Monthly Archives: December 2016
Whether it’s entertainment media, apparel, groceries, cosmetics or even dog toys, it seems there’s a subscription service for just about everything nowadays. According to Rob Sutherland, chief revenue officer of Fusebill, a company that offers solutions to automate and manage small and midsize subscription businesses, consumer behavior, particularly among younger people, is changing: The traditional desire to own and accumulate goods — from music to cars to physical documents — is fading. “There is a fundamental shift occurring in the world towards a subscription-based economy. With the growth of mobile, cloud and IoT, we are seeing the beginnings of a move towards ‘everything as a service,'” Sutherland said.
Isabelle Roussin, chief solution expert at SAP Hybris, a provider of e-commerce software and omnichannel solutions, said subscription services have become popular because they give consumers more options, flexibility and personalized experiences. “For example, Netflix, Spotify, BirchBox and Stitch Fix … allow consumers to browse a subsect of products selected just for them and soon they will expect this type of experience from all industries,” Roussin said. “While manufacturing, high-tech and media markets have already started using subscription service models, they will need to build on it to create a personalized customer journey.”
Because of the service-oriented approach of subscription models, companies often see more efficient business planning, improved customer relationships, and enhanced product innovation and creativity, Roussin said. The in-depth data generated from this model also helps businesses set better financial expectations by more accurately predicting revenue, she said. [See Related Story: 4 Recurring Revenue Models to Grow Your E-Commerce Business] “For almost all products and content, subscription-based business models are becoming the standardized go-to market, as recurring revenues make the predictability of the business far less daunting,” Sutherland said.
Our 2017 research and analysis of email marketing software leads us to again recommend Benchmark as the best email marketing software for small businesses. We chose Benchmark from dozens of email marketing software options. To understand how we choose our best picks, you can find our methodology and a complete list of email marketing software vendors on our best picks page.
Benchmark combines ease of use with a wide variety of design options to deliver the best value for the price, which compared to many of its competitors is extremely affordable. (More about Benchmark’s pricing structure in the “Cost” section below.) Here’s a breakdown of why it’s our best pick.
Ease of use
Out of all of the software we tested, Benchmark had the best combination of producing professional-looking emails, while also being easy to use, even if you have no prior experience with design or email marketing.
Rather than software that’s stored on your computer, Benchmark is software as a service (SaaS) that you access online. There’s nothing to download or install and it can be used from any computer with an Internet connection.
We were most impressed with the multiple ways in which you can create email campaigns. There’s a drag-and-drop editor for those with no design experience, a code editor for advanced users who have expertise in writing their own HTML code, and a plain text editor for creating text-only emails that don’t include any photos or images.
We found that the drag-and-drop editor doesn’t take long figure out. It lays out all of the steps in a very natural way that makes it simple to understand. Before getting into the actual design stage, you choose a subject line, decide if the email should be shared on Facebook and Twitter, and choose which contacts to send it to.
Are you trying to choose an online business card printing service for your business? We’re here to help you find the one that’s right for you. While some printing services are appropriate for larger businesses, we found four that we think are best for small business or freelancers‘ needs.
Online business card printing
The best business card printing services for small businesses produce high-quality cards without requiring you to use special software or to have design skills. You should be able to create your new card design easily online, see high-resolution previews online, and receive your new cards in a timely manner. The best services also provide a wide variety of card stock choices, images, fonts, colors and card shapes.
Benefits of online business card printing services:
- No design skills required
- Low price options available
- Wide variety of paper and templates
- Quick print and delivery times
When you create your business cards, think about how you plan to use them. If you are using them for offering discounts or one-time opportunities, you can save money by choosing a low-priced option. If you plan on using them to give to contacts whom you wish to sell high-priced items to, you’ll want a card that is attractive and worth keeping that may cost a bit more. If you plan on using them to share your contact information with a lot of people at a convention or other large sales opportunity, you’ll benefit from a card that scans well with a business card scanner or even a near-field communication (NFC) card that can be scanned with a mobile phone.
How we evaluated online business card printing
Top Ten Reviews (TTR), a sister site of Business News Daily, has been testing online printing services for many years. We discussed business card printing with the reviewers who recently evaluated business card printing and online printing services. We were also able to access their sample prints from more than 10 printing companies to help decide which online card printers we thought would be best for small businesses.
Natural disasters can cause significant and costly damages to homes, roads and, of course, local businesses. While you should always be prepared for such events, by maintaining adequate insurance coverage and secure file backups, you sometimes get little warning before disaster strikes. And if something happens, you’ll want to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the road to recovery isn’t always easy. A previous Business News Daily article about recovery from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy reported that just 25 percent of small businesses had backups of critical programs and data before the storm, and even fewer (20 percent) said they had protected their buildings from the storm or prepared emergency survival kits. Thomas Phelps, vice president of corporate strategy and chief information officer at Laserfiche, an enterprise content-management company, offered some tips to business owners recovering from natural disasters.
Your business continuity plan should prepare you for major disaster scenarios, such as the loss or unavailability of IT systems, key people or a facility third party. Make sure key personnel will have access to the plan on secured mobile devices immediately after a disaster.
Don’t have a business continuity plan? This Business News Daily guide outlines how to create one.
Check your backed-up data
You should have already backed up and safely stored your most critical data: your business license, major contracts and legal documents, tax returns and financial statements, and other critical business and customer documents. Following a disaster, make sure your vital records are still securely accessible from the devices you’re using.
Communicate with your employees and external parties
Leverage your website, social media channels and text messaging to reach your employees, customers, partners and vendors. Reassure your customers that you’re still in business, while making sure that no communications will inadvertently create legal liability or adversely affect service-level agreements.
As a freelancer or a self-employed individual, your take-home pay may be significantly more than if you were working for a corporation. Not only are taxes not taken out, but also you don’t have a company directly deducting health care, 401k or other financial costs from your paycheck. This can lead to a temptation to spend it all, but self-employed professionals shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they actually have the full amount of their check. Taxes are required regardless of how you are employed. “Business owners, whether they are self-employed freelancers or corporation owners, are responsible for complying with tax law with respect to their business,” said Shoshana Deutschkron, VP of communications at freelance job platform Upwork. “Financial literacy is a critical skill, [and] that literacy includes an understanding of taxation.”
“You need to hold onto some of your money,” added Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and TurboTax tax expert. “You should pretend you don’t have that much money because your income varies so often. You have to think about paying your taxes.” Not only are government forms daunting, but learning the ropes of taxation can be truly complicated to understand. Those embarking on a self-employed career should take into consideration the implications of how and why filing taxes correctly can impact your business If you’re filing as “self-employed” with the IRS, here are the basics of filing, paying and saving for taxes.
Freelancers must take their taxes into account when setting their pricing, consider tax burden in planning their finances for the year (e.g., saving money vs. re-investing it in the business), and track their business expenses to deduct them at the end of the year, Deutschkron said.
According to the IRS, self-employed individuals are classified as:
- Carrying on a trade or business as a sole proprietor or an independent contractor.
- Being the member of a partnership that carries on a trade or business.
- Being otherwise in business for yourself (including a part-time business)
When you’re self-employed, you must pay a self-employment tax (SE tax) as well as an income tax. The SE tax is a Social Security and Medicare tax that is primarily for individuals who work for themselves. This is separate from income tax.
Before you can determine your tax obligations, you must figure out your net profit or net loss from your business. You can calculate this by subtracting business expenses from your business income. If your expenses are less than your income, the difference is net profit and becomes part of your income. However, if your expenses are more than your income, the difference is a net loss.