If you’ve taken the initiative to start your own business, you probably possess many of the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur, be it confidence, discipline, passion or creativity. These are important and valuable qualities to have. But in the frenetic digital age, keeping up with the competition requires more than just an effective human input.
Knowing how to leverage the power of today’s online tools can save your business an invaluable amount of time and money. It can help you find insights into how you can optimise, grow and become a leader in your industry. Let’s take a look at 5 types of these online tools and what they can do for your business.
Overpriced monthly bills can quickly eat away at your bottom line. From insurance to internet to licensing, chances are that there’s at least one you can cut down on. Online tools make this easy. For instance, Utility Bidder offers cheap electricity for small business by allowing you to compare prices between different suppliers in the UK.
Modern finance and accounting tools can help you get a better picture of your company’s financial health and streamline or even automate many daily operations. For instance, Gusto improves the efficiency of tasks such as tax reporting, payroll and benefits. The app can also automate payments and manage employee onboarding processes.
Wave is aimed at sole proprietors and independent contractors who need an expense tracking, invoice management, receipt scanning and general accounting tool that will save them time. Freshbooks is another popular accounting tool with features such as automated billing, custom report creation and the ability to accept mobile card payments.
With the variety of communication tools available on the market today, particularly those that are cloud-based, you can leverage them to commute less often, employ remote workers and develop more effective communication channels within your business. A great example is Slack, a messaging platform that aims to improve collaboration between teams.
According to Statista, there will be 4.3 billion email users by 2022. Email marketing also happens to offer an unmatched return on investment potential. So, if you aren’t already using it, now is the time. Even if you have no experience in email marketing, there are many tools available to help you set up an effective campaign.
This includes the likes of Constant Contact, SendinBlue and Mailchimp. These tools will help you create powerful templates, stay in touch with subscribers, dispatch newsletters at optimal times, set up automatic responses, and increase your conversion rate. They also provide an array of statistics that will help you improve your campaigns.
Traditional project management solutions are nothing more than paperweights compared to today’s digital alternatives. The likes of Accelo, Smartsheet and Zoho Projects allow you to keep your daily operations on a single platform, helping you monitor and allocate your resources more effectively.
The eCommerce landscape is a tough place. It’s saturated with other retailers that may be targeting the same niche audiences you are, which means you have to work extra hard to make your name known and draw the attention of potential customers. How can you give yourself an advantage in such a competitive space? Here are a few things you can do to increase your online business’s sales:
Make the checkout process smooth
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Open your own website, pretend to shop, add a few items to your cart, and proceed to pay. What was the experience like? Was it quick and easy, or did it take several minutes?
According to Barilliance, cart abandonment rates rose to 78.65 percent in 2017. This means that over three-quarters of site visitors intended to purchase something from an online retailer, but decided against it at the last second. There are multiple reasons why, but a significant one is that the checkout process took too long.
Customers want to purchase their goods quickly, which means they appreciate entering minimal information, clicking “confirm,” and moving on. No making accounts with passwords. No entering an abundance of personal information. No pages after pages of details that make people give up in frustration—the product isn’t worth it. Use electronic point of sale systems to make your checkout process more straightforward. You may also be curious to know how ePOS can help you manage your inventory and provide insight into your sales patterns.
Make your website easier to navigate
On a related note, pay attention to how easy your website is to navigate while you are pretending to be a shopper. Keep in mind that what makes sense to you (because you probably had a hand in building it) might not make sense to others. Make sure that your site is easily navigable with clear directions and an aesthetically pleasing interface. People will find you more trustworthy if your website is modern and sophisticated—and don’t forget to secure it by switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
Personalize your calls-to-action
You already know the importance of calls-to-action, but the standard “buy now” buttons are trite. It helps to personalize your CTAs. Not on an individual level, but you want to account for where people are in the buying process. Some people are simply browsing out of curiosity, others are comparing your products with those from another retailer, and others are ready to make a purchase.
While it’s challenging to tell the difference when people visit your website, you can implement personalized CTAs through your marketing. For instance, you can email potential customers something different than your regular customers with links to unique landing pages.
Make your reviews accessible
As they say, word-of-mouth marketing is the best kind of marketing there is. People are more likely to trust other consumers than anything you have to say—of course, you are acting in your own best interests, but genuine, honest reviews speak volumes. Store visitors will want to see customer testimonials, so make them easily accessible on your website.
Reviews are a powerful tool when it comes to converting browsers into buyers. Even if they are not 100 percent positive, potential customers will notice the honesty (it would be suspicious if you had thousands of reviews and all of them were five stars). And, of course, never ever falsify a review.
Be honest in your listings
Be honest in your listings, too. The last thing you want is all sorts of unhappy customers messaging you saying that the product was not what they expected or had something wrong with it. Answer every question you can imagine a consumer asking in the website copy, and invest in high-quality photography from different angles. One of the caveats of eCommerce is that people cannot physically touch an item and imagine the role it would play in their lives, so give them the next-best thing and be detailed with your value propositions.
Use ad extensions
You may also have already invested in pay-per-click advertisements with Google AdWords. These are useful, but you can optimize them with ad extensions. Ad extensions make the online banners larger with more places to click. It doesn’t cost extra money, and it increases your ads’ click-through rates.
For example, instead of creating an ad that simply includes a link to “Relaxing Massages,” use two links to “ Professional Hot Stone Massages” and “Professional Aromatherapy Massages.”
Optimize your site for mobile
Barilliance also notes that over half of all eCommerce traffic is mobile, which means you need to optimize your site for people searching on their phones and tablets. You don’t want to frustrate people by forcing them to use their desktops in order to buy from you—they may not have been home and decided to buy something on the spot.
Make sure your checkout process is just as easy on mobile so you can appeal to consumers who prefer to shop online anytime, anywhere.
There are countless ways to increase your store’s sales, but these tips are an excellent place to start. How do you plan to improve your online business?
Preparing your business for sale can be a lengthy process, and one which requires a lot of consideration if you are to get the best possible price for it. Whilst timing can be everything, there are other things you can do to maximise its market price.
Even if your business is in financial trouble, it’s important to do what you can so that you stand the best possible chance of making a good sale. There are lots of professionals who can help you prepare, but here are a few helpful tips to get the ball rolling before you begin your new chapter.
Know what you are trying to achieve
When preparing your business for sale, it’s important to know your reasons for doing so. Do you have personal reasons for wanting to sell up, or is it a necessity? Whether your main objective is to sell as quickly as possible or for the highest bid, having a good idea of your objectives will give any professionals you have employed a clearer understanding of how they can help.
Being able to talk about why you are selling and what you want to achieve from the sale is also important to potential buyers. For example, if you are still hoping to have a continued involvement in the business, a potential buyer might want you to define your expectations before they proceed.
On the other hand, if your business needs new investment in order for it to survive or grow, you need to have your facts and figures in order so that you can guide the process effectively and secure the most appropriate buyer.
Give your business a spruce
As you would if you were selling your house, ensuring your business is operating at its best, giving your work space a face lift and generally making sure everything is running effectively is advisable when preparing your business for sale.
This is especially important if you are wanting to maximise your profits. While sprucing up the business might cost you, speculating to accumulate has its advantages. Ironing out any issues before it is put up for sale will prevent potential buyers from having too much leverage to negotiate.
Whether it’s minor aesthetic improvements to the office or more logistical updates to your systems to make them more effective, taking the time to paint your business in the best light possible will help create a good first impression once you put it up for sale.
Know your business’s value
Once you have identified what you want to achieve from the sale, it’s time to value your business. This can be based on a number of factors, but the valuation can often reflect the reason behind putting your business up for sale in the first place. If time is of the essence and you need a speedy exit strategy, you might want to consider how much you would be prepared to accept for the business in order to make a quick sale.
It’s also important to view the business objectively. If you have owned the business for many years, it might be that you have invested emotional value in the company that outsiders might not be able to see in the same way. Trying to gauge an idea of how an unknown potential buyer might objectively value your business is a good place to start. Additionally, doing some research into sales of similar businesses in your industry may help give you a good guide not only as to their value but how long it took them to sell.
In addition to this, be sure to obtain a professional valuation from a specialist. They will want to know and understand your aims and objectives for the sale before they can assess its value in the market.
Ensure your accounts are in order
To ensure potential buyers have confidence in your business, make sure your finances are in order and your business accounts are looking healthy. Have the relevant and accurate financial documentation to hand, as both the professionals you enlist to help with the sale and potential buyers will inevitably want to see them. Expect to provide at least three year’s worth of information such as company reports, asset valuations, turnover and profit figures.
If you are hoping to sell the business due to financial difficulties, you might be worried that the business will be hard to sell at all. While some buyers may be hoping to get their hands on assets at a much lower price than they’d otherwise be worth, a struggling business can be attractive to ambitious investors who see an opportunity for a complete overhaul.
On the run up to the sale
When deciding to put your business up for sale, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the preparation, especially if you’re after a quick sale. Don’t forget that in the meantime you still need to keep the business ticking over. It’s important not to take your eye off the ball and give prospective buyers a reason to put in lower offers than you were expecting.
Running frequent health checks on your business, making improvements where necessary and keeping the accounts in order as you would usually are all still necessary when preparing to sell.
Tax planning for small businesses is never an easy ride and can be a minefield for business owners, especially entrepreneurs who are still finding their feet.
While the use of a good accountant can make life easier, having some tax-saving ideas up your sleeve will help keep the business’s finances looking healthy and allow the money to be better spent elsewhere.
We’ve put together 15 ideas to help you identify where and how those all important tax savings can be made.
1. Use your allowances
Basic tax reliefs and allowances can make you substantial savings, so don’t overlook them. By making the most of tax-free allowances on basic income, dividend income, capital gains and savings income, you may receive over £28,000 a year free of tax.
2. Capital gains allowance
Capital gains are the profit made from the sale of certain investments, and for 2019 - 2020 you can enjoy up to £12,000 tax-free. Be sure to use the full allowance within the tax year as you won’t be able to carry it over to the next. If you joint own assets with your spouse or civil partner, the capital gains tax-free allowance is doubled to £24,000.
3. Contribute to a pension
Pension contributions are tax deductible and are a way to make savings. Paying directly into a pension or making company contributions to an employee’s pension will reduce the amount of corporation tax you need to pay.
4. Know your VAT
Business owners often lose out by misunderstanding VAT or paying more than they necessarily should. After registering for VAT, small businesses can make savings by signing up to the flat rate VAT scheme, under which you’ll only pay VAT as a flat rate percentage of your sales.
5. Transfer assets
Avoid capital gains tax by transferring assets to your spouse or civil partner. A partner on a lower income may also pay a lower level of income tax, so if this is the case it may well be worth transferring savings and investments to them.
6. Extract profit
If you are a business owner or operate through a limited company, extracting money via a small salary up to your personal allowance and topping this up with dividends is the most tax-efficient.
7. Make the most of Entrepreneurs' Relief
Tax savings can be made by using Entrepreneurs' Relief when selling shares or part of your business. Business owners get a reduced capital gains tax rate of 10 per cent on qualifying business assets.
8. Don’t forget your expenses
Keeping hold of all of your business receipts and claiming expenses can help make tax savings, as long as the items have been bought for business use. Business owners can also make use of the annual investment allowance, which allows you to deduct the full value of an item bought for business use from your profits before tax.
9. Make another employee a partner
If you operate a sole trader or limited company business, making another key employee a partner will make you both substantial National Insurance savings, whilst also giving them a role in the business.
10. Employ your spouse
Tax savings can also be made by employing your partner. Bringing them into the business means you can make use of their personal tax allowances too, thus doubling your potential tax-free income and spreading out the income you extract from the business.
11. Employee benefits
Treating your staff to bonuses can also help small businesses make tax savings. Make sure they are paid before the end of the tax year.
12. Use an accountant
Finding the time to successfully look after the books whilst trying to grow your business can be difficult. While the business will benefit from you dedicating some time to bookkeeping, taking on the services of an accountant will certainly help. While you may worry about the cost, you might otherwise fail to claim everything you are entitled to.
13. Know your industry
Keep a finger on the pulse with your trade body or association, as many industries have special tax dispensations, such as uniform allowances.
14. Work from home
If you run your small business from home, there are generous tax savings to be made. HMRC allow a specific home charge per week of £4, but you can also claim tax relief on other bills as well.
15. Plan ahead
Most importantly, tax planning should be done well ahead of the business and fiscal year end so that you can make the most of all tax reliefs available to you. Assessing your profits in advance will give you time to take any further action while you can, such as investing more in pension contributions or buying more machinery to reduce your taxable profits.
The modern day dating scene is already complicated. But it becomes even more difficult if your sexual orientation or gender identity is different from the more traditional options. For transgender people, dating is an entirely different ball-game and the rules are a lot different. Hence, if you are a man genuinely interested in dating trans women, you need to do more than just get on the best transgender dating sites. There are a lot of basic things you should know if you will find the right person and if your relationship will be successful down the road. Here are some of the things you have to know and do:
Do Your Research
If you intend to get into a relationship with a transgender person, it is only normal that you find out as much as you can about the subject and know what exactly you are getting into. While you don’t have to be a walking dictionary of transgender terms, knowing the basics of what it means to be trans will proof valuable in your relationship later on. By doing your homework before getting on a dating site, you will be free from misconceptions and misinformation and will refrain from asking offensive questions or use the wrong terms during your interactions with a tranny. You can throw a bigoted remark at your transgender lover and try to shrug it off with an excuse that you are ignorant about trans issues. Learn as much as you can about the subject.
Break Off Negative Stereotypes and Wrong Mindsets
No transwoman appreciates being treated like a sexual unicorn. Sadly, many men (an even those who claim to be attracted to transwomen) don’t know this fact. If you will be successful dating a transwoman you have to shake off every negative perception and wrong images you have in your mind about them. Don’t approach a transwoman simply because you have a bizarre she-male fetish. You will only succeed in hurting her feelings and that will make you a terrible human being. Read more about transgender stereotypes that are totally inaccurate here.
Be Prepared for Awkward Situations
If you fall in love with a girl that is still transitioning, then you should prep your mind for some potentially awkward situation both in your private interactions with her and social interactions with other people. For example, don’t be too surprised if you see her wake up with a facial stubble or if someone asks you what sex with a transgender feels like. You have to brace yourself for awkward situations because they are almost inevitable.
Drop The Comparison
There is a very good chance that you have dated cisgender women in the past. You might be tempted to make comparisons between your cisgender ex and the transgender girl you are dating now. Try to avoid making comparisons like this. Saying things like “a normal girl would never do that” is not only offensive but hurtful.
Dating a Trans Woman Does Not Mean You are Gay
We should have probably started with this point since it is one of the foremost questions in the mind of most men that are attracted to transgender women. To allay your fears, being attracted to a transwoman does not mean you are gay. Even when she still has a penis, she is still a female and should be treated as one. Gay men are typically not attracted to femininity as you obviously are.
Be Willing to Discuss
As with every relationship, having honest open conversations especially about important issues like sex is important when you are dating a transgender woman. There are major issues that must be discussed and settled especially when it comes to sex with a transgender person. Don’t hold on to an erroneous belief that a transgender person is down for anything, especially in the bedroom. You must be willing to discuss and decide boundaries and fantasies for both of you.
Read here for more tips for dating a transgender man or woman. https://pairedlife.com/gender-sexuality/How-to-Date-a-Transgender-Person-5-Tips-for-Starting-a-Relationship-With-a-Trans-Woman-or-Trans-Man
It's Not Just About the Sex:
If the only reasons you want to get down with a transgender person is simply for the sex then all you have is a fetish and not genuine feelings. You should understand that dating a transgender person is just like any other type of relationship. It goes far beyond what goes on in the bedroom and if you are unwilling to accept that then you are simply fooling yourself.
There is plenty to do and learn in every type of relationship. Your success on any dating site and in your relationship with a transgender woman or man depends on how much you are willing to learn. The fact that you are willing to accept your attraction to a transgender person is the first step in the right direction. But there is still a lot to learn down the road. Keep learning, having fun and growing with your lover.