Save Taxes By Organising and Planning Ahead

save taxesIt’s March, and for most businesses, this means the end of another fiscal year, and time to get ready for filing your taxes. Getting all the documents together, the numbers tallied, and those taxes filed can be a chore. Today, I’d like to share a few tips on how to make it a bit easier… and how you can save taxes too.

1) Organising the paperwork

First, you need to organise your various documents and receipts. Sure, you may have most of your receipts on the computer, but sometimes it’s easier to sort the information if you print it out so you can look at it and then sort it into folders and envelopes.

Besides, not everything that’s tax deductible resides on your computer. Whether you buy the occasional deductible item in the supermarket or have receipts from business lunches and other events, you probably have quite a few paper receipts. Those can be gathered in envelopes and folders.

2) Save Taxes by including everything you can deduct

Of course, you probably remember to include all the obvious things, and your accountant will remind you too. But don’t forget the extras, for example the conferences and networking meetings you’ve attended, along with all the associated expenses.

Also be sure to remember industry-related magazines, calendars, membership dues, coaching and consulting fees, as well as any deductible mileage. If you’ve donated to charity, make sure you include that too.

3) Have the organising tools on hand

Be sure you have everything you need, so you don’t have to interrupt your work to order (and wait for) any of the organising tools. You also don’t want to lose any receipt by having them fall through the cracks or get lost altogether.

Here are just some of the tools you may find useful: lever arch files, other files, file boxes, envelopes, labels, markers, highlighters, notebooks, storage boxes, organisers, paper clips, fold back clips, clear tape, a stapler and staples, pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners, as well as ink cartridges.

4) Save Taxes by planning ahead

Of course all the tools mentioned above are tax deductible, along with many more items you may buy for your office, including, yes, coffee for the break room, a new supplies cupboard, chairs, printers, and more.

In addition, if you haven’t gotten around to updating your business cards, now would be a good time to do so, and get new letterhead and envelopes as well. You could also stock up on promotional gifts to hand out at events, along with new brochures.

If you pay for these items before the end of the month, you can save taxes by deducting them this year and getting part of your investment right back. If you wait until later, you will also have to wait until 2018 before you can deduct them.

5) Save time with our one-stop shop

Finally, the last thing you need is extra busywork. Why not save time (and money) and order it all at once from your trusty one-stop shop? We’ll be happy to help you make the most of the opportunity to save on taxes. Just call us on 0800 007 5566, or use our Live Chat anytime during business hours.

How To Get Ready For A Business Conference

how to prepare for a business conferenceI’ll be going to a big conference this week, on Friday and Saturday! It’s right here in London, which makes at least the logistics very easy for me. No plane rides required. So my topic for today is how to get ready for a business conference.

After all, to make going to a conference worthwhile, there’s a lot of work that goes into getting ready. And so I’d like to share some of the key points of what I’ve been doing – and what I continue to do to make the conference a success! And what I recommend you do when you’re going to a business conference.

1) How to get ready for a business conference: Choose the right conference

The first step of getting ready for a business conference is choosing the right conference. It helps if it is close to home, but that’s not the most important part. Instead, ask yourself whether it will help you with your business goals. Do you want to make new contacts with important people in your industry or with potential customers? Are you planning to find out about the newest developments in your industry?

2) Sign up for the business conference, keeping your goal In mind

Once you’ve decided on the right conference (not necessarily limited to just one, but let’s not overcomplicate this email right now…), sign up for it, as an attendee and/or as a vendor. You’ll have to make some decisions here.

Renting a table or a booth will increase the price of attendance, and it will also require you to have someone to be at your table or booth throughout the conference. In addition, you’ll need various materials and giveaways, plus a banner and/or other branded display materials.

If you go as an attendee without a table, you can circulate, visit others’ tables and exhibits, and collect lots of materials and information. You’re also bound to make contacts.

Of course, you can do both – have a booth AND circulate, just not by yourself. So be sure to bring a staff member for your booth and plan to circulate yourself (and show up at your booth at specific pre-planned times so people who would like to talk with you can easily find you.

3) Preparing for your business conference (making contacts)

Next, you need to decide who you would like to meet and make contact with. Usually, conference websites have a list of exhibitors where you can find out whom you’d like to connect with.

Check out their website and make contact, either by email or through their contact form, or, if that’s not feasible, send them a message on Twitter or Facebook. Then follow up and put them on your schedule for the conference.

4) More preparation (what to bring)

Finally, you need to have some of your own materials handy. These should include some of the following:

  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • Info brochures (with tips and other useful information)
  • Promotional gifts (can include pens, badges, t-shirts, USB sticks, shopping bags, and lots more) (I’ve decided on bringing badges and shopping bags this time)

5) Where to stay

Unless the conference you selected is VERY close to home, you may want to invest in a night or two at the conference hotel. And even IF it’s close to home… This will be useful for several reasons:

  • It facilitates networking
  • It ensures you’re well-rested (and can even take a break if you need one), which will help you make the most of your conference participation
  • It allows you to replenish your supply of promotional gifts and brochures, so you won’t have to carry them with you all at once. Plus, remember that you’ll be collecting lots of brochures and gifts from various exhibitors.

How to get ready for a business conference doesn’t have to be complicated. The above five steps, if you follow them, will help you make your conference much more successful. Next week, I’ll share some more tips including what to do AT the conference, plus information on what worked especially well for me.

If you plan to attend the Franchise Expo too, please let me know. I’d love to meet you there.

Valentine’s Day At Work Can Boost Your Business!

Valentine's Day at workValentine’s Day is coming up soon, so get ready to bring out the candy and pink decorations for your office. In case you wondered, celebrating Valentine’s Day at work can have quite a few benefits for your business…

In fact, it can give your business a nice boost in at least three different ways:

  1. It will create a cheerful mood and morale inside your own office or business.
  2. It’s a great “excuse” to reach out to prospects and customers, which helps you build and strengthen your relationship with them.
  3. If you approach it the right way, it can also increase your visibility in the weeks and even months to come.

Once you see how well it works to celebrate Valentine’s Day at work, you’ll probably feel inspired to celebrate more occasions, including St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and more.

1) Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Work

Celebrating Valentine’s Day at work starts with special treats both edible and not. It’s fun, and it will show your staff members that you appreciate them. Go ahead and throw them a party during an afternoon coffee break! You can offer up baked goods with pink and red frosting or sweets in red and pink wrappers.

You might also provide red fruit punch (non-alcoholic of course), at least as one option. And of course, you could include themed decorations, from napkins and table cloths to paper cups, and actual flower arrangements.

You’re not limited to edible treats either!  There are lots of not-so-edible options that can provide a tangible memory of that day of cheer. Examples could be pink or red USB sticks. You can even have branded ones made for a very modest price.

2) Share the Valentine’s Day Cheer with Prospects And Clients

Your clients and prospects will also appreciate a sweet treat or even a small (branded) gift. Don’t want to go overboard? You could simply send them a Valentine’s card or note.

A personal note will surprise and delight your prospects and customers. It won’t take much to do. Just pick up some attractive stationery and let your clients and customers know that you appreciate their business. What about prospects? If they allow you to send them email on a regular basis, that too deserves a note of appreciation.

3) Getting a Longer Term Boost From Celebrating Valentine’s Day at Work

The Valentine’s effect can last for weeks and even months. The goodwill you generate with your treats, gifts, and thoughtful actions can last for a while. Also, once you’ve acquired the stationery and enjoyed a nice response, you may end up using it more often – even “just because” – and reap the rewards.

Okay, so maybe not the Valentine’s themed stationary, but you get the idea. If it’s Easter, you can get Easter themed stationary, or simply use attractive stationary that you feel is appropriate for any particular client.

And if you’ve bought some attractive small branded gifts, such as USB sticks, you may have lots of extras – after all, you can save lots of money when you buy them in larger quantities. So hand them out at networking meetings, community events, and conferences. And of course you can also send them to new prospects and customers throughout the year.

A Treat for You

And we’d like to give you a treat too – one bag of Rolos for yourself and one to share with your Valentine, with your order of £75 (excl. VAT), while supplies last.

Questions? Want some stationery? Just call us on 0800 007 5566 or visit our Crane Business Solutions website and use our Live Chat!

What are YOU going to do on Valentine’s Day? Please tell us in the comments section below!

Branded Canvas Shopping Bags – Effective Promotional Gifts

canvas shopping bagYou’ve heard about promotional gifts and maybe you’ve used them too. But maybe you felt that you didn’t get as much out of them as you’d been hoping for. Read on for some tips on branded canvas shopping bags – effective promotional gifts (and inexpensive too).

You want to get the most bang for your buck when you purchase and then use your promotional gifts.  I bet you know all about pens, and yes, they’re great. But here’s one that our clients have been using to great effect: canvas shopping bags.

Why Canvas Shopping Bags Work

Everybody uses shopping bags, especially now that shops and supermarkets charge for plastic bags, which are seen as environmentally unfriendly. Reusable canvas shopping bags, on the other hand, are environmentally friendly. Even better, people carry them around in public, so an attractive, branded shopping bag can make for versatile additional advertising. Another nice thing about those bags: many of them are made out of recycled materials, and they come in many different colours!

How To Use Branded Shopping Bags

I mean, how to use them other than for shopping. How do you get them into people’s hands in the first place and get them to use them…

We find that schools, charitable organisations, and a wide range of businesses often turn them into goodie bags. They fill them with information about their own organisation or business, along with suitable small gift items. Schools include pens, rulers, pencil cases, notepads, and more. And people carry their accessories around in those bags.

Some of the included items, particularly pens, notepads, and highlighters work well for just about any organisation. The same is true for items like water bottles, mugs, cups, keyrings, and, of course, sweets.

An Easy Way To Save on Branded Goodie Bags

Here’s the best thing: while we do recommend branded pencils, notepads, mugs, and water bottles, not all items have to be personalised. If you want to add some extra highlighters and pencil sharpeners, they add to the impact even if they don’t have your logo on them.

Still, if you’re including items that people use every day and even keep on their desk, you’ll get extra mileage from including a logo… As I said last week, gifts help build and solidify relationships, and they remind your prospects and clients of you and your business. Yes, even if they’re inexpensive, just as long as they’re attractive, useful, work well… and have a logo.

You’ll find a wide range of our promotional products here:

For Even More Impact: Add Them To A Gift Basket

Depending on the situation, you may want to put together a nice gift basket that has more and larger items, including maybe an umbrella, a mug, a t-shirt, a canvas shopping bag, and more. Once again, not everything needs to be branded.

These gift baskets are perfect for conferences. Just set them up on your table and invite visitors to enter your price draw. Of course, you should also give away smaller gifts and maybe sweets. For extra drama, consider getting a wheel of fortune so people can “win” the items.

Gift baskets, branded canvas shopping bags used as goodie bags, and various smaller gifts also work well for community events, Open House events, and other such occasions where they can be either raffled off for donations and/or for people’s contact information so you can add them to your mailing list. Just have a price draw at the end of the day and contact the winners, and you’ll find that they all make effective promotional gifts.

Need some help with deciding what to get and how to use your promotional gifts for best results? Just call us on 0800 007 5566 or use our handy Live Chat and we’ll be happy to help.

Come back soon to look for our next post, where we’ll elaborate on how to make a big splash at events! We’ll also let you know on Facebook and Twitter!

Business Card Best Practices 2017

business cards best practicesAre your business cards working for you? Your chances are much improved that they do if you’re using business card best practices.

Do you know how can you tell whether they really are doing their job?

I find that we don’t give enough thought to our business cards. We need to have them, but beyond making sure our contact information is up-to-date, we don’t even consider what else we could do with them.

The new year is a great time to take another look… And so I’d like to share some tips with you about how to really put those business cards to work… the 5 steps to Business Card Best Practices for 2017.

What ARE The Business Card Best Practices in 2017?

First, there are the basics, such as name, company, email address, website, and phone number. These belong on almost any business card. But what else should you add, if anything?

What about your social media links, your mobile phone number, your fax number, your snail mail address, and maybe even a cool slogan?

Not so fast! Remember the SIZE of the average business card?

Step 1: Consider the business card’s purpose and its audience

Before you design your card, consider its purpose and its audience. Do you want to sell something, or do you want to attract leads to your company? What kind of action do you want people to take? Also consider your ideal prospects and what they might feel attracted to.

Step 2: Invite the desired action steps

Make sure that anyone looking at your card will see what you want them to do at a glance. Do you want them to call? Place your phone number prominently on the call. Do you want them to visit your website, maybe to sign up for a free gift, then make that very clear.

Step 3: Avoid overly fancy designs… and clutter

Some cards are so focused on showing off a beautiful design that there’s no room for the message – which means that your message can easily get lost. Other cards are so filled with detailed information that the typeface is by necessity so tiny it will be hard to read. Even worse, it will be hard to figure out what action you want your cards’ recipients to take.

Focus on what’s most important to you, and you’ll get better results.

Step 4: Different business cards for different audiences and/or purposes

If you network with different groups, you may also find that customizing your business cards to your target audience can make them much more effective. One way to customize them is to add a slogan that will really speak to your target audience.

Step 5: Track the results

Tracking your results is another key element of business card best practices.  Once you’ve made the effort to customize your business cards, why not find out how well they work. If you use a call to action, add a different URL for each type of card, so you can see which one gets the best response.

Another option is to use separate phone numbers. These days, getting additional phone numbers is very inexpensive, and the value of knowing how to attract your audience is absolutely worth the extra effort.

Making the card design process easy, fast, affordable

Worried that it’ll get too expensive to print all those different cards? Don’t be. If you take us up on our current introductory offer, you’ll get your first set of cards for just £24.95, including the design AND free shipping!

But that’s just the beginning. We have a very cool Do-It-Yourself Printing & Design Platform where you can go into your account, create a new card based on your template and make any changes you want. Once you hit the order button, you’ll get the cards within one or two business days, depending on the time you ordered them.

Of course, you can also create additional cards for new staff members with that same ease and speed. And if you have questions, we’re always happy to help! Just call our office on 0800 007 5566 or contact us on Live Chat.

As you can see, it’s easy to keep up with business card best practices and create cards that are attractive to your ideal audience as well as effective! Always remember to ask yourself what you want people to do, and then invite them to do it… right on your business card.