Healthy You – Healthy Business!

Stay Fit While Running Your Business!

Small business owners need to get creative when it comes to establishing times to work out and methods for staying fit. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but your business and everyone around you will thank you when you’re feeling more productive, active and excited about your company and your life. The challenge is: how do you stay fit while running a small business?

Take Exercise Breaks
When you stimulate blood flow you refresh your mind by giving it oxygen and an escape from staring at a computer screen.  Every hour just stand up and stretch, go for a quick walk around the building, do some squats or jumping jacks. On a conference call, walk around rather than sit.  The key is to get up and do something!  If you pause frequently enough, you can get in a few hundred squats or jumping jacks a day!  Studies have shown that breaking up your work leads to a more productive work day. Time spent on exercise is made back in improved productivity.

Don’t Forget a Healthy Lunch
You’re hurting your business if you don’t refresh your mind with a nutritious lunch break.  Your body needs nutrition to function properly.  Many small business owners skip breakfast and even lunch sometimes, running mainly off coffee all day.  Doing so is a recipe for disaster.  Skipping meals makes you less healthy and leads to weight gain, since your body reads no food as a signal to store whatever calories it gets.  You’ll be amazed how much more energy you can obtain from an apple, snack, salad or sandwich for lunch. Don’t skip meals!

Rest
Sleep is critical to your health and well being.  Entrepreneurs are the biggest violators of this because they have so much too do all the time.  Along with recuperation of the body sleep is the time used for clean up and repair of the brain as well.  Get the proper amount of sleep and you’ll be sharper and more energetic.  Skimp on rest and you’ll risk high blood pressure, possible stroke and a variety of heart related issues as well.  Bottom line – you’re not invincible, you need sleep!

By applying these healthy principles to your lifestyle, you’ll kick off 2017 with more energy to grow your business and you’ll be in better shape too!

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Make 2017 Your Best Year!

Succeed Like Never Before 

It’s the beginning of 2017 — a great time to reflect on last year and plan for the year ahead.  January is a terrific time to get a head start by really making those early days of the New Year count.  Here are some recommendations to help you increase your business success, while maintaining a work-life balance.

 

Consistent and Regular Promotion

Make the promotion of your business one of the top priorities. Usually landing at the bottom of the to-do list is the consistency and regularity of promoting your small business. To attract new customers, promotion is key. A New Year’s resolution could be to hire a marketing expert, or to take some time to create a marketing plan on your own that you’ll follow through with.

 

Learn to Delegate

You can’t do it all.  When running a small business, it’s easy to lose focus when there are so many things to be doing.  Then you’re stuck wondering why you never have enough time! It’s key delegate by assigning some tasks to others.

 

Learn from your failures

Taking review and planning is crucial to growing a healthy business. It allows you to assess what worked and what didn’t, then recalibrate and set new goals. Instead of doing it once a year or once a quarter, set aside time each week to review, adjust, and look forward.  You’ll not only be avoiding costly mistakes; you’ll be more focused and relaxed.

 

Be Realistic

Goal setting is a valuable habit, only if the goals lead to success rather than distress. Determine goals that will be achievable, rather than unrealistic pipe dreams that are too far out of reach that you’ll just be frustrated in trying to achieve them.

 

Make Time for You

Maintain a healthy work-life balance by taking time to refresh and recharge yourself! When your life is all work and no play, it’s a recipe for mental and physical disaster. If you’re having trouble finding free time block off time in your schedule to “meet with yourself” and stick to it!  By applying these New Year’s resolutions throughout the year, you’ll not only feel better but have more energy to put into your business and make it the successful business you deserve!

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation.

 

2016 Events That Impacted Small Business

2016 Events – How They Impacted Small Business 

As 2016 is ending, it’s time to look back on the news stories that affected business and prepare for what’s to come in the new year. From Pokémon Go putting small businesses on the map, to the “beast” of a wildfire that charred Fort McMurray, to the stunning U.S. election and everything in between 2016 was a year of incredible news headlines.  But how did these headlines impact small businesses?

 

Even though in the first half of 2016, Uber’s losses totaled at least $1.27 billion, the company still has between 84%-87% of the market in North America. Uber enabled common citizens to suddenly have access to a sizeable supplementary or full-time income as they instantly became self-employed cab drivers!  In an economy where it has become increasingly difficult to find work Uber was a small business opportunity that went viral.

 

The Pokémon Go App was putting small businesses everywhere on the map – literally!  After the official Canadian release of Nintendo’s wildly popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go in the summer, small businesses across North America started purchasing in-game items for a fraction of the cost of developing their own apps – resulting in higher foot traffic and sales.  By spending roughly $10 CAD on in-game items, such as a PokéStop, a lure outside a pizzeria or citing that their small business was close to a Gym, this was one app that small businesses capitalized on in the summer of 2016.

 

Named Canada’s biggest weather story of the year by the country’s top meteorologists, the “beast” of a wildfire that charred Fort McMurray, Alberta, caused over 90,000 people to be evacuated.  As well, an estimated 4,000 small businesses were affected by the wildfire in May.  This made business insurance one of the most talked about topics of 2016.  Since the tragic event, the Province of Alberta has allocated $15 million for its share of a program that is aimed to help small businesses affected by the wildfire. Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, could receive up to $20,000 to cover costs, including property damage, cleanup and purchasing new equipment.

 

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Donald Trump shocked the world when he was elected as the country’s 45th president. With challenges like reducing the trade deficit and the trade gap dropping to $36.4 billion in September 2016, these issues were negatively impacting small businesses across North America. How Trump will help small business remains to be seen after he takes office, but if he follows through with his plans to lower the business tax rate from 35% to 15% conditions for small business should become more favorable.

 

Indeed 2016 was a year of highs and lows, both emotional and political.  Even though there were unsteady and hesitant moments for small businesses throughout the year with 2017 just around the corner it’s time to welcome new events, new stories and new opportunities for your small business. Here’s to your success in 2017 and beyond!

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation.

 

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Abandoned Shopping Cart? 

The reality of running an online business is that you work hard to get people to your site, then you work even harder to move them through the pages to purchase something. After tomorrow, Boxing Day in Canada means millions will be shopping online so entrepreneurs selling products online need to be as ready as possible in order to maximize sales and profit.

 

Unfortunately almost 70% of online shopping carts get “abandoned”  when it comes time to check out.  With a full basket of goodies, customers just leave.  So how can you avoid the abandonment of online shopping carts?  Here are some key snafus that cause customers to “walk away” from the checkout on a daily basis.

 

“10-14 business days to receive your product? No thanks!”

Businesses need to be clear on their shipping times, and offer options to deliver on an expedited basis — especially during the holidays. This one is pretty self-explanatory.  If you were about to swipe your credit card at the grocery store, and the cashier said you’re not going to get your groceries for another week, you probably wouldn’t be very pleased.

 

“6 steps to checkout? Seriously?”

If you have to ask questions ask the questions post-purchase.  That way the customer is satisfied with purchasing their items and will be more open to answering a few questions.  You’re about to checkout and you get hit with a 2-page questionnaire. A few questions aren’t an issue, but 2 pages is intolerable.

 

“Why do I have to check my email before I buy this?”

Requiring an email-verification before accepting payment is just another reason to close the checkout page and go elsewhere.  A person’s email inbox is full of distractions, including emails from your competitors.  Don’t send them there while they’re in the middle of your checkout process!

 

“If I use my Mastercard, I have to pay extra? Forget it”

Your website should accept multiple forms of payment, and have clear notices about the ones you don’t accept as early as possible to avoid abandoning of the shopping cart at the finish.  Many websites have limits to their payment options, but if your customer is in the final stage of the checkout process and then are told that the card they would like to use isn’t allowed without additional fees, they’ll abandon their cart and will also feel annoyed and frustrated, which will discourage them from returning to your site in the future as well.  Not good!

 

If your online store is suffering from shopping cart abandonment, you should perform an assessment of your checkout process. With an improved checkout process, your business will have more time to focus its attention on the things that keep your customers coming back.  Decrease complications and anything that may frustrate or cause a distraction to your customer.  The best checkout processes are quick and painless.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation.

 

Keeping Hackers Out

Safeguarding Your Business from Hackers

Small businesses, beware: Your information can easily be accessed by hackers around the world. Cases of security attacks and breaches are serious and can take a serious toll on your business. While it’s suggested that hackers mainly steal usernames and passwords to send spam mail out on social-media accounts, hackers can do a lot more than manipulate your social media page.

 

To avoid attacks, businesses can consider insurance that specifically aims towards helping your business in the event of being targeted by hackers called Cyber Coverage, but that alone isn’t enough.  Business owners need to be doing all they can to secure their websites, confidential customer information, credit card numbers, and safety.

 

With 2017 approaching, there’s no better time for small businesses to raise efforts in their cyber security. Here are some ways to protect your business:

 

Understand the Risk

You can never be too prepared. Understand the internal and external liabilities that can affect your business, different methods and motives of hackers and where your systems have weaknesses.

 

Keeping Software Up to Date

Update, update, update! When it comes time to update your anti-virus and security software, avoid hitting the “Remind Me Later” notification, take some time and keep it up to date and secure to help avoid potential security threats.

 

Prepare an Incident Response Plan

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.  Having a plan of action in case of a security breach or cyber hack is vital for any business. Make sure all employees are aware, have practiced and know exactly what to do in if they’re ever put in that situation.

 

As technology and online security keeps on increasing, being protected and prepared have become extremely important for every business. In an online world where everything happens so rapidly, having a plan and being properly informed and prepared can be your businesses first line of defense towards cyber-attacks.  Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation.

 

 

 

Deconstructing The Fake News

Like Mom Told You: Don’t Believe Everything You Read!

Like so many life lessons, it should go without say – don’t believe everything you see on the internet.

 

The same goes for deconstructing fake news.  Despite this, with social media being such a quick easy way to stay on top of current events, there is a lot at risk.  Articles like “Apple’s new MacBook Wheel?” or “Donald Trump selects Kanye West as Secretary of State” certainly grab people’s attention, and it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate fact from fiction.

 

As a business owner, you make decisions based upon the information you have.  Therefore you need to be doing constant fact checking, rather than taking such articles at face value.

 

Something as simple as “Googling” information to gain a better insight of what you’ve read will help. Scrolling through social media, it’s hard to differentiate between the fake news and the real news. Before sharing a trending piece of news, do some research and make sure that what you’re sharing is correct and isn’t being substituted for real information.

 

It’s easy to believe anything you want to believe. If you read a headline that coincides with your own beliefs, then it becomes harder to accept that as false information.

 

Like it or not one thing is clear — technology has made it easier than ever to spread false information online and conventional media’s capacity for fact checking is being stretched in unprecedented ways.

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation — and follow us on Instagram!

 

 

 

Instagram – Hidden Business Opportunity?

Leverage one of social media’s fastest growing channels

Whether you’re trying to promote your brand, stay connected with the online world or trying to launch a new product or service, you need to be using social media.

 

When it comes to business, everyone thinks of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but Instagram remains a bit of an afterthought.  This leads to many  small businesses signing up, getting confused as to how to use Instagram and then giving up which is quite unfortunate given how well Instagram lends itself to image based communications and distribution across social media channels.

 

Here are 4 strategies on how to get the most out of Instagram as a small business:

 

Connect Your Company’s Social Accounts

Instagram allows you to connect your company’s social accounts. If your business already has other social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter, connect them! Write a quick and creative bio on your profile that explains what your company is all about, and by adding a clickable URL to your website in your bio it’ll draw potential new customers directly to your site!

 

Capitalize on Instagram Ads

Instagram Ads present a great opportunity for small businesses because it’s extremely affordable! Compared to LinkedIn and Google Ads, advertising on Instagram is an economical means of advertising. If you already have a Facebook Advertising account then this’ll be particularly simple because it’s all built into the same platform. How much it costs to advertise depends entirely on the amount of money you’re willing to spend.  As well, creating a custom image specifically for Instagram Ads instead of reusing the same ones you’ve used on other social platforms will generate a much better engagement.

 

Videos Are Better Than Photos

Fact:  A puppy chasing a ball on video is better than a picture of puppy with a ball.  Out of all the updates on Instagram, being able to publish videos has got to be the most beneficial for small businesses. Even though photos currently generate terrific engagement, video is on the rise and can grab the attention of consumers much quicker and keep them there longer. With Instagram Stories and live videos, the app is making a clear push toward video content and this is great because they don’t require a ton of production. You just need your phone and a creative idea!

 

Slide into Your Competitors Slipstream

Make a list of your top competitors who are active on Instagram, follow anywhere between 50-100 of their followers, you’ll gain new followers.  They’ve done the hard work of building credibility and a following – why repeat the effort?  Besides it will make for great stare downs at the next industry conference.  Beyond getting followers, you have to interact and keep them engaged with your profile. They’re already interested in your industry and they like the content you post, these are two of the most important characteristics of an engaged Instagram follower.

 

The beauty of Instagram is that it’s an openly creative platform. That said, if your business is looking to have an impact with it’s community, it’s important to leverage this app by actually being creative. Growing a dedicated Instagram won’t just happen overnight, but Instagram users love to engage and are always active. Once you get the ball rolling using these techniques, you’ll begin to realize how useful Instagram can be for your small business.  Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation — and follow us on Instagram!

 

 

 

Taking A Salary vs Taking A Dividend

Should You Take A Salary or a Dividend?

For income, a small business owner can salary themselves or receive a dividend. This decision is not a superficial one, but rather a taxation-related dilemma. This choice is one small business owners have to make for themselves, unless they seek help from a personal advisor. This topic is one with a lot of intricacies.

Why consider dividends?

Dividends have the distinction of not being deducted through the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). This has the advantage of placing more of your income into your pocket to do as you wish with it.  This also has the disadvantage of you now having to manage your own finances in a manner that ensures you will have retirement savings. Dividends avoid employment insurance contributions as well, which has additional implications. Dividends are taxed at a lower rate as people receive a credit back to equalize some of the taxing that occurs on them.

Why consider salaries?

Dividends in some circumstances may be less beneficial than taking out a salary. Companies get taxed on how much they make. Dividends can get taxed as well. This leads to the organization’s earnings being taxed multiple times before reaching your hands; which is not ideal. Salaries are tax deductible (unlike dividends), leading the opposite phenomenon to occur. Salary tax moves the burden from the company to be dealt with in personal tax expense.

How much to take out with a salary?

If you are going with a salary, understanding where you want to set the salary is another important consideration. In order to reap the maximum benefits that having a taxed salary can provide you, there are certain benchmarks to consider. In order to maximize CPP benefits, it is required that you have a salary of at least $54,900. Maximizing the benefits of a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) requires a salary of at least $144,500.  A salary of $12,000+ qualifies for child tax credit. Taking advantage of maximizing benefits is ideal as you are pay into them and will receive a suboptimal return by not meeting their conditions.

Recommendation

It is often advisable to take both dividends and a salary. It is ideal to hit the $54,900 salary mark for CPP and possibly the $144,500 RRSP amount if the business can afford it. Small businesses need to ensure they are under the $500,000 level of income to retain their small business status; therefore keeping their small businesses tax credits. How much more of a dividend/salary should be taken depends on a lot of specific situational factors that are constantly changing; from both regulation and the business itself. Optimizing the dividend/salary amount is a constant process which has a lot of flexibility as the amounts you withdraw may be modified easily.

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, sales and risk mitigation

 

 

 

Differentiate Your Workplace to Attract The Best Employees

In the increasingly competitive pursuit of the best and brightest employees, fostering a workplace that is conducive to innovation, team building and productivity is a terrific way to attract staff that operate at a higher level than your competition.

 

In order to create an environment that allows for brilliance, teamwork and creativity, you have to be committed to organizational change, not simply curious about it. Hosting team building activities such as a softball games or an off site get together, can come across as insincere or contrived to serve ulterior motives.  Savvy employees are often the first to perceive this, so such efforts are made in vain.  If you really want to attain employees with higher levels of passion, here are some of the best methods to reboot things and modernize your organization.

 

Schedule accommodations

While they may come off as yet another “buzz” term, flex hours, afford many the ability to be more productive and more available to their job.  This allows individuals to operate at a higher and often more focused level because they are not distracted by many of the outside responsibilities of life. As well, for individuals who cannot work a standard work week implementing a 4 day work week structure at 80% pay is a solution currently being piloted by the likes of Amazon, Netflix and many other innovative and reputable firms.  Accommodating employees in this way bolsters diversity and commitment which leads to a very powerful team.

 

Working from home

Similarly offering the option to work from home not only allows for great convenience for the employee, but also provides significant benefits to the team and the business. When passionate employees are working from home, they will often work longer more focused hours (e.g. no chatter by the water cooler), allowing for increased amounts of productivity. As well the business requirement or real estate is diminished, resulting in significant cost savings.  Finally, employees who work from home also take fewer days off due to being sick.  Contrary to what you might think, people working from home typically provide a higher output than average.

 

Office Pets

Allowing people to bring elements of their home life to work is a fantastic way to make the work experience more personal for some employees.  Often out of concern for their pet who is home along, many employees feel a bit distracted or guilty about the time at work. Allowing their pets in the office often alleviates this; leading to increased time and focus to work. Pets also often have great character which tends to put employees in higher spirits, allowing for increased energy around the office.  While it may not be conducive to have someone bring in a pet alligator, allowing for smaller – less threatening pets — is a great concept employed by several successful companies.

 

At Bullfrog Insurance, we believe in continually questioning the status quo and pushing the limits of corporate innovation.  Likewise seeking to improve things often causes entrepreneurs to launch a business — but it is their talented staff that keep the business growing and progressing.

 

Be sure to frequently visit our Bullfroginsurance.com blog for more tips and business advice on everything from staffing to marketing to risk management.

 

Does Your Business Have a Fire Safety Plan?

fireSafety4

Does Your Business Have a Fire Safety Plan?

In the last year we’ve all seen stories on the news about the destruction which can be caused by fire. Fires can happen anywhere and anytime so its important to be aware of fire hazards and have a safety plan in place to mitigate risks, injuries and even fatalities.

Prevention is the best safety measure.  It pays to know about your business premises and your surroundings —  an electrical fire caused by old wiring, or by the upstairs tenant or human error can be devastating.  Knowing your building, your neighbors and the habits of your employees and patrons can be a great way of avoiding mishaps that cause fires.  You should also have a plan for emergency situations to protect your patrons, staff and property. Below are some easy things businesses can do to mitigate their risk.

Ensure You Have Working Fire or Smoke Detection Equipment

Not only is early detection key to putting out a fire, it is also mandatory in many places to have functioning equipment, whether its fire alarm, smoke alarm or a sprinkler system. You should frequently check that this equipment is in good working order. A good rule of thumb is to change batteries in smoke alarms bi-annually; many people use the spring-forward and fall-back time changes as guides.

Ensure You Have a Fire Evacuation Plan Complete With Designated Fire Marshal

A fire safety plan will help ensure that if disaster were to strike, the damage will be mitigated and that there will be no human loss.  A good fire safety plan will detail all possible exists from the premises. It will also identify a safe meeting place where you can get a proper headcount of staff and guests to your location. It will also identify a person, and a backup person to act as the company fire marshal who will be in charge of making sure everyone made it to the safe location off site and will inform the fire department if anyone is missing. It will also identify ways to slow and stop damage from occurring. Closing windows and doors on your way out of the building (if it is safe to do so) can slow the spread of smoke and fire.

Conduct Regular Fire Drills

Fire Drills should be conducted bi-annually to ensure all staff members are familiar with the fire evacuation plan. Ensure your staff take these drills seriously and ensure participation is mandatory.

Ensure You Have The Proper Coverage

In the event of a fire, having the appropriate insurance in place is critical.  Each business has unique risks and requirements and a broker can be an invaluable source of knowledge and advice to ensure you have the right coverage for your business.  Bullfrog Insurance covers businesses across Canada and we have experienced agents here to help you get the right coverage for your business- nothing more, nothing less. Just Insurance – Without the Bull.

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