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How to Automate Your Online Business in 5 Easy Steps

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 27, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 1, 2017

It goes without saying that all business owners want to profit from their ventures. However, not all of them realize that stepping away from the frontline and automating their processes is the fasted, most effective way to ensure growth. Although a hands-on approach is admirable, there’s only so much you can do in a day, but there is no limit to what technology can achieve on your behalf. 

 

Automation is a sustainable way to scale and grow your business, and it’s easier to implement for online companies than those with a physical presence. To help you get started, here are five ways your online business can embrace automation.

 

Automate your Website

In today’s increasingly digital world, your website needs to be your most powerful marketing tool. It should be able to handle all the traffic that comes in, convert visitors into buyers and be optimized for search engines. However, even well-managed websites need maintenance, so it’s best to use a website host who can provide security, technical support, and automatic updates.

 

Automate Your Data

Rather than relying on surveys and polls to provide customer feedback, automate the data collection process by using analytics software. Google Analytics is a free data tool that will tell you which areas of your site are attracting the most traffic, how many of your site visitors are converted into buyers, and how well your site is performing overall. If you’re looking for a more robust and comprehensive framework, a centralized dashboard like Cyfe monitors numbers across many different channels, including social media, support, sales, marketing, finance and more.

 

Automate Your Payments

You can automate your payments using a payment gateway that acts as a go-between from customer to merchant by sharing encrypted information with the bank issuer. Look online for a payment service provider that offers a payment gateway that will secure your customer’s data and make sure the transaction goes through. Make sure the provider you choose can integrate with your current system, and that the software will help you collect and manage your payments automatically.

 

Automate Social Media

All business owners understand the importance of harnessing social media as a marketing tool, but many don’t have the time to post regular updates. However, by using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer for Business, you can follow users, unfollow users and say thank-you automatically. You can also schedule future posts and link all of your profiles together. You will still need to post replies and engage with your followers in real time, but automating other processes takes some of the pressure off.

 

Automate Your Emails

If email marketing is part of your strategy, you can automate your RSS-to-email campaigns and push messages to your website’s visitors using a service provider like MailChimp or Vero. According to Experian, transactional emails have eight times more opens and clicks than any other type of email and can generate six times more revenue.

 

So, investing in automated solutions for your email marketing, social media and website data could save you time and resources, all while attracting repeat customers and increasing your revenue.

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The Role of Accounting Experts in Business Process Design

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Good business process design requires a lot of things. In order to be efficient and fit for purpose, a process should be built in consultation with key stakeholders, and subject matter experts.

As such, a finance and accounting expert, such as someone who has a masters in accountancy, can be a valuable person to involve in process design, whether it be your financial director, a senior member of your accounting team or an external consultant.

Here is why the input of someone who is qualified and knowledgeable in accounting is a great asset in designing new processes for your company.

Financial Logistics

Almost all processes have a financial component somewhere – even if it is higher up in the network of processes under discussion. However, within a business, people tend to think of the movement of money only in budgetary terms, leaving only the financial people and to some extent the admin team to worry about how invoices get paid, money gets received and purchases are made.

Of course, the logistical aspects of a company's finances are important in processes, because the flow of money in and out of the business has to happen in practice, not just on paper! An accounting expert who has done a masters in accounting will be very familiar with the process options that could be applied in given situations, and can also spot where a process design may have logistical flaws or bottlenecks.

Compliance

Compliance is another part of a successful process design, and there are several elements of this. Legal and regulatory compliance will depend on your industry and region, and will also require you to have other experts to consult with, however financial compliance is important in every industry.

Financial compliance is something an accounting specialist will know all about, and will ensure that any processes that relate to money will be fit to pass an audit.

Roles and Responsibilities

If you have an internal accounting team (rather than using a consultancy or other third party), then your processes will need to account for the roles and responsibilities within that department. While other managers may have some idea of this, only someone who is in that team at a senior level can really verify which roles within their department should be responsible and accountable for parts of the process in hand.

Even if you use a third party to deal with your accounting, the liaison between your company and theirs, and how you interact will form part of your processes and so this is something that will need to be visited in your process design.

As with other major business functions, it is very difficult to design processes for a medium or larger company without serious involvement from someone on the accounting side.

Even for small businesses, engaging an accountancy specialist to review things like logistics and, most importantly, compliance, can make the difference between an efficient and manageable process and one with holes that will cause issues later on.

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4 Steps to Ensure Fully Accurate Accounting

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 20, 2017

Accuracy is absolutely paramount in business, especially when it comes to accounting. Many small to medium sized businesses handle accounting lackadaisically, putting it off until the annual tax filing session comes around. While common accounting software has made it easy for anyone to keep track of every aspect of business operations, these applications don't automatically ensure accuracy in all scenarios. Fully accurate accounting means knowing for sure that your records, totals, and calculations are correct with zero margin for error. Luckily, you won't need to have a masters in accounting in order to achieve exceptional accounting accuracy with the help of the 4 tips below:

1. Create Daily and/or Weekly Summaries

Postponing accounting duties is never a good idea because time tends to let things slip through the cracks. By reviewing everything on a daily or weekly basis you'll be in a better position to spot and corrections any inaccuracies with a fresh memory of the recent transactions. Obviously, you're much less likely to discover a mistake a year after the date it happened, versus simply staying on top of it on a weekly basis. Daily reviews are typically only recommended for businesses that conduct a high volume of transactions per day. Depending on the amount of revenue you're generating, it may be worthwhile to have an in-house accountant with a degree in accounting.

2. Request and Keep and All Receipts

One of the first things you'd learn when earning an online masters in accounting is the importance of proper record keeping. An accountant can only do so much to compensate for lack of comprehensive records. By keeping every receipt, order confirmation email, transaction ID, and other data related to your purchases and sales, you'll be able to provide your accountant or software with the most accurate numbers and details possible.

3. Practice Digital Data Redundancy

A commonly overlooked cause of inaccurate accounting is the possibility of data loss or modification due to the lack of digital redundancy. In other words, it’s best to have all of your accounting records backed up on a daily basis, or even more frequently if you're doing high volume. Some companies set their accounting software up on multiple machines and schedule them to perform automated backups every 1, 3, or 6 hours as preferred. Doing so ensures that an unexpected data loss event will never leave you with a small chunk of inaccuracy that can't be rectified.

4. Quarterly Audits by a Professional Accountant

If after taking the steps above you still have a sliver of doubt about the accuracy of your accounting, it may be worthwhile to have an accountant conduct an audit at the end of every fiscal quarter. Doing so could help you discover errors that you or your employees might have otherwise overlooked.

Emphasizing the Importance of Accuracy in Employees and Partners

Of course, all of the above tips won't help you if your workforce and associates aren't on board with the objective of maintaining complete accounting accuracy. Thus, it's imperative that you continually emphasize the importance of ongoing accuracy in daily operations during routine meetings and conferences. 

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How to Protect Your Business Online

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 16, 2017

However convenient it may be, widespread connectivity has put us all in the firing line of potential hackers. Cloud-based software, Internet sharing and email communication all play an essential part in the modern workforce. However, our reliance on computer systems and online applications is also leaving us vulnerable to cyber attacks.

 

Online security is a real issue affecting businesses every day around the world. No organization is 100% safe from hackers or malware, but there are steps you can take to protect your business and lessen the repercussions of a breach. Here are five simple steps you can take towards protecting your business online.

 

Beware of Malware

 

According to Cyber Crime statistics, around 50% of all cyber attacks involve malware: malicious software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system. You can prevent malware from infecting your system by avoiding suspicious emails and not clicking unknown hyperlinks, but these well-intentioned habits will only get you so far. The only way to prevent malware entirely is by installing antivirus software and making sure you run and update it regularly.

 

Update your Operating System

 

Those notifications telling you to update your device's operating systems can be irritating, but they are there for a good reason. More often than not, software updates are designed to fix vulnerabilities in your current system, so make sure you keep your company computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones up to date.

 

Use a CASB Cloud Security Solution

 

If you’re using cloud software to store business data or run applications, a cloud access security broker (CASB) solution is essential. A CASB, as defined by Skyhigh Networks, is an on-premises or cloud-hosted security platform that protects corporate data while enforcing security, compliance, and governance policies for all cloud-based applications. Now that cyber-attacks are so rife, a CASB has become a critical element of business security, and without it, you could be putting your company data at risk.

 

Change Your Passwords

 

We all know that using “strong passwords” will make our login details more difficult for hackers to guess, but if your website security defense is already weakened, then cyber-criminals will already be able to see them. To make sure your information remains protected, consider implementing two-factor authentication (2FA). In addition, avoid the common mistake of using the same password across multiple services. Hackers will often try the same password across different software as a first step to gain unauthorized access.

 

Encrypt Sensitive Data

 

Encryption essentially scrambles text and converts it into what’s known as ciphertext, to make it unreadable by anyone other than those with the keys to decode it. This security defense has become less of an added security measure and more of necessity, as it slows down hackers and prevents them accessing secure information. You should also encrypt your Wi-Fi network and use a VPN (virtual private network) if you’re accessing your system through a public Internet connection.

 

Conclusion

 

With cyber attacks on the rise, it is a worrying time for businesses, whatever their scale or sector. No one should ever assume they are safe from a cyber attack. Instead, business owners need to take proactive steps toward increasing their online security through encryption, two-factor authentication, cloud security solutions and anti-virus software. While implementing this advice may never fully protect your business from hackers, it will lessen the chances of a breach and minimize the potential fallout.

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5 Ways That You Can Stand Out From Your Competitors In The World of Business

Posted By Justin Borden, Thursday, November 9, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

In the cutthroat world of business, it is vital that you always have the edge over your competitors. This will help you to protect your client base and to corner your area of the market. In order to succeed, you will have to aim higher than your industry peers. You will need to embrace innovative approaches to boosting your brand, running your business, and retaining your clients. If you are determined to come out on top, you will need to read on. Below are five ways that you can stand out from your competitors in the world of business.

Narrow your focus

When you are in the early stages of running your business, it is vital that you stay focused. Instead of pushing your brand onto a wide range of people, try to establish a specific audience; this will help you to establish a loyal following, and it will also help you to create a strong brand with a clear message. Then, when your business begins to find success, you can think about expanding your horizons.

Take an ethical approach to business

Adopting an ethical approach, in the corporate world, is a fantastic way for you to make sure that your business always stands out. Even if you offer the same service and prices, like your competitors, strong ethics are likely to appeal to anyone with a moral conscience. If you do decide to take this approach, you will need to ensure that your company ethics are an integral part of your branding. You will also need to avoid any situations with the potential to compromise your moral position, as this could result in a public relations disaster.

Engage with your customers

Make sure that you engage with your customers on a regular basis. This will ensure that your brand is firmly on their radar. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort. Instead, you can rely on marketing automation to do the hard work for you. This free, and easy to use, software platform has the ability to automate your digital marketing activities. It can handle a wide range of tasks that are essential to interacting with your clients.

Add faces and names to your business

Another option is to embrace the personal touch. Why not add faces and names to your business? This will increase your chances of establishing customer loyalty. You could include staff profiles on your website, or you could create a database that documents employee interactions with clients. Then, when a client gets in contact with your business, you can make sure that they are always talking to the same person.

Make powerful guarantees

When you are marketing your business, you should try to find a powerful guarantee that you can make to your customers. For instance, you could offer a complete refund for any dissatisfied clients. Or, you could provide free delivery for orders over a certain price. Going the extra mile will really help you to stand above your competitors.  

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