business advice

Financial Benefits of Security Investments for Business

business angelRunning a successful business requires a great deal of work. It’s not enough just to do the work, you have to take various other aspects into consideration, from advertising in order to develop a strong customer base to making sure that your business is properly protected from any potential legal recourse.

It doesn’t just benefit your business overall to invest in security measures; in the long-term, it’s also a wise move from a financial perspective. By investing in security for your business, you can save money whilst protecting your most important assets. This is especially true for small to medium sized businesses who stand to lose more than a big corporation or brand name.

There are various security measures that businesses can take in order to keep their enterprises safe, providing your business with cost-effective and efficient protection.

Physical Measures

Some companies take extra precautions to keep their business secure. A common practice is to hire security staff to monitor the premises overnight, though this isn’t always practical smaller businesses that don’t necessarily have the budget to outsource in this way.

Alternatively, you can invest in physical security measures such as electrified and motorised fences from a company like Paramount Steel.

Insurance

Though it seems cynical, businesses should expect the worst in order to cover all the bases. A good insurance policy will keep your business protected and covered for a variety of possibilities and potential incidents, from attempted burglaries and vandalism to on site accidents that couldn’t be avoided.

Incidents like this can set your business back in a big way financially, but a good insurance policy will prevent you from making any significant losses and get you back on track as soon as possible.

insurance_deals

Software

It’s not just about physically protecting your assets in business, it’s also important that you consider the non-physical aspects as well. Most businesses do the majority of their work with computers and online, so keeping your files safe is extremely important, especially if you deal with sensitive third party information, financial data and so on.

There are plenty of data security options to help companies keep their most important files safe from hacking and any major error that could have a serious impact.

Mistakes cost money, and mistakes do happen, but by investing in proper security measures businesses can protect themselves and benefit financially in the long term. After all, less incidents means that more money goes back into the business rather than being paid out to clear up the mess.


Signs Your Making The Holiday Stand Out

The holiday season is always a great time to introduce a new advertising campaign for your retail business. Starting on Black Friday, America really gets into the shopping mood. What better time to let them know about your store? Unfortunately, your competition will be thinking the same thing. The question becomes: how do you attract attention when so many stores are fighting for it? The answer may be vehicle wraps.

While car wraps and banners are nothing new, they are much more unusual than circulars and billboards. The more unusual your ad campaign, the more likely it is that people will actually notice it. This is what you want. By draping your company vehicles in promotional signage, you essentially become a driving advertisement for your store. If your ads are creative and eye-catching, you may even be able to parlay your car wraps into some social media buzz.

Here are some of the reasons you should consider vehicle graphics this holiday season.

Reach a Wider Audience

Every touch point of your brand is an opportunity to tell your story. Diversifying the mediums you use to communicate that story helps you cast a wider net. Plus, if you’re already advertising on the Internet, in print or on billboards, vehicle wraps give you one more place to create impressions. By diversifying your campaign strategy with vehicle wraps, you can reach that wider audience and expand your customer base.
Red Bull Promotional Vehicle from FASTSIGNS

 Mobile

If you advertise on a website, you wait for potential customers to use that site before they can see your banner. If you put up a billboard, you hope that people will take that route. With vehicle wraps, you can take your advertisements anywhere you want. What other form of advertising lets you reach customers at the mall, in the park, out on the freeway, and in local neighborhoods all in a single day?

Cost Effective

Vehicle wraps are comparatively inexpensive, making them the perfect solution for a company with a limited advertising budget. When you factor in visibility and attractiveness to the equation, car decals may be one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising available to local businesses.

Local

Though national chain stores like Wal-Mart have proven that people like convenience and low prices, there is still a significant portion of the population that believes in supporting local business. By driving your car around town with banners that promote your store, you are showing these potential customers that you are local. Don’t underestimate the psychological effect this can have on the community. If people have a choice about where they spend their discretionary income, they might just choose to support the local business.

Safe and Non Permanent

If you get your vehicle wraps done through a reputable, specialized company, you won’t have to worry about the ads damaging your car’s paint job. If this is the only concern that has kept you from trying out this powerful form of advertising, drop those doubts at the door.

Subtle

Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,00 today. That much advertising can get to be somewhat of a sensory overload. During the holiday season in particular, commercials reach a fever pitch. With custom vehicle graphics, advertisers reap the benefits from a much more subtle approach to brand building.

Subtle Vehicle Wraps with FASTSIGNS

Road Rules

Are you ready to apply some quality graphics on your car? Great! The sooner you get started, the better you’ll be able to tap into that holiday shopping fever. But go into your campaign with criteria. You want to be a mobile promoter, but you don’t want to be a driving distraction. Put your phone number on the decals, but hold off on things like QR codes that invite people to interact with your ads while they are driving.

Additionally, watch your own driving. Once that vehicle wrap goes on, you will be representing your company around the clock. Make sure your road etiquette reflect that fact, and make sure your employees do the same when driving the cars.

One of the most difficult things to do in business is get customers to take action. By using car decals to get your message across, you are able to hit your target when potential customers are already out of the house and in the shopping mood.

Featured images:

Alison Johnston is a writer for FASTSIGNS, the leader in visual communication solutions.


Bringing a Business Back From The Graveyard of The Recession

Bringing a Business Back From The Graveyard of The Recession

financial advice

Many post-recession attempts to bring a business “back from the grave” leave the “revived” company looking more like a zombie than the benefactor of a glorious resurrection. While analysis does suggest that the recession has ended, residual effects are still resonating within SMEs in every industry. Fortunately with a bit of research, dedication, and patience, any company can rebound and become lucrative again.

Debt Restructuring

The first step to recovery is eliminating debt in order to free up cash flow and allow for unrestricted expansion. The primary detrimental effect that the recession had on most businesses was sending them into a downward debt spiral. Some debt restructuring options to consider include:

  • Formal or informal negotiations – you can contact creditors independently or contract a professional to draft and propose an official company voluntary arrangement (CVA).
  • Consolidation loans – transferring all of your debts to a single lender will simplify management by centralizing monthly repayments, while also reducing the total interest owed.
  • Asset financing – even if your company has bad credit you may be able to take out a secured loan by offering up some of your assets as collateral. The funds could then be used to repay debts or invest in the business.

Finding New Ways to Source Leads

Once your debts are in order you need to start focusing on progression by finding new ways to advertise and reach your target audience. If you don’t have an official website and you haven’t been using the internet then that is probably one of the reasons why you struggled during the recession. Consider some of these options for sourcing new leads:

  • PPC advertising – pay-per-click ads let you pay for advertising based on results and puts your ad in front of targeted visitors.
  • Joint ventures – cooperate with other companies in your industry and offer them a commission for referring clients.
  • Search engine optimization –  although this is a long-term strategy that requires a bit of patience, within a few months you could be ranking at the top of the search engines for keywords that have a high commercial value, ultimately leading to increased sales and conversions.
  • Banner Ads – placing banner advertisements on sites in your niche can be a surprisingly effective way to spread brand awareness and attract visitors.

How Have Others Survived and Thrived?

To really understand how to recession-proof a business, consider the attributes of companies that survived and thrived through the recent recession. These companies fulfilled a need, supplied a product with a growing demand, and/or had low operating costs that allowed them to maintain high profit margins. Overall, innovators and brands with extensive awareness faired best during the recession. For example, Snuggie, the maker of the world-famous portable blanket sensation, managed to sell 20 million units in the height of the recession (2009), primarily because of the uniqueness of the product and the marketing outreach.

Preparing For Another Crisis

Now that your debts are being eliminated and you’re bringing in new business, it is time to take some precautions to prevent being taken off-guard by another financial crisis. Set aside a percentage of your monthly profits in a savings account to be used in times of hardship. Create an investment portfolio and invest in precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. Try to keep your employee count and payroll low, consolidating positions whenever possible. Finally, reduce dependency on other companies like suppliers or advertising partners so that your success is not riding on theirs.

Debt restructuring and formulating a new profitable business strategy can be hard and some situations are more complex than even experienced business people can deal with. At that point it is best to consider bringing in a company rescue professional. There are specialists that deal with sole trader rescue and others that deal with the whole spectrum of businesses. Just be careful to do your research and ensure that you aren’t being given advice that serves to line the pockets of the supposed advisors than resurrect your business.

Attached Images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=recovery&ex=2#ai:MP900449128|

Written by Jason Morrison on behalf of Trust Deed Scotland — a renowned debt recovery agency based in the UK.


Five Common Mistakes Regarding Travel & Entertainment Deductions

Five Common Mistakes Regarding Travel & Entertainment Deductions

Expenses for entertaining and travel are one of the most common expenses that small and medium sized businesses have to make. They are also one of the areas of expenses that cause the most confusion and seem to have the most unexpected complications for people when filling out their tax forms. That’s because of some common mistakes people make when calculating their entertaining and travel deductions. This article will look at these common mistakes:

(1) You Can Deduct 100% of the Cost of Business Entertaining and Business Meals.

Of course you can’t. In fact, when you take a client, vendor, customer or potential partner out to lunch, dinner, social event or even drinks, you are only permitted to deduct 50% of the total spend. That 50% is the absolute limit you can deduct, regardless of whether you only spend a couple of dollars or as much as $200. So you take a client out for dinner and a sports event and spend $400 for the evening. You can claim $200 on your tax return.

(2) You Can Deduct the Cost of Your Daily Commute.

It doesn’t matter what area you work in, where your job is based or how far you have to travel to get to work. You are not allowed to put in a claim for travel that is considered to be commuting to work. Commuting is classed as a non-deductible expense. There are exceptions however. If for example you are moving heavy equipment that is part of your job, (such as large machinery or a particularly large musical instrument) then you will be able to deduct the cost of that bit of your journey. Similarly, from the moment you arrive at your job or workplace, any journey you make for the purposes of your job or your business, is immediately deductible. And lastly, if you are one of the thousands of people who work from home and you have declared your home as your place of business then any journey you make from your home for business purposes is considered deductible and not classed as a commute.

(3) There is a Limit to How Much You Are Permitted to Deduct

Actually, there is no upper limit on the amount you can claim for entertaining or travel expenses. The only stipulation really is that the money you spend on entertaining should not be ‘lavish and extravagant.’ Clearly this is open to wide interpretation. The money a high flying headhunter spends on wooing a major banker will obviously be far more lavish than the money a small law firm in a small town spends on a new client. It’s up to you and your accountant to work out whether the amount you spend on expenses is appropriate.

(4) You Need to Keep Receipts for Everything.

In fact it is not necessary to keep receipts for anything less than $75 when it comes to your travel and entertainment expenses (with the exception of hotel bills). So, if you take a client for a couple of beers then pay for them to take a taxi back to the station and it all comes to about $30 then you don’t need to keep the receipts. On the other hand it never hurts to keep them anyway, just for your own financial housekeeping and in case the IRS ever decides to doubt you!

(5) You Can’t Combine Business and Pleasure When It Comes to Travel Expenses

Under certain circumstances you can. One example would be taking your family with you on a business trip. Should you be making a business trip within the US and making a deduction for the trip, it doesn’t matter if you bring your family or partner with you, the deduction is still allowed. Obviously you could not include any additional costs for the trip as a result of your family coming with you (such as sightseeing or additional hotel rooms) but the costs of the primary reason for the journey (including travel, expenses, business hotel rooms etc)  will all be deductible.

 

Esther is a financial blogger. She writes about everything from small business advice to financial software and from taxes to mortgages to where to find a good financing company.


%d bloggers like this: