6 Professionals Your Small Business Needs to Work With

Budgets for small businesses are typically tight, prompting owners to only hire outside professionals when absolutely necessary. They would love for everything to be done in-house, but rarely is that possible. Most successful small businesses grow with the help of collaboration from specific professionals, whose expertise are complex enough to warrant the investment, rather than risking small business catastrophe by cutting corners.

If growth is a priority, your small business needs to work with these six professionals:

Insurance Professional

Insurance requirements seem to change on a yearly basis. Save yourself the headache and seek out an insurance professional to help you find the ideal coverage for your business. They will use your circumstances and location to find the best plan for you and your employees. Keep them on call as your business expands and insurance is required for dozens of employees.

PR/Marketing Professional

Some business have a capable in-house PR and marketing team, but most small businesses don’t have the resources or time to create such a department. PR/marketing companies can provide servicing on a monthly or bi-annual basis. There are many quality, small PR firms that are tailored to helping small businesses, so look for one specifically with concrete success within your niche.

CPA/Payroll Manager

Payroll is a hugely important, particularly because employees will start to lose trust if paychecks become late or erroneous. Having a CPA or payroll company aid in payouts will alleviate concerns significantly and save you hours each payroll period. A CPA can also advise you on state and federal taxes, something that requires a professional because your finances will likely be constantly changing.

Maintenance Services

Your business’ infrastructure is important, too! An uncleanly or disorganized office space can turn off both employees and clients. Small business owners likely already have enough on their plates to manually clean the office, so hiring outside help — like for those high-rise office window cleaners you could never get to yourself — is well worth the investment. You can focus on your work and employees and leave the cleaning to the professionals.

Business Consultant

The wide-sweeping term “business consultant” can turn some business owners off, especially if they’re confident that they can handle all business decisions. While a business consultant might not be as important as lawyers or insurance professionals, they can still be of great use in a general sense. Business consultants can find solutions via intelligent discourse, such as the Socratic method, and you might find it extremely helpful.

Information Tech

IT help isn’t always needed, especially if your business leaders are technologically inclined, but small businesses with less technical expertise should hire someone who specializes in it. Specifically, finding a professional to install the office computers or set up a cloud-centered content management system to aid in office collaboration and task management is certainly an option.

Although small businesses are constantly looking for ways to save money, neglecting the skills of these professionals is not one of them. Their expertise — from legal and insurance to PR and general office cleaning — can save you hours in the short-term, which can lead to impressive growth in the long-term. Plus, the web makes it easier than ever to find independent professionals who excel in your business’ niche.

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How a Bilingual Employee Can Be Vital In Your Company

Bilingual Employee – English isn’t the only important language anymore. Simple as that. While it is still the most dominant one, at least in terms of business, French, German and Spanish languages are getting there very fast. Europe is much like a big family and English speaking people aren’t the only ones that are important for doing business.

Bilingual Employee

In fact, there are a whole lot of positions that would help their business owners greatly if they can speak at least one other language except English and those positions are very common today. Take social workers, nutritionists or marketers for example. The non-English speaking population is growing day by day, and if you want to increase your customer range, you need to consider hiring bilingual employees seriously.

Increasing your customer base with a Bilingual Employee

Having bilingual employees on key positions in your company can make a huge difference. Let’s consider two examples: HR and health specialists (just about any branch in healthcare).

Having a bilingual HR specialist will allow you to hire employees that are great at their work (IT sphere, writers, bloggers etc.), but can’t speak English (or are very bad at English) for any reason. Those employees can become vital for your company since:

  • They will require a lot less salary in most cases compared to similar professionals who are proficient in English, but still be able to do an outstanding job for you.
  • They can help broaden your reach. You will have the opportunity to dip into new markets, ones that still require your product or service, but can’t communicate in English.
  • They can increase your customer satisfaction by a lot. While it may seem a minor thing, but people love to be spoken to in their mother tongue, even if they do speak other languages. If you ever encounter a delicate issue with one of your customers, an employee who speaks their language may become your life saver in those dire situations.

Bilingual health specialists can be even more important. If you are in healthcare business (psychology, therapy or run a hospital/clinic, etc.) bilingual medical staff can be the difference between a loyal customer and a passerby, or in some cases, even the difference between life and death.

If a non-English speaking patient comes to your clinic with some serious health issues and can only speak French or German, your bilingual employees will suddenly become life savers, no matter whether they are nurses or janitors, as long as they can properly translate everything for the doctor.

Training the rest of your staff

What’s really great about bilingual employees is that you don’t necessarily need to have a lot of them to increase your customer reach, retention rate, satisfaction level, etc. Just a handful of them will be able to train the rest of your staff to become more or less proficient in another language, which can lead to even more opportunities.

When communicating with customers, even a few words in their mother tongue can make a big difference. Great bloggers for example, know about this very well and use it to their advantage along with other blogging secrets.

Finally, bilingual employees, regardless of their position, can be very handy when it comes to business negotiations abroad. If you consider entering new markets, those employees can become half-time or full-time translators for your negotiators to ensure that everything goes on smoothly.

You might think that you can always hire professional translators when needed, but there is a difference between hiring a translator and having somebody from your team that cares for your company help you succeed abroad.

This will not only increase that employee’s motivation, but also show your business partner that you have taken the first step towards entering a new market seriously, since you already have people that speak the necessary language, not just hired translators.

When it comes to business, every opportunity should be weighted seriously and taken if there is a positive risk-reward scenario. The absolutely beautiful thing about having bilingual staff members is that there is no risk whatsoever: only opportunities. And depending on your business, those opportunities can make all the difference in the world.

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Top Travel Tips for On-the-Go Business Executives

If your work demands you to often travel a lot, you need to be far more organized than the ones having a desk job. Working at client sites, visits to the branch offices, and travelling for numerous business reasons have made it imperative for the On- the-Go business executives to be efficiently organized to ensure their productivity never decreases.

There are a few great travel tips that can help the ones living out of the suitcase to enhance and maintain their output.

Travel Light- Keep disposables with you
Carrying heavy luggage every time you travel is a big hassle. Try to travel as light as possible. Disposables come in handy for travelling. These use and throw items help you to lighten your luggage to a great extent. Agreed, it’s not possible every time you travel, but whenever it is possible, do it, as it will help you create more space in your bag to accommodate other things.

Keep your essentials always in your travel bag
If you are a frequent business traveler, the last thing you want is to pack and unpack your bags every time. It’s always better to keep a spare of all your essentials such as toiletries, charging cables, and other important all- the- time- needed accessories always packed in your bag. The least you have to pack, the better it is. Don’t forget to check and replace the empty ones every once in a while.

Be a tech savvy and do your research
Getting to know the world is increasingly becoming easier. Thanks to the World Wide Web, researching about the place you are going to is now a matter of just a few clicks. Get to know the places to go around your hotel, the emergency numbers, the etiquettes and rules for tourists (especially in the Middle Eastern countries), the visa regulations and currency value and exchange etc. are some of the vital information that you can get in a matter of minutes.

Always carry a party and a casual clothing
No matter how short is your trip, a formal party dress and comfortable casual clothing should always be a part of your clothing. Casual clothing like a simple tee and jeans can be super useful in case of a small outing time that you may get during your official trip. Similarly, an impromptu invite for an office party in the evening will not give you a panic attack and force you to run to stores to buy a dress.

Always carry your own internet and voice access
The place you are travelling may have a great or a pathetic speed of internet, you never know! Why take a chance and repent? Instead, always carry your own on-the-go access with you. It will not only give you the freedom of being connected wherever you are with your family and loved ones but also help you in your office work.

Eat and Sleep Right
Especially if you have a long travel schedule or long flight schedule, your sleep pattern can take a toll and thus, affect your energy meter. It is always great to plan your sleeping and eating pattern ahead. For example, if you have a long flight it’s good to change in your pajamas, eat on time and brush your teeth and then board the flight so that you maximize your sleep timings. Similarly, it’s best to avoid late nights if you have to catch an early morning flight, no matter how tempting the party may be, because improper sleep is sure to affect your mood and your overall attitude for work the next day.

Don’t confuse between a ‘Direct flight’ and a ‘Non-stop flight’
Lot many times there is confusion between a direct and nonstop flight. Saving your precious time is crucial when you are on frequent business trips. Know the difference. A direct flight might stop, the only difference is that you don’t have to switch the planes but you will still have to wait inside it, but a non- stop flight won’t stop and will help you reach your destination much early. Selecting a non-stop flight over a direct flight always helps.

Be loyal to one flight carrier, your chances of upgradation are higher
Yes! Frequent fliers always stand a better chance of free upgradation than others. The same case applies in hotels too. If your business trips need you to go the same place frequently, book with the same hotel. And most importantly, if you are a regular there, never hesitate to ask if there’s a chance for upgradation. They are mostly happy to oblige their regular customers.

Keep your bag in an organized manner
If you are a frequent flier, it is best to keep your check in baggage and your cabin baggage in a neat and organized manner. It’s a common scene with some flyers who keep the long queue of flyers waiting at the aisle while they shuffle through their cabin baggage to find what they need. Keep your books, and other accessories needed for flight in a separate section. Similarly, your luggage should have your accessories likes socks, undergarments etc in a different section, cosmetics separately and clothes in a different section to avoid any last minute delays.

Kindness and being nice goes a long way
Believe it or not, being nice to a person who is used to listening complaints the whole day can instantly lift the spirit of the person and in turn yours too. Many of the frequent fliers have admitted that being nice, saying thank you and smiling gets them extra attention from the staff and many a times upgrades too. But the key is to not do it to get upgrades but to do it to make your travel a less taxing and more enjoyable.

For most working in the corporate world, business travel is an unavoidable evil. When you know you can’t avoid it, it’s best to get the most out of your endeavors. These tips will help you in many ways to make your travel a lot easier and hassle-free. You might know many of them but even a gentle reminder can help start doing what you always knew but still wasn’t doing till now

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Financial Management Tips to Keep the Cash Flowing

There are so many intriguing layers to running a business. Though you may have the best products and services in your industry, they all mean nothing if you can’t properly manage your cash flow. You need cash to adequately market your products and services, hire and pay staff, manufacture and produce results, and provide customer service. If your cash is always tied up in one aspect of business or another, your business stands to become stagnant. To avoid this common pitfall, here are some tips on effectively managing your cash flow:

  1. Better Record Keeping

One of the most basic yet important concepts to managing cash flow is diligent record keeping. When the subject matter is your company’s finances, there is really no such thing as being too observant of your money. It is important to implement a process for keeping a record of all financial matters within the business including your banking statements, receipts, invoices, expense reports, and payroll. If you can’t afford to hire an accountant, there are plenty of affordable accounting software packages you can invest in to help make recording finances a lot easier. When you have a clear understanding of where your money is you’re better prepared to make financial decisions for the future.

  1. Improve Receivables

If you’re in the business of extending credit to your customers, then your receivables are where a lot of your cash is tied up. It is important that you have clear guidelines and contracts between your customers so they pay in a timely manner. Popular methods for getting customers to pay on time include offering incentives like discounts for paying prior to the 30- or 60-day timeframe. Other ways to improve your receivables would be to offer several methods of payment so that customers can opt to electronically pay you for your products or services. You also want to make sure that you have a follow-up process in place for customers who are nearing their due date to try and get the funds collected.

For problematic customers or outstanding invoices, some small business owners opt to consider factoring accounts receivables. Factoring companies will purchase the outstanding invoices from qualifying companies and give cash up front. This way you can use the money without having to wait for the customer to pay you.

  1. Efficient Filing

Another part of maintaining financial records is having a systematic filing system in place. Whether you’re currently operating with digital forms or you still prefer to use paper, there needs to be a system in place that will keep all financial documents in order. Cloud file management systems are trending for businesses that utilize digital forms. Documents can easily be scanned and uploaded to the server for safe keeping. When the forms are needed, they can be easily accessed by specific staff members who have permission. This keeps things from getting out of hand or overlooked as tons of paperwork often can.

  1. Consider Different Payment Terms

If you’re really having a hard time collecting from your customers it might prove beneficial to consider different payment terms going forward. By requesting for example, that customers give you a 50 percent deposit upfront, you’re lessening the amount of cash you have outstanding. If you’re going to make changes to payment terms, it is important to do so in a manner that does not upset current customers. Incorporating it into new contracts, for instance, is ideal so that there is no confusion going forward.

  1. Maximize Payables

Your customer’s aren’t the only ones who have to foot a bill; you also need to make sure that you’re paying your vendors on time. If you can slow down the process of repaying your vendors, then you can effectively manage your cash flow a bit better. This might include asking for extended repayment options so that you have 60 to 90 days to pay them. If you like this option, be sure that you don’t overdo it by forgetting to pay your vendors on time as this could create more financial issues for you with late fees and a ruined business relationship.

Effective money management is the key to operating a business. Without the cash for operating costs, the business will slowly but surely dissipate. If you’ve been having cash flow issues, try incorporating some of these ideas into the mix. Over time, you should start to see some cash free up that can be put to use elsewhere such as in developing new products and services or expanding your business in the next few years.

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Effective Ways to Overcome Burnout

When you have experienced a long bout of stress, whether on your job or in your home environment, it is expected you will suffer from burnout. This is the point where you become almost numb to your situation. You lose the drive to even get up and try to complete your daily tasks.

Life looks bleak, and you may not see a way for things to ever change. Many people who suffer from burnout may give up on their jobs and their relationships out of a feeling of hopelessness. When you feel that burnout is becoming a problem, you need to focus on getting the support you need to recover, before an absolute breakdown occurs.

Stress vs Burnout

When a person is stressed, they become anxious and try to figure a way to complete a number of tasks that may seem overwhelming. Burnout is well beyond the severe stress level. It is the phase where a person seems to give up. They go through the motions of daily life, but are mentally detached from people and activities. Burnout is the point at which continual high levels of stress have exhausted a person mentally to the point where they have no motivation to go on.

Overcome Burnout

There are a number of ways to overcome burnout. These include but are not limited to:

  • Change jobs — if it is your job that is causing the problem. A fresh environment may do the trick. If this is not possible, maybe talking with your superior about changing some aspect of your job will help.
  • Take time off from work, if you have vacation days coming or sick days. You may find taking a vacation will help shake the feeling out of your mind. It will give you the time to rejuvenate and rest.
  • Talk to a friend about how you feel. Keeping everything to yourself will only make things worse. You may find it helpful to consult a therapist or counselor for assistance.
  • Take Modafinil – a prescriptive, no side effect drug that will help boost your overall well-being. It improves your brain function and helps you deal with sleeping disorder which add to the stress you are undergoing.
  • Exercise and get your body moving even just 30 minutes a day will help you feel better. Practice deep breathing regularly to calm yourself and relax.
  • Do something that you enjoy. Even if it is a small thing, sometimes doing something for yourself, as others take so much from you, can really help turn things around.

Whether your burnout is being caused by too much to do at work or at home, getting support from family or friends will help.

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Starting A Business Abroad

The bureaucracy associated with starting a business abroad is shocking and is enough to deter even the most confident entrepreneur. European countries such as France, where many Brits now call home, is regarded as a red tape jungle and can be quite difficult to establish a business due to the amount of paperwork involved. However, having said that, Europe is traditionally a country of small businesses and individual traders where the economic philosophy actually encourages and even nurtures their creation.

Things to Consider

It’s often wise to work for someone else in the same line of business in order to gain experience, rather than jump in at the deep end. Always thoroughly investigate an existing or proposed business before investing any money. As any expert can tell you, an overseas business venture is not for amateur entrepreneurs, particularly amateurs who don’t speak the language! You should also take into consideration the culture of your host country and the prospect of increased business travel and time away from family and friends.

Buying an Existing Business

It’s much easier to buy an existing business abroad than start a new one. The paperwork for taking over an existing business is also simpler although still complex. If you plan to buy a business, obtain an independent valuation and employ an accountant to audit the books. Never sign anything you don’t understand completely; even if you think you understand it, you should still obtain unbiased professional advice.

Establishing your Business

Most people are far too optimistic about the prospects of a new business abroad and over-estimate income levels. Be realistic or even pessimistic when estimating your income. While hoping for the best you should plan for the worst and have sufficient funds to last until you’re established. New projects are rarely if ever completed within budget and you need to ensure that you have sufficient working capital and can survive until a business takes off.


The location for a business is even more important than the location for a home. Depending on the type of business, you may need access to major air, road and rail links or be located in a popular tourist area. Local plans regarding communications, industry and major building developments, e.g. housing complexes and new shopping, may also be important.


Hiring employees shouldn’t be taken lightly abroad and must be taken into account before starting a business. In France for example, you enter into an employment contract under French labour law and employees enjoy extensive rights. It’s also very expensive to hire employees, as you must pay 40 to 60% of salaries in social security contributions. You may even want to give preference to those who speak English depending on the type of business you intend to own.

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Financing Failures: Why so Many Startups Can’t Survive

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? Every year thousands of people fulfill their dream of becoming an entrepreneur only to encounter unforeseen obstacles that cause their venture to fail. In fact, 90% of startups fail within their first year. Learn why it’s so hard to start and sustain a successful business and how you avoid some of the common pitfalls like financing failures.

Product or Service Isn’t Wanted

A survey conducted among failed startup founders said that the lack of market or need for their product, was the main reason for their failed business. Basically they didn’t have a product or service enough people wanted or need. Check for flaws in your demand with these areas.

  • Weak Value Proposition

A value proposition is a statement that says why people should buy your product. For example, people buy Aspirin because they know it will get rid of aches and pains. Your product needs to have a clear value proposition in order for people to know why they should buy your product.

  • Wrong Time

No matter how great your idea is, your business must be relevant to today’s consumers. If your business is ahead or behind the times, it’ll be very hard to gain traction. Are there already a thousand stores just like yours in the neighborhood? Get in at the right time and your business will take off.

Not Enough Money

Money management is critical for any business, but especially in a startup. The key to proper financial management is having the right equipment when you start. In order for your business to function, you need certain essential equipment. Do not decide to invest in the necessary items after you have open up shop. That’s like flying a plane that’s only 95% ready. You should also keep enough cash on hand for day-to-day operations. A business cannot be sustainable if you don’t have enough daily cash. If you know it will take off in time, a loan might be a good way to get on your feet. Talk to investors as well to see what options you might have for outside funding.

Not the Right People

In order to have a successful business, you need to build it with the right people. However, just because someone is skilled at their craft, does not mean they are great management partners. Business is a tough environment and your team needs to be composed of people with key skills, leadership ability, and similar vision. Find people who will work with you to achieve your vision. You should also be willing and able to compensate them. Even if you picked the best, they will easily fall away or desert you if they can’t see the rewards. Use a good system and a Pay Stub Calculator to make sure everyone is compensated accurately.

You team will need to generate good business ideas, test them, and thoroughly carry out your business strategies. If you have a great management team you will probably be able to avoid the other two causes of failed startups.

Plan Now

Before you decide to open your own business, create a well thought out business plan. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Study why businesses fail and plan how you can overcome these challenges. Once you have a solid plan, get what you need, and start your dream business!

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Growing Fast but Smart: 6 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

If you were the head of a large enterprise, hiring new staff would probably less of a headache. You would have staff who is well-versed in employment law, recruiting practices, researching candidates, and conducting interviews. These staff members would be able to quickly review all CV, conduct phone screens, and even first interviews. Your role would be to conduct final interviewers, or even to step out of the process entirely, leaving the final hiring decisions to department managers. Unfortunately, as a small business owner, these duties fall solely in your lap.

6 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

Things can be especially overwhelming if you are hiring your first employee, or first set of employees. Fortunately, there are a few tips that you can use when you first begin to navigate the hiring process. Hopefully this will make things a bit less daunting.

  1. Prepare a Set of Appropriate and Relevant Interview Questions

It may be tempting to keep things informal by conducting interviews as a casual, conversational, getting to know you session, but this is only asking for trouble. It’s too easy to miss key points if you do not have a list of questions that you plan to ask.

In addition to this, writing out your questions before hand gives you a chance to make sure that you are not asking anything that could get you into trouble. If an interview happens to go too far off topic, you can also use your list of questions to get both yourself and your interviewee back on track.

  1. Re-Read the CV of Any Client You Have Called Back for a Second or Third Interview

You may interview more than a dozen possible hires before you create your short list of callbacks. There’s no possible way to keep track of the relevant information about each of them.

Before you a carry out a second or third interview, take a few minutes to remind yourself of each person’s education, experience, and skills by reading over their resume one last time. You’ll be better prepared and you won’t risk embarrassing yourself by asking irrelevant questions.

  1. Follow Up with All Interviewees

As a matter of personal courtesy, be sure to follow up with everybody that you interviewed, even if it is to express your regrets. Even if they aren’t getting the job, the folks you interviewed will appreciate any feedback that you give them, and simply knowing that they can continue their job search.

If you develop a reputation as an employer who does not let interviewee know that they are no longer being considered, you will likely lose word of mouth references that can be so important when filling new positions.

  1. Value Your Gut Instincts

Hiring a new employee is more involved than simply matching skills, education, and experience with your requirements. You want to hire a person who fits into your little organization and is trustworthy and reliable. You want to work with somebody who is going to thrive in your work environment, get along with others, and demonstrate the passion and hard work that is required when working for a small business.

If you suspect that a potential employee won’t fit into your team, the best thing you can do for all involved is to move on to a candidate is a better fit.

  1. Use Networking in Addition to Posting Positions for Hire

Get word out to your online and offline contacts that you are hiring. You may be very surprised at how quickly candidates come your way via referrals from friends and business contacts. Don’t be afraid to mention that you have openings on social media pages either.

The more avenues you take when reaching out to new hires, the more likely you will be to fill any openings quickly. In fact, many younger job seekers will look for jobs via social media sites more often than they will traditional job sites.

  1. Be Clear and Detailed in Your Job Postings

If you have requirements about which you have no flexibility, make this clear when you write the post advertising your job. In addition to this, if you have specific instructions about how you wish to be contacted, or the format in which you would like to receive the job seekers’ CV, this should also be explicitly stated in the job posting.

Keep in mind that the more clear you are, the less likely you will have to spend time sifting through applicants of candidates who do not meet your requirements. Before you send your job posting off to be published, read it over and over from the perspective of a job seeker. Then, ask yourself if more clarity is in order. If you have a friend or acquaintance that is familiar with all of this, you might see if they will take a look at your job posting for you.

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Common Business Expenses That Are Tax Deductible

A tax deductible expense is any necessary, reasonable and ordinary expense that is associated with earning business income. As you can imagine, this definition is highly volatile. It is really important that you know about all the business expenses that are tax deductible. This would help you to save a lot of money on taxes. In this post we outline common business expenses that are tax deductible.

Unfortunately, most business managers do not know what expenses can be considered as being tax deductible. That is why we will go through those that many do not know much about.

Administrative And General Expenses

Basically all of the expenses that are necessary for business operations are tax deductible. This includes what you would expect: salaries, supplies, equipment, office rent, utility costs, accounting services, business publications subscriptions and professional dues. Such expenses are usually covered but there are so many others that are associated with administrative or general expenditures. For instance, you can actually deduct content writing tools and investments done in setting up a business office.

Make sure that you talk with your tax accountant. Mention the different expenses that will appear and see if they are going to be deductible or not. You will quickly figure out that even miscellaneous expenses like repairs, charitable contributions or education expenses can be deducted.

Keep in mind that home office deductions can be quite substantial. You gain many different advantages when you run an office from your home so do consider the opportunity as one that can help you to save a lot of money.

Automobile Expenses

When doing business, you can easily have situations in which you drive a car. The business related mileage can be tax deductible, unless the automobile was used to commute from and to work. In the event that the travel was made with a business purpose that can be proven, tax deductions are available. Besides mileage, you can also deduct part of the expenses associated with car operating costs.

Travel And Entertainment Deductions

Reasonable entertainment and travel costs can be tax deductible when:

  • They are directly connected with business
  • They are associated with business

Due to the personal element that appears, only around 50% of the entertainment expenses and meals will be deductible.

Depreciation Deductions

Based on Internal Revenue Code, the small business owner can write off up to $18,000 of purchased equipment during one year period. It is a tax break that you do want to take advantage of as soon as possible, especially in the event that you often find yourself buying office related equipment.

Employee Benefit Deductions

These are highly valuable for business operations. Offering employees fringe benefits is actually tax deductible, which is many that do not know about. Many of such benefits are not seen as employee income. Tax breaks are thus available. The only problem is that there are many different deductions that appear and disappear. Tax laws change constantly so you need to be ahead of the curve.

We should also add that retirement plans chosen can also lead towards various tax advantages. Employer contributions are normally tax deductible and such money can be tax-deferred till retirement age is reached.

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Reward to Retain: The Effects of Loyalty Schemes in the Insurance Industry

Three quarters of people would change insurers to a company offering the same product at the same price – as long as they gave them loyalty schemes too.

The figures were revealed in a major survey carried out by M&S for Business that looked into the way companies in the financial sector attract new customers – and keep them.

As well as surveying customers it spoke to insurance industry figures to try and discover what makes a successful acquisition and retention strategy.
While 95 per cent of respondents said price was one of the most important factors when deciding what policy to buy, only 55 per cent said price was the sole reason. It suggests that in such a competitive industry a loyalty or reward scheme to add value to a policy could improve chances of take-up.
Experts agreed and most insurers quizzed said they already ran some sort of reward scheme.

But the survey also revealed that almost half (45 per cent) of respondents did not know if their insurer offered a reward scheme or not.
It suggests that communicating the scheme on offer to customers is just as important as the scheme itself.

Increase Customer Acquisition

The report concludes: “Implementing a reward scheme for loyalty, referrals or signing up to an insurance policy is a great way to increase customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. However, it is important that the offering is relevant to the individual and offered at the right time.

“Allowing customers to earn points and rewards makes them feel involved with your brand and gives them the feeling that your service is worth more than that of the competition. As with any relationship in life, the one between business and consumer needs to be nurtured and approached delicately.

“That is why research and planning are imperative to the success of a reward scheme. If you get it right, you can build relationships and create brand advocates who will stay with you for a lifetime.”

Encourage Customer Retention

Stuart Lawrence, Head of M&S for Business said: “We know that the insurance industry is one of the sectors where it can be most difficult to encourage customer retention. With insurance usually being an annual purchase and most people hunting for the best priced policies, it can be hard for an insurance company to offer a unique service.

“With this in mind, we have carried out some research to discover what qualifies as a successful customer acquisition and retention strategy within the industry and found that reward schemes are something that is seen as value for a customer.

“We feel that the results of this research are transferable to other sectors within the financial industry and provide an interesting insight into a customer’s perception.”

To look at the complete findings, visit M&S for Business’ website.

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