Archives for Business Sense

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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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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Keeping Employees Healthy Helps Keep Businesses Healthy

Large diverse group of hospital doctors, surgeons, and nurses

The New Year is almost upon us with new resolutions for a better 2017. For many, that means a resolution to be healthier and business owners are smart to help their employees with this goal. Studies have shown that healthy employees are, in general, happier and more productive at work (Source: Business News Daily 2013).

 

In the past, providing such benefits has become nearly impossible for small to mid-sized business owners. Now, there is a solution. The Barter Company is offering a new product to its clients called BarterCo Health. The BarterCo Health card is purchased by business owners using barter dollars instead of cash. The card can then be offered to the company’s employees as a health benefit.

 

From allergy testing to yoga, The Barter Company’s BarterCo Health program offers a wide variety of health care options for business owners to offer their employees. Healthier employees mean a healthier business with fewer sick days and increased productivity as well as increased retention among employees. For more information on how this program can benefit you or your business, click here.

 

Here are some other tips for a healthier company in 2017:

 

  • Stock the breakroom with health snack alternatives and water. Healthy snacks not only help with weight control but they can increase an employees’ intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

 

  • Encourage your sedentary employees to take stretch and walk breaks. A good stretch, breath of fresh air, and a walk around the block can do wonders for energy and productivity.

 

  • Offer incentives to those employees who want to lose weight, including health club memberships or a financial reward to those who meet their weight-loss goals.

 

Most of all, be supportive of employees who want to get or stay healthy. In the long run, it benefits your business as well as the individual.

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Beating Out the Big Box

Beating Out the Big Box

small-business

Your business is going along well – you have satisfied customers, sales are coming in, and you’re managing overhead. Then suddenly, a sign goes up across the street from your company that says something like “coming soon – big box store.” Immediately, you break out into a cold sweat thinking about how you will compete with one of the large national chains. Will your customers leave and shop there instead?

 

Before the big box store becomes a reality, take some time to examine your business operations. Here are a few key questions to help you prepare for this new competition:

 

  • What can your company offer customers that the big box can’t? Maybe you have the ability to locate one-of-a-kind items or produce custom-made products. The big box store will struggle to offer anything unique or hand-crafted.

 

  • Are you recognized for having great customer service? If not, now is the time to focus your efforts on making sure each and every customer is happy with your company. And, help them tell others about their positive experiences through online review services and social media. Most big box stores are notorious for having poor customer service.

 

  • What’s your USP (unique selling proposition)? This is what differentiates you from the competition – both large and small. What’s your secret weapon? It doesn’t have to be about product or price. Maybe your organization is passionate about a particular charity or you have a really cool story to tell about how your business was founded.

 

Don’t think you can match a big box store just on price. However, effectively managing costs and cash flow is now more important than ever. Make sure you keep an eye on administrative costs and look for ways to save money. Don’t forget how barter can help you pay for business expenses without outlaying cash. It might just help you knock that big box down a few notches!

 

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Going for the Gold – As an Athlete and in Business

Olympic medal

The Summer Games are here once again as all eyes turn toward Brazil to watch world-class athletes seemingly do the impossible. Some will fail but many will achieve glory – all of their stories will capture the attention of the World and inspire us.

 

Going for a top medal means not only being your best but challenging yourself and others on your team. Many athletes and their coaches will attest that achieving greatness in sports also transfers to greatness in the business world. There are many of the same key ingredients to success, including: focus, dedication, and teamwork.

 

According to a Wall Street Journal article, rowers are the athletes most likely to succeed in business after leaving the sport. The article says that the sport “requires intense teamwork which often means sacrificing personal glory and adapting to the style of others in order to achieve a final goal.” (Source: WSJ August 12, 2012)

 

As a leader within your company, here are a few tips on how to help bring “Athletic Glory” into your organization:

  • Identify your business goals and communicate them to everyone on the team. Make sure all team members know what the goals are and how they impact their day-to-day work.
  • Is your team dedicated to the company’s goals? If not, find ways to build loyalty. Celebrate successes and milestones. The more the team feels like they’re contributing the more they will be invested in the overall success of the organization.
  • Emphasize the importance of being part of the team – from the mailroom to the boardroom. Even with a star player, members of a team have to work together, pass the ball, and help each other to achieve success.

 

Here at The Barter Company, we’re celebrating our own “Glory” in 2016 as we mark our 20th Anniversary. Another milestone we achieved this year was our selection as one of the Top 25 Small Businesses in Cobb County by the Chamber of Commerce. We strive every day to focus on our clients, dedicate ourselves to providing great service, and work together to be the best we can be. It’s our way of bringing home the “Gold” to our clients. So enjoy watching the Summer Games and Go Team USA!

 

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10 Habits of Highly Successful Small Business Owners

Top-Strategies-of-a-Highly-Successful-Entrepreneur-Business-Owner

What differentiates those that fail from those that become raging successes?

The unfortunate reality is that a lot of businesses fail. What differentiates those that fail from those that become raging successes?

Certain traits and habits help business owners beat the odds and build highly successful companies. Here’s a look at the top 10:

1. They dream big. Successful business owners are dreamers. “Business owners often create something out of nothing,” says Anita Campbell, founder and chief executive of SmallBizTrends.com, an online community for business owners. They wholeheartedly believe they can turn those dreams into reality, she says. “You have to see your business in your mind’s eye. You must have complete faith and belief in this vision of what your business can become from the very start, even when there’s hardly anything tangible yet.”

2. They spot opportunities. Today’s most popular products and companies seemed like rather unlikely or even bizarre concepts when they were first introduced (think Twitter). But successful entrepreneurs are willing and able to think outside the box and see potential in ideas where other people don’t.

3. They know how to execute. Lots of people have ideas. Taking an idea and figuring out how to bring it to market – and then getting people to actually buy it – is a completely different thing. It is this ability to execute that separates successful entrepreneurs from mere dreamers. The reason Facebook was able to beat out other social-networking sites such as MySpace is because Mark Zuckerberg and his team figured out how to win over consumers young and old and ultimately dominate their competitors.

4. They take small steps. Even if their ideas are big, business owners know they aren’t able to achieve everything at once, Campbell says. “You never have enough. Never enough money. Never enough people. Never enough time in the day.” So they know how to prioritize and achieve things by taking small steps forward. They engage in incremental progress. “Over time, those daily steps will add up and eventually you will find they build into your big dream,” she adds.

5. They ask for help. Many of today’s most famous business leaders have mentors, and most high-growth companies weren’t started by one person alone. That’s because even smart people need a sounding board. They look for people who have experience in their industry and find business partners that complement – not duplicate – their own skills.

6. They’re nimble. Like everyone, successful business owners make lots of mistakes. The difference, however, is that they are willing to learn from and accept those mistakes and change course – sometimes quickly. No one is going to care about stumbles along the way if the venture was a success at the end of the day.

7. They’re confident. They don’t let self-doubt or naysayers get in their way. Their persistence pushes them forward and keeps them focused, even when things don’t always work out.

8. They’re not afraid to fail. Fear of failure prevents many people from starting businesses or trying new things. Successful entrepreneurs understand the risks and try to mitigate them, but don’t let risks stop them from pursuing their goals.

9. They build strong teams. As companies start to grow and hire more people, owners know they can’t take that too lightly. Their employees and managers are the backbone of the business. Successful companies spend a lot of time figuring out what traits and skills – both hard and soft – they want in employees and then determine how they will find those people. The ability to hire well – as well as fire – is crucial.

10. They delegate. It’s often hard for business owners to let go. They built their companies from the ground up, after all. But the most successful ones know they can’t do everything, especially as their business grows. After they hire the right people, they let them do their jobs so they can focus on what they do best.

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