5 Free Tools to Help Small Business Owners With Organization and Communications

If you’ve started your own business, you probably find yourself working more hours than ever before and covering a broader range of responsibilities. Maybe you can’t afford to hire additional staff, but you can work smarter by taking advantage of free tools that will help you communicate better and stay organized. These are 5 services you may want to start using if you don’t already have them.

  1. Google Voice (google.com/voice): You can teach an old phone new tricks. Add some nifty free phone features to any computer or mobile device using Google Voice. It works with any phone or carrier. One of the most popular features is “One Number” that provides you with a single number that will ring you anywhere on any device. There’s also online voicemail that delivers transcribed messages straight to your inbox. Meanwhile, “Cheap Calls” offer free calls and text messages in the U.S. and Canada and very competitive rates for other parts of the world. Last month, Google Voice announced they’ve taken their first step in response to heavy demand for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) support. Google Voice users can now receive pictures and other multimedia attachments from Sprint subscribers and arrangements are underway with other mobile operators.
  2. Skype (skype.com): Skype has over 600 million registered users so it’s one easy way to cut your phone bills fast. You can call other Skype users for free and get low rates for calling other landline and cell phones. Many additional features are also offered including instant messaging, file transfers and videoconferencing. Pick the service best for you by comparison shopping between Skype and its competitors like Empathy and Google Talk. You may also want to talk with your network administrator if you have any concerns about security and bandwidth usage.
  3. Phonevite (phonevite.com): If you like broadcast email you’ll love broadcast voicemail. It works about the same way. Set up an account and you can leave a voicemail message for multiple people all at once. It’s great for reminders and alerts.
  4. Dropbox (dropbox.com): Dropbox is one of the most popular online backup and storage programs. Like they say, bring your documents and files anywhere and share them easily. You can access your files from multiple computers and create separate folders for information you want to share and information you need to keep private.
  5. Google Tasks (http://mail.google.com/mail/help/tasks/): Organize your to do lists and tasks. Gmail lets you convert emails into tasks. Create tasks with due dates and they’ll automatically display on your Google calendar. Use iGoogle to add a tasks gadget to your personalized homepage.

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Ways to Make Your Business Standout – Create Business Growth

Being a business owner is hard work. There is so much competition out there these days, and in the age of online sales, having a brick and mortar business is especially challenging. It is more important than ever to get your business to stand out from the crowd. It can be difficult to know what steps to take, but consider trying these ideas to help bring in new business. 

Exceptional Customer Service

These days, companies rely heavily on online reviews. Most people are going to look you up before they do business with you, and if you have mostly bad reviews, they will probably move on to someone else. The fact of the matter is, some customers are just difficult to deal with. As a business owner, you have to know how to handle even the most challenging of clients. Have procedures in place, and regularly train your employees on what excellent customer service looks like. If you have a particularly angry customer, it is always a good idea to deal with it yourself. Customers are more likely to feel like you value their feedback if you handle troublesome situations yourself. 

Have the Right Products

Always make sure you are selling quality products. If what you sell consistently breaks or has issues, your customers will not be happy. If you sell food products, always make sure you take the highest safety precautions possible so that your food does not become a hazard. Follow food laws, and keep your food at the right temperature with refrigeration or by using the proper hot food display equipment. Selling quality products is important, but you also want to make sure that you are selling the right products to the right people. Understanding your target market and what they want is essential in business. 

Give Back

As a business owner, it is important to give back to your community. Sponsor school sports teams or other community events. Launching a charity drive at your store can bring in new customers, and you will be helping out those in need at the same time. You can also look into partnering with other small businesses to help each other out. 

Running a business is never an easy job, but it can be very rewarding in the long run. Always make sure you are being socially conscious and doing right by your customers. Valuing your customers and taking pride in what you sell can help your business last for years to come. …

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Tips to Expand Your Business

Honestly, the statistics about the rate at which small businesses fail differ from each source to source.  It’s possibly attributable to the various definitions of what constitutes a small business.  Nevertheless, no matter the source, the stats are not in the favor of small businesses succeeding.  A substantial amount fail within the first two years.  The numbers get better as the years progress, but only marginally.  Yet there are some small business owners who are lucky enough to wonder not how they will keep their business afloat, but as to how they are going to expand.  Here are some tips for those owners.

Open Another Location

It may be expensive, but it’s also the most obvious.  Still, be careful before implementing this action.  Make sure your bottom line can survive it, and only do it if you’ve shown steady progress over a course of a few years.

Go Online

Honestly, with the exception of shallow pockets, there’s no reason a business shouldn’t have a website.  The amount of online commerce done accelerates year after year.  As Bill Gates once said, “There will be only two kinds of businesses: Those with an internet presence and those with no business at all.”  And that was back in 2002.

Franchise

If you’re not adverse to giving up some control in how your business works, this is a feasible option.  Make sure you fall in with the right people; Join the International Franchise Association, and they will lead you in the right way.

Expand Your Market

Don’t just multiply what you already have; look into other things your business can do.  Be mindful of your target consumer, and do extensive research as to what that consumer may want.

Win a Government Contract

It requires a lot of work, but it is absolutely worth it.  The federal government has been the best customer for small business America over the last ten years.  The Small Business Association and your Chamber of Commerce will help you target the best contracts.

It’s understandably nerve-racking to expand your business, but the rewards you can reap can be worth it for sure.…

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Expand Your Business through Co Working

Expanding a business is one of the most viable ways to ensure success in today’s ever changing world. This is not always an easy task, especially when there are so many factors that must be in place to do so. If you are trying or have tried to expand your business or career, you know just how much time and money is necessary to see any growth at all. Creating this wealth can be difficult and stressful if you aren’t quite sure where to start.

A great place to begin your journey is having a sound workplace to build your brand from. Coworking is the latest and greatest in the way professionals around the globe are choosing to work. When coworking, you share an office space with individuals that come from different backgrounds who all bring something different to the table.

The fact that you are working in a shared space with dozens of other like-minded individuals not only makes you more productive, but will build your personal and professional networks. DeskHub, a leader in the coworking industry, says, “Coworking allows you to be continuously surrounded by accomplished professionals who will in some way contribute to your business. The individuals who work in shared spaces become a tight knit community who are always supporting and helping out one another.” The person sitting next to you will undoubtedly contribute to your business in some way and may become a potential client, employee, or partner. Collaborations are always eminent in a shared space, and because everyone in the space comes from a unique background, these may not be otherwise possible.

Another huge plus to coworking while trying to expand is how reasonably priced shared spaces are. Because you are splitting the cost of a workplace with other individuals, the price to rent daily or monthly are greatly reduced. This is a great way to cut costs in one area in order to better use funds somewhere else, without compromising on quality. Shared spaces are in high traffic, convenient areas, whose real estate may be out of the budget when renting or buying a space of your own. They also decked out in all the necessary amenities, like coffee and food bars, wireless access, and print, fax, and mail machines, to name a few. Owning a work space can also be extremely stressful when having to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of the area. Coworking eliminates this hassle, allowing you to spend time where it is needed most.

If you are at the beginning of your business venture, you may have tried working out of the house or at a local coffee shop or library. These places are filled with distractions and decrease productivity immensely. DeskHub explains, “When working in a shared space the people and area itself is inspiring. There are no outside distractions and the space has been designed with how every individual works best, in mind. No matter if you prefer a locked office or open seating with lounge chairs, coworking will allow you to be at your best all the time.”

Coworking is a fantastic solution to professionals in every sector looking to build their business. Whether you work alone or in a team, shared spaces are beneficial to everyone involved. To learn more about coworking and its advantages, visit http://deskhub.com.…

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Are You Prepared for the 4 Biggest Challenges of Running a Business?

Whether you have been in business for years or are just starting out, you will quickly realize that there are four parts of running a business that present the greatest challenges. In order to succeed, you must master these four problem areas, and once you have done that, the rest will fall into place quite quickly. If you’ve been struggling to increase productivity, but somehow fall short of the mark month after month, you might want to consider business coaching to help you identify which area, or areas, you need the most help with. Take a look at these key problematic categories and you’ll probably be able to spot where you need the most help.

1) Time

Yes, it’s an old cliché, but in business, time really is money. For every minute you waste, you are wasting part of your profits. But you can learn to manage your time and your team’s time much more efficiently. One of the keys to turning a profit is to make the most of every manpower hour on the clock. You might also want to outsource some areas of your business, such as managed IT services, if you don’t have anyone with expertise in these areas, as this will help save a lot of time. Once you have done that, you can probably turn to the next problem area, and that would be creating a team-oriented climate.

2) Team

A little competition is a good thing, but when it gets in the way of productivity, it can quickly kill a business. Are you struggling with tension between competitive personalities and teamwork in your crew? One of the biggest problems many business owners and directors face is getting the team motivated to work together as a cohesive whole. Team work makes every task easier on everyone involved and with compounded experience, no job is insurmountable. Building a like-minded team should be a main focal point for any director.

3) Sales

Then there are sales to contend with. Do you find that you are not quite making quota regularly enough to sustain an acceptable profit margin? You know you have a great product line and that what you have to sell is in high demand, so why aren’t you selling more? Learning to identify problem areas in your sales staff is the first step towards attaining those goals you’ve set. It just might be that the problem isn’t with your team at all but with the process you’ve set out for them. Their pitch may be all wrong and they may simply not have the motivation to excel.

4) Organization

Could it be that all the other three problem areas are simply the result of a general lack of organizational skills? A roadmap with pieces of the page missing will rarely get you to your target destination. Perhaps you’ve put the puzzle together wrong or are missing a few key interlocking pieces. It takes organization to complete the picture and just like completing a jigsaw puzzle, you put the perimeter in place on one side, the middle on the other and go from there. Organization is vital if you want your business to act as one complete unit headed in the same direction – up.

If you are struggling to raise your profit margin, take a good look at these key problem areas that many business owners and directors face. You can probably spot problems in each of the four which means it’s time for a bit of introspection and a lot of help. Overcome these problems and watch your bottom line grow. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking for help.…

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