6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

Improve your chances of growth by covering these bases in your plan.

Many small businesses lack a full financial plan.

Evidence shows that complete financial plans are essential to the long-term success and growth of your business: A Palo Alto Software survey found that entrepreneurs who had completed a business plan for their venture were more than twice as likely to successfully grow their business as those who had no plan or an incomplete financial plan. Here’s a guide to the six key elements of a successful small business financial plan.

What is a business financial plan, and why is it important? 

A financial plan for your business is an overview of your business’s financial situation and a forward-looking projection for growth. There are typically six parts to a full financial plan: sales forecasting, expense outlay, a statement of financial position, cash flow projection, break-even analysis and an operations plan.

Tips on writing a business financial plan

Business owners should create a financial plan annually, ideally at the beginning of the calendar or fiscal year, to ensure they have a clear and accurate picture of their business’s finances, as well as a realistic view on future growth or expansion. Having a plan in place helps the business’s leaders make informed decisions around purchases, debt, hiring, expense control and overall operations for the year ahead. A business financial plan is also essential if a business owner is looking to sell their business, attract investors or enter into a partnership with another business.

It is also recommended that the author of the financial plan review the previous year’s plan against actual performance and finances to see how accurate the previous plan and forecast was. Any discrepancies or overlooked elements can be better addressed or incorporated in next year’s plan, making it more accurate and dependable.

A business owner, or the individual charged with creating the business financial plan, should collaborate with the finance department; the human resources department; the sales team; the operations leader; and those in charge of machinery, vehicles, or other significant business tools. Each division should provide the necessary data about projections, value and expenses. All of these come together to create a comprehensive financial picture of the business.

The Small Business Association (SBA) and SCORE, the SBA’s nonprofit partner, are two excellent resources to learn about financial plans, the elements of a comprehensive plan, and how best to work with the different departments in your business to collect the necessary information.

If you are unsure or encounter a challenge while creating your business financial plan, business owners and leaders can seek advice from their accountant or other small business owners in their network. Your local city or state has a small business office that you can contact for help.

Tip: Financial plans should be created annually at the beginning of the fiscal year as a collaboration between the finance, HR, sales, and operations leaders. 

The 6 components of a successful financial plan for business

1. Sales forecasting

You should have an estimate of your sales revenue for every month, quarter and year. Identifying any patterns in your sales cycles helps you better understand your business; it’s also invaluable as you plan marketing initiatives and growth strategies. A seasonal business can aim to improve sales in the former off season to become a year-round venture, while another business might become better prepared by understanding correlation in upticks and downturns in business due to factors like the weather or economy.

Sales forecasting is also the foundation for setting company growth goals. For instance, aim to improve your sales 10% over each previous period.

2. Expense outlay

A full expense plan includes regular expenses, expected future expenses and associated expenses.

Regular expenses are the current ongoing costs of your business, including operational costs like rent, utilities and payroll. Regular expenses relate to standard business activities that occur each year, such as conference attendance, advertising and marketing spend, or the office Christmas party. A full list of regular expenses will make it easier to distinguish essential expenses from expenses that can be reduced or eliminated if needed.

Expected future expenses are known future costs, such as tax rate increases, increased minimum wage or maintenance needs. Generally, budget should also be allocated for unexpected future expenses, such as damage to your business caused by fire, flood or other unexpected disasters. Planning for future expenses ensures your business is financially prepared via budget reduction, increases in sales or financial assistance.

Associated expenses are the estimated costs of various initiatives, such as the cost to acquire and train a new hire, open a new store or expand delivery to a new territory. An accurate estimate of associated expenses helps you properly manage growth and prevents your business from exceeding your cost capabilities. As with expected future expenses, understanding how much capital is required to accomplish various growth goals helps you make the right decision about financing options.

3. Statement of financial position (assets and liabilities)

Assets and liabilities are the foundation of your business’s balance sheet and the primary determinants of your net worth. Tracking both ensures you are maximizing your business’s potential value. Small businesses frequently undervalue their assets, such as machinery, property or inventory, and fail to properly account for outstanding bills.

Your balance sheet, or financial position, offers a more complete view of your business’s health than a profit and loss statement or a cash flow report. A profit and loss statement shows how the business performed over a specific time period, while a balance sheet shows the financial position of the business on any given day.

4. Cash flow projection

Similar to projecting your expenses, a savvy business owner should be able to predict their cash flow on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Projecting cash flow for the full year allows you to get ahead of any financial struggles or challenges. It can also help you identify a cash flow problem before it negatively impacts your business. You can set the most appropriate payment terms, such as how much you charge upfront or how many days after invoicing you expect payment.

A cash flow projection gives you a clear look at what money is expected to be left at the end of each month, enabling you to plan a possible expansion or other investments. It also helps you budget smarter, such as spending less one month for the anticipated cash needs of another month.

5. Break-even analysis

This section analyzes fixed costs relative to the profit earned by each additional unit you produce and sell. This is essential to understanding your business’s revenue and potential costs versus profits of expansion or growth of your output. Having your expenses fully fleshed out, as described above, makes your break-even analysis more accurate and useful.

Break-even analysis is also the best way to determine your pricing. A break-even analysis can tell you how many units you need to sell at various price points to cover your costs. You should aim to set a price that gives you a comfortable margin over your expenses while allowing your business to remain competitive.

6. Operations plan

To run your business as efficiently as possible, craft a detailed overview of your operational needs. Understanding what roles are required to operate your business at various volumes of output, how much output or work each employee can handle, and the costs of each stage of your supply chain aid you in making informed decisions for your business’s growth and efficiency.

It’s important to tightly control expenses, such as payroll or supply chain, relative to growth. An operations plan can also make it easier to determine if there is room to optimize your operations or supply chain via automation, new technology or superior supply chain vendors.

For this reason, it is imperative that the business owner conducts due diligence and becomes knowledgeable about merchant services before acquiring an account. Once the owner signs a contract, it cannot be changed, unless the business owner breaks the contract and acquires a new account with a new merchant services provider. 

In conclusion, the business owner should undertake steps to plan cash flow generation in order to derive maximum profits from accepting credit cards for products and services.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

How to Create a Business Budget, With Free Budget Template

Business budgets are necessary for keeping a finger on the pulse of your business’s financial health. Download our free business budget template and learn how to use it.

Creating a budget for your business may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a vital step in your business’s development. In fact, you’ll probably need one as part of your business plan. A business budget can take multiple forms. At its most basic level, it is a document that shows how much money you have coming in and what you need to spend money on. It also shows how much money you will need to make to continue making a profit and satisfy your expenses.

How do you create a startup business budget?

If your business is new or still in the planning stages, creating a budget is tricky – even with a template – because you don’t have actual numbers to plug in. Still, it’s something you need for your business plan.

This is especially important if you’re planning to apply for a small business loan to help you launch your business. Here are five steps to help you create a startup budget so you can start your business off on the right foot.

1. Set your budget goal.

Your budget goal is the total amount you are willing to spend on your business. This helps you establish clear parameters for your budget from the beginning and keep your spending in check.

To set your goal, consider the amount of money you currently have or can realistically obtain. How much makes sense for you to spend? Keep in mind that loans must be paid back, often with interest, and you must not deplete your personal savings.

2. Categorize your expenses.

For this step, start by brainstorming all of your potential expenses on a budget worksheet. Begin with your startup costs, which are any one-time expenses related to starting your business.

This could include things like a building (if you’re buying, not renting), computers and photography equipment. Be specific and write down the exact costs of every item you will need to purchase and any associated costs. For example, to build a website, you will need to pay for a designer, host, domain name, plugins, stock photos and security software.

Next, categorize each item as “essential,” “nonessential” or “later.” Essential items, as the name suggests, are purchases that are crucial to getting your business off the ground, such as a business license.

Nonessential items are things that will make your life easier but are not crucial to the operation of your business. This can be subjective, but try to look at your business as a whole and use your best judgment.

Later items are things that you can put off for at least six months and are not required for the function of your business, like a fresh coat of paint for your building. Add up your essential and nonessential items to get your estimated startup costs.

3. Estimate your losses.

Your losses are how long you will go without turning a profit while accumulating overhead expenses. Losses are a result of a new business needing time to build a customer base, and your budget must reflect them.

Start by calculating your estimated monthly overhead costs. These are things you will need to pay for more than once that are not tied to your business’s product or service, such as subcontractors, payroll, software subscriptions, website fees, rent and advertising fees. This will create your operating budget.

Next, estimate how many months you will go without revenue. It can be difficult to forecast your income when starting out, so begin with the number you will need to hit to break even, and then use that number to come up with an educated guess.

4. Build in a safety net.

Many small business owners exceed their budgets. It is easier to do than many think, given the unpredictable nature of starting a business. Build some financial padding into your budget to cover you in the event of unexpected costs. Think of this money like a vehicle’s airbags; they’re used only in a true emergency. To create your safety net, add 10% of each expense in your startup budget, and add 15% of your monthly operating costs.

5. Refine your budget.

Now that you have some rough numbers to work with, it’s time to tighten them up to make your budget more actionable.

Start by going through your nonessential startup items. Is there anything you can cut out or move to the “later” category? Can you reduce the cost of any items by, say, buying something secondhand or trading labor?

Next, look at your overhead costs. Determine if any of them are unnecessary, at least while you’re starting out, and can be cut.

You can also reevaluate your essential costs if you cannot get your budget to balance. Go through them with a trusted friend or colleague to determine if they are all truly essential to start your business.

What is a business budget template, and how do you choose one?

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to create a budget from scratch. There are a number of preexisting budget templates you can use. Budgets can be complicated, so you may want to download a template if this is your first time creating a business budget.

A small business budgeting template is a handy tool that gives you a place to record all your numbers in an organized way, making your budget easy to read and update.

As it can be complicated for first-time entrepreneurs to create a budget from scratch, it is nice to know there are a number of preexisting budget templates you can use. Even if you choose to create your own, it may be helpful to refer to templates or sample budgets to keep yourself on the right track.

What does a business budget template include?

If you’ve never used a business budget template before, you may feel slightly confused. Our budget template comes with five tabs. To get started, rename the first tab with your business’s name.

Once you do that, it will automatically fill in the other pages. Let’s look at a breakdown of each of the other four main tabs:

Annual budget

The annual budget tab looks at how much money your business brings in each year. Use this tab to input your company’s yearly revenue and expenses. You want to be as specific and detailed as possible because this information is used throughout the budget template.

Monthly budget

The monthly budget tab looks at your monthly expenses. You’ll notice that since you already filled out the annual budget tab, that information has been prorated, so you have monthly estimates for each of your yearly totals.

Each month’s budget is weighted equally by default, but you can change this by updating the percentages in line 5. Just keep in mind that your percentages must add up to 100.

Monthly actuals

The monthly actuals tab is used to track your actual expenses and revenue as they come in each month. This lets you see how much money your business is bringing in.

Overview

Finally, the overview tab shows how your actual numbers compare to your budget. It gives an overview of your annual and monthly budgets. This information helps you to see where your business is doing well and to identify areas for improvement.

Why do you need a business budget template?

A business budget template is vital to keep your expenses and financial goals up to date. A good template makes it easy for you to see how much money you have available, what you need to pay for and how much money you have left after covering your necessary expenses.

It will show you if you can grow your business, give yourself or your employees raises, and purchase inventory and assets. If you don’t have sufficient money coming in, it will show you which bills you don’t have the funds to pay or if you are nearing bankruptcy.

If you need to apply for loans or grants, the applications may ask you for a monthly or annual budget, as well as an income statement or balance sheet, to give the lender an idea of where your business stands financially and how you manage your money.

For these reasons, it is in your best interest to have an up-to-date budget from the beginning.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

Key Actions Small Businesses Should Take to Survive COVID-19

Take steps to preserve your cash and access, expand online sales pathways, and cultivate customer relationships to survive a financial crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to stem the outbreak knocked the global economy into a recession-like state, sent financial markets into the worst skid in more than a decade and led to millions of Americans losing their jobs.

Small businesses, especially restaurants and brick-and-mortar retailers that traditionally rely on in-person customers, were hit particularly hard as social distancing and shelter-in-place orders in many states forced people to stay home.

Even though the government took major steps to give entrepreneurs a financial lifeline in the form of expanded emergency small business loans, the pandemic’s impact on small businesses was major. Some 59% of small businesses said they experienced losses related to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey by Next Insurance. 

As we enter a new normal, there is still a great deal of uncertainty ahead. There is concern about new virus variants, and small businesses must stay prepared for recurring social distancing measures and a smaller workforce. No matter what lies ahead, there are ways that small businesses can navigate their recovery and stay strong in the face of lingering pandemic aftershocks. 

Tip: If you’re feeling alone as you restructure your business after the pandemic’s devastation, read our small business COVID-19 stories to see how other business owners coped with unprecedented challenges.

1. Keep accurate records.

If your business had employees before the pandemic, you likely already had a system in place to track absences and manage leaves of absence. But COVID-19 had an enormous global impact that generated new laws, and your human resources system must be aware of and in compliance with new legislation that may affect your company. 

For instance, your employees may have utilized the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. If so, you may be required to extend paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-related illness. It’s your responsibility to create a system to track absence dates, remote work options and payroll adjustments. 

FYI: It’s imperative to keep copies of any documentation you received from employees related to the reasons for their leave.

Even if your business didn’t suffer a significant pandemic-related impact, now is still a great time to consider how your business will track emergency changes in the future. Failure to maintain accurate records can result in major consequences for business owners, including heavy fines and a damaged reputation. 

2. Manage your finances.

As your small business recovers from the worst of the pandemic, it’s essential to assess your finances and do whatever you can to preserve cash and maximize your access to credit so that you can rebuild your financial cushion. 

  1. Focus on cash flow management. Do you have a solid grasp of how much money is projected to come in and how much you need to pay out to keep up with your expenses and pay employees? A solid cash flow management plan is even more essential for business owners in industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the restaurant, manufacturing and retail industries. 
  2. Create a financial system. For many businesses, post-pandemic recovery brings significant challenges. As you recover from decreased revenue and face uncertain future cash flow, it’s more critical now than ever to create a financial system. Tracking expenses, invoices and inventory will guide your recovery while providing a realistic perspective of where your business currently stands. 
  3. Switch to a central accounting solution. If you’ve become accustomed to tracking your finances via multiple spreadsheets, now is an excellent time to invest in an automated cash flow management system. The best accounting and invoicing software links all aspects of your finances, including accounts payable and receivable, providing a real-time view of your cash flow.
  4. Amass a savings cushion. A solid in-house financial system will also make it easier to gain access to capital funding, if needed, and track savings. Focus on growing a savings cushion that could maintain operations for at least one year in case of future emergencies. 
  5. Negotiate lower rent, if possible. Rent is likely the biggest expense many business owners face. If you haven’t already, approach your leasing company and see if they will rework your lease terms in light of pandemic losses and future uncertainty.

FYI: Aside from managing cash flow, the top small business accounting challenges include meeting reporting requirements, upholding current laws, and tracking fixed and variable expenses.

3. Maximize your online options.

A business’s online presence is impervious to pandemics and other emergencies. Here are some ideas for managing your online options and staying relevant to your customers. 

  1. Expand your online presence. If your business already has a robust online sales presence, it’s wise to focus on it and expand, if possible. While shopping from home was a pandemic necessity, online shopping is a convenience many consumers appreciate and prefer. E-commerce isn’t going away, and online sales will continue to grow even in the post-pandemic era. 
  2. Consider a mobile app. If you own a business without an obvious online angle, such as a bar, dry cleaners, clothing store or restaurant, explore ways to sell your wares online. Mobile apps are handy, capable tools for selling apparel and other goods, for example. 
  3. Consider streaming video as a sales tool. Would your skills or knowledge translate well into short videos or one-on-one video lessons? For example, if you own a restaurant, would your customers pay a small fee if you offered a brief online class on how to make your best menu items? This same principle can work for crafting cocktails, tailor-made fashion advice or personal training, and there is no shortage of apps to handle video streaming and payments.
  4. Use the internet as a communication platform. Even if you don’t think you have a way to sell your skills online, consider reaching out to your customers by writing a blog or being more active than usual on social media platforms. 
  5. Polish your digital assets. This is also a good time to revise and enhance your digital assets, including your business website, social media profiles and online advertisements. Creating a brand voice for your business on social media can help shore up your business during healthy economic times as well as during any future unexpected shutdowns.

Tip: When developing a social media presence, maintain a consistent presence and focus on communication and engagement instead of sales.

4. Keep the team together.

Your workforce is your greatest asset, and as you emerge from the pandemic, it’s essential to safeguard your employee relationships and continue to foster teamwork and collaboration. 

The pandemic shutdown shifted many workers to remote positions, but as more businesses return to regular operations, some organizations may continue to cater to a remote workforce. If your business will continue to allow full-time or part-time remote work, follow best practices for keeping your remote team engaged and motivated. This includes focusing on employees’ well-being, fostering teamwork, and creating a remote work policy that ensures successful collaboration and security. 

Tools like Skype and Microsoft Teams can keep employees from feeling isolated. The best video conferencing services make communicating with team members and customers across the world easy while fostering collaboration. 

Also, show your employees how much you appreciate them. If they stuck with you during hard times, be sure to thank them personally, and consider rewarding them with flexible schedules and time off. Support your employees’ mental health, stay transparent, and communicate with your employees about how the business is doing and what your future plans are.

​​You can control only what you can control. Crises like the COVID-19 shutdown can create significant disruptions, but whatever your business faces, you can pivot and use the challenge as motivation to explore how you can make your workforce more productive and your business more efficient. 

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

9 Security Practices to Protect Your Business’s Sensitive Information

Information security can make or break your business.

You don’t need to look far to see the repercussions when a business fails to protect sensitive information. Equifax, Adobe, Target were all victims of significant data breaches that resulted in a massive blow to their reputation and bottom line. 

Data breaches and fraud are problems for businesses of every size, affecting over 25% of businesses with an average fraud loss of $38,000. That’s enough to push many small businesses into bankruptcy.

Types of security risks businesses face

Businesses face an increasing number of threats on a daily basis. Research shows that ransomware, phishing, data leakage, hacking and insider threats are all security issues businesses are dealing with.

FYI: Information security issues have a major impact on a business. Loss of revenue can result from remedying the problem and damage to your brand’s image.

Hackers are responsible for the majority of information security breaches. Cybercriminals look for ways to make monetary gain from businesses by using malware and phishing scams to collect sensitive data. The cost to remedy a data breach can be astronomical. Large companies that have to deal with major data breaches have paid out millions to specialists to become compliant once again. According to IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach in the United States in 2020 was $150 per record.

Here is more about some of the threats businesses are facing. 

Email phishing scams

Phishing is the act of a bad actor sending someone an email designed to look like an official communication from a legitimate, reputable company. This email may ask you to log in to an account or share your credit count information to prevent something drastic from happening. This information then goes not to the reputable company, but to the bad actor. You’re best off not responding no matter how legitimate the email looks.

To determine whether an email is a phishing attempt or a legitimate communication, check the email address that sent it. It’s easy to not think of doing so when you receive concerning emails, but the one second this takes can strongly protect your business. And if you’re not sure whether the email is legitimate, just call the company apparently behind the email. They’ll know for sure.

Device and computer hardware theft

Nearly 650,000 laptops are lost every year – and that’s just in airports. Surely, the number of laptops lost or stolen in both airports and other settings is in the millions. And a stolen laptop, if not password-protected, gives anyone who uses it full access to your information. The good news is that avoiding this security threat is easy: Always keep your password-protected laptop in sight or on your person.

Unauthorized network users

When you password-protect your Wi-Fi network, you block hackers from stealing your information. That’s because computer-savvy unauthorized network users can access any information you transmit via your Wi-Fi network. This information includes credit card numbers you use for online payments and passwords with which you log into your accounts.

Tip: Use a combination of strong passwords, two-factor authentication and endpoint security to help prevent security breaches.

How to protect your business from cybersecurity threats

To lower your risk and keep sensitive information safe, follow these essential security practices.

1. Only save what’s necessary.

The more information you collect about your customers and employees, the more you need to protect them. Companies often save more information than necessary, and their customers are the ones who suffer if a data breach occurs.

To limit what hackers could steal, only save the information you absolutely need to run your business. Avoid collecting anything extra, and if you only need information temporarily, get rid of it properly after you’ve used it.

2. Keep an information inventory.

Laptops, smartphones, tablets and flash drives provide plenty of convenient ways to store and transfer information, but this also results in more opportunities for data to fall into the wrong hands. 

Keep track of what information you are storing, where you store it and who has access to it. Make sure this information inventory includes both electronic files and physical documents with sensitive information. 

3. Stay up to date with your cybersecurity. 

There are quite a few top cybersecurity programs that can protect businesses of any size from malware and other threats. Look for a paid program that can secure your network and every device on it. The money you spend is well worth it, as a breach could cost you much more. Once you have your cybersecurity program in place, install all updates immediately.

4. Store physical documents securely.

Cyberattacks may be a more common threat, but lost or stolen documents can be just as bad. Whenever documents contain sensitive information, it’s important to keep them safe from prying eyes.

Store documents in a locked file cabinet or room that only your most trusted employees can access. Dispose of documents by running them through a shredder. 

5. Pay for expenses with a business credit card.

For business expenses, the best and most secure payment method is a business credit card. Most will have zero-liability fraud protection, and if you need to dispute a transaction, you won’t be out any money during that process. You can set spending limits on employee cards and receive immediate notifications of any transaction via text alerts. 

Any payment method has its risks, but credit cards have the most safeguards and security features. Security isn’t the only benefit of business credit cards, as they also provide detailed expense reports and the opportunity to maximize your travel rewards.

6. Set internal controls to guard against employee fraud. 

Regardless of how much you trust your employees, it’s wise to use internal controls to limit your employee fraud risk. Otherwise, employees could misuse company funds or steal customer information.

Limit each employee’s access to only the information they need for their job. Make sure your systems log what information each employee accesses. Set up segregation of duties to prevent any single employee from having too much responsibility. For example, instead of having one employee make purchases and go over expense reports, split those tasks among two employees. 

7. Monitor your employees’ accounts.

Any employee’s account is a potential hacker’s portal to your most valuable information. To protect your business from employee account hacks, you should analyze their logs and behavior while setting rule-based alerts. In doing so, you can identify unusual login attempts that often indicate a hacker inside the account.

8. Create firm employment agreements.

In all your job contracts, include text that forbids your employees from sharing certain types of information. Every time an employee shares information, they transmit data through a channel that, even if highly secure, could still theoretically be breached. If this information isn’t shared in the first place, it can’t be accessed.

9. Plan your response to data breaches.

You always need to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. How you respond to security incidents can be the difference between a minor data loss and a costly breach. Your plan should include the following steps:

  • Close any holes immediately. Disconnect and shut down any compromised computers, and stop using any compromised programs.
  • Notify the appropriate parties. Depending on the information that was stolen, you may need to let customers and law enforcement know about it.
  • Investigate what happened. Conduct an internal review or hire an agency to find out what went wrong.

Giving your business maximum protection

Preventable security issues have brought down many small businesses. Although you can’t eliminate the possibility of data breaches or fraud, with the right security practices, you can reduce their likelihood and minimize the damage if one occurs.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

The 13 Skills Needed to Provide Memorable Customer Support

Today’s retail market requires A+ customer service, but getting it right comes down to more than help desk software and call scripts.

Your dedicated support staff eventually will champion those areas, but it’s important to emphasize that, for many businesses, the founder is the sole customer-facing employee in the early days, and the one who sets the tone.

If you don’t value customer support and see it as a distinct skill, you can’t expect to provide a great service experience just by hiring a support rep. So, if you personally interact with customers, you have to decide what level and type of support is a fit for your brand and business, which means you have to have some level of care experience before you make your first hire.

That’s why it’s important to understand what’s required to provide great customer service. Once you have a handle on the skills listed below, you can both cultivate them in yourself and look for them in future hires.

1. A+ communication

Top notch communication skills are an absolute must-have for any and every customer-facing employee. Good communication is vital because customer service reps have to communicate clearly, empathetically, and in a timely manner. They’re responsible for communicating more than words—they need to convey solutions, directions, emotions, and more.

Good communicators are able to convey insider information about your products and your company in a way that immediately makes perfect sense to customers—and they need to be able to do it in real-time.

As the saying goes, it’s better to be clear than to be clever. That goes double when a customer comes in frustrated. Too many companies lose business by failing to prioritize clarity and helpfulness first. Being a great communicator in the customer service world means internalizing that mindset and prioritizing being understood over sounding clever, casual, or branded.

2. Empathy and emotional intelligence

Empathy—being able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand the situation from their point of view—is widely considered a necessary skill for customer service reps. But customers need more than empathy. They need support agents to be able to take things a step further by letting emotional intelligence lead interactions.

When customer service reps combine empathy and emotional intelligence, another key skill becomes possible: customer advocacy.

By becoming an advocate for customers, agents seek to solve their problems proactively through the best solution, not just the easiest.

Customers ultimately are looking for a solution to their problem, and the level of care customer service reps provide impacts the customer experience in a big way. That’s why changing up the mindset from one of handling cases to advocating for customers can make a huge difference.

3. Active listening and attentiveness

Listening and being attentive to a customer’s feelings and problems is one of the most critical skills service reps need. Before you can proactively advocate for a customer, before you can propose the best solution, before you can convey an authentic and sincere apology, you have to listen—and listen to understand.

With all the customer service channels we use today, attentiveness also applies to how you read. Listening and attentiveness can greatly impact how you read and appropriately respond to messages, whether through email, chat, text, or social media.

Understanding context by asking the right questions and reiterating what your customers are saying are also key to active listening.

By using questions to drill down to the applicable topics and summarizing to confirm your interpretation, you can ensure that your listening and attentiveness are leading to the correct result. 

For example, it’s easy to read a few lines of a customer’s message and jump right to the most obvious solution. But if you keep reading, you may find they’ve already tried that suggestion or that it doesn’t apply to their situation for one reason or another.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork is another key tool that can and should be used in more ways than one. Teamwork should happen on the back end, consulting with colleagues and managers to pool knowledge, draw from collective experience, and find the best solution.

Great customer service employees also work together with the customers they serve. The key is to recognize that both the agent and the customer want the same outcome: a solution that works. When you frame customer service in that way, it’s easier to view the customer as a partner and teammate.

5. Patience

Patience is required in each of the following situations: 

  • When a customer is angry and venting
  • When a customer takes forever to explain the problem
  • When a customer disappears for minutes at a time in the middle of a chat

At the end of the day, patience underlies many of the other skills needed for customer service.

It enables a customer service rep to stay calm, actively listen, and remain attentive while customers vent, explain their problem, and test out solutions.

Patience is a key part of being a customer advocate. Proactively solving problems before they become the customer’s problem can be a more involved process than deploying patchwork solutions as trouble arises, but it offers a much better experience for customers.

6. A thick skin and the ability to take ownership

A basic rule and first step of customer service is taking ownership of a problem. At the end of the day, customers are looking for reps to own both the problem and the problem-solving process. The last thing you want in a customer service employee is someone quick to become defensive.

That can seem like a simple thing, but it requires agents to possess a certain combination of skills: humility, integrity, and sincerity chief among them.

While no service rep should have to tolerate or endure abuse, accepting fault when applicable for customer problems and owning responsibility to find a solution are two of the quickest ways to get customers feeling good about your business again.

7. Improvisation and the ability to adapt

Good customer service requires a lot of preparation. Reps need to get to know the product, the company, and common customer issues and their solutions. Great support teams are empowered with scripts and other information they need to provide customer service quickly and adeptly.

But it’s impossible to prepare for every situation and eventuality, and making customers wait while reps ask for help from managers, escalate tickets, or search for a new solution lessens the customer experience.

That’s why it’s so important for customer service reps to possess the ability to improvise, adapt, and solve problems on the fly.

Your team should know when to throw scripts out the window and get creative, and they should be empowered to create their own solutions—built from a deep understanding of both the product and the customer.

8. Product knowledge

You could make the argument that just about everyone working for your business needs to understand the product, what it does, and how customers use it—and you’d be right. But that knowledge is even more important for customer service workers.

When agents have a deep familiarity with the product and its use cases, they enter customer conversations equipped with more context than they would otherwise have. They’re more nimble and able to adapt solutions to fit the unique context of each customer’s use case. 

They’re also better able to meet customers’ needs. After all, customers contact your service team because they need help—they’re expecting product expertise and that’s what they should find there. 

9. A growth mindset and a willingness to learn

We’ve listed several skills that top notch customer service reps should have on Day 1—but there’s another, harder to quantify skill that will help reps continue to improve and expand the expertise they need: a willingness to learn.

Your product may evolve, your business may pivot, your customers’ preferences and habits may change, and throughout all of this, your customer service team needs to be able to both roll with the punches and grow into the changing reality of their day-to-day jobs.

That’s why hiring customer service reps who possess a growth mindset from the start is one of the best ways to future-proof your team. The willingness and hunger to continuously learn and to do better for customers are invaluable.

10. Time management and organization

There was a time when customer service was done primarily over the phone. Reps answered calls and worked until that customer’s problem was resolved. Today, customer service reps are pulled in so many directions—from social media to chat to phone—that it can be hard to focus on one-to-one customer conversations.

That’s why proper time management and organizational skills are essential. Customer service reps need to be able to handle multiple conversations at once. They need to prioritize channels and tickets and use their time in the most efficient way.

Reps who know how to manage and organize their time are also better able to slow down and give each customer the care and support they need—because they aren’t rushing to get through ticket after ticket.

11. Sales ability

Customer service often can be the last line of defense before a customer defects to the competition. By solving customer problems effectively, service reps can mitigate churn and help inspire customer loyalty. 

In addition, with chat support, customer service reps can easily end up fielding pre-purchase questions and helping prospects better understand and choose the right product for them. When that happens, those same reps can become your best salespeople, helping to up- and cross-sell to customers. That said, selling to customers who’ve just had to contact customer service can be dicey, and it takes a savvy, emotionally intelligent rep to understand when and how to do it best.

12. Confidence

All of the skills we’ve listed here are less effective when customer service reps don’t have confidence in their own abilities—whether that’s confidence in their improvised or creative solutions, in their people skills and emotional intelligence, or in their ability to manage and organize their time and workload.

When reps lack confidence, they:

  • Escalate more tickets to management
  • Stick too close to the script (to the detriment of customers)
  • Spend too much time on less-involved cases and solutions

All of those things can bring a product and competent customer service operation to a screeching halt. That’s why customer service managers need to both look for and continuously build up confidence in their team members.

13. Resilience

The first solution you propose may not fix the customer’s problem. The company may experience broad issues wherein customer service reps have to wade through dozens of identical complaints. Some customers won’t be satisfied by any solution or reparation.

That’s the reality of customer service, and reps needs to be resilient in the face of that reality. They need to remain undeterred when solutions don’t work and apologies fail to appease customers. 

When you hire and train for resilient customer service reps, you get professionals who are able to bring their best selves to each and every customer conversation—regardless of what happened during the last one.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

9 Common Types of Business Structures

In some regards, the decision to start a small business is easy—when compared to the work it takes to actually do it. The path of an entrepreneur has many twists, turns, and branches. The first fork in the road? Selecting how to structure your small business, from a legal and tax perspective. Will you opt for a certain business entity designation (the legal, structural format of your company), and/or a certain tax status? Small businesses with the same structuring will be treated in different ways by tax authorities, depending on the work they do.

What types of businesses are there?

There are four main categories of business entities: sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. Within those types, there are subtypes—general and limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and S and C corporations. Lastly, there are joint ventures, which can be formed by temporarily merging the efforts of one or more of the above.

Business entities vs. tax statuses

The entity types outlined above can qualify for different tax treatment by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and a company’s state and local tax authorities. The main difference between an entity type and a tax status is that business entities can engage in any legal line of business, whereas certain tax statuses are only available to organizations that pursue certain kinds of work. 

Tax status types include:

  • Pass-through entities. These businesses are taxed once, at the owner’s personal income levels.
  • Corporations. Corporations (specifically C corporations) are taxed twice—once on corporate income and again at shareholders’ personal income levels (so-called “double taxation”).
  • Nonprofits. Nonprofits are exempt from some taxes (mainly on income) at the federal and state levels, so long as they meet certain eligibility requirements as defined by the IRS and state tax authorities.

9 types of businesses 

The way you organize your business depends on whether you are acting alone or with partners, how much personal liability you are willing to accept, and whether you need to issue shares to investors in order to get your business started. 

Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business entity owned and operated by a single individual. Its main advantage lies in its simplicity. It is the default business entity designation for anyone selling a service or product themselves and requires no special filing. But the ease of setting up a sole proprietorship is a double-edged sword—it enjoys the least amount of protection for the owner among the available entity types. Sole proprietors are fully liable for debts and legal liabilities incurred by the company. Other advantages enjoyed by the sole proprietor are unfettered control over the company and a single round of taxation at the owner’s personal income level. 

General partnership (GP)

General partnerships are the default form of partnership—a business owned by two or more people. Like sole proprietorships, general partnerships are subject to pass-through taxation, meaning they are only taxed once at the partners’ personal income levels. Likewise, general partners are equal participants in the firm, meaning everyone has a say. General partnerships are also vulnerable to some of the same drawbacks as sole proprietorships—there is no legal distinction between the general partners and the partnership itself, meaning all owners are subject to unlimited liability for the company’s debts and damages. Creditors and lawsuit plaintiffs can reach the personal assets of partners. Additionally, general partners are liable for the business conduct of all other partners.

Limited partnership (LP)

Limited partnerships, like general partnerships, are businesses owned by two or more people. They also enjoy pass-through taxation. The key difference between LPs and GPs is the existence of limited partners, who enjoy limited liability, only up to the amount of capital they’ve invested in the business. Each limited partnership must have at least one general partner, however, who is subject to unlimited liability. A possible downside of limited partnership is that limited partners generally don’t have much say in the day-to-day running of the firm—a tough spot for the liability-conscious partner with lots of ideas about how to manage things.

Limited liability partnership (LLP)

LLPs are also owned by two or more partners and enjoy pass-through taxation. While partners in an LLP are liable for their own conduct, they are not personally liable for the conduct of other partners or the debts and damages of the business. The main disadvantage of the LLP entity is that it is not available to all businesses. They are usually exclusive to certain licensed professions, such as law or accounting.

C corporation

C corporations, or C corps, are the most common type of corporation. The main advantage of forming your small business as a C corp is the relative ease of fundraising. C corps can be funded through the issuance of shares—as many as you like. The associated drawback is that the C corps is a complex business organization requiring attentive oversight and an intensive filing and registration process with your state’s secretary of state, the drafting of bylaws, the appointing of a board of directors, etc. Above all, the main downside of forming a C corp is that you will not enjoy pass-through taxation status. Your company will, in effect, be taxed twice, once on corporate income, and again at the personal levels of owners and shareholders.

S corporation

S corporations, or S corps, sidestep the main drawback faced by C corp owners—double taxation. S corps are pass-through entities, meaning they are taxed only once, at the owner’s and shareholders’ personal income levels. That advantage is offset, however, by limits on fundraising. S corps may only issue stock to a maximum of 100 shareholders, and those shareholders must be individuals who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Limited liability company (LLC)

LLCs meld many of the characteristics of a partnership with those of a traditional corporate legal entity. LLCs exist as distinct legal entities from ownership, which can consist of one or more owners. This protects owners from personal liability for the debts and damages of the firm. An additional advantage of forming your small business as an LLC is the tax flexibility it affords—LLCs can opt to be taxed as corporations (twice), or as pass-through entities, like sole proprietorships or S corps. The downside of forming an LLC is that the process is far more complex than that of a sole proprietorship or partnership, like writing and filing of articles of incorporation, and appointing a registered agent.

Joint venture

A joint venture is like a partnership between one or more separate business entities. In the arrangement, firms agree to pool resources toward the achievement of a specific task, often on a temporary basis. This can be a specific project, or the purchase and joint operation of a piece of real estate, for example. The upside of joint ventures is that they allow participants to benefit from the resources of other participating firms without forfeiting independence by merging them into one organization. The main disadvantage is that each participant is responsible for all the costs and losses of the joint venture.

Nonprofit

A nonprofit is a business that has been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS on the basis that it advances a social cause benefiting the public in some way. In that sense, a nonprofit is a tax status rather than an entity type. The main advantage of forming your small business as a nonprofit is the tax benefits—if your organization qualifies as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code, for example, it won’t have to pay federal income taxes. The main disadvantage of nonprofits is that they are extremely limited in the line of business they can pursue and that profits may not be used for anything other than continuing to operate the business. 

Determining what business type is right for you

Determining what business type is right for your small business is one of the most important decisions you will make on your entrepreneurial journey. There are a number of questions you and any partners you have should consider before making a selection, such as:

  • How important is the ability to fundraise to your business’s financial future?
  • Do you prefer solo control over your company, or do you want partners?
  • Are you willing to accept unlimited, personal liability for the business and conduct of any partners, or would you prefer a level of protection?
  • Are you able to pay two rounds of federal taxation?
  • Is your business’s mission oriented toward the advancement of some social good for the public benefit?

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

How to Build a Small Business Marketing Strategy

Companies use many strategies to attract people to its products or services. A marketing program includes all the methods a company uses, including market research to understand its audience, advertising, sales, and building relationships with consumers or the media to build loyalty and broaden the reach of its message. Ultimately, marketing is not just a comprehensive plan for promoting a product or service. It is also an important way to grow a company itself. 

But a marketing program that works for a large company will not necessarily work for a small or medium-sized business (SMB). Smaller businesses often need to make more with less when it comes to their marketing team and budget. That makes it essential for small businesses to create a streamlined, scalable marketing program that they can implement themselves.

How to start marketing your small business

A marketing strategy for any business has several non-negotiable components, starting with buyer personas. 

1. Get to know your audience

A buyer persona is a profile of the ideal customer for your product.  A persona is defined by the following data points: 

  • Demographics, including age and location
  • What pain points they have
  • Their motivations and goals when making specific purchases
  • How customers make purchase decisions—for instance, whether they like to purchase in person or online
  • What and who influences them in making decisions
  • How much research they do before buying

Companies can gather this data through:

  • Customer interviews
  • Data analytics
  • Customer surveys
  • Information gathered from sales teams

2. Create a marketing plan

A plan will outline your strategy for a certain period (a quarter, the coming year) and includes the following components:

  • Your brand’s overall promise to customers
  • Your customer needs and how your products fulfill them
  • A content strategy that informs what pieces you show to your audience on various platforms and at various points in their customer journey
  • Your company’s goals for marketing, advertising, and sales
  • Tactics for accomplishing those goals and a timeline within which they can be executed
  • The budget allocated for accomplishing those goals
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) the company will track

Writing a marketing plan will then help outline a strategy for executing that plan.

3. Execute the plan with great content

This is when your marketing plan comes to life.

Once you understand your target demographic, you can create a marketing strategy with content tailored to target your customers in the best way possible. For example, if your research determined that your customer does a lot of reading before buying, prefers to minimize in-person contact, and ultimately makes purchases with a company they consider to be an expert in their field, this gives you several key indications about the kind of content you might publish on your company’s website. To fulfill that customer’s needs, you could create a blog with informational articles about your industry, plus how-to articles that solve your customers’ potential problems as they relate to your product, all of which help establish your company as a leading voice in your field. 

When developing and executing strategies, marketers refer to the “marketing funnel.” At the top of the funnel is general informational content that builds awareness, but isn’t necessarily targeted at a specific customer or market. Moving through the funnel, marketing messaging gets increasingly targeted to reach specific customers with the aim of getting to the narrowest part of the funnel, which is conversion and purchase. To accomplish these goals, companies use a variety of marketing channels and types of content. Here are a few types of content for each part of this funnel: 

Awareness (top of the funnel)

  • Articles
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

Consideration (middle of the funnel)

  • Case studies
  • How-to videos
  • How-to articles
  • Worksheets

Conversion and purchase (bottom of the funnel)

  • Buyers’ guides
  • Product videos
  • Research reports

Essential marketing channels for small businesses

SMB companies can leverage a variety of marketing channels to reach and engage their target audience.

Email marketing

Research shows that building relationships with customers and potential customers is profitable. In fact, one study showed that email marketing led to a 15.11% conversion rate in 2020. A successful email campaign includes:

  • A quality subject line that attracts email recipients (testing these over time will show you what kinds of subject lines yield results)
  • Emails that offer promotions, information, exclusive previews, or other value propositions
  • Calls to action, which will invite your reader to take action, such as purchasing an item or reading something on your site

Social media

No matter who your target customer is, chances are they’re on social media. One study shows that 4.48 billion people currently use social media worldwide, more than double its user base in 2015. That amounts to about 93.33% of internet users. Small businesses may want to focus their efforts on a limited number of channels. Some tactics to make social media work for you include:

  • Post consistently and consider using a social media scheduler that allows you to post at strategic times to capture the most eyeballs.
  • Monitor activity carefully and engage with other users on social media platforms.

Content/video/podcast

Content marketing takes many forms, including written, audio, and video. Here are some channels and tactics successful marketers use:

  • Video production. Of all the ways people consume media, video has risen most dramatically in recent years. According to YouTube internal data, there has been an 800% increase in global watch time of ad-supported and purchased video.
  • Podcasts. Data from a study in 2021 showed that 41% of the US population reported listening to a podcast in the past month. Companies can augment their online written content with video or podcasts or both to deliver information in ways that consumers want to receive it.
  • Written content. This includes images, which generate up to 94% more traffic than articles with no images.
  • In addition to articles and blog posts, written content can go longer form and become an ebook or white paper. 

You’ll know if the strategies you employ are working by using analytics tools to track clicks, leads, conversions, and sales for the content you publish.

Final thoughts

Marketing for companies large and small is based on the basic tenet that a company can only engage its audience if it knows who that target audience is. Once you know your people are and their pain points, how they consume content, and how they like to buy, you’ll be able to tailor a marketing strategy that engages them. Create a plan that matches your customer with the best tactics to reach them. And finally, bring your marketing plan to life by leading your customer through awareness, to consideration, to the point of purchase.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

How to Separate Business and Personal Expenses—7 Easy Ways

We’re going to let you in on a secret: figuring out how to separate business and personal expenses is something that will save you a massive headache down the line.

While it might seem easy to combine your business expenses with your personal ones when starting a business, doing this can leave you and your business exposed to challenges in the future, especially during tax season and concerning asset protection.

To put it bluntly, it’s a shortcut that will quickly turn into a battle.

Don’t worry, setting up your business finances isn’t as hard as seems. To help you figure out the best course of action, we’ve rounded up a list of seven things you can do if you’re wondering exactly how to separate business and personal expenses. Let’s dive in.

1. Get your employer identification number (EIN)

The first step when working out how to separate your business and personal expenses is to protect yourself by getting an employer identification number, or EIN. You can use this number to do many things concerning your business, including establishing your business type, applying for bank or cash management accounts and credit cards, and filing your business tax returns, all of which we cover later in this guide.

Your EIN—which can also be called federal employer identification number (FEIN) or federal tax identification number (FTIN)—is nine digits long and allows the IRS to identify your business for tax purposes.

Getting an EIN is mandatory for many business types, such as partnerships or any business with employees, but it is not compulsory if you are a sole proprietor. That said, getting an EIN is still helpful if you’re a sole proprietor. Without an EIN, you’ll need to use your Social Security number (SNN) for your business purposes. An EIN makes it easier for business banking and loan applications, and helps keep your SSN private. And, if you want to change your business structure later on, for example, hiring employees, you already have the EIN.

Applying to get an EIN is a free service done online via the IRS. It’s a straightforward application and you will receive your EIN immediately.

2. Register your business: sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation?

The next step in learning how to separate business and personal expenses is registering your business and choosing the right type of structure. There are different business structures, including sole proprietorships, LLCs, and corporations. Each of these offers different legal and financial protection levels that could be key to keeping your personal finances safe. Let’s learn a little about each.

Sole proprietorship

Sole proprietorship is a standard business structure, particularly among small business owners. It doesn’t cost much, and it’s very straightforward to set up.

A disadvantage of registering as a sole proprietorship is that, as the owner, you do not have any government protection. You are solely responsible for any liabilities the business encounters, including debt, profit losses, and legal challenges.

Limited liability company (LLC)

An LLC is another popular business structure for small businesses. The application process is not complicated, and the fees are minimal. You can set up an LLC as a sole proprietor or as a partnership.

An LLC helps separate business and personal expenses because it gives you, the owner, a layer of protection that means you cannot be held personally liable for your business debts or legal problems. For example, if someone sues your business, you will not be forced to give up personal assets such as your car, home, or savings to cover this debt.

However, it’s important to note that you can lose the protection an LLC offers if you pierce the corporate veil. For example, by mixing your business and personal expenses and attempting to use your LLC structure to avoid liability.

Corporations

A C corporation is a type of structure where business owners—called shareholders—are taxed separately from the business. Although many big brands are C corporations, small and medium businesses can also be corporations.

Much like an LLC, running a C corporation means you have limited liability for the owners, which protects your assets in the event of debt, loss, or legal claims.

3. Open an account for your business finances

If you’ve been wondering how to separate business and personal expenses. The most significant step you can take to avoid mingling them is to set up a business cash management account. This should be done as early in your business journey as possible to set up good habits and clear finances from the start.

A business account allows you to collect and make payments related to your business, including paying bills, buying materials and equipment, and taking cash on sales.

4. Pay yourself a salary

While we’re on the topic of money going in and out of your business, you might be asking, “Can I take money out of my business account for personal use in any circumstances?” Yes, you can!

One way to keep business and personal finances separate is to pay yourself a salary from your company. OK, this might sound exactly like mixing finances—but stay with us.

Given you’re working on your business, it makes sense that you should earn a salary—it’s a legitimate part of owning a business. Do this by regularly moving money from your business account to your personal account, much like you’d expect when earning a salary from any company. Set this up as a bi-weekly or monthly payment, and then resist the urge to dip back into your business finances as personal costs arise.

5. Track your expenses and keep your receipts

Here’s some advice for business owners: being organized will always come back in your favor.

Running a business always has associated costs, whether it’s Shopify plan fees, the cost of materials, utility fees, or buying hardware for the office (that label maker isn’t free!). Whenever you make a purchase associated with your business, record this.

A few years ago, you would’ve needed to physically save all your paper receipts, and while this is still an option, you can also use apps to save receipts and track your expenses digitally. If you’re searching for how to keep track of business expenses, apps like Bench or QuickBooks can help. They integrate with your online stores and make it quick and easy to track expenses, keep receipts, and manage your bookkeeping.

You may have shared personal and business expenses. For example, if you run your business from home or use your personal vehicle for business-related purposes. In this case, be extra vigilant about recording these expenses. Using a mileage logbook for your car can be an excellent way to track how much gas you’re using for your business errands. And working out how much of your home’s floor space is taken up by your business will help you make deductions during tax season.

6. Get a business cash card

You’ve already got your business cash management account sorted, but one crucial thing to remember is to get a card associated with your account.

Having a card, whether a credit or debit card, further separates your business and personal finances and allows you to make every purchase related to your business with that card. Whether or not you receive a card with your account will depend on where you open your account.

If you have a business credit card, you can use that to pay your bills on time, which helps you build a strong business credit score. This could help you better qualify for a business loan if you ever want to scale your business. That said, there are services, like Shopify Capital, that do not require personal credit checks to apply for funding.

And, if you’re wondering, “Can I take money out of my business account for personal use?” That would be a hard no. You should only use this card for business expenses and instead use your salary from the business for personal use.

7. Do your taxes

If you’ve followed all the steps mentioned above, then they should nicely culminate in the final step of keeping business and personal finances separate—doing taxes.

As a business owner, you must complete a yearly business tax return and pay any taxes due (though if you owe more than $1,000 in taxes, you need to pay them quarterly).

You may need to complete your business tax return a month before individual returns are due, depending on your business structure. For example, if your company is a partnership, you need to complete your business return early to know how to fill out your individual return. Otherwise your taxes will be due on or around April 15 every year.

The takeaway

Although it might seem overwhelming to need to think about all of these details when you’re setting up your business, in the end you’ll thank your past self. By taking it step by step you can set up your business, establish good financial practices, and protect your personal finances and assets as well.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

Internet Marketing Strategy: A Beginner’s Guide (2022)

Marketing is all about convincing people to buy your products or services. And these days, the easiest place to reach those potential customers is on the internet. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 85% of Americans go online daily, including 31% who report being online “almost constantly.” But the internet is big, so where exactly can businesses find their target audience or the people most likely to want their product? This calls for an internet marketing strategy

What is internet marketing?

Internet marketing—also known as digital marketing, web marketing, or online marketing—is an umbrella term for all marketing that takes place on the internet. This includes, but is not limited to, social media, email, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO), a process that makes it easier for search engines to find your website. Because so many people spend a significant amount of time online, internet marketing is a valuable method for businesses to engage their audience and attract new customers. 

Types of internet marketing

An effective online marketing strategy includes efforts across multiple platforms. Here are a few different types of internet marketing to consider:

Social media marketing

According to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center, 72% of US adults are on social media,  up from just 5% in 2005. And while younger Americans are heavier users, nearly half of adults over 65 are on at least one platform. This means that no matter your target audience, you’ll be able to reach your customers on social media, whether they’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or another platform. Depending on your goals and budget, there are a couple of different ways to approach social media marketing:

  • Organic. Organic social media marketing is anything you can do on the platform for free—your in-feed posts on Instagram, for example. Organic posts on social media are a cost-effective way to engage with your customers and shape your brand’s identity.
  • Paid. Paid advertising on social media—think promoted posts with demographic targeting—can help you reach more potential customers and target a particular demographic.   

Influencer marketing

When making purchasing decisions, people tend to trust other people more than they trust advertisements, even if they don’t personally know them. Partnering with an influencer, whether they be a celebrity or someone with a smaller following that matches your target audience, can be part of an effective internet marketing strategy. Influencer marketing can happen on various platforms:

  • Social media. Social media is the most common way brands engage with influencers, who are especially prolific (and powerful) on Instagram and, increasingly, TikTok. 
  • Blogs. While social media might now be the more dominant form of influencer marketing, bloggers still have a lot of sway with many demographics. An added bonus is that many bloggers typically maintain social media accounts with a heavy following, meaning that brands who engage with bloggers have the potential to get more exposure across multiple platforms. Lifestyle industries, in particular, are where blogs are especially powerful marketing tools, such as fashion, travel, cooking, and parenting. 

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is similar to influencer marketing but has a different payment model. While influencers are typically paid at a flat rate for a post, affiliates (usually blogs or mainstream magazines that can include links in their content) that feature your product are paid by sales or by clicks when they refer customers to your site. 

Email marketing

Most online marketing strategies involve some type of email marketing. When customers share their email with a brand, that allows the company to solicit them for future marketing campaigns, including but not limited to:

  • Welcoming new customers
  • Advertising new products or services
  • Sending discount codes or promotional offers
  • Promoting new blog content
  • Following up on an abandoned shopping cart
  • Soliciting product feedback 

Content marketing 

Content marketing is a marketing plan that includes the creation and distribution of valuable content online with the goal of attracting and engaging potential customers. This can include social media, but more often refers to a brand’s in-house blog, where they can share stories related to their products, industry, or other topics their customers may be interested in. Content marketing can be an effective tool for educating and engaging with your customers, and it can attract a larger audience to your site when paired with a strong SEO strategy. 

SEO

SEO is a set of practices designed to make your website more easily found by search engines, including Google. Some steps toward improving SEO are:

  • Using relevant keywords for the topic
  • Adding title or header tags
  • Linking to relevant pages, both internally and externally
  • Offering a positive user experience, which can come down to a faster download speed and pleasing web design for both desktop and mobile devices 

Paid advertising

Search engines like Google and social media platforms like Facebook offer paid advertising to reach more of your target market: 

  • Pay-per-click. One of the many benefits of web advertising is that it typically allows you to track performance better than other platforms. In some cases, the payment model will reflect this. Many search engines and websites bill you based on how many clicks your ad placement gets. 
    • Search engines. Advertising on search engines essentially buys your way to the top of search results. This tactic can be helpful when your website is new or you have a lot of competition for market share, as these conditions make it hard to earn a high ranking organically. 
    • Website. A variety of websites, including news sites, magazines, and blogs, offer pay-per-click banner ads. 
  • Paid social media posts. These give you the option to target potential customers based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, so you can reach those who will be interested in your products or services. 

How to develop an internet marketing strategy in 4 steps

The internet is vast, and with so many different types of internet marketing to explore, getting started can feel intimidating. Before diving into every platform at once, take time to consider what might work best for your business. 

1. Identify goals and set metrics

Consider what you want out of internet marketing and how you will measure your success. Will you focus on increasing sales? If so, conversion rate—the percentage of website visits or ad clicks that result in a sale—is a valuable metric for measuring success. 

Other goals, such as improving brand awareness, may offer less tangible results but can pay off in the long term. In these cases, increasing social media followers, overall website traffic, and customer engagement can indicate success. 

A solid internet marketing strategy will often include efforts in both areas, so it can be useful to prioritize different metrics for different campaigns to reflect your goals. 

2. Define the target audience 

If you know who your target audience is, you can meet them where they are. For example, according to the Pew Research Center, older internet users are more active on Facebook, while younger people are more likely to be found on Instagram. Knowing this kind of information can help you reach your potential customers. 

3. Devise a marketing plan

Once you know what your goals are, you can map out a plan to accomplish them. For example, a small business that sells sustainably sourced baby clothes and wants to increase its brand awareness might focus on campaign strategies that help it reach its target audience: new parents who have expressed interest in environmentalism and sustainable fashion. This could be achieved with targeted Instagram ads or by partnering with a prominent parent blogger who shares their target audience’s values. 

A good marketing plan is complete with a budget and timeline. Answer these questions before you set out:

  • How much am I willing to spend on this initiative? 
  • How quickly do I expect to see results? 

4. Execute and monitor

As you implement your internet marketing strategy, it’s helpful to track the rate of growth of key metrics, such as followers, engagement, site traffic, conversion rate, and sales. Use this data to experiment with what is most effective with your audience on each different platform. 

For example, if you notice that email campaigns that promote your blog content result in higher click-through rates, you might plan to invest more in the blog in the future or figure out how to distribute the content effectively on other platforms. On the other hand, if you notice a certain type of subject line seems to result in a poor open rate, you can experiment with a different approach.

But you won’t learn anything until you get started. It’s time to get to work.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

Digital Marketing Essentials: An Overview of 6 Important Channels

Launching your online store is only half the battle when it comes to ecommerce success. Merchants have to market their websites to drive traffic, which ultimately leads to sales.

This is where digital marketing comes into play. Digital marketing is an excellent way to build buzz about your brand and products, earn trust from your audience, and push people to your online store to eventually make a purchase—and return in the future for more.

Digital marketing is an extremely powerful tool for ecommerce brands when approached strategically. Rather than spreading yourself thin and trying all the channels at once, start with intention. Consider your business goals, your budget, and your target audience. Let’s take a look at how you can use digital marketing to promote your online business.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the act of promoting a brand, product, and/or service through paid and organic advertising efforts on online platforms. Digital marketing encompasses pretty much any online promotion of your ecommerce business.

Brands don’t have to be the ones putting out the messaging—savvy online brands also let their customers do the talking for them. So if a customer posts a glowing review online about your product or makes a positive social media mention about your brand, these examples are also forms of digital marketing.

More than three-quarters of businesses actively use marketing campaigns to promote their brands. The most common marketing goals for those businesses include increased brand awareness, sales, engagement, leads, and revenue—all of which can be achieved through strategic digital marketing.

Setting a digital marketing strategy

A well-rounded digital marketing strategy encompasses multiple channels. Generally speaking, most brands use a combination of Facebook, Instagram, email, and SEO, among others. The channels that work for your brand largely depend on where your target audience hangs out, what your budget is, and what your business goals are.

Now let’s look at how you can use some of the most popular and effective digital marketing channels to promote your online business.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a great way to engage with existing customers and build relationships with new ones. Social media refers to all the channels out there—including the major players like Facebook and Twitter, as well as niche sites like Houzz and Twitch. Some of the main social media platforms to check out include:

  • Facebook, with its 2.3 billion monthly active users
  • Instagram, with 1 billion monthly active users
  • Twitter, which has 206 million daily active “monetizable” users
  • Snapchat, with a total of 530 million active users
  • Pinterest, which reaches 454 million monthly active users
  • TikTok, now one of the fastest-growing social media networks, with 205 million downloads

You can create organic social posts on each of these networks. Organic social posts are updates you post to your brand’s page(s) without any paid promotion. It’s typically best to go with a mix of engaging and promotional content with organic posts, skewing more toward engaging content. Too many self-promotional posts may inspire unfollows.

As an example, home goods merchant MADRE Linen has a curated Instagram feed that features lifestyle shots and product images:

However, with organic posts, your reach and engagement are entirely dependent on algorithms. To reach more people and guarantee more views of your social media content, you can explore adding paid social ads into your digital marketing mix. Each of the major platforms offers its own advertising opportunities with a variety of options.

Email marketing

Email is a prominent digital communication tool that people use to communicate with one another and with businesses. And according to the Forrester Analytics: Email Marketing Forecast, 2018 To 2023 (US), email usage is on the rise. About 96% of people 12 years and above use the digital channel, and more and more are willing to sign up for businesses’ promotional emails. However, there’s an increasing dissatisfaction with branded emails—which means there’s more opportunity for the brands who do it well.

Plus, email is an effective means of reaching consumers young and old. In fact, more online users between the ages of 12 and 17 prefer email to Snapchat and Facebook.

You can use email to send a mix of promotional and non-salesy content—newsletters with helpful content about how to use your products, exclusive discounts for your email list, early announcements, and access to special sales and affiliate programs. Spirit of the Herbs shared an exclusive discount code with its list in an attempt to boost sales:

Use email marketing software to build customer profiles and segment your list so you can create personalized email campaigns.

Search engine marketing and optimization

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) refer to practices with the intent of increasing your website’s visibility and find ability through online search engines. SEM refers specifically to paid tactics, while SEO refers to organic, or non-paid, efforts.

One report estimates online businesses will earn 35% of total traffic and 33% of revenue from search engine result pages (SERPs). Though there are many search engines out there, Google dominates by far and is thus the search engine most businesses prioritize.

As far as SEM goes, you can run pay-per-click (PPC) display ads through the Google Ads dashboard, targeting specific keywords for queries in your chosen locations. Your budget may vary depending on your goals and keyword competition, but there’s always an option for every budget.

LOVBYT, which sells cruelty- and chemical-free toothpaste, uses SEM in its digital marketing mix. It’s bid on the keyword phrase “organic toothpaste” so it appears at the top of SERPs for search queries with those words.

Content marketing

Content marketing is when businesses create and/or curate content to promote their business. For many, content marketing takes the form of a blog. In fact, more than half of marketers use blogs in their digital marketing mix. Content is effective for building relationships with new and existing customers, generating awareness about your brand and products, boosting SEO, and establishing authority in your chosen niche.

Marketing automation

Marketing automation is when you use technology to create a set of rules that trigger automated actions from your marketing platforms. Marketing automation could be limited to a single platform in your tech stack or involve a combination of tools via integrations.

Remarketing

Remarketing, or behavioral retargeting, is when you market to people who have already had some sort of experience with your brand. You can set up retargeted marketing campaigns that are informed and targeted based on your audience’s previous behavior.

Here’s what that might look like in action: Maybe you launched a collection of artist-designed mugs for your home-goods business. A few months after the mugs, you collaborated with a different artist on a new mug design. You can remarket to the people who purchased your first artist-designed mug knowing they already have an interest in this type of product.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M