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Many businesses use credit cards to pay expenses. It’s convenient and simple. The key is selecting the right card—the one that provides the most value in terms of rewards, be it cashback, travel points, or lower annual fees. With so many options out there, it can quickly get overwhelming. Avoid the quandary of credit card analysis by asking the right questions from the start.

A stack of about ten credit cards.

  • What rewards program is most beneficial to our company?
    For example, if you and your employees travel a great deal, you’ll likely benefit most from a card that offers travel points and other perks such as free luggage check. Or, if you pay all of your expenses with a credit card, perhaps a card that offers cashback would be more valuable to your business.
  • Will my card work when and where I need it?
    If you travel internationally for your business, remember that some cards restrict the number of overseas transactions. Credit cards are used for both purchases and emergencies, so don’t get caught with a card that may get “turned off” while you are traveling abroad.
  • Will it show up on my personal credit report?
    If you use a credit card to charge a great deal for your business, it can affect your personal credit score. For example, carrying a large balance and late payments can negatively affect your personal credit score—while opening a large credit line you rarely touch can actually help improve your score. Either way, it’s good to know how the card vendor reports to the bureaus and if it will appear on your personal or business credit.
  • How long is the grace period?
    A credit card can serve as a no- or low-interest loan for your business. If you plan to use it as such, you’ll want to find out the grace period for payments. The longer it is, the longer you keep the interest rate of the loan at zero. After the grace period, of course, you start paying interest. A grace period of 20-25 days tends to be ideal for many business owners.

Credit cards are an important tool within most small businesses. Be sure to select the one that best fits your unique needs by asking the above questions and doing the research.

Need help with analyzing which credit card is best for your business?

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We live in a data-driven world. And because data is so readily available, businesses have the ability to tap into key metrics to measure against set goals. Whether those goals are to reduce staff turnover or client churn, increase profits, or extend the average client life cycle…having a KPI (key performance indicator) strategy in place is essential for long-term success.

While data tracking and monitoring key metrics is critically important to business success, the abundance of data available can cause information overload. To help you navigate the world of KPIs and build a “starter plan” of sorts, this article offers three tips to creating a sound KPI strategy.

#1 – Choose the right KPIs

Not all KPIs are created equal. The first step is to understand the difference between lagging and leading indicators and why both need to be monitored.

Lagging indicators show results over a period of time (e.g., total sales in the closing quarter). These are easy to measure and provide quick answers on whether set goals have been met. For example, if you set an ambitious goal such as doubling sales by the end of Q4 (compared to Q2 sales), the ultimate lagging indicator is annual revenue or profits.

Leading indicators capture data that has an effect on an outcome. This makes leading indicators useful for predicting outcomes. For example, if an online retail store shows a sharp drop in the purchase of a popular item, the company could predict a drop in overall quarterly sales. Monitoring leading indicators helps you get ahead of predictable trends and make adjustments to influence positive outcomes.

#2 – Foster a KPI-driven culture

The goal here is to get your entire organization talking about data! When everyone speaks the data language, it better supports a company-wide KPI strategy.

To build a KPI-driven culture, be sure to offer regular staff training on the value of KPIs and the metrics each department is responsible for tracking. Also, be sure to assign the proper leads to champion KPI progress and ensure staff are kept updated as your strategy evolves. Finally, make sure you have the right technologies in place to collect and analyze data, and make KPI dashboards available to required staff.

#3 – Implement a process for KPI refinement

It’s important to understand that KPIs are subject to change. You can bet that over time customer behaviors will change and business goals will evolve in response to market trends. This calls for businesses to refine their KPI strategy on a regular basis.

Over time, you may discover that a KPI is not helping you progress toward a specific goal or that it’s driving the wrong actions. For these reasons, commit to consistent KPI evaluation and enhancement as you move forward. The formal process of refinement requires you to monitor what is working and what is not.

You exercise your body to stay healthy, but how often do you exercise your brain? Research has shown that keeping your brain cells strong and sharp can help lower your risk of developing dementia. Here are four ways to make sure your body’s busiest organ keeps running smoothly.

  1. Keep doing. Brain activity stimulates new nerve cell connections and may even help your brain build new cells. Activities that can help jump-start that process include:
    • Reading and writing.
    • Taking courses through local programs (adult education, community programs, community colleges) or online.
    • Solving crossword, jigsaw, Sudoku or any other types of puzzles you enjoy.
    • Taking up hobbies and crafts that require creativity or manual dexterity.
    • Attending lectures or plays.
    • Trying new things: learn to play an instrument, travel to a new city.
  2. Move often. When you use your muscles, you help your mind by increasing the number of blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your brain. You’ll also help develop new nerve cells and build connections between your brain cells. Plus, the usual benefits: lower blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar, and stress. And you don’t need to run a marathon; walking, gardening, dancing, playing tennis, or swimming all fit the bill. Aim for 30-60 minutes several times a week.
  3. Eat healthy. Feed your body, feed your mind—but feed them well. It’s been proven that people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet are less likely to develop dementia. That means less red meat and salt and more polyunsaturated oils, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, plant proteins, and fish. Foods that are especially brain-friendly include:
    • Wild salmon
    • Blueberries
    • Beans
    • Avocados
    • Dark chocolate
  4. Stay social. People with strong social networks have a lower risk of dementia, since social connections are believed to strengthen the connections between your brain cells. Social interaction also helps fight off stress and depression, which can contribute to memory loss. Stay alert for opportunities to connect with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, and consider volunteering or being part of a book club or hobby group if you’re missing the company of others.

As we get older, we all have the occasional memory lapse. But practicing these four basic habits—along with getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol, and not smoking—can help keep your blood flowing and ensure your body and brain stay active and vibrant for many years to come.

Now that you’ve been working remotely for several months, how are you feeling about your shared office apps? If you’re still scrambling to put together a set of tools that meet your virtual needs, here are some applications that will go a long way toward making everyone feel like they’re working together as a team…even when you’re not in the same office.

Video meetings

  • Zoom—The most popular way to meet virtually, Zoom offers several levels of service. One of those is a free option that lets you meet with up to 100 participants for 40 minutes.
  • Google Meet—With a Google account, you can create a video meeting, invite up to 100 participants and meet for 60 minutes free. Paid plans offer more options.
  • GoToMeeting—No free plan, but since it’s made for business, you’ll find hi-def video and other features for smaller teams that you’d normally see in enterprise-level plans.

Instant chat/messaging

  • Slack—In addition to direct messaging, Slack makes it easy to share files; access archives; and create channels, groups and reminders. There is a free option, but it’s limited.
  • Microsoft Teams—Close connectivity with Office 365 and lots of features makes Teams the perfect messaging app for your company if you already use Microsoft tools.
  • Google Chat—If you already use Google’s paid G Suite, Google Chat can help your team connect with each other by direct message or group conversations.

Calendar management

  • Outlook—One of the most common calendar apps, Outlook’s familiarity is a major strength. If you know how to use Office 365, you know how to use Outlook.
  • Calendly—This scalable software works with your calendar to automatically check your availability, cutting down on the amount of back-and-forth when scheduling meetings.
  • Google Calendar—If you use Gmail or any other Google app, Google Calendar can sync your calendar across all of your devices as long as you’re logged in with your Google account.

A final option to consider that doesn’t really fit into any of the categories above is Google Drive, which contains Google Docs, Google Sheets,and other apps. It’s more of a file storage system, but it’s free and a great way to create, circulate, and review documents and spreadsheets.

With any of these applications, you’ll take significant strides toward creating an efficient remote office that feels much less remote.

Smartphones. Most of us can’t live without them. They’re an indispensable addition to our daily lives, so it’s always nice to find new ways they can help us save time. Here are some smartphone productivity secrets that can help you dial up more efficiency during your day:

  1. Charge your phone faster
    Turn on your phone’s airplane mode while charging. Even better, turn your phone off. The benefit? Your phone won’t burn energy in a continuous effort to connect to cell phone towers. For the fastest results, don’t use your phone while it’s charging.
  2. Avoid having ads in your apps
    Any in-app ad that slows down your phone can be avoided by turning on airplane mode or turning off your internet connection. If ads keep popping up even with the internet off, clear your cache to enjoy your app ad-free.
  3. Use your iPhone’s call and reply reminders
    The iOS operating system for iPhone includes auto-reply and “remind me later” features that can help you deal with calls when you’re busy. The “remind me” feature uses a GPS- or timer-based prompt and can be triggered while the phone rings. If you choose the option, you’ll be reminded to call back.
  4. Picture recognition can save time
    It used to be that you had to search in a browser by typing to find the information you were looking for. Now, thanks to image recognition software you can identify specific objects in a picture using applications like the Google Goggles photo recognition tool. Simply upload your image and Google Goggles will run the query against its massive image database to provide near-matches.
  5. Turn your smartphone into a master remote
    Many smartphones now come with infrared (or IR) blasters that can be paired with IR-controlled devices—which means you can use your phone as a remote. You can also use your smartphone to check whether an infrared-based remote is working.
  6. Delete the last digit in iPhone calculator
    Imagine that you’re calculating a chain of long numbers and you mistype one digit. Just swipe right or left—problem deleted!
  7. Measure up with your smartphone
    If you find that you need to measure an item but don’t have a measuring tape handy, check your phone (or the app store) for the measuring tape feature.

Use your phone to lighten your load
These are just a few smartphone hacks to help you simplify your daily life. You can look online or browse your phone’s app store for more tools that will help put little-known smartphone secrets to work for you.

The case for content

young female sitting and reading content on a tablet

If your business has a website, you’ve heard about the importance of content. Lots of content—educational, timely, entertaining, and frequently updated information that helps boost your search rankings and engage visitors.

Still, you might be asking: Our customers come to us because of the products and/or services we offer, so is it really that important to push out a steady stream of content?

The short answer is yes. And here are four compelling reasons why:

  • Good content develops trust—The goal is to not only attract prospective clients with engaging content but to keep them coming back and build relationships. But like any relationship, it’s easier to commit if prospects see that you clearly understand their challenges and can help solve them. Authoritative, user-friendly content that addresses their concerns and shows them how to solve a problem—without a sales pitch—will establish you as an empathetic expert they can rely on and trust.
  • High-quality content takes on a life of its own—Website visitors are more likely to read and share content if they find it valuable. A clear and concise blog or social media post on the latest trends in your industry or common pain points (and how to resolve them), for example, serve as useful information that visitors will be more compelled to share.
  • Engaging content makes you stand out from the competition—When consumers are comparing businesses online, what makes one stand out from the others? Yep, you guessed it: helpful, thoughtful content. Take the blog or social media post example from above. If the information presented proves to be timely and helpful to readers, they are more likely to come back to your site (while forgetting all about your competitors).
  • Valuable content builds your email list—A website visitor is just that: someone who pops in, looks around, and pops back out. But if visitors have the option to download, for example, a free eBook that focuses on how to solve a common issue or simplifies an otherwise complex topic, they are more likely to provide their email in exchange for your content. And that means you can add another prospect to your list.

Content is a must in today’s web-driven world—enabling businesses to stand out from the competition and provide both clients and prospects with helpful, educational information. If you have not yet, it’s time to jump on the content bandwagon.