Let’s take a look at why marketing is important, the risks you face in cutting your marketing program and tips for more effective marketing. Why is marketing important? It’s easy to see all the money that you’re spending on marketing as an unnecessary expense when the payoff is delayed or unquantifiable. You may gain more email subscribers, social media engagement or website visitors as you direct more attention and money toward promoting your business, but the impact of those metrics on revenue often isn’t immediate. However, marketing is important because it creates a bridge between your products or services and your customers. You may serve the best Italian cuisine in the county, but if no one knows about your restaurant, you won’t be able to succeed. Yet spreading the word about your business is only the beginning. Other benefits of effective marketing include: 1. It improves your reputation. Whether you’re using customer testimonials in your campaigns to support your messaging, or interacting with your fans on Facebook, strong marketing shows prospective customers that you’re professional and reputable. 2. It sells products or services. Marketing tells consumers why they should purchase what you’re selling, and where they can get it. 3. It builds relationships. Marketing allows you to engage with your customers and tell your company story 4. It creates customer loyalty. By consistently engaging with your audience — presenting them with discounts, offers, thank-you’s, news updates and so on — you’ll make sure that they remember…

Get your accounts in order: Small business books and payments

Small business accounting Money matters, but for small businesses, matters of money aren’t always easy to navigate: Payroll, accounting and bookkeeping can be causes of stress. To take some of it off your shoulders, we’ll walk through what you need to know to get your books and payments in order today.  Get your free copy of Finance Fundamentals Learn the 6 essential financial topics every business needs to understand, and get expert tips you can implement right away. Download the eBook >> 5 things to know about small business accounting 1. You need to track revenue and expenses While you’re running the day-to-day, it’s easy to push the more monotonous tasks to the side. But it’s crucial to track the money coming in and going out of your accounts. Tracking revenue and expenses gives you a picture of your profits, especially if you’re just starting out. You’ll be able to predict future financials based on past trends and manage your financials. Plus, during tax season you’ll be able to save yourself from stress. 2. Balance sheets are your friend When tracking where your money goes, balance sheets are essential. A balance sheet is a financial statement where you can lay out what you own and what you owe. It’s a great tool for understanding the financial strength of your company, and it highlights one of the reasons to pay bills on time.  3. Income statements are important, too Income statements are a record of your revenue (money coming in) and expenses (money going out). You can use these statements to see how your business is doing over time, such as a quarter or a year.  4. Additional terms to be familiar with Return on investment (ROI): The amount of money your business makes compared to how much it spent; often shown as a percentage Margin or profit margin: Measure of how much money your business makes Gross profit margin: Profit after you take cost of goods/services from revenue  Net profit margin: Profit after going through all expenses; best way to see if your business is making or losing money 5.…

The top 3 challenges facing nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations are struggling, perhaps more than many may realize. At the start of January 2018, Give.org shared news about the results from the Trust Barometer produced by communications firm Edelman. Participants surveyed by the Trust Barometer reported that trust in U.S. institutions had dropped to 43 percent, the largest drop ever recorded in the survey’s 18-year history. These institutions included businesses, the government, the media — and nonprofits. While U.S. participants scored nonprofits at 29 percent as the institution most likely to lead to a better future, confidence in nonprofits has been shaken and organizations face more challenges now than ever before. Let’s take a closer look at some of their biggest obstacles. 1. The fight to recruit — and keep — talented employees This has been a struggle for countless small businesses throughout 2018, and nonprofits are no exception to the rule either. Unlike major corporations which can match top candidates’ salaries and offer plenty of workplace perks, nonprofits work with tighter budgets and have fewer resources. This year, 8.5% of nonprofits have expressed their concerns about staffing challenges finding full-time employees and volunteers. There’s also the problem of keeping employees on after they have been hired, with many firms lacking retention strategies at the bottom and facing burnout for those directors and executives at the top. As a small business owner, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find and hire the right person for the job. However, it is still important to hire for fit even if the process takes some time. Create a long-term strategic plan for recruitment and retention within your nonprofit. Make sure the plan reflects your mission. Eschew work perks you think individuals might want (ping pong tables, gym memberships) in favor of perks that align with your values and motivate employees to grow, such as mentoring or providing professional development resources. 2. Lack of access to capital In her book “Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference,” author Kathleen Kelly Janus writes that 81 percent of nonprofit leaders struggle with a lack of…

Finance Fundamentals: 6 areas of focus to successfully operate your business

While passion and excitement often ignite a new business venture, what keeps that business running smoothly is attention to the everyday details. Each aspect of operating a business requires careful planning and execution — from inventory management and training staff to customer service and marketing. Get your financial house in order Finance and accounting, in particular, can be intimidating topics for entrepreneurs. Even if you’ve been successfully operating a business for years, handling the financial side often remains a challenge. Without a solid understanding of these six key operational aspects, you could be putting the financial health of your business at risk: Business plans Revenue and expenses Bookkeeping Cash flow Payroll Taxes You don’t have to go it alone Finance Fundamentals is a free resource to help you operate your business smartly and successfully. Download your copy today for insights and advice on: The important concepts and terms to know Deciding which tasks to manage in-house, and which can be outsourced Tips and tools for keeping your business finances in order Knowing when it’s time to call in an expert for guidance and help Real-world examples from businesses like yours Get your free copy of Finance Fundamentals today. The post Finance Fundamentals: 6 areas of focus to successfully operate your business appeared first on Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.

Should you hire 1099 contractors or W2 employees?

Many small business owners have stories about the days when they ran the entire operation themselves. As soon as growth begins, however, hiring employees becomes a necessity. For businesses of any size, there are two options when it comes to hiring: 1099 contractors or W2 employees. The terms “1099 contractors” and “W2 employees” refer to the tax forms each type of employee will need. 1099 contractors are workers you hire on a contract (usually temporary) basis, while W2 employees are those you hire and add to your business payroll. At the end of the calendar year, businesses issue 1099 forms to contractors detailing the wages paid to those contractors, and W2s to employees showing employees’ wages and the taxes withheld from those wages. Hiring contractors to perform the work of a full-time employee can be considered tax fraud. It’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer or employment professional in your area to determine which approach is right for your business. As you build your workforce, here is the key information to keep in mind: 1099 contractors Pros First, some of the advantages of hiring 1099 contractors: You save money. When you hire freelancers or consultants, they pay all of their own taxes, taking the burden away from you. You also save money on workers compensation insurance, health care and other benefits, and perhaps even wages if the worker is remote. You gain flexibility. You can sometimes think of 1099 contractors as “on demand” workers, or those who are available to help only when it’s most needed. For example, if you have a busy month or two on the horizon, it might be better to hire some temporary work to help fill gaps as needed. Many retail businesses do this during the winter holidays. Contractors are (generally) easy to manage. Since these folks typically work on a temporary contract basis, they’re often very motivated and eager to show you they have what it takes to become a full-time employee. You’re legally protected. Labor laws for 1099 contractors are not as strict as they are for W2 employees, which…

6 tips to make QuickBooks quicker

As the saying goes, time is money. Every moment spent performing necessary but time-consuming tasks that don’t generate revenue takes away from a business’s bottom line. For those small businesses that use QuickBooks® to help streamline their accounting processes, here are some quick tips that can help make QuickBooks even quicker. Editor’s note: Because there are different versions of QuickBooks available on the market, including QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online and versions of each of those for Mac and PC, it’s possible that not every tip listed here will work for you. However, we have tried our best to focus on QuickBooks tips that will work across a variety of versions. QuickBooks and Quicken are registered trademarks of Intuit, Inc. 1. Take advantage of built-in QuickBooks keyboard shortcuts QuickBooks has developed a set of keyboard shortcuts for QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online to help you save time during common tasks and workflows. Image credit: Intuit Inc. Once you’ve mastered the shortcut list, tasks will take a fraction of the time. Use a simple keyboard shortcut, instead of manually maneuvering around the software using a mouse or trackpad. For example: The use of Ctrl+Del can delete the selected line in a transaction Ctrl+F opens up a search box to let you find text within an open window Alt + down arrow opens a pop-up calendar icon to the right of the date field The list of keyboard shortcuts can vary between Desktop and Online versions, as well as between PC and Mac platforms, so make sure you download and use the one most appropriate for your application. 2. Create your own customized QuickBooks icon bar The common tasks and workflows that you use will be very different from another business, which is one of the reasons QuickBooks lets you customize the icon bar to suit your individual needs. Within minutes, you can add, remove or edit icons within the icon bar to make the functions you use most be the ones that are easiest to access. You can also select certain shortcuts and customize them for your daily use. The icon bar allows you to create a mini-dashboard, so…

Small business advice: Your top 10 questions, answered

Deluxe launched the Small Business Revolution in 2015 to shine a light on the amazing businesses that make our communities great. Through the years, I’ve traveled to communities across the country, meeting hundreds of business owners who have taken the brave step to start their own businesses. I’m passionate about helping small businesses thrive and eager to share the knowledge I’ve built from my years in marketing and advertising. And with Deluxe’s more than 100 years of working with small businesses, we have a wealth of knowledge that can really make a difference in helping a business thrive. Here are the top 10 questions that entrepreneurs tend to ask me, and my answers. 1. I have a great idea for a business. How should I get started? Starting a business can be daunting. Ask for help! Reach out to SCORE: a nationwide nonprofit that arranges mentorships between experienced entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners. Beyond getting one-on-one support, you should also do some research about your potential market and industry. And seek out resources to learn more about marketing and operating your business. 2. I’m not a numbers person. How do I stay on top of my business finances? Start simple by creating a small business budget. Done properly, a budget gives you visibility into your profits, improves your cash flow and helps track progress toward your long-term business goals. If budgeting and financial planning are too tough or time-consuming, consider hiring an accountant. 3. I can’t afford to spend much on marketing. How do I get the most bang for my buck? Many small businesses spend $1,000 per year or less on marketing. However, if you want to attract new customers, keep in touch with existing clients or grow your business, it’s crucial to develop a marketing strategy. Every business is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how to spend your marketing dollars. That said, social media advertising, print marketing and search engine marketing can be affordable tools to reach your target. 4. I know I need an awesome website. Where do I start? When it comes to creating…

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