Data Driven Decisions

Making decisions is the ultimate job of anybody in a position of responsibility in a business, especially if they’re ultimately in charge. As a founder, CEO or Chief Operating Officer, the majority of your job is taking high level, strategic decisions for your business. You need to inform yourself so you know what the right long term goals are you need to be working towards, as well as dealing with the day to day issues that arise as part of running any complicated organisation.

It’s a cause of stress: successful CEOs command high salaries not just because they create success for businesses but because they are capable of handling the stress of being the person with whom the buck stops. Today we’re looking at a way of making decisions that makes that stress easier to handle, and makes the business of running a company less taxing and easier to succeed at.

Lifting the Load

The mains source of that CEO stress and isolation is that the responsibility for your decisions is concentrated solely on you. You might seek feedback, or talk to experts in the field, but the ultimate decision comes down to you and your judgement.

If you build data into your decision-making process, you lift this crushing load. It’s no longer you and best instincts, you have measures of your business’ performance, of customer behaviour and market forces to work with. The very best data experts can turn those into reliable predictions about the outcome of your decisions.

Using data like this gives you an objective foundation to your process. You don’t have to justify your decisions simply with your judgement and experience, you can point to a prediction about how this choice will likely result in a positive outcome for your business, while another would cause a poorer result.

Data Gathering

Consumer intelligence agencies can give you an insight into your market: the many consumers out there who could potentially choose to spend their money with you, whether they have yet or not.

This kind of insight can inform every level of your business: for marketing and product design it’s obvious. Understanding your market lets you tailor your offering to appeal to biggest possible cross section of people, and communicate what you have to offer in a way they’ll respond to.

It can also influence your customer service policy, informing whether they’d respond well to a generous policy, and letting you know the platforms your customers value being able to engage on, whether it’s phone, email or via social media.

Building data use into your business from the ground up – and showing you really listen to hard, evidence based feedback creates a constructive company culture that can survive successfully in the long term.

5 Keys to Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Successful Business

Starting a side hustle is the perfect way for people to pursue their passion while paying their bills. With hard work and dedication, entrepreneurs can start a business while using their regular income to support their efforts and keep the lights on.

For some, keeping a side hustle is a great way to supplement one’s income while working a full-time job. For others, the goal is to create a full-time endeavor. Here are five keys to turning your side hustle into a successful business.

Get the Right Tools in Place

When you’re building a side hustle, you have wiggle room to try new things, make mistakes, and determine what is going to work best in the long run. Get the right tools in place– particularly the costly ones– when you have another income to support the expense.

Assemble what you need to create professional-looking Self-Employed Invoices and social media graphics. Determine if you need to outsource and purchase a branding consultant and designer. Get those big bucket items handled before attempting to shift from a side hustle to a full-time gig, and you’ll take off some of the pressure to succeed in the early months of your transition.

Set Goals and Deadlines

If you want to successfully shift from the side hustle mentality to that of a full-time entrepreneur, it is critical that you set goals and deadlines for yourself. Remember the SMART goal-setting process: goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

If you decide that you want to make this shift, set a deadline for yourself. You are highly more likely to achieve your goals if you have a perceived deadline, even if you’ve assigned it to yourself. To ensure you meet the goals and deadlines, you must also create an action plan. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Develop Your Time Management Skills

If you are handling both a full-time job and a side hustle, you already have some strong time management skills in your favor. That being said, as you transition into full-time business mode, you’ll need to become even more efficient. Work to develop your time management skills and determine how you will prioritize your tasks.

Many entrepreneurs opt to use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to determine which tasks should be conducted when. With this matrix, you divide tasks into four quadrants:

  1. High Urgency, High Importance – tasks you must do right away.
  2. Low Urgency, High Importance – tasks you should schedule for another time.
  3. High Urgency, Low Importance – tasks you should delegate.
  4. Low Urgency, Low Importance – tasks you shouldn’t bother with.

By breaking these tasks down as such, you ignore petty distractions and put your focus where it should be to reach your goals.

Network Like a Champ

If you haven’t already taken steps to cultivate connections both within your industry and in your community, now is the time to do so. Let people know about your business plans and create a network of people with whom you can consult and build referrals.

It’s worth noting that you may never work with the people you add to your network, but you never know when a potential client will come your way via one of your connections, and a part of building a successful business is having a strong client base.

Prioritize Self-Care

Entrepreneurs face a high potential for burnout and stress. Be sure to set aside time to take care of yourself and do the activities you love, apart from work. Set business hours for yourself, so that you are able to unplug and focus on the joys in life. Take care of your mind and your body so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Turning your side hustle into a successful business will be challenging, but well worth the effort if you go about it the right way. Use these five tips and success is sure to follow.

How To Find More Time In The Day As A Business Owner

When you are looking to get a hold of your financial life as a business owner and fics your finances, it starts with find more time throughout the day. That is when you figure out ways to earn extra money, stop money-wasting habits and begin to tend to your financial garden. And it starts with being able to take back time from wasteful activities and give it back to your growing business.

Anyone who runs a business knows how much it can take over your life. So to be a successful business owner and to not burn out, you need to take control of your time. Running a restaurant or a mortgage company requires a lot of time, but it should not be all of your time.

Improve Your Business Tech

Whatever kind of business you operate, you are going to need to accept payments. That is where, if you upgrade to SumUp, you can cut your transaction time down and increase your customer satisfaction. SumUp mobile card readers can process an EMV credit card chip quickly and efficiently, leaving you with more time to provide quality customer service.

Get to Know Your Customers

You need a customer data repository that allows you to gather info about your regular customers and be able to serve them better. Knowing your customers better will allow you to tailor your service more easily and encourage repeat business. Since everything is digital these days, whatever software you choose to gather customer data, make sure it can link up with your credit card payment system, so can improve your transaction time.

Get Off Social Media (Too Much)

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be great tools to stay in touch with family and friends or to keep up on important news, but they can also be enormous time wasters that suck away your productivity. While they can be effective marketing tools for your business, you need to have the right scheduling software and content creation services to make sure that you are using them effectively and efficiently.

Scrolling through Facebook, staring at videos and your friend’s kid can be a time suck and it even can affect your mental health. Studies have shown that hours spent on social media can lead to depression and anxiety in vulnerable people. Suffering from those effects can be even more devastating after all the lost time and productivity.

Limit The Netflix During Leisure Time

Binge watching your favorite shows can be fun, but over enough time, it can really eat into your time with family and your brain function. Your sleeping time is valuable for restoring your body after a hard day of work and as a way to stay healthy. When spending too much time in front of the flat screen takes away time that you could be building skills and hurting your sleep, you know it is not worth it. This will give you more time to devote to your business.

When you are more engaged in your business, your profits will grow and you will find more productive things to do with your leisure time.

Starting a New Business

So, you’re starting a new business, and you’re looking for some advice. When you’re just starting a new business, there are lot of pitfalls to be wary of. A few of them are obvious, others not, but they all bear repeating. After all, this is your livelihood, and it’s full of hard choices, so every piece of advice is potentially a lifesaver. Here are just a few ways to make the most of your early business years and start off on the right foot.

An important element of all business is marketing, and it’s doubly important for a new, small business. The first and foremost way to broadcast your message to your town is just that, broadcast. If you can afford it, local TV and radio stations are the best way to reach the most people, so the investment is worth it if it’s in the budget. Another, less expensive alternative is the local paper. Newspapers have fallen out of favor in recent years, but it’s a far less expensive option that radio and TV.

Another great tip is to make sure your business is an inviting one. This starts from the road. Your sign needs to project an air of warmth and friendliness to draw in customers. Your signs and other onsite advertisements need to have that same inviting feel while also informing your customers of your goods and services.

Lastly, and this is key, you need to save everywhere you can. Obviously, you need to save without diminishing the quality of your goods and services, or the point is moot. Retailers like Tractor Supply can provide deep discounts on the equipment you need (if you’re a farmer) and can save you money the essentials of your business. Keep your eyes peeled for whatever discounts you can find that don’t sacrifice quality.

Making Your Company More Attractive to a Global Audience

The “marketplace” has changed from a very local audience, to one that you can tap into without any difficulty, as proven by portals like eBay, Amazon, or even Etsy. Your homemade hand cream can become a big hit in Asian markets, just like your water purification system can become a household staple in Peru.

As much as we would like to think that these things just “happen” by chance, the reality is that it takes some effort to prepare your product or service to be used overseas. From educating yourself on things like duties, shipping and handling, digital marketing, and even simple phrases in other languages, you can make your business attractive to a foreign clientele.

Here are some tips that small businesses can use to attract a global audience:

Speak their Language

Yes, it’s true that English is quickly becoming the “universal language” which people around the world as using to communicate with each other. However, the proficiency level varies from person to person, and many times you’ll find it difficult to communicate with foreigners who haven’t themselves invested time into learning the language. Depending on your product, you might want to get a translation of manuals, data sheets, and technical documents, in a variety of file formats and languages. In other cases, you’ll want to use very simple instructions aided with diagrams which will make it easier to understand

Go Online

An easy way to tap into the potential of globalization is by entering the digisphere. Create a website, invest some time in developing social media, and make sure to mention that you do world-wide servicing and shipping. Then it’s a matter of capturing the attention of your audience through search engine positioning, dispersing content through social media, and making online connections with other world-wide brands. Approaching local influencers can also be a useful tactic, especially for lifestyle brands. Develop a hashtag strategy and run a few contests to get a healthy following which can be analyzed and used as market research.

Find Representation

Depending on the specific markets you are trying to reach, you might find that there are already existing channels you can use to get the message of your product or service across. There could be distribution companies specializing in getting products similar to yours into the country, or interested individuals who would love to represent your brand and act on your behalf in local markets. Though you will be losing out on some of your profits due to the fact that you would be paying commission, the exposure and possibility for your audience to interact with your brand representative on a personal level could be well worth it and your sales could reflect it.

Be Ready to Sell

If you are targeting a foreign audience, don’t be surprised if all the sudden you start getting traction and orders start coming in. Already knowing your shipping rates and times will make this process more user-friendly and more likely that your customer will actually go through the checkout with what’s in the “cart”. Yes, you can scramble to produce this information, but having it ready for a quick response and transaction makes it a more professional and wrinkle-free experience, and therefore a stronger contender amongst similar companies present on a global front.

Even small companies can gain recognition and support from foreign consumers and investors. If you put in the effort to position yourself for the global marketplace, you might be surprised by the opportunities that arise. Once you address some of these tips you’ll find yourself on the journey of a lifetime and the rest of the path will be very evident to you.

The Financial Supplies Your Office Needs

The path to becoming a small business owner is exciting but challenging. Maintaining the books, finances, and accounting practices is not an easy task. As a small business owner, there are some supplies that can help make these processes a bit easier. Stock your business with these financial supplies to make sure your financial tasks are always on track.

Deposit Slips and Other Paper Products

Image via Flickr by CarbonNYC [in SF!]

A small error can multiply over time and can cause problems with payments or even when tax time comes around. Thankfully, there are smart software options available. Quickbooks is a popular accounting software option and comes with accessories to simplify supplies for you. For example, the company offers custom deposit slips, pre-printed with your company’s information, that reduce the work you need to do for clear communication from the bank to the books.

In addition, you’ll want to make sure you’re always fully stocked with printer paper and envelopes. Sending out timely invoices and paychecks will keep things running on schedule without delays due to insufficient supplies.

Payment Acceptance Tools

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or you’re selling at craft fairs, you need the ability to accept more forms of payment to avoid losing sales. A portable credit card swipe terminal is a classic tool and comes in many versions with different features. Square Point of Sale is an app that uses your phone as a register. By plugging a small device into your headphone jack, you can swipe, track, and manage credit card payments just like a traditional point-of-sale register. Another option is Paypal. This payment system has been around for a number of years and is an especially great choice for sellers with an online store.

Image via Flickr by Philip Taylor PT

Basic Supplies for Handling Cash

You must also accurately count and deposit your cash regularly so your balance in your account is able to cover payment of supplies or employees. These bank deposits require basic packaging materials like secure deposit bags, bill straps, coin sleeves, and coin envelopes. Investing in some counterfeit banknote detection pens to check for counterfeit bills will also help protect your business.

Time-Saving Devices

As a small business, some things that help big offices manage their finances with less effort might also be a good idea for you to purchase. Handling large amounts of cash is easier when you have a coin sorter and a bill counter to make quick work of adding up totals. Having a laptop or tablet is a good investment because it enables you to access your accounts on the go. If you’re planning to offer shipping, a postage machine is an efficient way to manage your shipping without endless trips to the post office, and it adds your total spending for an easy reference.

All small businesses are unique and may not need all the tools mentioned above. Take these helpful tips into consideration, but adjust your investments to fulfill your specific business needs. Take care to make sure you’re ready with the right supplies and enjoy, with less stress, watching your entrepreneurial efforts lead to success.

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.


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


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.


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.


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?