Tech tools to help manage small business finances

Many small business entrepreneurs find it challenging to deal with the numerous financial management tasks required to keep a company operational. These include bookkeeping, accounting, invoicing and managing the payroll.

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In spite of its obvious challenges, financial management is a vital skill for every business owner. How you manage your business’s money can make all the difference between success and failure. Thanks to technology, you now have a wide range of tools that can go a long way towards helping you manage your business finances. These tools can save you both time and money, whilst keeping your firm in smooth operation.

We have come up with the following financial management tools and software for your small business:

  • Accounting software

When looking for good accounting software, look out for one that carries out basic functions such as expense tracking, quote and estimate creation, payroll processing, budget creation and tax preparation. The really good ones also allow multiple-user access as well as mobile access, allowing you to easily integrate credit card processing, point-of-sale software and other apps into the system. Traditional accounting software such as QuickBooks are gradually giving way to newer ones. Xero is one such modern software designed to provide small firms with a simple system for handling their business accounts.

  • Invoicing tools

Professional-looking invoices can improve your standing with your suppliers and can ensure that you get paid more reliably. An online invoicing tool such as Invoice Home allows you to easily create and customise business invoices using attractive templates. Check out the numerous invoicing templates available at https://invoicehome.com/.

  • Payroll management systems

As your business grows, you will have to deal with payroll management, which can be quite tedious and time-consuming. Thankfully, you can use software such as Gusto to streamline the payroll process. Gusto has a provision for processing payroll cheques as well as managing withholding taxes, making the whole process a breeze.

  • E-commerce tools

Your business will need a reliable e-commerce solution that enables your customers to instantly pay for your products. You need to ensure that the payment system you use is secure to prevent your customers’ financial data from landing in the wrong hands. You can use tried and tested e-commerce tools such as PayPal, Square or Apple Pay to get the job done.

  • Expense tracking software

All the hassle involved in running a small business can easily make you lose track of your company’s expenses. These can quickly pile up and create problems if they don’t get tracked. Tools such as Xpenditure and Expensify allow employees to use their mobile devices to scan receipts or add cash expenses and then upload them to a central system. You can then import all this information and use it to balance your accounts.

From the examples above, you can see that there are tools and software for literally all the processes involved in financial management. Find those that you can integrate into your business and use them to efficiently manage your finances.

What Is Reputation Management? A Broad Definition

There are three categories that exist within reputation management. These three categories are building a reputation, managing a reputation and recovering a reputation. Usually, when you hire a reputation management expert, they will concern themselves with each three of these three elements, but particularly the one that is most important at any given time.

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Why Reputation Management Matters

We live in a world that is almost fully online now. Furthermore, everybody knows that it is vital that you shop around for the best deals and the most trustworthy companies. This is why it is vital for any business to be portrayed online as a go-to source for a certain product or service. It is also a known fact that businesses with a positive reputation can increase their prices and that they are worth more on the stock market.

Reputation management is about far more than simply recovering a destroyed reputation. It is about being preventative and proactive. It helps to create a positive reputation and to maintain and even improve it. All online activities that involve the business have to be monitored very closely and they must be addressed. A true expert in the field of reputation management will be able to look at each piece of information that appears online and know whether to promote it, or whether to undertake SEO (search engine optimization) efforts in order to hide that piece of information.

There are many strategies used in order to build and maintain a reputation. This includes creating content through social media, blogs, forums and more. Promoting information that is already out there is also an important way of growing a good reputation. If a reputation is damaged, this will be noticed in decreased sales, lost partnerships and opportunities and more dissatisfied customers. If not handled correctly, this could actually mean the end of a business.

The way people perceive a certain business affects investment and sales alike. If this perception is negative, it could truly cripple a business. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to have a piece of content taken down from the internet. In fact, this is unsuccessful in 90% of cases. This is why it is far more important to work on having this information pushed back so far that people simply cannot find it anymore.

Quality of a Reputation Management Consultant

Good consultants have a number of qualities. These include:

  • They understand your situation.
  • They can help you build, maintain and repair your reputation.
  • They will get back to you very quickly.
  • They offer custom solutions specific to your needs.

A reputation is nothing something that you can just ‘have’. It is something that you must work towards earning and then you must work towards keeping that reputation. This takes a long time and a lot of effort. A reputation can also not be forced. It is created by perceptions and conventions. Destroying all your hard work, unfortunately, takes just a few minutes. This is why it is so important to work together with an excellent consultant.

Marketing your business throughout the internet

Internet marketing is fast becoming the preferred channel for an increasing number of businesses, no matter which sector they belong to, and regardless of whether they are principally offering merchandise or services. Online marketing offers remarkable flexibility as you can tailor your content quite precisely to the segment of the market you are targeting. Also, despite the fact that online interaction with customers is technically “remote,” you can still engage with people, answer specific queries, and satisfy individual needs. Here are a few ways in which you can successfully market your business through the internet.

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Your website

Whether you have set up your own website or paid someone else to set it up for you, you can pay a relatively modest fee for the registration of your domain name, which is your website address.Your site will work best if it has a layout that is easy to navigate, and you should also aim to fill it with interesting and useful information – avoid unhelpful items and junk.

In essence, you want your website to invite customers to linger a little, and this is when getting advice from a professional web designer can be well worth the initial investment as it will repay you in no time. In addition to basic information about your business and what you offer, think about what might attract your customers. How-to videos or descriptions connected to your products are often a hit, as are informative anecdotes, information about staff events and activities and relevant freebies.

Working social media

These days, social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy, not merely an afterthought. In fact, some internet marketing experts go so far as to say it’s crucial to place social media communications at the heart of your business model, using it to drive your business, finding out what your customers want, and giving them exactly what they tell you they need. Make sure you personalize your communications via social media, encouraging customers to befriend, connect with, or follow you so that you can send them direct messages about items that may be of interest.

Social media can be an incredibly effective way to build up a reputation as an expert in your chosen field. By being part of the ongoing online conversation about recent trends in your chosen industry, you can quickly build a following and create new, valuable professional connections. Take Harry Dhaliwal, for example. As franchise manager for the Manchester branch of Belvoir Lettings, Harry regularly updates his blog and Facebook profile with news and opinions from the property sector. Aspiring estate agents that add Harry on Facebook, therefore, will gain access to a wealth of knowledge, and this in turn will enhance his reputation in the industry. This is the kind of relationship building which will pay off huge dividends in the future if done correctly.

Online advertising

Online advertising comes in several different forms. Pay per click (PPC) helps you to identify those people who are genuinely interested in your goods or services as you only pay whatever you are willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad to find out more. It’s easy to set up a daily advertising budget using this method, plus you have the freedom to cancel or restart the ad whenever you choose.

Banner ads are generally small rectangular ads that will take you to the advertiser’s site if you click on them. Sidebar ads are displayed generally while people are playing games. A tail sidebar is about two to three times bigger than a banner ad, and it is difficult to scroll it off-screen. The click-through rate is generally much higher than a banner ad, and you will pay more for targeted ads.

If you are investing in online advertising, don’t forget to customize ads for electronic tablets and smartphones – an IT expert can help you get the technology right. You can buildin Google ads to your own website, but be careful about ad placement and which ads you carry – you want to keep your customers happy, and you definitely don’t want to promote your competitors.

Blogging

Finally, consider whether promoting videos via YouTube or starting a blog will offer your customers added value. Again, there are professionals that can assist with this. Relative material can be provided for you on a regular basis, and they can monitor and evaluate how your website is performing for you and your business.

Some of the Things You CAN Control About Your Reputation

If you want to make sure that your online reputation is positive, you have three main tools at your disposal: blogs, videos and social media. Social media and social networks are probably the most vital element of online reputation management and online reputation repair. If you want to be taken seriously in today’s world, you need at least a Facebook and Twitter page for your business. Without those two, your customers will feel as if they cannot reach you, something that will immediately lower your online reputation. While it is recommended to have both Facebook and Twitter, your particular niche and market will determine which one of the two is most important.

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How Do You Use Social Media to Your Advantage?

Go to Twitter and see whether your business has been mentioned at all. If you find any positive Tweets, retweet them straight away, and make sure you tweet a thank you to whoever posted it. This will all be visible to common followers, and it gives people the feeling that they are dealing with human beings, rather than a machine. This is a very important tool to help you increase your overall reputation.

Then, there is Facebook. That is the perfect platform for contests, discounts, coupons and more. Additionally, if you have a new service or product, announcing this on Facebook is a great way to get the word out. The more “likes” your page gets, and the more “shares” each post gets, the better your online reputation will be.

Next, there are videos. These are great tools to help you introduce yourself to your clients in a personal way, something that they are bound to appreciate. Make sure that the video is relevant to your company, however. While people may enjoy watching funny videos or videos of cats and kittens, for instance, there has to be a degree of added value, in as such that it makes people come to you. People like videos, because it feels like a more human touch is added, which is really appreciated.

Blogging is not the most popular reputation management tool, but it is an important one. It is a chance for you to speak directly to your customers about things that are interesting and fun, rather than having yet another sales page. The benefits of blogging are tremendous:

  • It is a great SEO tool as it means that your site will be more likely to get found by the search engines.
  • It is a really good reputation management tool, as it gives people an insight into you as a company.
  • It is a great way to engage in conversation, as others may comment on the blog – remember to always answer any comments.
  • You can share blog posts across your social media channel, so that you will improve your reputation management by having a greater social media exposure at the same time.

These are just some of the tips on how you can manage and repair your reputation management.

What Works Better? Pay Per Click or Article Marketing?

If you want to advertise online, there are lots of options out there. However, the two biggest ones are article marketing and pay per click (PPC) marketing. The question for many, however, is which one of the two is best and it seems that we are a long way from getting an answer.

In fact, if you were to do a Google search on which one of the two is best, you would probably get an equal amount of results for both sides. Some say that PPC management is the only thing you need, whereas others will say that article marketing gives you organic results and is therefore the best. Perhaps the reality is that both sides are right.

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration if you really want to know what is going on. This is because it is undeniably true that both work. What matters more, however, is which one is best for you.

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Three Factors of Importance

Three things matter:

  • Conversion rates
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Click through rates

If someone uses a search engine to find something, they are instantly presented with ten results. You will find that the majority of those are natural search results, not PPC listings. Hence, article marketing is the better option. However, if you want to actually end up in those first ten results, you have to have relevant content on your website, and this is easier to achieve with PPC marketing.

A natural result is a result that was not paid for. PPC, as the name suggests, is paid for. Whoever bids the highest will be found first, regardless of whether or not they have relevant content. If you use article marketing, your content will be relevant, which means you also get the right customers to your site.

We also know that most consumers look for natural results. As such, even those who believe that PPC is the way forward now agree that these ads have little to no substance. They are, after all, just a short advertisement using just a few standout words. These words can be dishonest, misleading or sometimes even completely false. If someone does click on the add, they will be taken to a sales page and this can irritate them, particularly if they were actually looking for information.

With article marketing, you have to work really hard to make sure your consumers get the information they want. In so doing, you empower them to be able to make their own decision. They get a lot of data, vital points and other details. However, this also means that if they are in a hurry, they are unlikely to read everything. After all, if you don’t capture their attention in the first few sentences, you won’t capture it at all. This would mean that PPC is more effective, and certainly more cost effective as it is very quick.

The answer as to which one is better will probably never be agreed on!