So You Want to Work for Yourself?

9 out of 10 small business starting this year, will fail. The 10% that succeed, execute on a careful business plan. How do you know that you have that will succeed and what steps you can take to ensure you don’t become part of the 90% that fails?

Failing to plan is a good plan to fail. Many quit their job in the hopes that there are plenty of contracts or freelancing work. Even though it may look like that guy over there is making a ton of money, the truth may be something different. They may be successful but it does take years of connections, effort and work to reach a certain level. Let’s discuss what exactly is the secret ingredients for success that will avoid failures.

Failure to cut costs

You should be ready to ruthlessly cut costs in the initial years of your business. Being a business owner doesn’t mean that you need to buy everything. That is the wrong mindset.  If you can start your business from a small warehouse, you don’t need to lease huge commercial space in downtown. Lease or rent the equipment whenever possible instead of buying it (you could even take advantage of an equipment leasing calculator to assist you with that). If you are someone with the mindset that “I need to buy everything upfront so that I can focus on producing”, buy used hardware or equipment from Craigslist instead of brand new. I met a business owner in Canada who drove more than 150 miles to buy and pickup equipment’s from a USA based business who happened to be upgrading themselves and thus saved more than $12,000. These savings are of immense value when you are just starting out. If your business is successful, you will get plenty of opportunities to buy brand new stuff.

Cash Flow is important

When you are new and have little brand awareness, your prices may not be at the top level. Asking for 50% or more deposit as soon as an agreement is signed, can protect your bottom line. Most clients will agree to it as they know they are getting a good deal.

You may not know all about tracking income and expenses in the beginning. Start using online accounting software’s like SlickPie, right from away when you met a client for a coffee or paid for something from your pocket. Doing this will ensure there is no leakage of your money. Send your invoice right after work is done. Most businesses fail due to poor cash flow. What if your biggest client where you spent your most of your time didn’t pay? Or if they pay late in 60, 90 or even 180 days? There would be always some surprising extra costs that you didn’t plan for foresee. This all can lead to long sleepless nights. A good accounting software should follow up with clients that have not paid you on time and allow you to take an action to save the day.

Be ready for lifestyle change

Mostly qualified and experienced employees do earn more than freelancers. They have a stable income and a nice lifestyle. If you are someone who thinks that have something that will take you to the moon, go ahead and start your own business but be willing to live at basic income for years without any social life and no lifestyle. You will end up working 12-14 hours a day during the prime years of your life, but there is also a possibility that any success will bring more money and a better lifestyle with the option of being your own boss.

Most freelancers start small, providing superior services to a small set of clients for a few months and build upon that base. Ideally, current employers should be your first client. You know the process, they have the tools you need to perform and you just sell your expertise as a contractor without any social security net that you get as an employee. This potentially puts more money in your pocket to save or reinvest into your nascent business. Never steal clients from your employer, but build those valuable relationships and they will start referring you some of their friends from their group. Bounce ideas off your existing connections to see who can be a part of the team at some other stage of your business.

Are you from the UK, Australia, or New Zealand? Then This Is for You!

SlickPie is constantly improving so businesses from all around the world can have access to top-notch features and tools to help them get paid faster. Many improvements have been made in the past months and now we have yet some other exciting news to share with you, so here it goes: from now on, users from the UK, Australia, or New Zealand will enjoy unlimited access to live bank feeds from their own local banks! That’s right! SlickPie has just expanded to support all the major banks in these countries to deliver the best experience possible to our users!

This great product enhancement will allow users to obtain up to one year of historical data and to handle bank authentication with more security and ease of use than ever. Finally, after some extensive share of hard work from our devs team, this benefit is now live to help small businesses thrive even more. So access your SlickPie account right away and start taking advantage of it, the improved live bank feeds today!

A 2016 Retrospective: 3 Awesome SlickPie News You Can’t Miss

At SlickPie, we have one mission – to help small business owners run a better business. Since the first line of the code was written, we’ve significantly fine-tuned SlickPie and adding more functionality to help better suit your needs.

Helping freelancers, consultants, and other small business owners work more efficiently is incredibly important. Why? As per Labor Department productivity, the hourly output per worker, over the last four quarters increased just 1.6%. Higher productivity results in higher income without boosting the cost of products & services. The productivity needs to be increased.

From simpler online accounting to a more intuitive bank reconciliation, you’ll find plenty of new ways to streamline your business management with SlickPie—so you can spend more time on billable productive work. There were hundreds of small improvements under the hood that made SlickPie even slicker and ready for 2017.

Better and Broader Bank Feeds: We found that many of our users were from Australia, New Zealand & UK but we were not able to provide live bank feeds for them. We made many improvements in our bank feeds and now we support all the major financial institutions worldwide. Improved banking data along with seamless bank reconciliations makes your day to day accounting a breeze. We have also made changes that seamlessly import statements downloaded from your bank if live bank feeds are not available for your bank.

Improved Onboarding Process: Many of us are just starting out to use an online accounting software for the first time. For those of us, we have eliminated many steps and now automatically create local sales tax and chart of accounts or categories that you can edit to fit your needs. This means you get to sending your first invoice in the minimal time possible.

Introducing MagicBot: Not only MagicBot attach a copy of the receipt or bill to the transaction but read all key financial data from those documents to automatically create those transactions for you. You can scan all of your files and dump them into a Dropbox folder and let MagicBot do the rest of your accounting. There can’t be more flexible and powerful way to save tons of time and bring efficiency in your business.

SlickPie already allows you to add a document to any transaction so you’ve backup if you’re being audited. Most of SlickPie users also use this option to attach contracts, agreements, check images and other important business documents. No more “shoebox,” because everything is on the cloud, secure and backed up. When needed,  you can easily download individual documents to your computer.

We also improved support for worldwide date formats, added support for recoverable sales tax like GST in Canada. Now you can run sales tax reports on the basis of components of a tax. Last year we also Integrated with PayPal and Stripe so that you can receive online payments. We have further simplified getting paid using PayPal or by credit card directly from your online invoices. Getting Paid by credit card is just simple one click process.

Work is currently in progress on important features like multi-currency, quotes & estimates, and improving functionality on mobile devices. The new year is leading us to make some pretty slick and very significant improvements to our accounting app.

If you love SlickPie, we’ll be eternally thankful if you tell a friend about us today!

Safeguard Your Business From Client Poaching

You are a contractor in the Entertainment and Event Production Industry, and things were going well up till now. You hired your first employee, a family friend because you wanted to make giant leaps in the market.

The new blood has the knowledge, experience, and quality to get things done. He is building strong relationships with your customers, vendors, and partners and you are investing money into him, so he is always productive. You trust him and are focused on making things better for your employee, clients and yourself. And suddenly, he quits.

The next thing you come to know is that your clients are being poached by him for a reduced price, and perhaps a better service because he knows your weaknesses. The bad news is that you find that some of your clients are willing to jump ship. So, in that case, what do you do when your ex-employee or sub-contractor start poaching your clients?

You can complain to your mom or break his hands for cheating and try to take unfair advantage of your well-established business. After all, it takes years of investment and marketing strategies to build a solid client base, but the other guy stole it and didn’t even have to invest a dime in it.

Here’s how you can protect your business from client poaching.

The first thing you should do is to look at the papers you asked your employee to sign at the time of joining. In fact, job and confidentiality agreements for the most creative workers usually have a clause related to the non-solicitation.

For example: “… agree that during the term of your employment with the Company and for 24 months after the termination thereof, regardless of the reason for the employment termination, you will not, directly or indirectly, solicit or attempt to solicit, or accept any business from any of the Company’s Clients, Prospects, and Vendors with whom you had Material Contact during the time of your employment with the Company. ”

If you have something like an above duly signed agreement by your ex-employee or sub-contractor, it can be fully enforced by the courts. It’s the right time to get a lawyer involved and usually “a cease and desist letter” may be enough.

Your ex-employee can opt to ignore this letter as it has no legal standing, but this gives you an opportunity to start a legal action. Courts have been diligent, and there are chances you may recoup part of your losses and might even claim the income lost.

Hiring lawyers is the financial decision that will cost you both time and money. It may not get you all your clients back, but a crippling legal judgment against the bad guy can put tape on the leakage and will stop the dripping.

By taking these necessary actions, you’ll be able to stop your ex-employees from taking advantage of your business. In fact, any business owner can sustain a long-term relationship with its clients by being honest, transparent, and loyal to them. Once you do so, they’ll stay hooked to your company’s products and services.

New! Meet MagicBot – Data Entry No More

captu2re

One beautiful evening during a visit to a family friend who owns and operates a small printing shop, the owner patiently opened up a box full of receipts. He lined up all the bills and receipts from the box and started typing them in an Excel sheet while we were chatting. It took him more than two hours or so, and once done, he powered his other computer on, logged in and started entering that Excel data in his accounting software. We were chatting, drinking, and having fun, but it was becoming slowly boring, and finally just before midnight, he was done.

An evening that was supposed to be fun, ended up quite dull and boring. Unfortunately, that was the only time the poor soul could have done this time-consuming and repetitive task. He is no different than millions of other small business owners working almost 70-80 hours a week and still barely catching up because the world is not made for them.

On the way back home while driving, I thought over this. This needs to change. He does not have to do this thing again, ever. This led us to MagicBot, the modern foundation of an accounting cycle in the 21st century. The changing landscape of small business bookkeeping and accounting demands that humans spend minimum time on boring, repetitive, and dirty tasks. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and accountants are some of the hardest-working people on the planet, and now SlickPie just makes their lives a little bit easier.

MagicBot is a core part of SlickPie online accounting software, a revolutionary innovation that is going to change how all accounting software works today. It goes out and fetches all those hundreds and thousands of receipts, bills, and other documents that you have stored with a storage service provider like Dropbox. Not only that, MagicBot will create automatic accurate financial transactions that you can review, edit, and approve, thus saving hundreds of hours for small business owners. MagicBot does it all seamlessly by leveraging the power of machine learning and feedback from humans.

I was hooked to SlickPie as soon as I took the picture of a receipt and saved it in my Dropbox and it showed up almost instantly in SlickPie. I almost had a heart attack! Now I just have to take a picture of a receipt and send it to Dropbox and I am done. My bills are being delivered automatically to my Dropbox now.

 –       Souror Wong, Coastal Learning & Training

 The automatic expense account assignment option will help you to categorize your data to the appropriate expense account. MagicBot automatically updates your general ledger as receipts and bills are fetched from Dropbox. All you have to do is review and approve. In fact, there’s literally a little requirement for human input. There is really nothing more to do than reviewing and approving the data!

We believe our lead in innovative technology will define the bookkeeping industry in upcoming years and will be followed by other big 400-pound gorillas in the industry. Current major players in the small business accounting software industry only offer partial solutions and have been unable to fix difficult “time-traps”. MagicBot solves this ancient age problem and solves it quickly.

Now business owners can have reliable financial data that shows a true and current picture of what is going on in their business’s reality.

SlickPie has helped us save more than five hours a week in bookkeeping.

 –       Ben Mutz, CEO – New Age Media

A collective community of 120 businesses came together to test and develop MagicBot during the private beta. Enthusiasts and experts came together to impart valuable feedback, information, and best practices to optimize the automation process for usability and simplicity and today I invite you to join this journey by participating in public beta to make it even better. More feedback we receive better will be your automated data entry tasks.

Delightful experience with SlickPie is going to eclipse all providers, and we are on the path to becoming one of the most popular and fast-growing cloud accounting software on the market. New SlickPie innovations in accounting software make managing books easier than ever. By helping and delighting businesses, MagicBot secures its spot at the heart of SlickPie online accounting software.

Core innovations in MagicBot make SlickPie a winning product to be used by every business. Forward-thinking software makes accounting ridiculously easy and simple, which a big deal and always was for entrepreneurs.

The SlickPie team thinks, plans, and codes how we can just make SlickPie easier to use for you. Every time we do an update the software gets easier to use and becomes more accessible to even more people.

SlickPie is packed with useful, time-saving features including automated reminders, recurring invoicing, and live bank feeds. Technology benefits are full of abundance, and MagicBot makes it even better by instantly populating data in the general ledger. We create an ultimate amazing experience of working with cloud accounting software. That leads to your success because now with more time in hand, you can extend the same delightful experience to your clients:

I got my three hours back just in one week because of you. You have given me five hours back that I can spend with my family as my work is being done not only quickly but also efficiently.

 –       Sandra Gallo, Freelancer

 Business owners are spending countless hours on boring and repetitive tasks, and that worries me. It scares me when I see hour after hour being wasted when there is a much better option to do the same thing. Accounting automation means more time for you, a less stressful life, and a happy personal and professional life. Go ahead and empower yourself.

As always, I am always interested in your input during this public beta on how we can make it even more useful and powerful for, just you. Join the cloud revolution today. Make fewer mistakes… Process faster… Any receipt or bill… Any format… It’s all automatic!

Stripe Is Here! Get Paid Now at Lightspeed!

 

 

 capture

SlickPie has some quite exciting news to announce – our Stripe integration beta testing is done and it’s now available for everyone to enjoy!

For those who aren’t quite familiar with this tool yet, Stripe is a company that allows businesses and individuals to accept online payments. The software is similar to PayPal, which is another global big player in the online payments scenario and we already have an integration with. Our goal is to provide faster and user-friendly possibilities for business owners to focus on running their businesses instead of worrying about money transfer obstacles, which are eliminated by the easy payment options offered by such tools.

Why Stripe is so awesome for your business

Digital tablet, laptop and financial document with pen at workplace on background of three business partners interacting

There are many ways you can use the combo SlickPie + Stripe to improve your business finances. For instance, you can receive instant payments online right after each sale is made. That is such a priceless convenience for business owners to have peace of mind about getting paid every time their customers are ready to pay. No more waiting and worrying about being available 24/7 to collect payments, no more uncomfortable situations facing lousy excuses, no more time is being wasted. Now on you can get paid anywhere, anytime.

Stripe accepts payments through all major credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express) to increase the channels for your business to get paid faster, meaning your customers will able to pay you with a single click of a button with no unnecessary efforts or headaches whatsoever. By reducing the barriers for people to pay you, you increase the chances that the payment will be done in time and extra channels are one of the key factors when it comes to making the paying experience easier.

Also, businesses can track all sales made through Stripe, which grants an outstanding enhancement in accessing specific sales information whenever is needed. Plus, it’s also possible to track the amounts that Stripe owes your business, as well as any fees that the program may be charging you. These tracking resources make possible for business owners to keep a keen eye on their business financial health while providing real-time feedback for them to make faster decisions.

Security is another huge plus with Stripe. The platform uses encrypted data in all its transactions, which means it’s impossible for outsiders to access the information. The credit card data entered into the payment forms is sent directly Stripe. This means that no credit card data would ever be in possession of any third parties.

Security

Stripe is one of the best integrations any small business could use along with online accounting software. The tool is secure, simple, straight-forward, and truly help your company to get paid faster. It follows all the security standards and benefits that are in SlickPie’s blood, which makes this a perfect match and the greatest beneficiaries of it are the users.

Implementing Stripe is another way for SlickPie to say that users will always get the best for their business from software. Innovation is what SlickPie is built upon, and making your business to get paid faster is our model. Don’t waste another second and try Stripe in SlickPie right now! Just follow these quicks steps to get you up and going in no time https://help.slickpie.com/hc/en-us/articles/211345289-Adding-Stripe!

 

Images: GraphicStock

How to Effectively Lead and Motivate Salespeople

Group of friendly businesspeople with male leader in front

 

With the advancement of technology and globalization today’s business world is a fast developing environment in which companies need to be in a constant state of change in order to achieve positive results. This rule is the same when it comes to sales management, thus there must be continuous evolution to keep up with the innovations and competition that are always arising in the market.

Although it may sound like a simple thing to be done, changes are not that well accepted by everyone. In the sales management scenario, according to the 20-50-30 rule, “20 percent of people will embrace change, 50 percent will be neutral, and 30 percent will resist change”[1]. It is clear that change is not an easy process, so a strong driving factor must act to help the changing process, and this factor is a good leader. A leader will inspire his followers to embrace change by highlighting the importance of the new process and the relevance that the team will have on that matter. The leader will motivate his team to accept it by showing that the leader himself also accepts it, and the followers will end up doing the same since they trust their leader. Plus, since one of the sales manager’s main attributions is to “develop a clear line of sight between sales actions, sales goals, and business outcomes”[2], a well-developed plan outlining all of the above will show that they know what they are doing.

Prepared leaders will focus their effort on those who want to embrace change, and present little or no resistance, to start working on the project. After doing that, the leader will try to gain the support of the neutral ones, which will come easier after they realize that 20 percent of people are already engaged in the new process. Last, the good leader won’t waste time trying to convince those who already have a resistance to change since they likely won’t accept it, so, unless they are necessary to the team, the leader shouldn’t count on their support. To accomplish this, the sales manager needs to lead his/her sales people both individually and collectively.

Individuals

The most crucial factor that is directly related to a sales team success is the manager’s skills to lead and inspire the team to get the best results from every team member. Regarding individual salespeople, the manager has to deal with every member in a different way because different approaches motivate different people. If the manager, simply tries to push the same leading style to all team members he will not get the best possible performance out of them. This happens because people have different personalities, experiences, and abilities, so the aspects that drive them will also be different.

To achieve optimum effectiveness in leading individuals, sales managers can utilize a technique called Situational Leadership. This technique allows the leader to suit his leadership style to better fit his team members, which can be defined by tracing when he will have a relationship-oriented approach or a task-oriented approach. In the first case, the leader would be more supportive to his team members in order to develop and sustain a positive work relationship. In the second case, the leader would be more directive since his main goal would be to accomplish the task.

When using this technique, the leader can define which leading style he is going to use in each situation to each team member. There are four main styles that can be adopted: Telling, Persuading, Partnering, and Delegating. In the first one, the sales manager is high task-oriented and low relationship oriented, which will make him very direct and unsupportive. In the second one, the leader is high-task oriented and high-relationship oriented, which will make him very direct and supportive. In the third one, the sales manager will be low task-oriented and high relationship-oriented, which will make him very supportive, but he will provide limited direction. In the fourth one, the leader will be low task-oriented and low relationship-oriented, and he will be unsupportive and will provide little to none directions.

When sales managers apply this technique they get a much higher performance from their team members. Tailoring leadership styles to each specific salesperson and situation can better inspire and motivate people to achieve their goals, which is the major part about being a sales manager.

Sales force

On the other hand, when it comes to leading entire sales forces the strategy must be different. The sales manager needs to focus on building a strong and cohesive sales force, which demands the development and maintenance of a results-oriented Sales Force Culture. In this topic, Sales Force Culture can be defined as the “total of values, attitudes, and behaviours that are shared by members of the sales force and that are expected of and reinforced to new members”[3].  It is mandatory for sales managers to make sure that all their sales force is always working in accordance to these principles to get to a common high-productivity standard.

In order to achieve this high-productivity standard, the sales leader can reinforce the Sales Force Culture through four internal marketing “E” behaviours: “energizing, enabling, and empowering your team members, and ensuring that they achieve objectives and are recognized and rewarded for their accomplishments”[4]. Following these “E” behaviours, sales managers will be able to develop “E” employees, which can be characterized by being trustworthy risk takers, supportive, suggestive, and total customer satisfaction driven.

Another important aspect regarding leading sales forces is leading sales meetings since they are a major factor to determine how successful a sales force is going to be. When leading a sales meeting properly, the sales manager is able to considerably improve the team’s numbers by motivating the staff to give it all to achieve their goals. Sales meetings can be used for man purposes, such as strategy planning (in which many members attend in order to define the team’s overall strategy), recognition (in which public recognition is awarded to members by demonstrating their value to the company), training (to inform and train the team about the company’s products or practices), Motivational (which is all about increasing the team’s morale and bonding between the salespeople), and feedback (which changes the scope from the manager’s perspective to the team’s perspective of how things are going).

Leading a sales force is a highly important task to any sales business. If done correctly, it can shift the company’s paradigm and cause a major impact in every single staff member, as long as the right techniques are applied and the sales force culture is being duly taught by the sales leaders.

 

[1] MACKENZIE, H.F. (Herb). Sales Management in Canada – 1st ed. (Toronto/ON: Pearson, 2008), p. 313.

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottedinger/2013/06/25/how-great-sales-leaders-coach/(access: 10/10/15)

[3] MACKENZIE, H.F. (Herb). Sales Management in Canada – 1st ed. (Toronto/ON: Pearson, 2008), pp. 320.

[4] DRAKE, Susan M., Gulman, Michele J., and ROBERTS, Sara M. Light Their Fire. (Chicago/IL: Dearbon Trade, 2005), p. 3.

Image – https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/group-of-friendly-businesspeople-with-male-leader-in-front-239350

4 Business Lessons to Learn From the Olympics

vector-illustration-showing-the-progression-of-olympic-triathlon-showing-an_zkImAcou_L

The Rio Olympics have officially started. The world is taken by the nice and warm frenzy over the hundreds and hundreds of hours of high-level sport performances. Athletes have been preparing themselves for years for what is about to happen in the next brief 19 days, and the planet will certainly be delighted by what they have to show.

Although the Olympic Games are a sportive event, it is also a multi-billion dollar business that has one of its scopes to infuse some heat into the city-host’s economy. Some of the largest companies in the world spend millions to show their brands during the event, such as  Coca-Cola, Visa, and GE.

Okay, if you are running a small business, there’s nothing really important to learn from the whole thing, right? Wrong! There are plenty of valuable business lessons that can be learned by studying the behavior of the main stars of the show, the Olympic athletes. They are the champions, they are the best, and they know how to win and succeed, and that is essentially what business is all about. Here are four business lessons for you to put into practice today.

  1. No room for amateurs

Olympians are the toughest athletes on Earth. They are the best of the best in their respective fields as they work awfully hard for it. All the athletes competing in the Olympic Games live and breathe sports 24-7, no exceptions. They train, eat, sleep, rest, and live thinking about how to continuously excel at the sport they are participating in. This is no different from the business world because businesses must strive until their very limit, to get a glimpse of reaching success. If you are the kind of businessperson that is 100% business from Monday till Friday but then turns off the switch during the weekends, you would have some a harder time in making your business succeed.

  1. Every winning team needs a winning captain

Leadership is a must when it comes to team work. Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of any team is the human element, but the team leader is the one that can bring order to chaos and motivate the team when challenges seem unbeatable. In several occasions team leaders see themselves facing an imminent defeat and have to take immediate action to change the game, especially in the Olympics where the competition is so fierce. They motivate the team towards change and adaptation to adverse scenarios. Business leaders are also the sparkle needed to incinerate inertia into action, and push the team to the right direction. When everything seems to be crumbling, the business leader needs to step in and present fast solutions to overcome the obstacles.

  1. Ethics are a classic

I can’t stress enough on how badly the business environment needs to learn from sportsmanship. Countless companies believe in winning at all costs, which often include the breaking of rules as long as they don’t get caught. On the other hand, when it comes to sports, the topic is completely different. Olympians have shown their true greatness in many occasions by helping their fellow athletes when they fell down on track races, for example. Olympians compete with grace as well as fairness, because they know that is the only way that is worth winning. I’m not saying that you should call your biggest competitor right now, and tell all about your revenue model’s secret. But what about compliance? What about due diligence? How many companies get caught committing acts of fraud every year? Fair play is the only way to guarantee your business will be allowed to strive without fear.

  1. Never give up

This is probably one of the most important lesson we can learn from the Olympics. Do Not Give Up. Ever. Olympic athletes are globally known for always pushing it to the limit, even when everything seems to be lost, when that last step feels like it’s a mile away, or when that ultimate centimeter seems to be a kilometer long, Olympians don’t give up. They keep on trying, keep on pushing, and keep on BELIEVING they can still win. That is what’s in the very core of being an Olympic champion, and that’s exactly what businesses must do to succeed. Every company goes thru some very tough times, but what differentiates the greatest businesses in history from the regular businesses, is that they never give up and keep persisting despite the pain and misfortune. That is the most important thing your business can do. Remember, even if you crash into a hurdle, just pick yourself up and continue running forward because you will someday get over it.

 

Image: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/vector-illustration-showing-the-progression-of-olympic-triathlon-showing-an-athlete-starting-171394

How to Get Rid of Bookkeeping Chaos

Perplexed accountant looking at huge piles of documents held by his business partners while doing financial reports

I’m amazed by how many companies still spend tons of time to organize their business’ books. Every time a source document needs to be tracked or that a bank statement needs to be included in an account reconciliation, it is the same story all over again: total chaos.

When it comes to small business the situation is even worse. Usually, the business owner will be responsible for organizing the majority of the books himself, which can be a nightmare for people with no Accounting/Bookkeeping background. The amount of time and money that is wasted in this mess is huge, especially when added up at the end of the year. Good thing is, SlickPie is here with some valuable tips to help putting an end to that chaos.

The very step you can take to improve your company’s books is to digitize all documents your company has. That’s right, even that $2 parking receipt from 7 months ago or that restaurant bill from that business dinner, make it digital! Documents that are stored in digital formats are much easier to handle and to access. This change alone can save tons of time for you every single month.

Another necessary change to enhance your books organization and security is to upload your data to the cloud. By doing this companies can save their information on external servers that can be accessed at anytime from anywhere. Some cloud service providers such as Welcome Networks offer military-grade security for virtual desktops so small businesses can enjoy a hacking-proof storage environment.

Yes, the measures previously mentioned are highly important to help you overcome the bookkeeping chaos, but the most important thing you can do about that is definitely implementing an online accounting software instead of the old fashioned offline desktop systems. These online programs allow you to send invoices, create bills, do bank accounts reconciliation, see financial reports, and many other benefits using the cloud. SlickPie free online accounting software even provides businesses with exclusive resources such as source document upload to make sure their financial books are always kept accurate and organized. SlickPie also allows you to keep a close eye on your transactions through cash flow statements, balance sheets, and all other pertinent records registered in the system, and you can do this using any device connected to the internet.

By implementing these actions your company will save time, money, and it will be much more secure by keeping organized books synched to the cloud. The bookkeeping chaos that most small businesses face on daily basis can be easily avoided if the right solution is chosen, so give SlickPie a try and see how tangible results will come after the very first month!

 

Image: https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/perplexed-accountant-looking-at-huge-piles-of-documents-held-by-his-business-partners-while-doing-financial-reports

5 Business Lessons to Learn From Pokémon GO

pokemon-1513940_960_720

You must have heard about Pokémon GO. I mean, if you have used any social media channels, accessed any business portal, or even stepped foot in any slightly popular public place in the past couple of weeks, then you must have heard about it. But in case you’ve just got out of whatever hibernation chamber you’ve been living in and have no idea of what Pokémon GO is, I’ll give you a brief.

Pokémon GO is an augmented reality (AR) game developed by Niantic for mobile devices. The game was released in the US, Australia, and New Zealand on July 6th, 2016. Despite the fact that the game was officially released in only three countries on that date, millions (seriously, millions) of people used “alternative” ways to play it all around the globe.

The game is based on the Pokémon franchise (*shocking*) and the main goal for the players is to catch all the 150 little monsters (a.k.a. Pokémon) from the original Pokémon game and that exist in this first version. That’s pretty much the same style of original Gameboy versions, right? Wrong. There is one small detail this time, the players have to catch them in the real world! This is possible thanks to the augmented reality technology in the game, which uses a mix between a map system with real life locations and virtual features that make the little creatures appear on the player’s phone screen as if they were right in front of them in the streets.

OK, now you know what this crazy thing called Pokémon GO is all about, but why is it causing such massive impact all over the world? What is triggering this sort of behaviour from customers? And more important, what can you learn from this phenomenon to leverage your business to grow? Check it out:

1. Taking risks is the price for success

Pokémon is a franchise owned by The Pokémon Company, which is partially owned by the videogames giant Nintendo. Nintendo was facing some big challenges to compete in the domestic consoles market with its Wii U against Sony’ PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, so they had to come up with an alternative source of income.

Nintendo has been leading the portable games scenario since their first Gameboy was launched decades ago, and leading by far. However, the exponential growth of mobile phone gamers led them to rethink their strategy in the segment. In what is arguably one of the biggest risk-taking actions in the company’s history they decided to launch their franchises on phones two, which could end up jeopardizing their own handheld dominance with the Nintendo 3DS, but they did it anyway and they delegated the production and development of the game to Niantic and they just hoped for the best. As you can see, the decision paid off big time!

2. When innovating, be disruptive

Augmented reality has been around for fairly quite some time now, but this is the first time that it’s really hitting the masses. Several other companies tried to pull off a hat trick by implementing augmented reality into their services somehow, even the almighty Google with its Google Glass took a shot and didn’t succeed. Apparently, augmented reality wasn’t going to get into customers’ hearts and companies pulled off investments in it and started investing in virtual reality instead. You can tell by now that AR wasn’t the problem, innovation was.

AR is an innovation itself, but it’s a mean rather than an end. It’s a mean for people to get more benefit from another activity, in Pokémon GO’s case that activity is entertainment. Pokémon GO managed to deliver an over satisfying experience through AR to customers, and this was the first time this was ever done the right way. Fans were provided with the possibility of crossing the virtual-real barrier and play their beloved virtual game while interacting with their cities in real life, and this can be considered a disruptive innovation since it likely changed the AR scenario for good.

3. Branding, branding, branding

Branding plays a huge role in Pokémon GO’s success. Chances are if another game would’ve been released having exactly the same characteristics of Pokémon GO it would hardly achieve the same results. The Pokémon brand has been carefully nurtured for 20 years by Nintendo. Pokémon fans were treated with massive amounts of new videogames, new little monsters, new cartoon episodes, new card game collections, new toys, and new pretty-much-anything-else related to Pokémon. The fans have an active voice in the franchise’s future and they absolutely love it.

The majority of the people that are playing Pokémon GO are in their mid-late 20’s, and that’s not hard to figure since they are the same fans that originally turned Pokémon into a worldly-known name 20 years ago. Their passion for the game/cartoon was so strong that it remained in them for all this time, and has emerged now with the advent of Pokémon GO. Turning a brand into something that customers love and are loyal to for years and years to come, that should be every company’s goal.

4. Social proof is the new rule

In a society in which no one goes to any restaurant before Yelping it, asking a friend, or hearing about it in social media, social proof has become the new standard when it comes to credibility. Most likely you know a few people (if not a lot) that are totally addicted to Pokémon GO and are playing it night and day. They are on you Facebook feed, in the malls you visit, in the parks, and basically everywhere else, making Pokémon GO one of the greatest examples there is about the power of social proof.

“If everyone else is playing then it must be at least worth trying the game out”. That’s what is triggering the interest of most non-Pokémon fans out there. Most people see the incredible social presence Pokémon GO is having and they automatically see it with positive eyes, especially when they see influencers playing it. The hype naturally (no ads!) created about Pokémon GO is so big that it’s almost impossible to resist downloading the app just to check what the game is all about, and that’s how things start. The best salesperson in the world is a happy customer, and that’s one of the main reasons for why Pokémon GO is spreading across the globe so fast.

5.  Reduce the barriers and they will come

Niantic was brilliant on this matter. Pokémon GO is such a simple and easy-to-play game that its learning curve is almost a line (oh, so funny). All players have to do is download it and play it right away. There are no formal tutorials or anything like that because the game simply doesn’t need them. That is a huge incentive for people with all sorts of backgrounds to start and to keep playing the game. It’s just pretty straightforward fun like in the good ol’ days.

Another major point here is that Pokémon GO is free-to-play. That’s right, this globally hyped game is free to download and play from the App Store and Google Play Store. This eliminates the risk on the customers’ perspective since they have literally nothing to lose if they don’t like the game (besides the five minutes it takes to try it out). Customers need to feel comfortable while making the decision to use your product, and eliminating the adoption barriers is crucial for that.

Bonus 

The idea behind Pokémon GO came from an April Fool’s Day prank made by Google (that teamed up with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company to make the prank). In 2014 the search engine company told the world that a real life job called Pokémon Master was being offered by Google. Applicants should access Google Maps to hunt for Pokémon spread out through all sorts of places including, cities, deserts, and forests, but everything was just a joke (you can watch the prank video here). Niantic was owned by Google at the time and they liked that idea very much. Two years later they launched Pokémon GO, a game that broke the record for the most downloads from the App Store and added 7.5 billion dollars to Nintendo’s market value within the first week from its release. Guess who’s laughing now…

 

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/pokemon-pokeball-pokemongo-red-1513940/