Why Your Business Needs an App

It is the era of technological advancement and all business mist comply with the industry’s changing attitude. It is important to have business apps now, as they are the real tools for business building. These not only help you communicate with existing customers, attain new ones, but also enhance internal business processes.

Mobile devices are part of daily life now and real-life contact is maintained by introducing business apps. In addition to that, you can contact employees and share files centrally with all members of the company.

Because it is still a fairly new concept, many business owners hesitate to accept this change. However, it is important to accept the change and introduce mobile app. Some of the key benefits of this move have been outlined below:

  1. Enhances Communication

As already mentions, mobile apps enhance relationship building. Multiple businesses around the world are doing the same thing, and this app is what will help you differentiate.

The apps improve real-time responses and therefore improves the customer’s experience with the company. With a mobile app, you can stay in contact with your customers. They can share their queries too.

Mobile apps feature push notifications, via which you can send messages to app users instantly. It appears on the phone screen and has a very high response rate, and is therefore more powerful that e-mails and SMSs.

So, you can now inform about new products, announce your weekly offers, etc. very easily.

  1. Great Way to Differentiate Your Brand

Mobile apps help you stand out amid the clutter of similar brands. Apps provide ways to innovatively engage customers and help them feel connected to the company. Constant communication keeps the brand on top of their mind and this brand recall enhances sales.

  1. Association with Social Share

Exposure in the Internet world is boosted because of mobile apps as the apps encourage social shares. Individuals like to share service stories and news about innovative products with friends and family. As apps allow them to do this instantly, there is no chance that they will forget. This is the best form of word of mouth and acts as referrals. In fact, business apps will not only bring these referrals, but also will lead to new sales and encourage repeat purchase. As a result a loyal customer base will be attained.

  1. Helps Nurture Loyal Customer Base

Another important benefit of mobile apps is database collection. The rise of direct response marketing and e-mail marketing has made is essential for companies to have a working database including details of prospects and customers. You can take help from an easy to use app builder that helps you add your own business rules, send emails, approvals, payment processes, and more . The app will help you collect essential information and then organize them according to your needs.

When needed, you can also very easily share this information with other employees of the firm.

For businesses that providing engaging and interesting content, getting a regular audience base and customer base is easy. Many people who think the content and products are relevant often subscribe through the website or business app and then provide personal contact information like name and e-mail address willingly.

All of these entries are then accumulated by the app and then sorted to create an effective excel sheet.

In conclusion, the business app is a great lead capture tool. It encourages internal communication and also improves conveyance of messages to the customers. It helps retain old customers and also attracts new ones. Sales is boosted and therefore, overall business performance is benefitted.

How Entrepreneurs Can Use the Internet to Reduce Business Costs

Do want to find ways to reduce the cost of running your business? If so, the answer is staring you in the face because using the internet in the proper way has the potential to reduce your business outgoings. Here are some of the ways entrepreneurs can use the internet to reduce their business costs.

Online Courses

Business owners should always be learning new things and developing new skills. Up until recently, enrolling in a high-quality course was expensive, especially if you had to attend college or university lectures in person.

However, the latest internet technologies have changed all of this and a wide range of online business degree courses are now available to students all over the world. The fees for an online business administration degree are affordable and you avoid many of the costs associated with studying in a college or university.

Online Tools and Software

Are you aware of the tools and software systems that are available online? Many business owners are not aware of these resources and could be spending a lot of money they don’t need to spend on licenses and monthly subscription fees for items that are available for free. Examples of these tools and software applications include graphic design packages, cloud computing systems, different types of generators and a wide range of other items.

Free and Affordable Business Tips and Advice

Some entrepreneurs spend thousands of dollars attending seminars and other programs that promise to improve the fortunes of their business. Some of these gatherings are effective, while others are a complete waste of time and money.

In many cases, you’re better off turning to the internet and looking for advice from reputable business coaches, mentors and consultants. The online fees for these business services are usually much more reasonable and some of these business experts even give away valuable business tips and advice for free.

Advertising and Marketing

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been as easy to reach a huge number of potential customers and shoppers in an extremely short amount of time. Many of the most popular online advertising and marketing strategies used won’t cost you anything except your time.

You may need to hire an online marketing professional to help you though, but the exposure your business gets and the reasonable fees many of these internet marketing experts charge, means it’s still more cost-effective than the cost of traditional marketing campaigns.

Communication

The internet has made the world a much smaller place and the cost of communicating with other people all around the world continues to fall. You should be using mobile apps, email and video conferencing systems to keep in touch with your customers, suppliers, employees and other work associates.

Online Deals

Finding bargains online is another good reason to surf the net. Business systems, office furniture and equipment for all kinds of industries are put up for sale at ridiculously low prices on many marketplace websites and could save you a lot of money, which could be used for other business purposes.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re not using the internet to its full potential, you could be wasting a lot of money. The points mentioned above are good examples of ways you can save.

Entrepreneurs Talk About the Jetsetting Side of their Businesses

laptop

As global markets emerge and companies expand, more and more entrepreneurs conduct business at an international level. For some, jumping on a plane to a foreign country is simply a job perk but for others their career is wholly dependent on traveling.

Air Charter Service recently reached out to three traveling entrepreneurs to get some insider insights into the experiences that come with a location-independent career. There are three inspiring lessons on business travel to be learned from the interview.

Quitting one’s day job for a travel-related career isn’t always a bad move

While switching from a stable desk job to making a living on the road looks good on paper, it’s even better once you start doing it. Be advised, however, that jumpstarting a travel-related career is no doddle. It takes hard work and dedication but can be  financially rewarding.

John Lee Dumas, founder and host of business Podcast EOFire, used to be a commercial real estate agent before he ventured into motivational podcasting for businesses. It took Mike Michalowicz a couple of beers before he realised that he was unhappy at his job. By his 35th birthday, he’d founded and sold two multi-million dollar companies. He is currently helming his third business.

Colin Wright, author and international speaker at Exile Lifestyle, worked as a graphic designer for a magazine but his boss kept shooting down his ideas. He subsequently decided to quit his job to start his own magazine. So successful have these entrepreneurs been that they now travel between once every two weeks.

It doesn’t take expensive equipment or gadgets to make a success of your business

While the latest tech can make your working environment a lot easier when you log a lot of miles during work, you really don’t need them. Unlike traditional start-ups where you need office space, telephone systems and fax machines, the life of a traveling entrepreneur requires minimal equipment.

John says he only takes his iPod, Kindle, and noise-canceling headphones with him, while Colin packs his laptop, smartphone and notebook. Mike proves that entrepreneurs do not need to break the bank to stay productive – he uses a $250 laptop and portable ergonomic keyboard when he is working.

There will be challenges on the road

Business travel, unlike holiday trips, seems like one of those experiences that has one pro and several cons every time someone talks about it. Mike reveals that flight delays are his business’ biggest obstacle is delays. “If a flight is delayed, I may have to delay or move a speech, which may cause problems with the next flight and the next speech, “ he says. For Colin, being stuck without internet access can be a headache sometimes as they can bring about tighter deadlines.

 

Business travel does has its “wow” moments

There are times when a hypermobile career lives up to that image that some people envision as a life of glamor. Travel, after all, “opens up a world of new experiences, cultures, skills and languages, that can have a powerful effect on how you conduct your business practises,”. John spent four months in India and the experience really exposed him to the rich diversity of the world. While in the Philippines, Colin came to realise after regular power failures that a physical disconnection from the outside world can sometimes even be more enriching than staying plugged into the online world.

Tips from our traveling entrepreneurs

And lastly, a few nuggets of wisdom from our entrepreneurs on how how startups can stay sane while pursuing their dreams across the global landscape.

Do everything you can to prepare ahead of time and be realistic about your schedule and timing” – John Lee Dumas

To overcome fatigue, I suggest working out consistently” – Mike Michalowicz

“Have a few little rituals or routines that you can perform anywhere, which will help you feel at home in a new place” – Colin Wright

4 Items That Will Be Less Expensive This Summer

Although it seems that prices seem to continue to rise each year, there are certain months when everyday items reach a low and it is time to make the purchase right away.  Whether it is the warmer weather putting consumers in a better mood, retailers know the same, so will be looking to increase prices where they can.  For certain items, you can be fortunate enough to catch a break on this summer.

Milk, Cheese, and Eggs

For decades dairy has seem to consistently increase, but it may not be as bad as of late.  Milk prices have taken a nose dive due to oversupply, not only in the United States, but everywhere.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of milk is down 7% to last year, and in Wisconsin, being at a six-year low.  Hand-in-hand with the milk supply, the United States is sitting on an oversupply of cheese and prices are expected to continue to drop.  The days of the egg shortage due to bird flu and prices have plummeted.

Beef and Pork

Beef prices have been dropping throughout all of 2016 with the average price of ground beef down to $3.82 according to the BLS, a drop of 10% from the previous year.  Although not as steep as beef, pork has seen a 3% drop, with the exception of bacon, which continues to rise, go figure.

Gas

Memorial Day did tick up gas prices as of late, but no need to cancel summer travel plans just yet.  Now that we are into June you will see prices continue to slowly rise as we go well into summer, but the good news is that prices are $0.50 cents lower than they were last year when we thought we were getting a bargain.  GasBuddy states that we will have the cheapest summer at the pump in a decade, so plan those picnics, trips to the beach, or even a cross-country vacation that you have been putting off.

Airfare

As the price of gasoline drops to increase road trips, so does airfare.  The airlines are able to lower fares 12% compared to last year, 20% compared to the year before, but do not feel bad, they are not hurting for profits.  If you are looking to travel abroad, due to the American dollar being strong, you will find deals on foreign travel on sale for the taking.

7 Tips on How to Get Business Financing

Getting business financing is the first big challenge of any company. But in this day and age there are more ways than ever before to get business financing. If you are looking for some conventional and unconventional ways to secure financing, this guide will help you through the process.

  1. Traditional or Online Bank Loans

Traditional bank loans are always a good way to start. These provide you with the backing of a reputable organization that’s still going to be there in five years. For newer businesses, they may even have mentoring programs you can take advantage of. Unfortunately, loan decisions can take three months and the banks are more cautious than ever before. For companies with daring ideas and short deadlines, traditional bank loans aren’t a good move. There are also several online lenders that specialize in business loans like Business Lending Pros and OnDeck.

  1. Family and Friends

This is one option if you want some money now with low interest rates, or even better no interest rates at all. If you do allow those closest to you on-board, make sure you have a comprehensive loan agreement in place. This should be written on paper for both your benefit and their benefit.

  1. Angel Investors

Angel investors are available through an array of online platforms. These are investors who take a small slice of your company in exchange for financing. The thresholds for receiving investment tend to be lower, but you have to give away part of your company in return. Luckily, these online platforms make paying back the loans easy. You can usually do it in one payment and the platform will distribute the money accordingly.

  1. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding five or six years ago may have seemed like a terrible idea. But it’s becoming more viable than ever before. More and more companies are pitching their companies in the form of a video. They are then offering perks in exchange for thousands of dollars. Only businesses with real popular appeal should see this as a viable investment option. A good example of a crowdfunding company is LendingClub.

  1. Cash Advance on Future Sales

An advance loan is a loan amount based on your future sales. Each time a sale is made, a portion of that sale is paid automatically to the lender. These are short-term loans and you’ll usually pay anywhere from 10 to 50% of the original loan amount on top. These can be costly loans, but if your product is fantastic and you just need the right marketing to get it off the ground this can be a great loan option.

  1. Private Company Small Business Loans

Sometimes you may not be able to find an organization that will provide you with a small business loan. Instead, many large private companies are offering small business loans to companies they believe have promise. This tends to be almost framed like a competition. You have to show promise and show you can change the landscape as people know it before you can qualify for these loans.

  1. The Old-Fashioned Way

Finally, if you are struggling to find financing you may want to opt for the old-fashioned method. This is where you find an investor who wants to invest in your business. You may have to give away up to half of your equity in order to make this happen, though. It’s also a more time-consuming method of securing financing. For experimental business ideas, this is often the only way of receiving the capital you need.

Tips for Getting Financing

 

  • Be realistic. Don’t ask for a crazy amount of money because you won’t get it. Since 2008, lenders are more cautious than ever.
  • Be transparent. Reveal everything because investors will discover if you are hiding something.
  • Research the lender first. Make sure they have experience in lending money to other companies in your sector.

It Takes Time

You may decide to use multiple options on this list. Securing financing takes time and you will have to jump through a lot of hoops, particularly if you are shooting for a large amount of money. Sometimes it may be worth asking for a lesser amount of money in order to get your business started. Once you show you can make your product or service work on a small scale, you can begin to scale upwards again through securing additional financing. Many lenders will take a second look at companies that demonstrate they can do this. With all this in mind, how will you go about finding the business financing your company needs?

Is Now the Right Time to Sell Your Business?

Your business is often your life. You’ve given time, money, love, care and days of hard work to getting it to where it is today. You’ve made it profitable, it has an established reputation and often you will know your customers on a personal not just professional basis. With all this in mind, you might think that there would never be the right time. But in reality, would now not be the best time to sell.

Why Consider Selling?

If your business is running effectively it is because of the investments you have made; financial, emotional and your time. It will continue to need all of these if it is to continue being successful, which means that it will continue to be a drain on time spent with your family, be an emotional roller coaster and to develop it to the next level will need more of your money. With all this in mind, is it worth all this commitment?

The Benefits

The above reasons highlight what will be needed to allow your business to continue to grow. Is it worth missing out on more time with your family, when selling could give you financial stability to allow you to spend time with them unencumbered by work and potentially fund a sabbatical to make up the time you may have missed? A break would also allow you to recharge emotionally and begin to figure out where you are in life and find something to be your next dream and figure out how you are going to chase it. Consider also, would the business you love be best nurtured by someone with the resources, drive and time to take it to the next level whilst continuing to build upon what you have created? Selling may give you control of this as you can decide who it is that takes over your role and brings a renewed sense of vigor which you may have lost. If this sounds like you, selling may be in the best interest of your firm.

Why Now?

There are two important things to consider when you are determining whether now would be the right time to sell. As mentioned there are the personal reasons listed above, the drain it has placed on you may have left you missing out on events in your life, it would allow you to enjoy them. Also, the fact your business is effective and profitable means now would be the best time to sell. If you were a lawyer, would you want to sell an attorney practice when you had no clients, or when your client base is large and strong? By selling whilst your business is strong, you are maximizing the compensation on all of the hard-work you have put into making it a success.

Avoid the 5 Biggest Career Mistakes

We’ve all heard of asset management and even anger management, but what about career management? The fact is, if you want to truly reach your full career potential, managing your career is the key.

Let’s face it, even if you have a position and a career that are relatively stable, and your next few career steps have been planned out, things can change and change quickly. Taking steps to avoid huge financial problems when these changes occur Is necessary, and it’s the focus of today’s blog. Enjoy.

Career Mistake #1: Not continuing to Network.  Complacency is a huge mistake that many employees make, especially if they’ve been with the same company for a few years. Knowing the people in your company that can help you and make things happen is good, but having contacts outside of that company is definitely a good idea, just in case changes suddenly occur that leave you on the outside looking in.

Career Mistake #2: Keeping to yourself. In larger organizations there are many ways to make a contribution outside of your particular department or expertise. For example, review committees are a great way to meet people that might, in the future, open the door to bigger and better opportunities. If you stick to exactly what you’re supposed to do you might not make waves but you certainly won’t be able to catch one either.

Career Mistake #3: Not letting your superiors know what you’ve been doing for them over and above your assigned duties. It happens every day; a lesser talented colleague progresses faster than you because, when it comes to letting that boss you know how great they are, they excel. They might not actually do a better job than you (and in most cases, they don’t) but since you haven’t been letting people know the great job you’re doing, you get skipped over.

Career Mistake #4: Not knowing when to ask for raise. Women seem to have this problem more than men, specifically that they don’t know their true worth and don’t ask to be paid up to their level. It’s been calculated that, over the course of a career, $1.5 million dollars are left on the table in lost lifetime earnings simply because someone wasn’t able to effectively negotiate their salary.

Career Mistake #5: Negativity. While it’s true that finding the perfect workplace is almost impossible, complaining constantly to your colleagues will almost always come back to bite you in the end. Even worse is the employee who loses their control in an argument and lashes out at a colleague or, even worse, at their boss. If there’s one thing that can bring a career to a screeching halt, it’s telling your boss your true feelings.  In short, even if you’re really unhappy where you are, keep cool, calm and quiet until you at least find better employment somewhere else.

Why I Just Gave Up Freelancing For A Full-Time Gig

In my last post, I talked a bit about my experience in three years of freelancing. What I didn’t share is that I’ve been in discussions to take on a full-time job. And sure enough, Monday was my first day at the job.

So why did I do it? There are several reasons for this.

They made me an offer I couldn’t turn down

At the time, I wasn’t really looking for a full-time job. But I always had it in my mind that I would take one if the right job came along. And then one day a few weeks ago, it did.

To me, this isn’t any “normal” job. There are a few key components that made the decision easy for me, including:

  1. Plenty of time off. I got much more than the standard two weeks at some jobs.
  2. Remote work agreement. No need to relocate or commute to an office. I can keep my same office space (except my new company now pays for it).
  3. Flexible work hours.
  4. It’s a startup. Working at a startup has been a dream of mine. And yes, I get to do cool shit.

All things considered, the job encompassed many of the things I liked best about freelancing and few I didn’t.

It’s my dream job

It’s weird to call this my dream job. I’ve never really had a dream job in my mind, to be honest. But if I could think of anything now, this would basically be it.

In addition to what’s above, my job lets me do and learn everything professionally I wanted to. I’m now in a more strategic role rather than being just a writer. I’m on track to manage people, which is also pretty damn cool. I know I’ll be able to learn more and do more of the things that I’m interested in.

A break from freelancing sounded nice

I’m not going to lie: freelancing was tough. Mostly it was the constant need to keep finding new clients. This means I’d have to devote somewhere from 25-50% of my time searching for new clients and marketing my business. To be honest, this isn’t the biggest strength (and certainly not a huge interest) on mine.

For now, I’m glad I can just stick to doing the work that I like to do and not having to worry about keeping my plate full with clients.

I can always go back to freelancing

When I first was approached about the job, I had some reservations. So naturally I turned to my copywriter friend Amber, who’s been on both sides. Her advice: freelance work will always be there, but job opportunities won’t. And she’s right. It’s not so likely another opportunity like this would come up for me again soon.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m planning to stay at this job for the long haul. But should anything change down the line, I can go back to freelancing on the spot.

With all that in mind, I took the job this week. It’s a bit of a weird feeling to have a job again after not having one for three years. But I’m glad to be back on a team that’s doing exciting things. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes from here.

3 Years of Freelancing Full-Time: What Have Been The Biggest Surprises?

My friend Melanie asked me at happy hour tonight what I thought the biggest surprises of freelancing were for me. It’s an interesting question to think about. And to be honest, it’s a little hard to remember back to when I wasn’t freelancing.

But I know I’ve had a few good ideas all along. So if you’re thinking about freelancing full-time, here are some things I learned that may help you.

It takes a while to get started

I planned about 8 months ahead of time to quit my job and go freelance full-time. And yet I thought once I started, I’d be booked solid in no time. But that wasn’t the case.

I quickly realized one key thing: I had no idea how to get clients. Sure, I had found some clients that came my way organically. But that was through networking and other long-term means. Finding clients when I needed them wasn’t something I had done before, and it took months to get a system going.

Thank goodness for my $8,000 quit my job fund.

Marketing yourself is a long-term strategy

Going along with the point above, I realized after a while that I could get clients without even trying. And they’d come from the strangest places!

One found and hired me because I had worked for a competitor of theirs in the past, and they noticed this on LinkedIn.

The weirdest referral: a client found me in a testimonial I had left on a site completely unrelated to personal finance. And the kicker: I didn’t even mention I was a freelance writer in the testimonial!

This was an important lesson. Being everywhere does count. You just might not see the results right away.

I hate working at home in my pajamas

This one has turned out to be the biggest myth for me. When I quit my job, I was like “Great! No more commuting in to an office! I’m just going to stay at home and work in my pajamas!” Damn did that get old fast!

Instead, I found myself getting really bored and lonely. I also wasn’t very productive since working out of my apartment (that I shared with roommates) didn’t leave me much space for a dedicated workspace.

About 6 months in I joined a coworking space, and I’ve been commuting to an office for my freelance work ever since.

Working on a schedule (like 9-5) actually makes the most sense

Another thing I thought I would love before I quit my job: flexible scheduling. I would just work when I felt like it. Nights, weekends, whenever. I wasn’t doing the 9-5 thing anymore, that was for sure!

But again, this just wasn’t great for productivity. Instead, I’d get more stressed, especially without clear boundaries between work and free time. I soon found that having some sort of work time scheduled was best. And what’s worked best has resembled a 9-5, M-F schedule or something similar.

However, I do take time off when I need it and wouldn’t be able to do at a normal full-time job. I’ll roll into my office at 9:30 am if my workout runs late. And unless I have something super urgent to do, I’ll take Friday afternoons off. Don’t get me wrong, I love this part of freelancing. But I do need some structure to work within.

Do you freelance? What’s been most surprising for you?

The Next Chapter…

As you may have noticed, Money Spruce hasn’t seen many updates lately. After quitting my job in May 2012 and becoming a full-time freelancer, there’s just been less and less time to write on here.

Today, I’m announcing the launch of my new business: Content Strategy for Do-Gooders.

CWAM is a one-stop shop for content strategy and creation for social mission-driven businesses and organizations. CWAM’s focus is to help these businesses amplify their social impact using effective content to tell their story, find more followers, and develop a loyal tribe of supporters.

Why am I making this change? There are a few reasons:

1. Social missions have always been close to my heart. After finishing my master’s degree, I passed up jobs with starting salaries of $60,000+ to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. I served at a nonprofit in New Haven, Connecticut for a year, living on a stipend of  $1,100 a month and supplementing my earnings with food stamps. I learned so much that year as I lived closer to poverty than I ever had before.

After, I was hired as a full-time employee at the same nonprofit and continued to work there. I focused on helping my nonprofit update newsletters, refresh content, and simply do more to leverage online content to bring in more donations and stay in touch with past donors.

2. I’ve become much more than just a “freelance writer.” While writing is still a large part about what I do, it’s still just a piece to the much bigger puzzle of developing a strategy that works for the organizations I serve. In addition to writing, I spend hours strategically deciding what kind of content to develop and incorporating that into a larger content strategy. This strategy includes effective call to actions, email capture, lead nurturing through email, social media, blog posts, static content, and more.

3. Socially-minded businesses are perfectly suited to gain the most from an effective content strategy. Effective content is really about telling a great story. While many brands do a good job telling a story, fewer are actually “story-doers,” to use a term from this article published in the Harvard Business Review. Preliminary research from this study shoes that story-doers may be much more effective businesses than story tellers.

Social businesses like TOMS Shoes and many great others have amazing stories to tell. It’s these stories that earn them a large following of supporters. Supporters are really more than customers. They’re brand advocates who want to make a difference in the world, too.

My BIG goal: help more businesses and organizations harness their own powerful stories to gain more followers and increase the impact of their mission.

Thank you

Thanks so much for following along on Money Spruce. My life would be incredibly different right now if I didn’t start this blog and hear from all you loyal readers.

If you’re still hungry for more personal finance and other money-related articles, my friends Carrie, Mr. Money Mustache, Paula (and many more) are among my favorites to read for a steady stream of interesting and informative posts.

Wishing you all the best and brightest future,

Jeffrey

P.s. – If you or anyone you know may be interested in my services,  I’d be really grateful if you’d send them over to this page. Here they’ll be able to get my free report “10 Steps to Maximizing Your Cause’s Impact with Content.” Thanks again for all your support!

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