With the end of the year rapidly approaching, small business owners are preparing to take a survey of the time that has passed and use the information they gather to improve going forward. For some, budgets need to be balanced in order make room for growth, hiring employees, obtaining new equipment or opening new locations. For others, a dip in profitability means that hard questions need to be asked regarding what went wrong, and how to fix it going forward. Revenues and expenses must be balanced in order to ensure that your business will not only be able to work in the short term, but adjust to growth as well. Your business should be looking to grow in the new year, and with technology playing a large role in how small businesses are tapping into broader markets, the tools are being developed or already exist that can allow you to do so. Getting acquainted with trending technology such as mobile and e-commerce as well as mobile

When you are building a business, the case may be that the only think you think about is growth, and where the business can be if your planning and hard work pays off. Rarely does the idea of an exit strategy cross the mind of business owners who are in the midst of building a business that they feel passionate about, but that may be a mistake that they wind up paying for in the event that they build their business around themselves and find that they are in an irreplaceable role in the future when they begin to think about retirement and turning the reins over to someone else. Do you know what kind of buyer would look at your business? If you aren’t sure what type of person would buy your business from you, you should do research to find out. Odds are that a competitor, a skilled person looking to purchase a business of their own, or a company looking to acquire new

Small business owners need to be careful; hackers and phishing scams that target them rely on a feeling of being too small to be on the radar to exploit unprepared small businesses, taking their repositories of financial and customer information and exploiting or liquidating them. One scam which has become more common of late is a trojan horse scheme, which refers to the technique of requesting a victim download a seemingly harmless attachment or program which in fact contains a virus, the “trojan” program contained within the outer guise of whatever it was the victim clicked on. Lately, the use of a false invoice to deliver trojan programs has become increasingly common as hackers awaken more and more to the value of targeting small businesses with spam leads and emails. Fake invoicing schemes are increasingly common. Small business owners can often become overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that they need to keep track of. Fake invoices rely on this confusion, submitting a seemingly “unpaid” invoice

A recent article on CoinDesk.com announced the integration of Bitcoin into the mobile payment giant NCR’s point of sale products for small business owners. The move is a big step forward towards a wider acceptance of Bitcoin, a digital currency that is the internet’s answer to the dollar, with secure packets of information standing in for the physical presence of paper money in what is known as cryptocurrency. According to the CoinDesk article, NCR provides payment solutions technology to a wide range of international clients, meaning that their recognition of Bitcoin is a powerful statement recognizing the validity of non-traditional currencies. Greater Bitcoin acceptance comes at a time when the strategic importance of mobile payments is growing. The news of wider Bitcoin acceptance coincides with much media hype surrounding the roll-out of Apple Pay, the mobile payment app native to IOS 8. Apple’s payment app attacks some of the most persistent challenges standing in the way of greater acceptance of mobile payments, namely security and utility

Apple Pay is an app available for IOS 8.1,  representing Apple’s historic foray into mobile payment solutions. A great blog post on BizEpic.com sums up the general thought regarding Apple’s presence in the mobile payment arena, saying “this changes everything”, and so it does. While the article is correct to point out that mobile payments are not exactly new, with Apple throwing the full weight of their market share and huge popularity behind their payment app, not to mention their significant innovative and aesthetic force responsible for the ubiquity of the iphone itself, many are assuming this is the product that makes mobile payment go mainstream. Apple Pay’s launch has apparently spiked interest in the Android alternative, Google Wallet, which has already existed for years with less warm reception, as well as thrown light on a series of events that brought challenger CurrentC out of development of their payment platform and directly into the fray, with a not too warm reception by the public after their

Running a small business, you will quickly realize the value of your finite resources, time and money. While both are essential to manage, your business will ideally be able to make more money, but no matter what you do, there is no way that you can regain even a moment once it has been spent. While this is somewhat of a negative thought, it doesn’t have to be. Rather, you should embrace the challenge of taking the time that you are given and making it work for you to the best of your ability. Remember that you get the same twenty-four hours each day that have been given to moguls of the business world, and it is up to you to use them in the best way you can. What do you spend time on during the day already? The first step to a better level of appreciation and management of your time is through auditing the ways you already spend it to determine what are

Recurring billing can be a blessing for small business owners when they are looking to save time, allowing them to take the guesswork out of paying for services that they would be renewing anyway. In fact, it is pretty easy nowadays to put almost every constant expense onto a recurring billing plan, but there are a few considerations that small business owners should keep in mind if they are using a recurring plan to pay for more than a couple of services in order to avoid needlessly losing money. Can I get a discount for paying upfront? The first thing that business owners might want to consider is whether or not they can get a discount on their services by paying upfront. While it is easy to leave a service on recurring billing on a month by month basis, it may be the case that you could save a large percentage of your total costs by purchasing your subscription up front, and even if there is

When buying equipment is either impractical or not financially feasible, small business owners can turn to leasing as a means of gaining the equipment that they need without owning it. Renting can represent an elegant solution to equipment based constraints on DIY projects, and for business owners with cash flow considerations, if there is a buy out option at the end of their leasing they may be able to use the production capacity of the equipment for less, then take over ownership of it once their business grows as a result of the increased production. Do you have the insurance and/ or training necessary to operate your machinery? Heavy machinery can be dangerous, meaning that not just anyone can go ahead and lease it and operate it. Business owners should first verify that the equipment they want is able to be used with their current levels of qualification and insurance. If not, then compute the costs and time-frame of acquiring these into your strategy. If training

Chipotle is a massively successful business by anyone’s estimation, and as revealed in an article by Paul Petrone that appeared on LinkedIn, one of the key pillars to that success is their powerful hiring and onboarding process. It’s their process that allows them to take entry level employees at a fast food chain and get dedication out of them which allows them to strive and build long term career goals within the organization. The motivation is that at the end of their career path, someone who begins their career earning $9 an hour will be making $87k, creating a clear incentive to stick around. In addition, there are incentives in place for managers to promote from within, meaning that those who are eager to learn will be sought out and trained more intensely by their superiors, creating the means for them to progress more rapidly with the right training. It’s a catalyst for hands on training and involvement at every level, and it is something

  Would you ever turn away a customer? While conventional business wisdom holds that the customer is always right, like so many things in business there are clear exceptions to this rule. Customer relationships that turn sour can create major sources of stress for small business owners, but apart from that, can also place major drains on finite time and capital that can be tough to recover from if allowed to get out of hand. Identify if your customer relationship makes sense, or if you are stretching to accommodate for a poor fit. Common problems that can arise because of a toxic customer relationship including scrambling to accommodate for a customer that simply isn’t asking for services or products within the realm of what your business is able to offer. While you may have some strongly performing products and others that don’t perform as well in terms of sales, you offer what you offer and constantly stretching outside the bounds of what you typically produce for

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