Working from home is no longer taboo. In fact, it’s become extremely common for millions of people – thanks in part to technology that’s made it possible to communicate and collaborate with anyone around the world.

While working from home can be a blessing, it can also be curse if you’re not prepared. That’s understandable if you’re new to this lifestyle.

If you’re in that situation, I’ve put together these 11 productivity hackers for work from home newbies.

1. Know when you’re most productive.

While there is evidence that waking-up early can influence success. The truth is that not every everyone is cut out to wake-up at the ungodly hour or 4am. Some are not built to exercise, send-out emails, and start diving into work before 8am.

The secret to working from home is knowing the best time of day to work. This will ensure that you’re not only productive, but that you can do more quality work.

Not sure when this is?

Here’s a couple of pointers to figure that out.

  • Ask these two questions; When do I have the most amount of energy and concentration? and When are there the fewest interruptions and distractions?
  • Carve out one to three 90-minute periods, which will be your productive bursts.
  • Prioritize your tasks. Do your most important and challenging tasks first when you have the most energy.
  • Embrace interruptions at the right time. For example, use your lunch break to run errands, do household chores, respond to emails, or play with your dog. You’ll be energized when you get back.
  • Be creative with your schedule. If you want to sleep-in until 10am and work from noon to 8pm, do that. Work when you are at your best. Remember, you’re not tied to the traditional 9-to-5 workday anymore.

2. Keep your days like traditional work days.

This doesn’t mean that you start work at 9am and stop at 5pm. After all, we’ve already established that those may not be your most productive times to work.

What this means is that like a traditional 9-to-5 gig, you keep a consistent schedule where you start and end work at a specific time. If not, you’ll be on call 24/7. It’s the ultimate guaranteed ticket to a place known as Burntoutville. I don’t recommend visiting that place anytime soon. Don’t. Just don’t.

If you start work at 7am, take a break around 3pm if you want to spend time with your kids when they get home from school. Even if you go back to work, make sure that you shut everything down around 6pm so that you can eat dinner and put your kids to bed.

3. Learn keyboard shortcuts.

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but this hack can save you time, boost your productivity, improve your efficiency, and prevent your arms from getting tired. This is a big deal when you’re writing on a daily basis.

Different operating systems have varying shortcut keys, but the fine folks at Computer Hope put together a handy list to get you started.

4. Use the tools that work best for you.

There’s no shortage of tools that can assist you in time-tracking, scheduling your day. Jotting down to-do lists, communicating with clients, and even blocking out distractions is helpful. The trick is to find a mix of tools that work for you.

For example, my colleagues and I used Insightly to collaborate with each other and check off completed assignments. I’m sure that it’s a great tool for larger organizations.

But for our small team it was too time-consuming. We switched over to Slack, which was more ideal, and less time consuming, for us.

When starting out, think about what areas you need assistance with. For instance, do you have hard time keeping track of all of your passwords? Then compare tools like LastPass and experiment with them until you find the tool that works best for you.

5. Set social media and email check-in times.

Unless your job involves staying connected to social media, only schedule specific times to check your social media accounts and emails. If not, you’ll be constantly distracted whenever you receive a notification.

Most successful people check their social channels and emails at set times. Choose first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, and at the end of the day.

Also, don’t check your phone for messages directly before bed. This can have a negative impact on your sleep.

Again, shut down your workday at a specific time – and that includes checking into your social channels and email accounts.

6. Schedule meetings.

This might seem counter-intuitive. After all, meetings can tend to be a waste of time – especially when you work remotely.

In reality, scheduling meetings can be beneficial since they’re a quick and effective way to either solve a problem or build a process.

Instead of going back-and-forth via email or playing phone tag with a client or colleague, schedule a one hour meeting. Everything that needs to be discussed regarding a project can usually be covered.

This way you will complete the project sooner.

7. Follow the two-minute rule.

It there is a task that’s going to take two-minutes or less to complete, then do it immediately. Don’t waste your time or energy writing down these tasks down either.

Just get them done immediately so that your attention and energy is saved for more important jobs.

8. Don’t rule out all distractions.

Peace and quiet sounds like an ideal work situation, right? In actuality, we all need a little background noise and distractions from time-to-time.

For some of us, white noise can be beneficial, like improving productivity and boosting creativity. It just depends on the type of noise and how loud it is.

In other words, a little bit of background noise and minor distractions can be an assist when you’re working from home. The TV on is generally not recommended.

9. Take proper breaks.

Speaking of distractions, taking micro breaks throughout the day. Your brain needs short periods of rest. This prepares your brain so that it can regain focus and recharge.

study from Emily Hunter, Ph.D., and Cindy Wu, Ph.D., associate professors of management in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, found that the most beneficial time to take a workday break is mid-morning.

“We found that when more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break,” the study says. “Therefore, breaks later in the day seem to be less effective.”

Additionally, the research found that better breaks involve activities that people enjoy.

“Finding something on your break that you prefer to do — something that’s not given to you or assigned to you. [These are the] kinds of activities that are going to make your breaks much more restful. [They] provide better recovery and help you come back to work stronger,” Hunter said.

10. Harness the power of flexibility.

While you should create and try to stick to a schedule, the fact of the matter is that you have a flexible schedule. If I decide to take the day off and go to the beach, I can afford that luxury. It just means that the next day I may be putting in 10 or more hours.

This is a surefire way to maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent you from getting burnt out.

11. Design an inspiring home office.

Whether if you’re working from the kitchen table, cafe table on the patio, or in a dedicated home office, your workspace should be free of clutter, comfortable, and be inspiring.

This means that is should be free of distractions, has the proper lighting and coloring, and contains items that spark your productivity. Items like plants and knick knacks that display your personality provide all kinds of benefits.

 

This article was originally published on Due by John Rampton.

The post 11 Productivity Hacks for Work From Home Newbies That Make Six Plus Figures appeared first on KillerStartups.

So, you want to start a business. That’s great! Starting a business can be a great way to make extra money, achieve financial independence, and live your desired lifestyle.

However, before you start things off, it’s important to know a few things. Starting a business isn’t always the glamorous lifestyle you’ve heard of. Here are five things to keep in mind as you move forward:

1. You Have to Know the Right Business for You

Before starting a business, you should know what is likely to be right for you. Not everyone does well in a brick and mortar location. Some people aren’t cut out for business models that involve freelancing.

There are a lot of potential business models and plenty of ideas for budding entrepreneurs. Do the research. Know what’s right for you. Pursue a business idea that offers you a better chance of success.

2. You Need to Know the Purpose of Your Business

Does your business have a purpose? Are you solving a problem? Are you making people’s lives better?

Understanding your purpose is vital when starting a business. You should know the “why” behind what you do. It’s not enough to just want to make money. You should have a clear idea of why you are going into business — and why the model you choose is the right one.

When you understand your purpose as a business owner, you are more likely to stick with it and succeed.

3. You Need to Know the Basics of Accounting and Finance

A basic knowledge of finance and accounting can be a big help when starting a business. This includes understanding how to limit your debt, manage cash flow, and other concepts.

Before starting a business, brush up basic money management concepts, as well as business basics. When you start on a solid foundation, you are less likely to have serious problems later.

Plus, it can help you get your own personal finances in order before you take the plunge. Having your own financial house in order is vital, and you also need to make sure you keep your personal and business finances separate.

4. You Should Know How Your Family Will Operate as You’re Starting a Business

Too often, entrepreneurs jump in without thinking about the impacts on their families. However, before you start a business, you should sit down with your life partner. Talk about the realities and the sacrifices.

You also need to set boundaries for your work. It’s easy to get caught up in entrepreneurship, but you also need to maintain a work-life balance. You don’t want your personal relationships to fall apart — especially those important family relationships. Know how to handle this ahead of time.

5. You Need to Know the End Game

Finally, make sure you understand the end game. Do you plan to build a business you can sell to someone else? Do you hope to start a small solopreneur or lifestyle business that you can run yourself, with no plans to scale up? Are you planning to pass the business on to your kids?

Understanding the end game now can help you build the right kind of business structure and plan for succession if necessary. Pay attention at the start of your business journey, and you will be better positioned for success later.

 

5 Things You Must Know Before Starting a Business was originally published on Due by Miranda Marquit.

The post 5 Things You Must Know Before Starting a Business appeared first on KillerStartups.

The trend of coworking spaces is growing every year, and many solopreneurs and small startups are happy to finally have a space to call their own without paying for their own commercial space. Coworking spaces offer multiple benefits, but they have a few drawbacks too. Let’s compare the pros and cons.

Coworking Isn’t Free

Even though you’ll save money by coworking vs. renting out a whole building, coworking still isn’t free. The biggest perk to a home office is that you are already paying for the space, so working from home is essentially free (and you can even deduct some of it on your taxes!)

Coworking prices can vary based on location, but you still have to decide if it is worth the price. Are you bringing enough income in to rent a desk or office? Do you need the room to grow? Do you have a team?

All of these questions will determine whether coworking is a better option for you. From a money (and money saving) perspective, a home office could win hands down, but that’s only if you need a completely free option. If you’re looking for a great option in Silicon Valley, try Bootup. It’s where our office is located and we love it.

A Home Office Allows For Distractions

While a coworking space may set you back a little money each month, they are designed to make you more productive. A coworking space environment allows entrepreneurs the freedom to move around, but it also gives them the opportunity to have control over their work.

In a home office, many entrepreneurs get sidetracked by housework, kids, their pets, or a multitude of other distractions. While you may be thinking that you could always close the door to your home office, it’s a lot easier said than done.  With a coworking space, you are there to work, and there are a lot less distractions to make sure you stay on track.

Commuting

People who work from home normally list no commute as one of their favorite perks. You don’t have to wake up early, sit in traffic, deal with crazy drivers, or take detours if you hit construction. When you have a coworking space, you’ll need to get up and get out of the house, possibly during peak traffic times.

The good thing is that there are ways around commuting when choosing a coworking space. You can leave earlier or later to keep from being stuck in traffic, and you could always cut your trip short if you need to. You could also find a coworking space closer to you (if possible) and walk or bike there instead of drive. While commuting may not be a con for you, it’s still worth mentioning.

Networking Is Easier When Coworking

Are you an extrovert? Do you run a service based business? If you answered yes to either of those questions, a coworking space may be a better option for you. Working from home certainly has its perks, but networking isn’t one of them. In fact, many experts say that working from home increases feelings of isolation and loneliness.

With coworking, you can attend events for entrepreneurs, work near people who understand you, and reach out and network if you are feeling a little lonely. With coworking, you can still work alone but not be alone. There’s always someone around to connect with.

Privacy

Networking is great, but every entrepreneur needs the time and privacy to collect their thoughts and catch up on work. In a home office, this is fairly easy. You can shut the door, throw in some headphones, and just work. But in a coworking space, you may be interrupted by other entrepreneurs walking in front or behind you or people wanting to use your space because they like the seating.

While you may not need CIA level privacy, it’s still important! You could bypass this con by renting a private office, but this is typically a costlier option.

Professional Meetings

If you have a business that requires you to meet regularly with clients, you could save yourself some headache and hassle and rent a coworking space. While coffee shops are nice for meetings, they can get crowded and loud, and you may not want to invite people into your home to conduct business.

A coworking space gives you the space to meet with clients, a conference or meeting room if you need it, and may offer you free coffee for you and your guests. Not only will this help you look more professional, but you won’t even have to worry about cleaning up the place before your clients arrive!

Another perk to having a coworking space for meetings is that you’ll most likely have more tools at your disposal. Most coworking spaces offer whiteboards, projectors, and even printing services.

The Final Verdict

To be honest, there is no right answer. I personally use both. I just started renting my first office space, but I also have a home office that I use when I want to make a phone call or am feeling like I really need a quiet space to concentrate.

I like my coworking space because it’s nice to speak to other people like I used to in a traditional job, except it’s much better because I don’t have to sit in meetings with them. I also like my home office because it’s my own cozy space with my family photos, all my files, and more.

So, if you are okay with distractions, a comfy space, and the freedom to walk around in your pjs, a home office may be better for you. If you like the option of networking and having meeting spaces, plus the ability to grow, a co-working space is the perfect option for you. In reality, there is no one size fits all when deciding how to work as an entrepreneur.

The greatest thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can choose what you do and how you do it. You could always try both working from home and co-working and see what option fits you best. And if you need to change some things around? That’s always an option too.

Do you prefer a coworking space or a home office?

The post Coworking Space or Home Office? Which is Right for Your Business appeared first on KillerStartups.

Did you know that 90% of all invoices worldwide are still processed manually? I personally have been a little taken back by those stats as that really sucks. The true cost of an invoice is costing business owners millions in non-payment. That being said, there are vast amounts of benefits to electronic invoicing. The main point seems to be decreasing the amount of repetitive and time-consuming tasks involved with creating invoices. There is also a noted improvement in cash flow.

With the accessibility of cloud-based platforms, and government initiatives, it is predicted that more businesses will jumped on the e-invoicing bandwagon. Maybe some businesses won’t make the switch until they realize how much an invoice actually costs their small business.

The True Cost of an Invoice

There isn’t one exact figure to give us the cost of manual invoices. Various experts, like Sterling Commerce, have found that the average cost of a paper invoice can range anywhere between $12 to $30.

Concur states that on average its costs $12.90 to process a single invoice. The Accounts Payable Network, via Beanworks, notes that the average cost to process a single invoice is closer to $15.

However, companies with a more complex AP process can expect costs to peak at nearly $40 per invoice.

The experts listed above have agreed that automated invoicing is significantly cheaper. Sterling states that fully-automated invoices cost just $3.50 per invoice to process.

Concur notes that automation “delivers an average of 29% reduction in invoice processing costs, which can translate to $300,000 per year for an organization that processes up to 10,000 invoices per month.”

However, the Accounts Payable Network claims that automaton has “significant savings of 60-80% over manual processing with average per invoice costs lowered to $5 or less per invoice.”

Regardless of the exact figure, it doesn’t take a ton of data to realize that manually processing invoices is a pricey endeavor.

The following gives some valid reasons:

  • Direct Costs

    These are the costs related to the paper, ink, and postage costs involved with paper invoices. This will vary from business to business, but it’s going to set you back 47 cents just to mail a first class letter. That doesn’t send like much, but if you’re sending out 10 invoices a week that adds up.
    If you want to figure out how much it costs you to print each page, Chron.com can stir you in the right direction. With e-invoicing, you don’t have these costs since they’re sent electronically.

  • Indirect Costs

    These are the expenses needed to complete a task. There is paying an employee to put paper invoices into envelopes. The time it takes you to enter all the relevant data needed to produce an invoice, like the client’s name, address.
    Itemized list of services or products provided take time to set up.

  • Hidden Costs

    There could potentially be several hidden costs when it comes to invoicing. Invoice lag creates a negative cash flow. It takes days for the client to receive, review, and send back a bill via snail mail. In the meantime, you don’t have the money to pay an expense and are charged a late fee.Electronic invoices can be paid almost instantly. Furthermore, what if there is an error? This could be resolved in a matter of minutes with electronic invoicing. It’s also been found that it costs over $50 to rectify these errors.
    Paper AP invoices cost on average $3.90 and paper AR invoices $1.90 each to store. Investing in cabinets, scanners, and paying someone to organize the bills add up. Since electronic invoices are stored on the cloud, it’s only going to cost you around $1.30.

If you want to calculate your costs of invoice processing, review the following seven factors:

  • The time it takes to process and mail the invoices.
  • How many hours are spent reviewing each invoice.
  • How many hours you spend finding and correcting data entry errors.
  • The cost to ship and store each invoice.
  • How many hours of productivity you have lost invoicing.
  • How much you lost on early-discounts or were charged late fees.

After reviewing these factors, you can use this formula to come up with an estimate:

Personnel costs + late fees + lost discounts + postage costs + storage costs / # of invoices processed = cost per invoice

Ditch the Paper Invoice

If you want to save money, and a ton of time, then you need to ditch the paper invoices.

It reduces the costs associated with paper, ink, and postage. The real cost saver, however, is that it eliminates the need for someone to create, process, manage, and organize all of your bills.

This means you either don’t need to hire someone like a bookkeeper or you can focus on more enjoyable tasks like growing your business.

E-invoicing speeds-up your cash flow and is securely backed-up on the cloud for easy retrieval. It is extremely beneficial for the environment since it decreases the amount of trees being used for paper and the carbon emissions from postage.

 

The True Cost of an Invoice to Small Business Owners was originally published on Due by Max Palmer.

The post The True Cost of an Invoice to Small Business Owners appeared first on KillerStartups.

In the days my business was a side hustle, I didn’t worry about keeping cash in the bank. When I earned money, I paid myself, set aside a portion for taxes, and knew that my account would refill as I finished client projects and got paid. But today that business is my family’s primary income. If my business account doesn’t get refilled, I don’t get paid.

While I have plenty of savings in case of a rainy day, or a rainy month, I’m now in a situation where I have to decide the right amount of cash to keep in my business checking account and savings account from month-to-month. If you run a business, this is an important decision that shouldn’t be overlooked or ignored.

Set a mental minimum balance for each account

When I set myself out into the world of freelancing full-time, my business bank accounts had a fluctuating balance somewhere between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars at any given time. When I took my business full-time, I converted from an LLC to an S-Corp and starting paying myself a weekly paycheck. With over $2,000 per month in payroll expenses, I knew I had to keep more than what I had been in the business checking account.

I upgraded my business banking and opened new business checking and savings accounts at Chase for the new S-Corp. To avoid a monthly $15 charge from the bank, I had to keep at least $1,500 in the bank. For the first few months before I turned on payroll, I used that as a mental minimum to avoid the fee. As my business stabilized and grew, I set a mental goal to keep at least $3,000 in the business checking account to ensure I could go a full month without messing up my payroll. When I hit that level, I flipped the switch at Gusto and started paying myself each week.

Build in a safety cushion and emergency fund

While I knew I wouldn’t have any problems with $3,000 in the bank, I also knew I would have some unexpected expenses, large travel costs for conferences, and lumpy income and expense cycles that were unfamiliar when I had my day job. Now instead of a predictable number of dollars magically showing up every other Friday, I would be billing monthly and get payments when my clients get around to it. With less predictability, I decided to build in a safety cushion.

I started saving until I hit $5,000 in my business savings account and kept a $3,000+ balance in the checking account at all times. I had to pay my rent, moving expenses, and eat, so I couldn’t just add without taking funds out at the same time. But overall, by working hard and earning more than I spent, I saw my account balances grow. I decided I should have at least three months of payroll in the bank. That meant having at least $6,000 in the checking account at any given time, so that was my next goal.

Getting to a comfortable level

I felt a little relief with the knowledge that I had a few months of paychecks stashed away, but my paychecks are hardly a livable wage. I pay myself around $40,000 per year and take additional payments as dividends, a common strategy for S-Corps. At that time I found myself in a new predicament: what is the right amount to save in the bank? Is it $10,000? $20,000? $100,000? At the same time, what could I afford to keep in the bank when I have a family depending on my income?

Over the last few months, I’ve let my business checking grow to around $10,000 and my business savings hover just over $20,000. With $30,000 in the bank, I have as much cash on has as three months of revenue. That gives me more than a few months of pay if my cash flow were to suddenly dry up. After all, I could get sick, lose clients, or run into one of a limitless number of problems that can destroy an otherwise healthy freelance business.

Bank Account Balance

How Much Cash Should Your Business Keep in the Bank? It Depends on Your Spending Habits

I have decided that $30,000 is still less than I’d like to have in the bank, but I absolutely don’t have to worry with that amount stashed away. As a primary income earner for my family, I would feel best off with a full year of income in the bank, but that is both impractical and poor financial management in an era of bank interest rates below 0.1%.

I earned a whopping 38 cents of interest from Chase last month, and I know I can do better investing rather than letting cash sit idly in the bank. My current plan is to let the business grow to around $50,000 in assets before I stop growing my business accounts and funnel all profits into my personal savings and investments.

Don’t let cash flow kill your business

Cash flow struggles is one of the biggest reasons small businesses fail. Do not become a business failure statistic, plan and save for future cash flow issues before they happen to guarantee you can weather the storm if you lose clients, they pay late, or worse. With a solid savings account behind you, you have a lot less to worry about. Once you reach your savings goal, you can stop worrying about savings and get back to worrying about job number one, growing your business.

 

How much money should your business keep in the bank was originally published on Due by Eric Rosenberg.

The post How Much Cash Should Your Business Keep in the Bank appeared first on KillerStartups.