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dr kegler

Managing a Business Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Do you get anxious just thinking about the administration part of running your business — like managing cash flow? Do you dread it as much as a visit to the dentist? Actually, the dentist can be the perfect place to learn about managing cash flow. Dr. Clarence Kegler of Artistic Smiles has a unique method to alleviate fears about dental work as well as business worries.

Dr. Kegler manages his dentistry practice with less anxiety by using barter to exchange goods and services for some of the things he needs to run the business. For the past seven years, he has been a member of The Barter Company and has traded dental services for advertising, printing, painting, contracting, and promotional items. “I have to buy these items anyway to help run the practice,” said Dr. Kegler. “If I can get these services through barter, it’s an easy way to save cash … or use that cash in other ways to hire a new person, expand, and grow the business.”

For 12 years, Artistic Smiles has offered patients state-of-the-art dental procedures that leave patients looking and feeling great as pain-free as possible. During his years in practice, Dr. Kegler has learned that barter can take the pain away from managing his cash flow. It has also helped him grow his practice. “Once a patient comes in through barter, they become a regular patient. And, they usually bring in their family members and refer friends and neighbors who then become patients too,” explained Kegler. “Barter helps reduce the stress of running the practice and then I can focus more on my patients.” Less fear and anxiety about managing a business will give any business owner something to smile about.

Clients like Dr. Kegler at Artistic Smiles have realized the benefits of barter to their business. At The Barter Company, we’re here to help take away some of the “pain” of managing a business by offering a barter experience based on long-term client relationships, thousands of available goods and services, and barter coordinators who provide individual client service. We work hard each day to help our clients live out our motto – “barter is smarter.”

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6 Google Doc Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

It’s one of the most widely used business tools, but it isn’t always easy to use. Here are some hacks for Google Docs that can save you time and energy.

When you run a small business, there’s never enough time in the day. Your task list is as long as a shopping receipt, and it seems to stay the same length no matter how many items you check off. And, of course, you probably want to make time for your significant other on top of that. It’s no wonder you’re stressed.

Small-business loan provider Fundera surveyed several hundred business owners last year and found that 19 percent of small-business owners work more than 60 hours a week. It also found that 70 percent work more than 40 hours a week, and 89 percent work on weekends.

You’re most likely overseeing a litany of business operations, from hiring and sales to marketing and customer service. Improving your productivity isn’t only about working harder or faster, it’s also about working smarter. Leveraging tools can help you make the most of your time.

Google Docs is one of the tools most widely used by entrepreneurs these days. It can help you squeeze the most out of every hour and run your business more effectively. But are you using it as efficiently as possible? Here are some ideas that can help you optimize it.

1. Get organized with color coding.

Business owners use Google Docs and Sheets for everything from tracking employee hours to creating marketing collateral. Over time, your Drive can get pretty messy and crowded. And if you can’t remember the exact name of a doc or sheet, you’re forced to waste time looking for it.

Color coding your folders will stop this. You’ll locate your materials far more easily. First, create new folders and sort your docs. Next, right click or control click any folder. Select “Change Color” and choose from any of the 24 hues.

2. Make conference calls from within a doc.

Add-ons are companion apps for G Suite that allow you to perform a variety of tasks. Let’s say you’re collaborating on a Google doc with two of your employees. The UberConference add-on lets you book a conference call with your collaborators right from the sidebar.

To get the add-on, open your doc, and then click “Add-ons” and “Get Add-ons.” Type “UberConference” into the search bar and click the blue plus sign. Then allow the app to access your Google account.

To launch the add-on, click the add-ons menu and select “UberConference/Launch Sidebar.”

3. Use templates for recurring projects.

If you find yourself struggling to format project proposals, meeting agendas, or customer invoices, use a template you can quickly modify as needed. This way you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

Navigate to drive.google.com/templates and choose from a variety of preformatted docs. This list includes business letters, project proposals, onboarding notes, and job-offer letters.

Other templates, like consulting agreements, sales quotes, and statements of work, are available as add-ons.

4. Add your signature to a document.

How many times have you printed a document, signed it, then scanned and emailed it to someone? Imagine how much time you’d save over the course of a year if you could add your signature to a document with the click of a button.

The PandaDoc add-on inserts your e-signature to a doc from any device. After you get the add-on, you’ll be prompted to connect to PandaDoc and create an account. Once that’s done, activate the add-on to open a sidebar and draw your signature. Click it to add it to your doc.

5. Use your voice to type.

There are plenty of situations where it might be more convenient to speak your draft than type it. Try the Voice Typing feature to speed up the creation of a Google doc.

From Tools, select “Voice Typing.” Click the black microphone icon and begin speaking after it turns red. You can add common punctuation by saying “period,” “comma,” “exclamation point,” or “question mark.”

6. Send a fax without a fax machine.

Have a love-hate relationship with your fax machine? The HelloFax add-on enables you to fax documents from within Google Docs. It may inspire you to kick that clunky machine to the curb once and for all.

To fax a Google doc, simply open the add-on, enter the fax number, and click “Send.” Add an optional cover page in less than 20 seconds.

When you use these hacks to extend your abilities, you can get more done in less time. Who knows, you might even clock a 40-hour workweek for a change.

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Multiethnic Group of People Planning Ideas

12 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Company’s Culture

This list of quick-strike team boosters will put you on the path to culture-building success.

Great company culture isn’t created overnight. At Hireology, the company I co-founded eight years ago, we put a lot of intention, action and oversight into making sure we have a culture by design; culture by default doesn’t give us the competitive edge we need to achieve our goals. We work hard at it every single day.

While building an award-winning workplace takes time, but there are actions you can take right now to move your company in a positive direction.

1. Increase transparency

In the absence of clear information, your team will fill in the blanks with a litany of “worst case scenarios.” Pat in Customer Service was let go? Mass layoffs are coming!

Share information. Talk about your cash balance, and how you manage it.  When you show your comfort level with openly discussing important information, you communicate a critical component of great workplace culture:  I trust you.

2. Reconfirm the vision

Your early joiners drank the Kool-Aid, but you’ve hired lots of new people since then. Do they know why you started this company?

At the next town hall, put together a 10 slide “pitch deck” and present the business as if you’re talking to a venture capital firm. Make a passionate case for why you should exist as a business, and why your team should back you 100%. Inspire them to give every ounce of incremental effort that they can.

3. Fire someone

I want you to think of “that person.” You know who this person is: When you go to bed at night, as your head hits the pillow, the last thought running through your mind is, “How. In the world. Did this person. Get a job. In. My. Company?

Keeping this person employed signals to everyone else that you’re willing to tolerate mediocrity. That violating company core values is ok.

Fire this person. Do it today. Do it humanely, do it legally. But do it.

4. Thank someone with a handwritten note

When was the last time you got an honest-to-God handwritten note or letter? It’s probably been a while, right?

It takes time and thoughtfulness on the part of the sender to hand-write a note. It’s a real, tangible thing.  Think of someone in your organization who’s done something great, and thank them with a handwritten note.

5. Give public praise

Someone in your company did something amazing last week. They landed that deal, they saved the account, they engineered the solution.

Walk into the center of your office and make that announcement. Publicly share this individual’s accomplishment, and why it was exceptional. Ask everyone to give a standing ovation. (Make it loud!)

6. Show vulnerability

You might think you’re approachable, but you’re not.  You’re the CEO, and you’re scary.

Remind your team that you’re still a human being with hopes, dreams and fears about the business. Talk about a low point in your career, how you got there, and how you got back on track. Talk about your successes, what you’re most proud of, and why.

7. Run a contest

There’s a reason that game shows have been among the highest-rated television programs for over 60 years: they’re fun.

Pick a target you’d like to hit – new appointments set, new accounts opened, anything –  and whoever hits that target gets raffle ticket. At the end of the month, raffle off a three day weekend. Second place gets a $50 gift card. Third place, you’re fired! (Kidding.)

8. Sit on the sales floor

What inspiring leader sits thirty miles behind the front lines?  Go to where the action is and rally your team.

Pick an open desk on the sales floor and spend the next five hours making cold calls with them. Put 100 percent effort into it — exceed your own number. Talk to prospects, set meetings. Show that it can be done, and that the sales role is a critical one, because without new business, there is no business.

9. Take a team to lunch

What’s the least-recognized team in your company? It’s time to give them some props.

Reserve a private room at a nice restaurant, and take a two hour lunch. Don’t skimp, get loads of appetizers and order everyone desert. Show your love for the people who grind it out for you every day.

10. Give everyone a day off this Friday

Your team has worked its tail off this month, and you’re darn proud of them. Everyone gets Friday off. Have a great weekend, see you Monday.

11. Interview your superstars

Grab a smartphone and shoot an interview-style video with three of your star performers. Hearing your best people talk about why they love what they do inspires everybody.

Post it on YouTube. Social media the heck out of it.

12. Ask for feedback

Everyone has room to improve – even you. So, send an email to your entire company and ask for their help.

Create a Google form that gives them the space to provide anonymous feedback on how you’re doing as CEO. What could you do differently? What could the company do differently?

Want better culture? Do these twelve things. Do them now.

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Barter in the News: 6 Way to Save Your Business Thousands Each Month

Thanks Entrepreneur for the great article on modern barter! The Barter Company is a proud member of the National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) where our CEO served as President multiple years. NATE is proud to be the “trade exchange for trade exchanges”. Check out this great article here or read below:

cash flowing

For the majority of small business owners, cash is most definitely king. In hopes of increasing their bottom line, business owners often pay themselves much less than they deserve. The truth is, you have to spend money to make money. That being said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saving wherever possible. While some tips work better than others, here are a few you can implement right away and start saving.

1. Bootstrap as long as you can.

In an era of endless technology and knowledge, it’s probably “been done before”. Just because you have competition, doesn’t mean you’re too late. There’s always room to find your niche and provide value where your competitors can’t. This is actually a great way to save yourself time and money.

Whenever possible, look to work with larger companies and utilize their pre-existing technologies or infrastructure. You can either swap services or create a revenue-sharing agreement in exchange for access to their services. Ideally, they will allow you to white-label their products so you can create an original brand presence. This strategy will surely save you thousands and give your business time to build out your own products and or services.

2. Optimize your purchasing power.

Taking advantage of group buying and collective purchasing is a great way to save cash. By joining these groups you’ll have access to discounts and exclusive rates on office supplies, hardware, business travel, and much more.

There are plenty of group buying services you can utilize based on your particular business needs. If you’re a non-profit, ThriveGPO provides a great group purchasing tool. If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll never buy alone.

3. Barter your way to growth.

If you’re looking to avoid cash outlays or unload slow-moving inventory you can always look to swap your products and services for others. Bartering with other companies can be time consuming, so if you’d rather not bargain with other companies directly you can always hire a commissioned barter broker. Otherwise, you can join a commercial barter club or exchange.

The National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) is a registered clearing house for member exchanges nationwide. NATE essentially allows business owners to swap any product or service with anyone. When a sale is made, participants will often receive trade dollars for their goods and services. Trade dollars are brokered across cities nationwide under NATE.

4. Get your business credit card rewards.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good idea to apply for a business credit card. Since issuing banks assume business owners will spend more on a business card than a personal card, the rewards tend to be much more enticing. According to NerdWallet, here are the best small business credit cards of 2017:

When you redeem your credit card rewards, you should also look to redeem in the form of a gift card. Companies often times offer gift cards that you can purchase with credit card rewards points. From a dollar per points perspective, you’ll get the most bang for your buck using this strategy. If you know you’re going to need to make some big purchases on office supplies, look to purchase a gift card for Ikea for example. Using these simple but effective strategies are a great way to save much needed cash especially on larger purchases.

5. Free trials and consultations.

There’s no better way to save money than to get a service for free. Instead of investing large amounts of money in enterprise software for your business, you can find much less expensive SaaS tools to meet your needs. These services often provide free trials, some as long as a month. After the trial period is over, they’ll typically offer tiered pricing that allows you to pay as you scale your business. Whether it’s a payments solution, CRM software, or simple accounting tools, you should always start with a free trial.

Free consultations are very effective when seeking legal advice. Some business attorney’s charge as high as $600/hour and bill you to the second. Typically, a lawyer will give you about 30 minutes to even an hour of time as a consultation with the assumption you’ll choose them as your legal council. If you’re just looking to get a few questions answered, use a few attorney’s and get a few consultations. If you use this trick with three or four attorney’s you’ve just saved well over $1000 in legal fees.

6. Review your expenses quarterly.

Generally, you should be well aware of your expenses at all times. However, it’s best to do a full analysis quarterly to determine which expenses are necessary and which aren’t. Software that you used last quarter may be obsolete to your business now, so you’ll want to cancel that subscription. It’s easy to forget about all the various software and business tools you’ve signed up for over the years. It’s good to “trim the fat” each quarter so you can make every penny count.

Regardless the size of your business it’s very important to stay on top of your financesand be frugal. Especially for smaller companies, your growth depends heavily on how your dollar is spent. If you implement these six strategies you can save your business thousands of dollars each month, so get out and build that business!

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summertime blues

A Cure For the Summertime Blues

Summer can be a perfect time for leaving town, relaxing, and slowing down. The kids are out of school and that makes the adults want to do less too. Sounds great until you realize that customers taking a break can negatively impact your sales.

Some businesses naturally have cyclical business periods like theme parks, beach resorts, ski stores, and ice cream shops. But other businesses can too. For example, an accounting firm may not be as busy in the summer and fall when most customers are not thinking about taxes. In this case, the firm’s owner has to get creative on how to bring in customers during the down times, as well as diversify their products and services, and carefully manage cash flow.

Almost all companies have slow times. Yours might be different from the accounting firm, bathing suit store or dentist. That’s why it’s important to analyze your sales figures on a weekly, monthly, and year-over-year basis. See any trends? Are there certain times that are slower than others? If so, you need to pay attention and address this open time by filling it with sales opportunities.

Here are some ideas to help ensure that your business doesn’t suffer during these slow times:

  • Promotions. The bathing suit store needs to offer special promotions and sales to potential customers who take winter cruises and early spring break shoppers. A great way to do this is through advertising. Or, email an alert to loyal customers and reward them for bringing in a friend to shop. Partner with another business that might be suffering from a slow down at the opposite time of year and offer cross referrals.
  • Diversify products/services. If you exclusively sell bathing suits you might want to offer related products in the winter such as exercise clothing to keep customers cool in the gym. If you’re a dentist run a special on teeth whitening when your appointments are light.
  • Manage cash flow. Resist the urge to spend the money that comes in during the busy times. Save it and budget to make sure you have enough to cover hard costs throughout the year such as labor which tends to be the largest business expense.

Many of The Barter Company’s clients use barter to help them through the slow times. If you have open appointments, fill them with barter customers. They will bring you barter cash that you can use on other expenses without using the money you’ve saved. Barter can also bring in new customers. If a barter customer sees the dentist and likes their service, they now have a loyal new customer who will spread the word and keep coming back – all year long.

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Our National Trade Organization Was Featured in Entrepreneur Mag!

The Barter Company is a proud member of the National Association of Trade Exchanges, the premier barter association for independent exchanges nationwide. Our CEO, Ric Zampatti, has served as past President of the Board of Directors. We are excited for the mention in this online edition of Entrepreneur Magazine. Check out this great article on modern barter!

To view entire story, click here.

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outdoor laptop work

Tips on How to Prep Your Business for a Summertime Slowdown

While the public at large enjoys the sunshine of summer, many entrepreneurs absolutely dread the “summertime slump.”

We may not be able to point the finger at a single reason why many businesses both online and off tend to move at a snail’s pace as the weather heats up, but some symptoms of the summertime slowdown include:

  • Holidays and vacations break up the traditional flow of the workweek for your workers and customers alike.
  • Many businesses, especially retailers, focus on the fall and winter months as their bread and butter for sales, versus the spring and summer.
  • The general laid-back attitude of summer often means less stringent deadlines, fewer new projects and a lighter workload.

All that being said, summertime doesn’t necessarily have to spell gloom and doom for businesses. Whether you’re a web-based entrepreneur or currently handle a team face-to-face, consider the following four ways to ensure that your business survives the summertime slump. With a bit of luck and some creativity, you might even benefit from it.

Talk with your team.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with dedicated employees, freelancers or remote workers: you need to outline crystal-clear expectations for your team during the summer months.

For example, if anyone’s not going to be available for an extended period of time, you should strive to know as far in advance as possible (at least two weeks), so you’re not caught understaffed. By knowing in advance when your team members will and won’t be shuffled around, you can plan out essential meetings and deadlines accordingly.

Bear in mind also that the summer represents a prime time to reflect on hiring. Typically, businesses hire fewer workers over the summer: As such, it’s certainly not the ideal time of year to cut talent loose. However, take a moment to assess your own team members and their performance, as you’ve reached the halfway point of the year to start thinking about what your staff needs in the coming months.

Hold off on huge projects.

Unless you work in an industry which thrives during the summer (think: hospitality or tourism), it’s probably best to press the pause button on any new product launches or marketing campaigns. Not only will holding off effectively keep more money in the bank, but will also allow you to wait until your team’s heads are 100 percent in the game.

Some critics may argue that timing is overrated in terms of launches, and they’re not necessarily wrong. After all, the launch that happens at all is often much better than one that never got off the ground, right? Besides, not all startup ideas rely on a particular “season” or time of year to gain traction.

However, starting early on your biggest projects affords you some wiggle room with your budget and resources. When in doubt, you’ll find that it’s better to allocate an extra month or two of prep time, versus churning out something that simply isn’t ready.

Don’t use the slow months as an excuse to slack, either. Use this time to look toward the future and think about the bigger picture of your business and its next major project.

Reassess your spending habits.

Much as you might want to rethink your team at the midway point of the year, the summer months are a great time to slash any needless expenses.

Perhaps you’ve realized that your latest social campaign is a complete bust, or that that freelancer you hired to take care of your marketing content just isn’t cutting it. Even the seemingly smallest cuts can add up over time and help grow your nest egg during the off-season.

Although you don’t necessarily have to start pinching pennies over the summer, erring on the side of caution with your business’s budget is always a safe bet.

Rethink your products and services.

Here’s the elephant in the room for many small businesses that struggle over the summer: Why do you have an off-season in the first place?

Sure, it’s easy to blame your industry, but what if there were steps you could take to strengthen your bottom line year-round? Savvy entrepreneurs should constantly look for new opportunities to sell without reinventing the wheel or investing too much initial capital. Consider strategies such as:

  • Monetizing your company blog, via offers and affiliates, to create an additional stream of revenue
  • Creating subscription-based products that guarantee steady payments month after month
  • Using your expertise to your advantage, selling your knowledge in the form of informational products (think: ebooks, online courses, webinars) or consulting services

While you aren’t expected to roll out these additional opportunities tomorrow, they’re definitely something you can start thinking about during your downtime.

Rather than allow your business to fall prey to the summertime slump, do everything in your power to be proactive. Don’t worry about “what-if’s” or the possibilities of your bottom line falling behind. Instead, think about how you can use the slower months to actually bolster your business in the long run.

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21 Years Ribbon Anniversary

Tammy celebrates 21 years with TBC!

Tammy has been with TBC since 1997, and is celebrating 21 years this June! She works as a senior broker and travel manager in the TBC office.  Congratulations Tammy on a successful career and thank you for all you do for our team and our clients! You are very loved!

You can reach her at (770) 591-4343 or by emailing tammy@barterco.comCheck out a few fun facts about Tammy below! 

tammyWhat’s your favorite thing about working at TBC? My favorite thing is working with all of the staff we have a great team and we all get along very well.

If given a chance, who would you like to be for a day? One of our office cats, they get to sleep all day.

Do you have any hidden talents?  I was a Jazzercise instructor for years and love to workout. 

If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? It would be some sort of an Italian dish, I love anything Italian!

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summer businesstips

5 Summer Tips for Small Business Owners

(courtesy of Constant Contact)

For some small businesses, the summer is the busiest time of year. For others, it’s the slow season. Regardless of what time of year it is for you, there are things all small business owners can do this summer to be proactive and productive.

And whether you’re taking advantage of the extra foot traffic in your store or a quiet space in time to reflect and think about your future goals, these tips can help you make the most out of the next few months. Tomorrow’s success really does start today, so it’s important that no matter what season you’re in, you are thinking ahead and getting ready.

We asked our Marketing and Communications experts here at Constant Contact what their summer tips were. Here’s a list of our top 5:

Tip 1: Snap away

“Take or collect fun pictures of your customers or members enjoying the summer weather. Then, share those pictures on your social networks during the cold days of winter to give them something to remember fondly of or look forward to. You’ll have fun doing it and create some great engagement with your loyal followers.”

– Dennis Nations, Senior Content Strategist

Tip 2: Discover something new

“Take advantage of the potentially slower summer months and try out one of the ‘hot’ visual social media platforms like Instagram, Vine or Pinterest. Set a reasonable goal for yourself (i.e. upload 2 new photos a week) then, in September, decide if you want to continue to grow your presence on that channel.

You could also experiment with a new type of social media post. Consider trying a Facebook quiz/trivia question, a caption contest, an ‘if you could…’ question or feature a customer story.

Definitely change your Facebook cover photo to an image that reflects summer and your brand too!”

– Danielle Cormier, Corporate Community Manager

Tip 3: Boost your website and deals

“When adding an email sign-up to your website, be sure to have the “Join My Mailing List” feature at or near the top of each page of your website.

When offering a local deal, don’t discount too deeply and set a limit to the total number that could be bought.”

– Justin Tryon, Education Development Specialist

Tip 4: Grow your list

“Summer is a great time to grow your email list, especially if the summer months are the busiest of the year. Something as simple as a paper sign-up sheet can go a long way in helping you stay in touch with people after they visit your store, eat in your restaurant, or come into your office.

It’s also a great chance for you to personalize your sign-up experience a little more than you may have in the past. In addition to asking for their name and email address, you could also ask for their hometown to find out whether or not your new contacts are local or discovered your business while on vacation. You can use that information to better target your messages throughout the entire year.”

– Ryan Pinkham, Content Developer

Tip 5: Take advantage of Yelp

“People rely on Yelp reviews and trust them just as they would a personal recommendation. This summer, take advantage of Yelp, especially if these next few months are busy.

Setup a Yelp page and then simply put a sign near your cash register that gives customers a discount if they write a Yelp review for your business on the spot. This is a great way to boost your visibility on Yelp in just a few short months.”

– Leanne Kennis, Content Editor/Writer

Keep these 5 tips in mind this summer and you’ll reach new customers, continue to engage existing customers, and just have a little extra fun!

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