feature-img-accounting

Why Accountants Need An Online Appointment And Invoicing Software

In this digital age, where clients need to have their requirements met straight away, it is time to embrace the cloud and use an online appointment scheduling and invoicing software.

Online Appointment Scheduling:

Appointment Scheduling Feature in Grow in Cloud

People go to accountants to get their finances on order and organised. With end of the month online tax returns due, accountants can be inundated with requests from other small businesses. Yet it can be a challenge scheduling appointments with an accountant out of office hours at a time that is convenient.

Multiple sources show that 35% of clients prefer booking appointments during after office hours. Not only that, but 25% of millennials (those under 35 years old) only book appointments online.

By having a cloud based online appointment software such as Grow in Cloud; you are able to offer a streamlined booking process to make scheduling an appointment a breeze. You also reduce the administrated tasks involved; taking calls, checking appointment dates with accountants then getting back to clients to confirm appointments.

As an accountant, you work hard to grow and develop your tax services company, as well as build a reputation in the tax and accountancy industry. So, having a software, that can automate this task for you, would make things a lot easier!

Online Invoicing:

Invoicing Feature in Grow in Cloud

Late payment is a common problem faced by small businesses in the UK. Currently there is £55 billion in unpaid or outstanding invoices in the UK, which is an average of “£12,000” per business. Furthermore, 41% of B2B invoices miss the payment due date.

Any unpaid due amount has an impact on business. Cash flow is really important and many small business owners believe it is the most important metric for your business. A sole trader and small businesses will say that if they are not paid on time by a client, it leads to financial difficulties because the cash flow is essential for the business to survive.

By April 2019, businesses above the VAT threshold will need to keep digital records and provide quarterly updates to HMRC for their VAT.

From 2020, this should apply to all other businesses who will need to provide quarterly updates to HMRC for their VAT, Corporation Tax, Income Tax and National Insurance obligations digitally.

It is a significant change and means the end of the annual tax return to be replaced by an online tax account with all your information in one place.

This change means that you may need to move from your existing desktop or manual record keeping and onto an online accounting software, such as Grow in Cloud.

Here you can produce customised invoices to generate e-invoices and allow your clients to be able to pay online quickly.

Here are 9 benefits of having a cloud based online booking and invoicing system for accountants.

1. Accessibility

A cloud based online appointment software can be accessed anywhere any time and from any device such as laptop, tablet and smart phone. This results in making your business available 24/7 for customers to book an appointment, rather than traditional method of calling the receptionist, between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Appointment Scheduling Summary on Grow in Cloud

A 10to8 study found the most popular time for booking appointments is between 4pm and 8pm on Sunday. By not offering an online booking option, your accountant business could lose out.

2. Saves time

Online invoicing allows you to create and distribute multiple invoices very quickly and in one go. The automated functions such as data filing, price of units/ services and VAT is calculated for you.

3. Clients can self-schedule appointments

Most clients, in particular those that are known as Generation X and Millennials, prefer to use digital methods to book a service. They also like to have an option to book it at their convenience.

A study by Yodle showed more than 25% of customers want businesses to give choice of booking an appointment and making payments online. You can list your services on a client site such as “Tax Planning”, “VAT Returns”, which will be linked to your calendar availability.

Customised Client Site

By allowing clients to self-book online, will give your company the opportunity to sell your services 24/7 and not have them only rely on calling you during working hours. This reduces a lot of your precious time, consumed on telephone and email to book and confirm appointments.

4. Reduces no-shows and late payments

An online appointment booking systems reduce no show ups. Grow in Cloud gives you an option to send SMS/Email reminders to clients prior to the appointment as well as offering to take “down payments” from clients.

You can customise reminder settings according to your business need; be it one day or 4 hours before the appointment. These have been known to dramatically reduce missed appointments as clients then have the option to reschedule if they cannot make the appointment. This allows the slot to be free for other clients.

You can get notifications when your clients have read your invoices online. So you don’t have to worry about those “lost in the post” or “I didn’t receive the invoice” moments.

This software has a “late reminder” feature which sends a payment reminder to customer, once the due date is passed and payment had not been made.

cloud law firms
Online Payment Feature in Grow in Cloud

Allowing clients to be able to pay online also reduces the risks of late payments. Like you, your clients are busy people too. So make things easier for them and let them pay online.

5. Staff scheduling

If you are running a busy accountancy practice, you would have assigned an account manager/accountant for your clients.

An online appointment system enables you to manage your staff calendars. You can customise times for each service and the hours and days around the availability of different staff members.

On the client site you can list services offered by each staff member, which clients can book directly during the time/day of their preference. It also keeps a log of all bookings so you can track what services are more popular or if you need to rearrange staff timings.    

6. Multi-Time Zone and Multi-Currency payments

If you work with international clients or have offices in other parts of the world, having an appointment booking system that allows you to choose the correct time zone makes life a lot easier and more efficient.

You can also send invoices in multiple currencies and use different languages for your invoices/documents online.

7. Marketing and Social Media

An online booking system can become a great asset in your marketing campaign. If you are sending out a promotional Email or SMS campaign, you can add “Book Buttons” to it. This can help in converting interests to leads by enabling a client to book an appointment with you straight away. It can help you build your email list and nurture leads.

Social Media is now becoming an important part of people’s lives. Facebook is the most used social media channel; it has more than 2 billion active users.

Facebook Business Manager can help market your accountancy business. It allows you to control and custom your audience, based on their interest, demographics, income and buyer trends. By having a ‘book me’ button on your Facebook Business page, you allow more ways for potential clients to reach you.

Grow in Cloud enables you to embed a booking button and take bookings directly from Facebook, as well as take bookings from Twitter and Instagram by sharing the Client Site URL.

8. Organisation

You can manage and search your appointments/ invoices online rather than flicking through order books, paper files-and needing space in your office for large chunky filing cabinets!

Action history of clients using Grow in Cloud

Grow in Cloud also has a contact management feature which allows you to access all your clients’ data and history in one easy-to-use platform.

9. A quick overview of your finances

Online invoicing feature of Grow in Cloud also allows you to get reports on financial aspects of your company straight away. Don’t lose out by not having the option for clients to book or pay online!

To start a free 30 day trial and see how other features can help your accountancy business, sign up here and see just how easy Grow in Cloud is to use.

Related Blog Posts:

10 Ways To Grow Your Small Business in 2019

Why Your Small Business Needs A Contact Management Software

14 Productivity Tools To Help Small Businesses

Discover An Easier Way To Manage Your Entire Business

Why Businesses Should Blog

Free Invoice Templates For Self Employed

Online Invoicing-is it really a cost effective move?

10 Ways To Grow Your Small Business in 2019!

As we start the New Year and get back in to work mode, now is a great time to consider ways to grow your business. Here are 10 ways that will help you to understand what is needed for you to grow and succeed in your small business.  

1) Listen to Your Customers

As simple as it sounds but actually listening to your current/potential customers is the best way to understand and address their needs as well as dispel any concerns they may have with the service/product.  If there isn’t an open dialogue, the chances of misunderstandings can occur and this could lead to a loss of sales.

When customers show an interest in your product/service by “liking” or “signing up” for example, acknowledge their interest and ask them how you can help them in any way or if they are interested in any product/service.

When selling a software for example, ask leading questions if they are unsure of a feature (or if they are not committing to a sale just yet) by requesting a time for them to book a demo with you face to face or using Skype.

2) Upsell Your Products/Services

When selling services/products to customers, a great selling strategy is to get them to buy more or to buy an upgraded version of the service/product instead. This is upselling. But don’t just think of it as getting the customer to pay more while the business benefits. It needs to be done in a way where both parties benefit.

Sometimes it’s about creating a better option to please the customer, without increasing your base costs too much. If you can make/provide a bespoke product/service that doesn’t cost too much or take too much extra time, then that’s a great way to sell as customers won’t mind paying more because you have created something “special” or “personal” for them.

3) Update Content Marketing

When people see fresh content on your business’ site, especially content that caters to your business market, it stands out and shows that you are constantly evolving and staying in tune with the current business climate.

grow small business Pinterest Pin: Grow in Cloud

Content Marketing includes adding blog posts to your websites, images of your latest products, videos explaining your product/service and infographics. It is a great way to increase traffic to your website.

The key is to keep it simple. Content marketing can be a great way for you to increase sales for your business. But fancy strategies can sometimes distract you from the real purpose of your content. For this reason, the single best way to simplify your content strategy is by focusing on real quality, even if it means you publish less content overall. Two high-quality written pieces of content a week will have far more value than four average pieces!

4) Bundle Your Products/Services

Many small businesses have found success by selling products and services as a bundled package rather than as individual products/services. Customers often think of a bundle of services as a saving, even if the savings are minor, making it a much easier to sell to them.

Try to keep the bundles flexible; a potential customer may reject a bundle because they feel that only three of the six services apply to them or their business. By being flexible enough to swap out different products or services you increase the chance of getting that important sale!

 

 

5) Provide Limited Offers/Promotions

The holiday period can provide a great opportunity to increase sales for any business. People are always looking for gift ideas to buy their loved ones and getting them for a great deal. Offering a slight discount can make your products and services more attractive to a customer and lead to more sales.

To retain customers, offering promotions or limited time offers on products or services they normally pay for (e.g. gardening services) can be very useful.

Having a ‘personalised promo code campaign’, for example, shows the customers that you value their relationship by giving them a special discount or free item.

 

The aim should not be to just generate as many new sales as possible during the seasonal holiday (although that’s a nice bonus), but rather to continue and develop engagement and loyalty that can be sustained throughout next year. To make that happen, it is important to come up with a plan to stay in contact with the new leads/customers during the holiday rush via a long-term ‘nurture campaign’. This can be done by offering subscriptions or offering upgrades to packages/services at a rate that is personal to them.

6) Use Social Media

 

Every business, whether it’s a start-up or an existing one, should have online presence, not just by having a website but promoting themselves on various social media sites. This allows for greater exposure in reaching as many existing and potential leads.

Picking the right social media platform depends on many factors. What is the age range of your target audience? What is your business? Is it a service or a product you selling? Are you selling it directly to customers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B)? Check out this infographic to help you decide which social media platform is best for your business.

Even if an owner of a business has a small following on Twitter or Facebook Business Page, using social media to promote your blog posts or the product or service is a great way to raise customer awareness and hopefully get interest and contact.

growbusiness

Facebook Post: Grow in Cloud

For services that lend itself easily to visual images, such as hair and beauty services, crafts or photography, social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest would help showcase what you do.

Social media doesn’t just have to be a sales tool, but as an open line of communication. Use it to share other interesting industry information/news, retweet or re-post articles of particular significance to your business as well as sharing how your business works.

Social media is first and foremost social; use it as a personal touch base to current or potential customers.

growbusiness

Instagram Post: Grow in Cloud

7) Get Referrals

For any business, current customers are a great asset in providing client referrals. Asking a satisfied client who is using your product/service will be able to provide contact details of other customers/businesses that might also benefit from the product/service too. Some businesses offer referral deals as an incentive for clients to pass on contacts.

On social media, you can ask your current clients/customers to share/retweet your post to their personal profiles. Another good way is to ask your followers to “tag” a person they know who might be interested in what you are offering. You don’t ask, you don’t get-right?

It is also a good idea to ask satisfied customers for testimonials and then use those on the business website or social media sites, as well as sales emails or newsletters. Always make sure to get permission first before using a customer testimonial.

8) Network

 

Business networking, whether online and/or face to face, can be very powerful in increasing product/service awareness, especially if you are in the business of selling and marketing to other businesses.

It is important to know beforehand the kind of people you want to meet and find organizations and activities they are involved in. Suffice to say, it is a waste of time to go to networking events unless that’s where your target market will be.

Once a good connection is gained with someone, follow the meeting up with a kind email expressing gratitude for his/her time. It will make you memorable. Humility and gratitude are traits of every successful professional. In that follow up email, you can promote your product/service and ask for feedback and advice about your information – that’s a sign that you respect the other person’s opinion.

LinkedIn (LI) is the place for online business networking. It is rich and easy to use. People will check you out on LI to find out more about you. So, your profile needs to stand out from the crowd and explain what you do in detail, including your USP. Use LI to connect with others. Seek out the people you are connected to that might be able to introduce you to the people you want to meet.

For online networking, joining Facebook Groups such as Small Business UK is a good idea to meet like-minded individuals/business owners and to seek advice from them. You would also be able to promote and offer your products/ services to anyone who asks in the groups.

9) Attend Exhibitions and Trade Fairs

Following on from the above point, to get more exposure for your brand it is always to look up what is happening in your industry. Are their business exhibitions taking place near you? Can you showcase your products in Fairs and Events? Combining this with social media allows you to increase your reach by letting current customers/followers know where you will be.

Here is a site where you could search for popular events, trade shows or fairs you could attend in the UK.

A great example of a trade show is Surface Design Show, which “is the place for architects and designers to discover the latest surface materials, innovations and trends.”

Image credit: Surface Design Show 2018

10) Use Cloud

Technology has changed the business world in recent years. One of the biggest changes for small business owners is the increase in the number of cloud technologies and tools available. Here are some benefits of using a cloud-based software, such as Grow in Cloud, for your small business:

1. It increases productivity. Using cloud storage systems allows you to keep your business data available anywhere and anytime you need it. This makes you and your employees more productive and efficient. No longer are you limited by only being able to access files on a certain computer/desktop or having to go into the office.

2. It enhances collaboration. Today’s workplace is all about teamwork and the cloud helps collaboration happen. Cloud-based tools such as Grow in Cloud have shared calendars that make it easy to schedule meetings. Using online videoconferencing tools such as Skype, means that you can collaborate with anyone, no matter where they are.

3. It keeps your files up-to-date and backs up automatically. Cloud-based storage tools such as Dropbox Business, automatically syncs your documents across all devices whenever a change is made. This ensures you and your clients/colleagues always have the latest version of your work.

4. It safeguards customer data. Keeping your data in the cloud can actually secure it better than storing it on servers kept in your office. Office servers run the risk of becoming overloaded, outdated and/or damaged.

5. It gives you room to grow. No more worries about running out of space on the hard drives or backup drives to store your business data. Cloud-based storage can scale up instantly! There is no need for downloading, installing, and updating software.

Summary:

By following the above tips, you should be able to have a very productive and successful year in business! Here’s hoping for a prosperous 2019!

Some Other Business Related Blog Posts:

Why Your Small Business Needs A Contact Management Software

14 Productivity Tools To Help Small Businesses

Discover An Easier Way To Manage Your Entire Business

Why Businesses Should Blog

Why Having An Online Scheduling Tool Can Save Hours On Admin!

Online Invoicing-Is It Really A Cost Effective Move?

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therapist scheduling software

Why A Therapist Scheduling Software Makes Sense

Whether you are offering therapy services on your own or running a small practice, having a therapist scheduling software can help you a great deal. It can help with managing and growing your therapy business. Just like any other service-based business, you will make money by spending more time with your clients and offering therapy services suited to their needs.

However, you will need to book in clients first for the services you offer. It takes a lot of time and effort to manually book appointments with clients. You’ll have to go through all services you offer, give a price for each service, time of your availability. After all this, you then send an email for confirmation.  All this increases your admin work load and there is still a worry of overlapping of appointments (especially if more staff are involved in the booking process).

The good news is you can streamline the entire appointment booking process by using a therapist scheduling software. Grow in Cloud therapist scheduling software enables you to do this. It will give you more valuable time to spend with your clients, become more visible online and improve communication with your clients.

Some of the key features of therapist scheduling software, such as Grow in Cloud are:

Booking Site/Client portal

You will get a booking site which makes you more visible online. The site can be integrated with your existing website. Here, you can list the services you have to offer, the duration and the price.

therapist scheduling software
Example client site-you can add your own cover image, logo and description here.

The clients can then choose the service they want, with the therapist of their choice and at a day or time that is available and suits them.

therapist scheduling software
Example of how client will book their appointment. Grow in Cloud has the option of selecting different time zones. 

Also, each client will get a booking portal. The site will have a log of all their appointments and communication with you/therapist.

Bookings can also be integrated through your Business Facebook page as well.

Create/View Appointments

You can add and edit the services you want to offer on your website easily with Grow in Cloud.

therapist scheduling software
Example of services you can add to your booking site.

Plus, your clients can re/schedule appointments anytime, from anywhere at time of their convenience. This allows the clients to book out of office hours which may be more suitable for them.

therapist scheduling software
Example of how the services will appear to the client. They then select the service they require. This will then take them to the day and time page, as seen above.

It is also possible for you to make repeat bookings for clients and send appointments to them, either via email/SMS or both. They will then be sent a confirmation email/SMS:

therapist scheduling software
An example of an email sent with confirmation of service, day and time.

You will be able to view your calendar which will show yours and your team’s appointments (depending on the admin settings you choose e.g. a staff member may only see their own calendar, but you, as an owner, can see the calendar for all staff).

Appointment Reminder

You can send appointment reminder to your clients via SMS/email. You can customise time for reminder message to be sent prior to the appointment.

It has reduced no show ups for some of our clients by 80%.

You can customise the notification for clients, e.g. you can give minutes or no. of days notice. You can also select how they will be notified (either through SMS/email or both)

Calendar Synchronisation

You can link Grow in Cloud with Gmail, Outlook, iCloud and Yahoo calendars.  

For a free 30 day trial of Grow in Cloud, please sign up here. You can then start using some of the features for free, forever!

Related Blog Posts For Spa Owners/Massage Therapists

6 Ways To Market Your Massage Therapy Business

18 Simple Ways To Set Up Your Mobile Massage Therapy Business

Social Media Tools To Use For Your Salon/Spa

Invoicing and Online Appointment Booking Software For Salons

Why Salons Should Have an Online Booking System

How To Successfully Market Your Salon/Spa To Mature Clients

4 Blog Topics To Drive Traffic To Your Spa/Beauty Salon Website

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personal trainers scheduling software

Why Personal Trainers Should Have A Scheduling Software

Even with Christmas just around the corner and all those lovely Christmas meals and parties, more and more people are still becoming more health conscious nowadays. However, having a busy working lifestyle means people can’t go to gym between 6-10 pm every evening. Technology and gig economy have opened greater opportunities for personal trainers to gain clients and help them meet their goals. They can offer their services around the clock, to meet the needs of their clients’ needs as well as increase their business.

Like any service-based business, time is key for personal trainers. Every minute they spend with clients will get them paid.Time spent away from clients, on the other hand, will cost them. Personal trainers lose a lot of valuable time on admin tasks such as booking appointments, rescheduling and calling clients to confirm attendance. This often leads to booking overlaps,which ends up frustrating customers and can harm the fitness business.

Another challenge personal trainer’s face is no show ups. When a client doesn’t turn up for a booked lesson, it costs them dearly. The missed appointment could have gone to another client. This can be solved by using a personal trainer scheduling software. This is where Grow in Cloud comes in handy.

personal trainers scheduling software
Grow in Cloud Client Site Page Example 

Grow in Cloud is a personal trainer scheduling software, which streamlines and automates appointment booking process. Personal trainers can get a free client site,which becomes a booking page. Here, he/she can list all the services they offer alongside with the price and working hours.

personal trainers scheduling software
Example Personal Training Packages Using Grow in Cloud

As it is a cloud-based software, the clients can book appointments from any device, at time of their convenience. The real time availability will only show time slots which are free. It will help personal trainers  fill up their calendar faster and enable to develop a better relationship with a customer. Personal trainers can view their calendar online and if they have a team can view each other’s too.

personal trainers scheduling software
Client names are hidden for confidentiality purposes

Having a personal training scheduling software reduces no show ups. With Grow in Cloud, personalised SMS/email reminders can be sent to clients prior to the appointment. Some of our clients have seen no show ups reduced by 80%.

If a customer is unable to attend the session, he/she can reschedule it by clicking on the booking link and select the new day and time. A personal trainer scheduling software simplifies the entire appointment booking and payment process, which means you can spend more time with clients which you love doing.

personal trainers scheduling software
Client name has been hidden for confidentiality purposes

Some key benefits of personal trainer scheduling software, such as Grow in Cloud are:

Accessibility

It makes your business more accessible and allows clients to book appointment with you 24/7 which is great for business.

Increase productivity

You will not spend time on manual data entry on spreadsheets. Automation and streamlining of appointment process mean you can spend more time with customers

Communication

It will improve communication with clients. They can send you messages from a client portal which you will receive instantly. You can reply to them at time of your convenience with out being worried for losing business and clients whilst with another client.

More Visibility Online 

It gives you online visibility. Your clients can find you online and schedule lessons from anywhere,anytime and any device.

For a free, 30 day trial of Grow in Cloud, please sign up here.You can then start using the features and carry on using the ones you need for free, forever!

Related Blog Posts For Personal Trainers

How Gym And Fitness Instructors Should Market Themselves On Social Media

10 Marketing Tips For Your Fitness Business

How To Retain More Personal Training Clients

5 Out of the Box Strategies for Getting More Personal Training Clients

3 Ways To Drive Revenue With Grow in Cloud Website Widget

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productivity tools

14 Productivity Tools To Help Small Businesses

productivity tools

Small business owners face different challenges on a daily basis, when trying to keep their business running. This can be anything from responding to customer queries via phone/email/ text, absent employees, rescheduling client’s appointments, chasing late payment and placing orders for low stocked items, to name a few! Small businesses do not have adequate resources like their larger counterparts. At times, employees may have to perform various roles. This can have an impact on productivity of the business, if the right systems are not put in place. Thankfully, there are many productivity tools that small businesses can use, to make their job easier and make inefficiency a thing of the past. Some of those productivity tools include:

1. PandaDoc

productivity tools

PandaDoc is a proposal and document management software. You can create, send and track quotes and proposals sent out to the prospective clients. The drag and drop feature of the software makes it easier to prepare a proposal. Their e-signature function makes closing the sale simpler too. When the clients receive the proposal and review it, it can then be signed off.

Your sales reps work hard to nurture leads and turn them into customers. They don’t have to spend hours creating their own quotes and proposals from scratch. They can streamline the entire process with PandaDoc.

2. LastPass

productivity tools

Take a second to think about how many passwords you have for your various accounts. The answer is probably at least half a dozen, even if you are working as a solopreneur.

If you have a few employees, then the number increases. If you or your employee has forgotten the password, you’ll have to go through the whole process of setting up a new password, which results in wasting time that could have been spent on something productive.

Good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. LastPass can take care of this problem. You can store passwords to any account on this tool, whether it is email, bank account, social media profiles or software login passwords. You can manage your passwords from a central dashboard and can also remove passwords for inactive or deleted accounts.

3. Grow in Cloud

productivity tools

If you are running a service-based business, you don’t need to be reminded that time is money! The more people you book for your services, the more revenue you will generate.

Grow in Cloud is a small business CRM software which also enables you to automate appointment bookings and invoicing. Your customers can view your team availability, schedule and reschedule appointments. You can also issue invoices to clients and take payments online to for the issued invoice. The software also sends out email and SMS reminders to client prior to the appointment. This avoids the risk of no show ups, which cost you time and money (especially if you have had to book a meeting room!) You can spend more time with clients, without having to worry about missing phone calls from clients who want to make or reschedule appointments.

You can also use its tasks management module to set tasks, task due dates and reminders for deadlines. It also allows you to assign tasks to staff members and collaborate with them.

4. Canva

productivity tools

There is no need to hire an expensive graphic designer to design images for your website or social media posts. If you have social media profiles and use it to promote your business, you need to be using eye catching images. This will help to increase your post reach and engage prospects.

You can use Canva for this. Canva is an easy to use graphics design tool, which allows you to create images and infographics. Its drag and drop feature makes it user-friendly. It can be used by a non-technical person with ease. Canva has thousands of free images, which you can download from its resource library and use for free. Plus, you will find it has a selection of premium images which can be bought for $1 each.

5. Toggl

productivity tools

Toggl is a time tracking tool. You just have to click on the start button for it to start tracking your work. There is no need to fill in time sheets and then get them double checked and signed off, before you send them out to clients for billable hours.

It also lets you make simple and powerful reports, which can be used to analyse performance and boost productivity. You can use Toggl on all your devices.

6. ezClocker

productivity tools

An alternative to Toggl is ezClocker-an easy to use time sheet and scheduling software that will save you money and time by allowing you to view your employees’ timesheets in real time.

This is ideal for employers with remote employees or if you are always on the go and need to monitor your business away from the office. Employees can use their own mobile device as a time card and it has GPS support where employee’s GPS location is captured when they clock in/out , so you can verify their location.

7. Hootsuite

productivity tools

Running multiple social media profiles can be time-consuming! It is essential to have an online presence these days. You also have to worry about making sure you post content regularly, to increase social engagement, shares and a following. Hootsuite is a social media tool that enables you to run all social media profiles from one platform.

You can monitor all your social media accounts and schedule posts in advance, which can be sent out on a set date time. You can also review all comments and respond to them, without having to leave the software.

8. Slack

productivity tools

Slack is a team collaboration and communication tool. It is great for bringing teams together. You can use the platform to create groups, share files and send/receive messages.  It can be set so that certain groups are only accessible to certain staff members.

Slack increases productivity because it reduces the number of emails that need to be sent to individuals or groups. Also, it is also a place to post announcements to staff in one go, without the need for meetings, as information can be accessed from everyone who is part of the group.

9. Evernote 

productivity tools

Evernote is an amazing app which can be used to perform different tasks and keep your notes in one place.

With this app, you can set and take notes (audio and text), take photos, clip web articles and upload files/attachments.

10. Pocket

productivity tools

Pocket is an app that enables you to save blogs and articles that you can read later.

This is useful for example, if you come across a good piece of content, whilst doing research.  However, you do not have time to read at the moment, but interested in checking it out later to help you with your research.

You can then save it in Pocket and check it later at a convenient time. For reference purposes, you can keep all useful links here, to use for the future.

11. Dropbox

productivity tools

Dropbox is a cloud storage solution which can be used to upload and store files into various folders. It can be used as a central point to store all your company files. You can send and share files with team members.

The admin controls let you check who has accessed the file and who has added something new. It simplifies team management and enables employees to access files when required, anywhere and anytime.

This helps with those that might work remotely and productivity. It saves times having to ask someone to email over a particular file, wait for them to respond then carry out task. This way anyone can access the desired file.

You can also send a unique link for each file to clients, for them to access the file also.

12. Vocus.io

productivity tools

Vocus is a chrome extension for your Gmail account. It brings tremendous productivity to your email account. You can track open/ links click rate and send out automated emails to prospects as part of your outreach campaign. The emails can be sent in form of a drip market. You can also set the data and time for these emails to be delivered.

It comes with a lot of email and poll templates which you can use to prepare emails for your campaign. It can be integrated with leading CRMs.

13. Grammarly

productivity tools

Grammarly is a free cloud English grammar app. It detects spelling mistakes, punctuation and grammar errors. This app is particularly useful, especially if English is not your first language. Grammarly is free to use and can be added as an extension to Google Chrome.

You don’t have to worry about spelling mistakes in your emails or blog posts, as it has spelling auto correction.

The time you used to spend to get your tasks proofread can be saved by installing this helpful app.

14. Expensify

productivity tools

There are many business expenses which can be off set as an expense, when filing end of year accounts. However, you must keep records in case the tax authorities ask you to provide evidence.

Most businesses struggle to keep accurate records and receipts in one place. Business expenses can be incredibly hard to track and record. When you sell goods or services, there are often costs associated with delivering the services/goods. It could be travel expense, stationery, internet or postage.

Expensify makes it easier for you and your employees to track expenses on the go, so you can pass correct expense report to your accountant. The accountant can then present correct profit/loss account.

By tracking your expenses, you will get a better picture of the outflows and can work on reducing unnecessary expenses.

Summary

There are many more tools and resources out there, that can be used to help with productivity. At the end of the day, there are only a certain number of hours in a working day and all these tools can help make life a lot easier for you as a small business owner.

Some Related Blog Posts:

Social Media Management Tools For Your Salon/Spa (And Other Small Businesses)

Invoicing And Online Appointment Booking Software For Salons And Other Small Businesses.

Why Your Business Should Use The Cloud (And Are You Ready?)

5 Benefits Of Having An Appointments Software For Accountants

 

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home-based craft business

How To Start and Develop Your Own Home-Based Craft Business

start craft business

So, you have decided to set up your own home-based craft business? That’s great! You obviously love what you do and want to turn your hobby into a business and want to share it with others.

Whether you like to knit, create woodwork, make jewellery, sew, print or paint, you can be sure that people who do not have the ability, or the time, to make such crafts will really appreciate your skills.

start craft business

                                                           

Pictures Credit:                            

Beaded Jewellery by   Perfectly Unique UK                          

Paper Flowers Decorations by Pink Hippo 

Unicorn Style Wooden Letters by  Kelz Kreationz                                                                                                                    

What To Expect

Whatever craft you decide on, you need to be aware of what to expect when operating a home-based craft business. You will have lots of fun making the products and meet plenty of exciting people, who will have similar interests or who you might collaborate with.

However, as well as offering great customer service, you also want to be prepared for the financial side of things involved in running a home-based business. This means understanding:

  • How to budget,
  • How to save on supply costs,
  • What prices strategy to use,
  • How to sell your products.

Pros and Cons of Opening a Home-Based Craft Business

The best part of opening your own home-based craft business is doing something you love and getting paid for it! However, there are a few downsides which you should consider in order to make balanced, well informed decisions regarding your craft business.

It is a good idea to devise a list of possible pros and cons of opening your own home-based craft business. If this is definitely the way you want to go, then you can try and find ways to get around the cons. Here is a list of to get you started:

Pros:

  • Can work in the comfort of your own home/studio
  • Enjoy your business and make money for it
  • You are your own boss
  • Can set your own hours based around your other commitments
  • Don’t have to worry about daily commutes to work
  • Able to spend as much or as little time on the business as you want, depending on your goals and where you are in your business

Cons:

  • Income would vary from a week to week basis, which could affect whether you can still pay the bills or not
  • Despite your income, you need to have enough funding for supplies and materials
  • Could leave you isolated compared to working in a workplace environment
  • No health insurance benefits or sick pay for days you feel unwell
  • Can be working unsociable hours if you have other commitments too

************

Your list of pros and cons may differ from someone else’s. Your personality, family support and financial situation may benefit from a home-based craft business, while others may decide that a home-based business is not for them.

It may take several months to gather enough clients to make an adequate income to pay your bills, without additional support but don’t let this discourage you. With any business, you won’t see success straight away, but with positive mental attitude, it will happen!

Where Do You Start With Your Own Home-Based Craft Business?

You are now ready to start your own craft business, so where do you start?

Choose Your Craft and Products Carefully

Determine what you do best out of your craft repertoire and focus on that at the beginning. The potential to expand and branch out is endless, so start slow with one product idea in mind.

With this, you need to take the time to think about your target market. Who will buy your crafts? Are your products or crafts going to be themed, such as those offered for seasonal holidays or festivals, or are they products that will be useful all year round, like jewellery, bath soaps, candles and home décor.

home-based craft business

Pictures Credit:

Beaded Chanel Brooch by Perfectly Unique UK

Alternative Pop Up Cards   by Pink Hippo

Decide Business Name

When it comes to naming your business, you need to avoid creating names with a special meaning that only you understand (or have to explain each time)

There is nothing wrong with having an unusual name as you want to be remembered! The gorilla on the drums for the Cadbury advert had nothing to do with chocolate but you still remember it right? (Depending on how old you are!)

However, do make sure any name you choose is a natural sounding name that is easy to remember and spell (when searching for you on Google).

Another thing to consider when thinking of a name for your craft business, think about future marketability and branding. You want to have a name which makes the name of your business easy to market, attract the customers and has the potential to fit when you eventually expand your craft business.

While you do not have to have a business name to start, once you start selling products to consumers and produce invoices and receipts, deal with any financial obligations such as business bank accounts and the IRS/HMRC, then you will need a name or at least a DBA (doing business as) for your tax returns.

Whatever you choose, the important thing to remember is to choose one that will grow with you and your craft business.

How Much To Charge

Going back to the above point about finance, think about how much your products will cost. After all, you want to make money on your craft business, not lose it.

Figure out the cost of supplies and your time to make the product when deciding how much you are going to charge for your finished product.  Look at what your competitors are charging.

Depending on the type of craft, and how many of them you want to offer, you may need to consider having access to some start-up funds. Generally, operating a craft-based business out of your home does not require a great deal of overhead. But you will still need money for supplies, replenishing items and perhaps refurbishing a room in your home or garage space to kit it out for your craft business.

Once you have built a relationship with suppliers and have a set of people you regularly go to, it is important to keep your expenses on track.

This can be done with Grow in Cloud’s Expense Management Feature. Grow in Cloud offers full suppliers and purchases suite for your business. You can save supplier contact details and record business purchases in under few clicks.

Key benefits

  • Track business expenses
  • Compliance and control over business expenses
  • Efficient and effective expense management

How To Get Paid

Your business will not get very far if you do not get paid for your crafts. Keeping track of sales and invoices may also take a chunk out of your day. You also need to determine a variety of payment methods essential for the success of your business.

Keep in mind that people typically require a variety of choices when it comes to payment options. Whenever possible, cater your payment options to meet the needs of the widest number of potential clients. The most common methods for receiving payment for your crafts will be online.

This is easy with Grow in Cloud’s online invoicing and payment feature

Online Invoicing with Grow in Cloud lets you create and send invoices from anywhere. Our easy to use online invoicing tool saves you time and enhance your client communication experience.

You can also get paid instantly with Grow in Cloud’s online payments solution. It works seamlessly with payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe for multiple currency payments processing at low fees.

Key Benefits:

  • Get professional branded invoices
  • Create and send professional invoices from anywhere, on any device and at any time
  • Make and create multi-currency payments
  • Do border less business with our multi-currency payments solution.
  • Create automated payment follow-ups
  • Send automatic email reminders for late payments.

Things to think about to develop and grow your home-based craft business:

Branding

You may also want to consider developing a logo that can also be placed on business cards, stationery, invoices, and order forms.

Business logos and taglines when first starting out is worth considering at the beginning, before you get bogged down with orders and chasing payments!

This will help you stand out when you market your craft business on social media (detailed below)

Get your Own Website

home-based craft business

                                                                                                    Picture credit: RRATAN

You’re a professional, so it helps to look the part. Most people start with a business page on Facebook. But remember this; you’re selling online, so your online presence needs to be available and professional when people search for products, like yours, on the internet.

Above you can see how RRATTAN, a home-based craft re seller, have produced a website to showcase the products they sell.

At the very least, invest in a domain name which you can re-direct to your online store (whether it is Etsy or EBay).

You can use yourcraftbusiness.com rather than yourcraftbusiness.etsy.com or madeit.com.au/yourcraftbusiness.

A small change can make a HUGE difference to the impression people have of your business.

You should aim to have your own, stand-alone and self-hosted website as soon as you can make it happen. Then with carefully selected keywords, you can get your business name found when people search for you on Google.

About Us Page

Once you have your website set up, it is important to have a About Me/Us page, which tells your current and potential customers, who you are and why you set up your business.home-based craft business

                                                                                                         Picture Credit: RRATAN

This is also a good place to explain your mission and perhaps explain how you use ethically sourced items or recycled/biodegradable materials. This will help your customers be aware that you are concerned about our environment. This in turn will make them choose you as their preferred choice!

Have beautiful photos

Once you have your website set up, you want to be able to use it to showcase your craft. When you sell online, your photos will certainly make or break your business!

The photos (of your products) are the first thing that will capture the potential customer and usually the largest part of the decision-making process, especially for buyers out there, who buy on looks alone rather than checking the small print!

Take the time to get good quality photos.

Use:

  • Natural or filtered white light (no flash)
  • Consistent, simple, yet iconic backgrounds – nothing too ‘busy’ that might detract from your item
  • Clear, crisp shots in perfect focus
  • Interesting and intriguing angles – so long as you show the full product

Also, always remember to watermark your photos! You can try eZy Watermark, an app for users who want to capture, watermark and share their pictures and videos quickly and easily.

home-based craft business              home-based craft business

Pictures Credit:

RRATAN                                  

Perfectly Unique UK

Start a Blog

Once you are comfortable and have produced your website, it is great for you to start a blog. This helps improve your business’ visibility on search engines.

For a detailed explanation of why you should be blogging, please read Why Businesses Should Blog.

Here are some blog topics for you to start with. Note, they don’t have to be long, like this one (which is a guide). They can vary in length, depending on the topic.

Blog Post Topic Ideas:

  • Why you started this particular craft? Where did the inspiration or desire come from?
  • Explain your craft in small steps. What is involved in creating a particular item of yours? This would look great in video form too!
  • Choose someone whose work really inspires you and share why with your audience.
  • Talk about the supplies and tools needed for your craft and why you couldn’t do without them.
  • Think about a particular craft related challenge you have been facing and write about them. Sharing with others who might be able to relate or give you advice on helps.
  • Choose a craft book that you have found really helpful in your business and write a review about it.
  • Answer some frequently asked questions about your craft in one blog post.

Market Your Products Using Social Media

With the online world today, there is no way you can’t market your product without the help of social media! You maybe one on the millions of people out there that has a personal account on social media, but for business, it is best to have a separate business page/account on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter…

For craft businesses, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest (which is really a search engine) are the best social media platforms to be on for you to showcase your home-based craft work, share information and target your audience carefully.

The great thing is, you can use tools, such as Hootsuite to schedule posts and link the accounts, so that you are not spending all your time on social media! Because you need to spend the time actually making the products to market! If you have someone to help support you in promoting your work on social media, grab them with both hands and get them involved!

Have the social media linked to your website, so when people go onto it they can find it easily to contact you or look into detail at what you do.

Check out our blog on the 3 most useful tools to help with social media management.

Things to Post on Social Media:

  • Photos of materials you will be using for your product
  • Teasers of what you might you might be making-to encourage engagement
  • Your end product (obviously!)Remember good lighting!
  • Special information about the products you use. This could be done through video and uploaded onto your YouTube channel.
  • Stories of how your product has benefited a customer or been used-tagging them in-for them to share with their friends and family.
  • Seasonal sales and promotions you have going on. Don’t offer promotions all the time, otherwise you will get customers waiting till the promotion to buy (and you have worked hard to make your craft to keep pricing it low!)
  • Events or Fairs you will be attending-to invite customers to come and visit.
  • Reviews and positive testimonials/feedback from happy customers.

          home-based craft business

Pictures Credit: Kelz Kreationz

 

home-based craft business

Picture Credit: Pink Hippo

Remember, when posting images of your products on social media, make sure they are clear and focused. Again use a clear, preferably white background as much as possible to show your products in the best possible light.

Last but not least:

Believe in yourself and what you do!

If you don’t believe in yourself or your product, your business will struggle to succeed.

It takes so much time and dedication to make your home based craft business work. If you don’t make something you absolutely love or enjoy, then you will run out of steam, get disheartened then eventually give up.

So put your heart and soul in what you make and enjoy it!

However, it is important to be open to change. If you’ve been working so hard and STILL not getting any sales/new customers, then think about what might need to change. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in day, so don’t expect your business to thrive the minute you have set up. It takes time and patience. But if you have been doing it for months and not received any sales, then have a look closely at what it could be. Perhaps, it is:

  • What you make. Is there a demand? (This should have been checked at the very beginning)
  • Is it too expensive? Can you offer deals, bundles or discounts?
  • Do your photos show your items in the best light? Do they truly reflect your products?
  • Have you utilised your social media platforms the best possible way? (Following hashtags/joining like-minded groups/collaborating with other creative owners)

Don’t be disheartened if you do need to make a change. All businesses do and should. It is part of the growing process.

Summary

Starting your own home-based craft business is exciting and offers many opportunities. It is limited only by your imagination. Bring your sense of fun and enthusiasm to your craft!

Focus your early marketing efforts on friends and family members. Ask them to help share, advertise and promote your products. They can be your best product ambassadors (especially if you can afford to give some of your products to them for free!)

Good luck with starting and growing your business. Happy Crafting!

 

Related “How To Start….” Blog Posts

How To Start A Wedding Photography Business

How To Start Out As A Virtual Assistant

How To Start Your Home Tutoring Business

How To Start Your Interior Design Business

How To Set Up Your Own Mobile Massage Therapy Business

How To Start A Photography Business

 

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