Posts tagged: Earnings

The Future Is Now: AI to Boost Your Small Business

business setupYou can’t have missed the rumblings in the air. From water-cooler chat to major media focus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the phrase on every business owner’s lips. A lot of the noise concerns what the shape of society will look like with robots in our midst and whether our skills will become redundant under the slow creep of automation. With estimates from the PEW research centre showing that two-thirds of us in the US expect robots in the workplace to be a common sight within the next 50 years, it’s easy to take a dim view of society’s desire for a walking, talking embodiment of our knowledge. But robots are not exclusively a force of the future – since Victorian times humans have created and refined machines to take on drudge work and liberate them to dream bigger and achieve more. So could the future be brighter for small business owners who embrace AI? And how can you use it now? We take a look…

Customer Care Made Easy

One of the most significant challenges facing a young start-up is manpower. You need staffing to grow, but you need more revenue to employ those people. It’s a chicken and egg situation that’s stifled the development of many promising start-ups. And that’s why AI technology is so promising for entrepreneurs struggling to do it all. The advent of a more transparent, internet-connected customer base means that reputation is a more important sink-or-swim factor than ever in business, and whole sectors are now driven by customer review platforms. This means that excellent customer care is simply a hygiene factor, and customers expect an instant response when something goes wrong. For small businesses without an army of staff, this can be all but impossible – so investing in chatbot technology can be a real breakthrough moment. Thinking through the customer journey and created some scripts is simple and doesn’t require any real programming skill. You will find that a lot of basic enquiries are the usual suspects, so this can be an extremely efficient way of filtering those out to allow you to deal with more complex cases. Chatbots are good at instantly retrieving customer information, which can cut call queuing, and it’s a scalable solution that will grow with your company while helping to reduce barriers to sale with potential customers.

Get Your Accounts on Track

Smart software can make your financial management a smooth process, from solutions that allow you to access business loans and receivables all in one seamless system such as www.octet.com to machine learning that can use big data to predict spending patterns. If the day-to-day functions of finance become fully-automated, the resource can be diverted into strategic, long-term planning rather than the bandwidth-drain of servicing routine processes – returning you to being more of a specialist rather than a jack of all trades.

Your Personal Assistant in the Clouds

Keeping on top of the day-to-day onslaught of a small business involves being on the ball about hundreds of micro-decisions that need attention, but not many entrepreneurs can afford a PA from the get-go. Using a remote virtual assistant to schedule and monitor tasks such as travel arrangements, diary planning and admin support makes perfect sense. Using a virtual assistant can free up time and headspace for more demanding tasks, even if we’re not quite in the era of being followed around by a Jetsons-style sassy robot yet (although those will be on shelves in the very near future).

AI doesn’t have to be scary – in fact, it’s working with us right now, and its influence could future-proof your business.

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Finances: Avoid Sorrow And Plan For Tomorrow

money planningFinances are a tough thing to manage. Even if you’re earning a high-figure salary, poor money-management can lead to a very sparse bank account. It’s not so much about the level of your income but what you do with that income. Even on a minimum wage salary, you can make those earnings go a very long way if you screw on your financial head and start to spend or save your money in sensible ways. It’s all about taking a look at all the necessary costs you face in life and then making smart decisions as to what you do with the rest of your money.

Of course, whilst you might be sailing on by smoothly at the moment, you have to think about the future. Earning a lot of money and spending it all is fine today because you’ll get another paycheck in a week. However, you need to start planning ahead for the day on which you retire because very few people want to work for the entirety of their lives. We’ll get onto that in more detail later, as we will with all the other points touched upon briefly in this introduction. If you want to avoid sorrow and start to plan for tomorrow then these sound nuggets of financial wisdom should help you on your way.

Organize your finances.

First of all, you need to get your house in order. “That’s why I clicked on this article,” you say. Fair enough. If you need a little guidance then you should start by making a budget for the month; you can do one weekly but planning for the month is always a nice place to start ( bills such as rent are often faced on a month-by-month basis). Write down how much you earn in a month. If you’re self-employed then write down an average and alter the budget on a monthly basis depending on whether your situation changes. Either way, you’ll end up returning to your budget frequently to make changes when things change in your life; whether you change energy providers, move house, reduce your petrol costs, and so on.

The most important thing is that you estimate how much your necessities cost; rent, food, utilities, everything else we’ve mentioned and anything else you can think of. Once you’ve added up the sum of these things, you’ll know how much money you have to set aside for necessities and how much disposable income you have left over. Don’t exceed this figure and you’ll never end up in debt. It’s that simple. Just don’t spend beyond your means. Cut down on expenses by using less energy around the house or cycling to work instead of wasting money on petrol.

Avoid debt.

Of course, continuing from the point above, if you’ve overspent in the past and had to borrow money to make ends meet then you should dedicate all available earnings to debt repayments; it’s important to pay off your debts in life as soon as possible in order to improve your credit score. Even if you don’t overspend, we all have to borrow money at some point (perhaps it’ll be for a car or a house). The point is that you shouldn’t borrow money to fund bad habits such as poor money-management, excessive shopping, or gambling. Track your expenditures so that you live within your means and your bank account will grow each month, even if only marginally. In terms of the future, you’ll thank yourself tomorrow for doing more to manage your money today. We’ll get onto smart ways to use your “excess income” throughout this article.

Think about your retirement.

It’s so important to plan ahead for your retirement. If you ended up on this article then this was probably already on your mind. You might be worried that you’re not earning enough from your job to provide for you and your family once you stop working. Perhaps your pension plan isn’t looking very good. It’s good to think about these things today because there’s always time to improve your situation before you retire. You might want to look into power of attorney solicitors who can act on your behalf if you’re thinking about a future in which you might not have the mental or physical capacity to manage your personal, business, or financial affairs.

Your retired years shouldn’t be filled with doom and gloom by any means but it’s smart to start thinking about tomorrow. You can make rational decisions regarding your finances today but you have to think about your later years. Will your family be well looked after? Do you want to authorize those close to you to make decisions for you if you no longer can for yourself? Sort out these things today and you won’t have to spend your retirement worrying about money or other things when you should be relaxing and enjoying life.

Get an advisor or an accountant.

Of course, you could go one step further than the suggestion in the point above. Even if you’re nowhere near retirement age yet, why wait until you’re older to start getting good financial advice? As explained throughout this article, you need to start taking action today to protect your finances for tomorrow, so it makes sense to get somebody to start helping you today as well. A financial advisor could help you out if you’re struggling to get your head around proper financial management, even with the advice given so far in this article.

It’s all very well to understand the concept of managing your money but life can get hectic and overwhelming very quickly. An advisor could take a load off your shoulders by teaching you how to better look after your money (and an accountant could help you file tax returns if you need other forms of financial aid). Better yet, there’s great return on your investment here; pay an advisor to help you and they’ll show you smart ways to invest your savings to make more money. Remember, this is in their interests because they’re getting paid to help you; they want you to do well financially. You’ll end up more than making back the money you’ve spent.

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Saving Up For Christmas

christmas moneyChristmas is only a couple of months away, and many people are already way into their Christmas shopping. But the real task is budgeting for your perfect Christmas as well as making sure you enjoy the festive season as much as possible.

Work Out What You Can Afford

Before you start planning all of your decorations, food and gifts for everyone you know, first take the time to sit down and look at what you can realistically afford. Think about it this way- Christmas is only one day a year. You don’t want to splash out on 24 hours and regret it for the next year. Be smart and think about how much expendable income you have saved for the festive season.

Stop Buying Unnecessary Presents

Sure, Christmas is a time for puzzle games and silly gifts; but if you are trying to save up and stay smart with your finances, it’s not really a great idea to buy 10 whoopee cushions for your friends. Stick to presents you know your loved ones will love.

Or, if you really hate the idea of not being able to be a bit fun- give yourself and your friends a small budget to stick to for silly presents. Maybe even arrange a secret santa

$100+ in time for Xmas

Yes, that’s right. You can bag yourself some extra cash for the festive season by simply switching bank accounts. Make the switch and get yourself a nice little bonus to go towards your festivities.

Supermarket Saving Stamps

Supermarket saving stamps schemes are used to help families save up for Christmas throughout the year to cut the bow at the end. However, if you are smart about it you could get an extra 4% bonus on your savings in time for Christmas. If you add in a large amount to the card at once, the supermarket will give you a bonus. So pay in, get your extra cash and spend on all of your winter essentials.

Christmas IOU generator

As many of you will know, during December the price of even the simplest item can sky rocket. However, in contrast the prices drop in January. So if you are trying to save up for something big such as a TV or Games Console, just wait for it. Yes, it might mean that the kids are opening an empty box (or a cheaper gift in the meantime) on Christmas Day, but it will save you a huge amount of money in the long run.

Black Friday

When you think of Black Friday, you may have visions of riots in the street and carnage at the supermarket…you wouldn’t be wrong. But you don’t have to step out into no man’s land this November to bag yourself a bargain. Instead, shop online. Sites such as Amazon run week-long events for Black Friday and chop the prices of products by anything up to 80-90%. If you are waiting for a game or DVD release, hold out for Black Friday because the likelihood is that a deal will come on for it.

Sell Your Old Stuff

Out with the old, in with the new. And money goes straight into your pocket ready for the festive season. We get a lot of things around Christmas, and often it can be difficult to move in a sea of gifts for the week afterwards. Get onto GumTree and sell some of your old things to make room for the new stuff, it’ll also mean a nice financial bonus for the festive season.

Home Or Away?

Although staying at home is the obvious choice for most of us, you don’t have to spend Christmas in your house using up all of your own electricity and water. Why not club together as a whole family and rent a lovely cottage or apartment from a site such as Meriton? It will be exciting for the whole family and means that you all club together for a great holiday and amazing memories.

Avoid Expensive Turkey

Now, of course turkey is the star of the show for your Christmas Dinner, but to be honest, you don’t need to splash out for the most expensive brand to get a good quality bird. Try swapping out your usual choice for a lower brand option, you probably won’t even notice the difference!

And there is another option… you could eat a different meat.

‘That’s sacrilege!’ you say- but it is well known that stores will hike up the price of turkey through the winter months because they know people are willing to pay for it. But actually, not everyone likes turkey, and a great alternative would be a beautiful joint of roast beef.

Consider the Risk of Gift Cards

You might think that getting someone you don’t know very well a gift card is much better than buying them a gift that they won’t like, and that can be the case. However, sometimes there can be a few risks with opting for a gift card over money.

• Big Retailers can go under. It’s happened before, and it could happen again. When a retailer declares bankruptcy, they will stop accepting gift cards as payment.

• Expiry Dates – always check that there is a good amount of time for the recipient to use the card.

Kids Don’t Care

If you have children, you’ll know that you could buy them the most expensive and elaborate toy for Christmas and they will still play with the box. Children don’t care how much you’ve spent on decorations, how many presents they have in front of them or whether you’ve bought a budget turkey. For kids, it’s the magic of Christmas and the thought of Santa visiting which makes it special.

So save up your cash for a rainy day and keep it simple. Put out a cookie and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer, read them a bedtime story and sleep safe in the knowledge that you can have a perfect family Christmas without spending all of your savings.

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Navigating The Financial Struggles That Come With Being Out Of Work

money strugglesAt one point or another, most people have found themselves out of work. Whether it’s because the company that you work for has folded, you’ve lost your job or are on sick leave, being out of work can have a huge impact on your financial health. Whatever the reason that you are out of work, having a small amount of money to live on and no guaranteed monthly income is a daunting and stressful prospect. Luckily for you, we are here to help make the process of living without an income as easy and free of stress as possible. Below are a few handy hacks that should make navigating the financial struggles that come with being out of work easier.

Set a strict budget (and stick to it)

The first, and most important, rule of living when you are out of work is setting a strict budget and sticking to it. The fact is that it’s possible to live on a tiny amount each month, it’s just a case of learning how to be savvy with your funds and not overspend, which is a habit that many of us have got stuck in – spending money when we don’t need to. There are various budgeting apps that can help you to set a budget and ensure it’s stuck to by linking up your bank account to your budgeting list. These apps really are invaluable when it comes to living within your means.

Find alternative solutions for cash flow

Budgeting will help to make living on a small amount easier, but it won’t solve the problem altogether. The fact is that you can’t get by without a livable income, so if you aren’t earning from work, you need to find a way to supplement your income so that you have an alternative cash flow coming in. This could be by doing some freelance work, it could be by taking out a loan from Snappypaydayloans.com, or it could mean selling a few of your old and unwanted items. The fact is that when times are tight, it’s important to ensure that you have an income stream so that you are able to keep on top of your rent/mortgage payments, your bills, and afford food. That is why finding an alternative cash flow solution is so important.

Research what you’re entitled to

Another option, when it comes to making life easier when times are tight, is to research what help you are entitled to. There is always help available from local authorities; it’s just a case of determining what help you are entitled to. If you are on sick leave, you may also be entitled to pay from your place of work, depending on your role, the time you have been there, and what your contract says. Don’t struggle on without looking at the help that is available, take the time to research what you are entitled to and apply for it. There is no shame in taking help when you are struggling, so it’s worth taking the time to research what you are entitled to.

It’s not easy navigating the financial struggles that come with being out of work, but if you take note of the tips above, you can make the process a little easier and a little less stressful for yourself.

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Questions to Help you Save Money

money saving queriesSaving money seems easy enough on paper; you just put aside a certain chunk of your monthly income and don’t touch it until or unless there’s a special occasion for it.

The only problem is that theory and reality aren’t always the same thing, and there are many subconscious lifestyle habits and attitudes that can sabotage our money-saving efforts.

Here are a few questions to help you get a better sense of perspective on your spending, and to improve your saving habits.

What are my real financial goals?

The first question to answer is “what are my real financial goals?” It’s easy to get side-tracked when you have no clear idea of what you’re actually putting your savings aside for. When you’ve got a lump-sum of money in a savings account, or a handy chunk of capital at hand via a company such as https://smallbusinessloans.co/, it’s easy to feel artificially wealthy and become complacent about your financial goals.

Without a clear purpose attached to your savings, however, any vaguely interesting investment opportunity can suddenly seem like a fair reason to dip into them.

If, on the other hand, you know that you’ve got a specific amount of money set aside for a specific purpose – buying a new car, for example – you’ll not only know to leave that money alone until it’s time to go car shopping, but you’ll be more motivated to regularly add to your savings. After all, you’ll be excited by the prospect of getting in your new ride.

Is there a cheaper way I could get this done?

There are certain expenses which we need to accept during the course of day-to-day life. Some of these will be personal, such as an internet connection, or clothes and grocery shopping. Others will be professional – such as web hosting, budgeting software, or transport fees for the commute in to work.

But while these expenses generally can’t be avoided – that doesn’t mean they can’t be reduced. Take a mental inventory of everything that you regularly spend money on, and ask yourself whether there’s a cheaper way you can achieve the same benefit.

Perhaps you could cut your internet bill in half with a rival service provider.

Am I conscious of what’s actually happens to my money?

Often, if we’re not used to budgeting meticulously, we’ll end up “bleeding” money in different ways, without even being conscious of it. This can happen, for example, if you regularly grab a coffee on the way to work, or eat out on a regular basis.

What may seem like a small expense here and there can rapidly add up and become a real source of undiagnosed financial strain.

It’s worth looking at your bank statements and making a note of just how much money you really do spend on “invisible” costs like cups of coffee. When you’ve identified an area where you’re spending far more than you’d like to be, you can work on sealing-up the “leaks”.

Is any of my spending purely habit driven?

Habit is a powerful thing, and spending can often be triggered by subconscious manipulation. That’s one of the great secrets of the advertising industry, after all.

If you’re the kind of person who’s prone to frequent impulse-buying and suspect purchases, ask yourself; how many of these purchases are really improving my quality of life, and how many are just empty spending, inspired by a shopping habit?

Ultimately, if you’re spending substantial amounts of money without any real benefit over time, you should work on re-programming that habit loop.

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