small business

Business Tax Checklist

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Meet with your bookkeeper. Making sure your books are correct is the most important thing you can do before tax season starts. The sooner you can meet with your bookkeeper, the sooner you can solve any potential errors that may exist in the books. Take the time to go through your financial statements with them. Feeling confident about the financial standing of your business will take some of the pressure off during the tax season.

Organize your bank statements. Start early by having these documents on-hand and organized. A tax preparer may request your statements to ensure that all of your business expenses and income are reflected properly in the bookkeeping. Being prepared beforehand will also save you time in the event that your books need to be altered.

Figure out which form is right for you. Knowing which tax forms are specific to your entity will help you know what type of information you will need to have handy for your tax preparer.

 

Here are some organizational resources:

S-Corporation Organizer

Partnership/Multi-Member LLC Organizer

C-Corporation Organizer

Sole Proprietor/Single-Member LLC

Individual Organizer

 

Filling out these documents and having the associated documentation before meeting with your tax preparer will expedite the process. The process can be completed twice as fast if you sign up with KPMG Spark for their bookkeeping and tax preparation services.

Know the important deadlines. Knowing your tax deadline will help you know how much time you have before you get slapped with a penalty. Your deadline will depend on your entity type:

 

Entity

Original Due Date

Partnerships, S Corporations, and LLC’s

March 15, 2018

C Corporations and Individuals (Includes Single Member LLC or Sole Proprietorships)

April 17, 2018

Exempt Organizations*

May 15, 2018

You will also want to keep in mind the due date for employee W-2 and Contract Labor 1099’s: January 31st, 2018

Schedule an early appointment with your tax preparer. This single action will put you far ahead of most. Bring all your necessary documents to this meeting, including your financial statements. Your tax preparer should be able to tell you what information may be missing. When you return for your actual tax consultation you will be fully confident that you have all the necessary documentation. Try to schedule this appointment as soon as you can into the new year. This will give you more time to prepare and will allow you a better chance to meet with your tax advisor before they get sucked into the tax season.


Shayler Stagg manages the books for 45 small businesses from various industries at KPMG Spark, is an avid reader of Greek philosophers, and is a huge Metallica fan. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Venture Capitalists vs. Angel Investors: Who Can Benefit Your Small Business Best?

Everyone knows the Cinderella story by heart. An intrepid protagonist with big dreams works tirelessly every day and meets a fairy godmother who offers her the opportunity to go to a ball, meet a dashing prince, and live happily ever after. There’s a similar rags to riches story in the small business community too. Just swap out the protagonist with an entrepreneur, the fairy godmother with a venture capitalist or angel investor, and the ball/prince/happily ever after ending with financial backing/an IPO/overnight success boom that turns your brand into a household name.  

Things could have turned out quite differently for Cinderella had her fairy godmother not understood exactly what she needed. For rising entrepreneurs that need funding, it’s important to determine whether your startup is better suited to work with a venture capitalist or angel investor. Take a closer look at the differences between these two types of professionals and what they have to offer your startup to ensure it receives its own fairytale ending. 

Venture Capitalist

What do they do? Venture capitalists, also known as VCs, back high-growth companies early into their startup journey with equity funding. Instead of paying VCs to get their backing, entrepreneurs provide these investors with a stake — typically shares — in the company or an equity position. The capital gives the startup the ability to succeed and gives the VC an active role in the business.

Which entrepreneurs/startups should work with them? The younger and more specialized the business, the better. VCs often invest in tech-based companies like apps and software startups. They also tend to favor businesses with strong management that show signs of steady growth in an emerging market. 

What do you do if they’re interested in funding your business? Being offered venture capital is a big deal. It means that your business has the potential to yield huge returns and/or to be quickly sold to public firms. Make sure you have a good idea for your business, that the market your startup is in is large enough for a strong return on capital, and give them something in return for their early investment. Additionally, inquire about the typical check size as this will determine the kind of VC you reach out to for funding. Entrepreneurs that need less than $1 million, for example, should reach out to micro VCs as they have funds with $10 to $50 million.

Angel Investor

What do they do? Angel investors come in a wide variety of professions, like doctors, lawyers, and existing entrepreneurs, and want to invest their wealth into your business. Much like VCs, they also want equity in your startup. Unlike VCs, they can’t invest millions into your business. Typical angel investments go from $25,000 to $100,000 per company.

Which entrepreneurs/startups should work with them? You don’t have to be a brand-new startup to work with an angel investor. If you’re fairly established with some revenue, but still need extra capital, it’s a good idea to reach out and introduce your business.

What do you do if they’re interested in funding your business? Angel investors want to see your business to succeed since they’re helping fund it out of their own pocket. Entrepreneurs that pique their interest are always ones that are passionate about their company and understand how it can succeed over time within its market. Be prepared to explain your business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary. This shows that you’re thinking about the startup’s past, present, and future — and also shows angel investors the kind of valuable role they can play in your company’s success.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that KPMG Spark’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG Spark.

Sweet Peach Kids—How one Entrepreneur Turned her Expensive Shopping Habit Into a Business

Sweet Peach Kids got its start earlier this year by 'mommypreneuer' Laura Miller. Although a fairly new shop, it's already been featured by several prominent bloggers and has continuously sold out of its marquee pieces. 

What is Sweet Peach and how'd you come up with the idea for it?

Sweet Peach Kids is an online boutique where you can find clothes as sweet as your little one at an affordable price. I came up with the idea when my obsession for shopping for my own little girl was getting out of hand. I was having a hard time finding quality pieces without the high end price tags.

How do you manage being a full time mom and business owner?

I am definitely still trying to figure this one out, ha!  For me it's been A LOT of very late nights and early mornings. Also, having an extremely supportive husband definitely helps.

Your photos look great, and as we all know kids can be a bit crazy when it comes to taking directions. How do you go about your photoshoots? Is it hard to make the kids pose?

Thank you!  I have learned that there are three things to making a successful photo shoot:

  •  ALWAYS hire a professional photographer who is great with kids
  •  Come super prepared with more than what you think is needed. For example: extra hair pins, backup clothes, props, shoes etc.
  • 3 bring bribes! (I find candy works the best.)

Photographing little ones is a challenge but always so worth it in the end.  

What's been your biggest challenge in running a children's clothing line so far?

The biggest challenge for me is the business side of things. The creative comes to me pretty naturally, but there are far more things that go into running your own business than I had ever imagined. 

What advice could you give to other stay-at home moms and dads who would like to run a business and grow a business?

Just go for it!  Realize that there will be some sleepless nights, and some days that the dishes just won't get done, but I promise it's so worth it. There's definitely a certain amount of pride that comes with being able to say "I did that." 

What are some of your favorite apps you use to manage your business?

I couldn't live without Shipstation, it has made organizing my business and my orders so easy.  Obviously Instagram has been huge for my business (it is by far my biggest marketing platform). And when it comes to editing photos for my feed, I really love Pic-Tap-Go. 

Where can we find you?

You can find me at sweetpeachkids.com or on Instagram @sweetpeachkids.   

 

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

6 Great Email Marketing Strategies Guaranteed to Put Your Brand on the Map

Great Email Marketing

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

Email marketing provides businesses with a direct avenue to communicate with their fans and followers. Email is a part of people's everyday lives. This makes it one of the easiest ways to reach your fans. It thrives because of its universal and familiar nature. With that said, here are six great email marketing strategies that are guaranteed to help grow your brand.

1.Harness the power of transactional emails

Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

Never underestimate the power of transactional emails. Transactional emails are often plain text files that are sent after a visitor performs an action on your website, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. The thing is, transactional emails don't have to be so plain. You can customize a transactional email as much as you want. Link them back to your site or link them on social media, show them special offers, or just give them a simple, personal thank you. Make your transactional emails stand out as much as your regular emails.

2.Personalize emails without using your followers' names

Email marketing 101 dictates that your messages should not read like bank statements. They should be personal and sincere. You want your followers to open your emails because they recognize you as a human being, and not as a corporation. But at the same time, don't make your emails too personal by using the recipient's name in the heading. Coming off as too personal can actually turn people off from opening your email. Email headings that use people's real names can also look like spam. Instead, personalize the emails you send based on a customer's preferences or search and purchase history.

3.Create emails that are triggered by events

ontraport

You don't only have to email your subscribers when you have something new to promote. Give yourself more reasons to reach out to your subscribers. Emails that are triggered by things like birthdays or sign-up anniversaries are one way to go. Use these emails to thank or congratulate your subscribers. Emails like these can help you build rapport with your customers and is one way of showing them that you care about their support. Make sure stay appraised of the abundant suite of marketing automation tools available on the market.

4.Send emails at around 8:00 pm to midnight

best way to email market

Email allows you to worm your way into people's daily schedules. But the best email marketing campaigns aren't sent in the early morning. They're sent at night. Emails sent at 8:00 pm to midnight have the best chance of being opened. This may have something to do with the fact that your readers are winding down in the evening and are much more likely to make purchases or interact with your brand at around that time. It is still however a good idea to perform tests, to really find out the best times to send emails based on your brand and niche.

Keep it simple and neat

Image via  popramennews.com

The cleaner your email looks, the more likely it will leave an impression on your readers. Emails should be neat to look at and your readers should have no problem finding what they need at a glance. Include a brief initial description to hook them in. Then add a clear call to action that is easy to perform. And lastly include links to your website and social media. Keep your design and formatting consistent across multiple emails.

Avoid long subject lines

Creating great email marketing subject lines is a tricky thing. You don't want them to be too long, but if they're too short you may not be able to capture your reader's attention. Finding the right length for your subject lines can be tricky. The general rule however is that subject lines above 70 characters provide the best click-through rates, while shorter ones have higher open rates. Now it's a question on whether you want to boost interaction through an improved click-through rate, or if you simply want to improve brand awareness by increasing open rates.

Email marketing is a highly competitive landscape, but that is mainly because of how effective it is. Practice these strategies and your email marketing campaign should have no problem generating interest in your brand.

Why Your Business Needs Live Web Chat

live web chat

Via Davinci

Let’s face it—the Internet has irreversibly changed how people find information. We’re able to search for anything, at anytime, and in seconds find more results than we can handle. With all of this information at our fingertips, it is now simply a matter of completing an online transaction or contacting the preferred provider to achieve our original intent.

However, this consumer convenience may also bring complications for brands. Because consumers are able to search for information in real time, they now also expect that brands will interact with them in real time. It’s a behavioral side effect that challenges many businesses to rethink their entire digital strategies.

A Business Built Digitally

Let’s take my business, Davinci Virtual Office Solutions, for example. We are a Utah-based company that supports almost 20,000 small to mid-size businesses with live receptionist services, virtual office addresses, and flexible meeting spaces. Davinci Virtual markets its products and services strictly online, directing all prospects to our company websites. We look at our Web properties as our “high-end retail stores” and make sure all sites are well designed, informative, and easily navigated—offering a straight path to transaction.

Because our market has become quite competitive over the past years, digital advertising expenses have increased and online conversion rates are more critical than ever to ongoing success. To ensure maximum return and conversion rates, we translated basic business 101 rules into our digital interaction approach. The following are a few of the more notable ones...

1) Give the Customer What They Want

Davinci Virtual takes advantage of real-time digital visitor intelligence to match a user’s specific search terms with the right online ad. We then direct the prospect to the product page that best matches that interest. We often present related cross-sell or upsell offers.

2) Service is Everything

Once a prospect is browsing one of our websites, a Davinci Virtual sales or customer service agent will invite the visitor to a live Web chat session. The main purpose is to welcome the person to Davinci Virtual, and to specifically address any questions and/or assist with the purchase process—all instantly, and in-channel.

3) The Customer is Always Right

At any time, the customer can choose how they would like to communicate with our company. They can elect to complete their online visit without any personal interaction, or they can opt to use the live Web chat tools to communicate with our team members. They also have the freedom to use our Click-to-Call tool to speak directly with one of our agents.

How’s it working so far?

As our websites function just like retail stores, it is imperative that we take advantage of every technology available to affect the overall customer experience and bottom line. All of the above scenarios are being enabled by an easily implemented digital engagement platform from LivePerson.

We are able to touch 90 percent of our website traffic though either live chat or phone, and many customers take advantage of both channels based on their need. This approach has been one of the key factors in growing our overall conversion rate to almost 30 percent.

Today, 15 percent of Davinci Virtual’s online sales transactions are completed via live chat, and the conversion rate sits at a strong 26 percent. Some of the contributing factors include customer targeting, skills-based routing, detailed response content, and a better overall use of live chat by our sales force.

Not only has digital engagement increased conversion rates, it also has the value per transaction through intelligent cross-sell and upsell strategies. Specifically, we are achieving average order for live chat sessions increase by about 25 percent.

Digital Engagement for Digital Customers

In the digital era, prospects and customers have reserved the right to choose how they want to communicate and interact. It is our job as business owners to create the best possible user experience.

Embrace the opportunity and be available to assist your customers where and when they choose to engage. Your customers will thank you.

About Davinci Virtual Office Solutions

Davinci Virtual is the leading provider of turnkey virtual office solutions. Davinci's virtual offices and services include local or toll-free telephone and fax numbers, digital voicemail, electronic fax, email, online command center, unified messaging, conferencing, voicemail to email, fax to email, professional live receptionist services, virtual assistants, live call answering, screening and forwarding, find me, follow me, surveys, live web chat, outbound calling, customer service, appointment scheduling, order taking, and much more.

Davinci offers virtual office locations and virtual office services worldwide. With professional business addresses in over 900 locations, mail forwarding, lobby and directory listings, access to over 3,000 conference rooms and day offices, catering, administrative services, virtual assistants, business support centers, resident agent services, license hanging and more. Davinci Virtual helps businesses maintain a global presence on a local budget.

For more information, visit www.davincivirtual.comwww.davincimeetingrooms.com 

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

Utah's Top 5 Workspaces

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

Recently we set out to find the best office spaces in our own backyard. We discovered a lot of great workspaces here in Utah Valley, but in the end only 5 could make the cut. Here they our, our nominees for Utah's best office digs. 

Movement Ventures

A bit of an anachronism, Movement Venture's young and hip workspace is surrounded by a collective of old buildings located off historic Lehi Main St. Movement Ventures is a collective of companies that focuses on social media engagement with awesome products like Qzzr, and Boombox. Their welcoming atmosphere and creative touches make for one of the coolest offices in the valley.

SilencerCo

With nearly 70% of the marketshare, SilencerCo is no greenhorn in the firearm suppressor space. The only office on this list with a sign in sheet and an armoryyou're constantly reminded that you're not dealing with a run of the mill 9-5 suit and tie kind of company. Their mantra may be "Fight the Noise"but their office digs show a company that is anything but reserved. SilencerCo is based in West Valley, UT.  

Studio McGee

You won't find any shooting ranges or ping pong tables here. But what you will find, is the most refined and elegant office of the bunch. But what else would you expect from the SLC design studio that's been featured in everything from Domino Magazine to Better Homes and Gardens? Bright, welcoming, and with a team just as stylish as their workspaceit's no wonder Studio Mcgee makes it into our list of top 5 work spaces in Utah. 

Studio McGee Gallery Photo Credit: Lindsay Salazar

Super Top Secret

The in your face marketing agency Super Top Secret has an office to match their personality. Everything you lay your eyes on oozes cool. It's both unapologetic and refined, housing a mini-ramp, custom artwork, and a full blown librarySuper Top Secret carves out its niche as one of the most edgiest and workable offices on this list. Super Top Secret is based in SLC, UT.

Infusionsoft

You can't hardly mention "CRM" without the name Infusionsoft popping up. The Arizona based company has their satellite office based in the tech friendly city of Lehi, UT. But you would never know this wasn't their flagship office. Replete with a cereal bar, a ping pong table, and an indoor basketball court where employees enjoy playing "Around the World"—Infusionsoft definitely earns a spot as one of the best looking offices and coolest places to work in the Silicon Slopes. 

 

 

 

Is SEO Dead? (2017)

Frustrated Man

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

Take a good look at the image below. Notice that ghost of a word "dead" in grey lettering that's ready to pop up before you even type it? See all four recommendations Google has so conveniently prepped for you? "Is SEO dead?, Is SEO worth it?, Is SEO still relevant?, Is SEO important?" This is not happenstance—this is SEO

is SEO dead 2016

It seems of late, many are asking "Is SEO dead?", in fact—it seems to be the number one search made about the topic. And as the image shows—SEO is clearly not dead, but a lot has changed since the early days of Google, and there's a lot to consider as you push your marketing strategy forward. Let's take a look at some recent findings and find out what factors will be most relevant as we move into 2017. 

why SEO matters

Mobile Friendly

With mobile searches outpacing desktop searches in 10 countries (including the US), mobile optimization has become increasingly important for Google rankings. 

Also under the umbrella of mobile, is consideration for "digital assistants" like Siri or Cortana. As Forbes points out:

"Spoken language queries tend to be much different than typed queries, meaning a whole new type of long-tail keyword queries – particularly those that mimic spoken dialogue – will emerge."

This means that moving forward, businesses will have to think of expanding their verbiage to fit the queries of both the spoken and written word.

Engaging Content

Using a variety of studies, Business2Community predicts that hits to your content will no longer be enough to boost your rankings. Instead, they predict that content will have to be engaging enough to hold reader's attention, thus the length of time someone spends engaging/reading your content, is more important than the mere fact that they clicked on your link. This is great news for readers and marketers who prefer quality over click-bait articles void of substance.

The most obvious way to adapt to this ranking factor is to monitor bounce rates and eliminate content that loses viewers quickly. Inversely, mimic quality content that holds your audience's attention.

If you want to know more about creating engaging content, check out ever popular article on how to make your content go viral.

Social Media: Blurring The Lines

Since Google has finished negotiation with Twitter and Facebook, content shared on these social media platforms will begin to get indexed by Google's search engine. This means relevant and robust content on social will most likely impact your overall rankings. And as B2C states:

"From an SEO viewpoint, the difference between “social media” and “web” will begin to become indistinct."

There are debates as to whether or not social shares impact your actual content rankings. Indisputable however, are the increase in rankings that results from clicks and engagement that these re-shares can bring. 

It seems as Google also makes a special exception for current events. Today for example, there is a lot of buzz going on about Obama's possible decision to close Guantanamo Bay. Look what happens when we typed that into the search bar:

guantanamo bay

Recent tweets appear near the top of the results. What does this mean for content? Well, we surmise that when it comes to social, Google rewards current relevancy.

Kissmetrics points out that the content you share on social also has an affect on your profile rankings.  When you type in Nike in the Google search bar for example, some of the top results are social media accounts:

Nike Social Media

Social Media as a Search Engine

Something else we need to consider about Social Media's impact on SEO are its search capabilities. The second largest search engine in the world isn't Bing, it's YouTube. Mark Zuckerberg has also been quoted as wanting to compete directly with Google in the search engine game by claiming it has more data than its competitor and can therefore provide a more customizable experience.

This announcement was made several years ago, so you might be wondering why you haven't seen much from the social media giant. That's because according to Zuckerberg, this roll out will take around ten years (we're talking 2023!) If you read Zuckerberg's speech, it definitely sounds like he plans for his search engine to be intuitive and tailored to each unique user. Facebook will undoubtedly try and tap into its user data which means guess whathow relevant your content is to people on Facebook will likely play a role in how Facebook decides to show it in its search engine rankings. 

We are no Professor Trelawney (and 7 years away is still a long ways a way!) but let's just say, we have a feeling that what you do today will impact how you are viewed by social media search engines in the future.

Some pundits argue that SEO is dying because social media is taking over in terms of engagement. Yes, this might be true in terms of general news and entertainmentbut when it comes to value drive (educational) content, you're not going to sign into a social network and just hope that someone is talking about that specific topic.  Moreover, you want to compare it with other quality articles and try and get a well rounded look at something. 

Want to know how long to bake a pie? Want to know how learn Spanish? Chances are you won't be perusing social media for your answers.

Concept>Keyword

Google is finally learning how to read a page organically. This doesn't negate the importance of keywords, but it does mean that keyword stuffing is not only unnecessary, but it might also be perilous to your efforts. This is good news not only for content marketers, but the web as a whole. 

Undoubtedly, many marketers will still do their best to stuff the heck out of their articles with repetitive keywords. Don't do it. Not only will that decrease the quality of your content, you can be penalized for what's called "over-optimization". 

Over-optimization can happen for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most important rule to remember is to not overdue it with anchor text. Anchor text is still good, but too much of a good thing can quickly become a bad thing. 

Kissmetrics has a great guide on how to avoid this crucial SEO error and what you can do to make sure your anchor text is relevant without crossing that unforgiving over-optimization line.

Specific>General

Niche, niche, niche! Search Engine Watch states that niche topics with very specific and detailed information will become the new norm. This means fluff-based articles will not cut the mustard. This has been a standard practice for smaller companies hoping to get clicks in less competitive searches for a while now, but look for it to continue into 2016.

Make sure to use the Google Keyword Tool to search out long tail keywords. After you find one you like, type it into the search bar and scroll down to the bottom. You'll see a list of related searches. Try and include these in your article to avoid keyword stuffing and to show Google that you're providing relevant and robust content.

Article Length

Length of content will continue to play a role in 2017 as it has in previous years. Google has increasingly preferred longer form content. According to a serpIQ study, the highest performing content averages over 2,300 words. This is a reaction to an obvious desire for meatier and more meaningful content on Google's part. Take advantage of this factor by analyzing topics from many anglesit sounds simple but if you get stuck, remember to include the who, what, when, where, and why of any topic you include. 

Final Thoughts

No one knows with 100% certainty all of the nuances that Google implements into their search engine ranking system, but we can get pretty damn close if we take advantage of the people who have dedicated time and resources to studying this phenomenon. 

The "wild west" days of SEO might well be over, in its place a more sophisticated and nuanced version. Yes, mastering SEO is harder, but it also makes the internet a better place for the user. If you take away anything from this article let it not be a specific tactic, let it be an idealogymake robust and quality content optimized for mobile. 

10 Tasks Small Businesses Can Outsource

how to outsource your work

You don't have to go it lone-wolf, and you also don't have to have an office the size of Alaska—you just need to know how to outsource your work. 

As a business owner, your day is pretty packed Monday through Friday, the only thing that can make it harder is if you have other tasks that get added to your queue, things that require time and expertise. While it's good to keep tabs on everything that goes on in your business, you'll burn yourself out trying to do everything. This is where outsourcing your small business tasks makes sense. As the owner, you should do things you love, things you do best, and since your budget doesn’t always allow you to hire in-house, here's a list of tasks you can easily outsource.

Social Media

Social media has been getting an ever growing focus by larger companies, as it is another avenue for them to interact with their current and prospective customers, especially since it is a place people spend a great amount of their free time. While social media is important, this is one task that you can easily outsource for a low monthly fee. An alternative to outsourcing it is to use a tool like Hootsuite and schedule out your social posts throughout the week. Better yet, use Hootsuite and outsource the planning and scheduling out piece. Use Google Analytics or another analytics program to keep track of social visitor numbers before and after you start this strategy so you can compare where things stand.

Blogging

Blogging is another piece that has potential benefits for your users, your SEO presence and your brand-building objectives. However, this skill does not come natural to everyone, so an easy way to solve it is to outsource the blogging to someone that writes professionally. One strategy is to search for a freelance writer, ask for some writing samples, industry experience and rates, then compare 4-5 writers submissions that you would plan to use on your site. It might not be cheaper than doing it yourself, but you will ideally have someone that can publish an article on your site in addition to your content that is well researched and well written. Another option is to keep it local, and to look for a writer from your local university or college, this way you can keep things local and have more interaction with the person doing the work.

Graphics

Creativity might come easy to business types, but for others, their strength might be in managing others. Majority of people either know the technical side of using designing software but no creativity, or they have the creativity side but don’t really know how to make things with software. Instead of spending hours and hours on this, outsource quick mockups for a professional to do in a lot less time.

Receptionists

Do you need someone to be in the office answering your business calls at all times? If you only get calls occasionally, or even if you don’t want to pay someone who is only needed for a few minutes out of the day, consider outsourcing your receptionist needs to a virtual receptionist service. Virtual service companies like Davinci Virtual provide your customers with a ready and lively person to answer your calls, assist customers, and perform other duties which can be done remotely.

Website updates

Coding is in high-demand right now, mainly because it's hard to learn and do. Unless you are a tech startup, you might not have the interest or the time to know how the code on your web properties works. You might have a son, brother, cousin or nephew that is familiar with the process, but unless they do stellar work, consider outsourcing your website coding updates to someone that does this on a more regular basis. Having family to help with things is great, but they can also be unreliable or it might take a long time for them to do it since there is no major urgency on things from their end.

Outsourcing to a professional that charges a decent amount to get the changes done is a great idea. For this, look around locally and on freelance websites to get some quotes, references and examples of work, also make sure you know what language your site is using and that the person you choose has experience with this. It would be good to know how to do simple changes, but you can also hire someone to teach you to make those changes yourself.

Live Web Chat Support

Live web chat is a new method of getting in touch with your customers that visit your website. Basically you have software that you can install on your site which will let users know that you can communicate with them and answer any questions they might have. Instead of waiting on your computer, and missing some of these, you can outsource live web chat to a service that has agents waiting to answer as they come in. This is another service offered by Davinci Virtual, where you can use their agents to outsource your webchat services.

IT support/Helpdesk

Another technology related task that can be outsourced – IT support/helpdesk. Computers can go down at any time, including business hours, the worst thing is when you need them to do your work, make a sale or just to run your business. If you are not techy enough, or have any resource in your company that can help with this, you can outsource IT related tasks to either local or remote companies. You can have a monthly support subscription that includes on site technicians, by having a remote service, they will have to patch into your computer to solve the issue – which can be hard if you don’t have any computers to do this on. The better IT outsource choice is to go with local if you can, if you need to do remote only, make sure that you read reviews about the company and what they can help with.

Cleaning

You should not have to do your own cleaning, whether it is around the office or the actual office. Outsource this easy but time consuming task to a local cleaning agency that will do it either on a bi-weekly or on demand.

Document security

Shredding is one way to get rid of documents, digital can usually be deleted and would take someone with knowledge to get it back, but shredding is usually still there in either the garbage or your own bin. There are now third party services that are popping up that will provide you and your employees a secure box where they can drop off sensitive information, and the company comes by bi-weekly or monthly to pick it up and shred it. The idea is that they have high quality shredders that can do cans worth of stuff at the same time.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is one of the hardest/most time consuming tasks that small businesses have to perform. It also carries legal ramifications, so keeping things up to date is of upmost importance. Luckily enough, this task can also be outsourced to yours truly – Bookly. With Bookly, you are able to outsource your bookkeeping and not have to worry about doing it correctly or dedicating valuable time to figure out the nuances. With hundreds of small businesses already serviced by our online solution, we can help you with this task to save you time and money. See our powerful online bookkeeping solution and get in touch with us to learn more about how we can take this headache away from you.

 

Nenad Ćuk is the SEO Specialist for Davinci Virtual in Salt Lake City and works on SEO & all its secrets. Having an extensive background in technology and website optimization, he finds the little gems that are diamonds in the rough. When he isn't doing SEO audits & optimization reports, he is usually catching up on industry news, writing his own content and researching the latest trends in technology.

5 Business Trends to Look Out For in 2017

business trends 2016

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

1. Native Advertising Will Become More Popular

The popularity of ad-blockers is steadily increasing. The end result is hard to predict. Powerful companies like Facebook and Google drive major revenues from their advertising platforms and will not want to let go easily. But with the recent announcement of Apple, things are beginning to change.

Writing on the impact of ad-blockers on Facebook, Biz Carson of the Business Insider writes:

The threat to its mobile advertising market comes directly from a September Apple software update that introduced ad-blocking apps to iOS 9. Ad blockers became some of the top-selling downloads in the app store, although some have since been removed over privacy concerns.

iOS will also automatically be including an ad-blocker with Safari on their mobile devices—a shrewd move against some of their biggest competition in the tech space like Google. 

The increase of ad-blockers will most likely force companies to look for alternative methods to get their brand's voice heard. Native advertising is a likely candidate to fill the gap. This will allow products to appear in casual settings where they don’t appear as outward advertisement—for example, a picture of Kylie Jenner drinking Coca-Cola. When it comes to native advertisements, ad-blockers will not be able to properly distinguish between an honest photo and a sponsorship.

2. Subscription Based Services Will Increase in Number

Netflix, Hulu, Audible—millennials have spoken. Consumers don’t like hourly fees, and subscription services are an effective way to do away with them. In fact, it’s one of the reasons Bookly has adopted such a model—we don’t want our customers to feel as if they should be afraid to ask their accountant questions. A monthly subscription model gives our clients unlimited access to a CPA without having to worry about each passing minute costing them money. 

Equally important with subscription based services, is the removal of friction at the point of purchase. When a client can make automated recurring payments—there is little pain associated with the purchase or hassle of paying each time. Harvard Scientists have studied this phenomenon with brain scans and have discovered that humans experience physiological pain at the point of purchase, but that this pain can be mitigated through various marketing techniques. (Read our article about neuromarketing for further reference.)

Michal Lev-Ram of Fortune writes: 

Subscriptions should certainly be an option for consumers, regardless of the product type. Consumer behavior, especially among younger people, is changing, and the need to own and house goods—from music to cars to physical documents—is waning. While Wall Street grapples with how to evaluate some of the subscription-only companies (à la Box), it has clearly worked up an appetite for a recurring revenue model that gives companies all sorts of new ways to engage with old and new customers. But transitioning isn’t easy, and each company needs to evaluate the needs of its customer base—and how subscriptions could potentially open the door to new users.

3. Content Marketing Will Become Essential

Another result of ad-blockers will be the increased importance of content marketing. As services move to block traditional advertising, value-based content will become more and more relevant. Articles, photos, and videos that can organically drive traffic will become essential components of running a proper ad campaign. 

John Miller of B2C writes: 

While many of the skills of content marketing and traditional digital marketing overlap, the intent is very different. While digital advertising can clearly play a role in marketing the content, the key is to start with awesome, audience-focused content rather than traditional in-your-face promotional copy. Your audience – almost regardless of who they are – wants content that helps them do their job better or live their life more enjoyably; telling them how fabulous your products or services are doesn’t accomplish that.

4. Increased Focus on Workplace Culture

More and more businesses are ditching suits and ties for t-shirts and ping pong tables. Simple gestures such as these are effective ways to boost morale and generate good will amongst employees. Upgrades such as these are often inexpensive and go a long way to ensure a happy workforce. With articles all over the internet touting the fun vibe found in startup hubs like San Fransisco and Austin, look for this trend to continue in 2016 as companies attempt to attract top talent. 

5. The Rise of the Solopreneur

With an increase in tools available (many of them free and inexpensive), look out for the rise of the solopreneur. iPhones are able to produce great photos, instructional YouTube videos and articles are widely available , and services like Canva put the power of graphic design into the novice’s hands. With services like these, technology is creating a generation of Renaissance men and women. 

Not only are companies giving the power to the consumer, they’re also allowing them to outsource their business needs at prices that sometimes make it more convenient than hiring in-house employees. Bookly for example offers accounting services that most often outpace more traditional methods in terms of cost and efficiency. This gives the consumer the ability to spend more time doing the parts of business they enjoy, and get quicker updates on their financials without ever having to leave their office. 

The Top 5 Small Business Apps From 2015 you Might Have Missed

2015 apps

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

We've chosen 5 essential apps to make sure you're business has every weapon at its disposal before heading into the new year.

1. Layout

via  iTunes

via iTunes

This is not the first collage app. But it is an elegantly designed one that adds a new twist on traditional collage apps by allowing you to resize frames and pictures by interacting with the screen. This special feature adds an extra layer of customization that similar apps simply don't have.

This app is perfect for small businesses looking to freshen up their visual content.

Layout is also the creation of Instagram Inc., which means you can count on a bright future full of updates to keep this app fun and fresh.

Itunes Description:

Choose photos from your camera roll—or use the built-in Photo Booth to take spur-of-the-moment shots—and instantly see them laid out in various combinations. Pick the layout you like best, then edit it to make it your own.
Layout's smooth, intuitive process gives you complete creative control. Tap to mirror, flip or replace images, hold and drag to swap them, pinch to zoom in or out, or pull the handles to resize. You're the editor, so get creative—tell a story, show off an outfit or just splice, dice and change the look of your regular photos to convey a mood or theme. 

2. Bookly

bookkeeping app

Full disclosure, this is our app (insert mandatory self-plug joke here). But irregardless of whose app this is, it undoubtedly deserves a spot on this list. 

The Bookly app gives business owners the ability to constantly be in touch with a designated bookkeeper. Unlike traditional accounting models, there are no hourly fees, contracts, or paperwork. Like Netflix, it’s based on a subscription model built to undercut its respective industry’s archaic business model.

This revolutionary process allows small business owners unlimited access to an accountant without the fear of hourly fees. Questions, transactions, and payroll can all be addressed from the touch of a button. Unlike its competitors, Bookly isn’t just a bookkeeping interface, it’s also a service. Whereas with similar platforms the users is required to enter data and possess a basic understanding of accounting—with Bookly this is all done by the bookkeeper. 

Allowing a free exchange of information between the accountant and business owner adds a personal touch to software not readily found elsewhere. 

The app is free, the service is not. To learn more about the service offerings and to get a free thirty day trial, click here.
 

3. Robinhood 

via  iTunes

via iTunes

Like the Khan Academy (which hopes to put the power of education in the hand of its users), Robinhood hopes to put the power of financial trading in the hands of the people. In other words—Robinhood allows its users to trade stocks without paying fees to a middle man. It’s so simple that it makes us wonder where this app has been in the years preceding 2015. 

Itune's Description:

- Free trading refers to $0 commissions for Robinhood Financial self-directed individual cash or margin brokerage accounts that trade U.S. listed securities via mobile devices. SEC & FINRA regulatory fees may apply.
- Access market data and quotes in real-time
- Build a personalized stock watch list with historical market data and detailed charts
- Place market, limit, stop loss, stop limit, and good till canceled orders
- Track your portfolio through our Notification Center widget
- Quickly tell when the markets are open and closed, with simple color schemes
 

4. Adobe Photoshop Mix 

via iTunes

via iTunes

Despite being the Tabby Award and 2015 Judges’ & User’s Choice winner, Adobe Photoshop Mix is an app that might not have got as much buzz as some of the more flashier apps this year (*cough* Periscope), but nonetheless is an essential for any business looking to produce beautiful content on a budget. 

Itunes Description:

Photoshop Mix makes it quick and easy to transform your photos anywhere you are. Cut out, combine and seamlessly blend pictures to create sophisticated multilayered images. Apply one of over a dozen Looks to select areas or your whole photo. Share with friends for fun. And refine photos further or incorporate them into other creative projects by accessing them inside new Photoshop Fix or sending them to Photoshop CC on your desktop. 

Adobe Photoshop Mix provides an easy to use interface so that even novices can easily make classic edits that the more robust Photoshop software is capable of. One of the more popular capabilities of the app is the ability to cut out objects from photos and juxtapose them with others. It might take a little bit to get used to, but once you get a hang of it, it will be sure to be one of your go-to’s when it comes to photo editing. 
 

5. Khan Academy

via iTunes

These past few years, there has been a chasmic shift towards independent and free education. Podcasts, video courses, and apps all provide free learning resources. One of the biggest driving forces behind this movement is value-based marketing.

Essentially, the Khan Academy is like carrying a university in your pocket. Are you a solo-preneuer who needs to acquire a bunch of new skills to become profitable? Do you need some brushing up on math skills you haven’t used since the 12th grade? The Khan Academy provides all of these things and more in an easy to use environment. You can bookmark content so that you can easily revisit lessons. Best of all? It’s free!

ITUNES DESCRIPTION:

- You can learn anything — for free: Over 10,000 videos and explanations at your fingertips in math, science, economics, history, and much, much more
- Quickly find what you need: Redesigned navigation and search make it faster to find what you want  
- Keep learning even when you’re offline: Bookmark your favorite content to “Your List” (phone only) for easy access, and download it to keep learning even when you’re not connected to the internet. 
- Pick up where you left off: Your learning syncs between your Android and khanacademy.org, so your progress is always up-to-date