The internet has so many incredible tools that can help you grow your small business. Not only are there great articles like this one that can guide you when it comes to managing your small business, but there is also new technology that can reduce costs and save you valuable time. Smart entrepreneurs will research their problems online to find the latest and greatest solutions. Simply by typing a question into a Google or Yahoo search engine, you will have hundreds or thousands of answers at your fingertips.
Here are some effective ways the internet can grow your small business:
Marketing using Social Media
How many people do you know who check out their Facebook feed at least once per day? How about Twitter? Social media is taking over the world and it is the fastest and most affordable way to reach a large number of potential customers at once. The trick is doing it right so it engages customer. You can find valuable tips on marketing your business using social media by reading the 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing.
Try Marketing Automation
There is now marketing software that can generate leads based on who is checking out your website. This method is not only designed to gather leads, it also qualifies leads using lead scoring criteria, and then nurtures them with relevant and informative content. Studies have shown that marketing automation improves lead conversion rates by up to 50%.
Use the Internet to Reduce Expenses
Shopping online is quickly gaining in popularity due to the convenience it offers and the new security technology that has reduced the chance of identity theft. Your small business should not hesitate to follow this trend. In almost every case, a company can find less expensive or more efficient solutions online than they could in a phonebook. The internet is also filled with freelancing sites for part time employees, free online invoicing services, and free business advice. The internet can grow your small business by using online resources to improve your operation and reduce your expenses.
Climb the Google Rankings
Even if people do not purchase their products online, they are using the internet to research their buying decisions. When they type your product or service into an online search, it will need to appear on the first page of listing, if you expect anyone is going to click on your link. Understanding the power of SEO and learning how you can use it to boost your ranking will be critical to growing your small business. There are some great tips at 10 SEO tips for improving your search engine ranking.
The internet can be used to grow your business through social media marketing, marketing automation, reducing expenses, and improving your ranking on popular search engines. Even small businesses are a part of the global marketplace, which means they need an online presence to reach their true potential.
Your clients are what allow your company to stay in business. A company will not be able to keep their doors open very long, if it does not have multiple clients who are genuinely interested in paying for their products and/or services. It doesn’t matter if you refer to them as clients, customers, or buyers, they are obviously essential to your success and a necessary aspect of your business that you need to properly manage.
It is critical that you stay connected with your clients on a regular basis and that you do everything in your power to keep them happy. Online client management is the new, more efficient way to record all of their information and access it from anywhere. Unlike some traditional software programs, there are usually no restrictions on how many clients you can add and how much detail you can assign to each client when you are using an online client management program.
A huge list of clients is obviously a valuable asset to any business, but an abundance of personal and professional details on each of those clients is even more valuable. The more information you have a client, the better you can approach their needs and secure their business. Online client management utilizes the traditional approach of personalized sales calls in an easy and accessible online format. People have an abundance of choices when it comes to making purchases online, so anything you can do to make the experience more personalize will help separate you from your competitors.
Creating an online client database also gives other people on your team access to the same vital client contact information. By protecting your client information with a secure login and password, you can control who has the ability to view their information. If you have an outside sales team, they can be granted access and help you keep the information up-to-date. Anytime they learn something new about a client, they can add it to the client management software from their smart phone or laptop.
If you use an online recurring billing system to manage your client information , you can also view their purchasing history and check to see if they have any outstanding debt. This way you know what has been ordered and if there are any complimentary products or services you can offer them. If you are in the middle of a new deal, you can double check that they don’t currently owe any past due receivables before committing to starting a new project. Everything you want to know about each client is at your fingertips.
There are so many advantages to having all of your client information in one convenient location, especially when you combine it with online billing. Most business owners are already spending a significant amount of time online, so they can reference all of their client information and financial reporting at the same time. There is power in have all the information you need to run your business readily available from anywhere.
Every business needs a complete and professional plan to help them manage their business. A business plan is not only essential for securing financing funding from outside sources, but it should also be an invaluable reference guide for managing your business. The more time and effort you put into creating a solid business plan, the better resource it will be later on.
Here is how you can create a complete and professional business plan:
Every business plan starts with an executive summary that highlights the various components of your business plan. It is the first section the reader sees and it should be the last part of the business plan you write. The purpose of the executive summary is to provide an overview of the business plan including summaries of your mission statement, your products and/or services, your business’s management, the market, how you expect to obtain customers, your competition, your operational plan, and your financial objectives.
The purpose of the business description is to describe the company structure, current status, and future plans. It is designed to make the reader interested in the business by providing some insight into your company’s purpose that will be further explained throughout the business plan.
Staff & Management Information
This section will outline all of the employees, as well as their qualifications. It should clearly explain each person’s role in the company and how the collaborative effort of everyone will accomplish the business’s goals and objectives.
Accounting System & Funding
A business plan would not be complete without detailed financial planning. You need to plan a budget for your first year of business, pricing and funding strategies, as well your method for managing your finances. It is highly recommended that new businesses start with a simple and free online invoicing provider to invoice clients.
The marketing plan section of your business plan should cover all of your intended methods for promoting your product and/or service. It should include an advertising budget, an outline of the strategic marketing campaigns that will be implemented, and the ROI that will be achieved from each of the campaigns.
The operation plan is used to explain the daily operation of the business, its location, equipment, people, and processes that will be required to manage it. This is the portion where you put aside the conceptual aspects of your business and spell out the specifics of how you are going to make your product, store it, and ship it to your customers.
Always keep in mind that the more detail and research that is involved in developing a complete business plan, means the most useful it will be when you are actually running your business. A little time invested in advance could save you from bigger headaches later on, so do your homework and create one that will truly guide your business to success.
Every small business needs a cost-efficient and effective method for managing their bookkeeping. Being able to review accurate and up-dated financial figures is crucial when you are making important business-related decisions. One inexpensive method is using web-based invoicing software to track your payables, receivables, inventory, and other necessary financial information.
Web-based invoicing secures all of your information online, so it is accessible from anywhere. This gives small business owners the ability to access crucial financial reports from any computer with an internet connection. Business opportunities can occur at any time in any place and web-based financial reporting gives you the power to act regardless of your physical location.
How to choose the right web-based invoicing provider?
There are many different types of online invoicing companies, so it is essential that you take the time to research all of your options. Some online companies will provide you with only the invoicing option, while others can help you manage your payables, inventory, or even your payroll. There are invoicing companies that offer free trials and some even offer free packages that contain the basic or more used features. The right web-based invoicing provider will depend on your small businesses’ needs and budget.
Is it difficult to set-up?
Like most online options, web-based invoicing was designed for ease of use. All you need to do initially is enter your client and supplier contact information, the payment terms for each client/vendor, and a good description of your products and/or services. If a product or service is consistently sold for the same price, you can enter the price in advance, so it appears anytime that particular item is billed out. Once the information is entered into the software, you will be able to select a client/vendor and all of the details attached to their account will be automatically generated.
How long will it take to format all of my forms and reports?
Web-based invoicing software usually comes with several pre-designed, professional looking templates for your invoices and reports. The most work you will need to do to format your important paperwork is selecting a template that suits your company’s image. All of the various sections (address fields, dates, taxes etc.) within the form will be automatically formatted, so everything looks neat and organized.
Does it take a lot of time to create an invoice?
After the initial setup is complete, entering and sending invoices will only take a matter of minutes. Choose your client/vendor, select the product(s)/service(s), and then review it for accuracy. Since the client information and terms were entered in advance, most of the open fields will be filled in the moment you select the recipient of the invoice. Once the invoice is complete, it can be instantly emailed to your client’s inbox.
Web-based invoicing is the way of the future and once you have made the decision to use it, you’ll wonder how you manage without it. It is accessible from anywhere, easy to set-up, and even simpler to use. Research your choices and they pick one to simplify your small business’s bookkeeping.
Hand written ledgers or even computerized Excel spreadsheets are time consuming and frustrating to manage. They require significant manually entry and a strong knowledge of accounting principles just to generate a simple cash flow statement. Thankfully, they are no longer necessary for business owners to keep track of their accounting. All you need now is a computer with internet access.
The new wave of accounting technology takes traditional bookkeeping and kicks it up a notch. All the labor intensive formatting and filing is done for you, so there is no time wasted trying to make things look professional and organized. Online invoicing software comes with countless pre-designed forms and templates, so you just need to worry about entering the invoice details.
Once the client information, products, and or services are entered into the invoicing software, blank fields will populate for easy entry. This means all you need to do is select the client who is being billed and enter exactly what is being charged on that specific invoice.
Once the invoice is entered into the software, it can be emailed directly to the client’s inbox. The software can even request a read receipt and be programmed to send an automatic reminder notice before the invoice is due. The information from that invoice is then immediately accounted for on all financial reports. The same can be done for supplier invoices, reoccurring expenses like rent and utilities, as well as inventory transactions. This way you know exactly where your business stands at any given point.
The new wave of accounting technology also gives you the power of complete accessibility. Old systems could only be accessed in one physical location. That usually meant a trip back to the office before critical and timely decisions could be made. The new online invoicing software can be opened up and analyzed from any place that has a computer (or mobile device) that has access to the internet.
All you do is login and everything you need to know is there. You can enter and send invoices from home or even on the job-site. You can check to see what receivables are outstanding directly on your smart phone. Modern businesses are always on the go and now your accounting information can travel with you.
The new wave of accounting software is so simple to use that it doesn’t even require that you to have a background in bookkeeping to use get the most from it. Most online providers even offer free technical support to show you how to utilize all the different features.
Accounting has been around forever and there is no sign it will be ever become obsolete. Fortunately, new technology has significantly improved its capabilities and efficiency. Stay current with the changes in accounting technology to give your business the cutting-edge advantage it needs to stay competitive.
There is no question that invoicing is not the most interesting part of a business owner’s daily duties, but it probably is the most rewarding. An invoice represents a complete job worthy of payment. When you are a home-based business trying to turn your entrepreneurial drive into an income, that receivable is evidence of your success.
Many new home-based business owners are worried first and foremost about making new sales and bringing in business. Then it is on to the task of order fulfillment and handling custom concerns. When it comes to actually requesting the payment from the client, they become hesitant and unsure. If you set yourself up for success by insisting on pre-approved quotes and signed contracts, there is nothing for you to stress over.
Here are a few tips to make the invoicing process easier:
It is easy for important paperwork to get lost in the shuffle, if you don’t have an effective system for managing it. Using an online client invoicing application will keep track of everything in an online program and ensure that all your information is well-organized. This will make it easy for you to access vital reports or client details that are necessary for running your business. Organization is necessary for success.
Always look professional
All invoices should look uniformed and easy to read. By creating a consistent template or choosing a pre-designed template from a client invoicing application, everything you send to a client will look professional. An invoice is the last impression you leave on a client, so make sure it is an accurate reflection of you high standards.
Make sure to use an invoice number
So many small home-based businesses neglect to include an invoice number when they bill out their customers. They don’t anticipate a large number of invoices, so they don’t feel it is necessary to track them. Invoice numbers are essential for easy referencing and better client management. They also help reinforce the point that your company is a professional business.
Email invoices directly to the client
You canget the invoice in the client’s hands faster by emailing it directly to them using a client invoicing application. This will also give you a read receipt, so you know once the client has had a chance to review the bill. Emailing reduces paper costs and saves time.
Include Payment Terms and Due Date
You want to make paying your invoice a simply process that takes little thought on the part of your client. Including the payment terms and due date near the balance will make it easy for your client to know when they have to pay it.
Set your home-based business up for success by staying organized, maintaining professionalism, using easy to reference invoice numbers and payment terms, and emailing the invoices directly to your clients. Developing and maintaining a proper invoicing system will ensure your at-home company’s future success.
If you feel like you are always waiting for the next big cheque to arrive to keep your business afloat, why not consider a free online invoicing service to help speed up the process. Receivables won’t help improve your cash flow if they are not consistently paid on time. Sometimes making the right moves right from the beginning will improve your chances of getting paid sooner.
Send Invoices Immediately
If you use a client billing application, it will only take minutes to enter and send an invoice directly to the client as soon as the work is complete. Since the software can be used from anywhere, you don’t need to wait until you get back to the office to process the invoice. Most online invoicing programs allow you to email it directly to clients, so there is also no time wasted waiting for it to arrive in the mail.
Confirm the client has seen the invoice
This might sound like it wouldn’t be an issue for most companies, but paperwork can get lost in the mail and easily misplaced around an office. Emailing it directly to the client, offers you the ability to receive a read receipt, so you know the client has seen it. When a client confirms a read receipt, they are in essence accepting that the debt is owed and will be paid on time.
Follow-up with a Professional Reminder Notice
Free online invoicing applications can be set up to send automated reminder notices. This will keep the invoice fresh in the client’s mind and reminder them of when it is due. It doesn’t guarantee it will be paid sooner, but it should ensure that it is at least paid on time. This will also confirm that the client is aware of the debt, otherwise they would be questioning why they received the notice.
Offer Incentives for Early Payment
Every business is trying to save money and your clients are no different. If you offer them a small price discount (1-2% of the total invoice) for paying within 15 days, it should inspire them to cut a check immediately, so they can take advantage of the discount. You can also negotiate terms that include interest or penalties for late payment.
Run Weekly Receivable Reports
By reviewing your account receivable reports weekly, you can catch past due invoices sooner. Sometimes it may require a difficult phone conversation with the client, but you can first prompt them with a gentle and professional notice that the invoice is now overdue.
Getting paid on time or sooner is critical to every businesses’ success. They can’t handle their personal expenses, professional expenses, and operating costs if they are not receiving payment for their hard work. Try these techniques and free online invoicing to see how it can decrease the amount of time you are waiting on receivables.
Cash flow is considered the lifeblood of every small business and how it is managed can mean the difference between your company’s succeeding or not. Having ample cash on hand will ensure that your suppliers, employees and other vendors are always paid on time. It also allows companies to invest cash back into the business in order to generate additional revenue and improve their bottom line. On the other hand a lack of adequate cash flow can result in increased debt, late payments, high interest charges, and other struggles that will detract from your company’s overall success.
Even small businesses can have enough cash flowing in and out to require a professional and comprehensive system for managing it. It should be a software program that does the formatting, organization, and calculations for you, so your time is simply spent on analyzing and using the information to your advantage.
One option is to invest in an online billing application that has integrated accounting capabilities. It will give you the ability to easily enter all invoices and payables, track your cash flow, monitor inventory, generate necessary reports, and manage your client’s information all from the same website.
If you use an online billing software, make it a priority to run a weekly cash flow statement. There are so many necessary expenses needed to run your business, as well as the money you earn from your hard work. These transactions need to be reviewed regularly to ensure that you have enough coming in to cover what is already slated to go out. This is commonly referred to as cash flow management.
You cannot practice cash flow management, if you do not have an up-to-date cash flow statement. Cash flow refers to the difference between inflows (the actual cash that is coming) and outflows (the cash that is scheduled to come out). The actual income is not accounted for until payment is received. On the same hand, expenses are not calculated until payment is made. Looking at a bank statement will not show what is scheduled to come out and what you are hoping will be coming in. It needs to be a professional and current cash flow statement.
Assessing accurate cash flow projections at least once a week is one of the most important things a small business owner can do to ensure their success. It can raise red flags to potential problems before they grow too big to handle, reduce the reliance on credit, and indicate if a receivable is past due. It is crucial that other factors are also accounted for in your cash flow analysis, including upcoming expenses like rent, inventory, salaries, benefits, taxes, office supplies, and advertising expenses. If you use an web-based online billing to manage your accounting, it can plug in reoccurring expenses for you, so everything is considered.
Cash flow management is not fun, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. It is a fundamental aspect of all businesses and it needs to be watched closely and managed. If you are still struggling, look into an online billing application to make managing your cash flow simple and convenient.
Web-based billing is quickly becoming the most popular tool for small business owners to manage their finances. It has so many time and money saving attributes, plus the web-based providers who created the billing software are always expanding and creating new features to ensure their clients are getting every service they need from one easily-accessible location. It takes the power of modern technology’s accessibility and ease of use, and applies it to traditional bookkeeping.
Here are a few of the reasons why web-based billing software works!
Reason #1 – Convenience of Online Invoicing
Web-based billing gives you the ability to access information from anywhere at any time. You can check reports from your home computer, access figures from your smart phone when you are traveling for work, or even double check that everything is still on track from a hotel lobby that offers internet services. That way you are never worrying and wondering where things stand when you are not at the office.
Reason #2 – Efficient of Online Billing
Time is money and web-based billing saves a significant amount of time. Pre-made templates make it easier to generate invoices or enter payables. Once client and supplier contact information, itemized lists of charges, and your payment terms are entered into the web-based billing software, the only thing you will need to enter for each transaction is the details that are unique to that invoice. The invoice can also be entered and emailed directly to the client in mere minutes, which may also improve your chances of receiving early payment.
Reason #3 – Improve Organization
Once the information is in the online accounting system, it will keep track of all the details for you and generate clear and easy to understand spreadsheets. All of your receivables and payables will be updated, so you know your exact financial situation whenever you need to access it. It also handles payables, inventory, cash flow statement, profit-loss statements, and any other aspect of your company’s finances. Everything you need to know is organized for you.
Reason #4 – Professional Looking Online Invoices
Everything a company sends to a client is a reflection of their business. If every form looks uniformed, it will demonstrate the company’s professionalism and attention to detail. Web-based billing software programs have clean and well-organized templates that ensure you are always representing your business to the best of your abilities.
Reason #5 – Invoicing Online Saves Money!
Web-based billing works because it is convenient, efficient, organized and professional, not to mention all of these attributes also help to cut costs in some way. It reduces labor costs, paper costs, postage, and the need for an expensive bookkeeping software etc. It also saves time, which in essence is just as valuable to your business as money.
Web-based billing is everything your business needs to have an advantage over your competition. Try a free trial and see how it can improve the way your business functions. Once you experience it for yourself, you will realize its many benefits firsthand and wonder how you managed without it.
Creating an invoice does not need to be complicated or frustrating. In fact, it should be something you can quickly do the moment a transaction is complete. It will take some initial effort on your part to set everything up in an online billing software program, so it is easier to use, but once that is done, actual creating an invoice online is a breeze.
Register with an Online Invoicing Company
The process starts by registering with an online invoicing company that has the products and services you need to manage your business. There are a variety of different types of providers online with their own list of service options, so it is crucial that you review all of your choices to ensure you select one that meets your businesses’ unique needs.
Add Your Client Information
The next step is creating a complete client database with address, contact names, payment terms, and any notes that are relevant to each particular client. The more details you put into it, the more valuable of a tool it will become. If you offer your sales team access to the client management portion of the system, they can use those details to generate new sales and increase your revenue. You can even request they update the client information to save your valuable time.
Enter Products and/or Services
Once your client information has been entered, the next step is to create lists of products and services that you plan on invoicing. Use a brief descriptive word or two that is attached to a more detail explanation of the charge. You can even assign an amount to each specific charge, if it is consistently sold at the same price. Don’t overcomplicate the description, so your client is clear on what each line on the invoice represents.
Enter Your Invoice
The more data that is entered into the online software in the beginning, the more useful it will be for invoicing, track clients vital information, and generating useful reports. After the information is entered in the system, you simply need to select the client and the services being invoiced and then enter the dollar amount (unless you have programmed it to fill in automatically). The online billing software will calculate all taxes and due dates for you.
Email it to the Client
Most online billing software also has the capability to email each invoice directly to the client the moment it is complete. This will save you the time, expense, and hassle of printing multiple copies and sending it out using traditional mail. Online billing software can also automatically send reminder and thank you notices to ensure your invoice is paid on time. Once you choose a pre-design template for your invoices, all the other forms and notices will have a coordinating appearance, so everything looks uniformed and professional.
There is no question that the old-fashion invoice process was complicated and time-consuming. Fortunately, that is not the only option anymore. Businesses can quickly create an invoice online and send it directly to the client with little effort or time involved.