The beginning of the year sees so many people having fresh ideas about what they want to do, and for some, that can mean taking that leap of faith and starting their own business from home. It can give you great flexibility, help you when it comes to doing something that you feel passionate about and engaged with, and can even potentially make you more money in the long term. But, there’s a catch. Many others have the same idea, so how do you stand out here? Here are some tips and pointers to help you do just that.

You are the key ingredient

One of the things that we can forget is the fact that no other business has you. You are a key ingredient to your success, you are unique, you have different ideas, different processes, we are all different. This is the fundamental key ingredient to helping your home business stand out, because no other business has you. Take some time to understand what your strengths are, and also be aware of your weaknesses. This is when you can focus your energy on where you can make the difference. In the areas that are your weakness, then consider outsourcing, which brings me to the next suggestion.

Outsourcing and valuing your time

As an entrepreneur, it can be so tempting to tackle every task that you are faced with your business, especially when working from home or just starting out. But just as you would analyse your strengths, you also need to value your time. Outsourcing can be a huge help to free up your time of tasks that you can have done better elsewhere, and enable your to focus on the areas you can change for the better. Things like IT Support and Services or accounts are some of the areas that may do better being outsourced. This helps you to then focus your energy on your strong points and move your business forward.

Time management and knowing when you work smarter

It can be very easy to be distracted when working from home, and feel that there are just not enough hours in the day to get things done. But, at the same time, you need to be able to get the tasks done. This is when time management could really work in your favour. It will enable you to clump tasks together, or time yourself to get certain things done. There are many hacks online that you can explore and try out to find which ones will work for you.

Using your local community to your advantage

Finally, you may want to think about your local community and how this could be used to your advantage. The chances are, you may be the only person doing what you do in your area, would you have a potential customer base on your doorstep? If so, get involved with local events, and advertise through sponsorship. Have pop-up shops or host events in your area. These things can help you expand your business.

Let’s hope these tips help your homes business to stand out.

When you start up a small business, you’re likely to have one thing at the forefront of your mind and one main goal to come from everything your small business does – profit. Profit is what will keep your business afloat. Profit is what will provide you with a good quality of life and a secure income. Profit really does make your business’ world go round! But where there’s profit, there’s inevitably taxes. Taxes are a compulsory contribution to the revenue of the state that you live in and there are relatively few countries in the world that do not charge income tax. In fact, these countries could be counted on one hand – Bermuda, Monaco, the Bahamas, Andorra, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). So, unless you’re operating within one of these countries, you’re going to have to pay tax and deal with the tax paying process as you go along. For now, let’s focus on the USA. When paying taxes in the USA, you will have to answer to the IRS. So, let’s take a moment to get to know the IRS and understand how to report to them properly when you run your own small business!

What Is the IRS?

IRS stands for “Internal Revenue Service”. This is a U.S. Government agency that is responsible for collecting taxes from anyone who owes taxes and enforcing tax laws. It was established in 1862 by President Lincoln, so it really has been around for a long time! Nowadays, it operates under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury. If you’ve heard people refer to “the tax man”, they’re referring to the IRS.

Understanding the Scale of the IRS

The IRS deals with every American’s tax return. It is estimated that in 2016, the IRS processed over two hundred and forty four million tax returns, ranging from individual returns to corporate returns. They also collected over $3.3 trillion in revenue, compared to just $426 billion in tax refunds. So, you may think that you can slide under the radar and not declare your earnings to the IRS safely. Who’s going to notice one person in amongst all of the others? It would be like finding a needle in a haystack. However, when it comes down to it, the IRS are aware that this attitude can exist and they do employ over 80,000 workers and they are dedicated to ensuring that everyone files their tax return and everyone pays their dues. So, you stand little chance of getting away with tax avoidance.

What Do You Need to File?

What you need to file to the IRS will depend largely on what exactly your company is doing. You will have to file different forms pertaining to a whole host of different factors. So, only you can find out exactly what you need to submit. But to help you along the way, here are just a few common forms that business owners find themselves filing at the end of each fiscal year.

  • 940 – if you have had to let staff go and you have paid unemployment compensation to your workers, you will need to file a 940 to report your annual Federal Unemployment Tax Act taxes. This tax should not be taken from your employees’ wages. Instead, the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) and unemployment tax systems will provides funds towards this compensation instead.

  • 941 – if you withhold income taxes, social security tax, or Medicare tax from your employees’ paychecks, you will have to file a 941 form. You can also use this form to pay your employers’ portion of social security or medicare taxes.

  • 1040 – the 1040 file is an income tax file. It is perhaps the most commonly filed tax form in the US, as it is used by all taxpayers to file their annual income return. You may need to submit “schedules” if your return is complicated. These will generally need to be submitted alongside your 1040. If you are self-employed, you will also have to submit a schedule SE alongside your 1040.

  • 1099 – if you pay an independent contractor to perform a job or offer services for your company, then you have to report their pay to the IRS. To do this, you file a 1099. Independent contractors usually agree to pay their own tax contributions, meaning that you don’t have to worry about deducting taxes from their pay packet and sending the money over to the IRS yourself. However, reporting what they have been paid to the IRS can help the IRS to keep a track of what work they have carried out and consequently what tax they owe from the money you have paid them.

When Do You Need to File?

Whatever forms you need to file, there are going to be deadlines attached to them. You need to ensure that your forms are submitted and received before the deadline. Here are some current key dates to note down.

  • April 15th, 2019 – this is when you need to submit your IRS income tax return. It is also the deadline for the majority of state returns. It’s worth double checking your own state’s specific return date to be sure.

  • April 15th to October 15th, 2019 – this is the period in which tax returns will be processed and you will be reissued any overpaid tax via a tax refund. You can make use of the IRS website’s “Where is my refund?” feature to keep a track of your individual return.

Anything to do with tax is extremely complicated. But paying taxes is going to be an inevitability as long as you are generating profit, so you are better off familiarising yourself with the process sooner rather than later. Hopefully, the above information has helped you to get to grips with the basics for now. If you find that you are really struggling with reporting to the IRS effectively and efficiently, remember that you can always make use of the services of a professional accountant!

Undoubtedly, one of the great woes that befalls virtually all entrepreneurs at one point or another, is the fact that there just seems to be far too little time in the day to properly make headway on all the different elements of a small business.

There is not much that is as likely to cause deep stress and frustration as the feeling that fate is somehow conspiring to keep you from being successful in your ambitions.

Of course, in those moments, it’s worth keeping in mind that all the most successful individuals in history have only ever had the same daily allocation of 24 hours that you, yourself, have.

So, if they could do it, why can’t you? The answer is that you can. Here are some tips for making your small business work when you are short of time.

Don’t be afraid to outsource certain jobs to experienced third parties

If you try to do everything on your own, it’s pretty much inevitable that you will find yourself strapped for time in your entrepreneurial endeavours.

One excellent solution to this, is to outsource certain jobs to experienced third parties. Because, no matter how diverse your skill set may be, you will find it very difficult to run a successful retail business, while also handling all your own marketing materials, maintaining your website, and writing out your blog posts.

What’s more, most of these admin tasks are not even going to be within your realm of core competencies. Hiring an experienced IT consulting company, such as Arnet Tech, won’t make you a fraud. It will just mean you are letting professionals handle that area of your business, so that you can focus on the domain where your skill set really shines.

Make the early mornings your friend

If you find yourself strapped for time, the harsh reality of the situation is that you cannot afford to wait until you have more free time available.

All too often in life, that “perfect moment” that you’re waiting for simply will never come. It is, therefore, your responsibility to find the time you need for your business projects.

One of the best ways of “finding this time”, is to wake up earlier and capitalise on those early morning hours.

During the day, and in the evenings, other people will inevitably place demands on your time. In the early morning, on the other hand, the world is still asleep and you can put in some real, undisturbed work.

Identify your most essential tasks every day, and reduce or eliminate all the rest

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? This rule essentially states that 80% of your results will always come from about 20% of your actions.

Many great business successes have placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of this principle. The key takeaway, here, is that if you focus on those generally unproductive 20% activities, you will be wasting your time.

If time is already scarce, it is all the more essential that you are able to identify the most important core tasks that you could be working at any given moment, and then give them your full and undivided attention.

 

If you’re working on more than one or two things at a given time, you are likely allowing yourself to get too distracted.

Company’s need to be working at full throttle if they’re going to achieve long-term success. That isn’t news to any entrepreneur (we hope). However, what may be news to business owners is that they’re not working at full capacity; while you might be putting in plenty of working hours, it’s what you do during those hours that matters. In some cases, it might be your company’s culture or the limits of your own thinking that is holding your company back. We take a look at four examples below. Make any changes that are required, and move your business up a level (or beyond).

Inefficient Systems

There are a lot of tasks that need to be taken care of when you’re running a business, and in order for everything to work as intended, those tasks need to sync up as seamlessly as possible. Some businesses, however, don’t put the required thought into how these systems talk to each other as they should. So take a look at your infrastructure, and make sure that different departments within your business are able to work efficiently. It’s well worth figuring out solutions to the issues that are derailing your progress, if only because the solution is usually so simple: there are apps that can solve more or less every problem you’ll have.

Doing it All

It’s your business, so it’s understandable that you’d want to be in control, and have the success and failure on your shoulders. But that line of thinking shouldn’t extend to taking on the tasks that you’re not qualified to handle. If you’re trying to stay in charge of your IT needs, marketing, legal matters and so on, you’ll be spreading yourself too thin and may not even end up with the best work that you could. Instead, look at outsourcing the work. Visit this website for your business IT, and work with marketing and legal experts for those respective tasks. This also allows you to function as a much bigger company than you currently are.

Leashed Staff

If you’re going to bring some staff on board, then it’s important that you’re not keeping them “on the leash,” as it were. Your employees shouldn’t just be machines who do exactly as you tell them; they should bring their own ideas to the table. You’re the one steering the ship, but your staff is going to be the engine that drives it forward. Hire correctly, by which we mean hire smart people who fit with your company culture, rather than just bringing people on board to do one specific task.

Standing Still

You’ll have started out with a clear vision of what your company was going to be about, and will have put those plans into action. But that doesn’t mean you should be finished. A business that stands still is doomed to fail. While you should make sure you’re taking care of the essentials of your business, keep an eye on the future – planning for it might just bring future success your way.

Images are much better at conveying information than words are. The sort of images which can be drawn on a single piece of paper will be far too complex for you to describe with words in the same amount of space, but this is something which far too few companies will take advantage of. When it comes to your logo and other branding, making sure that you use these elements effectively is crucial. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the areas which will benefit from having a logo, along with some of the benefits of this route.

Where Can It Go?

When you have a logo which is designed well enough, it will be able to fit into just about any situation. The design of something like this is important, though creating a logo which looks good and conveys your message properly isn’t too hard, with the real challenge coming when your motif has to work with other elements. Below, you can find some examples of the best places for a company’s logo to go.

Social Media: There are few things which look less professional on social media than accounts without profile pictures. While a normal user will post their face in this spot, you have a great chance to use your logo here. If you can’t get the spacing to work properly, it could be worth looking to create a version of the file which is a square, even if it gives you letterbox lines above or below the image itself.

Clothing: When you have teams of hard workers talking to the public all day, it makes sense to put some time into preparing uniforms for everyone to wear. Having your logo on the garments which your team are wearing will make the whole organisation look far more professional, while also making it easier for customers to spot the people they need to talk to. Some employees may not like this, but it will be worth it when you have a large public-facing team.

Your Store: For too few companies take proper advantage of the space they have on the outside of their store. Using a teardrop banners shop, sign writing company, and someone to design your front area, you will be able to give your logo a striking place on the outside of your walls. As time goes on, a lot of stores are becoming quite boring. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, as long as you’re willing to put a little bit of time into it.

Marketing Materials: Once you have a logo behind you, you shouldn’t be giving out a single piece of content which doesn’t include it. Business cards, flyers, and adverts all need to be tied to your business, and words aren’t enough to achieve this goal at first glance. Instead, you need an image, giving your logo a very important job. Of course, the rest of the design used here also needs to match your branding.

Freebies: Businesses have long been using simple psychology to attract their customers. Giving away freebies is a big part of this, with customers being far more likely to want to work with you when you’ve given them something for nothing. There are loads of companies out there with the skills and resources to create mugs, pens, and of other items which can contain your logo, giving you the chance to handle this very affordably.

Why Bother?

The effort which will have to go into something like this may not always feel worth it, at least when you’re first getting started. In reality, though, having people carry around and see your logo as much as possible is always a good thing. Unless it is ugly, people may not even notice that they have seen it, instead simply soaking up your branding and keeping it in mind for later. When they come to needing to buy something from you, it will be far easier for them to trust you. This is because they will already feel as though they know your business very well.

Logos have always been important to businesses, and have been used for a very long time. Of course, though, like any part of your marketing, using these tools properly will always take a lot of effort. It will never be easy, with most people lacking the skills to start right away. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, as long as you’re willing to do some research.

Customer relationship management is a part of business which can be hugely useful for many of us and it can be a good way to keep a record of many clients and customers in one place and keep it all safe and secure. Data management can always be a difficult thing in a large business and making sure that you are able to keep a record of your clients and keep track of your contact with them is an integral part of the sales and marketing process. Today we are going to look at how a CRM system can be a great addition to your business.

Build relationships

The main thing which you need to be able to do as a buyer or a seller of products is make a good relationship with your clients and maintain their trust over a long period of time. Often when we contact people over a long stretch of time we learn things about them such as their hobbies and nicknames and their children or pets, and all of this information can be used to build trust and a good rapporte. A CRM system is able to keep a file on each contact you have with their information and key talking points such as this, which makes phone calls and email conversations more personal and this can help a lot in the sales process because they will trust you and feel like they are valued by your company.

Create meetings

Scheduling meetings on the phone, online and in person can be a large part of the sales process in a business and it can get a little complex and confusing now and again. The good news is that you can use a CRM system to set meetings and hold them in one calendar where you will be able to utilise it each and every day. It can be a great way to work and something which is handy for everyone in the business.

Store data

Data storage will always be a large part of running a business and every business needs a database of documents and marketing materials and sales tools. When it comes to sensitive information like customer data, a system like https://www.gowhiteowl.com/ is the ideal place to keep it because it is highly secure and incredibly useful for us. You will be able to ensure that your client’s data stays safe and secure.

Record conversations

Keeping consistent contact with your clients is important because you need to make sure that you are able to keep their trust and their interest in your brand each and every month. Keeping track of a lot of clients can be difficult and it can be hard sometimes to know what you last spoke about which is why a CRM system can be handy. With a CRM system you’ll be able to make notes and track the last contact you had with a client, and you will also be able to remind yourself when to next contact them.

 

As a small business, in your first year and beyond it is always going to be crucial for you to take the time to review your venture and see what is working and what isn’t. A business is something which is super important to maintain and review now and again, and if you are looking to become a huge corporation and earn a lot of praise for your work, here are some of the steps you can take for a quarterly business review.

1. Tell a Story

This might sound a little strange at first, but as a business you will want to have a compelling story to tell and engage people to follow you. When you sit down for a meeting with your peers you will want to set up your issues as if they were a story. Think what you need to talk about and what needs to be resolved and be sure to take the time out to do it successfully and in a fun way. The reason for this is because people will be more engaged with you and this will allow you all to see your business issues as a puzzle to solve, which can make it easier to solve your issues.

2. KPIs

Key performance indicators are important in any business and they are something which can be personalised for different people in your business as well as the business itself. You can use vCIO software to help you organise your business review and come up with KPIs which suit the business as a whole as well as your individual employees. Make sure you are able to look at the way your business is performing and come up with goals to meet and ways that you can genuinely measure your success.

3. 10 minute rule

It is a fact that humans struggle to pay their full attention to something for more than 10 minutes. When you are looking at a business review and working out how to better the business you will want to have as much concentration on the subject as possible. This is why each issue should be explained and worked through in 10 minutes or less. Make sure to set out your argument concisely and find your solution within a short frame of time. Working in this way will not only save you time and stop wasting meetings, but it will actually likely help you come up with better solutions.

4. Look to the future

When you are working as a business it is just as important for you to look to the future as it is to see what has happened in the past. For example you will want to make sure that you look forward and think about where you want to be as a business in a year, or two years… but why? This is because if you can say you want to open another office this time next year, you can make changes to your strategy which allows you to do this. Every step you take after the review will work towards your goals.

Every few decades something happens in the world whereby it changes forever. Usually you see this occur in the world of business. When the internet became accessible to all, it changed the way we market, the way we communicate and just about every way we do business. When Microsoft made computers affordable, this also meant we could connect better with consumers that love to browse and shop from their homes. When smartphones came into being just in 2007, shopping on the move became a real thing for the first time. All of these instances are moments in time when the business climate is rapidly shifting. The biggest winners will always be those that latch onto what’s going on and totally shift their business perspective. Looking around at the current state of the professional world, you might not realize it at times but there are brewings of multiple shifts happening. There’s talk of SEO evolving, while at the same time there are new retail businesses emerging out of nowhere.

It’s learning like we do

One of the biggest changing coming quickly to us on the horizon, is how all AI will become machine learning. It will learn like we do, discovering patterns, irregularities based on emotion, and how mood affects our decisions. Not only that, but machine learning can be fitted into personalized software. Websites can implement machine learning so each time a customer logs into their account, it follows their actions and learns what they’re doing. For example, it can assess how many times someone clicks on a product a week, and where their mouse hovers and for how long. This could determine whether or not the customer is watching a product for a price drop or when a variation of the product will become available like a different color or size. If you run a home business, using machine learning AI can be the rocket ship strapped to your business that boosts sales out of this world.

Legislation changes the landscape

Looking at America and Canada you can see a trend occurring. It’s becoming legal in many places to open up stores or businesses that are online, that sell marijuana. It’s now legal in Colorado and California as well as places in Canada. This is the emergence of a brand new business model and product that anyone can jump on quickly. Looking at a company like www.trimleaf.com, it’s clear to see that once you learn the process of growing it, you can begin selling it like a business product. You have specialized equipment so the operation of growing the plant is kept professional at all times. You have heated tents that also allow you to control the temperature. You can grind up your own product, compress it and have it in multiple forms that can be used in different ways.

Keep one eye on the business world to look for innovation and brand new inventions that are on the horizon. And keep the other on what is going on in terms of legislation. Both of these areas could help you to determine which new business venture would be the most successful for you.

 

The new year is completely underway, which means that any plans that we have had for our business during 2019 should be in place. However, when it comes to digital marketing, it really is never too late to try and make some improvements.

There are so many different approaches that you can take to digital marketing. Not only does it depend on your end goal, but also your business type and size. But what are the best ones? To help you to make the most of the next few months, we have put together our must-use digital marketing trends for 2019.

Artificial Intelligence

Last year digital marketing came right into the modern age with the introduction of AI, and this trend seems to be carrying on for 2019. However, it seems that AI is having a much bigger impact then it did before. AI is helping with push notifications, click tracking and in some cases, AI is even writing content for you.

Chatbots

Similar to the above, it seems that chatbots are another key part of any digital marketing campaign. Whilst customers will always prefer to interact with a real person, even via text or web chat, it seems that chatbots are becoming a popular method to make that first contact. Chatbots are being improved, which means that they are now at a level which is almost as if they are holding a conversation with the customer, even if it is just to help with the most asked questions.

Content marketing

Content marketing has been an important part of digital marketing campaigns for some time and that doesn’t look like it will change. Content marketing fuels a number of digital channels, including search engines and social media marketing too. Both of which are important to make sure that your business stands out from the crowd. Blogs, social media and your website itself, all of these things are important for content marketing, so make sure that you are focusing on these parts of your business if you want to secure sales, leads, and interest.

Video marketing

Another part of digital marketing that is sticking around is video marketing. Much like last year, your target audience are going to want information presented to them in a way that is going to be easy to digest and video is the best approach for this. Not only can you focus on pre-recorded videos, but you can also take a look at live streams too. Both of which will really appeal to your customers and get them noticing what you have to say.

Think that time has come to try a new digital marketing strategy for your business? Why not take a look at local SEO services to see if you can find the help and advice that you need in order to make your efforts a complete success?

Over the last few years, it’s become practically essential for businesses of all shapes and sizes to use computers for the bulk of their work. Whether you’re working on pushing out a customer’s order or you’re hiring someone new, a large amount of the tasks being done will be handled on these machines, but, in spite of their prominence, a lot of people still struggle with them. To give you a better understanding of what causes most common computer problems, this post will be exploring the elements which can cause them to be so tricky for your team to get to grips with.

Unnatural Options

When you’re filling out a paper form or going through a physical process, the options you have are usually very obvious. On a computer, though, you will have menus to deal with, and this isn’t something which most people are used to. There are very few pieces of software which have all of their functions available from a single page. It can take a long time using something for people to get used to its menu systems, making it worth giving you teams plenty of training, along with providing them with cheat sheets which will show them what they need.

Regular Changes

One of the benefits of a digital product over a physical one is that design issues can be fixed as time goes on, rather than customers having to spend more money. Companies never reserve their updates for simple fixes, though, often changing the look and feel of their tools to match new trends. While this keeps software looking modern, it makes it incredibly hard for inexperienced users to know what they’re doing. Overcoming this can be hard, often only being solved by further training whenever a tool goes through a new wave of changes.

No Interest

With the challenges which computers present to a lot of users, it can be easy for your team to lose interest in this side of their work. People won’t push themselves to learn more about their machines, instead looking to get help wherever they can, and this can cost a lot of time when you’re trying to get things done. A good way to get over this sort of problem is by giving your employees something to be interested in. For example, giving them some skills to use their computers in their personal life can be a great route to take.

Getting Support

As time goes on, more and more companies are having issues with their computer systems, and are finding it hard to manage this side of their company. While you can hire someone to help with this, using an IT service provider is usually a far more affordable option. When you have an issue, you can simply call for help, making it far easier to get through each day without having to stop working.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of controlling your business’ computer systems. This should get easier as the years go by, with these machines improving all the time.