The only way to get smarter about how to invest your marketing dollars is to document and measure what’s happening now in your business.  What you’ve measured, you can then improve.

Marketing Spend

The first step to measuring what you spend on marketing is to aggregate all of the costs.  They may be in one account or several.  Some of the places to look for marketing expenses include:

  • Advertising – for online or print ads, trade shows, sponsorships, and other advertising costs
  • Dues and subscriptions – for membership fees to networking and professional associations
  • Education – for marketing training
  • Marketing – for obvious reasons
  • Office supplies – for graphics subscriptions and fees
  • Payroll, salaries, and wages – for allocation of employee time spent on marketing projects
  • Printing and postage – for flyers and direct mail
  • Professional fees – for marketing consultants, coaches, designers, and writers
  • Software/Technology – for marketing software and apps
  • Travel – for trade show or conference attendance

Once you have aggregated all of these costs, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re spending on marketing and you can calculate the first metric, marketing spend.  The formula is:

Total marketing costs / total gross revenue = Marketing spend

This gives you a percentage.

Most companies spend five to ten percent on marketing. Higher growth companies will spend close to ten percent, and stable growth or slow growth companies will spend close to five percent. Large companies will spend more, from nine to 12 percent of gross revenues, than small companies.

CAC – Cost to Acquire Customer

Probably the most important metric for marketing is how much it costs on average to acquire one customer. To compute this, count the number of new customers for any period of time, and use this number in the following formula:

Total marketing costs / number of new customers = CAC

A more granular version of CAC is CPA, cost per acquisition. Unlike CAC, CPA is measured by campaign or marketing channel, or the source of how the customer was acquired. Example marketing channels include email marketing, social media, and paid ads, to name a few.

Revenue per Customer

Revenue per customer is a good measure in many companies.  It can tell you how much, on average, a customer will spend at your company over a period of time, adding up all of the orders, projects, visits, or engagements for that customer. The formula is simple:

Total revenue for a period / total number of customers for the same period = Revenue per customer

A similar metric that’s valuable is how much a customer will spend at your company in their lifetime. That’s called CLV or customer lifetime value.  Use the same formula above but compute it based on the longest period of time you have records for.

When you can compare revenue per customer or CLV with CAC, you can determine how much you can afford to spend to acquire new clients.

Let us know if we can help you calculate these metrics so you can become wiser about how to invest your marketing dollars.

Deciding on the kind of business you want to start is a very big decision. Some require specialized skills that either the owner or employees will need. Others require a substantial initial capital outlay. In any case, it’s always a good idea to consider the health of the industry you’ll be entering in.
While we are not giving any kind of investment advice in this article, we thought it’d be fun to list the business ideas that will be recession-proof in 2020, many of which were also fast-growing in 2019. They are not in any particular order.
1. Bicycle shops
Demand for bikes ramped up this year when people started staying at home due to shelter-in-place orders. They saw the need to exercise close to home, and a bike is the perfect accessory to get people out of the house safely.
2. Building services
This group includes businesses that provide services like office and home cleaning, landscaping, and pest control. New demands in cleaning will continue for some time.
3. Software development
Businesses with skilled developers are in demand as other businesses look to automate more and more of their processes. Workers with skills in artificial intelligence and virtual reality are in very high demand. In 2020, we added a huge demand for video conferencing tools, and other tech tools we need to work from home.
4. Online publishers
While the traditional print media such as book publishers and newspapers are declining in growth, online publishers are thriving. This category includes bloggers as well as the internet stars on YouTube that are making great money through online ads and product endorsements. The fast pace of the news in 2020 has simply accelerated this trend.
5. Building finishers
This category includes construction companies that provide drywall, painting, and flooring to finish out a building or house. Th need will continue in 2020 as offices, shops, and other businesses remodel to meet social distancing and other safety rules.
6. Outpatient care
An alternative to going to the hospital emergency room, these care facilities are growing fast. For patients, they are less hassle than making an appointment with a doctor and far less expensive than ER bills. Once tests and treatments for COVID-19 become universal, these places will become good alternative for people with mild symptoms.
7. Administrative services
There’s a growing need for businesses that need additional administrative support beyond what employees can provide. Virtual assistants are included in this category as well as staffing companies that provide temporary clerical workers onsite.
8. Physicians
If you’ve ever been in a doctor’s office waiting room full of people, you know that this area is in demand. This include offices of physicians of all specialties.
9. Professional drivers
Professional drivers fall into two categories: truck drivers and delivery/taxi services. The demand for truck drivers is always increasing as online orders and ecommerce steadily grows. Many of these drivers are independent and own their own rigs as well as their own businesses.
Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, and DoorDash, to name a few, have increased the demand for professional drivers who can deliver food, medicine, or people to where they need to go.
10. Data processing
The demand for data hosting, server farms, and data processing continues to grow as our appetite for technology increases.
11. Warehousing and storage
Places like self-storage facilities will be in demand for a couple of reasons. Families have more stuff than they have room for. And as families continue to be mobile, they will need temporary storage space. All you have to do is look on your street at all the cars that don’t fit in their garages to see the demand in this type of business.
On the commercial side, increased ecommerce demand and the need for pickup and delivery services has increased the need for warehouses for businesses in the distribution space.
12. Construction
In most places, construction is booming, so there is a demand for general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and businesses that support construction.
Architects should be busy re-designing spaces, such as offices, restaurants, nursing homes, day care centers, and jails, to name a few, to keep people safer.
13. Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Even before COVID-19 came on the scene, this type of business was growing fast for several reasons beyond standard medical test ordered by doctors. People are getting DNA tests on their own, and nutritionists are doing more testing as people realize diet is a huge factor in health and personal energy.
Now that COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment require a variety of tests, these labs will be busy for a long time in the future.
14. Ecommerce wholesalers
There is a growing number of people who sell items on ecommerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon. While a few source these items through agreements with manufacturers, many visit flea markets, donation centers, and resell shops to make their purchases and repurpose the items.
Smart wholesalers that have their systems set up can help brick-and-mortar shops without an ecommerce presence sell their items while they are shuttered.
15. Professional services
Fields that are fastest-growing include technology and marketing consultants. An interesting new type of security consultant is one that trains groups on how to deal with violence in the workplace and schools.
Attorneys are busy helping individuals update their estate plans and will likely be busy with divorce filings after COVID-19 has let up some. Accountants have new laws to communicate to their clients, and many small businesses want their books caught up now.
16. Educational services
This broad group include elementary and secondary schools and junior colleges. It also includes adult career education, including businesses that teach trades skills, computer skills, and business skills.
Companies that provide an online component to learning will be in demand for quite a while.
17. Real estate agents
Competitive, yes. But the average home sells twice as fast as it did eight years ago, so the number of transactions have doubled, increasing demand.
18. Personal services
While a broad category, the areas seeing growth include personal trainers, personal nutritionists, and wedding planners, to name a few.
If your business falls into one of these categories, congratulations. If you’re considering starting a business and you have the skills needed to start one of the businesses above, what are you waiting for?

If you’re unlucky enough to have a car without GPS navigation maps, the next best thing to use is your smartphone. This article will take a look at apps that help to get you from point A to point B.

Google Maps

Google Maps is the all-around favorite, whether you own an iPhone or an Android.  The default navigation system on the iPhone is Apple Maps, so you will need to download Google Maps to get it.

The database is robust, mostly up-to-date, and shows not only places but also traffic congestion.

Waze

Waze is a crowd-sourced app that is good for current traffic conditions.  It has some fun features, such as the speed limit of the road you’re on. You can even set it to warn you when you’re speeding. Waze users let others know where local police are checking for speeders, although this is a bit of a controversial use of the software.  Other user reports include the locations of construction, road hazards, gas stations, and toll roads. A carpooling feature is also available.

At this writing, Google Maps and Waze, both owned by Google, are the only apps available for Auto navigation on the Android.

Komoot

Do you prefer to cycle or hike?  If so, Komoot’s AllTrails app maps all of the hiking and cycling trails around your town.  It lets you know the distance, elevation, and suggested fitness level of each trail so you can plan accordingly.  You can set routes and save them as well as favorite your local trails.

There’s no fee to use the above apps.  The following apps require a fee to use.

Bird and Lime

Don’t have your own rideYou may have seen people riding on motorized scooters or simply seen scooters parked on sidewalks scattered here and there. Welcome to the new field of micromobility. If you need to get somewhere that’s too short a distance for a car but too long to walk, you can unlock one of these rides with an app and hop on. A couple of companies in this space include Bird Rides Inc. (bird.co) and Lime (li.me), and Lyft.

Uber and Lyft

Of course, if you want a car, you can get a quick ride via Uber or Lyft as well as rent a car at all the traditional places.

Try out these apps so you can get where you want to go.

If you agree that “there’s no place like home,” then you may also have a wish to work from home more often. In many cases, you can, and here are some tools you need to get started.

If the products and services your business sells can be sold or delivered digitally, then you’re a candidate for working from home most of the time. If you have a storefront where customers visit to purchase your products and services, you can still perform some of your business duties remotely or rely on staff to greet and serve the customers.

You may also be able to be proactive about moving more and more of your business online. Some examples include:

  1. Hold more business meetings online instead of face to face.
  2. Encourage employees to work from home if their presence does not require face-to-face customer meetings.
  3. Provide online training for clients who cannot travel to an onsite course.
  4. Move your scheduling online by providing an app for clients to book their own appointments.
  5. Move your products online by using a shopping cart.
  6. Provide a delivery option in your business. (This may have you or your staff traveling more and not less unless your items can be delivered via a shipping service.)

Meeting with Customers

The next best thing to greeting customers in person is using video-conferencing.  You can easily start with FaceTime (for iPhone users). Android users have it a little tougher, but many use Facebook’s Messenger, Google’s Duo (both parties need to download the app), or imo (ditto on both parties).

If you have more complex meeting needs, software like Zoom is perfect to get you started. Hardware-wise, you’ll need a webcam, and a microphone is preferred. If you have a cell phone, you can use the mic and speakers in the headset provided.

Simply create your account at Zoom, and set up a meeting.  Invite people by emailing them a link to join you. Join the meeting at the set time, and conduct your business with your customer. You can hide your webcam if you’re shy, and you can share your screen in case you want to go over a report or something else with your client. Zoom has a free account option and can be found at https://zoom.us.

And remember, if you’re a little too shy for videoconferencing, you can always conduct business with clients using the good old-fashioned telephone or email.

Sharing Documents with Customers

If you have documents to share with all of your customers, you can post them online on your website. If you have private documents, you can use portal software to securely create a private section of the portal exclusively for that client. Apps that can do this and that are not accounting-specific include Citrix ShareFile and Box.com.

You can also share documents that don’t have sensitive financial or company information with clients using Google Drive. Simply create them, then share them using the email addresses of the appropriate clients.

Receiving Client Communications

Already customers are reaching out to businesses via all of the social media platforms as well as the messaging platforms, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Your virtual team can easily track all of these incoming messages by watching for notifications from anywhere in the world.

You might also be using an industry-specific app for customer interactions. For example, if you’re in the wellness space, MindBody apps are ubiquitous. If you’re an attorney, you’re likely using Clio.

Keeping in Touch with Your Team

You can use the same tools mentioned above to connect with your team members, but you will probably want one or two more apps – a private messaging app for when urgent things come up that need an immediate answer, and in some cases, a task management system.

Software like Slack is perfect for you to stay in touch with your team and keep communications private. It provides messaging functionality and more.

For task management, there are literally hundreds of apps to choose from. The simplest is something like Todoist, and typical small business options include software such as Asana and Monday.com.

If you want a Swiss-army-knife suite of tools that perform many of the above functions and are deeply integrated, Microsoft Teams fits the bill by providing a full collaborative platform for businesses of all sizes.

There’s No Place Like Home

We hope these apps provide you with the ability to stay in touch with your customers and your business while working from home, sweet home.

That’s right: The future is here! Now that it’s officially 2020, it may be time to jump on that accounting app bandwagon if you haven’t already done so. The exciting news is you can actually do a lot of your accounting tasks from your phone instead of your computer.

Here are just a few examples of accounting things you can do on your phone.

Banking

Are you still trudging to the bank to make your deposits?  If so, there is a better way! Simply download your bank’s mobile app, login, and look for the Make Deposit function. Get the check you want to deposit, write “For Electronic Deposit Only” on the back and endorse it. On your phone, enter the amount, then take a picture of the check. Presto! Hit Deposit and the money will be in your account in no time.

Receipts

Shoeboxes of receipts are a thing of the past. (Thank goodness, we say, as we wipe our forehead!) Send your receipts to your accountant simply by taking a picture of them and sending them via email or through a document entry system like Receipt Bank or AutoEntry.  You’ll need to set this up to connect with your accounting system, but once it’s set up, it’s a real time-saver.

Accounting

Wondering how much income you made last month? Download your accounting app on your phone and login to get many of the features that you have on your computer onto your phone. You’ll need to be on a cloud system like QuickBooks Online or Xero, or possibly have a hosted desktop solution in order to have this functionality.

Payroll

There’s no need to be tied to your desk on payroll day if you can submit or approve payroll from your phone.  Many payroll systems have apps you can download so you can be free of your computer.

Add-ons

There’s a mobile app for almost any add-on you might need, such as TSheets for time tracking or Square for taking payments.

Artificial Intelligence

There are even some apps where you can talk in plain English and get a plain English answer back. These apps are using artificial intelligence which is exploding in the accounting space.  You can ask questions about your cash flow or check a metric that you like to follow.

Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to find out more or get help moving some of your accounting functions to your mobile phone.

If you find yourself on the go more often than not, having constant access to your business accounts and these features will be beneficial.