The Best Ways to Keep Your Business Costs Down

The bottom line for any successful business is profitability and reducing your overheads could have a positive effect on the money that you make. Outgoing costs such as energy bills, delivery costs and utilising technology can be reduced, so that you can reap more of the benefits of your business’s success.

Here are five ways to keep your business costs down and help you get the most out of your business and its sales.

  1. Save Energy

Encouraging your staff to shut down their computers and laptops each night is an easy way for your business to save money. It seems obvious, but it’s something that’s overlooked by many business owners.

Other ways to encourage energy efficiency in the office include:

  • Switching the lights off at the end of the working day
  • Set the controls on your heating system so that it’s only on during office hours
  • Replace any old equipment with Energy Star Rated products

 

  1. Go Paperless

Printer costs, including paper, ink, toner and maintenance, is an unnecessary expense for businesses in the digital age. Going paperless could save your business a lot of time and money.

We recommend using the cloud to save your files and documents. This means that they be easily shared between colleagues and accessed by those who are between offices or working from home. It will also improve efficiency and save you space in the office, with no bulky printers or large filing cabinets to think about.

  1. Use Comparison Websites

Take advantage of how easy it is to find great deals on the internet. Using comparison websites can help your business save money. For example, you can find the best deals on deliveries if you have an ecommerce business – couriers such as My Parcel Delivery have an online calculator, which is perfect for getting quotes to send your large and heavy parcels. Use this to find a suitable courier service for your business and you could make potential savings.

  1. Use Free Advertising

Cut down on the expensive forms of traditional advertising that you might use. Flyers, radio advertising and billboards are all costly ways to promote your business. Instead, look at using some digital marketing strategies, including:

  • Utilising your social media channels
  • Send promotions to your existing customers through email
  • Create valuable content in a blog
  1. Update Your Phone Systems

Take your phone systems online – it’s a cheaper option to use systems such as Skype’s Business Services, which allow you to video call and hold phone conferences all over the world with just a working internet connection.

Follow our five tips to keep your business costs down. By streamlining your business in these ways, you may be able to enjoy a more efficient and more profitable business.

How to Avoid Losing Money when Selling your House

Home owners who do not how the worth of their homes or even how much they owe are unlikely to know how to save money when selling.

Even then, there are several ways through which you can avoid losing money when selling your house. They include the following:

  • Hiring a seasoned estate agent – The need for a seasoned estate agent cannot be overemphasized, as they will help you in ensuring you get the best offer possible when selling your house.

While you may be tempted to opt for an agent that will charge you a lower commission with the view of saving money, the truth approach is not always right as you might end up losing.

Take a case where the difference between the estate agent fees is one percent of the sale price, where the experienced estate agent will offer better service charges and marketing for one percent more than the agent but eventually brings in 10 percent more in terms of profit.

On the other hand, you are likely to lose even more when you hire an agent charging a cheaper rate but offers your less.

  • Ensure you get the right price for your home – If your home stays on the market for a long time, it is likely to lose its worth in the eyes of the buyer. Therefore, avoid testing the market as you might eventually lose money.

To avoid losing money, you may want to do a price comparison of properties that are similar to yours that were sold recently but not more than three months. While at it, study the trends to determine whether the prices are going up or down.

Where possible find out who your competitor is and look at the market through the eyes of a buyer in terms of which house you would buy. You can then go ahead and price your home accordingly. Ultimately, ensure that the price you set for your home is in line with the sold prices.

  • Prepare your home for the market – Although this may mean that you spend a little bit of money, it is important to ensure that you get you home ready for sale. Even then, you need to ensure that the return outweighs the expenses involved.

For instance, getting a professional landscaper to work on your home and upgrade the features making it spotless could see the house sale on day one of listing on the property market.

You will do well to prepare your house for sale on a budget. A lower budget can also mean a slower sale so you need to bare this in mind.

  • Pay attention to the fees quoted in the sales contract – Whether you are selling your house through estate agents or to entities such as quick house sale companies, it is important to pay attention to the fees quoted in the contract.

Some clauses may be buried in the 10 to 20-page paperwork that is detrimental to your overall sale price.

Generally, when selling your house always ensure that you understand the processes well so that you do lose money in the process.

Cost Savings/Benefits of Switching Courier Suppliers for Your Online Business

With its many freedoms, the ability to choose your own hours and the improved connectivity across the globe, online business is booming with everything from clothes and shoes to books and be vinyl being sold through ecommerce. Alongside the expansion of ecommerce, and with the IoT increasing access to the web, courier services have seen a rise linked to the incline of ecommerce.

If you run an online business, you may wish to consider using different couriers for different items. There are several benefits in shopping around. Many people use trusted names, and therefore big brands for delivery, which can also reduce fees. But each one has a speciality and it can be worth looking at an aggregator service such as Inxpress Limited, who can help match the right shipping option to your package.

Learn to ship profitably

Whether it is through an online store such as eBay or Etsy, or whether you have your own site and shop, if you run an online business a lot of your time will be taken up on shipping. As such, you need to shop around to find a solution that is ultimately profitable for your business. This can mean finding alternatives working to deliver at more affordable rates or it can mean choosing bulk options to make savings that way. You may even choose to offer free shipping, which sounds out of place in a section about profitable shipping. However, you make sure that the unit price or production costs absorb this, and free shipping will certainly increase interest in the product. People love a bargain, and they also love transparency when shopping online. E.g. no hidden costs.

Offer wider selection of delivery times

With so many different shipping options available these days, changing your courier could mean opening your clients up much more refined delivery selection times. This depends largely on what you are trading. Some goods such as books and CDs can fit through letter boxes, and do not require any special instructions, but perishables, expensive items and larger items all need someone to be in, in order to be collected. By choosing a courier with flexible delivery options, you are making your customer UX enjoyable long after they have left your site. This type of customer care is likely to lead to repeat custom further down the line, so ultimately drives profitability and relationship building.

5 Business Advantages of Card Machine Rental

Unfortunately for businesses, the days of physical cash payments may soon be a thing of the past, as more customers are choosing to pay with credit or debit cards, especially in contactless forms. This means that in order to keep up with competition, business owners must begin to consider updating their payment methods.

However, depending on the type of business you own, or if you are just about to open your doors to customers for the first time, you may not be sure which form of payment method is right for your company or client base. Therefore, to ensure that you are making the right decision, consider the advantages of renting a card machine for your business.

Try Before You Buy

If you are considering offering card payments to your customers, renting is the perfect way to try out the system before you buy. Buying a card terminal is expensive and therefore a big financial commitment, so before you take the plunge, rent a machine and get customer feedback to make sure that card payments are right for your business.

Short-Term Benefits

For some businesses, purchasing a card machine outright would not make financial sense. For example, owning a pop-up store or catering business, if your company is events-based, or if your work is seasonal. If your business only needs to be able to offer card payments for short periods of time, then renting a card terminal may be the best solution.

When Money is Limited

If you find your business in a situation where cash flow is tight but you need to be able to offer your customers more payment methods, leasing could help. As mentioned previously, card machine ownership can be expensive, so rather than buying upfront, consider renting and paying month-to-month, until your business is in the financial position to purchase.

Help with Problems

One of the biggest advantages of renting a card terminal is that if the worst should happen, it will not be your problem. This is because if your machine develops issues with transmitting payments or becomes slow and sluggish, rather than paying for repair or replacing, you can call your rental provider who will fix the issue or else swap it for a new machine.

To summarise, as well as offering short term financial benefits and providing help should anything go wrong, renting a card machine can be a great way to test the waters and find out if it is the right payment option for your business.

Save Money and Keep Costs Down with Comparison Delivery Services

Are you looking to save money and keep your business costs down this year? One way to do this which you might not have considered, is to look at switching your courier service.

If your business sends out parcels on a regular basis, the costs can quickly add up. Consumers are frequently advised to compare different companies in order to ensure they’re getting the best prices. The same applies to businesses. Loyalty isn’t always the best policy when it comes to choosing the right services for your company; particularly when it comes to delivery. So, if you’re serious about cutting costs this year, why not start by using a comparison delivery service?

What is a comparison delivery service?

Comparison websites have become extremely popular in recent years. Most commonly, they’re used by consumers to compare and find the best deals on everything from insurance to credit cards and utility suppliers. However, few businesses are aware that there are comparison sites to fit their needs too.

Comparison delivery services scour the internet to bring you the cheapest, best deals to fit your needs. There’s quite a few of them available so you’re going to want to make sure you’re using a reliable one such as Parcel2Go. It’s simple to use too. Just input where your parcels will be shipped from and where they’re heading, include the weight, and click for a quote. You’ll then be presented with the best deals to fit your needs.

The benefits of comparing couriers

The main benefit of using a service like this is the costs you’re going to save. Many businesses tend to stick to what they know, thinking couriers such as Royal Mail are the only reliable ones out there. However, did you know that by switching to a lesser known courier, you could save up to 80% of the costs?

There are hundreds of different courier services across the UK and most offer a reliable, speedy service at a fraction of the cost you’re likely currently paying. There’s a tendency for companies to think that these lesser known couriers won’t be as professional or reliable as the top brand names in the industry. However, provided you do a little research first, this really isn’t the case.

Not only could you save money switching to a new, cheaper courier, but you could also boost customer satisfaction with speedier, friendlier delivery services.

Overall, comparison delivery services could help your business save a small fortune this year. So, why not check out how much you could be saving today?

Pawn Shops or Payday Loans? – The Best Way to Access Fast Cash

There’s a lot of money in desperation. So much so, in fact, that the government recently came down on the Payday Loan industry for charging exorbinent fees and interest rates to customers seeking short-term loans. And for good reason. While these types of loans are certainly high-risk for the company offering the loans, it does not justify exploiting consumers who are in a desperate situation. With new regulations in place, more reasonable Payday loan offerings should replace those that are now so expensive they are deemed illegal.

Payday loans are used due to their quick accessibility and simple loan requirements. Despite the high costs, they do provide users with cash very quickly.

The other traditional way to accomplish getting fast cash is through a pawn shop (or frequently, cash for gold). The theory here is that you’re providing an item of value for collateral in exchange for cash. You can come back later and pay for the item plus interest (usually a good idea), or if you do not return to pay for the item, the pawn shop then owns it and can sell it as they please. While this happens, the valuable is supposed to be used as collateral rather than with the intention of someone not coming back for it. Generally, the cash offered is lower than the items worth, so it’s advantageous to come back and repurchase it with the interest expense.

In a way, these services are similar. Both are charging interest for a fast loan. However, Payday loans charge higher interest rates since there is no asset in their control backing their validity, and they are likely to come after you through the legal system if you do not repay the loan (or the significant amount of interest on it). You can imagine why Payday loan companies are not seen as being very friendly. Pawn shops have lower interest rates and no pressure due to the fact that they have a valuable of yours in their possession that becomes theirs if you don’t pay for it in time. The loan is typically very favorable for the pawn shop (maybe they give you $300 for a $500 item), so if you don’t pay for it they can make a nice profit, but the design of the system is more to simplify the transaction and have you pay it back with interest very soon.

Pawn Shops were actually the preferred method of getting short-term loans for decades, or even larger loans before banks came around. They were used as asset-backed loans to provide individuals with fast and easy liquidity, and pawned items were reclaimed the vast majority of the time (items would often only spend a few days locked up). With the more ready availability of capital in recent times, they have somewhat lost their luster. But still, they are frequently used for short-term loans to get someone to the next Payday.

If you have something of value and are expecting a payment in the near future that will ensure you can pay back the pawn broker, using a pawn shop is the best option. It ends up being a painless transaction for most people, and usually worth the interest payments. We’d just caution to not pawn items with sentimental value if you can help it. Circumstances can get difficult, and if you become unable to pay, you don’t want to lose something that is special to you or your family. Scrap gold is great for this kind of thing, or you could consider high-end electronics which you don’t use frequently.

According to the pawn shop at Ridge Coin, diamonds and gold are the most frequent items pawned, and even with those most people are able to repay their loans in a reasonable amount of time. And they prefer that you do. No one wants short-term loan transactions going south, but at least with a pawn shop you’re just losing a valuable item (that you were essentially paid for, but under market value), rather than accumulating more and more fees and being threatened with legal action.

Don’t want to use a Payday loan service or pawn shop, but still need cash quickly? You could always ask for a loan from a family or friend, overdraft your bank account (be prepared for some fees there too though), or if you have a little more time borrow against your 401k or try to get a loan against your home (or even car). But like any loan, if you’re putting up collateral and you don’t pay it back, you will get repossessed.

The best thing you can do is be prepared so you don’t get into one of these situations. Financial analysts recommend keeping 6-months living expenses as a “safety net” should you need money quickly or something bad were to happen. Many people may not have the luxury of that many months of savings, but still having $500 set aside for a rainy day could prevent you from a very expensive transaction with a lot of interest, losing something precious to you, or even legal action.

But when in doubt, we recommend using a trustworthy local pawn shop over a Payday service any day. Be sure to fully research and vet potential local pawn services. See how long they’ve been in business and read any local reviews you can. Know the value of the item you want to pawn before bringing it in to help you decide which item you’d most readily give up. Lastly, make sure all your paperwork is accurate and put in a safe place so when it comes time to repurchase your items, there isn’t any doubt as to what is yours and the price you need to pay for it.

Taking Advantage of the January Sales

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Taking Advantage of the January Sales

 

If there’s one thing worse than joining the crush for the January sales, it’s joining the crush, finding just what you want, then realising you don’t have the ready cash to pay for it.

UK retail sales market

Brexit or no Brexit, the statistics do not lie. In the same year as that momentous referendum, the total value of all retail sales in the UK for the 12 months to November 2016 showed a 5.9% increase, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Current forecasts for the volume of sales by January 2017 – thanks in no small part to the seasonal sale period – suggest a 6.39% increase over the year, says the website Trading Economics.

Retail remains enormous business for the UK and is one of the most important drivers of its economy – given a particular boost during the January sales each year.

Your budget

One of your problems with the January sales, of course, is that they come hard on the heels of Christmas, which is also a time when you’re likely to have been hitting your personal spending limits. That favourite go-to for any kind of retail therapy, your credit card, has probably been maxed out already by now.

So, it’s important that you devise ways to stick to a budget, even when faced with the crazy, once in a blue moon, prices you are likely to find in the January sales. They are likely to leap out at you as offers that are too good to miss – especially if there’s a chance of grabbing now, at a knock-down price, something you’ve been pining to buy the whole year.

That’s when you might want to turn your mind to an instant decision loan – designed to give you the cash in your pocket in no more than a flash.

Instant decision payday loans

They are just that of course. They’re easy to apply for – just a click or two online – a decision is made on your application more or less straight away and the money is likely to be in your bank account the very same day.

If you do a quick reccy the day before the sales, therefore, you can still be at the front of the queue when the doors burst open the following morning.

An important thing about the payday loan is that it is short-term – usually for about a month, as the name suggests, but up to 18 months to repay from some lenders. Any way you look at it, though, a payday loan is likely to leave you in debt for a much shorter period than you’re used to leaving things to mount up on your credit card.

How much can you borrow on a payday loan? Once again, the first thing to say is that you need to keep within the budget of what you are going to be able to repay – default on the repayment of this one, and it’s going to be a lot more difficult to get any credit in the future. With that in mind, any sum between £100 and £1,000 is likely to make a very handy contribution to your outing to this January’s sales.

Delivering Good Business Customer Service

A business’s delivery service plays a key role in a customer’s experience with a company. Digitally-connected consumers are demanding more choice and flexibility from their delivery options. 51% of consumers have abandoned their online orders due to poor options for delivery and they don’t want to spend a large amount on postage.

So how can you give your customers a positive experience with your delivery service offer?

Delivery Strategy

Having a strong business strategy for your delivery services can help you stay ahead of the competition. You may not be able to compete with the low-priced postage offered by business conglomerates, but by offering plenty of choice for delivery you’re responding to what the customer wants, thus promoting a positive customer experience.

For example, offering delivery at an exact time and day will appeal to the busy lifestyles of your customers, who may not have the time to wait at home for a parcel or physically go to a post office to collect it. Making sure your delivery is easy and convenient will encourage repeat purchases as your customers will be more likely to buy from your business again.

Save on Packaging

Your business can reduce postage costs simply by saving on packaging. Here are a few easy ways to do this:

  • Avoid using too much packaging unnecessarily when packing your orders.
  • If possible, send multiple items in one parcel when a customer has purchased more than one item.
  • Offer postage deals for those who spend over a certain amount. That way, you can benefit from increased sales without spending much more on packaging and delivery costs.

By saving money on your postage and packaging costs, you can offer your customers a better and cheaper deal for their deliveries.

Consult the Experts

If your parcel is too big to send through the normal delivery network then you may need to use a specialist service, such as TNT. They provide a special courier service for large, heavy or bulky items that need to be delivered safely, securely and at a reasonable price. They even have tracking options available so that you, and your customer, can monitor a parcel’s journey to its destination.

Just remember that there are some size and weight restrictions when delivering parcels so you must check the guidelines to avoid any delays or surcharges.

Trends show that customers value a good delivery service when they’re purchasing from online stores. They want cheap, fast delivery and they want plenty of options to choose from. Use our top tips to make sure you deliver a positive experience for your customers and you will increase your chances of them returning to make repeat purchases.

4 Ways SEO Can Help Your Business

This is something that you may not have heard of before, or you may have heard about it but not know too much about it. Well, I’ve decided to investigate it a bit more and find out why you should invest in SEO and how it can actually help your business. I’ve come up with a list of 4 reasons why your business should definitely consider investing in organic SEO.

  1. It Absolutely Works

This is one that a lot of people actually think isn’t true. The techniques that are employed to improve SEO still work. There’s tonnes of data out there regarding organic traffic from Google and they show that the techniques regularly employed do work. Also, the way that search engines are developing at the minute, it’s unlikely that SEO will become ineffective anytime soon. At the moment, both video and audio searches rely almost solely on keywords in the same way that traditional text-based content does.

  1. Return on Investment

The beauty of SEO is that it’s absolutely a trackable service. It provides quantifiable results whether you’re an e-commerce site or not so when it comes to ROI, there’s no qualms as almost every aspect of an SEO strategy like ranking positions, changes in traffic and conversions can all be tracked which means you can have an almost complete overview of your strategy and how it’s helping your site to perform. This is just an overview too, there’s so much more functionality that allows you to work down to a more granular level to see what’s going on behind the scenes like what paths users take to complete a sale and what keywords people have searched in order to find your site.

  1. Google Sees 100 Billion Monthly Searches

This is a staggering amount of searches to be processed each month. From “SEO services in Manchester” and “how can SEO help my small London business” to “restaurants near me” and “what is the weather in Berlin”, there’s simply billions of variations of keywords and phrases that get searched and some are the most obscure things ever. But, imagine you can get 0.000001% of those one hundred billion monthly searches, that’s 1,000-people landing on your site.

If you’re in a competitive niche and you utilised SEO correctly, you could reap great benefits for your business. Added to this, Google apparently doesn’t know 15% of queries received on a daily basis. That’s a staggering amount of searches performed daily that Google doesn’t know, just imagine how many of those searches could be relevant to your business that you could look to monetise and profit from. This is where SEO can help you.

  1. Your Competitors are Doing it

If this one isn’t enough to get you even considering investing in SEO then I don’t know what will convince you. Yes, that’s right, your competitors are doing SEO and they’re already pulling away from you and benefitting from it. If you ignore SEO for too long, your competitors will build a head of steam and start to massively pull away from you. If you’re doing SEO but you’re not moving forward and improving your position, this isn’t good.

You should be sitting down with your SEO agency and you need to be planning and plotting on how you can continue to improve your site’s online presence in order not to get left behind by competitors. SEO is a never-ending process and you should always be looking for ways to improve.

How to Generate Retirement Income: Here’s What You Need to Do

You need not wait until a specific date to start planning for retirement. The sooner you start, the better. The goal of any retirement plan is not to outlive your savings, so it makes more sense to start immediately you begin earning an income.

Some people wait until they are close to retirement before they start saving, while few others realise during the funeral planning services, that their loved one had no savings plan at all. Both situations are unfortunate for the individual and their family. Ignorance is one of the main reasons people fall into this financial snag. Here are a few ways to prevent retirement pitfalls by generating income.

  1. Start immediately.

As most people would agree, to start something worthwhile is the hardest. Thus, most people back out from a great vision or desire due to anticipating the challenge they are to face. Others would simply put it off until they lose interest. If you want to start earning even before you retire, you have to start working on your vision and goal immediately.

 

  1. Save a part of your income

The old-fashioned savings method is still a reliable way to build a nest egg for retirement. The general rule of thumb is 50/30/20. You use 50% to pay for necessities such as rent, utilities and groceries. The 30% is for discretionary expenses, that overdue vacation or the occasional spa treatment, and 20% goes into your savings. Remember to transfer the money into your ‘savings’ account immediately you receive income, otherwise you might spend it.

  1. Invest in laddered bonds

A bond is an investment with a future maturity date. Bonds are a safe way to invest and save money because you are guaranteed the principal and accumulated interests in the future. There are different types of bonds; from the safe government bonds (understandably lower interests) to the higher yielding corporate bonds- which are not as secure as the former. A well-structured laddered bond can help you rise towards retirement.

  1. Certificate of deposit (CD)

A Certificate of Deposit is an investment issued by a bank. You can decide to fix a depot into your bank for a specified term (30, 60 or 90 days), at an agreed interest rate. The bank issues you a certificate of deposit (CD). You may decide to keep rolling over and put away the interest into your next egg. The advantage of this is a safe principal. Your interest is subject to changes in inflation.

  1. Stock dividend income

This is may also be called Dividend Aristocrats, and they tend to increase dividends annually. Some stock divided mutual funds allow you invest in a set of stocks at once. Companies tend to increase their dividend, albeit gradually, but it serves a reliable source of income.

  1. Buy an immediate annuity

With an annuity plan, you can pay an insurer a lump sum and get a monthly income after retirement. Or, you could make monthly premium payments which accumulate towards your retirement date. There are annuity plans with built-in inflation increases and another which pays the total sum to a spouse upon the death of their partner. Both types of annuity cost more, but it’s worth the extra amount.

As far as retirement savings go, the key is to start early. Later life planning is important and you don’t want your family to be caught out by your lack of life insurance or funeral plan. Always work with a trusted financial expert to ensure you make the right decisions.