You Need Epic Reviews on Your Website (4 Startling Reasons)

reputation-management-for-internet-reviews-and-ratings

Here’s something true about online reputation management:

Where your reviews live is just as important as what those reviews say.
Here are 4 reasons why:

1. The Best Defense Against Unfair Reviews

You have zero control over business reviews on Google or Yelp.

As the business owner, you can (and should) engage with users, but you have no power to take down unfair reviews. If a competitor posts a fake review giving you a bad reputation, you can flag it (Here how in Google and Yelp).
But even then, you won’t know if fake reviews will be taken down, or how long it will be until something happens.
By putting reviews on your own website—however–you give potential customers a chance to see an authentic reviews—ones you can verify.

2. Customers Trust Reviews

The stats around reputation management are overwhelming:

92% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
73% of consumers form an opinion by reading 1-6 reviews
69% of consumers believe that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant
Bottom line? You need customer reviews. And you need to keep them fresh. Potential customers don’t trust them beyond three months.

3. You Can Keep Prospective Clients Away from Google and Yelp

No matter how good your reviews are on Google or Yelp, those websites present you as one of many businesses your potential customer could choose.

That’s not what you want. You want to be the only business in consideration.

If you get a potential customer to your website, including customer reviews helps you keep them there, instead of losing them to Google or Yelp.

4. Reviews Increase Conversions

Finally, don’t forget the end goal of any business’ website: to make sales.

Almost 90% of customers say they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.

By including reviews on your website, you increase the chances of making a sale. And isn’t that the point of your website?

3 Myths About Business Grants (Busted!)

myths

Starting a business? Growing one you already have?

A grant can help.

First, a quick disclaimer:

First, it’s not easy to find legitimate business grants. Watch out for scams and misinformation—because there’s plenty floating around.

With that out of the way, here’s what you need to know:

Myth #1: The Federal Government Provides Grants for Starting a Business

Despite what you may have heard, the U.S. Federal Government does not offer grants for starting a small business. Here’s what the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) states on its website:

“The federal government does NOT provide grants for starting and expanding a business.”

That doesn’t mean you can’t find government grants.

It just means starting a small business—by itself—is not enough to qualify for a federal grant.

Myth #2: You Can Use Grant Money for Whatever You Want

Grants almost always have restrictions about who can receive grant money and how it can be spent.

For example, NASA awards grants to private businesses. But only for companies involved in developing technologies for NASA’s needs.

Most grant programs are similar. They exist to help an organization develop new products, services, or technologies.

Most don’t exist to help aspiring business owners pursue their dreams.

Myth #3: Startup Grant Offers Are Always a Scam

Not true!

There are legitimate grant programs available for small businesses. You just need to know where to look.

Be wary of those scammy websites that promise “millions in government dollars waiting for you to claim!!” Those ARE almost always scams (usually trying to sell a book or a training program). You should avoid them.

Instead, try the SBA website for an unbiased look at funding options, loans and grants included:

Small Business Administration loans and grants page
And here’s one other resource we came across from Fundera:

107 Best Small Business Grants

UPDATE: Calendar Views

Change calendar views on desktop

On a desktop, laptop, or tablet, you’ve got more screen real estate to play with so one Artichoke user wanted us to do a better job using it to display a full week of appointments.  Having the ability to see a full week can quickly help to identify gaps and opportunities in addition to just help you get generally tuned into what’s ahead.

Thanks to the feedback above, it’s now possible to change your calendar view on desktop to display an entire week in columns for each day in addition to the typical list view. Best of all, you can select which one of these views you’d like to show by default each time you visit.

Locate the list view selector in the right corner.

Note: Only applies to desktops, laptops, and tablets.

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Check out the week view.

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Set your favorite to be the default view.

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Please keep the great ideas coming! We love to hear from you and often put ideas into action quickly.

How to Stop No-Shows in Your Business

No shows are revenue killers, especially for independent small businesses.

Most of the time, no shows happen when good customers simply make a mistake with their calendar.

People are forgetful. They enter the time incorrectly in their calendar. They get busy in a meeting or at work. These and hundreds other factors can lead to a no show.

Technology is here to help. In fact, thanks to mobile devices, you can do more than ever before to reduce your no-show rate (and boost your revenue in the process!).

Here are three things to try:

 

1. Send Calendar Invites

thanksTry to send a calendar invite to every client who books an appointment with you.

Many people live by their calendar, relying on reminders to ping them about appointments, meetings, and tasks.

The best way to send invites is to have your appointment system automatically send one at the time of the appointment.

If your appointment system doesn’t let you send invites this way, you’ll have to send them manually using your regular email and calendar apps.

 

2. Send Reminder Emails

Reminder emails can help tremendously with “I forgot” no shows, simply by pinging your customer with an email that says where they need to be for their appointment with you.

In Artichoke, email reminders can be set up to send automatically, so you never have to send them manually on your own. The app simply sends them out on whatever schedule you choose (a day before the appointment, a week before the appointment, etc.)

 

3. Collect Payment Online

Finally, nothing creates commitment quite like paying for a service online at the time of the appointment.

People tend to protect their money. If they’ve paid for your appointment, they’re usually much more likely to show up—simply because they don’t want the money they spent with you to go to waste.


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5 Simple Tips to Increase Your Freelance Income

If you’re a freelancer and you’re anything like me, you probably constantly think about one thing…making more money. Of course you could pick up a few additional clients,  but then you have to spend more of your valuable time servicing them, possibly scaling up operations, and tons of other variable expenses.

money question markSo Isn’t there an easier way?  Of Course!  Just increase your rates! Most freelancers do not understand the impact increasing your rate can have on your bottom line.  You don’t have to incur any additional expenses (time, equipment, supplies, etc),  so the extra money you make is all profit! And even more surprisingly,  your clients will almost always be willing to pay!
If you are doing a good job,  clients will be happy to pay a premium to continue to receive your services.

But where do you start?

The team at Artichoke put together 5 simple steps and 1 tool to help freelancers easily calculate rate increases, communicate with clients, and start making make more money!

Here are five quick tips that can help:

1. Be Confident

Don’t let doubt or fear creep into your voice when quoting your rate. Prospects will sense if you don’t believe you’re worth the rate you’re quoting them.

To quote Vince Lombardi, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”

2. Quote Your Rate, then Be Quiet

When giving a quote in person or on the phone, your prospect will often be quiet for several moments immediately after you state your rate.

Be quiet when this happens. Let the silence hang in the air. No matter how long it takes, let the other person be the next one to speak.

Sales leader Tom Hopkins advises, “Just remember the eight most important words in the art of closing a sale: Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up!”

3. Give Timely Notice

When you need to raise rates, do so professionally, and with timely notice for current clients. You’ll want to establish a transition period before the new rates go into effect.

As entrepreneur Jenny Shih says, “It’s okay to give your current clients some time to transition to the new rates while also charging new customers your new rates.”

4. Be Amazing

Studies show 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience. Even more telling, 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay, said: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

5. Let Go

Some clients will leave, no matter what you do. This does not have to be a negative. If a client leaves because of your rates, it opens a spot for a new, higher-paying client in your schedule.

Author C. Joybell C. puts it this way: “You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.”

Get The Freelance Rates You Deserve

The biggest difference between average freelancers earners and high-earning outliers isn’t how good they are at their job; it’s how confident they are in their value. You deliver tremendous value to your clients, and you can use these tips help you get the rates that you deserve.

3 Tweaks to Make More Money While Self-Employed (Without Being Scammy)

If you work for yourself, you’re always looking for ways to make more money.

Making more sales is one way to boost your income, but it’s not the only way to add cash to your bottom line. Here are three other tweaks you can make to generate more cash from products and services:

 

1. Raise Your Prices

Many self-employed drastically undervalue their time.

As Seth Godin wrote on his blog:

“Successful freelancers need to charge at least double the hourly rate that they’d be happy earning doing full-time work. (In many fields, it’s more like 4 or 5x).”

If you’re afraid you’ll lose current clients from an increase, just be honest and upfront with them. Let them know well ahead of time that you’re raising your rates.

You can even turn a negative into a positive by giving current clients the opportunity to buy products or services from you “one last time” at your current rates.

 

2. Create an (Expensive) Premium Service

Every market has a small percentage of buyers who “just want the best,” no matter what it costs.

To them, it’s better to spend more, not less. It might be a sign of their social status, or more often it’s just a person that wants the best possible service.

Every business should have a high-ticket offer for these people. Think of everything you could possibly offer a client, put it together in a package, then price it far above any of your other products.

You may not sell many of them. But if you sell even one a year, the profit can equal what you’d make from dozens of your normal clients or customers.

Bubbles

3. Reduce No-Shows

No-shows are a drag. Time is your most precious resource, and you should treat it that way.

Sending automated reminder emails is one of the easiest things you can do to get people to actually show up to their appointments.

You can also take payment upfront online when someone schedules an appointment. It guarantees you’ll get compensated for your time. Plus, people are more likely to show up if they’ve paid upfront.


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3 Business License Mistakes (#3 Could Sink Your Business)

Starting a business?

As you set up the business, here are three common mistakes to avoid:

 

1. Picking the Wrong Business Structure

Picking a structure is one of the first decisions you’ll need to make when starting a new business. It’s important to get it right. Once you’ve chosen a business structure, it will be hard to change your mind later if you make a mistake.

The three most common business structures are:

 – Sole proprietorship

 – LLC

 – Corporation

A sole proprietorship is the easiest type of business to establish and requires limited additional forms at tax time. An LLC (limited liability corporation) can protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit.

A corporation is the more complex than a sole proprietorship or an LLC, but it usually offers tax advantages for businesses with higher revenue levels.

Other popular business structures include partnerships, S corporations, and non-profits.

SBA.gov has additional information about choosing the right business structure, and you’ll probably want to consult a business attorney for help making this decision.

 

2. Not Getting the Right Licenses and Permits

screenshot-2016-11-08-11-28-53The first mistake business owners make is simply not getting the right licenses and

permits. Your licensing and permit requirements will vary depending on your specific business type and location. But the U.S. Small Business Association says “Virtually every business needs some form of license or permit to operate legally.”

You just need to do some research to figure out what regulations apply to you. Industries like agriculture and aviation are federally regulated, for example. And if you sell goods or services, there’s a good chance you’ll need a sales tax license as well.

For all these questions, SBA.gov is the best starting place to learn what licenses and permits for your business.

 

3. Not Paying Your Taxes

Finally, don’t forget your taxes! Failing to do so can easily sink your business.

When you start your own business, you’ll be responsible for more taxes than a company employee.

There is a self-employment tax, which covers social security and Medicare—taxes your employer used to pay for you if you were a W-2 employee.

According to the IRS, the self-employment tax rate is 15.3% for self-employed individuals. The rate “consists of two parts: 12.4% for social security (old-age, survivors, and disability insurance) and 2.9% for Medicare (hospital insurance).”

You then pay normal income taxes above the self-employment tax. Here’s a simple calculator that can help you find your tax bracket based on your income.

Most self-employed individuals pay taxes quarterly, but consult a tax attorney for help with your specific situation. A tax attorney can also help you figure out how much you should be setting aside every month for taxes—including federal, state, and local.

Paying taxes is never fun, but it’s better than getting in trouble with IRS or state authorities for failing to pay them.


 

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Artichoke Goes Global

International Text Reminders and Currency

Artichoke is going global.  Now it’s possible to do all of the following with your Artichoke account in 21 countries:

– Accept credit cards

– Send automated appointment reminders by text message

– Display your local country code in client profiles

– Display the proper local currency in transactions and notifications to clients

 

It’s super simple to set up. Just go to  SETTINGS / TIME – PHONE – CURRENCY

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Once this adjustment is made, all of your client notifications will reflect the proper currency, charges made with the integrated payment processing will be in the local currency, and text reminders will work seamlessly in your country.

 

Where do you work?

Income Builder

Build and Track an Income Goal

Income stability is one of the greatest challenges for a solo practitioner or freelancer. Having a plan and establishing a clear set of objectives is critical because you can’t know when you’ve succeeded if you don’t define success up front?

That’s why we’ve created a simple income goal builder tool inside your Artichoke account which makes it easy to set and track your income goals. You’ll be surprised how small changes like a slight increase in fees or fewer no-shows can impact annual income.

Check out this video to see just how easy it is to set up and use.

Let us know if this post was helpful. We love to hear from you!

Are there any other topics you’d like to see covered in future posts?

 

Update: New Repeat Options

Recurring appointments that work for everyone.

So how often do your clients visit? Setting up recurring appointments or slot blockers reduces admin time and increases “you time.”  For some this is straight forward and for others not so much.  Well, now there’s a a few new options for the frequency of recurring appointments.

– Repeat every other week

– Repeat every month

When selecting every month, you’ll also have the ability to indicate if the appointment repeats on the same numeric date each month or the same day of the week.

Example:

Every 19th of the month vs every 3rd Tuesday of the month

 

Frequency options:

Repeat appointment options

 

New options for the “monthly” selection:

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Watch a video:

 

 

If you’re already using Artichoke, please check these out and start enjoying the benefits of less admin time. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, all-in-one business platform specially designed for solo practitioners, try Artichoke free for 30 days.

 Have some more ideas to share?  support@getartichoke.com