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10 Reasons To Shop Local

 

 

Keeping your spending dollars circulating through the local community is important for a number of reasons.  Although the results may not be immediately noticeable, we’re here to let you know that there are some really great benefits for you and your community to keeping things local.  Your buying choices are like a vote each time you spend money, so let your local business owners know that you support them by shopping in their stores, voicing your opinions and letting them know your product preferences.

If that’s not enough encouragement, here are 10 more reasons to shop local.

 

 

1. Wealthy Community:  When you spend locally the multiplier effect takes place…  Say what?  Spending money locally generates a lasting impact of economic wealth throughout your community’s local businesses, residents and organizations.

 

 


2.  Clean & Green:  Local, independent businesses are typically greener based on the simple fact that they are usually smaller than big box retailers & chains – which means less land, smaller buildings, and less resources.  That’s not the only environmentally beneficial perk!  These types of businesses are often community-focused and volunteer to keep their communities clean & green.  Since they live close to their businesses, they also have shorter commutes, which leads to less air pollution and traffic congestion.  Who knew owning a local business would make you clean, green, environmental machine?

 

 


3. Community Building:  Do you know the produce guy’s name in your grocery?  How about the check-out gal at your local pizza shop?  Shopping locally helps to build relationships throughout the community.  These days, many people turn to social media platforms to connect, but there are so many wonderful relationships just waiting to blossom within your own neighborhood.

 

 


4. Local Flair: Individually owned businesses are unique in their appearance, but chains or big box stores look the same everywhere.  By supporting local businesses, you are contributing to the uniqueness of the city.  Just like people, there are many types of businesses.  Shouldn’t we celebrate our differences and embrace our unique characteristics?  Life is boring when we’re all the same!

 

 


5.  Democracy Reigns:  Locals owning businesses means residents with community roots are involved in important decisions that not only shape our local environment but also our lives.


 

 

6. Giving Back:  Do you know that small businesses donate twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events and teams in comparison to big businesses?  Now you do!  It just makes sense that locally owned businesses would be more invested financially in their local communities, be more willing to give back, and donate their time.  By shopping local, you are giving back to your community.

 

 


7.  Economy Strength: How much do you spend locally?  (Estimate…)  Now take that number and multiple it by THREE!  That’s the amount of money you are contributing to the local economy when you shop local.  When you shop local, you are returning 50 times more money to the local economy than you would be had you shopped at an online or chain retailer.  Just think how much money we could return to our local economy if we all shopped locally!

 

 


8.  Better Options:  When we shop local, we help to shape the product landscape.  By voicing our desires to business owners, it guides them on what the surrounding community needs and wants.  It’s basic supply & demand…  The community wants a particular item, so the supplier stocks it for them.  It doesn’t get more catered than that!  And who wouldn’t want to support a business owner that actually listens and supports the needs of the community?  Speak up to let your local business owners know what you’d appreciate them carrying or services they could offer you think would benefit the surrounding community.

 

 


9.  Keep Taxes Low:  Seems unlikely, huh?  But it’s not!  When businesses are centralized and the community shops local, there is less wear and tear on our roads and city wide resources – such as sewage and safety services.  Another perk…  more tax revenue is generated per dollar spent locally vs. chains!  What does this all mean?  More locally owned independent businesses help to keep our taxes lower than they would be without them.

 

 


10.  More Opportunities & Jobs:  Local businesses typically support other local businesses, such as farms, wholesalers, accountants, lawyers, printers, etc. by being customers.  Not only do they spend money back into their community businesses, but they also employ more people directly per dollar of revenue!  This combination creates more jobs & opportunities for local entrepreneurs and job seekers.


Source:  American Independent Business Alliance

10 Tips To Drive Traffic To Your Website

 

We’re all suckers for the numbers…  Those numbers on social media: the follows, likes, and re-posts – our insights & analytics, and views – and how it all translates into website traffic.  With fast moving trends and ever-evolving platforms, it can be hard to keep up with the best ways to drive traffic to your website.  Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!  Here are 10 tips to help you reach your target audience and drive more traffic to your website.  The best part…  They’re all FREE!

1. QUALITY CONTENT:  When you provide content that customer find of value or benefit, they are more likely to come back to your site.  They will you as an expert voice in your field, and your value opinion.  If you need more time to publish quality content, that is OK.  It’s better to share quality, well thought out content once or twice a month as opposed to a blog post every day or week that lacks substance.

 

2. LANDING PAGES:  Creating a landing page to offer a free download to your customers is a great way to gain new customers also.  People LOVE free stuff!  When you offer a free download, you can gift something that is not a huge monetary investment for you, but is of value to your customers.  For example, you could offer: an e-book, industry related tips, recipes, and much more – without a huge investment of time or money, and your customers will feel appreciated.  (Mailchimp is an easy tool to create a free landing page.)

3. ONLINE COURSE:  Think about the needs of your customer.  What are some of their common challenges?  Create a course offering solutions.  You don’t have to include a product in every video.  Your customers will appreciate your helpful advice, without your video feeling too “sales-y.”  Think about your customers’ lifestyles, and get creative!  For example, if you own a juice shop, you could create a  video of someone making a smoothie and share the recipe with your customers.

4. CATCHY HEADLINES:  Taking the time to create an eye-catching headline is so important.  Customers are often searching through a see of your competitors, so make yourself stand out.  Often we find people say,”I don’t care about the little details.  Nobody is perfect.” but will often show the opposite in their actions.  Subconsciously they care about the details.  If you need ideas, you can always look online at websites similar to yours, search for synonyms, and definitions to make sure you’re standing out enough to be unique but staying on track with your message and reaching your audience.

5.  MIX IT UP:  Engagement is key in retaining and keeping your customers back to your website.  An easy way to do that is to mix up your content.  For example, Say you create two posts a month…try posting a short written article & a video one month.  The following month post a longer written article and an image post – such as a 10 Tips Graphic.

 

 

6.  COLLABORATE:  Do you have a friend or contact that also owns a business?  Are your industries similar?  Great!  Team up with this person and cross-promote your business through a giveaway, product review, or by working on a project together.  This will help drive traffic from each others audiences to your websites and create new customers for both of you in the process.

7.  WEBINARS:  Similar to online courses, webinars are a great way to offer something of value to your customers and educating them in the process.  It’s also a fun way to learn more about your current customers while gaining new customers.  Try incorporating live chat into your webinar to gain customer insights and learn more about your audience & their needs.

 

 

8.  INVITE A GUEST:  Do you need a brain break from creating content?  Try this idea…  Invite a guest writer and feature a piece on your blog.  This is another way of incorporating cross-promotion into your marketing efforts.  If you don’t need a break from creating, your guest writer could also feature you on their blog.  This will help to broaden both of your customer bases.

9. GO LIVE:  It seems customers are loving live video more and more!  Whether you use Instagram or Facebook, live video is a great way to connect with your customers.  You can have Q&A sessions, discuss a particular topic, do a quick tutorial, or share an experience with your customers.

10.  SOCIAL MEDIA:  This seems like a no-brainer to many, but you would be surprised how many people still don’t understand the importance of social media.  It is a great tool for driving traffic to your website.  If you have a blog, use social media to share you blog posts, any new products, upcoming releases, events, news, & important information.  (If you have not checked out Linktr.ee it is a great way to incorporate multiple links into to share in your Instagram profiles.  It’s FREE with the pro version costing a mere $6/month!)

Create A Mobile Office

How to Create a Mobile Office for Your Small Business

Tips for Setting Up an Office You Can Take Anywhere

“Technology is a powerful thing for small business owners, regardless what type of business they run. Using technology can help entrepreneurs do amazing things, including save money, streamline business processes, promote their products and services in new ways, and work more productively.

Technology also gives many small business owners the ability to leave their home or business offices behind and create mobile offices so they can work from anywhere, at any time. This kind of mobility eliminates geographic challenges, and helps small business owners become nimble and more flexible.

If you are ready to take your business on the road, here is some advice for creating an operational mobile office that allows you to work from anywhere.

 

  1. 01

    Choose the Right Mobile Computer

    Business people reviewing financial data on digital tablet
    •••

    If your work requires a computer, you will need a light and movable system that you can pick up and take with you when you leave your main office. That eliminates a desktop computer, but you still have other options to consider.

    Depending on the work you do, you may need a powerhouse laptop, such as a MacBook Pro. If you won’t be doing any heavy lifting from your mobile office, a less expensive and more streamlined netbook, such as an Asus Eee PC, may fit your needs. In some cases, a tablet computer, such as an Apple iPad, may provide enough features to help you bridge the gap between your primary office and your mobile office.

  2. 02

    Get a Reliable and Secure Internet Connection

    internet connection
    •••

    You can’t run a business these days without an Internet connection, but free Wi-Fi hotspots are not going to cut it. First, free access points are typically not reliable enough for business work. And second, Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure. Using one with a business computer can put your data at risk.

    One alternative is a high-speed mobile access card, or a MiFi (a compact wireless router). You can purchase the device and data plan from your mobile phone service provider, or from a company that offers pre-paid or pay-as-you-go wireless access. Whichever option you choose, make sure you protect your data by using an encrypted password.

  3. 03

    Make Your Data Accessible

    business data
    •••

    If you have multiple computers (a desktop in your office and a laptop for mobile working, for example), you will need a way to share files between your computers. You can manually email yourself files, or use a USB drive to move files from one computer to the other. This is tedious, however, and can present version control issues. The best option is using an online backup service that will automatically backup and synchronize your data across multiple devices.

    An online backup service makes it easy to access data from a mobile office. And even if you have just one main computer, this is a great way to ensure consistent backup and accessibility of your data in case of a system crash.

  4. 04

    Consider Going Virtual Across the Board

    virtual business
    •••

    Mobile offices need to be easy to break down, pack up and take anywhere. That means you can’t drag your double file cabinet along with you on the road. That may leave you in a tough spot if you are traveling, though, and find that you need to review a paper document back in your office. If this is a recurring challenge for you, it may be worth transitioning to a paperless (or at least mostly digital) office.

    You can create a paperless office and digital document management system by scanning in hard copy files and creating a virtual file cabinet; managing finances, bookkeeping and budgets on your computer; taking meeting notes on your computer, or transferring them later on; and using electronic agreements. Once you create a digital document management system, you will have all of your paper documents accessible and searchable on your computer. And once those files sync to your online backup service, you can access them from anywhere, making your office truly mobile.

    You can even use virtual phone lines and digital fax lines to create a telephone system you can bring with you wherever you go. This can help you run a professional and seamless business on the road.

  5. 05

    Run System Maintenance Regularly

    software update
    •••

    There is nothing like booting up your computer, only to find that there are a slew of operating system and software updates that need to download and install. This is a major productivity-killer, especially when you’re mobile. Make sure you update your system before traveling to avoid this unnecessary downtime.

    You should also make sure you have reliable anti-virus software installed and updated. And don’t skip those security patches that need to be installed. Keeping your system updated and virus-free is vital for every business, mobile or stationary.

  6. 06

    Don’t Forget Peripherals

    computer accessories
    •••

    Whether it’s a portable printer or scanner, an extra battery, or your favorite mouse, make sure your mobile office is ready to support your work, comfortably and efficiently. You should also bring the power cord for your mobile computer so you can keep it charged and ready to go. And it’s a good idea to travel with a small surge protector to protect your computer in case of an unexpected power surge.

    Setting up a mobile office can be a very individual process. Start by deciding how much access you really need and work backwards to create your mobile office. Once you perfect your mobile workspace, you may even find that you don’t need a stationary central office any longer.”

    Source

    With plenty of city-wide green space and beautiful weather, Austin is a great place to have a mobile office.  Whether you are always on-the-go or want to be less attached to your desk, there are so many ways to achieve a mobile office. Not sure if a mobile office is right for you?  Ask yourself a few questions!

    1. Do you want a more flexibility  schedule?

    2. Do you enjoy being spontaneous?

    3. Would you like a change of scenery?

    4. Are you in a convenient location for your customers?

    If you answered,”Yes!” to any of the above questions, a mobile office may be right for you.  Start small, if it seems intimidating.  Remember, this should be a streamlined version of your current setup – able to go where duty calls.  You’ve got this!

Top Time Tracking Apps

Top Time Tracking Software & Cloud-Based Apps

For U.S. and Canadian Businesses

“Good time tracking software pays for itself. Being able to precisely track the time spent on various projects lets you bill your clients accurately and manage your time more efficiently. The time tracking software programs listed here are also easy to learn and use, and include reporting and billing features, features most freeware time tracking software programs don’t have.

As with accounting and tax software, most vendors of time tracking software are moving their products to the cloud and offer online subscription-based services ranging from basic to advanced in features and price (see also The Best Accounting Software for Small Business and Top Tax Software Programs). Most have “try before you buy” options so you can test drive the product.Note that some of products listed include sophisticated time tracking for businesses with employees, including interfaces for time clocks, bio-metric readers, etc. If you are a freelancer/contractor and don’t need the features of dedicated time tracking software note that many accounting software packages (such as FreshBooks) include basic time tracking capabilities.

    • 01

      TSheets Time Tracking Software

      TSheets is a cloud-based, comprehensive, time tracking and management system. As well as browser access there are apps for mobile devices and you can also clock in via text messages or dial-up.

      TSheets has an excellent employee tracking system that uses GPS to track and record the locations of employees with mobile devices, which is very handy for contractors who work on remote sites.

      TSheets integrates directly with QuickBooks accounting software – after initial setup, QuickBooks and TSheets can synchronize payroll and accounting information in real time.

      For plans and pricing see the TSheets pricing page

    • 02

      uAttend Time and Attendance Cloud-Based Software

      If you are a small business and need to do time tracking of employees, uAttend time and attendance software is a perfect solution. Being cloud-based it does not require desktop software installation.

      Employees can enter data via web browsers, mobile devices, and telephones, or automatically via a variety of uAttend devices, including time clocks, fingerprint readers, and biometric scanning devices.

      The system tracks employee time each day and can also manage vacations, sick days and time off. The job-tracking feature enables logging of the amount of employee time spent on specific projects.

      uAttend has plans starting as low as $18.00 U.S./month for businesses with 1-9 employees. However, there are additional charges for telephone clocking, additional administrators, and extra clock devices.

    • 03

      Dovico Timesheet Tracking Software

      This cloud-based professional time tracking software from Dovico has excellent functionality and is inexpensive. The program allows multiple types of time entry, handles multiple projects, lets you create a variety of reports and invoices quickly and easily, and allows data to be exported in a variety of formats. It also integrates well with Microsoft Project, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel and Intuit QuickBooks. For those who work internationally, Dovico supports multiple currencies.

      For features and pricing see Dovico plans.

    • 04

      BillQuick Time and Billing Software

      BillQuick is a comprehensive time/billing and project management solution suitable for professionals in a variety of industries, including construction, accounting, engineering, information technology, etc. In addition to time tracking and project management, BillQuick includes invoicing and accounts receivable and (in the enterprise version) accounts payable, which includes deposits, vendor bill payment, etc.

      Deployment is very flexible and scalable – data can be entered via desktop apps, browsers or mobile apps on iPhone, Android, or Blackberry devices. A full cloud-based version (BillQuick Online) is also available. BillQuick data can easily be exported to accounting applications such as QuickBooks, and it has over 400 customizable templates for reporting and over 150 invoicing templates.

      For a full list of features and pricing see BillQuick plans.

    • 05

      TraxTime Time Tracking Software

      TraxTime is a very inexpensive, desktop PC application that while dated, has a surprising list of features. TraxTime can also handle unlimited projects, and its punch clock metaphor makes it easy to use. And if you like, you can append memos to the time entries. Customized reports can be sent to printers, saved to file or viewed onscreen. The Manager’s Version of this time tracking software, which is slightly more expensive, allows you to maintain a shared project list and create comprehensive reports for several users.

      Unfortunately, TraxTime is not cloud-based or cross-platform, but if you are looking for a very inexpensive PC desktop-based time tracking application, TraxTime may fit the bill.

    • 06

      TimeWriter Time Tracking Software

      TimeWriter’s entry screen is a weekly grid which displays one week of hour entries at a single glance, which makes it easy to enter hours worked quickly. This time tracking software program has excellent report functionality, and data can be exported in a variety of formats. Because the time tracking software was designed for workgroups, it has more administrative features than other single-use programs.

      TimeWriter has Windows and Mac OSX clients, as well as a Web client and iPhone and Android apps. There is also a freeware version with a reduced set of features available for personal use.”

      Source

      The better time management we have, the more time we have to focus on our profits and spreading them throughout our community in ways that benefit us all, while still having plenty to finally take that vacation you’ve been planning or making that large donation you’ve been putting off.  It’s time to build the Austin that thrives on community, local partnerships, philanthropy, & genuine relationships.

      Learn how we can work together.

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