Archives for September 2014

October Top 20

Our October Top 20 list is posted! Earn CASH for referrals! Get paid $200 cash & $200 trade for referring a business on our Monthly Top 20 list! All other referrals pay out $100 cash & $100 trade.   Call (770) 591-4343 for more information or visit www.barterco.com to view the list.

Monthly Top 20 List - October

 

 

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14 Tips On Using Technology To Grow Your Business

Dont-Let-Information-Technology-Kill-Your-Staffing-Agency

Work out which data is key to your business: Understanding early on what your key metrics are and being able to monitor, assess and improve them is important. It is the sort of thing that financiers are very interested in and if you can show them that you are meeting the metrics you set yourself that can be useful.

This can be anything from sales metrics, financial performance, marketing and social media, conversion rates, customer profiles etc. Just using tools like Google Analytics to see user journeys and how to drive them better toward conversion into a sale or contact can be a good start.

Spend money when it saves you time to earn more: If I had the choice of using a free product or something that cost £10 per month but took an hour less to manage then I would go for the £10 option. I can earn more than £10 with that free time. I would also advocate not entering into big upfront payments for software or long-term commitments.

E-commerce is about simplicity for the customer: Make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy and pay. The number of sites that contain too many attempts to up-sell or make the checkout process difficult. If your customer has started the checkout process you want to put as few barriers as possible in front of them that could cause them to leave.

Prototype, prototype, prototype: Rapid prototyping also allows for market testing from the early stages to understand how your product is really received. Prototyping for your own business processes is also possible: not locking yourself into one particular software solution until you know what works for you.

Data is key to effective marketing: For me it’s market analysis, and marketing. Use large public data sources to figure out where (what demographics, countries, etc.) your company has the most potential. This can inform your branding, product design, market positioning, etc. And digital marketing lets you measure just how effective your efforts are. E.g. where do your website visitors come from, and how can that information help you tweak your SEO and ad campaigns to better target potential customers?

Build your presence: To build and grow a business, you need customers. And customers are online in their millions. A fit for purpose internet presence, where prospective and existing customers can find you, engage with you and transact with you is the single most important prerequisite for a business looking to grow quickly.

Go mobile: For SMEs looking to make it big online the answer has to be – MOBILE. We already see that over 40% of internet searches are made from mobile devices. The growth in mobile as a form of searching, browsing and transacting online is phenomenal. It represents the single largest opportunity for SMEs today. Businesses need to make sure their online presence is fit for mobile devices and they can reach clients on any device at any time.

Go global: I am a big fan of going global as early as possible. One cannot and should not rely on local markets if one has a potentially global product.

Plan, test, think and then focus: Don’t trust your instincts, trust your evidence. Be ready to kill bad ideas quickly and respond to new opportunities equally quickly. Build on what works and remember most people are overnight successes after years of hard work.

Target communities online: Trust and awareness is built over time and over a breadth of channels. There is no time like tody to start doing so! Find out where your target market engages digitally and jump in.

Test new markets before launch: I know we’re all supposed to hate Amazon. BUT it’s a jolly useful platform for testing new international markets. With no set-up costs. Just a total pain to set up your product range. But provided your e-commerce team leader doesn’t shoot herself in the process it’s worthwhile. You can test a new market with zero investment.

Hold on to your cash: From having started my own business my number one golden rule is hold on to your cash as long as possible. Most tech and certainly most of the tools you need at a startup stage are free or available at very low cost. Small businesses are being seen as cash cows and are far too willing to hand over their vital capital.

Your website should be live before your business is: In this interconnected, interweb driven world, not having a web presence makes a business appear unprofessional and out of touch. I’d even put a web page up if the business is pre-launch so people can register interest. Buy the domain name variations as soon as you have figured our what your business will be called.

Look bigger than you are: Don’t use your mobile number or home phone number as your business phone number. Make sure your incoming calls are handled professionally and, if you have a phone system, get one that is cloud-based as it will have all the big company features that are easily configurable for a small company price.

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This Fall, It’s Time To Get Your Business Finances In Order

Money

When you are running a small business, things like balance sheets and long-term planning often take a back seat to the daily needs of your customers. I know how it feels when you either have more work than you can handle or you’ve got to spend your days figuring out how to drum up more business.

As a result, many small business owners do not have a firm grasp on their financials. Some businesses simply don’t keep records throughout the year and instead tally everything up come tax time. Others are disciplined about keeping good records, but then never actually look at the numbers to learn about their business.

Strong accounting records are important for any dealings with the IRS, but they can also be a powerful tool for growing your business. When you have a firm handle on your business’ finances, you are in a better position to know where to focus your time and fix whatever aspects are holding your business back. Here are five easy tips for becoming more financially savvy:

1. Put Together a System for Organizing Expenses and Income

Small business accounting isn’t very complicated: you need to keep track of what your business spends (expenses) and what it receives (income). For starters, you’ll want to carefully record all your receipts (travel expenses, receipts for office supplies, invoice from your Web/email hosting company, cell phone bills, etc.) as well as your income receipts (invoices, check stubs, cash register tape, PayPal records, etc). Then, you’ll need to enter this information somewhere to make sense of the numbers.

 

2. Start Looking at Your Numbers Every Month

The point of organizing your records isn’t just to avoid an audit; you want to look at trends and numbers that can make or break your business. For example, you need to know how much cash your business has on hand, your rate of growth, your profit margin, and how much you are owed. You can compare this month or quarter to the same period last year. Are their seasonal trends? Is your business growing? Are you products/services priced correctly? Are you losing money from a certain product/service? Most financial software can put together these types of reports in seconds for you.

3. Get on Top of Your Accounts Receivable

You can help avoid receivable problems by making it as easy as possible for customers to pay you; for example, by accepting credit cards, accepting payments electronically, and using remote check capture to deposit checks without heading out to the bank. You can look into apps like Square for accepting credit cards and FreshBooks for invoicing. However, no matter what kind of method you use, it’s up to you to invoice your customers as quickly as possible, set payments terms that are in line with your industry, and stay on top of past due accounts.

4. Understand Your Cash Flow Cycle

If you understand your business’ regular cash flow cycle, you can better plan and reduce the stress that comes when cash is tight. How long does it take you to collect your receivables? How quickly do you need to pay your bills? Do you need help funding this spread?

You may not even realize it, but all businesses have some degree of seasonal trends. By running financial reports for the year(s), you can understand how your business ebbs and flows over the year, and plan accordingly. For example, when you know that work is light every August, you can choose to vacation then or use the time to plan ahead for the year.

5. Get in Touch with an Accountant

This is a perfect time of year to work with an accountant or small business financial advisor. That’s because there’s still time to act on any suggestions for your 2014 taxes.

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Looking for Ways to Rev Up the Engine of Finding New Customers?

Keeping the engine of your business running smoothly can be a challenge even with all the right parts working together. Finding new customers is just one piece that business owners need to keep going. Like thousands of other businesses, Duluth International Auto Service uses The Barter Company for the added edge in bringing new customers through his door.

Duluth International Auto Service strives to provide the most reliable automotive repair and maintenance of foreign and domestic vehicles. Located in Gwinnett County, the friendly and knowledgeable staff is made up of ASE certified technicians with various degrees of knowledge from institutions across the country.

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Billy Duhe, owner of Duluth International, has been using The Barter Company services for about seven years. He repairs and maintains vehicles in exchange for trips, restaurant dining, lawn care, window tinting, A/C repair, and concert and sporting event tickets. In all, he has more than $140,000 in barter sales. Duhe explains how The Barter Company gives his business a jump start: “Even though most business owners prefer a paying customer, barter brings you additional sales that may not have come to you otherwise. This allows additional opportunities to bring that new customer back who was impressed with our service — turning them into repeat customers. We’re always looking for new customers because we know once they’ve experienced our superior service, they will be back,” said Duhe.

 People have exchanged goods and services for centuries through a simplistic barter system. Today, barter plays an important role in the payments industry with businesses incorporating it into their system along with cash, credit, virtual payments, and loyalty cards. “Alternative currencies are trending for business,” explains Ric Zampatti, The Barter Company CEO. “More and more businesses are taking another look at barter and how it can benefit their cash flow.”

For Billy Duhe at Duluth International Auto Service, trading through The Barter Company’s exchange helps his business stay ahead of the competition with new customers continuing to come through the door. “The automotive repair business is very competitive,” said Duhe. “We always need to find new ways to improve cash flow, reduce out-of-pocket costs, and market to new customers. The Barter Company helps us stay in the race.”

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Congrats to Our Client, Copeland’s of New Orleans, on Their Recent Remodel Ribbon-Cutting!

Congratulations to Copeland’s of New Orleans on the unveiling of their beautifully remodeled Cumberland location!Copelands Outside - Remodel

Copelands Ribbon Cutting

The Cobb Chamber of Commerce hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday afternoon where Copeland’s very own  Bill Goudey and Glen Helmstetter were excited to show off the newly designed restaurant. The new design features a newly remodeled lounge with a lighter more open area. The interior features a fresh color scheme, new brick walls, lanterns, shutters, private dining areas and other distinct New Orleans architectural styles. Guests will also be welcomed by a renovated hostess area and fresh cheesecake bakery.

Be sure to visit Copeland’s Cumberland or their location in Kennesaw off Barrett Parkway.

They accept the barter card!

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Seven Tips For Smoothing Out Your Small Business’ Cash Flow

Click here to view original article from Forbes.com.

The financial universe of most hard-working small business owners is often very focused and revolves around their immediate obligations. They know that cash flow is the heartbeat of their business, and if they don’t have the cash on hand to pay their vendors, they don’t open the next day. It’s important to remember that some of the cash flow pain that these entrepreneurs face is the result of less than creative cash management. With some simple tricks in cash management, the ups and downs of income vs. expense tides can be stabilized:

1. Don’t pay everything at once. For a small business, cash flow management is like being an air traffic controller. You can’t have 100 planes trying to land simultaneously on two runways. We regularly see clients line up their monthly bills, sit down and write all the checks at once. They hope that they put aside enough cash or that their upcoming sales will float their payments through. In the worst case, checks bounce as the bank cannot cover them. This is like Russian roulette with a check book.  These costs slam cash flow and ruin relationships with those who are currently offering you credit.  It is okay to write the checks all at one time, but you need to put them into a “holding pattern.” Mark each envelope with the date you should mail it in order for it to land on time and without crashing into another check. Stagger the payment dates by setting up three tiers for disbursement of checks:

  • Tier 1: Must Pay Group – These are the checks that can hurt you the most either in cost or ability to operate your business if they aren’t paid. This includes items like payroll, taxes, rent or late utility bills.
  • Tier 2: Important to Pay – Items like oil bills, utilities and insurance payments will often have a reasonable grace period or a financial penalty modest enough to take advantage of having this cash on hand when needed. But these are still important bills to pay because you don’t want to get cut off. There‘s nothing more destabilizing than having your electric shut off in the middle of a business day. You could lose customers and employees who worry about the health of their employer.
  • Tier 3: Flexible Payment Opportunities – Suppliers, vendors and wholesalers who supply most small businesses are the best sources of flexible financing.  Many of these are happy to work with a stressed business as long as there are regular payments scheduled, even if they are small.  These suppliers will often continue to deliver as long as you keep open channels of communication and make payments with regularity.

2. Make it real! Pay on revenue you have, not on the sales you are hoping to make. Would you land a plane hoping that the runway is beneath you in that fog bank? No, you want to know it is there, so only make payments knowing your sales are in the bank. If you know what you have, you will know what you can pay.

3. Stop using sales tax money to float your operations. It will cost you far more in potential penalties, fees, interest, time and aggravation than obtaining some short term financing. The most prudent strategy is to discipline yourself to deposit all the sales tax money you collect each day into a separate bank account. Tax liabilities grow because business owners use the tax money they collect as working capital for their operations.

4. Invest in a payroll service. The two biggest cash flow crunchers are payroll and sales taxes.  It may seem like an unnecessary cost for very small businesses, but a good payroll service can be invaluable, particularly in the collection and payment of payroll taxes. Rather than worry about saving the money and making progress payments to federal and state agencies, let the pros do it.

5. Get creative with your payroll schedule. Every business owner has a different revenue stream. Retailers and restaurants take in daily revenue. Manufacturers, wholesalers and even health clubs take revenue in on a monthly basis. Most of these businesses need to meet weekly payrolls and solid cash flow planning is required to make sure that the outflow is covered by the cash on hand and the incoming money. This is great for all of those businesses with high frequency of deposits like retailers, but could be a challenge for those with a slower receivables payment stream. Some states permit bi-weekly or bi-monthly payroll, which can be helpful to those businesses, especially when paid on the week before or after rent or other obligations are due. This also cuts down on the frequency of payroll tax deposits, as the payroll periods are spread out.

6. Establish relationships with a reputable credit provider. Planning for a rainy day is a noble cause but unrealistic for many small business owners. One thing I have learned as a one-time small business owner—and now as someone who finances them—is that most cash flow storms come on suddenly and it brings a sense of desperation or lack of control. It happens to most businesses at one time or another. If you work with a quality company that provides working capital, stick with them and build a relationship. If they know you, they will be there to help quickly when you call.

7. Strengthen your relationship with your banker. Your banker may not give you a loan and may not provide you with a line of credit, but they do have a great deal to say if checks bounce or are charged NSF fees and cleared. Communicate with your banker and let them know where you stand and what is happening with your business. They often listen and help.

Managing cash flow has long been, and will long be, a pain point for many small business owners, but it’s possible to bring relief through smart planning and open lines of communication with vendors and financial partners.

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10 Small Business Cost Cutting Tips for Fall

Summer is winding down, but the savings opportunities are heating up! From taking advantage of seasonal sales to tricks for cutting down your utility bill.  Use this insider’s guide to savings to cut your operating costs this fall!

Back To School Sales

Make use of all the “back to school” sales for your office supply needs! Don’t miss the “tax free” sales that are so popular in August in conjunction with “back to school” sales. Laptops are usually big stars of such sales, and are priced lowest during this time. While you’re at it, save money by putting a little more effort into streamlining your office purchases, and monitoring (and safeguarding) your office supplies.

Ideal Temperature Setting

Don’t waste money on heating and cooling. As the temps cool naturally on your own, keep the office temp at a savings-friendly 75-78 degrees. This is the optimum temperature for money and energy savings according to the US Dept of Energy! Even better than that would be to open the windows and let the naturally pleasant temperatures inside!

Office Furniture Saving

Need new office furniture? Hello Labor Day Weekend sales! Wait- and purchase those items them for great savings! Great savings tip- KMart typically offers the best Labor Day discounts!

September is typically when you’ll see the lowest prices offered for desktop computers as well.

Auto Timing

Getting a new company car? New car models typically come out in September, which means all the best auto sales and prices will be in October. Mark your calendar!

Office Helpers

Fall means the college kids are back- look into getting a free intern to help around the office. Check with your local education institutions to have them post your opening, or attend one of the colleges career fairs

Social and Thrifty

This fall, make use of social media marketing. It’s a great way to reach audiences and will cost less than traditional advertising and marketing efforts.

Software

Many software companies attend technology conferences in the fall and offer special discounts or extended free trials. Follow the blogs and social accounts of companies that offer software that could help free up your time, or reduce your labor costs (like paying a recruiter or) – then just wait for them to post their conference specials!

Funding Gates for Invoices/ Receivables Management

TSheets for your Time-Tracking needs, JuvHR for running your Human Resources and employee evaluations, ZenPayroll for organizing and managing your payroll, and expensify for your company and employee’s expenses.

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