4 Services That Fund Your Small Business When You Need It

| August 18, 2014

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No matter how savvy you are with budgeting and saving money in your business, there might come a time where you find yourself in a crunch. Maybe it’s due to a summer slump in sales, or maybe it was an unexpected expense. No matter what the reason, if you find yourself in need of quick capital for your business, there are services that can help.

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Shoping.ma is a Moroccan site selling several products online throughout Morocco. delivery to all cities and payment on delivery.

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Artificial intelligence for Small Businesses – Transformation Guide in 2021

Article | July 9, 2021

The effect of COVID-19, the pandemic nationwide, was inevitable and became a catalyst for every business's digital transformation, irrespective of a large, small, or medium-sized business. 2020 saw a boom in digital transformation and escalated demand for artificial intelligence (AI). A few years back, artificial intelligence for small businesses was just a buzzword for owners, and today it is a new reality of our day-to-day life. Many companies have recognized the extensive benefits of AI. As the growing power of AI for small business owners has been considered, they have integrated them to achieve their goals. Artificial intelligence, also called machine learning, offers small businesses the opportunity to become profitable, efficient, and effective. With time and evolution in technology, AI delivers results and has become affordable for small businesses. The unprecedented nature of the pandemic crisis brought in a set of new challenges and forced small companies to change and improvise their business strategies. This crisis led AI and machine learning to play a substantial role in various aspects of businesses. According to statistics, the artificial intelligence industry will be worth $190 billion by 2025, with global spending on AI systems already reaching $57 billion by 2021. The machine learning and deep learning segment accounted for nearly 65% of the market in 2019. According to ReportCrux Market Research, the global demand for artificial intelligence in the IoT market estimated to be around $ 2.64 billion in 2019, revenues are expected to be around $ 15.72 billion by the end of 2027, representing a 25.0% CAGR from 2020 to 2027. Moving forward, before you hit the core topic of this blog, here are few additional aspects you need to know about AI and small businesses. AI and small businesses Today AI is the new headline of every business news and has become a prevalent technology adapted by almost every industry. However, before delving into the implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence for small businesses, let me throw some light on what artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are. AI is creating computer systems capable of performing tasks that generally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. Machine learning is defined as “an artificial intelligence application that allows systems to learn and improve based on experience without being programmed automatically.” AI and machine learning have become a mainstay of the new business world. Yet, as per the common misconception, this technology is still considered for bigger businesses with big budget to spend. However, as technology advances, artificial intelligence for small businesses has become more affordable, making it an industry reality for them as well. According to the 2018 Vistage survey on the role of AI for small businesses, 13.6% of small-to-medium companies (SMBs) are currently using AI technologies to improve business operations and customer engagement. In addition, according to another survey of CEOs from small and medium-sized businesses, 29.5% of CEOs support AI technology. Artificial intelligence has gained trust from few big names such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk. AI and deep machine learning can be implemented through AI tools and AI software across different parts of business operations. AI tools help streamline all the processes of the business, thus transform the industry. AI tools for small companies benefit in various ways, including helping to improve sales and marketing efforts, improving recruitment and HR activities, and automating customer service and communications. Here is how artificial intelligence (AI) can help your small businesses improve your performance efficiency. Top 5 artificial intelligence recommendations for small businesses in 2021 AI-Infused CRM Since the digital approach towards business operations, machine learning and artificial intelligence for small business operations are changing. However, it necessitates a well-planned marketing strategy for small businesses to maintain a personal touch in their approach. As a result, customer-relationship management (CRM) systems play an essential role in gathering customer data across various omni-channels such as email, social media platforms, and phone. This customer data aids in the improvement and automation of the sales process. HubSpot CRM and Salesforce have incorporated AI into their technology; these AI-infused CRM for small businesses can help their owners in analyzing customer feedback. As a result, marketing and lead generation activities will be adjusted based on that information. AI-infused CRMs not only improve lead generation results, but they have also begun to demonstrate how AI can be used to acquire marketing and sales-relevant insights, as well as to improve the customer acquisition process. Effortless data-driven predictions and decision-making Data plays a key role for businesses in the decision-making process. The data-driven approach helps to improve decisions, but for this, the companies need to recognize and adapt artificial intelligence (AI) into their workflow. Data holds the insight that enables better decisions, integration of AI and machine learning in workflow validates effortless data-driven predictions and more robust decision making for further actions. The question is, how does AI help in the decision-making process based on data? Here is the solution; firstly, AI examines massive amounts of data and then provides insights to business owners, who make decisions based on this information. Then, do you see how artificial intelligence for small businesses in workflow simplifies decision-making and makes data-driven predictions with ease. Application of artificial intelligence (AI) in human resource The human resource was the most unexpected department into which artificial intelligence (AI) crept. Effective implementation of AI tools in human resources helps to streamline the hiring and onboarding process. Furthermore, it is beneficial to obtain employee feedback on how HR can improve the hiring process. AI tools for small businesses offer their marketing teams to handle repetitive and tedious tasks like data entry, cleaning up extensive data, and testing sales campaigns' efficiency. In addition, artificial intelligence for small businesses empowers them to optimize their staff output. AI-powered customer service The big players in online retail are no longer the only ones. Small and medium-sized businesses are also gradually becoming a significant part of selling their products or services on an online portal. In the form of conversational platforms such as chatbots, IVRs, and visual bots, AI can enable proactive customer self-service. First, however, it is necessary to develop personalized customer service for their satisfaction. This can be done with the help of integration of the most used AI-powered chatbots. Many small business owners are investing in this process to provide customer communication and service. Chatbots use natural language (NLP) processing technology of the machine learning tool. Since the introduction of deep learning in AI, it has become a need of an hour to deliver better results to customers, as approximately 30% of all online retail transactions are made on a mobile phone. Most small businesses are utilizing AI to provide customers with first-hand product experience. According to Gartner, “46% of SMBs (surveyed) are currently using or plan to use a chatbot within the next two years.” Another 21% of the small and medium-sized businesses polled were evaluating chatbots for use, according to the study. Chatbots is like a sales and customer rep working 24/7 for you. Among the many artificial intelligence for small businesses available, this relieves stress and allows you to devote your time to more critical tasks. For example, with AI-powered customer service, you can simplify many tasks, facilitate customer communication and customer experience. Cybersecurity Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, most businesses turned online, giving rise to online data storage by companies both big and small. Thus, exposing them to new cyber threats to business and consumer data, which are called cyber-attacks. One of the most talked-about cyber-attacks in 2019 is ‘Ransomware,’ a form of malicious software that is often deployed via social engineering tactics. According to the survey, ransomware attacks increased 350% globally in 2018, and ransomware attacks are expected to cost $6 trillion per year by 2021. For small businesses with a minimal budget to spend on cybersecurity or sudden ransom, such attacks can be devastating. According to recent reports, 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months. But luckily, cybersecurity powered by AI may provide some relief from these attacks. AI-powered cybersecurity programs look for unusual activity or cyber threats detected and can stop the attacks or raise alerts earlier. You can revitalize and empower your small business by employing artificial intelligence for small businesses to meticulously maintain an account database, stay in touch with customers, or protect your company from hackers. AI is the future of businesses In the future, AI can transform how businesses interact with customers, compete with one another, and grow in the market. On the other hand, the pandemic served as a catalyst for businesses to embrace the business benefits of artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, what would typically take years to implement on a large scale was completed in a matter of weeks and months. According to survey by Salesforce research, 51% of customers say their expectations of companies are now being influenced by AI. According to a report, the global artificial intelligence (AI) market was worth 28.42 billion USD in 2019. According to the same report, the AI market will be worth 99.98 billion USD by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 34.86%. Machine learning and artificial intelligence for small businesses help their owners reduce manual work and increase productivity with little effort and in a short period. FAQs Can small businesses use AI? Yes, small businesses can use AI and need an hour to implement it in their process. Small business owners can use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide the first-hand experience of their products or services to their customers. AI helps small businesses to handle repetitive and tedious tasks with great ease. How can small businesses benefit from AI? Implementation of AI in a small business can help to improve sales and marketing, streamline HR tasks, automate customer communication, provide cybersecurity from unpredictable threats, etc. Thus, artificial intelligence for small businesses can completely transform their position in the market. How is AI implemented in small businesses? AI technology can be implemented in small businesses using various AI-based tools, applications, or software. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Can small businesses use AI?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yes, small businesses can use AI and need an hour to implement it in their process. Small business owners can use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide the first-hand experience of their products or services to their customers. 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5 Tips for Choosing the Best Small Business UC System

Article | February 12, 2020

Businesses can’t survive without excellent communication and collaboration. Team members need to stay connected so that they can share knowledge, work together on complex problems, and keep the company running smoothly. Indeed, 98% of executives believe that lack of communication is the cause behind the biggest failures in their business. A unified communication or “UC” system provides today’s enterprises with all the tools they need to encourage positive interactions between team members, in a space that’s easy to monitor and manage. However, it can be very difficult for companies to determine which UC strategy they need when there are so many vendors out there claiming that their tools are the best. The following tips will help you to ensure that you’re choosing the right SME UC system for your needs.

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WAYS FOR YOUR BUSINESS TO SUCCEED WITH VIRTUAL EMPLOYEES

Article | August 29, 2021

Although the concept of remote working is not exactly new, it is becoming increasingly more widespread as companies are responding to the COVID pandemic and the digitization of workspace. A year ago, businesses were struggling with the question of whether virtual employees can both receive and give the same benefits that were driving success – but as many of them are now making that decision for themselves, the answer seems to be a positive one. Few organizations feel prepared to implement virtual work on a large scale, but there are steps you can take to make the experience more productive both for your employees and your business. Preparing for this scenario, or optimizing its effectiveness, should focus on rethinking the necessary operational procedures to ensure business continuity. With a few considerations for your new virtual workspace, your employees will be just as engaged and excited to work for your business. Offer Support The unexpected transitions that have impacted both our lives and our work have disrupted our “normal” routines. Employees need to adjust to the new way of working just as much as businesses, so it’s vital to provide the support they need. Modern businesses are becoming increasingly aware that their employees juggle more than one challenge in their lives, both at and outside of work. To ensure that you are supporting them in any matter, you should look at employee assistance program (EAP) providers that specialize in both personal and work-related problems. And, although this should be on the top of your priority list at any time, looking for certain ways to cherish your employees might be especially useful during new and challenging periods. Making your employees feel like they are contributing and working as part of the team even though they are not physically present can help you maintain and boost success. Focus On The Output, Not The Process In a remote landscape, where many people are balancing their work with family commitments around the house, giving your employees the freedom to complete their work in the easiest way for them will keep your productivity numbers high. So, organizations that have solid employee recognition strategies in place and implement employee recognition ideas to create an emotional connection with their workforce during these difficult times, tend to enjoy stronger employee engagement, enhanced employee morale, and lower turnover. Since you essentially won’t be able to see your employees during the workday, virtual work inherently demands that you trust your employees. If you shift your attention away from the process and towards the outcome, you will likely find that flexibility will translate to more success. Essentially, if you trust your employees, they will show you their appreciation by supporting your goals. Remote work is vastly different from the office life most people are used to, which is why finding an optimal work process will likely take some time. The best thing you can probably do in such a situation is to suspend your previous conceptions of the workflow and focus on providing a supportive structure. Once the scales balance, you will likely find your success formula. Communicate Well And Often There is no question that virtual work usually comes with a dose of loneliness. While this may not be true for all of your employees, you should make sure to adopt practices that open the doors for communication, especially for important topics. Your virtual employees can’t enjoy a mid-day cup of coffee in the break room or after-work get-togethers with their coworkers. So, the culture and atmosphere of the organization will largely depend on what you communicate to them. Communicating clear goals and expectations will help you reinforce your organization’s culture and ensure everyone is on the same page. And, while it’s not always necessary to overwhelm your employees with regular check-ups and meetings, you should check in every once in a while and encourage them to reach out if they want to discuss any challenge or topic. Your company culture is a huge determinant of success, and in times when your company is only virtually connected, good communication is vital.

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Treasury management at SMEs - Still too neglected?

Article | August 18, 2021

Treasury management or more generally Supply Chain Finance management is still a neglected topic at many SMEs. While large international corporations make the investment into expensive treasury management solutions (often part of their ERP solution) and even setup their own In-House Banks, this is considerably more difficult for the mid-corp segment and even more so for the smaller segment of the SMEs. Often SMEs lack the funding, time and expertise to deploy those platforms and often those platforms lack the flexibility required by an SME. Nonetheless in this globalized competitive market with fast moving cash, even SMEs are in need of an effective treasury management. Every SME has its own specific challenges, due to its specific payment cycles and cash reserves. Nonetheless most SMEs (estimated to about three-quarters) still do their treasury management via (complex) Excel sheets, requiring a lot of manual effort. This gap forms a big opportunity (in Europe SMEs account for more than half of all gross value added) for incumbent banks and Fintechs to offer easy and user-friendly tooling for this. In recent years, more and more Fintech players try indeed to provide an answer to this gap, often via SaaS platforms, which connect easily to the customer’s banks (via Open Banking APIs) and for which the setup cost is limited. The gains for an SME in optimizing their treasury processes can be very substantial. A good treasury management can reduce costs in multiple ways: Reduce working capital by reducing the time to collect money from customers, by reducing inventory and/or by paying suppliers only at the payment due dates. Reduce unpaid invoices by a better follow-up and good debt collection techniques Reduce penalties (such as administration costs or late-payment interests) due to late payments and indirectly also improve the relationship with suppliers. Reduce effort (resource workload) for financial management, like the follow-up of payments of incoming and outgoing invoices, automated generation of payment instructions for incoming invoices… Optimized cash management allowing to keep on your current account only the required cash amount to run your business, thus allowing to invest excess cash, but also to avoid requiring short-term debt when too much cash is invested (and blocked in medium- to long-term assets) Reduce foreign currency costs and exposure risks by keeping the right reserves of foreign currencies, applying hedging (like swaps or options) techniques, correctly taking forex rate fluctuations into account in future cash flow predictions… Reduce transaction commissions for bank transactions, by selecting the right banking products, but also by using the right banking partner(s) (especially for international foreign currency payments big price differences exist between different banking parties) Reduce cost of fraud by improving control, transparency and accountability via a pro-active, automated monitoring of all cash flows, allowing to detect anomalies as soon as possible … This can be achieved in multiple ways: Setup and optimize the processes and tooling with the help of specialized services companies (like e.g. the offering of BelPay) Setup or acquire software solutions (often in the form of SaaS offerings, i.e. Treasury in a Box) for cash & liquidity management, like invoice generation and follow-up (including invoice and payment matching), debt collection, incoming invoice processing (including payment), cash pooling, cash forecasting/capital planning… These software tools allow a more pro-active treasury management and reduce manual effort by automating certain steps in these processes. Examples of such platforms are HighRadius, Gtreasury, CashForce, Kyriba, Nomentia, Monite, Pair Finance, AiVidens… But there are also more specialized tools, offering only a specific service, like debt collection (e.g. Virteo, recovr, Pair Finance, TrueAccord, CollectAI, CollectionHub, inDebted, Attunely…), digitalization (through OCR) of paper invoices (e.g. Tangentia, Contract.fit, Metamaze, Klippa, SimpleOCR…), expense management (e.g. Payhawk, Rydoo, Expensify, Spendesk, Pleo, Circula…), account aggregation and payment initiation (e.g. Isabel 6/Ponto)… Capture revenue by allowing customers to pay for products or services in a way that is most efficient for them and for the SME, allowing to increase sales, but also to ensure the best possible payment ratio. This includes solutions like digital onboarding and management of Direct Debits (e.g. via Twikey or DigiTeal), including a Pay button (e.g. via Twikey or POM) in invoices which allows to pay the invoice with a pre-filled credit transfer, card payment or other payment option, integration with PSPs (like Adyen, Mollie, MultiSafePay, Ingenico, Stripe…) for online payments, digital invoicing allowing to combine invoicing and payment (e.g. PEPPOL platform or offering invoices with immediate payment option via UnifiedPost, ZoomIt or Doccle), "Buy Now, Pay Later" solutions (like Klarna or AfterPay) or new solutions like PSD2 Payment Initiation or the upcoming new scheme of SEPA Request to Pay (SRTP). Improve integration between accountancy software (and/or accountant) and the cash management solutions and associated bank accounts. Solutions like Silverfin, TOCO, Yuki, OkiOki, Billit, Furoo, Clearfacts, Billtobox, sevDesk, Candis… can provide (a part of) a solution to this. Usage of solutions for cash management (e.g. international cashpooling, sweep accounts…) and more general treasury management services offered by banks to their customers. These can be incumbent banks or new Fintechs, which specialize in the niche of serving SME customers. Examples are Tide, Qonto, Azlo, Arival, Fyrst… Reducing costs of international payments and forex transactions via new Fintech offers, like XE.com, TransferWise, CurrencyTransfer.com, WorldFirst, iBanFirst, Ebury…, but also via specialized software tools, like Kantox, FiREapps, Money Mover, Acumatica… Get cheaper financing via specialized credit institutions and banks (e.g. OakNorth, CapitalBox…), by issuing commercial paper (short-term paper) or long-term debt, via crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending (e.g. Funding Circle, Auxmoney, LendingCrowd, Iwoca, Look&Fin, Crowdcube…), via Credit Lombard loans or inventory-based loans (e.g. Finventory) or via invoice factoring (e.g. Edebex, Previse, Optimum Finance, GapCap, BlueVine, BillFront, Crowdz…). There are also more and more marketplaces and comparators assisting SMEs to find the best financing option, e.g. Funding Options, BusinessComparison, Crowdz… Improve risk management (like currency risk, interest-rate risk, market risk, credit risk, counterparty risk…) via trade finance, like bank guarantees (cfr. Ebury), via better authorization and fraud detection mechanisms (detecting patterns and anomalies) or by better assessing counterparty risk (e.g. DueDil, InsideView, PitchBook…) Apply tax optimizations, by optimizing for different tax regimes worldwide and also optimizing for tax deductions (like e.g. generate revenue on entities which have collected losses in the past) Clearly the Fintech market for SMEs is in full evolution, but still quite immature. As a result dozens of offers exist, making it very difficult for SMEs (which was one of the reasons in the first place they work with Excel) to select the best and right offering(s) for their company. As such there is a big market for consultancy and other services firms, specialized in helping SMEs to improve their treasury management processes.

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Shoping.ma is a Moroccan site selling several products online throughout Morocco. delivery to all cities and payment on delivery.

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