“We’re paying for a building no one’s using!”
“Our managers don’t trust us to work at home!”
We can argue forever about why it’s happening, but the fact is, a number of companies are moving from a remote work model to a hybrid model. If you’ve been told the switch to hybrid is coming, don’t panic; there are ways to make the transition work for you.
Hybrid schedules do have their advantages—according to Gallup, six out of 10 employees with remote capability in their jobs actually prefer a hybrid work option. That’s not surprising with hybrid’s “best of both worlds” benefits, such as:
However, from commuting to childcare to a work wardrobe, a hybrid schedule does require some lifestyle adjustments—especially if you’ve been working fully remote. Here are a few tips to help make a hybrid schedule more manageable:
There’s no doubt that you’ll need to work a little harder—especially at first—on the balancing act required with a hybrid schedule. But for a lot of employees, the ability to enjoy the best of both worlds has turned out to be worth the effort, and we hope you’ll feel the same.
We all need time to relax, recharge and renew. That’s why we take vacations. However, if your budget is tight this year, you can still get those three Rs without a flight to Bora Bora, thanks to a type of vacation you may not have tried yet: the staycation.
Before you say, “Staying home? That’s not what I’d call a vacation,” we’ve got some tips that can help make your staycation just as much fun as a traveling vacation—not to mention more affordable and hassle-free.
Here are a few suggestions for things to do on your staycation. While your hometown might not have every activity available, this list may spark other ideas in your own area.
Whether you take a long weekend or a full week, some advance planning can make your staycation as memorable as a “regular” vacation trip. Not to mention a lot more relaxing, since you don’t have to worry about crowded airport security lines, missed flights or off-schedule itineraries. We hope we’ve inspired you to consider your own staycation this year—and that you have a wonderful time!
Let’s face it: Navigating through multiple responsibilities at home and work leaves us with a miles-long to-do list and not enough time to get through it. Whether it’s a barrage of notifications from our devices or endless scrolling through social media, something almost always distracts us.
And while there may not be one single magic answer to help us use our time wisely, there are numerous productivity hacks we can apply each day to help us accomplish more…in less time. But first, let’s talk about why productivity is important.
When people are more productive, it can lead to additional benefits, such as less stress and burnout, a healthier work-life balance, and a boost in mood and self-esteem. However, with many distractions throughout the day, 70% of employees admit to feeling distracted on the job, according to research on productivity by Zippia.
Zippia’s research also shows that distractions such as checking social media, reading news websites and chatting with coworkers lead the average employee to be productive for only 2 hours and 53 minutes a day. (Hint: That’s 31% of the average eight-hour workday.)
You may find this surprising, but being productive also includes making time for self-care, breaks and relaxation because it helps boost creativity and the ability to focus. Make more of the limited time in your day and beat the clock with these productivity hacks.
To prevent the 5:00 p.m., “Where did the day go?” question, take time at the end of each day to plan your schedule for the next day. Divide tasks into 30-60 minute intervals and ensure breaks of 5-15 minutes. This will help you stay on task and have a plan for exactly what you need to accomplish during the day.
Looking at your to-do list, choose the top three tasks you need to accomplish that day and make those a priority. List them on a sticky note or a notes app to keep track of your progress. Anything else you can get done outside of those three is the cherry on top.
If you struggle with staying on task or even getting started, it may be time to start using a time management technique. The Pomodoro technique breaks a task down into time intervals of 25 minutes to focus with a five-minute break. Another method to try is the 52-17 technique, where you focus on one task for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.
For some, even getting started with the simplest task can be problematic; for others, it’s difficult to start large tasks. Whether your “Everest” is tackling the smallest or biggest task first, just rip off the bandage and start. Either way, once the task is completed, you can check something off your list…and chances are, you’ll find more motivation to continue working through your to-do list.
As productive as multitasking sounds, some studies show that only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. That means the remaining 97.5% of the population isn’t actually multitasking. Attempting to multitask can decrease productivity. To be more productive, focus on one task at a time.
Research by Zippia shows that refocusing after a distraction takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds. To prevent wasting time, turn off distractions, such as email or text notifications, while working. Set your status on messaging apps to “do not disturb,” so you can focus on the task at hand.
Taking the time to plan your day, choosing your most important tasks and muting outside distractions will help you focus and give you much-needed time back each day. Use the hacks we’ve outlined to make the most of your days. The clock is ticking.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that as a small business owner, you’re one of the busiest people on earth. After all, it’s up to you to do everything—and that includes educating yourself on new ways of doing things, keeping up on trends and industry changes, and…well, a whole lot more. But how can you stay up to date when there’s so much else to do?
With podcasts! You can listen to them in the car, when you’re exercising or even when you’re cleaning bathrooms. As a start, here are 14 excellent podcasts that can serve as teachers, mentors and leaders for the overworked small business owner—aka you.
How I Built This—This NPR podcast, hosted by Guy Raz, appears consistently on lists of the top business podcasts. Guy interviews innovators and entrepreneurs from today’s biggest companies (Whole Foods and Airbnb, to name two) about their journeys to success. While not technically about small business, you’ll find a wealth of inspiration in each episode as you hear about the triumphs and struggles of these entrepreneurs.
The GaryVee Audio Experience—Well-known author, speaker, entrepreneur and CEO Gary Vaynerchuk offers listeners tips and insights on a range of business, marketing and technology topics. Through a combination of interviews, keynote speeches, chats and other content, he offers blunt and honest advice, information and inspiration.
The Tim Ferriss Show—Tim Ferriss interviews fascinating guests from many walks of life—Malcolm Gladwell, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, LeBron James, Margaret Atwood, Brené Brown, Hugh Jackman and more to pass on the secrets of their success. This podcast regularly ranks near the top of the Apple Podcasts business category despite the wide-ranging array of guests; that’s how interesting and inspiring it is.
The Goal Digger Podcast—Minnesota business owner Jenna Kutcher offers productivity tips, social media strategies and inspirational interviews to help you “dig in, do the work and tackle your biggest goals along the way.” While she’s at it, she also covers topics like branding and marketing, being a working mother, dealing with difficult customers and much more as you build your business.
Small Business Tax Savings Podcast—Explicitly geared for small business owners, this podcast, hosted by Mike Jesowshek, CPA, focuses on tax savings and building a sound financial foundation for your small business. As you’d expect from a CPA, you’ll get a lot of important information—without the fluff—designed specifically to help you minimize your taxes and maximize your profits.
Duct Tape Marketing—John Jantsch is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing, a digital marketing agency and consulting firm. In this podcast, he helps small business owners with small budgets gear up their marketing efforts. Branding, content, website design, SEO, strategy, new trends, how to stand out from the competition…he covers it all with his knowledge and informative interviews.
Marketing Over Coffee—Seth Godin. Simon Sinek. Ann Handley. If marketing and motivational superstars like these make you swoon, this is your podcast. Each week, John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn bring you a 20-minute episode with tips, tactics, inspiration and interviews on topics that include email marketing, SEO and even the occasional foray into non-digital marketing.
Social Media Marketing—Whether you like social media or hate it, there’s no way around the fact that it’s nearly impossible today to market a small business without it. From content to platforms, Michael Stelzner explores social media strategies and tools and interviews social media experts on how business owners can find success with their social media marketing.
Marketing School—In this podcast, marketing guru Neil Patel and business advisor Eric Siu share lessons in digital marketing to help those who want to grow their businesses. These five-minute informational bites are released daily, covering topics like online marketing, social media, content creation, email marketing, conversion optimization, trends, insights and more.
BizChix—Business strategist and coach Natalie Eckdahl brings you inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs and business owners who worked their way to success. Natalie’s diverse range of interviews cover everything from experiences, obstacles, insights, strategies and achievements as she helps women channel their natural strengths to get their businesses into top shape.
Go-to Gal—Jacelyn Mellone, a business strategist and marketing expert, focuses on helping female entrepreneurs find their footing in the business world. In each episode, she interviews successful female entrepreneurs who share their experiences in growing their businesses. Jacelyn also shares insights on the productivity, mindset and personal growth needed to succeed as an entrepreneur.
This list is just a starting point; there are dozens (if not hundreds) of other great podcasts out there. We hope they’ll help you overcome any challenges, stay inspired, and build your business to reflect your vision and dreams. Happy listening!
Diversity—of customers, employees and vendors—isn’t just a consideration for large corporations. It’s an essential part of the future of small businesses, too.
By 2050, it’s projected that the Black population of the United States will grow by approximately 30%, the Hispanic population by 60% and the Asian American population by more than 50%, while the aged population will grow by another 6%. That’s a lot of change on the horizon, which is why the number of resources available for helping small business owners embrace diversity, equity and inclusion (known as DEI) initiatives in their businesses is growing.
Are there advantages for businesses that embrace diversity? First, let’s consider what makes for a diverse workplace: a range of races, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, backgrounds, physical and mental skills and abilities (including disabilities), personality types, spoken languages, nationalities, education, and income.
And when you consider that diversity applies to not only the business’s employees or vendors, but your customer base, too, the benefits become clear:
All right, so you’re ready to improve your hiring process to be more inclusive. But you’re not a large enough business to have a human resources team…yet, anyway. But how do you begin? Where do you find the information you need to be sure you’re doing it right? A good place to start is with this list of resources for an employer who would like to make their business more inclusive.
When DEI is a top priority in the workplace, it not only gives all employees the same fair chance at success, but it elevates the business as an employer of choice. According to ZipRecruiter, 48% of job seekers are more likely to apply for jobs when employers state their commitment to DEI, which mirrors the growth in trends showing that consumers prefer brands that closely align with their values.
That’s almost half of the respondents…and it’s a mighty testament to the power of diversity, equity and inclusion. And when you take that first step toward becoming an inclusive workplace, you’ll not only change your business—you’ll change your horizons and your outlook…and you might even help change the world.
We’ll just say this up front: If you’re in business today, you need to be on social media.
However…that doesn’t mean you need to be on every platform. That’s the social equivalent of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, and it can make for not only a messy wall, but an overwhelmed business owner as you try to keep up. To help you decide which social media platforms make the most sense for your business, let’s take a look at some platforms to consider.
Unless you have someone who can operate as a dedicated social media specialist, we suggest keeping your focus manageable by using one to three social platforms. The idea is quality, not quantity.
So, which channels? That depends on your customers. Often, you can make a reasonable guess as to where they are on social media based on their age group and what you know about their interests (you could also send out a survey to ask about their social media habits).
Here’s an overview of the most popular platforms as a starting point:
(1) 31 powerful Pinterest statistics (2023), Zippia.com
As you can see, if your customers tend to be older, the odds are good that you’ll find them on Facebook rather than TikTok. And as an example, if you own a home décor business, your audience’s favorite online activity might be collecting aspirational home design ideas on Instagram or Pinterest.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into how you can use the most popular platforms for your business, both Zoho Social and Sprout Social offer detailed explorations.
All right, so now you have a better idea of the available platforms. Now, how do you decide where to focus your energy? This is where you’ll need to ask yourself some questions—and give yourself some honest answers—about your business:
When 72% of the public uses some type of social media, it’s time to connect with your current and prospective customers where they are. And the most important thing we can tell you is that if you’re not out there, it’s well past time to grab the opportunities that social media offers the small business owner. From brand awareness to more responsive customer service, social media can be the next best thing to a face-to-face conversation with your customers (and you won’t have to keep cleaning those walls!).
With the move to remote and hybrid work, our business devices are frequently at our fingertips 24/7. That means it’s all too easy to finish one more task…make one more phone call…send one more email…only to find we’ve added even more hours to our workday.
If you’re wondering where your work-life balance went, here are a baker’s dozen of actions you might want to consider taking to improve it. While they’re not detailed tips, they link to more detailed information and are a good launching pad for living the life you want.
Giving more time to the work side of the work-life balance can take a toll; a long-running UK study of more than 10,000 civil servants showed that people who worked three or more hours longer than a normal workday had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than those who worked no overtime.
While you can’t change the equation overnight, hopefully, the actions above will give you a start toward managing your time and energy in a way that will help you find a true balance—one where you’re able to feel engaged and fulfilled whether you’re on the clock or off.
Organizing a system for keeping your tax records doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It just has to be…well, organized. But considering that the IRS can audit your tax returns for up to three years (and even further if they find something beyond that time that requires an audit), it’s something that should be done. Even if you’re never audited, without the right documentation, you could miss out on deductions and tax credits that can improve your tax situation.
So, if you spend the days before your yearly tax appointment scrabbling through stacks of unfiled forms and receipts—wishing you’d spent just a little more time on keeping your tax records in order—we’re here to help.
Broadly, you’ll need income and expense records (if you claim expenses). As an individual or joint filer, here are some of the most common items you’ll need at tax time:
If you’re self-employed or own a small business, there are other types of records you should keep, and the IRS has a good overview of those items here.
Some people prefer to keep hard copies of everything, organized in folders labeled by category and stored in a file cabinet, a fire- and water-proof safe, or a portable accordion folder. Then, at tax time, they meet with their tax preparer, or they drop off their documents to the firm.
However, a growing number of people prefer to keep and organize their tax records digitally (which now can include scans or photos of hard-copy records). That way, it’s easy to work virtually with their accountant and they don’t have to collate and store paper records. Important: If you use digital files, make sure that a) your system is protected with good cybersecurity practices, and b) you keep an updated backup copy—whether it’s in the cloud or on a removable drive stored in a safe place.
Whichever method you choose, make sure it’s practical and easy for you to use. If it’s too complicated, you’ll get frustrated and end up back in the same disorganized situation that got you looking for an organizational system in the first place.
Generally, you should keep tax records for at least three years from the date your original return was filed. However, as we mentioned above, if you were audited, you might want to hang on to your records for a bit longer. Especially if you’re self-employed or a small business owner.
Ideally, immediately upon receipt. While it can seem like a no-brainer to pop a receipt into a file folder or do a quick scan for upload into your digital files, it’s easy to get distracted. And then you have a pile of paper that needs an hour of work instead of the minute or two it would have taken to do it right away.
At the very least, file tax-related items whenever you sit down to pay your bills each month, so you’re not overwhelmed with things to file and/or scan at the end of the year. (Hint: Get in the habit of jotting down important details right on your receipts —amounts, dates, type of expense, the reason it’s deductible. This will help you remember why you kept it when tax time rolls around.)
Tax time shouldn’t be a trying time. If you spend a little time now creating a filing system that works for you—or tweaking your current system to make sure it’s effective—your days of scrabbling through piles of paper at the last minute can be a distant memory. Not to mention, you’ll be at the top of your tax preparer’s “Favorite Clients” list!
Each year brings in new tax changes for small businesses. It can be difficult to stay on top of what’s changed or what’s going to change again next year, so we’ve done a roundup of new tax changes for 2023 and how they could impact your business.
In its simplest form, a tax deduction is an expense you can subtract from your taxable income to lower the amount of taxes you owe. Before you start deducting expenses left and right, you have to remember that expenses must fit the IRS criteria of a tax deduction.
Common small business tax deductions, depending upon your business type, could include advertising, business insurance, contract labor, depreciation, benefits, rent or personal expenses—such as charitable donations or child and dependent care expenses.
For the 2022 tax year (i.e., the tax return you’ll file in 2023), the dollar limitation for employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements increases to $2,850.
Participants who have self-only coverage in a medical savings account must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,450, but not more than $3,700, and the maximum out-of-pocket expense amount is $4,950.
For family coverage, the annual deductible must not be less than $4,950 or more than $7,400. The out-of-pocket expense limit for family coverage is $9,050.
For the 2022 tax year, businesses that invest in research and development are required to deduct investment costs over five years. Further documentation about each planned research activity is also required.
Beginning in tax year 2023, the 100% bonus depreciation deduction (the purchase of business assets or property with a useful life of 20 years or more) will begin to phase out 20% each year until it completely phases out in 2027. It will follow this schedule: 80% in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, 20% in 2026 and 0% in 2027.
Be prepared for tax season by keeping accurate records of your business income and expenses. It’s also best practice to keep business and personal expenses separate come tax time. Remember that tax deductions can lead to significant tax savings, so consult with your tax expert to ensure you’re getting the most out of your return.
Are you one of the almost half of Americans who say that between three and seven days a week, they feel sleepy during the day? At the risk of sounding like your mother, sleep is one of the most important facets of our health. A good night of sleep enables your body to recover from the tensions of the day and your brain to rest up for the work it will do tomorrow.
If it’s been a challenge to get enough sleep each night, it’s possible that a few adjustments to your sleep routine can solve the issue. (Note: This article won’t address severe sleep problems like apnea or chronic insomnia. If you’re experiencing these issues, please contact your doctor right away.) We’ve gathered some helpful tips to help you get a more restful night of sleep.
To understand the toll that poor or less sleep can extract on us as a society, here are some factoids on the high costs of sleep deprivation from The Sleep Foundation:
We don’t cite these statistics to scare you into sleeping more. The fact is, getting good sleep is one of the most important steps you can take toward improving your physical and mental wellness. From increasing your resistance to illness to helping manage stress and anxiety; from improving cognitive performance to helping your body recover from injuries; sleep is an essential element of our continuing health and well-being. Give yourself the gift of better sleep, starting tonight!