Since most small businesses have suffered during the past several years due to declining sales generally caused by a chaotic economy, it should be helpful to explore the most practical and realistic marketing strategies available to them. Improving business development efforts is desirable during any financial and economic environment, but there are extra benefits to doing so when sales have declined for whatever reason. Because a typical small business owner does not have the luxury of choosing from many strategies available to larger companies, the marketing improvement process for small businesses is necessarily restricted to a relatively short list of business development alternatives. While the choices will vary from case to case, here are three marketing and business development strategies which will often be considered by small businesses:

* Advertising
* Increasing sales staff
* Business proposals

For most smaller companies, declining revenues have led to some financial challenges and the need to reduce operating expenses already. Therefore it is likely that a common limitation and goal in any marketing decision will be to keep the costs reasonable. When dealing with limited funds, small business owners should evaluate which marketing strategy is the most cost effective method. Business proposal writing usually emerges as the leading choice for small companies when cost effectiveness is taken into account.

There are several kinds of business proposals, and not all of them will be realistic options for each company. Here are the two business proposal types which are likely to be worth reviewing closely:

* Formal proposal solicitations
* Informal and unsolicited proposals

Of these two types, the second (unsolicited and informal proposals) usually deserves the most attention by small businesses. Formally solicited proposals are typically announced by a Request for Proposal (RFP) process and are subject to more public awareness and competition by other companies. Depending on competitive circumstances, it is certainly possible that responding to an RFP might be well-suited to some small business situations. In other words, look carefully before deciding to ignore the RFP possibility.

An informal or unsolicited proposal process potentially offers the most freedom for a small business. Timing is frequently a major problem for an RFP because the company or government agency issuing it determines in advance when it will publish the Request for Proposal and in turn will also determine the deadlines for responses. The timing for unsolicited and informal proposals is effectively under the complete control of the small business which is preparing a proposal. The combination of reduced competition and scheduling flexibility usually makes this a compelling approach to business development and proposals.

While it is perfectly normal for a business owner to want to focus on the most essential processes that contribute to the success and growth of its small business or startup, paying attention to the legal aspects of running a business is also very important. Statutory compliance, staff employment, terms of service and supplier contracts are the areas where professional legal advice services can help secure your business and save money in the long term.

According to a recent report published by the UK Legal Services Board, called In Need of Advice? and based on a YouGov survey of over 9000 British small businesses, 38% of surveyed small businesses experienced one or more legal problems in the past year, out of which employment law issues were second most common situations business owners had to face, right after issues concerning trading. While 45% of surveyed small business owners considered that legal problems have a tangible impact on their business operations and growth, in the majority of cases they dealt with problems entirely on their own (52%), with only 16% of legal problems being solved through professional legal services.

Prepare your small business for future employment law situations

As businesses grow, its almost inevitable that small business owners will have to deal with the occasional difficult employment scenario, the most common issues revolving around employee gross misconduct, unfair dismissal and redundancy. These employment issues can have a negative impact on the overall performance of the business and can quickly escalate and generate loss if the correct legal steps are not followed. This is why seeking employment law advice from the outset helps a small business be prepared to handle any employment situation correctly .

Employment law advice directly from the experts

It is good business practice to seek employment legal advice not only when employee grievances arise or legal action is required, but from the very beginning of your business setup.

Other than offering employment law advice and support in cases of gross misconduct, redundancy and dismissals, an employment law solicitor can play a preventive role, by helping small business owners set up the correct employment contracts, prepare employee handbooks and other essential employment procedures and keep the business up to date on employment legislation.

Affordable employment legal advice

There are many ways in which small businesses that cannot afford a dedicated HR and employment service can still benefit from expert employment legal advice. While engaging a high street employment firm of solicitors on matters requiring legal action in court can prove to be an expensive exercise, small business owners can seek employment law advice with local professional associations and groups, which offer a series of online legal advice resources that any small business can easily access. Another route to take is to engage independent accounting and tax consultants that often include employment solicitors and offer employment law advice and guidance on a retainer arrangement, which is usually the most cost-effective solution for small businesses.

Wondering if your business is too small for a group retirement plan?

One of the keys to attracting and retaining top employees is to offer a high-quality retirement plan. A group savings plan conveniently helps employees save money for the future while reducing and deferring taxes today. Plus, the investment you make in a group retirement plan is an investment you make in your organization, your employees and your reputation. Everyone’s a winner.

Three options stand-out depending on what you want to accomplish with your plan and how much flexibility you need. These are: 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs.

The 401(k) Offers the Most Flexibility and High Contribution Limits The traditional 401(k) is probably the most widely known retirement product on the market. It’s the fully loaded, high performance SUV of retirement plans. It’s generally defined as one that enables a business owner and employees to make consistent, tax-deferred contributions during the length of their careers.

SEP IRAs are Pretty Easy to Start and 100% Funded by the Employer Simplified Employee Pensions, more commonly referred to as SEPs, are also a popular retirement plan choice as they offer a contribution limit that’s similar to a 401(k). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a 401(k) plan, but it’s got a good engine under the hood. One of the most important things to understand about SEPs is that 100 percent of the contributions made are by the employer (no employee contributions allowed) and these dollars are immediately vested for the employee.

The SIMPLE IRA is a Solid, Affordable Third Option

The SIMPLE IRA’s name is a bit misleading (it actually stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees). While both employer and employee can contribute to the plan, the employer must match and matching is vested immediately.

If you do decide that you want to offer a retirement plan, you are definitely going to need some professional advice and guidance. Pension rules are complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing.

As a financial planning and wealth management professional firm, Mintco Financial has been helping its clients effectively plan for comfortable retirements.

Michael Minter, as a managing partner of Mintco Financial, is a trusted investment management professional who carries more than 16 years of experience in this challenging career field.

Throughout his professional history, Michael Minter has gained strong insight into what skills and knowledge is necessary to perform investment management, wealth building services, small business development and retirement plans.

Michael MInter is also author of the book I-Plan, a guide for your financial security.

Call Michael Minter at 813-964-7100 at Mintco Financial.

Retirement Planning for Small Business

As giveaways at job fairs: with the economy the way it is, businesses need as much exposure as they could acquire, as well as exactly what better place than through a job fair. Even if you’re not planning on employing a lots of individuals, personalized Koozies still make a good promotional giveaway product that attendees may take along with them. This is particularly beneficial if you’re a service kind of company, and may keep your name right in front of their minds for some time to come.

2. Charity happenings: whenever charities are trying to boost money, the first to be approached are local businesses in your community exactly where they will be holding their fundraising affair. By including personalized Koozies with your logo along with name on them, you not just practice good local community assistance through assisting the charity with their fund raising, you get nice publicity and also advertising for your business at the same time. Designing them to replicate the charitys concept as well as colors makes them a collectible, too.

3. As sales giveaways: in case your business endures sales, then providing personalized Koozies in your sales agents for use as part of their own personal promotional deals is a great idea. Whenever they contact a new customer, they are able to leave one or more with them as being a gift for being attentive to the presentation. At product sales seminars for your enterprise niche, they generate great gifts for your prime sales staff, customized with their accomplishments, or as a free gift throughout the meeting.

4. When sponsoring local sports clubs: lots of companies today will support local sports teams as part of their promotion efforts. Precisely why stop at just supplying jerseys for any Little League team, when you could give personalized Koozies also? You may have them imprinted up with the team name, their logo, and also the season or perhaps year. They will show how much you care about the kids, and provide them, and their guardians, something to remember your sponsorship as well as your small business.

5. At welcome centres or even chambers of commerce: When individuals move into a new community, they generally check with local workplaces for names of organizations they may have need of in the foreseeable future. Chambers of commerce would gladly supply space for giveaways to new people, as well as handy stuff like personalized Koozies will always be delightful. The Welcome Wagon will always be searching for new gift items to incorporate in their welcome deals, also. Exactly why not provide them with a few cases of Koozies along with your logo, name as well as contact information to encouraged newbies with?

Making sure your business taxes are in order is too important a job to entrust to just anyone. You need an expert at tax preparation on your side; tax preparers who offer the small business services you’ll find at Padgett Business Services. Padgett has long been a source of a host of financial services for small businesses throughout North America; offering a proven system and over four decades of positive results for their clients. By specializing in the types of taxes that affect small businesses, Padgett agents consistently helps business owners just like you with income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes and more.

Padgett agents are committed to the thorough understanding of the issues that affect small businesses, and in insuring that your taxes are completed not only in a timely fashion but also in an accurate and beneficial fashion. Upon meeting with Padgett regarding your taxes you will notice straight away that your business is treated as the unique entity it is. Padgett realizes that no two businesses are alike, and you can count on receiving business advice as well as a tax plan that addresses your needs. Once your taxes are completed you can count on their prompt delivery in order for you to easily meet tax guidelines.

Should you find yourself or your business to be the target of a tax audit, Padgett Business Services can help. Counted among our professionals are several IRS enrolled agents; agents who are prepared to represent you in your dealings with the IRS. In such times it pays to have an experienced advocate by your side to guide you through the process and towards the best possible outcome. And to avoid such situations, small business owners can count on Padgett to keep their financial reporting compliant with government standards.

A successful small business is one that reaches out for expert help in the areas of their business beyond their expertise. In the very same way that Padgett’s professionals couldn’t be expected to be an expert at running your business, you can’t be expected to be an expert on state and federal tax codes. Padgett Business Services is however, and can provide a number of small business services while pointing to the proven results experienced by four decades’ worth of satisfied clients.

For the business user, the main advantages to working in a company that has an exchange server are:

1. File sharing
2. Access to email from any configured computer
3. Contacts access
4. calendar syncrhonized and shared between all employees

Essentially it means the office worker can use any configured computer to access his or her files, emails and calendar. The company will often configure a laptop and provide remote access so the member of staff can also work from home or while travelling and still have complete access.

The problem with this kind of product when it comes to a small or mid sized company, is that it requires someone to manage it and there is a huge cost, in terms of both initial cost and ongoing expenses.

So if you manage a small business and you want your employees to have a high level of flexibility i.e. to be able to telework or while travelling, or even to hotdesk at the office, you will need an exchange substitute.

There are two alternatives which will offer you many of the features of Exchange without the expenditure.

The first is a hosted exchange server. The second is the Easy-Email synchronization solution plus file synchronization software.

A Hosted Exchange server is a great solution. You get almost all the advantages but you are spared the resource cost and management time. You simply pay according to the number of users. This allows for quick expansion so as the business grows you just increase a user.

Easy-Email is a fabulous alternative for small firms.
Its an email sync answer set out in the form of a series of guides that you, or an IT professional you hire, can follow. It will sync a users mail and contacts on their desktop, laptop, home computer, pda or netbook. In addition it will allow them to manage their email from any other computer via Gmail.

The Easy-Email solution is incredibly good value compared to any other alternative solutions It’s just $67 US for the Advanced Guide to Outlook and you can get all of your staff set up for this fee!
The disadvantage in comparison with exchange is that there is at present no shared calendar so you will need to use a google calendar or similar.

And in terms of shared files and folders its really simple. Set up Dropbox. Dropbox provides you with a system of shared folders that are all automatically sync’d via the internet but they are also stored on the computer so you dont have to be online to access the files. You can select which people have access to which folders and the first 2GB of storage space is free (and it’s very reasonable after that).

Are you a small business firm that is seeking an effective means to market yourself to your target audience? Look into a professional Web Design Service to get a website that impresses people about your business. Though there are lots of do-it-yourself ideas on the internet about web designing, nothing can give you the kind of result that a professional website designer can give.

Why Do You Need To Take Web Design Service For Your Small Business Website?

An experienced website designing company will have a team of website designing experts who will implement the latest site design features. This will make your site stand out from your competitors. The site will have all elements necessary by which it is easy-to-use and navigate. All the information that has to be placed in your site will be positioned in the right way and presented in an organized manner so that it is interesting to the people who read it. Having a well designed site will take your small business to greater heights because you can reach across to a global audience. Your products or services are not limited to your local area but it is now available to a global audience. People who are in need of the products or services that your company is offering can now avail it through the information posted in your site.

An impressive and professionally designed website is a great marketing tool. It will showcase your business products or services to a large audience but the cost of such marketing is very minimal. As a small business you have to compete with many medium and large scale businesses in your industry. Having a website will enable you to make a mark for yourself and setup your business as a provider of high quality products or services in your business sector. You can reach out to global customers in the same way as bigger organizations and gain more customers your way. Since your site showcases your brand’s products or services, you can hear from people all over the work inquiring about what your company is offering and how to buy it. Many small business owners are finding better markets by opening a website. If you post blogs, articles or have a Face book profile about your company, you can link all these different internet resources to your site and enjoy the benefits of getting quality site traffic that gives good conversion rates to your site.

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Implementing an efficient telephone system can definitely improve the way you communicate with your customers and business associates. Small business telephone systems are a great option for budding business enterprises to maintain effective communication.

Convey a Professional Business Image

Repeated breakdown in your communication system and improper call management can adversely affect your business image. Small business telephone systems offer organized call management and professional business communication. The enhanced communication experience that they offer would certainly attract more customers and enhance your sale leads and revenue. These phone systems come with high-tech call handling features including find-me/follow-me call forwarding, call conferencing, music on hold, voicemail, fax to email, voice to email and more.

The auto attendant receives calls in a professional manner and is programmed to transfer them to extensions, mailboxes, call queues, groups and conference rooms, as directed by the caller. The virtual receptionist manages several calls arriving at the same time with incredible efficiency.

Manage your Business from Distant Locations

Business establishments with more than one office and/or a mobile workforce benefit a lot from this small office telephone system. The advanced call forwarding feature routes calls to landline numbers or cell phones configured as extensions. Your business can be easily administered from other locations and you can stay connected to your clients and workforce all the time. Using a broadband connection like DSL, Cable or FIOS, your mobile workers can become an extension of your business PBX phone system.

Powerful Voicemail System

Modern small business telephone systems minimize the odds of missing calls and messages. Unanswered calls are instantly routed to the voicemail system, so that the callers can leave voice messages. This facility helps focus on core tasks without worrying about not taking customer calls during busy business hours. Voice messages are forwarded to your email account as audio file attachments. Whenever a new message arrives in your mailbox, it is promptly alerted on your cell phone.

With these diverse capabilities, small business telephone systems facilitate effective communication with your business clients. To enjoy all the benefits of these phone systems, it is important to get the service from dependable providers. This would assure the smooth functioning of the system, structured services and advanced PBX features at reasonable monthly charges.