Top Tips on How to Manage Cash Flow

Whether it is a household you are running or an actual business, it would be vital to know exactly how to manage your cash flow. After all, you don’t want to experience any trouble with money, do you? Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees, so you will need some real discipline in your life if you want to stay in a decent financial situation at all times. Here are several tips that can help you out.

1. Check out your existing cash balance

If you don’t know the amount of something, there is no way you will be able to analyze it – and the same goes for money. In other words, you need to know what your exact balance is in order to figure out where you stand and what you should do with the rest of your cash. If you don’t know what your balance is, you could make several grave mistakes.

 2. Don’t run out of money

This may sound like common sense, but a lot of people still overlook this basic advice. In a nutshell, you need to do everything possible to prevent yourself from running out of money. Remember: if you do run out, you might end up doing things you will regret in the long run, such as getting a huge loan and falling into bigger money problems in the future.

3. Find out where your money is coming from

Find out where you are getting your money from and how long it will last. Then, try to keep a consistent cash flow to avoid financial problems. The secret here is to simply prepare yourself and have the right information handy at all times.

4. Maintain a good financial situation

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should never make any changes or never try to improve your finances. However, you do need to stop spending on things that won’t improve your situation in any way. This will ensure that you don’t make investment mistakes in the future and will always be able to stand on your feet.

5. Rely on good accounting software

Accountants aren’t always a necessity in the world of money management. In fact, all of the things you need for cash flow management can easily be done with the right accounting software. Now, if you have no idea how to use this software yet, just try out a training program that can help you figure it out first. These programs are usually quite easy anyway.

These are just some of the tips that can help you with cash flow management, Naturally, every person’s situation will differ, though, so just make sure you follow the basics and stay on top of things, even when you do experience certain financial problems. Good luck!

Guest Post by: Spencer Sy, a business educator and a web enthusiast. He’s currently working at a KPN Company that provides global phone card and calling cards to Italy for international travelers. Take an additional 10% off with coupon code “acc10”.

10 Ways to Make Managing Your Small Business’ Accounts Easier

Running your business requires time and dedication, along with careful account management. These ten tips make managing your small business’ accounts easier.

Maintain Separate Business Banking Accounts

Mixing your personal and business funds can be a recipe for disaster and may cause legal problems. Maintaining separate business accounts with restricted access limited to only you or specified, designated staff also helps reduce the risk of employee embezzlement.

  • Deposit all of your business receipts into your business account.
  • Pay all your business expenses out of your business checking account.
  • For small businesses with more than a couple of employees, consider establishing a separate account for payroll purposes, transferring funds before each week’s payroll payments.
  • Conduct background checks and credit checks before providing authorization to your staff for access to business banking accounts.

Use Automated Invoicing

Automated invoicing simplifies your business accounting. Software designed for small businesses costs little yet saves hours of your time, more than paying for itself.

  • Consider what features you need in your invoicing system, such as overdue notices, calculation of late fees or penalties or automatic suspension or deactivation of accounts due to non-payment.
  • Set up your invoicing system to run at regulated intervals, such as monthly, so that your customers know what to expect from you.
  • Set up a quarterly or semi-annual invoice summary for regular clients.

Balance Ledgers Daily

No one likes bad surprises, and balancing your incomings and outgoings ledger on a daily basis helps avoid unpleasant results. An automated system eases this process.

  • Balancing your ledgers daily helps detect employee theft. Employees who handle cash are easily tempted to remove a small amount on a regular basis, accumulating to large losses over a long period of time.
  • Finding mistakes is easier when the ledger is balanced daily.
  • Balancing the ledger takes less time when done on a daily basis.

Deposit Payments Immediately

Waiting around to deposit your customers’ payments increases the risk that there will be insufficient funds to complete the transaction.

  • Stamp all received checks with “For Deposit Only”.
  • Make all deposits without beforehand taking deductions for expenses incurred.
  • Require that all incoming payments be handed to you or your accountant unopened to avoid theft or misplacement of payments.
  • Record all payment information such as check number, customer’s name and method of payment. Use a computerized database to automate this process.

Reconcile Monthly Bank Statements

Ensuring that your records match those of the bank perfectly keeps your business solvent. Utilize automated software to make this process easier.

  • Reconcile your bank statements at the end of each month to know your actual account balance.
  • Check your monthly statement against your daily statements to check for discrepancies. Software can automate this for you.

Insure Business Vehicles

If you or your employees operate company owned business vehicles, or if you or staff utilize your own vehicles for business use, regularly review your business car insurance coverage to ensure your business is adequately protected in the event of a collision or accident.

  • Review your coverage quarterly.
  • Get in writing what is covered and not covered.
  • Cross check your employees’ driving records with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles quarterly to ensure they are maintaining safe driving records. Unsafe drivers can increase the cost of your car insurance policy.

Monitor Electronic Transactions

If you accept credit card payments or other forms of electronic debits and payments, monitor these electronic transactions on a daily basis.

  • Keep a file for tracking credit card payments from customers.
  • Budget for the fees associated with credit card transactions.

Establish Procedures for Bounced Checks

If you accept personal checks as payments for goods or services, establishing a procedure for bounced checks or not sufficient funds (NSF) accounts is critical for managing your business accounts.

  • Follow up immediately on bounced checks.
  • Review the status of your client’s account to determine if further action is necessary. This can save you headaches and significant losses from maintaining delinquent business clients.

Organize Files

Organization is the key to successful business accounting. Establish separate files for transactions including:

  • Unpaid invoices for suppliers and clients
  • Paid invoices for suppliers and clients
  • Open orders
  • Completed orders
  • Federal, state and municipal taxes
  • Monthly and quarterly bank statements
  • Payroll
  • Employee information
  • Contracts
  • Insurance policies
  • Equipment warranty and serial numbers
  • Business licenses and permits

Monitor Budgets

Review your various budget categories regularly to ensure your business is on track to maintain budget. Line items to review regularly include:

  • Supply costs
  • Cost per unit of production
  • Operating costs including rent, utilities and permits
  • Payroll costs

Managing your business accounts is an ongoing process. However, taking the time to keep up on necessary tasks will save you time and money in the end, and may even protect the solvency and profitability of your small business.

Author: Catherine Barnes

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling tool hat helps solopreneurs and small business owners to simplify administrative tasks. Follow us on Facebook.

The First 5 Things You Need to do After Putting Your Small Business Site Online

Having a Website that you don't market is like having a billboard in the desert

Many small business owners strive to bring customers in the door – whether that door is brick and mortar or virtual. Setting up a website is a given in today’s marketplace, and an online presence is crucial for your advertising.

Just having a website, though, often isn’t enough. You need to drive targeted traffic to that website in order to entice the right kinds of customers for your product or service offering. Otherwise, you simply have a billboard in the desert. So once you have your site underway, there are still a few more things you need to do in order to bring in the traffic that your business requires.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Well, not automatically. The most awesome website in the world won’t do you – or your customers – any good until people know that it’s there, and why they should visit it. So, the first thing you need to do is put the word out that your website is up and ready for visitors.

One of the best ways to do so is to get your site listed in the search engines – starting with Google. Although your website may not shoot to the top of the search list right away, you should start by putting relevant keywords in your titles and content, especially if that content is very specific to keywords that your potential customers are searching for online, then you will have a much easier time being found.

Content is King

With any online venture, having good relevant content is crucial. Content includes not just the actual pages on your website, but also articles that may be found online by readers that will “pull” customers into your website to get additional information.

Therefore, make sure that you have relevant and targeted content in your articles that will bring the readers to your site for more information. Oftentimes what brings visitors to your site the fastest is if they are seeking more information on how to solve a particular problem or fill a need – so be sure that your content reflects just how your offering can do that.

Blogging for Dollars…and Customers

Having a blog is another great way to bring visitors to your website. This is because the content on blogs is much more fluid, and if run correctly, it is also regularly updated. Blogs also allow visitors to make comments on the content and can literally spark ongoing, interactive conversations about the topics. This is also a way to get visitors to come back to your blog on a regular basis.


Word of mouth advertising has always been one of the strongest ways to get product or service recommendations. One way of getting online recommendations is to work in conjunction with “partners.”

In order to do so, work with others in your industry who may offer complimentary products or services and have them put some of your articles or other content on their website – while also returning the favor for them. The customers that visit their website may also be interested in purchasing what you have to offer and vice versa. This creates a win-win for both business owners while also opening up your information to a whole new group of potential customers.

But Wait, There’s More!

One of the most valuable assets you can have as a business owner is a mailing list. Depending on how many visitors your website brings in regularly, you have the potential to build your list quickly – if you offer the visitor something in return for giving you their email address and permission to contact them.

With this in mind, make sure that you add an opt-in box on your website that asks for the visitor’s name and email address. In return, let them know that you will send them a free report or other valuable information for doing so. This will help you to build your list of prospects and customers so as to send them ongoing regular emails discussing information about your products or services that they may be interested in.

Frank Anderson is a small business and technology blogger.  He also has a keen interest in microsoftexchangehosting and other popular hosting configurations.

How to Keep Overhead Costs Down

One of the greatest challenges to anyone attempting to run a profitable business is the unknown drains on business profit. When the economic conditions restrain sales, every dollar must be stretched further than ever before. Cash flow is the key to guiding a business through the rough economic waters that most people are facing today. With some time and effort, most small-business owners can lower their overhead costs and free up some extra cash, which is vital to success.

Adhere to the budget

Developing an annual budget is the first step to gaining control over the finances. Throughout the fiscal year, expenses must be monitored very closely to determine if the budget is accurate and the business can function. Cost overruns in one category can drain an entire month of profit. A well-written budget plan can guide the business through any economic situation because the business owner can see what is happening.

Negotiate supplier contracts

Suppliers need customers just like everyone else, and one way to reduce the cost of goods sold is to choose two or three suppliers and negotiate lower prices. Payment terms and minimum order sizes can be renegotiated to address cash flow constraints. On-time payments will earn favor with suppliers.

Perform annual insurance reviews

As businesses evolve, insurance needs will change and different categories of insurance become available. Any major business change will require a close evaluation of the existing insurance policies. Every category of insurance must be scrutinized to remove unnecessary coverage.

Embrace the usefulness of the Internet

Software upgrades are very expensive since businesses must keep up with the requirements of various entities, such as the accountant and the governing authorities. Useful software applications can be found from websites that offer accounting software and other useful tools free or for a low monthly fee. Security protocols will prevent breaches that might be a cause of concern. Automated backup routines on the website of choice will reduce the risk of loss for the business.

Utilize appropriate professionals

Accountants are great coaches for business owners who are just setting out, but their bill can add up quickly when they are used as a bookkeeper, consultant and financial advisor. Some pro bono services can reduce the costs of acquiring professional guidance, but close evaluation of the needed services are an important prerequisite.

Lock supply cabinets

In offices, one of the creeping expenses is the simple office supplies that are required to perform basic tasks. Studies have shown that the cost of office supplies will drop by 30 percent if everyone has to ask someone for paper, pens and labels. Most of the supplies in business settings do not leave the premises, but instead people are hoarding supplies to save time later.

Eliminate unused assets

Equipment that has been replaced should be sold to another entity. The extra cash is one reason to do this, but obsolete equipment can consume valuable space and inflate insurance costs. Donating these assets to a charity can provide a tax break for the business. If you can get rid of stuff you don’t use and make some money while you’re at it, you will be helping your business more than you expect.

Focused effort is required to guard the profits of the business long enough to survive economic downturns and seize growth opportunities. When the overhead costs are evaluated on a monthly basis, the budget will become an effective tool instead of a useless exercise. Adjustments to the budget can be made at any point during the year if actual expenses are appearing in different areas that originally projected

Mary Blanchard works is a financial advisor and keeps her budget tight by extreme couponing.  She has provided advice on some of the best deal sites available.  She recommends the Coupon Croc, check them out to see why.

Grow Your Social Networks by Engaging Industry Leaders Online

With 800 million active users on Facebook and 100 million on Twitter, it is no surprise that social media marketing is hot right now.

Yet reaching your target audience on social networks is not always an easy task, nor is it always cheap. As Facebook advertising rates continue to rise, the price tag to be promoted on Twitter is $120,000 — per day.

Engaging Thought Leaders

So how can you effectively target relevant Facebook and Twitter users without breaking the bank? The answer is simple: Engage online with thought leaders and other popular businesses in your industry.

The underlying strategy is the same for both Facebook and Twitter, though the process varies slightly for each network. Here is a simple step-by-step guide for each.

Note: If you have not created Facebook and Twitter accounts for your business, you will need to do so before moving forward with this strategy.


  • Step 1: Search for company pages in your industry that have a strong Facebook fan base. Because you are in a similar niche, the people who follow these pages are more likely than a random person to have an interest in your specialty.
  • Step 2: Using Facebook as your business page, “Like” the pages you found. Their status updates will now appear in your business page’s home News Feed.
  • Step 3: Read other pages’ status update and respond to them, preferably with insightful or witty comments. Anyone who sees the status update and comments will see your company page. If you say something that interests them, they can easily click through to your Facebook page and see what you’re all about


  • Step 1: Follow Twitter accounts that are engaging the followers you want. This often requires more research than identifying relevant Facebook pages, as Twitter is full of bloggers, journalists, and individual experts for any given topic. You can start by viewing Twitter’s “Who to Follow Suggestions,” after which you should do a keyword search. Next, look at which accounts industry leaders are following and follow some of those accounts as well. Finally, there are a number of free and paid services that will let you search by topic or industry, some of which give you specific suggestions as well.
  • Step 2: Interact with the accounts you now follow. You can do this in a number of ways, including responding to their tweets, tweeting them questions or interesting articles, and praising them. If they respond to one of your tweets (as you prompt them to do with questions), then their followers will see you. Praise is also a strong weapon, as many Twitter users will either re-tweet what you said or favorite your tweet, thereby giving you visibility to all of their followers.
  • Step 3: To boost your results even more, take it one step further. As soon as you send a tweet to an industry thought leader (or, better yet, as soon as they respond to one of your tweets), follow their followers. Why? First of all, you are likely to receive a number of automated follow-backs. Second, you will prompt the users you followed to look at your profile. There they will see in your recent tweets that you interact with an account that they already follow, thereby increasing the chance that they will follow you back. (Tip: In most cases a user will see only your three most recent tweets when they click on your username, so make sure the tweet you sent to the thought leader is recent).

There you have it — a free way to find and engage with relevant users on the world’s two largest social networks. Best of luck growing your online following.

About the Author: Written by Rachel Dotson on behalf of ZipRecuiter, an innovative job distribution service and one-stop-shop for finding, screening, and tracking job candidates. Find them on Facebook.

Overcoming Isolation When Working From Home

We love the flexibility and the ability to define our own hours when working from home. However, there are some disadvantages. One of the most common problems is feelings of isolation or loneliness. Here are some tips on how to deal with this.

Stay connected

In these days of Twitter, Skype and instant messaging, you can get in touch with your friends and colleagues at any time. Having online friends who share your interests can keep you motivated. Apple’s FaceTime allows you to talk with anyone on a Mac or an iOS device such as the iPad so you can catch up whenever you want.

Don’t let it become a crutch, however. You need to limit the amount of time you spend chatting. If a friend wants to chat for an extended period during working hours you will have to be honest with them and schedule some time to get back with them later. If you are tempted to spend too much time on the social networks then you may want to install Anti-Social for Mac or Freedom for Mac and PC. These turn off the social parts of the internet until you reboot your computer.

Yet you may feel better and less isolated just knowing that you have a social network on which you can rely. Just the knowledge that you’re not really “alone” can help you feel less lonely.


Like the other social parts of the online world, forums can serve the dual purpose of not only easing isolation but allowing you to network and promote your business. Again, however, you should not spend too much time on the forums, nor should you rationalize that your activity is for business if it is really for pleasure.


There are a number of excellent podcasts you can listen to to help you feel more in touch with the outside world. There are podcasts available on the Mac, business, and practically any specialized interest you can think of.

Go for a walk

You want to avoid the feeling of being chained to your desk. There are no water coolers at home around which you can congregate. There are no colleagues in the next cubicle with whom to talk about sports or the latest movies.

You need a break from your day — something that can take your mind off of work for a while. Perhaps you have a park near your home or a walking trail that can make a lovely place to walk. You can walk with a friend or by yourself. Getting the circulation going is the most important thing. You can even listen to your favorite podcast loaded onto your iPod, so you can keep up with events and feel less isolated at the same time.

Change locations

You may get bored in your home office. With your Macbook, you can always take your work with you. Perhaps you would prefer a bite out to eat and to get a little work done at the same time. Or you could go to the local coffee shop and get some work done there. Sometimes, just a change of scenery and having other people around will help you feel less isolated

You might get the impression that the Mac is the forgotten stepchild of the Internet marketing industry. But did you know that some of the top names in Internet Marketing use Macs? Visit and get a  FREE 75-page ebook that covers everything you need to know about running your Internet business using a Mac, iPhone and iPad.  Also visit and

Customer Service 2.0

While the phone is still the primary way customers interact with companies for service, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are quickly gaining ground. Here’s what you need to know.

If you’ve been in business a while, you’re probably sick of hearing about “the next big thing” in customer support. Over the past few decades we’ve seen call centers spring up then get outsourced to foreign countries, and we’ve seen some people move to email, online ticket based systems, and even web based live chats. So far, call centers are still the primary method of problem solving for most people, but that may be changing. However, the change isn’t coming because of live chat or specialist web based support systems – it’s social media that’s driving the change.

Social Support

If you’ve ever tweeted something negative about a well-known brand, you may well have seen social media support in action. There are several companies that monitor Twitter for mentions of their company, and will respond to negative mentions with an automated asking the poster if they need any help. If the user responds, they’ll get an answer within a few hours.

Some companies take this a step further, by having a specialist staff member monitoring tweets during office hours. This staff member will converse with customers and answer basic questions quite quickly, forwarding more complex queries to the right department.

When Things go Wrong

Offering support via Facebook and Twitter is a nice idea, but if you don’t train your staff properly, it can easily go wrong. A thoughtless staff member might “Like” something inappropriate on Facebook, or re-tweet an off-colour joke on Twiter. That could do a lot of damage to your brand.

Another common pitfall is over-use of automation. If you rely on a bot for your Social Media interaction, and your customers catch on, then that could do more damage than just not bothering to use social media at all. Consumers want to feel like they’re talking to a human, rather than just being sprayed with random marketing messages.

With that said, the benefits can be far greater than the potential downsides. Employing a strong social media policy as part of your unified communications strategy could be useful in a crisis. If your website goes down or your VOIP providers have some capacity problems, how will you communicate with your customers? A good unified communications strategy relies on you having lots of options for achieving the same goal. Reaching out to your customers via social media is a valid strategy.

Customers as marketing

Street teams are popular with indie bands and other products aimed at young people. The idea behind street teams is that you use your most loyal customers as grass-roots marketing people. Instead of being paid a typical wage for their work, they get rewarded in other ways -typically free products, or tickets to shows, autographs, and small “money can’t buy” items. The strategy behind street teams can be applied to almost any product, though. A clever PR company can get people on-side for even the most mundane product, and get people evangelising for their company via social media. It costs nothing for a person to re-tweet a message about server downtime, and if you make it interesting or funny as well as helpful, you’ll find that most people will be happy to spread the word for you.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling tool hat helps solopreneurs and small business owners to simplify administrative tasks. Follow us on Facebook.

Six Steps to Employee Goal Achievement

The best strategy for staffing your small business is to know how to hire the right people. Still, from time to time, problems with employee productivity do still arise and success will depend on your thoughtful management of the issue. If you are a manager who is looking for optimal performance from your employees, it pays to understand what makes them better. A lot of money and time can be spent on improving performance through training and coaching methods, while simply understanding how to communicate with, motivate and manage your employees will go a long way.

 Approach the Employee About the Problem

Your employee is never going to improve unless she knows what the issue is. Have a sit down meeting and talk about what you have seen and where improvement needs to take place. Good communication with employees will ensure that they can strive toward making the positive gains you want to see. In fact, communication is critical no matter what aspect of the business you are thinking of. Communication and commitment are keys to success!

Make a Plan

Have some sort of concrete plan that your employee can use in order to get better. If there is an issue with attendance you can arrange for a wake up call, or maybe carpooling to work in the morning. Perhaps there is an alternate route your employee can take to work, or perhaps a more flexible schedule would be beneficial for the employee. Whatever the issue is, make a plan to get the employee to overcome that issue.

Track Progress

You have to be able to follow through with your employee just as much as the employee needs to actually follow through. Tracking progress is sort of like car insurance in that you do a little more each month until you have paid the entire car insurance premium. If the employee feels like you don’t care, or aren’t watching anymore, it could be taken as a sign that improvement would just be in vain, or that nothing will come from showing improvement. This could be a major step backwards for your employees, and for the whole team in general.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Make sure that your employee knows that the door is always open and that you can be approached at all times. Allow other managers to be able to talk about issues that your employee might be having. The more resources that an employee has, the better off that employee is going to be.

You never want to stifle the opinions of an employee and you never want to make an employee feel like issues cannot be brought up or explained. That is one sure fire way to encourage that your employee regresses instead of improves.

Provide Feedback

As your employee progresses throughout her career, it is important to provide feedback so that she knows where she stand in regards to how much progress is being made. An employee who has no idea if she is doing what she needs to is just as bad as the employee who has the serious issue in the first place. The employee who always comes in late might not know how you feel about his progress unless you provide feedback.

If progress is satisfactory, let your employee know that he is doing a good job and that you notice. As childish as it might seem, we all need feedback to allow for positive reinforcement so that we continue with the proper behavior.

Final Follow Through

Set a target date for when the problem should be corrected and what the consequences are for not accomplishing your goal. Have a final meeting and talk about the things that the employee did well to accomplish the goal and things that could have been done better.

If your employee is showing effort, it should be noted and the she should be considered a work in progress, like all employees ideally should be. If the employee does not try enough, she should be let go, or should be reported to other management for a final decision on their status.

Note that the example given above was for an employee that needed to show improvement to save their job, but it can be used for a good employee as well. Perhaps you want to push someone to do better so that they can be promoted to management, or so that they can be groomed to reach their full potential elsewhere.

Whatever side of the fence that employee falls on, these six steps will ensure a higher level of accomplishment in the workplace.

Jeffrey Crews is a writer and marketer who writes about how to compare car insurance and other topics. Follow him on Twitter: @AutoInsurance


Networking to Expand Your Business

A strong network is surely one of the keys to success in business. As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters most. The term networking has a negative connotation for some people who interpret it as a way of getting something  from other people. In actuality building real relationships and actively maintaining them is what networking is all about. Many small business owners tend to become buried in the day-to-day operations of their businesses. For them, actively networking can become an afterthought or even go completely overlooked.  Here, for busy business-owners and the networking newbies alike, a few tips to help bring this effective tool into regular practice.

Be Visible

Busy business-owners sometimes forget to get out there and network. While there’s lots of work to do at the office it’s as important to also be out in the world. While networking opportunities may present themselves at almost any time, it helps to also participate in networking groups. These can include networking events or industry mixers, professional associations, organized professional networking groups that meet frequently and online networks such as LinkedIn. Some experts suggest being active in one of each type of networking group.

Be Clear on What You Provide

As you meet new people for the purpose of building your business network, you will need to describe what you do and whom you serve. You’ll need  to do this clearly and concisely in 30 seconds to a minute. Also known as your elevator pitch, your description of what you do should be straight forward and easily understood by others. If you are doing too many things and try to fit them into your 30 second elevator pitch, it will come across as unfocused. In general, as you develop your elevator pitch consider how it will land on your listener. Will it instill trust? Does it intrigue people to hear more? As Jolene McKenna, a business consultant and the founder of the Solopreneur  Success System points out, you need to go beyond telling people what you do and instead “tell your story.”  It’s the story you tell that intrigues listeners. Combine what you do with your benefits and differentiators to create one smooth story.  It takes some work to develop your elevator pitch but it is essential to your success to be able to speak about your business effectively. Write it down, practice delivering it, ask people you trust for feedback – how does it sound to them? Then get out there and speak confidently about what you offer.

Be Generous

Now for the good stuff. Generosity is what networking and relationship building is really all about. Networking is not about what people can do for you, it’s about establishing relationships. It’s about being a resource for other people. In other words, think not what your network can do for you, but what you can do for your network. Help whenever you can. Share your expertise and information freely. Only ask for help when you must and never before having provided some assistance first. According to strategic business coach, Jackie Nagel, you want to figure out how you can support those in your network and their endeavors before asking for support.  Nagel also advises that people should be careful to not spread themselves too think with networking. As she points out, networks need tender loving care to survive. “Know how many people you can truly serve,” she says in her article Five Ways To Make Your “Net” Work and Grow Your Business. According to Nagel, “when you can no longer cultivate the current relationships in your network, you may have reached your capacity.”

Follow Up

Whether networking at a casual event or through a professional association, the first contact is merely the beginning. According to business innovation & growth strategist, Sandee Hemphill, “the glue is in the follow-up.” According to her, “the game really begins at the second contact more than the first.”  Patrick Powers, an expert on marketing and entrepreneurship concurs this point. According to him, the purpose of the follow up is fourfold. The follow up should:

  1. make you stand out so they remember you
  2. build trust in you as a person, not just in your company
  3. show them that you are a pro at what you do
  4.  have them refer leads and/or do business with you

According to Powers, the fourth and final step is impossible without the first three. Be sure to immediately send a follow up note after meeting at a networking event and consider some of these follow up strategies as you take this important step in your networking.

Remember, networking is a marathon not a sprint. Building longstanding relationships takes time and effort yet offers much in return. Practice often and avoid missteps. As your network grows so will your business.

Additional Reading

Networking is a skill you can develop. Like any other skill it comes more naturally to some than others and practicing will make you better at it. For the total networking newbie, it helps to start with some basic information. These beginner books will get you started.

How to Work a Room, by Susan RoAne

Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi

Networking Like a Pro, by Dr. Ivan Misner

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling application that helps small businesses and solopreneurs streamline administrative tasks. Try it for free.


Choosing the Right Merchant Account Provider

SimplifyThis’ web based invoicing software enables clients to easily pay you online though a merchant account or Paypal. Choosing a merchant account provider can be a daunting task. Here’s what to look for.

In business you are only as good as the services you use. Whether you are deciding on a shipping method, a web host, or a distributor, your business depends on their efficiency and overall operational success. One aspect of business that is often settled upon rather than carefully chosen is the merchant account provider. Many take the first company they come across with the best price. In business this can cause immediate setup for failure. When choosing a merchant account, careful consideration should be taken in a few areas.

Choosing a Merchant Account Provider

When you are choosing your account provider you have a choice between a merchant account service and your bank. Some businesses will choose their bank out of convenience and loyalty. However, this may not be the best choice. As banks utilize merchant account services as an alternative source of income, their focus on merchant accounts is less than ideal. Most banks actually outsource their merchant accounts to real merchant account providers, which will cause you to pay more for a service you could be getting directly. These merchant account providers are the best choice as they are up to date on today’s e-commerce technology.


Just as you work towards building a great reputation in your business, your merchant account provider should do the same. Choose an account that has a great reputation for tending to their customer’s needs. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints or compliments.  If you find there are more complaints than you feel comfortable with, move on to another company. A good standing with the BBB is a great indication of what to expect when doing business with the merchant provider.


Your satisfaction should be the most important aspect of choosing any partner in business. Research the account provider’s satisfaction guarantee. Many will offer a 90 day money back guarantee in case you are unhappy with their service. This shows their confidence in their business and services they offer. If you find a provider with no guarantee, be weary and continue your search. You will want a company that is confident enough in their operations to offer you a full refund if they fail to satisfy your needs.

Customer Service

Your merchant account provider needs to be reachable. During your search, take into consideration their customer service practices, rating, and availability. If you have a problem at 3am with your service, you want a company that has staff on hand to address your concerns and provide a solution. Take the time to call their customer service department to get a feel for what to expect. Searching Google for customer recommendations and reviews is also a great way to get a firsthand opinion on the type of customer service they have.


One of the most important aspects of any business service is the cost to do business with them. Whether you are a small start-up company or a large corporation, cost is always the bottom line. Choosing a merchant account provider is a way to receive credit card payments, online payments, and expand the options for your customers to pay for your products or services. It should not be the one service that sends your company into bankruptcy.

By searching several different companies, you will be able to estimate the industry standard for the services you need. While many businesses tend to choose the lowest cost service, this may be a mistake. Just as you have a cost of business, so does the merchant account providers.  Those account providers that offer the same services for much less may be lacking in their customer service, reliability of service, or could be a scam all together. Choose a moderately priced service that has all of the options you are looking for.

Also look at initial fees. There shouldn’t be an application fee, setup fee, maintenance fee, or annual fee. The cost of the service is paid for by the transactions your company makes. Also avoid companies that require you to sign a lease for equipment. Merchant account providers understand the world of business and the success to failure rate. If you are forced to sign a lease and your business doesn’t succeed you will find yourself paying for unused equipment for the remainder of the lease.

Business Practice

The last, but not least important, is the account providers business practices. You want to choose a company that is reliable and up to date. Call the company and grill them with questions regarding how long they have been in business, accuracy of their deposits, whether the deposits are made in a timely manner and if there are any additional services that may be beneficial to your specific business. You will want to be sure you are receiving accurate records in order to keep accurate records.

Before settling on a merchant account provider, take your time to consider all the aspects of doing business with them. If one company is lacking in one department, continue your search until you find a company that meets all the needs of your business. Don’t make the mistake of settling for a provider based on price or convenience. After all, you will be doing business with them for a long time.


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