Small business owners may one day run into the problems of having to upgrade from cash transactions to a payment processing for card transactions. Of course cash is one of the only tried and true payment options that is hard to beat because cash can go straight to the bank with very little chances of having problems unlike checks and other payment options. Being able to accept a wider range of payment options opens you up to having a larger customer base than before with only cash and check payments.
Of course, not all businesses are stuck in the cash age and have moved onto card transaction services using either a card terminal or an internet based computer card-swipe option. These are available through a variety of transaction processing services which send the devices to your business and charge rates to use the services with your business.
The next big thing for small business is mobile payments. Mobile payment technologies provide the ability to accept credit, charge and debit transactions directly through your mobile device. Companies such as Square, have made it possible to accept transactions through a specialized add on device for iPhone, iPad and even Android based mobile devices. The little dongle add on converts your mobile device into a card swipe transaction capable option for business on the go. Customers can sign their signature and will receive an email receipt for their transaction as soon as the transaction is completed.
One of the many advantages of the Square mobile processing is the fact that the dongle is free of charge. The only charges that users of the service can expect are a 2.75% fee of the transaction total when using the dongle. Users can still use App versions for other mobile devices and can enter credit card numbers manually at a 3.5% rate and 15 cent per transaction fee.
The reason why being able to accept transactions are important can be explained in simple terms. As “plastic” money is easier to carry around by customers with greater security, the higher the frequency of customers will tend to have a card on hand to make payments. Cards that are lost or stolen can be cancelled and a new card can be reissued within days while cash once lost may never be retrieved. Consumers trust having their card for transactions and will expect more and more vendors to offer card processing even on the go. Why not accept card transactions? Why not be mobile as well?
Image Source: Palm Coast Flagler County Florida Blog
Twitter has proven itself as a legitimate and worthwhile advertising platform for businesses all over the world, if your business is not using Twitter yet, or if you have a Twitter account but do not know how to use it, consider the following points and start gaining customers through the internet with minimal effort.
The first thing to do when setting up a Twitter account as a business is to make it official and make it professional. Luckily you do not have to be an advanced graphic designer to achieve this; there are now many free options available online for customizing Twitter profiles and making them look like an official extension of your business. There are companies that specialize in making Twitter backgrounds and while that is surely an option you can save a fair amount of money by spending an hour creating a free Twitter background yourself, complete with your business logo, business hours and other information. Creating and appealing page that looks like it is ran by a real business will immediately put you one step closer to gathering clients through Twitter.
Probably the hardest part about using Twitter as a business is figuring out what to tweet. Your customers surely do not want to hear about what you ate for breakfast, but they also do not want to hear sales script all day long. So how do you craft interesting tweets that your followers will appreciate? The simplest method is the best, put yourself in their shoes. This will be different for every business but consider what people who use your services want to hear. Do they want to be updated on news in the industry? Do they want to hear about new products? Do they want advice that can help them use their current products? Again, this tends to be the most challenging part for businesses, but it does not have to be, think of yourself as a client and tweet what interests you. Over time you will get feedback from your followers and be able to adjust your tweeting habits accordingly.
Promoting your Twitter page is easy for a small business. Put your link on your business cards, add it to your monthly newsletter, drop it in every conversation you have, post it on your website. There are endless ways to promote your Twitter page, most of the easiest ones are just attaching it to whatever promotion you are already doing.
Embrace the power of the tweet and learn how joining Twitter and staying active in the community can gain customers and boost sales.
Image Source: Techno Buzz
Once upon a time a business owner would take a certain number of phone calls in a day, depending on the business it could be between 10 and 50, and this was the only form of communication available. So how is it that today a business owner gets between 50 and 200 email messages a day? The answer is not so much as important as the solution, email management.
Look at your inbox, is it full? Are there over 100 messages in it? If so it is time to take an hour or two and figure out how you will save hundreds of hours in the future, it is time to invest in parsing your inbox to increase productivity.
First thing is first, go through every email you have, if you do not have time then make time, you need to figure out exactly what sort of mail you are getting everyday that is crowding you inbox. Now, as you are going through your messages, unsubscribe from every email service that you do not read regularly, there are probably 20 less incoming emails a day now. Secondly start making a list in your head of who is emailing you the most, you do not need to write any names down and chances are that you already have a pretty good idea. After maybe 30 minutes, or maybe a lot more depending on how bad your inbox is, you have an empty email screen, sit back and relax for a moment you enjoy it. Now you need to start planning how you can keep it that way.
Remember the people who were emailing you the most? Go talk to them, it is alright, they will not get mad, oftentimes people might even think that you want to receive as many emails from them as you were receiving, it is simply a misunderstanding. Tell them that you would really appreciate it if they could cut back on how many emails they are sending you every day because you are trying to be more productive and spend less time checking your inbox. You will probably get a positive reaction and you might even inspire that person to do the same thing!
You have now successfully lowered the number of emails you get daily by a significant number, continue telling people that you prefer to get fewer emails from them as you go, they will completely understand and you might even start a minimal-email revolution in your office, saving time for everybody and increasing efficiency in the business.
Image Source: The Email Admin
“Impossible” you might say, “There is simply too much paper!” Yes, you probably use a lot of paper right now, and it is possible that you cannot transition you business to entire paperless production, but let us look at a few of the ways that your business can cut back on using paper and go the digital route instead.
Meeting notes – there are always meetings and it seems like at every meeting each person has a stack of papers in front of them with far more information in them than could ever be covered at one meeting, there are a few ways to cut back on these information papers.
Send all meeting notes out ahead of time and encourage your employees to read through them and write down any questions they might have for the meeting. Your employees probably already bring notepads to meetings, so if they write down any questions or concerns they have ahead of time then they will not need to print out the notes as well.
Allow your employees to use laptops in meetings. Many managers will cringe at this idea, mainly because they assume that if an employee has a laptop in front of them then it is impossible for them to be listening. While this might be true for some employees, most people can focus just fine even with a laptop in front of them and chances are good that they really are taking notes.
Coffee and water cups – paper is not just for writing on, it is possible that there is a ton of paper in your waste baskets that comes from complementary drinking stations. Hopefully you pay your employees enough to be able to afford water bottles and coffee mugs, getting rid of these paper cups will give your employees pause and you might hear grumblings, but they will certainly get over it soon enough.
Duplex printing – sometimes there are things that you must print out, there is no way to avoid it, consider setting your printers to duplex printing so that when you do have to print you are using the paper to its full potential. If you are printing official documentation duplex printing might not work, but for most things it is acceptable.
There are a lot of ways to save paper in the office, while you might not be able to go entirely paperless sit down and think about where you might be using paper irresponsibly; both your expense sheets and the environment will thank you for it.
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The list of expenses for small business owners can be overwhelming and with technology always changing and needing to be upgraded, software and hardware tend to be high on that list. So how can a small business owner help cut some of the costs associated with maintaining and up-to-date network of computers; by taking a look at open source alternatives.
Open source software is software that is developed by independent individuals who want to share their skills and knowledge with the world for free. It is commonly assumed that open source software is harder to use than commercial software and while this is sometimes true not all open source software is only configurable by confusing command line interfaces and lengthy instruction manuals. There are many open source options today that look similar to products created by large companies; some people even prefer the interfaces to the big box programs.
There are a few things to consider before making the jump to open source software. Firstly you have to think about what software you are using now and to what extent you use it, when researching software you will find that some of the programs are not as robust as paid options, but this might be alright for your business needs. Once you have a list of all the software you currently use and all the different needs that are fulfilled by that software then you can start investigating free alternatives.
One of the most popular open source examples that are being used regularly by businesses now is Open Office. Open Office is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. The main benefits of Open Office is that it has all the functionality of Microsoft Office and it can even save in the same formats as Microsoft Office, this means that if you are sending files to other people who do not use Open Office, they will still be able to use them just as if you used Microsoft Office to create the document. Open Office also has products comparable to Excel, Publisher and Powerpoint.
There is a whole world of open source alternatives out there that could save your business a significant amount of money. Take some time to learn about these options and investigate whether or not they could suit your needs, how easy it would be for your employees to adapt to them and whether or not you want to start saving money every year.