Is a Business Degree Still Relevant in 2019?

Business has long been the most popular major at U.S. colleges and universities, which hand out far more degrees in this field than any other.

And yet some people say business degrees nowadays are unnecessary, outdated and irrelevant. Business is a fast-changing field in today’s digital economy, and some say business instruction isn’t keeping up with the times or producing the skills needed to succeed in today’s marketplace.

Many business schools would disagree, saying they are preparing students for a broad range of careers by providing instruction in all aspects of real-world business, including management, economics, finance, accounting, marketing and sales.

Do you need a business degree to succeed in business? Many well-known entrepreneurs would attest that you don’t, including college dropouts Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

But could a business degree help you on your personal path to success? Like everything in business, that depends. Here are five points to consider.

1) The market is flooded with business majors.

If you want to be a business major, you won’t be alone. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Out of 2 million bachelor’s degrees issued in 2016–17, the majority were in five fields:

• Business: 381,000 degrees
• Health professions and related programs: 238,000
• Social sciences and history: 159,000
• Psychology: 117,000
• Biological and biomedical sciences: 117,000

Business surpassed education as the most popular major some 40 years ago, and it shows no signs of losing its dominance as the chief field of study in the United States.

So while you’ll have lots of company in business school, you may find it hard to distinguish yourself in the job market among so many business grads.

2) Generic business degrees do not have high earning potential.

General business degrees do not usually turn out to be big earners in the long run, according to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on the potential earnings of hundreds of college majors over the course of five and 10 years.

Majors in “general business” came in at 201st place on a list of fields of study ranked by earning potential, with mid-career salaries in the $80,400 range. The list, compiled by Payscale.com using 2018 NCES data, defines “mid-career salaries” as median earnings after 10 or more years of work in the field.

According to other NCES data reported in “The Condition of Education 2019,” a general business degree falls almost exactly within the median annual earnings of 25- to 29-year-old bachelor’s degree holders by fields of study in 2017.

With electrical engineering graduates topping the list at $72,600 and social workers bringing up the rear at $38,400, general business grads earned $50,400, while the median for all fields was $50,500.

That means that out of all college graduates who were not business students, half earned more and half earned less. Contrary to what you may think, the data suggests that broad-based business majors are a poor path to high earnings.

3) Specialized business degrees are usually worth more (but not always).

Those who earn a specialized business degree rather than a generic degree can generally expect substantially higher earnings.

Specialized fields within the broad business category include finance, accounting, economics, marketing and management. While general business degrees ranked 201st on the Payscale.com list cited above at $80,400, business analysis came in 9th at $129,800; business logistics and transportation 28th at $117,000; and business and economics tied for 53rd place with international business management, at $109,000.

Out of 25 majors with the word “business” in the title, 18 earned more than “general business” and only six earned less.

4) Most employers do not care what your major was.

Employers do not generally care about a job candidate’s college major. What they care about is the job candidate.

A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 93% of employers say job candidates’ critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills are more important than their college major.

Also, 80% of employers say that all students should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences, no matter what their major.

Businesses may or may not be looking to hire business majors. But they’re all looking to hire people who will help their businesses succeed.

5) Your best bet is to pursue something you love.

Many experts say you should find a major that aligns with your interests and passions rather than try to force yourself into a major that you think will lead to a lucrative job. You’re going to spend a lot of time studying, and presumably working, in the field you choose, so you’d better choose something you like.

If business is that passion for you, then there’s no reason not to pursue a business major. Business can expose you to many different disciplines, which can lead to work in a variety of fields. The versatility of the degree is often cited as a plus for students who don’t yet know exactly what they want to do in life.

Whatever you choose, strive to gain the broadest education possible, try to build a network of contacts in your field, and look for internships or other work experience so you’ll have more than just a degree on your resume when you graduate.

Online Project Management Software for Small Business: Choose Wisely

online project management

According to findings, only 58% of organizations fully understand the value of project management. Meanwhile, a whopping 93% of organizations report using standardized project management practices. In fact, 77% of high-performing projects use project management software.

Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of organizations using spreadsheets to manage their agile projects dropped from 74% to 67%. This is because these organizations moved to specialized project management tools.

When it comes to running a successful small business, you need a seamless project management software that helps you stay focused on your goals and achieve them without delays.

From getting through the early stages of planning, scheduling and communicating to managing critical resources, tracking costs and reporting, a robust project management program can make it all happen flawlessly. Further, it becomes easy to collaborate with utmost transparency in every process.

The main objective of small business project management software is to streamline and simplify tasks for project managers. It puts them in the driver’s seat where they get to decide on the whats, whens, whys, and hows of executing project-related tasks.

Thanks to easy collaboration, processes can be unified as different teams work together across several applications while staying abreast of the latest developments. Tasks such as file-sharing, task monitoring, reporting, and communicating can be carried out from one place.

In other words, a comprehensive cloud project management software will ensure that you’re always aware of the smallest details as well as the bigger picture.

Did you know that project performance has risen globally? In 2018, almost 70% of projects met their original goals or business intent, while around 60% were completed within the original budget. Both these numbers are up from 62% and 50% respectively in 2016.

Here are a few reasons why choosing the project management system that’s right for your business is of utmost importance.

  • While it is a challenging endeavor, using the right project management program can organize your business operations, enabling your organization to provide optimal outcomes through first-rate work processes.
  • In the modern business landscape, using manual and outdated tools such as paper-and-pen and spreadsheets to maintain records can prove to be highly ineffective and error-prone. These issues can be avoided with project management software.
  • Your clients expect high performance from your business. Missing deadlines, wasting resources, poor risk management, and similar issues can result in major trouble for you and may result in your project failing before even getting off the ground. None of this happens when you have an efficient project management system in place.
  • Effective client management is a critical aspect of growing a small business. The right project management tool takes care of this too.

Now, you might be wondering how to pick the right system for your small business, right!

Let me show you, How?

Take the below considerations in mind while choosing a project management software for your small business:

1. Best-in-Class vs Business Needs

A lot of small business owners make the mistake of buying high-end software that’s stuffed with features that promise to meet the needs of an entire enterprise. This type of software is usually promoted as “best-in-class.” However, you need to be smart and determine whether or not it is best for your business needs.

Usually, such a program ends up as shelfware. Business owners fall for shelfware by choosing from a couple of names based on top-of-the-mind recall. It is necessary to gauge the program’s features and benefits with regards to your business, and spend wisely on it.

While manual and spreadsheet methods may have served your business so far, you need to keep up with the changing times and harness technology to improve your project management processes and outcomes. While we do not recommended buying the next software you come across, we do suggest to determine the specific requirements of your business and select a program that plugs the gaps in the system.

2. Free Trials Are For You Only

It makes sense to actually try the project management tool at first to determine whether or not it fits your needs. However, don’t stop at one or two. Check out demos of 5 – 10 programs and shortlist a few to see how they work.

Take advantage of the free trials that most providers/vendors offer either under a limited account or for a fixed time period. If your provider doesn’t offer this facility upfront, feel free to ask about it.

Secondly, the software you choose should make communication and collaboration processes as flawless as possible. And, that’s why it is important to trail new software with team before buying it. Get their feedback on how the process is working for them. Doing so will also make your team feel involved in the decision-making process.

The duration of the trial should be long enough to allow you to gauge the software and feel convinced that it does fit your working style and business needs. Evaluate every provider to ensure that you don’t end up settling for a system, but get one that actually serves you well.

Most importantly, always remember to take the customer service and overall vendor responsiveness into consideration. Many times, even professionals make such small mistakes by overlooking the customer support which lands them into trouble later on.

Why you should never overlook the customer support?

In case, if you hit a roadblock or have certain questions on your mind and you contacted their support team but, you didn’t get the desired response. It will spell doom on your projects.

So, a wise move is to pose some queries and check their responsiveness in attending such queries, solutions that they provide. Doing so will enable you to see how receptive and co-operative they are.

3. Cost vs Capabilities

Regardless of the volume of the project, small businesses typically work within budgetary constraints. Picking software that best fits your unique business needs can, therefore, be a challenge. In such a case, it makes sense to get a program that offers you complete value for your money.

The cost of project management software varies from one provider to another. Some may cost as low as $50 while complex ERP solutions can set you back thousands of dollars. If you focus on getting quality software, you can consider your money spent well.

Some factors to consider include:

· What will be the ideal payment solution?
· Should you go for the subscription option or stick to monthly/quarterly/annual payments?
· How much will adoption and implementation of the program cost?
· Are you getting enough features/amenities for the price you’re paying?
· Will having the program cost more than running the business without the program?

The answers to the above questions will help you figure out whether or not the software can justify its cost.

4. Scalability For Future

Several small business owners end up buying a project management tool that caters only to their immediate current needs, overlooking the possibility of quick business growth. As they expand, they realize that their software isn’t flexible enough to accommodate the growing business demands and customer expectations.

This necessitates further expenditure on buying an advanced program. It is crucial to invest in a flexible and scalable project management system that grows as your businesses progresses. Make sure to get a program that allows you to add more features to it and upgrades as you grow.

5. Protection Against Cyberattacks

Underestimate the security aspect of your project management software at your own peril. Without a doubt, security is one of the most crucial factors to consider when investing in a software solution.

When your clients associate with you, they trust you with some of their most critical and confidential data. The last thing you want is to lose their trust and your credibility because a vested interest hacked into your software and stole/misused this sensitive information.

Apart from client data, your own business data, research, findings, patents and trademarks also need to be kept away from vicious online criminals.

Preventing/Avoiding Cyberattacks and other security issues should be high on your priority list from day one. Choosing a fortified and secure program will keep you safe from hackers, malware, viruses, and such.

It is recommended to check and recheck the security features of the software you’re planning to buy and gauge its reliability. Moreover, the vendor’s efficiency and dependability in backing up your data on a regular basis should also be factored into your decision. Determine whether or not they’re using a secure hosting platform to backup customer information, without hampering current operations.

Another consideration in this regard is the downtime. The project management solution you choose should be available at all times without any glitches. You don’t want keep your clients waiting because of problems with the project management tool and the inability of the vendor’s customer support team to respond to your queries.

6. Easy To Use Interface

One of the main reasons to invest in project management software is so business owners can stop worrying about daily operations and focus on business strategy.

With time being a luxury, the last thing you want to do is spend it learning the workings of your software, right!

It is crucial to get a project management solution that comes with a user-friendly interface and allows you work with it effortlessly without much training. The best programs require minimal training and enable users to work with them right away. This is because of their intuitive user interface.

One of the most overlooked factors here is that your software should minimize the risk of users getting it wrong and making costly mistakes. To ensure user-friendliness, your software should be:

  • Intuitive: The software should be easy-to-use even for novices, while being configurable by experts. Finding and changing software settings should be quick and hassle-free.
  • Accessible: The project management system should be easily accessible by both, on-site staff and remote staff with a login ID and password. Further, it should be accessible across devices and platforms.
  • Supportable: Features in cloud-based online project management software get upgraded regularly in order to maximize performance and boost outcomes. Your program should offer adequate maintenance and support in this regard either for free or at a reasonable price.

Conclusion

Choosing project management software that suits your specific business requirements is key to meeting your organizational goals. It can help you with enhanced decision-making abilities and customer satisfaction, resulting in unwavering success. However, don’t be fooled by fancy software making tall claims about its features. You may just end up with a higher cost and features that you don’t even need. Pay heed to the factors mentioned above, and you will be able to zero in on one that’s the perfect fit for your business, team, and clients.

Have you been using project management tools to propel your small business? Which feature(s) do you think is the most important? Tell us about it in your comments.

Why Your Small Business Needs Time Tracking Software

Okay, so at some point, every young entrepreneur or small business owner wants to know which Time Tracking Software is best for their business.

But, there’s one more question to ask yourself.

When does your small business actually needs a Time Tracking Software?

Ever gave a thought on it? Not actually, right!

Well, that’s okay, in this post I’m going to show you WHEN to actually go for a Time Tracking Software and for which type, depending on your business.

small business working hours

Source

Setting up a small business is great, but running it is the real battle. Business owners go to great lengths to ensure smooth operations and optimal workforce management. Thanks to advancing technology, achieving these objectives has become a lot easier.

Time tracking has a huge role to play in streamlining work processes. Yet several businesses continue to underestimate it and use manual process and spreadsheets to this end. This can result in human error, duplication, and wastage of time, which in turn, can be disastrous for your business.

This is where a robust time-tracking software comes into the picture. It not only gets you real-time information, but also makes business processes transparent, error-free, and quick.

Here are a few other benefits of using time tracking software in your business.

Better Workflow

A comprehensive time tracking software enables you to be in the know of all the goings-on within your business. You will always know exactly how your business is running, what your employees are doing, which projects are taking the most/least resources, and more. This knowledge will help you streamline processes, organize projects, delegate responsibilities, track cash flow with ease.

Every business workflow is designed with one goal, i.e. profit. Another closely associated objective relates to cutting overheads. When you have an efficient time tracking system at your disposal, you are always equipped with the right numbers. Moreover, you are able to address the minutest issue in a timely manner.

Resource management becomes easier, which results in timely and quality output. A time tracking program can also help business owners allocate the right levels of resources among different projects, depending on the workflow. This helps in personnel management as business owners can gauge if they need to create certain permanent positions or simply outsource certain tasks to contractors.

The process of performance review and reporting can be simplified and expedited by having proper time tracking software in place. Further, it also becomes easy to minimize waste and increase operational efficiency. Reviewing workflow over a period of time becomes convenient as does identifying scope for error and improvement.

Improved Employee Productivity

Did you know, a whopping 70% of US employees are not engaged at work?

An online time tracking system is great for boosting employee productivity. It enables them to track the exact amount of time they’re spending on their projects and assess how productive they actually are.

Employees can easily monitor their tasks and calculate how much time they’re spending on each one. This helps improve their focus. If they find that their productivity is low, they can quickly take steps to improve their performance through better time allocation.

If they estimate a delay in the project’s delivery, they can inform their manager and clients along with a reasonable deadline, thereby feeling more accountable and in control of their work.

Further, employees can manage their vacations and sick days better. They will not need to wonder about their leave balance as the system will provide them with all the necessary information. This way, they feel more in control of their time off as well.

This provides another indirect benefit: when employees know about their holidays, they can schedule their work better. Employers need not to be surprised if they notice a reduction in the number of unplanned employee absences (sick days notwithstanding since these cannot be planned). Having a time tracking system will enable better time-scheduling and flag employees who are taking undue advantage of the system.

Superior Payroll Management

A well-equipped time tracking system will enable you to create error-free timesheets that can be used for payroll purposes. Almost all companies encounter pay-related issues where employees receive an amount that’s either lower or higher than their monthly remuneration. These kinds of problems can be eliminated with time tracking tool.

Sometimes, employees may be required to work in shifts or at odd hours. In such cases, it can be challenging for the payroll department to compute work hours and ensure accurate payments and/or deductions. Using time tracking software makes this easier and virtually error-free. All calculations are entered into the software, and employees can track their own time while receiving the right pay.

Eliminate Time Fraud

According to a recent study, the average employee steals approximately 4.5 hours every week from their employer, totaling nearly six full work weeks per year while costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars every year worldwide.

Also, up to 10 minutes per day, per employee, is lost due to tardiness, long lunches and early departure, as per the American Payroll Association.

Simply put, time fraud refers to the practice of inflating the number of work hours. Sometimes, employees receive pay for the hours they haven’t worked. This means they accept money from their employer without giving anything back to the organization. Time theft is more common than we think and can affect a company’s budget, resulting in losses amounting to millions of dollars annually.

This can be prevented with the use of the right time tracking software as it registers every working hour of every employee. All they need to do click on the timer. A good time tracking tool can track billable hours for every project, bringing transparency in the process of calculating the time dedicated to them. This, in turn, empowers employers to make faultless payment for every minute.

Client Billing

Financial accuracy is crucial for running a lucrative business. However, client billing is a common problem that several companies grapple with. It is crucial that clients are accurately billed within the specified timeframe. Companies that don’t use a potent time tracking and invoicing software often experience difficulties in achieving this.

Some companies bill clients by the hour, while others may bill them by the project. This can be a perplexing task to perform manually. With time tracking software, you can remove the confusion from the process and charge every client the right amount.

Losing track of billable hours can lead to employees missing out on their wages. In fact, even businesses can miss out on bringing in revenue, resulting in losses of tens of thousands of dollars in every cycle. When billable hours are computed properly, it becomes easy for the payroll department to be timely and accurate. The entire process becomes simplified and efficient, and the cash flow becomes steadier.

Additionally, if you’re looking to reduce the length of the billing cycle, all you need is an efficient time tracking program. It can help you transform and modernize your billing cycle and improve cash flow. Currently, you may be taking a month or two to just bill clients and, in turn, receiving delayed payments. It’s time to bid adieu to these outdated practices.

Real-Time Analytics

Every business reaches a point when it has to consider increasing the prices of its offerings. To be certain of getting the pricing right, you’re going to need a time tracker that comes with the analytics feature.

Once you know the average time it takes for completing a task, you can deduct employees’ salary for that period and cut your costs to see if the current price is still feasible for your business. If you’re falling short, you need to raise the rates. This clarity can be derived only if you have access to accurate real-time data, which you can easily extract from time tracking software.

The buck doesn’t stop here. Your software should make it easy for you to view and comprehend the data. Managers will do well to have access to detailed business reports complete with a visual representation of data like charts and graphs.

Analytics features that can be customized according to your preferences can be like icing on the cake. Reliable data derived from analytics helps in arriving at the crucial daily and/or weekly numbers, and in generating visually-appealing reports.

Time-Tracking for Different Types of Businesses

No two businesses are the same and neither are their requirements. Business owners will do well to pick time tracking software armed with features that can meet their specific requirements.

For Freelancers

Freelancers tend to work at their own time with clients from various industries coming from different time zones. A simple time tracker that allows multiple time tracking options along with the ease of editing time entries and continuing tracking time will be ideal for them.

Because freelancers perform every business task on their own, it will be convenient for them to have easy accessibility to all their data and time entries in one place. At the same time, features such as reporting and sending/exporting files to clients are also essential so clients can track work progress and be in the know of each minute of the billable time.

For Remote Workers

While freelancers work independently, remote workers often have to collaborate with different teams as well as with their employer. They’re also required to account for their work hours to their managers, which is why they need a time tracker that allows them to do so.

A time tracker that is equipped with team viewing capabilities is ideal for remote workers so employers can always know what the team members are up to. Such a time tracker overcomes the hurdle of the lack of physical monitoring due to distance and keeps employers on top the latest in every project.

For Small Businesses

Small businesses may have fewer employees compared to large enterprises, but both perform almost all the same tasks. Further, small businesses also have smaller budgets, which is why they’re always looking for reasonably-priced yet effective solutions that are compatible across devices, and provide quick access and support to important business data from anywhere.

Team collaboration and management is a huge challenge for business regardless of their size. This is why small businesses need time tracking software that enables people to work together. Such a system will make it easy for business owners to create and delegate business-critical tasks so all team members are on the same page.

Conclusion

With a plethora of different time tracking systems out there, it can be bewildering for small business owners to pick one. At the end of the day, it all boils down to considering your business’s unique needs and expectations. The type of business you do, the devices you use, and your typical workflow will also guide you in making a sound decision. Remember, good software offers not only critical features, but also ease of use. Make sure you ultimately pick one that is efficient, affordable, and feature-rich.

3 Software Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales

The software industry is currently experiencing a development renaissance. This is great news for business owners looking to shop around for a new vendor, but it makes gaining market share challenging for software companies. Given the crowded apps marketplace and the prevalence of cloud-based SaaS solutions, it’s vital for software companies to market their products appropriately.

In order to scale past early adopters and into mainstream sales success, nearly 90 percent of SaaS companies reported new customer acquisition as a top priority. Lead generation can be a costly process, but with a solid software marketing strategy, growing companies can lower those customer acquisition costs and potentially increase sales. Let’s take a look at some software marketing tips that can boost revenue.

Focus on customer service
Customer service has become a cornerstone of brand strategy in a digital age where companies are cultivating a richer understanding of the impact of customer experience on the sales funnel. Customer service, however, is more than just responding to questions and complaints online. It’s about understanding the customer journey. What do they want? Where are their businesses headed, and how does a company’s software fit into that niche? How are they currently evaluating their vendor options? Questions like these can help segment the buyer persona more effectively. Answering these questions gives insights to marketing teams so they can more intimately understand how stakeholders make purchase decisions, allowing them to more precisely build marketing campaigns and target more qualified leads.

Another valuable element to SaaS marketing is examining the value proposition behind the product offering as a potential vehicle for marketing efforts. Identifying key elements like price, data storage, analytics, and other facets business owners are particularly interested in plays a role in developing solutions to fill those needs. Software CEO Mark Hurd echoed this theme by saying, “aligning technology strategy to better service customers becomes an essential path to revenue growth.” If software companies can isolate the most appealing aspects of their offering, thus reducing costs for their customers while remaining competitive in terms of function, they can translate their developments into better customer service. Outstanding customer service can act as a key differentiator and provide valuable marketing clout.

Optimize content marketing
Content marketing has experienced explosive growth across industries, especially in the SaaS sector, where breaking down more complex topics can be integral to converting sales. Two ideal places to offer such content are blogs and social media channels. A unified blog and social media strategy can extend the half-life of popular posts and drive organic traffic to target pages. Additionally, offering engaging content can help software companies build up an email list to send out newsletters and marketing material.

Businesses should offer relevant, expert content that appeals to their target audience’s particular set of interests and expertise. Content can take the shape of standard blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and videos. The idea is to create “explainer content” framing data or product information in an easily digestible and shareable format. Current trends in media consumption point to mobile devices as a leading source of paid and organic clicks, so focusing on content such as video and audio can help capture an audience who is always on the move.

Feature marketing is one SaaS marketing trend that can be augmented with content marketing. Many software companies develop side features, apps, and widgets that stand alone from the main product but provide added value to target buyers. These additions have the potential to confuse customers if they are not communicated properly. Yam Regev, a software content marketing expert, commented, “the fact there are lots of new features is just like having more content! Extra features enable marketing to better inform and engage targeted audiences.” Sometimes, companies develop features that become more widely used than the main platform itself. Savvy marketers will consider the development of new products and apps as valuable opportunities to attract new customers and upsell existing ones.

Crowdsource reviews/client testimonials
Customer testimonials are essential when building up credibility surrounding a software product. They are an important part of a brand’s presence and stand as a testament to what prospective clients can achieve, or “social proof.” Because 92 percent of e-commerce buyers stated they sought out and read customer reviews before making a purchase decision, positive testimonials are increasingly important to those considering a software vendor, which is a more nuanced purchase.

Marketers can encourage customers to leave reviews or identify and reach out to specific clients who are likely to leave a positive testimonial on their site. Case studies are a great example of leveraging client results to inform future purchase decisions and can be a valuable asset in a content marketing campaign.

Standing out in the bustling SaaS marketplace can seem daunting. The tips above can help software companies cut through the noise and communicate their product offering more clearly to prospective customers.

How to Choose a Small Business Invoicing Solution: The Complete Guide

small business invoicing solution

Did you know that 27% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) admitted that they have a hard time creating and sending invoices?

You may want to take a look at the infographic below to gain a better understanding of the current state of invoicing.
smb invoicing

Source

As you can see, a seamless and intuitive invoicing system is an indispensable requirement for your business.

Starting a small business may be a dream come true for many an entrepreneur, but running it takes effort and smart work. Modern businesses need to harness technology that not only supports their processes, but also betters them to set the tone for long-term success.

Every time your small business sells a product or a service, an invoice is generated. For a thriving business, that’s way too many invoices being made every single day. This is where an efficient small business invoicing solution comes into the picture. It takes the worrying and erring out of making sales and payments, and makes the process expedient and hassle-free (and environment-friendly).

This post will shed light on the purpose of online invoicing, its functioning, and the factors that will help you choose the right online invoicing solution for your small business.

The Purpose of Online Invoicing Solutions

Having a small business invoice software in place will allow you to bid adieu to traditional solutions like MS Word and/or Excel. This, in turn, will enhance your workflow and eliminate the frustration arising from the arduous process of managing invoices.

With the right invoicing solution, it becomes easy to create, track, and process invoices as well as business and customer details. Further, such a software can accelerate and augment your cash flow, as well as expedite and simplify payments, apart from helping you save time and money.

Online invoicing software allows you to store all your data in the cloud. This means you can put your worries related to losing invoices or client data, or even your computer crashing and hacking issues to rest. All you need to do is log into your account to access all your business-critical information and start billing your clients.

Mentioned ahead are a few undeniable advantages of using online invoicing software.

a. Automated Digital Payments

Invoicing software allows businesses to carry out secure digital transactions and automate outflows by setting up recurring payments. This is particularly helpful with long-term clients. The system sends follow-up messages and payment reminders for forthcoming and due invoices. This, in turn, eliminates the stress of manually tracking and chasing down these payments.

b. Secure Your Data

Paper invoices can easily get lost or land in the wrong hands. A good invoicing system prevents this by making data security a priority. Ensure to invest in software that complies with PCI Security Standards. Such software employs advanced security safeguards, such as SSL encryption, against threats and loss of data.

c. Get Multi-Language and Multi-Currency Support

Technology has brought the world closer, enabling small businesses to work with global clients. Cloud-based invoicing platforms are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to allow users to choose their preferred language and currency, making interactions and transactions between companies and clients smoother and clearer. Because online invoicing systems are able to operate flawlessly in the global marketplace, the payment barriers are eliminated.

d. Access Information at Any Time from Anywhere

Online invoice management systems empower business owners to access and manage client information and billing data from any location and time zone and on any smart mobile device. Whether you’re working from office, home or are on-the-go, you can do business as usual without a hitch.

e. Easier Auditing

It is easy to access and interpret information with an invoicing software as it allows you to save and view your bills, estimates, expense receipts, transaction statements, and other important documents on one dashboard. The system creates a systematic and quick process for assessing financial statements related to your accounts and tax deductions. This makes it convenient for you to maintain your records in an error-free manner, which can be especially helpful during IRS audits.

f. Quicker Payments

Sending invoices online and receiving payments is quick and easy with an invoicing system in place, even more so if you use the recurring billing facility. Receiving, reviewing, and returning invoices can be done with the click of a button. This translates into quicker payments in a safe manner.

g. Save Time and Costs

Business owners can say goodbye to tedious data entry with online invoicing systems as they let you generate and distribute multiple invoices without reentering customer information each time. Bills can be tracked easily as well. Further, overheads can be brought down by jettisoning the use of paper, stationery, stamps, and document storage items used for sending invoices.

h. Reinforce Your Brand Identity

All your system-generated invoices will have your company logo, color schemes, and fonts that are a part of your brand standards. With a strengthened brand identity, clients are bound to take your business seriously and make payments on time. Further, you can customize your invoices with messages such as “Thank You!” You will also be able to link to piece of content created by you to help solve clients’ specific problems. This will reinforce your brand identity while establishing your leadership and expertise.

How Invoicing Software Works?

To put it simply, online invoicing systems for small businesses allow owners to create and send bills electronically. However, there’s more to them. These systems also enable users to create, control, and evaluate invoices on your smartphone or tablet. This essentially means that you’re on top of your work-related developments at all times. Read on to gain a thorough understanding of how to use an efficient invoicing solution to simplify your life:

  • Start by entering your client’s information on your invoicing system. This includes their name, contact details, email address, billing and mailing address, and preferred payment method. Organizing this data will enable you to set up recurring payments and issue invoices instantly.
  • Users can also input the usual billing costs once and for all in the system. The software will calculate the total bill at the end of each cycle automatically. This works particularly well if you charge an hourly rate.
  • Set up your payment terms and policies as these will determine how your invoices will be paid. Other factors to consider are payment schedules and preferred payment methods. Deciding on these aspect will make your billing process glitch-free. This should motivate clients to pay invoices on time and without hesitation.
  • Invoicing systems allow you to carefully design invoices to prevent confusion and delays. While this may seem complex, it really isn’t. Make sure your invoices include your brand’s logo, color scheme, your contact information, invoice number, payment due date, payment terms and policies, itemized list of products/services, and a note of thanks to the client for the payment.
  • You can maintain records of contracts, agreements, payments (paid and due), and other documents in the most orderly manner with the help of an online invoicing software.

How to Choose the Right Online Invoicing Software?

One of the conundrums small business owners find themselves in relates to choosing the right invoicing software. This can get tricky because of the variety of industry-specific solutions available in market. However, you will do well to focus on the following criteria when picking a system for your business to ensure that all its needs are met.

a. High-Level Data Security

Figure out if your invoice management system stores your data on its own server or a third-party server. Ask providers about the security measures they take to ensure the security of your information. Also, verify if the software providers are using HTTPS connection (from their website URL in the address bar). This protocol ensures that the data transferred from your computer to their server is encrypted and safe from hackers. You can also view their security certificate on their website.

b. Availability of Essential Features

An efficient invoicing solution will easily allow you to:

  • Create and manage customer records and purchase information on a centralized database in a secure manner
  • Enable quick payments by processing credit cards promptly and allow recurring billing
  • Create high-quality, professional-looking, and customizable invoices with predefined templates
  • Categorize and track costs and transactions according to projects
  • Manage inventory, stock movements, and wastage
  • Settle accounts by importing banking transactions
  • Create and record purchase orders
  • Record voucher entries
  • Integrate seamlessly with payment gateways
  • Manage customers and vendors list
  • View balance sheet, account payables and receivables, profit and loss statement, and tax statements
  • Receive multi-lingual and multi-currency support for issuing receipts, accepting payment and managing taxes
  • Send quotes to customers from a centralized database
  • Add team members and grant access control

c. Ease of Use

Not all business owners are well-versed in accounting, which why an invoicing suite becomes a necessity. Even with a dedicated accountant in place, business owners should be able to view and make sense of the financial information without any trouble. Ensure you get an easy to use software with a clean user-friendly interface that allows you to focus on business-critical tasks.

d. Scalability

A lot of business owners make the mistake of thinking short-term and buy software that fails to support the needs of their growing operations. This slows the progress and forces entrepreneurs to migrate to other software, which can be a hassle. It is, therefore, prudent to get software that scales with your business needs. Go for one that offers free entry-level features and can be upgraded to an advanced fully-equipped paid version, which you will need in the future.

Conclusion

Having an ingenious invoicing software in place can certainly help small businesses streamline their processes and work better with clients. From automating invoices and organizing data to receiving payments safely, online invoicing solutions can do it all. The kind of system you need depends entirely on your business goals and the kind of legacy software you have been using. Use the above information to make an informed decision and propel your business towards success.

What kind of challenges did you face when picking an invoice management system for your business, and how did you overcome them? Do let us know in your comments.

Top 4 Quick Travel Marketing Tips

The majority of people love to travel, which is why you may think that travel marketers have it easy.

Well, the truth is that the opposite is the reality, because the travel industry competition is stiff and fierce. That’s not to mention that things fluctuate greatly between seasons and between destinations, which complicates things even further.

But even with the travel industry expected to grow even further and competition getting even more fierce, the truth is that marketing your travel business also doesn’t need to be as difficult as you may have initially suspected.

Here are the top four quick tips for travel marketing:

1 – Summer and Winter Are Your Seasons

These are the seasons when people are the most likely to book for travel, with a nearly 30% increase in travel searches during this time. Specifically, December, January, July, and August are the top four months of the year when people are booking the most flights and hotel rooms.

Therefore, these are the months of the year when you will want to be focusing your marketing efforts the most intensely.

2 – Bid Lower During Those Months

While you may think that you should bid higher during those months when people are going to be booking far more flights and hotel rooms, the truth is that’s the exact same strategy that most if not all of your competition is going to be using as well. Instead, bidding your prices just a hair lower can be the best strategy to stand out more and gain you more sales. Just don’t bid too low, because you still want your business to turn out a profit.

3 – Be Informative

It may be a good idea to be informative and to go as far as to start a blog about travel tips and advice. That way, people may find out about your travel agency or business through your blog first. Just make sure that your blog truly is informative and educational. Beyond generic subjects like ‘top travel tips for beginners,’ you can get more serious and specific with subjects such as visa application rules by country or the best hotels by city.

4 – Be Visual

A major mistake that travel agencies make these days is that when marketing, around two thirds of all advertisements are just dull text ads.

When people are traveling or planning to travel, they don’t just want to read or hear about the destinations. They want to actually see those destinations. That’s exactly why images and videos need to dominate your websites, mobile apps, and advertisements all at the same time in order to make them significantly more captivating.

Travel Marketing Tips

All in all, these are the top four travel marketing tips that you will be unwise to ignore: marketing the most aggressively during the summer and winter, bid lower if possible) to stand out more, be informative and educational in your website, and be visual in your advertisements.

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.

Smart Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners

Blogging is a great way to create content that will bring traffic to your website, and start selling online. As a small business, you’ve got a lot of competition out there. With these blogging tips though, you can stand out from the crowd and show your readers why they should buy with you.

Blog Regularly
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide how often you’re going to blog. Can you do it daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Now’s not the time to make lofty goals that you can’t possibly reach. Be honest with yourself about how much time you have to dedicate to this project of your business. If you can only blog once a month, stick to that goal. The key is to update regularly, so search engines can see you’re a current site and rank you accordingly and send potential customers to pages of your business’ blog. To do this you can create your blogging or content calendar and write down all the dates and ideas you have.

Get Those Backlinks
One of the best ways to get readers to find your business’ blog is to get backlinks. These are links on other sites that direct readers to your own blog. As well as helping you find readers that way, they also help your SEO as they show you’re a reputable site. One of the best ways to do this is to create your business’ page on different trusted directories. Also, to show that you’re an expert in your business niche you can guest blog on other websites. When you do this, you can provide a backlink in return on your site. Ensure you’re citing their site properly when you do so, so they get the benefit of it. Use a tool like Cite It In to help you do this and to cite references to stats and recearches.

Think About Length of Posts
There’s a lot of debate about the length of posts you write for your blog. Which is best? Shorter blogs are good as they condense a lot of information into a short space. This is perfect if you’re writing for people who are on mobile, as many of your readers will be. Longer posts, though, are better for going into more detail. And some topics need fewer words. Just keep an eye on your length with Easy word count as you write.

Write Quality Posts
Yes, that’s easier said than done. However, readers can tell if they’re reading a quality post within seconds. If they’re not, they’ll just click away. Ensure that you’re writing posts your readers can use. They should be informative and entertaining to them and give them something that they wouldn’t have had before visiting your blog.

Beware of Plagiarism
Plagiarism is becoming a big problem online these days. Even if you’re actively avoiding it, you can still be caught out. Search engines will rate you down if you’re found to be using other people’s work and passing it off as your own. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to run your writing through a plagiarism detector such as PlagScan or Academized before you publish it.

Watch Your Grammar
Good grammar is the basis of any good blog. Without it, your writing won’t look expert or professional, which is what you need. Even more, grammar mistakes can drive customers away from your business. That’s why you need to have a good handle on your grammar. Check your writing to see if there’s any grammatical mistake before you publish, and work on improving your weak points. Services like State Of Writing and Grammarix can help you improve your grammar, and the quality of your writing.

Become the Go to Blog in Your Area
Whatever your business blog is about, you should aim to become the go-to blog in your business niche. Are you selling children’s craft materials? Then you can be a blog full of ideas for school and at home crafts, updated with the seasons. You want people to come to your blog, as you’re the one with all the ideas and information that they need and the product. Think about what you can bring to your niche, and make yourself indispensable as a blog.

Proofread and Edit Every Time
Before you post anything to your blog, ensure that you’re proofreading and editing it before you do so. You may think you’ve written the piece well, but there’s sure to be a mistake or two that you won’t spot until you make the post live. As mentioned above, mistakes make you look unprofessional and that’s the last thing you want. Give yourself time to sit and proofread your writing, ideally at least 24 hours. This means you won’t be editing in a rush, where you might miss something. If you’re unable to edit yourself, services like Paper Fellows and Big Assignments can help.

These tips are all recommended by expert bloggers, so you should try them out for yourself. Getting started is easier than you’d think, and once you’re writing you’ll find that there are lots to say about your subject. Give your readers what they need and they’ll keep coming back for more.

The In-Depth Guide To Selling Your eCommerce Business

After building a successful eCommerce business, you can look back and see the massive amount of time and money it has taken you to get to this point — the point where you are generating profits and enjoying more free time.

However, after building a successful business, many entrepreneurs feel like there’s always something more, encounter a situation in their personal lives that requires a quick cash influx, or have gotten burned out from the incredible amount of work they’ve gone through.

When that happens, it may be time to sell the business you’ve built.

Whether you’re looking to focus on a new, bigger project, you want to put out fires in your personal life, or you need the time (and money) to step back and figure out what your next move is, selling an established eCommerce business can be incredibly profitable for you.

To make a profitable exit, and get the most value from the sale, you’re going to need to step out of your entrepreneur shoes and step into an investor’s shoes, since they’re the people who are going to dictate how much money you’re going to get out of the deal.

Figuring out a baseline value for your store is the first step, and can be one of the hardest things you’ll do — outside of mentally preparing yourself for letting go of your business.

At the end of the day, no two businesses are exactly alike and there is a wide range of variables that go into figuring out how much your specific business is worth.

That means figuring out what investors may be willing to pay for your business can be difficult to do.

At Digital Exits, we’ve made it our sole mission to understand what investors are looking for when they’re ready to buy and how business owners can implement those factors into their business.

To help you wrap your head around the entire process, you need to understand one critical point. The reason investors are willing to buy your business is because that business will generate an income for them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Those investors want to turn a profit, and the first question they’re going to ask themselves when they’re thinking about buying the business is “how long is it going to take me to earn my investment back?”

In order to get the highest sale price possible, you’re going to need to look at the business like an investor will look at the business, and then address the areas of concern that investors are going to be digging into in order to knock your sale price down.

You can start by answering the following questions:

What do your annual sales numbers look like?

This is going to be the biggest factor that determines how much your store is worth. Some investors will look at your average yearly sales over the past 3 years, while others are going to look at the last 12 months.

The key here is to show stability and have sales numbers that are easy for your investor to verify. If the numbers can’t be easily verified, your investor will assume that you’re hiding something and then think that you’re hiding other things, causing the deal to fall flat.

How much profit is generated from those sales, annually?

Your annual net profits is the meat and potatoes of your store. While having a high sales volume is attractive for most investors, if your profit margins are slim or near non-existent, it’s going to be hard to get an investor to move forward with the deal.

Before you start listing the business for sale, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve increased your profit margins as much as possible, either by negotiating better terms with your suppliers or by cutting expenses. Then, give those new changes time to stabilize.

Is your store currently growing?

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to sell their business when the traffic and sales have begun to decline. This usually happens because they are burned out and can no longer give the business the attention it deserves.

While some investors still may be interested in buying the business based on past performance, you’ll need to go into the process expecting to validate why the business is declining, and accept a lower valuation as a result.

Investors want to see growth, or problems that can easily be fixed that will result in growth down the line.

How are you driving new sales?

Are you currently running different promotions to drive new sales to your store? Have you tapped into influencers in the past that are still sending sales to your store? Or are you running paid advertising campaigns?

The methods you’re using to generate sales will affect what the store is worth to an investor. The more work they have to do to maintain the sales volume you’ve established, the less they’re going to be willing to offer to buy the business.

This is even more true if your sales have begun to decline and you don’t have plans in place for recovering the lost sales volume.

Can you sustain the new growth?

If you are driving new sales to the store, do you have the capacity to handle those sales? Do you have the inventory and shipping solutions needed to handle a new influx of customers? Do you have the support channels in place to handle problems as they come up?

With the new sales that you’re driving, can the increase be sustained on its own? Or will your investor need to put in more time and money to maintain the growth?

Answering this question and having plans in place to not only handle the new growth, but to sustain that growth into the future, your business is going to be more attractive, and worth more money to an investor.

How are you acquiring customers?

Which channels are you using to acquire new customers? Can your investor take over those sales channels after they buy the business from you? Do you have systems in place to maintain a relationship with those customers that your investor can take over?

Bringing in new customers is only a single part of the bigger equation. How you’re fulfilling those customer orders, providing service to those customers, and making sure you can bring them back to your store again and again are other areas investors will look at.

How much are you spending to acquire customers?

Paid advertising is a huge marketing channel for eCommerce stores, but one that cuts into your monthly net profits — which investors use to determine your store’s true value.

You’re going to want to have detailed statistics about the traffic you’re buying, how much you’re spending, where that traffic is coming from, where it is going, and, most importantly, how it converts into a new customer when it lands on your store.

Be prepared to turn this information over, and make it easy for your investor to verify.

How are you positioned in the market?

Your competition and how you’re able to stand up against them is another area that your investors are going to be looking into. That means you need to examine how you’re positioned in your market and be able to back up your claims during the negotiation process.

Identify who your competition is, what they’re doing well, and where they are weak. Then look at your own business and figure out your own strengths and weaknesses.

Play on your strengths during the negotiation process, but be honest about your weaknesses. Go a step further and develop strategies to overcome your weaknesses, if you want to ensure you’re prepared for the questions your investor will ask.

Is your business relatively automated?

It’s already been mentioned, but this question is important enough to mention again — how automated is your business, and how much work is your investor going to have to put in to sustain the business that you’ve built once they take it over?

Investors aren’t looking to create a new job for themselves, especially if that job is going to cost them high 6-figures or into the 7-figure range.

If there are certain parts of the business that you have to be actively involved in, you’re going to want to look into outsourcing those parts of the business. Likewise, if there’s something you’re doing that can be handled by an automated service, it’s worth investing in that service.

Your investors will appreciate a relatively hands-off business.

Do you have systems and processes in place?

This is similar to automating parts of the business that you’re able to automate. Rather than completely automating certain aspects, though, it may be worth your time to document the process and put systems in place that make it easy for your investor to outsource.

Remember, the ultimate goal for your investor is going to be to take over a business that they do not have to be actively involved in, or are able outsource the tasks that they don’t want to do to other people.

Part of being able to outsource certain tasks means understanding how to do, and how to train, the people coming in to handle those tasks. That’s where documentation and processes make their life easy, and make it easy to outsource what they need to.

Once you have unlocked the answers to each of those questions, you can begin placing a value on your business.

To get a general idea, you’re going to want to look at how much other businesses have sold for, and compare your own model to their model, finding strengths and weaknesses.

For the most part, an eCommerce store that doesn’t have significant issues with their model is going to sell for around 2.51 times the yearly net profits.

This means that if your eCommerce store is generating $89,000 in profits per year, you could apply the 2.51 multiple to the profits to find a final value of $223,390. This is a starting point in the negotiation process between you and your investor.

To help you navigate the negotiation process, there are a few things you’re going to need to do.

● Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork. Your numbers need to be honest and accurate, because these are the numbers your investors will use to validate your asking price.

● Make sure you have systems and processes in place. Ensuring that the business is running efficiently after you leave is a huge selling point that you can use during negotiations.

● Make your products and services different. Setting yourself apart from the competition and ensuring that the business isn’t a commodity that can be easily replaced is critical if you’re asking for a higher valuation.

● Work with a professional broker. If you have never bought or sold a business before, you could easily get worked over during the negotiation process. Brokers help you keep your own interests protected and can get your offer in front of more investors than you can on your own.

● Clean up the business. If there are problems that you’re aware of, take the time to fix those problems and then let enough time pass for those problems to stabilize. If you notice problems, your investors will, too, and will use those issues to lower your asking price.

You can see from what I’ve laid out here that selling a profitable eCommerce business isn’t necessarily a black and white affair. There is a lot of intricacies that goes into finding the real-world value of a business.

However, if you answer the questions given here, and address any areas of concern in your business, getting the maximum asking price from selling your eCommerce store becomes a reality instead of a distant dream.

This Is How You Prepare Your Home For Winter

Some people live for the summer and the warm weather it brings. Others cannot wait until the weather starts to cool in fall. Regardless of how you feel about it, the weather will soon start to get cold. Winter really is coming.

winter

That means you need to do a little work now to prepare your home for the cooler months. Doing so can save you money on heating, but it can also make sure you don’t have expensive and annoying repairs come spring. You should start by looking at the outside of your home.

Preparing The Outside Of Your Home

In any season, leaky roofs or doors are a problem. You pay good money to control the temperature of your home, and these gaps make it more expensive. That’s why neamb.com recommends taking a look at your roof. Any shingles that are loose can easily come off with a big snowfall. Along the same lines, check your doors and windows for drafts. If there are any, use silicone caulk outside to seal them up.

Because the weather will get seriously cold in winter, you also need to prepare your outside faucets. Start by removing garden hoses and storing them for spring. Then check the faucets themselves. Look into the spout for a metal stem. If you see one, your faucets are likely frost-free and don’t need anything. If there is no stem, you should shut off the water completely to the outside or install a sillcock with an integral vacuum breaker.

Closing Down Your Pool

Speaking of water, you have some extra work to do if you own a pool. Whether it’s above ground or not, you will need to winterize the pool so you can protect it. A treated pool is much less likely to give you problems next summer when you just want to get in the water.

In The Swim has an excellent page of winterizing kits for your pool, including:
● Winter “pills” that have a mix of enzymes and clarifiers to keep the water clear through winter.
● Covers for the whole pool and pumps to remove excess water from the top of the cover as the snow melts.
● Solar blankets that also act as covers.
● Patch kits for covers that develop small holes due to the weather.

What To Do Inside Your Home

Now that you’ve taken care of the outside and the pool, you need to look inside your home. Popular Mechanics has a great list of interior winterizing tips, such as:
● Changing your furnace filters so your heated air is clean.
● Turn any ceiling fans to reverse. (This pushes rising hot air back down to your level.)
● Consider installing storm doors and storm windows, as these can increase your energy efficiency for more comfort and lower costs.
● Hire a certified HVAC maintenance crew to make sure your furnace is working correctly.

If you have two homes and are leaving your summer residence, you should read this checklist from Travelers about preparing your home. Not only should you make sure your home is free of drafts and has a maintained furnace, you also need to drain your water pipes so they don’t freeze while you’re away.

Winterize Now To Save Time & Energy

The thing about fall and winter is that they can be here before you realize it. That’s why it’s so important to start preparing your house for cooler weather while it’s still warm. Check the outside of your house for problems with your roof, windows, and water system. Winterize your pool if you have one, then do some maintenance on the inside. This can go a long way to making sure you’re warm this winter.