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September 22, 2017, 9:00 am

How to Reduce the Cost of Running an Online Business

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Blogging,Business

Do you feel that you are spending too much money on your online business? If you look into the costs in your online venture in more detail, you may find that you are wasting a lot of money every year that could be used in more productive ways. Below are some tips that will help you to avoid making these mistakes.

Improve Your Business and Financial Skills

To start with, you need to become more of a business person and not treat your online business like a hobby. You can do this by completing a business-related course, such as a masters in business administration online. An online MBA program or similar course will help you to improve your business skills and financial skills.

Typical skills you will develop include your financial management skills, forecasting, organizational skills and planning skills. Each of these skills is crucial, especially when you want to take control of the financial aspect of your online venture.

Only Pay for the Products and Services You Really Need

It’s tempting to want to purchase every new product or service you see on the internet that promises to help your online business. For example, you may be paying for subscriptions for training courses that you don’t really use that often. For every monthly subscription or payment you make, you should always ask yourself whether your business depends on it. If not, cancel the payments straight away.

Do It Yourself If You Can

Graphic design, web design, content and online marketing are some of the activities that can be expensive, all of which increase your online business costs. However, if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, you could do much of this work yourself.

This is not as daunting a task as you may think. There are plenty of training resources such as video sharing websites and high-quality training courses that can help you develop these skills quickly. As well as this, there are many online tools and generators that are a much more cost-effective option for online entrepreneurs who have a tight budget.

Reduce Customer Product Returns and Refunds

If you sell products or services over the internet, it’s essential to keep your shoppers and customers satisfied. If there are a lot of returns, this can cost your business a large sum of money over the course of a year.

To avoid this situation, make sure you provide a better service and better products. You should also create better product or service descriptions so that your customers know exactly what they are getting from you.

Look for Free Alternatives on the Internet

Certain tools such as graphic design packages are required by modern online businesses. Instead of spending money on these products, there are many free alternatives available. The same thing is true for other tools you may need.

Every online business owner should look for ways to reduce their running costs. Following these tips will go a long way towards helping you achieve this important goal.

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September 7, 2017, 12:06 pm

Why Every Business Needs Mobile Payment Options

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

In the early 20th century, the charge card seemed to be the culmination of thousands of years of payment technology. Convenient, transactional, and utterly futuristic, payment cards first appeared in 1921, and by 1950, the practice swiftly increased in popularity to resemble the modern credit card system we know today. Yet, we now know that credit cards were only the beginning of a revolution in payment technology. In the 1990s, the emergence of the World Wide Web introduced the opportunity to make online payments — and in 2003, mobile payments began.

Today, mobile payments are slowly replacing the seemingly ubiquitous and everlasting charge card as consumers recognize the added security and convenience of storing payment information on their mobile devices. As a result, many consumer-focused businesses have slowly started adopting methods for accepting mobile payments. However, it isn’t just restaurants and retail stores that should consider using mobile payment solutions; every business can benefit from the payment options of mobile devices. Here’s why:

Gain New Payment Opportunities

The easier it is to make payments; the sooner customers will pay — this is a well-known truth among businesses struggling to fulfill their accounts receivable. It follows that the more payment options customers have, the easier it will be for many of them to complete their transactions and send over their promised cash. Mobile payment systems typically expand a business’s payment opportunities. For example, an SMS billing system allows businesses to accept payments over text, and various mobile services allow businesses to accept card payments when away from typical POS terminals. Ease of payment is a significant boon; for this reason alone, businesses should consider adding mobile payment options.

Increase Speed of Payment

For businesses and customers alike, the checkout process is fraught with anxiety. During this period, customers evaluate for the last time whether their purchase is worthwhile, and businesses wait on edge, hoping customers go through with the sale. One of the best ways to decrease cart abandonment and increase conversions is to make it as fast and simple as possible. Customers should not be forced to endure page after page of information gathering; they should be allowed to send their payment and be done. Mobile payments typically cut straight to the point, helping businesses get paid.

Decrease Transaction Fees

Admittedly, not all mobile payment systems are cheaper than traditional merchant services — but many are. While many merchants spend about 2 percent of every transaction paying their service providers, many credit card processors have agreed to lower these rates for mobile payment providers to encourage businesses to migrate to the mobile systems. Transaction fees can eat away a business’s profits, so it is important to reduce them as much as possible.

Improve Payment Security

One reason credit card processors are keen to lower rates for mobile payment systems is the enhanced security these systems promise. Though it might seem counterintuitive — because mobile devices are inherently connected to networks, which can be breached — the intense authentication processes required for mobile payment actually do increase security. Near field communication (NFC) chips, biometric locks, alpha-numeric passcodes, and more all work together to validate a transaction, so businesses and consumers are better protected with mobile payments.

Add to the Brand

Consumers have always been interested in the latest, greatest technology, which results in technologically progressive businesses enjoying greater patronage than their antiquated competitors. Mobile payments remain among the newest innovations for business-customer interactions, so businesses that adopt mobile payment options still benefit from customer excitement to experience the novelty. Interest in advanced technology can quickly become an essential part of a business’s brand, which will help that business retain tech-savvy audiences for years to come.

Learn About Client Trends and Habits

Understanding customer behavior is one of the hardest tasks for businesses — unless they automate it through their payment systems. Mobile payment systems allow businesses to track not only customer habits but also inventory, so businesses can recognize trends and be better prepared for meeting customer needs. Attentive customer service encourages customers not only to repeat their purchases but also to tell friends and family about their positive experiences.

Add New Client Programs

With the help of mobile payment options, businesses are finding it easier to integrate beneficial customer programs like loyalty clubs and incentives. Punch cards and ring cards are easily lost or ignored, but digital programs will continue to record payment activity and reward customers for engaging with businesses. Customers tend to be more interested in returning to businesses that value their patronage.

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September 7, 2017, 12:01 pm

Key Ways to Protect Your Small Business From Online Fraud

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

As a small-business owner, you no doubt already realize the importance of trading online, whether you run a specific e-commerce venture or allow customers to order goods or services and make payments online. These days, technology means that online transactions can save businesses time and money; allow them to make more sales; and broaden trading from a local location to anywhere around the world.

However, with all these (and other) benefits, comes some risks, too. Hackers continually find new ways to break into business accounts for sensitive financial and personal data, to crash systems, and to hold information for ransom. In addition, businesses happen to be liable for the fraudulent charges which are transacted on stolen or otherwise comprised credit cards, which can potentially cost thousands of dollars every year.

To protect your business from these risks, it is important to do everything you can to avoid online fraud. Read on for some key ways you can go about doing this today.

Use a Secure Payment Processing Firm

One of the first steps is to ensure you use a secure payment processing firm to handle your credit and debit card and other transactions. By utilizing a trusted merchant services solution, you can outsource the payment process and take advantages of the many checks and balances involved in these types of digital transactions. This also means you won’t have to handle or store customers’ financial data either.

When selecting a payment provider, ask firms about the security measures they have in place to protect the details of the businesses signed up with them, and their customers. Typically, you’ll find the most secure merchant services companies boast hard-to-hack, complex encryption algorithms, and make sure all data transmitted between consumers, businesses, banks, and their firm is encrypted.

Payment processing providers with a strong commitment to security will also use numerous security protocols, including CVV2 verifications; provide support for the most comprehensive SSL certificates; and have very tight restrictions in place on how data is stored and sent via the internet.

In addition, many merchant services firms will restrict any payments coming in from countries with a reputation for excessive online fraud. They will also have strategies in place to pick up on likely fraudulent activity, and will let their clients know about flagged transactions so orders can be canceled, or more information request from the customer to verify credibility.

 

Be Aware of the Common Types of Scams

Next, protect your company from online fraud by being aware of the most common types of scams used by cybercriminals. When you know the methods used most often, you will be more likely to be aware of something suspicious, and will be able to teach your staff members what to be on the lookout for as well.

One of the key things to be wary of is opening emails, attachments, or links sent to you by people you don’t know, or of messages purporting to be from real companies or contacts but that seem a little off. Fraudulent messages may get you to provide details to hackers that allow them to plant a virus, crash your system, login to your accounts, or otherwise cause havoc.

In particular, one of the most frequent hacker strategies that works is phishing. With this type of attack, you will be sent an email or other message that is designed to look legitimately like it has come from a bank, telecommunications firm, social media site, or other large firm. Hackers try to make it seem that the communication has come from a company you might deal with regularly, by using copied logos, design, and even similar language.

Within the message will be a form you’re told must be filled in with your sensitive data and sent back, or a link to click on to take you to a website where you need to login and complete some action. Once you have inputted your sensitive information though, hackers have the information they need to commit fraud and cause damage.

To avoid this, be on the lookout for signs that messages are fake (such as sloppy design, misspelled words, strange email addresses); and only ever type in the URL of a website that you want to login to directly, rather than getting to a site from a link.

Ensure Your Computers and Website Are Protected

Lastly, there are simple yet effective steps you can take to protect your computers and website from hackers and scammers. For instance, make sure you install security software and firewalls on all the computers used within your company, as these act as a key defense against people trying to break in.

You should also talk to your IT provider or website software system team about securing your website from prying eyes; and ensure that comprehensive passwords are used on all devices used and sites logged into. Don’t forget to keep software and systems updated at all times, too, as the latest versions will likely fix potential bugs and security gaps.

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August 10, 2017, 7:55 am

How to Conduct an Ecommerce Sales Forecast

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

If you’re hosting an outdoor event, you keep your eyes glued to the weather forecast leading up to the big day. You hope for sunny skies, of course, but you also need to plan for inclement weather. Looking ahead allows you to prepare and adjust so no outcome will be a total surprise.

The same principle applies to running an online store. Creating an ecommerce sales forecast helps maintain the right inventory volume and keep the books balanced. Unfortunately, no TV meteorologist can deliver these predictions. You must make your own.

Here’s how to conduct an ecommerce sales forecast.

Examine Past Data

The best way to predict the future is to learn from the past. Although you may be less-than-eager to delve into numbers from your past (especially those first few months), it’s a useful starting point for charting future growth. Look at how your ecommerce company’s sales have grown month over month. What if that pattern continues? Where will you be in six months? A year?

Besides hard sales figures, Orderhive suggests you also look at:

  • Average number of items in cart
  • Average number of visitors to your website
  • Average cost of each product
  • Total gross sales

Plugging these numbers month-over-month into a spreadsheet can help you see emerging trends before they happen and respond accordingly. Pro tip: If your store uses a cloud-based ecommerce platform like Shopify, it may have a built-in tool to help you aggregate and analyze this data without having to create your own separate report (and update it monthly).

Season Matters

Every industry has a natural ebb and flow. It’s important to determine where your store fits into that. The last thing you want to do is hit busy season and run out of product just as the crowds are clamoring for your merchandise! Telling customers items are on backorder and will take an extra two to three weeks to ship is a surefire way to encourage cart abandonment.

Part of any accurate sales forecast will include what people are searching for, as well as when and how this relates to their actual buying habits. Determining keyword-based search frequencies by month can help you prepare your inventory. People often shop in advance, so make note of what items they’re searching in your store and be sure to order enough to satisfy the seasonal demand.

You’ll also want to pay attention to anomalies. Maybe next winter is supposed to be the snowiest of the century. In that case, you’ll want to promote your line of winter wear earlier and more aggressively than usual because there’s snow (and sales) in the forecast. It’s all about balancing your inventory with your customers’ needs based on what their search inquiries reveal they want and what your past numbers tell you.

When in Doubt…Flash Sale

Let’s say your sales forecast is slightly optimistic and you’re left with surplus stock. While it’s not ideal, it’s still better than running out of merchandise halfway through your busiest week of the year. Hosting a flash sale is a good way to square up your inventory. Over half (56 percent) of businesses have higher click-to-open rates for flash-sale campaigns than regular ones.

Hosting a short, exclusive sale is a good way to buck routine and bolster your sales figures. Of course, you can only get away with this a few times a year before it becomes the new normal. A better strategy is to use flash sales sparingly and depend on accurate ecommerce sales forecasting that takes all the aforementioned factors into account.

The best way to figure out how to conduct an ecommerce sales forecast is to actually do it. Relying on past data, customer search queries and seasonal trends is the best place to start.

 

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July 20, 2017, 8:47 am

Dr. Stan Park: “Have a Budget, Stick With It”.  How To Build a Financially Successful Dentist Practice

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

Building an independent dentistry practice can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

On the one hand, the freedom of having your own business and operating your practice exactly as you’ve always envisioned is incredibly exciting.  But, any time someone starts a new business, the stress of getting it off the ground is daunting. There are so many factors to consider: marketing, client loyalty, and most important of all, finances. The relative freedom of going it on your own is the same freedom that can lead to a massive financial downfall — if you don’t make intelligent business decisions.

Dr. Stan Park of Dr. Stan Park Family Dentistry in Ontario, Canada says it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. In fact, there are several habits that Dr. Stan Park and several other dentists would agree can help lead to a successful independent dentistry career for anyone in the field.

 

“The most basic, essential tip I can offer is to have a budget and stick with it,” Dr. Stan Park explains. By tracking spending, balancing expenses and revenue, and being careful to craft a budget each month that you work to follow as much as possible, you’re off on the right foot.

 

Another important habit that many financially successful people in general follow is to not be complacent, and to always look for opportunities. Dr. Douglas Carlsen in dentaltown.com adds to this point, saying: “Don’t just hang out in the corporate clinic break room and wait for opportunity to fall in your lap. Look for opportunity.”

 

As a dentist, you may be able to get by on just your skill and word of mouth from your clients, but why not put yourself out there a little more? Look for purchase deals for equipment. Make connections with older, experienced dentists who may need to recommend their clients to someone if and when they retire.

 

Speaking of making connections, networking is key. In May of 2014, Time published a piece on what the world’s most successful people have in common, and one of the things it listed was building networks. Networking with fellow dentists can be especially helpful in everything from gaining advice to educational opportunities to client referrals.

 

And when it comes to connecting with people, building loyalty and fostering satisfaction in your clients is extremely important as well. Offering a service that is above-and-beyond for your patients not only keeps them coming back, but it will encourage them to suggest your practice to friends or family members as well.

 

“The happiness of our clients is so important,” Dr. Park adds. “No one wants to go to the dentist, but everyone should.  And if you can make the visit as stress-free as possible, your patients will continue to come to you, and recommend you to everyone they know.”

 

And if you work on that loyalty, there’s a chance that your client base will grow. Assume that your production and patient list will both grow, and plan accordingly. You don’t want to fall short and have to scramble to keep up, especially because that could result in lost business.

 

The truth is, every dentist operates differently. But, many successful dentists have the same habits listed above, which can help anyone looking for financial success in their practice and profession.

 

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