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6 Ways To Incorporate SEO While Building A Business in 2020

There’s no quick fix, or “one and done” solution when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). You have to be prepared to play the long game to see the full advantages of SEO when developing a site — and it’s worth it to see your site rank highly on search engine result pages.

That said, there are some methods that will give you a quick boost. Shift more attention to the most significant ranking factors and tactics that will give your site the ability to rise to the top of the search results this year.

Choose a Responsive Design

User experience is a big deal these days. Google loves to serve its users the best results possible. If your website isn’t easy to use on a mobile device, you’re going to suffer a setback in ranking. Think about it, have you ever landed on a site where you had to zoom in to read the text and scroll side-to-side to read all of the content? This was most likely the desktop version of a website. It was made for larger screens and doesn’t reformat to fit on different screen sizes.

Responsive sites will resize images and reorganize the blocks of content according to the size of the screen. If you want to test whether a website is responsive, open up a web page on a desktop or laptop. From the full screen, shrink the window by clicking and dragging, and you’ll see the sidebars move, the navigation and header will take on new positions and the content and images will line up differently. 

Mobile search volume accounts for more than half of the total searches made online (see chart below). A responsive, mobile friendly site is no longer an option, but a necessity, when it comes to providing an enjoyable user experience.

Create Keyword Clusters

Making a list of keywords that your ideal audience would use to find the content you’re offering will also boost your SEO ranking. Plug each keyword into a keyword tool to generate additional ideas. Assess the best options for keywords to include in your content strategy by grouping them into pools based on search intent. You’ll notice that many of those keyword options will be subtopics large enough to write an entire blog post about, in which you can provide more detailed content optimized for a related keyword.

For example, if you own a home improvement business, a central page on your site would be kitchen renovation. And because there are so many choices to make when renovating a kitchen, you could then go into depth and create a new page for every option, from counter tops and backsplash tile to faucets and refrigerators. When you’re planning your content, structure the website to feature central pages that are optimized for the most central, competitive keywords and most important aspects of your business.

Publish articles on the related subtopics in full detail in order to provide as much information on those major keyword topics, to show your expertise in your field, and to demonstrate authority within the content of your site. Google looks for this as partial evidence of your status as an expert in your niche.

Google also loves when there is a distinct organizational structure. By linking the subtopic posts to your major product pages, you signal what pages are most important to your site by creating a keyword cluster.

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Image source: https://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/3-information-architecture/3-site-structure.html

Optimize Your Content

On-page optimization enhances the likelihood of your page being ranked for your target keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing and place your keywords strategically. For instance, use your target keywords in the front end of your titles, and keep your titles under 60 characters or they will get cut off in the search display.

Place your keyword in your URL. The most effective URLs are those that are under 5 words and summarize the title or content on the page. Keywords should also be included in the meta description. Using your keyword in the beginning of the meta description will improve the click-through rate for users. As will placing your keyword within the first 100 words in the first paragraph of your content, and using keywords and keyword synonyms in the subtitles.

Use structured data markup whenever possible. If you can provide a rich snippet, you may get a boost in the position your site is displayed.

Make Your Pages Quick and Nimble

With a heavy emphasis on user experience, page speed can make a huge difference in how your site performs. If you’re an ecommerce site, it becomes extremely important because every second your page takes to load will cost your business money from lower conversions.

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 mPulse Mobile Case Study on Page Speed Vs Conversion Rates, Image source: https://digitalducats.com/page-speed/

Test your mobile page speed here. You can improve your site speed by reducing image file sizes, using plugins, and using a content delivery network to give your website additional page speed.

  • To reduce the size of your images use Kraken or Smush.
  • W3 Cache is one of the most popular WordPress plugins that increase page speed, but you can decide for yourself by choosing one from this list.
  • Choose a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to reduce your pages load time from a list of options here.

Get Other Sites to Link to You

Establishing credibility and authority is a necessity to be competitive in search results. Backlinks are a powerful way to prove that your content is credible and authoritative because essentially it is being endorsed by the websites that link to you. But stay away from paid links, or any link scheme used to manipulate ranking in an underhanded way. Unnatural linking will lead to penalties and should be avoided altogether.

One approved method of link building is to become a guest author. There are guest posting sites in every niche and having knowledge about your business is all you need to create an article that can be submitted to a site for publication. It may take a few weeks to get a response, and you may need a few submissions before receiving acceptance. Get into a routine for guest posting to build backlinks as fast as possible.

Ask People to Share Your Content

A social network is a priceless asset for expanding your audience and getting more traffic to your website. Build your network by being active on the social media site that has the most impact on your business.

Install social sharing icons on your site and include a call to action to get the most shares. A retweet study revealed that content with share icons received 4 times as many retweets with the phrase “Please RT”.

Conclusion

Although there is a lot to put together to achieve a first page result, it’s a long-term game plan. Start building your website with SEO in mind to give your site the best chance at the top positions in search results.

 

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/6 Ways To Incorporate SEO While Building A Business 2020/
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5 Lessons for Building a Larger Professional Network

In the age of digital nomads, freelance enterprise, and the gig economy, it can be difficult to build a professional network the traditional way. But you don’t have to let that limit you. Today’s technology may seem like it gets in the way of fostering genuine connections, but the opposite is often true. If you know how to leverage social media and digital communication into a broader network, you can build a system of business connections that goes far beyond your local community. Here’s how.

Lesson #1: Go Face-to-Face

Today’s gig economy is full of phone calls, emails, social media interactions, and the like—essentially, anything but the face-to-face method of doing business. But face-to-face interactions haven’t lost their value in the slightest. If anything, they’re at a premium in the digital age, which makes these face-to-face connections more important than ever.

But if you’re an entrepreneur whose business exists almost solely online, this can be a challenge. How do you get out of your bubble and meet people in the real world?

  • Attend conferences. If you exist within just about any niche with a large enough digital following, there will be more than enough opportunities to attend conferences that bring you face-to-face with colleagues and subject matter experts.
  • Find co-working spaces. A co-working space in your area is a fine excuse to get out of your bubble and interact with new people. Not everyone will be a valuable business connection, but that’s not always the point.
  • Find MeetUp groups. MeetUp.com is full of leisure activities—hiking, salsa dancing, and the like—but it’s just as valuable for networking professionals like yourself. Chances are, your local metropolis already has an active MeetUp group just waiting for new members to join in.

Lesson #2: Enhance Your Social Media Presence

Some criticize social media and say it gets in the way of genuine human interaction. Hogwash. The technology is there for you to find new business connections. Here’s what you’ll need to do on each platform:

  • LinkedIn. Join and participate in groups of professional interest to you. It only takes a few moments of your time to participate in a LinkedIn group, but you’ll find that these connections can be far more rewarding than you’d ever imagine.
  • Twitter. Find the types of people you would want to engage with and…begin engaging with them. Make sure that you reply, engage, and interact online. Don’t forget to add value with every self-directed post you make on Twitter and make yourself worth the return follow.
  • Facebook. Launch a Facebook business presence and interact with customers—and don’t forget to join Facebook groups, just the same way you might interact with people on LinkedIn. Stay connected to your industry and you’ll find that many of the connections rise naturally.

Lesson #3: Don’t Limit Yourself to One Location

This may seem to fly in the face of Lesson #1, but it’s important to remember that instant communication should open new networking opportunities, not limit them. If you can’t get face-to-face interactions, be willing to make connections even on a digital basis with other people like yourself.

When a potential client reaches out to you for a video conference when you’d prefer an email, try indulging them. When you receive a potential lead via email that doesn’t seem like much, give your full effort. Explore every avenue you have available to you, because in the 21st century, you have the advantage of not sticking to one single location.

Lesson #4: Don’t Close Doors

In some professions, you’ll be exposed to a large number of potential clients. Many of these potential clients will deem you not a “fit” for their needs. That’s life.

The important thing to remember here: don’t close any doors before their time. Rather than warn these potential clients that they’re “making a huge mistake” or ignoring them entirely, make sure that you keep them in your Customer Relationship Management software. Let them off nicely. Tell them that if they go in a different direction and it doesn’t work out, you’d still be open to hearing from them.

Not every lead will return to you this way. But some will. There’s no reason to end a potentially lucrative business relationship before it begins just because you feel your pride wounded at any point in the interaction.

Lesson #5: Prepare Yourself to Give a Little More Than You Get

One of the best habits when it comes to fostering new business connections is to stop looking for what you can get from these interactions—and start looking for what you can give.

You’ll see this principle plays itself out across a range of strategies for your business.

In content marketing, you should aim to create content that’s more than worth the price of admission—in this case, a free click to your website. Give away some of your best information. Give away the goods. Spend time and energy on creating something of genuine value so that when people visit your blog, they feel that their time wasn’t wasted.

One of the most effective ways to close a sale is to utilize the law of reciprocity, an essential element from Robert Cialdini’s famous book Influence. The strategy here is simple: you give something away. You do your potential lead a favor. The need to reciprocate will help drive them to take further action with your company.

In business networking, be willing to introduce people to each other. If you’re overloaded on client work or can’t handle any more customers, refer a client in need to someone who can help them. You’ll get nothing out of this interaction, of course. But you will meet the needs of other people, which means you’ll be first in mind when they have something to reciprocate.

In social media, think of what kind of profile you would want to follow. Would you follow you? If you don’t have a large following already, the chances are that the answer is: probably not. Create genuine value with insightful links, relevant sources, and original thoughts.

Building a Larger Network, One Connection at a Time

These lessons are a solid primer on building a larger business network. But try to make a habit out of them. Stop closing the door on leads. Start participating with groups online. Go out beyond your bubble with the intent to see what kind of people are out there. Even if results don’t come right away, you’ll build a larger network of people who know you—and think about you—in no time.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/5 Lessons for Building a Larger Professional Network/
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Top 7 Small Business Trends for 2020

2020 is almost here, which means that now’s the time to start thinking about capitalizing on the top trends for small business owners. Before you get ready for the year’s end, it’s the perfect time for a refresher on what’s happened in 2019—and where the winds of change are blowing for 2020:

Trend #1: Automation Software

You don’t have to look very far to find that automation has been a trend as of late. But one of the best reasons it’s an emerging trend for a small business like yours is that automation software is getting more sophisticated—and more affordable.

Whether it means automating your social media accounts with content or capitalizing on one of the top business trends with automated chat bots, automation software can give you the appearance of a much larger operation—without you having to lift a finger.

There are two areas in particular that might be good for small business owners to pay attention to, according to Entrepreneur:

  • Chatbots with built-in machine learning can get started with your customers right away and only improve with time. As you tweak their messaging and allow them to interact with customers, you’ll have a head start on other businesses that haven’t utilized this technology to create fast responses with their customer service inquiries.
  • Virtual assistants are more popular than ever, and one reason is that it’s easy to use an AI virtual assistant. If you can start working with AI to delegate more of your more mundane tasks sooner rather than later, you’ll have a similar head start. Imagine where you could be in 2020 with a fully automated virtual assistant.

Trend #2: The Rise of Gen Z

For years, all of the talk in marketing has been on millennials as a rising demographic with increasing purchasing power. And those millennials aren’t going anywhere. But there’s another socioeconomic trend that all business owners will have to pay attention to: the rise of Gen Z.

Gen Z—defined as those who were born in the mid-to-late 1990s and later—are now coming of age. They were raised in a world with Internet, social media, and instant access to information. As such, marketing to them is different. And while 2020 won’t necessarily be a milestone in the world of marketing to Gen Z, it’s certainly as good a time as any to start rethinking your plans.

Trend #3: Mobile Applications

E-Commerce is one of the top areas of growth right now, as you can see at Statista. But one of the top areas for growth within E-Commerce can be found within mobile applications. Simply put, more and more small businesses are selling directly to the consumer by putting themselves directly on the consumer’s smart phones.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new business or new to digital marketing—in 2019 and 2020, it’s easier than ever to construct a mobile app of your own. There are even no-code platforms that make it possible for you to generate an app with simple drag-and-drop ease rather than diving deep into the coding. This reduces expenses and labor associated with creating a mobile application for yourself.

Trend #4: Women In Leadership

The economic playing field continues to even, and that’s great news. But it’s not just in the United States where we should expect to see this trend continue. According to Intuit, “Women, especially those in emerging markets, will be a dominant force in the global market – taking increased leadership responsibilities across business, government and education.”

Not only is this a trend a sign that we’re headed in the right direction, but it’s also good feedback that the small business landscape is changing for the better.

Trend #5: Platform Consolidation

Sound a little technical? It is. But the good news is that small business owners don’t have to worry about that side of it. Platform consolidation only refers to the infrastructure that companies are putting together to serve as complete small business platforms.

When you can manage everything—from remote workers and social media marketing to the customer experience and user reviews—from fewer and fewer platforms, your to-do list gets smaller. So does your password management file. What’s left is an easy way to interact with your business and navigate everything you need to navigate as you look to scale.

In 2020, rather than adding more to your slate, think about all of the features of the platforms you already use—and ask yourself if you can scale back on these tools by consolidating to one or two specific platforms.

Trend #6: The Gig Economy Takes Over

Of course, we’re all aware of the effects the gig economy has created in every other trend. For small businesses, it can be a competitive advantage: being able to hire someone for a brief contract that doesn’t require full-time benefits.

The only question for 2020 is: where is this trend going? Expect it to become an indispensable part of doing business, with now over 57 million participating in the gig economy in the U.S. alone. By 2023, data suggests that over half of the U.S. workforce will participate in the gig economy in some fashion.

Trend #7: User Review Management

User review management is nothing new, but as E-Commerce begins to drive retail, user reviews will become more important than ever. That means that user review management software—tools that allow you to check reviews and gather feedback—will be of increasing importance.

In today’s small business environment, user reviews are essential. 97% of people read reviews for local businesses—to say nothing of how many users will give a quick glance at the user reviews of a product before they decide to purchase online. Incorporating user review management into your business isn’t an accessory anymore. It’s a necessity.

Today’s emerging trends might not all move into 2020 with equal momentum. But pay attention to shifting demographics and emerging technology to stay on top of your game and ensure that your small business runs smoothly.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Top 10 Small Business Trends for 2020/
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The Employer’s Guide to Giving Holiday Bonuses

The holiday bonus can feel a bit like a double-edged sword for employers: if you give away too little, your employees might not be happy with you. If you give too much, you won’t have quite as much left over to invest back into the company that keeps them all employed.

It seems like a simple enough topic. Then you start getting into more serious questions. How does it differentiate from the year-end individual performance bonus? What are the valid alternatives if your company simply doesn’t have extra money to spend on bonuses?

And, finally, is there a happy medium, or a single system you can use to determine 1) how to give the “right” amount in bonuses and 2) how to go about it the right way? Here are our thoughts on making the holiday bonus experience work for everyone:

Tips on Giving Out Holiday Bonuses

How do you give out a holiday bonus? It starts with poring through your budget and getting a clear idea of what you can afford. But first, let’s get clear about what a holiday bonus is:

“A holiday bonus can generally be described as a gift expressing gratitude, which is given equally to everyone,” writes PayChex.com.

That means that your holiday bonus comes low on the list of priorities—if the other priorities on that list include making payroll, paying great benefits, and giving out performance-based raises to employees. Still, the holidays are a perfect time to express your gratitude for what employees have done throughout the year.

How to Determine How Much to Give, and How to Give It

Since it’s already the holiday season, it can seem too late to reward the hard work of the employees you’ve kept on staff all year.

  • Giving cash bonuses? Give out as much as you can afford to give to everyone. Once you start weighing holiday bonuses based on performance, you’ve stopped giving holiday bonuses. Now you’re simply adding to the performance-based raises you’ve already instituted throughout the year. Your holiday gift should be equal for everyone, but some employers do give percentage-based bonuses to their employees.
  • Time it before the holidays. The holidays are a time in which many Americans’ spending is at its highest. If you’re giving out a cash payment in your bonuses, keep this in mind—the end of the year makes for a natural point to give out bonuses, but give people some breathing room to help with holiday shopping.
  • Add the bonus to a paycheck. Cash bonuses can often be the easiest way to give bonuses for tax purposes, as it will fit neatly onto any employee’s W-2. And you’re not making it any harder for employees, as other gifts (like gift cards) would be considered taxable by the IRS.

Alternatives to Holiday Cash Bonuses

Let’s be honest: everyone’s favorite bonus from their place of employment is the gift of cash. But as it turns out, only about 38% of small businesses are able to give out cash bonuses every year. It’s great when you can do it, but it’s not always required. And if you can give bonuses like that to employees who deserve it, that should be your first priority.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t spread a little holiday cheer if your company is stretching the budget thin as it is.

Here are some alternatives to cash that employers like to use:

  • PTO. Paid time off is not only appreciated during the holidays—it’s the second best thing to getting a fatter paycheck. Essentially, it’s the same thing. If your payroll is based on salary, you can give away holiday “bonuses” in the form of extra time off, and it’s one of the most popular perks outside of a direct check.
  • Giftcards. If your company meets all of its financial obligations and provides its employees with great benefits, they’ll usually understand if you can’t afford the bonus amount. A gift card alternative can be a good way to show appreciation during the holidays without the financial requirements typically associated with cash bonuses.
  • Company swag. If your budget is stretched to the max and you still don’t want to give your employees nothing, some free gifts are always welcome. Company swag often comes at favorable prices when you buy in bulk, which makes it a great way to stretch the dollar while still giving your employees a gift for the holidays.
  • Holiday party. You’d be surprised at how much a holiday party can do to lift the spirits of people within a small business. In lieu of a Christmas bonus, a fun party can give people a chance to relax and kick back.

Budgeting for Holiday Bonuses

It’s that time of year, which means that you also have to be thinking about budgeting and year-end tax implications. Should you do a flat dollar amount? What did you do last year? What will make life easier for you in the new year?

These are all considerations you need to pay attention to during bonus season. And employees bonuses need to fit into accounting principles whether you’re doing flat dollar amounts or simply offering gifts to employees.

How do you prepare your budget? No two businesses are the same. But keep in mind that cash bonuses will show up on the balance sheet as income paid toward your employees, which needs to be taken into account.

If you can, spread the saving you do for holiday bonuses throughout the whole year. This makes the impact far less dramatic a drain on your cash flow, minimally disrupting your company on a month-to-month basis. But if it’s already too late for that, look at your cash on hand, the liabilities that require payment in the next three months, and what you expect your next tax bill to be. You have to prioritize meeting your financial obligations first, as fun as it can be to give out holiday bonuses.

A great holiday bonus is always a great way to cap off the year. But it’s important that you approach it the right way and find a way to give your employees a kind gesture for all of their hard work—big budget or not.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/The Employers Guide to Giving Holiday Bonuses/
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How To Implement Video Marketing as a Small Business

Videos are gaining more and more popularity in the world of online marketing. After all, they improve engagement, search engine ranking, brand loyalty, and so much more. So while it may seem like a no-brainer to start implementing a video marketing strategy, it’s not easy, especially for small businesses.

Enterprises and big brands can easily afford to make fascinating, high quality videos, but as a small business, budgets are tighter, and time may be harder to come by with employees wearing multiple hats. However, you can change that without settling for poor quality videos. Here is a comprehensive guide to video marketing for small businesses.

Why You Should Start Using Video

Maybe you’ve debated using video within your marketing strategy but decided not to go through the trouble since you lacked the proper equipment, production experience, time and money. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that difficult. In fact, all you need are a few inexpensive tools. But before we dive into the best tools to use, you should understand the importance of investing in video marketing.

All in all, people are turning to video more and more. Heather Harding, a video marketer at LastMinuteWriting and Writinity, said, “Getting your message across is easy with video. It’s also easy for your audience to get the message when it’s in a simple, watchable form that doesn’t require much effort on their part.”

Tools That Will Help You Make Videos on a Budget

One of the biggest issues that small businesses have with videos is that making them is expensive and takes skilled people. However, it’s not as hard as you think. Here are some tools that can help you kick your video marketing strategy into gear:

  • You can easily set up your own office space to look like a professional studio with some basic supplies. Look into lighting kits on a budget and simply film videos with your smart phone. Smartphones now have an impressive picture quality, often rivaling other video recorders. You can also get a mic for under $100 to ensure great sound quality.
  • Are you — or is someone on your team — a skilled writer? Make sure a script is written out for your videos to make sure you don’t ramble and that content is comprehensible and engaging.  If you can’t find a great writer, consider hiring someone from Upwork or Fiverr at an affordable price.
  • “Be passionate and show it to your audience. Relax and don’t take yourself too seriously. Just be yourself,” says Owen Lee, a tech expert at DraftBeyond and Researchpapersuk.
  • For editing, you can use iMovie, Windows Movie Maker or ScreenFlow. Just do some basic editing in the beginning and then you can invest more as you move on. The point is to tell a good story so the video doesn’t have to be too edited.
  • As far as video hosting, you can go upload videos to YouTube in addition to posting on your social channels, website and email campaigns. If you plan on hosting videos on your own website, consider using Wistia as it’s a great, easy tool.

Best Video Marketing Ideas

Coming up with creative ideas is perhaps the hardest part of video marketing. To help you out, here are some great ideas for your videos that are evergreen and can help garner the attention you desire.

  • Make an announcement with your video – Post a short video introducing the next big thing in your company. It can be a new product, service, or something as small as an update to your mission statement.
  • Parody something – This is your chance to be funny and show off your brand personality. Consider making a parody video of a movie clip, music video or a new trending dance or challenge. This shows that there are live, interesting people behind your brand.
  • Film testimonials – Gather some of your biggest fans and best customers and allow them to tell their tale for the camera. This is social proof for your brand and can instantly boost your credibility and value.
  • How to – No one understands your products and services like you do. Look at frequently asked questions and create a “how to” video showing your customers how your product or service works, and how it can help them.
  • Have a Q&A – Your audience is bound to have some questions related to your company and your products or services. This is an excellent opportunity to show them that you care.
  • Behind-The-Scenes – Give your audience a sneak peek of your offices, processes and so on. It will make them feel like they get to see something exclusive and feel like a part of your community.
  • Creation process – This is similar to the previous point, but goes a little more in depth. Show off all of the steps you usually take in creating an excellent product. This can be really inspiring too.
  • Make a stop-motion video – Stop-motion videos aren’t as hard to make as you may think. Just take a series of photos of something in action and then make a video out of it. This can be as simple as shooting several images on your phone and then letting Google Photos do the rest.
  • Show mistakes – Show your audience what not to do as it relates to an area of your business. People enjoy these honest, relatable videos, especially when humor is incorporated.
  • Introduce your team – People like seeing who is behind your brand and who’s making all of the products they love.

How To Measure The Success of Your Videos

Finally, here are some tips to measure the success of your videos:

  • The play count – This is the most basic tracking point. It shows you the total number of views in a video. This is important, but the play rate is even more crucial to your success.
  • Play rate – This is another important factor that you should track. This shows you how many people clicked on your video and whether you should place it somewhere more effective.
  • Engagement rate – This is the most important point because it shows you the percent of the video that your viewer has seen. It shows you how it actually affected them and if they were really interested.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/How To Implement Video Marketing as a Small Business/
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The Best POS Systems: Our Favorites for Small Businesses

It’s the most exciting point in any small business owner’s life: making the sale. But if you don’t manage your Point-of-Sale (POS) system properly, it can quickly turn into something that’s overwhelming, inconvenient for the customer, and ultimately, a way to drive away business. Modern retail is increasingly mobile and utilizes more payment options than ever before. The proliferation of contactless payment options, like Apple & Amazon Pay, demands a user-friendly POS solution that can process payments beyond the cash register.

You aren’t the first small business that’s ever tried to optimize payment processing. That’s good news for the shopkeep, because it’s led to an abundance of competition for your POS systems. The only challenge is discerning which one is best for the type of business you run, as well as customer expectations. Let’s browse by reviewing some of the best POS systems available:

Square

Square POS is an ideal pick for any small business that’s starting to make more real-time sales and needs a convenient way to record them—in a hurry. Square also provides the hardware you need to accept credit card payments in person, making it great for vendors and any eCommerce small business that interacts with customers directly.

On pricing, Square is competitive, though for online payments it tends to charge a higher percentage per transaction than a POS like Shopify. The higher percentage structure (rather than a smaller percentage and an additional flat fee) also makes it a potentially bad choice for any small business with higher-end items to sell online.

Shopify POS

Shopify isn’t a stranger to the POS game, providing terminals for secure in-person payments, such as accepting credit cards, gift cards, and supporting discount and promo codes you’ve already established online. It can make a seamless transition for anyone who runs both an online shop and a brick-and-mortar business that doesn’t want to juggle a complex infrastructure.

Shopify also shines when it comes to pricing. Charging a smaller percentage than Square for online payments, in addition to a 30 cent flat fee, Shopify will produce a larger profit margin for anyone accepting payments for high-end products online. Typically, people view Shopify as an option for an online store and those particular business needs, but Shopify POS is a dedicated POS platform for physical swipe and multi-store needs.

Vend POS

Vend is a POS solution aimed at retail, allowing you to manage and sell your products and inventories from a unified dashboard. Like the options above, Vend POS makes it possible to get mobile with your orders, using the Vend Register iPad app, or grow a customer list and incorporate online gift cards and promotions. You can also use a barcode scanner with ease.

The pricing structure of this particular retail POS is $90/month for up to $20,000 in monthly turnover and goes up to $129/month for unlimited turnover in the “Pro” plan. The advantage here is that you won’t find a bunch of hidden transaction fees; Vend is built for a retail presence and prices based on how many registers/users you have rather than the number of transactions.

Clover

Clover excels at the physical point of the sale for retail stores thanks to unique features like identifying customer birthdays or easy dashboard management of promotional programs at the retail POS. Clover’s hardware requires more of an upfront investment than the hardware you’ll see from other POS systems like Square, which means that this is a purchase for larger businesses that know that they’ll have to use physical terminals on a regular basis. For businesses that tend to make occasional sales at the POS and otherwise depend on digital sales for the rest of their business, a POS system like Square or Shopify POS would work much better.

Shopkeep POS

Shopkeep POS is exactly how it sounds—designed for a customizable retail environment rather than a mostly digital environment with occasional retail sales—but it excels at what it does. Though you’ll have to get a quote to find out precisely what the prices are here, there’s a lot that you get for your money. That includes automation for your most frequent business tasks, which is great for bulk purchases and impulse buys, as well as personalized setups for your retail POS system so you end up with a specific product bundle for your space. Inventory management is included here as well, along with simple, intuitive interfaces that make it easy for you to check on specific items for customers or employ debit card acceptance.

Shopkeep POS typically aims to retail, quick-service, and restaurant/bar setups, but given that they’ll provide a free quote, it’s worth finding out if they have a bundle option for your typical POS case.

TouchBistro

We have to include an honorable mention here, even though TouchBistro isn’t aimed at all retail situations. You might know from the name that this is a restaurant POS directed at food services, but it’s earned enough clout that it’s worth mentioning here for any small business in the food industry. Payment works on an account subscription-and-license basis, rather than a percentage of purchases. At a flat monthly fee of $69/month for its software-only end, and $109/month for a software/hardware bundle, TouchBistro is an affordable way for a restaurant to get on its feet and start accepting payments in a hurry.

Other honorable mentions: 

They may not have topped our list, but here are some other POS solutions worth checking out: 

Choosing the best POS system for your business:

How can you determine which POS system is best for you? Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Invest in a card reader. Accepting a credit card from a customer is going to happen at some point, no matter what kind of business you’re in. Even digital services will require a payment system of some sort. At the very minimum, shop around for the best credit card readers from simple systems like Square and Shopify to ensure that you’re capable of at least sending a payment through your system.

  • Maximize your promotions. A great POS can implement promotions and gift cards to ensure that your POS software does more than accept payments. It should also make people feel like they have exclusive options when they shop with you, enticing them to return to your POS for future benefits as well.

  • Test it yourself. Some of the options on this list include free trials that allow you to test the system before you make a full investment. Make full use of that! Charge credit cards, use the receipt printer, download the Apple or Android app—do what you would do if you purchased the service and were already using it. See which one strikes you as best for your business.

There are plenty of POS systems available to you. Once you know your goals, you should be able to select one from this list that will suit your small business—and your budget.


from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/The Best POS Systems Our Favorites for Small Businesses/
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How the Right Insurance Can Safeguard Small Businesses Against Failure

Business Insurance

Purchasing insurance isn’t something that most entrepreneurs think about when planning and starting a small business. It’s not until an unforeseen disaster occurs when they acknowledge its importance. While some small businesses can endure disasters, others will be forced to close their doors. Rather than taking this risk, entrepreneurs should safeguard their small business by acquiring the right business insurance.

What Is Business Insurance?

Business insurance is form of financial protection that compensates businesses for financial loss caused by various events. If an entrepreneur’s small business suffers a disaster that’s covered by his or her insurance policy, the insurance company will pay the entrepreneur according to the terms set forth in the policy. Without insurance, entrepreneurs could be left with expensive bills in the wake of a disaster. There are different types of business insurance, however, each of which covers different types of events.

General Liability Insurance

General liability is one of the most common types of business insurance. It’s designed to protect businesses from financial loss caused by bodily injury or property damage associated with a business’s activities. If a customer slips and falls while visiting an entrepreneur’s store, for example, he or she may sue the entrepreneur’s business for the cost of medical treatment. And with hospital treatment for slip-and-fall injuries costing an average of $30,000, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lawsuits such as this can quickly send small businesses into a downward spiral.

Commercial Property Insurance

There’s also commercial property insurance, which covers damage to a business’s property. Each year, thousands of small businesses experience disasters like fires, floods and theft. With commercial property insurance, entrepreneurs can rest assured knowing that their small business is protected from financial hardship associated with property damage. Entrepreneurs can even purchase a business owner’s policy (BOP) that includes both general liability and commercial property insurance.

Business Interruption Insurance

Commercial property insurance only compensates entrepreneurs for the cost of repairing their damaged property. It doesn’t cover the financial loss of interruption. If an entrepreneur’s small business is flooded from a burst pipe, it could take weeks to restore it. In the meantime, the entrepreneur will have to close his or her business to the public. Business interruption insurance, however, compensates businesses for the cost of this interruption, allowing entrepreneurs to stay afloat until they are able to reopen to the public.

General liability, commercial property and business interruption are just a few types of business insurance. There’s also workers’ compensation, which all businesses are required to have if they hire one or more employees, as well as commercial auto, product liability and more.

from Moss Sidell on Business http://mosssidell.org/how-the-right-insurance-can-safeguard-small-businesses-against-failure/
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