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5 Fantastic Small Business Payroll Services Compared – Capterra Blog #minority #business #grants


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5 Fantastic Small Business Payroll Services Compared

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If you didn’t have to hire, manage, and pay employees, life would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, that plan ends up with you sitting alone in a dark room, trying to do everything for your business while slowly losing your mind. Luckily, you can pay someone else to take care of this stuff. Payroll services will take the burden off you, give your employees a regular paycheck, and some can even manage your payroll taxes.

For many companies, hiring someone to manage HR operations like paying employees and managing benefits is cost prohibitive. Payroll services cost substantially less than hiring a new employee and can take a lot of work off your plate.

Here are five small business payroll services to compare.

Intuit Payroll

Inuit’s full-service payroll option covers basically everything. All you do is enter the hours to pay your employees for, and Intuit does the rest. In this case, “the rest” includes direct deposits, tax preparation, and even tax filing. The company also offers smaller options, which still manage payments, but which require you to do more work on the tax end.

Intuit also supports a wide range of secondary payroll features. You can add in health insurance contributions, 401(k) deductions, IRA payments, and other retirement plans. Pay period deductions can be modified with catchup payments for your older employees, as well.

Intuit’s options range from $25 per month to $99 per month, depending on how much handholding you’d like. All the options cost an additional $2 per month, per employee.

OnPay

OnPay is one of the newer payroll service providers on the scene, but reviewers and users have been happy with its offering. Like Intuit, OnPay can manage payments, payroll taxes, and can pay your employees by direct deposit or print-on-demand checks.

OnPay is geared toward the smaller end of the small-business spectrum. It lacks support for retirement and some other more advanced deductions.

OnPay costs $39.95 per month, and for that price you get ten employees. Beyond ten, you’ll pay $1 more per month, per employee. Direct deposit functionality costs an additional $8 per month.

Paychex Flex

Paychex is one of the biggest payroll processors around. The company claims that it “pays 1 in 15 US private sector workers.” Paychex Flex is the company’s online, payroll service option.

Paychex offers a lot of optional features. You can have checks issued, use direct deposit, or even use prepaid debit cards to pay your employees. The service can also administer retirement plans, do your taxes, and garnish wages when the IRS comes after your vice-president of sales.

Most reviewers have suggested that Paychex is best suited to companies with under 50 employees and it excels at managing complex payment systems, like if your business spans state lines. Paychex doesn’t advertising its pricing model.

Wagepoint

A relative newcomer, Wagepoint is a simple, clean option for small business payrolls. The company offers automatic deductions for 401(k) contributions, health insurance, and union dues, along with a whole host of other options.

Wagepoint has been adding new features along the way, so the service of 2016 may look very different from the service of 2015. I met the folks who run the show at a conference in New York earlier in 2015, and I was very impressed.

The CEO told me that in the first days of the company’s operation, they experienced a glitch which resulted in some employees being mispaid at one client company. To make things right, Wagepoint paid the employees of the affected company out of its own pocket. That’s how you respond to a customer issue.

Wagepoint costs $15 per pay period, plus $2 per employee, and is running smooth and glitch free, these days.

ZenPayroll

ZenPayroll lets your employees enter their own information when they join the business, saving you the manual data entry. The one last hurdle – removed. ZenPayroll also allows your employees to donate to charities and they’ll get neat little explanations of their pay breakdown on each paystub. It’s cool.

In addition to the self-onboarding process, employees get a login once they’re added in the system. They’ll have access to their own paystubs from any internet device, they can manage charitable contributions, and they can update their tax withholdings.

It also offers the usual stuff – direct deposit, taxes, etc.

ZenPayroll is $25 per month, plus $4 per month, per employee.

Final thoughts

Like most business software, payroll services aren’t black and white, good and bad. Depending on the size of your business, your payment frequency, and the number of benefits you offer, you’re going to have very specific best options.

If you need more, check out Capterra’s full payroll software directory. We can point you in the right direction, and get you spending more time on growing your business.

Image by Abby Kahler

Looking for Payroll software? Check out Capterra’s list of the best Payroll software solutions.


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5 Ways To Improve Your Business Language Skills #find #a #business


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5 Ways to Improve Your Business Language Skills Quickly

Business language skills are critical needs in this modern era of globalization and cut-throat competition.

An employee that has competency in business language skills is likely to be able to climb up the career ladder with ease. And that applies to businesses as a whole, too: a recent study conducted by Bersin and Associates reveals that organizations that are able to communicate their strategies in a clear and precise manner are 113 times more likely to achieve higher levels of profitability and efficiency.

A similar study conducted by Global English reveals that 97% of employees surveyed believe that poor communication as a result of inadequate business language skills can create misunderstanding.

A staggering 83% of employees report that poor business language skills have resulted in a negative impact on sales, profitability and efficiency of operations in their organizations.

It is therefore imperative that anyone who wants to succeed in business, managers and workers alike, focuses on improving business language skills.

Gaining competency over this particular skill will allow you to communicate with your peers, subordinates, supervisors, and clients easily and clearly, and this will bring an increase in productivity that will ultimately result in higher profitability.

Here are five simple ways that will allow you to improve your business language skills quickly:

1. Increase Your Vocabulary

Improving vocabulary is key in mastering the specialized words used in business language.

You can easily improve your vocabulary through training software that offers a comprehensive range of exercises. Learning commonly-used business idioms and abbreviations can also enhance your vocabulary.

Furthermore, you can do research on the Internet in order to find the terminology used in the specific field that you are currently employed in. It is important that you adopt an inquisitive approach towards learning, and find the meaning of any business word that you are currently unfamiliar with. A business dictionary can prove to be particularly helpful, since you’ll be able to find the complete meanings for new terms and their relevant usage within business communication.

2. Read Business-Related Material

You can significantly enhance your vocabulary by reading a wide variety of material related to your field or business.

Reading business information and current updates will not only allow you to remain abreast with the recent changes in the business environment but also allow you to keep up with any changes in terminology. This knowledge can prove to be essential when you are communicating with third parties or working on customer contracts.

3. Play Games

You can even learn business language by playing games like crosswords and word search games.

These games can allow you to enhance your business vocabulary while ensuring that the learning process is fun and engaging. Business-themed language games include crosswords based on financial terms and important concepts, or word search games using terminology from banking or industry. You can use free word-search puzzle generators to create your own games, if you can’t find one specific to your field.

4. Watch Business-Oriented Programs

Watching programs that focus on business is an excellent way to improve language skills, because the people in those programs will be using key terms frequently and correctly.

These programs are often hosted by experts in the field and therefore can prove to be an important source of valuable information and knowledge as well as vocabulary terms. Business terminology is naturally used on these programs and merely watching them attentively can help you grasp terms that are part of business communications.

Listening to or watching these programs will not only allow you to become familiar with new words but also learn their correct pronunciation and usage.

Simple knowledge of business terminology cannot completely eliminate the chance of misunderstanding in organizations; rather, an employee must be able to correctly use the terms so that the underlying message is effectively communicated to the second party. Watching these programs will allow you to understand the current business scenario while also becoming familiar with a range of words and their proper uses.

5. Practice

Learning new business terminology will not impact your communication skills until and unless these terms are used correctly in your the daily communication.

You must try to use as many relevant words as possible during your conversations with colleagues and peers. Furthermore, recently learned business terminology can and should be incorporated into the presentations you give, so that you are able to gain confidence in your ability to use the terminology.

Finally, you can practice your business language skills by writing business letters and memos.

An individual working in an organization is likely to need to communicate with stakeholders and peers through the medium of memos and letters. However, it must be remembered that letters and memos need to be to the point and precise. Your business language skills are critical during this point, because short sentences must convey your instructions, term, or requests. It is important to be familiar with the general writing pattern found in letter formats used in your industry. Use a formal tone where appropriate, and make sure the language you use helps to clearly convey the information.

It’s critical to have these language skills if you want to have a successful career.

As the study reports highlight, 30% of employers believe that new university graduates do not have the necessary command of basic English, much less the terms and concepts used in a specific field.

The success of a business lies in the capabilities and competencies of its employees and improving your business language skills can help you become a vital asset for your organization.


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The 5 best vacuums for your home – Business Insider #business #partnership


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The 5 best vacuums for your home

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Whether you’re looking to pick up pet hair from carpeting or keep hardwood floors dust-free, the right vacuum can make the job fly by.

When it comes to selecting the perfect model though, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution — you’ll need to consider your cleaning needs to find the right kind for you.

The most important factor to consider is what type of flooring you have in your home. Spaces with carpeting get the cleanest with upright models, according to Consumer Reports. The most important feature may be a motorized brush that can get deep into fibers, but a manual carpet pile-height adjustment control can also help you make sure you’re getting the deepest possible clean (and is handy for thicker carpeting). Some upright models also come with a switch to deactivate the brush (better for cleaning hardwood floors), but canister vacs are a better option if your floors are mostly bare. Canisters are also easier to haul up and down stairs if your home is multilevel.

If convenience is paramount, cordless stick vacuums are lightweight and great for quick pickup jobs. That said, you can generally measure their battery life in minutes, not hours — enough for apartment dwellers, according to The SweetHome. but not if you’re trying to get through a whole house. That said, they’re easier to maneuver in tight spaces, even if they won’t necessarily have the power for heavy-duty jobs.

Robotic vacuums might be the ultimate luxury, but they won’t replace your regular vac altogether, according to Good Housekeeping .

Last but not least, if anyone in your house is an allergy sufferer, Good Housekeeping says you’ll want to look for a model that is sealed and has a HEPA filter, which promises to trap more than 99% of dust, dander, pollen, and mold spores. Bagged models keep messes contained more than bagless, but the bags can be costly, and a pain to change.

While some of these top picks may seem a bit pricey, you’re investing in quality parts and sturdier construction. You’ll likely have to shell out more than $400 for a premium model, according toThe SweetHome. but you can expect it to last two to three times longer than a model that’s half the price. And rest assured, every model we include here, excelled at getting floors clean, regardless of price.

No matter what type you’re looking for, here are our top picks:

View As: One Page Slides

Best upright

It’s not the cleaning power that should sell you on the Miele Dynamic U1 Twist. according to The SweetHome — it’s the longevity. This well-built upright promises to keep your home clean for decades, with “one of the longest warranties in the industry” and a broad service network. Reviewed.com also lauds the “undeniable sense of craftsmanship” and compliments the model’s maneuverability, thanks to its special SwivelNeck Technology, which makes it easy to get into hard-to-reach spots.

At 20 pounds, you won’t want to haul this appliance up the stairs, but The SweetHome says that its excellent filtration and minimal maintenance make this upright worth the investment.

Pros: Durable, great filtration, easy to maneuver

Best canister

Can a vacuum be worth shelling out nearly $1,000 for? Quite possibly, when it crushes the competition like the Miele Complete C3 Kona.

The SweetHome called this pricey appliance the best canister vacuum for bigger homes with its higher-capacity bag and power head that’s ready to tackle messes on everything from thicker carpets to bare floors. Reviewed.com gave this vac a perfect rating, declaring it better than 100% of the other vacuums they’d tested thanks to its impeccable engineering and ease of use.

Pros: Included HEPA filter, handy included accessories, easy to maneuver, quiet

Cons: That price tag

Best stick

If you find your home is constantly covered in pet hair, the Dyson V6 might be the model for you. This stick vac did a great job sucking up pet hair in Good Housekeeping tests, clearing the mess in half the time of similar models. Even better, you’ll never have to hear to that sad whirr as the charge dies — Good Housekeeping praised it for never losing power even as the battery ran down. The SweetHome also called this vacuum exceptionally powerful and praised its generous 20-minute running time. A nice plus: This versatile model can easily can easily convert into a hand vac.

Pros: Powerful, long battery life and relatively quick charge, light, washable filter

Cons: Expensive, have to hold down power button during operation

Best cordless

Looking for the convenience of a stick vac with the running power of an upright? The Hoover Air Cordless Lift splits the difference effortlessly, with 50 minutes of running time on a charge, according to Reviewed.com. and two batteries that can be swapped out. (Bonus: The battery is interchangeable with other recent Hoover cordless models as well.)

Even better, Reviewed.com says a simple button press can remove the main body of the vacuum, turning it into a lightweight canister. Plus, Digital Trends lauds the ability to turn the brushroll on and off, making this model well suited for cleaning hardwood and other uncarpeted surfaces. too.

Pros: Lightweight, convenient to use, brushroll can be turned off

Cons: Feels flimsy to some, not as light as a stick vac

Hoover Air Cordless Lift, $299, available at Amazon.

Best bot

If putting a robot vacuum to work cleaning up your place isn’t the dream, we don’t know what is. The iRobot Roomba 880 received accolades across the board for being great at getting floors clean — CNET lauded its new “Aeroforce cleaning system” with “rubbery extractors” for more effective debris pickup than ever, and Good Housekeeping noted that it picked up 95% of test messes — and reviews were unanimous in praising its easy setup, too.

Pros: Simple configuration, fall prevention sensors

Cons: Small dust bin, pricey

Read the original article on Insider Picks. Copyright 2016. Follow Insider Picks on Twitter .

SEE ALSO: These are the best vacuums you can buy for under $300

READ MORE: The 5 best humidifiers on the market

The 5 best vacuums for your home


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5 Things to Do Before Saying I Do to a Business Partner #discount #business

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5 Things to Do Before Saying ‘I Do’ to a Business Partner

CEO Founder, Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

September 24, 2014

As an entrepreneur, you may at some point consider getting a business partner or co-founder. Maybe you miss working with a larger team that complements your skills, or perhaps you are trying to broaden your market or expand your clientele. Whatever your motive, you should know that business partnerships always start with excitement, but have the potential to end tumultuously. When forming a business partnership — just like a marriage — there are certain key steps to take at the beginning that will help in the transition if your professional relationship should end.

1. Perform due diligence. Yes, everyone is fun over cocktails, but when the time comes to sign contracts and do business, you d better be sober and confident you re shaking the right hand. Asking for referrals about a potential partner goes beyond contacting common friends and asking their opinions. Call former partners and business associates, inquire with clients, read comments on their social media pages and look them up on Google. (Keep reading way past page one of the search results.)

By the time you re done, you should be able to name anyone who dislikes them — from their first high-school enemy to their latest unhappy client. Only then will you be able to either take a calculated risk or a major step back.

2. Make sure you lawyer up. If the legal fees in the beginning of a business relationship don t make you wince, then you re doing something wrong. When you partner with other people, every aspect of the business relationship should be put down in writing — including the goals for the company, duties and responsibilities of the partners and an exit strategy. Every sentence of a contract — no matter how innocuous — should be looked at by a lawyer. Since tax laws can be tricky, have your accounts receivable/payable arrangements scrutinized by an accountant.

3. Ensure you have exit strategy. Ending your business partnership is the last thing you want to think about when you are beginning one. It is similar to thinking about divorce on your wedding day, but you should have a plan. The business exit strategy should include several legal points including the division of the business assets and how the partner s portion of the business will be handled in case of death.

4. Protect yourself. One of the smartest moves you can make is to protect your personal assets in case of a lawsuit. Whether you choose to incorporate or become an LLC, the top benefit will be shielding your savings, home, car and even your favorite pair of Louboutins from any liabilities associated with the business.

5. Protect your brand. Joining forces with a partner takes a lot of energy, and chances are that somewhere down the line you will lose your focus. Working for a common goal within a new team is really exciting but merging forces does not necessarily mean merging identities. Don t lose sight of who you are. If part of the original business plan is to maintain your brand, make sure it doesn t suffer while you re giving all your time and energy to your new endeavor.

When you meet a potential partner, your personalities may click and your goals may be identical but to have a successful relationship, clarity is key. The more precautions you take in the beginning, the happier and more productive you will be later on. And the day you see that the team you ve tried to build has become nothing more that a group of people looking in different directions, then it s time to part ways and move on.


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Business Etiquette: 5 Rules That Matter Now #sba #grants


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The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

But the concept of etiquette is still essential, especially now and particularly in business. New communication platforms, like Facebook and Linked In, have blurred the lines of appropriateness and we’re all left wondering how to navigate unchartered social territory.

At Crane Co. we have been advising people on etiquette for two centuries. We have even published books on the subject covering social occasions, wedding etiquette and more.

Boil it down and etiquette is really all about making people feel good. It’s not about rules or telling people what to do, or not to do, it’s about ensuring some basic social comforts.

So here are a few business etiquette rules that matter now whatever you want to call them.

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

But the art of the thank you note should never die. If you have a job interview, or if you’re visiting clients or meeting new business partners especially if you want the job, or the contract or deal take the time to write a note. You’ll differentiate yourself by doing so and it will reflect well on your company too.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

My great-grandfather ran a large manufacturing plant. He would take his daughter (my grandmother) through the plant; she recalled that he knew everyone’s name his deputy, his workers, and the man who took out the trash.

We spend too much of our time these days looking up impressing senior management. But it’s worth stepping back and acknowledging and getting to know all of the integral people who work hard to make your business run.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

Call it superstitious or call it polite but either way, don’t risk damaging your reputation by rehashing the conversation as soon as you walk away.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

But that’s not true: When you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone. Don’t check your email. Pay attention and be present.

When I worked in news, everyone was attached to a BlackBerry, constantly checking the influx of alerts. But my executive producer rarely used hers and for this reason, she stood out. She was present and was never distracted in editorial meetings or discussions with the staff. And it didn’t make her any less of a success.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

You may disagree with how another person handles a specific situation, but rise above and recognize that everyone is trying their best. It’s not your duty to judge others based on what you feel is right. You are only responsible for yourself.

We live in a world where both people and businesses are concerned about brand awareness. Individuals want to stand out and be liked and accepted by their peers–both socially and professionally.

The digital landscape has made it even more difficult to know whether or not you’re crossing a line, but I think it’s simple. Etiquette is positive. It’s a way of being not a set of rules or dos and don’ts.

So before you create that hashtag, post on someone’s Facebook page or text someone mid-meeting, remember the fundamentals: Will this make someone feel good?

And remember the elemental act of putting pen to paper and writing a note. You’ll make a lasting impression that a shout-out on Twitter or a Facebook wall mention can’t even touch.

00:12 Christine Lagorio: So Mark we have been working on this world’s coolest office package for two years now I think it’s time to sit back and reflect. What actually is a cool office?

00:22 Marc Kushner: A cool office. Well you know I work, I’m an architect, I work in an office, and I run an archaizer, and I think fundamentally a cool office is one that functions really well as an office. And then I think the potential for working with an architect, working with a designer and making it really cool is to kind of pump that up. And find the opportunities to make it a special place; a place that makes people work better together, that makes people excited to come to work. I think that’s what really makes it cool.

00:51 Lagorio: That’s great. We all work in offices but a lot of startups and small companies don’t necessarily have the budget for an architect or even a designer to consult. What are some little things they can do to keep the space in mind and make the space that they have available to them work well for them?

01:09 Kushner: Yeah I think. I think there are opportunities in the everyday kind of office experience. So we all need conference rooms, usually need a conference room, and a conference room comes with things like a table, and lights. And these can be really generic obvious solutions or you can take the time and challenge yourself and maybe your staff and actually turn it into a kind of experience to think about how that can become something else. So we saw some tables that were made out of old cast iron bath tubs right with a slab of glass on top which was a cute way to kind of up the ante on what a conference table could be. But then even the way that lighting is hung that it doesn’t have to be a geometric patterns that you can actually start express moments within the room that are maybe more important and find those little ways in to question the status quo of design.

02:05 Lagorio: Right. And you’re talking about some of the entries that we just saw because we were just judging this year’s entries. What are some of themes that emerged from this year’s entries, anything that you saw different from last year that may be indicative of where office design is going?

02:20 Kushner: We saw. Well, first of all they were all fantastic, and it was really excellent to see the breath of entries. We saw some interesting things. We saw, a lot of brands were bringing in the products that they make into the actual office design. So like Wilson who makes tennis products have entire walls made of tennis ball material, kind of unraveled tennis balls, so that the actual you know stuff that people are selling everyday on the phone and working with and designing shows up in the, in the everyday office experience, which I think is really, I think that’s really successful. Adidas also did something really cool where, a lot of sports companies make obviously are. Well, they make really cool stuff. But Adidas did this really neat thing where they took inspiration from kind of in the locker room and the idea of how you store things in a office. So instead of it being traditional file cabinets there are sort of lockers for everyone that have a roll up capabilities and can be moved all over the office. So I think, you know bringing in the stuff that motivates the company in the first place into the design is a great cue.

03:30 Lagorio: That’s great. Was there. I guess was there anything else that you loved about this year’s entries? Anything else that really stood out or anything that you think is kind of showing a changing pace in or face of office design?

03:44 Kushner: Yeah we saw, we saw a lot of use of, I’ll just say the natural in the most general way. But I think it’s obviously part of a general trend worldwide, and what’s nice is that what’s been happening in Europe is now moving to the United States. The realization that natural lighting is not just a good ecologically move but it’s also you know a happy factor. And people are, are more productive and have a better experience when there closer to a window. So bringing nature in, sometimes it’s not efficient or effective to move everyone in the office to the window, but finding ways to bring nature into the office, as far as you know cutting holes in buildings or approximating nature; we saw some artificial landscapes which were pretty, pretty fun. And I think that’s a really nice trend that’s going on in the office space.

04:34 Lagorio: That’s great. Thanks so much Mark.

04:36 Kushner: Thank you and thanks to Inc.


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Top 5 Small Business Tools #cheap #business #insurance


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Top 5 Small Business Tools

Being your own boss can mean being your own marketing department, public relations team or sales squad you name it, small business owners often end up handling it themselves, at least at some point. With so many hats to wear, you need to make every second count.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there that can streamline tasks, boost productivity and, in sum, save lots of time and money. Since I travel frequently, I ve built up a list of favorites that help me prioritize when I m short on time and that get me where I need to go as quickly as possible. Most of these services are free, and all of them do a fantastic job addressing the everyday challenges that small business owners face. What s not to love?

Buffer — Social media made easy

This user-friendly social media management tool helps me distribute content across major channels Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. with minimum hassle. It lets me schedule posts in advance, selecting prime times to optimize my reach, which is especially helpful when I m away from my computer or traveling. And it allows me to leverage analytics to improve my engagement rates, as well as add clean visual elements, perfectly formatted for each different channel, through its intuitive Pablo tool.

You can use Buffer as a browser extension or handle your social media on the go through the mobile app for iOS and Android. It s free for individuals, but Buffer offers upgraded packages starting at $10 a month to cover multiple profiles, teams and agencies. Sleeker and easier for beginners than tools like Hootsuite, Buffer simplifies the management aspect so you ve got more time to hone your message.

Outlook — Smarter inbox, smarter email

I don t spend enough time on email, said no small business owner ever. Managing and organizing an email inbox can be one of the biggest time wasters entrepreneurs face. That s why I use Microsoft Outlook to either delete, respond, drag to, task or process all mail. Never keep email in your inbox. It creates unnecessary stress and leaves you always feeling behind. Most people use folders, but that s highly inefficient. Processing mail immediately helps me prioritize and label every email that comes my way. This eliminates the need for folders (and trying to determine which one an email should be assigned to), by allowing me to label each email with one or many categories of my choosing. This makes them simple to find when the time comes.

OnStar — Your car as your ally

Since many newer cars include a free trial of OnStar, people already know about many features it offers: a turn-by-turn navigation system, a mobile hotspot, a diagnostics system, and services such as emergency response, stolen vehicle and roadside assistance. When I m on the road, OnStar is my go-to. I rely on its excellent AtYourService tool, which comes at no extra cost with my Guidance Plan. With a press of OnStar s blue button, I can connect to a live adviser for assistance in looking up destination addresses, finding nearby gas stations, making restaurant reservations and even booking hotel rooms. There s a mobile app as well.

Waze — Savvy navigation

There s nothing more frustrating than wasting time in a traffic jam especially here in the Seattle area. Enter Waze . a community-based navigation app that issues turn-by-turn voice directions and provides road alerts before you get stuck in a back-up. When you enter a new destination and leave the app open on your phone, it contributes passively to traffic data, but app users can also actively share information, pointing out cheap prices at gas stations, reporting accidents and editing maps to update local road data. Available free for iOS, Android and Windows Phones, this handy app saves me time, gas money and headaches.

TripIt — Taming your travel itinerary

Gone are the days of shuffling through reams of printed travel reservations or even searching through multiple emails, for that matter. TripIt consolidates confirmations for flights, hotels, car rentals and restaurant bookings into an easy-to-digest master itinerary that I synchronize with my calendar or share selectively with colleagues or family. The free app allows me to access all my info on most of my devices, even offline.

For $49 annually, you can upgrade TripIt to receive real-time travel alerts, alternative flight route information, notifications for potential seat upgrades and frequent-flyer point tracking. TripIt also offers group packages to coordinate itineraries for whole teams, with master calendars and expense tracking.

Saving time for what really matters

These tools leverage technology so that you don t lose time that s critical to your business success. You can turn your car into your office, and you can use the spare minutes you spend waiting in line for coffee or to board a plane to knock out key communications. The more effectively you work, and the more time you save, the more you can concentrate on the aspects of your business (and life) that are near and dear to your heart. For me, that s what it all boils down to.


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5 low cost business ideas to start at university: Starting a business advice and

#business ideas for college students

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5 low cost business ideas to start at university

Some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs started businesses while at university; Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page – the list goes on – so what’s stopping you from starting up whilst studying?

According to recent research from Santander. over 80,000 UK university students currently run businesses while studying and collectively generate turnover of over £44m. Impressive to say the least. What’s more, over a quarter of this number plan to turn their businesses into a full-time career upon graduation.

Action point: Need a loan to start a business of your own? See how we can help here and here

Dubbed “student start-ups”, budding young entrepreneurs are maximising on being within the university environment to launch a start-up and fund their education, pursue interests, and gain “invaluable work experience as a result of their entrepreneurial ventures”.

A report from Direct Line for Business also emphasised the fact that entrepreneurialism is alive and kicking in UK universities. It found that more students than ever before are now starting businesses, with popular undergraduate start-ups ranging from creative businesses like clothing design, to hospitality and events promotion and tech-focused firms such as software development.

And it would seem that there has never been a better time to start a business while at university, if the growing number of initiatives to encourage student entrepreneurs are anything to go by.

Earlier this year, Europe’s largest student start-up event opened in Liverpool hosted by the National Association of College University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), Mercia Fund Management launched a tax efficient fund for university spin-outs, and a number of universities have been actively doing their bit to promote enterprise. For instance the University of Southampton recently held a student hackathon to find great software concepts.

With 2015 a golden age for student entrepreneurs, we’ve compiled a guide to five of the top low-cost businesses to start at university, including case study examples from a number of high-profile university entrepreneurs that have scaled their ideas into successful businesses.

To help you get your university venture off the ground, you’ll also find a handy summary of the funding and support that is available to student and young entrepreneurs in the UK.

Click the buttons above or below to find out more about the best low cost business ideas to start while at university…

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The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners #great #business #ideas


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Mashable

The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners

When you’re starting a business, there’s no shortage of people eager to hand out advice. It seems that everyone, even someone you’ve just met, has an opinion on how you should be developing your product, running your marketing, handling your finances and much more.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve met some very smart people and have had great mentors over the years. Their contributions have been invaluable to my success. Yet after launching two companies over two decades, I’ve come across some terrible advice.

Below are the top five bits of advice that I could have done without.

1. “Hire people you know.”

I’ve had countless people tell me that it’s always better to assemble a team of “known quantities” — friends, colleagues or former employees whom you know and trust. But I’ve discovered that for me, the best hiring decisions are based on the specific positions I need to fill at that moment in time. In other words, I need to focus on the specific expertise and skill sets the company needs, rather than trying to piece together how Jill, Sally and Joe will fit into the new business.

In addition, if things aren’t working out between an employee and your company, you need to part ways (and usually, the sooner the better). You may be more reluctant to let friends go, even if you know they aren’t good fits.

2. “There’s no room for you in the market.”

When my husband and I launched a legal document filing company the second time around, the field was quite crowded, with several big names and established players. Many people told us to find a new space because there simply wasn’t room for us to compete.

However, the key to business success doesn’t always hinge on finding a completely empty field; rather, it’s how you define your company and its place in the market. Starbucks wasn’t the first company to sell coffee, but they did revolutionize the coffee shop by selling an experience along with a caffeine fix. Still, numerous boutique coffee shops are able to open and thrive today, even though there’s a Starbucks around the corner.

Rather than struggling to come up with a brand new idea, take a look at your target industry and see where there’s a void to be filled. Figure out the best possible way to fill that need and run with it. You don’t always have to blaze a new trail, but you need to know who you are.

3. “You have to be cheaper than the other guys.”

I admit that my husband and I fell into this pricing trap with our company. We felt that the only way we could compete with the “big guys” was to undercut them on price. So, we dropped our prices. Our business grew, customers were happy, more customers came in, yet we were nearly losing money with every new order.

Many young companies feel the pressure to discount their prices heavily in order to win business. While customer acquisition is important, attracting customers at unsustainable price levels will just result in a race to the bottom. I’ve learned that you’re better off in the long run to focus on how to bring more value to customers, rather than simply slashing your prices. After all, someone will always be able (or willing) to absorb a lower cost than you. You’ll need to find a new way to stand out, and then work as hard as you can to be exceptional in those differentiating areas.

4. “Social media is free.”

Over the past several years, I’ve had people tell me that starting a small business today is much easier than a decade ago, because of all the free marketing on Facebook. Twitter and Yelp. Sure, you don’t have to spend a dime to join Facebook, create a Twitter account or start a blog. But, I think a more apt comparison is that social media is free like a puppy. It may not cost much to bring a shelter puppy home, but from day one, it’s an endless whirlwind of training, toys and treats.

Likewise, social media is far from free once you factor in the blood, sweat and tears it demands. From developing fresh content to keeping up conversations, social media requires nonstop commitment once you start. Unless you consider your time (or the time of your employees) worthless, then there’s a significant cost involved with social media.

5. “You have to spend money to make money.”

This cliché never applied to our business, particularly at the beginning. We set up shop in our apartment and did everything we could to keep expenses down. Sometimes we thought things would be better if we just had the money for X, Y or Z. But it’s risky to think that throwing money at a problem is your silver bullet. Sometimes, creative thinking and strategy work far better than a checkbook.

We had to learn the difference between spending money and investing in the business. Certainly, money can scale a business faster, but only when you spend money on those things that will produce more money in return.

Final Thoughts

People will always give you advice — some good, some bad. The key is to never forget that you are running the show. Other people’s opinions should always be viewed through the context of your own experiences, convictions and value system.

Final decisions are always up to you, so there’s no blaming someone else for bad advice.

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5 Fantastic Small Business Payroll Services Compared – Capterra Blog #home #business #ideas


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5 Fantastic Small Business Payroll Services Compared

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If you didn’t have to hire, manage, and pay employees, life would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, that plan ends up with you sitting alone in a dark room, trying to do everything for your business while slowly losing your mind. Luckily, you can pay someone else to take care of this stuff. Payroll services will take the burden off you, give your employees a regular paycheck, and some can even manage your payroll taxes.

For many companies, hiring someone to manage HR operations like paying employees and managing benefits is cost prohibitive. Payroll services cost substantially less than hiring a new employee and can take a lot of work off your plate.

Here are five small business payroll services to compare.

Intuit Payroll

Inuit’s full-service payroll option covers basically everything. All you do is enter the hours to pay your employees for, and Intuit does the rest. In this case, “the rest” includes direct deposits, tax preparation, and even tax filing. The company also offers smaller options, which still manage payments, but which require you to do more work on the tax end.

Intuit also supports a wide range of secondary payroll features. You can add in health insurance contributions, 401(k) deductions, IRA payments, and other retirement plans. Pay period deductions can be modified with catchup payments for your older employees, as well.

Intuit’s options range from $25 per month to $99 per month, depending on how much handholding you’d like. All the options cost an additional $2 per month, per employee.

OnPay

OnPay is one of the newer payroll service providers on the scene, but reviewers and users have been happy with its offering. Like Intuit, OnPay can manage payments, payroll taxes, and can pay your employees by direct deposit or print-on-demand checks.

OnPay is geared toward the smaller end of the small-business spectrum. It lacks support for retirement and some other more advanced deductions.

OnPay costs $39.95 per month, and for that price you get ten employees. Beyond ten, you’ll pay $1 more per month, per employee. Direct deposit functionality costs an additional $8 per month.

Paychex Flex

Paychex is one of the biggest payroll processors around. The company claims that it “pays 1 in 15 US private sector workers.” Paychex Flex is the company’s online, payroll service option.

Paychex offers a lot of optional features. You can have checks issued, use direct deposit, or even use prepaid debit cards to pay your employees. The service can also administer retirement plans, do your taxes, and garnish wages when the IRS comes after your vice-president of sales.

Most reviewers have suggested that Paychex is best suited to companies with under 50 employees and it excels at managing complex payment systems, like if your business spans state lines. Paychex doesn’t advertising its pricing model.

Wagepoint

A relative newcomer, Wagepoint is a simple, clean option for small business payrolls. The company offers automatic deductions for 401(k) contributions, health insurance, and union dues, along with a whole host of other options.

Wagepoint has been adding new features along the way, so the service of 2016 may look very different from the service of 2015. I met the folks who run the show at a conference in New York earlier in 2015, and I was very impressed.

The CEO told me that in the first days of the company’s operation, they experienced a glitch which resulted in some employees being mispaid at one client company. To make things right, Wagepoint paid the employees of the affected company out of its own pocket. That’s how you respond to a customer issue.

Wagepoint costs $15 per pay period, plus $2 per employee, and is running smooth and glitch free, these days.

ZenPayroll

ZenPayroll lets your employees enter their own information when they join the business, saving you the manual data entry. The one last hurdle – removed. ZenPayroll also allows your employees to donate to charities and they’ll get neat little explanations of their pay breakdown on each paystub. It’s cool.

In addition to the self-onboarding process, employees get a login once they’re added in the system. They’ll have access to their own paystubs from any internet device, they can manage charitable contributions, and they can update their tax withholdings.

It also offers the usual stuff – direct deposit, taxes, etc.

ZenPayroll is $25 per month, plus $4 per month, per employee.

Final thoughts

Like most business software, payroll services aren’t black and white, good and bad. Depending on the size of your business, your payment frequency, and the number of benefits you offer, you’re going to have very specific best options.

If you need more, check out Capterra’s full payroll software directory. We can point you in the right direction, and get you spending more time on growing your business.

Image by Abby Kahler

Looking for Payroll software? Check out Capterra’s list of the best Payroll software solutions.


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5 Small Business Magazines You Need to Be Reading #business #card #printing


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5 Must-Read Magazines for Your Small Business

You may be asking yourself, why am I soliciting print advice from a digital marketing resource center? Well, we at Get Busy Media find value in content that helps small businesses solve problems and grow; regardless of how and in what format this content is packaged. Today we’re going to take you through our five favorite small business magazines and why you, as a business owner, need to be consulting these resources.

Here are our top 5 small business magazines (and their tablet companions) :

1. Inc.

Inc. is the veritable bible for small business owners. If you were stuck on a desert island selling widgets and had only one magazine to consult from, I would recommend Inc hands down. This magazine is chock-full of amazing statistics, case studies, interviews and reviews about small business owners and startups who have found success and why. Too many young readers today are inundated with stories of successful tech startups. Rest assured that Inc. will provide you with a wide variety of successful small business stories. They will provide you with stories of why learning to tell jokes is good for business to a who’s who of crowdfunding platforms and which ones small businesses should leverage depending on their specific needs.

  • Get Real by Jason Fried – co-founder of 37 Signals (software company that created Basecamp) and author of Rework pens this column that normally appears between pages 35 and 40
  • Crunching the Numbers – I love the charts and graphs that are included in this section. For instance, did you know that the cities that experienced the greatest increase in the number of jobs at companies with fewer than 100 employees from August 10 to August 11 were Orlando, Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina (who would have guessed these cities?)
  • Tech Trends­­ – John Brandon does a great job with this column. He reviews all the latest gadgets and new technology that make your life as a small business owner easier.

iPad app: Appears that as of February, 2012 Inc. does not have an iPad app based on my extensive searches in the App. store that returned no results for this magazine.

2. Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur magazine is a must have for anyone looking to start a small business. Entrepreneur’s target is more narrowly focused than Inc’s but that’s what makes it so great. Within this magazine you will find every pain point imaginable to starting and running a profitable business (economy, work/life balance issues, co-founder discord, death of a co-founder, production issues, supply chain problems, to name just a few). You will find articles ranging from how a 14-year old kid started his own candle company based on manly scents (fresh cut grass, steak and wood chips, to name a few) to how two guys pivoted and turned their failing lifestyle website into a flash deals site and made a profit in the first month.

  • Lead Gen ­– Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.com and Co-Author of Content Rules authors this column that speaks to the power of great content and how to reach your customers through online content.
  • Linked – Chris Brogan. Founder of Human Business Works and co-author of Trust Agents is one of the preeminent experts in relationship and digital marketing. If you have enough time to read only one column in this magazine each month, read his.

iPad app: This app needs some work. When you zoom in to read on the iPad, the text becomes difficult to read. The abundance of ads on this app is also bothersome and takes away from the overall experience.

Cost. Free (comes with Entrepreneur print subscription)

3. Fast Company

Of the three magazines we have reviewed thus far, Fast Company is certainly the edgiest and hippest. To be honest, there’s a reason why this publication is #3 on the list behind Inc and Entrepreneur. A salient example for those who like sports, is that Fast Company is to ESPN The Magazine what Inc. is to Sports Illustrated. SI is the preeminent resource in sports journalism in the United States, much as Inc. is widely regarded as the benchmark for publications for small businesses and startups. ESPN the Magazine on the other hand is flashy, heavy on images and graphics and appeals to a hipper, younger generation than Sports Illustrated. By no means is this a bad thing, but I felt that I should use this example to illustrate the difference between Fast Company and their approach versus Inc.’s approach.

One aspect of Fast Company that I enjoy much more than the previous two publications on this list is their long form feature stories. Fast Company’s featured stories tend to be much more content-rich and just plain longer in general than its counterparts. I love that I can sit down and read one of these stories and am captivated for 20 minutes.

  • Tech Edge­ – authored by Farhad Manjoo, this column is very similar to Tech Trends in Inc. just with a little more irreverence.

iPad app: Appears that as of February, 2012 Fast Company does not have an iPad app based on my extensive searches in the App. store that returned no results for this magazine.

4. Wired

Wired is an incredible magazine. I don’t care who you are, this magazine is always, always visually stunning and filled with incredible content about science and technology. There is no doubt in my mind that Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired. sits down with all departments within the company to ensure that design, content and layout all flow and play nice together. While this magazine tends to be very science and tech heavy, there are amazing pieces of information here that are applicable to small businesses, especially those who are progressive and technology-oriented.

  • Dear Mr. Know-it-all – this is an awesome column where Mr. Know it All fields questions from those looking to navigate their issues in the 21st century. Some questions may surprise you, but you’ll find the answers even more interesting.
  • Test – they test everything from Universal remotes to solar charges to ultrabooks – very neat column.

iPad app – amazing layout (which is par for the course for Wired) but loading the iPad edition by my count takes between 6 and 8 minutes (depending on the length of the issue), which in my opinion is tired not wired.

Cost. Free (comes with Wired print subscription)

5. Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek is obviously a behemoth in the business and financial news sector. While this periodical isn’t tailored specifically for small businesses and startups, there’s a ton of information you can cull from Bloomberg. The great thing about Bloomberg is that it’s laid out in a format that is easy-to-read and digestible. A few sections I particularly enjoy are the Technology and Companies and Industries sections. Both contain information that is pertinent for small businesses.

iPad app – I haven’t played around much with the app on my iPad but from my limited experience, this seems like another great app for the iPad

Cost. Free (comes with Bloomberg print subscription)

What do you think of my list of the top small business magazines? Who did I miss? Do you disagree with any of my choices? We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

About Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong is the Co-Founder of Get Busy Media and a paid search specialist. Since 2008, Jim has built his knowledge around emerging media and leveraged several experiences to develop a keen understanding of internet marketing. His core competencies include search marketing, SEO, email marketing, social media marketing and online reputation management. Jim currently works for Google, as an account manager. When not diving headfirst into his next project, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing and writing. Jim on Google+

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I love Forbes online and have followed some of their contributors in particular.


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