10 tips for sole traders

By Pete | @kingpetey | 21 Nov 2017

Running your own business can give you the freedom and peace of mind that no ordinary job can offer. Below, we’ve rounded up ten top tips for sole traders to consider…

1.Set up your business as soon as possible

Becoming a sole trader is simple – all you have to do is sign up on the Government website, and then keep a record of your business’ sales and expenses and submit a Self Assessment tax return at the end of every business year. The good news is that, after paying tax, you’ll get to keep 100% of your profits, so getting organised and signing up your business as soon as possible makes sense. Otherwise, you may have to submit the previous year’s finances and back-pay your tax, which can be time-consuming, stressful and costly.

2.Organise yourself

There are a whole host of benefits of working for yourself, but one drawback is self-motivation. If you’re struggling to know where to start, create a calendar and organise where you’ll need to be, what you should be doing and how long you’ll need to do it for.

3.Get the best deals

Just as you would for your personal finances, you should shop around to get the best value for money on things like rent, marketing and insurance. If you have a van, for example, then you can find cheap fleet insurance quotes on websites such as Be Wiser. It pays to use price comparison websites and haggle to get the best deal – it almost always results in a discount.

4.Start your own website

Your website is your online shop front – it's where people will go to find out about what you do. Whether you're a mechanic or a hairdresser, a website is essential – use a web design tool such as Web.com or hire a professional web design company to create one for you.

5.Do some marketing

Nobody is going to buy from you if they don't know you exist, so do some marketing to get the word out. Consider printing off leaflets, set up social media handles for your business and put an advert in the local newspaper – every little helps in the early days of a company.

6.Save money when you can

Taking out a small business loan can work, but it pays to have money set aside for when you need new equipment or want to expand. Rather than boosting your salary or splashing out on expensive work meals and outings, save money as and when you can for a “rainy day”.

7.Collect money as soon as possible

Whenever you’re hired for a job, you should send out an invoice for the work – that way, you’ll be able to collect money and avoid being scammed. We recommend sticking to email-based invoices, as that way, customers can’t argue that their invoice was “lost in the post”.

8.Monitor your competitors

When you're in the early days of running a business, it's crucial that you identify your competition. Look around to see who else is offering services similar to yours, monitor their marketing and online activity, and see what they're doing differently to you. You can learn a lot about your industry by copying best practices from your competition, so don't be afraid.

9.Set up a bank account

Although you don’t technically need a separate bank account as a sole trader, having one can keep your personal and business finances from intertwining. Get business earnings paid into a separate account that you can monitor, and then transfer wages into your personal account. That way, you’ll be less tempted to spend money you’ve earned for your business.

10.Make friends

A one-man-band business can be great fun, but it can also be lonely. Network with other business owners and industry friends, as they’ll not only keep you company when you’re sick of working alone, but they could become useful contacts when looking for new work.

Building a solid link profile is a very important part of SEO. However, not all links are created equal. If you are looking to build a solid link profile here are 3 ways you can do just that.

Focus On High Quality Links

The quality of links in your profile matter. If you have thousands of poor quality links pointing to your website Google and other search engines will see that as a problem.

If there are any toxic links pointing to your website, disavow them as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure they don't pass on any bad link juice to your website.

Get Links From Sites In Your Niche

If you are a personal trainer in Los Angeles, you want to make sure your site has links coming from sites in the health and fitness space.

If you have a ton of links coming from a real estate agents site Google will view that as irrelevant and your rankings will take a hit.

Diversify Your Links

Instead of focusing on getting all of your links from one or two niche sites, try getting a range of links from several trustworthy sites.

When a trustworthy site is linking back to you the search engines see that as a good thing and will send you more traffic as a result.

A solid link profile is the key to getting quality organic traffic to your website. It doesn't matter how well you have optimized your website, if your link profile isn't strong your traffic and conversions will suffer.

To get the best results you have to put yourself in the place of your ideal customers. What are they searching for when they go to Google? Knowing this information will give you an advantage over the competition.

Need Help With Your Link Profile?

If you have no idea where to start when it comes to building a solid link profile, 445 Media can help. They are experts in both on and off page SEO and can help you build a link profile that drives hundreds of targeted visitors to your site every single month.

There are more than 12 million eCommerce websites on the internet today. Less than 650,000 of them make more than a thousand dollars every year. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to marketers. While the probability of success in eCommerce might seem low, entrepreneurs can make a killing buying not so successful online stores and turning them around. In this article, we will look at some ridiculously easy ways marketers can make failing eCommerce websites profitable.

Content Marketing

Growing traffic to standalone eCommerce websites can be tough work. This is because of the sheer competition that your business faces from rival stores selling the same products. Thanks to the latest algorithm updates, search engines like Google rank established websites like Amazon over smaller, niche stores. One way to get around this challenge is through content marketing. Publishing blogs, videos and images that appeal to your target audience helps your business get seen on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Also, a well-planned content marketing strategy can also help your business rank for lucrative long-tail searches on Google. All of this draws your targeted audience to your website who may then be directed to your eCommerce portal.

Consolidation

ECommerce marketplaces like Shopify Exchange are extremely popular among serial entrepreneurs who own a lot of businesses. The reason for this is consolidation. Entrepreneurs who own a lot of properties in an industry tend to buy more businesses in the space in order to refer visitors and customers from one portal to the other. For instance, if you own a fashion blog, it is a good idea to buy an online apparel store that aligns with the kind of fashion you cover on your website. This way, you could refer the visitors from the blog to your online store and vice versa, thereby growing the traffic and revenue across both these properties.

Coupons

Customers love giveaways and discounts. Coupon marketing can however bleed your revenue and should therefore be deployed judiciously. To begin with, target your coupons at specific customers or products. For instance, you could offer a ten percent discount on new customers. This way, you incentivize new registrations while forcing regular customers to pay market price for products. Similarly, if you are having trouble moving certain SKUs, you could look at offering discounts on these products alone. One way to make sure that your coupon strategy does not cause loss is by setting a minimum order value.

Partnerships

The purchase of an eCommerce store should not be viewed as a standalone transaction. Buying an online store also helps you get access to suppliers, wholesalers and distributors who can provide you products at a discounted rate. Besides selling these products on your eCommerce store, you may also strike a partnership with complementary websites or brick and mortar destinations to deliver these products to their customers. This helps your business scale up your monthly volume which can fetch you a better price from the suppliers. This strategy is particularly useful to increase profitability as well as to dramatically improve your monthly turnover.

Do you have a job that keeps you tied to your desk throughout the day? It can be difficult to stay in shape in an office environment, but there are things you can do to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Read on for our top five work fitness tips to help you avoid piling on the pounds.

Adjust your posture

Many people fall into the trap of slouching at their desk. Sitting up straight is a calorie-burner as it contributes to toning your physique. Your back and core muscles tighten up when you sit up straight, helping to tone them as well. Having correct posture can prevent backaches and neck pain, allowing you to continue exercising away from work without injuries or injuring yourself further.

Don't skip lunch or 'down time'

Do you usually grab your lunch without taking a break from your work? This usually results in us rushing something unhealthy down and increases the chances of putting on weight. Choosing healthy options such as fruits, vegetables and fat free yogurts away from your desk can help you stay fit. Take time away from the daily grind and utilise your lunch hour to do something enjoyable such as trying out casumo free spins or reading a good book can also help our wellbeing.

Keep yourself mobile

Standing up and going for a short walk can help you stay in shape as this will increase your activity levels during the day. If you need to speak with a colleague, pop along to their office rather than phoning or sending an email. At lunchtime try and get outside for some fresh air – even a brisk 15 minute walk can make a difference to your fitness levels.

Don't overdo tea or coffee

It can be notoriously difficult to try to control your intake of tea and coffee at work. This can be made worse if you take your drinks with sugar. Drink plenty of water throughout the day so that you remain hydrated and alert. Water can trick your body into feeling full, significantly diminishing your hunger and cravings.

Don't skip your gym session

You can soon get out of the habit of visiting the gym if you have an office job, but keeping a workout in your daily routine will undoubtedly help you to stay in shape. Most gyms offer early morning sessions, so why not get up an hour earlier and start the day on a treadmill or exercise bike? A quick shower afterwards will leave you refreshed and ready to tackle your office duties.

Modern technology has changed the way we live, offering users a vast range of opportunities to make their lives easier. The internet allows people to diversify the way they work, opening up the possibility or working from home or starting a business to run alongside full-time employment. Read on to discover our five top tips for making money online.

1. Social media management Social media has changed the way companies advertise and market themselves. If you're particularly savvy with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram it's possible to earn a decent amount of money by becoming a social media manager. Build yourself a strong online presence in a personal capacity, then look for freelance social media management opportunities to seriously boost your income.

2. Set up a blog or website If you're a talented writer with something interesting to say why not use a blog or website to make some money? The majority of successful websites generate income through advertising, with Venice Magic Slot or similar advertisers eager to take advantage of the traffic they can generate. It is important not to bombard your readers with too many advertisements, but carefully placed content can actually enhance a user's experience of visiting your site.

3. Start an online shop Are you good at buying and selling? Maybe you've identified a product you can buy cheaply and sell at a profit online? Whether it's one of these or something else, starting an online shop can provide you with an excellent main or secondary source of income. Sites such as Amazon and eBay also offer the opportunity to sell affiliate products, further boosting your chances of making money online.

4. Take part in online surveys There are numerous websites that ask you to take part in surveys and get paid. These can be done in your own time and although they offer a relatively low amount for each one completed, you can generate a steady stream of income for just a few hours work each month. Recommending friends and family can help you earn even more money.

5. Teach online Do you have a particular skill you could pass on? Perhaps you're fluent in languages or maybe you're good at DIY? Whatever your skill you could become a virtual teacher and host one-on-one tutoring sessions or webinars to help people directly with any number of topics. Creating video tutorials on sites like YouTube can also generate a significant amount of income if you have a particular niche that would attract a significant number of viewers. Whatever you consider taking on, you must be dedicated and prepared to work hard to ensure your efforts are properly rewarded.

If you're thinking of starting your own gym there's plenty to consider before you can get the business off the ground. You've found your ideal location and have a picture in your mind of what you want, but you still need to determine whether your idea makes commercial sense. Read on for some useful tips to help you get up-and-running.

1. Do your homework The planning stage should include a complete budget. This will obviously include equipment, but don't forget other expenses such as utility bills, marketing and insurance. Try and speak to owners of similar sized gyms to get their advice about some of the pitfalls in the industry. You could try and boost your budget by using Dirty Dancing Slot Free Spins to generate some extra income, but always seek independent financial advice and don't take the plunge unless you're absolutely sure your gym will be successful.

2. It's all about the space Laying out your gym doesn't just involve working out how much equipment you need. Changing rooms, bathroom facilities, group fitness areas, studios and offices can all eat into the space you have available. As a general rule of thumb around 60% of your gym's space will be areas for strength and cardio equipment, with the rest used for everything else.

3. Utilise a design service A full design service offers customers with a new build or an existing area the opportunity to see full 3D images of what their gym will look like prior to placing an order. Engineers will attend site, assess your equipment needs and take full measurements. From there, they will prepare you a full 3D Cad designed presentation and a quote for you to approve. The beauty of this service is you can change your design as many times as you want, until you are satisfied that you are getting exactly what you need and keeping within your budget. Use a company who can also audit your existing equipment and incorporate it within your design. For a more unique or corporate look, you could consider colour coding your upholstery and having logos embossed.

4. Keep on top of servicing Regular servicing and maintenance of gym equipment reduces the number of breakdowns and increases the longevity of equipment, preventing costly repair and replacement. It's recommend that each item of equipment is serviced twice a year to meet the strict industry health and safety requirements. There are different levels of service plans you can utilise including ad hoc, annual scheduled service agreements, all-inclusive contracts, audit servicing and full estate management.

Regardless of the type of business you run, your customer is the most important element of your operations. The success of your business depends highly on how happy you can make your customers and how long you can keep them feeling that way about your products and services.

Good customer service is one of the best ways to get closer to customers. Customer service is so much more than providing support and after-sales services. It is more about building and maintaining good relationships with your customers, and we have just the tips to help you get started in this article.

Utilise Your Customers’ Preferred Channels

In the old days, we chose the right support channels based on many factors, from the budget we had in hand to the most convenient way of providing customer support. Today, the best approach is to use the channels customers are already using.

This is one of the main reasons why more businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, now offer customer care through social media sites. Your customers are already there, so connecting with them and offering help whenever possible is much easier to do.

Another interesting approach is to use mobile apps. If you already have an app for your products and services, add a Live Chat feature so that customers can ask questions at any time. Gaffey, a leading provider of industrial water treatment systems, take this approach a step further and offers their business customers a technical support app.

Get Feedback

Don’t wait until customers run into issues with the products and services you offer before reaching out to them. It is actually better to reach out and ask questions before that happens because you can build stronger relationships with them this way.

There are several ways to do this. You can, for example, send a follow-up email one or two weeks after a customer’s purchase. You can use suggestion boxes and printed sheets to capture feedback from customers in a retail establishment or an offline store. You can even call customers directly to get the insights you need.

Learn from Complaints

Your first priority must always be to get complaints settled as quickly as possible. Make sure your team finds the perfect solution and helps customers in a timely manner. Solving the problem, however, is not the end of the customer support cycle.

You must also take the time to analyse complaints and learn from them. Are there similar complaints coming from different customers? What can you do to prevent the same issues from happening again? Is there a lesson to be learned in the complaints you receive?

Take a more active stance in learning from a customers’ problems. You can also learn from the compliments and positive feedback you receive. Combined, the learning experience will allow you to improve your products and services while building stronger relationships with your customers.

These are simple tips and strategies you can implement right away to improve how you handle your customers. Invest in building a stronger relationship and you will enjoy many long-term benefits in return.

Every business owner needs to look for ways big and small to make their company run more quickly and more efficiently. In this way, you can save time and money, as well as valuable resources, while driving up your profit margins. But what steps should you be taking to make your business run smoothly every day? Check out the tips below to get started.

 

Single Sign-On

Single Sign-On, also referred to as SSO, is a great way to eliminate the time-consuming process of needing to authenticate as you move between different apps. Every one of your employees can make use of SSO when they use any web or mobile apps that are hosted in the cloud or hosted by your own business. Take SSO solutions provider ProofID as an example of one of the products that you can use in your company every day. With the right SSO provider, you can have the best combination of user experience and security to get more done in a shorter amount of time. 

Customer Relationship Management Software

Another wise investment would be customer relationship management (CRM) software. This will give you the tools necessary to control all of the communications between your business and your clients. In this way, you and your employees will never drop the ball when it comes to keeping your customers—especially your loyal customers—happy and coming back for more. This could lead to increased sales and more satisfied customers with less effort on your part.

Use Free Cloud Solutions

Your employees work on a lot of different projects every day in order to keep your company going strong and they often have to send files back and forth to each other, making revisions all along the way. This can be time-consuming, as well as take up a lot of space on your email server. So rather than sticking with the old-school method of emailing updates between employees and making notes in files, why not use one of the free cloud services that are available? These include Dropbox and Google Drive as a couple of popular examples. You can give and restrict access for security, as needed, and you can track changes a lot more easily too. Plus, workers from remote locations can access these files with greater ease, without having to worry about having the files on their drives everywhere they go.

Outsource Where Necessary

A final way to make your company more efficient is by outsourcing the tasks that your staff can’t handle on their own. The last thing that you want to do is give your workers too much to do, causing them to hate their job and actually become less efficient overall. So, if you need writing services, design work, or even IT support, consider outsourcing these tasks to qualified pros.

With the strategies and tools above, you can take small steps towards making your business a lot more efficient every day. Before you know it, you will be able to save money that you can reinvest into your brand to help it continue to grow. 

Are you tired of attending Business Award Ceremonies and coming way empty handed?  Do you wait patiently each year in anticipation, only to watch another team walk away with the accolade? Or perhaps you feel deflated when you thumb through your Business Sector magazine and read articles of a team that’s smashed their targets for the third year running?  The secret to High Performing teams is, of course, teamwork.

As a manager, it’s important to know the keys to developing an effective team.  Let’s have a look at seven ways you can do this:

  1. Communication – Sounds like a simple thing, but if a team doesn’t communicate effectively how do they know what goals each other have and what the expected outcomes are? Effective team communication is essential to the success of the group in performing its role as well as to the morale of staff and their motivation to succeed at work.
  2. Utilizing varied strengths and abilities - Team leaders should never forget that one of the key benefits of teamwork is the individual strengths of its members. Some members can be good organisers, others are innovative, others may be good motivators.  Remember that it can be the blend of different strengths which makes a team effective.       
  3. Goals - The whole team must understand what the goals are and should be committed to achieving them. Goals give the team clear direction, if there is an agreed purpose and specific path to be followed it will promote effective teamwork. The team clarity is reinforced when the organization gives clear guidance relating to the team's work, goals, accountability, and outcomes.
  4. Cooperation - Cooperation means working together, for everyone’s benefit.  Work teams succeed only when all staff are fully ‘on-board’ in sharing ideas and undertaking tasks. These cooperative qualities make an individual much more valuable to his team. Getting actively involved and cooperating also earns the respect of other team members, making them more susceptive to hearing your ideas.
  5. Managing Conflict - Provide specific and detailed instructions on how to resolve problems that arise among team members.  This will instill teamwork by encouraging members to solve issues efficiently and productively. Instead of creating a culture of blame in the workplace, create an atmosphere of being proactive and solution oriented.
  6. Participative Leaders - This is demonstrated when leading meetings, assigning tasks, recording decisions and commitments, assessing progress, holding team members accountable, and giving directives to the team.
  7. Effective decision making - A confident and effective team leader looks to the team for answers and welcomes constructive challenges and suggestions for alternative courses of action.  On occasion, the leader must be prepared to take difficult decisions and be willing to explain the basis on which they have been taken

Of course, this is not a definitive list.  Why not also think about ways to motivate, reward and bring your team together?  Have you considered implementing a Recognition Program for staff? Or, you may want to encourage social activities outside of the work environment. There are also many companies that offer team building activities in London, Manchester, Birmingham and other UK cities.

Whatever you decide, be sure that your efforts to improve teamwork will result in a greater performance and you never know, maybe the odd shiny accolade for you to put pride of place in the office!

Business travel tends to come and go in favor. In today’s digital age a lot of businesses are cutting down on their employees’ travel somewhat, instead having them connect through the use of technology like Skype.

Despite the tendency to want to move away from business travel in lieu of cheaper and more convenient digital solutions, there’s still a lot of value in traveling itself, when your company is smart with your strategy and policies.

Some of the main reasons companies still rely on the use of business travel include customer visits, sales and marketing, employee training and internal meetings, as well as conferences and conventions.

The following are some of the important things to know about employee travel in your business.

Expense Management Software

First and foremost, when you have employees doing any level of business travel, it’s essential that you choose the right global expense management software. A big concern with business travel is the fact that it’s difficult and time-consuming to deal with expense reports and submissions.

Advanced software platforms alleviate this difficulty with centralized visibility and reporting, easy mobile tools that let employees make submissions on the go, and easy global capabilities that are integrated with the software.

In general, when it comes to business travel, automation makes the process simpler and more efficient for everyone involved and takes some of the burdensome decision-making out of business travel for employees while letting them focus their energy elsewhere.

Be Clear and Specific With Policies

While choosing the right expense software is important and can go a long way in helping you have the most successful employee travel, you also need to have clear, specific, defined policies in place. Your employees and your bottom line are going to benefit from clarity in your policies.

By being clear and removing potential gray areas in travel policies, you can save money, ensure that trips are productive and keep employees happy while maintaining compliance.

One department that should be included in travel policy planning but often isn’t is HR. Human resources is an essential part of bridging travel and expense policies with the actual functionality of employees.

Human resources can help look at things such as the impact the travel will have on the employee and the corporate strategy. Human resources can also help look at ways the travel can benefit the employee along with the company, and identify what all key stakeholders stand to gain from the experience.

Another way human resources should be involved in policy-making in this area is to make sure that comfort and safety standards are being adhered to, and that there is a consistent process in place for employee travel outside of only expense management.

Collaboration with CFOs and Travel Managers

Finally, your travel managers shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. They need to work together with other key stakeholders including CFOs. You want to make sure you’re identifying all potential opportunities to improve and optimize your ROI when it comes to corporate travel, and collaboration between travel managers and CFOs will help with this.

There’s need to be a shared strategy and by pairing CFOs and financial professionals with your travel managers you’ll be more strategic in how all employee travel is carried out.

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