Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a method of electronic communication that is rapidly increasing in popularity. Used to make phone calls, VoIP technology uses a computer’s internet connection, rather than a cellular wireless or traditional wired telephone line. This technology is used not only by personal consumers, but also by businesses small and large. Here are 5 tips for using VoIP to improve a small business:

1. Use One Company for Internet and Phone – Any modern small business has a website and is likely already paying an internet service provider (ISP) for access to the internet. Rather than negotiating prices and dealing with customer service for two services, a company can save time, effort, and money by using their internet connection as their phone service provider as well.

2. Save Money on Long-Distance and International Calls – Unlike traditional telephone companies, VoIP services work regardless of the distance of the call, so pricing is not dependent on the number of local, long-distance, or international calls. This means that international calls, which can be especially expensive, can be handled without incurring additional costs. For small businesses that do business internationally or have business partners overseas, this can mean an enormous cost savings.

3. Better Voice Quality – Because of the nature of the medium and the wires that transmit the signals, VoIP services can provide cleaner, better-sounding phone calls than traditional phone companies. While it might not seem like a big change, having crisper more professional phone calls can be the edge a small business needs to win over customers or seal a big deal. Dropped calls or poor-quality calls, on the other hand, can devastate a company’s business.

4. Simplify Things for the Technical Staff – For small businesses, the internal technical staff is usually stretched thin at all times, and should be outsourced when possible. Keeping a business up and running smoothly 24/7 is no small task. Consolidating one’s internet and phone systems can provide a significant advantage, in terms of time and sheer number of technologies to monitor, to a company’s technical support and services team. For small businesses that don’t even have a dedicated technical staff, having a single number to call for technical support, rather than multiple numbers, can simplify things considerably. Prompt service and skilled technicians are key.

5. Additional Features Included At No Extra Cost – For starters, useful calling features like conference calls, call forwarding, and caller ID are all included for free. Additional features like video calls and video conferencing are also easy to add to VoIP services.

When considering whether you are ready for small business coaching, check first to see if you are suffering from any of the following 3 business frustrations. An experienced coach can guide and support you in remedying these road blocks to small business success.

Not Enough Customers

One of the major frustrations for entrepreneurs is how to consistently fill their sales pipeline with qualified prospects Are you suffering from too few prospects to convert into customers? Have you considered your approach to how you go about marketing your business?.Many businesses utilize a very limited tool box of strategies and tactics in bringing potential customers to their business. A small business coaching program can open your eyes to many different methods for pulling more clients and their dollars.

Lack of Focus and Lack of Direction
It is very easy to become distracted and diminish your effectiveness by splitting your attention over too many tasks. Are you doing too many things and think this means you are productive? This can lead to poor results and an unhappy business owner. Machines can multi task; humans weren’t designed for this function.
Reaching your goals and dreams is more probable when a clear focus and defined objectives are directing your energies. To satisfy your main business goals you need to forego the adhoc decision making approach and structure the way you make decisions based on important priorities. A decision to commence a small business coaching program could be the answer.

Working Too Many Hours
Perform this exercise and enlighten yourself. Write down how many hours you are putting in each week towards running your business. Multiply this by say 50. Now jot down how much you draw in remuneration from the business per annum. Divide the dollar amount by the yearly hours and this will reveal your hourly rate. Sometimes owners will discover what they already feared; that they are earning less than some of their employees.

One of your reasons for starting a small business coaching regime may have been to be financial independent or at least to make enough to enjoy a great lifestyle. The main goal here is to improve your business to the point where:

– You are making more income than if you were working for someone else
– The business is making a profit (not just covering your drawings)
– You will eventually be working less hours

The mobile marketing and advertising news-wires are abuzz and more and more companies are jumping into the game on a daily basis. Powerhouses like Google and Apple are building their arsenal for the mobile advertising phenomenon that is all the talk right now.

Companies large and small are jockeying for position within their target markets and local niches in an effort to get a first mover advantage in the inevitable transformation to the Mobile computing tsunami that is already taking shape.

What this means to the Small Business owner and in-house marketers is that the mobile marketplace has gained momentum. A solid mobile strategy can provide a huge advantage and be your secret weapon for success among a targeted niche audience or in a localized small to medium size metropolitan area.

You see, we understand that you don’t have the time to keep you ear to the ground on all of this Mobile mayhem, because you are busy with your two hands on the wheel with your companies. What we also know is that you rely on other small businesses to provide you with the knowledge and the tools to make sure that you are keeping you marketing and advertising efforts relevant and effective. In the ever evolving multimedia e-marketplace, you need solutions and you either need them to be service based and low cost, or you need them to be extremely easy to understand and integrate on a do it yourself basis.

After all, one of the coolest things about being a small business owner is the adventure of wearing a variety of hats and learning the latest and greatest techniques to stay ahead of the competition. Today, Mobile Marketing might be one of the most effective and efficient means to push your business out ahead of the pack. Whether you are a retail shop, professional service, restaurant, hotel, craftsman or independent artist, you can engage your customers like never before.

The tools, knowledge and abilities to put this into motion for your specific marketplace are right at your fingertips. Although this might seem like a complicated technological maze, you’ll be pleased to find that many other small companies within the Mobile Marketing industry have brought forth some interesting and easy to understand guidelines and tools that you can utilize today in efforts to launching your company into the Mobile arena.

Implementing an efficient telephone system can definitely improve the way you communicate with your customers and business associates. Small business telephone systems are a great option for budding business enterprises to maintain effective communication.

Convey a Professional Business Image

Repeated breakdown in your communication system and improper call management can adversely affect your business image. Small business telephone systems offer organized call management and professional business communication. The enhanced communication experience that they offer would certainly attract more customers and enhance your sale leads and revenue. These phone systems come with high-tech call handling features including find-me/follow-me call forwarding, call conferencing, music on hold, voicemail, fax to email, voice to email and more.

The auto attendant receives calls in a professional manner and is programmed to transfer them to extensions, mailboxes, call queues, groups and conference rooms, as directed by the caller. The virtual receptionist manages several calls arriving at the same time with incredible efficiency.

Manage your Business from Distant Locations

Business establishments with more than one office and/or a mobile workforce benefit a lot from this small office telephone system. The advanced call forwarding feature routes calls to landline numbers or cell phones configured as extensions. Your business can be easily administered from other locations and you can stay connected to your clients and workforce all the time. Using a broadband connection like DSL, Cable or FIOS, your mobile workers can become an extension of your business PBX phone system.

Powerful Voicemail System

Modern small business telephone systems minimize the odds of missing calls and messages. Unanswered calls are instantly routed to the voicemail system, so that the callers can leave voice messages. This facility helps focus on core tasks without worrying about not taking customer calls during busy business hours. Voice messages are forwarded to your email account as audio file attachments. Whenever a new message arrives in your mailbox, it is promptly alerted on your cell phone.

With these diverse capabilities, small business telephone systems facilitate effective communication with your business clients. To enjoy all the benefits of these phone systems, it is important to get the service from dependable providers. This would assure the smooth functioning of the system, structured services and advanced PBX features at reasonable monthly charges.

If you’re opening a small business, you need a small business bank, pure and simple. Using your regular bank won’t net you the benefits that a specialized banking account can come with. No matter who you choose as a host for your banking needs, you always need to open a new account for a business. Never use your personal bank account as this can make it next to impossible to discern your business income and expenses from more personal sources. Always choose a new account, and look for a specialized bank whenever possible. The right bank will have a deep understanding of your business needs.

One of the most important features of a small business bank is an assortment of affordable banking solutions. Money is usually tight when you’re starting out. You don’t want to have a high minimum amount on your account that you can’t possibly sustain. If you need to make a large withdrawal for business purposes, you should know that you can do so without jeopardizing your bank account. It’s also important that you’re able to make deposits and withdrawals without a lot of fees. The right business bank will work with you so that you can maximize your profits early on.

Small businesses today are far different than what they were in the past. A mom and pop shop used to be a brick and mortar store with an easily-defined address and actual location. Today, many businesses are run online. You could be running your business from locations all over the country, or all over the globe. You can’t always work with the bank down the street. You need a small business bank that will go with you everywhere you happen to be. Online banking, mobile banking, and more are essential for a business banking account. You don’t want to be tied down to one location, and with the right account you won’t be.

When you’re getting ready to open a new banking account for your business, it’s important to take the time to do your research. Look into a variety of banking opportunities to find the small business bank that’s right for you. When you look at other offers, you’re sure to notice where the best deal really lies. It’s important to understand what’s out there so you don’t get sucked into the first well-worded advertisement you see. Compare your options and look for a small business banking account that provides all the services, benefits, and convenience you need to make your company a success.

Here are seven ways for owners of small businesses to save money on their taxes.

1. Incorporate Yourself: If you`re still a proprietor or partner of a business, it`s time to incorporate yourself. Not only will you limit your liability, but you may enjoy lower tax rates on small business income and other tax advantages as well.

2. Be Home Based: If possible, continue (or switch to) being a home based business. Not only will you keep your overhead down, but you will be able to write-off (or deduct) the business use of your home.

3. Income Split: Pay reasonable wages to your spouse and children. In this way, you can legally divert income taxed at your higher rate to your family members that are in a lower tax bracket.

4. Rearrange Your Affairs For Maximum Tax Savings: Can you make some changes to turn your hobby into a moneymaking business? Can you use that extra room in your house as a home office for your business? Can you arrange to use your car more for business purposes? Can you arrange for more of your entertainment expenses to be business related?

5. Document Your Expenses Well: Do you document your expenses well so that they would survive a tax audit? Have you kept a mileage log so that you can prove the percentage business use you claim for your vehicle? Have you kept receipts for all your entertainment expenses and listed the business purpose on the back of each receipt?

6. Be Punctual: File all returns and pay all taxes due (income, payroll, sales, et cetera) on time. This way, you avoid expensive late filing (and payment) penalties and interest.

7. Develop a Tax Planning Mindset: Some people only worry about their taxes during tax season. However, you will save a fortune in taxes, legally, if you make tax planning your year-round concern. Do you make business and personal purchases, investments, and other expenditures with tax savings in mind?

While it is perfectly normal for a business owner to want to focus on the most essential processes that contribute to the success and growth of its small business or startup, paying attention to the legal aspects of running a business is also very important. Statutory compliance, staff employment, terms of service and supplier contracts are the areas where professional legal advice services can help secure your business and save money in the long term.

According to a recent report published by the UK Legal Services Board, called In Need of Advice? and based on a YouGov survey of over 9000 British small businesses, 38% of surveyed small businesses experienced one or more legal problems in the past year, out of which employment law issues were second most common situations business owners had to face, right after issues concerning trading. While 45% of surveyed small business owners considered that legal problems have a tangible impact on their business operations and growth, in the majority of cases they dealt with problems entirely on their own (52%), with only 16% of legal problems being solved through professional legal services.

Prepare your small business for future employment law situations

As businesses grow, its almost inevitable that small business owners will have to deal with the occasional difficult employment scenario, the most common issues revolving around employee gross misconduct, unfair dismissal and redundancy. These employment issues can have a negative impact on the overall performance of the business and can quickly escalate and generate loss if the correct legal steps are not followed. This is why seeking employment law advice from the outset helps a small business be prepared to handle any employment situation correctly .

Employment law advice directly from the experts

It is good business practice to seek employment legal advice not only when employee grievances arise or legal action is required, but from the very beginning of your business setup.

Other than offering employment law advice and support in cases of gross misconduct, redundancy and dismissals, an employment law solicitor can play a preventive role, by helping small business owners set up the correct employment contracts, prepare employee handbooks and other essential employment procedures and keep the business up to date on employment legislation.

Affordable employment legal advice

There are many ways in which small businesses that cannot afford a dedicated HR and employment service can still benefit from expert employment legal advice. While engaging a high street employment firm of solicitors on matters requiring legal action in court can prove to be an expensive exercise, small business owners can seek employment law advice with local professional associations and groups, which offer a series of online legal advice resources that any small business can easily access. Another route to take is to engage independent accounting and tax consultants that often include employment solicitors and offer employment law advice and guidance on a retainer arrangement, which is usually the most cost-effective solution for small businesses.

As a network computer technician I’ve come to the choice that I don’t think my small business clients that employ between 2-10 people should even bother with installing what we might consider a regular server nowadays. It is overkill, expensive and a major source of problems if something goes wrong. So what do I recommend instead? I would recommend a file server with local and offline backup. What made me come to this decision? A number of real world issues, actually.

Too many computer consultants come from an environment where they were taught and schooled on how to maintain servers. To me this is the old way of doing things. Unless you are hosting your email in-house there isn’t the need for the old server.

Think about this…what services do you really want to provide that are mission critical for your clients? For my clients the most important need is a way to create and access files that are backed up on a regular basis. I have seen too many small businesses shut down for days on end because they put all of their trust in a old server and a tape backup system. Why are these servers and tapes such a problem?

Think about this for a second. If a piece of hardware fails in your server, chance are that you won’t be able to replace that broken or failing part with something you can buy locally. Often times you have to call the server manufacturer and wait patiently for them to ship you a replacement part, all the while your business is at a stand still.

And tapes for backing up data? Unless you have an enormous amount of data, backing up to multiple hard drives is faster. And these hard drives will be able to access that data in other computer while you get your server fixed.

Another solution I recommend is using a service such as Dropbox to backup files. I don’t completely rely on Dropbox, though. I prefer to have a physical backup of the client’s data at the site of their business and then use Dropbox as a way to get a backup off-site. If anything catastrophic were to happen to the small business, such as a fire of a flood, it is easier to get a computer up and running, re-attach it to Dropbox and the data is back and ready to be used.

WordPress is one of the most essential and highly flexible content management system. It serves as one of the founder for a blog or for fully fledged small business website especially for the online marketing or ecommerce. Now it has become easy to add new pages and post to your blog with WordPress built site. It does not require any HTML, CSS or any other mind numbing acronyms.

It’s quite easy to customize the look of your website in order to make it unique. Hundreds of Plugins can be added in order to add new capabilities thereafter your site will become search-friendly. By adding All in One SEO Pack you can easily optimize each and every page/post in order to boost website in search engine ranking. So in order to build a site like this for small business website you will have to download WordPress from WordPress.org. Here the software is free this is due to its open source feature. Adding to its better features you can also avail themes and plugins in free. Here the only thing you would have to do is to pay for the web hosting that would be as low as $6 per month. Or on the other hand you can also host WordPress site on your own server.

Thereafter you will need web hosting service that supports PHP version 5.2.4 or greater along with MySQL version 5.0 or greater. In this situation Apache or Nginx is most recommended. It is most robust and full of features for running the WordPress inorder to create free wordpress site. After this work will be done without any problem. In the directory Web hosts is listed here you would have to select Bluehost, in this the service is featured in a very prominent manner, it provides unlimited disk storage, monthly data transfer and email address.

Bluehost hosting account has become quite easy with Bluehost installing WordPress. One would only have to install it by using Bluehost’s Web-based control panel and then follow the steps 2 through 6 to create wordpress site free.

New Book Release: 2013-2014 Directory of Housing Authority Bidding / Procurement Opportunities and Vendor Applications, Volume 1, Edition 1

Use this Annual Directory to Apply for Often Untapped Housing Authority Small Business Contracts and Procurement Opportunities

Untapped Small Business Contracts

Housing authorities are a fertile source of contracts for smaller enterprises. Larger city and state contracting opportunities are often more visible and accessible by business entities; but there are a plethora of contracting opportunities with local housing authorities that often go untapped by small businesses.

Easy-to-Use Resource

This directory is an easy-to-use, one-of-a-kind, resource tool for small business owners seeking to grow their companies by doing business with housing authorities across the United States.

Receive Bid Solicitations as Soon as they Become Available

By using the Housing Authority Directory, small business owners can click and apply to receive bid solicitations and procurement opportunities in their regions as soon as they become available by housing authorities. They can also seamlessly click and complete vendor packages online without having to do the research to find and sort out contracting opportunities.

What’s Included in Housing Authority Directory

The 2013-2014 Directory of Housing Authority Bidding / Procurement Opportunities & Vendor Applications, States A-F, Volume 1, Edition 1, includes the following:

— Direct links to housing authority procurement applications.
— RFP and Bid Solicitation Requests for several housing authorities, complete with bidding deadlines.
— Housing authority contact information, including street and website addresses.
— Direct links to small business vendor packages in several states.
— Procurement contacts, including point-of-contact names, addresses, telephone numbers, fax lines, and email addresses.

Get started quickly and easily today. See the 2013-2014 Directory of Housing Authority Bidding / Procurement Opportunities and Vendor Applications, Volume 1, Edition 1, at , for an easy-to-use resource for registering your business and finding contracting opportunities in housing authorities.

________________

Cassandra Black is the author of the Directory of Housing Authority Bidding / Procurement Opportunities and Vendor Applications available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Stone Cottage Books, the Master List of Property Preservation Companies Directory, 3rd Edition, and other small business publications.