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By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

Employees at small and mid-size firms spend more than half their days on necessary but completely unproductive tasks, according to a survey by business phone system Fonality . Roughly 14 percent spent their time duplicating information, including forwarding emails, calling to confirm information and dealing with spam and unsolicited phone calls. With so much time wasted, it’s difficult to know how to streamline your day to stay as productive as possible. Here are a few automation and productivity hacks to help keep your office focused:

Organize internal communication

Some business believe there can never be too much internal communication. If your company falls into this category, streamline your system by carving out a time and space to share information. Hold a weekly staff meeting to discuss internal matters or set-up an account on  Asana  to keep conversation in one place. The software works to unify team members without endless emails. Managers can set up tasks, mark them for follow-up, approve them or set-up a calendar as needed. It keeps communication in one interface without circulating chain emails for weeks to get one thing accomplished.

Go paperless

According to PC World, printer ink alone runs a whopping $20 to $35 per cartridge. But how much documentation do you really need to store in your office? Scan old files, contracts and receipts and store them in a secure cloud system like  Mozy . Such systems allow you to set security features and restrict file access to specific team members. Share links to download paperwork as needed or forward on to clients. Uploading paperwork to the cloud also serves as a back-up to your important documents and files.

Automate tasks

Which tasks do you find yourself doing over and over? Email marketing and correspondence often tops the list. Outsource your  email marketing campaigns  to AWeber or Mail Chimp to automatically deploy specific marketing messages when a customer buys a specific product or inquires about your services online. Consider hiring a remote, virtual assistant to deal with spam, common email questions and client requests to filter and organize into appropriate folders. Simply log in and field important correspondence without ever seeing the mess.

Lease equipment

Skip the hassle of finding a lender to purchase your office equipment and  lease it instead . Negotiate a lease with a maintenance plan to save yourself time and money servicing your equipment and furniture repairs. Want the latest technology in your office? It may prove too expensive to purchase it yourself, but could be well within reach when leasing.

Hold yourself accountable

What are you really doing online at the office? Services like RescueTime can track and chart your daily habits online and time spent on applications. For example, it can tell you exactly how much time you spent on a client call or email, and generates reports to see exactly how you’ve spent your time. It also sets up alerts to let you know when you’ve spent a specific amount of time on an activity, and can even block distracting websites that might tempt you away from real work.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

The best retail stores have a recipe for success that combines unmatched customer service with a product mix built to meet consumer needs. But why limit the customer experience to in-store visitors? A 2013 study by eMarketer estimates U.S. consumers spent $37.44 billion on retail purchases made via smartphones and tablets. More than sales, your Web prospects offer valuable insight into future marketing strategies. Taking an offline and online approach to leverage the customer experience can catapult your retail business to greater success.

Low-Cost Visibility

Customers seek instant access to wants and needs, be it a drive or click away. A study by Accenture confirms that  88 percent of shoppers look online for products  before deciding to go into a physical store to make a purchase. Not providing consumers with multiple purchasing platforms narrows the window of prospective buyers. Expand your reach without destroying your budget by adding an online shopping experience. In an instant gratification-driven market, transaction ease is key to profitability, regardless of the product. For example, mattress manufacturer Casper takes a digital approach to a once retail-only shopping experience. Rather than limiting mattress sales to in-store-only purchases, Casper expands its reach nationally with a hassle-free solution to bed buying. The appeal of online ordering and fast shipping is enhanced with cost-reduced options made possible, in part, by overhead cost savings.

Get Started Tip:  User-friendly website builders like  Weebly  provide easy shopping cart options that enable fast product uploads. To save time, the program templates are automatically optimized for mobile use.


Build your Brand

Becoming a household name, or even a neighborhood favorite, takes knowing your customer. An e-commerce platform acts as a testing ground for new products and marketing strategies to help you gather valuable insight into consumer needs. More than demographics, it’s imperative to mine personal data including customer likes, dislikes, life stage, and social interests. Take e-commerce giant Wayfair for example. According to Forbes, the company constantly probes and processes information about its customers to interact with them, anticipate their wishful thinking, personalize their home pages and turn search into a form of entertainment. The  Web-only furniture and home decor retailer  hit record numbers with a reported $1 billion in web sales in 2013. Powered by educated consumer observations, the company has expanded their brand portfolio to include Joss & Main, a flash sales site for upscale home goods.

Get Started Tip:  Use your e-commerce site to pinpoint your market. Web-based tools like Get Satisfaction enable small businesses to build online communities and provide a more social support experience to improve customer loyalty.


The Customer Experience

Adding an e-commerce platform doesn’t mean abandoning the brick-and-mortar strategy. Omni-channel retailing isn’t about creating one-way streets. It’s about connecting the cloud with physical space and streamlining the customer experience. Consider the strategy behind Warby Parker. An online retailer that offers $95 single-vision frames in 27 proprietary styles.  A simple concept that has grown  into a growing number of online sales. To enhance the customer experience, full service retail stores have opened New York City, Boston and Los Angeles. Complete with a photo booth that emails visitors their images and a tablet-based checkout, consumers can expect the same modern and engaged feel within Warby Parker’s physical store locations.

Get Started Tip:  More than meeting customers on their own terms and in their preferred platforms, your company culture should transcend across all platforms. Incorporate digital strategies in-store and promote online community by engaging in social media.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager
KSBDC

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

The following article is excerpted from Entrepreneur.com.  

Don’t Overpay Your Taxes: 5 Can’t Miss Small-Business Deductions

It’s tax time and whether they know it or not, small-business owners might be leaving hundreds, even thousands of dollars off the table.

“Numerous businesses overpay their taxes every year by overlooking various tax deductions,”   says Michael Raanan, a former IRS revenue officer who is president of Santa Ana, Calif.-based Landmark Tax Group.

In some cases, entrepreneurs simply aren’t aware of the deductions available. In others, they don’t keep detailed records or shy away from itemizing or complicated number crunching, habits that can be costly in the long run.

To save you headaches, money and time, we’ve reached out to our tax experts for oft-missed deductions to discuss with your tax professional as the IRS’ April 15 tax filing deadline approaches.

The 5 areas of tax deductions to consider include:  

1.) Business related meals & entertainment
2.) Automobile expenses
3.) Home office deduction
4.) Startup costs
5.) Employee expenses
 

To find out more, read the full story, “Don’t Overpay Your Taxes: 5 Can’t Miss Small-Business Deductions” .  And, as always, the KSBDC recommends that you consult with your local CPA or tax professional to maximize your legal business deductions while minimizing your chances of being audited.

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

As an entrepreneur, you tend to be all things to all people. You are the chief executive officer as well as the chief sales person and the chief light bulb changer. One of the keys to being a successful start-up owner is to understand you do not know everything. You need to surround yourself with good people who are experts in the areas you are not. Hiring an accountant will prevent you from making costly mistakes and may even help you make more money.

Keep The Feds Away

If you plan to have employees, then payroll and taxes become a significant issue. You can hire a payroll company to handle your payroll but they charge for the service and often need a cash reserve for new companies. Payroll and taxes are two areas you want to do right. People depend on their paychecks to survive and the IRS can charge as much as 25 percent in penalties for not depositing payroll taxes properly and within the allotted timeframe. Make sure your accountant has payroll knowledge during the hiring process.

Running Your Business

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants has defined some  best practices for accountants . An accountant organizes data and processes financial decisions. At the end of the day, you want to know how much money you make and how to make more. Your accountant’s job is to organize your revenue and expense information in such a way that you understand where your money comes from and who you need to pay. This allows you to make informed decisions about creating new revenue streams or cutting old expenses.

Financial Advisor

There is a difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant, one of the most important being that a  bookkeeper  does not prepare financial statements. When applying for a loan, you need financial statements. You also need them to attract investors, write a business plan, and for almost any other function of running a business. An accounting degree is not necessary to be a bookkeeper. But a degree and certification is necessary to  become an accountant .

Make Even More Money For You

For-profit businesses can take a page from the nonprofit sector when it comes to the financial officer’s role. One of the jobs of the accountant or the financial executive is to find more money for the company. One of your accountant’s job functions need to be researching other funding streams, including grants, government contracts, and other paperwork heavy revenue opportunities.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015
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By Robbi Meisel 06 Jan, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Jan. 5, 2017) – The Kentucky Small Business Development Center significantly contributed to the state and federal economy during the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to an independent study conducted by James J. Chrisman, professor of management, Mississippi State University. The study was completed in June 2016 and shows that small businesses working with the center increased sales and employment figures at a greater percentage than an average business in Kentucky. KSBDC clients increased sales by 14.4 percent versus 3.8 percent, and increased employment levels by 15.1 percent compared to 1.5 percent.

Other findings from the Chrisman study:

  • KSBDC clients created 1,156 new jobs.
  • For every dollar invested in the program, $2.63 returned to the economy.
  • For every dollar invested in KSBDC counseling services, $9.47 returned to the economy.
  • KSBDC clients obtained $58.9 million in financing.
  • KSBDC clients increased incremental sales in Kentucky by $108.4 million.
  • KSBDC clients generated $8.55 million dollars in state and federal tax revenue.
  • Clients gave KSBDC staff a 4.7 on a 5-point scale for knowledge and expertise.
  • Clients recommended KSBDC services 98 percent of the time.

“KSBDC staff work very hard to serve Kentucky small businesses. We are very proud of the results of this independent, third-party research and are very pleased with the impact produced by our network,” said Becky Naugle, state director.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 13 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel , 859-257-7668

 

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

 

By Robbi Meisel 18 Oct, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Oct. 18, 2016) –The Office of Veterans Business Development recognized Patricia Krausman, director of the Elizabethtown Small Business Development Center, as one of the six most outstanding instructors for the 2016 Boots 2 Business program.

Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. It is a training track within the U.S. Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. The curriculum provides valuable assistance for transitioning service members who are exploring business ownership or other self-employment opportunities. The program leads them through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and providing the foundation required to develop a business plan. In addition, participants are introduced to Small Business Administration partners and resources.

The recognition was based on the instructors’ contributions and dedication to the program and to service members, veterans and spouses in their business ownership endeavors. Nominations for this achievement came from Small Business Administration offices across the country.

Krausman has provided business management consulting and training for more than 20 years. In 2009, she developed and served as the director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center’s Veterans Assistance Program, the resource for veteran business support and advocacy. Additionally, she was chosen as A Veteran’s Small Business Advocate of the Year in 2013 by the Kentucky Small Business Administration. She takes an active role in her work and advocacy, serving as a member of the Kentucky Commission on Small Business Advocacy, the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board and the Governor’s Veterans Interagency Task Force. She was awarded the prestigious Kentucky Association for Economic Development Allied Professional of the Year in 2014.

“The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has a long-standing commitment to veterans and veteran-owned businesses. Boots 2 Business is a program specifically designed by the Small Business Administration and its resource partners to ensure that veterans have expert guidance and direction in their path to entrepreneurship,” Krausman said. “It’s an honor to be included in the recognition of outstanding instructors for the national SBA Boots 2 Business program. Veterans are exceptional entrepreneurs, and it is rewarding to have the opportunity to support them in their successful transition to small-business ownership.”

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 13 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Photo provided by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center –Patricia Krausman. ©KSBDC

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel , 859-257-7668

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

 

By Robbi Meisel 14 Jun, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In anticipation of the many business opportunities that could stem from the construction of a new federal prison in Roxana, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, in partnership with Letcher County Fiscal Court, is sponsoring When Opportunity Knocks, a luncheon and resource fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT June 22 at the Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg.

During lunch, local business owners will share how they answered the knock of opportunity and found success. The event is free and seating is limited; preregistration is required. Reservations can be made online at http://tinyurl.com/j9rdjtf .

At the event, organizers will discuss a three-part series of training events. Series topics will include general business and government contracting. The first event will take place 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 at the Whitesburg campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Training will also take place at 6 p.m. July 26 and August 9. Prior to each training event, a resource fair will begin at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit http://www.ksbdc.org/moving-forward-letcher-county or email Shawn Rogers at movingforwardletcher@ksbdc.org .

KSBDC, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 13 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

Other partners include: Kentucky Small Business Development Centers at Pikeville and Ashland, Southeast Small Business Development Center, Small Business Administration, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Kentucky Innovation Network – Pikeville , Kentucky River Area Development District, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises Inc. and Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet – Minority and Women Business Enterprise Certification.

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