Mar

16 / 2015

Join the fireside chat: How to scale your business better

From Finances to Marketing, Discover the Secrets to Scaling Your Business

Grasshopper is getting ready to host their third, live, fireside chat event on Tuesday, March 24, to help small business owners learn how to take their brands to the next level. Registration is now open for this free event, “How to Scale Your Business: From 1 to Many.” A new panel of small business experts will discuss setting a firm business foundation, financing expansion, and marketing a growing small business.

This post is brought to you by the team at Grasshopper

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Mar

12 / 2015

How to run your small business from home, the easy way!

Talkroute running business from home (1)

Did you know that 52% of small businesses in the United States are home based? That is more than 14 million home based businesses in the U.S. alone. Not to mention, there are nearly 300k new home businesses registered every month.

This means there is a good chance you recently purchased a product or service from a home business and you just never knew it. Just like other home businesses, you too can run your business from the comfort of your home without compromising professionalism.

Here are a few awesome tips from Talkroute:

Common Problem: You need the flexibility of multiple phones. 

You’re running your business from home and it’s wonderful! You start the day with a cup of coffee and your laptop at the kitchen table, with your cordless phone nearby. That first business call comes in and you close your first deal. Congratulations!

As the day comes to a close, you realize it’s already 5:00pm and you are still sitting in the same place where you began your day. Imagine if you could take business calls on your landline line and cellular phone, you could go anywhere!

Solution: Getting a call manager for all of your devices. Whether you have a cellular phone, home phone, office phone or combination of phones, you’d benefit from bringing them into a simple to use and easy to organize phone system. Maybe you can add a menu that routes specific call to each device (press #1 for… press #2 for…). 


Talkroute running small business (2)

Common Problem: Using your home phone or mobile for business calls, all the time. 

It’s 5:30PM and you have just closed for the day, but your customers don’t know it. Instead, you are receiving business related calls until the late evening hours. 

By not establishing times for when your home or mobile business phone is available to receive calls, you are telling your callers that you are a 24/7 business and those missed calls after hours are customers assuming that they are being ignored!

Solution: Set specific date and time conditions for when your phones are available to receive calls. Considering playing a special message for callers after hours and route them to your business voicemail. By giving your phone time parameters, you let your customers know when you are open for business and it gives you a much needed break from your business. 


Talkroute running a small business (3)

Common Problem: Giving out your home phone number.

If there is one major disadvantage to running your business from home, this has to be it. Nobody wants to give their home phone number out as a primary contact for their business.

Solution: Choosing a phone provider that gives a free phone number when you sign up. This additional phone number should be used as your primary business number. And/or transfer your existing number to organize all business calls in one place. Having call routing options, and “call announce” features also help you distinguish business from home calls.


To Learn more about how to organize your small business calls the easy way, check out TalkRoute’s video below. TalkRoute has worked with tens of thousands of small business owners effectively communicate with their customers.

Get started today for free, find our for youself if Talkroute is the solution for your small business! 


Talkroute running small business (video)

About The Author

Paul Howey

Paul Howey is the CEO & Co-Founder of Talkroute. His passion is helping small business owners effectively and efficiently communicate with customers. 



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Mar

6 / 2015

Meet our February Invoice to Win Contest Winners!

In February, our main prize winner was Susan of Touch All 4, a non-profit dedicated to helping children play baseball.

As a lifelong baseball fan and mother of an 11-year-old ball player, Susan was called to action when she noticed children at her community ballpark watching the games but not participating. After conversations with other parents, she learned that after paying league fees, purchasing expensive equipment was not possible for some parents. Susan decided to start a lending closet, where parents could donate their child's outgrown equipment and it could be recycled to other players.

In 2014, with the support of her husband, Susan left a career in marketing and Touch All 4 was born. Her goal is that any child in Central Florida who wishes to play baseball is not denied the opportunity because of lack of funding. Susan says the best part of her new career is the ability to set her own goals and, of course, spending her free time at the ballpark. Working with a limited budget, Susan discovered Wave three months ago in the App Store while looking for accounting software. She finds Wave incredibly easy to use, and loves our mobile apps when she's on the go. Susan also loves that she has the ability to process a credit card if someone offers a donation. Wave has been the perfect fit for Touch All 4!

Our Runner-Up Winners

Our first runner-up prize winner was Danielle of CrossFit Affiliate. 

In June 2013, Danielle's dream of opening a CrossFit gym came true, and CrossFit Affiliate was born. Danielle's favorite thing about running a business is being her own boss, and being able to make her own rules and have ownership of everything.

After finding Wave through a Google search, she signed up immediately. Danielle loves that Wave is free and organizes all of her accounting for her. She finds that taxes are now easy, and she has all of her income and expenses in one location. Her favorite wave feature is invoicing. Danielle says, "it's so easy to send invoices to my clients when their memberships are due, and they can even pay online. Thanks so much for making Wave user friendly and free!"

Our next runner-up winner was Ted of Wonderland Graphics. 

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Mar

4 / 2015

4 easy steps to get organized before the 2014 income tax deadline.

smallbusinessowner

Today’s small business owners are incredibly lucky to have easy-to-use accounting tools like Wave at their fingertips. Throughout the year Wave does so much of the work for you, like importing bank and credit card transactions, it makes it easier than ever to get your financials organized for tax deadlines.

For some, their Wave records may need some attention before the balance sheet and income statement reports are complete and ready for income tax purposes.

Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here are four easy steps to getting your balance sheet and income statement reports in tip-top shape!

Step 1 – Reconciliation      

A big time saving benefit of using Wave is the ability to import your online banking, credit card and payment transaction data. Once the information for your business accounts are imported, all you need to ensure is that Wave matches your account statements and transactions are present in both places.

The best way to start this process is using the ‘reconciliation tool’ found on the transactions page.

Amongst the filters, choose a payment account to reconcile and the date filters for the period you want to reconcile and then the reconciliation tool begins to work.

Once done, simply check mark each transaction to verify and the reconciliation tool will add the transaction balances. 

Now you can determine if the balance found on your account statement and Wave match. 

Step 2 – Categorize

It’s important to review your transactions to ensure they all pertain to your business. While doing this, you can also categorize each transaction. Two birds, one stone – everyone’s favourite!

To do this, simply click on the down arrow next to the transaction description. In the column under ‘category’, you can choose form your chart of accounts to categorize the transaction.

Handy Tip #1: Clean up double transactions, for the same transaction. When money comes out of one account i.e. chequing and is applied against another account i.e. credit card, you end up with two transactions in Wave. One will be an uncategorized income and the other will be an uncategorized expense.

To create a transfer and link these two transactions you’ll need to click on the small square box far left of each transaction. At the top of the transactions list click ‘transfer’, this will categorize the transaction as a transfer and will no longer be income or expenses transactions.

Handy Tip #2: Avoid doubling your revenue. If you use Invoice and Payments by Wave, the amount of sales revenue indicated on these invoices accumulates in sales revenue on the income statement report.

When this invoice income is deposited, it also appears as an uncategorized income transaction. To avoid double counting revenue, simply select the down arrow next to the transaction and choose ‘create invoice payment’. This will provide a menu of open invoices you can apply the payment towards.

Step 3 – Value Added Taxes (VATs) 

Not all Wave users need to capture VATs for each transaction. Some countries have VATs for which the small business owner can recover the amount they spend in the year on VATs.

Handy Tip #3: It’s always a time saver to set up your VAT on the sales taxes page in Wave.

However, in Canada our VATs are GST or HST depending on the province. To capture the VAT on expenses simply click on the transaction to show details. A white box will appear, and then you can choose the VAT to apply to that transaction.

Step 4 – Is everything balanced and categorized.

Once you have reconciled and categorized all your transactions, you can now confidentially use your small business financial reports.

Two key reports to use during tax season are the balance sheet and income statement.

On the balance sheet, double check the date is set to the last day of your fiscal accounting period and then review. The balances showing should match your account statements for the same time period. If they don’t match, take another look in your transactions for further reconciliation.

On the income statement, also double check the date is set for the first day to the last day of your accounting fiscal period. Now you can see if all the amounts listed are categorized and that no uncategorized income amounts or expenses remain. If some amounts and expenses remain uncategorized, revisit your transactions page to categorize. 

That’s a wrap!

By following these 4 easy steps, you’ll have accurate and reliable reports you can proudly use to help complete your income tax submission before the deadline. Or happily provide to your accountant for further value this tax season.

If you’re already kicking off 2015 in high gear, it’s easy to find a Wave Pro that can help you get your records up to speed and ready for income tax filing.

More than just taxes!

Wave Pros have helped tens of thousands of Wave users get set up properly for the current fiscal year providing assistance with your small business tax and financial planning, forecasting and goal setting.

Simmonds.

Contributed by David Simmonds MBA, CPA, CGA and Wave Pro.

If you have any questions this tax season, David is available to help via email or online. To book a free appointment: http://simmonds.gr8.com/

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Mar

4 / 2015

5 Costly Small Business Phone System Mistakes

The average small business misses 40% of sales related phone calls.

talk route phone

It may sound crazy but your current phone system (or lack thereof) may be costing your small business a lot of money. As a business owner, you have the latest technology when it comes to payment processing and handling accounting. So why do many small business owners choose to neglect their phone systems?

It’s simple. Traditional phone systems are difficult to setup and costly to maintain. But the bottom line is, you don’t need a phone system that is overly complex to be successful. 

The truth is that you only need a small business phone system that is capable of helping you solve these 5 common mistakes:

1. Letting Business Calls Go to Voicemail 

You single biggest phone system expense is not the monthly bill or even the phones themselves. It is the act of letting calls go to voicemail and missing potential sales.

Voicemail is literally the kiss of death for small business phone sales. If a caller has a pre-sales question or if they are looking to place an order with you, answering that call has to become your top priority.

Unless you are the only source for your product or service, 85% of callers that go to voicemail never leave a message. And do you know what they do next? That’s right! They're likely dialing your competitors until they find someone who is willing to speak with them.

How do you solve this problem?

Simply removing your voicemail message is not enough. Callers will still be disconnected after a set number of “rings”. You need to implement a proper hold queuing system. This gives you the ability to keep an unlimited number of callers on hold until you are ready to answer. Even if you are taking calls from a single cellular phone. Best of all, your callers will never receive a busy signal again. 

2. Choosing the Wrong Phone Number

The choice to go with a toll free or local number is 100% based on the type of business you own. If you run a local business, like a pizzeria, a toll free number will actually work against you. Local businesses thrive on being, well… local.

You’re much better suited to have a phone number with a proper local area code that tells your customers you are apart of the community. Because residents take pride in supporting their local businesses.

If you are an internet based company, national chain, or sell your products and services world-wide, a toll free number is a good option to consider. However, there are no studies that prove businesses that utilize toll free numbers instead of local numbers are more profitable. 

So what about Vanity Numbers?

Vanity numbers are usually a poor choice for any business and only lead to confusion for your callers. Here is an example of what a typical vanity number looks like: Example: 1-888-BUY-STUF

When you first look at this vanity number you may think, how can a customer forget us? Look at how memorable it is! Surprisingly you'd be wrong. Without looking at a keypad on a phone, tell me what number button corresponds with each letter.

Having trouble? So are your callers.

Even though the letters are listed under each number on most keypads, vanity numbers are still 7x more likely to be misdialed then any other number. If a caller doesn’t realize they dialed the number incorrectly, they may just assume you’re no longer in business and call your competitor instead.  

3. Buying Unnecessary Equipment

Unfortunately, most traditional phone systems require that you purchase new phones, routers, switches, and even upgrade your internet service provider. Not only is this equipment expensive, you will most likely be paying someone to install and maintain it for you.

It's always good to consider providers like Talkroute. We work with any phone and service provider.  As long as your phone has active service, you have everything you need to start receiving business calls immediately.  

4. Phone Operating Hours

Unless you are a 24 hour business, there are times when your business is open or closed. Your small business phone system needs to also follow this same schedule. There is no reason your cellular phone should be ringing with a business call at 9:00 PM at night when your business closes at 5:00PM. Not to mention, if your customers are calling and no one is answering, it sends the wrong message.

We solved this problem by allowing our users to establish time parameters for when your phones are available to receive calls. When your business is closed, Talkroute will play an after hours message that you designate and route the call accordingly. This allows you to have much needed time away from your phones and also lets your callers know that they are not being ignored. 

5. Failing to Delegate Pre-Sales and Post-Sales Calls

Pre-Sales calls are the inquiries you receive by phone when a customer is either preparing to buy or ready to purchase from you. As a business, these calls are your top priority and a large percentage of these calls will convert to sales. One of the most difficult and aggravating issues you will face is being stuck on the phone dealing with a Post-Sales question, instead of answering a Pre-Sales call. 

Post-Sale calls are the types of inquiries you received after the sale is complete. While ongoing customer support is paramount to the success of your business, these calls need to be delegating properly. 

What is the solution?

Instead of thinking about how you can answer every phone call, let’s talk about how you can prioritize your calls. We have clearly identified that your Pre-Sales calls are the priority for answering immediately. This is why we highly suggest implementing a call menu (IVR). A call menu is the fancy prompt you hear when dialing a phone number and you are greeted with “press #1 for… press #2 for…”

By correctly implementing a call menu into your phone system, you can start to delegate where your calls are being routed. For example:

“Press #1 for Sales related questions or to place an order”

“Press #2 to Check the status of an order”

“Press #3 for Help with an existing order”

If you have several employees that you rely on for sales support, you can route calls from option #1 to their phones. Now your staff members, that specialize in sales, will no longer be fielding support calls and missing sales inquiries.

Is a Small Business Phone System Worth it?

The average small business misses 40% of sales related phone calls. These are calls that are not leaving you a voicemail. Instead, they are calling your competitors until they find someone willing to speak with them. 

You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a proper phone system that will both increase profits and give you personal freedom as you grow your business.

Talkroute has helped tens of thousands of small business owners grow their business. Talkroute's service is 100% free to try for all Wave users. You can sign up for a trial here

About The Author

Paul Howey

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