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Online Business Banking Guide

We are far from the days when banking tasks meant driving to a branch, waiting in long lines, filling out deposit or withdrawal forms, and conducting business face-to-face. Now, thanks to online business banking, you can manage all your small business needs quickly and easily through your computer or mobile device.

Digital banking has completely revolutionized the industry by offering the convenience, mobility, and flexibility that small businesses expect. The question is whether switching to an online bank, for some or all of your banking needs, is right for your business.

Here’s what you need to know about banking online for business.

What Is Online Business Banking?

Online business banking gives you the ability to manage your business account over the internet using a computer, smartphone, or tablet. It offers many of the same services as traditional business banking, but the bank operates entirely online. You apply for an account on the banks’ website and, once approved, access it via a web browser or mobile app.

“Online banking assumes a world where you don’t have branches in your life anymore,” says Eytan Bensoussan, co-founder and CEO at online bank NorthOne. “Everything can be done on your phone and the web. It allows you to do things you already do as a business but in real-time.”

Bensoussan says requiring the business owner to go to a physical location to handle checking accounts, withdrawing cash, and other activities “forcibly separates” the business owner from his or her company during crucial business hours.

“The more time spent at the bank means less time conducting business and making sales,” he says. “That’s where online mobile banking takes a step in a new direction.”

What Can You Do When Banking Online?

Practically any type of transaction you can do with a teller face-to-face, you can do online. That includes opening an account, depositing money (either by cash or checking), and moving funds from one account to another. You can also send ACH or wire transactions, pay bills, and apply for a loan online. You lose none of these features using online services.

What using an online bank doesn’t facilitate, at least not as well, is having a relationship with an advisor you can meet with in-person. That’s no small matter, either. The 2019 PACE study from FIS Global, a banking technology company, found that smaller businesses that have a banking relationship manager (RM) are more satisfied than those who don’t.

“Forty-one percent of SMBs with an RM are extremely satisfied, compared to 26% of those who don’t have an RM,” the study reported.

Another drawback to online banking involves products that traditional banks offer. Many of the newer digital-only banks, also known as “challenger” banks, limit the scope of their product offerings to streamline the service and make it more economical. However, some are beginning to branch out, offering investments, savings accounts, and loans.

“If you choose to bank only online, you’re good with 80% of business services online offers, and never have to deal with going to a bank again,” Bensoussan says.

One other hindrance to online banking comes with business growth. Bensoussan says that while online banks can be an excellent solution for small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, once a company grows to a certain size, it needs custom solutions along with a team to build them — something better suited to traditional banks.

Bensoussan adds that other business processes may still require visiting the branch and showing an ID, faxing documents, or getting on the phone with a banker at the headquarters or local branch.

“The shift with online is that you take all those operations into the computer and let them happen immediately,” he says.

Banking tasks you can do online:

  • Check your balance at any time.
  • Make mobile check deposits, ACH, and wires
  • Get a debit card (often fee-free)
  • Pay bills and transfer money to other accounts
  • Check bank statements and go paperless
  • Set up or cancel direct debits and standing orders
  • Check on investments linked to your account
  • Integrate with third-party services

Banking tasks you cannot do online (at least not yet):

  • Meet in-person with a banking advisor
  • Explore other products, such as savings accounts
  • Get custom banking solutions
  • Set up a line of credit
  • Apply for a loan
  • Notarize documents
  • Get a safety deposit box
  • Get a cashier’s check or money order

The Pros and Cons of Online Business Banking

Banking online is not a panacea. There are tradeoffs businesses have to make. Online banks offer efficiency and convenience but lack the product availability and face-to-face interaction of retail banks. Here are some pros and cons of online banking to consider.

Pros of Banking Online

There are obvious benefits to a bank with no costly overhead that stays open 24 hours a day.

  • Convenience — Online-only banks give business owners access to their accounts on a mobile device or computer any time, day or night. No more dealing with “bankers’ hours.”
  • No more lines — Going to a branch and, possibly, waiting in long lines is no longer an issue.
  • Lower costs — The PACE study cited fees as the number one reason for stopping or switching a banking relationship. Because they don’t have their brick-and-mortar counterparts’ overhead, online banking models are cheaper to use. Some offer a lower monthly fee or no fees altogether. That includes overdrafts, monthly maintenance, and ATM transaction fees.
  • Better security — Many online banks use biometrics, such as Face or Touch ID, which minimizes the risk of someone hacking a user’s account. Plus, these banks are built from the ground up with security in mind. Of course, safety is as much a responsibility of the customer as the financial institution. Keeping computers and other devices up-to-date and ensuring the operating system, antivirus software, and firewall are current are necessary to protect unauthorized access to data.
  • Customer support — Just because someone is banking digitally does not mean no humans are involved. All have customer support teams with full access to business account information.
  • Connectivity — Many online banks connect to and integrate with third-party services, such as accounting software, payment processing services, and other applications. NorthOne, for example, integrates with 14 different services, including Quickbooks, Stripe, Shopify, and PayPal.
  • Small Business Focus — In the case of online business banks, everyone focuses on the needs of their primary customers: small businesses. This is unlike traditional retail banks, which have other product lines (e.g., personal and institutional).
  • Better for the Environment — Banking online cuts down on paperwork. In some cases, a business can essentially go paperless with immediate access to company balances, electronic statements, and other environmentally-responsible business activities.

Cons of Banking Online

While there are certainly plenty of pros, there are also some cons of using an online banking service. They include:

  • Limited product offerings — Online banks tend to be more limited in scope regarding product offerings. (Few offer a savings account, for example.) As a business grows, the complexity and sophistication regarding banking features and functionality increase. It may find the need to apply for loans or lines of credit, services typically found at retail financial institutions. That said, some online banks are beginning to expand to include not only a savings account but also loans, investments, and other services.
  • Lack of brand awareness and trust — While everyone knows brands like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, these new challenger banks lack such brand awareness, so trust is an issue. The PACE study, referenced earlier, points out that trust is more than a brand promise. It is one of the bank’s most important assets, an advantage these new entries will have to earn.
  • Less convenient for cash-heavy businesses — Businesses that deal with many cash transactions, such as a restaurant, may find doing business digitally to be problematic. Making small cash transactions via a linked ATM is one thing, but large deposits are something else.
  • Cash deposits still require trip to the ATM — Even when your bank is online, cash deposits still require visiting an ATM and filling out a deposit envelope just like at a traditional bank. For very large cash deposits, the customer may need to split up deposits into several smaller increments to fit into the deposit envelopes. Some retail banks allow users to connect to the digital bank. The deposit is made at the physical location and then transferred to the online bank. Also, some businesses buy a money order, which they deposit via mobile.
  • Limits on cash withdrawals — Most ATM networks put a limit on how much cash a person can withdraw each day. That presents a problem if you need more and don’t have access to a local bank.
  • Potential technology issues — If the online bank’s website is down or the app isn’t working, you’re sunk. There are no business transactions taking place until service is restored. While there’s only a remote chance of that happening, it’s still within the realm of possibility.
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction — Digital banks put a premium on customer service, but there are times when it may be better to sit down across from the bank manager or advisor to iron out a more complex issue.

Is It Safe for Your Business to Bank Online?

Yes, using an online bank is safe. Banks tend to be risk-averse, so security is a big deal — and even more so with online banks. As mentioned, they deploy biometrics, so customers don’t have to remember a username and password. However, they also use “microservices,” a type of technology architecture that structures an application as a collection of services, which are loosely coupled and independently deployable.

Bensoussan explains:

“Modern banking security is built using microservices. Instead of one giant piece of software where someone can access the whole castle, with microservices, it’s nearly impossible to get into the entire banking system. At NorthOne, we also use third-party services to monitor transactions to make sure everything is safe.”

Can I Open a Business Bank Account Online?

Businesses can open business accounts entirely online via a website or mobile application and skip the branch altogether. For many online banks, the process is much simpler and quicker than traditional banks.

“For many online digital banks, the big question was, can we get the whole thing online,” Bensoussan says. “Now it only takes minutes instead of going to the bank with documents, waiting an hour, and the next week you get something.”

Once you pick your bank, choose the type of account you want to open and answer a few questions, such as the kind of business you operate and your tax ID. Most online-only banks require less documentation than their retail counterparts. You’ll probably be asked to verify your information via email or phone.

The steps at NorthOne are a good example. In their case, signup takes only a few minutes and involves the following steps:

  • Input your phone number and business email address
  • Create a password
  • Accept the terms and conditions
  • Verify your email
  • Answer a few questions to confirm your identity (name, address, SSN, etc.)
  • Answer a few more questions about the type of business and products or services offered, the business name, date when the company started, and address.

What are the Best Banks for Online Services?

There is no single best bank for online service, but here are some of the more popular (in alphabetical order):

  • Azlo – This online bank doesn’t charge any fees or require a minimum balance on a small business checking account. Other features include sending digital invoices directly from the account and integration with other business tools.
  • Lili – Lili is designed for freelancers. It offers no account fees or minimum balances. It also provides the ability to categorize expenses and download reports, to help the freelancer save on taxes.
  • NorthOne – Like Lili, NorthOne is designed for freelancers as well as small business owners and startup entrepreneurs. All banking is done via the mobile app, and customers can break out income into sub-accounts for expense tracking and tax purposes. It works on a flat-fee model. Customers pay $10 per month to access all features, including the checking account, business debit card, and other services.
  • Novo – This bank is also designed for use by smaller business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. Novo offers free business checking and many of the same services as the other banks on the list.
  • Radius – Founded in 1987, Radius is one of the early entries into the online banking world. It partners with many other fintech industry companies. Radius also offers a 1% cashback with its rewards small business checking account. Unlike the other banks listed here, it has one physical location, in Boston. Also, it is not strictly a business-only bank but offers personal and institutional banking services in addition.

Conclusion

With the number of online-only banks on the rise and traditional banks catching the digital wave, it’s time to ask the question: Is online banking right for your business?

Can you benefit more from the convenience and cost-efficiency digital banks provide and completely sacrifice visiting a local bank? Or, is a more moderate approach, one that combines the benefits of online while still offering access to a brick-and-mortar location, better? Either way, it’s time to acknowledge a new reality. Digital banking is not just a burgeoning trend. It is the way business is done.

To learn more, check out these resources:

This article, “Online Business Banking Guide” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The key to running a successful business is enticing customers and clients to do business with you. So whether you’re scrambling to lure customers back during a global pandemic or expanding your markets during “normal” business times, the question is, How do you do that? What are the best ways to get customers to come to your store, website, restaurant, office, etc.?

We all know the answer: it’s marketing. But marketing is not a simple process. There are various practices, tactics, and strategies that are part of an overall marketing plan—and they are constantly evolving. It can make formulating a marketing plan for your small business overwhelming.

To help simplify the process, there is one marketing method that has maintained its claim to fame. Email marketing still promises to deliver the highest ROI of all marketing channels—$42 back for every dollar you spend.

That’s not to say email as an industry, and your approach to it, isn’t evolving—it is, or it should be. As Tom Kulzer, CEO and founder of AWeber, a leading email marketing solution for small businesses, says, “The most effective [email] marketing strategies adapt, grow, and innovate.”

AWeber recently released its 2020 Small Business Marketing Email Marketing Statistics Report, featuring insights from small business owners and industry experts. These are the techniques that are working for other small business owners. See if they’ll work for you as well.

While email marketing can boast about its effective ROI, not all small businesses are using it. According to the report, 66% of businesses surveyed say they use email marketing to “promote their businesses or communicate with leads and/or customers.”

If you are not among that percentage, it’s time (past time, actually) to incorporate email into your marketing strategy. If the ROI isn’t enough to convince you, remember, email is the marketing channel most consumers say they want businesses to use to communicate with them.

Still, you likely have questions if email marketing will work for you. Take a look at some common questions the survey addresses.

How effective is email marketing?

Very. Of those surveyed, 79% say it’s “important” or “very important” to their businesses. However, while business owners acknowledge the importance of email marketing in general, only 60% think their own email marketing strategies are “effective” or “very effective,” while 26% say it’s either “ineffective” or “very ineffective.”

Effective email strategies are “personal, targeted, and crafted with the customers’ objectives and objections in mind.”

How do you measure success?

You cannot know how effective your email marketing is without defining the parameters you want to measure. The two most common measurements for small businesses are open rates and click-through rates:

  • Open rates—65% of small businesses average open rates between 11% and 50%.
  • Click-through rates—The study showed many small businesses need to improve their click-through rates; 77% of small businesses average email click-through rates between 0% and 10%.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

How often should I send emails?

Nearly 40% of survey respondents report they send emails “at least once a week but less than daily.” More than 30% send emails “at least once a month but less than weekly.” And about 12% either send emails daily or less than once a month.

Still not sure what to do? Mark Asquith, the cofounder and CEO of Rebel Base Media, advises those who are just starting to use email marketing send an email once a week. “Rather than sending more, test what you already do. Then test frequency,” he says.

His main point is you shouldn’t be sending more emails that don’t work and less emails that do work—and the best way to determine that is to “Test, test, test!”

But, warns Ramit Sethi, the author and founder of I Will Teach You to be Rich, don’t worry that much about how often you send emails. Sethi doesn’t think frequency is the most important factor for email success; he believes content is. “Writing amazing emails that provide value is [most important],” he says. “If your emails are incredibly entertaining, informative, and engaging, you can send as many as you want.” To measure their effectiveness, Sethi says, “Watch your open rates and unsubscribe rates closely.”

Does list size matter?

Most (43%) of the participating small business owners have email lists between 0 and 500 subscribers. Slightly more than 30% have between 1,001 and 9,999 email subscribers, and less than 7% of small businesses have more than 50,000 subscribers.

Does the size of your list impact effectiveness? Yes, but don’t let that discourage you. It appears having at least as few as 500 subscribers makes a difference. Of the small businesses surveyed, 42% with more than 500 subscribers say their email marketing strategies are effective or very effective, while only 20% of businesses with 500 or less subscribers say the same.

Obviously, growing your list is important. “The bigger your list, the more conversions you can achieve,” says Kath Pay, the CEO and founder of Holistic Email Marketing. She advises small business owners to “ensure your subscribe form is above the fold, in a prominent, easy-to-access position on your website. Have this form available on every page of your site.”

Think of email marketing as one of the most powerful tools to jump-start your small business and take it to the next level. It’s effective, it’s affordable, and it works.

RELATED: 4 Little Email Marketing No-Nos That Could Land You In Big Trouble

The post Email Marketing: Still the Most Powerful Tool to Take Your Business to the Next Level appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Rieva Lesonsky. Copyright 2020 by AllBusiness.com. All rights reserved. The content and images contained in this RSS feed may only be used through an RSS reader and may not be reproduced on another website without the express written permission of the owner of AllBusiness.com.

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Building a personal brand is all about capturing attention. If you work in a “boring” industry, it can be tough to communicate the key benefits that differentiate you from competitors. Especially when you work in an industry that’s not usually the topic of conversation or trending on social media.

Take the VoIP industry, a very boring industry. It’s hard to make VOIP stand out or make it “sexy”. People don’t usually turn to VoIP companies for engaging content, actionable educational or entertainment. But with the right attitude and the ability to produce quality content, leaders even in the boring Cloud VoIP industry can gain recognition and build an audience. (I’ll show you a real life example in bullet #1 below).

In this article I’ll show you real examples of how to capture your target market’s attention, convert them into stark raving fans, and build your personal brand even when you’re in a boring industry.

Ready? Let’s roll!

1. Be Bold. Be Authentic. 

Wallflowers and shrinking violets don’t build brands. People who are bold and enthusiastic do. For executives looking to make their mark and build a brand, being a hands-on, in the trenches type of person translates into authentic experience.

You don’t want to be the kind of exec that takes all the credit and not know how anything works. If your team does the heavy lifting while you get the kudos but you can’t explain how your widget works, then people are not going to respect your opinion.

Someone who shows they know what they are doing and can express their “Why” is going to be more authentic.

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and share it, even if it happens to touch on the politics of the day. If it is earnest, authentic and well-thought-out—not some emotionally charged overreaction—then boldly proclaim it and let the discourse begin. That is what builds engagement, followers, and brands. 

Those who take a position and confidently support their way of thinking are more likely to stand out 

People value leaders who are confident and don’t flip-flop on their beliefs just to appease the masses. Sure, some feathers may get ruffled, but how many low-key, wishy-washy executives can you name? Exactly. You can’t name many because they don’t stand out and nobody knows who they are.

2. Share Actionable Expertise

Just because your industry isn’t interesting doesn’t mean no one is interested. You can still share your knowledge and expertise to build your brand. Take Ryan Stewman, the sales and marketing expert who runs a sales training called The Hardcore Closer.

Ryan gained a loyal following talking about lead generation. He has built a multi-million dollar business by taking what has worked for him, sharing it, and monetizing it.

Ryan was on the cutting edge of using social media and videos to promote himself and connect with people when he started in sales. Because of his success, he started to teach other salespeople how to use social media to connect with people and use tools for lead generation. 

He built a lead generation software company called Phonesites that helps salespeople create their own sales funnels. He offered free training on Facebook live and produced free content in the form of articles and training videos.

Sharing his expertise helped grow his personal brand which has allowed him to scale into other successful business ventures. He’s doing it right.

Chris the founder of SalesMessage is another great example. He has been using SMS texting to communicate with anyone who contacts their business or even subscribes to their webinars, events, or blog. 

He shares actionable tips, tricks and information while trying to covert some of the leads who contact him and gets a whopping 70% response rate on SMS texts. He recently shared the complete set of sample text messages to send to customers on his blog. He engages his potential customers and build his following.

But, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in personal branding is to be and act like someone you are not. You will eventually be outed, caught, or exposed. 

When building a personal brand, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not or have expertise when you don’t.

Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of the once highly-touted blood-testing startup Theranos, was once the darling of Silicon Valley. She was seen as an influencer and visionary in the same vein as Steve Jobs.

Theranos WAS Elizabeth Holmes and her personal brand of being a healthcare wunderkind carried the firm. Unfortunately for many people, the whole company and the whole story was a massive fraud. She faked her expertise and knowledge, the company was exposed and now it is no more.

A personal brand built on lies and half-truths will come back to bite you.

3. Be the MVP of Value

If you want to really stand out, you must be useful and add maximum value at all times. Do this by offering free info, training, and content about your industry and share that info while speaking at events and on podcasts.

We’re talking about sharing real expertise, not just thoughts or opinions, but practical knowledge that comes from actually having done the work.

Jack Kosakowski kills it here. Jack has been providing actionable social selling advice and content for over 5 years. With his SkillsLab social selling site, he has been helping salespeople to increase their presence through social media and how to correctly connect with—and sell to—their target clients. 

Value comes from experience. Jack has churned out content on social media, his blog, publications like The Harvard Business Review, and on podcasts—continually sharing what has worked for him, and how it took him from a newbie salesperson to the CEO of the US division of a Global Digital Agency.

4. Stop Selling and Build Trust Instead

Look, you don’t need to be Billy Mays or the ShamWow guy, pitching and promoting all day while operators are standing by. Constantly pushing product is exhausting. But talking and engaging with people in your own voice—your true self—and showing them how to succeed with examples and actionable ideas will build trust.

When you let people see the real you, trust is built and your brand strengthens and attracts new prospects.

Trust isn’t built by speaking AT people. It’s built by engaging and speaking WITH with your audience.

People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. And that’s usually not the guy with the bullhorn shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” Differentiate yourself by sharing knowledge from real-world experience in an authentic, engaging way that creates value and trustworthiness. This will build your personal brand.

When someone needs to seek out info in your industry, you will be top-of-mind because you will be the rockstar of your “boring” industry. They will come to you for the value you provide because you’ve built trust due to engagement, value, and expertise. 

 

The post Personal Branding Tips For Executives In “Boring” Industries appeared first on Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career.