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61 Percent of Small Businesses Didn’t Create a Budget in 2018

A new survey from Clutch just revealed close to two thirds or 61% of small businesses didn’t have an official documented budget for 2018. This problem is more prevalent with businesses that have 1 to 10 employees as 74% in this group did not create an official budget. The number goes down to 21% for businesses with more than 10 employees, a difference of more than 50 percentage points. The data from the Clutch survey shows growing companies have come to understand the importance of creating a budget, while many small businesses still don’t have a full appreciation of the benefits of having an official budget. The author of the report, Riley Panko said businesses of all sizes should create a budget if they don’t want to risk the financial health of their organization. She goes on to say, “Businesses may create more challenges for themselves by skipping a budget. This is because budgeting helps small businesses focus.” In the press release, Donna Conte, service area leader for accounting services at Warren Averett, emphasized the point even more. Conte said, “Without a budget, you have no measuring stick to evaluate your goals and performance. A budget is part of developing a business and its growth goals.” The Clutch survey was conducted with the participation of 302 small business owners or managers. The goal was to find out what type of small businesses create and need budgets, as well as what they expect to accomplish when they develop a budget, and whether they can stick to it when they do. The respondents are involved or very involved in the financial decision-making process of their organization. The group was made up of 58% women and 42% men with a range of experiences in small business management or ownership. The majority or 60% said they owned or managed a small business for five or more years. The remainder were as follows, 17% for 3-4 years; 13% for 1-2 years; 10% for less than 1 year. More Small Business Budget Statistics The biggest takeaway from this survey is most small businesses forgo official budgeting.…

Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 Helps Businesses Save on Postage

Sponsored Post Shipping costs go up every year and for small businesses it means losing a bigger chunk from their bottom line. The Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 is a comprehensive shipping and mailing solution which will automate the shipping process and save you money while doing it. This is a fully integrated all-in-one solution designed to simplify shipping and mailing from a single station. There is no more guess work in your small business. You are ready to process your mail and packages for shipping with SendPro C200. As the company says, you will be able to identify, locate, communicate, ship and pay enabling the full commerce continuum of today’s physical and digital retail ecosystem. Small businesses will have access to the latest features that were only available to large enterprises – at a reasonable price. The Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 makes small business workflow more efficient while lowering shipping costs.  The device can be rented starting at $36.99 per month. Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 As an all-in-one unit, the Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 is controlled with a large color touch screen connected to Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud. This allows you to get the latest information on all shipping costs across carriers, so you can find savings with USPS, UPS or FedEx depending on the shipping service you choose. With the SendPro C200, you are always up to date with shipping rates. When you are ready to ship a package, you can weigh it on the integrated scale, select your carrier, compare delivery service and print a shipping label. Before you send the package, you can verify the address across all three carriers to make sure you are shipping the item to a legitimate location. And once it is shipped, you can track it with secure access from your computer or mobile app so you can keep your customers informed until they get their package. If you are sending letters or flats, the SendPro C200 can print postage and seal envelopes in one step processing at up to 40 envelopes per minute. As part of the Pitney Bowes system, you…

Businesses Prefer Regional Trade as Tariffs and Protectionism Threaten Global Prospects

Due to customer demand and favorable economic conditions, businesses worldwide have growing confidence. But however confident they may be, many companies are beginning to shift toward doing business within their own regions due to uncertainty surrounding global trade, according to a new HSBC survey of over 8,500 companies. As protectionism becomes more of a focus for governments around the world, companies are beginning to worry about their prospects. Of those companies surveyed, 31 percent of those with negative outlooks cited tariffs and the U.S-China trade dispute as the main reason for their pessimism. As a result, many companies are shifting toward intra-regional trade over inter-regional trade. Regarding companies’ top targets for trade growth, there has been a drop in both European and North American companies that are targeting Asian companies. More North American companies are planning to trade within their home regions in the next three-to-five years. The number of Asian companies targeting North American companies for trade growth is also declining. and more Asia-Pacific companies are aiming for China as a future growth market. “Businesses are staying positive, but they’re signaling to policymakers that protectionism is a significant concern that’s reducing their appetite to grow through international trade. Some are looking closer to home for opportunities, and many are adapting their approach to stay fit for the future,” said Noel Quinn, chief executive of Global Commercial Banking at HSBC. This survey also showed that 51 percent of companies expect that free-trade agreements, how they apply in their specific country and industry, will benefit them over the next three years. Technology will also have a big impact on a lot of companies in the future as 22 percent of businesses have invested in research and technology over the last two years, 75 percent are looking to data to drive business optimization, and 26 percent consider technological advancement the top reason for choosing a supplier after cost and quality of their products. “We expect technology, digitization and data to play an increasingly important strategic role by enabling businesses to develop their products and services, reach new customers and cut costs by improving operational efficiency,” said Quinn. Republished by…

Weighing The Costs Of Voip For Business Doesn’t Have To Be Hard, Read This

VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, is almost always capable of saving you money as compared with older, legacy phone systems. That’s because providers make use of cloud-based technologies with large-scale efficiencies to bring VoIP costs down for customers. Yet like a lot of information technology services, the costs around Voice over IP (VoIP) varies. It depends on the exact choices you make when you buy. For customers, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a VoIP provider: The reliability of the company The level of customer support you will get Ease of use Overall features and benefits Cost Cost remains one of the most important factors. In this article, we will outline what the real cost is for VoIP, and how it can save you money. A Short Explanation of VoIP Costs Depending on your VoIP provider, VoIP packages generally have two types of costs: a monthly line rental fee, and costs for your usage. In other words, you will pay a monthly fee to access the services of your provider, and may pay additional charges for the outbound calls that you make. Some providers can also include call packages, giving you a certain number of minutes or even unlimited calls at a monthly fee. At Nextiva, we have three packages for line rental, none of which charges additional monthly fees. Our most basic package includes top essential features, such as: Cloud PBX – An easy way to manage your phone system online, setting up new users and redirecting calls at a tap of the mouse. Free local and toll-free number – No need to pay extra for number rental, it’s included. Voicemail to email – Missed a call? Nextiva will automatically notify you of a voicemail in your email inbox. Shared call appearance – Easily display an extension on more than one phone so you can pick up calls on behalf of someone else. The beauty of VoIP is its many available advanced features. Customers who have more demanding telephony requirements can upgrade their Nextiva packages to include features such as: Call me now – Someone browsing your website can click a…

What is an Employee Assistance Program and Does Your Company Need One?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) refers to a scheme designed to give employees ways to deal with personal issues that may have a negative affect on their job performance, such as stress, anxiety and depression. EAPs can be an effective way to help staff reach out for help, manage stress and maintain high levels of productivity and performance. However, some businesses benefit more from having an Employee Assistance Program in place than others. If you are deliberating whether to introduce an EAP at your company, the following guide may help you determine whether you need one. How an EAP Works Through an EAP, your employees have access to trained and licensed counselors, should they need to talk to them. By making a phone call to a trained EAP counselor, your employees can get immediate assistance, typically for topics issues like: Drug addiction Workplace conflicts Marital/relationship issues Mental health issues, such as depression, anger management, anxiety, Legal and family advice Grief counseling Financial counseling Caregiving issues The Benefits of an Employee Assistance Program Any sessions carried out with counsellors are done so in complete confidentiality, giving your employees peace of mind that you will not be notified if they use this service. In an emergency, staff have access to an EAP crisis counselor 24 hours a day via a Crisis Telephone Line for immediate assistance to tackle personal problems and mental health issues. If left untreated, personal problems can escalate leaving your employees under performing at work, potentially having an attitude in the workplace, which can translate into poor customer services or relationships with other team members. Such personal issues can also run the risk of leading to injuries occurring in the workplace, which could end up costing your business dearly in workers compensation. By talking with a trained, qualified counselor, an employee suffering with stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or any personal problem, will have an outlet to open up about such issues and learn coping strategies and mechanisms, so their personal issues are less likely to impact their job performance. From your perspective as the employer, having an EAP…

Elon Musk to Guy Kawasaki: 50 Inspirational Quotes for Small Business Owners

  Need a quick dose of inspiration? Explore business quotes from some of the most influential leaders from Elon Musk to Oprah Winfrey. Sometimes a few simple words can provide clarity and motivation to propel you forward. Whether you’re creating content, hiring a team or raising venture capital funding, these quotes can be exactly what you need to refresh your energy and focus. Here, 50 inspirational business quotes. Quotes on Digital Marketing “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall “If your content isn’t driving conversation, you’re doing it wrong.” – Dan Roth “Content is king but engagement is queen, and the lady rules the house!” – Mari Smith “If you build it … you may still need Google AdWords.” – Jennifer Mesenbrink Quotes on Persistence, Failure and Risk “Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Nolan Bushnell “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t know it yourself.” – Albert Einstein “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson “Think big and don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. Life’s too short to think small.” – Tim Ferriss “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford “If you don’t have room to fail, you don’t have room to grow.” – Jonathan Mildenhall “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.” – Howard Schultz “It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” – Roger von…

What is Employee Self Service and What are the Advantages for Your Business?

Like the name suggests, employee self service is the name given to software that allows workers to take care of items like changing banking and contact information without going through someone in the HR department. They can often access payroll, personal details and in some cases submit vacation requests too. If you think your small business can get away with bypassing employee self service software without even a consideration, think again. Gartner has predicted by 2020, 85% of customer interactions won’t involve a human and this wave of automation already includes employee self service portals. Here’s what small businesses need to know about this cost saving technology. Employee self-service is an emerging trend for small businesses that want to streamline or eliminate their HR departments. Beyond the features already mentioned, some of these portals allow employees to change their W-4 data as well as  direct deposit information. There are a host of other options like benefits information as well. Employee Self Service Tips User Friendliness   There needs to be a lot of information in one of these portals but it needs to be easy to read and understand. Navigation is a very important aspect. Start planning the portal with the navigation bar on the landing page because that’s the launch point for your employees. Since they’re more than likely familiar with websites, you should put your nav bar at the top where they expect it to be. To reduce clutter, consider a drop-down feature from there. Remember that you don’t need to clutter up the website with a lot of information that would just put your employees off. These drop-down menus are a great way to hide folders behind the landing page. For example, clicking on a “Benefits” tab could lead to the drop-down menu to take employees to the dental or eyeglass benefit folders/pages. There are a host of other features you need to look at this as a starting point and the one you should funnel all your choices through. Other Features   One of the other features that you need to consider for an employee self-service…

What is Last Mile Delivery and Why is it Important to Your Small Business?

With more and more businesses selling products online in order to remain competitive in a world that sees more than 85% of consumers shopping on the internet, it is vital retailers live up to their shoppers’ expectations of having their goods delivered quickly and efficiently. One challenge businesses face in competing with the likes of Amazon Prime, which guarantees consumers have products in their hands the next day, is the final process of a product’s journey, known as last mile delivery. What is Last Mile Delivery? The ‘last mile’ is effectively the final leg of the journey, which sees a package arrive at the shopper’s door, the only step of the process a consumer is really interested in. Having a package safely arrive at its destination is a key component of quality customer service and care. Consequently, last mile delivery problems, such as a package arriving later than expected or, worse still, not arriving at all, can be damaging to a business and its reputation. For small business competing against the likes of Amazon, issues involving last mile delivery and the reputational damage late and inefficient delivery to a final destination creates, can be irreversibly damaging. Improving Last Mile Delivery For Your Small Business Cost-Effectively Any business that sells and delivers products to consumers, whether it’s online, from a physical store, or both, should be mindful of creating efficient last mile delivery. Statistics show that as much as 28% of online shoppers will abandon their purchases if shipping costs are high. Subsequently raising delivery costs for the consumer, so that your business will be able to fund quality last mile delivery services isn’t feasible for small businesses. Naturally, many cash-strapped small businesses simply don’t have the funds to devote to ensuring ultra-fast and reliable last mile delivery. Improving last mile delivery without breaking their logistic budget is a challenge many small businesses face. Fortunately, there are ways your small business can encourage a smoother last mile delivery service without having to fork out on unaffordable delivery costs. Let Your Customers Choose Their Delivery Windows Instead of having one delivery window…

10 Expert Tips for Ensuring Future Small Business Success

Many business owners are so focused on their day-to-day tasks that they forget to look toward the future. If you want to be prepared and break away from the competition, some careful planning and expert advice is in order. Check out what members of the online small business community recommend for ensuring future success in the list below. Ensure Your Next Product Launch Is a Success When you’re getting ready to launch a new product, there are a lot of different tasks to juggle, from research and development to building buzz among potential customers. It’s important to have a strong plan in place to ensure success. Here, Ian Reynolds of Zibtek offers some tips you can use to transform your next product launch. Learn How to Communicate with Gen Z Over the next several years, your business may begin to hire or work with members of Gen Z in some way. There are already some generalizations being made about this group, but they can be an asset to any business that’s willing to learn about them and communicate effectively. Learn more in this Prepare 1 post by Blair Evan Ball. Try These Offline Marketing Strategies for Your Local Business For years, many businesses have focused their marketing efforts primarily online. But that’s created a bit of a saturated market, and some are beginning to course correct and take some of their local marketing efforts back offline. In this DIY Marketers post, Nick Brown details three offline marketing strategies perfect for local businesses. Create Timely and Compelling New Venture Progress If you want your business to succeed in the future, you need to constantly make progress toward your goals. Martin Zwilling explains some of the most effective ways you can make timely and compelling progress for a new venture in this Startup Professionals Musings post. Then BizSugar members shared thoughts on the post here. Use These Expert Messaging Tactics Sometimes, the way you share your message can be just as important as the message itself. To get your marketing content or other points across to potential customers as effectively as possible,…

Attention: 2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for Your Small Business

The 2018 holiday shopping season is upon us, and for businesses, it means keeping a close eye on the holiday shipping deadlines. Not knowing the shipping deadlines for the USPS, UPS, and FedEx could be a costly mistake. Whether your customers start shopping during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or wait right before Christmas, you have to know the holiday shipping deadlines. Knowing the deadline for each carrier will ensure the items your customer’s buy from you will get to them as promised. Miss those deadlines and that special gift will not get delivered on time, which might just mean losing the customer forever. Small businesses can avoid or greatly limit late deliveries by putting in place a comprehensive fulfillment strategy. With this strategy in place, your company will have a high success rate for shipping online orders to customers not only during the holiday season but throughout the year. However, the challenges of meeting holiday shipping deadlines during this time of year are well documented. Robert Gilbreath, CMO & VP of Partnerships at ShipStation, a web-based shipping solution provider points out the challenges. In a press release announcing the company’s shipping infographic, Gilbreath said, “We understand how hectic operations can be around the holidays, so every year we work to provide ship-by dates as early as possible. The sooner e-commerce merchants can begin planning their own shipping schedule, the sooner they can prepare for the influx of holiday orders.” ECommerce and the Increased Number of Packages One of the biggest drivers for the increased number of packages is e-commerce. Both online and brick and mortar retailers are using their digital e-commerce platforms to ship items to customers. This has increased the number of packages being shipped year-round, but especially during the holiday shopping season. The USPS said it expected to deliver more than 850 million packages during the holiday season in 2017. Total in the 750 million from the UPS and another 400 million from FedEx, and it quickly adds up to tens of millions of packages every day. Getting Ready for Holiday Season Shipping One thing to remember about…

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