How to Start Ecommerce Business – step by step Full Details

How to Start Ecommerce Business –  step by step Full Details 

Are you planning to launch a new business, starting an e-commerce business can be felt overwhelming and stressful? So, learn these procedures to make it easier.

There are different types of businesses that most people are doing these days. Like other businesses, learning how to start an e-commerce business is a bit strategic and streamlined.

It starts with a proper plan, goal setting, preparing, developing, and launching an online store. Further extends to monitoring the outcomes and tweaking necessary areas.

Ecommerce businesses these days have become instant as many people started shopping online. It saves a lot of money for the consumers in many aspects.

Therefore, if you are planning to start a business this year, I strongly recommend Ecommerce Business. After all, you need to construct a brick-and-mortar store.

Instead, you can perform similar operations with just an online shopping portal (website). Going online offers greater flexibility, affordability, and new opportunity.

So, in this article, I am going to explain to you how to start an e-commerce business with clear procedures and steps.

Why Start an Ecommerce Business in 2021?

E-commerce is growing and sales are expected to reach $5,695 billion by 2022. Because of that, many people search for new business ideas and learning how to start an E-commerce business today.

The main goal is to create a long-lasting business that can sustain itself and grow. Make sure you pick a creative business name that rings well to get your company to stand out from the competition.

In this article, we will explain the twelve steps of starting an e-commerce business. We will also include the trending business ideas to consider. Read along!

1. Finding and Choosing the Right Product/Service

Finding your niche for a product or service to sell is about choosing the profitable and sustainable ones – especially if this is your first e-commerce business.

Coming up with the right product can be a challenging task but definitely isn’t impossible. With a little effort, selling the right product or service makes the business process more manageable.

In the long run, your brand creates a steady income flow and opens opportunities. Therefore, choose the ones that you enjoy, can scale up, and target the right audience.

Aside from looking for sustainability, match your product or service with personal experience and pain points.

Solving certain pain points is often the unique selling point (USP). Consider the type of goods to sell, physical or digital, and how the production process looks like?

2. Conduct a Small Market Research

Market research gains business-related insights, like the market conditions, audience’s buying power, your competitors, and pricing system.

The insights from market research act as a guideline to set long-lasting marketing and sales strategies.

It also tells you why the audience will buy your product? The best outcome of the research is getting actionable steps you can apply throughout the business processes.

To do so, start by analyzing the industry to understand its current and future growth. Look at Google’s search results – type in the industry-related keywords and read as many sources as possible.

Your research insights should answer questions like:

  • What are the current statistics and trends related to your business?
  • Who are your competitors and from which location?
  • List their weaknesses that give you new opportunities
  • How do consumers behave in your niche look like?
  • What does your user journey look like?
  • How does your return policy look like?
  • What will be your terms and conditions?

Learn from existing online groups or communities to understand the audience. Read online research or pay to services like Google Surveys to help with data.

Preparing all of these insights paves an easier way to fulfill the next steps.

3. Write a Detailed Business Plan

A business plan consists of your short and long-term goals, strategies, objectives, and growth expectations. It helps guide you and sell your business to customers, investors, and partners.

In short, it’s the best way to learn about the company and where it’s going. Consider the process as setting ground rules and a foundation for future decisions.

Therefore, start creating the business plan with essential information, all wrapped up in an executive summary. Point out your USP, goals, and product fulfillment strategies.

Include your marketing and sales plans, like how you plan to promote and price the products? Also, add financial details with the income system, budget allocation, and capital expenditure.

Create a plan with the right business plan template and clear formatting for better understanding.

4. Find Suppliers and Partners

Choosing your supplier or partner is crucial in delivering top-notch products to the customers and automating work processes.

Therefore, pay attention to their reputation before deciding to work together and solve problems. Also, decide how much work needs third-party suppliers.

There are two ways to find suppliers or partners.

  1. The first one is through signing up on platforms like Alibaba or Redbubble to handle the production and distribution processes.
  2. The second one is by finding local suppliers to partner with to help with packaging and shipping.

If you’re going for the second option, start by looking at online or referral-based options.

Contact the potential ones, understand how they work, and check their reputation.

Offer them business partnerships, in the short or long term, and see where it aligns with your budgeting.

5. Register Your E-commerce Business

Taking care and settling the legal side of your online business is challenging yet important.

With a registered business, you’ll gain license and branding rights, minimize tax liability, add credibility to customers, and avoid conflicts with partners.

Start by determining the business structure, whether you’ll run the business as a sole owner, with a partner, or turn it into a corporation.

Consider if you’re planning to hire in the long term. Then, register your business name. Also, register with the local tax authorities – including for license and permits.

If you’re running the business from home, get a home occupation permit. Most importantly, check with your local legal office for a better registration process. Open a business bank account for easier and safer transactions.

6. Pick an E-Commerce Platform

Your e-commerce platform will consist of many activities, from product search, purchase, and payment. Therefore, it’s important to find a capable and scalable one.

The right platform also boosts sales conversion, builds customer relationships, and avoids long-term hassle. Consider how fast you plan to grow and the budget for maintaining the platform.

Match it with your objectives. Choose a user-friendly platform, like WordPress with its numerous e-commerce plugins.

Aside from fulfilling the e-commerce activities, consider the platform’s maintenance and upgrade features and pricing.

Ensure that the platform is scalable and capable of handling unexpected traffic surges. Also, consider if your chosen platform is SEO-friendly as it can help boost your online store.

7. Choose the Right Domain Name

As a long-term investment, your domain name works to identify your business website. It’s usually the first thing people learn about the business and helps with page ranking by making the website SEO-friendly.

That’s why choosing the right domain name is a crucial step. To boost branding and SEO with the domain name, include relevant keywords or use brandable names.

Keep it short and use simple letters for easy pronunciation. Most importantly, your name should clearly explain what you’re selling. Have backup names if the domain name is taken.

Check the WHOIS history to see if the domain has a previous owner or not. Additionally, pay attention to your domain structure.

Use subfolders instead of sub-domains as Google reads subfolders as part of a website instead of a new one – therefore increasing overall site authority.

Examples of subfolders are “” while sub-domains are “”.

By choosing subfolders, you’re one step ahead of creating an efficient site structuring, which we will cover in step ten.

8. Customize Your Online Store

After getting your website active, it’s time to customize it. Customizing your online store makes you stand out from competitors – making the website truly yours.

Aside from that, customizing the website helps improve efficiency through the use of good website design.

The customization not only applies to the user interface (UI) and design, but also the user experience (UX) and overall functionality.

To do so, always customize based on your brand’s personality. Add content creation strategy to keep the best elements on the website. Apply UI and UX designs

Focus on the 4P’s of marketing, which consists of product, price, place, and promotion. Doing so boosts your content creation skill and increases ROI.

Moreover, catering to the customer’s needs. Match it based on their online purchasing experience and apply them to the website.

If you’re using a site builder, you can use the e-commerce themes. When the customization is finished, go through the pages and test their user journey.

Remember to set up payment gateways for your customers. The most popular payment method is PayPal, but you can use accounts for bank transfers for the early phase of your online store.

9. Upload Your Products and Content

Start uploading and organizing the product list and content for the website. Follow an effective way to product upload, like using the bulk upload function using Excel or a CSV file.

Make sure to add the right SEO elements through content marketing to your product and content. When uploading products, always add relevant keywords to the product title, description, and tags.

Use high-quality images, add alt text, and compress the image sizes for a fast-loading page. Categorize the products correctly for clearer page indexing by the search engines.

If it helps, create a checklist consisting of every page element, including the logo, headers, and buttons. Answer questions to yourself, like:

  • Do all the links work?
  • What does the page speed look like?
  • Does the landing page have all the necessary information?
  • Does the customer sign-up page work?

10. Improve Your Ecommerce Website SEO

Now that the website has all the essentials, it’s time to improve the website SEO. Because SEO has various strategies, you can start focusing on e-commerce SEO.

As its name implies, all the SEO efforts aim to drive traffic to your online store and its product pages. E-commerce SEO includes keyword research, improving site architecture, link building, local SEO, and technical SEO.

From these practices, you gain organic traffic to the website and rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERP).

Start by going through the page one by one and see what you can improve. Add meta description on each page, optimize your link-building strategies.

Use head and long-tail keywords on each page so that each one becomes first-page SERP potential. Consider web accessibility making sure anyone can use your site easily – including those with disabilities.

Adding accessibility benefits SEO and mobile users. Therefore, it’s a smart way to incorporate SEO into the website.

How you structure your URL also matters. Go for the popular top-level domains, like .com, whenever possible.

In short, your URL should give an idea of what the page content is about. Use tools like Seobility for an SEO check.

11. Publish the Website and Promote Online

Only publish the website when everything is ready. Before publishing, ask for feedback from trusted individuals or even potential customers.

Go through each page and ensure all is working optimally. The next important step after publishing is promoting the website. The fastest way to do it is by creating a social media account.

Promote using the right business tools. Create teasers, add links to your website, and start building customer engagement.

If budget isn’t a problem, promote with Google Ads for better reach. From it, you can gain more leads, brand credibility, and maintain steady site traffic.

Additionally, use newsletter marketing to promote further. Sending out newsletters builds relationships and an excellent way to promote product updates, announcements, or other product-related information.

Use soft-selling methods whenever possible to maintain interests. In the long term, start collaborating with influencers or potential brand partners for more efficient marketing.

With more partnerships, your brand can gain a more positive reputation, increased trust from existing customers, and open growth opportunities.

Alternatively, you can register on Google My Business and invest in creating a great FAQ page to improve page ranking. These are free methods to help promote your business.

12. Track and Tweak

The final step is about tracking your website performance and tweaking for improvements. Doing so provides a smart way to maintain growth and prevent website issues.

Choose and settle on your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for better tracking and tweaking.

Tracking website performance requires the right tools that cover all the essential data to understand what works and what doesn’t?

Use Google Analytics to track important metrics, like click rates, average time spent on-page, and bounce rate. As for tweaking, always understand the reason you’re doing it.

Some valid purposes are to gain more customers, improve content clarity, and increase marketing effectiveness. For an easier tweaking process, use the tools that can integrate with your e-commerce platform.

Additionally, tweak the website for mobile users. By doing so, you’re optimizing the whole website through a mobile-first approach.

However, remember that all the changes you’re making shouldn’t disrupt the customer’s shopping experience.

Due to the changing time and market needs because of COVID-19, the trending products and services revolve around health and wellness.

However, some industries like retail, home, and personal care, and hobbies or crafts are staying because of the working from home conditions.

You can take opportunities from this by choosing one of the sustainable and always in-demand products.

It’s also important to choose the ones that match your personal interests and solve problems. Among all other factors, customers prefer genuine products with real benefits.

Here are some examples of trending products and services in 2021 that you can consider:

Health and well-being products
  • This includes face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectant spray, and daily vitamins.
  • However, consult with your partners when selling health-based products.
  • For face masks, try making a DIY design to stand out from competitors.
  • Besides the regular, daily clothing items, the trending options include loungewear and sportswear.
  • Deliver high-quality products with durability to increase brand loyalty.
Beauty Products
  • This includes skincare, hair scrunchies, mask straps, and make-up products.
  • Consider natural or eco-friendly skincare products as they are a part of skincare trends in 2021.
  • Some of the popular products are water bottles, pet care products, yoga mats, plants, and travel accessories.
  • For lifestyle products, consider sustainable and environmental-friendly ones that support the market demand.

Consider selling board games, kids’ toys, or hobby-based and craft products like cross-stitching, woodworking, and home decor.

These support the stay-at-home families during the pandemic.

Home Office Essentials

Working from home enables people to set a home office. The products to sell include desk chairs, seat cushions, and blue light glasses.

However, consider the materials or distribution to avoid making the wrong investments.

To find and sell the perfect product, use Google Trends, the marketplace’s featured page, YouTube trending videos, or social media hashtags to understand what’s popular. However, it’s still important to understand the difference between “trend” and “fad” to make your business flourish.


Starting an e-commerce business is encouraged for individuals looking for extra income and help others through products that provide solutions and solve pain points.

Remember that choosing the right product or service determines your business success.

Additionally, think and create strategies in both short and long terms.

To start your e-commerce business, follow the twelve steps we’ve covered in the article, which includes:

  1. Choose a product or service to sell
  2. Conduct market research
  3. Write a business plan
  4. Find suppliers and partners
  5. Register your business
  6. Pick an e-commerce platform
  7. Choose the right domain name
  8. Customize your online store
  9. Upload your products and content
  10. Improve website SEO
  11. Publish and promote
  12. Track and tweak

Go through and apply each of them to boost your online store. If you’re worried about budget or resources, it’s okay to start small.

Work on local markets and slowly make your way up. Good luck!



5 Things You Must to Know to Launch a Successful Blog in 2021

 5 Things You Must to Know to Launch a Successful Blog in 2021

Blogs are everywhere. Celebrities have them, businesses need them and pretty much anyone with an opinion can start one. With so many blogs all over the place, why are some more successful than others, and how can you start one that’s more likely to succeed?

At the end of the day, the main reason why there are so many websites and blogs on the internet today, is simply because it’s so cheap and easy to get started. Heck, you don’t even need to have any technical or design skills anymore, with most site builders offering simplistic drag and drop editors.

A perfect example of this can be seen with the millions of users that have gone through the process to create a blog on Wix. In fact, they even have an ad campaign that shows celebrities creating their own sites in seconds — showing it really is that simple.

However, even with it being extremely quick and easy to start a blog of your own… does it mean that you should? Nothing in life worth doing is easy, and that’s the same with creating a successful site or blog as well.

To stand out from the crowd and create a site of real value, you are going to need to pre-plan for the launch of your site and how you will continue to grow it over time. And that is exactly what we are going to be covering today.


1 – Know Why Are You Blogging in the First Place

What’s the point in starting a blog if you don’t have a reason for one? Well, that is why you need to first think about it and consider the different options available.

Of the many different reasons to start a blog, here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Inspire your audience and share your story

  • Improve writing ability and being more tech-savvy

  • It’s a fun and exciting new skill to learn

  • Building a site and brand for your business

  • Generate income through content, traffic and ads

  • To meet new people and become a voice online

  • And many more…

As you can see, when it comes to blogging… you don’t really need to have a reason to get started, you just need to get started.

The more clear of an idea and message you have for your site, the more likely you are to succeed with it. Also, try to stay as niche focused as possible, as this will help with your content creation and audience targeting — which we will be talking about next.


2 – Decide Who Your Target Audience Is

So, you came up with an idea for your site… now what? Ideally, you would want to promote it and bring new visitors to your site.

Before we do all of this, you need to know who your target demographic audience is, where you can find them, and also how they are going to get value out of your site.

This is important because there are already a billion different sites on the internet, already talking about a million of the same things… So why would your site be any different?

With both this point and the previous one in mind, try to think about why you are going to create a site, who it’s meant for, and why it’s better than what’s currently out there.

And if you think your new shiny little blog has no potential or chance for success… just take a look at this story on a woman that created a coupon blog, which then turned into a multi-million dollar success story!


3 – Go Live with Your Social Media Accounts

When you think about social media, you might be thinking this is something you would want to set up after your blog goes live. Actually, it’s best to start it before going live.

There are several reasons for this, but the first is that you can secure a nice set of names across each of the social platforms. It would be best to try and get the same name as your domain name, but this is often hard to accomplish.

When creating your social profiles, try and make sure they are all branded in the same colors and language, so they have a consistent look and feel across them all. You will also want to link back to your site from your social profiles as well. This will help people find your site.

Once your site is live, it’s important to share all of your blog content across each of your major social networking platforms. You can also create a Facebook Fan Page as well, along with accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


4 – Launch Your Site with Live Articles

Another important thing to consider before actually going live with your site, is to make sure that you have a few live articles for people to read as well.

Many people will go live with their blog and share it with everyone, and only have one article on the site. It’s very exciting to get your site live, but if it’s just one article… then there isn’t much else to do.

With that being said, try to have at least three to five articles live on your site. Also don’t forget to add some nice visuals within each article, and to also link out to any other reliable references or sources you talk about.


5 – Learn the Basics of SEO and Social Media Marketing

After your site is live, you will then want to focus more of your time and effort on the outreach and promotion process. This can best be accomplished through the use of SEO to rank in the search results and social media marketing.

Google will eventually index your site in the search results for free, but you will need a lot of backlinks from other sites and high-quality content to compete against other sites.

For this reason and more, social media marketing is often the go-to method for new bloggers and site owners. Since most of us already have friends and a following online, it’s much easier to share new blog content with friends versus trying to rank in Google.

If you’d like to learn more about the many different ways to bring new audiences to your blog, be sure to read through these 8 recommendations from Forbes.

How to Start Your Blog in the Right Direction from Day One

No matter what type of blogger you are, it’s important to try and make your blog as fun, informative, visually pleasing and useful as possible. With a billion other blogs out there fighting for attention, you are going to need to do something special to win your audience over.

The best way to accomplish this is by making sure you read through each of the questions and data points we listed above.

The more you know about your site, it’s audience and reason for being, the more likely you are to set a foundation for success.

The most important thing for you today is to start planning and getting everything in motion. Blogging is an extremely fun process, but can be slow at times, so best to get started now versus later on.



7 Most Effective Tips to Monetize a Blog

7 Most Effective Tips to Monetize a Blog

Blogging can be both a hobby and a source of income. At first, it will become a source of additional income, and in the future, if you are able to grow traffic to your blog, it can even become the main source of your income.

One of the most difficult parts of monetizing a blog is growing the number of daily visitors, though only a proper promotional strategy will help you increase these numbers. Also, it is important to come up with more than just a few ways to generate profits from your blog.

Therefore in today’s article, we will share some tips and tricks that will help you find more ways to monetize your blog.

Tip #1: Sell Your Own Merchandise

If you already have a proper number of daily readers, you can release your own merchandise in order to make some extra money. If this sounds like a big investment that may not pay off, we ensure it will be a successful experiment if you produce the merchandise via a print-on-demand platform. 

The first best thing about a print on demand platform is that you do not need to foresee how many items you will need, order them in large quantities, or pay upfront for those large quantities. The second best thing is that the production and delivery are up to the POD platform. The number of orders Printify stores have received has tripled in June 2020. The numbers indicate that Printify is one of the best choices for your print-on-demand needs as far as orders go. 

Tip #2: Offer Online Courses

Depending on your blog’s main concept, you can create an online course and promote it on your blog, or you could start teaching online. Building a course will take some time at first, but it will become a form of passive income afterward.

On the other hand, if your readers appreciate you as a personality and follow you on social media, being able to talk to you online might be a bonus point for them, but in a longer time, teaching online will take more of your time. 

Tip #3: Accept Guest Posts

If your blog has good ratings and generates great traffic, many link builders might be interested in publishing guest posts on your website. You can either choose to write an article yourself and add their links or accept an article that is already written by them.

However, when accepting guest posts, be selective about what you publish. You need to make sure that the link builders provide unique quality content and that it matches the concept of your blog. Publishing random content for money will lead to decreased traffic, and no one wants to publish guest posts on your blog anymore.

Tip #4: Do Freelance Blogging in Addition

If you are an experienced blogger and have been writing your blog for years now, you can do freelance blogging. More to it, if you have been creating and publishing quality content on your blog through the years and have generated great numbers of traffic, the link to your blog will work better than any portfolio.

To find projects that need freelance bloggers, make sure to check out freelancer websites such as Fiverr and Upwork. Also, you can find projects to work on in Facebook freelancer groups, local or worldwide. 

Tip #5: Write Sponsored Reviews

Depending on the main topic of your blog, you can offer paid product or service reviews. For example, if you are a beauty blogger, you can review various kinds of decorative cosmetics brand products.

On the other hand, if you run a blog that publishes content on such topics as marketing or SEO, there will be fewer products or services for you to review. However, you can share your opinion about specific online courses or online tools.

Tip #6: Use AdSense

Adding Google AdSense to your website will help you grow your business revenue by showing related ads on your website, which means that each website visitor will see different ads on your website, depending on their geographical location, interests, age, gender, and so on.

Tip #7: Add Your Own Ad Banners

If you want full control of what kind of ads are shown on your blog, you can add stationery banners to your website and offer payment packages for the brands that want to advertise on your website.

If you choose the ads well and make them relative to your blog, your readers will find it rather beneficial than annoying. For example, if you are promoting a new social media marketing online course with a discount code, your readers will appreciate it because it’s not only informative but also beneficial.



5 Clever Ways to Promote Your Blog on Instagram

5 Smart Ways to Promote Your Blog on Instagram

Do you think that Instagram is a social media site where young adults and teens share selfies and short videos? Yes, they do so but there is a lot more you can do on Instagram and promoting your personal blog is one of them. It is a popular visual medium around the globe and a superb way to drive massive traffic to your blog.

With almost 1 billion monthly active users and 500 million daily users, Instagram has huge potential to present your blog posts in front of a wider audience that might be looking for exactly what you post on your blog. Sharing your blog posts on Instagram with consistency can surely deliver a stream of readers to your blog to get more eyeballs on your content. You as a blogger can also buy likes on Instagram to make your IG profile popular quickly and drive more traffic to your blog.

In this blog post, you will find some clever ways to promote your blog on Instagram to grab the attention of more regular readers.


Post Great Content

You will be wanting to post anything and everything on the blog. It is the biggest mistake you will be making while creating and publishing content. It is always great to keep your content relevant to your blog to make sure you provide high-quality and informative content to your readers. And if you look at any of the top influencers on IG today, you will see a great way to get famous on social media, is to continually come out with new content, memes and videos that others continually share.

If it is a niche blog, stay relevant to the niche and publish useful and informative content to attract more readers for it. Add like-minded people in your Instagram profile and keep sharing blog posts with them to get a good amount of monthly visitors. You can use featured images of blog posts or design unique and appealing images to hook your audience and encourage them to visit your blog.


Publish Blog Post Teasers in Instagram Stories

According to numbers, almost 70% of IG users watch stories every day. And it is also a fact that the popularity of IG stories is not dwindling anytime soon. Instead of waiting for a live post to promote it on Instagram, let your IG followers know what topics you are about to cover. It will generate interest and keep them curious about what is being published on your blog.

Moreover, you can also create short videos about recently published blog posts that you will share in IG stories. Instagram Stories are a clever way to promote your blog content and hook your followers.

A lot of graphic design software like Canva, are out there that helps you create appealing and killing IG stories to share your blog link effectively in stories. 


Be an Industry Leader and an Active Follower

An effective way to make your IG profile grow and promote your blog is to engage with your followers and other fellow bloggers on their pages. Engaging with your followers effectively also helps you get more Instagram likes on your posts. 

Find people on Instagram who have a similar approach to yours and follow them. Most of them will follow back and see your posts to learn something new or the latest industry news. Whenever you see relevant posts to your blog, engage with them and try to build links with bloggers or other IG user. 


Play with Branded and Industry Relevant Hashtags

In this digital world, brands both small and big create their own hashtags on social media profiles to encourage content sharing and promotion. And this is not rocket science itself. You can also do the same for your blog. Create your own branded hashtags or play with the industry-relevant hashtags to get your blog content in front of a wider and relevant audience.

When you use hashtags in your Instagram posts, it makes your posts easily searchable by people who often follow hashtags to find something useful. As a result, you can have more readers for your blog and more new followers for your IG profile to stand out.


Maintain Consistency

It might be a fun game for you at the beginning, as it is such a novelty. But posting content on IG profile becomes more of a chore when the novelty wears off. In the end, people start posting every now and then. It can ruin all the efforts made before.

This is the reason, you should maintain consistency when sharing blog posts on Instagram to drive more traffic to your blog. You could lose followers if not posting consistently.

Before you start promoting a blog on Instagram, come up with a content calendar or content publishing strategy to keep posting on a regular basis.

The Importance of Daily Growth on Instagram

Of the many different important things to remember about Instagram and growing your following day after day, it’s all about the user engagement and the quality of experience offered.

You can spend as much money as you like on paid promotions and buying likes or followers, but if they content value isn’t there, people aren’t going to stay a loyal follower.

To continually grow your brand on social media and reach new audiences daily, be sure to implement these winning content creation and marketing methods today. Within a few months time, you might just be a micro-influencer within your own niche market!


10 Great Mobile Apps to Manage Your Business Finances

10 Great Mobile Apps to Manage Your Business Finances

Square is an excellent point-of-sale (POS) app for small businesses that accept credit cards and those that have an online store or website presence. You set up the Square software on your computer and the mobile app on your phone or another mobile device, like a tablet. Here are some of the ways in which Square works:

  • It helps you manage your inventory and keep track of all your items.
  • It not only allows for mobile credit card payments, but it also allows you to do business online since you can set up an online store.
  • Square can also prepare reports regarding your inventory and your point-of-sale transactions.

You can use the software if you are accepting payments at your storefront. If you are accepting payments away from your store, you can use the app on the phone or tablet. In addition, You just swipe the customer's credit card on the card reader for contact-free payments, the customer can swipe the card. The app then uses the Square proprietary software and card reader to record the transaction.

Another benefit of using Square for your point-of-sale transactions is that you can set up an online store with online transaction capability. Square is compatible with a number of other apps, including delivery apps that you can access through the Square dashboard. Square also supports inventory management, particularly for retailers.

The Square app is free and Square also gives you a free credit card reader. Transactions are credited to your account within one or two days and the charge is 2.75% for each card swipe. You also do not need a merchant account, so there are significant savings over traditional processing.

Square can also help you collect customer email addresses because you can email or text a receipt immediately.

There is no charge for cash or check transactions using Square and it gives you a daily sales report for everything. It is, in a sense, a mobile cash register.

Because it's inexpensive and easy to use, many small businesses are choosing to use Square in their brick-and-mortar stores. It is one of the best apps for mobile credit card transactions. It does have some downsides:

  • A lot of transactions seem to be abandoned when using Square, so business managers have to watch out for that.
  • It is not good for bulk transactions.
  • It can also be expensive if you have a heavy sales volume since it costs 2.75% or above for each transaction.

It is compatible with both the Windows and Mac operating systems. The only thing you need is the Square card reader with regard to equipment.



How to Secure Your Home-Based Business

How to Secure Your Home-Based Business

Home-based businesses account for approximately half of all small businesses in the U.S., and offer many advantages including saving on rent and commuting costs and even some tax benefits. And during a pandemic, a home-based business can be especially beneficial since you can practice social distancing while earning a living.

However, while you're busy running your company from the comforts of home, it can be easy to overlook a crucial component like security, which can prevent your business from falling victim to burglary, vandalism, and cyber attacks. 


Why Secure Your Home Business?

Most small businesses own physical assets like inventory, equipment, and furniture, and digital assets like computer data. If your home isn't secure, you could be leaving your business or personal property open to theft. Rather than create such an opportunity, make sure all outside doors are secured with deadbolt locks and windows are firmly latched. In addition, illuminate the exterior of your home with solar-powered or motion-activated lights.

You should also consider installing a security system throughout your house, which can deter thieves from targeting your property. Those who have such intentions generally want to avoid detection and will bypass a home with a security system for fear of triggering an alarm or a motion-activated surveillance camera. Along with burglar alarms, many home security systems include smoke detectors, which can help save your property from fire damage by sounding an alarm if a fire breaks out.


Installing a Home Security System

Once you've opted to secure your home, decide what type of system you want. Security systems can be wired or wireless, professionally installed or DIY, and monitored or unmonitored. You can hire a professional security company to install a wired or wireless system, or you can install a wireless system yourself. The type of system you need depends on your budget and the value of the property you want to protect.

When choosing between an installed product and a DIY system, consider whether you have the time, inclination, and technical ability to install and maintain a system yourself. You should also consider whether you want to commit to a long-term contract.

Many security systems include several of the following components:

  • Motion sensors: Used to detect unexpected movement. Also used to activate cameras and lights
  • Cameras: May be indoor, outdoor, or both. A doorbell camera is activated when the motion sensor is triggered or the doorbell button is pressed.
  • Intrusion sensors: Activated when a door or window is opened.
  • Glass break detectors: Activated when glass door or window panes are broken.
  • Keypad: Used to operate the system


Some security companies offer additional items, such as panic buttons, key fobs, and smart locks. The cost of your system will depend on the options you choose. For instance, you can buy a basic DIY system from Simplisafe for around $200, and pay an extra $14.99 a month for monitoring services with no contract. Alternately, if you’re looking for a longer-term commitment with greater investment, you can buy an installed wireless system from ADT, which costs a minimum $1,613 to $2,477 over a three-year contract and includes 24/7 monitoring.

If you choose a system installed by a professional security company, be sure to read the contract carefully before you sign it. It may contact hidden surprises, like a large penalty for early termination.


Protect Your Information

Like most business owners, you probably use a computer to send or receive data to and from customers and to store electronic documents like invoices, sales receipts, and tax statements. Protecting the information on your computer is essential, particularly if it contains personally identifiable information (PII) like customers' names, addresses, and credit card numbers. PII is valuable to identity thieves so you should take extra steps to keep it safe.

In its 2019 study on data breaches, Verizon found that small businesses are the target of 43% of all cyber attacks. To protect your business from vulnerability, take these basic precautions:

  • Invest in some robust security software to keep viruses and malware from invading your computer. 
  • Use a firewall to safeguard your internet connection. 
  • Backup your computer files to the cloud or an offsite location regularly. 
  • Make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure, encrypted, and hidden. 
  • Speak with your bank or processor to ensure it's using the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services.



    Review Your Insurance

    While a security system can deter thieves and cybercriminals from invading your home and business, it won't prevent events like fires and windstorms that can damage your business property. For these reasons, it's important to insure your home-based business. Don't assume your homeowners policy will cover your business-related activities and business-owned property. Speak with your insurer to learn whether you need additional coverage.

    Many insurers offer a premium discount on homes and businesses protected by security devices such as deadbolt locks, burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and fire alarms. 

    Your homeowners insurance provider may be willing to insure your business activities by adding endorsements to your policy. If not, you can purchase either an in-home business policy or a business owners package policy. The best option for you depends on the size, nature, and complexity of your business, as well as the cost of coverage.



Best Small Business Insurance Companies

Best Small Business Insurance Companies

While many insurance companies sell commercial insurance, some do a better job of supporting small businesses than others. Which insurers satisfy small business owners the most? Both J.D. Power and the Chamber of Commerce have answered that question through ratings or recommendations. J.D. Power provides insurer ratings based on overall customer satisfaction, while the Chamber of Commerce recommends seven insurers, which it designates the "best small business insurance companies."


J.D. Power's Small Commercial Insurance Study

For the past eight years, J.D. Power has conducted its U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study to measure small businesses' overall satisfaction with their insurer. All survey participants are small businesses with fifty or fewer employees.

The study determines what services business owners want, need, and expect from their insurers. To do so, it identifies key industry trends and issues in the small business commercial insurance market. Insurers can use the study results to improve their service, upgrade their products, and increase customer satisfaction.

J.D. Power measures customer satisfaction based on five factors, listed in order of importance: interaction, policy offerings, price, billing and payment, and claims.

For each insurer, J.D. Power calculates a total satisfaction score on a 1,000-point scale.

In 2020, J.D. Power broadened its survey approach to give insurers more insight into customers' preferences. The company added questions about customers' perceptions of insurers' brands, their experiences with shopping and quoting, and their opinions about insurers' products and policies.


How COVID-19 Impacted J.D. Power's Study

In 2019, small business owners’ satisfaction with their insurance providers reached an all-time high—resulting in an industry average score of 844—according to J.D. Power's 2019 Small Commercial Insurance Study. J.D Power attributed the unprecedented satisfaction to investments insurers had made in “technology, servicing, product expansion, and dedicated infrastructure designed to support small business customers.”

When J.D. Power conducted its 2020 study, it found that overall customer satisfaction (the industry average) declined from 844 to 836. This was the first time in the study's history that satisfaction had decreased. J.D. Power blamed the pandemic for the drop in satisfaction, as many small businesses were suffering and felt that insurers had done little to help them weather the storm.

The 2020 J.D. Power study showed that 59% of small commercial insurance customers were unaware of efforts their insurers had made to assist them, such as modifying policy terms or waiving fees.


2020 J.D Power Small Business Insurer Results

The results of the 2019 and 2020 satisfaction studies appear in the table below, with insurers listed in descending order based on their 2020 score. The 2019 list included 13 insurers while the 2020 list included only nine. Insurer Ratings for Overall Satisfaction Insurer 2020 Score 2019 Score Chubb 853 858 State Farm 852 854 Erie Insurance 850 844 Liberty Mutual 850 836 Farmers 840 858 Travelers 835 835 Allstate 829 848 Nationwide (Allied) 829 868 The Hartford 827 830 American Family N/A 864 Auto-Owners N/A 853 AIG N/A 851 The Hanover N/A 823



2020’s Best Insurance Companies Explained

The following summaries highlight the type of policies each insurer offers and, in some cases, how long the insurer has been in business:


If you're shopping for a new insurer, talk with a local insurance broker and other business owners in your industry to find out which insurer they do or don’t recommend. Get details about which policies they paid for and what the claims process was like.

  • Chubb: An international company that's been in business for more than 200 years, Chubb sells a broad range of coverages through independent agents.


  • State Farm: Founded in 1922, State Farm is a well-known name in the insurance world. The company’s small business policies can be tailored to industries and cover 24 different coverages including commercial auto, liability umbrella, and business owner policies.


  • Erie Insurance: Erie is more than 90 years old and has five million policies in force. It is one of only two companies in J.D. Power’s 2020 rankings to increase its score compared to 2019. The company provides all the basic business coverages, but its footprint is limited to 12 states and the District of Columbia.


  • Liberty Mutual: In business for more than a century, Liberty mutual provides the coverages you’d expect from a big insurer, but also offers policies for niche industries such as nonprofits.
  • Farmers: A large company that offers standard coverages, but also serves niche markets like religious and education groups. Customers obtain quotes by filling out an online form and then speaking with an agent.


  • Travelers: A large company that's been in business for more than 165 years. Offers standard insurance products, as well as solutions for specific industries like construction, finance, health care, and technology. Travelers is known for prompt service and quick claim settlements.


  • Allstate: Founded in 1931, the company provides auto insurance across many industries. It offers other small business coverages based on the industry you’re in, too.


  • Nationwide: A Fortune 100 company, Nationwide is a large provider that offers a wide range of coverages and excellent customer service. Customers obtain quotes by filling out an online form and then speaking with an agent.


  • The Hartford: Provides excellent customer service and offers a multitude of insurance policies. Offers liability coverage for home-based businesses.  


Meghan says talk with Oprah without royals’ input ‘liberating’

Meghan says talk with Oprah without royals’ input ‘liberating’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has described to Oprah Winfrey how “liberating” it was to have a conversation – let alone a sit-down interview – with the television host without royal minders.

“CBS This Morning” aired a clip on Friday of Winfrey speaking to Meghan about a conversation they had before the actor’s wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018.

The clip opens with Winfrey describing how she asked for an interview and Meghan recounting how there were others in the room and she wasn’t even supposed to be speaking with Winfrey.

“As an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is um… different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes,” Meghan tells Winfrey.

Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry is set to air Sunday night in the United States on CBS and will air in Britain on Monday evening.

Despite stepping back from royal duties a year ago and moving to California, there still intense interest in the couple and their relationship with the royal family.

When Meghan was asked what was right about doing the interview now, she said it was because of the couple’s newfound freedom.

“That we’re on the other side of a lot of, a lot of life experience that’s happened,” Meghan said. And also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then. That wasn’t my choice to make.”


It’s Honestly Hard for Me to Put into Words How Much I Love These Hasselback Waffle Potatoes

It’s Honestly Hard for Me to Put into Words How Much I Love These Hasselback Waffle Potatoes

First method, Hasselback squares (see video here): For the squares, you need to peel a large Russet potato and trim off the top and bottom. Trim off the rounded edges and form it into a block-like rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch squares that should look the size of a box of matches.

This is where the knife work gets fun. Take two chopsticks and line them up on the top and bottom of the square. Then, make thin, vertical knife cuts down your little square potato, using the chopsticks to ensure that the knife doesn’t cut all the way through. Once you go across one way, rotate the potato and do the same cut perpendicular to your first round of cuts, creating a waffle-like design, but leaving the bottom of the potato square intact.

Once your potatoes are cut into these cute little waffle bites, you’ll toss them in a garlic Parmesan butter and roast them for about 40 minutes, flipping and re-brushing with butter about halfway through.


Democrats Agree To Cut Weekly Unemployment Benefits From $400 To $300, But Exempt $10,200 In 2020 Unemployment From Federal Tax

Democrats Agree To Cut Weekly Unemployment Benefits From $400 To $300, But Exempt $10,200 In 2020 Unemployment From Federal Tax


Democrats have agreed to reduce the federal supplemental unemployment benefits in the next stimulus bill from $400 to $300 per week—a major concession to moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia—as the legislation enters a crucial 24 hours in the Senate.  Getty Images

Key Facts

The previous version of the legislation would have authorized supplemental federal unemployment benefits of $400 per week through August.

The change Democrats plan to introduce would reduce the weekly supplement to $300 but extend the benefits another month, this time through September, multiple news outlets reported Friday. 

It would also exempt the first $10,200 in 2020 unemployment benefits from federal income tax—a proposal that Democrats have floated once before.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is expected to introduce the amendment during the Senate’s marathon voting session on Friday, CNN reported

 White House press secretary Jen Psaki endorsed the compromise on Friday, and added that an extra month of benefits and new tax forgiveness provisions means the amendment would provide “more relief to the unemployed” than the old version of the legislation.

Crucial Quote

“I have personally felt the benefit should be $400,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said during debate on the Senate floor Friday, “but I know some of my colleagues feel otherwise. So what we’re looking at is making sure that we can get a benefit so that people can make rent and pay groceries, that we prevent that cliff, and by God, we sure as hell shouldn’t let folks who are unemployed pay taxes on those unemployment benefits that they secured in 2020.”


Some states, including Maryland, Delaware and Arkansas, have already enacted policies to exempt unemployment benefits from state income tax, too.


San Diego Zoo Vaccinates Apes Against COVID-19

San Diego Zoo Vaccinates Apes Against COVID-19

The San Diego Zoo announced it will be inoculating many of its great apes after several of the gorillas became sick with the virus that causes COVID-19 in January.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, nine apes are being vaccinated. The vaccines are specific for animal use only. "Zoetis provided our veterinarians with a limited supply of recombinant purified spike protein vaccine, intended for use in protecting animals against SARS-CoV-2," San Diego Zoo said in a statement. "The vaccine doses originated from a supply strictly intended for nonhuman use."

ABC News reports that the animals were getting two shots three weeks apart, and have had no adverse reactions.


Beyond Meat Is Opening a Major Production Facility in China

Vegan meat brand Beyond Meat is opening a major production facility in China; the California-based brand aims to have a global reach.

Beyond Meat is making history as the first multinational vegan brand to open a major production facility in China.

The California-based brand signed an agreement to build two production plants around Shanghai earlier this month. It’s known for the Beyond Burger and other meat analogs (the Beyond Meatball was announced on Monday). The brand expects facilities to reach full scale by early next year. They will manufacture plant-based pork (pork is the most-consumed meat in China), beef, and chicken under the Beyond Meat brand.

Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat, said in a statement: “China is one of the world’s largest markets for animal-based meat products and potentially for plant-based meat.”

Beyond Meat made its mainland China debut at more than 3,300 Starbucks locations earlier this year.

Beyond Meat partnered with Yum China, owner of several fast-food chains, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. All three chains introduced new menu items featuring Beyond Meat in June. That same month, the Beyond Burger launched at select Shanghai Freshippo locations, an Alibaba-owned supermarket chain.

Beyond Meat aims to have a global reach; it acquired a new European manufacturing site in the Netherlands this summer.

Investing in the Future

The Chinese plant-based meat market is growing, expected to reach $12 billion by 2023, according to the South China Morning Press. In 2016, the government outlined plans to halve meat consumption in order to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.

Many Asian plant-based brands have taken root in recent years. OmniFoods, a Hong Kong-based brand known for its plant-based pork, also plans to establish facilities in mainland China.

Startups are attracting funding from investors. Zhenmeat—a Beijing-based brand that targets Chinese palates with plant-based crayfish, pork tenderloin, sausages, and mooncakes—hopes to raise $2 million this year. Like Beyond Meat, pea protein is the primary ingredient in its products. Starfield, a plant-based meat startup based in Shenzhen, recently launched meatballs in Chinese Papa John’s locations. It received an undisclosed investment from impact investor Dao Foods International earlier this year.

Shanghai’s Hey Maet, a newcomer to the space, received an investment from Shenzhen Tiantu Capital and Silicon Valley investor Wei Guo. It also announced a strategic cooperation with Shuangta Food, which supplies pea protein to Beyond Meat.




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