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March is more than half over, which means time is running out on the bargains and deals retailer and e-tailers can find on Alibaba.com during March Expo. If you’ve already visited the site—or even ordered—this is a great time to come back and take a look at some of the more than 12,000 new products available now. To save even more money, check out the weekly deals, where man manufacturers are offering discounts of at least 30%.

Keeping with the theme of saving money during March Expo, Alibaba.com has teamed with well-known national brands to help small business owners save money.

Paying with Credit Cards

One of the new features of March Expo is the savings you can get when you save a new Mastercard to your Alibaba.com account. You can save up to $20 on the transaction fee of the first order you place using your new linked credit card.

Discounts on Supplies

Alibaba.com and Office Depot have teamed up to offer small business owners savings of up to $2,ooo. All you have to do is buy a minimum of $200 worth of merchandise on Alibaba.com. Once you do that, you’ll get an email “unlocking up to $2,000 worth of exclusive savings. Then you can redeem your offers at OfficeDepot.com/Alibaba or in an Office Depot or OfficeMax store.

How Can Working Capital Help with Inventory?

As retailers you know that buying inventory to stock your stores and/or websites is one of your largest expenses. So, having access to business financing is crucial for your success. Using inventory financing you can access working capital specifically for your inventory needs.

Like most retailers, you likely experience seasonal surges—times when you need to order more merchandise. With extra working capital, you can cover the costs of that without worrying about how you’ll cover other expenses. You’ll also be able to stock up on popular-selling items in advance and avoid running out during periods of high demand. Having access to extra working capital also means you can afford to order in bulk and save money.

Finance Your Purchases with the Pay Later Program

What is Pay Later? Pay Later is a new way to pay for Trade Assurance orders on Alibaba.com. Currently  Kabbage, a U.S.-based lending platform, is providing credit lines of up to $150,000 under the Pay Later program. Through Pay Later, Alibaba.com members can apply online for business financing to use toward Alibaba.com purchases.

Kabbage Pay Later loans offers numerous benefits to help your business run more smoothly and increase revenue. Benefits include:

Quick application. You can access Pay Later from the Service tab on top of the Alibaba.com home page and apply securely during checkout in minutes. You can also apply on the Pay Later landing page to secure financing and be ready in advance for your next purchase.

Competitive rates. Kabbage offers favorable terms over six months. Unlike some payment methods, there are no order transaction fees. You’re only charged fees during the months you have a loan, so you can pay back your loan early and save on fees.

Flexible access. Once you’re approved, you can access your available funds through checkout whenever you need purchase financing.

Greater purchasing power. With access to extra capital, you can increase your order quantities to potentially negotiate better pricing from sellers. Even if you’re waiting on customer payment, you’ll have extra capital you can access to purchase the inventory you need, when you need it.

How to apply? Applying for Pay Later and using financing is simple. To get started, click the Apply Now button at checkout or visit this page.

Then:

  • Enter simple information about your business.
  • Securely link your business checking or other online accounts. This gives you an automatic business review without any additional paperwork.
  • Provide your personal information for identity verification.

Kabbage uses technology to review your application, so you’ll know quickly if you are qualified and how much financing your business can access. Once approved, you can use your credit toward Trade Assurance purchases on Alibaba.com.

Quick tips about Pay Later

There’s no obligation if you’re approved for financing, so you can apply for Kabbage loans anytime so you’re ready in advance to finance upcoming purchases.

When applying, link the accounts where you process the most revenue to potentially increase the likelihood of qualifying.

You’re only charged fees during the months you have a loan, so you can pay back your loan early and save on fees.

The post Getting and Saving Money During March Expo appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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There’s a ton of opportunity to be had (as we told you last week) by participating in Aliababa.com’s March Expo. The annual special event lasts through the month of March. Of course, the deals, discounts and promotions are a powerful lure to get you to the explore March Expo.

But that’s not the only advantage. As retailers and e-tailers you’re always at least partially guessing what your customers want to find in your store and on your site. And all too often, merchants are afraid to wander too far from the inventory that seems to “always work.” But times change, fashions trends come and go, and demographic markets shift. If you don’t keep up with these market shifts, your business will suffer.

Test products

One easy way to stave off this fate is to constantly test your product mix. Keep what works but pay attention to the latest trends and add some of those to your merchandise. For instance, this year The TrendSpotter says bike shorts will be a summer fashion staple. While that may not sound new, it is when they’re paired with blazers. If you want to test the trend with your customers check out these shorts from Yiwu Pretty Clothing. They’re not only participating in March Expo, but they’re one of this week’s weekly deals.

On the home décor front, succulents are still hot, but there’s also new demand for “retro plants”. And, of course, plants need pots—and these from Guangzhou Supvoo Packaging are also on special this week.

Expand your inventory

Expanding your inventory is another way to keep your current customers interested in your offerings and attract new buyers as well. At first, it’s smart to target your same customer demographic, just “tempt” them with new products that complement what you already sell. For example, let’s say your target is adult men. Perhaps you sell men’s clothing or sporting goods. Set aside a small space in your store—or on your website, and add some men’s grooming products. Men’s skincare is booming right now and the products are small, so they won’t take up much room in your store. Beards are in right, now, so men are buying products like beard oil (and other accessories). You can try some out in your store or site— Guangzhou Daieme Cosmetic Co. is participating in Alibaba.com’s March Expo and offering discounts all month. But if you order this week, you can get 30% off, since they’re part of the March Expo weekly deals.

Target new demographic markets

Do you sell women’s accessories? Can you add products targeting male customers? Women’s handbags are a fashion staple, but now many men are carrying bags as well. These men’s canvas satchels from Xiamen Top Great Technology are a popular style and one of the March Expo weekly specials.

These are just a few ways to boost your small retail or e-tail business. We discussed some other ways in a chat on Twitter. If you missed it, our friends at Fundbox did a great summary here. Of course, you can do these things—test products, expand your inventory and target new demographic markets any time—but why not do it now during Alibaba.com’s March Expo where you can explore ways to grow your business and save money at the same time?

The post Why Participate in March Expo? appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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Alibaba.com’s annual March Expo kicked off this week offering small business owners numerous opportunities to order new products, find new suppliers, take advantage of new services and save time and money. During the month-long event, Alibaba.com, its partners and suppliers are offering specials, great deals and discounts to business owners making a purchase on Alibaba.com. It’s a great opportunity for retailers, e-tailers and wholesalers to discover and connect with global suppliers.

No matter what you sell, chances are you’ll find them this month on Alibaba.com. You can choose from more than 12,000 new products, in nearly any category of goods, including clothing, accessories, jewelry, home décor, consumer electronics, tools, machinery and other specialty merchandise.

There are a lot of good reasons to take advantage of all that March Expo has to offer—and we’ll be discussing those more in-depth all month long. But first, let’s talk about all the deals to be had this month.

Business owners who shop during March Expo can receive discounts from numerous suppliers, ranging from 5% to 20% off. There will also be new specials every week, so check back often to find the best merchandise for you to sell.

If you’ve made purchases during previous March Expos, this year it’s easier than ever to buy. For U.S. customers who link their Mastercard, credit card fees up to $20 will be waived. First-time buyers who link their Mastercard or Visa, will also have up to $20 in credit card fees waived.  

Also new this year for U.S. buyers is the Buy Now, Pay Later option powered by Kabbage. You can get a $10 gift card just for applying for financing. And you can save up to $100 on your first month’s loan fee when you use the Pay Later option for the first time. If you use more than $15,000 of Pay Later financing, you can get a $100 Visa e-gift card.

And that’s not the end of the deals. Alibaba.com is offering shipping specials too.

But March Expo is more than just deals. Think of it as a month of discovery. March Expo gives you access to a treasure trove of suppliers and products to buy and sell. If you’ve been hesitant about buying from overseas suppliers you’ve never met, March Expo is a great time to connect with them, and save money at the same time.

Before you jump in, create a plan of action. What products are you looking for? How many do you need? Check your sales records for the past year. Are you stuck with unwanted inventory, or has your merchandise been moving well? Do you sell seasonal goods—since there is expedited shipping during March Expo—you can even order products for the upcoming summer season. Planning what you need ahead of time will make the ordering process, quicker, smoother and more efficient.

March Expo is a great time to expand your merchandise mix, test products and experiment with new market. We’ll talk about that more in next week’s post.

The post March Expo Offers New Opportunities for Small Business Owners appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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On a recent Small Business Edge podcast, I had the pleasure of talking to Irene Malatesta, head of content strategy at Fundbox, a company dedicated to creating better financial options for small businesses. Below are excerpts from our conversation:

Brian: You recently created an e-book titled “What If: Designing Fair and Equal Access to Credit for Women.” Tell us about the book and why you wrote it.

Irene: Women business owners in the US are making incredible contributions to the economy: they own millions of businesses that generate over a trillion dollars a year. Not only that but the growth rates of women’s businesses specifically are huge.

Brian: Tell me more about the credit gap between men and women business owners. What’s still holding women back?

Irene: Female entrepreneurs are more likely to use private sources like personal savings or money from friends and family, to finance their businesses. Though they apply in similar rates to men, only 39% of women-owned firms had a conventional bank loan. By comparison, 52% of male-owned firms received conventional bank loans.

Women fight harder to succeed, often get paid less than men do for similar work, and then must work harder to maintain good credit scores…all of that then contributes to women having a harder time getting approved for the credit they need, the loans they need, to build their businesses.

Brian: What’s the problem with traditional credit approvals?

Irene: The way current calculations of creditworthiness work, we feel those calculations lack nuance. They are imprecise, they are limited. Most of the current models used by banks contribute to a system where female entrepreneurs have a harder time than men do when they try to get business credit. Of course, it’s not impossible, women do it all the time, but the point is, it’s harder than it should be.

Brian: How can financial companies create a fairer future?

Irene: Technology is really fueling change in the financial space. The landscape in financial services is changing very fast. It’s already happening because of changes in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing.

Because of these innovations, business owners now have a lot of new options to access credit based on a bigger dataset, more data sources, beyond just credit scores and income. We’re seeing a more and more nuanced understanding of business performance.

Brian: Lastly, how can women business owners proactively put their companies in a better financial position?

Irene: When I talk to business owners, I repeatedly hear that they wish they had known about the different ways to get capital, beyond traditional small business loans and credit cards. There are many options, and your choice will depend on factors such as the type of business you run, how many months or years you’ve been in business, revenue, and of course how fast you need the funds and how fast you can pay them back.

If you need the funds tomorrow to take advantage of a huge opportunity, that’s going to push you toward someone like Fundbox or another alternative online financer or fintech, because you just can’t get funds that fast from most other sources. If you can afford to wait and you want a longer time horizon to pay it back, or you’re seeking a much larger amount of funds, maybe a traditional bank loan is truly the better option. For other situations, you might end up with a combination of several financing sources—just like you might choose to have multiple credit cards but pay for some things in cash. There’s no harm in exploring your options, and you’ll be glad you did.

Brian: Thanks Irene! To listen to the entire podcast with Irene Malatesta, please visit our website: www.smallbusinessedge.com/podcasts

The post Equal Access to Credit for Women Business Owners appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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Technology is such a disruptor! Fundamentally changing the way businesses–both small and large–operate today, tech innovations have enhanced productivity and efficiencies faster than any of us could fathom.

Alas, technology is another kind of disruptor: Even with all its benefits, technology “gifts” us countless moments of sheer panic. Have you ever experienced the “blue screen of death”? How about a printer revolting against printing? Those clever hackers inventing ways to infect our work lives with viruses. Your sluggishly slow computer with a spinning cursor hypnotizing you into an anxiety attack. We have all been there; even worse are the moments that bring companies and their workforce to a complete standstill.

According to IDC, computer downtime costs small businesses up to $427 per minute. In addition, 54 percent of workers must find their own method of receiving IT support (Forrester) that usually begins with asking colleagues for help (which means downtime for at least two employees).

In a recent study by EVAN, the world’s first on-demand IT platform, traditional IT service help desk solutions fail to meet business expectations, and most businesses don’t have adequate day-to-day IT support. Meaning, even if you have an IT person on staff, they are typically unable to fix all the major IT issues because they are dealing with mundane tasks.

The study spoke with more than 200 IT leads and managers across a variety of industries, as well as employees at those companies. The latter group reported that when they needed IT help, 85 percent of the time it took too long to resolve the issue, and 75 percent of the respondents said the issues took several attempts before they were resolved.

How much support your business needs is contingent on several variables, including the number of computers and programs you’re running, whether your network is centered in one location or operating across several offices, etc. At a minimum, your business needs network/data security to protect your system in the event of a cyberattack. Hackers cost businesses over $400 million each year in lost productivity and damages (Herjavek Group).

Think your small business isn’t a target? Think again. In a 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon found that 58 percent of all cyberattacks target small businesses. While the reward might not be as large as from multinational corporations, small to mid-sized businesses are more vulnerable and easier to hack than enterprise companies. In addition, Inc. Magazine reported that 60 percent of small businesses fold within six months of a cyberattack.

Equally important are data back-up and recovery systems. Whether the result of a system fail, human error or natural disaster, critical data can be lost, and it happens more often than you might think. Not backing up your data on a regular basis could mean catastrophe for your organization. Almost 70 percent of small firms experiencing a major data loss will go out of business within a year. (DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers). Transferring to the cloud is becoming more of the norm.

How do you determine what’s best for your business in 2019? A trusted and reliable external service provider can help keep your company running strong and deliver custom solutions tailored to your budget and how your business operates. Selecting the external IT provider that’s best for your business is critical. Finding the right balance in terms of too much vs. too little of both systems and support begins with creating a smart tech plan that aligns with your company’s goals and maximizes productivity and efficiencies.  Your service provider should be able to help you determine exactly what you’ll need – both now and over time.

Don’t spend too much time in 2019 fixing a broken printer, confirming that your data is properly backed up, and dealing with other IT issues. Do what you do best and outsource the rest!

The post Tech 2019: Do What You Do Best and Outsource the Rest appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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Small Business Edge by Brian Moran - 8M ago

This blog is sponsored by AT&T Business.

Last month I attended the AT&T Business Summit in Dallas. It was a 3-day event that allowed me to connect with industry experts, AT&T executives, business owners, and influencers. I learned how technology will continue to disrupt almost every industry and every part of our personal lives.

At some point during the conference, I imagined myself as an entrepreneur who knew a lot about my business but not as much about the digital innovations taking place almost daily. After the conference, I spoke to a number of business owners about some of the topics covered at the event. I mentioned “digital transformation,” “IoT,” and delivering a better “customer experience.” Most of them knew a little about the topics, but certainly not enough to have a measurable impact on their companies. It was then that I realized—they needed a cheat sheet on the terms I was using.

To my fellow business owners, below are seven keywords you will hear more about in 2019 and my definition for each term.

  • Digital Transformation – The days of running a business by pen and paper are dwindling…quickly. Even the smallest companies are adjusting to working in a digital world with smartphones, social media, and using data to deliver a better customer experience. The key to a company successfully transforming itself into a digital business is understanding that technology is a “means to an end.” First, figure out your 2019 objectives; then see what new tech tools will help you achieve your goals. Remember to stay focused!
  • Customer Experience (CX) – In 2019, the customer is firmly in control of their buying experiences. If there were five options for a certain product or service in 2000, today there are 500 options. Companies that competed locally for business must now deal with national, international, and online companies for sales. The winners, in most cases, will learn how to deliver an exceptional “customer experience” from the moment a person goes online to the day they purchase the product or service. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and track your journey from beginning to end. What parts need work? Where is the breakdown in delivering the best possible experience? Once you find it, fix it!
  • 5G – This is a game-changer! 5G is the 5th generation of cellular mobile communications. Whereas 4G required massive cell towers spread out over several miles, 5G will use thousands of small antennas probably connected to telephone poles. The new technology, coming from AT&T and other companies, will increase the speed of wireless networks anywhere from 10x to 1,000x compared to what we have today. Most homes won’t need wi-fi networks anymore.
  • IoT – It means “Internet of Things.” These “things” include all connected devices, such as your car, refrigerator, and health monitoring wristband that have sensors in them to share data with other networks. According to Gartner Research, there were over 8 billion connected devices in 2018; that number will jump to over 20 billion devices by 2020. The opportunities for your business greatly increase when you can utilize the data collected by the Internet of Things. You will be able to run a more efficient company and respond to the unique needs of your customers to deliver a better experience for them.
  • Cybersecurity – With eight billion connected devices around the world today, there are almost as many opportunities for hackers to break into your network and steal the valuable data. As a business owner, you cannot claim ignorance when it comes to protecting your employees and the customer data you collect. Learn as much as you can about Cybersecurity and take measures to make it harder for hackers to break into your company.
  • Big Data – More data has been created in the past two years than in the previous 2,000 years combined! Companies now know how, when, where, why and from whom customers and other businesses purchase their goods. For example, I order a venti-sized coffee between 7:00 – 7:15 am every morning. I pay for it on my mobile app and pick it up at one of two locations. The company uses my “data” to entice me with offers on breakfast sandwiches as well as coming back in the afternoon for a second cup of coffee. Smaller companies also have access to big data on their own customers. The challenge is learning how to harness the data, analyze it, and use it to deliver a better customer experience.  
  • OmniChannel – Think about all the possible ways companies can connect with customers and prospects. There is direct mail, email, text, online (e.g. websites), in-store and more. To best understand how to properly engage with customers and prospects, companies need to start with an omnichannel marketing approach. In many cases, you won’t need to utilize every channel, but you should know how each channel works—in the event your customers decide to use them.

There will be more terms to follow as our respective industries continue to be disrupted by technology. Keep your eyes and ears open and your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in your marketplace. Be proactive when it comes to learning and your business will benefit from the disruption. If you’d like to continue reading about how technology will affect your business, here’s a link to more informative articles from AT&T.

The post 7 Tech Terms for 2019 appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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This blog is sponsored by AT&T Business.

This year Small Business Saturday falls on November 24th. The day sits between Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday, the day America spends billions of dollars online for holiday gifts and great buys.

Another way to look at Small Business Saturday is to see it as the official kickoff for holiday shopping. This year, there are 31 days from Small Business Saturday until Christmas, including five weekends.

When I attended the AT&T Business Summit last month, I had an opportunity to talk to Anne Chow, President of AT&T National Business. Among the many topics we talked about was Small Business Saturday and the upcoming holiday season. Together, we came up with some ideas about how small businesses can make the most of Small Business Saturday and use it to launch a winning holiday season. Here are five of our suggestions:

  • Create a Sense of Urgency – The noise level surrounding the long weekend of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday is intense! What can your business say or do to rise above all the clutter? Think about your company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP); it’s the main reason that your customers choose you over everyone else. Figure out ways to highlight your USP during the long weekend.
  • Create Your Social Media Content in Advance and Work on Holiday Themes. Trying to write a blog post at midnight or come up with witty tweets and status updates in the middle of the holidays is a recipe for disaster. Create your content in advance so you can review it (or have someone else review it for you). Make sure you are delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time!
  • Host a Contest – Most customers LOVE contests…especially around the holidays! I’ve been part of dozens of contests online and it never ceases to amaze me how many people will fill out a form, answer questions and jump up and down to win something. For example, kick of a “31 Days Until Christmas” contest on Small Business Saturday. You can give away something every day for 31 days. Find the optimum time and platform (e.g. in-store, Twitter, Facebook) to announce the winners each for maximum exposure.
  • Offer Incentives for Repeat Purchases. Every day your customers come back to the store or your website, they get an extra X% off up to a certain amount. I carry at least three hole-punched cards in my wallet. On my 10th visit to the stores, I will get something for free.
  • Recognize and Thank Your Loyal Customers. I love being recognized by local retailers for shopping in their stores. During the holidays, I’ve been the recipient of free meals, drinks, and even a haircut from my favorite barber. I wind up leaving tips for more than the cost of the item because I appreciate the recognition. Don’t let the holidays pass without personally thanking your best customers. Otherwise, you run the risk of having them be someone else’s best customers next year!
  • “Free” Offer – Who doesn’t LOVE free? Few things put a bigger smile on my face when I hear “Shipping? It’s free.” Or, “Would you like us to gift wrap your purchases? It’s free.”

Conversely, I remember buying a wedding gift at a well-known department store in Chicago this summer and I needed it gift-wrapped. The store charged me $12 for the service. I paid for it, but that is the last time I will ever shop in that store because they did nothing to show that they appreciated me as a customer.

Make the upcoming holiday season a memorable one by being proactive when it comes to delivering an exceptional customer experience. No one knows better than you what it will take to get your customers and prospects to choose YOU over everyone else when it comes to their holiday shopping. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

The post Make the Most of Small Business Saturday appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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On my Small Business Edge podcast, I get to interview smart people who help small business owners and entrepreneurs run better companies. This month I spoke with Rose Zhong, VP of Finance at Fundbox, a company dedicated to creating better financial options for small business owners. Below are excerpts from our conversation. To hear the entire podcast, click here.

Brian Moran: Welcome to our podcast Rose. We are excited to have you join us today. Let’s start with you telling us a little about Fundbox and what you do there.

Rose Zhong: Thanks for having me on your show Brian. Fundbox builds technology products to help solve payment and credit problems for small businesses. My role specifically as VP of finance is to oversee the financial decisions and capital raising for our company, which includes accounting, financial forecasting, capital markets, and strategy. I also work closely with our executives, engineers and other departments as well.

Brian: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see today with business owners when it comes to access to credit and their credit reports and scores?

Rose: Small business owners need to remember that, even though their company is a separate entity, most lending institutions will still look at personal FICO to underwrite a loan and offer credit to a small business. It’s important to maintain good personal credit.

Another mistake small business owners make is not being prepared for the unexpected. Most companies can relate to delayed invoices or emergency expenses. The business owner needs to have access to credit when these things happen to keep their companies afloat.

Brian: I wholeheartedly agree with your points. What about business owners learning to say “no” sometimes so they don’t put themselves at financial risk?

Rose: Yes! Learning to say “no” in business can often help companies from spreading themselves too thin and increasing their exposure to potential financial obstacles. A great opportunity is not great if it means that you can’t pay your employees this week.

Brian: What else can business owners do to maintain good credit scores and make their companies attractive to financial lenders?

Rose: Lenders like to see strong, healthy relationships between companies and their customers or clients. To the extent that you can maintain a steady stream of receivables from different clients on a consistent basis, that’s strong data point for lenders. Another step business owners can take to maintain good credit is by keeping a low debt-to-income ratio. If your debt level is at or near the same level as your income, it’s highly unlikely lenders will give your business credit.  

Brian: Should business owners be concerned about rising interest rates when it comes to financing their business needs?

Rose: I think interest rate moves will always have an impact on most areas of our economy. If your business isn’t directly impacted, then find out if the changes affected your customers or their customers (if you are a B2B company). By keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your world, you can start to predict when a curve in the road ahead is coming. You can then prepare for the changes (e.g. a downturn in the market) by making sure you have access to the credit your business will need. You should also make sure that your receivables are being paid in a timely manner. It’s much harder to get paid when your customer’s business slows down or they aren’t getting paid.

Brian: Thank you Rose for spending time with us on “The Small Business Edge Podcast with Brian Moran.” For our readers, if you’d like to listen to the entire discussion on credit for small businesses with Rose Zhong go to www.smallbusinessedge.com/podcasts.

The post Understanding Credit for Small Business Owners appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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Business owners are a busy bunch of people! They are always running from here to there, answering emails while eating lunch, and trying to put out fires all day. Tell a business owner that you have a solution to solve all their problems, and they may answer “That sounds great! I wish I had the time to learn more about it.”

When I get that type of response from my clients, I place my hands on their shoulders, look them in the eye and say, “If you don’t have the time to do something correctly now, when will you find the time to do it over?”

Every business owner is given the same 24 hours each day. The ones who are successful in managing their time properly are the people who treat time as a currency; it’s money in their pockets. They don’t squander their time; rather they guard it from time robbers, and make sure they keep some in reserve in case of an emergency. If they have time left over at the end of the day, they can use it however they wish.

How can you create more time in your busy day? Below are four simple strategies to help free up valuable minutes and hours each day. Start using these tips and you can see a better return on your investment of time.  

  • Block Out Time Robbers – Every company has employees that I like to call “time robbers.” They walk into your office in the middle of the day, unannounced, and spend 30-45 minutes talking to you about their weekend, their problems, or something unrelated to work. When they leave, it will take you another 10-15 minutes to get back into the work you were doing. Another time robber is the person who calls you during the work day to discuss the same topics. If you want to gain valuable time during the business day, learn to block these bandits. When they walk into your office, stand up, shake their hand and say “I’d love to hear all about your weekend, but I need to get something done. Can we talk at the end of the day?” The time you save here can be used for 10-15 minutes breaks in the day to take a walk outside to clear your head and recharge your battery.
  • Plan Ahead – Whenever I drive to a meeting, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour away, I always check my traffic app to find the best route possible. I hate sitting in traffic. If it’s a morning meeting, I will order my coffee on my phone app before I get into the car. That way, I can get my drink and be back on the road in less than 60 seconds.

Smartphone apps can save you so much time and help increase productivity if used properly. The key to success is avoiding time robber apps (e.g. games or social media apps that are used for personal/social reasons). Ask friends and colleagues what apps they use to be more productive and save time during the day.

  • Reduce Your Down Time – There are few things worse in business than putting the final touches on a presentation or proposal only to find out there is no ink or toner left in your printer. If you’re like me, this typically happens late at night when the stores are closed…and you need to be on the road to your meeting before they open. Thankfully, we now have the Brother Refresh Program, the only ink and toner auto-fulfillment service available directly from a manufacturer.

If you have a Brother printer, sign up for their auto-fulfillment program (check online to make sure your model is compatible) and you will never worry about running out of ink or toner again. Using predictive technology based on your printer usage and ink or toner levels, Brother Refresh detects when your printer is running low and will ship a replacement order right to your door. There are no recurring subscription costs or cancellation fees; you only pay for the ink or toner cartridges you need and you can cancel at any time. I love this concept!

  • Ship Packages More Efficiently – If you regularly ship packages for business, then you know how pain-staking the process can be for your company. It also takes time to make sure you are getting the best deal from your shipping partner. Recently Pitney Bowes introduced SendPro, an online postage solution, that is saving small business owners both time and money. You simply put the package on the free 10 lb. scale that Pitney Bowes sends to you, type in the address, and choose the best shipping option (you even get discounted rates thanks to Pitney Bowes).

I hope you find my four tips useful and that they help you increase productivity while saving you time during the day. If you have more tips or want to share your feedback with me about this post, feel free to connect with me on Twitter.

Sponsored by Brother

The post Four Ways to Create More Time in Your Work Day appeared first on Small Business Edge.

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