WHAT BARTER IS & HOW IT CAN BE USEFUL TO YOUR BUSINESS

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When greenbacks are no longer welcomed, bartering may be a viable alternative to digital currency – SH

By: Eric J. Nisall

WHAT IS BARTER?

Barter is simply the trading with no cash involvement.

It can be goods, services, or any combination of the two.

Have a look at the exact definition:

There is no set pattern or rule as to what can be traded for what, aside from those goods and services which are deemed illegal.

To promote it, and make it easier for people to interact, barter networks were established.

These systems enable trading to be taken to a new level by offering “barter credits” which are used like cash within that specific network.

We’ll look at how all of that works next.

BARTER NETWORKS

People's hands offering to barter corn, grains and coffee for bottled water in a barter network.
Barter networks make it easy to find people with whom to trade your services, and it’s even easier when they come to you!

As mentioned earlier, there are barter networks that use their own “currency” to facilitate commerce.

For each transaction you make within the barter network, you would get “credits” which you can then bank and use at a later time on any other products or services.

These barter networks make trading more accessible as you wouldn’t have to find a partner directly, which will help expand your business.

You just need to get used to not using traditional financial institutions in these types of transactions.

For example:

You join a barter network to provide and purchase goods or services.

If you are a web designer, for example, you can design a site for an architect and get paid in barter credit.

You may not have any use for an architect’s services, but rather have a need for business cards.

You can then take your credits and hire a printer within the barter network to make your cards and pay them with the credits you earned from doing work for the architect.

Or, you can just keep those credits in your account until the time comes when you need something from anyone else within the barter network.

In the traditional barter system, you would be forced to search for a trade partner who has what you need and needs what you provide.

This method is easier than direct trade since you can acquire new customers who might not have anything you need in return.

These networks generally charge a monthly fee, plus commissions per transaction to support the network.

Companies like Itex, a publicly traded barter network, use those fees to support their communities by hosting websites that provide classified ads, member directories and profiles, account information, and other benefits that vary based on the different networks.

Plus with barter networks, worrying about collecting receivables is greatly reduced as many of the networks give you online transaction-processing built-in.

As far as bookkeeping goes, you record your transactions the same way you would cash transactions, except with a different account for your credits as opposed to a regular cash account.

There really should be no learning curve–or just a small one–and you can essentially hit the ground running.

HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM BARTERING

There are a number of reasons you may want to consider getting into bartering:

  • Due to the fact that there is no cash involvement, practically any business can participate in a trade.  This is especially helpful to a small and/or new small business where cash-flow tends to be a big concern.
  • Any combination of things can be traded: accounting services for web design; printing services for cleaning services or repairs; advertising for legal services.  There is no limit to what you can trade for.
  • The accounting and tax treatments are exactly the same as if you were using cash: all sales are taxable income and the same rules apply for deducting expenses (although the valuation is different which we’ll address a bit later).
  • Without the need for access to large amounts of capital or credit, your business may be able to develop and grow more quickly.
  • There are people in all sorts of businesses looking to trade a variety of goods and services, so your options are not limited.
  • A way to reach a potentially untapped source of customers and generate word of mouth publicity that can spread to cash customers in the future.
  • Trades may lead to future cash transactions or may be used to entice customers into cash transactions.
  • You would conserve your cash for use on expansion such as hiring employees or use on expenses that cannot be traded for such as utility bills, business licenses, and self-employment taxes.
  • It provides a way to sell off excess or slow-moving inventory when traditional marketing/sales methods have failed
  • Some companies even use barter systems & credits to run payroll (don’t ask how employees want it, but I’ve seen it before!)

I’m sure other people can add to this list, but this is just what my experience has been.https://751449d3e9006a11f3941e450f6ac9a6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

DRAWBACKS OF BARTER

Woman sitting on a couch at a party between two couples being a 5th wheel, symbolizing barter difficulties.
Unfortunately, barter is like dating as you won’t always find someone to partner with and it can feel disappointing.

Just like with anything in life, it’s not all positive with the barter system.

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks as well.

One of the biggest issues I ran into was the fact that I had little need for other people’s services or goods.

My business is pretty streamlined since I work out of my home and I’m 99.9% paperless.

That means I don’t need to trade for rent or office supplies or any other general office-related stuff.

I also have people that I use and trust for the services I actually do need so I already outsource business tasks like website maintenance or graphic design that are above my pay grade which eliminated those things.

So what happens when you have a bunch of “money” in your trade account and you can’t find someone to use it on?

I can tell you firsthand what happens:

YOU LOSE IT!

And it sucks, but I got lucky that I only dabbled so it wasn’t a huge loss.

Obviously, if you’re doing straight trades and not going through a network, then you aren’t going to “lose” anything, you’ll simply have a hard time finding trading partners.

If you are on a network, you have to pay a cash monthly fee as well as a percentage of your transactions.

For some people that may be a bit too much, particularly if you aren’t active and keep losing that cash each month for essentially no return.https://751449d3e9006a11f3941e450f6ac9a6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

BARTERING AND INCOME TAXES

Black male hands holding broken pencil with tax form 1040 for bartering income
Income taxes are always a confusing issue, just don’t forget that barter transactions are taxable transactions, too!

As always, when the topic turns to your taxes please, please, please check with a qualified tax accountant!

Bartering is no different than any other manner of accepting revenue.

You still are required to include any “income” you make via bartering with your reportable income.

When using a network, that’s really easy because each “trade dollar” is the equivalent of a US dollar which makes tracking easy.

You even get the benefit of deducting the costs of doing business such as the network dues and fees they take out as well as the cost you incur in the normal operation of your business.

When you trade outside of a network, one-for-one (or group trades), it becomes a little more difficult–but not impossible.

Just because you are “trading” that doesn’t mean:

  1. You don’t have to report the income, and
  2. It’s always an equal value

You always have to report income, even non-cash.

And you may also have to be paying self-employment tax each quarter.

But for straight barter trades it’s…well… backward.

You see, you have to report the value of the services you receive as your income:

Bartering is an exchange of property or services. You must include in your income, at the time received, the FMV of property or services you receive in bartering.

IRS Publication 525 – Taxable & Nontaxable Income

The reason why you report the value of the other good/service is because your income is based on what you receive in exchange for it.

Generally, that comes in the form of money–so when bartering, you replace the dollars with the value of the good or service received.

Now, let’s assume the client is an attorney, and instead of money, they represent you in a case about a breach of contract. The total value of the representation ends up being $5,000 worth of time. In this case, you would recognize $5,000 as income since that is what you received in exchange for your services.

Let’s say you are a photographer. You receive $1,000 to shoot a wedding. Because you received $1,000 in return for your service you report $1,000 as income.

You simply replace the cash consideration with the value of the good or service you receive to determine the amount of income you must recognize from bartering.

This is something that a lot of people who write on the topic DO NOT KNOW OR FAIL TO EXPLAIN.

WRAPPING UP

Now you know a bit more about the world of barter –and probably a lot more than most of what can be found online will tell you!

What you do with that info is totally up to you.

If you think you use it to add yet another way to sell your goods/services, great!

If you think it’s a good way for you to get goods/services while you use your cash to reinvest in your business, awesome!

Even if you decide not to get involved, at least you can now make that decision based on complete information!

from: https://www.ericnisall.com/barter/

Could the “Witch Wound” be Holding you Back in Business?

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By Sheila Kadeer

I Have been working with female entrepreneurs for a long time now, helping them to clear their path to success and build a sustainable business. In every single case, there has been one constant hurdle they have had to overcome, and even more so if they are a spiritual entrepreneur.

The Witch Wound.

This is not something you will find in any conventional business course. If I knew about this at the start of my journey, I could have saved myself a lot of time and money.

This wound is held in the collective consciousness from the times of the witch trials. Wise women, healers, shamans, midwives and intuitives were persecuted and even killed for their gifts and beliefs. Women were becoming way too powerful, and the patriarchy needed to remain in control, and so the witch trials were born. The time of the witch trials spanned from the 14th to 18th centuries and it is estimated between 40,000 and 100,000 people were killed worldwide!

Imagine being put to death, shamed, tortured all for being a strong and intuitive woman and being seen by society as:

  • Too weird
  • Too outspoken
  • Too different

Let’s think about the consequences of this. FEAR. Fear would have been rife at this time in history.

This fear is stored in our DNA and handed down from our ancestors who lived through these times. This fear plays out through the ancestral line, and has been doing so for a long time.

Fast forward to modern day entrepreneurship and this collective wounding shows up as:

  1. Fear of being seen. How many times have you held your finger over the go-live button and broken out in a cold sweat? I see so many females holding themselves back in business because of this fear. This is actually a fear that will keep you invisible and stop you from getting your gifts out into the world.
  2. Comparing yourself to others. You end up looking at everyone else and thinking they are better than you. Stalking other coaches and then feeling like an imposter or a fraud. This comes from those memories of lifetimes where others feared you for your witchcraft, and friends and family would turn you in to save themselves from persecution. This fear of being a fraud will lead to you undervaluing your services.
  3. People pleasing. Not wanting to draw attention to yourself because, on a deeper level, you remember making a scene led to your downfall. This will stop you from making that post just in case you rock the boat. Better to stay in the shadows.
  4. Not expressing yourself fully. Problems with your throat area and speaking your truth. You just won’t write the post that will move your business forward. You won’t talk about what you do confidently.
  5. Fear of authority and getting into trouble. Of course, this comes from the witch trials as well, but this will stop you from putting contracts in place, keeping on top of your finances. All these will keep your business small and end up costing you because you don’t have the legal contracts in place to deal with any potential client problems.

It is my firm belief that past life and ancestral healing have a part to play in driving your business forward.

I remember working with a client who was not earning the money she wanted, clients were treating her with disrespect, cancelling at short notice, and she was constantly chasing her tail. We went back under hypnosis to a past life and discovered she was a witch. She had been murdered but the villagers. She saw the villagers back then, who were her clients in this life. We did some healing work around this and she was then able to put some boundaries in place in this life.

The result was clients paying on time, more new clients and money flowing with ease, plus a healed relationship with a parent as an added bonus. She was also able to stick to her boundaries without caving in, as she had done previously.

This may not be for everyone, but for myself and my clients, clearing this wound has been an absolute game-changer.

As I look back at my corporate career, I can see how it was playing out there too. That fear of speaking out in meetings, outshining my colleagues and watching people get trodden on as someone else was striving for that next promotion.

Even though I left that toxic environment for the bright lights of entrepreneurship, little did I know the “witch wound” was something I needed to clear for me.

Now I share who I am and what I do with a sense of pride and I am thankful I do not need to hide anymore.

from: brainzmagazine.com

5 Independence Day Marketing Ideas That Go Hand-in-Hand with Small Business Branding

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By Casea Peterson

Independence Day is an ideal holiday for small businesses to leverage from a marketing standpoint. The holiday promotes a sense of community and local pride which enables small businesses to pivot their marketing campaigns toward promoting on a more local level through community outreach and people-to-people interactions. Building credibility and authenticity in person and through user-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way to promote your brand and define your core values.

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Customer Pride

Small businesses can benefit from showcasing their customer pride with a visual timeline of meaningful, relevant UGC across the history of their brand. Emphasizing the heritage and core values of your brand will show authenticity to your audience of current and potential consumers. Not to mention, a timeline of user content will express credibility and gratitude for their business over the years.

A great way to generate leads from this type of promotion is to ask current consumers to share their own content representing your products or services while sporting Independence Day colors. Up to date consumer images of your product in action is up to seven times more trustworthy than advertising images on social media. Your audience will likely be inspired to see a community they are already a part of and participate in adding more UGC to your brand’s history.

Stand Out at Local Independence Day Events

Show up to every community event that celebrates Independence Day in your area and, if possible, snag a booth! Having your top products and helpful staff on site will give new and potential consumers a chance to interact face to face with your brand. By participating in the celebration of a national holiday while also giving away freebies to promote your brand, you’ll find many consumers will appreciate your effort to be a part of the community and create stronger bonds with those that shop locally.

If you manage to snag a booth at a local event be sure to leverage part of that space as an interactive area where consumers can snap selfies or record their experience and then share it online to their friends (think dunk tank). These fun but supportive engagements in person can drive leads and new followers online in a big way.

If you can’t find a booth or something that allows you to get face to face with people outside of the store you should consider creating an interactive map of Independence Day events in your area. These kinds of efforts on your brands part show that you’re paying attention to the community and that you care about helping out locals whether they are already consumers or not.

Make sure your booth and freebies are branded well and include a hashtag making it easy to share and participate online and off. And don’t forget, you should document the entire holiday experience as well, not just your consumers. Show pictures of your booth, your store if you decorate it, or your employees decked out in patriotic gear.

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Give Back to Veterans

The holiday is, after all, about gratitude, so show how thankful you are by offering an even bigger discount to veterans and to anyone who posts a photo or tweets thanks to veterans or military service members while showcasing your product or service, or with a branded hashtag.

Show your gratitude this Independence Day by offering special deals and discounts to veterans and those who currently serve in the military. To push this concept further, your business can run a promotion available to all of your consumers asking for photos or videos of them expressing their own gratitude for the veterans and military members in their life.

Those who included the branded hashtag can either be submitted into a drawing or given a discount code or coupon for their next purchase. Don’t forget, you should get as many of your employees as possible to share their own posts of gratitude to emphasize your brand’s national support this Independence Day.

Free Giveaways with Incentive to Post Later

When you attend events, add a hashtag or contest info to products you give away that entice the consumer to follow through and share their experience of in-person interaction with your business in order to get an online discount or to be submitted for a contest. A selfie booth, or even a patriotic themed photo booth with hats and party favors, is a great way to welcome new consumers in, let them have fun taking photos, and answer their questions about your services face to face.

To promote your in-person campaign online, you can host a selfie or photo contest on Instagram where the winner of the day’s event gets a special surprise gift from your store. Celebrating is meant to be fun and memorable, so make sure you find creative ways to showcase your products while emphasizing the fun and enjoyment of the freedoms we have.

If your products can be used in a patriotic way or have patriotic colors, encourage consumers to snap photos of themselves with your products by allowing any image with that particular hashtag to be submitted for an online contest.

Unboxing Videos

Unboxing videos are an excellent way to prompt consumers to share their personal experience of your product with their friends and family.

Prompt users at checkout to complete an unboxing video for added discounts on their next purchase or to be submitted into a sale event. The popularity of video is still on the rise so any way you can prompt your online consumers into sharing their experience and reaction (hopefully positive) to your products is a plus.

To give this type of campaign a patriotic twist, you can only offer the unboxing contest with products that are red, white, and blue, or Independence Day themed. Make sure the packaging also rings true to the holiday theme and put a little extra love into the box, like a freebie or handwritten note, that will catch the consumer by surprise and stand out to the viewers.

The easiest way to develop an unboxing trend or contest is to offer discounts to those who participate and to encourage users at checkout to take advantage of the discounts made available if an unboxing video is made and a branded hashtag is included.

The best way to celebrate Independence Day this year is to engage with your customers on a personal level, not just through a massive contest online. Get boots on the ground and go to where a majority of your consumers are. Celebrate with them, engage with them, learn more about them, and most of all have fun being grateful with them. Your brand will be remembered by those who experience meaningful, face to face interactions with it and if they remember your brand and love your products, they will undoubtedly become lifelong advocates who share your business with their own friends and family.

From: woobox.com

To Market Successfully, Your Customer Can’t Be ‘Everyone

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By Business.com member

Who should you really be marketing to?

  • All businesses need a targeted marketing strategy to succeed.
  • Understanding your customer is only the first step.
  • You must define your niche and target those specific customers. 

Every business needs a marketing strategy. At its core, marketing is about promoting your business. It is what and how you talk about your products and services to get people to buy them.

No, your target market is not “everyone”

Think about the sneaker business. It’s a pretty wide market. Practically everyone needs a pair, right? But the most successful sneaker companies know better; they focus on very specific targets.

Take a look at Nike‘s website. It’s all about fitness, sports and winning. Converse, on the other hand, is about making a personal identity statement. Converse’s Google ad says, “Shoes are Boring. Sneakers are Iconic.” Who would have thought they’d make Chuck Taylor All Stars with a studded collar? Even if nearly everyone needs sneakers, these companies help us know exactly which sneaker fits our personal needs, whether we are super competitive or ultrafashionable.

What is a target market?

One of the keys to learning how to target your customers is to determine who they are. Figure out your niche; you cannot be everything to everyone. When you determine your target market, you can employ strategies to attract their attention and convert them to customers.

You can also use social media and other marketing channels more effectively when you know which outlets attract your specific customer base. Use research and analytics to determine this. Each social media platform captures its own analytics, so use that information to your advantage.

Also use data to learn about and target your customers based on characteristics such as location, language and interests. 

Know your competition; find out what your competitors are doing and what they are offering. You may be able to offer something better. If you can, find out as much about their customers as you can.

Also, make sure your business has its own values, and stick to those ideals. Be clear about the value that your company and products can provide to your customers. Whatever you claim, make sure you adhere to it.

Target a very specific market

No matter what product you sell or what service you deliver, more targeted marketing gives you a better return. Targeting a specific audience gets you in front of potential customers more often, with messages that touch them emotionally. If you try to be everything to everyone, your message becomes vague and less impactful.

“The more you can define not only the demographics – like age, gender and household income – but also the type of person (psychographics), including attitudes, tendencies and preferences, the more you can directly speak to your audience,” branding expert Todd Friedman wrote. “Owning a specific market’s mind share is the key.”

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Who is your “ideal” customer?

Here are two methods for identifying your target market.

  1. Create a fictional buyer. In the past 10 years, it has been trendy to create “buyer personas.” A buyer persona is a character who represents your target customer or client. Creating a fictional person named Suzie or Sammy, for example, with specific wants, needs and desires makes it easier to design marketing campaigns that these ideal customers will respond to. They’re typically created using a great deal of research and data about current customers. Some companies find this process valuable. But it costs time and money, which you may not have.
  2. Think about your best clients, most profitable customers or most reliable donors.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Who has bought before and returned to buy again?
  • Which clients have been the most profitable or referred their friends?
  • Which donors have given when you really needed them to and brought others to the table?

Now, look at these people and figure out who they are, so you can find more customers like them.

  • Are they male or female? How old are they? Are they married or single?
  • How educated are they? What do they do for a living?
  • What’s their outlook on life? Are they optimistic? Realistic?
  • Where do they get their news? What do they do for fun? What do they care about?
  • Why do they do business with you? How would they describe your company?

from: businessnewsdaily.com

How to Gain Respect from Employees: Leadership Tips for Managers

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By Freshbooks

Leaders don’t automatically gain respect from their employees; they need to earn respect by demonstrating that they value employees and prioritize their growth. Managers can earn more respect by improving their communication with employees and explaining important decisions. Gaining the respect of employees is important for management, because it improves workplace morale and can provide greater motivation among workers to be productive.

These topics will show you how to gain respect from employees and foster a better work environment:

How Do You Gain Respect from Employees?

Managers can gain the respect of employees by standing up for their best interests and offering strong, professional leadership. Here are 10 tips on how to gain respect from employees:

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GIVE RESPECT

If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect they deserve. Treat all your workers fairly and demonstrate that you value them with your words and actions. Listen to their concerns and do your best to address them. Communicate clearly with your employees and explain important decisions to them. If you treat your staff members well, they will likely reciprocate the respect you show them.

SHOW YOUR WORK ETHIC

It’s important that good managers lead by example. Demonstrate through your work ethic and contributions that you’re a reliable member of the team worthy of your employees’ trust. Provide the lead on projects when appropriate and be sure you’re not pushing your workload onto employees.

BE CONSISTENT

Consistency is key among strong, respected leaders. You should be consistent in your leadership approach and your expectations of people, so they always understand what’s expected of them. If your leadership style changes from time to time — if, for example, you give your employees freedom to make decisions with a hands-off approach, but suddenly micromanage a new project — they’ll be confused and unsure of what you need from them. Being consistent builds trusts and helps earn the respect of your team.

BE A FIRM LEADER

Managers who are pushovers with their workers don’t gain the respect of employees. Make decisions and stick to them if you feel it’s the right choice, even if it’s not popular with everyone. If you decide you need to change course in order to improve your approach, you’re free to change your mind, just be sure you’re doing it because it’s what’s best for the business and the team, not because it’s a more popular choice with employees.

ADMIT YOUR WRONGDOINGS

Leaders are human and just like your employees, you’ll make mistakes from time to time. It’s important that you own up to your wrongdoings and show your employees through example how to bounce back from a mistake. Always do everything you can to fix your errors and don’t be afraid to ask for help correcting a mistake. Your workers will notice and respect you for it.

SEEK OUT NEW OPINIONS

You hired your employees for a reason, so be respectful of their opinions and open to their suggestions on new ways of doing things. Being open to new opinions shows that you’re flexible and committed to following the best ideas, not just the ones you come up with yourself.

RECOGNIZE SUCCESSES

You can earn the respect of employees by rewarding them for their accomplishments. Find out how each employee likes to be recognized, whether it’s public praise or a private congratulations. Rewarding employees in the way they wish to be recognized demonstrates you care for them and creates a supportive work environment.

SEEK OUT FEEDBACK

To get respect, don’t assume employees will come to you when they have feedback about your leadership or criticisms of the company culture. Schedule regular check-ins with employees where they’re free to discuss how things are going. Ask specific questions that address your management and accept any criticism in a positive, thoughtful manner.

DON’T MICROMANAGE

Tell your employees what work has to be done and set clear deadlines for completion, but don’t tell them how to do their jobs. Delegating tasks and trusting your employees to complete them is key to gaining the respect of your workers. Let them know you’re available if they have any issues or want to talk through a project, but don’t micromanage how they approach their work.

HAVE THEIR BACKS

Stick up for your employees and show that you have their backs. If an issue comes up with a project, you should shoulder the blame for the problem as the boss, rather than passing the blame off on your workers. On the flipside, if you receive praise and rewards from upper management for a successful project, make sure to spread the praise around and publicly recognize the role your employees played in the success.

How Do You Get Your Employees to Like You?

It’s natural for leaders to want to be liked by their direct reports. Follow these five easy tips to get your employees to like you:

  1. Listen to your team members and take their opinions into consideration to make them feel valued and show that they can always come to you.
  2. Set clear expectations so workers know exactly what they need to do and can be more productive in their tasks.
  3. Don’t break your word by failing to follow through on promises you make, whether it’s a small matter like providing feedback on work by a certain day or a larger concern, like promising a pay raise to an employee.
  4. Be constructive with your feedback to help your workers grow and improve in their jobs, rather than making them feel bad about their weaknesses.
  5. Ask for feedback on your performance and leadership skills from employees, to show that you care about their opinions and are willing to grow as a manager to better support your workers.
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How Do You Build Trust with a New Employee?

When a new employee joins your team, you want to demonstrate that you’re a capable and fair leader to build trust with the new team member. Here are five tips for building trust with a new employee:

CREATE A PERSONAL CONNECTION

Get to know your new employee on a personal level to help build trust and respect. Ask them about their personal interests and hobbies outside of work and remember the details they give so you can ask more about it in the future. Show that you’re interested in them on a personal level so they trust you and see that they’re valued.

BE TRANSPARENT

Be truthful with new employees about the challenges and opportunities within the company. Give them a clear picture of what they can expect in the future and what’s expected of them in their new role. When you make important decisions that affect them, explain the reasons behind your choices.

OFFER ENCOURAGEMENT

Starting a new job can be stressful and raise insecurities in a new employee. Offer encouragement and constructive feedback to new team members early on so they can gain confidence and a better understanding of how to successfully complete their job duties.

DON’T PICK FAVORITES

It’s important that you don’t play favorites in the office among your team members. If you show the same level of support to all your employees and are fair in how you dish out assignments and perks, a new team member will start to trust and respect you sooner when they see they’re on a level playing field with their coworkers.

SEEK OUT FEEDBACK

Check in with a new employee regularly to get feedback on your leadership and the company culture. Make sure the employee understands their role within the team and has all the resources and support needed to successfully execute their work.

from: freshbooks.com

10 Spring Cleaning Ideas for Your Business

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By Square

Small businesses, it’s time to step into spring. Friday officially marks the start of the season, and with it, a great opportunity to dust off your business. Where to start? Some ideas:

1. Deep clean your books

Your head is probably in taxes right now. If the whole process is proving to be a huge nightmare, you need to get your accounting more organized. Connecting your Square account to solutions like Xero or TaxJar will help you streamline many aspects of your bookkeeping. The more automatic your processes, the more likely things will stay in order.

2. Spiff up your website

A great website is not only your digital calling card, it can also help you grow your brand. Make sure your website is SEO optimized — meaning you’ve done everything you can to help it show up in search engines. A blog is a great place to jumpstart this effort. Need ideas? Check out our roundup of Square sellers who have killer posts.

3. Set up new ways to sell

Dragging your feet on setting up an online store? It’s now easier than ever if you’re a Square seller. We’ve just integrated with e-commerce platforms Bigcommerce and Weebly so stores in the U.S. and Canada can start selling online with Square in just a few minutes.

4. Pour over your data

Your Square Dashboard is a treasure trove of powerful information, right at your fingertips. Familiarizing yourself with your data will help you run your business as efficiently as possible. Here are five ways Square Analytics can inform smart business decisions.

5. Closely examine staffing

Scheduling employees can feel like a game of Tetris — if you’re not fast and efficient, it becomes a mess. Square data can help you on this front, too. Take a look at your historical sales information by day, week, and month. This will help you figure out when to staff up for busy times and staff down for lulls — which will save you time and money.

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6. Plan ahead for the holidays

Mother’s Day and graduation are on the horizon. Do you have the things people will want for these occasions? Gift cards are a no-brainer here. Order customizable ones from Square and start to display them prominently. Then people will know you have them when they need them.

7. Get rid of all that paper

Paperless is the way to go. And a good place to start limiting your usage is with Square Invoices. Not only does Square’s digital invoicing help you get paid faster, it does a solid for the environment. For a nudge, here are some scary stats on the environmental impact of paper receipts.

Get Started With Square Invoices

Send online invoices from anywhere to get paid fast.Send Invoices with Square

8. Optimize your shipping

Is your shipping area maximized for efficiency? Read this checklist to find out. And to help you optimize the fulfillment process through batch label creation and connections to top shipping carriers, hook up your Square account to ShipStation.

9. Empty your inbox

We know this one is painful. But clean inbox, clean mind. Sit down for a couple of hours and go through all your email, making sure you don’t have any outstanding ones from customers. (And while you’re at it, brush up on best practices for emailing customers.)

10. Do some actual cleaning

It wouldn’t be spring cleaning without an actual scrub-down of your space. Consider making this an event for your staff — probably with drinks.

We hope these tips set you up for continued success this year. When things run efficiently, it means more time for you to focus on growing your business.

For more tips and advice on how to run and grow your business, sign up for Town Square News, our monthly newsletter.

from: squareup.com

Six Reasons Why You Should Beat Enemies with Kindness

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By Anan Tello

Many self-help and mindfulness articles try to convince us that if someone were mean or hostile to us, there must have been some kind of miscommunication because ‘no one is evil.’ 

We also read cliché statements like, “There are no bad people, but people who do bad things” and “they must have been hurt”. Some even have the guts to suggest you must have done something wrong. 

I personally prefer articles that say, “It isn’t about you; it’s about them.”

Let’s admit it; some people are bad seeds and human devils that come in different species. They thrive on other people’s suffering and feed off their pain. 

Nevertheless, that should not be the rule but the exception. When people are hurt, they hurt others, and there will be a long, unbreakable cycle of hurt people hurting other people. Violence begets violence, cruelty breeds more cruelty and negativity is contagious. 

But what if we stepped back for a second and decided to master our minds, own our emotions and take control of our lives? What if we decided to respond to cruelty with kindness?

Imagine you are among mean classmates or coworkers. I know the easiest thing to do is to be meaner and show them who’s the boss, but the easiest solutions are not always the best. 

You might think kindness is a sign of weakness but, in fact, kindness only empowers you. Kindness in the face of cruelty requires so much willpower, patience and strength.

Sometimes it is best to be kind to those who wronged you, whether their reason was maliciousness, fear, pain or miscommunication… and the following are six pros of doing so.

1. Helps you avoid unnecessary battles and even turn an enemy into a friend.

Don’t underestimate the power of kindness. Your kindness in the face of those who did you wrong may make them have second thoughts about being enemies with you. It may also awaken their conscience and make them refrain from further hurting you.

Being enemies with certain people might be tempting sometimes, and the battles get better but trust me; it’ll only drain your energy with time because not every battle is worth fighting. 

When you allow yourself to get dragged into unnecessary battles and win at the end, it might feel good at first, but then you’ll find out it wasn’t worth your time and effort.

Kindness is contagious and reduces emotional distance between people, which is why we like those who are kind to us. 

Therefore, when you respond with kindness, those who did you wrong may soon become your biggest allies.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

2. It is a way of being proactive, not reactive.

By responding to cruelty with kindness, you tell your enemies you will not allow them to have power over you.

Those who are unkind to you most likely want to create tension. They expect you to either respond in a similar manner or shy away from dealing with them.

By being kind, you make a strong statement that you will not allow anyone to dictate you how to feel or how to react, and that your actions are your choices and not anyone else’s.

3. It means you are actually winning the battle.

Some people are rude because as long as you’re classy, they cannot beat you. They want to drag you to their level and beat you with experience.

My mom always says that if you want to beat rude people, wear a smile, be kind, never respond to their rudeness with rudeness and be patient. At the end, you will defeat them. 

Now my mom isn’t the Buddha, but her strategy actually works most of the time, especially when you’re someone who isn’t experienced in scheming.

Your kindness in the face of others’ cruelty will kill them. You will smile as you watch them eat their hearts out. 

For instance, if your coworkers wanted to prove to your boss that you are hostile to them, they won’t get what they want. To their dismay, you will be using their demeanor to prove to your boss that their accusations are false and that there might be some kind of conspiracy against you—if I may call it so—because you’re the angel who treats everyone with compassion.

Make them fall into the pit they dug for you.

4. It attracts more kindness and fights their negative energy.

Kindness is a virtue, and most, if not all, of us have read stories about how good people got rewarded at the end.

It’s a way of emitting positive energy, and the more genuine your kindness is, the stronger your energy gets, which will conquer the negative energy released by cruel actions. 

Moreover, the kinder you are, the stronger the aura surrounding your body will get, and therefore will protect you from the negative energy trying to get you and turn your life into hell.  

By being kind, you attract more kindness into your life. Always remember that you attract the kind of energy you emit, so don’t allow anyone to turn you into a source of negative energy.

5. It is a sign you took responsibility for your feelings and owned them.

When you are kind to others, you tap into something deep and profound inside you, which says, “This is how I choose to feel, this is what I choose to be and this is who I really am. No one has the power to change me.”

Your feelings should be your choice and not others’. You shouldn’t allow others to decide whether you will now feel bitter or happy. A classmate was, say, jealous of your achievements, and so s/he said something really vicious to you in order to make you feel bad about yourself when you should be feeling proud and content, but who said they were unbeatable wizards? Your feelings are yours, and so you must choose whether you want to give others the power to make you feel bad about yourself, or just laugh in their faces and walk away like a champion.

Believe it or not; mean people are among the unhappiest. So if you choose to face meanness with meanness, you are simply choosing to be unhappy, which was a choice not fully made by you, but provoked by those who treated you wrong.

6. It is the most decent way to get back at those who treated you callously.

Yes, you are actually getting back at those mean gossip girls who spread rumors about you by smiling in their faces every morning and wishing them a nice day.

For all the reasons mentioned above, you are defeating and even getting back at those who wronged you by being so kind to them because the best revenge is living happily.

You are telling them they did not hurt you, you are undefeatable, you are not a quitter, they mean nothing to you and your days are relatively as smooth as they usually are.

If those who mistreated you were evil, you are actually killing them with the kindness you radiate.

from: linkedin.com

10 Powerful Ways to Deal With Your Narcissistic Boss

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The smarter you become about your narcissistic boss, the less power your boss will have.

By Lolly Daskal

Practically everyone has either worked for a narcissistic boss or been exposed to one in some capacity. It’s an unforgettable experience to be around someone who’s flagrantly self-absorbed, self-admiring, self-centered and self-obsessed–someone who works hard only when, and as long as someone’s watching, who’s quick to claim credit and to assign blame.

A narcissistic boss spends an enormous amount of time thinking about achieving power, influence and success. As a result, there’s a tendency to lie and exaggerate the truth to feel self-important.

But the biggest problem with having a narcissistic boss is that they never feel they’re the problem. They may have go-to scapegoats, or they may pick employees seemingly at random to be tagged with the blame when something goes wrong.

If you’re dealing with a narcissistic boss, you basically have two choices: you either quit and get another job or you stay and deal. And if you stay, the only way to deal is not to try to change your boss but instead to change yourself and the way you respond.

Here are ten power moves that will help you deal and keep you from feeding the narcissistic behavior:

1. Understand the source. To cope with your narcissistic boss, you have to understand them. The odds are very high that they’re never going to change, and they’re never going to be easy to work with. The description that’s been going around under names like “The Narcissist’s Prayer” sums it up well:

That didn’t happen.

And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.

And if it was, that’s not a big deal.

And if it is, that’s not my fault.

And if it was, I didn’t mean it.

And if I did…

You deserved it.

2. Respond, don’t react. The worst thing you can do with a narcissist is to shine a spotlight on their bad behavior–they thrive on attention. Instead, learn to respond in affective way that keeps you in control of options and choices. If you feel yourself reacting, step away and regain back your control.


3. Set clear boundaries. Set a firm boundary wherever you need one and stick to it. Remember, boundaries aren’t meant to control others; they’re a guideline for you to know what is and isn’t acceptable. Boundaries are a part of self-care–they’re healthy, normal and often necessary.

4. Don’t allow them to get under your skin. Narcissists thrive on getting a rise out of someone–especially someone they feel they have power over. They will goad you, shame you, call you out, embarrass you and humiliate you, but you don’t have to allow any of it to get under your skin. Use emotional intelligence to manage your thoughts and actions. And remember that any cruel behavior and words reflect badly on the narcissist, not you.

5. Don’t feed the beast. A narcissistic boss has a constant need to be admired by others. So refuse to feed the beast. It’s good to understand that bad behavior comes from insecurity and that the more your narcissistic boss acts out, the more insecure they are. But it’s just as important to remember that the more you feed the bad behavior the worse it will become. Narcissists surround themselves with only two types of people: those who enable them and those who bite their tongue. Anyone who doesn’t fit into one of these two categories will certainly be fired or banished–and, if the narcissist has their way, manipulated into thinking it was actually their own fault.

6. Don’t empower those who don’t deserve it. Your narcissistic boss holds some degree of power by virtue of their position, but we know there are no leaders without followers. Refuse to follow those you don’t admire, those you don’t trust, and those who lie. Just do your job to the best of your ability and with respect, honor and integrity. When you do, you’ll be known as one of the sane ones–maybe even the only sane one.

7. Fact check everything. A narcissist will always portray themselves as a victim who’s innocent in all aspects. When the truth offends them–which is often–they’re quick to exchange it for lies and half truths. If you’re dealing with a narcissistic boss, be ready to do a lot of checking up.

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8. Don’t argue. The last thing you want to do is argue with a narcissist, because everything you say and do will be held against you. Don’t argue or engage but instead make them invisible–the last thing a narcissist wants. It’s impossible to argue with someone who’s willing to distort the truth to suit their own agenda–the best you can do is to take away their power by making them unimportant and invisible.

9. Don’t be provoked. Narcissists thrive on provoking people and then blaming them for the fight. Stay cool and disengaged and refuse to be swept up by the wave of dysfunction. The alternative is realizing they’ve found a way to make it all your fault. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked or manipulated.

10. Stay focused on what’s important. Working with a narcissist boss means a constant pull to play by their rules and for everything to revolve around them, with no accountability or responsibility when things go wrong. It’s easy to feel angry and frustrated. That’s when you have to take a step back and reconnect with your purpose in being there.

It’s never going to be easy working with a narcissist. Often the wisest thing to do is just walk away–but when that’s not possible, remember you’re at least gaining valuable experience in dealing with one of the most difficult personalities you’re ever likely to encounter.

from: inc.com

Pivot: How to Plan to Change Direction of Your Small Business

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By John Packham

A familiar word in the world of start-ups, pivot refers most simply to those moments when a leader or management team realize that their current business model is not working. This realization, if accepted fully, triggers a (quick) reshaping of the business to a new plan or model in order to remain relevant and invigorated. More realistically, as Alan Spoon describes, a pivot allows a business to “grow beyond their initial dreams by re-imagining their assets and talents, thinking more broadly about the customer problems they solve, and accessing growth capital to seize the new high ground.”

For small-business owners looking to pivot, paying particular attention to some basic steps in the planning stages not only mitigates the risk associated with the investment of time and money in moving from Plan A to Plan B, but can clarify the operational elements needed to accomplish a pivot as elegantly and cost-effectively as possible.

Most obviously (and a too-often overlooked step) is to understand that a pivot is change, and as such means that your business is starting out in one place and ending in a different one.

This simple moment is crucial: to imagine B (your new state of the business) as clearly and completely as possible. Setting B firmly in your mind, in your business plan, and as the fixed end point of the pivot is critical, for once the pivot begins it requires an anchor point. Without this anchor point firmly in place, it is far too easy to lose focus on your endpoint as well as on what non-negotiable points are (and we all have them), or what your cost projections really say. Without this anchor point, pivots take on an energy all their own, and you struggle to keep all the moving parts from spinning out of control as the usual (and unavoidable) contingencies appear.

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Once B is firmly in place, write a list of what are known as transform goals. These are the key differences between your business in Plan A and your business in Plan B. For instance, your current Plan has your business fully imagined as a traditional brick-and-mortar sales model, while your transformational Plan pivots it to a hybrid of traditional and online sales. Or perhaps you see your business pivoting from a suburban strip mall to an upscale urban shopping centre. Or from a position of brand inclusivity to a more focused, brand exclusive model, which might allow for some price renegotiations with your suppliers. The important thing here: know what will be different about your business when you complete your pivot.

With transformational goals set, the next step is to think through what are called reduction goals. In other words, make a list of what has to be reduced or eliminated from Plan A in order for your business to pivot successfully to Plan B. This list might include a reduction of inventory, a simplification of your supply chain, or a move to a new, more appropriate space. Planning on what barriers need to be removed, and how to remove them, before the pivot begins allows for a full and thorough cost and risk analysis as well as the opportunity to gather input and ideas from key stakeholders. The more eyes on the plan at this point, the better.

With reduction goals established, move to setting your application goals, also known as those pieces that need to be added to your business in order to Plan B. You might have to renegotiate financing in order to underwrite the pivot, for instance, or plan a strategic “relaunch” so that both current and potential customers can see the new iteration of your company in action. If your pivot is focused on optimizing online sales, you might have to expand your infrastructure or invest in technology that allows you to meet the next generation of customers “where they are” (a common phrase informing many pivots) or that will improve delivery of online orders.

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A successful pivot demands foresight, resilience, and resolve. It means moving beyond the simple numbers of a business in order to imagine a future that is brighter and more profitable. When successful, a pivot not only revitalizes your business (and your excitement about doing business) but amplifies its value to your customers. Careful planning goes a long way to ensuring that your aspirations for your business can be realized.

from: businesspartnermagazine.com

6 Tips on Getting Your Business off the Ground

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Starting a new business is rife with challenges, but there are a handful of things you can do to tip the scales in your favor.

By Christina Desmarais

Starting a new business is rife with challenges, but there are a handful of things you can do to tip the scales in your favor. That’s according to Jon Beekman, CEO of Man Crates, a Redwood City, California-based company that delivers jerky-, sports- and outdoor-related gifts to guys and grew five times year over year over the last holiday period. Here’s his advice on how to make a startup prosper.

1. Make Monday your favorite day.

Getting any business off the ground is going to involve plenty of unglamorous work, so it helps if you’re passionate about whatever you’re doing. “It’s important that you find something that you really love to do, so that Monday is your favorite day of the week,” he says. “If you’re going to spend half your waking hours or more working on a startup, you should be excited to go to work in the morning.”

2. Build for yourself.

You can spend infinite time and resources testing the market to tweak your offering, but a cleaner, faster path is to sell things you would buy yourself. “For Man Crates, we could have gone in a thousand different directions,” Beekman says. He decided, however, to offer gifts he would like to receive himself. “Other people are likely going to want to buy the same stuff, rather than try to design your startup by committee.”

3. Exude enthusiasm in all that you do.

Whether customers, employees, or investors, plenty of people will be judging your new company and offering reasons why it won’t work. Your positivity and passion have to be strong enough to turn around any negativity. “I think the hardest thing in the world is to build something new and then put it out and allow it to be judged by the people around you,” he says. “As entrepreneurs, we always have to be selling.”

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4. Move quickly.

Man Crates is Beekman’s second startup, and he learned the first time around that it’s easy to spend too much time on administrative tasks such as setting up an office and getting payroll in place when really the only thing that matters is figuring out product-market fit. “None of that stuff matters if you don’t have something that people want to buy,” he says. “Move quickly and focus on product-market fit early on, to the exclusion of almost everything else.”

5. Focus on customer delight.

Who or what is your competition? How can you deliver a better, more emotional connection with your customers? Beekman says in business school he learned about how Intuit co-founder Scott Cook realized the company’s competition wasn’t other accounting startups, but the pen and paper, which most people were still using in the ’80s to do taxes. It’s the same thing in the business of gifts, which many consumers approach with dread. “We’re basically competing against customer apathy, and if we can delight those customers, we’re going to have them for life,” he says.

6. Have some fun.

Cultivate the kind of work environment in which your employees are happy and motivated to do good work. At Man Crates, Beekman integrates fun into the company’s culture through happy hours, fun outings, or quirky events such as blindfolded hot sauce taste testing. “People talk about the Sunday test, like would I want to come in to the office on Sunday to work with my co-workers? If the office environment is fun and engaging, then people will say ‘yes’ to that question,” he says. “That’s how you build a really solid team.”

from: Inc.com