Social Media Tips & Blog

4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve Them

4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve ThemAs a small business owner, you’re essentially writing your own paycheck. But that doesn’t mean you have an endless supply of funds anytime you need them. Instead, your earnings are dependent on a variety of factors, some of which are outside your direct control. So what can you do if you run into difficult financial circumstances? Here are a few ways to jump money-related hurdles.

Low Profits

Making enough money to get the business by is one thing, but is your business actually profitable? If you’re making sales and have a healthy pipeline, yet there’s little to no profit realized, you’re facing a profitability issue.

This issue could be a simple matter of low profit margins, or it could be the result of inefficient purchasing practices. If your business relies on raw materials and other items purchased from vendors, an audit is worthwhile to determine if you could be sourcing the same materials at a much lower cost without sacrificing quality.

Figure out which clients or customers are most profitable, and find ways to increase the amount of business they do with you. If you can identify a target customer type that tends to be more profitable, identify ways to seek out more of your ideal clients to boost revenue and profits.

Skyrocketing Overhead Costs

It’s also worth evaluating your overhead expenditures, such as the amounts you’re paying for office space, phone services, and any other recurring costs. If you have hourly or salaried employees, your payroll is an overhead cost as well, and that’s where employee productivity comes into play. It doesn’t make sense to pay a full-time office manager who does far more Facebook scrolling than she does managing the office.

An analysis of your overhead expenses may result in the need to make some hard decisions, such as letting go of some staff, but if you keep the health of your business in mind and take the emotion out of decision-making, these choices will be easier to make.

No Plans for Unforeseen Circumstances

In business, planning is everything. While it seems more pertinent to focus on the cash flow issues you’re experiencing right now, you should also be thinking about the future. What happens if a catastrophe hits when you’re least expecting it? For instance, does your business rely on you, personally, for the majority of operations?

Find ways to turn everything into a systematic process so that with or without you, your business continues to function like a well-oiled machine. Get a plan in place for emergency cash resources, such as a small business line of credit, to cover unexpected costs. Make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage to protect you against unexpected accidents, such as employee or customer injuries.

Taxes, Taxes, and More Taxes

As a small business owner, you’re most likely paying more in taxes than the average employee. That’s because small business owners must pay both the employer and employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

When you add in other costs such as the business privilege tax levied by some municipalities (a tax fee paid for the privilege of doing business in the town, city, or municipality where the business is located), the need to file quarterly estimated taxes, and file taxes both personally and for your business entity, it’s not hard to see how taxes can quickly become the bane of your existence.

Always keep strict documentation of all business expenses and income, and find a good accountant who can guide you in taking the right deductions. Stay on top of all filing requirements to help you navigate through W-2 software and/or 1099 software. Filing and paying on time will help you avoid late fees and interest charges, and maximizing your deductions is the best way to lower your tax burden across the board.

Small business owners face a variety of financial challenges. Most are solvable, even if you have to practice creative problem-solving in order to overcome some financial hurdles. Planning for the future and being prepared for the unexpected is the best course of action, while working towards greater profitability and cash flow today.

Image via Pixabay by stevepb

Guest post by Julie Morris - Juliemorris.org

Audit Your Social Media Accounts

Audit Your Social Media AccountsYou want to be sure your social media accounts are updated so they always have your current information. Now is a good time before the start of the new year to audit your social media properties.

  • Have you created Twitter lists? I like to create lists and then retweet relevant content from these lists.
  • What are you current Facebook engagement rates? Knowing your Facebook Insights for  your business page will help you determine what strategies are working best for you.
  • Are you using LinkedIn's Publishing feature to post articles that link back to your website?
  • Are you using a Pinterest Business account effectively?
  • What hashtags are you using on Instagram?
  • What images have you created to share on social media? Are they branded with your logo?

Recommended Audit Tips

  1. Review your accounts at least yearly and update your bio, contact information and links.
  2. See what others in your industry are doing on their social media accounts to be sure you are staying relevant.
  3. Ask your peers to review your accounts and suggest ways to improve your online presence.

To help you audit your own accounts, you can download these free worksheets. Use them as a checklist of things you want to update on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you'd like assistance auditing your account, we offer a detailed audit & consultation package. We can also implement strategies for you. Learn more about our marketing strategies here.

When is the last time you took an audit of your social media accounts?

Better Writing: When to Use “Like” vs. “Such As”

Barbara McNichols WordtrippersThis is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips that help you write like a pro.

Have you ever wondered about the distinction between “like” or “such as” in your writing. Here are two phrases to consider:

. . . the answers that so-called geniuses like / such as Newton seem to embody.

. . . centuries of innovations like / such as the airplane and the space shuttle have resulted.

In these examples, “such as” is preferred over “like” because the word “like” implies comparison while “such as” implies inclusion. That means being like something doesn’t include the thing itself.

In the first phrase, Newton is intended to be included as a so-called genius, so “such as” is the correct choice. In the second phrase, the airplane and space shuttle are examples of innovations meant to be included within this context. In contrast, the sentence “he’s like a fish swimming upstream” provides a clear comparison.

Your challenge: When you’re about to write “like,” ask this question: Would I include this point in a list or exclude it? The answer becomes your clue to select either “like” (exclude) or “such as” (include).

Today’s Word Tripper: 

Adopt, adapt “Adopt” means to take as one’s own as in someone else’s child, to choose something such as a lifestyle, or to formally accept something such as a position or principle. “Adapt” means to adjust to various conditions. “When you adopt a young girl, be sure to make it easy for her to adapt to your living environment.”

Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips program with details here.

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Fotor vs Canva - Designated Photography Platform vs Tried and True Designer

This article was contributed by a guest blogger so you can have more information on these products. The views of the blogger are not necessarily our views, nor do necessarily endorse any particular product.

fotor v canva

With so many online graphic designers and imaging platforms, how do you find the one which is perfect for you? In this review, we are going to check out two very different online graphics designers and imaging platforms, determining their strengths and weaknesses relative to the unique requirements of the internet savvy designer and personal user.

fotor versus canvaCanva

To begin, let’s look at the heavyweight of this comparative review, Canva. Considered by many to be the ‘designer’s choice’, Canva’s polished HTML5 based interface and large number of templates bring a new level of control to the average user. The addition to these templates, Canva also provides a huge number of example templates, which can be directly used making ‘designing from scratch’ completely unnecessary. Keep in mind, while these pre-set designs look great, they are not necessarily free - something we will cover later in the review. Like the pre-set templates, Canva also provides loads of unique overlays and customizable clip art. While not always aesthetically pleasing, these additions cover a wide range of themes, providing loads of designing options and styles. In short, creating fantastic looking social media covers and other designs is easy with Canva, so what does its rival, Fotor, bring to the table?

Fotor

Beginning its journey as a simple photo editing suite and HDR emulator, Fotor has grown significantly since its 2012 launch. Now with an extensive design feature, an international photographic competition platform and comprehensive utility functions, Fotor’s strengths lie in its dynamic nature. From a design perspective, Fotor lacks the ability to directly format and print your creations - this can be overlooked however, by the extensive editing and customization options built into the platform. While Canva has refined the ‘designing experience’ by highlighting certain features and limiting options, at times, Fotor can seem daunting in its sheer number of editing options and content. With all of the ‘bells and whistles’ you would a photo editor to have, Fotor also has a few interesting features under its belt, including a world leading HDR algorithm. Combining these elements brings a great deal of power to the fingertips of the average user, making Fotor a powerful contender to the ‘graphic designer’ throne.

Differences

Perhaps one of the most important features of successful online designers and enhancers is a user-friendly UI and intuitive interface. While Cava’s polished HTML5 interfaces is for the most part very user-friendly and pleasing to the eye, it can be difficult to navigate. Hidden within Canva’s interface are huge amounts of tutorials, content and other functions, finding them can be a challenge, however. In contrast, Fotor provides a very simple, function orientated menu which can be accessed at any time. If that wasn’t convenient enough, Fotor also includes a ‘favourite’ feature, allowing you to place your most frequently used features and effects into an instantly accessible, customised menu. While it may not be as appealing as the sleek presentation of Canva, we never found ourselves lost when using Fotor, the advantage such convenience holds for professional designers cannot be understated.

In order to give you a fair understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these two excellent platforms, we cannot ignore Fotor’s ‘Edit’ function, and its relationship with design and image enhancement. From what we understand, Fotor – up until recently – was a specialised utility website and app, offering functions and features equivalent to Adobe Photoshop – but free and on an online platform. After releasing is ‘Design’ feature, Fotor was able to streamline both functions in the same place, allowing the user to modify and enhance their photographs and images, before importing them directly into a design page. In this area, Fotor really stands out. The ease of use, coupled with the sheer number of Photoshop style editing features means that the average user really has a virtually unlimited amount of control, and a wealth of knowledge in free tutorials and blogs provided by the Fotor team.

comparing fotor versus canva

When compared, Fotor and Canva both have clear strengths and weaknesses, particularly when it comes to their payment schemes. These days, ‘premium’ content is just another word for ‘not free’, and it is in this area that these two platforms differentiate the most. Canva operates in a ‘pay-as-you-go’ fashion, allowing you to purchase single overlays, designs and clip art directly from the editing page, while Fotor is has a single ‘premium’ plan with bulk, updated content. On top of this payment method, Canva also has a corporate payment solution known as Canva for work. Costing roughly $120USD for a yearly subscription, this premium plan is designed for companies and groups who want to share their work and ideas. Fotor exclusive payment option ‘Fotor Pro’ is significantly cheaper at $39USD a year; it lacks an internal business communication platform, however. If you’re a social media aficionado who loves making great designs and covers, you’ll probably find Canva’s simple system the best. That fact that you are able to buy only the features you want has obvious benefits, but it’s my opinion that the ‘creatively oriented’ designers will prefer a more open plan. From a strictly financial perspective, Fotor is simply the most cost effective of the two platforms. Purchasing more than two pieces of content at Canva is roughly the same price as a monthly subscription to Fotor, which is something to keep in mind given the ‘premium content’ of the two platforms is so similar.

In contrast to Canva’s content driven payment scheme, Fotor has simplified the payment process by combining all content into a single option. As Fotor’s features are often updated, it makes sense to utilise this payment scheme, we found it better to Canva’s alternative, as we often didn’t know how useful some of the features were until we started using them. In short, if you’re completely new to online designers – Canva is a great option, but for professionals, it’s hard to look past Fotor’s myriad features.

compare canva and fotor

As we wind up this review, one particularly important element must be discussed – mobility. As we all know, if it can’t be accessed from a smartphone, then it probably doesn’t exist! Indeed, statistics say that you are probably reading this very article from a mobile device. So what does Canva and Fotor offer in the realm of the mobile graphics designer and photographer? Canva states their position very directly, while limited support is offered for ipads and android tablets, the design platform is streamlined for a desktop, where visibility and scale are unfettered. Fotor, on the other hand, has updated Android and iOS versions for smartphones, synchronised and streamlined with their photographic editor, designer and enhancer. In this area, Fotor stands head and shoulders above Canva. On top of its app support, Fotor also has a ‘community’ function, allowing users to share photographs and designs, even creating their own personalised galleries.

Conclusion

Comparing these two great platforms is no easy task. Both have succeeded in creating a unique place for themselves in this rapidly changing digital world, both provide excellent services for increasingly demanding users and both can be seen as innovative in their own right. The dynamic designer, who wishes to modify every element of his graphic designs and advertisements with the greatest detail will find obvious advantages in using Fotor. Similarly, the social media aficionado who wants to produce great looking posts in a few minutes will prefer the streamlined finish of Canva. It’s the opinion of this humble editor, however, that the dynamic nature of Fotor will see it replacing Canva as the popular choice of graphic designing platforms, harnessing its diversified functions in producing a better final product.

Platforms comparison in a snaphot:

feature and price comparison

Guest post by Philip King

I’m a freelance tech writer from Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been a writer for the entirety of my professional life, having had my work published in a number of local and international newspapers, including the Times.

I’m passionate about emergent technology and social trends, particularly those relating to social media and imaging. The InspirationFeed is now the ‘final frontier’ of development and growth. It’s my mission to understand it and spread the word as the world embraces the digital age.

Instagram New Features: 4 Potential Ways Your Brand Can Get the Most Out Of It

Instagram has been among the winds of change for quite some time. First, it rolled out a new algorithm, then it increased the video length and very recently unveiled the Instagram Stories feature. The new features could act as blessings for content creators and marketers as they get more flexibility. The increased video length and Instagram stories are going to be pivotal for companies and brands, and it's time we decipher how to make use of these changes. Let’s, take a look

Instagram Stories

instagram stories

(Instagram stories received positive reviews with in hours of it’s launch)

#1 Making The Most Of Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are the latest major addition to the application. It now lets users post videos and photos that vanish within 24 hours. The feature which is very similar to Snapchat stories, which also cannot be accessed after 24 hours.

So, how can we make the most of this feature? Brands can utilize Instagram stories as a way to portray what is happening behind the scenes. "Behind the scenes" footage can add authenticity to other related content you post on the platform as well. For example – Cafés and restaurants active on Instagram post photos of their new dishes. Stories can act as a platform which adds a different perspective to it by showing how the dish is made or a vox pop of food lovers reviewing the meal.

Takeovers are very popular on most social media platforms. Instagram Stories could facilitate takeovers as influencers could put stories that are engaging to the audience. You could post a photo as a teaser for your campaign and then make users jump to the story where more content could be shared.

It is an exciting time for live video content at present. Instagram Stories might pave the way for brands to create live videos. They are incredibly engaging as well. Stories also give a chance for the brands to converse with their followers on 1:1 basis. Shortly, you might be able to see brands conducting Q&A session through Stories. People can ask questions through Instagram Direct and brands could answer it through this new feature.

#2 Beat The Feed Algorithm

Instagram recently added an algorithm which aims to filter the feed. This way, users get to see posts that the algorithm predicts to be of interest to the user. The new Stories feature can be very useful for brands as they don’t have to be at the mercy of the algorithm. Brands can stay top-of-mind on Instagram even if their content fails to feature in the news feed.

Experimenting with stories and adopting it early could aid brands in attracting the attention of their followers and ultimately boost engagement.

Video length

instagram video length

(Instagram has expanded the video length to 1 minute)

#3 Making The Most Of Video Length

Taking a look at some important metrics about video engagement, we see that videos between 30 to 60 seconds can attain peak engagement. You can expect optimal levels of exposure through Instagram can as they've expanded the limit to 60 seconds for videos. So, it is entirely worth it to invest your effort and time on the platform.

Many old-school marketers avoid online platforms like Vine and Snapchat due to its video length restrictions. But, since Instagram increased the video length marketers and advertisers can be comfortable as it is quite similar to television commercial spots. Short videos and pictures allow users to scroll through the newsfeed very easily. If Instagram had decided to increase it more than 60 seconds, it might have created adverse effects as users will start abandoning the feed.

So, how to get more followers on instagram despite these changes? The 60-second video length could be a calculated move from the Instagram HQ as it does not harm user experience but still give creators more time to communicate through their videos. To keep the users interested, don’t push the whole content at once through the video instead distribute it over 60 seconds. This way, you can attract more followers.

#4 Call To Action

Since Instagram changed the feed algorithm, the importance of attaining top levels of engagement have risen, and it can be fueled by positive calls to action. The former video length forced us to sacrifice a lot of things to implement a call to action. The longer videos open up opportunity and time to not just include CTA but improvise with CTA as well.

This way, content creators will be more than happy as they get time to execute a call to action that ensures the placement of their content at the prime spots of your Instagram feed.

Conclusion

The features listed above help the brands in getting more followers and conversing with the audience. You don’t have to worry about these changes at all as the tips listed above have got you more than covered. Happy Instagramming!

This is a Guest Post by Sandra Christie