Keep Things In-house to Maintain Your Control over Your Small Business

Nowadays, more and more small business owners are outsourcing aspects of their work. But if you’re new to the field, you might be a bit unsure as to what outsourcing is and what best suits your personal business needs. Here’s everything you need to know about the outsourcing process!

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What is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is a commonly used business practice where businesses use independent third-party companies to complete specific tasks, operations, jobs, or processes. There are various reasons that companies do this. Sometimes outsourcing can save money: it can be cheaper in the short term to use third-party manufacturers to create a short run of goods.

It may also be easier to draw in individuals with independent expertise to complete one-off tasks rather than training one of your own employees or hiring a full-time employee to do one task and serving little more purpose for the benefit of your company.

Why Will It Benefit Me to Keep Things In-House?

While outsourcing is great for one-off tasks, or short production runs, it’s often better to keep things in-house if you plan to repeat the same tasks and manufacturing over and over. For these kind of things, outsourcing can prove more expensive in the long run. It’s better to own the means of production or employ the expert individual in the long-term if you’re going to require their services more regularly.

There are more benefits to doing this than mere cost and profit too. When you outsource, you hand a portion of control of your company over to someone else. You have to place your trust in them and hope that they complete the required work to the quality that you expect.

By keeping things in-house you regain control: you can oversee processes and make tweaks and changes along the way.

What Can I Keep In-House?

Manufacturing

Manufacturing can easily be kept largely in-house. Consider investing in machines that you will get repeated and long-term use out of. For example, milling machines, robotic arms, and conveyor belts. This can ensure that your goods are produced, assembled, and packed as quickly as possible and that you can check up on them during every step of the process, assuring quality and precision.

Market Research

Many people use outsourced market research to save time. But if you have a little patience and work a few extra hours you can do the job yourself. Most of the research is already out there with results posted online. Then you can conduct small-scale specific interviews yourself. Simply use your social media page to find volunteers who will be able to give you a deeper insight and understanding of your brand and brand image.

These are just a couple of areas that you can shift from outsourced work to in-house work. It’s definitely worth the effort in the long run. While you may not see immediate results, you’ll notice the savings that you make mounting up over time. Any outlay for machinery or robotics will pay for itself and slowly turn into profit.

3 Instances in Which Your Small Businesses Should Outsource

If you’re a small business owner then the chances are you’ve been told to outsource. This usually leads to some small business looking to outsource every single job they have. It’ll save money, they think. In reality, outsourcing only saves money and benefits your business when used correctly.

So, today’s your lucky day — here are some pointers that outline when it’s right for your business to outsource.

Jobs That Aren’t Always Constant

In your small business, there will be some jobs that are constant and some that aren’t. Now, here’s a question worth considering — why would you hire a full-time employee for a job they won’t have to do every single day? It’s a waste of money. Hire on an as-needed basis is the best approach — and this is where you’re far better off outsourcing.

Things that come to mind include content writing for your website or even web design. It’s unlikely you’ll need new web content everyday, or for new web design. So, it makes way more sense to outsource these jobs whenever you need them, cutting your overheads quite dramatically.

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Complex Jobs That Require Specialist Skills

There’s no denying your business will have some complex tasks that need to be fulfilled. Attempting these yourself can take a long time, and you might not have the skills to do them. The problem is, if you bring someone in on a permanent contract, they could cost a lot of money as it would be a skilled job. Here, we have the perfect opportunity to outsource.

If your business outsources a bookkeeper, they handle all the complex financial tasks because that’s what they’re good at. You could outsource a marketing team to handle the complicated marketing strategy, and so on. There are loads of tasks that require skilled individuals, and you’ll find it cheaper to outsource rather than hire permanently.

Plus, you could get a team of people doing one task, rather than having to physically hire individuals to make up a team.

Large-scale Jobs That Need Multiple Hands on Deck

This final point kind of plays off the last sentence of the above point about outsourcing a team of people. You’ll find this is one of the main benefits of outsourcing — you can pay a company to do a job, and they’ll provide their team for you. This comes in handy when you have quite large-scale jobs that mean you need a lot of people working at once.

The main thing that pops into my mind is customer support. Even a small business needs a decent support team for their customers. This could mean hiring a lot of people, even a small support team of five or 10 employees is costly. By outsourcing jobs like this, you get a team working for your business, and all you do is pay the company that supplies them. It’s easier to manage, and you get rid of the overheads like employee benefits, etc.

The whole point of this article is that you don’t have to outsource every job. In fact, some jobs are better done in-house. Hopefully, these points help you figure out when you should outsource to gain the most from it.

Having Your Wits about You When Entering a Business Partnership

Some businesses established recently, often find that they need a tugboat in order to get them out of the harbour and out into the big open sea. If the sea is the world of opportunity, then that tugboat is a partner who is willing to help you get to where you need to be. This is why although many small businesses may not want to sell themselves to the highest bidder, but they may want another entity similar to their’s to join them on the journey.

A temporary or even long-term partnership is great for businesses that need each other or simply want to put their rivalry to one side to bolster one another. The latter reason might be because the global economy is spiraling downward or both businesses can spot a sudden spike or interest and buying habits in consumers. However, when you’re entering into a partnership, there are a few crucial things you should remember.

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Know exactly what you want

Aside from the legalities, the important question is what it is you wish to gain from this partnership. It’s wise not to get involved with a business that is not performing well, and you can see so by their quarterly financial reports. A business that is either on par or slightly more successful than you are the prime candidate.

Do you want to essentially climb on each other’s backs to hoist your flag higher in the market or industry you’re both in? Small businesses that team together to take on a shared opposition, such as a rival but the much larger brand, will find the fight much easier. There may be seasonal shifts, and perhaps you want to have an easier time for periodic sales by sharing consumers.

Whatever your motive is, have a clear idea of what you want before you head into any agreement.

Do your research

Small businesses often have investors who see entrepreneurs and their ideas as the next big thing. It’s a slippery game of snakes and ladders if you don’t properly check who is a holder in the company. What if the business owner, isn’t the only one who has a say because the investor has bought a chunk of the company?

To make sure you’re not heading into an agreement without the full list of other partners beside yourself having a position of authority in terms of decision-making, entrust a detective agency. With the skills and expertise of such an organisation, they can check the background of any business and pull up some vital details.

They can find hidden partners, as in some cases they are may not be permissible even to be mentioned in a negotiation. This is why it’s beneficial to know the underbelly of the business you’re heading into a deal with before you sit around the table.

Having your wits about you when looking to partner with another business is most important before you start wording the agreement contract. Knowing who might be behind any decisions the other party makes is crucial to not having unpleasant surprises flung your way. Equally, you’ve got to really lay down the foundational reasons in what you want from the partnership.

Here’s What You Need to Know If You’re Building a Store

There comes a time in every small business’ life where a decision needs to be made, shall we open a store? If you are running a successful online store and want to step up your game, it might just be the right time to open up your own shop. The thrill of having customers visit and buy your goods is one which any business owner looks forward to. But there are a few things you will need to consider before going in gung-ho.

Location

The first thing you will need to decide when you want to open a store is where you want to be situated. It will largely depend on your budget. However, you want to be somewhere easy to find and in a large retail area to increase the chance of shoppers visiting you. Take a look at a location which allows you to really make the most of your brand and show it off to the world.

Equipment

If you are carrying out the work yourself rather than hiring people to do it for you, you will need equipment. Heavy equipment can be hired from many different avenues, and you can keep all of your information on each piece of machinery, and its supplier in one place, such as Naxt Solution. It will make things less stressful for you and allow you to carry out the work without worry of losing anything.

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Interior Design

The central part of designing your store is deciding the vibe you want to create inside. Will it be light and airy or do you want loud colors and rock music? Make sure you keep it consistent with your brand and don’t go too overboard. If your store looks cluttered, no one will want to look around.

Vinyl and Banners

As with the inside of the store, you want the outside to be inviting to guests. You might not need to go all out and place a McDonald’s style ‘M’ outside the front door (kinda illegal), but you do want to make an impression. Think about the sign which will hang outside and any types of vinyl you want in the windows to show off promos and information. Make sure all the opening times are easy to see too.

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Square reader coupled with tablet makes for an easy payment platform

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve finished playing da Vinci, it’s time to decorate. To finish off your store and turn it into a functioning shop, you’ll need cash registers (or payment platform like Square), shopping carts, and baskets. But if you feel the hipster in you bursting out, hang up some vintage phones and sewing machines for decoration. Because why not?

Employees

Before you get excited and open the store right away, remember that you’ll need people to run it. Of course, you could decide to do it yourself, but then you will need extra hands to help with merchandising and tills. Work out how many people you need and what hours the store will be open — as you may need to switch shifts during the working day.

Making Your Business a Success for Less with These 4 Tips

If you run your own small business, then you know how stressful it can get. Not only do you have to deal with running and managing all aspects of your business, but you have to try to make a profit while doing so. Setting up your own business can be incredibly costly, but keeping it up and running is the important part. Try these simple changes to help reduce your costs and, in turn, increase your profits.

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Bulk Buy

No matter what it is you intend to buy, whether it be chocolate chip cookies or printer ink, you will always find that you can buy things a lot cheaper if you buy them in bulk. Make sure you sit down and plan what it is you are definitely going to need to buy.

There’s no point in buying in bulk if you don’t intend to use all of the product. Furthermore, figure out the cost of each individual item.

It’s also often most cost-effective to go straight to the supplier of the item, such as an online supplier or a warehouse, rather than a third-party, so ensure you do this to save the most money.

Outsource Where Possible

A sourcing company will save you money on production by locating sources for supplies and products at lower prices. You could theoretically look for these lower prices yourself, but it’s just another stress added to your never-ending pile of things to do as a business owner.

It would also be a lot easier for a sourcing agent to find you the best deals, as they have connections with a variety suppliers, and will know how to negotiate to get you the best rates.

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Hire Capable, Not Experienced

If you have a choice between two potential employees, both with similar capabilities and positive attitudes, but one who has more experience, you should go for experience, right? Not necessarily.

Of course, if the extra experience will make the candidate better at their job then it certainly makes sense to hire them, but if it doesn’t, then don’t. Less experienced people often just need to get their foot in the door and will be willing to get paid less for the chance. Everyone needs to start somewhere, right?

Do Your Own Marketing

Advertising is easy in the technological age of today. It’s relatively simple to set up a Facebook page for your business, which you can then use to inform your customers of any special offers or promotions that you have running. If you have a great advertisement written up, you could also utilise free ad directories, such as Gumtree, to get your products out there.

If you’re not the most tech-savvy person on the planet then brochures, catalogs, and flyers through doors and in restaurants and pubs are also all great marketing options. Although this may seem like another expense, it will cost you a lot less to do this yourself than hire a marketing company.

Keeping a business running is never going to be cheap, especially if you want it to remain successful for years to come, but hopefully, with these simple steps, it will cost you a lot less.

The Biggest Risk to Your Business Is Doing Nothing

There is not a business on the planet that enjoys a risk-free existence. There are just far too many external variables that could upset the applecart, so to speak. But even though accepting risk is part and parcel of running a business, the most pressing risks also tend to be the most preventable ones, and that is exactly what we are going to address in this article.

Read on to learn about the most basic ways you can reduce the amount of risk your small business is exposed to.

Be Careful With Insurers

The whole point in using an insurance company is to mitigate the amount of risk you face. You pay a small premium in return for their assistance should an event unfold whereby you need their financial backing. It is the most obvious form of risk management.

Nonetheless, more and more businesses are learning that there are massive problems with their insurance contracts, leaving them exposed to big losses should anything happen, which is why we recommend you learn more about insurance here. With that said, there is one form of insurance that every business must absolutely get and that is general liability insurance, which will protect you from a wide range of potential lawsuits.

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Use Better Contract Processes

In the same way, you get what you pay for with copywriting, you get what you pay for when it comes to legal advice. Basically, cheap is not the best idea. This means having a professional assist you with your contract procedures to make sure your contracts are tight and reliable. Additionally, both parties will know exactly what is covered in the contract, what the limitations are and what is expected.

So, whenever you are required to handover or sign a contract, make sure a lawyer reads through them too. What’s more, get someone who has experience working with small businesses and someone who can explain what the contract says in layman’s terms.

Options Are the Best Option

The biggest risk a small business has to contend with is their financial situation. That is why it is so important that you have options on the table. By allowing yourself this, you will be much more adaptable should a financial crisis arise. In an ideal world, having enough cash on hand to keep operating for at least three months would be best.

However, achieving this level of security is as unrealistic as scooping up the lottery. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options to explore. It could be that you reduce the risk by bringing on a partner that can add some capital, or it could be you overhaul your business structure so that your personal assets are not tied up in your business — a business failing is a tough pill to swallow, but it is far better than losing your business and your home. So consider your financial options and expand.

Yes, a small business is open to risk. But there are a lot of positives that shroud these waters, such as the money-saving insurance packages that you can now get, an improved level of awareness surrounding the risks, access to tried and tested procedures and advanced tools that can better control risk. Your job is to just adopt the right one for you.

Here’s How You Make the Leap from Small to Big Business

Starting out your business career is always a risky time. You’re going it alone, capitalising on the knowledge you have built up until that point in your career, but you’re going to be the one who profits from it this time. A small business might always be a risk, but there’s no doubt that it’s thrilling, exciting, and enjoyable as well.

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When a small business has begun to function as a well-oiled machine, it can feel like you have conquered the world. You are defying the odds that say that startups will fail; you’re now able to include yourself in the ranks of other successful business people, who have had an idea and made it a reality. Small businesses are a vital part of the economy, and you’re now one of the success stories included in the statistics.

It’s at this point a less-ambitious person would be satisfied. They’d think that they have made it, and they will continue to enjoy the fruits of their hard work.

That’s all well and good, but what if you are an ambitious person? What if you look at what you’ve achieved so far and don’t see it as the entire story? Instead, it’s just chapter one. With a small business accomplishment behind you, you find yourself wondering how you might transform into a bigger, better business.

This ambition is the key to entrepreneurial success. It separates the lifestyle businesses from the fledgling moguls; the latter category is definitely the one that you want to be included in. So how does a small business become a medium business, on its way to being a large business?

Associate With Bigger Fish

With a small enterprise, you likely haven’t had the luxury of being ensuring you have the best people on your side. You opt for the small suppliers, the cheap contractors, the cheapest accountant you can find. That’s all well and good, but it’s not going to suffice for the next step.

Take the time to begin to switch your business links to companies who can play in the big leagues. Talk to other suppliers, get quotes from potential business connections, and easily switch accountants to a firm more capable of handling your needs.

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Change Your Strategy

By necessity, as a small business owner, you likely took on many tasks yourself. You’ve been the website writer, the designer, the person who does sales pitches – all different roles that you have had to personify.

That’s fine for a small business, but if you want to step up, then you’re going to have to learn to delegate. Focus yourself on the main central point of the business, and begin to outsource tasks you are less familiar with to staff or companies who can do it for you.

Attract Investment

Finally, the majority of companies will require investment to transform themselves from small, local enterprises. It’s time to sell yourself as a good investment to potential backers, detailing your success to date and how you intend to capitalise on it in future.

With an injection of extra funds and a realignment of your business practices, you’ll find your business can grow at a rate that might surprise even you.

Small Business SEO Hacks: Are You Missing a Trick?

Did you know that Google processes more than 40,000 searches every second? Every year, this search engine completes 1.2 trillion searches. The figures are staggering, and that’s just for one site. If you run a business, the scope to make money from advertising your company online is enormous, but how do you tap into this gold mine? If you’re not an SEO expert, you may be missing a trick. These helpful hacks should prove handy.

Running a blog

If you don’t already have a blog on your website, it’s worth considering adding this feature. You can use your blog to provide customers with useful information, as well as optimising the pages to improve your search ranking. If you’ve never written a blog before, you may assume that it’s relatively straightforward.

On the contrary, that’s not always the case, especially when you’re trying to forge a path into the world of SEO.

To make your blog successful, you need to focus on producing great quality content that’s relevant to your business. You also need to make sure that you have fresh and original ideas and that your content is easy to find.

Include anchor texts, backlinks, and keywords to make your blogs more SEO-friendly, but avoid anything that looks unnatural. If you put a paragraph of text together and stuff in some popular search terms, this doesn’t constitute a blog post. There’s even a chance you might end up getting penalised by Google.

If you’re not a talented writer or you’re new to SEO then outsource. It’ll be worth hiring a freelance blogger or working with an SEO agency.

Understanding the market

To design an effective SEO strategy, you need to understand the market.

Who are you trying to attract and how are you going to go about luring them in and beating off the competition? To ensure that your campaign is relevant, it’s wise to do some research into the habits and online activity of your audience.

Which search engines do they use? What terms and words are most popular? Which social media platforms does the demographic use? What kind of content are your customers interested in and how long do they spend reading articles or blogs online?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll find it much easier to tailor your content and streamline your digital marketing campaign.

Move with the times

If you’re a fan of fashion or technology, you’ll know all too well that trends change and evolve continuously, and the same is true of SEO trends. What was popular a year ago is not necessarily going to cut the mustard today.

Be prepared to adjust and adapt your campaign in line with new trends and patterns. Use analytics to judge how effective your strategy is and identify what other brands and companies are doing. Read blogs and books about SEO trends and listen out for nuggets of wisdom from leading entrepreneurs and marketing experts.

If you can stay one step ahead, this will help you outshine the competition.

Are you a small business owner? If you’re not familiar with SEO yet or you’re keen to boost your online profile, hopefully, you’ll find this guide useful.

How and Why You Should Invest More Money in Your Small Business Website

There are all sorts of things your business can invest its money in. One thing that you should be sure not to neglect is your website. Because it’s something that is not tangible or visible in your workplace, websites often get neglected. However, that’s not the way it should be in a modern small business.

If you want to know more about how and why your business should invest more money in its website, you can learn more below.

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Why is Having a Strong Website So Important?

A Good Website Projects a Modern and Competent Image of Your Brand

If you have a good website, it will show the world that you’re not stuck in the past and that you’re ready to operate in a modern way. This is important because if there’s one thing that turns customers off its crusty old businesses that look like they should have shut up shop 20 years ago. It’s not just not appealing in any way. Given the choice between a modern-looking business and one that projects an out of date image, there is only going to be one winner in the mind of the customer. This is the first and most important reason to bring your online image up to date by improving your website.

It Offers a Cost Effective Way to Reach the Right People and Make Sales

The great thing about investing in your website and making it better is that you don’t have to spend all that much. Running a business is expensive; we all know that. Even small companies have massive expenses to deal with. Therefore, it’s nice to see that there is something that you can do without spending a fortune, but that still has a big impact on outcomes for your company. You can reach more people and increase your online sales when you have a website that’s up to scratch. That can’t be ignored.

Round-the-clock Accessibility is Expected Today

These days, people just expect to be able to access your business and to buy from it. If they can’t buy from your website around the clock, they’ll wonder why. Expectations of customers are rising all the time, and that’s just something that you have to deal with. Having a strong website that is always active and running will allow you to meet those expectations. This could have the knock-on effect of clinging onto and keeping hold of more customers. That has to be a good thing for your business in the long-term.

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How Can You Improve Yours?

Reduce Its Downtime

Your website should be functioning correctly for as much as possible. If it’s not, it’s a sign that your problem has too much downtime. In theory, this should be down to your host. But it’s you that has to choose the web host for your website. Hosts that aren’t up to scratch will let you down, and that can lead to customers finding that they can’t access your website when they want to. That means sales can be missed out on. This review of WordPress hosting providers might help you make a decision. Remember to choose very carefully.

Make the Most of Behaviour Metrics

User behaviour might seem like a bit of an enigma to you. But you can make use of analytics tools to find out how users behave when they land on your website. When you know this information, you can see where the problems lie. If people leave as soon as they arrive, it’s a sign that something is wrong with your landing page and should be changed as soon as possible. You can’t afford to have a high bounce rate because each bounce represents a lost customer. These metrics can also tell you how easy or difficult people find it to use your website.

Build Layered Landing Pages

If your website only really has one page that functions as a landing page, that’s something you will need to think about changing. If you don’t know what a landing page is, it’s simply the page that people arrive at from search engines. It has to have the right properties to make it a suitable and functioning landing page that’s going to rank high on Google results pages. If your business covers a number of different service or product categories, it’s a good idea to ensure that each of them has a landing page. It should increase your traffic and boost conversion too.

Your website doesn’t need to remain stuck in the past. It needs to be at the cutting-edge if you want it to help fulfill your aims and ambitions.

4 Ways to Be Smart with Your Business’ Finances

Running a small business isn’t easy, especially as you’ll be needing to take on a lot of the work yourself. Things you might not have had to consider before such as the marketing and people management could be completely alien to you. One of the biggest challenges you might face is dealing with the money side of things. Think you’re up to the challenge? Here are four ways you can be smart with your business’ finances.

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1. Analyse your finances often

Big businesses base their finances around the fiscal year, which is great for them and their accounting teams but not always ideal for small businesses. For small businesses, it makes sense to analyse your accounts monthly. If you lack the expertise in managing your accounts, take a look at the best accounting software for small businesses that could give you a helping hand.

Being able to work out where your successes and failures are at a closer level will mean that you can avert long-term problems and make appropriate forecasts for the coming year.

2. Separate your business and personal finance

Many people who run a small business do this as a contractor for hire or as a small company that doesn’t have its own accounts. It’ll be a good move for you to open a separate account and to manage your personal finances elsewhere. If you pay yourself a salary from your business’ profits, make sure that you do so as a regular transaction.

Keep all other money in your business account to cover bills and expenses. This will help you to manage your year-end accounts better and stop any overlaps between your two areas of finance.

3. Have contingency plans

It doesn’t hurt to have some funds set aside in case your business runs into trouble. When your business is doing well, you should put some aside as a way to ensure you’re covered should anything go wrong. You might want to invest some of your profits as a way to generate further income, and you can click here for more information about the types of investments available to you.

If you foresee serious financial issues, you should make an appointment with your bank manager and see if they can recommend solutions to ease financial problems in the short-term while things resolve themselves.

4. Be frugal

If you were to need money for personal purchases, what would you do? Realistically, you would find ways to budget and make cuts that will help to free up additional money and help make those savings. You should apply the same principles to your business. If you can find ways to be frugal with your business, do it. Ways your business can be frugal include cutting out unnecessary software costs and adopting greener policies in the workplace. It may take some sacrifices, but it can be done.

Managing your business’ finances is a key part of keeping it afloat and making it a success. For further advice on making your business run like a fine-tuned machine, even when you’re not there, read this great article for advice. Getting help from others will make you a better business owner and help you learn from their mistakes.