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- 05/09/19--06:30: _25 Excel shortcuts ...
- 05/10/19--06:30: _5 ways to wow with ...
- 05/10/19--06:30: _How to simplify onl...
- 05/10/19--12:24: _Entrepreneurs and W...
- 05/13/19--06:30: _Web accessibility i...
- 05/14/19--06:30: _6 best mileage trac...
- 05/15/19--06:30: _What is hypertarget...
- 05/16/19--06:30: _15 web design blogs...
- 05/16/19--06:30: _How to flag a Yelp ...
- 05/17/19--06:26: _The Top Three Boome...
- 05/17/19--06:30: _10 small business f...
- 05/17/19--06:31: _The Global Small Bu...
- 05/17/19--06:56: _Want to Get Approve...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _#RemoteCOO #RemoteC...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _Need a #BusinessCon...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _#RemoteCOO #RemoteC...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _#RemoteCOO #RemoteC...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _#RemoteCOO #RemoteC...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _#RemoteCOO #RemoteC...
- 05/17/19--16:01: _#RemoteCOO #RemoteC...
- 05/09/19--06:30: 25 Excel shortcuts for faster, better spreadsheets
- Move up through a selection of cells.
- Jump to top or bottom of the spreadsheet.
- Fill in cell with data from adjacent cell.
- Insert new sheets.
- Quickly format anything.
- Add multiple rows or columns.
- Choose how to paste information.
- One-click select all.
- Lookup function arguments.
- Add a date or a timestamp anywhere.
- Access print preview dialog.
- Easily select an entire row or column.
- Create, edit, run and delete macros.
- Delete a row or a column.
- Increase or decrease font size.
- Add comments to any cell.
- Automatically add cells.
- Hide rows quickly.
- Switch between open workbooks.
- Search the spreadsheet or replace data.
- Insert a function.
- Remove spaces with TRIM.
- Copy formula down the entire column.
- Work with ranges.
- Start by going to to the column that has data.
- Press Ctrl+Down to go to the bottom.
- Move one cell to the right.
- Use the shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + UP to select the new column which contains the formula you created.
- Press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.
- 05/10/19--06:30: 5 ways to wow with customer service on social media
- Always respond.
- Respond in a timely manner.
- Ask questions.
- Be personable.
- Use the customer’s name.
- Thank the customer for reaching out.
- Pick out details the customer mentioned and address them directly.
- Apologize if necessary and ask questions.
- Be friendly, but keep it professional.
- 05/10/19--06:30: How to simplify online scheduling with Microsoft Bookings
- A choice of services
- A method for choosing a date and time
- Somewhere to add their personal details
- 05/10/19--12:24: Entrepreneurs and Work/Life Balance — The Struggle is Real
- Small business owner says they lose four hours of free time every week to handle business matters.
- 41% of small business owners say they often get pulled away to deal with business matters when trying to take a break.
- Only 36% of small business owners report they generally have a somewhat healthy work/life balance.
- 81% stress the importance of responding to customer inquiries in a timely manner.
- 71% strive to always be available/reachable to their customers during business hours.
- 64% recognize the importance of answering calls professionally.
- make and receive calls using their business number to keep their personal number private
- set their business hours to receive calls during this window so they don’t receive calls during their personal time
- send and receive texts and pictures from their business number and see all communications with a customer in one place
- install the app on their current smartphone – there’s no new equipment to buy
- 05/13/19--06:30: Web accessibility issues with 5 popular site elements
- Make sure the tab order of the form is correct and logical.
- Have the correct
labelin place for each field.
- Employ skip nav links where possible.
- Check to ensure that links are clearly visible, usually through underlining and/or prominent colors.
- Include the
- 05/14/19--06:30: 6 best mileage tracker apps for small businesses
- QuickBooks Self Employed.
- Basic plan: free, limited to 40 trips per month
- Premium plan: $5.99/month or $59.99/year (paid annually)
- Teams plan: (enterprise) pricing available upon request
- MileIQ is included with Microsoft Office 365 from GoDaddy, in the Business Premium plan, with pricing starting at $9.99 user/month
- Automatic mileage tracking: Yes
- Key features: Intuitive software learns your regular routes and locations — after minimal setup, the system runs itself
- Best for: Business owners looking for a mileage tracking system to set and forget with robust reporting capabilities, and companies with multiple employees that need to use the same system to track mileage
- Apple: 4.6 with 16,500 ratings
- Android: 4.5 with 49,523 ratings
- Basic plan: Free, for single users
- Premium plan: $7.99/month or $59.88/year (paid annually)
- Automatic mileage tracking: Yes, available with a premium plan
- Key features: Integrations with other platforms and apps, the ability to track income and expenses to forecast profits and estimate taxes
- Best for: Freelancers, solopreneurs, real estate agents, or self-employed individuals that want an all-in-one expense tracker
- Apple: 4.7 with 4,100 ratings
- Android: 4.5 with 4,077 ratings
- Cost: Self-Employed QuickBooks account: $10/month
- Automatic mileage Tracking: Yes
- Key features: QuickBooks can serve as your entire accounting software; you can add mileage from your tracker directly to invoices
- Best for: Self-employed individuals or small business owners looking for a mileage tracking app that automatically integrates into their accounting system
- Apple: 4.5 with 13,100 ratings
- Android: 4.4 with 19,108 ratings
- Basic plan: $5.99/month or $59.88/year (paid annually)
- Super premium plan: $10 per month
- Automatic mileage tracking: Yes
- Key features: Unlimited mileage tracking, in addition to SmartDriver tools with helpful data and insights
- Best for: Rideshare drivers who want mileage tracking along with advice and tools on locations, routes, and ways to optimize earnings
- Apple: 4.5 with 1,100 ratings
- Android: 4.5 with 2,891 ratings
- Hourly revenue and profit charts
- Heatmaps that plot other drivers’ locations so you can find underserved areas and revenue-maximizing intersections
- A driver-to-driver chat platform
- A compass that analyzes past fares and recommends profitable routes
- Free plan: No automatic tracking, limited to five vehicles
- Basic plan: $2/month
- Premium plan: $4/month
- Enterprise version: pricing available upon request
- Automatic mileage tracking: Yes, with paid versions
- Key features: Lots of options—manual tracking, automatic tracking or plug-in to car’s bluetooth system; can also view routes directly on Google Maps
- Best for: Small businesses with multiple employees/contractors that need to track mileage on one system
- Apple: 4.5 with 755 ratings
- Android: 4.6 with 2,387 ratings
- Basic plan: free, limited to 30 trips per month
- Premium plan: $8/month or $60/year (paid annually)
- Team plan: pricing available upon request
- Automatic mileage tracking: Yes
- Key features: Simplicity, the app creators (and reviewers) confirm the user interface is clean, simple and easy to use
- Best for: Self-employed contractors who want straightforward mileage tracker apps with expense tracking as an option
- Apple: 4.9 out of 5,000 ratings
- Android: 4.7 with 9,993 ratings
- 05/15/19--06:30: What is hypertargeting and how can you use it to grow your business?
- Buyer persona: An in-depth customer profile that outlines who your target customer is by defining their demographics, sociographics, professional roles, values, goals, challenges, influences and buying habits.
- Segmentation : The act of dividing an audience into smaller groups based on their interactions with your brand or their demographics, sociographics, professional roles, values, goals, challenges, influences and buying habits.
- Geo-targeting : The act of targeting a customer based on their location. This could be as broad as targeting by country or as narrow as targeting by zip-code or mile-radius around a location or business.
- Retargeting : The act of sending messages to audiences who have already engaged with your brand. This could include remarketing to people who have visited your website, visited your store, made a purchase, followed your brand on social, signed up for an online opt-in offer, or had any other interaction with your brand.
- Deliver personalized marketing messages that are relevant to what customers actually what and need, and stop sending customers marketing messages about products and services they have no interest in.
- Get a better value for your ad spend because you can reach the right audiences and not spend money on ad campaigns that are reaching the wrong audiences.
- Get qualified leadsfrom people who are likely to become customers, and avoid filling your funnel with uninterested audiences.
- Generate more sales by marketing the right offerings to the right customers on the right platforms.
- Buyer personas: Effective hypertargeting campaigns rely on you knowing exactly who you want to target. So start by creating two to five buyer personas that clearly outline the top types of customers you want to attract.
- Email marketing or customer relationship management (CRM) software: Effective hypertargeting also relies on knowing, documenting, and tracking the people who have interacted with your brand. So set up an email marketing or CRM software that allows you to collect customer contact information and create customer profiles.
- Facebook pixel : A Facebook pixel is a line of code you add to your website to place and trigger cookies on users who interact with your website. It captures information about the people who visit your website and how they use your website so you can learn about your audience and also set up retargeting campaigns.
- Google remarketing tag : Similar to the Facebook Pixel, a Google remarketing tag is a line of code that places and triggers cookies on users for the purpose of collecting information about them and setting up retargeting ads.
- Customer list audience: Creates an audience of people who match your buyer persona. Choose from dozens and dozens of details ranging from life events (if they just got married or started a new job) to purchase activity (if they make online purchases or how often they make purchases) and everything in between.
- Saved audiences: Targets people who are already on your email or text marketing lists. Facebook matches users with your customer contact information and enables you to show them Facebook ads.
- Lookalike audience: Uses your existing audience to find similar audiences. Facebook takes the characteristics of your current list and creates another list of new audiences who match those characteristics.
- Remarketing audiences: Uses Facebook retargeting to target people who have previously engaged with your brand by performing specific actions on your Facebook page (such as liking your page or watching one of your videos) or on your website (such as if they visited a page with a certain keyword or stayed on your site for a certain amount of time).
- The search phrases they use
- Their country, city, or ZIP code
- Their current location (through geofencing
- They type of device they are using
- The pages they have visited on your website
- The activities they performed (or didn’t perform) on your website
- Break your audience or customer base into hypertargeted groups based on their characteristics or activities.
- Create content, marketing messages, and promotions that speak directly to the wants and needs of the specific segments.
- Deliver the content through personalized email and text marketing campaigns.
- Retarget audiences based on how they responded to your campaign.
- Tracking your results and continue to refine, tweak, and improve the process.
- 05/16/19--06:30: 15 web design blogs and news sites to follow
- Best practices and industry standards.
- Resources and freebies.
- 05/16/19--06:30: How to flag a Yelp review in 4 steps
- Click the flag icon.
- Click the most relevant option for flagging.
- Write a concise description of why you reported the review.
- Respond to the review.
- Solidify your business plan.
- Know your numbers.
- Begin to build business credit.
- Establish or strengthen your business’s online presence.
- Do your research.
- FICO assigns a Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) score from 0 to 300.
- Dun & Bradstreet assigns a PAYDEX score from 0 to 100.
- Equifax assigns three scores: a payment index from 0 to 100’ a credit risk score from 101 to 992’ and a business failure score from 1,000 to 1,880.
- Experian assigns a business credit score from 0 to 100.
- Traditional term loans
- Short-term loans
Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool that can be used for more than just accounting. You can use it for social media marketing as well as to keep track of your business operations and various data. So let’s talk about Excel shortcuts.
Once you start using Excel to organize all that information and create various business reports, you’ll realize how time-consuming these tasks can be.
Luckily, there are several handy Excel shortcuts that will help you save time and show you how to use Microsoft Excel more efficiently.
In this post, we’ve rounded up various Excel shortcuts so you can spend more time focusing on work that matters instead of creating reports.
Related: 13 ways to use Excel
Why you should use Excel shortcuts
As mentioned earlier, Excel shortcuts can help you save time when you need to input large amounts of data into your Excel workbook.
Mastering Excel shortcuts also allows you to reduce the chance of human error because you can easily manipulate data and format it without having to stop what you’re doing and apply a certain formatting rule.
Another reason why you should use Excel shortcuts is because you will get a better understanding of Excel, which in turn will allow you to create more complex spreadsheets and reports.
How to use Microsoft Excel more efficiently: 25 Excel shortcuts
Now that we’ve covered why they are useful, here’s a list of the top 25 Excel shortcuts that every business owner should know to speed up their workflow and improve their spreadsheet creation and maintenance.
Let’s get started!
1. Move up through a selection of cells
The Shift + Enter shortcut allows you to move up through a selection of cells in any sheet. It’s useful when you’re working with large amounts of data and need to scroll up to find a particular cell.
2. Jump to top or bottom of the spreadsheet
Press the CTRL + UP or Down arrow to get to the top or bottom of any column in your spreadsheet.
3. Fill in cells with data from cells above
Have you ever needed to repeat the same information in a few cells but not in the entire column? By pressing CTRL and D keys together, you can quickly fill in the cell with the information from the cell above. Alternatively, click in the cell that holds the information you need to repeat and then drag the handle down by x amount of cells.
4. Fill in cell with data from adjacent cell
Similarly to the shortcut above, you can quickly fill in the cell with the data from the cell that’s to the left of it by pressing CTRL + R. It’s useful when you need to repeat the same information in row cells — but not the entire row. You can also simply select the cell holding the data you need to repeat and drag the handle down across the needed number of cells.
5. Insert new sheets
Use the Shift + F11 to quickly insert new sheet into your current workbook. While you can certainly click the + sign at the bottom of the sheet, this shortcut is a much faster way of achieving the same thing and you can repeat it as many times as you want. Be sure to reorder the sheets to the correct order when you’re done adding them.
6. Quickly format anything
This shortcut is a lifesaver when it comes to formatting cells, rows, objects, and pretty much anything else in Excel. Simply select the information you want to format, use the CTRL + 1 shortcut, and Excel will bring up a dialog box with all the formatting options for that object.
In a similar fashion, you can quickly add borders around selected cells by using ALT+H shortcut on PC. To achieve the same on a Mac, use the CMD+ALT+0 shortcut.
7. Add multiple rows or columns
Using the CTRL + + shortcut, you can easily add as many rows or columns you need. Simply click on the column name or row number to select the entire row or column and use the shortcut as many times as you need to add more rows and columns.
8. Choose how to paste information
If you need to paste data from an external source, use CTRL + ALT + V. It will bring up the Paste Special Box where you can choose how you’d like to paste your data in. You can paste it as text only or with special formatting, and more.
9. One-click select all
You probably know that CTRL + A or CMD + A allows you to select all of the information in a sheet. However, there is an easier way to select everything in your spreadsheet. Simply click the top corner button of the sheet and watch the magic happen as the entire sheet gets highlighted.
10. Look up function arguments
No matter how often you use Excel, there are times when you can’t remember exactly how to write a specific function. Use the CTRL + A shortcut to look up any function arguments and learn more about the function.
For example, if you type in = match in an empty cell and then press CTRL + A, you will see the Function Arguments dialog popup. You can then see exactly which arguments any function takes and you can also click the right-hand side window to learn more about that particular function.
11. Add a date or a timestamp anywhere
If you’re updating spreadsheet with new information on a regular schedule, you probably know that entering time or date manually can be cumbersome. By entering CTRL + :, you can quickly add a timestamp while the CTRL + ; allows you to insert today’s date.
12. Access print preview dialog
Whenever you need to print your worksheet, take a few minutes of your time to preview how the sheet will look when printed. Press CTRL and P together to quickly enter Print preview mode. You can then easily make adjustments so that your sheet or workbook prints out exactly as you want it.
13. Easily select an entire row or column
There are times when you need to select an entire row or column. However, if you’re deep in your spreadsheet scrolling to the beginning of the row or column is tedious, not to mention a waste of time. Use Shift + Space to select an entire row and CTRL + Space to select an entire column no matter how far down or across you are in the spreadsheet.
14. Create, edit, run and delete macros
If you’ve used Excel for any length of time, you are aware of Excel Macros. They are one of Excel’s most powerful features that allow you to automate repetitive tasks. Save time creating or editing your macros by pressing ALT + F8 keys together.
15. Delete a row or a column
Press CTRL + – to delete the row that’s above a highlighted cell or a column on the left of it. By pressing the CTRL and the – together, you will get a small popup window that allows you to shift cells up or left which effectively deletes the row above or the left column.
16. Increase or decrease font size
If you ever want to quickly adjust the text size in your worksheets, all you have to do is press CTRL + SHIFT +. as many times as you want. This particular shortcut will increase text size. If you want to decrease the font size, press CTRL + SHIFT +,.
17. Add comments to any cell
If you’re collaborating with someone on a spreadsheet, you might need to leave them a comment or add your input. You can quickly do so without sending an email or messing up the spreadsheet with the following shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + F2 for PC and CMD + SHIFT + F2 for Mac.
18. Automatically add cells
You can save time in your workflow by automatically adding all values. Use the shortcut CMD + SHIFT + T to automatically add all of the selected cells. It’s useful when you want to quickly check the values before inserting the SUM function or when you don’t need to add it but still want to get the total value of the cells.
19. Hide rows quickly
Sometimes, you might need to hide rows quickly. In such situations, you can use a handy shortcut instead of manually selecting rows, right-clicking them, and selecting hide. Simply press CTRL+ 9 on both PC and Mac to hide selected rows.
20. Switch between open workbooks
As a small business owner, it’s not uncommon to have several different Excel workbooks for different purposes. You might have a workbook to keep track of your sales, another one for your social media campaigns, and a third one to plan out your content. You can quickly switch between open workbooks by using the CTRL + Tab shortcut.
21. Search the spreadsheet or replace data
Use the CTRL + F shortcut to quickly search your spreadsheet. You will see the Find and Replace window pop up where you can specify whether you want to search the current sheet or the entire workbook, if you need to match case and to replace the information once or throughout the spreadsheet.
22. Insert a function
Excel functions can get quite complicated. The good news is that you don’t have to memorize them all. You also don’t have to know the exact syntax of the function. All you have to do is press = button or Shift + F3. Doing so will bring up the Formula Builder dialog where you can look up a specific function and quickly add it to your sheet.
23. Remove spaces with TRIM
Extra spaces in your columns and rows can lead to a lot of trouble when you’re working with Excel. You could be trying to calculate the value of rows and cells and get only zeros as a result. Another issue with spaces is that you cannot effectively compare cell values.
You can easily fix this by using the TRIM function. Simply type =TRIM(A1) into a new cell, where A1 is the cell you want to remove spaces from, and Excel will automatically strip any excess spaces from the specified cell.
24. Copy formula down the entire column
If you’ve added a formula in a new column and want to use it down the entire column, you can easily copy it with the CTRL + D shortcut. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
25. Work with ranges
A named range in Excel can be used in several ways. You can use it for data validation, to create bookmarks in your spreadsheets or to refer your formulas to the exact same cell. You can easily choose a specific name range by using the CTRL + G shortcut. It will bring up the Go To dialog. If the name range is something simple, you can select it from the list. If your name range is more complicated, type it in and press OK.
Final thoughts on Excel shortcuts
Excel shortcuts are incredibly helpful when it comes to working with different Excel files. And when you’re learning how to use Microsoft Excel, shortcuts can make all the difference in the world.
With the help of these Excel shortcuts and tricks, you will be able to speed up your workflow, save time, and spend more time analyzing data instead of compiling it.
The post 25 Excel shortcuts for faster, better spreadsheets appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
As a small business owner, you know how important it is to show your guests excellent customer service, but did you know that consumers’ high expectations also carry over to your social media presence? Droves of customers are turning to social media to effectively get their problems resolved. Time is a commodity.
In fact, 33% of consumers prefer to contact brands on social media rather than with a phone call.
This means that each and every mention, comment and post that comes in for your business on social media has the power to influence a customer’s opinion of your business and his or her likelihood to come by for a visit.
Skillfully handling customer questions and requests on your business’s social media pages can be the difference between impressing a customer or losing their business.
5 ways to wow with customer service on social media
Here’s how to up your customer service game on social media to keep your customers coming back again and again:
Just because your business has a social media presence doesn’t mean you’re truly listening and providing good customer service.
You might already be monitoring the conversations about your brand. But social listening requires more. You need to absorb the information and the conversations taking place while also being able to provide additional insight.
Every conversation in your social listening feed offers something of value. You just have to pay attention.
As an example, let’s turn the tables.
Consider the last time you needed to call customer service. Did the customer service representative take down your request and provide one of the top three solutions to any problem? Or did the rep actually answer your questions in a quick yet personal and satisfactory way? As a customer in that situation, you were seeking resolution of your issue, not just simply that someone was available to service your complaint.
The primary lesson: You cannot simply implement social monitoring. You must engage in social listening to truly provide a better customer experience.
Twitter is a great tool for social listening because you can see all tweets from any user with a public profile.
Twitter also offers a number of integrated, free listening tools. If you are managing accounts across multiple social media platforms, here’s a good rundown of other tools at your fingertips.
Also, is your social media management integrated with your customer service operation?
In larger organizations, the marketing and communications department may own social media channels while traditional customer service is handled through a separate process. In that case, you’ll want to make sure both functions are coordinated so you can manage the inquiries efficiently and effectively.
One final point on social media listening for better customer service is to realize that customer requests and expectations will continue to evolve over time.
Your customers will move to new social networks and find new ways to communicate with you.
2. Always respond
If a customer at your store or restaurant approached with a question, you’d help them find the answer. It’s the same on social media.
Engaging with your customers online helps them feel heard.
Customers are three times more likely to recommend your business after a positive social media customer service interaction.
Many of these reach-outs from your current and potential customers on social media will be requests for business information, questions about your products and services, real-time notifications of their visit to your business, or descriptions of previous experiences.
It’s important to respond to all of these communications in order to seem accessible, appreciative and responsive to your customers.
3. Respond in a timely manner
When customers reach out to you on social media with questions or comments, make sure that they get a response in a timely manner.
If it’s a complaint, you don’t want to let it fester unresolved.
And if it’s positive feedback, you don’t want to let those comments sit without saying, “thank you.”
A survey from Edison Research found that two out of every three people who engage with a company on social media expect a response the same day. Not only do customers want a fast response, but they want the response to be personalized to their specific problem.
Expectations run high. But the good news is that there’s a strong customer service payoff for brands who are on top of their social media game.
When they see management respond to reviews, 78% of consumers say they are more likely to believe that the business cares about them and their feedback.
You can do this by monitoring your Facebook and Twitter closely for any reviews, questions, mentions, complaints or concerns. Responding in a timely fashion, to both positive feedback and questions and concerns, is a great way to impress your customers and show them you’re listening.
4. Ask questions
When an issue is sensitive, don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can better get to the core of the issue.
A complaint or concern that comes in on your social media channels might not be something you were even aware of in-house. So, when responding to this kind of review, ask questions like, “What night did you come in for dinner?” or “Can you tell us what you ordered?”
You can also reach out to your staff to get a better understanding of what might have occurred to help inform your response to that customer.
If it really does seem to be an error your business made, apologize and ask for another chance to show the customer a better experience.
If it seems like the kind of issue that would be resolved more quickly offline, send your business’ email and phone number, so the customer can reach your business directly.
5. Be personable
Remember, your responses aren’t just for the person who reached out, but for anyone who might be checking out your business online.
Here’s how you can respond to both customer concerns and positive feedback:
Above all, just remember to be you.
Your personable response will go a long way for your customers.
Taking the time to make your online customer service as exceptional on social media as it is in person will impress your customers and keep them coming back to your business!
Need some extra help with your social media customer service efforts? GoDaddy Social can help you extend your customer service online and elevate your social media marketing strategy to engage with your customers like never before.
This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Bryant Tutterow.
The post 5 ways to wow with customer service on social media appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. This is especially true for small businesses that offer a service based around appointment scheduling — such as hair studios or those in the door-to-door sales industry. If you run a similar business, you’ll need a highly efficient way of moving potential customers through the conversion funnel — and online scheduling might do the trick.
However, the answer to creating a more effective process doesn’t necessarily involve handling every aspect in house. Instead, you’ll want to automate the majority of the steps and get the customers themselves to take on some of the strain and make key decisions.
Wouldn’t you jump at the ability to minimize no-shows with automated reminders for your customers and staff?
With Microsoft Bookings set up and in place, you can avoid conflicts by sending appointment confirmations and notifications to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Microsoft Bookings also allows you to set up a reminder email, which is sent based on how much notice you want to give before the appointment. Your customers can then add online appointments to their personal calendars with just a few clicks.
Everyone knows where they need to be and when. No-shows alleviated!
In this post, we’ll look at how manually managing your appointments could result in trouble. Then, we’ll look at how the Microsoft Bookings app can help with practically every aspect of the online appointment scheduling process. We’ll close with how to get Microsoft Bookings.
Let’s get started!
The problems with managing appointments and bookings manually
A service business — especially one that handles appointments — lives and dies by its ability to make sure customers are seen to efficiently. In fact, you could argue that all-around efficiency is the key to a successful small business.
What’s more, this effect is magnified when your income relies on setting a revolving door of customers in motion. The importance of managing your appointments and bookings appropriately can’t be overstated. Let’s start with a hypothetical:
You: Let’s get together Thursday and hammer out the details.
Your Customer: I’m booked solid Thursday. How about Friday?
You: I’m off Friday — three-day weekend. How about next Tuesday?
Your Customer: Drat, I have a previous engagement for Tuesday.
Sound familiar? Ask your staff, and most will probably admit they are busy and over-tasked.
Arranging a meetup to find a date and time that works for all involved can become a real science fair project. That is, unless you offer online scheduling. Then, your conversation might go more like this:
You: Check your email — I just sent you a link to my calendar. Book the date/time that works for you and I’ll send you a confirmation and reminder email.
Your Customer: Outstanding! It’s a pleasure doing business with you.
You simply don’t have time or energy for going back and forth, trying to nail down a date for an important meeting, many times ending at a discouraging stalemate.
The fact is, without online appointment scheduling, your business will experience lost productivity and efficiency.
This means having to regularly reschedule meetings when date/time conflicts arise — or when an appointment is forgotten or missed. The domino effect kicks in and results in an efficiency nightmare.
Many try to control the situation themselves on an in-house basis. On the surface, this is a tempting idea for a number of reasons. Most importantly, if you’re responsible for overseeing all aspects of your booking system, there’s only one place to look if something goes wrong.
While this simplicity can be comforting, there are also plenty of pitfalls involved.
To start with, you won’t necessarily feel any better about letting down a customer because you’ve handled their request personally. After all, you’re the one who’s failed to add their details to your schedule.
Likewise, you’re likely to lose a customer if you forget to set a reminder in your favorite calendar app.
You’ll find that the scope for human error is high when it comes to scheduling appointments — and the manual approach is often inferior to a system that’s designed intentionally for an optimal and organized workflow.
A closer look at Microsoft Bookings
If you’re looking for a better way to handle online scheduling, the answer might lie in a somewhat lesser-known Microsoft app.
Microsoft Bookings is a sleek and sophisticated way of scheduling times, making appointments and empowering the end user to get in touch with you.
This app offers a central booking page for your customers to peruse, containing everything they need to know about the services you offer and the times you’re available. Online appointment scheduling lets you retain control over what information is presented, while letting the customer make a decision based on their own scheduling considerations.
This makes doing business with you effortless, even when you’re not available to answer the phone or in front of a computer to respond to an email.
All customers have to do is first select the service they want and then, based on the availability you provide, choose a day and time when you or your staff are available. Then they enter their contact information and book the appointment.
It’s that easy.
You’re afforded more time to focus on your business’s needs, since almost all correspondence via Bookings can be automated. This is a significant time-saver, as are the automatic reminders customers will receive when their appointments are getting close.
Right after your customer schedules the appointment, they are sent an email confirmation with an option to add the appointment to their calendar. Outlook and Google calendar integration is available and helps contacts tie everything together.
For those customers who prefer to speak with you when making appointments, you can enter information manually and all confirmations and reminders will be sent as usual.
Those reminders in particular are crucial, since decreasing the number of no-shows is vital for maximizing your business’ revenue.
It’s easy to see how having a schedule packed full of solid prospects and potential customers is better than a calendar full of iffy leads and time-wasters.
Getting started with Microsoft Bookings
You’ll generally need to offer customers at least three things when they’re looking to make a booking or appointment:
A functional booking page for online scheduling will consist of these elements. In Microsoft Bookings, you can find corresponding customization screens for each in your main dashboard.
The Services tab, for example, lets you set a name, description, location and specific duration for a particular service.
You can also include buffer time that customers can’t book within, to avoid last-minute scheduling.
Then, the appointment itself and the customer’s details are added to the Calendar and Customers tabs.
Having all of this information under one roof is a very convenient way to manage online scheduling.
Although your customers won’t see the administrative side of your scheduling process, they will surely appreciate the end result!
Microsoft Bookings is responsive and works across platforms
Your Bookings web page is simple to use and looks great on both larger screens and mobile devices. This is extremely important for those businesses that rely on smartphones and tablets to keep their businesses on track.
You’ll also have full access to your customer, staff and calendar info where and when you need it with the Microsoft Bookings mobile app.
You can quickly come to rely on the app to email, call or text customers, or create new appointments, all from your phone. Tap, tap — done.
Standing out from the competition
Bookings beats out many of its competitors in ease of use, convenience and integration with the applications your business and customers are already using in their day-to-day activities.
For example, Facebook integration. If your customers are on Facebook, they’ll enjoy the ability to book with you in two clicks.
Once customers click Book Now, all their information is auto-completed for them based on their Facebook account. They simply have to click Book, and they’re done!
Additionally, when communicating with customers, you can link to your scheduling page from an email, your business’s website or your Facebook page. Offering online appointment scheduling simplifies scheduling and cuts down on that frustrating phone tag that we’ve all experienced.
What’s more, your customizable public web page lets your customers find available times and book appointments 24/7 at their convenience.
In the background, you can manage your private calendar schedule and those time-saving automatic confirmations and reminders. Specifying the services, times and staff that are visible on that calendar is up to you and can be done from any device, at any time of the day or night.
How to get Microsoft Bookings
Access to online appointment scheduling with Microsoft Bookings is easier to get than you might expect. This is especially true if you’re an existing GoDaddy customer.
Wondering how to get Microsoft Bookings? It’s a snap.
GoDaddy has partnered with Microsoft to provide round-the-clock access to the Office 365 suite of tools. The Business Premium plan includes versions of all the classic Microsoft Office favorites, such as Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Of course, Bookings is also part of the suite, which means you’ll have practically everything you need to run your business efficiently, right at your fingertips.
What’s more, the Business Premium plan is a steal given the value in the overall package (it includes other business tools as well, including DocuSign and MileIQ).
Closing thoughts on online scheduling
When it comes to offering appointment-based services, the best approach is to make the experience as easy as possible for your customers. Offering online appointment scheduling is a smart way to accomplish this — and to save yourself valuable time.
Microsoft Bookings is one of the best solutions for doing just that.
It’s an efficient method of letting each customer choose their appointment date and time, sending automatic reminders, and keeping all of your bookings organized. Fortunately, it’s available via a Office 365 from GoDaddy Business Premium subscription.
This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy Blog by Judith Kallos.
The post How to simplify online scheduling with Microsoft Bookings appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
With over 30.2 million small businesses in 2018 employing 58.9 million people across the United States, it’s no wonder small businesses are known as the lifeblood of the American economy. Whether you’re running a small mom and pop ice cream shop, or taking care of people’s car problems so they can get to work and kid’s soccer games, entrepreneurs dedicate much of their time serving their customers and community.
In a survey commissioned by GoDaddy, 500 small business owners provided valuable insights into their worries, as well as their efforts to strike a balance between their professional and personal lives.
When entrepreneurs aren’t working, they’re thinking about working
The survey revealed that entrepreneurs’ top concerns were making money and attracting new customers, spending an average of 8 hours a week worrying about their business outside of working hours. That’s a full 17 days a year dedicated to worrying. Over half of small business owners say they have trouble switching off from work during their free time.
The survey also found:
These numbers show that maintaining work/life balance is not a walk in the park for many entrepreneurs. In fact, half the respondents pointed to not having enough time and having too much work as the top factors that get in the way.
However, entrepreneurs recognize the importance of enriching their personal lives. Sixty three percent of them say they spend time taking care of themselves, while 56% strike a balance by taking a vacation. They also emphasized the importance of scheduling personal time as a priority.
Finding work-life balance is a constant struggle
“Small business owners dedicate a huge part of their lives tirelessly taking care of business,” said Melissa Schneider, GoDaddy’s VP of Global Marketing and trend expert. “Owning a business and trying to enjoy life outside work can be an especially tough balancing act. That’s why GoDaddy is focused on arming everyday entrepreneurs with an arsenal of tools that not only deliver results, but help them start, grow, and run their businesses efficiently. We believe this, in turn, helps them lead better, more fulfilling personal lives.”
The survey also delved into understanding the tools and tips that can help small business owners be more productive. One of the significant insights derived from this study is entrepreneurs’ usage of their personal phone for business, revealing that close to 40% of small business owners spend between one to three hours a week taking care of business on the phone.
1:1 conversations with customers are crucial for entrepreneurs
It’s no surprise that more than half of small business owners consider how valuable 1:1 conversations are to their business. After all, this is an important way by which they can show professionalism to their clients:
Especially pertinent to answering calls professionally, the survey also revealed some less than appropriate ways small business owners took business calls on their personal phone because they were unaware that call was for business.
Respondents shared that at one point one of them opened a call with, “hey baby,” while another confessed to saying “hello” in a silly voice. Much worse, someone employed a “mean voice” because they thought it was a robocall. Along the same vein, the study found that 40% of small business owners said knowing whether an incoming call is a business or personal call would be helpful in managing their productivity.
Separating Personal and Work Calls with SmartLine
GoDaddy’s SmartLine app allows users to differentiate business and personal calls by providing customers a second phone number for their business on the smartphone they already have. In addition, with SmartLine small business owners can:
The post Entrepreneurs and Work/Life Balance — The Struggle is Real appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
For many reasons, web accessibility issues are currently a front-page topic. As such, it’s a good time to reassess whether your sites are part of the solution or part of the problem.
To help you out, in this post we’ll discuss how a number of often-used web elements can actually hamper your site’s accessibility. Of course, we’ll also chat about the best path toward making sure you’re not on the wrong side of the fence.
Let’s get right to work!
Why does web accessibility matter?
In general parlance, accessibility can mean several things. From a high-concept standpoint, it’s about how easily you can obtain what you need. When it comes to the web, however, we’re looking at a more concrete meaning for the term.
When browsing a website, there are plenty of elements that can potentially serve as an annoyance, hindrance or roadblock to a visitor’s desired action — especially for those with physical or mental impairments.
Even simple aspects, such as the choice of color for your design, can severely hamper user experience (UX) for visually challenged users.
There are many types of people with impairments who are presented with web accessibility issues. This means there are several parts of your website that might need some work.
Watch out for web accessibility issues with these 5 popular site elements
At this point, we’re going to look at five elements that most websites have, which can create web accessibility issues if not handled carefully. When it comes to addressing these aspects of your site’s design, we’ll be taking our cue from the A11Y Project, a community-driven way of making web accessibility easier. The five elements are:
Let’s start addressing these issues one by one.
First, let’s discuss sliders (also called carousels). They’ve been a staple of the web for a while, and are a popular method for showcasing a lot of content. However, sliders also have many detractors.
As it turns out, sliders are actually pretty terrible for accessibility. They can be confusing to navigate, and are often hard or impossible for screen reader technology to make sense of.
If that’s not a strong enough argument, sliders are also bad news for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).
Rather than go through all the reasons here to avoid sliders — of which there are many — we’ll simply point you toward the excellent Yoast SEO blog post on the matter. Think twice before adopting a slider or carousel on your next site. It’s accessibility might be at stake!
Anyone who’s tried to navigate a poorly designed form with a keyboard knows this can spell disaster for accessibility.
Forms are one of the most crucial elements to get right, as they represent the end of your conversion funnel.
As such, it’s worth spending the time needed to get everything in order.
A11Y guidelines recommend taking the following steps to improve all forms on your site:
Fortunately, many of these tasks are taken care of by popular WordPress accessibility plugins. However, it’s still worth double-checking each element before your forms go live.
You might not think that links could cause web accessibility issues — but you’d be wrong. Fortunately, there are only a few things you need to get right with links, and their accessibility value usually comes down to simple elements such as colors and sizes.
After that, practically everyone will find the following beneficial:
For those using screen readers, the last two items on the list are especially important. This should be reason enough to implement them on your site.
This is one aspect many people skip, as colors are often pre-determined — especially if you’re dealing with a brand that has a defined visual look. However, your site’s colors impact many types of visitors, so you don’t want to just ignore them.
For example, the earlier you can test your design’s contrast levels, the better.
Colors that are too similar can make it difficult to tell various elements apart, and to navigate your site seamlessly.
A tool such as Contrast Ratio can help you improve your site’s visuals for all users, regardless of their specific impairment.
Color blindness in particular can be a challenge to account for, as there are multiple types you need to consider. Toptal’s Colorblind Web Page Filter tool lets you see how well your site is optimized for each variety of colorblindness, helping you make it accessible for all.
This final web accessibility element is a little broad, but crucial. When it comes to text, there are plenty of aspects that warrant your attention.
Given that text is arguably your site’s most important ingredient, you should at the very least focus on making it enjoyable and accessible for everyone to read.
For starters, those with visual impairments will find their screen readers much easier to use when there are language attributes included in your pages’ HTML (such as lang=“en”).
Also, using semantic headings and clear structures will help all users read through your content, regardless of their primary method for doing so.
Images also have a role to play, of course, especially since someone who is visually impaired won’t be able to view them. That’s where alt text comes in handy by providing a written description of each image.
Our advice for writing alt text is to be as descriptive as possible, without being overly wordy.
Time to get started
Making sure a website is accessible for all potential visitors is often low on the list of web development priorities. However, to do this is essentially stating that some visitors aren’t as important as others. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
While there are a ton of elements that could cause web accessibility issues, you’d do well to focus on the most popular — and therefore most used — elements. The A11Y Project offers a library of patterns that can help you get started, while a little research and common sense can take care of the rest!
The post Web accessibility issues with 5 popular site elements appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
Mileage tracker apps are a valuable tool for both small business owners and their teams. If your operations cause you or your employees to track travel that needs to be reimbursed, billed to clients — or if you want to deduct the expense of business travel on your tax return — the logistics can be a nightmare.
Manually recording time, travel, distance, the purpose of the trip, and receipts into a central location can be cumbersome for even the most organized person. Mileage tracking apps can do all the work for you, store valuable information and make reimbursements or deductions a painless process.
6 best mileage tracker apps for small businesses
While there are multiple mileage tracker apps, we’ve reviewed six of the best. Check out the costs, key features, pros and cons of each app.
A common feature of mileage tracker apps is automatic tracking, which is when an app uses the GPS on your smartphone to automatically track any car ride, and then logs that into your account. You’ll note we’ve explained if the apps include this feature and any specifications. App ratings are based on a five-point star system.
Let’s jump in.
Editor’s note: All features and prices listed are accurate at the time of publication.
MileIQ has intelligent software capabilities that recognize frequent trips and allow you to flag regular routes and locations. After you flag or confirm those routes, they’ll automatically be classified. You can also set work hours, including customized shifts. Anytime you drive during those times, miles will be tracked. Hours can be customizable, which is beneficial for owners or employees that work different hours each week.
The main benefit to MileIQ is ease of use — you can set up the app and have it run in the background of your phone.
There’s a simple swiping functionality when reviewing trips: swipe right for business, left for personal. The reporting system is fairly robust and can be accessed via your mobile device or the desktop dashboard.
While the free plan is limited to 40 trips per month, if your business is already using Microsoft Office 365, the premium version of the app is included at no cost.
Paid plans are on par with other options. The enterprise version is meant for teams with multiple employees that need to complete a mileage log approved by an administrator.
A potential drawback could be that the system only tracks miles. If you want a combined expense-tracking program or advanced accounting capabilities, options like Hurdlr might be a better option. Although you can integrate your MileIQ with QuickBooks or Freshbooks.
Hurdlr is a full-fledged expense tracker that you can use to track any business expense. This app is beneficial for anyone looking for more than just a mileage tracker. You can also integrate income into the accounting system to estimate taxes (based on expenses versus income).
What sets this app apart are the integrations with popular gig-economy platforms, like Upwork, as well as Airbnb and real estate-specific features.
The company markets themselves to self-employed contractors, freelancers, independent real estate agents and those who make supplemental income via renting homes. One downside is that automatic mileage tracking is not available on the free version.
QuickBooks offers a self-employed version (SEQB) with the lowest price tag, in comparison to their other business plans that also include mileage tracker apps. The automatic tracker works in the background of your smart device and records your travels via GPS. You can also manually add mileage as well.
The unique selling point with SEQB is the built-in functionality via the accounting platform.
Mileage from the app can automatically populate into your TurboTax account when you’re doing taxes (if you have it connected). You can also download IRS-compliant forms to give to your CPA or accountant.
If you charge clients for mileage, QuickBooks lets you add the mileage directly to a client’s invoice.
SEQB is only meant for one person. If you have employees, you’d be better to check out options like MileIQ enterprise or TripLog. Even for solopreneurs, a potential drawback is that SEQB cannot upgrade to another small business QuickBooks account. So if you plan to expand or add new employees, there might be extra work to switch over accounts.
Many business owners have side hustles to bring in extra income. If your side gigs include ridesharing for Uber or Lyft, SherpaShare stands out from other mileage tracker apps. It not only tracks all of your mileage for tax deductions but offers deep analytics to help you improve your driving profitability.
SherpaShare’s offers SmartDriver Tools that include:
You can use this mileage tracker app if you’re not a rideshare driver. But with the price tag and primary focus, it’s value is best used by Uber or Lyft drivers. For other business owners or solopreneurs, try out the other mileage tracker apps on the list.
With TripLog you can have multiple cars and drivers on one tracking system. A feature that sets TripLog apart from other mileage tracker apps is the various options for tracking miles: manual tracking, automatic tracking, connection to vehicle Bluetooth, iBeacon, OBD-II, Plug-N-Go and app widgets.
The enterprise version of TripLog is feature-rich. Not only does it support multiple drivers, but the administrator of the account can set-up variable rates, per diems, as well as track fuel purchases.
One con is that the free version only allows for manually adding trips, which slightly defeats the purpose of mileage tracker apps. However, the basic and premium plans are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of other apps.
Everlance is the highest rated mileage tracker app on the list. It’s a complete expense tracker, so you can keep tabs on mileage with the automated GPS system on your smart device, as well as record other expenses. The app’s accounting system generates IRS-compliant forms with itemized expenses for deductions at tax time.
Similar to MileIQ, with Everlance you can swipe to quickly categorize your trips as personal or business. While this app was rated the best mileage app for small business, it also boasts some big name corporate customers on their enterprise platform, like Century21 and Coca-Cola.
The free version is limited to 30 trips per month, so if you’re looking an unlimited, low-cost mileage tracker app, you might want to turn to another option.
Automate your reporting with mileage tracker apps
If you’ve ever attempted to guesstimate your mileage as a contractor or business owner, you know it isn’t an easy process. Reimbursing employees for mileage can also be difficult and drawn-out.
Mileage tracker apps make it easy to keep an up-to-date record of all business related driving, whether it be for you or your team members.
Apps allow you to set up the program and track mileage with limited time and management required. Use these business tools to minimize admin tasks, automate your reporting — and then use the extra time to focus on high-level tasks to grow your business.
When you know exactly who your target customers are and how to reach them, building and growing your business becomes much easier. That is why every business owner needs to know about hypertargeting.
What is hypertargeting?
Hypertargeting is a marketing strategy where you clearly identify a target customer and deliver extremely relevant messages in the places where they will be most likely to see it.
To fully understand hypertargeting, it helps to also understand the following definitions:
What are the benefits of hypertargeting?
Hypertargeting that uses these tactics and methods is extremely powerful because it helps you:
When executed properly, hypertargeting can make it easier for you to connect with customers, generate leads, and increase your sales .
How can you use hypertargeting for your business?
What you need to get started with hypertargeting
To launch hypertargeting strategies, you need a few things.
3 ways to leverage hypertargeting
While there are many ways to leverage and use hypertargeting, let’s look at the three most powerful strategies.
1. Hypertarget on Facebook
Because of its advanced targeting features, Facebook advertising is perfect for hypertargeting campaigns. You can target specific people by making a variety of audience lists.
2. Hypertarget through Google ads
Google also makes it easy to target ideal customers. You can pay for ads as paid placements on search engine results pages (SERPs) or displays ads on third-party websites. Using pay-per-click (PPC) or display ads, you can target users based on:
3. Hypertarget through email marketing
You can also engage in hypertargetting right from your own customer database using CRM and email segmentation. To engage in CRM and email segmentation:
Editor’s note: GoDaddy Email Marketing makes setting up email campaigns easy. With plans ranging from 500 contacts to 5,000, as well as 24/7 support and professional templates, you can get your email marketing up and running in no time.
Grow your business with hypertargeting
Now that you know what hypertargeting is, why it is such an effective way to deliver marketing messages, and how you can use it to grow your business, put these tactics to work.
Get started by learning how to create buyer personas for your ideal customers.
Starting with a detailed description of your target customer will help you launch more effective and impressive Facebook, Google, and email hypertargeting campaigns.
The post What is hypertargeting and how can you use it to grow your business? appeared first on GoDaddy Blog.
Like many things in life, the world of web design is continually evolving, so much that it can be hard to stay on top of the latest web design blogs and trends.
It can be tough especially for beginner web designers and developers to soak up all of the information that’s out there nowadays on modern design, mobile-friendly websites, UI/UX and even just getting up to speed on the ever growing list of industry standards and best practices.
What are the best web design blogs and sites?
For those who want to cut the line and get right to the good stuff, we’ve curated a list of the best web design blogs and web design news sites out there today.
Check our 15 web design blogs and web design news sites, for beginner and advanced web designers, in the following categories:
To make things easy, we’ve categorized the list so you can pick and choose the different areas of your skill set that you want to refine and continue to develop.
Best practices and industry standards
As the popular saying goes: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Ensure your web design success by keeping up with the latest best practices and industry standards in the industry.
1. A List Apart
There is no better way to get yourself immersed into the best practices and industry standards of web design than A List Apart. The blog is largely popular in the world of web design for being an authority in best practices (largely due to the fact that it’s been around since 1997!).
You can find topics related to design, development and content strategy in a very digestible format that’s easy to comprehend and understand even for beginners.
2. Webflow Blog
The Webflow blog is another great resource for web designers to catch up on web design news and trends, while also soaking up the essentials every web designer needs to know to stay in line with industry standards and best practices.
The blog is neatly organized into “reading lists” that make it easy to find the content you’re looking for. Some of their reading lists include: how not to, SEO, UI/UX design, freelance lifestyle, and of of course, essentials.
UI/UX web design news
Improve the user experience on every new web design you create with these top blogs:
For starters, Smashing Magazine is undeniably the most popular blog in web design news. This is not only only of the longest standing web design blogs (launched in 2006), but they provide some of the most useful information you can find in the field of web design and development.
One of my favorite things about this blog is that while they track “trends,” they focus on telling the real story regarding what tactics truly work and fail in real-world projects.
Among news, you’ll find book recommendations, industry events, and even web design and development job postings. If you only end up following one blog from this entire list, it should be Smashing Magazine!
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/smashmag/
Web designers, get ready to fall in love with your new favorite blog!
The Mockplus blog has a plethora of design resources not just for web, but also for mobile including iOS and Android. The blog is heavily focused on design prototyping and helping web designers sharpen their skills in the world of UI/UX.
The articles on Mockplus Blog offer guides for user testing methods, web design trends, web design news, web UI mockup tools, and many more design-centric pieces that will keep your web design mind fresh and sharp.
5. UX Booth
Get ready to take your UX skills to a whole new level with UX Booth. This leader among web design blogs is geared towards beginners to intermediate level web designers and developers.
It’s done in a way that can be absorbed by fresh new web designers who want to continue developing their knowledge and understanding of web design elements. Don’t let the name fool you — UX Booth articles are also centered around content strategy, business strategy and research.
WordPress web design blogs
While other web development platforms and content management systems (CMS) are picking up steam, WordPress remains the most popular platform for web designers. These blogs are dedicated to WordPress news, tips and trends.
Love WordPress? You’ll love this blog!
SpeckyBoy is a web design news blog with a main focus on WordPress. You’ll find all things related to the platform like popular WordPress themes , plugins, tips and tutorials, development techniques and hacks, and of course, some UI/UX tips — all written by a team of WordPress experts.
If WordPress is your thing, you will want to bookmark this blog to stay ahead of the curve with all WordPress updates.
Another WordPress fan favorite at the top of the list is WPKube, one of the web design blogs dedicated to writing on WordPress tutorials, news, plugin recommendations, security — and even troubleshooting guides for common WordPress problems.
Want to know what’s going on in the world of WordPress at any given time? Torque is a leading blog in WordPress web design news that’s published by WP Engine, a hosting service that’s solely dedicated to WordPress websites.
The blog is updated consistently with the latest news and trends so you can always be up to date.
What better place to get your WordPress news than from the people that live and breathe it every single day? Get insights, news, tips and guides to build better WordPress sites and tricks to maintain them more efficiently and securely.
Inspirational web design blogs
Drawing a blank on a design for your new client ? The following web design blogs we’ve picked are going to give you all the creative juices you need.
Whether you need a modern, fresh design, or something classic that takes advantage of the latest best practices, you’re sure to find something inspiring within one of these blogs:
When it comes to finding inspiration, Web Designer Depot is one of the most popular web design blogs that never fails to provide some fresh new design ideas. It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck on the overall design layout for a site, or the finding a web font that fits.
Web Designer Depot can give you inspiration with apps, branding, fonts, illustration, and responsive design.
Keep this one bookmarked, just in case you need a creative boost in any project.
Need some help inspiring some creativity in the graphic design department? This blog truly understands the needs of the graphic design community and their articles and posts reflect that.
DesignrFix has got you covered with graphic design inspiration, tutorials and web design resources.
DesignrFix also has no shortage of deals on software, tools and online courses that will help improve your graphic design skills. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the freebies section for some free stuff!
Twitter : https://twitter.com/designrfix
This is one of our web design blogs that does a phenomenal job of providing highly curated designs and illustrations related to web design and graphic design in general.
From the moment you enter the blog you can start flipping through some of the latest top designs floating around the web, including a “Sites of the Day” section that highlights some of the latest, beautiful web designs.
If you’re looking for some feedback on some of your work, you can submit it and receive constructive feedback from the Awwwards community of web designers.
Resources and freebies
Who doesn’t love a little bit of free stuff? These blogs are going to give you a handful of new resources to keep bookmarked for future reference and free stuff that you can add to your arsenal of web design tools to make your job easier and faster.
Instantshift publishes a lot of how-to’s, UI/UX guides, and other web design news and trends articles.
What really sets this web design blog apart is the freebies page that provides a ton of helpful templates and PSD files that will help you start off every project on the right track.
Their freebies also go beyond that, as they also give away things like icon packs, fonts, banners, and other tools to accelerate your career like CV templates, flyer templates and even Photoshop brushes. Time to stock up your tools!
13. Spoon Graphics
The Spoon Graphics blog (written by Chris Spooner himself) can give you a handful of highly curated resources and freebies for any web design project, or even graphic design projects.
The resources page on this blog breaks down several resource categories like fonts, essential creative assets, and products and services.
And of course, don’t forget to check out the freebies page for some free downloads that’ll add an edge to any web design project you might be working on. Oh, and there’s also tutorials and inspiration posts, so make sure to check those out.
Backlinko might not be the place to get your hands on free stuff, but it’s definitely a resource blog that you’ll want to have bookmarked — and an important one, too.
SEO is one of the most essential elements in any successful website, and as a web designer, it’s important that you understand how your design and even content contributes to the success of a website’s SEO strategy.
Backlinko will help you stay up to date with the latest SEO strategies , tactics and news, all in one place.
15. Naldz Graphics
You can always count on Naldz Graphics to give you a lot of free resources and tools that are specific to web design and graphic design. From icons to textures, vector graphics, and even presentation templates to help you pitch your web design to clients, Naldz Graphics has it all.
There’s no limit to what they’ll provide, and there’s new stuff added every single day.
If you need to find niche-specific WordPress themes, this blog also has a curated list of premium WordPress themes you can purchase.
Closing thoughts on web design blogs
We hope you found this list of curated web design blogs and web design news sites helpful. As a new or even intermediate web designer, it can always a be hit or miss finding a great web design blog that gives you all of the useful information and continual learning that’s needed to keep advancing your career.
These web design blogs have all made it to the top of the list due to their dedication and passion for web design and the great content that they publish on a regular basis.
You can trust that these sites are going to give you the reliable information and resources needed to become an industry expert, and to give your clients the knowledge they need when it comes to their web design projects.
Small business owners know that gathering feedback on review sites like Yelp can be extremely helpful to understand their customers and their community. They also know that receiving negative reviews can be damaging to their reputation and can discourage potential customers from visiting their stores, restaurants, salons or auto-repair shops. How do you know when it’s time to flag a Yelp review?
When and how to flag a Yelp review
Even though negative reviews on Yelp can be discouraging, taking the simple step of responding can help to assuage the situation. But what about those negative reviews that are false, inflammatory, for the wrong business or from a former employee?
You can’t pay Yelp or other sites to remove reviews — and getting them taken down can be difficult.
But you can report reviews to Yelp’s content moderators asking them to remove the reviews that go against their guidelines.
Yelp has guidelines in place to prevent these kinds of reviews from overwhelming your business’s page. If a review violates Yelp’s Terms of Service or Content Guidelines, you can report the review to a Yelp administrator who will review your case.
4 steps to flag a Yelp Review
Not sure how to flag a Yelp review? Just follow these four easy steps.
Related: 3 steps to managing reviews online
1. Click the flag icon
From your Yelp for Business Owners account, find the review in question and click the little flag in the bottom right hand corner of the review.
2. Click the most relevant option for flagging
From the drop-down menu, you’ll click the most relevant option for flagging.
The options are different from the Content Guidelines, but you can select whichever option corresponds most closely to the issue. The categories are:
Inappropriate content: It contains threats, lewdness or hate-speech.
Conflicts of interest: It was posted by a competitor or ex-employee.
Promotional content: It contains promotional material.
Relevance: It doesn’t describe a personal consumer experience.
Privacy: It violates Yelp’s privacy standards.
Intellectual property: It violates Yelp’s intellectual property standards.
Demanding payment: The reviewer asks for payment to take down their negative review.
There are also other options, like: “It’s for the wrong business” or “It contains false information,” which you can choose if one of those options is more relevant to your situation.
3. Write a concise description of why you reported the review
It’s important to be professional and to provide evidence where possible when you report a review to Yelp’s moderators. Referencing Yelp’s Content Guidelines in your response can help your case.
4. Respond to the review
It will take three to five business days for Yelp to decide whether the flagged review will remain on the site. They will let you know either way.
The decision is up to Yelp’s content moderators, but there are no guarantees that the review in question will be removed from the site. In the meantime, it’s important to respond and try to get some clarity on the review.
Potential customers can see this response, so make sure you are polite and amenable. You can still point out false information in a review without seeming disagreeable.
Ask questions to get to the bottom of the issue and apologize where necessary. That way, even if the review remains on your site, your customers will see that you took the time to respond because you care about providing excellent customer service at your business.
Ultimately, the best way to overshadow any negative reviews is to respond sincerely, succinctly and professionally in your unique voice to let your customers know you’re listening.
Another good way to overshadow any negative reviews is to get more reviews in general.
Yelp provides stickers that say “Find us on Yelp!” for your brick-and-mortar location so that anyone visiting your business knows that they can share details about their experience at your business on Yelp.
Bring in the good reviews
When it comes to getting more positive reviews, keep those glowing reviews coming in by continuing to provide the service and products that your customers love you for, and by continuing to respond to their feedback (on social media and review sites)!
Being friendly and accessible and providing a great customer experience are the best ways to get positive feedback and keep your business top of mind for your current and potential customers.
GoDaddy Social can help you elevate your reputation management strategy to help you get a handle on your online reviews and save you valuable time.
Often, all it takes is a little money to get the ball rolling for a young (or new) company. But what options are out there to acquire the necessary small business funding that a startup needs to put things in motion and actually begin growing?
Fully understanding the choices available — as well as the process of how to raise capital — are the factors that set many successful young businesses apart from their counterparts.
And while these startup funding options aren’t always intuitive, it only takes a bit of effort to absorb and understand them.
Small business funding guide
This comprehensive guide was created to act as that bit of effort. It aims to help entrepreneurs and small business owners get up to speed on myriad funding options for new and fledgling ventures.
Before we dive into the specific small business funding options, though, we’re going to take a close look at 5 recommended preliminary steps to take prior to exerting energy raising capital (because everyone has to start from somewhere).
Then, we’ll take a deep dive into 10 small business funding strategies (with pros and cons of each) to help you better understand the choices at your disposal, so you can get the financing needed to succeed.
We’ll round out this guide with some additional startup and small business funding options to consider.
Ready? Let’s make it rain!
Editor’s note: This content should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.
Preparing to raise capital: 5 key steps
Raising money may feel like a daunting prospect if you’ve never done so before, but it’s a process that becomes less intimidating with a bit of preparation. Follow these five steps, and you’ll be in good shape when it comes time to meet with banks, investors and other potential contributors of small business funding.
Solidify your business plan
If you’re an established business owner, you already understand the value of a fine-tuned business plan. But if you’re new to the entrepreneurial game or creating your first startup, it’s important to not overlook this key step in the small business funding process.
While viable business plans are comprised of numerous components, there are certain ones that are more critical than others. To create a business plan compelling enough to inspire startup funding, make sure you hash out these four key elements:
Element 1: Your value proposition
If you’re to have any hope of rounding up startup funding from investors, you need to have a well-thought-out value proposition. Understanding what your product or service brings to the table and being able to clearly explain this to others is essential.
If you’ve made it to this stage, you likely have a good idea of what this value element is. But have you explained it in writing before? Have you given anyone the “elevator speech” — the abridged version of what value you’re bringing to the market with your startup?
Element 2: Customer segments and relationships
Unless you’re pitching the next Google-type product, there’s a good chance you won’t be marketing your business to everyone (if you are, best of luck). Since you’ve already hashed out a sound value proposition, you should have a rough idea of what segment of the population might be interested in your product.
Do your research ahead of time, so you have some concrete, quantifiable data to share here.
Writing out your target demographic — including details like projected age range, gender, geographic location, education level, etc. — will help investors assess whether the potential is there or not for your business.
You also want to highlight how you plan to interact with this demographic, because this will (ideally) reflect a better understanding of your audience as well as your ability to connect with them.
Element 3: Revenue streams
What’s your strategy for making money? It’s possible you have several in mind. For instance, maybe you intend on facilitating in-person sales, online credit card processing and even recurring ACH billing for a membership program you have in place.
Note that if you’re planning on opening a business considered risky by banks, you’ll need to work on opening a high-risk merchant account to ensure your revenue continues to actually keep streaming into your coffers.
It’s an encouraging sign to investors that you have your payment processing needs sorted out, and makes your ability to eventually pay them back much more apparent.
Element 4: Key activities and resources
Do you have any competitive advantages or ways of tapping into your industry’s market that set you apart from other businesses? Maybe you plan on simply doing something in a more efficient way than your competitors.
Such details will play a large role in how much your business plan resonates with interested listeners.
Also bring to light what resources you currently have to work with and how they can be wielded to help your customers. Things like human resources, additional capital, intellectual property — these details are valuable, and give your business plan some weight.
If you’re starting from scratch here, that’s OK, but having some type of resource to leverage makes your business instantly more compelling.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that while a business plan is crucial for small business financing and startup funding efforts, it holds more value than just that. Specifically, it acts as a guide that you can constantly turn to during those less stable early stages, plus it can help you in day-to-day operations.
Know your numbers
Some founders shy away from the financials, and put most of their energy into their product or service. While that enthusiasm and passion is ultimately what drives them to run their own business, none of it is possible without a solid understanding of the books.
Even if you decide to separate yourself a bit from the financial side and outsource your funding efforts, you should still learn how to read the statements and projections.
Potential lenders and/or investors will expect a clear explanation of your venture’s key metrics (e.g. gross margin, net income, cash requirements, monthly burn rate), use of proceeds, growth projections and, in the case of investors, their estimated ROI.
Without them your chances of acquiring the small business funding necessary to thrive will greatly diminish.
Begin to build business credit
When you first enter the entrepreneurial world, you soon realize that personal credit can only get you so far as an owner, and that building business credit is imperative to your long-term success.
Taking time to build business credit during the early stages of your startup means that you’re setting yourself up to get approved for the loans needed to expand later.
And while this step is a gradual one, over time it will solidify your financial standing with banks and investors, as well as establish your business as a trustworthy organization to work with.
Plus, as you build business credit your interest rate for loans will gradually decrease. By understanding how business credit works, you can put your business in a better position financially.
The four credit bureaus for businesses
There are four credit bureaus that assign business credit scores:
If you’re in the market for a business loan, the FICO SBSS score is popular with banks for pre-screening, and most require a minimum score of 160. Without any business credit history, the highest possible score is 140, so you can’t rely on great personal credit to obtain a loan.
But remember, lenders could choose to pull any of your business credit scores, so it’s in your best interest to work on all four of them.
How business credit scores are calculated may be complicated, but building your business’s credit doesn’t need to be.
Follow these strategies to help collectively build business credit across all four bureaus.
Strategy 1: Set up an LLC or corporation
You can only build business credit if your business is legally a separate entity from yourself, meaning you’ll have to establish an LLC or a corporation.
While it’s easiest to form an LLC or incorporate your business in your home state, some business owners choose to do so in another state with more favorable business laws for their particular business model.
To further establish your business as a distinct entity and not a sole proprietorship, consider putting together an LLC operating agreement. It’s not required in most states, but having one looks good to investors and creates operational parameters in the event of disputes.
Strategy 2: Make payments on time
Every credit bureau uses your business’s payment history as a factor in determining its credit score. Needless to say you shouldn’t miss or postpone paying your bills, or else all that energy you spent to build business credit will largely be wasted.
If you needed further incentive: Dun & Bradstreet bases its PAYDEX score entirely on payment history, and to get a 100 (their highest score), you’ll need to make payments 30 days in advance of the due date. If that’s too much of a challenge for your particular enterprise, paying on the actual due date results in a score of 80, which still falls in the bureau’s low-risk range.
Strategy 3: Keep your credit utilization below 30 percent
Equifax, Experian and FICO all use credit utilization as a factor in calculating business credit scores, so it’s another factor worth monitoring and addressing.
Credit utilization is the amount of debt your business has compared to the amount of credit it has available. However, what credit bureaus weigh most heavily are balances on revolving lines of credit.
Let’s say that you have multiple business credit cards, and their credit limits add up to cumulative $50,000. If your total spending amounts to $10,000, your credit utilization is at 20 percent.
To effectively build business credit, it’s essential to keep your utilization down.
Strategy 4: Track your credit with each bureau
Unfortunately, free credit reports are a consumer luxury rather than an entrepreneurial one. However, purchasing them through each credit bureau for your business once or twice a year is still a worthwhile investment. Doing so allows you to check your various scores and check for errors.
You might also discover that your business’s credit history is missing information about payments to certain suppliers and lenders. Not every company reports payment information to the credit bureaus. If some of your payments aren’t reflected in your business credit report, you can contact these particular companies and request that they start reporting them.
Establish or strengthen your business’s online presence
Whether you’re running a small mom-and-pop bakery or are aiming to take the world by storm with a revolutionary SaaS platform, you’ll want to have a well-curated online presence. At the time of writing this piece, there were nearly 4.2 billion internet users across the globe. Not using this to your advantage is a big mistake.
You don’t need to run a monster website to receive small business financing, but there are several actions you can take that will increase your chances of impressing lenders and getting the cash you need.
Get a professional domain
A business without a legitimate domain name tied to it does not look great to prospective investors.
Thankfully, this is something that is easily rectified — all you need to do is research available domain names, and buy one that falls within your budget and makes sense from a branding standpoint.
Go ahead — give it a try:
Related: How to buy a domain name
Purchase email addresses for that domain
Domain registrars often provide packages where you can get professional email addresses that include the domain name. This is a smart idea for several reasons.
In terms of startup funding, a business email is simply more authoritative than a generic email account.
Additionally, this type of email address is more likely to stick in the mind of an investor and customer. At the very least, you want your email address to make an impression when communicating with anyone contemplating an investment in your company.
Create a website
You can bet that potential investors, like potential customers, will search for your business online. Having a professional-looking website will likely give you a leg-up in securing small business financing.
And it doesn’t require a big investment of time or money.
Sure, having a highly customized website that covers all the online needs of your business is the dream, but early on, a simple website that covers all the basics will suffice.
You can use an easy DIY website builder to create an effective, professional-looking website in under an hour.
Related: How to start a website from A to Z
Do your research
If you really want to know how to raise capital effectively, it will take time and research.
You might already have some great leads on investors and are feeling optimistic, but keep deep-diving into competitor analysis, hashing out your business plan further, and learning more about the unique angles and resources available to your particular business.
For instance, if you’re a female entrepreneur, there are some excellent business loans for women that you can explore. Likewise, a number of venture capital firms specialize in startup funding for female founders.
Look into angel investors and fundraising organizations in your city, because many such individuals and groups prefer to support local startups.
Taking every angle when approaching the startup funding process will increase your chances of finding suitable contributors.
Of course, the internet hosts plenty of information about small business funding opportunities — even providing them in the form of online platforms that exist solely to source capital.
Finally, doing your due diligence will help assure you’re actually pitching to the right people (i.e. interested ones who share your values). For instance, if you found an opportunity presenting your ideas for a SaaS company to a group only interested in medical technologies, it would be a waste of your time (and theirs).
Investors who have a track record working within your specific industry or at least profess a strong interest in your business model will help you get the startup funding you need.
Be sure to research the investment portfolio and culture of each group you’re appealing to, and then try to find a champion or mentor within that group who seems well-suited to fighting the good fight in the name of your startup.
How to raise capital: 10 small business funding options
There are many ways for industrious entrepreneurs to procure the small business financing they need these days — but which way is the best? The answer is not so simple, and each way comes with pros and cons that you’ll need to consider before going all in on one (or several).
These 10 small business funding options provide an overview of the main choices out there, and give you an idea of how to raise capital successfully.
1. Bootstrapping and personal loans
Originating from the expression “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” bootstrapping involves financing your business entirely with your own money. You’ll start out using your savings, and once you’re earning a profit, you can reinvest that money into your business.
Since you’re only using your money, you avoid paying any interest. Plus, you won’t put your credit score at risk like you would with a credit card or loan. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build business credit as a bootstrapper, however).
You’re also keeping ownership solely in the hands of yourself and your partners, rather than investors who might not have the same vision as you do for the future of your business. If you’re worried that others might steer your company off course, then this may be the best small business funding option available.
A major drawback with bootstrapping is that your resources are simply limited — whatever you’ve got saved in the bank is all you have to work with. Exclusively bootstrapping could end up slowing down the expansion of your business, and turn what could be quick growth into a taxing slog.
Who should consider bootstrapping?
Bootstrapping is the American dream, and as such provides everyone an opportunity to try and run a business their own way. If you’re a freshly minted graduate out of college with hardly a dollar to your name, though, bootstrapping is going to be much more of a grind than if you have a sizeable savings account and have accumulated various assets.
Also, if you’re not prepared to be frugal — with everything —bootstrapping might not be the best choice for you. With resources all coming from your own checkbook, you’ll need to minimize expenses at every possible turn.
If bootstrapping 100% isn’t practical for your particular business model, you can try pairing your own finances with a personal loan. As an aspiring startup, your financial history is likely limited, making the process of getting a business loan more difficult. But you can get a personal loan to help inject some cash into your company’s development.
Your business won’t be considered in your loan application, so if you’ve built a strong credit history over the course of your life, you’ll be in good shape to get a personal loan. Interest rates for those with excellent credit ratings average around 10%-12%, but could be even lower depending on the lender.
If your credit history isn’t respectable, you probably won’t qualify, and even then the rate might be too extreme (upwards of 30%).
Also, the amount you can borrow is much more limited in comparison with a standard business loan, unless you’re already exceptionally wealthy with a pristine credit report. If you’re looking for a six-figure lump sum to kickstart your business, a personal loan isn’t going to get you there.
To qualify for personal loans that have competitive rates, you’ll ideally want good or excellent credit, which requires a FICO score of 690+. And just because you qualify doesn’t mean you’ll want to take the loan at the rate offered.
If your personal bank statements are looking a bit lean and you’re struggling to qualify for various types of loans, hope is not necessarily lost.
One interesting small business funding strategy that has exploded in popularity recently could be your ticket to business growth. Are you ready to give crowdfunding a try?
While many people think of crowdfunding platforms as places where you go to cover the cost of a family member’s surgery or help support a friend’s dream of building homes in impoverished countries, they can also be excellent places to attract startup funding.
With crowdfunding, you’re essentially asking the public to fund small pieces of your business in return for discounts, material goods/products and other established perks.
Crowdfunding is a great way to create hype in the early stages of a business, and it also helps you gauge the demographics who may be interested (or not) in your product or services.
Not to mention, in the event that your campaign fails to reach its desired goal, there’s a lot less to lose than if you have to default on a loan.
Your business ideas could get poached if you haven’t taken the proper measures to legally safeguard them through patents and registered trademarks. You have to go into the process prepared, or else you might get burned.
Who is most suited for crowdfunding?
If you have a business idea and can’t seem to qualify for startup funding, you might want to give crowdfunding a shot. Also, if you’re an effective navigator of the internet and know how to drum up supporters through social media and other consumer channels, it could be a great solution for you.
3. Small business financing via angel investment
Unlike crowdfunding, which focuses on micro contributions from the masses, angel investment is centered around the idea of finding one or several “angel” investors — accredited business types who hope to grow their net worth by providing startup funding to intriguing ventures.
Angel investors are no strangers to small business financing. They’re veterans, likely in the industry or market your business falls under, and they have deep pockets. Suffice to say, a single angel investor can easily contribute more money to your bank account than the other small business funding options outlined in this guide if you inspire them to do so.
Angel investors also didn’t get to this point in life without accumulating business savvy.
Their contributions to your company’s development will go beyond startup funding. They are now invested in your future success, and they’ll do what they can to ensure their ROI.
Plus, if your business fails altogether, they aren’t going to be chasing you down to repay them. They aren’t a bank, and they understand the risks associated with small business funding.
Tracking down angel investing can be an expensive endeavor, because even making a simple pitch includes gathering and preparing your business information, hiring lawyers and accountants, actually pitching and then following up — some of which involve out-of-town travel.
In the last couple of years many angel platforms have moved online, but the documents and processes involved are still costly.
Then, once you’ve procured angel investment, you’re looking at a relationship in which you owe a very high return, simply because financing a startup is a risky proposition. If your company fails, they lose their investment— or if you have future investment rounds, their investments are subject to dilution.
Who should embrace angel investing?
If you’re trying to launch a startup with a brilliant business idea but are miles away from realizing your idea due to a severe lack of funds, angel investment might be for you. Also, if you operate in a competitive industry where a veteran mentor could give you an advantage over other businesses, an angel investor can help you take that next step.
Just don’t forget about the strings associated with this form of small business funding.
4. Equity fundraising
Did you know that as a private company, you’re able to sell shares or ownership in your company? With Title III of the JOBS act (passed in 2016) allowing anyone to invest and gain equity, equity fundraising is now suddenly a viable way to approach small business financing.
Similar to crowdfunding, equity fundraising is a great way of building a devoted following before your product or service is even launched.
However, whereas crowdfunding has an established end point (whenever the goods are delivered, discount provided or service rendered), equity fundraising keeps investors in the game.
This means that the your business suddenly has hundreds (or thousands) of minor shareholders who are incentivized to help your brand succeed long after you launch.
Plus, unlike angel investing where a single investor has immense sway over the direction of your company, small shareholders who contributed money through equity fundraising have much less power.
You’re still in the driver’s seat of your own company, which is an appealing prospect for many.
Sorting out equity when you have hundreds (or thousands) of small investors can be a major legal headache, and might end up costing you money in lawyers or business advisers that you hadn’t accounted for in your business plan.
Also, even though you’re not listed on a public stock exchange, you’re still subject to the rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
If you plan on embracing this small business financing method, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer first.
Who is best suited for equity fundraising?
Owners who have a very clear vision of how their business will progress into the future are best suited for equity fundraising. Such a startup funding method keeps influential figures (in the form of angel investors) out of the equation, and keeps you in a position to call the shots.
Also, companies that could benefit from the help of “brand ambassadors” (in the form of minor equity holders) would also appreciate equity fundraising. Businesses need help to succeed, and forming a small coalition of investors interested in making that happen can be a boon for your company.
5. SBA loans
Loans available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) are aptly named SBA loans, and if you’re wondering how to raise capital without dealing with investors, this may be just what you’re looking for.
Minimum requirements depend on your particular business and its location, but will typically include a good business credit score, a clear future projection of generating income, possible collateral, and a variety of other factors.
SBA loans have been coined the “Holy Grail” of small business loans by certain entrepreneurs across the United States — and for good reason.
From a cost perspective, SBA loans are the often best choice for small business financing because they offer the lowest interest rates (5% to 9%) and fairest terms (many of them lasting up to 25 years at the same interest rate).
You can also apply for large loan amounts — like, in the millions — that can be used for most business purposes, including long-term fixed assets and operating capital.
The issue most businesses encounter when going the SBA loan route is actually qualifying for one.
While SBA loans are the most traditional small business financing option, they’re also the most difficult to obtain because they demand very specific requirements.
For instance, business owners must have excellent personal credit, demonstrate a “sound business purpose,” adhere to a variety of other eligibility guidelines, and even assess their precise business size according to SBA regulations to determine what dollar range they qualify for (if they even qualify at all).
Who should use SBA loans?
The question might be more aptly phrased as “who can qualify for an SBA loan”? If you’ve been operating for several years and have a proven track record of growth, you’ll be in much better shape to apply and receive an SBA loan than someone looking for startup funding.
If you’re trying to use an SBA loan as a startup or young business, you’re going to face much more of an uphill battle. It’s not an impossible feat, but you’ll need to prove you’re a risk worth taking on.
6. Other types of small business and startup loans
Outside of traditional SBA loans, other primary loan options include:
Here’s a quick overview of these three small business financing options offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders, as well as their associated advantages and disadvantages.
While the name implies a small quantity, don’t be fooled — you could borrow up to $50,000 through a microloan. According to Fundera’s Meredith Wood, these types of loans generally start around $500, and SBA microloans average about $13,000 each. Terms last up to six years, and interest rates usually range from 8% to 13%.
Although there are many lenders that offer microloans, the most popular way to find a lender is through the SBA’s Lender Match program.
This program also offers business training, and in some cases requires you to complete that training before it will process your loan application.
When applying for a microloan, expect the lender to ask for proof of income, financial statements and your business plan to show how you intend to use the loan. The lender may also require references.
Pros and cons
If a business credit card doesn’t fit your needs but you can’t qualify for a loan, microloans serve as a nice middle ground. They’re also easier to obtain than business loans, and the interest rates are reasonable.
However, since they generally run through official channels like the SBA, qualifying for one can be more challenging than for other loan types. Also, the amount of money you can get from a microloan is (understandably) not enormous.
If you were looking for a huge boost of capital to get things rolling, a microloan isn’t going to cut it.
Traditional term loans
When most people think of a loan, they’re likely thinking about a traditional term loan. The structure is simple: You take out a loan at an interest rate determined primarily by your credit score and credit history, and incrementally pay it off until it’s fully covered.
Pros and cons
A major advantage of traditional term loans is their timing flexibility — giving borrowers upwards of five years to pay back the loan in full via predictable monthly payments at a fixed rate.
They will also help you build business credit over time, which helps other financing endeavors later on.
However, getting a traditional term loan can end up costing you more time and energy than a short-term loan, plus you’ll likely be required to put up collateral (especially if you’re new to the game). If you’re looking for startup funding, this might not be your ideal solution.
Short-term loans have payment periods that usually last between six and 18 months. They are also offered by credit lenders, banks and the SBA.
Pros and cons
Approval for short-term loans can theoretically happen in a single day, which means you can get your business’s cash-flow going in a pinch. Overall, they’re less of a hassle to set up than traditional term loans and SBA loans, which makes them appealing to many business owners.
However, with this convenience comes higher interest rates and early repayment penalties. Just be aware of what you’re getting into before signing the dotted line.
7. Small business grants
Small business grants are divvied out by a variety of organizations, meaning there are a variety of types that you could potentially qualify for. Some of the main categories of small business grants include:
Small business grants are one of the most coveted forms of startup funding, because who doesn’t like the idea of getting “free” lump sums of money for their startup venture?
Plus, qualifying for a grant isn’t hinging on your excellent business credit or your stellar growth rate, making it extra appealing for those involved in the world of startup funding.
Some entrepreneurs refer to landing a small business grant as capturing a unicorn due to its seemingly impossible nature. While there’s no shortage of small business grants out there for you to apply for, most of them are highly restrictive in who they cater to.
If you’re running a standard small business, have no idea how to raise capital, and were hoping that a small business grant was your golden ticket, you’re likely out of luck.
Who are small business grants for?
They can really be for anyone, but they’re especially useful for women, minorities and veterans due to the numerous grants set up for these particular groups.
If that’s not you, however, there’s still hope.
Local and regional small business grants are sometimes available for various reasons — whether it’s to try and stimulate the economy of a downtown area with some new businesses, or to help beautify a more decrepit part of the city, these opportunities do arise. You can check out the U.S. Economic Development Association for more information regarding regional small business grants.
8. Business credit cards
Looking to build business credit and simultaneously get some of your startup funding out of the way? A business credit card can help you with both.
It’s recommended that anyone getting involved in the world of startups or small business apply for a business credit card, because there’s no other way to establish great business credit.
If you’re looking for short-term financing, a zero-percent annual percentage rate (APR) business credit card is among your best small business funding options. The zero-percent APR lasts for an introductory period, with most ranging between six and 15 months — making it an excellent deal if you can stay on top of paying your bills. Plus, there’s no collateral involved.
Business credit cards also earn you either reward points or cash back, making it a good idea to use one for all your business spending. That way, you’ll be able to maximize your return and build business credit at the same time.
Credit cards are never good for long-term financing because they tend to have higher interest rates than loans.
They are not an all-in-one small business funding solution for savvy business owners, but rather a complementary resource that operates in conjunction with other financing methods.
Also, you’ll need a good credit score to qualify for those zero-percent APR offers, and when the introductory period ends, the card issuer will charge you interest on your current balance. Make sure you have a plan to pay your card off before the APR goes up, or else you’ll be paying the price.
Who should use business credit cards?
If used responsibly, every business owner should consider applying for a business credit card. It’s invaluable to build business credit over time in the event you ever need it, and it’s something that can get you through minor funding bumps instantly without the paperwork.
9. Business credit lines
Not to be confused with business credit cards, business credit lines are another small business funding option available to enterprising owners in need of financing options. While they may operate similarly to their plastic counterpart, there are distinct differences.
Business credit lines operate like business credit cards, but with fewer usage restrictions — making them similar to a loan in terms of flexibility. If you established a line with a bank or an online lender, you’ll have a steady source of funds to shell out at any moment to pay for things like payroll, inventory or even future projects.
They can also be used to build business credit, generally have lower APRs than credit cards, and can be accessed by everyone from startups to established small businesses.
It costs money to establish business credit lines (there are often annual fees), and they are more difficult to qualify for if you’re running a startup. Startups may have better luck with online lenders than banks, since the banking system has a strong aversion to risk.
Also, there are limits to credit lines, whereas loans can often end up being much more substantial sums of money.
Who should use business credit lines?
If you’ve been running a company for even one year and prefer the idea of only borrowing money when you need it, a business credit line might be right for you.
Plus, it gives you a chance to build business credit in a way that may seem more official than using the company credit card.
10. Equipment financing
Without some amount of working capital, you’re going to find it difficult to buy the things you need to start your business. And although you may be focusing on more product-centric spending in the early stages, if you have a physical office you’re going to need equipment.
You’ll find equipment financing options online if that’s a route you’d like to go. Here are some pros and cons of this strategy.
Many of the alternative online lender types who provide equipment financing are ready to take most clients, even those who lack any significant business credit history. Since the equipment itself acts as collateral, creditors have less stringent lending standards.
This means you have a much better chance of getting approved when your business is in startup funding mode.
Plus, lenders are generally willing to finance up to 100% of the equipment’s value. If you’re in need of a small business financing method that’ll allow you to go get that car you need for your new venture, equipment financing can help.
It may be easier to qualify for an equipment loan than many other types of small business funding, but in the end it’s the lenders who are getting the best end of the deal. Interest rates range anywhere from 8% to 30%, depending on several factors, making them a potentially more expensive way of handling your money needs early on.
Who should consider equipment financing?
Equipment financing is ideal for startups, as well as businesses who struggle dealing with banks and more stringent lenders out there like the SBA.
Before you explore this option, remember that it’s possible your startup doesn’t need equipment right away. Be sure to not prematurely finance equipment, or else you’ll be wasting money paying interest for goods you’re not even using yet.
Additional startup and small business funding options to consider
Although we distilled a list of the top 10 small business financing strategies, there are still a variety of other ways to get the startup funding (or any type of funding) you need for your business. Here are a few more ideas to think about:
Enlist a commercial finance broker
Although they don’t act as a direct means of how to raise capital, commercial finance brokers can help you narrow down your available options.
A broker will shop around and discuss possible financing methods with you, and they’re often good at finding you better deals.
A broker could help you save a huge amount of time and by leveraging their experience and expertise effectively. However, since brokers aren’t regulated closely like money lenders are, you should be careful before hiring one, and make sure their reputation is stellar.
Use invoice financing
Invoice financing lets a business obtain an advance based on the value of late, unpaid invoices.
If late-paying clients are affecting your cash flow and choking up your business proceedings, invoice financing is a potentially great solution.
Specifically, it allows you to free up cash that you’ve been owed for an outstanding period, and lets you focus on your actual business rather than hustling delinquent clients.
The way it works
A factoring company will assess the quality of your invoices before deciding on the potential risk involved with lending. They will then advance you a sum worth a certain value of your invoice, collect payments from your clients, and then take back the fee they’re owed before returning any remaining money.
Consider a merchant cash advance
For most business owners, payment processing is an unavoidable part of running business. Did you know that your payment processor likely has merchant cash advances available at your disposal? By giving your provider percentages of your future sales, you can get funding quickly.
Since the advance is agreed upon between a payment processor and their own client (you, the business owner), there is no collateral involved in the process. It’s also fast, doesn’t include fixed monthly payments, and can get you money when banks and lenders turn you away.
Merchant cash advances have higher APRs than traditional term loans (not to mention SBA loans). They also lock you into the same payment processor until your contract expires, which could range from months to even a year and a half or more.
If you’re looking for the one golden solution to your small business funding woes, chances are you won’t find it. The right financing method for your business is likely a combination of the 10+ options listed above, and there are many factors that play a role in determining which pairing (or grouping) is best for you.
The most you can do is be prepared, do your research and explore the choices available to you at this moment in time.
Certain financing doors might be closed to you for now, but they could open in the future.
Understanding what’s out there can help you ascertain when that time comes, so you can get the funds necessary to succeed with the best possible interest rates (because nobody likes to pay interest). Best of luck financing your venture!
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