Category Archives: Business

The Best Share and Rental Based Services for the Modern Business Man on A Budget

Owning your own company or operating a personal business can sometimes seem more challenging than having a major corporation. One of the reasons for this is that there are less people to rely on, as a smaller start-up, it is likely that you only have yourself to manage and execute all responsibilities. This can feel overwhelming and maybe even lonely. As a major corporation, you are likely to have many people who work around you and a great number of resources to handle anything that comes up when you are not able to be there. The money invested is pooled and it is expected that the available resources will be better due to the increased financial strength that comes in numbers.

If you are struggling with ways to save and are interested in the value that can be found in community based, share style, or rental services, you should consider some of the below options to cut costs and operate within your budget.

Car Rental or Car Share Services

Transportation can be an expensive depending on where you live. Sometimes it makes sense to rely primarily on public transportation but that still leaves you without an option when you need to get somewhere outside of town or have to transport large items for a meeting or client interview. Sometimes it just makes a better impression to arrive in your own car versus the bus or train. There are plenty of great car rentals or share services like Zipcar. You pay a monthly fee to have access to a car whenever you need it. They have multiple pick up locations and make it easy to return it even if you need to drop it off late at night

Bike Shares

Another great solution for transportation issues, bike share programs allow you to hop on a bike at hundreds of locations within a city and drop it off at another location closer to your destination. You pay a monthly, yearly, or one-time fee. However, like most service, the longer you commit to paying up front the lower the monthly cost per use will be.

Co-working Spaces

There are so many companies out there that are now offering the opportunity to work remotely that co-working spaces are popping up all over the place. They usually offer a variety of styles of spaces to fit any type of need. The level of privacy is obviously reflected in the rate but the cost goes up the more privacy you need. This can also be a great way to network with other people within similar industries, or at least make some friends who understand what working solo is like.

Co-Living Communities

These types of co-living situations have seemed to pop up after the rise in co-working spaces. The idea is that the model for co-working was so successful, that it could likely work when applied to other parts of your life, like your living space. The style is similar to dorm living but in a more adult environment.

Juggling Living in the Now and Our Businesses

The Past, Future but rarely Present

The business world at large demands projections, business plans, analysis of data and constant checking of figures – which area of our business should we concentrate on next, which country should we try to conquer next? A full time job in itself if we don’t have people to help us out! All of the above serve to keep us in either the past or the future. The present moment is fleeting and reflects what we have been doing in the past anyway – so why spend so much time analysing it? Surely, by looking at the present moment and where we are – not just in business, but in our lives – we have a pretty accurate yardstick of how we have been creating our lives to date.

Business is a Serious Business

Most businesses are run with the aim of making money – yes, I know – I’m stating the obvious! However, isn’t it just this factor that takes the joy out of many businesses? A bit like a person who loves amateur dramatics, but when they decide to transfer over to the professional stage the joy dissipates because now their lifestyle depends on their success. There is a mantle of seriousness which now envelopes them and, except for a fortunate few, it’s not fun anymore, but business. This very seriousness is what ties people up in knots, makes them tense, stressed and out of touch with their intuition and guidance. There is too much fear of failure and thoughts of not having enough money to support themselves, needing to go back into work that they hate doing just to make ends meet and even the fear of people telling them ‘I told you so!’ There are many layers to starting our own business. It’s about making ourselves vulnerable because we can ultimately be rejected by the world and nobody wants what we have to offer. The ultimate rejection! It takes courage to take that leap of faith.

We have to be Passionate

Loving what we do is really the only way to have any chance of a successful business, and I’m not just talking about money. I’m sure all of us have had dealings with businesses which have been run delightfully – restaurants that serve the most delicious food for example. Then one day we visit our favourite restaurant and the food isn’t quite as good, the service isn’t quite as personal and, on enquiry, we find that the restaurant has changed hands. The passion and energy of the person/people that started it has gone and, unless the restaurant is taken over by people with equal passion, the customers are going to feel the difference. Is there ever the same level of passion shown for a business which is already a running concern versus one that has been built from scratch with blood, sweat and tears? I don’t know, but I doubt it. It is our energy which runs our business. We can have unlimited funds to throw at it, but unless we have passion for what we do that money is going to go down the drain, as potential customers will sense that we aren’t in business for the love of it, but purely as a way of making as much money as we can, in as short a time as possible. We won’t show up as people that they can trust!

Benefits of Online Data Storage

For small businesses, cloud services are the preferred method of storing digital data. While they used to rely on in-house servers to store their growing collections of online files, many small businesses are now transferring those services to online data storage services, such as JustCloud or Dropbox. Small businesses experience a number of benefits from storing their data in the cloud, including cost savings and the ability to access data from anywhere with an internet connection. Here are eight of the biggest benefits small businesses say they get from using online data storage.

Online storage data allows employees to work from anywhere there is an internet connection, which is a huge benefit to Matthew Vollmar, CEO of managed IT services provider Newmind Group. He said his staff is no longer limited by location. “It provides our 19 team members the freedom to work from anywhere (home, coffee shops, client facilities) and still have access to any needed documents or information,” said Vollmar.

Jeff Kear, owner and founder of online event management software provider Planning Pod, said one of the greatest benefits he gets from using online storage services is that he doesn’t need to hire IT staff or retain consultants to maintain a server for all his digital data. “Servers are expensive to run and often more expensive to maintain, and by using a service like Dropbox, I don’t need to spend additional money on server support personnel,” Kear said. “This probably saves my business $5,000 to $10,000 every year.”

As CEO of ecommerce consultant PDB Sales Inc., a business that has moved offices five times in the last seven years, Tao Wong said online storage makes the process go much smoother. “Concerns about data loss are minimized,” he said. “With the online data storage solutions, setup for the [new] offices has been a matter of plug-and-play.”

Robyn Tippins, co-founder of marketing agency Mariposa, said that with offices in three states and consultants across the globe, online data storage allows the company to share files efficiently. She said they previously used email files, but that didn’t work as well as they added new staff members. “We use an inexpensive cloud storage provider to ensure everyone has the most up-to-date version of working docs, like client proposals, training documents, SOWs and contracts,” Tippins said. “It helps us manage our workflow, onboard new consultants and new clients, and makes it possible to be a small team, despite the large geographic area we span.”

Cost is a big reason why Mickey Luongo, vice president of heating and air conditioning products provider Total Home Supply, uses online data storage services over in-house options. “Managing servers in-house is expensive,” Luongo said. “By outsourcing our data storage, we saved on a lot of hardware and maintenance costs.”

Data backup is one of the most valuable aspects of online data storage for Matt Ham, president of Computer Repair Doctor. “We also pair online backups with once-per-month local backups. Just in case we get ransomware and all our files become encrypted, we don’t want them auto-uploading to the cloud and then be left with no backups,” Ham said.

Shaikh Hafizur Rahman, founder of Juicer Moz, said adopting online cloud storage into his business has given him ease of mind about the security of his files. “Every year, the threat of cyberattacks is becoming rampant. By using cloud data storage, I have become largely immune to these cyberattacks,” Rahman said. “Cloud storage facilities like Dropbox and JustCloud have tough security measures that can withstand large cyberattacks.”

Jonathan Marsh, owner of home care agency Home Helpers of Bradenton, said he can easily share data with employees and clients. “We have also used the cloud or online storage creatively as an easy way to share information or documents with our employees and our clients. From a document- and information-sharing standpoint, we oftentimes use the cloud as an alternative to attaching documents to email to limit the size of outbound emails,” Marsh said. “We also employ a strategy that allows for employees and clients to access common documents via a shared online directory. More specifically, this allows for self-service, where clients and employees know where to find the common documents online, thus saving time by not having to call the office.”

Tips for Making Your Remarketing Campaign

Remarketing is a tactic that involves showing ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app. This strategy is a particularly cost-effective way to increase your sales conversions because you’re reaching out to customers who have already expressed interest in your products or services. It used to be that only large, data-centric organizations were able to invest in data mining, said Raj Beri, business head of Uber India. But small businesses across all industries now have access to the tracking tools necessary to take advantage of digital remarketing.

There are different strategies for remarketing, and each one has its own benefit. For example, standard remarketing through Google AdWords shows ads to your past visitors as they browse Display Network websites and use Display Network apps. Dynamic remarketing, on the other hand, uses ads that include products or services that people have viewed on your website.

If you want to launch a remarketing campaign, here are three tips to make it successful.

Most businesses choose a specific channel for their remarketing campaigns, such as display, banner, Facebook or video ads, said Mike Hans, founder and CEO of Forge Group. But consumers aren’t on just one channel. Just as in any other marketing efforts, it’s important to catch the consumer where they are. This means spreading out across a variety of channels, including (and perhaps especially) mobile devices.

Hobbs recommended segmenting your list of web visitors by behavior for an even more targeted remarketing campaign. For instance, if a consumer gets to the last page of an ecommerce checkout process and doesn’t complete the purchase, that person should be added to a different segment for a different messaging set than a visitor who only visited the homepage.

There’s no straight line to success, Beri said. What you thought at the outset about your product and how people use it will change daily. They key is to “fail fast” – learn from what worked and what didn’t, and keep improving on your product and business model.

Small Business Owner’s Guide

Whether it’s brochures, business cards, menus or letterhead, your small business just can’t quit paper. And there are plenty of services online ready to take your business. The print-on-demand industry offers tons of options. And like so many industries, printing has gone digital. This is a stark difference from years ago when offset printing – the traditional printing standard – was generally the go-to method for businesses. Offset printing takes ink from plates, transfers it (or offsets it) to a rubber roller or blanket and then places it on paper. This method of printing tends to offer greater control over everything from materials to ink colors and customizations, which is ideal for high volume print runs and brand-critical pieces. However, digital printing has come a long way, and for many designers and small businesses, it’s the predominant method for print runs of all kinds. And the reasons for this are tough to challenge: Digital is fast, it’s cheap, and it gets the job done. For most businesses, these three reasons alone justify why so many click the Submit button online and place a printing order.

  • Price. Price carries a lot of weight in choosing a digital printer versus a local vendor, especially for small quantity jobs such as invitations, fliers and business cards.
  • Convenience. Online printing gives you instant, anytime access that draws most people to online. Create an account, upload your artwork, customize your print job and get it rolling – from the convenience of your laptop. And, as far as design, online printing can help in that area, too. Premade templates shepherd you through the process of, say, creating a business card.
  • Speed. Online printers are fast. You can typically receive a printed job in a week or two. Remember to build that time into your production schedule. And it’s nice to plan a few extra days for proofs, should you require one.

Online printing makes printers around the globe available to you, but which one do you trust and how do you choose? For Granger, the only limit is Google’s search results – literally. She is game to try vendors from Massachusetts to China, and she’s had luck with both big names and obscure shops.

The Best Online Business Plans

Successful entrepreneurs know that getting the details down on paper is critical before starting any new venture. For help in the planning stages, many new owners use an online business plan service. Such services provide potential investors with details on how a new business will become profitable. Online business plan software offers the tools and templates needed to create a professional presentation that can be put in front of prospective backers to demonstrate where you want your venture to go and how you plan to get there. The best services provide financial calculators and chart generators to help crunch numbers and illustrate the business’ vision in a quantifiable manner. They also offer a number of additional features such as performance graphs and goal achievement monitors that let business owners track their progress and make necessary changes along the way.

  1. LivePlan

LivePlan earned this year’s TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award for simplifying the business plan writing by providing access to the work and materials from any computer with an internet connection. For those launching their first venture, the service guides them through each step. By incorporating teaching into the writing process, LivePlan produces not only an exceptional business plan, but also a more informed entrepreneur.

2. BizPlan

BizPlan earns high marks for providing a step-by-step process that’s accessible to users of all skill levels. While new users have resources to learn what they need, business veterans have the tools required to formulate a business plan without unnecessary handholding. A highlight is the service’s overall compatibility with other widely used applications such as Excel and cloud-based document creation and sharing services like Google Docs. Additionally, it integrates with social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

3. PlanHQ

PlanHQ is well regarded not only for helping users write a business plan, but also assisting in executing it and setting business goals. Through a unique approach of couching almost everything in the context of goal setting, the service helps business owners fully understand exactly what needs to take place in order to start a successful business. The service also enables users to collaborate with business partners, identify demographics and size up the competition.

The Best Business Plan Software

Business plans serve many purposes. Before starting a business, a simple business plan enables would-be entrepreneurs to flesh out their ideas and lay out their vision. When it comes to seeking funding or planning for expansion, a comprehensive business plan is almost always a must. And when it comes to problems down the road, business plans help business owners foresee issues, make adjustments and plan their attack.

To help you choose the best solution for your business, our sister site Top Ten Reviews does extensive in-depth reviews of business-plan software. Here are the top three recommendations:

  1. Business Plan Pro

Business Plan Pro leads Top Ten Reviews’ rankings for business plan software, as it provides everything beginners need to develop a professional business plan, and also has several options for advanced users. The Standard Edition of the software has many features, including more than 500 sample business plans, industry profiles and planning e-books. The Premier Edition adds the ability to import data from QuickBooks or Excel, visual cash-planning capability, valuation-analysis tools and additional financial tools.

Research and Forecasting Tools: Business Plan Pro provides more than 500 sample business plans covering several diverse business concepts. Additional resources are available to determine the best way to forecast numbers for marketing, cost per unit and other industry expenses. The “drag and drop” graphic forecaster lets users quickly and easily create graphs and charts.

Help & Support: Business Plan Pro provides beginners and professionals with a business-plan wizard, step-by-step guidance and informational videos.

2.  Biz Plan Builder

Biz Plan Builder ranks highly for its multiuser capabilities, including the ability to share securely stored files over the Internet. The software includes everything needed for a customizable, professional business plan. It also helps users create an understanding of their business to help sell themselves to investors and bankers. It includes future strategy development to review the prospects of an acquisition through valuation analysis, adding value for a potential merger and cultivating ideas and advice on restructuring or reorganization.

Research and Forecasting Tools: Forecasting tools include a comprehensive budget/feasibility analysis using a “best/worst” case analysis. Models and financial analysis are also available to help users make the best assumptions, projections and financial determinations.

Help & Support: Supporting documents include business forms such as articles of incorporation, résumé templates, team responsibilities and general partnership agreements, as well as personal financial statements, press releases, private offering disclaimers and stock-option tracking worksheets. Business-plan updates, business-plan FAQs, an online business-plan workshop and an expert referral network are also part of the program. Built-in advice and support include interactive guides, built-in sample plans and expert explanations.

3. BizPlan.com

BizPlan.com earned Top Ten Reviews’ Bronze Award for offering a contemporary online interface that is simple to use, while also providing enough flexibility for the advanced user. The software allows other collaborators to access, edit and share information easily. BizPlan.com has recognized the significant advantage of providing applications that allow for online collaboration and integration with other services and products.

Research and Forecasting Tools: BizPlan.com provides spreadsheet forecasting templates that can be customized and then imported with the final business plan. A full marketplace will soon be launched, which will include access to business resources, as well as the abilities to add features to the business plan and send a completed plan to professionals for printing and binding. Sample plans are also included in the professional package.

Help & Support: Both email and telephone support is available for new subscribers.

Simple Business Plan Templates

Writing a business plan is an important step in the startup process. It helps you and your partners decide if you will work well together, teaches you about the marketplace, and lets you brainstorm business and product goals. But because of all the effort and detail involved, many entrepreneurs dread the thought of sitting down and creating this critical but time-consuming document. Here are five resources you can use to help you craft a professional business plan quickly and easily.

Not all small businesses are concerned with credit lines, partnerships and office space — at least not in the beginning.  Copyblogger’s Remarkably Simple Business Plan doesn’t. Instead, it offers a business-plan template fit for the real would-be entrepreneur’s world. Whereas most business-plan templates assume all businesses are uniform, Copyblogger’s Remarkably Simple Business Plan was created to get to what entrepreneurs really need to know to start a business: the ins and outs of the product or service, how customers will find the business and how the business will make money. Simply copy and paste the template of the Remarkably Simple Business Plan, created by Sonia Simone, co-founder and chief content officer of Copyblogger Media, and you’re good to go.

Founded in 2011, Enloop is regarded as an innovative player in the business-plan-creation industry. Like many others, the service uses an online interface to help automate your business plan’s creation. To get started, users enter basic information about their businesses, including product details. Then, Enloop’s software uses metrics to help predict the financial performance of the company in comparison with others in the sector. According to CEO Cynthia McCahon, the goal of the company is to help entrepreneurs make better-informed decisions. Users can get started on Enloop for free; more advanced paid options are also available.

LivePlan is a relatively new entrant to the online business-tools market that helps you every step of the way, from the planning stages through your launch. Like other services, LivePlan allows business owners to craft perfectly formatted plans. From there, users can create the presentation necessary to pitch their business ideas to would-be investors. Once off the ground, businesses can track revenue and expenses against forecasts, and multiple users within a company can work through the LivePlan interface. Pricing starts at less than $12 a month.

Created by The One Page Business Plan Company, this simple business template covers only the key areas entrepreneurs need to address to start a business: their vision for the company, mission for why the business exists, objectives for setting out goals, strategies to make the business successful and action plans indicating what work needs to be done. Unlike complicated business plans, boring blocks of text are not required — bullet points will do.

Look no further than Angela Bowman’s One-Page Visual Business Plan. Based on the principles of the Business Generation Model Strategyzer app, Bowman’s One-Page Visual Business Plan uses sticky notes to help you creatively craft an out-of-the-box business plan. To create a One-Page Visual Business Plan, start by separating a single page into different sections or columns, such as company information and customer segments. Write down your ideas or responses on a sticky note, and then stick it on the corresponding section. You can also color-code the sticky notes for better organization. Then, if your plans change, you can easily remove a note, move it around or add new ones to better fit the direction in which your business is headed.

Writing a Business Plan?

Starting a business? Entrepreneurs know that dreaming up a business idea is the easy part — it’s making your dreams come to fruition that’s the real challenge. And one of the first steps to taking on that challenge is creating a business plan, a task that can be pretty daunting no matter how great your idea is. Your business plan is essentially your map to success — it’s an outline of the goals, research and projections you have for your new company so that you can stay on the right track, and is an especially important document to have if you’re seeking funding. Business News Daily asked business owners, strategists and experts what the most difficult part of writing a business plan is. Here are 7 challenges you’ll face writing your business plan.

  • Actually starting it

The hardest part about writing a business plan is getting it started. Lock yourself in a room, turn off your phone and focus.

  • Filling out your financials

The most difficult part of writing a business plan is the financial section. It is difficult to project figures on a brand-new business with, possibly, a brand-new concept. There is not roadmap, no one to follow. The best you can do is find a similar company and try to gauge what they are making.

  • Knowing your demographics

The hardest but most important piece is getting your target demographics dialed in properly. You need to know who you’ll be selling to and how big the market is to estimate with some accuracy how many people you can reach and sell your product or service to.

  • Planning for tech changes

Predicting the unforeseen technology variables that the future holds is a challenge. When I started my business nearly 10 years ago, there was no marketing on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram did not yet exist. Today, these social media platforms play a huge role in my business’ marketing strategy and directly affect sales.

  • Being concise

One of the top challenges is keeping it short and sweet. The more concise and focused a plan is, the more likely business owners are to achieve the goals they have set out for themselves and their business.

  • Making it interesting

The hardest thing about writing a business plan is being able to tell your story in such a way that people buy into your idea. If you tell a lousy story, people won’t want to invest.

  • Establishing workable goals

Establishing clear, concise and understandable goals — these goals must also be realistic. When people can’t see the vision of the plan, they won’t take action to pursue the plan. In addition, by having set goals that align with your plan, you have measureable targets to track your progress.

Fast Fixes to Jump-Start Your Business Plan

Writing a business plan can be tricky and time-consuming, but it’s a crucial step if you’re starting a new business. Not only is a business plan helpful if you’re looking for investors, but it can also be a great structural resource to help guide you and remind you of your business goals. So how do you create an efficient business plan that meets your needs? Here are five expert tips.

Before you start writing your business plan, you need to make sure your business idea or product is actually desirable to your intended customer base.

So what’s the first step in actually writing your business plan? Startup consultant Kristi Klemm said the first thing you should do is ask yourself, “Who am I making this plan for?” There are usually two answers to this question, Klemm said: You’re writing it to fit your own needs, or you’re writing it for investors or partners.

A great way to simplify your business plan, both for yourself and your investors, is to make it more visual. Zack Pennington, chief operating officer at online music instruction resource Collabra Music, said you shouldn’t be afraid to use charts in place of long text paragraphs.

When you’re creating your business plan, you also have to think about the time it will take you to reach your goals. Lora Ivanova, co-founder and chief marketing officer of at-home STD testing company myLAB Box, said that it’s key to ask yourself about your time line or personal runway.  For example, “How long can you and the people on your team — co-founders and anyone investing sweat equity — commit yourselves to full-time work or any meaningful capacity dedicated to your business?” Ivanova said.
Once you have that time frame, Ivanova said that the second most important question is, “Is that enough time, conservatively, to get your business to a place where it can sustain your ongoing commitment?” Or, in other words, “At what point in time can your business provide enough income for you to keep working on it? From there, you can figure out what goals you need to achieve and how to achieve them.

Business plans are important, but it’s also important to remember that not everything will go according to plan. That’s why you need to keep your business plan flexible, said Cindy Jones, CEO and formulator at skin-care company Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin.