Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Google Analytics Smart Lists Feature Improves Remarketing Campaigns

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

analytics smart lists

Google Analytics has done it again, this time with their new featured centering around remarketing. The new feature is called “Smart Lists” and it was created to help the remarketing section of Google Analytics become a little bit more manageable and less overwhelming.

Consumers often find remarketing incredibly annoying, so you have to make sure you have a solid strategy in place so that you don’t fall into that category. Remarketing can work well for all parties involved just as long as you, the company owner, are handling it correctly. Google Analytics Smart Lists will help you do just that.

How Google Analytics Smart Lists Work

Google Analytics Smart Lists is a new option you will have when you are creating a new remarketing list. This option lets Google Analytics know that you want them, Google Analytics, to manage your list for you. Below is a screenshot from the official announcement:

analytics smart lists

Millions of websites have opted in to share anonymized conversion data with Google Analytics, so Google Analytics decided to take this data and use it to power the new Smart Lists. They use signals such as visit duration, page depth, location, device, referrer, and browswer in order to predict which users are most likely to convert when they come back to a site.

Using this intelligence, Analytics can then manage your remarketing campaigns in AdWords by focusing on those users that are “high-potential.” This data is updated daily by Analytics and users are therefore added or removed from a Smart List frequently.

For Sites with eCommerce Conversion Tracking in Analytics

If you’re an eCommerce business owner, there is a good chance you already have enough traffic and conversions that you don’t feel like you need to use this data. In general, this goes for eCommerce sites with at least 500 monthly transactions and/or 10,000 daily page views. However, Analytics has thought of this, too.

If this describes your type of business, your Google Analytics Smart Lists will automatically be upgraded. Google explained this in their announcement:

“Your list will be customized based on the unique characteristics that cause your visitors to convert. Only you will have access to this list, and no new data will be shared whether you use this feature or not.”

Whether you’re an eCommerce company or not, Google also mentioned that making sure your Google Analytics goals and transactions are being imported into AdWords.

What the New Smart Lists Means to You

This is an excellent new feature for those who are new to remarketing. As discussed above, remarketing is something that gets mismanaged all the time. As a consumer there is a good chance that you’ve seen a mismanaged campaign a time or two, so it’s important your company doesn’t fall into that category.

Google Analytics Smart Lists will help give you strong results right at the start, at which point you can move on to a bigger variety or more customized list if you choose.

So what if you’re not new to remarketing? Many companies already have a solid list strategy, but Google Analytics Smart Lists is expected to extend this directly for your current lists as an optimized signal used in AdWords bidding.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Google

The post Google Analytics Smart Lists Feature Improves Remarketing Campaigns appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Lessons Learned From Your 2013 Tax Return

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

tax return lessons

With another tax filing deadline in the rearview mirror, most people don’t think about taxes until the next year.

However, take a few moments to review your return before you stock it away. This year’s return can provide valuable information on the financial health of your business, as well as show you ways to improve your tax situation in time for next year’s filing.

Tax Return Lessons Learned

1. Do You Feel the Self-Employment Tax Pain?

Do you feel like you are paying too much in self-employment taxes? You’re not alone, especially considering the rate for 2013 is higher than it has been the past few years.

If you make self-employed income, there’s not a lot you can do to avoid this tax completely. However, you can check with your CPA or tax advisor to see if changing your business structure to a corporation or LLC that’s taxed like an S Corporation can help lower your SE taxes.

In addition, the most important strategy for dealing with self-employment taxes is making sure your prices reflect this increased cost of doing business. Employers and employees typically split Medicare and Social Security taxes. But when you’re self-employed, you are on the hook for the whole thing.

This higher cost needs to be factored into your pricing.

2. Did You Struggle With Your Documentation?

To make the most of your business tax deductions, you’ll need accurate, comprehensive records. If you don’t keep track of your business expenses throughout the year, trying to remember every expense and round up every receipt can be a major hassle. Some legitimate expenses are bound to slip through the cracks, meaning you’ll end up paying more in taxes than you should.

If you struggled to prepare your records, receipts, and other documents this year, make a plan to get organized for your 2014 return. Find a method for documenting expenses that works for you.

There are dedicated apps like Expensify for tracking expenses, Milebug for recording mileage, or Shoeboxed for capturing paper receipts. In addition, your accounting program, like Mint, QuickBooks, or FreshBooks will let you record and manage expenses.

You’ll be grateful come tax time next year.

3. Are You Saving Enough for Retirement?

Your tax return can tell you whether you’ve made the most of your retirement savings options. If you haven’t, it’s a good idea to change your habits. After all, when you are self-employed, you are fully responsible for your retirement savings.

For example, if you qualify for a SEP-IRA and didn’t make the full contribution last year, see if you can step up your savings this year. The same advice goes to employees who aren’t contributing their full share to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

4. Are You Expensing Enough?

What does your Schedule C or 1120/1120-S look like? Does your balance sheet show mainly profit, with few expenses? While most business owners want to keep their company running in the black, it is possible that you are not strategically expensing your costs throughout the year to keep your tax bill down.

Discuss your options with a CPA. Perhaps you’ll need to make a few key technology or marketing investments this year, or expense more travel and entertaining costs.

5. Any Nasty Surprises?

Did you discover that you didn’t put away enough to cover your 2013 taxes? Did your estimated tax payments fall way short? Businesses, including self-employed sole proprietors, are required to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. While this may be the law, it’s also good practice as waiting to pay a year’s worth of taxes in one lump sum can be quite a shock.

If you had to write a big check with your 2013 return, you’ll need to be more disciplined this year. Get into the habit of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment/revenue for your tax obligations. Then, take stock of your profit/loss statement at each quarter and pay your quarterly bill accordingly. A financial advisor can help you estimate these payments if you need some help.

Remember that paying taxes is a year-long obligation, not just something to think about once a year. Take some time to reflect on your 2013 taxes – the tax return lessons learned will help streamline the process, and potentially lower your tax bill for years to come.

Tax Photo via Shutterstock

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What If Someone Stole Your Website?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

stole my website

If you own a business, you probably also own a website. But what would you do if someone stole it? You probably don’t think this could ever happen to you. Blogger Jordan Reid didn’t think it could happen to her either – but it did.

It started when Reid received a YouTube notification that someone had signed in to her account using a different device. She thought nothing of it at the time. She assumed instead she had just signed in on a mobile device or that her husband had used her account. Then Reid received an email from someone who said they were interested in purchasing her website. Again, she disregarded the notice, this time assuming it was spam.

Someone Stole My Website!

Then a friend of a friend told her he saw a listing for her website, RamshackleGlam, on an auction website. Reid didn’t immediately consider this to be a huge problem either. That is until she discovered that the ownership of her website had actually been transferred to someone else without her knowledge.


In a recent Mashable post, Reid explained why this theft was such a huge deal to her and her business:

“If you have a business that depends on a URL, you understand why this was such upsetting news: With control over my website’s domain name, a hacker would be able to take the site down, or redirect it elsewhere. Further, it was later verified that the hacker had control over all of the site’s content, as well; he could have just rerouted everything I’ve ever written to any location he wanted.”

Getting control of her site back wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be, either. She first tried going through her hosting and domain providers, but her attempts were not successful. She even got in touch with the FBI, since the theft qualified as an international cyber crime issue. The FBI opened an investigation and it is still ongoing.

She eventually got her website back by dealing directly with the seller. She asked the family friend who originally found the listing for her site to get in touch with the seller to negotiate a sale. They reached an agreement, and Reid authorized a wire transfer not knowing for sure whether she would actually get her site back. When she gained control of the site again, she cancelled the payment. And finally the nightmare was over.

So Reid did get her site back within a few days, but not without considerable drama. Of course, she would have preferred to avoid this situation altogether. So she offers some tips for website owners who want to avoid the same thing happening to them.

Reid warns business owners should choose a strong password and change it often. She also recommends using a separate computer, if possible, in case family members accidentally click bad links. Turn off your computer and other devices when not in use. Utilize anti-virus software and purchase CyberRisk insurance.

Your website is likely a very important part of your business. So website theft can be an absolutely devastating blow. It might not seem very likely that this could happen to you. But knowing how to avoid this situation can keep you from losing everything you’ve built online.

Thief Photo via Shutterstock

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5 Possible Outcomes in Franchise Ownership

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

franchise ownership

It always helps to have a goal or two in mind when pursuing something big, like becoming the owner of a franchise business – any business. Do you have a specific goal in mind? Do you have your “end game” visualized? Have you thought about some of the possible outcomes? Or, are you thinking about becoming the owner of a franchise business just to escape a lousy career-related situation?

I hope not. That’s because buying a franchise, owning a franchise, is a long-term play. You need to think long-term.

Below are some possible long-term outcomes that can happen as the result of becoming the owner of a franchise business.

Possible Outcomes in Franchise Ownership

1. You Could End Up Building a Lot of Wealth

Most of the wealth in franchising comes by way of multi-unit ownership.

Fact: Multi-unit franchisees control 55% of all franchised units in the U.S.

Multi-unit franchise ownership involves choosing a franchise concept, and a franchisor, that encourages multi-unit ownership.

As a matter of fact some concepts, especially ones in the food sector, require new franchisees to sign multi-unit franchise agreements. These agreements may be for 3, 5, even 10 franchise units.  There’s usually a development schedule set up that franchisees must adhere to. For example, franchisees may have to commit to opening one new unit every 18 months.

Multi-unit franchise ownership can be quite a wealth creator. It’s simple math. If you own 10 franchise units each doing $1 million in annual sales, and you’re able to keep even 5% for yourself after royalties and expenses, you’re making $500k a year. That’s a lot of money. There are lots of franchises in the food sector that do quite a bit more than $1 million in annual sales.

Can you imagine owning 10 or 20 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises?

2. You’ll Never Have to Work for Anyone Else Again

Doesn’t that sentence have a nice ring to it?

For some, that outcome would suffice. Especially those who have had to become expert job interviewees because of the number of times they’ve been downsized. If you’re someone who has experienced multiple job losses, you know what I mean.

On the other hand, there are those of us who have had to work for real jerks and keep our jobs. Before I became my own boss, I had several bosses who were verbally abusive and felt that if enough people feared them, maybe their job production would increase to an acceptable level. Well, it never worked for me, and if you had a boss-or bosses like that – I doubt it worked for you either.

If you do decide to become your own boss, know that there’s a certain feeling of power that comes with it. If that power ends up looking good on you, you may never have to work for anyone again.  It’s a great outcome.

3. A Sense of Accomplishment

I’ve worked with dozens of people who have told me that their main reason for wanting to buy a franchise was to have a sense of accomplishment.

A lot of the people I work with have been downsized from their mid to high-level corporate jobs and usually more than once.  Some of them are so depressed, it’s heartbreaking.

Some of them have worked 14 hour days for months at a time, trying to accomplish the goals their higher-ups set for them, only to have their divisions shut down and their jobs eliminated through absolutely no fault of their own. These goal-oriented people missed out on reaching their goals because their jobs were eliminated.  No wonder they’re depressed. They don’t feel they accomplished anything.

Buying a franchise and then actually becoming a successful franchise owner can go a long way in the “feeling a sense of accomplishment” department.

You should try it sometime.

4.  Building a Legacy

I’ve talked to dozens of would-be franchise owners who have told me that they didn’t want their children to experience some of the things they’ve had to endure over the years. (Like getting downsized over and over again.)

I’ve had people tell me the only reason they wanted to buy a franchise was to make sure their kids were set. They wanted their kids to have an opportunity to learn the business and eventually take it over if they chose.

That’s pretty powerful stuff. It says a lot about what’s been happening over the years in corporate America.

Today’s corporate employees, the ones that are living in reality, know where they stand. They know that their jobs can be eliminated at any time, and always have an updated resume at the ready. In addition, they’ve cultivated a powerful network of like-minded people on LinkedIn, and know how to use it.

Would you like to help your children avoid the career pain that so many are experiencing these days by buying a franchise that they could get involved in? Would that be a good outcome for you?

5.  Retire in Style

Maybe you’d like to walk away from your business; the business you’ve built up for the last 10-15 years. Maybe you’re thinking of building it and cashing out.

A lot of people I talk to start with the end in mind. They plan on selling their franchise after their franchise contract is over.

Selling your franchise isn’t that complicated. Usually, the franchisor gets involved, and may even help you find a buyer. Most franchisors already have people in their sales pipeline looking to buy franchises, and if there are any candidates in your geographical area that are fairly serious, they could be introduced to you.

If there’s no luck on that front, you can hire a business broker. Business brokers list your franchise and present it to people that they’re working with who are looking for existing businesses. They receive a fee, usually a percentage of your selling price, if they sell it for you.

You can find business brokers in your area by going to, the official website of the International Business Brokers Association.

Owning a franchise business is a major commitment. You’ll work really hard. There will be times of stress. There will be bad days and good days. But, they’re your days because it’s your business.

You have a lot more control over your own destiny. And the outcome – who knows? Maybe you can control that, too.

Franchise Photo via Shutterstock

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Comment on Who Wants to Unplug? Millennials, That’s Who! by ebele

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Even if technology is second nature to them, they’re bound to get tired of being connected to it for as long as and as consistently as they are.

The technology-break suggestions are good ones, especially honoring any time taken off.


Comment on So You Think You Want to Be an Entrepreneur? by ebele

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

I freelance and can relate to a lot of what you’ve mentioned. I’ve found it very challenging and it sometimes makes me question why I’m doing it at all. Other times, you know why, and you’re grateful.


Comment on Domino’s Pizza Now Offers Google Wallet Payment on Android Devices by Robert Brady

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Domino’s is doing some very cool stuff with their mobile app, but really it’s the value that keeps me coming back. The large 1-topping for $5.99 is the best deal in pizza right now.


Comment on So You Think You Want to Be an Entrepreneur? by Robert Brady

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Great points Larry. Entrepreneurship is a difficult road and shouldn’t be approached without serious consideration. If you can handle the trade-offs then go for it. If you’re uncertain…stay with your day job for now.


Comment on Who Wants to Unplug? Millennials, That’s Who! by Robert Brady

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Taking a break is a big deal. A real break where you not only leave the device behind/turned off, but mentally unloading. Get outside. Enjoy your hobbies. Then come back to work refreshed.


Comment on Can’t Afford Microsoft? Meet Apache OpenOffice by Mark O’Neill

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Maybe it’s just me then, wanting everything and trying everything :-) This is the guy with 5 internet browsers installed :-) )