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What is a 9/80 Work Schedule? Is it Right for Your Business?

Forget 9 to 5. Today’s working schedule is all about 9/80. A 9/80 working schedule refers to a two-week period that involves employees working eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day with one day off every other week. In a 9/80 arrangement, the four 9-hour days are followed by an 8-hour workday, which is split into two 4-hour slots. The first 4-hour period ends the first of the two working weeks and the second 4-hour session marks the start of a second working week. The employee then works for four more days at 9-hours a day followed a day off. Employee Pros of a 9/80 Work Schedule The 9/80 work pattern is designed to help employees get a better work/life balance, as staff get an extra day off every other week. With an extra day off, employees can enjoy more family time, spending time doing their favorite hobbies or going away for a long weekend. With a work day off every other week, employees are able to carry out personal business that they are typically unable to do when they just have the weekends. Such personal business might include going to the post office, visiting a financial services company or having an appointment with a government agency, which is only open during week days. For employees with children, a 9/80 work schedule enables them to be more involved parents by driving their kids to school and attending plays or sports tournaments they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. The Pros for Employers By offering a more flexible 9/80 working structure at your business, you may reap the benefits of a more satisfied workforce, who, because they are enjoying a more flexible working environment with greater work/life balance and with a three-day weekend every other week, reward you by staying loyal to your business. Higher Levels of Productivity By working at a time that’s more convenient to them, 9/80 structures can help employees stay more focused and productive and with less time spent in traffic and or having to rush home, team members can perform tasks with greater ease and efficiency.…

Voip or Landline? Which Does Your Business Need? This Will Help You Decide

If you’re looking for a phone system for your business or local office, you have two options to choose from: VoIP or landline. Every business, regardless of industry, needs a phone system. Let’s compare VoIP vs Landline. According to Forbes, as much as 71 percent of leads are wasted due to extended/delayed response times. Statistics show that it takes most businesses two days to return a phone call. A Google study revealed that as much as 70 percent of mobile users click the call feature from their smartphones when they search for a business. Based on these statistics, it’s clear that having a reliable business phone system should be among your top priorities. The big questions then are: Should you go with landline or VoIP? How will VoIP vs. landline impact your business? In order to help you choose the right phone system for your business, this guide will compare each of the two options in detail. Here is an overview of what you’ll learn in this in-depth comparison: What is VoIP and a landline? How each one works Pros and cons Features Cost Reliability Technology used What is VoIP? Voice Over Internet Protocol (or VoIP) is also known as Internet calling, IP telephony, voice over network and Internet telephony. Whatever you call it, VoIP uses your Internet connection to make calls. Your voice is transmitted as data over the Internet. IP telephony isn’t new: the first transmission was sent back in 1973, though the technology was far more limited 40+ years ago. As the Internet has evolved and become universally available, so has VoIP. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2013 that 25% of U.S. households are now using VoIP in place of their old landlines. Today, businesses all over the world are using it, and it is expected to continue to grow rapidly between now and 2021. The shift that both households and businesses are making from landlines to VoIP phone systems is mainly due to the benefits and features now available (displayed below). How a VoIP Telephone is Different from a Landline Phone: There are several differences between the two systems – from technological contrasts pricing and scalability. Here is a list of…

BidSync App Uses AI to Help Small Businesses Find Government Contracts

Finding government contracts and successfully bidding on them is a challenge for small businesses. The new BidSync supplier application from Periscope Holdings has been redesigned to deliver the most relevant bid for each business. The app is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) leveraging machine learning technology to give small businesses “winnable government opportunities for each user,” this according to the company. BidSync can now filter out bids which are not relevant to the individual business automatically. With so many US local, state and federal government contracts available each year, going through all of them is a job in itself. The BidSync automated system is able to sift through the hundreds of billions of dollars in available bids to give you a better chance. In the press release Brian Utley, CEO at Periscope Holdings, pointed out the frustration organizations feel when it comes to trying to find relevant opportunities. Utley said, “Suppliers are tired of wasting time sifting through pages of search results that will never generate a single sale.” He goes on to explain how BidSync was completely rebuilt to address the issue of relevance, adding “The new BidSync takes the guesswork, and the manual work, out of the bid search process by leveraging machine-learning technology.  The more you use the application, the more it learns about you – continually improving the relevance of bids delivered.” The Huge Amount of Money in Government Small Business Contracting If you are not aware of the amount of money the US government specifically makes available to small businesses, here is a hint, it is huge. In 2017, 23.88% in federal contract dollars went to small business. This was a whopping $105.7 billion, which is an increase of $5 billion from the previous year. The federal government also exceeded its service-disabled veteran-owned small business and small disadvantaged business goals in 2017. The table below shows the numbers for the past five years. How BidSync Works BidSync uses it AI-powered Relevance Engine to learn from the way you search, bid and don’t bid on contracts so it can make the most relevant suggestion for your…

Microsoft Office 2019 Is Now Available – With Potential Features for Small Businesses

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) recently announced the latest version of its Office productivity suite for Windows and Mac. Microsoft Office 2019 and Office 365 ProPlus started rolling out September 24, introducing some new features small business owners may find useful for home and office use. Microsoft Office 2019 and Office 365 ProPlus Roll Out According to Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, Office 2019 is the next on-premises version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher Office 365 ProPlus, the cloud-based subscription version of Office, on the other hand, is touted as the most productive and most secure cloud-connected Office experience—with the lowest total cost of ownership for deployment and management. “The new enhancements in Office 2019 are a subset of a long list of features that have been added to Office 365 ProPlus over the last three years,” Spataro said in a blog post announcing the latest Office releases. Office 2019 Features and Updates Microsoft says Office 2019 provides a set of valuable enhancements for customers who can’t be cloud-connected or receive regular updates, including apps to help users create amazing content in less time. Some of the new features introduced in Office 2019 include: PowerPoint 2019:  Lets you create cinematic presentations with new features like Morph and Zoom. It also includes improved inking features across the apps in Windows—like the roaming pencil case, pressure sensitivity, and tilt effects—allowing you to naturally create documents. Excel 2019: Adds a set of powerful new data analysis features, including new formulas and charts and enhancements to PowerPivot. Word 2019:  Includes learning tools, like Read Aloud and Text Spacing that make it easier to engage with your content, and Focus Mode that blocks out distractions and puts your content front and center. “Office 2019 also includes new IT value for enhanced security and streamlined administration,” said Spataro, adding, “We introduced Click-to-Run (C2R), a modern deployment technology, in Office 2013, and it’s now used to deploy and update Office across hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. With Office 2019, we’re moving the on-premises versions of Office to C2R to reduce costs…

Microsoft Adds More Business Management Function to Its Outlook Mobile Email App

Email is one of the oldest digital communications tools, but more and more it is being viewed on mobile devices. At Ignite 2018, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced a new set of features for Outlook which will simplify the deployment on mobile while securing email communications. Outlook Mobile App Updates In addition to email, Outlook for Android and iOS will have contacts, files, calendar events, online messaging and more. These features are key to the way businesses communicate today with their workforce. For small businesses, it means features with more powerful admin controls to enforce policies and actions on mobile devices. This includes enterprise-grade security to protect your email communications. Sensitivity Labels Administrators and users can apply sensitivity labels to emails to protect the content. Depending on the type of communications, you can set protection policies to each label. Labels such as “General” or “Company Confidential” can be specified to ensure only designated recipients can view and respond to the email. Microsoft said this feature will roll out to commercial Outlook mobile customers by the end of the year. Simplified Deployment A new app configuration capability for Outlook mobile will make it much easier for businesses to set up a secure mobile email and calendar solution. If you are providing the mobile devices for your employees, the new admin controls allow you to control the type of accounts which can be added on company enrolled devices. By blocking personal email accounts on company devices, you lower the risks of email associated attacks. This is especially useful for small businesses in the healthcare and financial industries who have to abide by strict regulatory compliance. More Upcoming Features In the coming months, administrators will have remote customization capability. They will be able to turn the syncing or saving of contacts and Touch ID on or off, as well as block external images. This is part of the drive to secure company resources by limiting bad connections and downloading potentially harmful content. Admins will also be able to set up the configuration faster for modern authentication capable accounts. According to Microsoft, this will ensure employees…

Top 15 Places You Can Sell Handmade Products Locally

Everyone knows that you can sell handmade products on Etsy or Amazon. But if you sell large items that are hard to ship — or if you just prefer to sell items to customers in your own community — it can help to have some local options. Where to Sell Handmade Items Locally There are plenty of options for growing your customer base in your own backyard. Here are some of them to consider. Craft Fairs Craft fairs are events that are normally held in halls, schools, churches, or other community venues. They usually feature mainly handmade products, so you can be fairly certain that the shoppers will be interested in that type of purchase. It’s one of the most popular ways for artisans to branch out from online selling and get their name out there in other ways. It can even have benefits beyond just the sales you make that day. Ashlea Konecny, crocheter and blogger behind Heart Hook Home, wrote in a post, “The obvious goal, when paying the entry fee to a craft fair, is to sell your wares and recoup your cost (and then some). But, you also want people to remember you and your name so that they can find you later on your Facebook page, your website or find you on Etsy etc.” Flea Markets Flea markets usually feature a wider array of products, though some are more focused on handmade goods. So it’s important for you to choose the market and the mix of products you offer carefully. Steve Gillman, author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money, recently spent a summer as a flea market vendor. He said of the experience on the Penny Hoarder blog, “Consider whether you plan to specialize or sell a variety of things. Vendors can make good arguments for both strategies, but we were experimenting and didn’t want to invest much in this business, so selling lots of different items made more sense for us.” Retail Boutiques If you want to branch out and sell your products at multiple locations around town, you might consider setting up…

The Top 10 Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants

Need some convincing that online ordering systems are the wave of the future for restaurants? Consider the fact the trend has been growing and even four years ago 79 percent of Millennials  favored these systems for their accuracy. Getting onboard with this trend means finding the best systems. Here’s a list to reference so you won’t get left behind. Top Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants Ecwid If you are looking for a variety of payment providers this is the choice that offers 55 to look through. You can use Square or even PayPal Here to name a few. Engage your customers by letting them add or substitute ingredients with Ecwid. There’s a free plan and several options all the way up to Unlimited that goes for $99 per month and covers retail, mobile and online. MenuDrive These folks will actually take your menu and convert it into what they call an interactive online ordering site. What makes this different is the fact the company will design it to match your brand. They look after all of the tweaking at their end for you and all you need to do to get it going is put an “order online” button on your website. Easy Peasy. The monthly plan starts at $99 per month per store. Comeneat Maybe you’re a small diner or start up looking to cut costs and that’s where this online ordering software might be for you. Comeneat is open source and your customers can order from your website or even a Facebook page. They have several packages including Developer, Platinum and Deliver Dispatch options. iMenu360   If you’re looking for POS integration, iMenu360 works. This is one of the heavyweights in the online ordering systems arena, and it’s favored among some of the big-name franchises listed on their website. If you’re looking for a system that shuttles your online orders directly to POS, iMenu360 lists everyone they partner with right on their website. One caveat—there’s a setup fee of $199USD and a monthly fee with unlimited orders of the same amount. This was started by an industry insider. Clorder…

10 Ways to Refresh a Stale Content Marketing Strategy

Lots of businesses already make use of content marketing. But not all of them actually see an impact from it. If your content marketing strategy is feeling a bit stale, take a cue from members of the online small business community and give your strategy a refresh. Here are some tips. Do a Quick and Easy Content Audit for Your Website Before you improve the content on your website, it’s important to understand what you already have, so you can determine what is working and what isn’t. In this 3Bug Media post, Gary Shouldis explains why you should do a content audit and how exactly to do it. Adjust Your Link Building Strategy to Reach Content Sceptics Today’s internet users tend to be fairly skeptical. So old school link building strategies aren’t going to be enough to convince them to visit your site and actually do business with you. Instead, check out some of the suggestions in this Search Engine Land post by Chris Sherman. Maximize Your Content Marketing Impact You don’t have to spend tons of time on your content marketing strategy in order to see results — as long as you focus on tasks that maximize your impact. In this Startup Professionals Musings post, Martin Zwilling details some of the keys to making a greater impact with your content marketing. And BizSugar members commented on the post here. Make Use of Video Marketing Video content gives you an opportunity to speak to customers in a really engaging format. There are a number of potential uses and benefits of video marketing. So if you have yet to make use of this strategy, check out this Smallbiztechnology.com post by Cara Chatellier to learn why you should reconsider. Create Trust with Your Content The main goal of your content marketing is probably to create connections with customers. If you can get them to trust your brand, you have a better chance of convincing them to purchase. In this Target Marketing post, Danielle Cantor goes into why trust is such an important factor in content marketing. Find the Right Infographic Ideas Infographics…

5 Organizations Helping Women Entrepreneurs Around the World

Last week on Small Business Trends, I shared six organizations that are helping U.S. women and girls improve their business and financial skills so they can get jobs and start businesses. Your dollars can make even more of an impact in developing nations, where women are often restricted from education and other opportunities. Here are five nonprofit organizations helping women around the globe find financial security for themselves and their families through entrepreneurship. Ways of Supporting Women in Business Globally Kula Project This organization works to eradicate poverty in Rwanda by developing entrepreneurs through its Kula Fellowship program. While the Fellowship program is open to both men and women, Kula also has two Women’s Centers specifically designed to provide vocational training for women. Women participate in business training, then get specific skills training to empower them to create their own sewing, weaving and agriculture businesses. The women learn to create handmade products and agribusiness goods to sell on the local market. Learn more about Kula Project. Women for Women International Women for Women International provides programs that give marginalized women in countries affected by conflict and war a way to earn and save money. During the organization’s year-long social and economic empowerment program, classes of 25 women build support networks, share experiences and learn critical skills to help them financially support their families. After completing the program, women can access the graduate support program, which encourages continued mentorship and provides additional advanced financial and business training. There are many ways to support Women for Women International; for instance, for a monthly $35 contribution you can Sponsor a Sister and provide ongoing financial support for a particular woman. Learn more about Women for Women International. Women’s Global Empowerment Fund Women’s Global Empowerment Fund bundles microcredit loans with business and leadership development training to help empower women in northern Uganda to support their families. The organization’s Credit Plus program participants are required to attend regular meetings and have the opportunity to take classes in business skills, literacy, health or leadership development. The ultimate goal: to help women create sustainable income, increase their food…

This Solopreneur CRM Powers Scott Wilson’s Business to Success

Sponsored Post Scott Wilson is the Founder and CEO of thatsoftwareguy.com, an independent ecommerce software company that uses Salesforce Essentials, Salesforce’s CRM built for small business. A lot of things in life “just happen.” Some call it a coincidence. To me, it’s meant to be. My journey as an entrepreneur  — along with my journey discovering Salesforce — were exactly that. One Simple Request Started My Business Owning a business wasn’t a part of my life plan. In the mid 2000s, however, someone I had worked with during the tech recession got laid off. His next plan was to start a small business. He asked if I could help build an online shopping cart on his business’s website. I agreed to take on the job to develop his ecommerce business. At the time, not many shopping carts were available. Zen Cart was one of the best open-source options available — and I didn’t waste any time helping him set it up. In fact, I became really good at it — thanks in part to my computer science degree and 15 years of professional experience as a software developer. Remember that 15 years ago, many people who called themselves “web developers” had no real experience at all; they just knew how to put simple HTML tables together. It didn’t take long before I realized that many Zen Cart users didn’t have the professional training and background I did. So, I jumped in and helped with what was missing. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time fixing bugs and answering questions on the public forum. I even started developing my own extensions. Then one day, out of the blue, a guy sent me $100 via Paypal with a note saying , “I built my entire business around your Quantity Discounts plugin.” Positive feedback, support, and encouragement like this is what led me to turn my hobby into a business in late 2006. My Biggest Challenge as an Entrepreneur Early on, the biggest struggle I had was figuring out how to balance running a small business while having a full-time job. I thought of this…

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