The Business Owner’s Guide To Hiring Financial Advice For The 1st Time

Getting a business off the ground requires a firm take-charge attitude. If you don’t steer it decisively in the right direction, no one else will.

But you can’t maintain that level of control indefinitely, because handling the regular operations of a growing business is arduous and relentless work.

Sooner or later, you need to find a way to delegate some of the workload. The more responsibilities you maintain, the harder it will be to pursue your overall business goals, let alone maintain a work/life balance. There are only so many hours in a day.

Now, any business owner will tell you that financial management can be a massive headache. As such, when you reach the point of seeking assistance, that’s the logical place to start.

But how do you go about it? What should you look for? How can you make sure you get great advice that will save you money and free you up to focus on the rest of your business?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know when hiring your first business financial advisor.

Always Check Credentials
I’m the CEO of Microsoft. You know that isn’t true, of course, but most false claims aren’t quite that easy to identify. This is especially the case if they involve subjects or terminology that you don’t know much about.

Unfortunate as it is, it remains the case that people are often willing to make exaggerated or entirely-baseless claims about their skills in order to get work, so there’s every chance you’ll encounter some while looking for a financial advisor.

At a minimum, you should look into your prospect’s:

● Previous clients.
● Relevant industry experience.
● Cloud bookkeeping and accounting expertise (the cloud can save you time).

Even if you think you have a solid grasp of the terms and can tell when someone isn’t quite what they claim to be, take the time to do a formal check. Do some research into their background, contact some references, and, if possible, run their pitch by someone whose financial expertise you trust.

Is it safe to say you’d do your due diligence before buying a business (rummaging under the hood, checking the analytics, making sure it weren’t too good to be true)? I’m particularly careful, so I’d do my due diligence before doing something as pedestrian as buying a new coat.

Ask questions, read reviews, get external confirmation— skepticism is healthy. Don’t put it aside because you want to be nice and give the benefit of the doubt.

Maintain Realistic Expectations
If all goes well, your financial progress will be like tending a flourishing garden. You’ll distribute the right kind of soil, plant the seeds, water them appropriately on an indefinite basis, and eventually you’ll see blooming flowers.

Thus, if a prospective advisor leads you to believe that you’ll plant some magic beans and wake up to a towering beanstalk, they’re selling you a fantasy.

Yes, anyone can go online and start selling things without much preparation or financial investment—but while technology has made taking the first step that easy, it hasn’t changed the nature of business development. It’s still a complex process that (almost always) gets results very gradually.

Anyone claiming financial expertise should be perfectly aware that disproportionate profits or guaranteed results are wholly unrealistic, and you should decisively back away from anyone who paints a picture of the future that seems too good to be true.

Establish Clear Terms
It’s the nightmare scenario: six months after taking on a financial advisor, you can’t say conclusively what they’ve done. What’s more, their payment requests are variable and feel arbitrary. What, specifically, are you paying them to do?

It’s unlikely that it would be quite that bad, admittedly, but there’s simply no reason to leave any element whatsoever to chance when you can get everything confirmed before you get started.

How often will you communicate? What level of access will they have to your records? If you’ve set up an online business, will you require them to explain how tax works for ecommerce? What payment arrangement is best?

Have them answer all of your questions, and answer all of theirs, then draw up and agree on a clear and comprehensive set of formal terms, including a service level agreement.
Avoid Hiring Your Friends
You like your friends, presumably, and trust them. If you didn’t, you likely wouldn’t be friends with them. And if you happen to be friends with someone who has financial expertise, then that’s a perfect fit for your business, isn’t it?

Well, no. It might sound like a good arrangement, but mixing the personal with the professional is dangerous, and all the more so when it comes to something as important as the financial condition of your business.

Even if you have good intentions, getting personal attachments and feelings involved in your business will make it harder to reach rational conclusions and measure success accurately.

Your business decisions need to be made carefully and, for the most part, dispassionately. Take occasional tips from your friends if you must, but ultimately hire someone who can do their work at an appropriate distance.

Explain Your Goals
The financial advice you receive will shape the progress of your business over months or even years, yet it is fairly rare for there to be only one viable path to take; so which one will your advisor recommend?

This will depend heavily on their analysis of the figures, of course, but also very meaningfully on what is most important to you, and what your ultimate goals are.

Taking the time to explain your business plan in detail and elaborate upon where your business priorities lie will ensure minimal friction in the professional relationship and help you get the most useful advice for you.

Keep Asking Questions
Once you’ve vetted and hired a financial advisor, you should resist the temptation to passively defer to them on every matter, and motivate yourself to ask plenty of questions.

This isn’t to say that you should be hyper-critical of every single recommendation or piece of analysis; it’s more a matter of staying involved and learning more about business as you go.

You should get to grips with any accounting software or platforms they recommend and keep adding to your internal knowledge base as an entrepreneur.

Even if you’re so happy with your financial advisor that you end up working with them for years to come, you will benefit from understanding finance better.

It will also make their job easier, as they will ultimately need to spend less time explaining their ideas to you, giving them more time to focus on the good stuff: saving you money.

Are you looking to hire financial advice for the first time? There are a lot of incompetent or unethical advisors around who will take advantage of you given the chance, so follow all of these tips, be thorough, and make sure you hire someone with the credentials and background to warrant your confidence.
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Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who understands the vital role sensible financing plays in driving business growth. You can read more of her work on her blog Victoria Ecommerce.

Four Great Ways to Start Advertising Your App

mid adult woman sitting on sofa with tablet pc. Horizontal shape, front view, copy space

So, your business is interested in creating a mobile app? It’s no surprise. Creating an app is one of the best things you can do for your business, so nearly every business has one! Unfortunately, just having an app isn’t enough. Nobody will download it if they don’t know it exists!
If you’re just getting started trying to advertise your app, make sure you start with these four marketing tips that are perfect for apps of all types.

Social Media
One of the very best ways to market your app, or any other kind of product or service for that matter, is to use social media. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
Start by having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Connect with friends and followers in a meaningful way instead of being overly promotional.
Paid advertising is also an option on social media platforms. As a bonus, most platforms make it very easy to advertise and get the most out of your marketing campaign.

Make a Website Just for Your App
Your business probably already has a website, and you should definitely talk about your brand-new app on your site, but your app should have a website of its very own too.
There are a couple of reasons why your app should have its own site. First, it’s a great way to ensure your app is easily searchable on the internet. Second, you can include as much information as possible about your app on its own website.
In addition, having a site for your app shows people that it’s the real deal. With its own presence on the internet, people will feel confident that it’s worth their time.

Mix and Mingle With the Public
When it comes to advertising your app, it’s about a lot more than sitting behind a desk and typing away on the internet. One of the best ways to advertise your business is to get out there and mingle with the public!
There are quite a few ways to do this:
• Create a press release
• Host a launch party
• Conduct and give interviews to local newspapers and bloggers
• Write a guest blog

Another great way to get the word out about your app is to connect with social media influencers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone with millions of followers. Even getting an endorsement with an influencer in your industry with a few thousand followers can help.

List it in the App Store the Right Way
The very best, and easiest way, to get started advertising your app is to make sure its listing is optimized in the app store. That means using keywords, ratings, and detailed descriptions so that it is searchable in the store and enticing to download when found.
There are many ways to advertise your app, but if you’re just getting started, make sure you begin with these four ideas. They’ll make sure your app gets off to a running start!

Coolest Things About the Cloud That You Might Not Know

You’ve certainly heard of the cloud. Even if you haven’t, you’ve been using it for years. It’s what enables you to access information on the internet that is stored on servers all over the world.

The cloud is expanding, enabling us to do more with the power of the internet than ever before. Businesses are finding it easy to keep up with compliance using cloud-based software and companies are able to store massive amounts of information without having to house a huge server in the building.

We all have a basic understanding of the cloud, but you probably don’t know these cool things about cloud technology.

You Only Have to Pay for What You Use
Do you remember the days of buying external storage devices? The more storage you purchased, the more expensive it would be. However, most people bought more storage than they needed. It was especially difficult for businesses to gauge just how much storage they needed and how much they would have to pay to ensure they have extra storage, just in case.
With the cloud, you only pay for what you use! When you need more, it’s there for the taking. There is no longer a need to pay for storage that you won’t use.

There Are Different Kinds of Clouds
People always talk about ‘the’ cloud, but it’s a lot more than just one concept. There are actually many different kinds of cloud computing that include:
• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
• Platform as a Service (PaaS)
• Software as a Service (SaaS)
In addition, you can choose to operate entirely in the cloud, use a server on your premises, or a hybrid of both.

It Can Save You Time and Money
The most convincing reason to use the cloud, especially for businesses, is because it can help you save time and money.
In addition to the fact that you only pay for what you use, a company will also save money because they aren’t spending cash to maintain hardware and subscribe to software and other services that require monthly fees. You can also scale up or down instantaneously without having to spend days or weeks planning a new strategy.

You Might Not Ever Have to Worry About Backups or Disaster Recovery Ever Again
Losing important files is a nightmare that every business shares. It would be even worse if the system was compromised because it would prevent employees from getting their work done.
With the cloud, you may never have to worry about backups or disaster recovery ever again. Although you shouldn’t depend on the cloud completely, if you choose a cloud server that provides disk-based replication, you can rest even easier.

Don’t forget that the cloud is the reason why we’re finally starting to live in smart homes that look like the ones predicted in the mid-20th century! The cloud is here to stay, which means it’s well worth your time to learn everything about how it works.

Top 10 Call to Action Examples

Top 10 Call to Action Examples

The call-to-action (CTA) is a basic element of all marketing efforts because that’s what gets the attention of your audience to take action. There are multiple examples of effective calls-to-action as well as ineffective ones on the internet. But, once you imbibe the good elements, it’s easy to eliminate the odd parts that won’t work at all.

Have you ever wondered why you seem to subscribe to few businesses over others, one thing for sure is that you are interested in the subject but the most important part is, these businesses were successful in grabbing your attention and encashing your interest. They do it very well by tweaking different elements of CTA, color, copy, size, shape, placement. The aim of an ideal call-to-action is to prompt an immediate action from the reader.

What factors fulfill the ‘effectiveness’ of a CTA?

• Offer something valuable to the reader – Free trial of your product
• Instruct the reader on what needs to be done
• Incorporate strong visuals
• Hint for an immediate action
• Make them more visible
• Use unique text copy other than traditional ones
• Should be connected with your goals

Let’s look at 10 call-to-action examples and take some ideas out of them:

1. Keep the CTA simple and to-the-point – Backcountry

Backcountry, an eCommerce site for adventure and specialty outdoor equipment, presents a warm welcome to the new website visitors with this pop-up, that offers a 10% off on their entire first order. A CTA button below with ‘Apply to Cart’ immediately pushes the customers to their carts with a discounted price. That’s pretty encouraging to new visitors. The CTA is right in front of visitors and freezes the background of the web page. Backcountry’s email subscription CTA does not use any text copy but just an image of an email. So, a reader understands what the CTA is all about even before reading the message ‘Stay in the Know. Sign Up for Backcountry news, sales and deals’.
1. Keep the CTA simple and to-the-point - Backcountry

2. Get personal with your customers – Agile CRM

When I come across ‘Click this’, I wouldn’t be as persuaded to click as I would when I see ‘Lizia, click this’. Humans are bound to take actions when they see their name. This is where personalization factor adds to the increase in conversions. Agile CRM, an all-in-one CRM solutions for small businesses, uses personalization in their call-to-action message. ‘Mark, You’ve got a $5 discount’ lets Mark believe that he is a premium customer to the company. This builds up the customer’s trust towards the company. And, ‘Coupon valid till 24 hrs only’ speeds up Mark to take the action.
2. Get personal with your customers - Agile CRM

3. Use the CTA as clickbait – ClassPass

The primary purpose of the CTA is that it should persuade viewers to click on it, so use your CTA as a clickbait just like how ClassPass does. ClassPass is a monthly fitness membership that allows customers to visit the best fitness studio. The CTA does two things – Puts an interesting offer to the visitors (a positive message) and constricts the time period for the offer (not-so-positive message). ClassPass interesting turns the eyes towards the positive message first because of the bigger font size, which convinces people to click ‘Yes, let’s do this!’. Even if customers look at ‘for a limited time only’, it only rushes them to avail the offer because they are already convinced by now.
3. Use the CTA as clickbait - ClassPass

4. Tell customers why they should click – Emailmonday

The call-to-action should tell customers as to why they should click on it. As simple as that. If there is nothing beneficial to the customers, they would not be excited to go an click the button. What I like about Emailmonday, an independent email marketing consultant, is the shape of the form. Unlike most forms which are either rectangular or square shaped, this form is spherical with the face of the business owner. The copy messages readers the true value of subscription – ‘Subscribe, because the really good email marketing tips are in the newsletter’. ‘You can Unsubscribe anytime, but you won’t even want to’ – that’s the faith you have in yourself.
4. Tell customers why they should click - Emailmonday

5. Increase the intriguing factor – SkullCandy

SkullCandy, a leader in consumer electronics, uses an interesting text copy ‘Get the lowdown’ for delivering insider news, event info and deals information. Also, ‘Join’ sounds better than ‘Subscribe’. What’s more interesting on SkullCandy’s website is the ‘Get $10’ CTA at the left bottom, which leads to the below-landing page. It allows new visitors to refer their friends and earn $10, $30, $50 in return.

A bold ‘Get $10’ without any message is intriguing for the visitors to click it. It grabs the attention of the reader because the CTA is highlighted along with the pop-up, dimming out the background.
5. Increase the intriguing factor - SkullCandy

6. Link your goal to the CTA – Vice

The trend with most of businesses today is they just add their social media buttons at the bottom of the page, which are seldom seen by the readers. But if your goal is to increase the audience on your social media platform, how do you do that? You can turn your heads to Vice. Vice, a leading global youth media company, puts a strong visual and text copy to invite readers to like their Facebook page. The image of puppy loving its father depicts the kind of love Vice has for their audience, and since the majority audience is youth, they connect well with animals. ‘Like us like we like you’ and ‘Like Vice’ has four likes already echoing among readers to ‘like’ their Facebook page, which is their priority at the moment.
6. Link your goal to the CTA - Vice

7. CTA at right in the center – Prezi

Prezi, a SaaS company which offers cloud-based presentation platform to its customers, puts the CTA ‘Try Prezi Next free’ right in front of your eyeballs which works as an awesome lead magnet. The moment you enter the website, that’s what you see at first look. When you use more than one CTA, it’s good to connect them to the same landing page, so that it impacts on conversion and also does not confuse customers. Here, ‘Get Started’ and ‘Try Prezi Next free’ both land on their pricing web page, which shows comparisons of their different plans.
7. CTA at right in the center - Prezi

8. Match up the colors – Magento

Most marketers don’t pay close attention to the choice of colors they use in their calls-to-action, not anymore. Some say green works better than red and vice-versa. Whatever color you use, they should not be too bright but pleasant to the eyes. Magento, a provider of cloud commerce innovation, uses an orange color which matches with their logo. The color scrolls the eyeballs to ‘Sign up for webinar’, ‘Magento’ and ‘see a demo’ which exactly is their aim – to seek attention. Both CTAs are easy to find because of their color and placement. The actions are linked to their goals of – increasing the audience to the webinar and reach their demo target for the month.
8. Match up the colors - Magento

9. Show more love – Popsugar

Popsugar is a global media and publishing company which creates content across entertainment, fashion, beauty, fitness, parenting and more, for women. Their call-to-action is full of hearts which relates more to its women audience. And of course, the text copy of this slide-in pop up ‘Get your daily beauty fix’ is what we women need, so send more of that :)
9. Show more love - Popsugar

10. Tell what your business does – Instacart

When I look at some websites, I don’t understand what their business is all about until I turn few web pages. That involves time and not many visitors would be interested to look up for information, so there you are letting go of potential customers. Instead, try what Instacart does. Instacart, an online grocery delivery business, tells what it does in their CTA in exactly seven words ‘Get your groceries delivered from local stores’. The placement of the CTA is also at the center with a free delivery option for first orders. It has this function of enabling and disabling high contrast, for good visibility.
10. Tell what your business does - Instacart

All the above-mentioned businesses follow the best practices and test and test and test their calls-to-action to generate more revenue. Try and use these ideas in designing your next call-to-action and measure the results. Don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went.

10 Ways Progressive Web Apps Will Replace Native Apps

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are poised to topple their native app, soon-to-be predecessors from their throne atop the best mobile app development strategies pyramid. In other words, move over native apps, your younger and better-looking sibling is taking over. That said, don’t start pulling your hair out if your business has already invested in the development of a native mobile app. Your money hasn’t gone to waste. There’s still significant value to gain from having a downloadable native app. Mobile apps, no matter the breed, are going to enter a hybrid period where consumers expect both a native app experience and a progressive web app.

The future beyond that period, however, points towards a PWA-dominated landscape. In this discussion, we’ll take a look at ten reasons why PWAs are better than native apps and create a better app-like experience for customers.

1. The World Is Increasingly Mobile

At first thought, this may seem like a win for the native app column, especially when you consider that 87% of an average user’s time on their mobile device is spent on native apps. But, we’re also hurtling towards app fatigue. App fatigue is caused by two things:
1. There are too many apps on the marketplace (over 1.5 million)
2. Most users have downloaded “enough” apps on their phone

As more and more people shifted to browsing and using their mobile devices, app developers slammed the marketplace with apps to meet this demand. Many users are reaching critical mass with the number of icons and apps that they’ll allow to populate their mobile devices’ home screens. Thus, it’s becoming incredibly difficult to convince customers to commit to downloading a new app and crowding their screens even more.

2. Search Algorithms Will Favor Mobile Soon

Towards the end of 2016, Google announced that it would shift its search engine indexing algorithms to mobile-first indexing. This change is predicted to occur in 2018 and will mean that Google will look for a company’s mobile website or experience before its desktop website. You’d be hard-pressed to find better evidence than that of a mobile future. For companies with PWAs, this change is huge because it means that your app-like experience will soon be discoverable by Google and other search engines. This is a luxury that even native apps won’t be able to compete with.

3. Fewer Clicks Means Easier Accessibility

Search engines are just one way for users to connect to your PWA. These web-based apps have always had a key benefit over native apps: accessibility. Think about how many steps are involved in downloading a native app to your mobile device. You have to access your device’s app market, search the app, download the app, accept permissions and so on. Each step is a chance that the would-be user decides it isn’t worth it. PWAs, on the other hand, are accessible the moment a user learns of its existence, by accessing the experience through a URL link.

4. Shareable

People like to share the latest “new” thing they’ve discovered, read about, bought, tasted, touched, etc. That’s why every social media platform ever to make it big has a share function and why there are options to share this blog post at the bottom of the page. People like to share apps too, but native apps’ lack of accessibility has made this difficult. You can’t just send someone a native app. You can only tell your closest friends to check it out; it is then on them to visit the app store and see for themselves what the app is all about.

PWAs are unique, compared to their native counterparts, because they can be accessed through a simple URL link. This means that sharing a PWA experience is as easy as linking someone to a news article.

5. Usable Across More Platforms

The other detriment to native apps’ shareability is that not all apps function across different platforms. If your friend has an Apple device and you a Samsung, there isn’t a guarantee that they can get the same apps that you love on your Android-powered device because the language on their Apple devices is different. Native apps get their name because they require a native programming language. This restricts the types of devices that can “read” and allow the app to run.

Progressive web apps are unique because they don’t require any download or programming language to read. It is all web-based. Thus, not only can you easily share a PWA experience, but there’s a much higher guarantee that the recipient will be able to access the app-like website.

6. Minimal Storage Required

PWAs don’t require any sort of download; a user can access the entire experience right in their mobile web browser. Part of the app fatigue that many mobile users are facing is lack of storage. Between the apps we download, pictures/videos we take, documents we save and every other item taking up residency inside our mobile devices, we’re creating storage needs faster than the newest models of smartphones can keep up with. If a potential user has to decide between downloading your app or keeping photo #3,047 of their cat and an auto-tuned version of Beyonce’s Single Ladies saved on their device, it isn’t going to be a hard decision for them.

If you want to “download” a PWA, you can save a URL shortcut to your home screen. This functions exactly like any other icon for an app does on your home screen. When pushed, it accesses your favorite mobile browser and brings you to the URL of the PWA. Storing a URL link requires much less space than downloading an entire native app.

7. Faster Load Times

Once a native app has been installed on a mobile device, and the user has successfully committed to the whole download process, the waiting still isn’t over. The load time of native apps can range, based on the app’s size and robustness. Yet, any wait is a long wait, especially for something that you’ve already waited for to access and download. Again, progressive web apps have the edge; they load in about the time it takes to load a webpage, which with an average Internet connection is just a moment or two. For businesses, this means customers never have to wait to access your app experience.

8. Faster To Develop

Not only are PWAs easier and faster to locate and load, but they are also quicker to make. This makes them exceptional for one-off campaigns, new product releases or any other occasion where you need to bring an app to market very quickly. However, this perk does hint at the downside of PWAs; they lack the performance and number of robust features that native apps are capable of. While PWAs are more straightforward to develop, part of their ease of development is because they can’t handle a lot of the harder-to-code features that native apps can leverage.

9. Cheaper To Make, Easier To Maintain

The speed and ease at which a PWA can be developed means cheaper costs. This is excellent news for smaller businesses that have been kept out of the mobile development game because of the costs of creating a native app. Progressive web apps are also easier to maintain for both users and developers. Users don’t have to repeatedly update their app in order to get the latest features; updates are immediately applied to the web-based experience the moment the developers publish them. The developers of PWAs experience far less time to produce each update or provide general maintenance to the app.

10. PWAs Still Deliver A Lot Of Value

As mentioned earlier, PWAs do lack in one major category: performance. Native apps are capable of doing more and offering more than progressive web apps. That said, don’t count the more nimble PWA out of the count for features. First, PWAs already provide a lot: push notifications, app-based loyalty programs, location-based services and messages, even interactive games and other media. Second, PWA’s are relatively new; there’s still significant developments underway and there’s plenty left to be discovered about the capabilities of web-based apps.

It isn’t hard to envision a future where the gap between PWAs and native apps, regarding performance, is much smaller than it is today. However, even if such a future is never actualized, most businesses can service all of their app needs inside a PWA environment.

Conclusions

If you’re a business that is looking to enter the mobile app space and you are trying to decide between developing a PWA or native apps, the answer is easy. PWAs have lots of value presently and far, far more to come in the future. Unless your app is going to house a lot of deep, sophisticated features, a native app simply isn’t worth it. Not only do they cost a lot of time and money to develop, but it is also becoming harder and harder to encourage downloads. As PWAs gain popularity, that difficulty is only going to rise. You can also easily develop and launch PWAs without coding with an app builder.

Simply put, PWAs are the next evolution of the app experience, and they will thrive where native apps have failed by being easier to access, share and produce, while still maintaining the same level of value that native app users have long enjoyed.

About Author:
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, a company that helps small businesses build mobile solutions to compete with big brands. Their mobile app building platform makes it possible for everyone to create a mobile app for their business. When he isn’t helping small businesses, he is out surfing in the Pacific Ocean.