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Cash or Card….

Cass : November 1, 2014 1:56 pm : Blog

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How Relevant is Cash Today?

 The growing use of credit and debit cards in today’s world has led some to believe that cash is a dying method of payment – I rarely carry cash around with me. But according to Learnvest, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco recently released a study in the US showing that 40 percent of all transactions still involved cash while debit cards are used in 25 percent, credit cards in 17 percent, and cheques and electronic payments each sit at 7 percent. This data paints a very different picture compared to the stereotypical opinions about cash.

So the question remains, with so many more convenient and advanced forms of payment, how truly relevant is cash today?

The Tiny Pleasures

Have you ever purchased a pack of gum or other small item and paid for it using your credit or debit card? Small transactions are one of the places where cash is still the main source of payment because paying for tiny purchases doesn’t just feel a bit odd to you, it’s also probably a little frustrating for the cashier and the business, especially since there’s still a transaction fee each time you use your card. The normal convenience of a card actually seems stood on its head for small transactions. According to Yahoo Finance, the report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that two-thirds of all transactions under $10 and half of those under $25 are completed using cash.

Fees aren’t Fun

If you have ever spent any serious time traveling by car in the US, you may have noticed some truck stops that offer a cheaper price-per-gallon on diesel for those who pay with cash. Gas stations that do this are trying to avoid the transaction fees that come with using credit cards. Any business that accepts credit card payments must have some form of credit card processing service. These services aren’t free. According to Card Fellow, there can be a multitude of small fees when processing credit card payments like authorisation fees, return fees, and gateway fees along with a few others. So each credit card transaction accepted by a business costs them a portion of the potential profit. Cash doesn’t need any form of processing and so doesn’t cost anything beyond the purchase price. There are still quite a number of businesses that won’t accept credit if the purchase is under a certain threshold so they can avoid those fees.

Anonymity

Credit and debit cards along with cheques and electronic payments all leave a history of your purchases. If there was ever a reason, police and government departments can potentially use this purchasing history to track your movements and collect other data. According to Mashable, a history of your spending can also be used by marketers to tailor advertisements to your specific hobbies and preferences. Card numbers and electronic information can also be stolen by hackers as has happened with Target and Sony in the past. Cash is anonymous; cash can’t be tracked, and using cash can’t come back and bite you.

Cardless Shoppers

This is a critical point for a business owner. There are still plenty of citizens out there that don’t use any alternative to cash. Whether they are traditionalist senior citizens, young people without access to cards, or anyone just not using plastic, there is a significant portion of society that still solely relies on cash. According to The Wall Street Journal, one reason for people to rely on cash alone is that a good section of society has limited or no access to banks, which are necessary for most other forms of payment. As a business owner, this means that a good portion of potential customers will be ostracized by not accepting cash.

The Psychology of Spending

Bringing psychology into this might seem odd, but there’s a point. According to Seeking Alpha, studies conducted by Dun & Bradstreet show that people who use credit cards are likely to spend 12-18 percent more on purchases. And a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with Stanford and MIT found that the brain’s pain receptors are actually tweaked when paying with cash, meaning it’s literally painful for people to spend cash. What this means is that relying solely on cash is a great way to help stay on budget and keep unnecessary spending down.

In the End

Credit cards and other alternative forms of payment are continuing to grow in popularity. But the time when the world ditches cash for good is still far in the future. Until that time, cash will remain an integral part of economics and society. For that reason, all business owners need to provide the means to accept and process cash payments. Cash drawers aren’t expensive and they’re easy to use. Getting your hands on one isn’t difficult. Pretty much all ecommerce and business vendors, be they online like Shopify or not, will continue to sell them for a long time to come.

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Britain’s best money saving tips REVEALED….

Cass : October 21, 2014 1:26 pm : Blog

We’re all on a quest to save money – just saving £10 a week equals £520 a year!

It doesn’t have to involve you giving up life’s treats either as there’s lots of easy ways you can save a pound or two with hardly any effort at all.

A recent survey showed that 44% of people make their own food for lunch at work while loyalty cards get a decent workout with 41% of people using them. Reducing the number of takeaways, knocking the thermostat down a few degrees and home cooking more meals also made the top ten in the list of 25 money saving tips.

According to Money Magpie, a blog post on property website McCarthy and Stone and the site thisismoney.co.uk, there are ingeniously simple tricks out there to help you keep hold of those precious pennies. We all know that cutting down on luxuries can help your pension but what else can you do to make your money go further?

  • Make more meals from scratch – from dinner to packed lunch, cut down on the ready made sandwiches, restaurants and takeaways.
  • Try not to hit the shops if the fridge looks empty – shopping when hungry can lead you to buy more than you need and you never know how far your leftovers will stretch. Be creative – if you have pasta, ham, cheese, a tin of tomato soup and a packet of crisps then you can make a delicious pasta bake that will feed the entire family and keep them feeling full for hours!
  • Grow your own vegetables – they’ll be tasty, fresh and FREE.
  • When you do go food shopping, switch to economy brands to drop a few pounds off your bill.
  • Shop around for home, car and travel insurance and service providers for your satellite, internet and mobile phone – you will be shocked at how much you can save.
  • Check online voucher discount sites and sign up for customer loyalty schemes – there is big money to be saved, especially with some of the larger supermarket chains.
  • Browse your local charity shop for a new outfit and start borrowing clothes from friends for nights out and special occasions instead of buying new each time.
  • Buy second hand, pre-loved items like toys, furniture and clothes.
  • Buy all your Christmas presents in sales throughout the year as it will help spread the cost and you will avoid all those queues come December!
  • Start haggling – there’s usually a little room for manoeuvring when it comes to market traders, car dealerships and on goods that are slightly damaged.
  • Start walking instead of driving or use public transport! Do you really need to get a taxi home when the bus costs a third of the price?
  • Cut up the plastic or look for lenders offering 0% on balance transfers so you are not paying high interest rates on your borrowing.

I’m pleased to see lots of these tips as they’re also featured in my Fifty Ways to Save Money post! ;-)

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Barcoding and Gourmet Dog Treats: Keeping Food Safe for Pets….

Cass : October 9, 2014 8:34 pm : Blog

This one ism’r for everyone but it has some great advice for small business owners!

The great thing about integrating online and brick and mortar stores is that it makes it easier than ever for specialty shops to stay open. People who once would have had to struggle can now flourish, and this is opening up more room for “niche” markets like gourmet dog treats. While some people may think it’s frivolous to spend any money on gourmet treats for a pet known for drinking out of the toilet, the main customers of gourmet places actually aren’t people with money to burn. Most people who shop at a gourmet dog treat boutique have pets with severe allergies or dietary restrictions. These pups need access to organic, very carefully made treats. Some need gluten free, some are allergic to different kinds of protein, and some need a snack that will help stabilize and control their blood sugar. With needs like this, it isn’t surprising that a loving pet owner would want to stock up on essentials for their dog’s health and happiness. With that in mind, dog treat shop owners need to have more and more complicated recipes and options to keep up with demand. That’s how a sleek POS with a nifty barcode reader can really come in handy.

You Can’t Afford Any Mistakes

When it comes to allergies, the stakes are high. Dogs are at a disadvantage; they can’t read ingredients lists themselves, and when something goes wrong they can’t tell their owner why. They are purely trusting; they’ll eat anything given to them by their owner and main companion. This puts a strong burden on gourmet dog treat makers to really come through with their promises. If you accidentally give a dog with a gluten sensitivity a wheat-based treat, they could have intestinal difficulties for days that could lead to dehydration and worse. A dog with a true allergy might break out in a rash or have difficulty breathing. Mislabeling can cause very serious health concerns.

With that in mind, a barcode scanner and printer could be just the thing that you need to keep your records clear. Printing out and labeling bags immediately after they’re made limits the odds that you’ll forget what something is. You can even make your barcodes so that they all use the same partial SKU (stock-keeping unit) for various types of treats, according to Small Business. Gluten free versus not, chicken and poultry versus pure beef, and so on can be differentiated by the number the barcodes begin with. That way you can tell at a glance even without even having to break out your scanner that the treats aren’t going to be good for a particular dog. It also makes it easy for your employees to remember. Sure, eventually they should be able to list off the ingredients list to every treat you make, but when they’re first starting out you don’t want to tempt disaster.

Keep Track of Your Inventory from Online and In-Person Sales

A mobile POS can help you keep your inventory fresh and avoid double selling. Barcodes help as well, and their primary purpose in organization is to make sure that you always know what your inventory is and where they are, according to Entrepreneur. This means that you can take advantage of knowing exactly how many products you have to move. You don’t want to have to split your inventory; your brick and mortar location and your online store most likely draw from the same pool of inventory. You don’t want to sell someone the last tin of your beefy chews when you had an order for them an hour ago. Your customers are expecting quick delivery for food and treats, and even if dried cookies aren’t going to go bad as quickly as most food, it’s still expected to get there soon.

Your Products Do Expire

That’s the other rub. Your products might be fit for dogs, but they do expire. Your true clients might be just as happy munching down a stale, week-old cookie as a hot and fresh one, but their owners are going to feel differently. Barcoding batches with rotating barcodes means that you’ll always be able to pull up information about when your current batch of treats were cooked and how long your customers could expect them to last once they take them home. How much or how little information you put into your barcodes is something that you can control yourself to use them to their best effect, according to Insights. A good rule of thumb to start out with is to include batch size, when they were made, and what their properties are in every barcode so you’re never caught flat footed when a customer wants the details.

As long as you’re careful and take your time when looking for the right treats, everything will work out fine. As odd as it may seem, if you use a tablet, then a wireless barcode scanner from Shopify can connect and give you info about the treats from the barcode. It may be odd, but keeping your furry family members safe is of paramount importance.

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How to write that all important business plan….

Cass : May 26, 2014 3:54 pm : Blog

Lots of you clever people already have your own little business or at least the potential to start up your own business, no matter how small you think they might be. I only have to have a quick look at Instagram or Facebook to see your fab talents in action – everything from sewing to knitting and from baking to crafting. But what do you do when you want to take that next step….

So, let’s pretend for a moment that you’ve already set up your business and it’s doing quite well. Now you’re actually thinking of expanding your fledgling business and you’re looking for funding. However, while doing your online research, you can see that almost all banks and financial institutions require you to have a business plan. Problem is, you never put one together while setting up your company – and now you want funding.

What Is A Business Plan And Why Do You Need One?

Whether it’s something as big as starting up a new company, or putting together a proposal for a big project, a business plan is a roadmap. You already have an idea about your business, but no one else knows how you run it.

This is where a business plan comes into the picture. A good business plan will list your business, the services you provide, how the service is used by consumers, the benefits offered by the services, how you plan to market your product or service, where you can set up, maximum production cost, sales costs, and so on. In short, the entire business plan is a map to your business future, how you plan to expand it if you make a profit or shut it down in case it fails. You may not have written the plan, but you can always write a plan at any time to provide information about your business to investors.

Simple Ways to Create Your Business Plan

Write it by yourself

Writing your business plan yourself is a good idea, you can do so by carefully going through a sample as well as a template available at Shopify. You already know how your business is working and you have an excellent idea of the funding, finance requirements, supply and inventory, etc. As a result, if you do a little research with a professional website like dceb.ie, you will find great information on how to write your own business plan in two weeks. You can limit your business plan to ten pages and focus on the financial data to ensure that you have the right information for your financial investors.

Hire a Professional

There are business firms that specialize in creating state of the art custom business plans for customers in any niche. As they already have the expertise and the writers, they will visit your company, collect the data, do the market research and create yourcustom business plan with absolutely no need for your interference. This is a great way to ensure that you can focus on your business while a trained person is creating your business plan. Another good reason to hire a professional firm is that they already know what banks and funding organizations are looking for. They will create a plan that is focuses on the reader and grab his attention towards the required content.

Use a Template

Templates are somewhat like writing your business plan yourself, as the template is just a format. You can download format from any website and use them to write your special business plan. However, the template will have to be populated with your data and information. You can find templates from anywhere online but websites like bplans.com do offer clear links to template sites where you can find special templates for specific industries.

Use an Online Free Generator

A free generator is the simplest option but it can cause problems. The generator website will have a simple question and answer format in which you can answer questions and upload data and the website will generate the business plan for your requirements. This is simple and easy and it is quite effective. However, generators use stock language and they may not be able to personalize the business to your particular industry. For example, if you are starting a fast food restaurant, the generator may not have a template or section that deals with your specific industry. In this case, you will have to add data and build the section by yourself.

Business website dceb.ie suggests that writing a business plan is easy if you do a little research. However, if you do not have the time and energy to create the sample plan yourself you can easily hire a professional to do the job for you. However, since you have already set up your business, you are the reigning expert about your business and you will know the best about your business. As a result, it is a far better idea to write the report yourself or sit with the professional writer and provide targeted information to ensure that the business plan is accurate. If you really don’t have the time, discuss it with a professional firm, answer any questions they may have, provide them with the data and let them create the perfect business name.

So now you know how to write your business plan, why not do something about that idea you have niggling away. ;-)

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Flying the nest – what are the best education options for my teenagers?

Cass : February 20, 2014 6:10 am : Blog

If your children are quickly approaching the end of their time at school, the question of what to do next will probably be looming in all of your minds.  In fact, even if your children aren’t even in senior school (like mine) you might still want to consider your options because time goes so quickly.  I can’t believe that Miss Frugal is starting senior school in September and even that involved one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make as a parent.

These days, the educational choices for teenagers are pretty open, giving them a lot of options for getting into work or university. So what are the best options for your children and how can you help them to achieve their goals?

Careers
If your teenagers already have a clear idea of the career that they want to pursue, the best way to decide on an educational institution or course is to contact people already active in their chosen industry and ask for advice.  Some careers are best supported with university degrees, whereas others favour people who learn on the job, so always try to get expert advice before making any decisions.

College
For hands-on careers like plumbing, mechanics, hairdressing and horticulture, a college course could well be the best path for your teenagers. Colleges often have strong links with local businesses, making it easier for graduates to find work in the nearby area. Plus, college courses are generally a lot cheaper than university courses, allowing your children to enter the world of work debt free.

University
Though university is now expensive, it is still the best educational option for anyone who wants to get into medicine, law, finance, teaching and a whole host of other professions. If your children want to pursue a professional career but become frustrated with some assignments or university work, tell them to check out Ivory Research, a company whose services allow university students to obtain the grades that they deserve.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are a fantastic option for anyone keen on becoming qualified in a trade. Normally affiliated with local colleges, apprenticeships guarantee your children a job on graduation and some even pay wages while they are still training. This makes for a very secure educational option and one which will stand them in good stead for the future.

Helping your children to take the next step once they’ve finished school can be a challenge. However, by doing some research and encouraging your kids to think carefully about the options that are available, you can help to steer your teenagers onto the perfect educational path that will see them succeeding and achieving in the years to come.

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