(Family Features) Businesses that run efficiently often find continued, long-term success. However, running a small business comes with a multitude of challenges that can hinder productivity.
Between hiring employees, managing payroll, handling customer relations, delivering products, meeting with staff and other tasks, it’s important to take steps to help your business work smarter, not harder, while maintaining productivity. More efficient workdays mean more projects or tasks can be completed, giving you an advantage in a competitive marketplace.
To help improve productivity and create a more efficient work environment, consider these tips from the experts at Pitney Bowes, a global shipping and mailing company that has worked for more than 100 years to provide technology, logistics, financial services and solutions that help enterprises thrive and small business owners operate right from their homes including the PitneyShip Cube, which simplifies shipping packages and e-commerce orders while saving time and space.
Setting goals for your operation is vital to building a productive business and ensuring your employees understand your vision and how they can actively contribute to the company’s success. Whether you’re a startup or an established business with multiple employees, set realistic, well-defined goals that are in line with your business strategy, like investing in office tools and solutions that can help you discover efficiencies. Periodically revisit those goals to ensure you’re on track to meet them and make any adjustments as necessary. For example, working from home may provide an opportunity to save on rent and enable you to allocate those savings toward upgraded office equipment.
Delegate Less Critical Responsibilities
Remember, you can’t do it all by yourself. In the same way it’s important to prioritize your list of tasks, delegation is key to improving productivity. Passing on some of the work, such as designing email templates, writing blog posts, creating white papers and more, to your employees allows you to maximize your limited time. Think through additional ways for others to lessen the load, like using a cloud-based shipping solution to streamline the process and ensure alignment in task sharing. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur, look at what tasks you may be able to outsource to a third-party vendor to free up some of your time.
If your business sells a product, shipping may be a time-consuming, expensive part of your operation. Leave the post office behind and save valuable time with an option like the PitneyShip Cube, an all-in-one, Wi-Fi-enabled thermal shipping label printer with a built-in scale. It includes companion software and can integrate with your current online store to automatically import order details then easily print the shipping labels and postage. You can weigh packages, compare discounted shipping rates and automatically share tracking notifications via email.
“One of the biggest barriers for small businesses are shipping costs,” said Shemin Nurmohamed, president, sending technology solutions, Pitney Bowes. “Our goal is to allow clients to take advantage of what larger shippers get in terms of discounts while saving them the critical time they need to work on their core businesses. With the PitneyShip Cube, the first shipping label printer of its kind with a built-in scale and companion software, users are able to ship faster and smarter. This product is ideal for both e-commerce and office shippers looking to save time and space by streamlining their processes and eliminating unnecessary equipment. Plus, it can save users money as it provides a discount of 3 cents on First Class stamps, up to 89% on USPS Priority Mail and up to 82% off UPS standard rates.”
By completing all the necessary tasks beforehand, you’ll skip the post office line and allow yourself to focus on more profitable endeavors. You can also track parcels throughout their shipping journey with data that can be shared with customers for a smooth shipping experience.
A quick and easy way to increase productivity and efficiency is taking advantage of technology like software as a service platforms. Particularly true in this age of hybrid and remote workers, cloud-based communications software can keep your team members on the same page, regardless of their location, to help your company keep up with important information such as ever-changing carrier rates to quickly identify the best shipping and fulfillment options. With available platforms that combine team messaging, video conferencing, task management, file sharing and storage, it can be simple to stay connected with your employees. Additional cloud-based software for everything from payroll to word processing and graphic design is also readily available to help further streamline your business’s technology. Knowledge is power and combining all this information in one place can give you greater control over your organization as a whole.
Learn from Your Customers
When looking for ways to improve, start by asking your customers for honest feedback. Creating customer satisfaction surveys provides you with a fresh perspective while giving customers a voice so they can feel valued. Plus, it can help you build a rapport with customers as they know their voices are heard while you discover what’s working, what isn’t and ways you can improve the business.
Find more solutions for improving your productivity and efficiency in the workplace at pitneybowes.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (businesswomen)
Feed the Soul Foundation: Empowering Culinary Businesses with Financial Support
Feed the Soul Foundation provides financial support to marginalized culinary businesses, empowering their growth and success in a challenging industry.
Small culinary businesses have faced significant challenges and hardships due to the pandemic, including burnout, financial constraints, and a sense of isolation. In response to these struggles, the Feed the Soul Foundation, a national non-profit organization, has been providing financial relief and solutions to marginalized culinary businesses. Through their Restaurant Business Development Grant Program, the foundation has awarded $850,000 in support to 30 culinary business owners, empowering them to overcome obstacles and thrive in a competitive industry.
Financial and Professional Support:
With the support of the Grubhub Community Fund and Stella Artois, Feed the Soul Foundation’s 2023 grant program has provided each of the selected restaurant owners with $25,000. The program aims to address the challenges faced by these businesses, such as slim profit margins, labor shortages, inflation, and rising minimum wages. The six-month cohort program offers a range of supports, including financial literacy training, marketing and advertising guidance, and one-on-one business development consultations with industry experts. By equipping these entrepreneurs with essential knowledge and resources, the foundation aims to foster their growth and success.
The Role of Feed the Soul Foundation:
Under the leadership of Executive Director Juana Collins, a seasoned nonprofit executive, Feed the Soul Foundation is dedicated to nourishing and empowering individuals through culinary education and entrepreneurship. With a commitment to making a profound difference in lives and legacies, the foundation offers critical support to culinary businesses, acting as a vital resource for their sustainability and growth.
Creating a Supportive Network:
The importance of establishing a robust support network becomes evident when comparing the success rates of businesses that have received Feed the Soul Foundation’s support with the national average. Over 98% of the businesses that received financial and business development assistance from the foundation are still operating and have experienced growth within their operations. This success demonstrates the significance of providing both financial backing and expert guidance to culinary businesses, fostering a community of support and collaboration.
Milestones and Achievements:
Since its inception in 2020, Feed the Soul Foundation has achieved significant milestones in supporting marginalized culinary businesses. These include:
- Investing $1,078,000 in financial and business development support to 59 culinary businesses across the nation.
- Providing $46,000 in emergency funds through the Emergency Relief Fund to assist culinary businesses affected by unforeseen damages and natural disasters.
- Establishing an internship program and distributing $59,000 in student stipends while providing workforce training to 15 minority college students studying small business marketing, marketing research, and public relations.
Recognizing Culinary Excellence:
The foundation’s 2023 grant program has recognized and supported a diverse range of culinary businesses. The awarded cohort includes establishments such as 7th & Grove, Andes Café, Bueno Dias Café & La Bodega at The Met, Haire’s Gulf Shrimp, Pepitos Paletas, The Urban Oyster, and many more. These businesses represent the resilience and creativity of the culinary community and highlight the foundation’s commitment to fostering growth and sustainability within the industry.
Feed the Soul Foundation will continue to provide support and resources to marginalized culinary businesses. In October, they will open applications for the 2024 Restaurant Business Development Grant Program, offering entrepreneurs another chance to receive financial assistance and expert guidance. Furthermore, the foundation has scheduled a Global Culinary Conference in Houston, Texas, in January 2024, aiming to foster growth and collaboration within the culinary community.
The Feed the Soul Foundation’s Restaurant Business Development Grant Program has been instrumental in providing financial relief and professional support to marginalized culinary businesses. By equipping entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and guidance, the foundation empowers them to overcome challenges and thrive in a competitive industry. Through their continued efforts, Feed the Soul Foundation is making a lasting impact on the lives and legacies of culinary entrepreneurs, fostering sustainable growth within the culinary community.
About Feed the Soul Foundation
Feed the Soul Foundation was established in 2020 to aid marginalized entrepreneurs in the culinary industry with business development resources and support to foster sustainable business growth. The Restaurant Business Development Fund supports marginalized business owners with business development scholarships and emergency funding.
SOURCE Feed the Soul Foundation
Black Business Boom Celebrates 5 Years of Creating Financially Savvy and Bankable Minority Businesses in Nashville and Beyond
NASHVILLE, Tenn. /PRNewswire/ — Black Business Boom, founded by Danielle McGee as the Groupon for Black owned businesses, marks a significant milestone as it celebrates its 5-year anniversary. The organization has evolved into a dynamic force for the empowerment of Black-owned businesses, not only in Nashville but throughout Tennessee and beyond. The cornerstones of Black Business Boom are the 501(c)3 Boomin University, launched in 2020, which provides free business training to underserved minority business owners; Boomin Marketing, designed to equip participants with the latest communication strategies and tools from social media mastery to content creation wizardry; and Boomin to the Bank, a revolving loan fund that offers microloans of up to $5000 to small business owners, helping them to build bankable businesses by providing financial literacy training, helping participants establish business bank accounts and bookkeeping systems. Notably, Boomin to the Bank has partnered with Kiva Microloans, in order to deploy $10 million in capital to Black-owned businesses who graduate the Boomin to the Bank program by 2030. The Kiva partnership will launch with funding loans for 30 program graduates.
“I wanted to create a space for Black entrepreneurs to gain the financial and business education they needed to create thriving, sustainable businesses, in Nashville,” says McGee. “We are excited to expand and create impact nationwide.”
Black Business Boom was recently awarded funds from the TN Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund, to support Boomin University cohorts in East, Middle, and West Tennessee, preparing them to source funds from banks and other granting institutions. Truist Bank also supports Black Business Boom with a grant that supplements key programming focused on training and technical assistance, to Black owned businesses, interested in securing corporate and government contracting opportunities.
About Black Business Boom:
Black Business Boom is a dynamic organization founded by Danielle McGee, originally as the Nashville Black Business Directory. Celebrating its 5-year anniversary, Black Business Boom is dedicated to empowering Black entrepreneurs through education, marketing programs, and financial support. The organization envisions a thriving ecosystem that provides essential elements for the success of Black-owned businesses in Tennessee and beyond.
Connect with Black Business Boom:
SOURCE Black Business Boom
Rent remains high, but more properties offer incentives
New construction surge prompts landlords and property managers to provide more perks
SEATTLE /PRNewswire/ — Rental concessions—offers meant to entice tenants, such as free months of rent or free parking—are at their highest level in more than two years despite strong renter demand, Zillow’s latest data shows. That’s because property managers are now likely competing for tenants, as new, primarily upscale buildings from the recent construction boom enter the rental market.
About 30% of rental listings on Zillow advertised concessions in October, a surge that signifies a notable shift in the rental market. Within the past five years, concessions reached a peak in February 2021, with 36.7% of rentals offering incentives, coinciding with low renter demand during the pandemic. Those concessions then dropped as far as 19.4% in July 2022. However, the current rise comes as typical rent prices are nearly 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels, and annual rent growth just ticked back up after nearly two years of slowing down.
“The pandemic era’s increase in concessions was a direct response to decreased renter demand. Currently, we’re witnessing a different scenario where the demand for rental housing is high, but there’s been a notable rise in supply,” said Anushna Prakash, an economic research data scientist at Zillow. “To differentiate themselves from newer, potentially more amenity-rich apartment buildings, property managers are stepping up their game, offering more incentives to attract potential renters with a broader range of choices.”
Nationwide increase in concessions
Zillow data shows an astonishing 43 of the nation’s largest 50 metropolitan areas have seen a rise in rental concessions compared to last year. The most deal sweeteners are found in Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Jose, California, where more than half the rentals listed on Zillow in October advertised concessions.
Construction boom and its effects
This trend is especially pronounced in metro areas experiencing a construction boom. According to Fannie Mae’s Mid-2023 Multifamily Construction Update, markets such as Washington, D.C., Dallas and Austin are seeing more new developments, with Dallas and Austin having 74,000 and 66,000 new units, respectively, either recently completed or underway .
Zillow’s data reveals a similar upswing in concessions in those metros and others, including Phoenix and Atlanta, which are also among the top markets for new multifamily construction. This correlation highlights how the influx of new apartments is likely prompting housing providers to offer incentives to attract renters.
10 Metro Areas with the Largest Share of Rental Concessions
|Metro||Share of Rentals|
|Year over Year|
(YoY) Change in
|Typical Rent in|
Rent Index (ZORI)
|YoY Change in|
|Salt Lake City, UT||54.4 %||26.5 %||$1,677||0.7 %|
|San Jose, CA||50.8 %||6.3 %||$3,260||0.2 %|
|Washington, DC||49.6 %||-1.2 %||$2,308||3.9 %|
|Charlotte, NC||47.6 %||20.5 %||$1,826||2.4 %|
|Minneapolis, MN||46.8 %||3.4 %||$1,647||2.7 %|
|Dallas, TX||45.9 %||17.4 %||$1,803||0.6 %|
|Phoenix, AZ||45.1 %||10.1 %||$1,902||0.6 %|
|Austin, TX||44.8 %||13.4 %||$1,813||-2.8 %|
|Nashville, TN||43.8 %||8.1 %||$1,896||0.9 %|
|Atlanta, GA||43.5 %||15.2 %||$1,925||0.4 %|
Source: Zillow data
Diverse concession strategies across metros
Conversely, metro areas such as New Orleans (9%), Providence (14%), Miami (14%) and New York (15%) observed the lowest concession rates in October. This varied landscape suggests that property managers across the country are exploring different strategies as they gauge the effectiveness of concessions before potentially adjusting rental prices.
Zillow’s research, echoing the sentiments of economists and housing experts, highlights the fact that new construction and zoning reform are pivotal in enhancing housing affordability. The current trend in concessions, likely fueled by the spike in multifamily construction, is an interesting twist in the quest for affordability. It remains to be seen if the rise in concessions will translate to a significant drop in rent growth.
Zillow provides a clear and user-friendly platform for both housing providers and renters. Property managers can easily list concessions for their properties, while renters can find all available offers under the “Special Offers” tab on participating building detail pages, enabling them to make well-informed housing decisions.
About Zillow Group
Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z and ZG) is reimagining real estate to make home a reality for more and more people. As the most visited real estate website in the United States, Zillow and its affiliates help people find and get the home they want by connecting them with digital solutions, great partners, and easier buying, selling, financing and renting experiences.
Zillow Group’s affiliates, subsidiaries and brands include Zillow®; Zillow Premier Agent®; Zillow Home Loans℠; Trulia®; Out East®; StreetEasy®; HotPads®; ShowingTime+℠; and Spruce®.
All marks herein are owned by MFTB Holdco, Inc., a Zillow affiliate. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an Equal Housing Lender, NMLS #10287 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). © 2023 MFTB Holdco, Inc., a Zillow affiliate.
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