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You have to spend money to make money: We’re told that. While that’s true in a lot of cases, it’s not always an absolute requirement. With the right tips, you can improve sales and efficiency at your call center by just spending smarter rather than spending more.

The main issue

The research indicates that 70 percent of people switch to a business rival not because they didn’t like your products or services, but because they didn’t like the customer experience. Increase your customer satisfaction and you will see sales go up accordingly. Here’s how to spend smarter to do just that:

Go omnichannel

Change out your multichannel call center software for omnichannel. Omnichannel seamlessly coordinates communications from your customers across all possible platforms. In practicality, that means your agents can communicate via IVR calls, video or audio calls, messaging, live chat, emails, and more.

Imagine this scenario: You have an issue with a business, so you navigate to their website and pull up the live chat. After a brief conversation, a chat agent advises you to call. You do so, and now you’re talking with a whole new person.

This new person knows nothing about your issue, so you have to explain the whole thing again. Once they hear the issue, they give you another number or an email because they aren’t actually the one who can deal with your issue.

This scenario is exactly how you lose customers to other businesses, even if you have a superior product. Omnichannel call center software is how you integrate all your channels for service that customers will love.

Train your people well

All the software in the world won’t help you get sales if you don’t have the best people on the job. Too many call centers make the mistake of thinking that training is all about scripts, questions, and answers. If you’re wasting money on this sort of training, it’s time to redirect your resources.

Great call center agents need to keep their cool with an irate caller. They need to be good listeners. They need to be smart and capable with the kind of cognitive skills that make it possible to really understand and solve problems.

Great call center agents also need to know how to make good decisions. They need to be warm, polite, and understanding. Some of these traits are natural; others can be taught. Spending your money in recruiting the right people and then training them in these skills is money well-spent.

Set up as many self-service options as you can

Some people always want to talk with a live person when they have a question or issue; but many of your customers would prefer to fix their problems by themselves whenever possible.

Redesign your website by improving your FAQ section and making it easy to find. Provide a search bar that’s easy to spot and returns useful answers. Rewrite technical pages and information in layman’s terms.

You should also get good IVR call software capable of doing more with voice recognition. You want as many callers as possible to get the answer they need early on in a call. Chatbots on your website can provide a similar helpful function.

It will cost a bit to set this all up, but you make it all back, and more, quickly as customers get their questions answered fast. Better yet, pleased customers will start spending more and talk about their good experience on social media.

The bottom line

You can do lots of things to slash costs here and there; but nothing will make such a profound difference in the end as excellent service. To improve your customer service, you don’t need to make drastic, expensive changes. Instead just spend your money wisely, and then watch your profits grow as satisfied customers come back again and again.

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Almost 30 percent of small businesses report they spend six hours or more on payroll every month. When you consider most of these businesses have far fewer than 50 employees, it’s clear payroll adds up.

Like other accounting tasks, payroll can be quite time-intensive thanks to legislation. You may need to calculate time off, add up overtime hours, and deal with payroll taxes.

It’s a lot to ask, especially if you’re not a payroll professional yourself.

With all this in mind, it’s little wonder most small business owners want to know how to streamline payroll. With these seven tips, you can make sure payroll gets done right, while freeing up time and money.

1. Streamline Payroll by Reducing Frequency

One of the easiest ways to streamline payroll is to reduce the number of times you need to conduct it. Do you pay your employees every week? If so, you might think about moving to a bi-weekly schedule.

Make sure you check the regulations where you operate. Some states do have rules about how often you need to pay your employees.

You should also see if you can align payroll schedules. If you pay hourly employees on a different schedule than salaried employees, consider merging them. Combining schedules could reduce mistakes.

There’s another bonus to changing how often you pay your employees. It could help your business’s cash flow. With more funds freed up, you could find it’s easier to make ends meet and grow the business.

2. Maintain Payroll Compliance

The last thing you want is to have the IRS decide to conduct a payroll audit for your business. That’s why you should focus on payroll compliance.

It can be difficult to keep on top of all the ins and outs of federal and state law. Nonetheless, it’s important to incorporate this step into your payroll processes.

You should put in place an ongoing review of regulations and remittance schedules. If you use payroll software, see if you can link to government portals and other resources. Doing so can deliver the latest news right to your inbox.

If you have trouble keeping up with compliance, think about outsourcing payroll tasks. A payroll vendor monitors compliance for all their clients. That means you don’t need to worry about checking the headlines yourself.

4. Upgrade Your Payroll Software

We mentioned that some payroll software makes it easy to connect to news sources. In turn, you’ll have an easier time staying on top of compliance.

If your software doesn’t allow you to do this, it might be time to upgrade. Newer software includes this feature and more.

You could also consider an online epayroll system. These web-based clients allow your team to conduct payroll from anywhere in the world, any time.

There are many different options out there when it comes to payroll software. Take a moment and assess your needs, then look for software that addresses those needs. Payroll software backed by the vendor and a great support team is usually your best bet.

5. Delegate Payroll Paperwork

One of the reasons payroll is so time-intensive is because it involves a lot of paperwork. From the time you hire employees, your HR team will be busy filling in forms and filing them.

What if you shifted this data collection task to the employees themselves? Some companies ask new hires to fill out I-9 and W-4 forms themselves.

Take this a step farther and ask your employees to record their hours themselves. Your employees can turn in their timesheets to you for payroll on a certain day. Getting employees to track their hours means you’ll spend less time on timesheets at your end.

A great option for employee-led time tracking is using a paperless timesheet. Using an app or a desktop client, employees can login and record time information. You can learn more about the benefits of this option for your business.

6. Keep Learning

Great software can help you streamline payroll processes. The tools you use are only as good as the people who use them.

Any time you adopt a new payroll tool, be sure you offer your team the right support and training. With it, they can learn how to use new software to greater effect.

There’s another reason you’ll want to keep payroll training and development on the docket. Innovative payroll processing ideas might be hiding within your own team. With the right training, employees can put in place new ideas and even suggest their own.

Training provides employees not only with the skills to use new tools, but the skills to use tools like creative thinking. With some help from your team, you can get creative with the process and streamline payroll in new ways.

7. Combine Administrative Functions

Another reason payroll can become time-intensive is because it affects other tasks. If you administer employee benefits, you may need to know someone’s salary to determine the level of coverage they qualify for.

You may also need to know this information to make the right deductions from their paycheck. If you have a pension plan, for example, contributions may be based on salary. Those deductions may be taken from the employee’s paycheck.

Worker’s compensation insurance is another example. You may need to perform an annual reconciliation report for your insurance. By combining your payroll with your insurance, you can avoid this time-consuming audit.

Combining these systems helps you streamline payroll and other business functions as well.

Make Payroll a Breeze

When you streamline payroll, you’re making your business more efficient. You’ll also be reducing the chances of errors and audits. Finally, a streamlined process helps you get back to the tasks that really matter.

With more time to focus on what matters most, you can prepare your business for growth.

Looking for more great advice about how to grow your business? Check out some of our informative articles for the latest tips and tricks.

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Image source Pixabay

Setting up your own business

Setting up your own company is a meticulous process, that requires a lot of planning. The first step for the foundation of your own company is an idea. Finding a market niche for your products or services, offers you the best prospects and helps you be successful. Have you finally found an idea and created a business-plan? Have you found your target group? Then you can start searching for the right equipment to support your company and get started.

The first thing that you need for the foundation of your company is an ideal location. An office or a room for the presentation of your goods or services is the basis for your success.

Another very important thing, that you should not neglect, is marketing. Advertising your products and services is of enormous significance. Therefore, a business card with all your details, such as address, phone, e-mail and name, can help to get more attention and more customers. Helloprint.co.uk is your perfect partner for business cards and marketing. The helloprint online shop offers you a variety of products for marketing and advertising. The product range comprises among other things: posters, business-cards, flyers, leaflets and even clothes with a unique and individual print. Just choose a text, a logo or a picture and order business-cards, leaflets, posters or textiles with your personal design. A business-card gives a brief first impression of you and your company, so choose carefully, when it comes to text, design and colour.

A website for more success

Create your own website or hire an IT specialist to assist you. A personal website or a web-shop, can help you to reach more customers and the pleasant side-effect will be, that your turnover and your sales will also increase. With the right strategy and a perfectly structured homepage, you will experience an economic upswing. A well structured website that suits the needs of your customers or customers to be, gets even more perfect, when SEO (search engine optimization) is applied. This special technique makes sure by using keywords and outstanding URLs, that your website will be among the first in the international website ranking. When it comes to SEO, an IT specialist or specialist for webdesign is the perfect partner for you.

Marketing

You want to show that you are different? Finding your own logo, is a perfect method to show how unique you are. With a logo and a slogan, the recognition value increases and makes it easier for your customers to make a distinction between you and your competitors.

Whether you are running a restaurant, a fashion shop, an office or some other company, the distribution of give-aways for your customers can have a significant influence on your economic success. Little gifts like a note-pad, a ball-pen, a lighter, a calendar, sweets or cotton bags with print, are also an ideal way to get more attention and to be remembered by your customers. So why not surprise them with some extras. In return they will prove to be loyal and show you their appreciation by coming back to buy your products or use your services.

With these tips, tricks and advice for marketing, you may find it a bit easier to start your own company.

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It’s exciting when your small business starts to turn over a profit. Not only are you doing well, but you’ve now got money left over. You can pay for all your expenses, from employees to supplies, and still have more income to consider. The big question is: what should you do with your profits? You’ve made an amount significant enough to consider investing it to turn it into more profits. However, deciding just how to invest it isn’t easy. It’s not the same as investing as an individual because your business is at stake. Try considering these top investments for your small business’s profits.

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Source: Pixabay

Back into the Company

The first thing you should think about doing is plowing the money back into your company. If you’re trying to build the business, you should think about ways you can grow. There are several areas where your business could benefit. For example, have you thought about investing in your employees? You can offer training to help them develop their skills. Or perhaps you can buy new desk chairs or furnish a new break room. You might also consider putting money toward new equipment or increasing your stock. There are lots of ways you could improve your business.

Investing in Stocks and Bonds

You might consider investing the money in stocks and bonds. This is something you could do if you want to make some long-term investments. You won’t see the benefits right away, but you could grow your profits over time. You can find tips for investing all over the internet, on sites such as The Fortunate Investor. You can also read books, listen to podcasts and high advisors to help you. If you want to invest in stocks or bonds, you should make sure you do your research. You need to know where your money is going before you start. Also, make sure you want your business associated with the companies you choose.

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Source: Pixabay

Expand Your Business Portfolio

If you have built a significant amount in profits, you might look at other options. One thing you could do is consider buying another business. Perhaps by now you are largely hands-off with your existing small business. You can delegate the majority of tasks, and you think you have time to give your attention to another business. If you want to do this, you have to make sure you do a lot of research. You need to ensure that a business will be profitable for you before you decide to purchase it.

Buy Real Estate

Real estate is an excellent private investment and can be terrific for your business too. You might choose to buy an office or building for your business to move into. On the other hand, you could buy commercial or residential property to rent or sell to others. Real estate can be profitable if you know what you’re doing. Be careful not to go into it lightly if you want to have success.

You can choose to invest your business profits in a variety of ways. Find the methods you think will work for you and make your choice.

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Building a business from the ground up is remarkable. It’s not just about reaching for your goals and sticking to a vision. Rather, it’s about knowing how much hard work you still need to do and what problems you must learn to deal with to keep the company going. That’s how growth happens. Growing pains, though, can hurt a young company if they aren’t managed properly. Not sure how to keep the company growing without spreading your resources thin? Here some some of the most common challenges startups get that you can easily solve with video conferencing:

 

Lack of Talents

Plenty of companies in the U.S. have trouble sourcing for the right talents. U.S. News says America’s lack of STEM students spring from the fact that the education system focuses more on basic proficiency instead of training students for academic excellence. That leaves a lot of low-ability talents with nowhere to go, contributing to the country’s unemployment rate, while job vacancies for high-skill positions in many industries remain. One way companies are circumventing the gap is by widening their talent pool through online video solutions. By interviewing and getting talents from all over the globe, Human Resource teams can now have their pick of qualified applicants without needing to shortchange their hiring goals and standards.

Go Big with Videoconferencing

Go Big with Videoconferencing

 

Managing Offsite Teams

The apps also make it easy for you to handle all your remote teams. You can set up your management team anywhere in the world—so long as there’s steady, reliable internet to back you up—and hire the rest of the team from all over. Daily face to face meetings or huddle sessions can happen online. If you need to beef everyone up on new security protocols, have a town hall meeting or do a quick one on one with a staff member, you can easily do all these things via handy communication tools. Wherever your team is, you won’t have a problem getting and staying in touch with them.

 

Stress for Your IT

Enterprise video for IT from Blue Jeans is one of the best things to happen for your IT team. Remember the days when IT experts had to deal with everything—from keeping your communication channels running without a hitch to setting up a phone patch for you? These days, using online conferencing for your business doesn’t mean you have to use up all your IT resources on installing and managing the system. With easy to use solutions, you can even download, install and use the app yourself, all with little to no assistance from your resident experts. That means you can deploy video at your company, all without having to add more work and stress for them. This gives your startup incredible advantage, allowing you to do so much work for less.

 

Lack of Trust and Teamwork

It makes for an excellent way for your teams to meet and see each other regularly. That helps tremendously. After all, everybody knows people work better when it’s with someone they trust. And they trust people they see more than they do a name off their email contact list. A likely reason for that seems rooted in how we communicate with each other. Susanne Jones, University of Minnesota’s associate professor of communication studies says that about 65 to 75 percent of what we say is non-verbal in nature, Small Business reports. So there is a huge loss of non-verbal messages and cues when people resort to emails, chats or calls. That’s what the system’s face to face contact brings back to the table. With online interactions, you help foster camaraderie and teamwork among your staff, essential to a lot of companies and exceedingly vital for startups. Because startups start small, there’s a need to rely on a core group. If yours is strong, then you have a much better chance at lasting long enough in the business to gain success. Helping trust develop among your staff allows you to move a few steps closer to your goal.

 

Storage Problems

Companies of yore used to rely on expensive servers to store and manage data. These can come at a hefty price tag. Hardware upgrades, too, could cost an arm and a leg. That posed a lot of problems for many startups, at least until online storage was invented. With cloud applications, it’s easier to store and keep your data protected. There’s no need for fancy hardware or costly upgrades, and there’s less stuff to worry about. With an efficient solution, rendered at incredibly low cost, you can keep your startup’s operating expenses low, allowing you to leverage your capital in a better way.

 

Conclusion

Startups have a ton of challenges to overcome, but these video conferencing apps help you deal with those challenges in the best way possible: one that’s efficient and cost-effective. It’s a great start.

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We live in turbulent times, not least due to extreme weather conditions. And, the consequences of natural disasters can be severe for small businesses. In today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at how you should react if your small business suffers from a natural disaster. Read on to find out more.

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Preparation is essential

Do you have insurance protecting you from natural disasters? In some states, it is a necessity, but if you aren’t located in one of those areas, it’s not something you should avoid. Insurance means you get the cover and protection you need in the result of an extreme weather event. Nobody – not even meteorologists – can give you a 100% assurance nothing will happen where you work. Get the protection in place, and you will not have to shoulder the burden of clearing up alone.

Contact all employees

First of all, you will need to contact all your employees. Their safety is your responsibility, and you have to find out if there are any injuries in your workplace due to the event. You should also start to take names and contact details of everyone that is still available to work so that you can plan your business in the days ahead. Don’t forget that many employees will have family and friends suffering from the disaster, so may not be able to focus on their work activities. It’s important to weigh up each employee on an individual basis. Some might need to stay away while others can feel undervalued if they aren’t working.

Cleaning up

When the dust settles, there’s the matter of cleaning up after the event. Of course, how you approach this depends largely on the event itself. In an earthquake scenario, things can be changed forever – and you might be looking at a move elsewhere. However, some disasters, such as floods, are recoverable. Get hold of a disaster cleanup company to help you get everything back in order.

Identify critical activities

The next step is to start getting your business back on track. Make sure you outline all the business critical activities that need doing. The idea here is to keep your business running as normally as possible. You may need to find temporary accommodation – but if you have insurance, this might be already in place. In a worst-case scenario, you can ask your employees to work from home if suitable.

Find funding

Even with insurance, you might struggle to afford to recover your business. The good news is that there are funds available. Contact the Small Business Administration, who can provide loans for natural disasters of up to $2 million. Interest rates tend to be competitive, so it’s best you start your search for funding there.

IT recovery

Another important aspect of your business lies in your data. It is essential that you contact a disaster data recovery firm who will – hopefully – be able to save your vital information. One good way of preparing for the worst is to start using cloud-based services such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

We hope this has helped. The main thing to remember is that your business can survive the biggest natural disaster. We wish you all the best.

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Tax can be a minefield. As a small business owner, trying to get your head around the myriad of tax laws can be something of a minefield. Yes, it’s complicated. But, there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. What a sobering thought.

While it’s not our intention to put a dampener on things, getting to grips with taxation laws is imperative. After all, no one wants a visit from the tax man.

There are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to smaller ventures and taxation laws.

Running an SME and Taxation Matters: The Basics

When you set up as a business, you need to ensure that you are au fait with the many rules of HMRC. While the laws can be complex, you can understand taxation issues better. There is a wealth of support from both HMRC and Lexis Nexis on tax matters. This can help you save time when it comes to dealing with your tax.

One of the most important things that you can do is register, online, for Corporation Tax. You must ensure that you are registered, if your company is deemed as a limited venture. You need to make sure that your Corporation Tax is active. You have a three-month period to do this within.

In the main, corporation tax is paid via the HMRC website. This means that you don’t have to appoint an accountant to deal with your tax. You can do this yourself via the web portal. You must complete a tax return and so forth within the agreed time as stated by HMRC.


Taxation Law

This photo has been supplied by Alan Cleaver

Active Companies

Once you have declared your company as active, you need to ensure that you are making the right people aware of this. You need to give HMRC a vast array of information. This means that if you have traded under a Companies House service, you need to declare this to them. But, you should also endeavour to make sure that your company is registered for VAT and PAYE. This should be done at the same time. VAT taxation differs to Corporation Tax. As a general rule of thumb, you can claim some of your VAT back at the end of the tax year.  PAYE is ‘pay as you earn’ this means that pay tax at the end of the year. But, you must save the appropriate amount of tax ready to be paid within the end of the term.

Liability

Almost all UK businesses are liable for corporation tax. If you run a limited company, which your small venture is sure to be, then you are required to pay corporation tax. However, sole traders are not obliged to pay corporation tax. Only those who are set up as limited companies are. Ensure that you are aware of what legal structure your company operates within.  All companies must pay VAT and PAYE taxes.

National Insurance

Paying NI is vital. You need to ensure that this done alongside PAYE, VAT and corporation taxes. This is done according to the thresholds. Your annual turnover will be dependent on what you earn. Completing the self-assessment will help you with this.

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When starting a New Age business, normal small business principles apply. As with any other type of business, the key areas you have to focus on include product or service development, the writing of a business plan, budgeting for initial set-up costs and other financial planning, marketing efforts, and finally the successful management of the business.

With a New Age business concept, defining the type of products or services that you plan to specialize in plays an important role. There are various fields that you can focus on, such as gift ideas, healing services, books, and interior decorating that are based on New Age principles or New Age training services. The type of product or service that you specialize in will determine the initial set-up costs, the type of rental space required (if any), the selection of an ideal location and the number of employees required. With New Age businesses, it’s important to budget for business internet service to ensure a reliable connection.

Managing your own business is hard work and it is crucial that you have enough passion and self belief if you want to make it work. One reason many people cite in starting a New Age business is to enhance people’s lives. Find out what it is that you have a passion for and focus on building your business on that passion.

By creating a vision and mission statement for your business, you will be able to define your ideals and set reachable targets. This process will help you determine the best type of product or service for your business. When you have finalized your business concept, the next step will be to research what your potential customers will be looking for and how much they will be willing to pay for it.

Before making a decision on the location of your business, have a look at the potential customer groups in each area that you are considering. Locations that are close to eco-friendly housing communities will be ideal for health and holistic living products or services. Decide if you want to focus on working professionals, housewives or students and look for a location that can provide you with access to your target group.

The branding of your business is vital to creating a successful venture. Think carefully about the colors, shapes, designs and the signage of your business. Is the personality and aim of your business reflected in the branding? Can customers easily identify your business and the type of products or services offered?

One of the marketing ideas that you can consider is to showcase your brand at local fairs, events, and industry trade shows. The use of flyers and advertisements in the print and online media, as well as involvement with community events are effective promotional tools. Consider hosting regular events at your shop where potential customers can be introduced to your brand. Running specials or competitions can expose your brand to even more potential customers.

The online presence of your business is a powerful promotional tool. Consider investing in a professionally designed website and hosting to ensure that visitors can find your business online. Social media marketing is an essential part of any successful online marketing campaign. It is important to reach your target audience by using all of the available marketing and promotional tools at your disposal.

Continue to use all of the resources and tools that you can find online. Also, creating a network of entrepreneurs and industry professionals will help drastically. If you have the passion and self-belief, you will make a success of your New Age business.