When people ask what you do for work, they're expecting something that fits within the typical 9–5 type of job that most adults end up working, or some variation on the traditional eight-hour shift. They don't usually expect to hear that you are running your own business. It's usually considered a risky endeavor to start out, but it actually comes with some pretty decent financial benefits you should be aware of.
One of the biggest concerns people have with starting their own business is the idea that it's not likely to be stable for some time. Especially in times of economic uncertainty, this can be a pretty significant barrier. The thing is though, having multiple clients and customers may actually mean you're in a more stable position running your own business than you would be in a traditional 9–5 job. There, you might be only one negative experience away from being fired and having to find a new job. If you have multiple clients and customers, losing one or two is likely to be less impactful to your bottom line, and the remaining ones will still help you bring in some money as you try to replace the ones you've lost.
More Control of Your Money
If you're working a regular 9–5, you're likely either salaried or paid an hourly rate. Either way, you're working for a predetermined wage that you have little control over. On the other hand, if you run your own business, you are the one in control of the money. This means you control how much you pay yourself, which can mean a great deal more in your pocket than you'd get at a 9–5. As a business owner you also have control over saving in a 401(k). There are a few things you need to do to get an EIN and start saving in a solo 401(k). Make sure you do your research and get yourself set up right.
More Tax Breaks
Being a business owner also means you get access to tax breaks that would otherwise not be available. Most people know that you can write off business supplies, but did you know that a business lunch can be a partially deductible expense as well? There are some rules that apply to tax breaks. For example, if you want to have a home office, you can write off related expenses. However, if you use that room for things other than business use, you probably won't be able to write it off. Make sure you check out the current tax guidelines to find out what tax breaks are available to you.
While pursuing your own business idea and working as a business owner may seem like a daunting task, it can be a rewarding one. It comes with some significant financial benefits that warrant some serious consideration. If the 9–5 grind is wearing you down, it might be time to consider venturing into owning your own business.
Read this next: 3 Ways to Increase Your Employees' Attention to Detail
Opening up a small business can be an exciting endeavor, but it comes with some challenges. Most of the time, your business is going to be competing with others in the same sector, so it’s important to know what to do to make your business stand out. You want to do everything you can to help your business survive and grow. Modernizing your small business is essential in order to be competitive and stay relevant in a market that’s changing rapidly. Here are some ideas to help you be successful!
Create an Online Presence
An online presence is essential to any modern business. If you don’t have an online presence, or if you haven’t updated it in a while, it’s time to make some changes. There are several ways you can build your online presence. The easiest, most cost-effective way is to be active on social media. Social media is a fabulous tool for small businesses because it can reach a wide range of customers, and you can tailor your advertisements to your specific target market. You should also build a website for your business, if you haven’t done so already. After you’ve created your website and social media accounts, make sure you stay active and consistently upload relevant, useful, and engaging content that promotes your business.
Get an App
Building an app for your business is a great way to modernize your small business. Most major companies are utilizing this tool to help them generate additional sales and enhance the experience of their customers. Investing in an app for your business will encourage repeat orders from customers on the go, since most of them already carry mobile devices. Apps also reduce the cost of marketing, so building an app can save you money in the long run. Additionally, building an app will help customers see the best face of your business on their phones, since many websites aren’t compatible with mobile devices.
Data is a priceless resource to help your business grow in a modern world. Data will provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for your business. It can help you get to know your customers, as well as your competition, and set smart goals for the future of your business. Data will help you track the success of your marketing campaigns, the satisfaction of your customers, and the success of your sales.
There are several simple ways that you can start using data in your business. You can use surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and direct observation. Using these methods will provide you with the quantitative and qualitative data that can help your business thrive.
Improve Marketing Strategies
It’s difficult to thrive in a modern business world if you’re using ancient marketing strategies. Posting flyers on bulletin boards used to be an effective marketing strategy, but now is the time to start marketing to a modern audience. You can improve your current marketing strategies through launching a relevant email marketing campaign that is personalized to your target market. You can improve your marketing strategies through making advertisements that are more clearly on-brand than the ones you’ve used in the past. You can also improve your marketing strategies through implementing more effective customer loyalty and referral programs.
A POS (point of sale) system is the place where a customer pays for products or services at your store. Upgrading your POS system is essential to thriving as a small business in a modern world. A POS system can improve profitability for your brick and mortar retail location. It will help your operations run smoothly as well as help you gather critical data that can grow your business. You can use it to collect important information such as customer data, inventory level, and the best times to order more supplies.
Many retailers haven’t upgraded their POS systems because they’re overwhelmed by the new technology. However, the benefits of upgrading your system should outweigh your fears of learning something new. Taking the leap to upgrade to a modern POS system could be just the thing your business needs.
Rebranding is a great way to infuse your business with some fresh energy for modern times. Change is essential for every successful business. The first step in rebranding is shifting your mindset to embrace innovation and welcome change. You should then evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and clearly identify areas you can improve in your business. As you evaluate your weaknesses, you will be prepared to make bold new changes for your company. Don’t be afraid to make changes in your staff, your design, your marketing strategies, or your business plan.
After you’ve made some changes for your brand, monitor their success carefully through data and analysis. This will help you stay aware of the status of your business and active in its growth.
Invest in Professional Photography and Videography
One of the biggest signs of an outdated business is outdated pictures (or even a lack of any pictures at all!). Investing in professional photography and videography is one of the best things you can do to modernize your business. Quality photography and videography will help people find you and help them form a good impression of your business. Additionally, if you invest in professional photography and videography for your marketing campaigns, you can prime your customers to form good opinions of your products before they even experience them. It helps to build your brand and attract new customers.
Modernize Your Physical Storefront
In addition to modernizing your small business through technology upgrades, you should take steps to modernize your physical storefront. Is your brick-and-mortar looking or feeling old and tired? If so, it’s probably time to invest in some updates. Your physical storefront should be on-brand, innovative, attractive, and inviting. There are ways that you can show your personality in your workplace while being professional and aesthetically visually appealing.
Integrate Your Physical and E-Commerce Storefronts
After you’ve put significant time and energy into updating both your physical and e-commerce storefronts, it’s time to integrate them so they can work together for your business. You can integrate the physical and digital aspects of your business through offering options like in-store pickup. This strategy is helpful because it will increase your visibility in both arenas of your business. It will also help your customer base grow as your online customers experience your physical location and your in-person customers discover the convenience of your e-commerce store.
If you’re ready to give your business the boost it needs to thrive in a modern world, trying some of these ideas is a great way to start. You want to give your business the best chance you can to thrive in a changing environment. As you embrace change, your business will see success.
Read this next for more tips: Take Your Small Business to the Next Level with Smart Marketing
The recent movie, Ford v Ferrari, shined a spotlight on the innovations brought about by competition between American and European car companies (also chronicled in the documentary, The 24 Hour War). But do you know the real extent of how these historical innovations impact not just the car industry, but well beyond today? This article provides insights on the critical developments brought about for companies and consumers alike by Ford, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz.
Three car companies instantly come to mind when you think about how the auto industry has changed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read on to find out more about these historical innovations.
According to Autodesk, Ford revolutionized the way that cars were manufactured on assembly lines. When the Ford Motor Company was able to reduce the time that it took workers to build a car from over 13 hours to under 45 minutes, cars became affordable to almost everyone. In Ford's early years, the company also managed to cut the number of parts required to build a car to 45. Ford also was one of the first to use slides and trolleys so that parts were precisely where they needed to be for workers to use them efficiently. By breaking down the process of building a car into steps, Ford changed the way that cars were built everywhere.
Toyota revolutionized the industry by coming up with Just in Time manufacturing, which is often called the Toyota Process. The principle behind Just in Time manufacturing is making only what is needed, in the amount that it is required and at the time that it is needed. Toyota, however, was not content to stop there. The company developed a system that purposefully always looks for ways to improve their process. They also implemented the Five Whys Process. The process starts by asking the question of why at least five times. The result is a process that avoids problems and can create solutions. By asking five why questions, mistakes in thinking are often eliminated. These processes have helped to fuel the company's innovation, as seen in its wide range of models. According to Santa Monica Motors, Toyota now has over 70 different models listed under its namesake brand.
Mercedes Benz traces its company history back to the first practical automobile that was built by Karl Benz. More recently, however, it is credited with developing multi-skilled teams, according to Auto Design & Production. The advantage of this approach is that people with different areas of expertise get involved with the car’s design, production and evaluation. Therefore, Just in Time principles often reserved for assembly lines can be built into the process from day one. Application of the Mercedes Benz principle also allows more models to be constructed using the same parts.
These three car manufacturers have revolutionized the way that cars are manufactured. You can take their principles and apply them to your manufacturing facilities. If you are a shopper looking for a new car, then you can be thankful for these manufacturing principles as they allow you to have a new vehicle at a lower price.
Here’s another article you might like: The hottest accessory-friendly vehicles on the road
The challenge of entering the corporate world presents unique challenges for women. Here are three areas of concern for females going into the world of work - whether in their 20's or 50's - and expert advice on how to not just survive, but thrive in today's environment.
Women face unique challenges in the workplace that can hold them back from reaching their full potential. Whether you're in your 20s and just starting out or have finished your degree and are preparing to re-enter the workforce, here are some excellent career tips that are all about empowering you in your professional journey.
Know Your Value
Unfortunately, companies are often invested in their own well-being. They consider employees expendable and have high, fixed expectations that cause employees to question their own competence and self-worth whenever they fall short. Do not play down your talents or abilities in an interview or around co-workers. Although it is intimidating, speak up for yourself when others try to speak for you or tell you what to do. Bullying comes from bosses, too, and far too many supervisors abuse their authority and use it as a way to degrade employees, especially females.
Research the positions you're applying to extensively. Learn about the average salary, and make sure you're being offered what your skills are worth. Do not undervalue the potential of your own contribution to a company, and don't speak passively about your achievements. Even if you are entering the workplace with limited experience, speak strongly about your passion, abilities and greatest strengths.
Safety can be a challenge for women in the workplace. Understand that workplace bullying and sexual harassment is never your fault, but you are not forced to just deal with it. Addressing the last point, by knowing your own value, you can set clear boundaries and know how to respond when they've been crossed, or you've been violated. Workplace harassment, especially of sexual nature, is not always as obvious as you expect. Know what kinds of attention cross the line. Inappropriate comments, off-handed remarks, and flirtatious messages passed off as "jokes" are unacceptable. Avoid going in storage closets, parking garages, or stairwells alone, especially after-hours. Workplace safety for women is a major topic of discussion in every industry, and it improves only when women take stands against unwanted behaviors.
Many women either have either a passive or aggressive communication style. The former is rooted heavily in frequent apologies, unspoken feelings and not knowing how to say no to something you don't want to do. Aggressive communicators are defensive and always on-guard, prone to conflict and believe they have to "strike first" and stand their ground to avoid being taken advantage of. You do not have to be "nice" to everyone. Being courteous and respectful is important, but your need to be kind to others shouldn't enable them to be unkind to you. Take ownership of your feelings by using "I" statements. Say "thank you" instead of "sorry," and make eye contact when you're talking to or listening to others.
Getting started in your career can be challenging, but there are tools like the ones above that can help you to succeed. You are a valuable asset to companies out there—you just need to be able to help employers see it. Embrace the opportunities you'll have to learn and grow, and don't let anyone take your power and you’ll be able to better succeed as you enter the workforce.
Freight shipping, also known as freight transport, is the transportation of goods in bulk that can be achieved by various shipping methods, including trucking, air carriers, and ocean carriers. Unlike small-parcel shipping, freight shipping often measures the goods by weight or the number of pallets or containers. Freight shipping is responsible for much of how goods get from one point to another and ultimately reach their destination. Here are a few little-known complexities of the freight shipping process that have a big impact.
How It's Packed
How products are packed for the freight shipping directly impacts whether the goods arrive at their destination in good condition. Freight shipping can involve several types of shipping containers, including wood boxes, wood crates, steel containers, wire containers, and bulk containers. If the container is a wood box or crate, then a forklift or pallet jack is used to maneuver the container. Depending upon the type of product in the container, interior protective packaging can be used to provide additional support during shipment.
Testing Before Shipping
Before products are shipped, they can be lab tested to ensure that the freight package items are packed well enough to protect against any hazards. Testing is ideal for type one products, which are factory packaged and involve one type of product. The testing process subjects packages to forces such as compression, shock, vibrations, and extreme temperatures.
How It's Paid For
How freight charges are paid for is complex and often based on weight. The charges can be paid for by either the buyer or the seller, and which one is responsible depends on the Freight on Board (FOB) designation. The designation describes the point in the transaction where the shipment becomes the buyer's property. If the FOB is designated as FOB Freight Collect, the buyer pays for the shipping costs. On the other hand, if the FOB is designated as Freight Prepaid and Add (or FOB Destination), the seller is responsible for the initial shipping costs, which are ultimately passed on to the buyer. Several types of shipping costs can impact the total amount due. Such costs include pickup fees, security surcharges, cargo insurance, peak season surcharge, customs clearance, and container-cleaning fees. Some people prefer freight factoring so that they don't have to worry about it.
The freight shipping industry is complex and has many different facets. Those who use freight shipments often need to consider how the product is packed, whether lab testing is necessary, how the shipment is paid for, and more.
Here’s another article you might like: What does the shortfall of truck drivers mean for the economy?
How can you leverage technological advances to help your SMB be more innovative and competitive? Here are trends affecting small businesses to watch when evaluating what technologies to adopt.
(BPT) - Whatever your small or medium-sized business (SMB), chances are you’re dependent on increasingly advanced technology — or wish to use more sophisticated technology. Recent advances have been numerous and head-spinning, sometimes making it hard to keep up. The truth is, harnessing emerging technologies effectively may be exactly what takes your business to the next level, ensuring success in today’s rapidly evolving, competitive business landscape. If you aren't using one of these emerging technologies in your business yet, it's likely that your business would benefit from doing so in the near future.
How can you leverage technological advances to help your SMB be more innovative and competitive? Here are trends affecting small businesses to watch when evaluating what technologies to adopt.
With cloud computing, small-business owners can implement sophisticated software using software as a service (SaaS) or desktop as a service (DaaS) models. The advantage of these models is that they update and maintain applications, eliminating the need for on-site servers or purchasing multiple copies of software. This can help reduce costs and increase efficiency. The DaaS model also stores, helps secure and backs up user data. Additionally, cloud computing means never having to worry about software updates. According to a survey by Garner, 63% of SMBs already use cloud computing. To maximize the benefits of cloud computing, you’ll want to have up-to-date PCs and computing devices.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Software that uses AI — or more specifically, machine learning — collects data from tasks, eventually “learning” how to do those tasks more quickly and accurately. AI can thus help your business save time and money by automating certain repetitive, manual tasks that take up too much of your employees’ time. According to a Harris Poll survey conducted for Salesforce, an average of 23% of an SMB team’s day is spent manually inputting data.
Just how popular is AI becoming? Apparently 62% of SMBs are already using technology to automate some processes. And what kinds of AI are they using? Many use tools like Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa for scheduling and planning, chatbot to analyze customer questions, RPA Express to automate data entry or Salesforce Einstein to analyze data or identify leads — to name just a few. For SMBs wanting to benefit from these technologies, running them on PCs equipped with powerful processors and memory helps ensure they can handle the increased demands on their computing power, such as modern PCs and computing devices powered by the latest Intel(R) Core(TM) processors.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Devices and objects are increasingly interconnected: phones, HVAC systems, security systems, cars and more. To use multiple apps making all those connections, plus tracking products through the supply chain, you may need to upgrade to computers with more powerful processors or more memory (RAM) to help your company use its software more effectively. Perhaps not surprisingly, 78% of growing small businesses already report using more than one business application, while 30% use more than five.
The ability for employees to work remotely has become essential, not just for employee well-being and productivity, but for connecting at client offices, satellite venues or while traveling. The effective processing power, speed and longer battery life of modern laptops provide employees with flexibility that helps them — and your business — thrive. Today’s notebooks, thin-and-lights and 2-in-1s are available with more powerful processors, more RAM and more solid-state storage than previous generations of computers. And today’s portable technology can handle cloud-based apps, making them more flexible than ever.
Because SMBs don’t have the large IT staff and security budgets of bigger companies, they can be tempting targets for cybercriminals. In a 2018 Cyber Risk Report by Hiscox, 44% of SMBs reported suffering a cyberattack in the previous year, and 52% of those businesses had been attacked more than once. In addition, SMBs still using Windows 7 may be at risk when Microsoft plans to stop providing updates and support for Windows 7.11 after Jan. 14, 2020.
Here are some ways you can help improve the cybersecurity of your business:
Be ready for 2020
Whatever your 2020 goals, it’s a good idea to think strategically about technology that could take your business to the next level. Outdated hardware can affect your SMB’s bottom line, so make updating your PCs part of your technology plan this year.
To learn more about options for updating your technology, visit Intel.com/smallbusiness.
 Gartner survey conducted April-May 2017, among 699 U.S.-based SMBs with over 10 employees and annual revenue less than $100 million. The survey excluded nonprofit organizations. Qualified respondents are decision-makers or have significant influence on decisions related to purchasing technologies for their organization. Source: Gartner’s Top Technology Trends for SMBs Survey, cited by Capterra.
 Harris Poll online survey conducted on behalf of Salesforce, Sept. 1–13 2017, among 490 small and medium-sized U.S. business owners and leaders 18 years of age or older, with 2–199 employees. Data points were weighted by number of employees to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Source: Salesforce: Small & Medium Business Trends Report.
 2018 Hiscox Small Business Cyber Risk Report(TM) focuses on responses of U.S. small businesses surveyed as part of the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2018(TM) released Feb. 7, 2018. Hiscox commissioned Forrester Consulting to assess organizations’ cyber readiness. In total, 4,103 professionals responsible for their organization’s cybersecurity strategy were contacted (1,000 plus each from the U.K., U.S. and Germany, and 500 each from Spain and the Netherlands). Drawn from a representative sample of organizations by size and sector, these are men and women on the front line of the business battle against cybercrime. While all are involved to a greater or lesser extent in their organization’s cybersecurity effort, over 30% make the final decision on how their business should respond. Respondents completed the online survey between Oct. 12-Nov. 10, 2017. Source: 2018 Hiscox Small Business Cyber Risk Report.
Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.
Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.
(C) Intel Corporation.
Innovations in technology that have allowed the person to try their hand in business have also provided a plethora of opportunities for helping a business to succeed. Today, industries of all kinds rely on technology to maintain a streamlined service for their employees and customers. But is technology that important to business? The following list details some of the ways tech can be utilized to enhance the day-to-day operations of a business.
If you run a retail business, nothing can cost you as much in both your budget and sales than an unorganized inventory system. Thus, one of the most important features a retail business must have is a high tech point-of-sale system. According to Celerant Technology, learning how to use a retail POS is an important investment that can transform your business, so it's essential to utilize all the features available to you. These POS systems allow you to have a detailed and live report on your inventory. Consider introducing training for your employees to use this system as they will probably be the ones interacting with it the most.
Communication Tools and Apps
Communication apps and tools have saved thousands of businesses over the years. This is because information is a highly valued asset in business. Communication tools, such as Facebook Messenger and Instagram, can allow your company to take advantage of minute-to-minute opportunities. Also, video communication tools like FaceTime have provided small business owners the ability to negotiate via the internet with their clients or potential vendors. This alone has provided countless opportunities to less-established businesses, which, according to BroadVision, are opportunities that would not have been there if it weren't for these communication tools and apps.
Often, it is not the lack of marketing or sales that bring down a business, but the lack of accuracy within its financial records. Your own lack of organization can easily create issues with your local county or even the IRS. There are currently hundreds of financial software tools out there that have saved businesses from going through these ordeals. They often provide you with notifications dealing with your taxes and updates on changes to the law that could affect you.
Technology is not something people should fear as a tool that can steal jobs. It can supplement and enhance your team's efforts, opening the doors to a business' growth. Simply follow the list above to begin implementing these technology tools and suggestions into your own business.
The business world sometimes appears full of automatons. Working like a robot has the benefits of keeping an employee away from controversy, but the approach won't help someone wishing to get ahead. Standing out positively often leads people to success. How can you stand out under the bright light of excellence? Here are three ways traits that will help you to do just that.
Innovators and originators can achieve more than copycats. Small Business Trends explains that a business professional who brings something new and exciting to the table could create a trend that reaps incredible profits. Look at Tony Hawk, the skateboarding entrepreneur. Skateboarding remained a popular subculture for decades and spawned many cottage industries. Hawk, however, took things in a new direction and devised a billion-dollar skateboarding empire.
That said, originators will always deal with detractors. Great new ideas regularly face rejection. Radical and revolutionary ideas upset people stuck in a comfort zone. If you believe in your plans, don't let naysayers discourage you. Be flexible enough to withstand constructive criticism, and keep going forward to promote your ideas.
Sadly, integrity isn't always the most common trait among people in the business world. So, someone with integrity garners attention. Honest workers and managers are an asset to a company and the entire business world.
The idea of the corporate whistleblower typifies integrity. Meissner Associates says that finding out that the business you work for is engaging in fraudulent activity can put you in a tough position to decide if you should expose their wrongdoing, or do you remain silent. People with integrity usually make the right decision regarding whistleblowing. Let the image of the whistleblower be your guide.
The stereotype of business professionals focusing only on making money and selfish pursuits isn't always accurate. Unfortunately, many professionals do become self-absorbed and greedy. Would Bill Gates fall under that description? Microsoft's leader spent countless hours raising and donating money for charitable causes. While the average worker can't match Gates' monetary contributions, they can match his passion and attitude. Even doing "little things" for others could paint a tremendously positive picture of you.
The London Business School recommends that you allow your standing in the business community act as a way of doing good things. Explore philanthropical endeavors, and don't always focus on personal gain. Others will notice your selflessness. Ironically, you may experience career success by putting others' needs ahead of your own.
Success in the business world requires that you appear unique. Embracing endearing traits helps with this goal. Each individual has a set of personality strengths. Play to your strengths, and create the best quality work you can produce. Standing out requires more than fits and spurts of effort; apply yourself consistently in the workplace, and you will see good results.
Want to learn more ways to make your business stand out and thrive? Check out more content like this from our Video Ideas for a Better Business Life!
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