How Important is Record Keeping for Businesses?

In order to keep your business safe from any legal troubles, it’s important that you document every step that you take. Recordkeeping is one of the most important tools that you should take advantage of when it comes to running a business.

Whenever conflict or issues arise, you’ll want to be able to prove that you were on the right side of the law. And, as you already know, the only way you can go about doing this is to maintain clear and concise records of every transaction that your business partakes in.

Using the Cloud

Many businesses are backing their information up on what’s known as the cloud. Documents that are kept on a single computer could pose a risk if something were to happen to the hard drive storing all of the information that you’ve worked so hard to keep up with. Saving important data to a cloud-based storage system will ensure that your information won’t disappear suddenly if there’s an error with your computer.

Backing up Your Info with an External Drive

Another option that you can opt for is to back up your files on an external hard drive. By taking this route, you’ll be able to easily plug it in to a computer, and transfer each file that you want onto the drive. This way, you’ll have every transaction stored on a secure system that can be accessed on any computer – similar to that of a cloud-based storage system. Backing up data has proven to be invaluable to any business, and it could save you months of recovery and most importantly, thousands of dollars.

Blog submitted by Barry K. Rothman: Barry K. Rothman and his team provide skilled representation for entertainers and business owners in the entertainment industry. Take one look at all of the positive Barry K. Rothman reviews online and you’ll understand why many trust his firm.

How Schedules Can Analyze Construction Delays

Summary: Optimal construction schedules can affect whether a construction project will be delayed or run into various issues.

Construction contracts normally include an array of scheduling requirements. Due to the availability of more powerful scheduling software, the scheduling process has become more complex throughout the years.

A well thought out schedule is a critical tool for coordinating project work around the worksite. Moreover, it can also be used in determining when construction project resources will be needed. Lastly, if a construction delay occurs, a well-designed schedule can be the basis for analyzing what events can impact the completion of a construction project.

The Basic Concepts of a Schedule

The nature of construction schedule may depend on the cost of the project. As the cost of the construction project begins to increase, the owner’s may demand a schedule that is based on a critical path method network.

Utilizing a bar chart can help indicate when certain construction activities will start, their duration and finish date. It can also plot a time scale for all parties to refer to if needed. Since each activity on a bar chart is depicted as a solid line on the schedule, a bar chart is fairly easy to understand and may not require additional help from outside sources. However, a bar chart does not indicate the interrelationship between each activity nor does it indicate that the commencement of a certain activity is dependent on the completion of a previous activity.

How Project Specifications Can Affect Delays

In nearly every construction contract, time is one of the key components to a successful project. Since timely completion is almost always emphasized, contracts will likely include some type of scheduling requirement and the help of an expert who specializes in construction claim analysis.

On bigger projects, the specifications may require that the schedule is more resource loaded. Meaning, the schedule must indicate a variety of factors such as resources and costs necessary to perform each type of activity. Moreover, the contractor may be required to separate each activity and assign them to specific resources such as materials, labor, and equipment.

A skilled construction expert such as Lyle Charles for example, can provide insight on how to create optimal schedules that can help a construction project flow smoothly and with minimal delays. However, it is important to remember that construction delays are fairly common and even if you hire a professional, there are no guarantees that delays will be avoided at all costs.

Why Bluetooth Will Drive Digital Wallets in 2018

When Apple pulled the plug on the headphone jack, pun intended, it started a debate about whether wired peripherals were a thing of the past. Apple, Samsung and a growing number of smartphone manufacturers are beginning to see a great deal of promise in Bluetooth technology. Soon, Bluetooth will affect everything from how you listen to music to how you pay for the items you buy on your way home.

Bluetooth Peripherals

Already, it’s possible to transfer money digitally over Bluetooth. Merchants had been slow to adopt this technology because, for many, it means expensive adjustments they need to make to stay in compliance with the law. Now that the painful part is over, and smartphone adoption rates are up, Bluetooth technology is on the rise.

This has given way to several important peripherals, including card readers and mobile payment systems. Two devices might use Bluetooth and WiFi, so someone can take an order from a customer and process payment while the order is fulfilled. This would work well in restaurants, or in the retail sector. Imagine ordering a customized computer, or wardrobe, and having every piece hand delivered to you in the exact specifications you asked for. That’s the power of Bluetooth.

Digital Wallets

Another important innovation is the digital wallet itself. Bluetooth technology just helps provide the vehicle to make a payment, the wallets handle the encryption and actual movement of funds. Plus, these wallets are accepting and using a growing number of currencies. Soon, you might be able to travel abroad with little more than a smartphone and a passport.

Blog article submitted by Ted Dhanik. Also visit this video interview with Ted Dhanik.

5 Things To Look For When Hiring A Consulting Firm

 

Companies hire consultants to advise them on solving issues that a company is facing. However, consultants can cost a lot and therefore hiring the right consultant is vital to solving issues and ensuring that your money is spent wisely. Here are a few areas to consider.

Track record of success – It is a good idea to ask your consultant who they worked for and how successful they were in improving a company’s performance. Speak to your consultant about the issues they may have to handle in your company and ask them how they handled similar issues in other companies of your size.

An experienced team – Good quality consulting firms will only send through experienced consultants to pitch to senior management. Therefore, if your consulting firm sends through inexperienced consultants for interviews, it is best to look elsewhere.

Reasonable cost structure – The consultant you want, should come at the price that makes most financial sense for the firm. If you are looking for a more experienced consultant at a higher cost, they should be able to offer you results in a much shorter period.

Added value – A consultant who is a generalist, will offer creative solutions that will not be thought of internally.

Communication skills – Consultants and the consulting firm should be able to effectively listen to their clients and communicate in a language that matches the client’s culture and requirements.

6 tips for good business management

Any size company can take advantage of good business practices. Here are 6 tips in relation to business management that will strengthen your business and help it evolve. We spoke to Ted Dhanik, who is an entrepreneur and CEO of Engage:BDR, a digital marketing company specializing in display and video advertising. He provided us some good advice below.

“Know-how is not enough – It is not enough to just be an expert in your field. This will not guarantee you sales or customers. Instead, it is important to include marketing and administration skills into the mix. Make sure your customers know what your business can offer them. Apart from this, to run an efficient business that makes profits, you will need financial experts to understand the financial aspects of your business.

Hire the right people – It is important to hire the right people that match your industry and what you want to offer. Include good recruiting practices into the mix and you will be sure that your hires will be coming back and referring many others.

Don’t hire your friends – Hiring friends can compromise and destroy a friendship and cause problems for your business. If you must hire a friend, ensure that you have clearly communicated what is expected of them and what you can offer in return.

Don’t make snap decisions. – Sometimes small businesses will face hang-ups, but know that this is a rare occurrence. Instead of making snap decisions, think about the implications your decision will bring on your staff and business.

Hiring/promoting from within isn’t always good.- Hiring from within is a good policy but it should be limited to staff that has the personality and the skill set necessary for the role.”

For more info about Ted Dhanik, visit his Facebook page.

Digital Wallet Benefits for Merchants

Article written by Pierre Zarokian.

There’s a lot of news floating around about how important digital wallets will be for consumers, but the part no one talks about is how they’ll affect merchants. For the most part, merchants do what the market dictates, but these big changes in store maybe aren’t so bad. Here’s a look at the benefits merchants will see when they make the switch to accept digital wallets.

Customer Loyalty

Right now, brands need to work hard to push customer loyalty programs with physical cards the customer has to keep. Larger retailers have more options, but the mom and pop shops can only mimic the idea. With digital wallets, it will become easier to get customers into your loyalty program, distribute coupons to them and get them back into your store. Enticing deals can now go directly to your best shoppers.

Faster and Safer Checkout

Everyone loves a faster checkout, but you’ll appreciate speed, efficiency and security all at once. Using special encryption, these wallets can control the data sent to and from banks as the customer completes the transaction. Everything is anonymous, and no information is held. That means once the transaction is done, a receipt can be emailed to the customer and all payment information disappears.

Optimized Shopping

Customers will eventually have more tools to query your shop. In the future, they may be able to check the items you have in stock, or look at wait times in store to figure out when the best time to arrive is for their schedule.


This Article was written and submitted by Pierre Zarokian. Read a recent press about Pierre Zarokian here.

Tips to Help Make Your Small Business Credit Card Processing More Affordable

Small business credit card processing is a necessary challenge to overcome. You need to be able to process payments, and some of the advanced features can be useful to the right business, but they do tend to take away from your bottom line profits. If you’re looking for an opportunity to save on some of those costs, these tips should be able to help you without putting too much of that burden on your customers.

Dr. Sid Solomon, a cosmetic dental specialist, advices:  “When we were initially looking for a merchant account provider, we did not know much about it. We talked to several providers and picked one with the lowest rate, so definitely shop around.”

Pay Attention to the Contract

Before you ever sign up for a merchant account, you should be aware of how transactions are processed and which methods offer the lowest rates. With an interchange plus account, the credit card swipe machine will usually offer a lower rate to you than keying in your account number. This is because the processing companies, or payment gateways, have to take extra precautions handling this information. Since you’re keying in the full card number, thieves can intercept that information over the Internet.

That extra security ends up costing you more per transaction, which is why swiping a card through the credit card machine is the best method for processing a payment.

Be aware of those kinds of contract speed bumps. Make sure you’re not signing onto any volume discounts you can’t meet, and make sure you take the time to understand the rate structure for the transactions you’ll process. It will help you more accurately forecast your costs moving forward.

Set a Minimum

One method to ensure you’ll be able to cover the costs of a transaction without raising prices on your customers is to set a minimum for credit card transactions. Most businesses set this limit fairly low, at $10, but that minimum may have to be higher if you’re a big ticket retailer. That’s because interchange  rates are based on percentages.

In the best case scenario, your customer meets that threshold and your transaction is worth the cost. Another way of looking at it, is the customer will pay cash for an item worth less than the minimum. If not, you’ll lose money just processing the sale. Most customers understand this today, but a few may raise some objections. Kindly explain the costs of processing plastic, and remind them that respecting your rule is helping an American small business grow. You’re always going to lose grumpy customers, but as long as clearly place signs indicating your minimum charges, you’ll find most people are agreeable to your terms.

6 Ways To Step Up Communication In Your Small Business

If you are trying to build a successful business, then improving your communication skills should be high on your list of priorities. Here are some tips to help you understand problems, resolve conflict and improve relationships with your employees.

Limit distractions and listen – Listening is key to good communication but it can be difficult when you are working in an office environment. If someone is talking to you, try to close your computer, put your phone on silent and close your office door to reduce distractions.

Be responsive – Once you receive a complaint or a suggestion, look at issuing a response If you are unable to provide an answer, let the person know that you will get back to them and do so promptly.

Ask the right questions – Ask the right questions from an employee or a customer who is unhappy.

Make meetings count – Meetings are known for being a waste of time and are often thoroughly disorganized. If you are heading a meeting, ensure that you have the points that you want to discuss and send an email to the other participants about the goals of the meeting and what information is needed.

Combine communication methods – Face to face communication is best as you will be able to read the person’s body language.

Focus on customer service – Your customers should be heard, and when a problem arises, the resolution should focus on communicating to uncover the problem. Keep communicating until a solution is identified and the customer is happy.

 

Basic skills for starting or running your own business

entrepreneurshipArticle Written by : Scrumpy Jack

Experienced managers and CEO’s will tell you that in order to start your own business you will need to have or acquire a range of skills. This is even more important for startups. The smaller headcounts mean that a lot of the work is done by the founder. Here are a few of the skills you will need to master:

Project management

Being an efficient project manager will be very important. The basic gist is to achieve a specific goal or outcome while making the maximum use of resources available and delivering on schedule. There are courses on project management which will speed up the process. In addition tools like Trello offer app based prject management for small businesses.

Accountancy

A lot of founders develop a decent head for numbers before the business is run. In order to raise funds and convince investors, profit, loss and other projections all need to be done. However, once the business is up and running that knowledge needs to extend to maintaining and monitoring the books.

Leadership

As a business owner or founder, leadership is a skill you will need to ensure success. The ability to motivate and improve the productivity of your workforce will affect your chances of success. Leadership comes naturally to some, but even for those it does

Presentation

There will be a lot of presentations. The better the presentations the higher chances of convincing investors to get on board. Your presentation skills say more about you than the items presenting so it is important to master this skills before any other.

 

4 Tips That Will Help Your Accounting And Finance Team Deal With Technological Change

Article Written by : RAC Maghreb

Businesses are often under pressure to change to face new commercial opportunities, government regulations, and standards. To ensure that your accounting and finance team are ready for technological change, here are some simple tips that will help them stay on track.

Understand the skills of your team – Look at investing time on understanding what your finance team’s strengths and weaknesses are using face to face interviews and questionnaires.

Invest in new skills – Target your training and development around improving your finance team’s technical skills and by providing them with software and hardware that will help them do their jobs better.

Embrace mentoring – Mentoring is a cost-effective way to improve the capabilities of your finance and accounting staff. Most younger employees will be well-versed in new technologies and can help senior staff understand new systems and processes.

Take note of the ‘skills-application’ gap – Give your finance team sufficient time to grasp new technologies and learn new ways of doing things. While your team is learning, provide them with the necessary support to make their transition smoother.

Business heads should remember that new evolutions are exciting but can cause pressure within teams. Therefore, look at embracing new technologies while providing the necessary skills and time that is needed when making large transitions. Instead of asking the question of when a new technology will be implemented, ask your team what they need to make their transition easier.

 

How to avoid lengthy construction claims

A nightmare for any business is a lengthy process that involves a dispute with a contractor over a construction claim. You could go through the process, hire a construction claims expert, and go through and check the merits of the claim. However, there is an easier way. The old-adage has it right when it says that prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips on how to avoid construction claims and the arduous process that follows:

Relationships – Build a good relationship with all of your contractors, sub-contractors, and vendors. The bottom line wins, but solid relationships can smooth out any problems before they escalate. Even if you do hire an expert like Lyle Charles and pursue a claims process, you will end up with a better outcome.

Contracts – All it takes is one simple mistake, and it can cost your company dearly. First thing, make sure your contracts are watertight. The right law firm can ensure that the right clauses are part of the final document and cover the entire scope of the project.

Insurance – Look at the possibility of covering your project with the necessary insurance coverage. Property damage insurance alone can save you a lot of time and money in the event of an issue. Also, with a good track record, you can get away with a small premium.

Communication – Most disputes are the result of some form of miscommunication. Keep an open line of communication and always raise issues directly and immediately to avoid any confusion.

 

How Social Media Affects Reputation

Social-MediaArticle provided by Fix Bad Reputation

Social media is more than just the dumping ground for your thoughts. It’s an engaging tool you can use to connect with fans far outside of your local area. There are more opportunities to gather feedback, and find sales opportunities, than ever before. In order to tap into those streams, you need to have a handle on your brand’s online presence. Here are tips to help you root out the gold and keep your reputation intact.

Build a Community

Building a community means more than just getting fans to like your page, so think beyond the like and get people to communicate with one another on your business page. Asking questions about your products or requesting reviews can help get you started. Consider expanding into industry related content. Write your own blog posts based on customer feedback, and promote those ideas through social channels.

Keep track of how often your messages are shared, and be sure to respond to comments.

Develop a Voice

Authenticity is huge for brands, and it’s easy to miss the mark if you’re not careful. Take time to develop a voice for the brand, and relate your social media efforts back to your company mission statement. Use blogs to support that voice through informative content that resonates with your audience. Also, consider promoting your social-entrepreneurial side. If you’re involved with charities or sponsoring kid’s sports teams, post updates related to their progress.

Consider Goals

Ideally, your customer doesn’t just like your page. He may use you as an informational database, or your site may be the first place he looks before buying. Zero in on what makes your content unique, and drive your customers toward those goals.

Article by Fix Bad Reputation. They provide reputation management services such as thedirty post removal, reportmyex post removal, Complaints Board Removal and more.

Free tools every Solopreneur should use

Article Written by : MLAVA Finances

Solopreneurs are a unique group. They manage all the pressure faced by an entrepreneur with very little outside assistance. A lot of this is down to how each individual deals with the pressure and how best he or she make use of the tools available. Here are some tools that solopreneurs can use to free up time for maximizing growth:

WiseStamp

A nice tool to create a professional email signature that includes an image along with all contact information. This includes social media information and website links. It is free and allows extensive customization.

Workflow Max

This is a job management tool. It allows everything from lead and client management, invoicing, sheets, job costing, purchase orders and more in one place. In addition, 30 plus add-ons that extend the ability of the tool further. It is an entirely cloud based product.

Square

Every company will need a way to accept payments at some point. Unless the focus is B2B, Square ensures secure payments through its hardware dongle. The service does take a 2.75% cut from each sale and accepts both debit and credit cards.

Grammarly

With solopreneurs doing everything, there is nobody to give a second read to important communications. This can result in grammatical as well as other errors in the copy. Grammarly catches all that and more. They provide integration with popular browsers and tools. In addition, there is also a plagiarism checker.

Avoid High Risk Status and Accept Credit Cards Online for Less

high-risk-credit-cardsArticle by Credit Card Processing Blog.

Learn more about how to avoid high risk status for your merchant account.

A high risk merchant account can be a costly proposition. High risk accounts signify that your business presents an above-average risk of return for the payment processor. You might be honest, but years of failed and dishonest businesses have created a system for assessing risk that may not agree with you. In this guide, we look at methods you can use to accept credit cards for less money.

Fixing High Risk Status

The first step in paying less to accept credit cards online is to try and fix your high risk status. Usually, it’s an issue with credit or payments. If your payment history is off on bills, for instance, that can hurt your business credit rating. Length of time the business has been open can present an additional hurdle, as new businesses are often viewed with an eye of skepticism.

Talk with your credit card processing company, and find out what the problem is. Once you understand their viewpoint, you can take steps to resolve the issue. You might even try negotiating, which works especially well if you’re bringing high volume sales to the payment processor. They may be able to lower their rates and still make a profit.

Final Thoughts

If you’re assessed as a high risk, it’s not the end of your business. It usually means you will pay higher fees than someone who is not high risk, however. Shop around. Just because you’re high risk doesn’t mean you should settle for the first account that comes your way.

Read more Merchant Account related articles at http://www.creditcardprocessingblog.org/.

The Pros of Accepting Credit Cards, as a Business Owner

Article provided by Credit Card Processing News.

Summary: As a business owner, it would be wise to allow customers to pay with debit and credit cards. Some of the benefits have been explained below.

If you are a business owner who does not accept credit cards, you should strongly reconsider. There are many advantages to allowing customers to use their cards, including the ones outlined below.

Fewer People Carry Cash

Nowadays, fewer people carry cash on them. Credit cards and mobile wallets have made it significantly easier to always have a form of payment with you at all times. Using cash requires people to carry multiple bills with them, and if they end up making a purchase somewhere, there is a good chance they will ultimately have change, in the form of coins, somewhere in their pockets or bags.

As a business owner you want to make it as easy as possible for whoever walks through your door to make a purchase, right then and there. If a customer wanted to purchase a good or service from your business, only to find out that they would have to step out to look for an ATM, he or she likely would reconsider the purchase. Look into a merchant service provider to add that level of convenience to your business.

Customers Will Spend More

Another reason why you should accept credit cards is that customers will spend more. Not actually seeing the money that will be spent could result in more impulse purchases. A recent study showed that, on average, customers who pay with their credit or debit cards spend 12 – 18% more than those who pay with cash. This could be because customers do not actually have to count their money out.

Easier to Prevent Stealing

An additional advantage of accepting credit cards at your business is that it makes it more difficult for employees to steal. Although it is unfortunate, stealing takes place around the world. By using a card terminal, the money received from transactions will get deposited automatically.

For more articles about merchant processing visit http://www.creditcardprocessingnews.org/