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3 Ways to Surpass Customer Service Expectations Even With a Small Staff

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One advantage of running a small family-based business from home is that you can give your customers highly personalized service. In the beginning, you may know each of your customers by name, and your customer base is small enough that you can give personal attention to each service inquiry. But as your business grows more successful and scales up, you begin to attract more customers, and your customer service workload increases proportionately. You find yourself more pressed for time, with customer service vying for attention with other parts of running your business and your home.

At a certain point, to maintain the quality of your customer service as well as your own quality of life, you will find yourself needing to adopt new support strategies. Here are three ways you can continue to deliver superior customer service as your home-based business scales up, even if you have a small staff.

Leverage Automation to Free Up Time

A proven way to save time on routine work tasks is leveraging automation. However, automation can be tricky when applied to customer service, since you don’t want to gain efficiency at the cost of losing a personal touch with your customers. The trick is to strike a balance between automated, efficient handling of routine service tickets that don’t require live help and manual support for tickets that do need a human touch.

A key to striking this balance is to choose cloud contact center software that allows you to integrate automated and live customer service options through a single interface. A cloud contact center provides a digital service center that manages all your customer tickets no matter what support channel they come in on, whether via automated channels such as knowledge bases, chatbot and IVR or live channels such as live chat and phone. When a ticket is opened, the contact center’s software automatically compares the ticket information with your customer database to gather data relevant to the customer’s needs. In conjunction with artificial intelligence, this can be used to rapidly identify whether the individual’s issue can be handled by automated tools or whether they need to be routed to human support. It can also automatically determine which human agents are available and which represent the best skills match for helping the customer. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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‘I Can Only Imagine’ Giveaway!

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Want to hear more of Bart Millard’s incredible testimony after watching I Can Only Imagine? This 4-Episode Video Series features Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe. Bart shares his true testimony of redemption and hope, along with the lessons God has instilled in him. Contains select scenes from the I Can Only Imagine movie. Each episode is approximately 12 minutes.

Find hope and purpose in this 28-day study of Jesus’s life and ministry. This beautifully designed 28-day study journal is effective as a standalone study or as a participant’s guide for the I Can Only Imagine Video Series. Embark on a journey through the Gospels to discover Jesus’ encounters with broken people. Each day will include scripture, reflective questions, and prayer— all working together to reveal God’s incredible heart for you.


Usa promotional code: frontgate10 for 10% off the I Can Only Imagine Series and/or Journal

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An interview with Katie Ganshert, author of No One Ever Asked

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Tell us about your new novel, No One Ever Asked.

No One Ever Asked is a story about three very different women whose lives are brought together when an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors. Camille Gray is the wife of a corporate executive, mother of three, and a long-standing PTO chairwoman. Jen Covington is a newly adoptive mom who’s struggling
with a happily-ever- after so much more difficult than she anticipated. And Anaya Jones is the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. It’s a story that explores the implicit bias impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human?


What inspired you to share this story?

A couple years ago, I was listening to an episode on a popular podcast called This American Life. The episode was titled, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, featuring investigative reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who covers race in the United States. She was sharing about a modern-day integration story, wherein a Missouri school district comprised almost entirely of low-income, black and brown students lost their
accreditation, triggering a law that allowed these students to transfer to a mostly white, affluent school district nearby. The podcast included several sound bites from a town meeting held in one of the affluent district’s high schools, and the pushback from the parents was shocking. I couldn’t believe it was from 2013. It was a story that captivated me about a topic that impassions me. So when it came time to write my next novel, this was where my heart kept returning.


What message do you hope your readers will take away from No One Ever Asked?

I don’t think there’s any one message I want readers to take away with them as much as I just want hearts to be impacted. I hope the last page of No One Ever Asked will find hearts softer than the first. I hope eyes will be opened, defensiveness will crumble, and ears more willing to listen.


What are you currently reading?

I just finished listening to Every Last One by Anna Quindlen on audio, and holy buckets! Talk about heart wrenching. She captivated me with her honest prose, and when I reached the part in the book where the title is first mentioned, I literally gasped out loud. It’s definitely not a light read, but it is a moving one. I’m also reading Becky Wade’s Her One and Only, which has had me laughing out loud at several points, and smiling big throughout. She writes wonderful romance!


Where can readers find more information about No One Ever Asked?

Readers can subscribe to my Stay in the Loop email list for all the latest news, as well as exclusive giveaways. You can sign up on my website,


About No One Ever Asked

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

About Katie Ganshert

KATIE GANSHERT is the author of several novels and works of short fiction, including the Christy Award-winning A Broken Kind of Beautiful and Carol Award-winner, The Art of Losing Yourself. Katie lives in eastern Iowa with her family.

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What Are The Best Jobs For Those Who Care?

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If you are someone who considers themselves to be caring, then it is possible that you might want to try and make that fit within your career path. Although not for everyone, there is definitely much to be said for doing this if you feel that it is something you would personally excel at. Jobs which involve a lot of caring tend to be among the most rewarding careers out there, and if you specifically get into an area which you genuinely care about a lot, then you will find that it is incredibly rewarding indeed. In this post, we are going to take a look at a number of the best jobs for those who really care about others. Consider these if you want to spend your career providing care to others.


Although it’s not the absolute first job that people think of when they think of caring, it should be clear to most just how it is that teaching can be a great position for someone who truly cares. A big part of any teacher’s job is to ensure that they are providing care for the children, and it can be surprising in just how many ways this can be achieved. If you think you have a nurturing ability, and you can see yourself taking care of children, then teaching could be a great career path to get into.

As a career path, teaching does offer a good long-term security, and it is one of the most sought-after positions in the country, meaning you can also expect some competition. But once you land a job in teaching, you can have that career for life, if you so choose, and it can be extremely secure as a way of living. Moreover, you will be helping to bring up an entire generation of children, which is one of the most important roles that anyone can have in society. Consider teaching if you think you have patience with kids and a caring streak.


Social Work

Actually, social work is more of an umbrella term than an individual job, as there are so many different kinds of social work which you can get into. You could be helping those who have been wrongfully accused of a crime one day, and advising grieving families in a hospice the next. The setting is up to you, and it is perfectly possible that you might have the chance to do a number of different kinds of social work over a long period of time, so you don’t have to feel stuck in any particular role. But if you do want to get into social work of any kind, there are a number of things that you will want to consider as you try to forge that particular path.

Firstly, you will need to gain some qualifications – even if in most cases, most of your learning will be done on the job. Usually, you need at least a diploma or bachelor’s degree in social care, but you might need more or less depending on the specific job you want. You will also need to think about finding a license to work in whatever state you are currently living in, as the rules vary slightly from place to place. You might find decent lcsw reciprocity in one place and not so much in another, so a key part of the process here is going to be carrying out some heavy research. The more you know going into it, the more likely it is that you will be able to get your dream job all the sooner.

If you do land a job in social care, expect a steep learning curve and some difficult situations. However, you will also be able to enjoy some particularly special moments with people in your local community s you help them through their difficult times.



Whatever you might think about your own doctor’s caring skills, the fact is that you don’t get into this kind of work without a keen desire to help others in some way or another. Becoming a doctor takes a lot of time and effort, and is not the kind of decision you want to take lightly. But if you are absolutely certain that this is the role for you, then you will certainly find it to be a great way to express your basic caring nature through your work. Let’s take a look at some of the usual stages in the process of becoming a doctor of any kind.

First of all, there is the university degree, followed by a qualification from medical school. Then you will need to specialise in something for your doctorate, but often you can work at the same time as doing this. All in all, you are probably looking at something like around ten plus years of training and education just to become a fully qualified doctor. After that, you might specialise even further depending on what you want to do. If you are more interested in the caring side than the medical side, you might choose to work in end-of-life care or somewhere else where your care of the patients and their families is paramount. But even being a GP is going to be caring as well, and it’s something which you should consider if you don’t know what to specialise in. All in all, being a doctor is a great career for the caring individual with a penchant for the medical.



Maybe you are mostly skilled in being able to talk to people about their problems and discovering solutions with them. Caring, after all, is not just about physical care – but also psychological and emotional care. Without counselors, there would be much more suffering in the world, and there is no doubt that this is one of the best jobs to consider if you think of yourself as a particularly caring individual. You will probably have a good sense of whether or not you or someone who could succeed in this way, and if you think it is the right kind of role for you there are many possible paths to go down to get that kind of job secured in your future.

One way to land this job is to go and seek a psychology degree at a university and then specialise in therapy. Alternatively, you could consider taking a short course and gaining most of your experience on the job, which is becoming more and more popular as a way of getting into this line of work. Either way, being a counsellor is one of the best jobs for those who genuinely care about others, and it is definitely one to consider if you think you are capable of it.



We all know that nurses do amazing jobs, and yet they are often forgotten in society or made out to be less than they really are. It takes a very particular and special kind of countenance to be a nurse, but if you think you have it then you should be able to know how to actually get into it. The truth is that nursing is highly rewarding, but also involves a great deal of stress, especially compared to many of the other caring jobs we have posted in this article. If you think you want to be a nurse, you should be prepared for a lot of training and a steep learning curve. That being said, it is likely to be an enthralling job and one which you can be truly proud of.

Categories : Articles
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An Interview with Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Beneath a Prairie Moon

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Tell us about your new novel, Beneath a Prairie Moon, and how the idea for it came about.

Several years ago I wrote a book called A Hopeful Heart which featured women from the east coming to a Kansas herdsman school to learn the skills necessary to become ranchers’ or farmers’ wives. Readers enjoyed the humor of watching these Easterners try to brand cattle, cook for a “whole passel of men,” or take care of chickens. Over the years, I received several requests for another mail-order bride type story, so I was always contemplating it. Then I thought, the last book taught the women how to be good wives; why not write one about the ranchers learning to be good husbands? And Beneath a Prairie Moon came to life in my imagination.

The main character, Abigail Grant, finds her life turned upside down when her father is imprisoned for illegal business dealings. How does her story speak to God’s plans for each of us when things don’t turn out the way we expect?

There as so many things I appreciate about God, but His ability to make beauty out of ashes is definitely close to the top of the list. How many times have we felt as if our happiness was ending, only to find ourselves on the precipice of a brand new and even brighter opportunity for joy? The thing is, God doesn’t see the way we do, with blinders on. He sees how yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day of our lives work together, and He uses each of our days to weave the most glorious plans for His children. Of course, we have to be willing to let go of some things so our hands are open to receive the greater gift He wants to bestow. I think that was Abigail’s biggest challenge: to release the known and receive what could be.

It takes a long time for Abigail to warm up to Spiveyville and its residents, mostly due to her feelings of superiority. How can we learn to love and appreciate those who are different than ourselves?

Yes, poor Abigail had lost so much, she couldn’t bring herself to let go of the only remaining part of her former life: her stringent behavior model. Of course, this model was of little use, as far as most people were concerned, on the plains. I think the only way we can learn to love and appreciate those who differ from us is to get to know them beneath the surface. When we look past the exterior to the heart underneath, we discover the similarities all humans possess—the desire to love and be loved, to
feel valued, to be accepted, to have a place of belonging. Read More→

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3 Ways Online Platforms Have Improved Customer Service

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Online platforms have redefined the consumer experience and raised the bar for what it means to deliver satisfactory customer service. Last year, Amazon once again topped all companies on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) with a ranking of 86. Overall, internet retailers scored an 83 on ACSI’s scale, illustrating that Amazon’s success is shared by other online platforms. Temkin Group tracking shows similar results, with the retail industry including e-commerce outranking all industries except supermarkets and fast food chains for customer experience.

What are e-commerce companies doing that is delivering such superior customer satisfaction? And how can other companies emulate their results? Here’s a look at three ways online platforms have improved the customer service experience that other companies can learn from.

Better Informing Consumers

One way online platforms have changed the customer service experience is making consumers better informed. Online information assists consumers in researching products and comparing prices. Nearly seven in 10 consumers now research products online before buying them in physical stores, while almost half research products in-store before buying them online, a Harris poll says.

The biggest thing customers use online platforms to research is prices, with 52 percent using mobile devices to check prices while they’re in stores. Helping customers check product information and reviews is another way online platforms help consumers, with 50 percent of in-store shoppers using their mobile devices for this purpose. Online retailers who recognize these consumer habits can use their websites to attract buyers by providing the information they’re looking for. For example, o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber assists customers in their research by providing online information and tools for selecting the correct size and material for their sealing needs.

Providing Faster Service

Another way online platforms have raised customer service standards is by providing faster service. The most efficient service option for both customers and businesses is self-service tools such as FAQ listings and knowledge bases, which has made this the most popular online service option. A Dimension Data study found that 73 percent of customers prefer to use a company’s website for self-service instead of using other support channels. Three in four customers say faster service is the biggest attraction of self-service, according to a CMO Council survey.

Online platforms are also using automation to deliver faster service. One of the most popular automated service tools today is chatbots, which can manage routine text inquiries while forwarding questions that require human assistance to a representative. Chatbots are both faster for customers and more cost-efficient for companies, which is why 57 percent of businesses are already using them, Inc reports. Leading chatbot platforms include Chatfuel, Botsify and Flow XO.

Offering Faster and Cheaper Delivery

Online platforms have also raised customer expectations when it comes to delivery. Amazon’s fast and free shipping options have led consumers to expect similar service from other companies. Shopping cart abandonment rates rise progressively if shipping will take longer than two days, with abandonment rising to 40 percent for eight days, says Conveyco. Customers also expect shipping to be reasonably priced, with 63 percent cancelling purchases if they deem shipping excessive.

While Amazon relies on a huge national infrastructure to offer fast and free shipping options, smaller retailers are also finding ways to compete when it comes to delivery. FedEx now offers two-day shipping services for small businesses to 98 percent of the United States. You can also offer free shipping by using strategies such as requiring minimum order values to qualify for free shipping.

Providing consumers with better information, faster service, and faster and cheaper delivery are three ways online platforms have improved customer services. Both online and traditional retailers can boost their customer satisfaction as well by studying these strategies and adapting them to serve their own customers.

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Don’t Forget These Expenses If Hiring Employees

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When you become an employer, there are various costs you need to consider. Apart from paying your employees a fair wage, you also need to think about additional expenses that might be required too. There are those that you’re required to pay and the minimum costs to keep your business running, and then there are expenses that can help you to improve your company and treat your employees better. If you’re starting to hire people, you need to plan for any costs that you might incur on top of their salaries. Start with the expenses below to work out how much you might be paying.



It’s your duty to pay Social Security/FICA expenses for your employees. In 2018, employers pay 6.2% on the first $128,700 of wages. Medicare tax or Hospital Insurance is paid at 1.45% on the first $200,000 of wages and 2.35% over that amount. There’s also unemployment insurance tax to take into account. Worker’s compensation is also essential to consider, but the costs will vary depending on the jobs your employees carry out. These expenses are essential to think about when you hire someone as an employee, before you start considering any other costs. You can find out more at



There are various benefits you might choose to offer to your employees. While they’re not essential, an attractive benefits package will help you recruit and keep better employees. You might consider offering health insurance, disability insurance, a retirement program and other beneficial things. It’s also worth considering benefits that might be less practical but can still be attractive to potential employees. For example, some employers choose to offer gym memberships to their staff. These kinds of benefits aren’t essentials, but they can help you stand out from other employers and demonstrate the kind of work culture you have.


Uniforms and Work Tools

Your employees are likely to have various things they need to do their jobs. There are some costs you might be able to ask them to take care of themselves, such as uniforms, but it’s important to check what you can and can’t ask them to pay for. If you do buy supplies for them, ordering from specialist stores like will help you get quality products and save money. You might need to ensure your employees all have computers and software, or stationery and other necessities.



If you’re hiring people to work onsite, you need to have enough space to accommodate them. This might mean paying more for a larger workspace so that you can provide deskspace or other facilities for everyone. You might also need extra equipment or furniture to make sure everyone can do their jobs. These costs might need to be considered long before you hire new people so that you can be in an appropriate workspace when you welcome them onboard.

The costs of hiring a new employee involve more than just paying their salary. It’s essential to think about the other expenses it incurs.

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Believe It Or Not, These Offline Businesses Can Be Run From Home!

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If you’re looking for a business to run from home, you might think that your options are limited. Specifically, you are probably considering some version of an e-commerce company or rather any business that can be run by offering a product or service online. You might be pleased to hear that actually there is an abundance of possibilities for home run companies where online services and products don’t even enter the equation.

You probably haven’t thought of most of these because people, in general, seem so obsessed with the idea that e-commerce is a money-making machine. While that is a possibility, it is certainly not your only way to make a fortune or at the very least, a solid income working from home.

So, what possibilities should you consider aside from the typical online home run company?


A Lesson In Education

If you were an academic achiever in school or you even excelled in higher education, you might consider starting a business as a private tutor. A lot of parents these days want their children to have extra tuition to that which they receive at school. They want to make sure that their kids get the best grades because they know, as you probably do, that without the right grades their children will not be able to obtain a decent career on the market. This has left a massive gap in demand that anyone who has the skill to be a teacher, can fill.

There are many benefits to this type of business model. First, you will be able to work however many hours and as often as you would like. Second, you can within reason decide how much you want to charge for your services. Third, you’ll be able to choose who you provide these services too. If you don’t want to cater to parents with little tots, you don’t need to because there is almost definitely students in college also looking for tutoring and academic guidance. You can provide this if you have that level of skill and knowledge.

It’s not even that difficult to become a tutor. First, think about marketing and make sure that you get the word out about your little private company. If you are handy online, your best tool will be social media profiles. With social media profiles, you’ll be able to quickly let keen customers know about the service that you are providing and get their attention.

If you don’t have a great level of knowledge or a huge following on social media, then you may just want to put up a flyer on your town billboard. You might not get the same reach but you will gain some attention and if you provide a good service word will certainly spread.

Do bear in mind that it is not necessary to get a qualification to be a tutor. Although it will certainly benefit you because your service will be more attractive to both students and parents. A professional qualification shows that you have both the knowledge and skill to help them succeed in whatever subject you are teaching. While perhaps most common for previous teachers, it’s true to say that anyone with a knack for teaching can be a tutor.



You might think that to run a bakery you will need an entire business property. But it depends on what you’re baking, on what utilities you have and the size of your kitchen. A modest kitchen could provide you with more than enough space and all the appliances you will need to run a successful home bakery. All it takes is the right schedule, a commitment to quality and a complete focus on baking enough goods to reach a substantial profit. It’s important that you do treat this like a business rather than a hobby which will undoubtedly be your first instinct.

When you’re setting up your baking company, make sure that you are balancing your costs effectively. This includes the energy it takes to bake the goods, the ingredients that you need to buy and of course, deliveries.

Getting the word out about a business like this is likely going to be the same as creating a buzz around your tutor business. You can either do it online, through social media and blogs or you can opt to instead run an offline marketing campaign with flyers, perhaps posted through the doors of homes in the local area. If you really want to create a great first impression that you can rely on for future profits, you might want to think about offering your services voluntarily. For example, you can bake goods for a charity cause or at something like a school event. This will help get the word out about your products and will allow you to build up a solid customer base.

If you really want to make profits, you need to ensure that you have a USP built into your business model. This will be a specific baked good that they cannot buy anywhere else. Or, an exciting secret recipe and a spin on an old favourite.



If you are hoping to use your new business to help people, you can think about setting up as a private counselor. Counselors are like lawyers, they can either work as part of a large company, or they can operate independently and this means it’s another business that you can run from home.

Being a counselor does require a certain level of skill and knowledge. However, with online masters in counseling programs, you can get the knowledge you need and learn the necessary skills in your spare time. You won’t even have to pay a big fee for a college course. Once you have a qualification like this, you will be free to represent and market yourself as an independent counselor. You can choose whether you have specialities such as family counseling or whether you would like to deal with specific problems such as confidence issues.

To become a counselor, you need to make sure that you are a good communicator and able to interact with individuals on a level where they feel comfortable and secure. This is often not as easy as it sounds. But, with the right course, you can get the training necessary to be effective.  As a solopreneur like this, you will be delivering a specialized service and as such can expect to gain substantial levels of profit.

You might be wondering why you would choose to run businesses like this or engage in freelance operations such as these over an e-commerce company or an online business. The whole point, or at least one of the benefits of running a business from home is that you can cut costs, keeping a business affordable and easy to run without assistance. However, people who do set up online businesses or e-commerce companies tend to find that the costs quickly build up with services that they need to pay for such as marketing, legal and accounting.

With the businesses that we have mentioned, you can avoid issues like this completely. Instead, you will be able to run a simple company model where you are your own employer and employee. This means that you’ll be able to keep all the profits, work whatever hours you want and the only real issue that you’ll have to worry about is tax.

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3 Ways to Save Time Running Your Home-Based Business

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When you run your own business, time is a precious commodity — and it’s often a scarce one. These days, the average business owner works nearly 50 hours a week, and more than 6 in 10 business owners work 50 or more hours a week, an Alternative Board survey found. Talk about working the midnight oil.

But one proven strategy to win back time is making better use of business technology tools. Here are three ways you can use technology to save time running your home-based business.

1. Simplify Your Communication Approach

Writing and responding to emails can be one of your biggest time sucks. Today, the average executive estimates they spend roughly 20 percent of their day checking and answering work-related email.

One way to reduce time constantly checking your inbox is by making better use of email tools. Filters can serve as your most fundamental email management tool, enabling you to keep spam from reaching your inbox and allowing you to automatically categorize incoming emails and file them in subfolders. Flagging emails can also help you prioritize messages that require a response — separate from the ones that can be filed away or deleted.

Dealing with email overload? Entrepreneur and time management guru Tim Ferriss recommends monitoring your inbox but not answering the bulk of your messages for one day. This way, you can take the time to identify what types of emails you typically receive and how often you should answer them. You can then schedule two peak periods a day to answer emails, saving the rest of your day to focus on other tasks.

Another way to save time is by adopting communication alternatives to email. Digital tools like Slack, Yammer and Facebook’s Workplace are designed to replace email and provide a more comprehensive avenue for chat and project management. These tools make it easy for workplace teams to view and respond to messages in real time, as well as keep shared files in sync.

2. Automate Your Bookkeeping Tasks

Bookkeeping is another drain on business owners’ time. Most business owners spend more than 40 hours a year — the equivalent of a full work week — on bookkeeping tasks such as payroll administration and tax preparation. This leads many business owners to dread bookkeeping, with 58 percent listing it as their least favorite aspect of running a business.

One way to reduce time in this arena is by automating your data entry through cloud-based accounting software. In particular, cloud-based accounting tools like QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks and Xero allow you to automatically pull data from your sales transactions, business expense reports, payroll and other areas of your business. This can save you tremendous time on tasks such as tax preparation. Read More→

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Home-Based Job Listings

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Gametime Is Hiring Remote Customer Service Workers

Entry-Level Transcribers

Ongoing Writer Needed for Writing YouTube/Social Media “How to” Advice Blogs Based off My YouTube Videos

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