Business Owners Resource Network

July 7, 2009

Twitter and the Bottom Line for a Service Business

Filed under: 1,Online Social Media,SEO,Small Business Growth,Web Site Development — smallbizexperts @ 5:28 am

twitterHey folks, cynical Sam here. Still looking for a answer to a question that has yet to yield a simple answer.

Q. Can I use Twitter or any online social media to improve the bottom line of my “Local Service” business?

A. So far as I can discern, no one has positive proof that I can.

What is happening, is every social media consulting company in the world (and there’s thousands of them now) are blaring at the top of their lungs how you have to be using Twitter and all the other social media tools that are out there, otherwise you’re going to be left in the business dust. And not only should you be using those tools, but because it’s so insanely complicated, you should be paying them to help you use all these social networking tools.

Now this is fine, because there’s a lot of consultants out there who know what they they’re doing in these tools. But here’s the kicker, they are all touting sucesses for non-service based businesses.

Where are the positive ROI success stories and examples for: plumbers, doctors, HR consultants, lawyers, liquor store owners, chiropractors, Web developers, graphic artists, jewelry sales reps, life insurance reps, day spas, stained glass restorers, auto body repair shops, carpet cleaners, dog walkers, foundation repairers, driveway sealers, gutter cleaners and the thousands of other home based and small service businesses?

I propose that those success stories don’t exist because service based industries have yet to figure out how to monetize social networking to their benefit, AND may never come up with a way.

So my questions to the world are these….

Are you a LOCAL home based or small service business? If yes! Are you using social networking and has it increased your bottom line? How much time are you spending on it per week? How can other LOCAL service based businesses repeat your example?

Time is money, and if you’re Twittering, Linked-Ining(sp?), FaceBooking, MySpacing, Plaxoing and the dozens of other social networking tools out there. If you’re using these, please provide some positive local service based business examples of how this social networking explosion has helped your business. How did you do it?

Thanks,

Chris Nastav, KC Web Specialists, LLC. www.kcwebspecialists.com
Experts in how business gets done on the Internet (913) 908.5642

June 18, 2009

What is a commercial auto anyway?

Filed under: Business Insurance — natewatson @ 8:20 pm

Everyone knows that you can’t insure a big rig as a personal auto. But after that, there is a lot of confusion as to when, and why, trucks and autos need to be insured as a commercial auto.

What is a commercial auto anyway? 

Everyone thinks that commercial autos are expensive, but that is not always so.  Given that they are priced per year, many are similar in price to that of a personal auto. But given that your business policy excludes all auto liability and your personal auto policy excludes all business use, having your auto as a commerical auto can be important. Let me repeat that.

Your business General Liability policy–excludes ALL automobile liability. That means if you have a truck and it says Bob’s Construction on the side in big red letters (sorry if there really is a bob’s construction), and you get into an accident and they sue Bob’s construction. Guess what. you have no coverage unless that vehicle is insured as a commercial vehicle. NONE.

If you think, well, my vehicle can be insured much cheaper by insuring it as a personal auto, and I just won’t tell the insurance company it is really a business’s auto, and I’ll save a few hundred dollars per year. Same scenario.  You get into an accident; lawyer sees that vehicle is titled in business name and sues the company. Company has no liability, but NEITHER DOES PERSONAL AUTO because personal auto policies exclude any and all business use of vehicle.  So how much liability money do you have coming your way when you get sued here, NONE!

This is very important. You spent all that time making Bob’s construction the number 1 construction company in your area, don’t let it become Danny’s construction because you failed to insure your vehicle correctly and Danny (the guy you rear-ended in the company truck) is now making a good living with your company.

The water does get a little murkier when you don’t own the company. Say you are, oh, I don’t know, an insurance agent named Nate! I drive my vehicle more than just two and from work. I take clients to lunch; I have life appointments all overt the Kansas City metro at all kinds of hours of the day. My company doesn’t own my car; do I need a commercial use policy for my car? The answer is no. I need what most companies call “business use” on my personal auto policy. This gives me the ability to drive more than just to and from work and still be covered. And trust me, if the insurance company finds out you have been lying to them, they have the option to pay only part of your claim, or even worse, none of it.

So here’s the moral of the story. If the company has its name on the title, commercial vehicle. If you own the company and over 50% of the mileage is done for the company, commercial vehicle. If the name of the company is on the side of the vehicle, commercial vehicle. If you are an employee and you go more than just to and from work, you go other places during the day for the boss, business use. If you alone own the vehicle, and you work for someone else, and you don’t go anywhere other than to work, maybe some McDonalds, and then back home…personal auto, no other insurance endorsements needed.

Trust me; don’t lose your company because you wanted to save 20 dollars. Don’t lose it either because your agent didn’t ask. Just because they didn’t ask doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  

When’s the last time you talked to your insurance agent about commercial auto?  If the answer is a long time, or never, call me.  I would be happy to discuss what you need and what you have. 

Nathan Watson, Brothers and Associates, LLC. 913..322.3388 ext 14.

June 4, 2009

Only 59% Aware of Health Savings Accounts

Filed under: Business Insurance,Employee Benefits,Financial Services — michellehodges @ 1:16 pm

Great article I wanted to share that came out yesterday by Money Management Executive…

Six years after health savings accounts were introduced, only 59% of the population has heard of them, only half of these people actually understand them, and only 14% of the overall population own them, Guardian Life Insurance found in its Spotlight on Consumer-Driven Health Plans Survey. “Because these plans offer compelling benefits for both employers and their employees, we wanted to uncover the obstacles to increasing participation, identify key motivators and develop Guardian resources to expand ownership of HSAs,” said Tim Bireley, vice president of group medical at Guardian. Fifty-two percent did not know that contributions to HSAs are tax deductible, and 55% did not know that withdrawals used for qualified medical expenses are also not subject to taxes. In addition, 60% did not know that they can take the HSA with them when they switch jobs. For their part, employers also mistakenly think that HSAs are complex. Many also do not contribute to employees’ HSAs, and Guardian found that would make the plans more attractive to 61% of employees. Fifty-seven percent said that if insurance for critical illness were included, that would make HSAs more attractive. “As the economy, coupled with rising healthcare premiums, forces business owners, employees and benefit decision makes to make difficult financial choices regarding their healthcare offerings, consumer-driven health plans can provide a solution,” Bireley said.

Do you know how an HSA paired with a high deductible health plan can benefit you or your company?  Please contact me at   913-262-0600  or email mhodges@benefitsdesigngroup.cc  for more information.

June 1, 2009

The #1 Thing You Can Do to Make Google Love Your Web Site

Filed under: 1 — smallbizexperts @ 12:09 am

googleDo you want Google to love your Web site? There’s things we as Web developers can do to your site to help with that, but there’s one really huge thing we cannot do. And it’s probably one of the most important things Google wants. 

One of the biggest things Google looks at when determining where it’s going to rank your site is the size of your company on the Internet.

What do I mean by size? Open Googe and seach for your company name. Be sure to put your company name in “quotes”. For example “KC Web Specialists”.

How many pages of search results does your company name take up? Not how many links on a page. How many pages full of results are about your company?

The bigger your company is on the Internet, the higher up you will show up for all those key words you’re hoping to show up for.

You get bigger on the Internet by having people link to your Web site. Writing a Blog. Linked-In, Face Book, My Space, Submissions to eZines, online newsletters, submissions to local newspapers, having your company sponsor events or speak at events that are written by other people on their Websites. Submitting your site to link site.

These are just some of the things you can do to make your company bigger on the Internet.

So how many Google search results pages does your company show up on, and where can we submit our site to get bigger on the Internet? Please let us know.

Thanks,

Chris Nastav, KC Web Specialists, LLC. www.kcwebspecialists.com
Experts in how business gets done on the Internet (913) 908.5642

May 4, 2009

Health Insurance: You Need To Understand The Basics

Filed under: Employee Benefits,Financial Services — michellehodges @ 2:17 pm
I ran across an excellent article by Mark Mitchell that helps to decipher health insurance jargon…

Health Insurance: Understanding the Basics

Americans today receive a barrage of health insurance information from every direction. Pundits speak of the national health care crisis; Medicare now offers additional options; and employee benefits officers often speak in a jumble of letters from HMO to PPO. For the consumer, choosing a health insurance plan can be quite confusing.

Health insurance is not “one size fits all.” Depending on your current state of health, budget, and individual needs, the best insurance for you may be far different than the best insurance for your friend or family member. A basic understanding of the various types of insurance that are available, and what each does and does not cover, can be helpful in determining which plan will work best for each person.

Traditional health insurance, also called “fee for service” or 80/20, is the type of insurance that most of us grew up with. You are entitled to visit any doctor, and the insurance company pays 80% of the bill. This type of insurance offers the greatest flexibility, but carries the highest out of pocket expenses. A deductible must be met before the insurance company will pay. The lower your monthly premium, the higher the deductible will be. The insurance company usually reserves the right to cap payments if, in their opinion, the doctor’s fees are higher than what is “reasonable and customary” in your area. This is an excellent type of coverage to have if you become extremely ill and require a network of specialists, or if your medical bills are astronomical. Once your expenses for the year reach a certain level, the insurance company will take over and pay 100%.

Many healthy people do not need fee for service medical insurance. They find that their out of pocket expenses are much lower with a “managed care” plan. There are two basic types of managed care – HMO and PPO.

In an HMO, or Health Maintenance Organization, you pay a monthly premium in exchange for comprehensive medical care. There is usually a small co-payment for doctor’s visits (usually ranging from $5 to $25), and a somewhat higher co-pay or deductible for hospitalization. Your out of pocket expenses are significantly easier to predict and manage with an HMO rather than a fee for service plan. However, an HMO introduces the concept of a “gatekeeper.” In an HMO, you must choose a primary care physician. That doctor, working in tandem with a risk management insurance officer, will determine your access to specialists. Finally, an HMO requires you to use doctors that are part of the HMO’s network. If you travel a lot, be sure to find out what the provisions are should you require an out of network doctor.

A PPO, or Preferred Provider Organization, can be considered a blend of HMO and fee for service plans. You will choose a primary care physician, and generally use doctors that are part of the organization. However, a PPO lets you see doctors who are not part of the network for a somewhat higher fee. This increased flexibility is excellent for those who travel frequently, or for those whose current doctor is not a member of the organization.

Many other options exist for covering your medical expenses. A Health Savings Account allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars each month. Catastrophic insurance carries a low premium with a high deductible, and is designed to cover you if you develop a serious illness or injury. However, for the average consumer, the choice is generally between fee for service and managed care. All types of plans carry their own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand what these are in order to make the right decisions for your family.

For more information please contact Michelle Hodges at mhodges@benefitsdesigngroup.cc  913-262-0600 

April 30, 2009

Website Budget versus Marketing Budget?

Filed under: Marketing,Small Business Growth,Web Site Development — smallbizexperts @ 10:19 pm

budgetThis is going to be a relatively short post, but one that hopefully inspires some long thoughts on the topic.

A Website should complement your marketing plan, a Website by itself is not a marketing plan. With that said…….

In my humble opinion, when you are budgeting for a Website, always spend more time and money getting people to your Website through marketing than you do on your actual Website.

Spending thousands on a stunning site with spectacular graphics, functionality and pages of awe inspiring product information is a waste of money if you don’t have an equal or greater budget of time and money planned to get people to your site.

Please share with us how you market your Website.

Thanks,

Chris Nastav, KC Web Specialists, LLC. http://www.kcwebspecialists.com Experts in how business gets done on the Internet (913) 908.5642

April 20, 2009

Small Business Don’t Twitter Your Time Away

Filed under: Online Social Media,SEO,Web Site Development — smallbizexperts @ 3:48 pm

twitterHere a Twitter,
There a Twitter,
Everywhere a Twitter, Twitter. 

Twitter “comments” seems to be everywhere don’t they?

So before I actually talk about what Twitter is, maybe the first step is to consider how did you actually hear about Twitter.

Did you see it on the news mentioned about Twittering a huge event like a presidential election campaign, CNN current news, the last holes at the Master’s Golf Tournament, the finish line at the Tour de’ France, etc. Or, maybe you heard it from some company knocking at your door wanting to sell you online social media services because your business is going to get left in the dust if you don’t buy their services?  Or maybe you heard it from your kids or that relative/friend out looking for a job because they were just laid off. Finally, you might have heard people say, “What the heck is Twitter?”

With the all above thoughts in mind now ask yourself this…………..

Have your heard your customers ask you “Why aren’t you using Twitter because “I” your customer want you to be using it?

Folks, are your customers asking you to start using Twitter?

At it’s foundation, Twitter is a Web tool used to have online conversations about something happening right here, right now. Whether it’s Twittering about a news event, or maybe some store that made a gaff of some kind in their policy. The more hype, drama, and excitement the event has the better. Did you know Twitter comments, or Tweets, are limited to 140 characters at a time. So it truly is a quick flurry of words being thrown around between people saying, Wow check this out. Once the excitement is over, the conversation thread basically dies and people move on to the next exciting thing they seem to have time to check out.

So now, as a business owner, ask yourself a couple questions if you’re considering Twitter.

1.      Is my target market population, my core customer base, are they using Twitter?

2.      Do I have something going on in my business, right here, right now that I can use to market to those currently on Twitter. Something that is going to generate excitement, buzz or drama in a way that the word spreads to all Twitter users for the briefest span of time in a way that I can capitalize on somehow for my business.

Ultimately, Twitter takes time and a thorough, thorough marketing plan to have any hope of being a success tool for a small business. Don’t waste your precious time on Twitter if you don’t have it as an integral part of your overall marketing plan.

Someone please share with us how you are using Twitter to consistently grow your small business? There are so few success stories out there on Google.

Thanks,

Chris Nastav, KC Web Specialists, LLC. www.kcwebspecialists.com
Experts in how business gets done on the Internet (913) 908.5642

 

April 14, 2009

HIGH DEDUCTIBLE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS FOR INDIVIDUALS

Filed under: Employee Benefits,Financial Services — michellehodges @ 2:33 pm

High Deductible Health Insurance Plans For Individuals 

Do you pay more attention to your car than your body? You change your oil every 3000 to 4000 miles. You have your tires rotated every other oil change. Your air filter and brake pads are changed at the appropriate intervals.

Now, what about your body? You follow the recommended AMA guidelines for routine check ups and other health care services. You pay special attention to make sure you eat a balanced diet and always take the time to get enough exercise (hopefully!).  The reality is many Americans pay more attention to the maintenance of their car than they do their body.

From an insurance perspective, your automobile insurance company has a certain expectation that you will take reasonable care of your car. Things such as the routine maintenance of brakes and making sure your turning signals work properly are expected by your insurance company. Basic common sense says that proper automobile maintenance reduces traffic accidents and saves both you and your insurance company money.

Health insurance consumers can benefit by taking a similar approach to taking care of their body. For the average American, regular exercise, routine check ups and following your doctor’s advice will reduce your health care costs in the long run. It is really very simple. By doing the things necessary to stay healthy, you will need to seek medical care less frequently.

Even with a commitment to stay healthy, you will still need health insurance coverage to take care of the unexpected and sometimes unavoidable catastrophic situations. However, instead of paying the insurance company for a $1000 deductible, many individuals would benefit by purchasing a high deductible health insurance plan. Depending on the specific situation, it is not uncommon for individuals and families to save up to 25% on premiums with a high deductible plan. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can then be set up to coordinate with the high deductible plan. Approaching health care and health insurance wisely will benefit both your body and pocketbook.

For more information please contact me at  913-262-0600  or email mhodges@benefitsdesigngroup.cc

It only takes a few minutes to see how much money you can save when deciding if a high deductible health plan with a health savings account is a good fit.

April 8, 2009

How Can A Blog Make Your Company Money?

Filed under: SEO,Small Business Growth,Web Site Development — smallbizexperts @ 2:49 am

blog_logoA blog can your increase your business in one or a combination of primarily three ways.

1. You get a huge following to your blog and people wonder about who the author is and what they do. Their curiosity leads them to click on your “About Us” page on the blog. From there, if you do it right, they click the link to your main Web site and decide to do business with you.

2. Google rewards a company’s Web site in its search results, in big part, based on how large a presence a company has on the Internet. By posting often in your blog, and getting people to link to your blog, you are systematically increasing your company’s Internet presence. The larger you are on the Internet the higher Google will rank you.

3. Get a really popular blog going and people will pay you to put their advertisements on your blog pages.

Tips – – Blog often, blog short posts, blog in relation to your key words, ADVERTISE your blog link anywhere and everywhere you can.

Can you please share with us other ways you use your blog to make money?

Thanks, Chris Nastav, KC Web Specialists, LLC. http://www.kcwebspecialists.com Experts in how business gets done on the Internet (913) 908.5642

April 6, 2009

How Does A Buyer Decide What Business To Buy? What Business Owners Need to Know….Part Two

Filed under: 1,Business Brokers,Business Valuations — alieser @ 7:45 pm

 

In “How Does A Buyer Decide What Business To Buy?  What Business Owners Need to Know….Part One”, I addressed the impact that accurate record keeping and reporting has on the sale and value of a business.  In that blog, I suggested that the main reason a buyer chooses one business over another is the financial history. 

 

Once a buyer has seen the historical financial performance of a business, is comfortable that it meets his financial needs, and has determined that the data is reasonably accurate, his second concern is whether the business can sustain or improve that performance without the participation of the current owner. 

 

So, as a business owner, how should this knowledge affect your day to day operations?

 

As a business owner, it is important for you to set the stage for your eventual exit from the business.  This involves training employees so that they are capable of assuming some of your duties, especially those that involve interaction with customers.  Make sure that you are not perceived as the only “face” of the company. 

 

If it is normal in your industry to have contracts with customers, vendors or employees, implement these contracts long before you desire to sell as an indication to the buyer that each of these entities intends to continue their current relationship with your company.

 

Automate systems where logical to do so.  Spend some time documenting your procedures.   Clean house.  Perform maintenance.  To pay the highest price for your business, a buyer needs to feel that the necessary resources for him to be successful are already in place.  He needs to know that the business has been well tended and that it will not be complicated or require additional financial investment for him to step into your shoes.  Otherwise, the buyer will discount the value of your business to accommodate any additional cash outlay or effort that he perceives will be required to get the business to this level.

 

Stay tuned for additional tidbits on increasing the future value of your business.  Or feel free to call me or post questions or comments.

 

 

Anita Lieser, Senior Business Broker

913-433-2306

Sunbelt Business Advisors

7101 College Blvd. Suite 1650   Overland Park, KS  66210

 

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