This post was originally published on Feb. 16, 2018, and was updated on Dec. 30, 2021.
When you’re running a business, image is important. One of our first instincts as human beings is to judge what we see. Perception is key, and the validity of your business might be riding on more factors than you know. For instance, have you thought about how people perceive your business when you hand them a business card and your email address ends with gmail.com? If so, it might be time to look at Microsoft Outlook email.
5 reasons to use Microsoft Outlook email
Imagine if you contacted a company you were thinking of making a purchase from, and you receive an email ending with anything other than their domain. What would you assume about that company? Wouldn’t you think it’s simply spam? These perceptions would shape your view of that company in a negative way.
Still not convinced that Microsoft 365 can help boost your business’s perception? Here are five reasons to consider using Microsoft Outlook email:
- It’s scalable and grows with your business.
- Work remotely anytime, anywhere.
- Your tech stays up-to-date.
- The technology continues to evolve.
- A safe and secure email experience.
You want to set the right first impression with your customers. Keep reading to see why Microsoft Outlook email is the solution.
1. It’s scalable and grows with your business
Microsoft 365 from GoDaddy is a powerful platform that combines corporate-class email and productivity tools in one solution. And, beyond being a powerful all-in-one solution, Microsoft 365 is the standard in the corporate world. Most importantly, though, Microsoft 365 can be scaled up as your business grows.
Living the solopreneur life? A single email address can help you do it all. Looking into hiring some additional employees? Individual email boxes can be added (or removed!) at any time.
In today’s rapidly-evolving business climate, the ability to be flexible is key. And Microsoft 365 is there to help you at any stage of your business journey.
2. Work remotely anytime, anywhere
With the evolving business landscape in mind, working remotely has skyrocketed out of necessity over the last two years. Having your email and documents available from anywhere is a strict requirement for remote work.
With Microsoft Outlook email, you are able to instantly access your email from multiple devices. Email is pushed to your devices as soon as it hits the server — enabling you to get that important email right away. It’s not only email, either. Microsoft 365 also syncs your contacts, calendars and tasks.
Beyond email, the Business Professional tier of Microsoft 365 through GoDaddy includes the full Office suite for up to five devices. This means that any Office document is within reach anytime, anywhere because of its seamless integration with OneDrive, Microsoft 365’s secure cloud storage service. Store all your files using OneDrive and you’ll be able to access online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint to view, share or modify your files on the go.
Best of all, it works the same on a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone.
Additionally, since your documents exist in the cloud, you can collaborate with other users in real-time, giving your business the flexibility needed for the on-the-go business environment.
3. Your tech stays up-to-date
Technology and compliance rules continue to innovate and evolve at breakneck speeds. The problem with this rapid innovation, though, is that it seems like you blink and you’re suddenly out of date.
By investing in the Microsoft 365 Business Professional plan through GoDaddy, you are not only getting credibility and establishing the professionalism that comes with having domain-based email, but you also get the latest version of Microsoft software. The sweetest thing? When a new version comes out, it will automatically update on all your devices. Simple as that.
It’s not just software that needs to be kept up-to-date, however. The laws surrounding privacy and compliance change rapidly as well.
To help businesses with this, Microsoft 365 includes add-ons to keep up with compliance rules.
If your business involves medical records, for example, you may need to ensure that your email services comply with HIPAA. Microsoft Outlook email offers this functionality without a learning curve. Microsoft 365 HIPAA compliant email works just like regular email, all of the security features run seamlessly behind the scenes.
4. The technology continues to evolve
We live in a world where technology like Microsoft Outlook email establishes the professional and credible brand businesses are working so hard to build, while also providing the software needed to run a business. As great as that sounds, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Microsoft always has their ear to the ground for their corporate and small business owners. As technology and business needs evolve, Microsoft adds and improves their offerings with Microsoft 365.
Need an easy way for your customers to schedule an appointment with you on your website and have it automatically sync those appointments to your calendar? Microsoft Bookings does exactly that.
Efficient communication with your customers is an obvious need, but how about interoffice productivity? What tools do you use to back up information and get to it on the go? OneDrive allows you to backup everything, and it can be used on both computers and your mobile devices. To make things easier, when you access an Office document on your OneDrive, it will open in your browser without you having to download the file.
Productivity doesn’t need to begin and end with a computer. With Microsoft 365, you can be efficient anywhere.
5. A safe and secure email experience
These days, news about organizations being hacked is an almost daily occurrence. In fact, over 50% of the security incidents that businesses dealt with over the last year were due to business email compromises.
Microsoft Outlook email, however, provides a secure email environment for businesses, whether they’re remote or in-office.
Given that a majority of security incidents are related to users being fooled into giving their passwords away, having multifactor authentication is important for keeping a business secure. Additionally, since these types of attacks usually originate from phishing emails, Microsoft Outlook email also offers robust spam filtering settings by default, with additional options available to allow businesses to fully customize spam filtering to fit your needs.
Perception is important.
With a business-class email from Microsoft 365, you’re immediately putting your best foot forward, branding your communications with the same name as your business.
And with powerful anti-spam tools and up-to-date technology, your business can remain secure as well.
Now that you know all the benefits of Microsoft Outlook email, there’s no reason to keep using that free email address.
4 Tips for Starting an Industrial Business
The industrial sector is a broad category that covers businesses involved in the manufacturing, production, and distribution of goods. Small industrial companies are growing across the country and there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs to get involved in this sector.
As with any type of business, there are certain things you need to do to set yourself up for success. Here are four tips for starting an industrial business:
1. Do Your Research
Market research means figuring out who your target customers are and what they want or need. There are a number of different ways to do this, but some of the most common include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observation.
Surveys can give you a good overview of customer opinions while interviews or focus groups can help you to delve deeper into specific issues. Observing potential customers in their natural environment can also be helpful in understanding their behavior and needs.
2. Choose the Right Niche
When it comes to starting an industrial business, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right niche. There are a number of factors to consider when making this choice, and it’s important to do your research before settling on a particular industry.
First, you’ll need to identify the needs of your potential customer base, such as the products or services they need. Once you have a good understanding of the market, you can then start to narrow down your options. Consider the competition in each niche and decide which one offers the best opportunity for success. When making your final decision, it’s essential to choose a niche that you’re passionate about.
3. Create a Business Plan
In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s more important than ever to choose the right niche for your industrial business. When you specialize in a specific industry or type of product, you can better meet the needs of your target market and stand out from the competition. How do you know what niche is right for your business? Here are a few things to consider:
First, think about your strengths. What does your company do better than anyone else? What unique skills or experience do you bring to the table? Use these strengths to narrow down your focus and choose a niche that you’re passionate about.
Next, consider your target market. Who are you trying to reach with your products or services? What needs do they have that you can address? When you choose a target market and understand their needs, you’ll be better able to choose a niche that meets their demands.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Trying new things is essential for any business, so don’t be afraid to test out different niches to see what works best for you. By keeping these tips in mind, you can be sure to choose the right niche for your industrial business.
4. Optimize Your Processes
Through industrial control engineering, you will be able to identify opportunities for improvement and design solutions that achieve the desired results. In many cases, these solutions involve the use of automation and other advanced technologies.
By optimizing industrial business processes, industrial control engineers can help to improve efficiency and increase productivity. In addition, they can also help to improve safety conditions by reducing the potential for accidents. As industries continue to grow and become more complex, the demand for qualified industrial control engineers is likely to increase.
With an increased demand for industrial operations and manufacturing, there has never been a better time to start an industrial business. By following these four tips, you can be sure to set your business up for success.
How to Find the Right Business Coach — and Avoid the Wrong One
At its best, business coaching can connect you with a mentor and supporter who helps you generate ideas, make plans and execute on them.
But at its worst, a business coaching offer can cost you time, energy and money — without much to show for it.
Here’s what to expect from a business coach, how to find a coach that suits you and how to spot red flags.
What a business coach can do
Business coaches draw on their professional experience to help you set and achieve your own business goals.
“I’m here to help you, and I’m here to raise your level of knowledge in whatever way I can,” says Gary Robinson, who chairs the Memphis, Tennessee, chapter of SCORE. SCORE offers free business mentoring for entrepreneurs nationwide.
Some ways a business coach or mentor might do this include:
Offering feedback on your ideas and suggesting new ones.
Giving you templates and other tools that help you make plans.
Connecting you with resources in your region or your industry.
Giving you deadlines and holding you accountable to them.
Some business coaches may also offer coursework or group training sessions on particular topics, like sales.
Working with a coach should help you identify opportunities you hadn’t seen before or develop new strategies for pursuing those opportunities, says Sophia Sunwoo, who coaches women and nonbinary entrepreneurs through Ascent Strategy, her New York City-based firm.
“[Coaches] don’t necessarily have to have all the answers,” Sunwoo says. “But they are the people that know how to maneuver and create a bunch of different thinking paths for their clients.”
What a business coach can’t do
A business coach isn’t the same as a consultant, whom you would hire to perform a specific task. A coach or mentor could look over your business plan, for example, but they wouldn’t write it for you.
“If you were to hire me as a consultant, you would expect me to roll up my sleeves and pitch in and work with you to get things done, and you would pay me for that,” Robinson says. Coaches, on the other hand, “try to show you how to do things so that you can do them [yourself].”
Business coaches are also not therapists, Sunwoo says. Entrepreneurship can be emotionally and mentally taxing, but it’s important that coaches refer clients to mental health professionals when necessary.
Business coaching red flags
If a business coaching opportunity “promises guaranteed income, large returns, or a ‘proven system,’ it’s likely a scam,” the Federal Trade Commission warned in a December 2020 notice.
In 2018, the FTC took legal action against My Online Business Education and Digital Altitude, which purported to help entrepreneurs start online businesses. The FTC alleged these companies charged participants more and more money to work through their programs, with few customers earning the promised returns.
In both cases, these operations paid settlements, and the FTC issued refunds to tens of thousands of their customers in 2021 and 2022.
To avoid offers like these, the FTC recommends that you:
Be wary of anyone who tries to upsell you right away or pressures you to make a quick decision.
Search for reviews of the person or organization online.
Research your coach’s background to see if they’ve accomplished as much as they say.
Sunwoo says to also be skeptical of one-size-fits-all solutions. A coach should customize their advice to your personality and skill set, not ask you to conform to theirs.
“The moment that a business coach pushes you to do something that is really not compatible with your personality or your beliefs or values,” Sunwoo says, “that’s a huge problem.”
How to find the right coach — maybe for free
Here’s how to find a coach that will be as helpful as possible.
Determine whether you need advice or to hire someone. A coach isn’t the right fit for every business owner. If you need hands-on help organizing your business finances, for instance, you may need a bookkeeping service or accountant. And take legal questions to an attorney.
Seek out the right expertise. A good coach should be aware of what they don’t know. If they’re not a good fit for your needs — whether that’s expertise in a particular industry or a specialized skill set, like marketing — they might be able to refer you to someone who’s a better fit.
Consider free options. There may be some in your city or region:
SCORE offers free in-person and virtual mentoring in all 50 states, plus Guam, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
See if your city has a Small Business Development Center, Veterans Business Outreach Center or a Women’s Business Center. All are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and offer free training and advising for entrepreneurs.
Do an online search for city- or state-specific programs. Philadelphia, for example, offers a business coaching program designed for entrepreneurs who want to qualify for particular business loan programs. Business incubators often offer courses or coaching.
Make sure your coach is invested in you. They should take the time to learn about you, your business and its unique needs, then leverage their own experiences and creativity to help you.
“I’m on your team now,” Robinson says of his clients. “Let’s do this together and make this a success.”
Are There SBA Loans for the Self-Employed?
Many of the same SBA loans are available to both self-employed people and more formally structured businesses, such as limited liability companies and corporations. However, self-employed individuals, like sole proprietors and independent contractors, might face a higher barrier to entry for having limited credit history, inconsistent revenue or no collateral. If they can’t qualify for an SBA loan, other business financing options are available.
Who qualifies as self-employed?
Sole proprietors, independent contractors and partnerships all fall under the self-employed category. In these cases, there is no legal distinction between the business owner and the business itself. Sole proprietors, for example, are solely responsible for their business’s gains and losses, while LLCs and corporations are legally distinct from their owners. This distinction helps protect the owners’ personal assets if their business runs into legal or financial issues.
Are self-employed SBA loans hard to get?
While a sole proprietorship is much easier to set up than an LLC or corporation, lenders may be more hesitant to finance them for a few reasons:
Self-employed business owners are legally responsible, as individuals, for any debt and liabilities that their businesses take on. If someone sues their business, for instance, their personal assets — not just their business — could be at stake. This makes it riskier for lenders to finance them.
Sole proprietorships and independent contracting businesses may have lower revenue or less collateral to offer since they’re often a business of one. This could make it more difficult for them to prove that they can pay back the loan, plus interest. And it may require more paperwork.
Some banks set lending minimums that surpass what a self-employed business owner is looking for, either because the business owner doesn’t need that much funding or doesn’t qualify for it.
Since there is no legal distinction between the self-employed business owner and their business, they may lack business credit history. To establish business credit, you’ll want to register the business, obtain an employer identification number and open a separate business bank account and credit card to keep your business and personal finances separate.
SBA loans for the self-employed
SBA microloan: Best for small loans and more lenient requirements
Applying for an SBA microloan is a great option for self-employed business owners, especially if they’ve been turned down by traditional banks and don’t need more than $50,000 in funding. In fact, the average SBA microloan is around $13,000, according to the SBA. SBA microloans are administered by nonprofit, community-based organizations that can also help train applicants in business practices and management. And because the loans are small, the application process may be easier — applicants may have limited credit history and typically don’t need as high of a credit score as they do for an SBA 7(a) loan.
SBA 7(a) small loan: May not require collateral
Funds from the SBA’s most popular 7(a) lending program can be used for a variety of business-related purposes, such as working capital or purchasing equipment. While the maximum SBA 7(a) loan amount is $5 million, SBA 7(a) small loan amounts don’t exceed $350,000. And if the 7(a) small loan is for $25,000 or less, the SBA doesn’t require lenders to take collateral.
SBA Express loan: Best for quicker application process
SBA Express loans are a type of 7(a) loan for businesses that need quick financing and no more than $500,000. The SBA responds to these loan applications within 36 hours as opposed to the standard five to 10 days, which may speed up the process for borrowers working with non-SBA-delegated lenders. Additionally, borrowers might not have to fill out as much paperwork — the SBA only requires Form 1919. Beyond that, lenders use their own forms and procedures.
SBA loan alternatives
Self-employed business owners turned down for SBA or traditional bank loans may be able to qualify for financing with an online lender. These lenders offer options such as term loans and lines of credit, and they often process applications faster and have more lenient requirements. However, applicants should expect to pay significantly more in interest than they would with an SBA loan.
Business credit cards
Not only can business credit cards help build your business credit history and pay for everyday business purchases, but they can also help finance larger purchases (within your approved credit limit). And if you qualify for a credit card with a 0% introductory APR offer, you’ll have multiple months to pay off the balance interest-free. Just make sure you’re able to pay off your purchase before the intro offer ends and a variable APR sets in.
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