Category: Business Center

Retirement Planning for Small Business 3 options

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Wondering if your business is too small for a group retirement plan?

One of the keys to attracting and retaining top employees is to offer a high-quality retirement plan. A group savings plan conveniently helps employees save money for the future while reducing and deferring taxes today. Plus, the investment you make in a group retirement plan is an investment you make in your organization, your employees and your reputation. Everyone’s a winner.

Three options stand-out depending on what you want to accomplish with your plan and how much flexibility you need. These are: 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs.

The 401(k) Offers the Most Flexibility and High Contribution Limits The traditional 401(k) is probably the most widely known retirement product on the market. It’s the fully loaded, high performance SUV of retirement plans. It’s generally defined as one that enables a business owner and employees to make consistent, tax-deferred contributions during the length of their careers.

SEP IRAs are Pretty Easy to Start and 100% Funded by the Employer Simplified Employee Pensions, more commonly referred to as SEPs, are also a popular retirement plan choice as they offer a contribution limit that’s similar to a 401(k). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a 401(k) plan, but it’s got a good engine under the hood. One of the most important things to understand about SEPs is that 100 percent of the contributions made are by the employer (no employee contributions allowed) and these dollars are immediately vested for the employee.

The SIMPLE IRA is a Solid, Affordable Third Option

The SIMPLE IRA’s name is a bit misleading (it actually stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees). While both employer and employee can contribute to the plan, the employer must match and matching is vested immediately.

If you do decide that you want to offer a retirement plan, you are definitely going to need some professional advice and guidance. Pension rules are complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing.

As a financial planning and wealth management professional firm, Mintco Financial has been helping its clients effectively plan for comfortable retirements.

Michael Minter, as a managing partner of Mintco Financial, is a trusted investment management professional who carries more than 16 years of experience in this challenging career field.

Throughout his professional history, Michael Minter has gained strong insight into what skills and knowledge is necessary to perform investment management, wealth building services, small business development and retirement plans.

Michael MInter is also author of the book I-Plan, a guide for your financial security.

Call Michael Minter at 813-964-7100 at Mintco Financial.

Retirement Planning for Small Business

Does Your Small Business Really Need A Server The Answer Is No.

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As a network computer technician I’ve come to the choice that I don’t think my small business clients that employ between 2-10 people should even bother with installing what we might consider a regular server nowadays. It is overkill, expensive and a major source of problems if something goes wrong. So what do I recommend instead? I would recommend a file server with local and offline backup. What made me come to this decision? A number of real world issues, actually.

Too many computer consultants come from an environment where they were taught and schooled on how to maintain servers. To me this is the old way of doing things. Unless you are hosting your email in-house there isn’t the need for the old server.

Think about this…what services do you really want to provide that are mission critical for your clients? For my clients the most important need is a way to create and access files that are backed up on a regular basis. I have seen too many small businesses shut down for days on end because they put all of their trust in a old server and a tape backup system. Why are these servers and tapes such a problem?

Think about this for a second. If a piece of hardware fails in your server, chance are that you won’t be able to replace that broken or failing part with something you can buy locally. Often times you have to call the server manufacturer and wait patiently for them to ship you a replacement part, all the while your business is at a stand still.

And tapes for backing up data? Unless you have an enormous amount of data, backing up to multiple hard drives is faster. And these hard drives will be able to access that data in other computer while you get your server fixed.

Another solution I recommend is using a service such as Dropbox to backup files. I don’t completely rely on Dropbox, though. I prefer to have a physical backup of the client’s data at the site of their business and then use Dropbox as a way to get a backup off-site. If anything catastrophic were to happen to the small business, such as a fire of a flood, it is easier to get a computer up and running, re-attach it to Dropbox and the data is back and ready to be used.

Small Business Resources Every Business Owner Needs

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Seeking out small business resources doesnt have to take long if you know what your business needs. Small business owners can find a wealth of resources on the many websites that cater to the tools, services and employer information that every business needs to run efficiently. By using the right small business resources to find everything they need online, small business owners can save themselves time that could be used in that business.

Business Tools Online

No business runs well without the right tools available to employees. Small business machines such as computers, printers and labelers are all used in the typical office, and staying on top of the latest innovations in those machines can mean staying on top of the competition. Whether its postage meters that a business needs or a simple calculator, employees cant use them if they dont have them. Software, office furniture, printing paper and more can be found at low prices online, and shopping for them takes less time when its done on a website.

Hiring Employees and Contractors

Every business needs employees to keep it running. To find those, business owners dont have to place a newspaper ad any longer. They can use one of the many websites that can assist them in finding productive employees. Some sites allow you to read the profiles or resumes that are posted by job seekers. This is an easy way to find qualified candidates for the open positions.

Another type of site is one that allows business owners to put up an advertisement for a job opening. Many employers prefer to post an ad because they want fresh employee leads and want to post the job specifications. Using these jobs, business owners can seek out employees, independent contractors or even interns. Owners can choose popular sites that will yield hundreds of applicants or more specialized sites that will attract candidates within a specific field. Other job sites, such as bidding sites, allow employers to post specific projects and to receive bids from multiple contractors.

Financial and Legal Services

Sometimes, its the services that a business owners uses that determines how successful that business is. The business must have an effective payroll system to keep employees and contractors paid in full on time. It may need legal services for drawing up contracts and protecting the company against liability. Finding out which services you need and where to go to get them can both be done through sites that provide these business resources.

In some cases, the services can be provided through websites. In others, the sites connect business owners to local professionals who can provide those vital services. For owners who simply need information about which services are important and how they can be integrated into the business, there are plenty of educational resources online as well.

Save Money with Small Business Management Software

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Small businesses owners often find that there are certain times of the year when cash flow is not as healthy as it could be. This could be due to the fact that the business has seasonal customers, money being spent wastefully or through outmoded business practices. Regardless of the reason as to why money is being lost one thing is for certain good business owners and managers are all looking for a way to save the business money.

One way to save money in a small business is to implement small business management software. Software such as this enables a business with less than 50 employees to be operated via one software application. By being able to switch to one application a small business owner can save thousands every year as all other applications that require a monthly or annual fee to be discontinued.

As soon as they see just what small business management software can do many business owners and managers are keen to start using it. Not only can small business management software save a business money in terms of slashing the number of applications a business has to pay for it also saves money in other ways such as:

Increasing the number of leads that are converted into sales with ease. When using small business management software an employee can create a quote and save this to a customers file. This will contain their contact details and other relevant information. If this quote is not accepted within a certain period of time, this lead can then be chased up by the sales department.

By ensuring that projects are always completed on time a business will not lose customers. With small business management software projects can be assigned and tracked in real time. Managers and owners can quickly and easily check on projects that are nearing their due date in order to ensure that they are progressing as they should be. By utilizing this feature projects should never be behind schedule ever again, which means that money will be saved in the long run through customer retention.

Small business management software also allows employee calendars to be seen by owners and managers at a glance. This means that projects and so on can be planned with regard to staffing numbers. Money is therefore saved by ensuring that all employees are working to capacity and not being diverted to projects which are already fully subscribed.

As small business management software is web based it means that it can be accessed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. So if a manager or owner is away from the office on business they can access the application and get any information that they need. This saves business money as laptops and mobile internet is not required when an owner or manager visits potential customers.

These are just a few of the ways in which small business management software can save a business money each month.

An Exchange Server Alternative For Small Business

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For the business user, the main advantages to working in a company that has an exchange server are:

1. File sharing
2. Access to email from any configured computer
3. Contacts access
4. calendar syncrhonized and shared between all employees

Essentially it means the office worker can use any configured computer to access his or her files, emails and calendar. The company will often configure a laptop and provide remote access so the member of staff can also work from home or while travelling and still have complete access.

The problem with this kind of product when it comes to a small or mid sized company, is that it requires someone to manage it and there is a huge cost, in terms of both initial cost and ongoing expenses.

So if you manage a small business and you want your employees to have a high level of flexibility i.e. to be able to telework or while travelling, or even to hotdesk at the office, you will need an exchange substitute.

There are two alternatives which will offer you many of the features of Exchange without the expenditure.

The first is a hosted exchange server. The second is the Easy-Email synchronization solution plus file synchronization software.

A Hosted Exchange server is a great solution. You get almost all the advantages but you are spared the resource cost and management time. You simply pay according to the number of users. This allows for quick expansion so as the business grows you just increase a user.

Easy-Email is a fabulous alternative for small firms.
Its an email sync answer set out in the form of a series of guides that you, or an IT professional you hire, can follow. It will sync a users mail and contacts on their desktop, laptop, home computer, pda or netbook. In addition it will allow them to manage their email from any other computer via Gmail.

The Easy-Email solution is incredibly good value compared to any other alternative solutions It’s just $67 US for the Advanced Guide to Outlook and you can get all of your staff set up for this fee!
The disadvantage in comparison with exchange is that there is at present no shared calendar so you will need to use a google calendar or similar.

And in terms of shared files and folders its really simple. Set up Dropbox. Dropbox provides you with a system of shared folders that are all automatically sync’d via the internet but they are also stored on the computer so you dont have to be online to access the files. You can select which people have access to which folders and the first 2GB of storage space is free (and it’s very reasonable after that).

Content Writing Service – How To Start A Small Business Web Content Writing Service

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Do you have a knack for writing? Well, why not put your talents to good use and start earning money through your writing? If you have been excluded by the editors of the publications high forehead bigger than you always wanted to work and have resorted to bogging just away his thoughts, then why not put your own little web content writing service company ? As for having enough capital, so do not really need much except for his team – which, obviously, and a reliable Internet connection – this is an absolute necessity, and, of course, natural talent in writing.

Bearing in mind that what you are trying to establish here a small business content website writing service, you just about to start or small businesses who are still fighting their way into the possibility of settling in the market or to grow your business. You can start offering such services to potential customers, of course, try to avoid a budget can really afford and do not dwell on the benefits. If you ask by a huge professional immediately, so expect your potential customers to easily get off and decline their offer. Remember that, given the economic situation these days, companies are really doing their best to make ends meet while still being able to make a profit. Try to reason with them how to put your own website and you and helping manage the content of the website will boost sales of their companies to be able to reach more potential customers without having to spend so much on advertising, etc. Try to find a creative way for you to be able to present this idea.

Launch a web page small business content writing service is not really a novel idea. Since so many people are switching to an independent career, there are more ways for small businesses to get some consultation or public relations service for much less cost compared to how large advertisers and agencies Advertising usually charge. Would also be very beneficial if you are able to provide you with samples of their work. If you have already finished writing public relations, web content writing and editing, or have worked in advertising, then you will be able to provide its customers with an impressive body of work just so they will be able to get an idea of style. If you and your prospect are apparently different styles, trying to properly assess your client has a point. Do not be overly biased and imposed his personal style and taste of its customers, try to work with them and adjust to what they want, what your company needs, after all they are paying to do just that. However, when they are a bit hesitant to the suggestion that you are a customer, to voice their concerns and hope that the two of you will be able to find a solution.

Can My Small Business Afford Franking Machine Prices

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An Efficient Mailroom Can Help Grow Your Small Business

Enterprises often waste money on mail even though franking machine prices are low, and its computer interface can streamline a mailroom.

Every enterprise needs an efficient method to track costs: how much is spent, and where. Small, medium and large enterprises must all do this and most have franking machines.

Inefficiency wastes money, time and always means additional costs. Even medium and large enterprises often run inefficiently; this is an unnecessary drain on resources especially when renting a franking machine prices can be as low as 15 per month. And in addition, franked mail is 30% cheaper than stamped mail.

Lets Talk About Performance

Franking machines are quieter and more efficient than ever. The technology is neater: they are no longer the hulking eyesores that people expect. They dont take up as much space – for small businesses a franking machines can be a sleek desktop device.

The latest generation of franking machines are a wide range of models to suit any business. Franking machine prices have to reflect a businesss budget and are graded by the quantity of mail the business sends out per month.
A weighing platform makes sure you never pay more postage than you need to, which is one reason why a lot of stamped mail costs the sender more than it should. The weighing platform is controlled from the password protected control centre; here you allocate mail into pre-programmed accounts, eg: public relations department, and can review their account history over a 13 month period.
Franking supplies – ink toner and labels – are as inexpensive as franking machine prices, but you can reorder them using the control panel.

Small Businesses With Low Requirement
If youre a small business with a low budget and requirements you can find franking machine prices as low as 5 per week. Often these include a free trial. NeoPost offer trials of their award-winning Autostamp 2, for example.

Small Businesses With Medium Requirement
Small businesses sometimes send more mail than larger companies – it depends on the nature of their work.
For medium requirements, the U40 is not a bad option at all. It uses digital inkjet technology so can frank a clean logo onto your mail, which is useful for marketing purposes. And if your requirements increase you can attach extra parts many franking machines are scalable, and come with scalable franking machine prices too.

Small Business Telephone Systems For Effective Communication

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Implementing an efficient telephone system can definitely improve the way you communicate with your customers and business associates. Small business telephone systems are a great option for budding business enterprises to maintain effective communication.

Convey a Professional Business Image

Repeated breakdown in your communication system and improper call management can adversely affect your business image. Small business telephone systems offer organized call management and professional business communication. The enhanced communication experience that they offer would certainly attract more customers and enhance your sale leads and revenue. These phone systems come with high-tech call handling features including find-me/follow-me call forwarding, call conferencing, music on hold, voicemail, fax to email, voice to email and more.

The auto attendant receives calls in a professional manner and is programmed to transfer them to extensions, mailboxes, call queues, groups and conference rooms, as directed by the caller. The virtual receptionist manages several calls arriving at the same time with incredible efficiency.

Manage your Business from Distant Locations

Business establishments with more than one office and/or a mobile workforce benefit a lot from this small office telephone system. The advanced call forwarding feature routes calls to landline numbers or cell phones configured as extensions. Your business can be easily administered from other locations and you can stay connected to your clients and workforce all the time. Using a broadband connection like DSL, Cable or FIOS, your mobile workers can become an extension of your business PBX phone system.

Powerful Voicemail System

Modern small business telephone systems minimize the odds of missing calls and messages. Unanswered calls are instantly routed to the voicemail system, so that the callers can leave voice messages. This facility helps focus on core tasks without worrying about not taking customer calls during busy business hours. Voice messages are forwarded to your email account as audio file attachments. Whenever a new message arrives in your mailbox, it is promptly alerted on your cell phone.

With these diverse capabilities, small business telephone systems facilitate effective communication with your business clients. To enjoy all the benefits of these phone systems, it is important to get the service from dependable providers. This would assure the smooth functioning of the system, structured services and advanced PBX features at reasonable monthly charges.

Great Small Business Event Marketing

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For more going on fifteen years, I have been helping business owners and organizations hold events. The events ranged from races, to fairs, to concerts and dinners. Though the attendance varied greatly between them, the goals of management were often met and exceeded.

Events are the best way to:

get prospects to visit your store for the first time

build upon existing relationships with customers and vendors

grow existing lines of revenue

rally and motivate workforce and volunteers

expand branding

grow online presence and position

have a great time!

Events are very community oriented, and driven by the same. Bringing people together creates buzz.

There are three major areas of an event: event marketing (getting the brand out), event management (making sure the day is planned well and executed successfully), and event planning (getting all the details together to meet the event vision). Working together, these three items, thought out and coordinated, make great events.

I am often asked questions related to any of these three items. The questions I hear range from band and entertainment to how to use Facebook. Small businesses can do a lot with a little encouragement and direction. They can go really far with a little help from someone in the event industry. Small businesses and Organizations have a lot of gusto. They are ready to go all the time. And when they can see that something will get them further, they often grab the opportunity.

Small businesses are flexible. They can have a simple, low cost event marketing schedule coordinated with other ongoing marketing. Pairing an event with current expenditures creates broad public awareness. With current promotions are paired with a chance to experience a business or product, customers have incentive to participate.

I have often seen this occur. In one case, a restaurant advertised their foods as well as an evening with live music. Some monies from the night would be donated to the city fireworks fund. This night brought some business and money for community fireworks. The result was the night of the fireworks show, the restaurant was full to the brim. They had one of their best nights ever.

The power of small business event marketing is understated. Giving customers a reason to experience a small business in the form of a party invitation has leverage. As a small business owner, having an event can be fun, rewarding, and valuable to sales overall.

Three simple and affordable advertising ideas for your small business

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When running a small business, marketing your products and services is an important aspect your must consider and plan for. No matter what industry you play in you will no doubt have competition. Even if you provide a better service or product you still need to stand out so consumers know. Marketing can be a big cost but there are also many affordable alternative to advertise your business.

Here are three simple advertising ideas and suggestions to give you high visility.

Vehicle back windows

A rear car window covererd with a sticker of your business is an affordable option to promote your business. Whenever your car is being driven around your business is being seen. For as little as one hundred and fifty dollars this is a small investment. Depending on how many years your sticker last, the breakdown cost of purchasing you rear window sticker works out to be even less.

Don’t overload the sticker with too much details. Keep the sticker bright and colorful. Avoid a cluttered look with too much details. Keep it simple. Don’t put more than three items of information. Your logo with business name, phone and tagline is all you need.

Car magnets

Large car magnets are another cheap alternative. These magnets are strong enough to withstand high speeds. To repeat – keep the design simple. Order many at a time and hand them out to your friends for their cars. You can purchase four magnets for as little as fifty dollars.

An alternative to magnets is use multiple smaller sized ones. A stack of twenty five magnets can be bought for about thirty dollars. Get people to take notice by scattering you car with these. When people take your magnets you know they’re working.

Outdoor banners

Ask your signwriter to print you a large banner. The cost of a small banner can be as little as one hundred dollars. We’ve even seen banners from as low as six dollars.

Use the small banners effectively by parking at the front of a busy event or location. Hang the banner from the side of your car. Your car and banner can’t be missed.

These are three simple advertising ideas to kick start your marketing on a budget.

Click Here to see Ryan Johns working these advertising ideas

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