University and college students will often complain about having to buy brand new books each year because their educational institution has once again changed the curriculum. Although some information will remain consistent as time passes on, it is necessary to update business curriculum on a yearly basis because technology is constantly changing the way professionals conduct business. Although introducing new textbooks are an excellent way for schools to generate revenue, they are also essential for teaching the latest concepts and practices.
Technology is always creating better ways to manage a business and in most cases, last year’s best practices are no longer relevant. In fact, almost every aspect of running a business has experienced a major change in the last few years.
Here are a few reasons why business curriculum is constantly changing:
Changes to Marketing Best Practices
Ask a person who graduated from a business marketing program in 2000 what advertising strategies they learned and then ask a graduate from 2010 and 2013. A 2000 textbook didn’t cover SEO, marketing automation, or social media strategies. Advertising to individuals using websites and online ads was just starting to gain popularity and it was only briefly explained in the textbooks from thirteen years ago.
Even three years ago in 2010, there wasn’t much of a focus on mobile apps, which are now a hot marketing commodity for all major businesses. The course curriculum for marketing and advertising students has changed drastically with the rise of internet giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. There is also no doubt that technology and cloud-based capabilities will take marketing even farther in the future.
Changes to Accounting Technology
Accounting practices have seen drastic changes in the last few decades, especially since the introduction of online accounting software. Businesses can now access and update their financials from anywhere that has internet access. These online invoicing programs also offer automatic calculations and report generation, so today’s business curriculum can be more focused on how to interpret financial statements instead of how to create them.
Changes to Purchasing Practices
The popularity of online shopping and e-commerce has led to considerably more options for professional purchasers. The ability to source products globally using the internet has also made the quotation process significantly easier. More modern purchasers begin their research online where they can request product specs and quotes without having to meet in person with a variety of different vendors.
Changes to the Sales Process
People no longer need to come visit your storefront or meet with you in person to be converted into loyal customers. E-commerce technology allows businesses to secure and process sales directly online. Business curriculum has changed to incorporate the importance of secure and efficient online sales transactions for e-commerce.
The business world is constantly evolving and the curriculum that is being taught to the next generation has to keep up with it. Although no student wants to pay for brand new books every year, it is the only way to stay on top of all the latest technology.
The world of business technology is constantly changing. There are always new software applications being introduced and more efficient online techniques being developed daily. Industry leaders, innovative entrepreneurs, and tech-savvy professionals are always coming up with new ideas to make managing your business easier. If small business owners are not constantly educating themselves on new methods and technology, they will miss out on countless time and money saving solutions.
In this economy, business owners can’t afford to ignore any opportunity that could improve their bottom-line. This article will cover many innovative and efficient recent breakthroughs that will prove why continuous learning is essential for small business owners.
New & improved methods of marketing
The best practices for marketing from ten years ago are completely different from today’s best practices. In fact, even strategies that worked two or three years ago are no longer considered the best methods for promoting your business. Advertising and marketing a business globally has changed drastically with the increasing popularity of online shopping and social media networking. Small business owners must actively study new techniques to stay competitive.
The internet offers businesses access to a global audience at a tiny fraction of the cost of traditional worldwide advertising campaigns. By creating a dynamic website filled with powerful SEO content and then marketing the site using social media, small businesses can sell their products and services anywhere in the world. Many online marketing specialists have developed proven systems for using these new marketing opportunities to increase revenue. Smart business owners will take the time to learn these systems and apply them to their own business.
New & improved methods for bookkeeping
There are so many new online invoicing solutions that will make it easier to manage the finances for your small business. A few years ago, almost every business had a stationary software program that could only be accessed from one computer or a single internal network of computers. Invoices were generated in Microsoft Word, and customized spreadsheets were created in Excel. That inconvenient method of using various programs wastes a significant amount of time and money.
Online invoicing provides comprehensive software solutions where you can enter and send invoices from anywhere that has internet access. All calculations are done automatically and reports are instantly updated with each entry. You can also create customized reports, email invoices directly to your clients, and send follow-up reminder notices before the invoice is due.
Customer’s expectations are constantly increasing
Since consumers have the power to shop anywhere in the world, they have high standards when it comes to the companies they choose. Continuous learning is necessary to understand your customer’s expectations and how to meet them. For example, testimonials and solid online evidence to prove all of your marketing claims is essential to show your small business has a trustworthy reputation. If you don’t have a recognizable brand, it will be harder for new customers to accept that your product or service is legitimate and worthwhile.
Every small business owner should spend 30 minutes each day on researching new ways of improving how they run their business. Continuous learning should be considered a necessary investment in the future of their business. Technology, marketing, accounting, and consumer expectations are going to constantly change. Small business owners need to change with it.
It is often said that why you continue to do things the same way, you will continue to see the same results. When it comes to business, the results will actual decrease over time. While you are continuing to do the same thing, your competitors are learning better techniques, and stealing a piece of your pie. Continuous learning is essential for small business owners to maintain or grow their market share.
Have you ever dreamt of working in a lounge chair on a beachfront resort?
That fantastic dream is now more possible than ever! Thanks to the vast capabilities of the internet, anyone can work from anywhere using a laptop (or any mobile device) and a Wi-Fi connection. You can make purchases, promote your business, manage your accounting, and process sales all using web-based software programs.
There are so many online services designed to help you manage your business using only an internet connection. Even brick and mortar businesses can manage their marketing, sales, and finances from anywhere that has an internet connection. It allows them to work from home or while they are traveling, so they don’t need to drive to the office just to get something done. This convenience and flexibility will improve your efficiency and provide you with a better work/life balance.
Managing Your Accounting Online from Anywhere
You can relax on a beach, close a business deal, create the invoice, send it to the client, and send update financial reports showing the new sale to your potential investors all in a matter of minutes. Web-based accounting software is an efficient and effective way to manage all of your business’ finances from anywhere.
Market Your Business Online from Anywhere
A dynamic website, a strong social media presence, and a high ranking on search engines is all you need to promote your company globally. It is estimated that 70% of people begin their buying process by researching products and services online. The internet is the best place to market your business, plus all the marketing tools that you will need to attract new customers can also be accessed online.
Conduct Sales Online from Anywhere
E-commerce is quickly gaining in popularity and it now accounts for billions of dollars in sales each year. If you are interested in working from home, you will need to understand how to safely and securely process sales and payments online. You can find great tips for running the sales and e-commerce side of your business at Ecommercetimes.com.
Access Files Online from Anywhere
Another web-based option that is making in more convenient to work from anywhere is online file storage. This allows you to open a file from anywhere. All of your important documents are saved online, giving you the power to work on them outside of the office. It also makes it easier for document sharing.
The ability to work from anywhere opens up new doors and possibilities. It provides flexibility and personal freedom. It allows you to manage, market, and sell your product or service to a global audience from anywhere with an internet connection. It is not surprising that it is leading to more entrepreneurs and home-based businesses.
Managing your small business’ finances is now incredibly easy and convenient. There are so many new web-based solutions available and they are revolutionizing the world of business and money management. The internet can assist you in managing your small business finance from the initial start-up loan to processing the final invoice and payment.
Here are a few ways the internet can be used to manage your small business finances:
More people are now pursuing their dream of entrepreneurship because of the many online capabilities and services. It is easier than ever to find potential investors to back your business, thanks to crowdsourcing websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These resources have helped launch thousands of small business who weren’t able to raise the required capital using traditional methods.
There is no longer a need to purchase an expensive accounting program that is only accessible from one computer. There are many companies online that provide web-based accounting capabilities and some of these providers even offer basic starter packages at no charge. These programs allow you to track your income and expenses, as well as produce accurate and updated financial reports whenever the need arises.
In the past, a company would create an invoice in Microsoft Word, print three copies of it, mail one to the client, and then enter the invoice details into the accounting program. This process was time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, small business owners can now quickly generate an invoice using online invoice software and email it directly to the client without having to switch programs. This service will also automatically store the information from the invoice into the accounting portion of the software, so there is no need for double entry.
The internet even allows customers to make purchases directly online. Businesses can setup online purchase order forms on their website to process sales requests. This should increase sales since customers can research a product or service online and then immediately buy it without having to leave the website they are on.
Once a sale is made, the payment for it can also be done online. Google Wallet and PayPal give consumers the ability to spend money online and providers like Square offer businesses credit card processing capabilities using the internet.
The internet makes it easier to stay in touch with business contacts, promote your business, and manage all of the necessary financial requirements. It has truly revolutionized the way businesses find investors, manage their accounting, handle invoicing, process sales, and payment.
Accounting for a business is more complicated than just subtracting your expenses from your revenue. If you have ever attempted to manage your accounting on your own without using a good accounting software program, then you understand just how complex it can be. There are so many things to consider and monitor which makes it a necessary for business owners to take advantage of all of the modern best practices for accounting.
Here are a few of the best practices for modern accounting:
No More Pen & Paper
Hopefully, you are already using some form of software rather than manually recording everything, but there are other things that you can do to make it more cost-efficient. If you are still printing several copies of each invoice and mailing one to your client, it’s time to switch to email. By emailing it directly you will save time, plus the cost of paper, envelopes, and stamps. It will automatically also save a copy for your records in your sent folder, so there is no need to print one.
Keep Track of Your Books Online
Using an online customer billing app instead of using regular email will make it even more cost-efficient. There are helpful free billing applications available that can be used to prepare, send, and track all of your receivables. The variable details of each invoice are entered into the program and the rest of the work is done for you.
Ensure Your Accounting is Always Accessible
Modern business can be conducted from anywhere at any time. It will make it easier to properly manage your company if you are able to monitor and review your finances from any computer. This is another valuable benefit of using an online customer billing app.
Organization & Consistency are Essential
Your clients will expect professionalism in everything from the initial quote to the final invoice. Your investors and creditors will also expect well-organized and accurate financial reporting. Modern accounting practices must ensure consistency, functionality, and easily interpreted financial information.
Less Time-Consuming & Expensive Accounting Management
Time-saving software programs will make it easy to manage your accounting without needing to hire outside help. Most businesses can manage their company’s financials by simply spending 20 to 30 minutes each week entering invoices and reviewing their financial reports. There is no need to hire a fulltime bookkeeper or an expensive accountant to manage the day-to-day responsibilities.
Modern best practices for accounting are all focused on cutting costs and saving time. It is also about taking advantage of new technology like an online customer billing app to manage all aspects of your accounting more efficiently.
Running your own business is never easy, especially in a tough economy. We live and work in a global marketplace and that makes for fierce competition. Fortunately, running a business has become significantly more manageable for people who have learned to master the latest technology.
Technology is designed to make things faster, simpler, and more cost-effective. In 2013, successful business owners will need to understand how the internet, online business services, automated software programs, and social networking can be used to grow and improve on their existing operations.
Here are some tips on how to be successful at running a business in 2013:
Perform a Quick Online Search
All it takes is entering three words into your favorite search engine once a week; trends in technology. The results will be helpful tips like 13 Top Trends for 2013, or websites that review and compare the latest trends like Digitaltrends.com. All it takes is fifteen minutes each week to read the first few articles that appear and then brainstorm ways you could apply those trends to your own business.
Understanding SEO & Keywords
In the same manner that you just performed a search to look for trends in technology, your potential customers are online searching for the products and services they need. It is important that business owners understand the keywords their leads are using and apply them powerful and purposeful SEO content.
Consumers will choose words that explain their problem, “need lower back pain relief“ rather than searching for several potential cures like physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor, herbal remedies, or back-strengthening exercises. In 2013, the focus of keywords is on the customer`s needs instead of describing the product or service itself.
Need a Strong Online Presence
A website is not enough to be noticed. To be successful at running a business in 2013, you will also need a strong social media presence. Your company should have profiles and followers on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. The key is to create engaging videos or irresistible promotions that will inspire people to share or respond.
Use Online Software & Technology
To be successful at running a business in 2013, you should take advantage of any time saving online programs that you can find. For example, an online invoicing system will make it more convenient to update your books from anywhere, it will be faster and most cost-effective to send invoices, and it is simpler to use than traditional accounting programs.
Think Outside the Box
The global market we live in is highly competitive and businesses need to stand out to stay profitable. Although it is necessary to look for trends, it is more beneficial to set the trends. Be creative and spend a little time each week thinking of new ways to improve your current processes. Thinking outside the box will be essential to success in 2013.
Successfully running a business in 2013 will be challenging due to the economy and global marketplace. If you look for technology trends from industry leaders, work on SEO with the right keywords, enhance your online presence, take advantage of online software, and think outside the box you will improve your chances of being successful.
Some small businesses are content maintaining the size they are at, while others are desperate for growth. If you are hoping to expand your business, there are several measures you can take to improve your chances.
A few tips on how you can set your small business up for growth:
Build Stronger Customer Relationships
There is nothing more critical to your success than building stronger customer relationships. It is absolutely necessary for growth and it won’t happen without a sincere focus on quality and customer satisfaction. Not only does maintaining regular satisfied customers mean that you will have a steady income, but happy clients can also provide powerful word-of-mouth marketing to attract new customers.
Develop a Powerful Online Presence
A solid online presence involves an interactive and informative website, a Facebook page with fans, and a twitter account with ample followers. This will not happen overnight and it starts by marketing your business within the people you already know. Encourage people to engage in your social sites by making irresistible offers or posting compelling content.
Always Look for Opportunities to Expand Your Knowledge
Even if you do not have the time or the desire to study in a traditional classroom, there are many ways you can expand your knowledge and learn new ways to make your business thrive. Opportunities to expand on what you know can occur at any time, so be aware and embrace them.
Set Goals that Push Your Boundaries
Goals can be a great way to channel your energy and measure your progress. Successful people view goals as an opportunity to push themselves to reach new heights. Every business needs goals for real growth. The more that you are driven to challenge yourself, the more you will gain over time. You should create a plan for growth by writing down specific long and short term goals for your business.
Create Systems that are Scalable
Make sure that the programs and system you use are scalable. For example, your invoicing or accounting system will need to have unlimited entries, so you do reach capacity and need to make a drastic change. Once you establish a working strategy, it needs to be that is adjustable enough to grow with your business.
Many small business owners immediately hire an accountant or bookkeeper out of fear of being able to handle their business’s finances on their own. Your business’s finances are incredibly important, but there are simple ways you can manage it at the fraction of the cost of a professional.
How to manage your small business bookkeeping on your own:
Use customer invoicing software
This is probably the most important decision you can make for your business. Customer invoicing software is a fast and simple way to track all of your expenses from anywhere, at any time. These software programs are designed to be as simple as a matter of data entry, since all the formatting and calculations are done automatically. They have easy to use fields and toolbars and every report is instantly updated each time a new receipt is entered. Once the initial setup is complete, customer invoicing software gives you the ability to create and email customer invoices in a matter of minutes.
Devote one hour each week to bookkeeping
If you are using a customer invoicing software, all it will take is one hour every week to enter your bills and payments for the week, generate key reports like a cash flow statement and income statement, and then review them to ensure there are no potential problems. Set aside a specific time (like first thing Monday morning) that is devoted solely on maintaining and monitoring your bookkeeping.
Reconcile Your Bank Statements
Never assume that everything is accurate just because you are using an automated system. There is always the potential for human error in regards to bookkeeping. You could simply enter a 2 instead of 5 and not notice it, even if you make a point of double checking your work. If a company fails to reconcile their bank statements every month, these errors may go undetected, which will affect future data. The reconciliation process gives you a method for double-checking errors that you could have made, as well as errors that were made by your bank.
Pay attention to Payables & Receivables
There are two things every business needs to ensure when they are managing their bookkeeping. They need to make sure they are paying people on time and they need to make sure they are being paid on time. During the time you have scheduled to update your books with new receipts, run a quick payable and receivable report, so you can double check that nothing is past due.
Thanks to modern technology, there is no specific skill set required to manage your bookkeeping. As long as you can type information into open cells and select print, all the information and reports will be there for your reference. Try handling it on your own, before you consider paying someone hundreds of dollars each week to do it for you. An hour or two of your time each week could save you thousands in the long run.
As a small business owner, chances are that you are working non-stop to try to grow your business and every second counts. Fortunately, not every day needs to be a 12-hour workday and there are methods that can help improve your efficiency. With the right tools and business services at your disposal, you can reduce the amount of time you spend managing your business and use more of it to enjoy your success.
Here are a few best practices for streamlining your small business:
Use time-saving application and software solutions
Have you heard popular phase “there’s an app for that?” In today’s modern technological world there is an app for almost anything, especially when it comes to running a business. There are project management apps, invoicing apps, organizational apps, and communication apps that all designed to streamline standard business practices. These programs usually come with pre-made templates and easy to use forms, so most of the work is already done for you.
Outsource when it makes financial sense
Many small business owners feel this need to do it all on their own. They manage their company’s marketing, finances, sales, legal concerns, product development etc., regardless of their personal expertise. They figure they have the internet as a resource if they get stuck and that they are saving the money they would have spent on someone else. They neglect to consider the fact that their time could be better spent on something they are skilled at doing and that even their best effort may not be good enough. Sometimes you need a professional’s guidance, especially when there is money involved. If you are not confident in your own abilities, it should be outsourced to a professional.
Use email to reduce paper costs
If you don’t need to print it, don’t. If you are not required to send it by registered mail, don’t. Thanks to the convenience and traceability of email, there is no need to print a copy of your correspondence with vendors or customers. Everything can be saved in a folder within your inbox, which will be easily accessible anytime you need to reference it.
Know when to delegate your workload
If your small business consists of only you, it will be difficult to delegate when the workload becomes too heavy for you to manage. You will need to either prioritize and push through it, or hire outside help. However, if you have a few employees that are available, make sure you use them. Any aspect of your role that is not critical to your business’ success can be delegated to someone else who has more available free time. There is nothing worse than the boss working non-stop through their lunch, while his or her employees are taking an extended lunch because they don’t have enough work to keep them busy.
Streamlining your business can be as simple as taking advantage of technology, outsourcing when needed, using emailing for communication, and learning how to delegate. Spending a little time on improving your company’s efficiency now, can save you significant time in the long run.
The world of business is shifting away from the traditional office space, since more people are making the decision to work from home. Many companies are now hiring home based people to do their marketing, accounting, customer support, and IT. There are freelance websites for individuals who want to start their own business, as well as businesses who strictly hire home based employees. There seems to be an option available for almost every skill set or industry.
The benefits of working from home are priceless and they are hard to resist when the opportunity presents itself. A flexible schedule, no commute, more quality time with your family, and less stress are convincing people to change their focus to something that can give them a better work/life balance. Employees are even willing to make less money for the luxury of working inside of their home.
The internet is creating more home based employees, which seems to be benefiting everyone. Not only are the employees happy that they get to work at-home, the companies benefit because if gives them to option to hire temporary professionals on a part time basis instead of investing in a full time employee’s salary plus benefits. Businesses who are trying to reduce costs in these tough financial times are choosing freelancers at a lower rate without sacrificing on the quality of service. They also will not need to purchase any office space for that employee, which will save them even more money.
Businesses can now also manage their marketing and bookkeeping online, so it can be done from anyone’s home on a part time basis. The internet has transformed these ordinary tasks into efficient systems that can be accessed from anywhere. There are companies online where you can create an invoice, email invoice to the client, and have your account receivable list updated with the new amount all in a matter of minutes.
In many companies, existing employees can choose to work from home at a reduced salary, instead of paying the expense of commuting. They can instantly stay in touch with the main office by using phone, fax, and email. They can also use an online file sharing program, so everyone has access to the same information, regardless of their location. The impressive quality of video conferencing allows teams to brainstorm and meet from anywhere, so there is no need to be in the same room to collaborate on a project. Most companies appreciate the cost savings and will gladly allow someone to work from home, as long as their productivity does not suffer.
The surge of mobile device use is only going to fuel the work-from-home fire. It won’t be long before traditional commercial space becomes an ancient thing of the past. The joy of being able to work while lounging in the sun with a laptop is too tempting for most people to turn down. Now that the internet has given everyone the ability to stay connected from anywhere, there is no reason to drive to the office, just to get work done.