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Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a method of electronic communication that is rapidly increasing in popularity. Used to make phone calls, VoIP technology uses a computer’s internet connection, rather than a cellular wireless or traditional wired telephone line. This technology is used not only by personal consumers, but also by businesses small and large. Here are 5 tips for using VoIP to improve a small business:
1. Use One Company for Internet and Phone – Any modern small business has a website and is likely already paying an internet service provider (ISP) for access to the internet. Rather than negotiating prices and dealing with customer service for two services, a company can save time, effort, and money by using their internet connection as their phone service provider as well.
2. Save Money on Long-Distance and International Calls – Unlike traditional telephone companies, VoIP services work regardless of the distance of the call, so pricing is not dependent on the number of local, long-distance, or international calls. This means that international calls, which can be especially expensive, can be handled without incurring additional costs. For small businesses that do business internationally or have business partners overseas, this can mean an enormous cost savings.
3. Better Voice Quality – Because of the nature of the medium and the wires that transmit the signals, VoIP services can provide cleaner, better-sounding phone calls than traditional phone companies. While it might not seem like a big change, having crisper more professional phone calls can be the edge a small business needs to win over customers or seal a big deal. Dropped calls or poor-quality calls, on the other hand, can devastate a company’s business.
4. Simplify Things for the Technical Staff – For small businesses, the internal technical staff is usually stretched thin at all times, and should be outsourced when possible. Keeping a business up and running smoothly 24/7 is no small task. Consolidating one’s internet and phone systems can provide a significant advantage, in terms of time and sheer number of technologies to monitor, to a company’s technical support and services team. For small businesses that don’t even have a dedicated technical staff, having a single number to call for technical support, rather than multiple numbers, can simplify things considerably. Prompt service and skilled technicians are key.
5. Additional Features Included At No Extra Cost – For starters, useful calling features like conference calls, call forwarding, and caller ID are all included for free. Additional features like video calls and video conferencing are also easy to add to VoIP services.
For more going on fifteen years, I have been helping business owners and organizations hold events. The events ranged from races, to fairs, to concerts and dinners. Though the attendance varied greatly between them, the goals of management were often met and exceeded.
Events are the best way to:
get prospects to visit your store for the first time
build upon existing relationships with customers and vendors
grow existing lines of revenue
rally and motivate workforce and volunteers
grow online presence and position
have a great time!
Events are very community oriented, and driven by the same. Bringing people together creates buzz.
There are three major areas of an event: event marketing (getting the brand out), event management (making sure the day is planned well and executed successfully), and event planning (getting all the details together to meet the event vision). Working together, these three items, thought out and coordinated, make great events.
I am often asked questions related to any of these three items. The questions I hear range from band and entertainment to how to use Facebook. Small businesses can do a lot with a little encouragement and direction. They can go really far with a little help from someone in the event industry. Small businesses and Organizations have a lot of gusto. They are ready to go all the time. And when they can see that something will get them further, they often grab the opportunity.
Small businesses are flexible. They can have a simple, low cost event marketing schedule coordinated with other ongoing marketing. Pairing an event with current expenditures creates broad public awareness. With current promotions are paired with a chance to experience a business or product, customers have incentive to participate.
I have often seen this occur. In one case, a restaurant advertised their foods as well as an evening with live music. Some monies from the night would be donated to the city fireworks fund. This night brought some business and money for community fireworks. The result was the night of the fireworks show, the restaurant was full to the brim. They had one of their best nights ever.
The power of small business event marketing is understated. Giving customers a reason to experience a small business in the form of a party invitation has leverage. As a small business owner, having an event can be fun, rewarding, and valuable to sales overall.
Small businesses are often beaten out by larger competitors because the bigger business has better practices than the small ones do. The good news is that there are many of the business best practices that are used by big companies that can be translated for small businesses.
These business best practices are some of the best kept secrets and will in the long run make a business more successful. Here are a few ways you can use these business practices to fit your small business.
One: Borrowing ideas from other companies is one business practice you can use in your small business. This is known as best practice benchmarking and it can lead to vast improvements in your business structure if it is done the right way.
Most small businesses have a tighter budget than the big businesses do so the business practices that you learn can save money and can be even more beneficial to you than it would be for the big business. When you emulate another business and how they cut costs, you will be able to do the same thing they have done in a much shorter time period.
Two: You have to have a clear understanding of business methods if you are going to borrow their business practices. You need to do some heavy research and ask questions. This will help you figure out how others were able to get the job done to get them to their goals.
This is imperative if you are going to have success using these practices with your small business. One helpful way to find out the information you need is to send surveys to businesses that are successful in the business field you are looking at.
Three: Once you have studied the business best practices and you know how that business uses them, you will need to translate them to fit your small business. Before they will work for your business t want business practice you can use in your small business is borrowing ideas from other companies here may be some crucial modifications that need to be made.
Four: One business practice that is imperative to the success of any business of any size is to have good communication in your business. This means that you need to communicate on a regular basis with your employees.
You have to do this to make sure that everyone is on the same page business wise. Otherwise, you may find problems cropping up that you will have to deal with.
Emulating business best practices is fine but you want to make sure that you don’t steal their practices outright. Always do your research and use the business practices that you can modify to fit your small business. Don’t do anything to get your business in trouble in the future.
Wondering if your business is too small for a group retirement plan?
One of the keys to attracting and retaining top employees is to offer a high-quality retirement plan. A group savings plan conveniently helps employees save money for the future while reducing and deferring taxes today. Plus, the investment you make in a group retirement plan is an investment you make in your organization, your employees and your reputation. Everyone’s a winner.
Three options stand-out depending on what you want to accomplish with your plan and how much flexibility you need. These are: 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs.
The 401(k) Offers the Most Flexibility and High Contribution Limits The traditional 401(k) is probably the most widely known retirement product on the market. It’s the fully loaded, high performance SUV of retirement plans. It’s generally defined as one that enables a business owner and employees to make consistent, tax-deferred contributions during the length of their careers.
SEP IRAs are Pretty Easy to Start and 100% Funded by the Employer Simplified Employee Pensions, more commonly referred to as SEPs, are also a popular retirement plan choice as they offer a contribution limit that’s similar to a 401(k). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a 401(k) plan, but it’s got a good engine under the hood. One of the most important things to understand about SEPs is that 100 percent of the contributions made are by the employer (no employee contributions allowed) and these dollars are immediately vested for the employee.
The SIMPLE IRA is a Solid, Affordable Third Option
The SIMPLE IRA’s name is a bit misleading (it actually stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees). While both employer and employee can contribute to the plan, the employer must match and matching is vested immediately.
If you do decide that you want to offer a retirement plan, you are definitely going to need some professional advice and guidance. Pension rules are complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing.
As a financial planning and wealth management professional firm, Mintco Financial has been helping its clients effectively plan for comfortable retirements.
Michael Minter, as a managing partner of Mintco Financial, is a trusted investment management professional who carries more than 16 years of experience in this challenging career field.
Throughout his professional history, Michael Minter has gained strong insight into what skills and knowledge is necessary to perform investment management, wealth building services, small business development and retirement plans.
Michael MInter is also author of the book I-Plan, a guide for your financial security.
Call Michael Minter at 813-964-7100 at Mintco Financial.
Retirement Planning for Small Business
As February rushes by, those New Year resolutions may be turning into distant memories if not forgotten dreams. Except for that one significant promise, to become master of your own destiny and invest in your own business.
If you are dreaming of owning your own business, there are some trends in your favour. Slow to moderate overall economic growth in many countries hard hit by the recession is forecast to continue through 2011. In the US, the small business sector remained in recession in 2010, lagging in recovery, and is now predicted to see stronger demand and better business conditions this coming year. Key trends seen as driving the growth of small business are
small manufacturing businesses in niche markets aided by technology making barriers to entry lower,
the weak dollar aiding US manufacturing cost competitiveness,
the internet becoming more widely known to small business as a low cost way of sourcing and selling goods and services.
Small business growing more familiar with and making greater use of social media in their local marketing efforts -think Groupon Inc and its highly successful coupon business supporting local deals!
When time is not on your side, the resilient and proven franchise business model allows you a faster and often comparatively risk adverse track to generating positive cash flow. Although its your own business, you don`t have to go it alone making a proven franchise operation a smart choice. Strong viable franchise opportunities are there for the qualified buyer, so how to join that select group?
Access to financing from traditional sources is expected to remain tight in the US throughout 2011, in spite of the Governments continuing efforts to support small business through tough times. We recommend that potential franchise buyers be cautious when selecting companies to do their 401(k) rollovers or when selecting a financing company with all of the fraud that has occurred in the banking sector over the last several years, finding a reputable company to provide your financing is more important than ever and a winning point in your favor with franchisors.
MatchPoint Franchise Consulting Network was founded in 2006 with a mission of helping companies expand their franchise networks and improve their system. The advice offered freely to franchise buyers by MatchPoint consultants is vital to the buyer in making a better, prudent, buying decision. The advice offered by our consultants does not make us lawyers; it is there to help the investor with a high quality due diligence process.
MatchPoint consultants know the red flags in the investment field. It takes the very few promoters that practice business fraud to taint the dream of the franchisee and their family.
That`s where seeking the independent advice of an expert franchising consultant is prudent and invaluable.
As giveaways at job fairs: with the economy the way it is, businesses need as much exposure as they could acquire, as well as exactly what better place than through a job fair. Even if you’re not planning on employing a lots of individuals, personalized Koozies still make a good promotional giveaway product that attendees may take along with them. This is particularly beneficial if you’re a service kind of company, and may keep your name right in front of their minds for some time to come.
2. Charity happenings: whenever charities are trying to boost money, the first to be approached are local businesses in your community exactly where they will be holding their fundraising affair. By including personalized Koozies with your logo along with name on them, you not just practice good local community assistance through assisting the charity with their fund raising, you get nice publicity and also advertising for your business at the same time. Designing them to replicate the charitys concept as well as colors makes them a collectible, too.
3. As sales giveaways: in case your business endures sales, then providing personalized Koozies in your sales agents for use as part of their own personal promotional deals is a great idea. Whenever they contact a new customer, they are able to leave one or more with them as being a gift for being attentive to the presentation. At product sales seminars for your enterprise niche, they generate great gifts for your prime sales staff, customized with their accomplishments, or as a free gift throughout the meeting.
4. When sponsoring local sports clubs: lots of companies today will support local sports teams as part of their promotion efforts. Precisely why stop at just supplying jerseys for any Little League team, when you could give personalized Koozies also? You may have them imprinted up with the team name, their logo, and also the season or perhaps year. They will show how much you care about the kids, and provide them, and their guardians, something to remember your sponsorship as well as your small business.
5. At welcome centres or even chambers of commerce: When individuals move into a new community, they generally check with local workplaces for names of organizations they may have need of in the foreseeable future. Chambers of commerce would gladly supply space for giveaways to new people, as well as handy stuff like personalized Koozies will always be delightful. The Welcome Wagon will always be searching for new gift items to incorporate in their welcome deals, also. Exactly why not provide them with a few cases of Koozies along with your logo, name as well as contact information to encouraged newbies with?
Marketing is the keyword which makes businesses run, no matter what their running capital is. From huge energy companies to companies who sell sports goods, you always require a good marketing tool or a help to get your job done. Small business marketing is a tricky area and if the marketing is not proper, it can even kill your business.
This is where Ad trackers come to bail out and rescue small businesses. Advertising a small business with an Ad tracker helps you monitor your online advertising expenditure against your actual earnings and revenues from the website, in real time. This way you can know which ads produce results for you and which do not and hence choose ads accordingly.
This will undoubtedly help you market your small business in a better way by attracting the right traffic to your website. Let us see the other attractive ways by which you can market your small business for FREE.
Online free video sharing sites like YouTube.
Create a Jingle!
Use the jingle as your caller tune!
Ad tracking = Affiliate Marketing
Undoubtedly, a lot of money can be made from affiliate marketing, more precisely Ad tracking. People are making money and the very fact that they are making money by launching not-so-useful sites must wake you up and get running to get affiliate marketing tools to your benefit.
The catch lies in how smartly you choose your ads. For example, the most incentive oriented affiliate product might not bring in good revenues! It depends on the relevance of the product with your small business and also how the ad is being displayed on the site. It is not hard to imagine that flashy sites with some relevance will get clicked on first than those ad links which are in words only.
If you can use Ad trackers, you will benefit from the software and get more worth and return for your vested business. This can be found from a service provider with some monthly fees or can be purchased with a 2-3 year license or as the product comes with. The best part is that they keep their algorithms updated by synchronizing with their main server and thereby giving you the best results. This is handy tool to organize your small business especially if youre hosting advertisements for multiple affiliate products.
There are other ways to run a business than to just run it on pure gut feeling or intuitions. You may get lucky once, twice or even thrice, but will not be able to sustain a long run. Planning is therefore of prime importance and small business marketing with advertisement trackers can help you achieve the optimum.
Seeking out small business resources doesnt have to take long if you know what your business needs. Small business owners can find a wealth of resources on the many websites that cater to the tools, services and employer information that every business needs to run efficiently. By using the right small business resources to find everything they need online, small business owners can save themselves time that could be used in that business.
Business Tools Online
No business runs well without the right tools available to employees. Small business machines such as computers, printers and labelers are all used in the typical office, and staying on top of the latest innovations in those machines can mean staying on top of the competition. Whether its postage meters that a business needs or a simple calculator, employees cant use them if they dont have them. Software, office furniture, printing paper and more can be found at low prices online, and shopping for them takes less time when its done on a website.
Hiring Employees and Contractors
Every business needs employees to keep it running. To find those, business owners dont have to place a newspaper ad any longer. They can use one of the many websites that can assist them in finding productive employees. Some sites allow you to read the profiles or resumes that are posted by job seekers. This is an easy way to find qualified candidates for the open positions.
Another type of site is one that allows business owners to put up an advertisement for a job opening. Many employers prefer to post an ad because they want fresh employee leads and want to post the job specifications. Using these jobs, business owners can seek out employees, independent contractors or even interns. Owners can choose popular sites that will yield hundreds of applicants or more specialized sites that will attract candidates within a specific field. Other job sites, such as bidding sites, allow employers to post specific projects and to receive bids from multiple contractors.
Financial and Legal Services
Sometimes, its the services that a business owners uses that determines how successful that business is. The business must have an effective payroll system to keep employees and contractors paid in full on time. It may need legal services for drawing up contracts and protecting the company against liability. Finding out which services you need and where to go to get them can both be done through sites that provide these business resources.
In some cases, the services can be provided through websites. In others, the sites connect business owners to local professionals who can provide those vital services. For owners who simply need information about which services are important and how they can be integrated into the business, there are plenty of educational resources online as well.
As a network computer technician I’ve come to the choice that I don’t think my small business clients that employ between 2-10 people should even bother with installing what we might consider a regular server nowadays. It is overkill, expensive and a major source of problems if something goes wrong. So what do I recommend instead? I would recommend a file server with local and offline backup. What made me come to this decision? A number of real world issues, actually.
Too many computer consultants come from an environment where they were taught and schooled on how to maintain servers. To me this is the old way of doing things. Unless you are hosting your email in-house there isn’t the need for the old server.
Think about this…what services do you really want to provide that are mission critical for your clients? For my clients the most important need is a way to create and access files that are backed up on a regular basis. I have seen too many small businesses shut down for days on end because they put all of their trust in a old server and a tape backup system. Why are these servers and tapes such a problem?
Think about this for a second. If a piece of hardware fails in your server, chance are that you won’t be able to replace that broken or failing part with something you can buy locally. Often times you have to call the server manufacturer and wait patiently for them to ship you a replacement part, all the while your business is at a stand still.
And tapes for backing up data? Unless you have an enormous amount of data, backing up to multiple hard drives is faster. And these hard drives will be able to access that data in other computer while you get your server fixed.
Another solution I recommend is using a service such as Dropbox to backup files. I don’t completely rely on Dropbox, though. I prefer to have a physical backup of the client’s data at the site of their business and then use Dropbox as a way to get a backup off-site. If anything catastrophic were to happen to the small business, such as a fire of a flood, it is easier to get a computer up and running, re-attach it to Dropbox and the data is back and ready to be used.
Making sure your business taxes are in order is too important a job to entrust to just anyone. You need an expert at tax preparation on your side; tax preparers who offer the small business services you’ll find at Padgett Business Services. Padgett has long been a source of a host of financial services for small businesses throughout North America; offering a proven system and over four decades of positive results for their clients. By specializing in the types of taxes that affect small businesses, Padgett agents consistently helps business owners just like you with income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes and more.
Padgett agents are committed to the thorough understanding of the issues that affect small businesses, and in insuring that your taxes are completed not only in a timely fashion but also in an accurate and beneficial fashion. Upon meeting with Padgett regarding your taxes you will notice straight away that your business is treated as the unique entity it is. Padgett realizes that no two businesses are alike, and you can count on receiving business advice as well as a tax plan that addresses your needs. Once your taxes are completed you can count on their prompt delivery in order for you to easily meet tax guidelines.
Should you find yourself or your business to be the target of a tax audit, Padgett Business Services can help. Counted among our professionals are several IRS enrolled agents; agents who are prepared to represent you in your dealings with the IRS. In such times it pays to have an experienced advocate by your side to guide you through the process and towards the best possible outcome. And to avoid such situations, small business owners can count on Padgett to keep their financial reporting compliant with government standards.
A successful small business is one that reaches out for expert help in the areas of their business beyond their expertise. In the very same way that Padgett’s professionals couldn’t be expected to be an expert at running your business, you can’t be expected to be an expert on state and federal tax codes. Padgett Business Services is however, and can provide a number of small business services while pointing to the proven results experienced by four decades’ worth of satisfied clients.