Small Business HR: What Is HR & How To Manage Your Business’s Human Resources

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Raising Money For Your Small Business Through Kickstarter? Find Success With These 11 Tips

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Monetize Your Podcast With These 10 Proven Methods

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7+ Best Author Website Examples to Use for Inspiration

7+ Best Author Websites to Use for Inspiration

So you’re creating an author website, and you’re looking for author website design examples for inspiration and guidance. You’re also wondering which website platform is best to use for your website.

But before we dive into examples of what professional personal websites look like in the wild on a variety of website builders and hosting platforms, there is one thing to keep in mind when you’re evaluating a website: it’s not just about how the websites look. The functionality matters too.

Think of it like buying a car. You have a make / model in mind, and you’re probably looking to see them drive by on the road to see how they actually look. However, you also care about how they operate. Does it accelerate well? Does it have the hauling capabilities you need? How is the gas mileage?

Looking at an author website examples should be done in the same way. Do you want the website to have ecommerce functionality so visitors can buy books? Do you want people to be able to book you for speaking engagements? This functionality needs to be consider before you start choosing a website builder + hosting platform.

We collected the following website examples not just to show you how they look on different platforms, but how they can function, so you can be sure you create a website that fits both the look and functionality you need!

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgement as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Best Author Website Examples

We’ve pulled these examples based on functionality, design, and usability. Again, when you’re looking to build an author website, remember that you’re not just thinking about making the site look good. You want to think about what your site actually needs to do, and find a platform that supports all of your needs.

Marie Force

Software: Self-Hosted WordPress

Hosting: Continental Broadband

Homepage has everything you need right upfront. The slideshow of images allows you to preorder the new release for popular series, see upcoming events where Marie is speaking, and access her series on Kindle Unlimited. You can also sign up for newsletter updates, read about upcoming releases, or buy her other books all from the homepage.

Marie Force homepage details

We particularly liked how Marie uses the “Reading Order” button at the top of the homepage to direct to her Books page, which shows all of her books and series and allows readers to dive deeper into each one.

Despite having a lot of books and series to display, the layout is organized, which makes it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for.

If you’re wondering how to display your work and key information for visitors in a way that’s clear and organized, this author website example is a great place to start for inspiration.

Jody Hedlund

Software: Self-Hosted WordPress

Hosting: Unified Layer

What stands out about this author website is how clear the navigation is. As soon as you get to Jody Hedlund’s homepage, your next steps are clearly laid out below her header image.

We also liked how Judy included buttons to all of her social media channels directly below her name. It’s a great way to send people to your other profiles without breaking the overall design of the page.

Another thing that stood out to us on this author website is how Judy implemented professional headshots and book cover images on her media page that journalists and bloggers can download without having to request them from her team.

If you’re looking for a good example of clear navigation and how to include additional assets for the press, this is a strong example to use for inspiration!

Mike Palombi

Software: Squarespace

Hosting: Squarespace

This author website example stands out for a few reasons. First, we really liked how Mike included his logo in the top menu bar on the site. It stands out in a way that’s creative, but unobtrusive. It doesn’t detract from the navigation, but it does add that extra “branding flair” to the site to make it look professional.

When you scroll down the homepage, you can read more about the book in detail, or watch videos on the book and interviews Mike has done.

mark palombi videos author example website

This is a great way to incorporate different media types on your website to support and supplement your books and build credibility with your visitors.

Angela Meek

Angela Meek Author website example

Software: Weebly

Hosting: Weebly

Sometimes, people get so focused on a website’s design that they lose sight of the overall goal — and that’s to give your visitors applicable information about whatever your website is focused on.

Angela’s website is a great example of a simple, straightforward author website that doesn’t have a ton of design frills, but still manages to look clean, organized, and give visitors all of the information they need on her, her books, and how to get in touch with her.

If you’re looking for a way to get your content up in a simple layout, this is a great example to use for inspiration.

Lesley M. M. Blume

lesley m.m. blume author website example

Software: Self-Hosted WordPress

Hosting: Media Temple

If you’re looking to create a more creative angle with your author website, we love this example from Lesley M. M. Blume.

Notice how Lesley intentionally uses design elements that capture the theme of her book. As soon as you get to the homepage, you get a sense of what Leslie writes about. It’s a great way to bring readers into the world of your work, and adds an element of creativity to your author website.

Tim Tigner

Tim Tigner Author Website

Software: Custom-built website

Hosting: Rackspace

This website for Tim Tigner is another strong author website example that hits all of the marks. The homepage header image captures the theme of his books, and the subtitle under his name is a great example of using strong copy to “hook” your readers in!

We particularly liked the Book Club Info page, which includes Tim’s downloadable discussion questions for book clubs who are reading his books:

Tim Tigner Book Club

If you’re looking for an overall example to use for inspiration for your author website, check this one out!

Scott A. Winkler

Scott A. Winkler author website

Software: Wix

Hosting: Wix

If you’re looking for a more straightforward approach to your author website, this example by Scott A. Winkler is a great place to start.

This author website relies more on text than the other examples we pulled, but it’s an easy way to give readers an overview into who the author is and link out to his works and where you can buy them.

Remember, your website doesn’t have to be a design masterpiece. It just needs to give your readers the information they need and help them connect further with you and your work!

Next Steps

Now that you have some inspiration in terms of the design, colors, and functionality you may want in your author website, where do you go from here?

Well, it really depends on where you are in your author website building journey!

If you’re ready to decide on a website builder, check out my guide to choosing a website builder here.

If you’re looking to go DIY with a specific template to match your design and functionality needs, check out my Build a Personal Website: Templates, Design, and Setup Guide.

Lastly, if you’re wondering how to market your author website, check out my guide to creating a local marketing strategy.

The post 7+ Best Author Website Examples to Use for Inspiration appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Merchant Maverick Interviews Clover CEO John Beatty

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How To Start And Finance An Auto Body Shop Business

You’re an experienced mechanic that’s been working for someone else for your entire career. You’re ready to spread your wings and fly (or drive) right to your own auto body shop. Sound like you? If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, then maybe it’s time to set out on your own.

Even if you’re the best at what you do, venturing out into the small business world can be scary. If you’re an employee at a collision center, you probably feel like you have some stability. Why risk a “sure thing” to start your own shop, especially if you don’t have any previous experience running your own business?

Starting your own business is risky and it takes hard work (and a lot of it). But opening your own auto collision shop can be an extremely lucrative venture. The automotive collision repair market brings in billions of dollars in revenue each year, and studies show that revenue will only continue to grow in the years ahead. Isn’t it time you got your share?

If you’re thinking about starting your own auto body shop, this guide is for you. We’ll go through all of the steps of starting your own business, from creating a business plan to finding the right lender. We’ll review potential costs, hiring employees, and other critical steps to building a successful business. If you’re ready to take the next step into entrepreneurship, read on to find out how to get started.

Create A Business Plan

You’ve made up your mind: you’re ready to open your own collision or auto body center and you have an idea of how to do it. That’s good enough, right? Actually, you need to be more prepared before you even begin to move on to other steps in building your business. The best way to be prepared? Create a detailed business plan.

Let’s illustrate the importance of a business plan with an example. You’re going on a hike in the woods. There are lots of paths to choose from. Some of these paths may bring you out of the woods — your end goal — but there may be additional challenges along the way, like steep terrain. Some paths may be wrong altogether … and you’ll have to backtrack to right your course. In short, you can enter the woods without a map and risk getting lost. Or you can get a map ahead of time, plot out your course, and set out only after you’ve planned your route and know what to expect.

A business plan works in the same way. A good business plan outlines how to get from your starting point (launching your business) to your goal. Every entrepreneur has a different goal. Maybe yours is to run a successful local business that sets your family up for life. Maybe you have bigger goals — starting your own chain of auto body shops, for example. The most important thing is to set a concrete goal and create a map of how to get there.

Not only will a business plan keep you on the right track, but you must have a plan to present to investors or lenders when you’re seeking capital.

New to writing a business plan? At a minimum, here’s what you should include:

  • Executive Summary: A concise summary detailing each section of your business plan
  • Overview: A description of your business, including the legal structure, location, and type of business
  • Market Analysis: An overview of your market and a definition of your target market
  • Competitive Analysis: Strength and weaknesses of your competition
  • Management Team: The members of your management team and their responsibilities within your organization
  • Financial Projections: A forecast of the financial future of your business

Find A Location

As realtors say, “Location, location, location!” As you plan your own body shop, location is key, but there are a few other considerations to weigh before you put your name on that lease or mortgage.

You want to make sure that you purchase or lease the best location you can afford. Sure, that commercial property on the outskirts of town is much cheaper, but your customers have to be able to find you. Find a property that’s convenient for your customers and is located in a high-traffic area or at least off of a major road.

Another consideration is whether you’re going to buy an existing business or start from scratch. Buying an existing business comes with definite perks, including an established clientele, equipment, and even licenses and permits. However, there are a few drawbacks. This is one of the most expensive options, especially if the business is successful. You may also have to put additional costs into the business for renovations, like replacing outdated equipment.

If you start from scratch, you’ll rack up costs with the price of equipment, licenses, and building renovations.
Unsure of which to choose? Build a business plan looking at both options, calculate costs, and determine which makes the most sense financially, both in the short- and long-term.

Another option to consider is opening a franchise. With a franchise, you have less flexibility in terms of designing your brand and shop. However, you’ll have a working business model that takes a lot of the guesswork out of owning your own business.

Register Your Business

Before you open your auto body shop to the public, you need to register your business. Not only will you be seen as a legitimate business by your customers, but registering is also required when you want to hire employees, protect your assets, or seek capital from investors.

To register your business, you need to first determine what form of business entity to establish. There are several structures to choose from, including:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure. This is best for businesses with just one owner. Sole proprietors can file their business profits and losses on their personal income tax returns. No paperwork is required to register as a sole proprietorship. However, this structure isn’t without its drawbacks. Raising money as a sole proprietorship is difficult, and you are personally responsible for the liabilities of your business.

Partnership

A partnership is a good choice for companies that will be owned and operated by two or more people. There are several different partnership types to consider:

  • General Partnership: Doesn’t require filing with the state and has few requirements
  • Limited Partnership (LP): One partner has unlimited liability and the others have limited liability. The personal assets of the limited partners can’t be used to satisfy the debts and liabilities of the business.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): Used by professional service businesses, this type of partnership offers personal asset protection for all partners.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC has several benefits for business owners. With an LLC, a business owner will receive liability protection without paying the high tax requirements of corporations.

Corporation

This is the most complex and expensive business structure. More regulations and tax requirements are put in place for corporations. This structure is best for businesses that plan to raise capital through the sale of stock.

The type of structure you select for your business varies by the number of owners that you have and the future plans for your business. In most cases, however, single owners of auto body shops lean toward LLCs, while businesses with more than one partner select the partnership business structure. Before choosing your business structure, talk to your accountant and/or lawyer to find out which makes the most sense for your business.

Once you’ve determined your business structure, you’ll need to select a name for your business. Choose a name that reflects your brand and the services you offer. You also want to choose something that’s catchy and/or easy for customers to remember.

Your business will need to be registered with city, state, and federal governments. You’ll need to sign up for an employer ID number through the Internal Revenue Service if you plan to hire employees. To learn about the specific business license and permit requirements in your area, contact your local Chamber of Commerce, Department of Revenue, or Small Business Administration office to learn more.

Calculate Your Startup Costs

Every new business has one thing in common: the need for capital. In order to start your own collision center, you need money. The big question, though, is how much do you need?

One of the first steps to starting your own business is to calculate your startup costs. In order to do that, begin by making a list of everything you need for your business.

One of the biggest expenses for your new business will be equipment and tools. While your list may look a little different, some of the most common equipment and tools in this industry include:

  • Hydraulic Lifts
  • Hand Tools
  • Pneumatic Tools (Air Tools)
  • Air Compressors
  • Diagnostic Machines
  • Wheel Balancers
  • Paint Guns

Additional startup costs to consider include your business licenses and certifications, insurance, hiring employees, and shop rental or mortgage fees. You should expect to spend at least $50,000 to get your shop up and running. However, as you make a list of your costs and research pricing, this number could potentially rise.

Before you seek funding for your business, a good rule of thumb is to always overestimate your costs by about 30 percent. For example, if you calculate that your expenses will be $200,000, plan to seek $260,000 in funding. In other words, always plan for the unexpected.

Seek Funding

Now that you’ve calculated your startup costs, it’s time to figure out how to pay for it all. If your bank account looks a little low, don’t worry. Most entrepreneurs don’t have the funds to cover these costs out-of-pocket. Instead, they turn to a lender to get the financing they need. Consider these loans and other funding options when you need capital to start your new body shop.

And if you can’t find the option you’re looking for here? Check out more recommendations in the post, Business Loans For Auto Repair Shops.

Personal Savings

If you have money in a savings account, consider using these funds to pay your startup costs. There are several benefits to using your own money. You won’t be indebted to a lender, so there are no monthly or weekly payments to worry about. You also won’t have to pay interest or fees. On the downside, though, if your business fails, you risk losing your savings.

Friends & Family

If you have a friend or family member with extra money to invest, consider pitching your business to them. Present your business plan and tell them why they should invest in you.

There are two ways to go about this. You can stick with traditional debt financing. This means that you would take a loan from your friend, family member, or colleague and pay it back over a set period of time, along with interest and fees.

You may also consider equity financing. Instead of taking out a loan, you’d receive capital in exchange for ownership in your business. The investor would get their money back over time through a share of your profits. While the risk falls on the investor and you wouldn’t have to begin paying back money immediately, you would have to share your profits and lose some control over your business.

Unsure of which option is right for you? Learn more about debt financing vs. equity financing.

Personal Loans For Business

One of the biggest challenges a new business owner faces is meeting the requirements for a business loan. Many lenders – especially the ones with the lowest rates and best terms – want to work with established businesses with high revenues and solid business and personal credit histories. If you haven’t even opened your doors to a single customer, meeting these requirements is impossible.

However, if you have a high personal credit score, you can take out a personal loan to use for your startup costs. Time in business, annual revenue, and business credit history aren’t required to qualify for personal loans. Instead, you use your personal credit score and your own income to qualify.

If you choose this option, it’s important to make sure that your lender doesn’t have any restrictions prohibiting you from using funds to pay startup costs or other business expenses. Most personal loans don’t have restrictions and can be used to purchase equipment, hire employees, pay operating costs, or use as working capital.

Recommended Option: Lending Club Personal Loans

lending club logo

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Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lender that provides personal loans up to $40,000 to qualified borrowers. Repayment terms are 3 years or 5 years with APRs starting at 6.95% for the most creditworthy applicants. APRs for less creditworthy borrowers go up to 35.89%.

To qualify for a Lending Club personal loan, you must meet these minimum requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or live in the U.S. on a long-term visa
  • Have a verifiable bank account
  • Have a personal credit score of at least 600

In some cases, Lending Club may recommend adding a co-borrower to increase your chances for approval. If you meet all requirements, you can get funded in as little as 7 days.

As you grow a more established business, you can later take advantage of Lending Club’s business loans. Lending Club offers up to $300,000 in business funding with terms of up to 5 years and fixed monthly payments.

Lines Of Credit

A line of credit is a form of financing you should consider if you want instant access to cash without having to wait for lender approvals. Once you’ve been approved for a line of credit, you can make draws as needed to inject cash into your business.

Here’s how it works. You apply for a line of credit with a lender. The lender looks at a number of factors, such as your personal credit score or business performance, when determining whether to approve your application. These factors will also be considered when setting your credit limit.

Once you’ve been approved, you can initiate as many draws as you’d like from your line of credit up to and including the credit limit. Funds are typically transferred to your bank account immediately, and you can access the money in 1 to 3 business days with most lenders.

As you repay the borrowed funds plus fees and interest charged by the lender, the funds replenish and become available to use again.

Lines of credit are useful for unexpected expenses, emergencies, or to fill revenue gaps. Having a line of credit allows you to access money when you need it without having to go through the application and approval process over and over again.

Recommended Option: Fundbox

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Fundbox offers lines of credit up to $100,000 for qualified businesses. The lender charges a one-time fee for each draw that starts at just 4.66% of the draw amount. Terms of 12 weeks or 24 weeks are available, and automatic payments are drawn from your bank account each week. You can save by paying your loan off early, as Fundbox will waive all remaining fees.

There are two ways to qualify for a Fundbox line of credit. The first is by linking your business bank account or submitting bank statements. These will be used by the lender to evaluate the performance of your business. If you have unpaid accounts receivables, you can use these to qualify. All you have to do is link your supported accounting software.

Minimum requirements to receive a Fundbox line of credit are:

  • Business checking account
  • U.S.-based business
  • At least $50,000 in annual revenue
  • At least 3 months of transactions in a business bank account OR at least 2 months of activity in accounting software

Once you’ve filled out Fundbox’s quick application and have linked your accounts or submitted documentation, you can be approved in just minutes. Then, you can instantly put your line of credit to work for your business.

Business Credit Cards

Another option for fast funding is a business credit card. Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you can use it any time. You can use your card as often as you wish provided you stay within your set credit limit.

Business credit cards can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. You can make purchases online or in-person. You can also use your card for recurring payments, such as utility bills, which is even smarter when you use a rewards card that gives cash back or other perks.

Like lines of credit, business credit cards are revolving forms of credit. This means that as you pay down your principal balance and interest, funds will become available to use again. Once you’re approved for a business credit card, your card is ready to use immediately whenever you need it. This makes it a great payment option for emergency expenses, purchasing supplies or inventory, or for paying recurring expenses.

Recommended Option: Chase Ink Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


18.24% – 23.24%, Variable

If you have excellent credit, consider applying for the Chase Ink Preferred card. With this rewards card, you can receive 3 points for every dollar spent on combined purchases in travel, shipping, cable, internet, phone services, and advertising. Even though earning three points on these purchases is capped at $150,000 per year, you can still earn one point per dollar spent with no limitations on all purchases.

If you’re approved for the Chase Ink Preferred card and spend $5,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you’ll receive an additional 80,000 bonus points. Points can be redeemed for rewards including vacation packages, gift cards, Amazon purchases, and cash back.

This credit card comes with a variable APR of 18.24% to 23.24%. A $95 annual membership fee is required.

To qualify for Chase Ink Business Preferred, you must have good to excellent personal credit.

Rollovers As Business Startups (ROBS)

Withdrawing retirement funds may be tempting, but who wants to pay penalties and taxes for early withdrawal? Luckily, there’s a way that you can leverage these funds to put capital into your new business. This method is known as rollovers as business startups, or ROBS.

How does ROBS work? The first step is to create a C-corporation. Then, a new retirement plan is created for the C-corp. Next, the funds from your existing retirement plan are rolled over into the new plan. These funds are used to purchase stock in the new C-corp, giving you access to the capital you need to get your business running.

Sound too complicated for you? Then consider working with a ROBS provider. A ROBS provider will get everything set up for you legally and ensure you maintain compliance. In exchange, you’ll pay a one-time setup fee and a monthly maintenance fee with most ROBS providers.

When you use this type of financing to fuel your business, you don’t have to worry about repaying a lender. After all, you’re using your own funds. However, be aware that if your business is unsuccessful, you risk losing your retirement funds.

Recommended Option: Guidant Financial

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Guidant Financial is a ROBS provider that can help you leverage your retirement funds. All you need is a qualifying retirement or pension account. Qualifying accounts include:

  • 401(k)
  • 403(b)
  • Traditional IRA
  • TSP
  • SEP
  • Keogh

Qualifying accounts must have a minimum of $50,000. You must also be an employee of the business.
By working with Guidant Financial, you can receive funds in as little as 3 weeks. The setup fee is $4,995. You must also pay a Plan Administration fee of $139 per month.

Unsure if a ROBS plan is right for you? Don’t worry — Guidant Financial offers other business financing options including:

  • SBA 7(a) Loans
  • SBA Working Capital Loans
  • Unsecured Business Loans
  • Equipment Leases

Purchase Financing

If you’re looking for a way to pay your vendors that frees up some of your cash flow, purchase financing might be the solution you’re looking for. With purchase financing, your vendor gets paid immediately for your purchases – think tools, fluids, and other critical shop supplies. In the meantime, you’ll get additional time to pay. Instead of paying off the full balance of your purchase up front, you’ll be able to split it into more affordable regular payments.

Purchase financing gives you more control over your cash flow, freeing up funds and allowing you to pay back on a schedule that works best for your business. Of course, like with other financing, you do have to pay interest and fees for this service.

Recommended Option: Behalf

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Behalf offers purchase financing of $300 up to $50,000. You’ll receive up to 6 months to repay the lender and can choose between weekly or monthly payments.

Monthly fees for the service start at 1% and are based on creditworthiness. There are no additional fees for using Behalf’s financing.

There are no time in business or revenue requirements to qualify. However, Behalf performs a hard pull on your credit, considers business credit history, and looks at other business performance factors to determine if you are eligible for financing.

Choose Business Software

Small Business Online Accounting Software

To keep operations flowing smoothly, you need to pick the right business software for your repair shop. Business software helps you more efficiently run your business, from keeping up with customers to tracking your finances for tax purposes.

Accounting Software

Accounting software allows you to perform various accounting functions so that you can track and record all financial transactions. With accounting software, you can track accounts receivable and accounts payable. Most modern accounting software also offers additional tools including bill payment, payroll, and invoicing. You can purchase accounting software or pay a fee to subscribe to an online service.

Accounting software not only allows you to keep track of your finances at any time, but it also can be used to run financial reports that may be required to receive financing. These reports will also serve you well when it comes time to do your taxes.

No experience in accounting? Don’t worry — we have you covered. Check out our free eBook “The Beginner’s Guide to Accounting” that breaks complicated accounting concepts into ones that are easy to understand.

Auto Repair Invoice Software

Accounting software often has a feature that allows you to create and send invoices. However, you might want to invest in specialty software for auto body repair shops.

Auto repair invoice software includes a variety of tools that can be used to track service requests, create invoices and estimates, track leads, and manage inventory and orders.

Payment Processing Software

No longer do we live in a cash-only world. Now, customers almost always make their purchases using debit cards, credit cards, and even smartphones.

In order to be able to accept these forms of payment, you’re going to need a payment processing service. The payment processor serves as the communicator between your customer’s bank and your own bank, allowing you to process credit, debit, and other forms of payment.

For your auto collision business, you might want to consider getting a point-of-sale system. With POS software, you’ll be able to process credit cards, scan barcodes, print receipts, track inventory, run reports, and perform other functions. For a fee, your business can receive the software and hardware needed to best serve your customers.

Hire Employees

While you may start your collision center as a one-man operation, you have to hire employees if you want to grow.

One of the first hires you’ll make is a mechanic that will work on repairing vehicles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanics make approximately $39,550 per year. An auto body and glass repairer averages around $40,580 annually.

As you bring in more employees, you’ll also want to hire a manager to oversee them all. Salaries for managers vary widely based on experience and how many employees they will be overseeing. Managers may bring in anywhere from $45,000 upwards of $60,000 per year.

Eventually, you may also want to hire a front-desk receptionist. The role of the receptionist is to greet customers, answer the phone, and make appointments. This employee may also take payments from customers and handle some of the company’s bookkeeping. The average salary of a receptionist is around $27,000 per year.

Do some research to find out more about salaries in your area, as these numbers can vary. You also need to take into consideration that there are additional expenses associated with hiring employees including:

  • Onboarding & Training
  • Background Checks
  • Drug Testing
  • Taxes
  • Benefits

When you’re ready to hire an employee, there are a few ways you can find quality candidates. The first is to ask for referrals. If you know someone in the industry, ask if they know of any potential employees. Even if you don’t have connections with anyone in the industry, ask around among your friends, family members, and colleagues.

You can also post your jobs on online job boards. Make sure that your job listing has an overview of responsibilities and requirements for all candidates. As resumes hit your inbox, you can set up interviews and hire new employees for your business.

Bolster Your Web Presence

Before you even hold your grand opening, you need to start your marketing efforts. The best place to start is the internet. When researching new businesses, most people use their laptops or smartphones. If you don’t have a web presence, how will your customers find you?

Getting your business online is easy. Start with these simple steps.

Create Social Media Profiles

It seems like everyone’s on social media these days, from your teenage nephew to your grandmother. Social media doesn’t just connect friends and family members, either. It’s also a great place for users to find new brands and businesses.

Setting up your social media profiles is free and easy. Consider starting with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Add your logo, contact details, and important information like services provided and hours of operation. As you build your business, you can update your profiles with specials, coupons, photos of your completed work, and other information.

Create A Website

You also want to make sure that you have a website that provides important details to your customers such as your shop hours, specials, and services provided.

No web design experience? No problem. These days, any small business owner can create a professional website with easy web builders that feature templates, drag-and-drop design, and other tools to create a website in just minutes.

Your website should be a reflection of your brand, so make sure to choose templates, photos, and colors that best represent your shop. Your domain name should also represent your brand, so make sure it’s easy to remember and avoid numbers, symbols, or very long URLs.

Your website shouldn’t be overly complicated, and it should be easy to navigate. You don’t have to load down your site with lots of information. Start off by including key info such as hours of operation, services performed, and contact information. Also make sure to highlight any features that make your shop stand out, such as certifications, free estimates, or rental car/shuttle services offered to your customers. In the future, you can add additional features such as a signup option for email newsletters or online scheduling.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg. Learn more about creating and maintaining an online web presence for your business.

Advertise Your Business

Your website and social media profiles are a great way to start advertising your business, but in order to grow and scale, you can’t stop there. You need to plan a marketing and advertising campaign to get the word out about your business.

Consider paying for social media ads or pay-per-click ads on search engines, or sign up with Yelp For Business. These options can be affordable for new businesses and are easy to set up.

You can also look beyond the internet to advertise your business. Consider placing flyers or door hangers in the area around your business to bring in new customers. Before you take this route, though, make sure to understand the local laws in your area regarding the posting of flyers on public and private property.

As your business grows and becomes more successful, you can explore options including radio and TV advertisements and mailers. However, these ads are typically quite expensive, so hold off on these options until your business is bringing in steady revenue.

One of the most important things to remember here is that word-of-mouth advertising is one of the best forms of advertising. If you perform a great service, your customers will tell others about your business. Keep customer satisfaction high to increase those referrals and draw in more revenue for your body shop.

Final Thoughts

While you may be itching to get your auto body shop off the ground immediately, a business isn’t born overnight. Take the time to plan out your business, and you’ll increase your chances for success. The hard work doesn’t stop after your grand opening, either. You’ll need to continue working hard to bring in customers, increase your revenue, and become a successful entrepreneur.

The post How To Start And Finance An Auto Body Shop Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Team Bio Series — Dan McAuliffe (Aspiring MacGyver)

Dan McAuliffe. Big Dan. Dan the Man. Danny-Boy. Dan-the-Destroyer-of-Worlds. Clearly, we’re still workshopping the nicknames here on one of our newest team members. Dan is the content strategist here at Merchant Maverick, a mostly thankless job given our historically laissez-faire attitude toward content creation. What makes Dan tick, other than SEO? Read on to find out.

Name: Dan McAuliffe

Title: Content Strategist

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Current city: Los Angeles

Education and background: I studied economics in school and have a degree in international business management.

Merchant Maverick department/specialty: Content strategy

Proudest professional moment: Convincing all my co-workers to jump out of a plane in a gambit to prove we’re not nerds to a client.

Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: The best things are yet to come.

What do you do when you’re not working?: I like to listen to rap music outside wearing a big hat. Always haggling with the sun — “How much sun is too much?” — Still no definitive answer, but there’s a tan under every sunburn!

What superhero do you identify most with and why?: Lex Luthor. Seems like a cool guy. Kidding. Batman. His powers are business and technology.

Favorite 90s song: Big Pun – Capital Punishment

Favorite 80s movie: WarGames

What is your breakfast?: Eggs. If they’re fried eggs, there has to be toast to soak up the yolk.

What skill have you always wanted to learn?: I’m gonna go ahead and use “MacGyver” as a verb here

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you live and why?: I’d live on a large boat that changed homeports every month or two. What better way to see the world? But I’d have to do some big-time nature philanthropy to absolve myself from the eco-sins of yacht ownership.

Mac or Windows?: Been riding with Mac since before Nanosaur.

You’re given an unlimited budget at any retail establishment. Where do you go and what do you buy?: I’m coming for every single slide style sandal at Discount Shoe Warehouse.

So that’s Dan McAuliffe. He is a perpetually sunburned, sandal-wearing rap-enthusiast who likes runny yolks. And while we absolutely do not believe him when he demurs about not identifying most with Lex Luther, we hope he’s here to stay for a while, because we desperately need someone to MacGyver up a lasting content strategy for us. (Simply grow a mullet, and we will supply you with all the duct tape your heart desires.)

Interested in reading about other members of the Merchant Maverick staff? Check out our team interview series.

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Team Bio Series — Frank Kehl (The Mountain Climber)

This week on “Meet The Merchant Maverick Team” — the world’s least conflict-driven reality show — we’ll get to know Frank Kehl, one of our merchant accounts writers. Frank gets the award for “most amazing careers outside of Merchant Maverick,” but what else is interesting about him? (Hint: a lot.)

Name: Frank Kehl

Title: Merchant accounts writer

Hometown: Berwick, Pennsylvania

Current city: Paso Robles, California

Education and background: I have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Penn State and a Juris Doctorate degree from The Ventura College of Law. Prior to joining Merchant Maverick, I served as an officer in the United States Air Force and California Air National Guard for 28 years. I flew as a navigator on both the B-52 and C-130 aircraft, and ended up logging a little over 7500 hours of flying time around the world.

Merchant Maverick department/specialty: I write about merchant accounts, payment gateways, and, occasionally, mobile payment systems.

Proudest professional moment: Passing the Bar Exam here in California after graduating from law school. It was a three-day exam and only has about a 40% pass rate, so I felt really good about getting through it on the first try.

Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies. It was the first post I wrote when I first started at Merchant Maverick, but it’s generated a lot of interest and I still get comments on it almost every day.

What do you do when you’re not working?: When I was young and single, I had quite a passion for mountain climbing. I’ve climbed a lot of the classic peaks, including Mount Whitney and Mount Shasta here in California, as well as Mount Rainier, Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, and Kilimanjaro. These days, it’s mostly family hikes and the occasional camping trip here on the Central Coast or up in the Sierras.

What literary character do you identify most with and why?: My son has recently shown a strong interest in The Lord of the Rings movies, so I’m going to say Gandalf. I just need a staff…

Favorite song: I’m not sure that I have a single favorite, so I’ll give a shout-out to ‘Lawyers, Guns, and Money’ by Warren Zevon. It’s funny as hell, and the lyrics are rather timely. Check it out!

Favorite classic movie: I suppose I should pick something serious and inspirational. Nah. Monty Python and the Holy Grail still cracks me up.

What is your ideal dinner out?: Getting a sitter and having dinner with just my wife. It’s usually a ‘romantic dinner for three’ these days, unfortunately.

What skill have you always wanted to learn?: In retrospect, computer science might have been a good major to choose in college. I took a few programming classes in school, but I’ve never found the time to go back and brush up on my coding skills since then.

If you could travel back in time to any stage in your life and observe, where/when would you go?: Just observe? No do-over? Then probably the first few years of my life, since I don’t remember very much about them.

Mac or Windows?: I’ve been a Windows guy since back when they were called “IBM PC-compatible.” However, all my mobile devices are from Apple. It’s the best of both worlds, I think.

You’re given an unlimited budget at any retail establishment. Where do you go and what do you buy?: I’ve already lived out this fantasy, but without the unlimited budget. Let’s just say I’ve built up some pretty impressive dividends at REI over the years. You can never have too much gear.

I think it’s safe to say that Frank is the coolest member of the Merchant Maverick team. An ex-Air Force navigator who has climbed Kilimanjaro? Please. Come on Frank, you’re making the rest of us look lame.

Interested in reading about other members of the Merchant Maverick staff? Check out our team interview series.

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Team Bio Series — Linda Leewaye (The SEO Queen)

On this week’s episode of “Meet The Merchant Maverick Team,” we’ll be exploring the life and times of Linda Leewaye, our newest Maverick. Linda is an SEO expert and an Idaho potato who currently hangs out in sunny California. But what makes Linda Leewaye really tick? Let’s read on to find out!

Name: Linda Leewaye

Title: Digital Marketing Manager

Hometown: Boise, ID

Current city: Temecula, CA

Education and background: Bachelors in Communication, Emphasis in Public Relations, from Boise State University

Merchant Maverick department/specialty: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Proudest professional moment: Organizing an Aveda Earth Month Trashion Show charity event with my PRSSA group and donating the money to a clean water initiative for those who don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: The opportunity to work with the friendliest people on the planet and work from anywhere is a dream come true.

What do you do when you’re not working?: Obsess over the latest superhero movie and play games with my friends.

What movie character do you identify most with and why?: Batman. In all honesty, I am not as cool as he is, I just wish I was! I appreciate his crazy ninja moves and detective skills to go with it…along with the billions of dollars from the Wayne family fortune.

Favorite song: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

Favorite ‘80s movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What is your ideal midnight snack?: Digging into a bag of Kettle Brand’s jalapeno chips

What skill have you always wanted to learn?: Playing the guitar

If you could travel to any time period to live forever, where/when would it be?: The Egyptian Era, so I could cure my innate curiosity of how the pyramids were built.

Mac or Windows?: Windows

You’re given an unlimited budget to travel. Where do you go? For how long?: I’d travel closer to the North Pole so I catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights! And after that, I’d go to every tropical island on the face of the earth to thaw out. Then, I’d backpack around Italy, Spain, and France, seeing as many cathedrals and monuments as I can. I’d love to travel as much as possible and for as long as possible — well, until I become unbearably homesick and miss the States!

We’re so pleased to have Linda on the team now — not only because her SEO skills are lifting us to new heights, but because it’s nice to have another superhero-loving geek in our posse. We look forward to many future hang-outs together, getting the Led out and watching a little pre-ruined Indiana Jones. Linda, you bring the Kettle chips.

Interested in reading about other members of the Merchant Maverick staff? Check out our team interview series.

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Team Bio Series — Rosie Holman (The Minimalist)

This week on “meet the Merchant Maverick team,” we’re getting a crash course on Rosie Holman, everyone’s favorite minimalist. When she’s not making merchant accounts providers cry with her pithy, concise reviews or listening to moral philosophy podcasts, Rosie is singing with her family band. But what else is she up to? Read on to find out.

Name: Rose Holman

Title: Merchant Accounts Writer

Hometown: I lived in a foggy beachside suburb of San Francisco called Pacifica until I was 13. That probably counts as a hometown, even though I’ve only been back once since then.

Current city: Portland, OR

Education and background: After earning a BA in biology and an MA in teaching, I taught high school science for a couple years before I had kids. Although I never went back to full-time teaching, most of my work and volunteer roles have involved some sort of teaching component. Even when writing for Merchant Maverick, I find it scratches the educator itch.

Merchant Maverick department/specialty: I mostly write reviews of merchant account providers. Frankly, I’m shocked some of them are still in business! I’m also the company’s resident over-thinker. I was coronated via crown-emoji in Slack the other day, so I think the title’s official. Just when you think we’ve resolved an issue, I’ll find another detail to consider.

Proudest professional moment: A proud moment from my teaching days was when my sophomores were presenting their big, end-of-the-year biology experiments. Two teams had run essentially the same experiment, but with very different results. I was all geared up to capitalize on the “teachable moment” and explain why this can happen to real-life scientists, too. Instead, completely unbidden, the second group proposed several excellent reasons for the variation, and then went on to explain how they’d design a new experiment to test their theory. They became real-life mini-scientists right before my eyes! I was beaming.

Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: Any time a merchant account provider alters a significant part of its website because they’ve read my review and taken the constructive criticism both seriously and graciously. I think that’s actually part of why we’re here — not only to write unbiased reviews, but to motivate companies (and even entire industries) to up their games.

What do you do when you’re not working?: I manage the Airbnb room in our house, which I guess may technically still count as working. When I’m definitely not working, I enjoy reading, or distracting myself from the pain of exercising by listening to thought-provoking podcasts. Our family of four also have a little folk band of sorts, so there’s always a lot of music in our house.

What fictional character do you identify most with and why?: I’m going with Jane Eyre, since I remember relating to her when I first read the book as a girl. We do have some basic things in common — the whole teaching thing, plus a general stubbornness and an irritatingly overdeveloped sense of right and wrong.

Favorite song: Do people really have one definitive, all-time-favorite song? I’m more of an artist or whole album sort of gal, and even that’s a tough choice. For the sake of following the rules, I’ll pick Sister Winter by Sufjan Stevens. Just the right blend of melancholy and hope in that one, and my son sings a killer harmony part.

Favorite ‘90s movie: Whew, at least we’ve narrowed this one down to a decade. After multiple rounds of minimalism-inspired purging, I still own a DVD copy of 1993’s fantasy rom-com Heart and Souls, staring pre-meltdown Robert Downy, Jr. and a pretty decent ensemble cast. As I reviewer, I must warn you: 6.9 stars on IMDb, 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.

What is your ideal breakfast?: I’m not picky, as long as it’s late. Two hours after I wake up seems about right. Apologies to the most important meal of the day, but the thought of eating food directly after waking makes me nauseous.

What US State have you always wanted to visit?: New York. And now I’m extra motivated because the enigmatic and elusive Tom DeSimone lives there.

If you could travel to any time period and observe, where would it be?: Because I grew up in church, I think I’m obligated to say “biblical times.” Still, I think it’d be pretty neat.

Mac or Windows?: Mac.

You’re given an unlimited budget to build a house. What’s inside? Where is it?: Since becoming a minimalist, I’ve always wanted to try living in a tiny house. An unlimited budget gives this a fun twist, so let’s say it’s a souped-up tiny house — lots of energy-saving features, custom modular furniture, and high-end finishes. The location wouldn’t matter, because it would be movable!

What can we say about Rosie Holman that she hasn’t already said herself? Anyone who can admit openly to an affinity with Jane Eyre has earned their official overthinker crown in our book. And why not? This team needs a little overthinking sometimes. We’re looking forward to visiting Rosie’s AirBnB after her inevitable stint on Tiny House, Big Living, but we’ll make sure to show up well after breakfast.

Interested in reading about other members of the Merchant Maverick staff? Check out our team interview series.

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