Looking to the Future: Preparing Your Business For Success or Failure

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According to statistics gathered by the US Small Business Administration, only about half of all small businesses survive past the five-year mark, while just about one-third will make it to their 10th anniversary. Those who fall behind can fail for a number of different reasons, but in many cases, a simple lack of preparation is to blame.

With the right planning, funding, and flexibility, your business can beat the odds and be one of those that succeed in the long run. So, in this article, we’ll go through how you can financially prepare your business for sustaining success or ably managing failure.

Preparing for Success
The first thing you have to do to make sure your business is prepared for success is to have a skilled finance manager with experience in business management within your team.

Aside from analyzing sales and cash flow, Chron shares that a skilled finance manager can help executives in making big financial decisions, while projecting future spending and earning. To enhance the key economic aspects of your business and monitor your business’ health, you should conduct regular analyses of financial ratios and statements with your finance manager. This will give your business a balanced financial structure that will enable you to map out your financial future, and grow with it.

This is very important because when your business is growing, it’s easy to think that everything is going well and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Those who aren’t mindful about the dynamics of their cash flow will fall into a trap, and may even fail to sustain the business’ growth even in the short-term. So, make regular projections based on accurate analyses with your finance manager, to make sure that you know how much money or credit you’ll need well before you have to start writing checks as your company grows.

Preparing for Failure
When it comes to business, you do not only plan or prepare for growth, you need also consider possible undesirable situations — such as sales falling flat compared to projections, unfortunate failures in your production floor, or even simply bad management. Only by doing this can you anticipate any challenges ahead and prepare for them financially.

When it comes to preparing for dire situations, this post entitled ‘Emergency Fund: What it is and How to Build One’ by Marcus points out that you should keep a fund for accidents and urgent crises separate from your regular accounts. Be sure that you have quick access to your emergency fund if (or when) you’ll ever need it to cushion an organizational fall. And when it comes to building the fund itself, you can save for it in small amounts over time, as we all know a little can go a long way.

When your business is met with financial problems, you’re not supposed to just immediately dip into your emergency fund or worse, give up and call it a day. As we’ve previously shared in our post on ‘How to Overcome Financial Problems’, there are several ways in which you could fund your company, such as through venture capital or bank loans.

Whether it is for the success or failure of your business, you should always prepare for all possible outcomes regardless of what’s expected. Doing so will enable you to respond more efficiently and effectively to whatever the future holds for your business and its finances.

5 Benefits of CRM Platforms for Realtors and Agents

Before we understand the concept of and need for Realtor CRM, let us understand CRM in general. In the world of marketing, communication is the key element that drives engagement and helps you build reach. A key element in the marketing and communications gamut would include a CRM system that has been created for the following reasons:

To store data in one place
To manage all information and data pertaining to customer interactions
To generate and nurture leads
To create a software that is data driven
To manage sales and other workflow processes through the software
To help in sales acceleration
To support marketing automation
To streamline the overall efforts of the various sales, service and marketing teams
To bring down the cost of production
To increase the output and revenue quantum

With such ends in mind, it comes as no surprise that CRM or Customer Relations Management software and systems are one of the most important means or tools to be used by businesses of any and every size.

The Real Estate CRM Reality
Real Estate CRM is of great importance in this day and age. With the digitization of marketing and customer interaction efforts, there has been an amplification of communication signals as well as the opportunities generated by said signals. From multiple platforms to multiple campaigns and a varied audience base, there are a large number of opportunities that businesses must tap into so as to make all the right noises in the right paces for the right results. But time is of the essence here, since competition has also proportionately increased and amplified with all these new digital realties surrounding businesses.

In such a scenario, real estate is one that niche that has seen a growth in the number of opportunities which makes it even more important to have a CRM system that fits the bill and the need of the hour. Here are 5 benefits that realtors and agents can reap from the adoption of a well charted CRM system:

Customized Reach and Service: When you turn to CRM for real estate, you get to customize your communication and interactions as per the varied projects that you would like to promote. This helps you spread your efforts over a wider audience within that time frame. In turn, it reduces time spent on driving engagement towards a single campaign and also helps you promote a number of projects simultaneously. Understanding your customers becomes that much more easier since you are now tapping into all your customer information for varied properties and projects from the same place. This helps you customize your communication so that it becomes easier for your potential buyer to find the home or property of his or her choice that much faster and more efficiently – which also makes realtors and agents look that much more efficient.

Unified Approach: With CRM for real estate, you get to tap into the data for the multiple campaigns and properties from the same place where all the information and the data is stored. This makes your efforts unified and more organized which in turn helps you take stock of the said efforts in a better and more relevant manner so that you can measure the goals and your achievements accordingly. With this unified approach, you also get to understand the needs of the customers and bring in the right properties for the right buyers without wasting their time or yours.

Greater Likelihood of Closing a Sale: From the above two points, one thing has become clear – building and using a realtor CRM helps in reducing the time spent in campaigning for individual properties and matching the right property with the right property since all you have to do is tap into the data that has been stored in one unified field, as mentioned above. The real implication of this comes in the rise of the sales figures since such an organized and efficient method of presenting and communicating with prospects and customers helps the realtor in finding a greater success rate when it comes to closing the deal. You can find a greater likelihood of making a sale and closing the deal with an organized effort which also puts your customer at ease and helps you come across as a more professional brand.

Cultivating Future Customers:
In real estate, the trick is not to just make a sale at a single point or once. You have to put yourself in a position where the customer will remember you as and when an upgrade is required or when they have to make a recommendation to a friend, a colleague or a family member. When you manage your time better and up your productivity game with realtor CRM, you are also putting out a pretty strong message about your brand – one that the customer will not forget in a hurry when it is time for an upgrade to accommodate a growing family, or making a recommendation to someone who wants to go into escrow.

Stand Out in the Marketplace: When you are using real estate CRM, you are essentially taking all the steps to ensure that you face your competition straight in the eye so that you stand out and stand tall. The CRM strategy and automation along with the data management from one centralized location is something that will help you tap into opportunities faster and with more frequency than most of your competitors since it frees up the time for you to reach more people with much more efficacy within less time. In order to become more competitive, it is important for realtors and agents to consider creating a CRM system that will record and process all the data for proper communication and interactions from one unified place.

In order to maximize this effort, we would also suggest the merging of real estate CRM with marketing automation so that you can schedule and process all your communication with your interactions for multiple platforms within the sales and marketing gamut.

10 Reasons Why You Should Move to Cloud Accounting

Easy accessibility, sharable features, and secure storage are the keywords of a steadfast operational infrastructure in any business. Cloud Accounting software became an instant hit and the choice of thousands of global firms just after its inception. Apart from these features, cloud storage ensures, you can enjoy easy migration facilities in the future. Well, traditional storage systems are on the decline, as cloud accounting software brings you a multiplicity of features. If you are still managing your storage system with the old and cost-intensive devices, it’s time to incorporate the change.

Following are the ten key benefits of shifting to the cloud accounting system.

Security of data
Irrespective of the nature of business, you cannot sacrifice the security of your data. Today, the digitized infrastructure calls for optimum security of data. Physical storage devices are susceptible to physical damage, damage caused by water or malware. When accurately deployed, Accounting software based on cloud systems can keep your storage system secure from all these threats. You need not go for manual backups across multiple storage devices. Thus, it saves productive time of your business.

Cost-management
Traditionally, companies use large storage facilities like hard disks and compact disks, besides other storage devices. These devices cost a lot, and you need to buy them even if you don’t need the complete space. On the other hand, cloud storage systems are easy to use and cost-effective in nature. You can purchase virtual storage across the available platforms and pay only for the required storage space. You can enjoy a better control over your financial resources.

Accuracy
The manual storage process is not only tedious, but prone to human errors. When you store your files in the physical storage devices, you lack accuracy. Over the time, a number of junk files and duplicated copies occupy your storage space. You can maintain better accuracy when you shift to online databases. It becomes convenient for your employees to sort and locate the files. It features easy data-organization and ensures a seamless storage mechanism.

Collaborative system
In manual storage systems, it is not possible for multiple professionals to view the files or documents simultaneously. You need to store the files in separate drives or carry duplicated copies. However, cloud Accounting software enables you to use the files from multiple locations. Several multinational companies, or companies with offices in different locations can collaborate using this technology. They can synchronize in a better way, they can access the same document from different locations instantaneously.

Simple integration
One of the best features of cloud accounting systems is that it offers simple integration features with other software. You can install add-ons on these storage systems. For instance, accounting becomes easier when you install a payroll management add-on or tool on your cloud system. It makes the operations simple and swift. Companies are increasingly switching over to cloud storage systems to enjoy this flexibility. You can integrate all data assessment tools on the same platform.

Increased efficiency
No company would like to spend its productive time on a complicated storage management issues. In Accounting software based on cloud storage, the data is updated to the existing storage in quick time. Moreover, there are no time-consuming installation and updating processes involved. Seamless operations indicate that you save a lot of your productive time and effort. You can mobilize your resources in a better way and the productivity of your company is likely to shoot up.

Flexibility
Well, you do not necessarily need to be in your office in order to access the cloud storage system. Your employees can access the files and documents from any possible location. You can use the files while travelling, when you are at home and from anywhere you have access to internet. At times, you may need the documents when you are not carrying a physical storage device. In these cases, you can simply download them from the cloud system.

Free updates
From time to time, the cloud storage system has to be updated to retain the latest features. However, most of the systems come with auto-update features. You need not deal with any complicated technical aspect when you update them. Moreover, these are free updates where you do not have to pay any charge to the provider. It delivers all-round benefits to your operational infrastructure.

Better navigation
Cloud storage systems have better interfaces and navigation features. Anyone can use this storage mechanism, as it comes with a straightforward navigation system. With intuitive buttons, you can use the dashboard easily. It also saves time for your business as your employees face no hassle in locating the buttons or searching the files. They can make whatever changes required in the existing storage pattern. The user guide will help you to manage the system adroitly.

Help from forums
All cloud Accounting software comes with community forums. These are especially useful to the new users, as they clarify all sorts of doubts through these forums. You may be facing a certain problem while using the new system. These forums feature questions and answers, and discussions, where you can place your queries and get relevant answers. Although, the ‘Help’ button is present to provide you with the primary guidance, you may need further assistance from these platforms.

Overall, the cloud storage system is scalable. You need not invest in costly hardware. You simply need to pay a charge to the company. The amount of storage space needed can be scaled up and down. It ensures that you save your costs. Besides, most of the companies opt for managed IT services, where a third party controls their cloud accounting process. The number of employees required to control this system can also be increased or decreased. Altogether, you save money both on installation and maintenance of this system.
Besides, when you will use it, you will realize that cloud accounting systems streamline your account management system. Business firms save costs, reduce wastage of resources, ease up the operational process, and enjoy increased security. Cloud Accounting software has already made its way into a large section of industries. No wonder, the future of storage largely relies on cloud accounting.

Author Bio:

Kiran Bajpai works as a Marketing Associate at SoftwareSuggest. Her expertise lies in Documents Management Software. Reading books is something that she can never get bored of, especially those related to politics and history.

Increase the Internet Speed in the Office with These Tips

Your office runs on the internet. Without it, you aren’t going to get very much done. That’s why having a fast internet connection is essential.
Unfortunately, internet connections aren’t all they are cracked up to be. If things are a little slow, the fastest way to boost your speed is to pay your internet provider for a faster connection, but why do it that way when there are many other ways you can boost your speed that don’t require you to pay a higher monthly utility bill?
Before you rethink your internet service, try these tips to speed up your internet.

Try out a New Router
One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your internet speed is to replace your router. However, that doesn’t mean choosing the right router is easy. There are many different brands and types of routers to choose from.

According to BrightStar Systems, both Cisco and Juniper routers are popular with businesses because, “Both companies supply edge and core routers that are available in fixed and modular setups that support a variety of port configurations, speeds, and optics.”

However, there are some differences to keep in mind. Cisco is a larger company with more service engineers and support resources, while Juniper routers use a multi-layered system that is appealing to some businesses. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of every router you’re considering to make sure you get the one that provides you with the fastest internet connection in your unique situation.

Consider Replacing Your Network Equipment
Replacing your router is a good first step, but if you really want to enhance your internet connection, consider replacing your network cabling and equipment.

You may have to replace your equipment if you choose a router that isn’t compatible with your existing system, but you may want to consider replacing your equipment anyway. Undamaged cables and equipment with the latest technology can give you a boost to your internet connection.

Scan Your System for Viruses
Viruses can cause a lot of different problems for your computer and systems. One of the most serious is a compromise to your security, but some viruses are more insidious, frustrating you and your coworkers as you wait for the internet to load.

Scan your system for viruses regularly and get rid of any potential problems. Keeping your computer free of viruses can do a lot to speed up your internet connection.

While you’re at it, clean up your computer too. Unused documents, applications, and software can slow down everything on your computer. It can make opening applications difficult, but it can also make using the internet nearly impossible without extreme frustration.

Turn off the Modem Regularly
We are so continually connected to the internet that our devices are on 24/7. Although it may seem convenient not to have to power up your computer or turn on the modem, it is actually much better to turn all of your tech off regularly.
Benefits of turning your modem and other devices off at the end of every day include:
Improved network security, because hackers can’t access your system without the internet.
Saving on utility bills.
Protection from electric power surges without having to buy surge protectors.
Less wireless interference with other devices.
Prolonging the life of your devices.

One of the most convincing reasons to turn off your modem is the fact that it can boost your internet speed. It power cycles the device, flushing out problems that can slow down your internet connection.

Plug Computers Directly into the Modem
There’s no denying that using Wi-Fi is convenient, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to use the internet. If speed is your number one priority, you should plug essential devices directly into the internet. An ethernet connection is much better than a wired connection.

It may not make your internet connection that much faster unless you also upgrade your ethernet cable. A Cat6 cable is a popular option because it can support consistent speeds of 1 GB/s, while Wi-Fi speeds fluctuate.

It can also help when it comes to transferring files. Transferring them between computers that are connected with ethernet cables is always faster than doing it over Wi-Fi.
Don’t think you have to deal with higher utility bills if your business needs a boost in internet speed. There are many things you can do to make things faster. You’ll notice the biggest difference if you do all of the tips on this list!

Small Business Tech—8 Tips for Working More Efficiently

Whether you’re looking to create a more productive workforce or better connect with your customers, technology helps small business teams accomplish more with fewer resources and personnel. In many ways, today’s technology is the great equalizer—never before have SMB leaders had access to so many tools and applications that can help them outperform their more sizeable competition.

With so many tools and resources available, it can be difficult to determine which tech opportunities will help your small business the most. That’s why we’ve shared a few insights for small businesses looking to update their tech usage in order to work more effectively on the day-to-day.

Invoice more accurately
If you’re looking for a solution to your invoicing woes, look no further than an internet-based invoicing software. While some invoices are promptly paid off, there’s a good chance that your business struggles to manually check on invoices that are either overdue or partially paid. Having a professional invoicing system will not only help you keep track of each invoice your business is due but will also help ensure that you get paid in a timely manner. Even better, by hosting your invoicing information online, you can easily collect relevant information for tax season and set up recurring payments for repeat customers. Aside from this, it will also help you with your finances like keeping track of any short term financing or lines of credit that you might have taken out.

Connect with Social Media
From responding messages on Facebook to sending out your daily tweet, you can build a better online presence through a social media management tool. Social media is one of the most powerful methods for businesses to connect with current and potential buyers. As a result, your customers often require instantaneous engagement from your business when it comes to their questions, comments and concerns. Designed with the small business in mind, these platforms allow you to collaborate with several of your team members to schedule posts and address customer inquiries in real-time. With the aid of messaging templates and knowledge bases, you can also ensure that your team’s responses are on-brand and have the right tone.

Consolidate your communication
In order to improve your communication with both internal teams and external customers, you can support all of your communication channels through a simplified unified communications platform. This technology streamlines your approach to team chats, web conferencing and even phone calls by hosting them in a single place, allowing you to scale with ease and switch between different communication channels to meet your current needs. For small businesses specifically, this type of tool is effective because it lessens the need for on-site IT support and maintenance, giving you the flexibility that comes with online communication without the hassle of having to manage it yourself.

Manage your allocations
Creating accurate billing statements is even easier with the help of a project time tracking tool for small businesses. Especially when your teams are bouncing between multiple projects for an array of customers, it’s imperative for small businesses to track the cumulative time spent on each task to ensure that your customers are paying only what they owe. Time tracking software can also help on the front end by helping you properly allocate resources for each project. By recording the amount of time spent working, you can begin to gauge how much time and how many people will be needed to deliver your products or services before the deadline.

Create a customer support system
Designed to better manage customer priorities, a small business help desk software offers a single digital space to track your customer inquiries and prevent any tickets from falling through the cracks. Help desks are no foreign object for larger companies, and many providers of help desk systems now offer solutions that target challenges that are unique to a small business customer base. Many come equipped with a knowledge base to help you understand and make use of the many features this software can provide, and depending on your subscription package you’ll be able to assign tickets to specific team members and automate certain requests. Not only does this help you remain better organized, but it can also help you address customer concerns strategically for reduced response times and higher customer satisfaction.

Go paperless
Remove the hassle of paperwork, contracts and confidential documentation by adopting a cloud-based storage and backup solution. Paper documents are difficult to store, organize and keep secure; they take up valuable office space and can be easily damaged by water, mold and office fires. That’s why many small businesses have decided to go paperless by migrating to a cloud-hosted solution. Because your information is stored through the internet, accessing these documents is as simple as searching for them, regardless of your current location. However, it’s important to do your due diligence and pair your cloud system with a backup and disaster recovery tool to keep data losses reversible.

Unify employee training
Since small businesses rarely have the time or extra staff that training new hires demands, many SMB owners now use an interactive learning management system to keep your trainees engaged while they learn and develop the skills they need to succeed at your organization. Perhaps most importantly, LMS software helps small businesses create a repeatable and uniform process for training new hires in each role, which helps prevent any accidental omissions of information and promotes a more logical sequence of training activities. As your business grows and you hire more people, having a concrete training strategy in place will help your employees become proficient more quickly without requiring additional work on your end.

Secure company data
Any small business looking to digitize their work processes should remember to secure their information with a cyber-defense platform. It’s certainly true that cyberattacks previously targeted larger, corporate entities, but as technology has become more integrated with small businesses, even smaller organizations have found themselves the victims of data breaches and hacking attacks. Phishing emails are one specific type of cybercrime that small businesses are susceptible toward, as it only takes a single click from one of your employees for the hackers to have access to confidential information. By educating your team on some cybersecurity best practices and proactively investing in cyber tools, you can ensure that your employee, customer and business information stays in the right hands.

How to unlock web content. Quick VPN guide

Nowadays, we hear lots of buzz around these three simple letters – VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and this app (usually its an app) can be a real lifesaver in some of the situations. We’ll try to quickly guide you on how VPN works, what it can do and if you should get yourself one.

What is a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks are physical or virtual servers that allow you to browse the internet safely and, more importantly, privately. VPN’s simply route your traffic to another server and your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or government are not able to see your activity online.

Are VPNs legal?

Being honest – it literally depends on the purpose. VPN as a commercial service is relatively new, so there are not many laws that could limit usage of the software. In all European and Western countries (including The US, of course) VPNs are completely legal and you can definitely look for one. However, there are countries where usage of VPN can get you in trouble. Here are a few of them:
Singapore – Moral reasons
Jordan – Political stability
Libya – Political stability
Russia – National security
North Korea – Political stability, national security, moral reasons
China – Political stability, national security, moral reasons

How can VPN help me to unblock content I’d like to watch?

Streaming services like Netflix or Hulu are the most common use cases for a VPN app. As you probably know (or not), Netflix libraries are different in each country. People pay the same amount of cash, but receive different types of content. Most of the TV series are available in the US, however, Europeans, Asians and everyone else are not able to see the particular shows (e.g. The Office is not available in Europe) at home. That’s a situation when a VPN comes in handy. VPN simply removes location filters created by Netflix, Hulu or any other streaming platform and will allow you to enjoy any content you prefer.
https://www.netflixvpn.com/static/upload/image/20190415/1555308418782558.png
Keep in mind that not all VPN providers unblock specific streaming platforms, so be careful when choosing your provider. VPNroom.com experts have a list of the best VPN providers and here are their TOP 3 picks for Netflix:

1) NordVPN – best overall
2) ExpressVPN
3) Surfshark

Steps how to unblock any content you want

1) Get yourself a VPN subscription
2) Download a client depending on device/OS you use
3) Connect to a US server (or any other you prefer, of course)
4) Connect to Netflix and boom. You are able to see the full library.

Is it worth using a free VPN?

A good VPN service requires some heavy investment. Everything costs money – powerful servers, infrastructure, employees, etc.. If the company is willing to provide all of this for free, there may be a catch involved.

Also, on top of a sketchy catch, there are some technical issues that also occur with these providers. Eg.:
Limited bandwidth
Limitations on server location and availability
No quality guarantee
Data may not be secure

Conclusion: VPN is a great thing if you love to watch TV series, travel, or use free Wi-Fi zones. Of course, number 1 reason why people use VPNs is to strengthen their privacy on the intenter, but it can be a really nice to have tool for your free-time activities as well.

Online Business for Students: Your Winning Instruction to Build It from Scratch

Have you ever thought it would be awesome to start your own business and make big money? Many people get this thought, but what holds the majority from transforming their ideas into action? There are plenty of reasons – fear, lack of motivation, time, etc. However, is starting a business as a student that hard? Hopefully, our article will change your mind!

The 21st century and the development of technology have started a brand new era in the sphere of business. Today, on the Internet, we have plenty of earning opportunities and even more opportunities for implementing our ideas.

It may be quite challenging and stressful at first. The chances are that in the early stages, you will lack time for different college or uni assignments. However, there are plenty of tools that will help you with that.

Remember that whenever you are short on time to perform a college task, you can contact a reliable writing service. Whenever you need someone to fulfill your request write my essay online, the job will be done as soon as possible.

Now, let’s dive into the details of how to start a business in e-commerce and succeed!

Top E-Commerce Niches for College Students

In the modern world, young entrepreneurs have plenty of opportunities. However, it is fair to say that not every niche is suitable for a student due to a number of reasons.

Ideally, a perfect and easy-to-implement idea for a student should satisfy the following characteristics.

Flexibility – you should be able to run it without harming your performance. Thus, it has to be flexible enough to allow you to manage it from anywhere and at any time.

Lack of product-related issues. Businesses that are tied up on manufacturing, stocking, buying and shipping physical goods can cause busy students too much stress and problems.

Affordability. It is evident that young people are often on a tight budget, which means they can’t afford to invest lots of money in the implementation of their ideas.

These limitations define the perfect venture for a student. Now, let’s take a look at the best niches to engage in without burdening yourself with timing or product issues and overly high startup costs.

Affiliate Marketing

Building a business in affiliate marketing is one of the best ideas for college students. It doesn’t require investment, can be run from anywhere. You can start earning good money using your social media accounts, and it is an excellent way to gain a bit of experience in e-commerce. Besides, affiliate marketing can become a passive source of income for many years, even when you move on to a more ambitious venture.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is the easiest way to sell goods online without having to worry about manufacturing, logistics, and other issues.
Besides, a small dropshipping venture has all the chances to grow into a full-scale business in the future, so it gives you good perspectives.

Blogging

If you are looking to engage in an entertainment-related e-commerce niche, blogging might be just the right solution.

Running a blog, you can share your talents, thoughts, and ideas with a broad audience and then grow your business to start selling advertisements, personal services, or goods via your blog.

Explicit Guide to Start Making First Steps in E-commerce

Engaging in any e-commerce venture, you are going to face lots of issues. However, with the help of our guide, it should be less stressful and much more effective.

Choose a Suitable Niche

First of all, you should have a clear idea of what niche suits your needs. Above, we have outlined some of the best ideas to consider. However, you can also think of other suggestions that sound good to you!

Pick the Right Product

Your next move is to decide what kind of products you are going to promote/sell/recommend to the audience. When selecting the product, make sure that it is relevant, demanded, and something you are interested in.

Define Your Target Audience

Apart from deciding what you are going to offer, it is vital to know who you are planning to reach. To find your target audience, think of the product you provide and who would benefit most from it.

This will help you outline your “perfect customers” and give ideas on how to reach out to them.

Pick the Right Selling Channels

As you might know, there are plenty of ways to sell goods. Some of the most commonly-used channels are selling platforms like eBay, websites, and social media.

Which one to choose? For students, various social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and others are the best choice!

First of all, using social media for sales won’t cost you as much as creating and maintaining a website. Besides, social media are a comfortable and familiar environment for most learners, so you shouldn’t have any problems figuring out how it works.

Improve Your Time-Management Skills

Lack of time is a pressing issue for most students. Thus, before starting a business, you should think of how you will separate working hours and studying.

Ensure Your Safety

Finally, when almost everything is set and ready, you should find an appropriate payment method that will allow you to ensure that you will get paid and not scammed as a junior entrepreneur.

Selling goods online can be somewhat tricky when it comes to billing. The Internet is full of scams, so it is crucial to ensure your safety.

To do this, we recommend using only trusted and secure payment methods. PayPal is currently the most favorable option, so it can be a good starting point for your e-commerce venture.

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.

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.