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COVID Related Healthcare Benefit Changes – What Help Is There?

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Business
COVID Related Healthcare Benefit Changes – What Help Is There?

The past several months have had historic changes in taxes for individuals and for businesses. The challenges for businesses have steadily increased and may even become more difficult in the current tax environment. How does a small business cope with all the COVID related changes to health benefits? How can a small business get better business deductions on family healthcare expenses? If a business does not quality for the Employee Retention Credit, how can a business save big on payroll tax? This program is for the small business owner to learn about the available options such as a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA’s), which can be an affordable alternative to providing group health insurance.  Marcelino Dodge, EA and Dan Pavek discuss these option and how small business owner can use these plans to create affordable healthcare options for their employees.

Click here for all the information

Does Your Website Comply with the ADA? A Tax Credit Can Help You!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Business
Does Your Website Comply with the ADA? A Tax Credit Can Help You!

Small businesses with websites could be subject to legal action if their website is not readable by the blind. Around the country small businesses are receiving demand letters for payments of $10,000 for legal settlements if their website cannot be navigated by the blind. Small businesses cannot afford to pay such legal settlements or the legal costs to defend themselves. David Steckelberg of Internet Access for Disabled Americans will discuss how a small business can protect itself from this very real threat. Learn how to have your website compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and receive a tax credit.

Click here for this vital information for businesses with a website.

COVID Related Healthcare Benefit Changes – What Help Is There?

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Business
COVID Related Healthcare Benefit Changes – What Help Is There?

The past 12 months has had historic changes in taxes for individuals and for businesses. The challenges for businesses have steadily increased and may even become more difficult in the current tax environment. How does a small business cope with all the COVID related changes to health benefits? How can a small business get better business deductions on family healthcare expenses? If a business does not quality for the Employee Retention Credit, how can a business save big on payroll tax? Dan Pavek from TASC joins me on this program is for the small business owner to learn about the available options such as Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA’s), which can be an affordable alternative to providing group health insurance.

Click here for all the details

Setting Boundaries in Your Business

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Variety
Setting Boundaries in Your Business

As business owners, we often don’t set boundaries for fear of losing existing clients or not being able to find new clients. But, setting boundaries is necessary to maintain your sanity, ensure alignment with your mission, and build a thriving business. By setting healthy boundaries, you show customers, partners, and funders that you value your time and work. This week, we’re sharing tips for setting boundaries in your business.

Define Your Offerings

Setting boundaries in your business starts with defining your offerings and your customer base. Your business isn’t going to be everything to everyone. And, trying to meet everyone’s needs is going to drive you insane! You need to set parameters around who your target market is and how you work with them to meet their needs. And then, make sure that information is clearly stated in your website and other marketing collateral, and in your sales process.

Set Your Working Hours

The increasing pace of emails, texts, and social media can make you feel like you need to constantly be available for your customers. You may even feel guilty when you step away to attend to other parts of your life. While there are times when there is an emergency that requires your immediate attention, that’s not the norm. Most things in your business can be dealt with during working hours. As a business owner you can set those working hours. And then, let your customers know when you are available and only respond to them during those hours.

Schedule Your Workdays

Putting structure to your days allows you take control over your time.  Develop a weekly schedule that works with your rhythms. Start with the times you plan on waking up and going to sleep and how much sleep you need. Be sure to incorporate your morning and evening rituals and responsibilities. Identify the best days and times for you to schedule routine operating activities, hold business meetings, work on your business plans, and take time for breaks and self-care. Being disciplined in your scheduling helps keep you on task and supports your work-life balance.

Manage Scope Creep

Despite our best efforts to set boundaries around our offerings, sometimes our customers will ask “Can you do this one additional thing? Or, can you just change this one thing for me?” When the scope of what you are offering a customer keeps growing beyond the original agreement, it’s called scope creep. You can manage scope creep by making sure you have a clear agreement with the customer about what you are delivering and sticking to what you agreed to. If you feel compelled to offer the additions the customer is asking for, be honest with them that it’s out of the scope of what you do and ask for appropriate value for the additions. An understanding customer will either adjust their request or pay for the additional scope.

Develop Payment Policies

Customer payment issues can cause financial hardships for your growing business. As such, it’s important to develop standard policies for customer payments, including when they are supposed to pay, how they can pay you, what happens if their payments are late, and whether there are guarantees or refunds. Clearly communicate these policies to your new customers.  And before you provide your product or service to them, make sure they have agreed to the terms.

Allow Yourself to Say “No”

As entrepreneurs, we enjoy helping. We started a business because we saw a need and wanted to help by creating a solution. So, it’s hard for many of us to say “no” when we receive a request even if we don’t really have the time or capacity to fulfill it. We might feel guilty about saying “no” or worry about what others will think or say. But, saying “no” helps you avoid disappointing yourself and others in the long run if you are unable to honor your commitment. It also protects your priorities and time by not adding another thing to your plate.

Rani Langer-Croager is co-host of Envision radio show on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel and co-founder of Uptima Business Bootcamp, a network of member-owned business accelerators dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with greater access to hands-on education, mentorship, resources, and community to create thriving businesses.

This article is republished from the Uptima Business Bootcamp Blog. Please subscribe to our blog and newsletter to get these posts delivered to your inbox.

How to Follow Up with Customer Leads

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Variety
How to Follow Up with Customer Leads

You’ve received the name and contact information of someone who could be a potential customer. Now, how do you begin to convert that lead into a sale? Some of the traditional processes of converting leads into customers might feel out of alignment with your values. This week we’re exploring how to follow up with a customer lead in a way that begins to create a relationship and not just a transaction.

Start with Your Mindset

As we think about following up with customer leads, we can slip into a couple of negative mindsets. We might be paralyzed at the prospect of reaching out because we’re afraid of what they might say in response. Or, we might fall into scarcity mode and try too hard to sell them. Neither of these mindsets help us nurture relationships with potential customers. In the first scenario, we never follow up. In the second scenario, we are more likely to chase new business and treat the other people like transactions. Remember that we are humans who need connection to each other. And to achieve connection, we need to focus on creating relationships. This is a process that starts with our own mindset and attitudes toward others.

Determine if it Makes Sense to Follow Up

First, determine where the lead come from – networking, your online form, a walk-in. There are many ways you can receive a lead, and knowing where they came from can help you understand how much they might already know about your business and what their level of interest is in working with you. Also, evaluate if they fit your customer profile. Think back to what you know about your ideal customer from customer research and past customer experiences. If possible, check them out by reviewing their website, bio, LinkedIn profile, or other online information. For walk-ins, strike up a conversation with them. Learn a little bit about them and their needs. And lastly, look for their intent. Does it feel like they are just being polite? Or, do they genuinely seem interested in learning more about what you do?

Start a Conversation

If it makes sense to follow up, there are different ways you can start a conversation depending on their level of interest in working with you. If they are interested in your business but not quite ready to work with you, ask permission to add them to your newsletter list so they can stay up to date on your business activities. If they seem to have a high interest in working with you in the near term, follow-up with a personal email or phone call. Refer to how you know them and any conversation you’ve had with them, and ask for a phone call or meeting. In whichever way you start the conversation, make it convenient for them, listen for their needs and how you can help them, and stay true to your values.

Rani Langer-Croager is co-host of Envision radio show on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel and co-founder of Uptima Business Bootcamp, a network of member-owned business accelerators dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with greater access to hands-on education, mentorship, resources, and community to create thriving businesses.

This article is republished from the Uptima Business Bootcamp Blog. Please subscribe to our blog and newsletter to get these posts delivered to your inbox.

Should I Join an Entrepreneurship Program?

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Business
Should I Join an Entrepreneurship Program?

This is the year you’re ready to start your own business. And you’re trying to decide whether you should join an entrepreneurship program, such as a business incubator, accelerator or class, or go it alone. This week, find out how an entrepreneurship program can help you lay the foundation to create a thriving business.

Learn the Essentials

Starting and running a business isn’t just about getting a product or service out there. To create a thriving business, you need to have a firm understanding of business concepts and possess certain skills and mindsets. Entrepreneurship programs provide curriculum and expert instruction to help you develop your product or service to meet customer needs, reach your target market, create a business plan, forecast your numbers, develop business processes and infrastructure, navigate the fundraising process, and operate your business sustainably.

Focus on Your Business

Participating in an entrepreneurship program requires a commitment of time and energy to developing your business. Entrepreneurship programs provide structure, such as coming into a class every week or completing certain activities, to support you in focusing on what’s necessary for you for you to turn your idea into reality.

Receive Mentoring

Entrepreneurship programs provide access to mentors and business advisors. This might range from a dedicated mentor to provide guidance throughout the program to matching you with an advisor when you have a specific need. These mentors typically have experience as business owners and can provide valuable perspective on the development of your idea into a business.

Save Money

Because most entrepreneurship programs require an investment of your money into program fees or tuition, the potential savings might not seem obvious to you right now. But, the skills you learn and mentorship you receive through an entrepreneurship program will help you accelerate the development of your business and avoid common pitfalls, saving you time and money over the longer term.

Gain Credibility

When you’re just starting out and don’t have a track record with your business, it can be difficult to get the time and attention of potential customers, partners, and investors. Completing a known entrepreneurship program can give you more credibility. It shows people that you have gone through a selection process and done the work to develop your business.

Be Part of a Community

Starting a business can feel lonely. In the earliest stages of the business, you are holding the vision and doing all the work. It helps to have a support network of peers who are sharing the same experience with their businesses. By joining an entrepreneurship program, you become part of such a community and receive insights, encouragement, and accountability from your peers.

To get started as a freelancer, small business owner, or startup, check out our programs in San Francisco and Oakland. Applications for Launching a Business module and Freelancer Accelerator are due January 19.

Rani Langer-Croager is co-host of Envision radio show on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel and co-founder of Uptima Business Bootcamp, a network of member-owned business accelerators dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with greater access to hands-on education, mentorship, resources, and community to create thriving businesses.

This article is republished from the Uptima Business Bootcamp Blog. Please subscribe to our blog and newsletter to get these posts delivered to your inbox.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

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Business
New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

As a business owner, the beginning of the year is an exciting time. It brings an opportunity to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t, and resolve to make improvements to set your business on a path to success. We’ve compiled some resolutions to help you increase your business success this year.

Let Go of What Isn’t Working

Do you have a product or service that isn’t selling? Have you been sinking a lot of resources into marketing and sales efforts that aren’t yielding any results? If there’s something in your business that’s not working, commit to letting it go. Even if it means dropping a product or service, or changing your marketing or sales techniques. Your time is too valuable to get sucked into fixing something that is ultimately unworkable.

Work on the Business, Not Just in It

It’s easy to get drawn into the day-to-day tasks of running your business. But, it’s important to make time to work on your business, not just in it. Commit time each week to reviewing your business’ performance, identifying adjustments that need to be made, and planning for the future. Making time each week to plan your business will help you stay on track and feel more confident about the direction of your business.

Put Your Business Out There

Get more proactive about putting your business out there. Improve your online presence by launching your website or giving your website a fresh look. Identify ways to successfully promote your business online, and start executing on them. And, don’t forget that it’s still important to get out and promote your business in-person. Commit to participating in relevant networking events, trade shows, and other in-person activities that can help you meet potential new customers and partners.

Stop Doing Everything All the Time

There are so many things to do in the business every day. And, we might think we need to do everything ourselves, leaving us tired and stressed out. Find ways to automate some of your business processes, such as scheduling your social media through Hootsuite or Buffer or automating email campaigns with MailChimp or Constant Contact. Also, start bringing on independent contractors or employees to share some of the work so you can focus on growing the business.

Make Time for Yourself

You work hard to make your business successful. At the same time, it’s important to take time to recharge. Make time for life outside of work – spending time with family and friends, taking up a hobby or passion project, rejuvenating through self-care, or anything else that supports you to feel well-rounded. When you feel like a whole person, you bring your best self to your business.

Rani Langer-Croager is co-host of Envision radio show on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel and co-founder of Uptima Business Bootcamp, a network of member-owned business accelerators dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with greater access to hands-on education, mentorship, resources, and community to create thriving businesses.

This article is republished from the Uptima Business Bootcamp Blog. Please subscribe to our blog and newsletter to get these posts delivered to your inbox.

Know your Self Interest, Then Shape Your World By Dr. Kas Henry

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Empowerment
Know your Self Interest, Then Shape Your World By Dr. Kas Henry

The life we sustain by our choices are our own. This is nowhere truer than in a capitalist democracy where our choices drive the market and our civil society through our vote and subsequent participation in the democratic process.  A functional democracy that intends to be sustainable cannot be treated as a spectator sport by the citizens.  It is very much a contact sport that requires educated and fact based active participation if it is to benefit the voting citizens. At the core of that participatory democracy is an empowered citizen population that understand their own self-interest.

Each persona’s self-interest is not one-dimensional because it needs to address the interest of a person in the four functional roles, namely
• Worker
• Consumer
• Investor
• Citizen
If we want high pay as workers, we need to understand that we cannot have all our goods and services free or cheap.  If we want high return on investment form our 401K or Pension, regardless of the morality of the organizations delivering those high returns, as citizens and consumers are we willing to accept the cost of profit making by way of pollution in our water supply or the sub-prime crisis that leads to our job loss and home foreclosure?

It is true we come into every situation for a purpose, but just like Goldilocks realized, we need to exclude the extreme choices of “Too Hot” and “Too Cold” to find what is “just right” and then pursue it while balancing our self-interest.  Such is the case when shaping public policy.  Stakeholders start in extreme positions and with dialogue, facts and consensus building a workable balance could be established for progress to happen.

Please join My Guest Bukola Bello of Vision Mai LLC and me to engage in this very important conversation so we get it just right. We need to harmonize our multifaceted self-interest to build a solid foundation for a sustainable democracy which is the underpinning of our empowered lives.  The rules of engagement for our lives are shaped by the public policies in play. Let’s make sure we lay down these policies just right so we can build on it!

 

More Here!

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ADVICE FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS By Hemda Mizrahi and Joe Kashurba

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Business
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ADVICE FOR DIGITAL MARKETERS By  Hemda Mizrahi and Joe Kashurba

Joe Kashurba grew the freelance web design business he started in high school into the digital agency Kashurba Web Design with a virtual team and clients around the world. As the CEO and Founder of Accelerator Consulting he also advises and mentors other freelance web designers and digital agency owners on how to develop and scale their businesses.
Joe joined me on “Turn the Page” to provide guidance on how stagnating or declining companies can recharge their sales growth. In this post, he offers pointers for web design and digital marketing entrepreneurs. Here’s what he says:
“Instead of being a generalist, you need to be specialist who offers specific benefits to ideal clients. Take these FOUR STEPS to get started on figuring out your niche or specialization:

1. Make a list of your top 5 best clients or customers.

2. Write down why these clients or customers chose to work with you instead of a competitor.

3. Write down what these clients or customers REALLY wanted.

4. Write down why these are your favorite clients or customers.”

Joe underscores that it PAYS to specialize: “Many of the people that we’ve worked with have been able to at least double their web design and digital marketing prices. One client landed three big projects ($5K+) within a week of working with us by simply getting clear about his ideal clients and contacting people within his network who were a good fit. We helped this same client hire a part-time project manager so that he could free up his time and scale his business faster.”

He suggests, “once you figure out your niche or specialization, develop specific plans and packages with set pricing geared towards your ideal clients. The step that follows is to create a marketing campaign to target those clients. Don’t change the name of your business or spend six months re-designing your website. Simply craft a marketing campaign and go after your ideal clients.”

He shares the story of a web designer to illustrate this process.

“The web designer identified that:

• All of his best clients were construction companies or engineering firms that bid on large government contracts.

• They chose to work with him because he was willing to meet with them in-person and because they liked the  professional look of the websites in his portfolio.

• What these companies REALLY wanted was to look big when they were bidding on contracts and to recruit high- quality employees.

• He liked these clients because they were very organized and typically trusted him on the creative direction.

He developed new packages and eliminated an existing service:

1. One new website package included a basic listing of job openings, and the other offered a more advanced job board  where people could apply online. Both packages provided a custom design since the professional look was important  to his construction/engineering clients.

2. He added a new service, developing a graphic design package that included a trade show display and print  materials that clients could use at job fairs.

3. He stopped offering search engine optimization. He hated doing SEO, and his clients weren’t looking to attract    new leads online anyway.

Here’s how he marketed his services:

The designer knew that his clients liked to meet in-person, so he decided to target large construction and engineering firms that were within a 2-hour drive from his office. He made a list of all of those companies and developed a direct email campaign to get in touch with them. In the email, he talked about looking big when bidding for contracts and recruiting good employees—he did not talk about web hosting, meta tags and other technical jargon. He would first sell them a website, and then he would offer them the trade show graphic design package as a second step.”

Joe provides this bottom-line advice:

MARKET SOPHISTICATION
“A lot of people worry that the web design industry is dying because of Wix and SquareSpace. However, the market is just getting more sophisticated. The businesses that wouldn’t have had a website at all 5-10 years ago are now ready for a simple affordable do-it-yourself website. The businesses that wanted a simple affordable website 5-10 years ago are now ready to invest money in growing their business online. Therefore, it is NOT the right time to be selling simple affordable websites, but it IS the right time to be building serious websites for businesses that are ready to use the Internet to grow.”

DEAL FLOW
“One of the keys to working only with ideal clients and increasing your prices is deal flow. Deal flow means having a consistent stream of new potential clients contacting you, new proposals being sent out, new proposals being accepted, etc. When you have a lot of deal flow, you have the luxury of cherry picking the clients you want to work with and charging higher prices because it doesn’t matter if a particular potential client doesn’t have the budget for your services. The problem is that most web designers and agency owners have very little deal flow because they focus on everything EXCEPT getting more deal flow. Most web designers and agency owners spend time on all kinds of things that don’t actually matter (re-designing their logo, re-designing their business cards, posting on Pinterest, etc.), but they never actually do any marketing or prospecting. The first step is to realize that you need deal flow. The second step is to make sure that something happens in your business every day to generate more deal flow. That could mean sending out direct mail every day, it could meaning having ads running on Google or Facebook consistently, it could mean applying for jobs on Upwork everyday. Many of the people that we’ve worked with have been able to get a consistent flow of high-quality leads by launching paid advertising campaigns.”

Listen to my conversation with Joe to consider how you would add value with clients who need to recharge their deal flow.

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