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We may live in a time of social media, but email continues to be the preferred channel for business communication. According to an , as of 2018, approximately 124.5 billion business emails are sent and received each year. Meanwhile, around 111.1 billion consumer emails go back and forth every day.

If anything, the popularity of email as a communication tool underscores the importance of maintaining high standards and making a good impression with the customers you’re corresponding with.

One way of doing this is by ensuring that you reply to emails in a timely manner. The problem, however, is that it can be easy to lose track of the messages you need to reply to right away and the messages that aren’t urgent. Add in the fact that different people have different expectations about reasonable email response times, and you could be one message away from a disgruntled customer.

To prevent this from happening, here are a few things entrepreneurs should remember on email response times.

1. The Faster the Response, the Better

According to research by Polymail, the average response time for business emails not answered in five business or less is 16.83 hours. But the median response duration is much faster—1.78 hours.

Source: Polymail

Meanwhile, another study by researchers from the University of Southern California found that the most common email response is two minutes. But this depends on the platform you use to answer messages. For example, among individuals working on laptops and desktop computers, it usually takes twice as long to respond to emails than if he or she were typing away on a phone.

2. Generation Differences Matter

Preferred response times can also vary by age. According to a survey by Toister Solutions, 28 percent and 30 percent of Millennials (individuals between the ages of 23 to 38 in 2019) and members of Generation X (ages 39 to 54), respectively, expect email responses in an hour or less.

Surprisingly, 35 percent Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) expect the fastest response.

For entrepreneurs, it may help to find out who exactly you’ll be sending an email to, which will allow you to anticipate preferred response times. If this isn’t possible, Toister’s findings suggest than responding to emails in an hour is a good benchmark to aim for. But if you want to show world-class service, shoot for a sub-15-minute response.

3. Emails Sent During the Day Tend to Get Faster Responses

The same USC study found that while most people are connected to the Internet 24/7, there are still times of the day when emails get faster replies. For one, most people are more active on email during the day than at night. So, if a customer sends a message during the morning, they might expect quicker responses. Furthermore, the researchers also found that messages sent during the day tend to get longer replies.

Another thing to consider is whether you should reply to emails after working hours and during weekends. Fast Company reports that companies like Vynamic have a rule forbidding email during after hours and non-working days. Ultimately, this depends on your ability to set reasonable expectations with your customers. One way to do this is by automating email responses letting customers know that you’ll respond to emails between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Mondays to Fridays, and that if they have an urgent matter that can’t wait, to call or text your business phone.

Different Communication Platforms Have Different Response Times

 Email is one thing, but how soon do people expect replies on other communication platforms?

  • Text – Research by instant messaging app Viber shows that 95 percent of texts are read three minutes after being sent. The average response time, at least on the platform, is a mere 90 seconds.
  • Twitter – According to Toister, on Twitter, Millennials seem to be more patient, with only 16 percent expecting a reply to a direct message (DM) in 15 minutes or less. Members of Gen X and the Baby Boomer generation tend to expect faster replies, with 22 percent and 28 percent expecting quick responses, respectively.
  • Facebook – On Facebook, around half of people, regardless of generation, expect replies to message in an hour or less. Interestingly, 46 percent of Millennials expect fast replies, while only 41 percent and 39 percent of Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers have the same expectations.
Email Isn’t Just Email

For entrepreneurs, making a good impression through email can go a long way towards building goodwill and generating new business. What the different reports on email response time show seem to point to the same thing—the faster the replies, the better. And if you can’t reply sooner, be sure to manage expectations by letting customers know you’ll get back to them as soon as possible.

The post 4 Things You Need To Know About Email Response Times appeared first on WECAN.

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We may live in a time of social media, but email continues to be the preferred channel for business communication. According to an , as of 2018, approximately 124.5 billion business emails are sent and received each year. Meanwhile, around 111.1 billion consumer emails go back and forth every day.

If anything, the popularity of email as a communication tool underscores the importance of maintaining high standards and making a good impression with the customers you’re corresponding with.

One way of doing this is by ensuring that you reply to emails in a timely manner. The problem, however, is that it can be easy to lose track of the messages you need to reply to right away and the messages that aren’t urgent. Add in the fact that different people have different expectations about reasonable email response times, and you could be one message away from a disgruntled customer.

To prevent this from happening, here are a few things entrepreneurs should remember on email response times.

1. The Faster the Response, the Better

 According to research by Polymail, the average response time for business emails not answered in five business or less is 16.83 hours. But the median response duration is much faster—1.78 hours.

Source: Polymail

Meanwhile, another study by researchers from the University of Southern California found that the most common email response is two minutes. But this depends on the platform you use to answer messages. For example, among individuals working on laptops and desktop computers, it usually takes twice as long to respond to emails than if he or she were typing away on a phone.

2. Generation Differences Matter

Preferred response times can also vary by age. According to a survey by Toister Solutions, 28 percent and 30 percent of Millennials (individuals between the ages of 23 to 38 in 2019) and members of Generation X (ages 39 to 54), respectively, expect email responses in an hour or less.

Surprisingly, 35 percent Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) expect the fastest response.

For entrepreneurs, it may help to find out who exactly you’ll be sending an email to, which will allow you to anticipate preferred response times. If this isn’t possible, Toister’s findings suggest than responding to emails in an hour is a good benchmark to aim for. But if you want to show world-class service, shoot for a sub-15-minute response.

3. Emails Sent During the Day Tend to Get Faster Responses

 The same USC study found that while most people are connected to the Internet 24/7, there are still times of the day when emails get faster replies. For one, most people are more active on email during the day than at night. So, if a customer sends a message during the morning, they might expect quicker responses. Furthermore, the researchers also found that messages sent during the day tend to get longer replies.

Another thing to consider is whether you should reply to emails after working hours and during weekends. Fast Company reports that companies like Vynamic have a rule forbidding email during after hours and non-working days. Ultimately, this depends on your ability to set reasonable expectations with your customers. One way to do this is by automating email responses letting customers know that you’ll respond to emails between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Mondays to Fridays, and that if they have an urgent matter that can’t wait, to call or text your business phone.

Different Communication Platforms Have Different Response Times

 Email is one thing, but how soon do people expect replies on other communication platforms?

  • Text – Research by instant messaging app Viber shows that 95 percent of texts are read three minutes after being sent. The average response time, at least on the platform, is a mere 90 seconds.
  • Twitter – According to Toister, on Twitter, Millennials seem to be more patient, with only 16 percent expecting a reply to a direct message (DM) in 15 minutes or less. Members of Gen X and the Baby Boomer generation tend to expect faster replies, with 22 percent and 28 percent expecting quick responses, respectively.
  • Facebook – On Facebook, around half of people, regardless of generation, expect replies to message in an hour or less. Interestingly, 46 percent of Millennials expect fast replies, while only 41 percent and 39 percent of Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers have the same expectations.
Email Isn’t Just Email

For entrepreneurs, making a good impression through email can go a long way towards building goodwill and generating new business. What the different reports on email response time show seem to point to the same thing—the faster the replies, the better. And if you can’t reply sooner, be sure to manage expectations by letting customers know you’ll get back to them as soon as possible.

The post 3 Things You Need To Know About Email Response Times appeared first on WECAN.

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We often hear the phrase that humans are the product of their genes and their environment. As working professionals, our environment revolves around a building or office for much if our lives. Can the buildings that we work impact us as well?

A recent survey from Capital One found that 82% of professionals believe that companies need an innovative office space to engage employees. It turns out that building design and office environments can have various effects on the way we think, feel and behave. This comes from a new field of research known as architectural psychology that explores how we interact with the built environment.

Research studies have found our building environments can have positive and negative effects on mental health and overall well-being. A well-designed office space and building can make it easy for people to collaborate, think creatively, and overall feel better about where they’re working.

From lighting and wall color to windows and green spaces, there are a number of elements that impact how we think and feel. A few of these design features and benefits include:

  • Natural light through windows can improve sleep quality.
  • Blue interiors have been shown to boost studying and concentration.
  • Curved lines in buildings can reduce stress.

If you’re looking for new office space, it is important to consider the elements of a building and how it can impact you, your team, and your business as a whole. For some insight, BigRentz put together an infographic that explores the positive benefits of building design on workers and the features that managers and HR professionals should incorporate in their office.

The post How You Can Benefit from Your Building Design appeared first on WECAN.

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Early on in any startup is more often than not filled with the unknown. How can you market on a shoestring budget? How will you reach your target market? There’s a ton of questions, but one thing is for certain: it is thrilling to see your little startup start to come into its own.

As you acquire customers and your customer base grows, once you start to make a profit it’s only natural to start thinking about the next step forward. This isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Funding has only become more difficult to pursue and isn’t always a viable option for early-on founders to pursue. But once you have key structural parts of your business in place, sponsorships are often an option for startups with a well-formed concept.

How do you know that you’re truly ready to usher in prospective corporate sponsorships or investment opportunities?

Here’s a few signs that your organization is ready to start pitching for both…

You Trust Your Team

Solid choices in co-founders can make or break a company’s success. During the early days, these are your key contributors and they must be willing to put as much sweat equity into the organization as you are.

It’s crucial to have the trust in your team- no matter how small- and that you know they’re committed to your business concept. This can be problematic if employees are stretched too thin; it doesn’t matter how much talent they have or how invested they are into your concept. Keeping your team under too much stress, you’re on a path to a burn out, which won’t help anyone achieve their goals.

Burning your team out makes it more likely that your core stakeholders won’t stick with the company. Having your core team in place puts your organization in an advantageous position when you’re pitching sponsors or trying to acquire another source of funds. This is the point where a lot of startups are ready for an angel investor- individuals who have earned income that is exceeding $200,000 or have a net worth of more than $1 million.

These folks are accessible across any industry and are particularly useful for entrepreneurs who have moved beyond the seed stage of financing, but don’t yet have the significant revenue needed to court venture capital funding.

Solid Organizational Processes

It’s a common startup culture trap, and it causes far too many startups to fail because they focus solely on growth and end up forgetting about the basics. You cannot walk before you crawl! Even doing something as simple as defining your internal processes and your unique selling proposition can go a long way in helping you to form a proven business concept.

Your organizational structure must be put into place in the beginning to keep everything organized and keep the team focused.

Making sure that you have a solid structure in your organization puts you in a position to prove value and ROI to your potential sponsors and investors. More and more often, sponsorship decisions are driven by the tangible economic value of that relationship. When you’re working towards validating the ROI in your pitches, it’s crucial that you focus more on metrics, how you’ll help the prospect measure their return and all the work involved in helping them achieve their goals.

However, when pursuing straight funding, putting in the proper organizational infrastructure early on will put you in a position to pursue funding from multiple revenue streams, including personal and seed investors at this juncture. Early on, having a solid organizational infrastructure helps document your journey beyond the acquisition of funding- no matter where it comes from. Making these decisions early on will help you validate your business concept to others.

You Have Positive Cash Flow

Good cash flow management, boiled down to the simplest essence, means that key principles understand every dollar received and every spent and never delegate this key process out. It’s up to the c-suite to control the flow of cash in and out- they should always scrutinize every dollar out and work on motivating those who owe to pay their dollars in.

Scaling will increase the cost it takes to do business and it often does it before you’re able to generate additional revenue in the traditional way your company acquires sales. This is a perfect scenario where it would be appropriate to pitch prospective corporate sponsors.

Whether you’re looking for VC funding, or pitching sponsorships, you must make sure that your organization is in the black (or has a validated plan to get there). Venture capitalists are used only after a startup has begun to show a significant amount of revenue. These are crucial players in your space- they typically invest a substantial amount of money to organizations (averaging around $10 million). VCs tend to gain most of their returns through carried interest- a percentage received as compensation from the profits of a hedge fund or private equity.

Driving sponsorships for your startup is a numbers game. The single biggest mistake you can make is focusing on the ‘perfect’ sponsor for your business too early on. If you are running a profitable, well-managed startup, you’re in a place to start being pickier about only working with dream sponsors, but when you’re just starting out and looking for an influx of cash to make your business viable, you can’t be too picky.

Being transparent is key here- obviously, you’re looking for ‘partners’ to help make your organizational goals and the push to scale a success, but be clear: you are also seeking financial support. Try to make that as transparent as possible as early on as possible. Doing so avoids a long, drawn-out pitch process where a potential sponsor never commits. This is a waste of time and labor and is especially cumbersome if you’re only pitching for relatively small numbers (which you likely will be at first).

You Can’t Keep Up With Demand

This is a problem that solopreneurs and early-on product startups run into frequently. When you’re ready to hit a growth push, you’ll have more clients coming to you than you could handle by yourself, leaving you with two options: either you turn away clients, or you hire additional help to assist with the client load.

You don’t want to be stuck in a position where you’re losing out on new opportunities at this stage. Don’t fall victim to a productivity bottleneck- scale as you need to. Regardless of your industry, steady demand is probably the best sign that your organization is in a place perfectly poised for growth.

You’ve Read The Fine Print

Founders often make the mistake of concentrating so thoroughly on growth and revenue, that they forget to overlook any legal ramifications that are tied to growing their business. As business grows, the ever-growing laundry list of government regulations they are expected to follow grows. Regulatory constraints can become especially confusing for companies that are taking it international. Business can get complicated quickly if you go into these waters unfamiliar with the regulations with your new untapped market.

When your research is completed, you can confidently proceed knowing that you won’t run against any local or federal regulations that can halt, pause, or delay your young company’s growth.

This is also important when pursuing sponsors and investors- prospective sponsors and investors want the security of knowing that their partnership with your organization will not lead their brand to facing controversy. Investors will not want to invest in a company that has landed itself in hot legal trouble and brands interested in sponsorships are wary of being associated with controversial PR nightmares. Make sure that you proceed knowing what the legal lay of the land looks like so that you won’t be caught off-guard.

About the Author

Kristen Bowie is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

The post 5 Signs You Need to Create Your Startup Sponsorship Program appeared first on WECAN.

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You have a brilliant idea. You formulate a development plan and produce a great product. And then what? Success is not automatically guaranteed, even for the most innovative new tech.

Trend leaders like Uber and Airbnb had great products, but they also offered a well-articulated and lucid value proposition (VP). Many experts believe that formulating this VP is the key to real business success.

The most successful VPs lay out clearly the function or nature of the startup and why it’s uniquely qualified to solve existing consumer problems. If you can’t come up with a compelling and unique statement of your company’s VP, then you may struggle to attract customers and engage the attention of potential investors. Ultimately, you might also miss the chance of eventually scaling up to major success.

Some academic research suggests that the VP is the essence of good strategy and a company’s “single most important organizing principle.” These researchers also discovered that “less than 10 percent of companies formally develop value propositions.” In order not to join the majority who fail in this respect, here’s what you should do to build a clear and compelling VP that could take your startup smoothly to the next level.

Five Steps to Your Future 1. Identify your Target Audience

When you developed your product, you probably had a fairly good idea of who your customers were, but now it’s time to be more specific. Take a closer look at the demographics of your target market, including primarily:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Employment status
  • Income

Once you have better details, you can craft a more directed VP, more precisely attuned to your consumers.

According to some experts, in order to assess and define your target market properly you should examine your existing customer base. You need to find out who your current customers are, what they’re buying and why, and especially why they’re buying it from you instead of someone else. Can you identify any shared interests or characteristics that might indicate why they appreciate your particular product or service?

You also need to take a look at your competitors to find out why they’re not attracting customers away from you. Do they have a different angle, or have they maybe overlooked a niche market demographic? Once you know more about your target audience and gain a better understanding of their needs, you’ll be better equipped to construct a VP that is more closely aligned with consumer preferences, values and beliefs.

2. Customer Pain Points

It’s also important to know what problems customers have and how your product or service can solve them. Draw up a list of specific pain points mentioned by customers, and show clearly how solving them helps your target market, and increases the value of your business.

Many marketing experts believe that customer conversions can be maximised by split-testing, sometimes by over 50%. Running a quick A-B comparison of VP headlines can easily determine how clear your message is.

For example:

  • Company A offers to “Quick Fix your PCBs”
  • Company B suggests “24-hour Turn-Round for PCB Problems”

Which one are you most likely to choose?

In marketing surveys, Company B will attract significantly more consumer interest because it directly addresses a specific issue of value to customers – their time. When responding to customer pain points, it’s important to read the small print.

3. Determine Your Startup’s Unique Differences

Step three is to turn the spotlight on your business strengths, and identify what uniquely differentiates your startup from your competitors. Do you supply some particular feature unmatched by any other company? Maybe your proprietary tech runs a software algorithm with unique results that only your startup delivers? Do you field an unusual or unconventional methodology that is of special value to your customers?

Identify what makes your business unique and decide whether it makes sense to highlight that strength in your VP. If you find yourself unable to come up with anything that makes you stand out from the crowd, it’s time to revisit your Minimum Viable Product and find something that does. Remember that viability in a product only means delivering sufficient value to the targeted end user, so that they are willing to try your product over others.

4. Research Consumer Language

The purpose of the VP is solely to engage your customers. Avoid all buzzwords, industry jargon, and boring tech details, and don’t try to second-guess what language is used by your target audience, but do your due diligence in research. Send out surveys, conduct focus groups, join forums and check out social media to learn how your consumers speak about your product.

Make note of speech patterns such as frequently used phrases, words and syntax that you can incorporate into your copy.

5. Write the Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

When you’ve completed your due diligence, you can begin writing your startup’s UVP. While there is no obligatory template, the following elements should be included:

  • Headline: Invoke curiosity or emphasise a unique benefit
  • Subhead: Describe your product, its target audience and why they’ll be interested
  • Bullet Points: List three key product features or benefits
  • Visual: Support your text with a ‘hero shot’

Startups evolve rapidly, and you’ll always be discovering more about what is of value to your customers, so it’s a good idea to revisit your UVP every 6 to 12 months to keep up with any changes.

About the Author

This article was written by Wesley Rashid, co-founder and CEO of The Accountancy Cloud.

The post How to Build an Effective Startup Proposition appeared first on WECAN.

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Having a modern and responsive website for your law firm in this time and age is extremely crucial. With a website, you not only gain more exposure but it also helps you secure more leads which can easily be turned into customers.

Unfortunately, it is shocking to see many law firms still operating without a website. If that isn’t enough, many law firms who do actually have a website don’t really care how well it is made. As a result, many of them have an unresponsive website with an old and outdated design that is doing nothing for them.

If you want to hit the next level with your law firm and become a well-recognized name like Farhan Naqvi law firm then you must have a modern and responsive website.

Here are some more reasons how it helps.

Responsive Website Engages The Visitor

The modern internet user mostly browses the internet through their smartphone or tablets which are very different from desktops. Since these devices have their own technological advantages, a website may work differently on them.

If your website isn’t responsive on a smartphone, you are losing a lot of potential clients. No one will want to stay on your website and read what’s on offer if they have to pinch zoom and read the text on your website. So make sure you have a responsive website that is well optimized for tablets and mobile phones.

A Good Website Strengthen’s Your Brand Name

A website is essential if you want to establish a brand name in the modern world. Have a website that has a strong logo, tons of features, and a brand identity that people can relate to. You can also add in your values and mission statement to give an idea of what your brand means.

A good website gives a professional outlook to your business and conveys a message to the user that you are serious about what you do. It will also help them recognize your brand and will put you on the top of all law firms in your area.

A strong brand may even land you a deal with a new startup because they are always looking for a good law firm to work with.

Responsive Websites Are Good for Seo

In modern times, SEO isn’t all about stuffing keywords and attracting people from search engines. These days search engines like Google will rank your website based on the content as well as the responsiveness of the site.

If the site is slow, or it isn’t optimized for mobile phones, Google will automatically drop the ranking and that will affect your law firm negatively.

Conclusion

Every big firm, be it a law firm or any other organization has a responsive and powerful web presence. This is essential to secure new clients because most people conduct business these days through the internet.

Gone are the times when people used to look at phone directories and would call you for help. These days they look at law firms on the internet and decide from their website whether they should get in touch or not.

The post Why Having a Modern and Responsive Website for Your Law Firm Is So Important appeared first on WECAN.

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Wedding planning can be a profitable and exciting business. People who are interested in this business have a passion for the beauty and romance of weddings. You might have planned your own successful wedding.

You need, among other things, a solid business plan to start a successful wedding planning business. Here are three important steps to get you started.

1. Learn the Basics by Getting an Education and Hands-on Experience

One effective way of learning the business is working as an on-site event coordinator at a successful catering business or reception venue. This entry-level position lets you gain experience in the industry without the risks of business ownership. On-site event coordinators work with various wedding vendors such as reception venues, photographers, videographers, DJs, and bands.

Professional associations, such as the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, the Association of Bridal Consultants, Weddings Beautiful Worldwide, and June Wedding Inc., provide educational programs in wedding planning. While they may not guarantee success, these programs can help you familiarize yourself with many aspects of the business.

Grow your portfolio by taking the opportunity to plan weddings for family and friends. Reach out to established wedding planning businesses and offer to assist on events as an intern or volunteer.

2. Create a Business Plan and Brand that Matches your Style and Purpose

Style is at the heart of wedding planning as brides trust your ideas for planning a gorgeous wedding. So you need to develop a stylish brand that demonstrates attention to detail. Bring your brand to life by hiring talented professionals including website developers and graphic designers to create your website, logos, business cards, and so on.

Create a written business plan to give you direction and get investors on board. Research your product, the market, and your competition. Business plans can serve many purposes so determine the purpose of your plan. Create a company profile including details such as your products, target market, and resources. Develop a strategic marketing plan that’s adaptable to your audience.

3. Build Relationships that Grow your Business

Invest in relationships with successful wedding professionals that will help you plan amazing weddings for your customers while keeping costs low. One effective way of minimizing costs is taking of easy-to-use and affordable online resources such as Mixbook wedding invitation cards.

Top wedding vendors with whom you have a good relationship can be a reliable source of new customers for your wedding planning business.

Consider signing up to the local chapter of the professional associations such as the International Special Events Society or the National Association of Catering Executives. Being a member of these organizations puts you in contact with a variety of wedding professionals, including caterers, venues, videographers, photographers, and bridal salons among others.

Alternatively, you can directly reach out to wedding professionals and get together for coffee or set up lunch meetings. Most professionals will agree as they are also eager to grow their networks and learn about new service providers in their market.

The post What You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Wedding Planning Business appeared first on WECAN.

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Have you ever sat in an office full of computers but noticed only a few of them are in use? Did you ever consider how to use that space more efficiently?

Hot desking is an office trend that allows companies to save money and raise productivity while allowing for a flexible schedule and environment for their employees. The premise comes from the fact that there are usually very few reasons for everyone at a company to be in a permanent place throughout their work life.

For example, more people than ever work at least part of a week at home, coming in only periodically for meetings or on specific days. Globally, nearly 70% of people work from home at least once a week. With that in mind, it is not worth giving each person a dedicated station because it will sit vacant much of the time.

In addition, the concept of a fixed workstation can have serious disadvantages when new projects or teams need to work together. Most companies now work on the cloud and therefore employees can simply login to any workstation to begin collaborating. This makes meetings and specific initiatives easier to coordinate.

However, hot desking requires excellent organization. It’s an issue if there are not enough stations for those who need them or if people want to use the same spot. Basically, it can be compared to ride sharing for computers. However, app builders have already taken advantage of the trend and created software designed specifically to fulfill the needs of hot desking companies.

There are two major methods involved in hot desking logistics: Zone and Hoteling

  • Zone: this is where a particular area is designated for a team that is working on a project. For this, companies will create named zones and allow them to be reserved by groups
  • Hoteling: this is where people reserve workstations individually on a sharing basis.

Making Hot Desking a part of your funding pitch can demonstrate fiscal responsibility. The concept is very popular right now and funders like to hear about innovative ways your start-up plans to use to save money. When looking for capital or startup loans, a plan that involves Hot Desking will definitely impress, not to mention all the money it will save in the long run.

Fundera put together an infographic below that puts together some of the pros and cons of Hot Desking and how to roll it out to employees to ensure everyone is happy.

Please include attribution to www.fundera.com with this graphic.

The post What Is Hot Desking and How Can It Help Your Start-up Succeed? appeared first on WECAN.

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AI technology is bringing industries into the future, and accounting is no exception. In the past, AI was viewed simply as a way of streamlining the workday processes for the accounting industry, but today, we see accounting firms optimizing their use of the technology in new ways that are revolutionizing how the industry operates.

Are you about thinking about bringing more AI technology into your accounting firm? AI is the tool that you need to bring your firm into the future. Look at these ways that your accounting firm can take advantage of the latest in AI technology.

Risk Management

Accountants play a crucial role in helping clients with their internal controls and risk management. Part of this responsibility is dealing with mountains of data that needs to be analyzed to help business make the best decisions moving forward. The focus on data, and the intricate details of analytics make risk management one area of accounting where AI technology can make the biggest impact.

Pertaining to risk management, AI technology can reach into insights that are likely to be overlooked by the human eye. For example, AI uses algorithms that can sort through massive amounts of information, including unstructured data, to discover minute discrepancies that are often indicators of problems down the road.

This is important because currently auditors devote only about 25% of their time to risk management. As AI becomes more widely used, companies will be better protected against financial devastation, while accountants are able to use their own resources in more effective ways.

Additionally, AI is adaptable. Basically, AI is only as intelligent as the information you feed into it. Over time, it learns from the data and adapts to it. As it analyzes discrepancies, it also learns to recognize false positives to weed possible fraud cases, is previous analysis has proven those cases to not be risk factors.

Compliance and Recording

Accountants are often the only resource that a small business has for tax law, planning and compliance. It is essential for accountants to stay up to date on current changes in tax law and policy. Any accountant knows that the biggest challenge with compliance is staying up to date with ever changing tax policies and regulations.

AI technology will help accounting firms to monitor compliance issues, organizational policy and regulations, while remaining on top of the most current changes in tax policies. With the ability to pick up on discrepancies with current tax rules, AI can more quickly identify transactions that are suspicious or non-compliant, especially in high-risk areas.

Auditing

Many accountants would agree that auditing is a thankless task. Hours upon hours can be spent, meticulously pouring over data, inventory and spreadsheets. It is a necessary part of running a business, but the process can be a drain on time and other resources.

More accounting firms are adapting AI technology to assist with the auditing process. The implementation of technology allows for firms to perform auditing duties faster and more efficiently, but the automation frees up resources that can be redirected into areas where human judgement is needed.

For example, auditors need to access a large amount of business data before they can even begin the auditing process. After the data is gathered, time is spent aligning the data sources, and piecing them together into one cohesive snapshot that can be analyzed. How this data needs to be structured will vary from one industry to the next. AI can pull in massive amounts of data, more than a human could, and automatically align it in a way that makes the most sense from a data-analytical standpoint.

This one step that would have once cost an entire accounting team precious work hours, but instead, with AI technology, those resources can be used in areas where only human thought can prevail, such as in looking at the result of the data and interpreting the story behind it.

Why AI Is Great for Clients – and You

While AI technology streamlines the responsibilities of the accountant, and removes the drudgery of mundane tasks, it is ultimately the client that benefits from AI technology.

When skilled accountants learn to work together with AI technology, they can uncover small problems, produce more comprehensive analysis of the financial state of business and provide auditing results that are more accurate than ever before. On top of that, AI technology makes this all possible faster and at a lower cost.

Embracing AI technology is key to providing clients with the quality service that they deserve. Human and machines are learning to work together, and the future of AI technology is going to be a great thing for the accounting industry.

The post How AI Technology Is Changing the Accounting Industry appeared first on WECAN.

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Emails have long been the method of choice for nonprofits when they need to reach out. As a nonprofit, maybe you are looking for ways to innovate and revolutionize this process. The truth is that even with social media at the forefront of marketing, email still has the potential to reach more people and lead to more conversions.

So, why do you feel like your email strategy isn’t working as well as it should?

There could be many reasons, but chances are, the one that is really holding you back is that your email doesn’t grab attention or contain the best content to engage the recipient to the point that they are willing to send funds your way. You can easily turn this around and begin writing emails that equal conversions. Here’s how to make it happen.

Add A Human Touch

When you are writing your email, of course you are looking to generally target as many potential donors as possible. The more people you can reach with one email, the less resources you need to spend and the more conversions are possible. Except, that in doing this, we forget who people like to give to.

Other people.

Nobody really wants to open their wallet to an automated sounding email or another nonprofit with no personal appeal. Here are few proven strategies for humanizing your email campaign.

Use your first and last name as the sender, rather than your organization name. One study showed that this strategy resulted in a 21% increase in open rates and a 58% increase in click through rates.

Rethink the template. Normally one of the first pieces of advice you get when creating a nonprofit email strategy is to create a killer template. There is evidence that maybe it is time to ditch this strategy and go with a more relaxed approach. Look at this sample from Caring Bridge.

Source

Here, we see to side by side examples. The one on the left with a beautiful, professional template and then the one on the right that is formatted like it would be if you were sending a personal email. Which one do you think garnered more trust and had a higher click rate?

The one on the right.

We need to remember that the recipient is expecting to read an email, not something that looks like a blog page. Recipients are more likely to read, and respond to, an email that feels more like a correspondence than an advertisement.

What’s left to add a more human touch to? The content of course. Think about the emotions that people feel when they are helping others. Compassion, empathy and desire to help come to mind. How are you appealing to these emotions in the content of your email?

If you are using a robotic tone or industry jargon, you probably aren’t getting the job done. Emails that read as though you are speaking directly through them, using normal conversational language, are more effective at producing conversions than scripted sounding dialogue.

Be Succinct With the CTA

Here is where you get to the meat and bones of your email campaign. You have reached out to previous and potential donors because you want something from them. Now is not the time to get wishy washy with your request.

Clearly state what you want, ask for only one thing and make it easy for the recipient to engage.

This seems straightforward enough, but too many nonprofit requests are pushed aside because the organization either wasn’t clear on what they needed or they left too many options open for the donor. For example, CTA that contain some variant of “Anything Helps” seems open ended enough to invite donations no matter how small.

It also doesn’t specify what you are asking for. Instead try one of these CTAs

  • Make an Donation
  • Donate and Make an Impact
  • Join the Fight
  • Give to Our Cause
  • Become a Member
  • Complete Your Gift
Finally, Get Noticed

Let’s assume that your email isn’t the first that your audience has received today. This is a fair assumption, yes? Whether it is a business or personal account, many people are bombarded with emails throughout the day. The thing that is going to make the difference between your email being opened or being sent to the trash is your subject line.

Let’s look at numbers. 35% of recipients decide whether to open an email based on just the subject line alone, while 69% decide whether or not to report an email as spam based on the subject line-yikes! The wrong wording and the energy you put into that expertly crated email is all in vain.

To grab attention, your subject line needs to be three things: short, personal and action oriented. Here are few examples of subject lines that were written to be opened.

  • (Name), how many lives can you change with $50?
  • Give a gift, change a life in (local community)
  • We’re building a better community, this is what we need from you this year
  • We’re almost out of time, help us reach our goal
  • It’s been a great year at (organization). Thank you!
  • Look at what we’ve done, and help us do more.
  • Let us add (name) to our heroes list

Adopt these strategies and watch your email campaign soar.

The post How to Launch an Email Marketing Campaign for Your Nonprofit That Makes People Want to Give appeared first on WECAN.

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