4 Tasks Every Small Business Owner Should Outsource

As a small business owner, you are used to wearing many hats and acting as a Jack of all trades. You likely know a little about a lot, and it’s no wonder why. Running a business requires initiative, skill and savviness. You certainly benefit from the support of your staff, but at the end of the day, you are the one running the show. It can be difficult to delegate tasks to others when you trust yourself the most, and it might be even more difficult to outsource portions of your operation and let go of control completely.

Part of being an effective manager, though, is knowing when to do exactly this. There are several tasks that every small business owner should outsource. Outsourcing can help you free up resources, focus on the essential aspects of your business and avoid errors by getting help from experts trained in the task at hand. The following are some of the processes that might benefit from outsourcing.

Marketing

You might think that your marketing skills are sufficient for promoting your business and attracting customers, but sufficient is not good enough. You work hard to sustain your small business and provide customers with the best service possible. It would be a shame for these efforts to reach only a portion of the market containing potential customers. Rather than do your business a disservice by managing the task of marketing all on your own, consider the benefits of outsourcing it to a company that specializes in small business marketing. This can be a great way to reach new customers.

Bookkeeping

Too many businesses are crippled by the consequences of poor bookkeeping. It is absolutely imperative that you keep track of all revenue, outgoing funds, taxes and payroll. Outsourcing bookkeeping and/or payroll can help you avoid many of the problems that small businesses often encounter with money. Even if you use software and other resources, small mistakes can have major repercussions, and this is a task best left to professionals who are experts in managing small business finances. Outsourcing can also eliminate the stress of spending hours each week managing the minutia of your company’s money.

Web Design

Just as many small business owners are capable of basic bookkeeping, many small business owners are capable of basic web design. When you settle for basic, though, you are doing your company a major disservice. Utilizing a professional website builder is the better option, and it can boost your business’ revenue substantially. Many customers find businesses online, and when your website does not represent your company effectively, you are losing potential sales. A website builder can ensure that potential customers are motivated to follow through. Web design and marketing for small businesses is best left to dedicated professionals.

Conversion

At the end of the day, your ultimate objective is to convert potential customers into loyal clients. Maximizing your conversion statistics demands the use of proven strategies and an effective approach. This means you must utilize marketing, web presence and customer service effectively. Conversion experts who specialize in small businesses can help you use all of these tools to boost profits and reach your target market effectively. A good sales pitch alone won’t do the trick, so it is important to enlist help from specialists when you want to get conversion rates that are worthwhile.

Outsourcing is an important part of running a small business. No matter what industry you are in, you should consider outsourcing these aspects of your company to experts and focusing on what you do best—running the day-to-day operations of your business. This can alleviate stress and free up your time, so do not hesitate to outsource when it becomes necessary.

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Why It’s Important For Small Business Owners To Outsource

As a small business owner you will know only too well about how overwhelming this position can be. There is a temptation in the early stages of your business to micro-manage every aspect of the company in order to save money and assert control. This however, is not a sustainable attitude and it is one which will leave you burned out, and the business in an unstable place. The key to surviving in business is learning how and when to outsource various aspects of the business, and here is why doing so is extremely important.

Focus

The biggest reason for a small business owner to outsource areas of their business is so that they can spend their time focussing on what they do best, which is running the business. For example let’s say that you are an excellent restauranteur who has just opened a French Bistro, how well do you think you are going to be able to focus on the restaurant itself, when you are getting bogged down in human resources stuff or the supply chain? The truth is that you cannot and the more time that you spend on areas of the business which don’t need you to be managing them, the less time you can spend on the areas which do require your attention.

Skill

Outsourcing is not just a time saver, it is also about letting experts take the reigns on certain parts of the business. For example let’s say that you start getting bogged down in bookkeeping and accounting for the business, in a effort to save some money. You may very well be able to work your way around the balance sheet, and use free budget templates to see the ins and outs of the business, but the time that it will take is likely to be double that of an expert in this field. The smart option is to outsource and area of the business such as accounting, in order to let the experts complete what for them, are very simple tasks, rather than you spending hours on such an activity.

Time

One thing which business owners want more than anything else is more time, something which is not easy to come by, especially in the early years. When you outsource an aspect fo the company however, one of the best returns on this investment is the gift of time which it will give you. Business owners need to be at their best at all times, so the additional hours in the day can help to keep you more focussed. As we have preciously mentioned, with this extra time you can focus on the right parts of the business where you can be effective, rather than the areas where you cannot.

The idea of outsourcing is to make the business more productive and more dynamic, to offer a higher standard in many aspect fo the company and ultimately to allow you to focus on the important stuff and not the minutiae.

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Choosing the Right Business Premises

You might be a tiny start-up or a more established business that needs to move to a bigger, better place. Whatever your reasons for upping sticks, there’s four things you have to consider before choosing the right dotted line for you and your enterprise.

Your location

Of course, this depends a lot on the nature of your business. If you’re an interior design company, you’ll need a big window with lots of footfall so passers-by can see what you’re all about. If you’re an IT-based company then you might be better off in one of the many offices to let in Teddington or nearby.

You already know that business premises get more expensive the nearer to the city centre they are. However, this doesn’t mean that you should settle for a cheap out-of-town place because the lack of passers-by might kill you off. You also, no matter what your business, need room for customer and employee parking and delivery vehicles.

It’s fine to ask around for advice – solicitors, your business advisor, your associates – but you shouldn’t feel pushed into anything. Your location is, alongside your finances, the biggest consideration, so don’t just jump in.

Your finances

If your ideal location is way out of your budget then you’ll just have to carry on dreaming. Avoid wasting too much time on the “if onlys” by restricting your search to your budget. Your first big decision is whether to rent or buy. These days, rental options are brilliant because there’s a culture of shared office spaces which are brilliant for techy start-ups.

If you’re having to rent a large unit, though, and you’re not planning to move for a good few years, then think about buying premises. Once you’ve pinned this fundamental decision down, look at what your business rates will be, as well as all your utilities, insurance, taxes, maintenance and security costs.

Your look

It’s unlikely that you’ll walk straight into your premises and not have to change a thing. Most of your changes will be cosmetic, probably – don’t go mad making big changes of any kind to start with, as this is a big drain on money. Just make sure that the outside looks presentable and inviting, as well as any interior areas that customers see. You don’t want to deter clients.

Space is also important. Have you got enough room for your immediate growth plans? Can you afford to have a waiting room or reception area? These things matter to clients and suppliers alike – they need to have confidence in you.

Your legal considerations

You also have some legal things to consider. There are several different types of commercial licences and not all premises have the same ones, so make sure your shortlisted premises have all the paperwork you need.

It’s also important that your building is fully compliant with all the legal regulations, like ventilation, fire, space, hygiene and heating.

Lastly, you need to make sure the infrastructure around your place is sufficient. If you’re a manufacturer, is there space to store waste until it’s disposed of? Can your delivery drivers make collections and drop-offs all day or are there time restrictions?

There’s a lot to think about, so talking to a commercial letting agency is always a good idea.

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How to Start a Business After Bankruptcy

One often overlooked advantages of living in the U.S. is the fact that the bankruptcy laws tend to be much more forgiving than other countries. This can be seen when it comes to starting a business as some countries don’t even let those with a bankruptcy open a bank account.

However, there are no such prohibitions in the U.S. and if you are looking to start over by starting a new business, then read on as this article will give you some pointers on how to make it happen.

Don’t Mix Accounts

Granted, you don’t need a bankruptcy to do this but if when you have a business you don’t want to mix your personal and your corporate accounts. Doing so can not only lead to an accounting nightmare but it might make it harder for your new business to establish credit and trade lines.

As such, get started by incorporating. The truth is that it has never been easier to set up a company and the new tax laws make it to your advantage to do so. By doing so, you will make sure that your company can establish the credit it needs to grow without you being the co-signer. Granted, this does not mean that you will be able to get a million-dollar loan for your new business but you will be able to open the trade lines you will need to operate.

Register for a Tax ID Number

Also known as an Employer Identification Number, think of this as a Social Security number for your business. Getting a new number is especially critical if your previous business was involved in your bankruptcy proceedings.

However, you want to keep in mind that businesses, unlike people, cannot be discharged from Chapter 7 bankruptcies. This means that if you reboot the business, then creditors might still try to act against you. While this shouldn’t happen, there is a risk and as such you will want to discuss this with your lawyer. If you are not sure where to start, then you might want to check out this site – https://www.getfreeofbills.com/chapter-7-bankruptcy-attorney/.

Be Prepared

One thing that bankruptcy should have taught you is that things can change; sometimes rather quickly. While this can lead to a sense of uncertainty, you can harness this to your advantage. Part of this is knowing that you need to be prepared when things aren’t going as planned.

When it comes to your business, this means you need to keep an eye on two things. First, what is your cash position? Remember cash is king and having a good handle on where your company stands will be vital to your long-term success.

Second, you will need to have a plan to get small fast. Often this is how companies get into trouble as they assume the good times will last forever, and then live in denial when the market starts to turn. History is strewn with companies that thought they could weather the storm – remember Lehman Brothers.

Creating Financing

Let’s face it, most banks are not going to welcome you with open arms just after a bankruptcy. However, this does not mean that you are completely cut off from getting the money you need for your business; it just means that you need to get creative.

This includes picking a business that does not require significant capital – including a home-based business or some sort of professional service business. You could also look at working as a subcontractor first – at least until your cash flow stabilizes.

Beyond this, you can look for a partner or seek outside investors and then there are always your customers. Maybe some will be willing to pay upfront for your product or service and this will help to offset the cost of getting your company off the ground.

Look Out for Minefields

One way people can get into trouble with your business is by not paying their taxes. Not only can this create problems with the IRS but you could also run into trouble with the revenue department in your state.

Don’t let this happen to you, make sure you keep clean records and that you file your taxes on time. Keep in mind when it comes to income taxes, you can carry forward the accumulated losses from starting your business. As such, it pays to keep track of your taxes.

Be Very Careful of Giving Payment Terms to Customers

It’s a competitive market and customers have choices. However, you want to be very careful of giving payment terms to your customers as this can come back to haunt you – especially if the economy turns. Remember, cash is king and if you are starting a business after bankruptcy having cash in the bank is more important than being owed $1,000,000 from your customers.

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Building a Team: The Basics

Hiring is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make at work. The people you bring in to your business don’t just bring a skillset and experience, they bring personality, attitude and the ability to influence the people around them. Your company culture is only partly set by corporate diktat: what really creates your working environment is the people who fill it.

Hiring is a chance not just to find a new programmer, executive, or department manager, it’s an opportunity to make your whole company more committed, more sustainable, fairer, more diverse or whatever you’ve decided your priorities are as a business owner. If you say you’re running a company that values it’s employees, that wants people to work smart not hard, and support a healthy work-life balance, but you don’t hire executives who believe in this and encourage those values, you don’t really have that philosophy at all. So when you’re building a team you need to make sure you’re talking the talk as well as walking the walk.

Today we’re looking at how you can do that, and build a team that works for you, your company and your employees.

Shortlisting

The first, and most important thing is to make sure that your values and culture are built into the recruiting process from the off. Whether you’re using your internal resources to recruit or retain an executive search agency, don’t just include a list of the experience you want, whether that’s managerial, in client facing roles, or developing products. Include your values as requirements, and your candidates will know from the start whether this is the job for them. If you’re consciously building a diverse team (and research suggests you should be), an upfront discussion of that as part of your job description will help you find the candidates who will fit into and foster that culture.

Regulations

When you’re doing this you need to make sure that the culture you’re trying to foster is supported by the law. If your attempt to build a company based on ‘old fashioned, reliable values’ and that leads to you turning away highly qualified women and minorities, what you’ve actually done is built prejudice into the heart of your company.

Run your ideas past a lawyer to make sure your corporate values don’t have a darker side, which could lead to you ignoring valuable talent as well as ending up on the wrong side of the law.

Interview

Don’t neglect to discuss what’s important to your company at the interview stage, and as with your other questions don’t hedge around in hypotheticals. Get specific. If you value a good work life balance, ask what they’ve done to foster that value at other companies. Ask how they’ve reacted when their personal feelings have conflicted with a company’s stated position.

If you can follow these three important points you’ll find you’re building a team that gels well and gets results!

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Top 5 Things You Should Know About Your EIN

An EIN number is a nine-digit number required by the IRS for businesses in the United States. The Employer Identification Number is mainly used as identification of your business by the IRS, however, the number has other uses. Once you apply for an EIN online, you will have the number you need to use for your business. Below are the top five things you should know about this number as it is associated with your business.

Open a Business Account

One way you can use your new EIN number is to open a business bank account. Most banks will require your business to have an EIN number before you will be allowed to open up a new account for the company.

Business Permits

Another use of your EIN number is for business permits. If you need permits for your business based on the type of company or location, you will need an EIN number. With this number, you will be able to apply and secure such permits for your company.

Filing Taxes

With your EIN number, you can file your taxes with ease. An EIN number for a business is considered to be like a Social Security Number for an individual. With this number, you can file taxes for the business as well as focus efforts on employee payments and tax needs.

Credit Card Needs

To help with expenses, a credit card for your business will be needed. Applying for a credit card requires an EIN number when considering a company card. The EIN number will ensure that a card is issued to your business so that purchases can be made as needed.

Applying for Loans

An EIN number is also required by banks for a business to be able to apply for a loan. If your business will need monetary assistance via a loan, the EIN must be secured first before applying.

As you can see, there are many ways that an EIN number is used within a business. Be sure to file online to secure the number you need to get started.

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Sticking the Landing – How to Perfect Your Point of Sale

If you are in retail business, whether it is selling clothes, cooking food, or any number of other products and services individuals purchase, you know how vital point of sale is. You want a sales-friendly environment and be able to upsell to any customer with ease.

You also want software that can assist you in your retail endeavours. Since technology is the future, it is time to get on board with point of sale or POS software. This software tracks critical information that you need regarding your clients and their wants and needs.

Continue reading below to learn how you can make your point of sale operate more efficiently.

Know Your Busy Times

Regardless of the type of retail business you own, you need to know your busy times of the day, week, month, and year. You need to know this information to be able to schedule appropriately as well as order the right amount of inventory. To be able to perfect your point of sale, you need software that can track this data to be able to better your company and get the highest ratings from clients that you can.

Market To Current Clients

Another excellent way to increase your point of sale is to keep in touch with repeat customers. If a customer has purchased with you before and had a good experience, they are more likely to come back and purchase from you again. Take advantage of this and market to your returning clientele.

Many businesses will focus on getting new customers in the door. However, if you can get repeat business, that is where the money is at. Find software that will integrate loyalty reward programs as well as personalized mailings and emails to clients who have already shown you some love.

Simplify Inventory

Inventory is needed in any business, whether that inventory is ingredients for a restaurant, or clothing for a fashion store. Inventory can be fickle though. How can you make the process simple, especially if you have multiple locations, new staff, or a tricky budget? You need to investigate software that can scan the current inventory in stock and recommend what needed items should be ordered. Certain software can also make it impossible for store clerks to lower prices or change the price at the register.

Make Your Register Precise And Accurate

The most crucial item you need to perfect your point of sale is an accurate and precise cash register. You want software that can work offline if you lose internet connectivity and that will save the transactions on the device and sync to the cloud when the connectivity returns. You also need to have the ability to run the point of sale software on the go, especially in a restaurant setting.

Involve Your Employees

The last vital tip to perfect your point of sale is to involve your staff with the acquisition of new point of sale software. This is an important gesture as the employees are the ones who will be using the software the most. It will also show your employees that they matter in your decision-making, which makes morale rise and respect gain momentum.

Why Should I Change My Software For My Business?

As a business owner, you want to have the top of the line software, and other technological advances as that are what consumers are looking for. They do not want to do business with an outdated or antiquated retailer. That is why many customers go online to shop, as it is so much easier.

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If you want to stay relevant, you must switch your software and the way you do business. By doing so, you can market to repeat customers for additional sales, know when you are the busiest to appropriately staff and order the correct inventory. But, most importantly, you can have pinpoint accuracy with your cash register where errors are a thing of the past and move towards a more efficient point of sale setup for your business.

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District Dilemmas – 3 Areas in Hong Kong to Consider for Your Business

Those who have been fortunate enough to visit Hong Kong have experienced the wonder one of the world largest economies. The city, home to a number of financial institutions and corporate conglomerates, has one of the most thriving hospitality industries boasting some of the most luxurious hotels and restaurants. However, Hong Kong is really known for an economy supported by a variety of industries.

In this island city, this wealthy locale has been an attractive place for many entrepreneurs for years. Finding office space is no longer a problem, as Hong Kong’s commercial real estate market has a number of traditional and alternative office leasing formats. In addition to the standard co-working and virtual office formats, serviced offices in Hong Kong can accommodate your business. The problem is no longer whether you can find affordable space but where to set up shop.

Let’s take a look at some of the best locations to get started with a serviced office space in Hong Kong.

The Central

While you can consume a good portion of your time in the Golden Shopping Centre, and your money, a few miles away in Hong Kong’s central business district, known as The Central, professionals can experience the awe of working among some of the most internationally-known, wealthy institutions. Key areas that are a draw for both business and tourism are the Bank of China building and HK Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The area is located below Victoria’s Peak, which is directly across the harbour from Kowloon. In this area, financial titans, government consulates, and other corporate interests make this location their home. The area bordered by Aberdeen (Wing Kut Street), Admiralty and Victoria Peak has been the centre of international trade and finance since the British colonial era in 1841. For those looking for office space, this area is serviced by a few leasing companies that can provide you with office space.

The Pearl River Delta

Another possible lucrative market is the Pearl River Delta (PRD) located around the Pearl River estuary. As one of Hong Kong’s most densely urbanised areas, the PRD is known for being a consumer market, a trading hub, a services market and place for investing. The area has one of the fastest growing economies, and because of its link with Hong Kong, it has seen rapid growth in the last couple of years.

Described as a boon economy, the PRD’s economy is primarily supported through trade of goods, services and capital among major cities Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Macau, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Huiyang, Huidong, Zhaoqing, and Jiangmen. For this reason, this area’s population is expected to become one of the largest in the world, overtaking even The Central in terms of business. Those looking test out this market might take advantage of the numerous all night co-working spaces or even the virtual office, both offering professionals a lot of flexibility.

Container Terminal 9 (Container Port)

As with many other international locations, where there is a port, there are opportunities for business, and Hong Kong’s Container Terminal 9 offers prospective business interests the opportunity to take advantage of this area’s import/export trade. The port is undergoing a facelift that when completed will provide those doing business in this area six berths with a capacity to hold more than two million twenty-foot equivalents (TEO) yearly. This area is primed to be one of the busiest ports in the world.

An Island With Plenty Of Growth

Hong Kong’s beauty is the stuff of legend, but on a more mundane level, its business economy offers any entrepreneur a number of options. Entrepreneurs can find they have a place among all three areas whose intertwining interests go back and forth between finance and trade. The Central, PRD and the port are the financial backbones of a city-state whose economic presence in the world has been long-standing.

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How to Choose the Best Utility Broker for Your Business

In times of confusion, it is refreshing to find someone who can help you sort out things, especially if you are putting up a business or a company. You don’t want to go through the hassle of picking the perfect electricity and gas provider for your business when you are too occupied by work stuff, right?

So how do you choose the perfect utility broker for your start-up company? Here are some tips.

Pick someone you can trust

From your set of employees, pick someone who is knowledgeable about energy tariffs and other things related to energy. You may want to assign someone who is budget conscious, curious and a perfectionist. Let them understand that you have entrusted them with a very vital task which will affect the company as well as their co-workers.

Research

Pull up Google and start typing “the best utility broker” then it will show the list of the most reputable brokers in town. Look into their history, the services they provide and of course, customer reviews.

Reading customer reviews both on the company’s official website and other sites will be helpful for you. You will have a clear view of how they handle their business and see if customers are satisfied with it or not. You may also want to consider the following factors:

  • How long have they been in the business?

  • How long should you wait to receive a quote?

  • What are the terms and conditions?

  • Do they bill a reasonable price for the service?

  • Are they really good at negotiating prices with energy companies?

  • What do customers say about the company?

  • Do you have to spend too much time negotiating with them?

List down choices

After your thorough research, you may want to take notes on the companies that appealed to you the most. Take note of their phone number as you will be needing it in the next couple of days. At least pick 2 of the best companies and you can start from there.

Call and make an appointment

Some utility brokers offer free consultations while some charge for a quote. You may want to talk to those who offer to provide quotes for free before going to those who charge. Once you are fully decided, you may set an appointment and take time to finish the forms as soon as possible.

Finding the perfect energy company is a pain but with utility brokers like Utility Bidder you can surely save more money. They eliminate the hassle of completing a lot of paperwork and will surely be by your side until you have signed the contract. They are not biased, and they conduct research to be able to provide you with the most cost-efficient energy provider for your business.

Utility brokers are here to make your business decisions easier. So, before you jump into a contract with an energy company, consider using a third-party intermediary in the market.

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Like a Boss – 6 Secrets to Being a Great Employer

A company’s employees are its greatest asset. Too often, workers feel undervalued or as if their work isn’t making any real difference. People thrive on recognition and positive reinforcement. It’s human nature. There is no shortage of ways that an employer can demonstrate to their employees how much their efforts are valued to ensure their happiness and productivity continues to thrive! Here are a few of them:

  1. Show Appreciation

It’s natural for employees to want to feel recognized and appreciated for the work that they put in to contribute to their company’s success. It might come as a surprise to know that in many cases, this does not have to take a monetary form. In fact, more tangible forms of acknowledgement such as a thoughtful personalized corporate gift, a new work computer or phone, or even a free lunch at a nice restaurant can be more effective in communicating how much you value their contribution.

  1. Genuinely Value Your Employees

Treat your workers like family. Sure, this must be balanced with a degree of professionalism; however, the workers who feel more at ease and valued in their workplace are typically more efficient, creative and productive in their roles. Make a habit of expressing positive feedback and feelings to your employees, so they know that they are considered an integral part of your team. Respect your staff, and watch your business thrive.

 3. Give Them a Life Outside of Work

‘Work-life balance’ is the buzzword of the decade. In an age of 24/7 connectivity and the idea that if you aren’t burning the candle at both ends, you’re not doing it right, the need for some downtime is at an all-time high. A recent survey found that the demand for remote work is climbing as more people crave more flexible workplace arrangements. Consider providing your employees with the opportunity to work from home if appropriate. Workers appreciate having the option to be flexible. In return, you will see higher standards of work.

4. Cultivate Proper Leadership

Without a proper leader, the flock will begin to scatter. Your workers need engaging leaders to help drive better work performance. The right leader will help to energize and assist managers and employees and enable an open and honest dialogue between workers and management. Think about developing a mentorship program that can provide opportunities for growth and leadership among employees. Employees work hard for leaders they believe have their best interests at heart.

5. Long-Term Relationship

Encourage employees to want to stay long-term by providing them with the best loyalty incentives. Foster a growth mindset, and help your employees to flourish and achieve their long-term goals. Personal growth leads to professional growth. With your assistance, your employees will find more motivation to stay.

6. Funny Business

A fundamental way to cultivate better employees is to make them happier employees. Yes, even the Financial Times reported that being funny at work is good for business. Here’s why; work doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun! Encourage your employees to bring joy into the workplace by hosting themed office parties or provide a games area for workers to let loose during lunch-break. There’s an ulterior motive to those office day’s out, not only are they fun, but they’re also great for team-building.

To be the best, you have to produce the best. Loyal employers foster loyal staff in return. The key takeaway from all this is that as an employer, your primary business should be the happiness of your employees. All of these strategies will help to make your business more effective, more productive and more successful.

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