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Steps to Create a Workable Online Store

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Unused talent broils at the edges of the economy these days. With the labor participation rate at an all-time low, who might we find excluded from the labor market now? Examples may include all manner of artists, craftspeople, and even talented scavengers. Any number of people who can’t reach the right people in their marketing efforts.

Online marketing presents a solution. However, even the best merchants and craftspeople may feel intimidated in the process of developing an online marketing strategy for what may seem like niche enterprises. 

The first step may be an online presence. However, an actual “online checkout site” drastically increases user-friendliness, and certainly builds confidence on the part of any customer. Many online tools can facilitate the creation of an online store. Web creation tools such as WordPress, Etsy, and Godaddy can make all the difference.

The initial process of mastering the basics of web creation can be challenging. For example, remember that your “online store” will look different on tablets, phones, and even different browsers on desktop computers. Selecting and mastering proper themes on web-creation applications can make the difference between a navigable “online store” and one that looks messy and unprofessional.

Also, remember that behind these web-building applications are programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Web building applications allow modification of the underlying code as an option, but these modifications are sometimes not recommended. These applications update their plugins from time to time, which updates the code while, sometimes, overwriting any changes you have made.

As for the design of a checkout website, several considerations can optimize engagement with customers. 

First, business owners should keep their checkout sites simple and easy. Simplicity facilitates engagement directly with your product and builds confidence and trust in your capabilities. The internet abounds with “rogues’ galleries” of terrible web pages that could make you go blind. Such websites tend to be gaudy, busy, and overwhelming. Don’t be “that person.”

Second, carefully research the payment process, and ensure the checkout page accommodates each likely option. These options may include fingerprints, QR codes, and paperless checks, as well as any of a variety of credit card options. Increased payment choices make for more satisfied customers, provided the site remains pristine and uncluttered.

Third, progress bars help the checkout process. Especially mobile customers may appreciate this user-friendly feature to ensure the progress of their purchase.

Fourth, the best checkout sites feature popup and autofill features to ensure seamless transactions. “Popup” in this case does not mean “popup ads.” “Popup” means the fields should populate as the transaction progresses. 

Fifth, ensure wise messaging procedures. Once a customer proceeds with a transaction, the messaging ensures trust and provides the customer with documentation. A customer should get a receipt in their inbox immediately.

Many talented professionals lose their place in the economy simply because they don’t know how to market their products online. Even professionals who do have a website sometimes haven’t established an “online marketplace”. Creating such a website may present a challenge but can easily change the game. 

Never underestimate the investment with the time and energy to learn to use website-building applications. Such a project can cement your status as a professional and help launch your aspirations.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Inventory Backlogs: Disposal Part Two of Two

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Even the best inventory management sometimes doesn’t prevent stock from backing up. For example, economic fluctuations and weather changes can back up the supply chain.

Entrepreneurs have many routes to sell off excess merchandise. Each route may depend on the state of the product. For example, perishable goods require safe disposal. In cases where the days of the product are limited, quick offloading strategies may include giveaways and rewards programs to loyal customers.

However, other sorts of goods may retain value even while accumulating cobwebs in storage space. Examples may include jewelry, cooking implements, tools, and auto parts.

The best options may include (1) online sales, (2) redirected marketing, (3) bulk discounts, (4) product bundling, and (5) liquidation to peer companies. 

(1) Online Sales

Posting excess products online brings exposure to a wide range of markets. Someone may need exactly what you may find worthless.

Remember that terrible ET video game from 1982? Most of the excess inventory ended up in a landfill. These days, workable cartridges can sell for over $1000. Buyers may include not only collectors of vintage arcade games, but even people simply willing to reverse-engineer the surviving game cartridges just to figure out what the original software engineers were thinking.

Car parts are another example. Restorations for certain older cars may require specialized parts, and online sales might provide the right match between seller and buyer.

The point is that someone, somewhere, likely has a use for your excess product. Careful research may reveal the right channels.

Excess inventory may provide the motivation for developing your business to include an online store. Setting up an online site these days may be surprisingly quick and easy. Even basic web-builder software such as WordPress can provide the right tools. Websites such as Godaddy.com and Etsy.com can also facilitate e-commerce.

(2) Redirected Marketing

In many cases, a small company may find itself with staff geared toward promoting certain products over others. The flagship product may sell out prematurely, leaving behind excess other products.

While most appropriate for retail stores, the practice of double or triple-exposing merchandise may garner more attention from shoppers. In other words, business owners can show a product in multiple places throughout the establishment.

(3) Bulk Discounts

Companies with too much product should consider marketing in bulk. Such discounts can range from buy-one-get-one-free deals to progressive discounts for increasing amounts of products. In other words, as the consumer buys increasing numbers, the discount may progress from thirty percent to forty percent to fifty percent, based on volume.

(4) Product Bundling

In some cases, one product sells like hotcakes while another product lingers. In such a case, merchants can bundle the hotter product with the slow mover for a slightly higher price. Many consumers will appreciate the bargain, especially if one product can enhance the functions of the other.

(5) Liquidation Sales to Other Companies

Many websites facilitate offloading of excess products between companies. These sales provide a discount to peer businesses while relieving others of bulk, freeing up storage and maintenance costs. These sales provide the best option when sales at a high per-unit price are less of a consideration. Consider BoxFox and Liquidation.com as viable online forums for such transactions.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Other creative tricks have included giveaways and incentive programs to loyal customers. In sum, business owners should tailor their downsizing practices to the type of product and the circumstances of the business. Proper use of a company’s assets requires creativity, as well as an understanding of key niches in the market.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this second article of this two-part series has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Inventory Backlogs: Prevention Part One of Two

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Vast deposits of excess stock can leave small business owners bewildered or perplexed in the wake of a “failed” marketing attempt. Remember, excess inventory generally has some value to someone. However, prevention generally spares entrepreneurs storage expenses and manufacturing costs. 

Whatever happened to the Avon Lady? Multilevel marketing schemes are back with a vengeance. These companies can famously leave a garage full of excess merchandise. But what about the tribulations of small business owners who manufacture their own products?

As a general principle, unused products are a liability for small businesses. Such products gain the moniker of “deadstock” after collecting cobwebs in the back shelves of warehouses.

The Pandemic has brought fluxes in inventory to all sectors of the economy. Supply chain disruptions have plagued the worldwide economy since March of 2020. Skeleton crews on all fronts have left companies alternately oversupplied or undersupplied, even as demand has mushroomed since the early part of this year.

Inventory shortages are nothing new. First, demand fluctuates naturally due to a variety of market forces. Fashions move forward, circumstances change, and consumer needs oscillate accordingly. 

Second, businesses sometimes rush to meet demand. In the process, quality may suffer, leading consumers to search elsewhere. Over-eager business owners sometimes churn out subpar products to meet demand. The result leaves the owner in the lurch for storage and disposal. No one wants a trove of shoddy “skinny jeans” manufactured in 2008, especially in 2021.

Third, some businesses may lack effective inventory management systems. Internal operations may well disrupt a good balance between different types of products. Good online inventory management programs may include Fishbowl, Netsuite, and Quickbooks, although options for businesses are vast, and may include proprietary options as well. Also, consider the everyday operations of a company outside the computer system.

Fourth, the business may be marketing one product at the expense of another. Marketing resources may gravitate in one direction, based upon the expertise or biases of the company staff. Leadership on hand may know more about one product than another. Sometimes leadership and staff simply prefer one product over another. Such cases may simply present a human resources challenge.  Enthusiasts of one type of product on the marketing front may compensate for an oversupply of fans of another.

Finally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Remember that disastrous ET video game from the early eighties? Most ended up in a landfill. The landfill was excavated, and some collectors of vintage arcade games paid over $1000 for cartridges of a terrible but historically significant video game. Even in most cases of overstock, hope remains.

Best practice avoids excess supplies of unmarketable products from the outset. However, as with most of life’s problems, excess inventory is often unavoidable. With the resurgence of multilevel marketing, overstock has reached new levels in some quarters. However, certain business practices have long resulted in inventory imbalances, even before the Pandemic. 

In Part I of this two-part series, we examined strategies to prevent excess deadstock, to begin with. In Part 2, we will examine strategies to dispose of excess inventory, online and otherwise once such stock inevitably accumulates.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article of this two-part series has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The Pandemic has given us the term “the New Normal.” The new “work-from-home” paradigm also entails the term “Digital Nomad.” Are “Digital Nomads” synchronous with “the New Normal?” Many define “Digital Nomads” as workers with the independence to produce anywhere, anytime. 

“The New Normal” developed at the outbreak of the Pandemic, only a year and a half ago, and provides workers the flexibility to work at home as necessary. “Digital Nomads” are nothing new. However, these “extreme” remote workers have seen their roles expand and develop considerably during this period.

A few small countries have even started allowing “digital nomad” visas for workers who want to “work in paradise.” These countries include Bermuda, Mauritius, and Montserrat, as well as several European countries. But is a “digital nomad” really the same as a hybrid worker? Let’s flesh this out.

Who are Digital Nomads?

“Digital Nomads” live out-of-reach of their office headquarters. Younger workers, as well as retirees, have increasingly adopted these arrangements. Many employers have decided to focus on output rather than “presenteeism” Such arrangements have even become more common indirect employer-employee relationships, and are no longer the sole domain of freelancers and casual workers.

Communication Issues

Such an arrangement could be perfect for many business relationships. Other relationships, not so much. Good candidates for “digital nomads” may include creative workers using their own resources, as well as positions with limited client contact. Such “extreme” remote positions should allow relative independence from management. 

“Digital nomads” are not people who need detailed instruction in office processes. Oftentimes, such workers are creative workers who function successfully as their own mobile small businesses. Workers who might need to be called into the office periodically are not good candidates for “remote work visas.”

For example, in some cases, an employer may require a worker’s presence in an in-person client meeting. Successful employers and contractors foresee these demands before committing to arrangements such as, for example, procurement of a remote work visa.

Security Issues

Employers should consider possible security breaches when considering the scope of remote relationships. Some workers may have access to secure information. These workers may need a closer relationship with their home base. For example, each device containing secure information presents a security risk. Assuming the presence of sensitive information, loose monitoring of such devices is bad practice.

Expenses for Remote Work Visas

A visa for “working in paradise” generally costs several hundred dollars for the visa itself as well as proof of income. “Paradise” can include diverse remote island countries as well as several European countries including Germany, Portugal, Iceland, and Croatia. Each country offers its own price for the visa itself, in addition to income thresholds levels to prove robust links with the employer.

“Hybrid Workers” versus “Digital Nomads

Business owners should distinguish between workers who might qualify for “hybrid roles” and workers who might become full-blown “Digital Nomads.” “Digital Nomads” can work in far remote locations with no physical contact with management. The employee’s role should be established and meticulously carved out before initiating an entirely remote arrangement. 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Entrepreneurship entails bravery. New business owners give their time and resources for an idea. In some cases, entrepreneurs put their own retirement plans on hold, at least while building their new business. In other cases, an expanding business may need to consider the best options for retirement practices for employees. In all cases, careful research about retirement options should precede the development and expansion of any business.

Several options exist for both owners and employees. These options include the Self-Employed 401(k), the Simple 401(k), the Simple IRA, the Roth IRA, and the SEP-IRA. Each has different applications for both owners and employees.

Features of various retirement options include the “employer contribution,” the “employee contribution,” and differing administrative methods based on factors such as size and contribution amounts.

Setting up a Retirement Plan

The type of retirement plan depends on the nature of the business. The business may be a sole proprietorship, a family business, or may depend upon skilled employees. 

Ideally, of course, a successful business should pay into the futures of their employees or the business owner at the very least. When businesses don’t account for retirement plans, they generally have a lack of incoming funds to blame.  

Some businesses only have the owner to account for. Others need to attract valuable employees, which factors into the need to undertake the complex process of determining the correct retirement package for the onboarding process.

The following website provides a starting list of financial companies that may provide retirement options, as well as advice for further research: 

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/102015/10-providers-401k-plans-small-employers.asp

Options for Business Owners

Veteran Business Owners come from a variety of circumstances and walks of life. Some may have a vested pension from a previous employment situation. Others may be taking a full plunge before they’ve planned for retirement. 

At times, a sale of the entire business offers the only retirement option for a small business owner. Remember that a full sale is viable only in cases where the business can continue to operate.

The self-employed 401(k), or the “solo 401(k),” provides the best options for business owners without employees. Other plans treat employers differently from employees. This plan offers flexibility to tailor the contributions to the interests exclusively of the owner. For example, the proprietor has the option to set the “employee contribution” up to 100% of the compensation up to a limit of $19,500 for those under 50. Older business owners can contribute up to $26,000. An “employer contribution” can reach 25% for a total of $54,000.

Options for Employees

In order to attract the best talent, Veteran Business Owners should research their benefits packages. Many businesses need healthy relationships with employees to function. In light of the current labor shortage, some businesses need tradespeople with or without college degrees. 

Varieties of benefits options may attract these valuable employees. Among these are a traditional 401(k), a “Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees,” and a “Safe Harbor 401(k), which reduces administrative costs while reducing flexibility. Finally, the “Individual 401(k)” is a special option for couples who jointly operate businesses. 

IRAS versus 401(k)s

“IRA” stands for “Individual Retirement Account.” An employer does not pay into such an account but may provide eligibility to a certain IRA fund through a deal with the financial institution. On the other hand, a 401(k) offers joint contributions between employee and employer. 

One difference between an IRA and a 401(k) lies in the relationship with the employer. However, a second difference lies in taxation. Generally, with Roth IRAs, contributions to the account are subject to taxes, but contributions withdrawn in retirement are exempt. Withdrawals from 401(k) accounts, however, are indeed taxed.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

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