Top Tips For Your First Business Trip

Heading out on your first business trip will be an exciting time, meetings to be had, deals to make and a company to represent. Whatever the nature is of your trip, you are going to need to be prepared , both from a business and personal point of view. To help you get prepared in the right way, we’ve put together a list of tips for you and whether you are traveling transatlantic for your business dealing or just a few hours away from home, we’ve got you covered. So before your next business trip, check out these tips and make sure that you are prepared in the right way.

Bought a travel wallet :(

Organization

The first thing to ensure is that you are fully prepared for your business dealings and your itinerary during your time away. Make sure that you have paper and digital versions of all documents that you are going to need and whatever schedule you have whilst you are away. Be sure to secure all of your transportation before you go,it is likely that plane or train tickets will be already sorted out but ensure you have a car waiting for you to take you to a meeting.  The last thing you need is to be searching for taxis in the middle of Bangkok when you have a pressing business lunch, or trying to catch a bus in Edinburgh for a business launch, plan ahead, and book a private car to get you there.

Downtime Planning

When you’re on the road for business you are bound to have a lot of downtime and you need to be sure to use this wisely. It’s important that you plan ahead for this, whether it be in order to relax or in order to brush up on your business dealings. If movies and games are your thing that you need to relax then download some ahead of time, if you like to exercise then check out if your hotel has a gym and if not, look for one nearby. Regarding the business side of things, try to create some one page sheets which will enable you to quickly study some key points about your business or take the opportunity to look for areas of growth. Planning ahead means that when you get that downtime, you are ready to spend it however you see fit.

Staying in Touch

You absolutely want to make sure that you can stay in touch with friends, family and the business itself whilst you are away and it’s important that you know the best ways to do so. If you don’t already use them then you should be utilizing FaceTime, Whatsapp, Skype and even Facebook messenger to stay in touch with people whilst you are away. All of these mediums work so long as you have an internet connection and you should look to buy a local SIM card if you are heading to a foreign country. A local SIM gains you access to mobile data and means that you are never out of reach when people need to get in touch with you.

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4 Ways to Find the Best Payment Gateway for Your Business  

No matter the type of industry you’re in these days, it’s necessary to provide your customers with multiple payment options if you want to generate as many sales as possible. While cash is still used (typically for small, regular transactions), many people now prefer to pay online or via cell phones so that they can use their credit or debit card, PayPal account, or the like.

However, if you’re just about to launch a home-based business, or want to start accepting more forms of payment, it can be challenging trying to decide which mobile payment processing provider to choose out of all the options on the market. If you want some tips on finding the best firm for your needs, read on for four things you should consider today.

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Know Your Specific Needs and Goals

Firstly, before you think about signing with a payment gateway, you need to be clear about your organization’s specific needs and goals. While there are dozens and dozens of different merchant services firms to choose from, they don’t all provide the same services to their customers — and similarly, not all customers need the same services.

For example, some businesses might be after a simple merchant account with the bare minimum of features, while others may require extra functionality, such as the ability to process payments on a smartphone; inventory management capabilities; or the incorporation of loyalty programs.

If you’re to find the right company for you, you need to first be clear on things such as the “must have” facilities you need, plus where and how a payment system will be integrated into your operations.

Furthermore, it pays to examine whether or not the payment processing firm you’re interested in actually accepts all forms of payment, as not all of them will. In this day and age it is helpful if your payment gateway can accept debit cards, Diners Club credit cards, American Express credit cards, and PayPal transactions.

Analyze Pricing

Next, price is of course going to be one of the biggest determining factors in your choice of providers. When you compare options, remember that different companies structure their fees in different ways. As a result, you need to closely analyze pricing to see what will be the best value for your needs.

Some firms charge a flat fee per transaction, no matter how many payments are put through the system in a given period (generally either monthly or annually); while others have a variable fee that is based on the number of transactions which need to be processed. Others again have monthly payment plans which differ according to the level of overall transaction value.

Keep in mind too that some providers charge a start-up fee when you join up, while others may not but then might expect you to commit to a 12-month contract. Similarly, some companies charge cancellation fees, while others offer month-by-month services with no minimum periods to be worried about.

It also pays to examine whether or not the merchant services firms you’re interested in ever charge any potential extra fees. These can include things like:

  • System-integration costs for installing their software in your system
  • Charges if you change your point-of-sale system and need an update
  • Fees for accessing customer support
  • Withdrawal charges each time you want to transfer funds over to your bank account

 Examine Security

Another thing to factor in when deciding on a payment gateway is how secure each firm is. With hackers across the globe coming up with new techniques to break into websites and get access to sensitive customer data all the time, digital security is imperative.

When you analyze firms, ask them to provide information on their security protocols. The most closely-guarded gateways typically have precautions such as:

  • CVV2 verification
  • Data encryption
  • Billing address security
  • Complex encryption algorithms
  • Support for top-level SSL certificates

Check the Availability of Customer Support 

Lastly, it’s very important to make sure that you sign up with a firm who makes customer support available to its clients when they need it. While you hope that transactions and systems always run smoothly, sometimes issues just do occur. When this happens, you need to be able to get in touch with your merchant services provider for assistance.

It is a good idea to choose a company which provides 24-hour a day customer support, 365 days per year. This should be via a variety of communication methods, including phone calls, emails, and live chat conversations, so that you can select the most convenient way to get in touch.

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What Makes Your Home Business Attractive?

So that your home business can thrive, what are you doing to attractive new customers?

Some home business owners will turn to as much advertising and marketing as their budgets will allow. In doing so, they can demonstrate the lure of their products and/or services.

Others, meantime, opt for a heavy dose of stellar customer service to win new customers. Show a new customer how much better your service is than the competition’s, allowing you to win them over for years to come.

Knowing what makes your home business attractive is not something you can sleep on. In fact, it should be something you make a priority of.

That said take some time to re-evaluate what truly makes your home business attractive, allowing you to capitalize on that now and in the years to come.

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Truly Understanding Success

So that you can better understand what makes your home business tick, start by re-evaluating the entire process.

Okay, you may think that you do not have the time for such actions, but wouldn’t your business be better off if you did take the time and effort?

To start with, compare you revenue numbers from a year ago at this time.

Are they ahead of where they were last year? Are you essentially about where you were ago? The last and worst scenario, are you behind now from where you were a year ago at this time? Even if you are ahead of where you were at this point in 2015, don’t rest on your laurels. Complacency for any business, especially one that is typically a one-person show and operating with less financial capital than the big boys, can be a recipe for trouble.

In the event your numbers are down from a year ago, determining the reason or reasons for this is not a choice, it is a necessity.

While it could be any number of reasons, one could be your company’s overall organizational skills (or lack thereof them).

Don’t Lack for Website Skills

One area where you do not want to be lacking in organization is your website.

As a home business owner, stop and think for a moment where you would be without a top-notch website.

A solid website should be organized, informative, authoritative, well-promoted, and something that allows you to distance yourself from the immediate competition.

When it comes to organizing the site, how much of your time and effort goes into making sure it looks clean and gives customers (present or potential ones) everything they need at their fingertips.

Some customers may want to use your site to download and order purchase items, something a tradebit or other similar sites can easily provide.

Others may simply want to come to your site to gain more information on the industry with which you are a part of.

No matter the reason, you and your website can’t afford to drop the ball.

Another area of importance is properly promoting your site, especially on social networks.

If you do not already, make sure you display your respective social media icons (the sites you have accounts for) somewhere on the front page of your site. This allows you to demonstrate that you not only have a social media footprint as a home business owner, but that it is also important to you.

Also keep in mind that your website is essentially the best mouthpiece you have as a home business owner.

That said you should always look at your site as a money-making vehicle, along with being informative for consumers.

There are countless home businesses operating nationwide these days, so the opportunities are literally endless for the millions of people involved in these.

Taking the time to really get to know what separates your home business from the competition is more important than you might think.

Always devote some time and energy to making sure your business is not taking anything for granted, along with always looking to improve things.

As any smart home business owner can tell you, he or she didn’t strike it rich overnight.

In many cases, it takes hours and hours of hard work and dedication to turn a decent profit.

Will you be one of those successful home business stories?

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Boost Your Business Power with Better Software

Making your business as productive as can be might seem sometimes like it takes all of your will power and then some.

From promoting your brand to making sure all your bills are up to speed, running a business is no easy matter.

That said what if you could expedite the way you go about handling all your billing and scheduling needs? Would that make life easier on you and your employees (for those who are not running one-person businesses)?

Well, there are options out there to do just that if you know where to look.

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Bring More Efficiency to Your Operation

In order for you to stay on par or even surpass the competition, your customer service efforts must always be top-notch.

For example, if you run a medical practice, you know how chaotic matters can get in a short amount of time. Products from brands like Revenuexl.com and others can give your medical practice the extra push it needs to meet patient demands.

Among the ways to better improve your office efficiency:

  • Listen – First and foremost, listen to what your patients are saying to you. One of the greatest frustrations patients can have is they feel like they’re talking to the wall, essentially meaning they are getting nowhere with medical questions, billing inquiries etc. In order to do your best to remove this frustration, keep an open dialogue with each and every patient, doing your best to answer their questions and solve any issues they are having;
  • Software – Are you one of those medical offices that will still rely on folders and folders of paperwork instead of going to the Internet for the information you need? As more medical practices have learned in recent years, transferring those mounds and mounds of data to computers typically makes for faster and better patient quality. The key to finding the right software provider is making sure they have a credible history of serving their customers. You are likely not an I.T. expert by trade, so any software provider you opt for should be able to answer any and all questions you have regarding your online needs with their product or products. The software will not only allow you to transition away from all that paperwork in those folders, but it will also speed up the process of getting patients scheduled, checked-in and more. Lastly, think about what might happen if your office was hit by a fire, flood, earthquake etc. Would all those paper files be gone before you know it? If so, do you have backup information on each and every patient that you serve? In all likelihood, you would have a serious problem on your hands. By doing all your patient information and billing etc. online, you simply need to back-up the data, meaning you have Plan B in place if you suffer a major computer data breach and/or loss of information;
  • Billing – Those who run home businesses know all too well how important regular billing is. If home business owners did not bill their clients on time, they’d have trouble getting the payments due them. If that happens, the home business can run into financial issues, including paying its own bills. Medical practices are no different; staff needs to get paid as a result of the care and services they provide the general public. When you have your efforts trained on online software instead of doing billing the old-fashioned way, the process generally moves much quicker. Being able to go into the computer at a moment’s notice and see what level of health insurance a patient has, along with the co-pay charge at the time of an office visit etc. makes for a more expedient process for all involved. Finally, some patients will delay making their required payments for one reason or another. As a result, your office is tasked with sending out payment reminders so that your finances do not take a hit. With the proper software in place, you can send out automatic reminders to nudge patients along in paying you. No phone calls are needed when a software program can do all the work.

When you consider going electronic with all your data needs, you boost your business power in many ways.

Most importantly, you and your customers will benefit from all that software has to offer.

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Don’t Leave Your Business Financially Strapped

When running a home business, you’ve typically got much on your mind.

From lining up enough clients to make the business affordable to making sure said clients pay you on time, those are just two of the many tasks you’ve got going for you.

Before that home business ever literally opened its front doors, it needed some form of financial capital to help it get off the ground.

Whether you had money stored up previously, had assistance from family and/or friends, or even took out a loan recently, making sure your financial affairs are in order is critical.

So, how do you go about making sure to not leave your home business financially strapped?

Learn as Your Home Business Grows

Part of being a good home business owner is learning as you grow.

From knowing when your business is in need of a capital infusion to understanding how to obtain secure credit card processing, you must always be on your toes when it comes to finances.

Whether you are looked at as a high-risk merchant or someone who is hoping to have an Ecommerce business take flight alongside your other business ventures, you must make sure you and money are on the same page.

Ways to go about doing this include:

  • Not getting in over your head – First and foremost, always have a financial plan in place whether you’ve owned a home business for years or are just getting your feet wet in the arena. Some home business owners are great with ordering needed supplies, meeting customer deadlines, even managing the help under them that they may need along the way. So what could be their one fault? If you guessed managing money, you’re right. It is super important to not only know how to manage your company’s money, but to be able to sense the warning signs when things are not going well. Instead of burying you and your business in still more debt, recognize the signs when it is time to get assistance;
  • Getting paid on time – As a home business owner, you don’t get a paycheck every two weeks nor typically healthcare benefits managed for you as such in a “normal” corporate job. As the person in charge, it is up to you to make sure clients are paying you the money they owe on time. If they’re not, you can easily fall behind on your own bills, starting a dangerous precedent for your home business and your overall finances. Keep clients to a regular schedule when it comes to payments. In the event they are late with them, send out reminders, along with charging interest. If they totally remove themselves from paying their bills, look to a collection agency as a possibility, though you will end up paying a portion of the money you receive from the client to the agency in return for their assistance. For those customers paying by credit card, you need to always make sure their card info is up to date so there are no problems having a payment go through. If they pay by check, don’t excuse them if they get in the habit of bouncing checks here and there. Lastly, if you have friends or even family purchasing goods or services from your home business, avoid the old IOU policy. Yes, they’re your friends and/or family, but they should treat you as a respected business owner, knowing getting your payments on time is critical to you continuing to operate;
  • Keep business and home money separate – It can be tempting at times to borrow a little money here or there from your personal account or accounts in order to prop up your home business. You probably figure that both are tied together, so why not do it, right? There are a number of dangers if you decide to go down that road, so avoid it at all costs. The most inherent risk is that you will eat into your personal expenses for the sake of your business needs. When that happens, those dollars you had put away for personal needs and/or a rainy day fund can take quite a beating in just a short period of time. Always make sure that your personal expenses come first. No, you don’t want your home business regularly in the red or even potentially going under, but having a roof over your head, health insurance, food on the table etc. should always be your number one priority.

Having a home business under your direction can be one of your lifetime dreams.

The key is to managing it properly, knowing the warning signs of cash issues, and making sure you are doing everything possible under your power to be a financially smart business owner.

When you do those three things, you are less likely to leave your home business financially strapped.

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Tips on How to Make Your Own Business a Reality

Many people throughout their lives will have that light-bulb moment, you know the one, when an idea hits you for an innovation or an enterprise that you think could work. The sad truth is that far too many people don’t follow through with their ideas which can lead to regrets later in life or the possibility that someone else will come along with your idea and make it a success. There are many reasons why people won’t indulge their ideas and turn their dream into reality, whether it is fear, a lack of confidence or simply a defeatist attitude that stops them from doing this. If you fall into the bracket of having a fantastic idea and you’re not sure how to follow it through, then here are some tips on how to make your own business a reality.

Don’t Fear Failure

Almost every business or product that has been taken to the market has suffered setbacks along the way, these set backs are not failures, far from it. In fact, set backs are exactly what you need in order to perfect your craft, business or product and in a way, they should be welcomed. The notion of not trying something out in case you fail is one that should be dispelled from your mind, just go for it.

Research and Plan

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65% of start-up business’ fail in their first year, the reasons for this are usually a failure to understand the market and the competition and an overly optimistic financial forecast. Before you even consider heading into the marketplace, it is imperative that you understand your target customers and the competition that you may face. Spending time on this in the beginning is the difference between failure and success. From a financial standpoint, you should always have a full and realistic plan for income and expenditure in the first year, the best approach in year 1 is to be frugal and sensible with how and where you spend your money. Small business loans are a great idea when you are starting out but make sure that you borrow within your means as if you fail to do so then this will bring added pressure to your business.

Make Friends

Creating a community of support around you is one of the most important things you can do for your business, regardless of what field you are entering in to. Whether it be making contacts within advertising or people higher up the food chain than you, if you create these contacts in then beginning then they will pay you dividends in the future. Remember to offer help and support to others if you wish to receive the same thing in return.

Take Advice

You may well think that your idea is the best thing since sliced bread, while this may be true it is important that you never become arrogant in your decision-making. Always seek help and advice from others who either know you well or know the marketplace well. The wisest businessmen and entrepreneurs out there make the best decisions because they seek counsel and you should be no different, even if you are convinced of a certain path or strategy, you should always bounce it off someone first to see if they can see any cracks or holes in your plan.

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