9 Ways to Work Less and Make More Money in Your Handmade Business

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In almost any business, the goal is to “work less make more.” And if any type of entrepreneur truly needed to focus  on this principal, it’s handmade business owners who make the products they sell. You don’t have to be a handmade business owner to crave more cash, but for makers, the issues are compounded because so much time is spent making products that there is little left over for actually leading the business. Even small changes can produce big results.

Check out these nine ways to work less and make more money.

Automate as Much as Possible

Many handmade entrepreneurs avoid automating certain aspects of the customer service process because they think it will place a sterile barrier between them and their customers. But a little common sense automation need not compromise the personal touch, especially if it kills multiple birds with one stone. For example, many ecommerce hosting companies, including Big Commerce and Shopify, offer automated product review apps that allow you to send automated email requests to customers to review your products. The reviews are then automatically published at your website after you approve them.

Automated product review apps save lots of time manually requesting reviews. They also boost sales by allowing the buyer to see positive product reviews right next to the “buy” button. Since people are more likely to purchase a product that others say is a good buying decision, making this process seamless and easy for you and your customers is a no-brainer.

Eliminate Products that Don’t Sell Well

When you make the products you sell, a lot of your time is eaten up by the manufacturing process. An easy way to shorten your work week is to consistently eliminate products that don’t sell well. On at least a quarterly basis, schedule a review of your sales numbers for the specific purpose of eliminating products that people are not buying. Put them on sale to make room for the products your customers are actually buying. You’ll make more money and save the time and headache of trying to force the sales of products that customers are just not interested in.

Schedule Social Media Posts in Advance

Nothing eats up a workday like working your social media on the fly. Set up a daily calendar showing when and what you will post to your main social media outlets, and then schedule as much of it in advance as possible.

You can use a free service like Google Calendar to color code social media outlets and posts throughout the week, and cue them up all at one time using a service like HootSuite.

Newer services, like Edgar, have a built in library and calendar so you can recycle your most engaging posts without having to type them in fresh each time you want to share them. (And, yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to recycle your most popular social media posts!)

“Scheduling social media posts will shave hours off of your workweek,” says Dawn Fitch, author of The S Factor: How to Effectively Use Social Media to Grow Your Business and CEO of Pooka Pure and Simple in Orange New Jersey.

Says Fitch, “My four social media categories are events, sales/promotional, blog posts, and general marketing. My calendar pinpoints certain times during each day that I will share in each category. Each week, I invest two hours only on social media, by changing the entries for each time in each category. This saves me hours each week, and once I am done for the week, all I have to do is be responsive to people who are engaging with my brand.”

Stop Sending Traffic to Other Sites

Many handmade entrepreneurs sell their products at their own branded websites, and also at other sites like Etsy, Artfire, or Amazon. If you are just starting out in business, sales via third party sties can offer valuable confidence boosts in the beginning. They are easy to set up, require no up front investment, and you only pay when you sell something.

The proverbial (and unavoidable) elephant in the room, however, is that because you don’t own third party sites, you are at their mercy. Any one of them can force you to make unwanted changes to your business model overnight and without any advance notice. That’s no way to secure the long term future of your business.

If you want to build a brand that you can define, direct, and lead into the future, put your resources into a website of your own, where you call the shots and where your brand is not diluted by people selling everything from hairy coffee cups to Hello Kitty T-shirts.

Not only will consolidating traffic at your site build your customer list, it will also save you a ton of time because you won’t have to maintain different product listings at multiple websites. You won’t have to read emails about new seller policies. You won’t be at the mercy of their price hikes. You can change the customer experience when you want to, and not when someone else says you have to. This kind of entrepreneurial freedom will shave tons of time from your work week, and give you the peace of mind that you are in full control of your destiny.

By giving your customers a consistent experience, you will also increase sales and more naturally be able to expand your customer base as you grow.

Hire an Assistant (or Two)

You may not think you can afford to hire an assistant, but the truth is that you cannot afford not to. Sure, you may have to wear every single hat at the very start of your business, but once you get things moving, your first goal should be to hire someone who can take on some of the tasks that you don’t want to do, don’t know how to do, or don’t like to do. Doing everything yourself may save in the short term, but it will quickly burn you out, and a burned out entrepreneur cannot make money.

A key to success in business is learning the art of delegation. Doing it all yourself limits your ability to leverage new opportunities and eventually, ensures that you run out of time to accomplish your goals every single week.

Schedule Every Single Business Task

Start each morning with very specific goals for that particular day. Knowing what you want to achieve daily helps you stay focused and on task. It also prevents you from ending a work week with a bunch of unfinished projects.

Use time blocking to maximize results from this process. For example, block out 90 minutes in the morning to complete 15 sales calls, and block off the next 30 minutes for a walk or a chat with a friend. After that, block off a second 90-minute period for another specific task and so forth. At the end of the day, you will have completed three important tasks for your business, and you’ll have enjoyed some downtime to boot. This frees up your evenings to enjoy your family and hobbies.

Create a schedule like this for every day of the week so you don’t spend any time wondering what to do on any given day. If this seems like too much organization for you, I challenge you to try it for just one day. I believe you’ll notice a significant difference in how productive you feel but also in how productive you actually are.

Minimize Multi-tasking

Who doesn’t want to get more done in less time? But while doing three or four things at once may save time on the front end, it ends up costing much more than it saves in the long run. Research, including this Stanford University Report, found that multitasking reduces efficiency and performance and may damage your brain, since it can really only focus on one mental task at a time. So, if you are simultaneously making a product and making a sales call, you may accomplish both tasks, but the chances that you did an excellent job on either are minimized because you performed them at the same time.

Follow Up on Everything

It’s amazing how many opportunities are missed by not following up on the ones right in front of you. Here’s an example of how powerful the follow up is. Stacia Guzzo of Handcrafted Honey Bee in Tehachapi, California recently pitched a story in response to a query from the popular PR service, Help a Reporter. The journalist included Stacia in the story which appeared earlier this week in the Huffington Post, and Stacia quickly sent an email thanking the reporter for including her. The reporter quickly responded by inviting Stacia to speak at an upcoming business conference. Who knows how many more sales Stacia will enjoy simply because she took the time to send a simple follow up note?

Use a Timer

Once you know how long a particular task should take, use a timer to stick as close as possible to that time going forward. This will help you stay on schedule (see number 6, above), and help you retain the good “flow” as you do the task. Using a timer also gives you a fun way to compete with yourself. Challenging yourself to stay on task and on schedule will help you do so. You can use a kitchen timer or a fancy app or browser extension for this, but I find it easy to use the timer installed on my smart phone. It’s quick and easy to set, and I don’t have one more tech thing taking up space on my phone or laptop.

I bet you can think of other ways to “work less make more” in your business. What works for you?

Cobbler Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Facebook Messenger Lite Takes Up Less Phone Space for Tech Challenged Areas

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Small businesses and others seeking a better way to communicate with customers or partners in tech challenged areas should rejoice.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has launched lighter version of its Android Messenger app. The new bare-bones Messenger app is designed for people in areas with slow internet connections as well as for older phones with less powerful processors and less memory.

Introducing the Facebook Messenger Lite App

The new Facebook Messenger Lite allows you to send stickers, photos, links and text to anyone using Messenger or Messenger Lite.

“More than 1 billion people around the world use Messenger every month from a range of mobile devices on networks of various speeds and reliability,” said the Engineering Manager for Messenger Lite Tom Mulcahy in a blog post. “With Messenger Lite, more people can stay in contact, regardless of network conditions or storage limitations on their Android devices. Messenger Lite was built to give people a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use or have access to.”

Tom also adds that the app is fast and easy to download as it’s under 10MB.

Like Facebook Messenger, Messenger Lite uses the same bolt logo, but with reversed colors. The bolt is blue with a white chat bubble background while for Facebook Messenger, the bolt is white with a blue chat bubble background.

The new Messenger Lite is already rolling out to people in Malaysia, Kenya, Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela. Tom says that they will soon be rolling the app in other countries in the coming months.

This should come as good news for businesses that use Messenger as a means to communicate with their clients. You can now be able to upload real-time photos and links regardless of the Internet speeds or the speed of your phone.

While Facebook is quite clear on what you can do with the “Lite” version, they are not so clear on what you will not get but don’t get surprised if you can’t find features certain features.

Facebook also doesn’t disclose whether there will be a similar app for iOS. They are, however, clear that they chose markets with a “prevalence of basic Android smartphones.”

Young Mobile Users in Kenya Photo Via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Apple Upbeat on iPhone SE Call for but Some Asian Stores, Suppliers Much less Cheery

Apple Upbeat on iPhone SE Demand but Some Asian Retailers, Suppliers Less Cheery

HIGHLIGHTS
Apple reassured investors by pronouncing iPhone SE become in strong Call for.
The current shipment situation for Apple is not just like the final years.
There are greater iPhone fashions, but the total quantity of iPhones is falling.
After pronouncing its first-ever drop in iPhone income on Tuesday, Apple Inc sought to reassure buyers viasaying its present day and cheapest version changed into in sturdy Demand after being launched inlate March. Some Stores and Providers in Asia aren’t so positive.

In a Reuters survey of 10 Stores in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, seven – inclusive of fourApple Storesstated stable early Call for, but three 1/3birthday celebration Outlets stated incomewere susceptible. two Providers of components for Apple phones, including the new iPhone SE (Evaluate), stated they have been seeing lower orders.

I’ve been handling iPhones for 5 to six years now. This present day quarter for Apple feels weak,” statedan government at a Taiwan-based totally agency whose additives are utilized in iPhones including the SE model, which markets for $399 (roughly Rs. 26,300). “Our contemporary cargo situation for Apple is not like the remaining two years. There are greater iPhone fashions, however the overall extent of iPhones is falling.”

This sort of mixed outlook from More China, its maximum vital marketplace after the usa and generator of1 / 4 of the enterprise‘s revenue, can be a main reason of challenge for Apple.

The corporation‘s sales from the area, which incorporates Hong Kong and Taiwan, dropped 26 percentinside the March region, making it the weakest area inside the international.

Apple did no longer respond to requests for comment on the Reuters survey.

Nonetheless popular
“iPhone remains famous however sales have dropped due to the factthere is no new model and the SE is just like 5c. So it would not sell properly,” said Zhu You Peng, a salesman at Apple product reseller Xiongyu in Shenzhen. The 5c become Apple’s last try to produce a cheaper telephone, lower back in 2013.

Zhu stated it sold around three hundred iPhones in step with month last yr however the quantity has dropped to around one hundredtwo hundred this yr.

That view contrasts with upbeat comments about the cellphone from Apple’s Leader Financial Officer Luca Maestri on Tuesday.

“The scenario right now round the arena is that we’re supplyrestricted,” he advised Reuters, relating tothe iPhone SE. “The Demand has been very, very robust.”

The iPhone SEs are sold out in Apple’s personal Shops in mainland China and customers ought to waitapproximately 3 weeks to get the product brought with the aid of Apple, according to Apple’s web sites.The dimensions of the authentic resources to the Stores is unclear.

Apple, whose shares dropped approximately eight percentage after it suggested the disappointing first-region effects on Tuesday, is below pressure to show that the decline in iPhone sales represents only ahiccup, instead of a permanent shift for the product that fueled its meteoric upward push.

It isn’t always the best venture dealing with the united states generation giant. Its cellular amusementservices have been blocked online in China earlier this month just at a time when it wants to growservices enterprise as potential source of revenue towards tapering iPhone sales. The New york Timessaid that a country regulator had demanded Apple halt the services.

the brand new cellphone become seen as an important offsetting affect in next durations until Apple launches its iPhone 7 – widely expected round September. The decrease price factor turned into part ofa approach to compete towards Asian competitors in emerging markets such as China.

At the iPhone SE product launch in March, Apple vice president of iPhone Product Advertising Greg Joswiak singled out China as a target marketplace, saying 4-inch presentations like that on the iPhone SEwere Still famous with first-time telephone shoppers. Apple’s mainstream iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have4.7-inch and 5.5-inch monitors.

Providers are not upbeat
Another provider stated iPhone orders can be decrease in the 2d region and second half of this yr. Italso affords a thing for the SE version.

“Our client is aiming for a higher target, however we’re more conservative on that,” the individual stated,referring to Apple.

That provides to problem that Apple might also in addition lose momentum in China, wherein slowingfinancial boom may activate greater clients to snap up cheaper phones.

Nearby manufacturers are taking on more sales, mainly among low earnings individuals who earnLess than three,000 yuan a month. Oppo, Vivo telephones that cost around CNY 1,000-2,000 sells thefirst-rate among them,” stated Zhu at Xiongyu.

Aided through robust market percentage advantage in China, Chinese telephone companies shippedgreater smartphones globally than Apple and Samsung Electronics Co blended had provided for the primary time inside the first region, according to analyze firm TrendForce.

Underscoring the surging growth for Chinese language providers, Huawei Technology Co Ltd, 1/3biggest after Samsung and Apple, stated earlier this month a 62 percentage boom in worldwidetelephone shipments within the first sector.

purchasers who need to expose they’re rich enough, they may purchase an iPhone… folks that wantto use some thing unique, they’ll pick Samsung,” Joonsuh Kim, Chief layout officer of Huawei’s patronenterprise institution, informed Reuters, referring to consumers in China.

however nowadays clients are not that old fashioned. they’re getting a good deal smarter, and that iswhy we have tons hazard,” said the previous Samsung cell design director.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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huge Banks nevertheless Lend Small agencies less Than a Decade ago

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not that long in the past, small groups had non-public relationships with their local banks.
however that was before the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the worldwide monetary crumble, observedby using the consolidation of many institutions into fewer and less banks.
these days’s banks, extra frequently than no longer, are national or multi-country wide entities that don’t see enough income margin in giving out small business loans.
The range of loans issued by 10 of the largest banks in the U.S. has reduced 38 percent to $forty four.7 billion in 2014, the Wall road magazine reports. that is as compared to 2006, while it become at its top at $72.5 billion, which changed into three hundred and sixty five days before the financial disaster.
A working paper published with the aid of the Harvard enterprise college, written via Karen Gordongenerators and Brayden McCarthy titled, “The country of Small business Lending: credit access at some point of the healing and how generation can also exchange the game” (PDF) is going into brilliantdetail about why there’s a credit scarcity in the small business quarter and the impact it’s miles having on the largest non-public workforce corporation inside the U.S.
This has led the authors to invite “Is there a credit hole in small business lending?”
consistent with the Federal Deposit coverage Corp., as mentioned on the WSJ, loans to hugeorganizations has expanded with the aid of 37 percentage from 2008 to 2015. for the duration of theidentical length, banks of all sizes went from retaining $711 billion in small business loans to $598 billion. This virtually solutions the query the Harvard paper asks.
with the aid of comparison, the Biz2Credit Small enterprise Lending Index for October 2015 found outhuge banks with $10 billion or more in property have simply accelerated loans to small businesses. in therecord, Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora explains, “As hobby costs begin going up, we anticipate in additionincrease in the massive Banks urge for food for small business loans. huge Banks are also warming upto buy more loans from the marketplace lenders.”
however what is essential to bear in mind right here is the low ordinary approval rate for smallcommercial enterprise loans, which was at forty nine percent for October of 2015 at large banks, the Biz2Credit index reminds us. So despite the fact that loan approvals are increasing at big banks, smallcorporations are still hearing “no” extra than 1/2 the time.
The need for loans by using small companies together with the reluctance of large banks to give them has accelerated the market proportion of non-bank lenders from 10 to 26 percentage. however a number of the fees for those loans are pretty excessive whilst in comparison to standard loans.
The Wall road magazine article has an instance of a eating place owner in l. a. who changed intocharged quotes above 80 percentage with the aid of two on line creditors for a $25,000 loan. He wascompelled to pick out this opportunity after he was turned down by way of the bank he had been doingcommercial enterprise with for numerous years.
The huge banks don’t see the gain of creating these small loans, because it takes pretty much the equalquantity of effort to originate small and large loans. For small organizations, it now means getting a creditcard from the large banks with the amount wanted. And considering how an awful lot the non-bankcreditors charge, the 12.85 percentage common actual banks fee for credit playing cards make greatersense.
So why have huge banks diminished their loan approval charges in relation to small groups? the answeris expanded regulation put in vicinity after the monetary crisis, decline in community banking and lowerincome margins on smaller loans.
Jay DesMarteau, head of small business banking at TD financial institution, advised the Wall streetmagazine, “we all warfare to make money on the lending facet. It’s a lot of work to try to locate theselittle companies, underwrite them and manipulate the ebook.”
As for the banks, they are operating together with no longer for profit creditors to offer credit to smallfirms. So in case you are a small business seeking out a mortgage, ask the large banks if they have such preparations before you cross and practice with a non-financial institution lender online that couldrate you eighty plus percent.
it’s far crucial to point out now not all opportunity creditors rate the charges highlighted via the Wallavenue magazine record. So shopper be ware and take some time, due to the fact there are numerousopportunity creditors obtainable.

Problems galore for Punjab Congress with assembly elections less than a year away

Problems galore for Punjab Congress with assembly elections less than a year awayWith assembly elections in Punjab less than a year away, the state unit of the Congress had been hoping to turn the tide in its favour. Instead, it appears to be in self-destruction mode.

The Congress’ chances are bleak in the assembly elections that are underway in Assam and West Bengal, and will soon be held in Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. As a consequence, the party was banking on Punjab for a boost ahead of the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh later next year, especially given the strong anti-incumbency wave against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had focused his attention on Punjab, and had succumbed to pressure built up over the last couple of years for a change in the state leadership. Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had been fighting an open battle with state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa for nearly three years. Amarinder Singh had bolstered his credentials by defeating Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley, now the Union Finance Minister, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The 74-year-old has undeniable charisma and is the most popular party leader in the state.

Enter Prashant Kishor

Rahul Gandhi did not want to be seen as someone who could be arm-twisted into changing the state leadership, but finally gave up his reluctance in the interest of the party making a strong bid in Punjab. He even took up Captain Amarinder Singh’s suggestion to recruit well-known election strategist Prashant Kishor to guide the party’s campaign in the state. Kishor made a name for himself by devising victorious election strategies for Narendra Modi in the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Most recently, he helped Nitish Kumar win a third straight term in the Bihar assembly elections late last year.

While Rahul Gandhi was seemingly hesitant to sign up Kishor for the Punjab campaign, it is now learnt that the party has also decided to rope him in for the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Kishor has a difficult task on his hands. Leadership was not an issue during his stints with Modi and Kumar. But the Punjab Congress is a different cup of tea altogether. While trying to give Amarinder Singh a political makeover, Kishor has his own reputation at stake in Punjab.

Trouble in the House

Even though Rahul Gandhi decided to appoint Amarinder Singh as state chief and make him the party’s face for the elections, he sought to please disgruntled sections of the party, including those opposed to Singh’s elevation.

In an effort to “balance” the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Rahul Gandhi put confidante and former Union minister Ambika Soni in charge of the Election Campaign Committee – a move that did not go down well with Amarinder Singh.

Instead of retaining Sunil Jakhar, a respected and competent leader, as the Congress Legislature Party chief, Gandhi appointed the inexperienced Charanjit Channi to the post. This was done mainly to accommodate a Dalit leader in the party leadership. Jakhar was left high and dry but has maintained his restraint.

Channi, the new CLP leader, was clearly out of his depth during the recent assembly session. He was virtually mauled by members of the ruling coalition, with few from his own party coming to his defence.

Matters got worse when a party member raised petty issues relating to his own constituency, just when the Congress was cornering the government on the contentious issue of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal. After much persuasion, the legislator let his colleague address the canal issue.

Rajya Sabha misstep

The state Congress scored another own goal when it floundered over its choice of candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections. Amarinder Singh had wanted to rope in popular Punjabi Sufi singer Hansraj Hans, who had unsuccessfully contested the previous elections as an Akali candidate. Even so, he remains very popular and has emerged as a Dalit leader. Amarinder Singh had assured Hans of a Rajya Sabha seat if he joined the Congress. Hans agreed and his entry into the party was seen as a great victory and a morale booster for the Congress.

All seemed well until Shamsher Singh Dullo, another senior Dalit leader, rebelled and staked his claim for the party ticket. Hours before the nominations were to be closed, the Congress high command announced that Dullo would be the party nominee and not Hansraj Hans, thus putting Amarinder Singh in a highly embarrassing situation and leading Hans to say that he was backstabbed.

Dalits are split into two major communities, and the Congress’ decision alienated the powerful Valmiki section to which Hans belongs. Subsequent efforts were made to douse the fire and Hans was given a personal audience with Rahul Gandhi. It’s not known what exactly transpired at the meeting, but Hans expressed his “satisfaction” and claimed that he would remain a staunch supporter of the Congress.

Public spats

The problems do not end there. The Punjab Congress has been hurtling from one crisis to another and its leaders have been speaking in different voices. Those opposed to Amarinder Singh such as former state chief Partap Singh Bajwa and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal keep taking potshots at him, while there has been infighting among district-level leaders.

While Bajwa has been eased out of the state by offering him a Rajya Sabha seat, the assembly constituency vacated by him has several contenders including his brother, Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa. The brothers had a public spat after Partap Singh Bajwa unexpectedly decided not to name his sibling as the party’s candidate. Eventually, however, he changed his mind.

The latest chapter in the internecine war is a spat between Amarinder and Bir Devinder Singh, a former deputy Speaker and an outspoken leader who was given the reins of the state Congress’ media panel.

He lashed out at Amarinder in one of his newspaper columns, and was suspended from the party on Thursday. Prashant Kishor immediately got into firefighting mode and tried to calm the two leaders down. But such frequent bouts will only delight the ruling coalition and the surging Aam Aadmi Party.

[“source-Scroll”]

Why Angel Backed Companies are Raising Less Money

angel investor

The average angel-backed company receives much less capital today than it did in the early 2000s, data from the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research (CVR) reveals. The CVR’s numbers — which come from surveys of individual angels and angel groups — show that the dollars that the average angel-backed company received dropped a whopping 42.3 percent between 2002 and 2014, when measured in inflation-adjusted terms.

As the chart below shows, two factors contributed to this decline. First, the amount that the average angel put into start-ups fell dramatically between 2006 and 2008, and has not recovered. Measured in inflation-adjusted terms, the amount of angel investment per active investor declined from $128,000 in 2006 to $74,611 in 2008 (in 2014 dollars). From 2008 to 2014, this amount has remained largely unchanged, increasing only to $76,121 in 2014 (in 2014 dollars).

Second, the number of active angels per angel-backed company declined from 5.6 to 4.3 between 2002 and 2014.

However, the time pattern of this decline is very different from that of the reduction in the amount invested. Almost all of the decline in the number of angels occurred between 2002 and 2005, during which time the number of active angels per financed company fell from 5.6 to 4.6. Since 2005, the number has fluctuated up and down and was at 4.3 in 2014.

While the timing of these two changes is different — suggesting that they stem from different causes — they have combined to reduce dramatically the amount of money raised by the average angel-backed company. In 2002, the average angel-backed venture received nearly $576,000 in angel money (when measured in 2014 dollars). But in 2014, the average angel-financed business received only $328,000.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]