Monthly Archives: October 2013

Tracking Business Expenses in Direct Sales

Not many people enjoy having to do the books. But, if set up properly, and with the right knowledge, they are not as cumbersome.


Expenses in Direct Sales (Photo credit: Phillie Casablanca)

For anyone who runs a business, they know that one of the tasks that must be accomplished is the accounting. For some, this is a job which they hate as much as toilet cleaning, but it is one that has to be done. Even if you use an accountant do to the final year end papers, if you do a good job with the day to day books, their job will be easier. Here are some ideas to help with tracking the expenses so that it will not be as much of a hassle.


  • Have a separate bank account for your business expenses
  • Put as many of your expenses on credit cards as possible
  • Create a place where you put all your receipts for when you sit down to do the books
  • Depending on how much paper you have, put everything for each month in one envelope
  • Have a filing cabinet so that if you have a lot of paper you can organize things in categories

Know Your Expenses

If you categorize your expenses correctly, it will end up helping you in the long run when it comes to tax time. This list assumes that you are running a business outside of your home, as there are other deductions that you are entitled to with a home based business.

  • Advertising – business cards, web site marketing
  • Insurance – Business insurance – does not include health insurance premiums
  • Interest – Any interest you pay on accounts such as credit cards or loans
  • Legal and/or professional services – Accountant or lawyer fees that you pay
  • Office Expenses – Anything beyond supplies for your office
  • Rent or lease – Premises or equipment
  • Supplies – Paper, toner, notepads or anything else routine
  • Travel – Cost of travelling to conventions or meetings
  • Meals/Entertainment – Amount paid for meals or entertaining clients. This has a special tax ramification which is why it should be separate
  • Utilities – Gas, electricity, telephone, Internet
  • Dues – Subscriptions to magazines or trade groups your business is a member of
  • Other – Any items that you are not sure where they belong can be put here

Make sure you keep the receipts that go with all of these expenses, as you will need them to show your accountant and possibly the IRS. But if you can get your expenses itemized through the year, it will make it easier for your accountant and you will spend less money.

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How to Handle your Business Expenses

Accounting and paperwork are scary to a lot of business owners, but it is a part of life. By setting up a system, you will make your life a lot easier.

Receipt Please

Receipt Please (Photo credit: Peter π)

For most people, accounting is not a priority in their business, but when month end or tax time comes, they are scrambling to find all their documents and prepare things. But if you take a bit of time each week or month to track your expenses, you will be ahead of the game and you will not have to look all over the place to find your paperwork.

One Location – First things first, put all your receipts in one location. This way, even if you do not have time to deal with it right now, you will know where to find it.

Make Notes – Mark your receipt with any relevant notes such as you were mailing a parcel to Jane or you took Joan out for coffee to discuss why your business would be a great fit with hers. These receipts are easy to forget their purpose.

Legibility – Make sure that the receipt is legible. If it is not, you can ask the location to write you a written receipt. If it is on the glossy till paper, you may want to photocopy or scan it, as those tend to fade over time.

Keep Current – Try to work on your books every week or at a minimum, once a month if you do not have a lot of transactions. This will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road.

Filing – Have a filing system that makes sense and you can keep up with. Challenge yourself to see how fast you can find something; if you have to go through multiple folders then it is not the right system for you.

Credit Cards – A great way to keep track of your spending is to put everything onto a credit card or debit card where you get a statement listing the expense. You won’t forget about it this way. Do not use the same card for your business as you do for your personal spending, as this can be very confusing and cause issues at tax time, especially if you are audited.

Envelopes/Folders – Envelopes and folders are a great way to organize your paperwork. Put unrecorded receipts in one until you record it, and then move to the appropriate folder once it’s recorded. You may choose to organize these by month or by type of expense; whichever works better for you and makes more sense.

One of the best reasons for keeping your expenses current and tracked is that you can see at a glance how well your business is doing and where you may be spending too much money. This is very important for a small business owner.

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Promoting Your Direct Sales Blog

A blog does not promote itself, so you need to learn how. This is a list of some of the more popular items, but is definitely not a full list.

So you have started a blog for your direct sales business, you’ve got some create content on it, but you have no one reading. It is time to start promoting your blog. There are many different things that you can do – some are free, some will cost money. Start with one or two that appeal to you, see what kind of results you get, and then branch out on more.

  • Submit Your Site: Find as many directories as you can to submit your blog to. Visit some sites directly such as Google, Yahoo and the other large engines and submit your site to them directly.
  • Network: Participate in discussions on various networking groups and make sure to include your link in your signature. Many of these forums do not allow advertising, but if they do, make sure to promote your link there too. These can be forums that are local to you, that target your ideal market, or other forums about promoting your business.
  • Comments: Visit other blogs and leave comments. Quite often you are able to leave your own URL on those sites as part of your posting profile. You should not type it into your comment as it may then be viewed as spam.
  • Pay Per Click:Use pay per click advertising to drive traffic to your blog. Do your research when choosing to use this method as the money can add up quickly if you target the right niche.
  • Links:Create links to other blogs within your posts if someone is better at explaining a topic or you feel they have information already posted that your readers would like to know. You may want to add some of these blogs to your list of blogs you recommend and have a link to.
  • Freebie: Offer a freebie to people if they come to your site and subscribe to your blog. This could be several blog posts put together to make an e-book or it could be something different. The content should still be relevant to what your blog is about.
  • Social Media: Have your blog post to different social media sites and make sure that the URL is in your profile on these sites.
  • Write Articles: Write articles for sites such as Ezines where you are able to have a resource box that can point to your blog. This helps to establish you as an expert and people will click on the link to find out more on the topic.
  • Guest Posts: Write guest posts for other blogs or other people’s newsletters. They will likely give you a link with a bit of info about yourself where you can include your link.
  • Business Supplies: Make sure that your blog address is on any business supplies you give out. This includes business cards, letterhead, and other printed material. If you create digital documents, this information should be included as well.
  • Optimize your Blog: If you do not know how, hire someone to assist you with search engine pptimization or learn it yourself. This will help the search engines find you easier and faster.

While this is only an inkling of the different methods of promoting your direct sales blog, it is a start if you are lost and do not know what to do. As you work on promotion, chances are you will learn of other methods that may work better for you. It doesn’t hurt to try them out.

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Presentations with Cue Cards are Still Professional

Have you ever had to give a presentation but you worried about forgetting some important points of what you need to say?  You may think that using cue cards would reflect badly on you, but in reality, you do look better by using cue cards and remembering everything than by not using them and forgetting.  Who would you respect more?  The person using cue cards and does a great presentation or the person who forgets information but does not use cue cards?

Cue Cards

Cue Cards in Direct Sales (Photo credit: iamvisi)

What to Write

One of the most important aspects of using cue cards is not to depend on them 100%.  They are there to help you.  Do not write your entire speech on the card – you should only be writing key points.   For example, if you are in direct sales or doing some other speech about a product, you may want to write the following types of information:

  • Materials Made Of
  • Colours or Sizes Available
  • Price Point
  • Other relevant information – Recycled materials, lifelong warranty, waterproof, etc
  • Organization

Chances are you know what order you want to present your points in.  You may want to have a card dedicated to your order that you can set aside to keep you on track.  Alternatively, it is likely better to number your cards so that you know that they are still in order.  It would be a good idea to go through them briefly before your presentation just to guarantee that they are in the correct order.


A key point to using cards is your ability to read them.   While you may not have any issue reading the cards when you are at home, you may find that this becomes more difficult when you are in front of a crowd.  For this reason, you will want to take your time writing them out or you may prefer to type and then print them.  You can purchase heavier paper to print on and then cut it down into cue card size pages.  Of course, some people just use full size pages when giving a presentation.

If you still think that using cue cards to help with your presentation is not professional looking, think about the last few times you have attended a presentation.  Is the presenter using cue cards?  Even if they are not holding cards, do they have a PowerPoint presentation up on a screen for the attendees to follow or maybe a hand out for everyone in attendance?  These are still types of cue cards.

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How Small Businesses can Deal with a Bad Economy

A bad economy does not mean the end of a small business. It just means getting more creative and finding other solutions to a problem.

For many businesses, keeping afloat during economic turmoil can be difficult. No matter whether the problem is the general economy or specific competition from other businesses, there are things that can be done to help the business weather the storm. An advantage of small businesses is that they are flexible and they can make changes quickly, which large businesses can’t.

English: Water Customer Service Center - 4200 ...

Direct Sales in a Bad Economy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Customer Service

One of the biggest things that a small business can do is to make sure that they have excellent customer service. If the owner is not sure if the store has this, it is likely best to think that they do not and train the staff. Doing things such as special orders or making sure to assist the customer can go a long way. Customer service does not have to be difficult; it is paying attention to a lot of the little things.


Another factor is making sure that the business keeps up with the current trends. The moment customers think that you are falling behind they will start to leave you, feeling that you are not going to succeed. Cash flow may cause issues with this, but you may want to decrease to bringing in seven new items instead of 15, or making other small changes.

Cash Flow

Of course, you cannot forget about the money that is or is not coming in. Regardless of the state of the economy, it is best that you do not overextend yourself beyond what the business cannot comfortably afford. Many businesses end up failing because they try to do too much at once, when they can’t afford it.

Be Creative

Due to the small business being able to make decisions quickly compared to the large stores, the small store can seize this opportunity to do something special or unique. Maybe host fashions shows when a new line of clothing comes in, or have a special night for key customers to see the new collections. Make your customers happy and make them feel special and they will continue to patronize your business.

Check Efficiencies

There may be things that your store can do to make itself more efficient which will help with cash flow and customer service. It may be investing in some software that can create notes to go to customers, finding a better way to unpack and sort inventory or a better way to show off new product. Chances are there is something that can be done in a better way to increase sales.

No matter the type of business you are in, chances are you can find some methods that you can use to keep your business afloat in bad economic times. Choosing to slash prices is not the way to compete, as people will come to expect it. Instead, improve other methods. People are willing to pay more if they feel they are getting value for their money.

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How Open Source Software can Benefit a Business

For those that do not know what open source software is, it is software that is created under a special license which allows people to contribute to the product to further develop it.  It is free software and typically can do just as much as other software that you have to pay for.

When it comes to a business, there are many expenses that are incurred, but by finding the right open source software, you can save some of your money for other expenses.  This is particularly beneficial when you are just starting out and need to watch every penny that you spend or if your business is having a hard time making a profit.

Logo Open Source Initiative

Logo Open Source Initiative (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Open source software is especially great for a small business that does not have a lot of requirements for software because they can likely find something that will work for them that is open source.  Larger companies or those that have a very specific type of software may still need to purchase software to get the features that they require to run their business.

By using open source software you do not have to deal with buying licenses for each computer you have that runs that particular software.  This is one less financial expense as your business grows and expands.  Licenses can add up quite quickly and before long, you can have an expensive bill that you have to pay to use the program, not to mention the cost of buying the program.

A nice benefit to open source software is that if you are looking for a certain feature, you can get it programmed in for you and the cost would likely be cheaper than buying other software that costs money.  This would depend on what exactly you are having done, but it likely would be more beneficial to do this.

One great example of open source software is Open Office.  It has many of the same features of Microsoft Office but there is no fee for it.  You can find it at for download.  You can create documents, spreadsheets and much more with this program.  You can save your files and send them to someone with Office and they should be able to open them.

You can also find open source software for accounting, databases, pictures and many other types or programs that you may require.   Just do a search for “open source” or “freeware” and the type of software you need and see what comes up.  You can also go to download sites such as

and search by type.

Do you have a favourite open source program that you use for either home or business?  Please share in the comments.

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Choosing The Right Exhibition Stand

English: Corner exhibition stand at the Götebo...

English: Corner exhibition stand at the Göteborg Book Fair 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you are attending a trade show you will need to make your booth stand out and one of the ways to do this is through exhibition stands. These are normally lightweight so they can be transported easily and are used to promote your product and services. There are several different kinds of stands available today and each of them has its own merits. The one you choose will depend upon your own specific needs. To help you decide, here are some of the stands on offer:

  • Twist Display Stand: These are a kind of pull-up banner which can be displayed on portable stands and printed with high quality graphics for maximum impact. They are perfect for trade shows and exhibitions because they create seamless back walls for a really professional look. Because they allow you to join many different units together in a seamless display, they are great if you have a lot of space to fill. They are also versatile because their tensioning system allows the alignment to be adjusted so they can sit against both smooth and uneven surfaces. They are also light and easy to transport from place to place.
  • Pop-Up Stands: These continue to be highly popular for companies attending exhibitions. This is mainly because they are easy to transport and erect, but once taken down don’t take up too much room in storage. There are different varieties of these – they can, for example, be made from cardboard and fabric – but all are an impressive back-drop to any trade show booth if printed with good quality graphics and a strong design. For extra versatility, some can have Velcro-friendly front panels so that posters can be changed.
  • Poster Display Stands: These are freestanding display stands which can usually come in cable, rod or modular versions. The great thing about these is that they can come with single or mixed pocket arrangements so you can interchange posters depending on the exhibition you are attending. They can also come in a wide variety of sizes depending on your needs and can be placed side-by-side or perpendicular to each other. If you want something versatile and low-cost, these are a safe bet.
  • Folding Display Stands: Folding display stands and exhibition boards are great for companies operating on a strict budget. They are low-cost, lightweight and because they are folded they don’t take up much space in transit. Generally made from PVC, they are durable and both pin- and Velcro-friendly so that posters can be interchanged as often as required.
  • POS Stands: Point-of-sale or info stands are more specialised items which are used for both retail environments or exhibitions. They will normally consist of a poster board on top and some smaller leaflet displays below. If you have a particular new product you want to promote then they are ideal because you can draw visitors’ attention with a high-impact poster and then they can take away more detailed information in the leaflets placed below. However, if your booth is simply to provide a more generalised overview of your company then you would be better off with one of the larger stands mentioned above.

When you’ve worked out which kind of exhibition stand best fits your needs, the next thing to do is find a supplier. It’s worth shopping around to see which companies offer the best deals – always remembering that you have to pay for quality. It’s important, for example, that you check how the graphics will be added to your stand to ensure that the solutions used will not only look good but will also be durable so you can use the stands over and over again.

It’s a good idea to get a recommendation for a stand supplier from somebody who has used them many times and understands what is important. When you’ve found a few companies you think might be able to offer what you want then go and visit each one in turn to discuss your requirements. This is a good opportunity to ask to see examples of their work so you can get an idea of what they might be able to do for you. It’s probably best, if you can, to find a local supplier so you can visit them face-to-face and contact them easily if there is a problem with any of the products they have supplied to you.

Author Profile

Chris Jenkinson is a UK marketing consultant writing for RAL Display a display stands and exhibition stands company

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How To Use Your Smart Phone for Business

More and more people are choosing a smart phone such as an Android or iPhone instead of a phone that just makes phone calls. As a result, they are checking their email and social media accounts no matter where they are. This can be a great thing to take advantage of to promote and grow your direct sales business.

English: icon for smartphone (smart phone) rel...

English: icon for smartphone (smart phone) related content (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easier to Target

It is easier to target your potential customer this way as you can put a message out on a social media platform and your customer is going to get it wherever they are. Due to the costs associated with this, an advertising budget does not have to be large as a basic message is free to put out into cyberspace. You don’t have to be at home to do this type of advertising as all you need is your smart phone, internet connection and your social media accounts.   This can make a huge difference in regards to getting sales. A great example is that you can be at an event and post a message for your customers to come visit you at the location or that if they order today they can get a discount.


With all the applications that a person can get on their smart phone, it is possible to track a wide variety of things. If you need to know how many calls are for business and how many are for personal, you can get a phone tracker where you categorize all calls. If you need a calendar, there are many applications that range from free to a cost; you can find applications to remind you to make phone calls as well.

Follow Up

There are many applications that a person can get to track what they have done and when they need to follow up.  Having reminders pop up to call a customer can be a great asset.


You can have your phone remind you that you need to call a hostess tomorrow, that you need to follow up with a potential recruit or that you need to do customer calls.  You can program all your hostess coaching in whenever you book a party so you do not have to remember and do the same with any other follow up.

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Gearing Up for Prime Time in Direct Sales

The holiday season is upon us.  If you do not already have the supplies you need to get those holiday sales, it is time to get them and get yourself prepared to party!

English: Wemyss Bay Holiday Park The reception...

Fall and Holiday Season (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure that you have the following:

Hostess Packages – Even if you don’t have the current catalogues, you can get everything else ready for a hostess package.  Make as many packages as you want parties and then 10% more for good measure.  It never hurts to shoot to the moon and ideally, you want to run out and need to create more.

Recruit packages – You may get recruits right now but you also want to plant the seeds for when they start seeing holiday bills so be prepared to give out information about joining your company.  Put some information about recruiting in all your hostess packages as well, quite often hostesses will roll into consultants.

Customer List – If you haven’t contacted your customers recently, get in touch.  Get them to book their party early for best selection.  Depending on the company you represent, you may get items that go onto back order quickly and may not be back in time for the holidays.

Stock Your Bag – Put a selection of business cards in your wallet or purse to have with you.  Hand them out wherever you are without being a pest.   If you have a pin, a bag, or something else with your information and to book a party with you, carry it with you and have cards ready to give to anyone who asks.

Supplies – Make sure that you have all the supplies you need.  Order forms, pens, a calculator, business cards, and stickers, whatever it takes.  Get organized and be ready to go.  You never know when someone will call and want to have you over tomorrow.  One of my best parties was due to another consultant never following up and the hostess had a dozen women coming over and no consultant.

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