Back to School, Back to Business

Summer is winding down and for kids everywhere that means back to work. For the rest of us, that means time to work even harder than we have been all summer. If you’ve taken some time off under the sun it can be hard to get back to the grind. But don’t let this time slip by! The back to school season can be one of the most lucrative times in business. Between getting kids ready for school and preparing for a winter full of holidays and get-togethers, parents and consumers are extremely busy. This is a perfect opportunity to capitalize on this hectic season.

Offering services that save time can seem like a godsend to consumers right now. Take advantage of this, by marketing your services as much as possible to moms and dads on-the-go. Remember, your dog walking or landscaping business is saving them valuable time. Your massage business is helping them relax after stressful days, and your house cleaning business is doing the work they simply don’t have time for. Remind your customers as well as potential clients of these facts. Partner with a local school to promote business, sponsor an after-school event or group, even putting flyers up on the local bulletin board with a "Back to school" special can have huge impact. Focus your Fall marketing on this strategy and prepare to reap the rewards.  This is also the start of a new "spending season" where consumers are placed in a mindset to buy. Fall is a busy time for working families as they prepare for upcoming holidays amidst the bustle of school and work. Take advantage of this by targeting customer pain-points. What can help ease their work load? What will relieve some stress as we approach these busy holidays? Remember that time is the best commodity you can sell. Customers are very wiling to pay for more time in their day. 

Handlr is here to help you take full advantage of the back-to-school potential. Our incredibly easy to use scheduling, team and customer management system is the ideal way to automate your business so you can focus on bringing your service to new, busy customers. Contact us today about getting your business ready for this opportune time of year.

Handling Your Law Questions with Alex Stathopoulos

This week the Handling Business Podcast welcomes Alex Stathopoulos! Alex is an employment litigation attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and works out of the firm’s San Francisco office.  In that role, she regularly counsels clients and litigates employment-related claims before various administrative agencies and in state and federal court, including discrimination, retaliation, and harassment claims, as well as wage-and-hour class actions. Alex is a double golden bear--she graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law, and also earned a B.A. in Philosophy and B.S. in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.  In between undergraduate and law school, Alex was a workforce communication consultant for two years, focusing on drafting strategic employee communications.  In addition to her professional pursuits, Alex also has a wide array of side-projects--she is a painter, has dabbled with running her own Etsy store,  knits, cooks, and hopes to someday get into falconry.

We capture an extensive and in-depth interview as we ask Alex all the questions a small business owner could ask. We’ll cover hiring and termination laws, tips for successful background checks, what you can and cannot ask during interviews, the importance of a clear company policy and much, much more! Alex also provides some invaluable resources to help you stay on top of local and federal laws when it comes to your small business. This is one of our most informative episodes yet so be sure not to miss it!

 



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Building a business with your best friend

We have a fun Handling Business episode in store for you today as we sit down with the co-owners of a very successful pet care business in Northern Virginia called All Friends Pet Care. Pam Ahart and Beth Greenburg are not only business partners, but also best friends. They’ve known each other since 1973 and their childhood was full of pets. It was only natural that they one day decided to turn their passion and dedication toward their animal friends into a business where your best friend is their best customer. We’re going to dive into the early days of starting their business, the secret behind having a successful co-founder relationship, the benefits of getting involved in professional communities and neighborhood events, and the trials and tribulations that they’ve faced as business owners over the years. Tune in now!

 


SHOW NOTES:

All Friends Pet Care - allfriendspetcare.com



 

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Just do it... how to get scaling, hiring and profiting right away with Gila Kurtz

This week the Handling Business podcast welcomes the amazing Gila Kurtz. A serial entrepreneur who found her passion in helping dogs and their owners, Gila has led an incredible life of ambition and dedication to her businesses. In addition to building a successful dog training business wherever the Navy moved her,  she co-founded and co-owns  Dog is Good, an award-winning lifestyle brand for dog lovers. She has also authored Fur Covered Wisdom… A Dog Can Change the Way You See the World, a #1 international bestseller in Pet and Self-Help Categories. These days Gila continues to grow her love for business and pets as her company generates an impressive 7 figures a year.

Britt and Gila spend this episode sharing stories of their startup struggles overcome by their passion for dogs, people and entrepreneurship. You’ll discover how Gila was able to create successful brands in a two year time-frame while she moved around for the Navy. You’ll also come away from this podcast with an understanding of the importance of revenue, consistency, and getting your hands dirty with the nitty-gritty of your business. This is a powerful episode chalked full of great tips and tricks from one of the most successful women in the pet industry. Listen now!

 


SHOW NOTES:

Dog Is Good  - dogisgood.com

Fur Covered Wisdom - Amazon



 

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Consistency is key - an interview with Bella Vasta

Ask Bella Vasta, successful entrepreneur turned business coach, what the most important key to success is and she’ll come back with one word; consistency. Of all the incredible tips, tricks and advice she offers her clients, consistency might be her favorite, and Bella should know. She built a pet sitting business with a client on almost every street of Scottsdale, AZ and sold it for six figures before the age of 34. Her recognition as owner of one of the top pet sitting businesses in the states gave her the foundation she needed to start coaching other business owners in 2007. What does she attribute to the huge success and national attention that boosted her career and landed her where she is today? You guessed it; consistency.

We talk a lot about consistency in this episode, but Bella also doles out other incredible advice for any small business owner. She’ll take us on her journey from live-at-home student to full time pet sitter and finally entrepreneur turned business coach. She breaks down everything she learned along the way and gives us some of the biggest tips she wishes she knew in the beginning. You’ll learn Bella’s easy to use Blog content technique, where to get free employee handbooks, her favorite books, resources and much, much more. You really don’t want to miss this one!

 


SHOW NOTES:

Jump Consulting  - http://jumpconsulting.net/

Bella In Your Business - Podcast

Bella's Employee Handbooks - http://jumpconsulting.net/tag/employee-handbook/

The Sales Lion - https://www.thesaleslion.com/

Meet Edgar - https://meetedgar.com/

No BS Marketing to the Affluent https://www.amazon.com/No-B-S-Marketing-Affluent-Prisoners/dp/1599181819


SOCIAL MEDIA

Email - bella@jumpconsulting.net

Instagram - Bella Vasta

Twitter - @bellas_pets  

Facebook

 


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An interview with our Founder!

This week we turn our Podcast on its head! You may remember episode 5 when we interviewed the amazing Kathryn Cockrell. After that interview, Kathryn stayed on the phone with our founder Brittany to dive even deeper into the conversation. Kathryn was so impressed with Britt’s story that she asked if she could play host on this week's episode and interview Britt! We loved the idea here at Handlr and quickly set up a date.  

Kathryn does an incredible job hosting Handling Business as she asks Britt to tell her story from the beginning. What drove Brittany to develop Handlr? Where did she start her career and how did she discover the small business void that Handlr helps to fill? From her humble beginning walking dogs and tutoring students to her entrepreneurial journey with every win and loss in between, Britt tells all.

Have you had questions about Handlr? We promise they will all be answered in this podcast. You’ll learn how our software was designed to save you thousands of hours, grow exponentially and allow you time to work on your business, not for it. Check it out below!



 

SHOW NOTES:

Schedule a Handlr Demo - https://calendly.com/myhandlr/demo/06-20-2017?back=1

Dogzenergy - http://dogzenergy.com/


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The Fear of Failure vs The Fear of Success

Have you ever paused along your journey as an entrepreneur and thought, “This would be so much easier if I had someone to guide me?" You’re not alone, every business owner wishes for a mentor to help make those tough decisions or point them in the right direction. Erica Gomez is that person. Erica is a business coach who has helped countless small business owners get past their fears and realize their true potential. Since 2011, Erica has been helping entrepreneurs find their way while simultaneously running her own pet sitting business, hosting productivity workshops, and caring for her family.  

This week Erica brings her experience to our show and talks about the many things she’s learned over the years while operating Whoa Doggy! and For The Love of Business. Our favorite talking point of the show? The fear of success. While we all know that fear of failure is a very real and terrifying constant in any business owner's life, we may not realize that fear of success can be just as constricting. The fear of success and ultimately, the fear of change, can hinder foresight and make us weak.  

We ask Erica about other common limitations in an entrepreneur's life, as well as the steps she recommends to move past them. She shares some of her top tips, usually reserved for her clients, just for our Handling Business listeners. Don’t miss out on this incredible Podcast!


 

SHOW NOTES:

For The Love of Business - fortheloveofbusiness.com


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5 simple things you might not be doing to optimize your business website

 When was the last time you took a good look at your website? Take a moment and pretend you are a potential new customer. Put yourself in that person's shoes and try to see what they see. If you're not the shy type, you can also offer to buy a stranger at a coffee shop a cup of coffee in exchange for them sitting down with you to give an honest review of your website. You might be really surprised to hear what they have to say and it could make a huge impact on your business. Here at Handlr, we LOVE putting our website and apps in front of new people for user testing. Honest feedback is so valuable and it allows us to work towards building a product that people dream about.

Chances are you built a website around the value your business can bring to the community - listing services that you offer, prices and team members you have. All important parts of a solid business web page, but you’ve probably overlooked some of the most crucial components of your site. Many of these are so easy to do, you’ll be kicking yourself.

  1.  One of the most common mistakes small business owners make is not listing city, state and zip codes that they service. This can be frustrating for new potential customers and frustrating for Google who is trying to display the best information to their customers who are searching for you. Listing zip codes serviced is vital to creating good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and it sometimes gets overlooked.
  2. Is your phone number prominently displayed and easy to find throughout your website? Is it clickable for mobile viewers to give you a call with just a tap? You got the potential new client to your site, but is your Call-To-Action button clear and visible. If you want more new customer calls, make sure your phone number is easy to find and tappable.
  3. This brings us to another point; is your website mobile friendly? The majority of people browsing the web these days do so from their smartphones. Recent studies suggest that 70% of web traffic is from mobile devices. If you don’t have a mobile optimized website, you’re far behind the times.
  4. Is your client list growing? Capturing emails and funneling them to Mail Chimp or other newsletter platforms is the easiest way to reach more customers. The easiest way to start capturing emails is by creating a contact form on your site and syncing it with MailChimp or another newsletter service. Another way you can capture emails is by giving new visitors a valuable piece of info in the form of an E-book or white page info guide. In order to receive the guide, they exchange their email. For example, if you own a pet business you could create a "Summer Guide for Battling Fleas" or if you own a car detailing business "10 Potential Hazards that Can Cause Damage to Your Paint Job". The key is to make sure that your emails are valuable and not wasting anyone's time.
  5. Once you’ve captured their emails, you’ll need to send them something of value. If you haven't started one yet, try starting a simple blog with valuable tips to keep clients engaged and incentivized to share your helpful information with their friends. Driving more traffic to your website, lets Google know that your information is relevant and that people are finding value in your site.

  For this week's podcast we interviewed Josh Cary of PetsittingOlogy, pet industry expert and website guru, who walked us through all of the tips above. Josh shared with us his process for growing a business and how he helps clients optimize their websites every day. He also provided us with his biggest tips for standing out in a crowded market and how to one-up your competition with simple, smart steps.


SHOW NOTES:

Josh Cary / Petsittingology - https://petsittingology.com/


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Worried about your future? Creative financial planning advice for entrepreneurs with Doug Warren

This week on the Handling Business Podcast we sit down with a true expert in his field, Doug Warren. Doug has been a financial advisor for the last 44 years and has a massive following to prove it. Though he still works with clients one-on-one, Doug has thousands of followers that read his books, attend his training seminars and cling to his every word of advice.

At just 19, he began working as a financial advisor under his father. Years later, Doug has created a name for himself as one of the most trusted advisors in America, hosting seminars at top financial groups around the country, starring in PBS specials about financial planning and even being quoted alongside Warren Buffet and Jack Bogle in Tony Robins best-selling book Money, Master the Game.


Many of our listeners are so wrapped up in their businesses that it can be difficult to even think about retiring, but the importance of having a solid plan in place should not be taken lightly. That’s why we wanted to bring you this very special episode; Doug lends us unbiased advice as we discuss how entrepreneurs should think about retirement planning and what you can do differently to have more confidence in your post-career life. We’ll discuss the different types of retirement accounts, why you shouldn’t consider these “investments” as well as the importance of considering taxes both presently and in the future when selecting your route of retirement. We ask Doug about compound interest, the ideal plan for business owners and why having access to your retirement money as an entrepreneur is so vital.

Most importantly we talk about how it's so important to be building a business that you can sell or a business that you can keep as passive income so that you can retire with a comfortable salary. Invest in yourself, your business and your future. Listen now and start your path to retirement!

 


SHOW NOTES:

Doug Warren - http://www.inflationcheck.com/


SOCIAL MEDIA

Linkedin


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How to build a business that gives you the freedom to travel with Kathryn Cockrell

In this week's episode of the Handling Business Podcast, the fearless Kathryn Cockrell of Happy Hound sits down to tell us that it is possible to own a business, but still hit the road and travel. Kathryn launched her business as a 15 year old after deciding that she wanted to work for herself. At 21 years old, after working 24/7 for many years, Kathryn decided to take the leap and hire a manager so that she could take off on a six week backpacking trip through Europe. She's also volunteered in South America at a foster program and she has grand plans of more travels. Kathryn's new big plan is renovating a vintage Airstream trailer to be her mobile office/ home so that she can travel all throughout the U.S. Kathryn guides us through the process of creating a company that can both help others and provide her with income while she travels the world.

In this episode you’ll learn why a healthy business is one that can thrive on its own as well as tips for moving your business towards self sustainability. What’s the key to creating a brand that can survive on its own? Hiring the right management. Kathryn dives into how she avoids mistakes when selecting people to run her business while she travels and why those hires should not always be the kind of people you might think.

Kathryn outlines how she plans to maintain her level of involvement with Happy Hound while traveling the country in a customized Airstream. Her confidence in her business will inspire you to get out there and grow your company while this episode of Handling Business will help get you there!


SHOW NOTES:

Happy Hound Pet Sitting Co - http://happy-hound-pet-sitting-co.com/

Kathryn Cockrell - https://kathryncockrell.com/


SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook


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Conquer your marketing fears with Mike Linville of Black Dog Marketing

Welcome to a very special edition of the Handling Business Podcast! We’re excited to introduce you to Mike Linville of Black Dog Marketing. Mike is a digital marketing expert who’s spent the last 17 years carving out his place on the internet. A Marine with a double major in material science & electrical engineering from UC Davis, found that he enjoyed helping small businesses rise through the ranks of the web more than doing power calculations. Mike takes us on his journey from unmotivated teenager to marketing mad man and answers your biggest questions along the way.

Mike started his marketing journey in the construction industry, providing websites and directories for contractors and home builders. After years of success in that space, Mike decided to focus on helping small businesses learn to grow, which eventually lead him to the pet industry. Now Mike spends much of his time teaching pet industry entrepreneurs how to compete with the big guys.

In this podcast we talk about Mike's drive to help the small guys & why it bothers him when a dog walker who provides a better service can be pushed out by one who is simply better at SEO. We also discuss the pain points of a small business trying to start a marketing campaign and then tackle the first steps of creating a successful strategy. Throughout this discussion, a few key points continue to pop-up; the importance of having a solid plan and sticking to it with patience. You’ll learn why throwing all of your ideas at the wall and hoping something sticks is a futile strategy that ultimately will only waste time, money and resources. Patience in marketing is a difficult practice, but a necessary part of finally achieving results. Mike breaks down why patience is so important and how you can maximize your potential for ROI along the way. Think you’re too small to compete with the likes of Rover, DogVacay and other “big dogs” of the industry? Think again; Mike explains that those bigger guys will never have the advantages of community connection or local neighborhood recommendations. Take advantage of the knowledge that you have of your small community to come up with tactics that your competitors can’t. Is there a magic formula for finding these tactics? Not exactly, but you don’t need to spend a fortune either. Creating a solid foundation to market your business can be easier than you think with the right steps in place.


We like to learn from our mistakes here at Handlr so we asked Mike to break down the many, many mistakes of business owners new to the marketing game and how to avoid them from the get-go. We know that marketing your small business can be intimidating and sometimes a daunting task, but this episode of Handling Business will conquer your fears and give you the confidence to send your business to the top of the ranks.


SHOW NOTES:

Black Dog Marketing - https://www.blackdogmarketing.com/


SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook


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Balancing Family and Business with Heather Carhart of Pet Smiles

The Handling Business podcast brings you a new interview each week with business owners and industry experts. We’ll ask about their story, drive, techniques and tips that you can bring into your daily operations. 

This week's guest is Heather Carhart, owner and founder of Pet Smiles pet care in Winchester, Virginia. After years of practice Heather has become a master of balancing children, life and owning a business. We talk about how beneficial it is to teach kids about operating a business and how you can instill entrepreneurial, hard working values into your children at a young age. We also discuss the growing pains that business owners go through as you continue to grow your business and how important it is to let go in order grow. Heather takes us down her path to success, while giving insight into the importance of treating every aspect of business as a relationship that must be nurtured and supported. 
 


SHOW NOTES:

Pet Smiles - http://www.petsmiles.biz/


SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook


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Employees VS. contractors? Stephen Kane, small business attorney, breaks it down.

We’re back with Handling Business, our new Business Podcast! Each week we bring you an interview with business owners and industry experts. We’ll ask about their story, drive, techniques and tips that you can bring into your daily operations.  

This week we sit down with Stephen Kane, a small business and startup attorney, fellow at the Stanford CodeX Center for Legal Informatics and founder/ CEO of ArbiClaims, an online dispute resolution platform. His extensive resume also includes former time at O’Melveny & Myers and Lex Machina, a litigation analytics platform that sold to Lexis Nexis. Stephen continues his work as founder and Board member of GRID110, a 501c3 working partnership with the LA Mayor’s office to build up the startup community in downtown LA.           


Stephen calms our fears and explains why small business legal issues aren’t so scary after all. He details the key steps to protect your small business today, as well as the various stages of your business that will need specific legal action. This must-listen episode will outline the most commonly overlooked steps to legal security and will give you the tools to walk away confident in your small business.          


SHOW NOTES:

ArbiClaims - https://www.arbiclaims.com/

Stephen Kane Law - http://www.stephenkanelaw.com/

GRID110 - http://www.grid110.org/


SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter/ Linkedin - http://linkedin.com/in/stephenlkane

Instagram - @stephenlkane, @arbiclaims


How to Create a Multi Million Dollar per Year Dog Walking Business w/ Lauren Cora

Handling Business Podcast - Lauren Cora

Introducing Handling Business, our new Business Podcast! Each week we will bring you an interview with business owners and industry experts. We’ll ask about their story, drive, techniques and tips that you can bring into your daily operations.

For our very first interview, we're excited to introduce you to Lauren Cora, the owner and operator of Dogs Deserve It. Founded in 2009, Lauren quickly grew the company to employing 70 walkers and five in-house managers taking care of 300-400 dogs per day. Staying on the forefront of the industry has been Lauren's goal from day one and she’s done just that. Along with introducing staff tracking, Dogs Deserve It was one of the first dog walking businesses to provide its walkers with salary and benefits.

In this podcast we’ll ask Lauren what it takes to find and hire a great team, what drives her to innovate, and her secret to keeping customers happy.

 



Cash is NOT king. Why you should accept credit cards

When asked what most business owners would prefer as their sole type of transaction, most would claim cash as the best. While cash has it’s benefits, it’s part of the old world. Don’t believe me? Just ask this Gallup poll that says only 24% of the US is using cash for most of their purchases. This number is down from 36% just five years ago. With advancements like debit and credit cards, smartphone pay systems and even chip implants embedded in your wrist (not kidding, google it), fewer and fewer of us are carrying any cash at all. Consider the future & you may just realize that cash will soon be a thing of the past all together. Recently  India took a controversial step of banning large currency and suggesting that all citizens use credit cards & mobile payments instead.

 

Small businesses who do not take credit cards stand to lose customers as each day passes. While it may cost you more to take cards, those fees are significantly overshadowed each time you lose a customer. Though you might be frustrated by the decreasing number of cash customers, remember that it also creates opportunity. Taking credit cards allows customers to be put on recurring bills or pay you even when they aren’t physically in front of you. Setting up your business on Handlr, for instance gives customers the ability to pay you automatically. Automatic payments lead to increased purchases from customers who don’t need to think about payments.


The technological advances of recent years have enabled small business owners level the playing field with their large competitors. Credit card processing is one such area where small businesses have no excuse to lose to their competitors. Make sure you jump on the bandwagon now or risk losing your customers!

Why a Facebook page isn’t enough

We often come across small business owners who don’t have a website for their business. The usual excuse? “Why should I pay for a website when I have a perfectly good FB page for my business?”. This is a limiting & troubled train of thought.

 

1. Believe it or not, a lot of people are not on Facebook

Take myself as an example. Years ago I decided to delete all of my social media accounts as I wanted to spend less time on a computer and more time focusing on my goals. This does not apply to my business life as I still maintain FB, Instagram & other outlets for businesses that I am apart of, but I’m a perfect example of someone who doesn’t use FB in my personal life. The same goes for many of your potential, and existing clients. We may be in the era of social media but using it as your sole means of reaching customers is going to limit you more than you may think.

 

2. You won’t be taken as seriously as your competition

One of the biggest red flags when we receive a Handlr partner application here in the office is if the business applying does not have a working website. Whether we like it or not, this is true for the majority of customers. It’s more prevalent in some markets than in others, but it’s almost always there. A real web presence in the form of a full threaded website or even just a simple landing page will provide confidence in a customer or business partner that’s considering your business. 

 

3. SEO

How do you find the answer to anything these days? What about looking up that business that you saw an advertisement for? Or that dog walker you saw wearing a company T-shirt? Google. Yes the wonderful, magical world of Google. The answer to any question we desire is at the end of a search button. It’s one of the most amazing things about the age we live in. So just how does this magic work? Well, anyone who has attempted to dabble in SEO will tell you that search results are dependent on an ever-changing, extremely complicated algorithm set by Google. It can be immensely difficult to climb the ranks of a search, and can easily cost you a lot of money. A sure fire way to climb the ranks? A website. While your Facebook page may show up in some search results, a website simply works much, much better. Add in a few meta tags and you just might be surprised at how high Google ranks you.

 

4. But I don’t have the skills!

One of the biggest reasons many small businesses don’t have a website is the challenge of getting started. Many of you think you need to hire a specialist charging $200 an hour to build you a custom HTML website. Simply not the case. Websites like Squarespace allow you to use beautiful templates to quickly and easily create the website of your dreams at very low costs. Their simple tools can be used by anyone to create a website in just a few hours.

 

Ready to get started?

We highly recommend https://www.squarespace.com/. If you need help getting started, let us know! We are happy to guide you through the process and even create web pages for you!

How to Prepare a Health & Safety Policy for Your Small Business

Did you know that it is a legal requirement to have a health and safety policy in writing if you have five or more employees? Did you know that if your policy does not contain the right information, a health & safety inspector could shut down your business on the spot? Did we just scare you? Well don’t worry, we’re here to help you put together a policy that includes all the right stuff!

The Main Components

Your policy should be broken down into three main sections; Policy statement, responsibilities and arrangements. Below we will help you understand what each of these cover, take notes and try to focus on how these apply specifically to your business.

 

Policy statement

Treat this as your mission statement or opening address. This is a statement of intent on your part to commit fully to the health and safety of your work environment. This should be signed & dated as a sort of agreement or pledge that you will hereby adhere to your own policy.

Use this section to cover the key ways that you plan to keep your employees or anyone involved in your business safe. Remember that your policy does not just cover employees, but also extends to clients, contractors, and anyone who works with or for you. This will include things like emergency plans, safety equipment in your workplace, proper training and precautions for the use of machinery or other risky workplace endeavours and so on.

Lastly, the Policy Statement should outline how you plan to implement these safety and health precautions. List how you will introduce them to your staff and train them on these new policies.

 

Responsibilities section

This should set which personnel within the company are responsible for which areas of health and safety. Choose who in your staff will take on roles to ensure that every aspect of your new policy is put to use. One employee may be in charge of safety in the office while another may oversee first aid & emergency preparedness.

It’s obvious that all of your staff should be aware of their own obligations to know and adhere to the safety policy of your business, but it doesn’t hurt to write this into the document. You should also include your plan to encourage your employees to both read and follow these rules. This will keep you out of trouble in the event of a disaster.

 

Arrangements section

Arrangements should be your most detailed section. You will include your exact plans of what you aim to achieve and how you will achieve it. The “arrangements” you have made to manage the safety and health of your company as a whole will be given in detail. This is where you will need to spend some time thinking of the particular risks that your staff, customers and contractors are exposed to. These are unique to your business and every scenario should be considered. If your business services pets, you may need to review all of the associated risks of contact with animals. Or if for example your business uses heavy machinery, you will need to outline why and how each machine can be dangerous. Then you will explain how you will minimize those dangers, how you will train your staff to minimize the risks of using said equipment, and how you will both be prepared & handle an instance where things go wrong.

Unfortunately there isn't a one-fits all solution for this, so think very hard about every aspect of your business and how it should be integrated into this policy.

 

What else should you consider?

 I know that we have mentioned the importance of detail here, but we also want to remind you to keep it simple. There is a difference between being detailed and getting obsessive. It can be easy to start writing down everything under the sun that could happen at your workplace, but stick to the main risks and don’t over complicate it. Also don’t finish your policy, stuff it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it. This is something that grows with your business, and as such you should be prepared to update it any time you change something at work. Purchase new equipment? Bring out the policy. Offering some new services? Bring out the policy.

 

Make this policy an integral part of your business

The most successful businesses treat safety and health with the utmost respect. Weave this policy into the very construct of your business and make sure that it’s a part of the way you and your staff conduct themselves on a daily basis.

4 Pointless ways you're wasting money

 Owning a small business isn't cheap by any means. There are hundreds of things to spend money on, and keeping track of all of them can some times feel like its own job. While the importance of budget tracking is a no-brainer, it can be easy to overlook items that you assume are necessary. You may be spending that hard earned revenue on things that seem unavoidable, but in reality are just slowing your business down. Let's take a look at 5 things that are draining your budget for no reason:

Phone Plans
 As a service business, you and your staff are going to need smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets to get the job done. While modern tech has made doing business easier and more efficient than ever before, they come at a price. It's no secret that cell service providers are some of the best when it comes to gouging every penny possible from customers, it doesn't have to be this way. Call up Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint or whatever carrier your staff uses, and talk to them about your wireless plans. Chances are you are over-paying, or even paying for the wrong plan. If you're willing to argue a bit with your provider, you can almost always decrease your bill. Threaten to leave for a competing carrier and you'll have a lower bill by the end of today.

Bank Fees
 
Does your bank statement typically have more fees than actual transactions? You're not alone. Banks are another business keen on scraping every nickel out of your business. But remember, just like you would do anything to keep a customer, so will they. Go in to your bank with the attitude that you deserve better, and you'll walk out with less monthly fees. For example, ask about what it would take to get free checking for your business, you may simply need to maintain a monthly average (which you might already be doing!). 

Subscriptions
 Subscription models are designed to get you in the door and then let you forget about that $10 a month you have been paying for the last 3 years. Take a close look at your next credit card statement and make sure you aren't paying for any subscription services that you haven't used in months. 

Tax Penalties
 This one is all down to organization. Luckily, next tax season is a full year away. Take a look at our last blog post with some great tips for tax season here. Now use those tips to get organized and be prepared ahead of time for next tax season. Pay all of your taxes on time and you'll save a big chunk of change on penalties and fees this time next year. 

 

Tantalizing Tax Tips From Handlr!

Be Aware of “Ghost Assets”

Ever heard of a ghost asset? Didn’t think so, but chances are you have a few haunting you right now… A ghost asset is an asset or inventory item that “Cannot be accounted for because it is physically missing or rendered unusable.” Huh? Don’t worry, here is an article that explains what you just read. Luckily, if you’re a service based business, you probably have a lot fewer ghost assets if any at all, but this is still something that can come back to haunt you, pun intended. If you discover that you do have ghost assets, make sure to focus on a better inventory management system in 2017 to avoid future problems.

 

The age of software is here, use it!

As a Handlr user, you’re already ahead of the curve and taking full advantage of the amazing benefits software can give your company. Have you taken the same approach with your accounting? Why burden yourself with all the complications of doing your own taxes or accounting tasks? There are so many great companies offering tax and payroll software these days. While Quickbooks has been the long-time tried and true favorite, you have many options. Explore what is right for your business and use these tools to save yourself a huge amount of time and headache. But be careful; don’t use tax software as an end-all-be-all. Having your own business accountant is still highly recommended. But having all of your data already in an easy access system will help your accountant give you the best returns and deductions possible.

 

Don’t forget about your retirement!

Just because you own your own business doesn’t mean you should neglect a proper 401K or IRA. Especially considering that these are both tax deferrable, meaning you dont pay taxes on them until you begin to withdraw from the account. This is a great way to reduce your yearly tax payments. Make sure you discuss with your accountant how much you should be putting away and what kind of fund is right for you. We know that running a small business can take up all of your time and energy, but don’t forget why you started the business; someday you’ll want to cash out and buy that boat!


 

Deduct, deduct, deduct!

Handing over your hard earned cash to the man each year instead of handing it out to employees, spending it on the business or treating yourself can be a hard pill to swallow. Remember that among all of the tax rules and regulations there are a ton of reasons to deduct from what you owe, making that pill a bit easier to get down. Work with your accountant to make sure you make the most of your potential deductions. Car expenses, home offices, travel and even meals can all be cause for deductions if used for business. Did you realize that your startup costs can also be deducted? Deductions can be easily overlooked and are often purposely hidden. Having a good accountant will undoubtedly lead to more deductions. Take advantage!


 

Tip for next season; Prep as you go!

Prepare as you go. Don’t wait until the last minute to tally your expenses or review your financial records or receipts. Every year you think to yourself “If only I had kept better track of all of this”. You’re probably digging through a shoebox of receipts thinking the same thing right now. Recording business expenses related to travel, meals, gas, mileage, etc will go a long way at this time next year.  But don’t just stuff receipts in your pocket, carry a small notepad and jot down your expenses as you go. At the end of each week input them into your trusty accounting software and be done with it! You’ll be so glad you did a year from now! Remember that life is about rewarding the future you!

 

Our favorite places to get branded promo-material (Swag!)

It’s a new year, a fresh start and a new opportunity to sell, sell, sell. In the past, we have given you advice on the best kinds of promotional materials to use for your business. Branded gear or “Swag” can help promote your business in any situation and offer free advertising when put to use. Now that’s all good information, but you might be asking, where do I start? Recently we were asked about our favorite places to get branded material made, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the best options.

If you are ready to start promoting your brand with gear but aren’t sure what kind will be best for you, check out our previous post on the subject here: http://www.myhandlr.com/handlrblog/2016/6/27/10-promotional-branding-materials-that-you-can-order-right-now

Below we have created a list of top sites to help you get the kind of high-quality promo swag your business deserves.

 

Vistaprint -  You’ve probably seen the ads for Vista Print, and although they are a big company, they still offer a huge amount of customization and selection. Even if you decide against other promo gear, having a huge stack of brochures is a must for any small business. Vista Print is a great place to get those!

Just Buttons - Don’t let the name fool you, Just Buttons also does stickers, and they do a great job. High quality vinals and stickers are hard to come by. Buttons and stickers can provide a cheap solution for the kind of free advertising that comes from customers wearing your buttons or putting stickers on their cars. Consider this for your next trade show.

Startup Threads - Startup Threads is a newer company that offers a great solutions for those needing to ship a lot of branded material. Not only will they produce very high quality shirts, but they

RushOrderTees - As the name implies, this is a great place to get shirts in a rush. Depending on size, they can get an order out within 3 days which is incredible.

Moo - Our favorite place to get unique and beautiful business cards. These are an obvious must for your business. If your old cards are feeling out-dated and tossable (as in potential customers tend to toss them in the trash!) it may be time to get some cards that make your business truly stand out from the crowd.

Lob - BONUS - Lob is a mailer service that lets you send branded mail out to mass listings. Use this to reach out to customers in your Neighborhood. Tell them how easy it is to book you on Handlr!