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'Failure Is Not an Option:' What Apollo 13 Teaches Entrepreneurs About Problem-Solving

February 24, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs are inherently problem-solvers. After all, we start our businesses because we recognize a need that needs to be filled. Take me, for instance: Part of my previous job at an internet media company was to create tools for editors to build forms, surveys and polls. The problem was that at the time, the form-building landscape offered few good options. I decided to change that, and my company, JotForm, was born. 
But in the course of solving big-picture problems, smaller ones are constantly springing up and threatening to derail us. Some days, it feels like there are hundreds of fires that need to be put out before I’ve even finished my coffee. 
On those days, I like to think of an anecdote from Jerry C. Bostick, the flight dynamics officer for the Apollo 13 mission. More than two decades after the spacecraft was safely brought back to Earth after near-disaster, screenwriters Al Reinert and Bill Broyles were interviewing Bostick for the script that would become the film Apollo 13. One of their questions was, “Weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?”  
Bostick’s answer? No. 
“When bad things happened we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them,” he said. 
If ever there was a situation when panic would be warranted, the Apollo 13 mission was one of them. But panic wouldn’t have helped Mission Control then, and it won’t help you, either. 
Work the problem
One of NASA’s most renowned problem solvers was flight director Gene Kranz, who oversaw both the Gemini and Apollo programs during his 34-year career. While trying to figure out how to rescue the three astronauts whose lives were on the line on Apollo 13, he said to his staff, “Let’s work the problem, people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.” 
Kranz’s “work the problem” mantra is still used by the agency today. Astronaut Chris Hadfield explains the process in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, describing it as “NASA-speak for descending one decision tree after another, methodically looking for a solution until you run out of oxygen:”

“When we heard the alarm on the Station, instead of rushing to don masks and arm ourselves with extinguishers, one astronaut calmly got on the intercom to warn that a fire alarm was going off – maybe the Russians couldn’t hear it in their module – while another went to the computer to see which smoke detector was going off. No one was moving in a leisurely fashion, but the response was one of focused curiosity; as though we were dealing with an abstract puzzle rather than an imminent threat to our survival. To an observer it might have looked a little bizarre, actually: no agitation, no barked commands, no haste.”

University of Virginia Professor Thomas S. Bateman laid out “working the problem” in eight steps:

Define the problem

Determine goals/objectives

Generate an array of alternative solutions

Evaluate the possible consequences of each solution

Use this analysis to choose one or more courses of action

Plan the implementation

Implement with full commitment

Adapt as needed based on incoming data

This calm, rational approach to problem-solving works for astronauts and entrepreneurs alike. No matter what you’re dealing with, take a step back, understand the problem, and descend each decision tree until you find a solution. 
Related: 7 Ways to Help Your Employees Become Better Problem-Solvers
Be adaptable 
It might turn out that your original vision isn’t the one that ends up being realized. Or maybe you successfully launched one product, but changing technology forces you to reimagine it a few years down the line. That’s okay. Successful entrepreneurs know that change is inevitable, and if they want to survive in the long term, they’ll have to adapt. 
Nokia, for example, began as a paper company before following consumer demand and transitioning to rubber tires and galoshes. In the 1960s, it began making military equipment for Finland’s army, including gas masks and radio service phones, among other things. It eventually rose to prominence as the most successful cell phone manufacturer on Earth between 1998 and 2012. Even though it was eventually crushed by Apple after the release of the iPhone, Nokia lasted as long as it did thanks to its agility. 
Ask “why?”
Asking “why?” over and over again might make you feel less like a CEO and more like your toddler. But the truth is that there’s a lot we can gain from having an open, inquisitive mindset. Entrepreneur Michelle MacDonald suggests asking “Why?” five times to get to the root of any problem. 
“Many times when a problem arises, we jump to the first thought about why that problem is occurring, and then focus on a solution to fix that,” she says. “This is like putting an adhesive bandage over a hose and expecting it to hold.”
Say you find yourself drowning in work because you keep putting off tasks. Your five whys might go something like this: 

Why am I constantly stressed? Because I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. 

Why don’t I have enough time? Because I often procrastinate. 

Why do I procrastinate? Because I don’t particularly enjoy some of the tasks I have to do. 

Why don’t I enjoy them? Because they’re not a good use of my time, and someone else can easily do them. 

Why isn’t someone else doing them? Because I haven’t delegated them out. 

Doing this will help you treat the actual problem, not just its symptoms, and keep you from trying to resolve the same thing over and over again. 
Related: Creativity Is Your Best Problem-Solving Tool — Here’s How to …
Positive thinking
Bostick’s answer about Mission Control’s refusal to panic spawned one of the most iconic lines of all time: “Failure is not an option.” Though that exact phrasing is an invention of the Apollo 13 writers, the sentiment was accurate.
Negative thinking undermines the brain’s ability to think broadly and creatively, because fear and stress obscure options. Of course, you’re going to be stressed if, say, you lose a major client or there’s a freak explosion aboard your space craft. But those who cultivate positivity tend to be more resilient to such shocks, says Barbara Fredrickson, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and author of Positivity. 
One report co-written by Fredrickson suggests that positive emotions create a sort of buffer that helps people overcome setbacks. In fact, positive emotions were shown to help businesspeople negotiate better, improve decision-making and drive high-performance behavior. 
“Positive emotions expand awareness and attention,” Fredrickson says — critical attributes for anyone trying to solve a problem. “When you’re able to take in more information, the peripheral vision field is expanded. You’re able to connect the dots to the bigger picture. Instead of remembering just the most central event, you remember that and the peripheral aspects, too.”
Related: 7 Ways Teams Can Problem Solve Better Than Individuals

Tesla Fell 25% and Elon Musk Lost More Than $15 Billion in One Day. Was It Because of Bitcoin?

Elon Musk is no longer the richest man in the world. He fell far behind Jeff Bezos and several specialists claim that it is a consequence of his investment in Bitcoin.
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February 24, 2021 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

On Monday, Elon Musk lost his position as the world’s richest person , after losing more than $ 15 billion of his net worth in a single day. This after Tesla shares plunged more than 10% after investing 1.5 billion dollars in Bitcoin (BTC) .
With the recent drop, Tesla racks up losses by 25% in just one week, according to Forbes data. Thus, the electric car company has lost about $ 215 billion in market capitalization.
To put it in perspective, before the investment in Bitcoin , the company’s market capitalization was around $ 844 billion. It now stands at roughly $ 620 billion.
The crash is, in part, the consequence of a general contraction in US markets, but there is also speculation that it would be due to the company’s investment in cryptocurrencies.

Literally pic.twitter.com/XBAUqiVsPH
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 24, 2021

What happened between Elon Musk, Tesla and Bitcoin?
On February 8, Tesla announced the billion dollar purchase of Bitcoin units for $ 1.5 billion. The transaction shot the cryptocurrency to an all-time high, surpassing $ 58,000 per unit . However, a few hours later it plunged to $ 53,000 , causing investors billionaire losses.
Many attribute the fall of the cryptocurrency to a tweet from Musk, where he said that the price of Bitcoin “appears to be high .” It is speculated that the words of the tycoon caused the recent fall of the Bitcoin and many specialists believe that he himself ‘stood up’ by criticizing an asset in which he had just invested.

Musk is no longer the richest person in the world
For several weeks now, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been taking turns occupying the top spot in the Forbes Billionaire Rankings.
Last Wednesday, February 17, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX had a fortune of 191,000 million dollars, while that of the founder of Amazon was 191,300 million dollars, that’s how closed the difference was!
However, after this series of losses, Musk’s fortune declined about 13% in just one week, falling to $ 166.1 billion on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Bezos woke up Wednesday with a net worth of $ 186 billion and the richest person in the world.
Can Elon Musk come back and take Jeff Bezos’ job (again)? We will have to be pending.

4 Ways Writing a Book Will Transform You

February 24, 2021 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In the fall of 2005, an unexpected conversation with Lee Huebner and his sagacious advice laid the foundation for my skill diversification, and successful stint as an online news media and publishing entrepreneur. An alumnus of Harvard University and Northwestern University, Lee had served as the publisher and CEO of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, considered the first global newspaper. He had also chaired the American Chamber of Commerce in France.
Lee’s advice on the benefits of becoming an author and its cogency in strengthening the entrepreneurial brand deeply influenced me to turn my expertise and experience into my first non-fiction book, which was followed by another book that was published a few years into my first digital news media venture. 
Related: 8 Books You Should Read for a Successful 2021
The second book was born out of entrepreneurial risk, ambiguity, rejection, hope, and persistence. And this book brought about the most transformative change in my career — it enabled me to stay focused on solutions and opportunities, not problems, it helped me develop a healthy relationship with my readers, it aided us in getting extensive media coverage that spruced up our sales and collaborative partnerships, and it fortified our online news media and publishing business that some years later led to its profitable sale. And if there are five things in common among successful entrepreneurship, writing a book, and impactful marketing, it is differentiation, authenticity, credibility, visibility, and trust.  
Entrepreneurs and startup founders know that marketing starts with them and gets more powerful when every employee becomes a marketer for their company. They know that marketing is about building the extraordinary, and they also know that marketing and communications dexterity is to deepen relationships with internal and external customers, focus on the emotions behind the buying decisions, engage in gripping storytelling to capture their customer’s attention, offer solutions or answers to alleviate customer concerns, and blend the art of intuition with the analysis of data science to unearth insights that will improve marketing return on investment. 
So most entrepreneurs rely on email marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, influencer marketing, varied types of content marketing (long-form and short-form content), public relations and communications strategies and tactics to grow and brand their business. 
While all these forms of marketing are pervasive, effective, and influential mediums for marketing success, there is no better marketing medium for entrepreneurs and startup founders than writing a book to promote their business, products or services, and to turn their skills, expertise, experience, and knowledge (SEEK) into content that will resonate with their audience, and help establish differentiation, authenticity, credibility, visibility, and trust. 
Related: 61 Books Elon Musk Thinks You Should Read
Each time an entrepreneur or a subject-matter expert asks me for marketing or content advice, as have some of them during the global health crisis, I ardently said, “A book is the most powerful marketing medium for discerning entrepreneurs, and writing a book enables you to set yourself apart from other experts and entrepreneurs in your field. Write a book, ask your content or communications team to create a book, or sign up with a ghostwriter to author a book for you.” 
Here are the four reasons why writing a book is a potent marketing and differentiation imperative for an enlightened entrepreneur:
1. A book enables you to differentiate effectively
Long before the term authorpreneur was coined, British author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle combined his love of medicine and literature to write mystery stories and created a fictional private detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Conan Doyle fused his interest and skills to give the world a brilliant and memorable detective that appears as authentic and lifelike as you and me. And even after 133 years since Sherlock Holmes was introduced to the world, Sir Doyle is remembered even today by millions worldwide. 
He effectively differentiated himself from other doctors who had started their medical practice by creating a product that offered tremendous value and high reading recall. As someone with a flourishing medical practice, he created history and left a legacy to be remembered by because of his power of storytelling, imagination, observation, deduction, and words coalesced and adopted through an uncommon approach – writing books. 
Related: 13 Tricks That Will Help You Read More Books
In today’s ultra-competitive landscape, doing what most entrepreneurs and marketers do is fine, but your company and you are unique and different, and so is your story and SEEK. 
I am an active proponent of digital or video storytelling (watching) and podcasting (listening) as two of the top three entrepreneurial marketing mediums, but if I had to put my money on the most powerful and differentiated marketing medium for entrepreneurs, hands down it would be writing a book (reading). And most entrepreneurs who availed this advice and went on to write a book or hired someone to do so, have gone beyond being an entrepreneur – they have become a brand, a thought leader, or a credible authority in their chosen arena, enhanced their visibility, and forged connections and collaborations they thought were beyond their reach. 
In essence, their book has helped them stand out from the crowd in a short attention span, digitally distracted world, and if distinguishing yourself from others is the primary goal of any marketing effort, then writing a book is the best way to meet that purpose.
2. A book will force you to walk the walk
From experience, I can tell you that there is a high probability that writing a book will prevent you from getting complacent in your business. Complacency can be the death knell for an entrepreneur, and writing a book will ensure your thoughts, words, and actions are aligned. It will guarantee that you follow the published advice you give to others so that the preacher in you stays as an evolving doer. 
Once you put your book in the public domain, there is a subtle pressure to continually adapt, learn, and change, which is an important step toward reinventing yourself as an entrepreneur with a growth mindset. 
A prominent creative entrepreneur once told me, “When you write a book, or hire a ghostwriter to write a book for you, you will become a better reader, storyteller, seller, marketer, communicator, observer, listener, thinker, risk-taker, innovator, and problem solver.” I couldn’t agree more because most of these attributes are qualities shared by successful authors and perspicacious entrepreneurs. 
3. A book can help the entrepreneur go international
Your book’s International readership can result in international entrepreneurship. 
I have observed how book writing, design, and marketing has helped a number of entrepreneurs go international. It has helped them gain an in-depth understanding of the economic, political, legal, socio-cultural, technological, and environmental factors prevalent in some of the world’s most lucrative markets for English-language books, the U.S., the U.K., India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, and armed with this comprehensive understanding it has also enabled them to successfully promote their products or services in these countries. 
4. A book can provide you multiple streams of income 
A book isn’t just about the royalties you receive from book sales. You can turn a single book into a TV or streaming series, use it to sell your software, product, or an online course, command a higher fee as a speaker, consultant, coach, or an agency, and even attract high-profile clients. Your book could also lead you to be asked or invited to join the boards of companies and seriously boost your career. 
I have witnessed the power of books to inspire, inform, educate, engage, persuade, entertain, or amuse. Your book will help you showcase your authenticity, statement of differentiation, expertise or skills, and assist you in staying true to your purpose and passion. 
Remember, there is a book in every discriminating entrepreneur, and if you are one, start writing your book today. Write a page every day, and you can complete your book in less than a year. And if you don’t have the time or lack the ability to do so, hire a ghostwriter to capture your voice and turn it into a compelling read. 
Embrace the most effective marketing and differentiation conduit to keep the reins of the entrepreneurial journey in your hands and thriving – turn your SEEK into a book this year.

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The 10 Best Places to Work in Manufacturing

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This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.Manufacturing has a special place in the American story, but for the past few decades, this sector has been largely on the decline, impacting many workers and affecting decisions around things like budgeting and where they call home.
Since 1997, more than 91,000 manufacturing plants have closed and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, according to a 2020 study from the Economic Policy Center.
Still, there are jobs to be had and careers to be built in the world of manufacturing in the U.S., provided you are looking in the right places. To that end, SmartAsset analyzed various data to find the best places to work in manufacturing in 2020.

To find the best places to work in manufacturing, we compared 378 metro areas across the following metrics: manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, job and income growth between 2015 and 2018, job and income growth between 2017 and 2018, housing costs as a percentage of income and unemployment.
This is SmartAsset’s fifth study on the best places to work in manufacturing. Read the prior version here.
For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the data and methodology section below.
Following are the best places to work in manufacturing.
1. St. Joseph, MO-KS
APN Photography / Shutterstock.com
The St. Joseph metropolitan area, located in both Missouri and Kansas, has 24.74% of its workforce in manufacturing, the 18th-highest rate in this study.
It’s also a place where jobs are fairly easy to come by: The unemployment rate in October 2020 was just 3.1%, 16th-lowest across all 378 areas we studied.
St. Joseph scores lower in terms of income growth between 2015 and 2018 — though still within the top half of the study — coming in 145th for this metric, at 7.61%.
2. Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN
Alex Krassel / Shutterstock.com
In the Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana, metro area, home to Purdue University, around 25.23% of the workforce consists of manufacturing workers, the 16th-highest rate for this metric in the study.
Income growth between 2017 and 2018 was especially high here, at 16.64%, the seventh-highest of the 378 metro areas we analyzed.
This seems to be a recent development, though, as income growth between 2015 and 2018 was not as robust at 8.73%, ranking in the top third of the study at 126th.
3. Hinesville, GA
SevenMaps / Shutterstock.com
Hinesville, Georgia, saw manufacturing job growth of 27.50% between 2017 and 2018, the third-highest increase for this metric in the study.
It also finished 38th in terms of job growth between 2015 and 2018, at a total of 14.50%.
In this metro area, 17.81% of the workforce is in manufacturing, placing this coastal community 59th in the study for this metric, a top quartile finish.

4. Decatur, IL
Krystal Bennett / Shutterstock.com
Decatur, Illinois, in the central part of the Land of Lincoln, saw income from manufacturing jobs increase by 33.08% between 2015 and 2018, the fourth-highest increase in the study for this metric.
The one-year increase in manufacturing job income between 2017 and 2018 was 12.88%, the 10th-highest bump in the study.
Decatur is also a fairly affordable place to live, as housing costs take just 10.81% of income on average, the fifth-lowest rate for this metric across all 378 metro areas in the study.
5. Spartanburg, SC
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
In Spartanburg, South Carolina, manufacturing jobs represent 25.05% of the entire workforce, the 17th-highest percentage for this metric overall.
Spartanburg also ranks in the top 20 for both job-growth metrics: It comes in 15th for job growth between 2017 and 2018 (11.45%) and 18th for job growth between 2015 and 2018 (18.98%).
6. Fond du Lac, WI
Kristopher Kettner / Shutterstock.com
In Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 20.98% of the workforce holds jobs in manufacturing, the 30th-highest percentage we saw in the study for this metric.
The unemployment rate in Fond du Lac for October 2020 was 3.7%, the 32nd-lowest rate on this list.
The Fond du Lac metro area ranks toward the middle of the study in terms of housing costs as a percentage of income, placing 155th at 19.29%.
7. Columbus, IN
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com
Manufacturing employees constitute 27.78% of the workforce in the Columbus, Indiana, metro area, the 10th-highest rate for this metric in the study.
From 2017 to 2018, the manufacturing job base grew just 1.67%, ranking 177th of 378 overall.
The metro area also ranks toward the middle of the study in terms of housing costs as a percentage of income, ranking 160th with housing costs at 19.37% of income on average.
8. Rome, GA
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Between 2017 and 2018, income for manufacturing workers actually went down 0.09% in the Rome, Georgia, metro area, placing the locale in the bottom quarter of the study for this metric.
However, the job market there is fairly strong right now: The unemployment rate in October 2020 was just 3.7%, 32nd-lowest overall.
The Rome metro area is also a fairly robust town for manufacturing job opportunities, with 17.98% of jobs being in manufacturing, the 57th-highest rate we analyzed for this metric and a top-quartile result.
9. Appleton, WI
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com
The workforce in the Appleton, Wisconsin, metro area is 20.08% manufacturing employees, the 37th-highest rate of the 378 areas we studied.
It also ranks strongly for long-term income growth, with pay for manufacturing jobs increasing 16.33% between 2015 and 2018, the 34th-largest leap we analyzed.
Appleton’s job growth over the same time period is strong but not quite as robust, placing 102nd overall, at 8.63%.
10. Staunton-Waynesboro, VA
jack looney photography / Shutterstock.com
The final entry on this list is the Staunton-Waynesboro, Virginia, metropolitan area. The metro area saw manufacturing jobs decrease by 0.32% between 2017 and 2018, ranking 256th overall for this metric.
However, it performs well in terms of income growth between 2017 and 2018, for which it places 23rd of 378, at 9.97%.
The Staunton metro area also ranks well for job growth between 2015 and 2018, with a 15.26% jump that places it 34th in the study for this metric.
Data and Methodology
fizkes / Shutterstock.com
To find the best places to work in manufacturing, we compared 378 metropolitan areas across the following metrics:
Manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce. This is the percentage of all workers employed by manufacturing firms.
Three-year job growth. This is the percentage change in the number of people employed by manufacturing firms from 2015 to 2018.
One-year job growth. This is the percentage change in the number of people employed by manufacturing firms from 2017 to 2018.
Three-year income growth. This is the percentage change in manufacturing workers’ average incomes from 2015 to 2018.
One-year income growth. This is the percentage change in manufacturing workers’ average incomes from 2017 to 2018.
Housing costs as a percentage of average income for manufacturing workers. Data on median housing costs comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
Unemployment rate. Numbers come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for October 2020. This rate incorporates all professions, not just manufacturing-specific ones.
Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015-2018 County Business Patterns Survey except where noted.
First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. From there, we found the average ranking for each metro area, giving an equal weight to all metrics except for manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, which we double-weighted.
We then ranked the areas based on this average ranking. The metro area with the best average ranking received an index score of 100 and the metro area with the worst average ranking received an index score of 0.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

11 Ways to Better Manage Your Accounts Payables and Accounts Receivables

All small business owners know how vital cash flow is to their survival — and how managing their accounts receivables (AR) and accounts payables (AP) is the key to maintaining a healthy cash flow. In uncertain times like these, it can be harder to make sure AR and AP are in good shape.
Below are 11 ways to better manage accounts payables and accounts receivables.
How to Manage Accounts Payables
Obviously, your overall goal should be to have more receivables than payables, so it’s essential to keep your eye on how much you’re spending.
Review Your AP
Do you know where your money is going?
Generally, accounts payable are your short-term debts, items you intend to pay off in the next 12 months. Longer-term debts are considered liabilities and are usually not included in AP. However, for purposes of managing cash flow, those payments must figure into your outflow. So, make note of all regular payments, such as your utilities, rent, insurance, Wi-Fi, payroll for employees, and payments to independent contractors, freelancers, and providers of professional services (accounts, lawyers), etc.
Don’t forget the “little stuff,” like subscriptions, memberships, coffee for the office, SaaS subscriptions, etc.
Are there seasonal expenditures you regularly make?
Are you paying interest on your credit cards, outstanding loans, lines of credit?
After your review, think about how you can reduce any of these payments. Shop around for the best deals; consider negotiating with your suppliers and ask for better terms, extended pay-by dates, early payment discounts.
Get Organized
Do you know where your bills are?
It’s easy to lose paper invoices or misfile them. Human error is all too common in understaffed, overworked small businesses, leading to bills being paid late or not at all.
Before you pay an invoice, make sure the amount paid matches that on the invoice and that the products or services you’re paying for have been received.
Regular Checkups
It’s a good idea to update and reconcile your accounts every day, so nothing gets overlooked.
Create a Payment Approval Process
You need to define who at your business is allowed to make or authorize purchases. And no matter who you select, you should set spending limits.
This not only helps you manage your AP, but it can prevent in-house fraud, theft, and embezzlement. Spread the responsibilities around among several employees.
How to Manage Accounts Receivables
Do You Know Who You’re Doing Business With?
Before you enter into any business arrangement, you should check out the company you’re considering doing business with. Check their credit and financial history. Consider doing a background check.
Set Payment Terms
It’s important to set payment terms at the beginning of a relationship with another business. Will you offer early payment discounts? While that may incentivize your clients to pay you sooner, it will bring in less cash. Only you can decide if that trade-off is worth it.
Regular Checkups
As with your AP, you should stay on top of the process. What’s in your pipeline? Check your aging lists to make sure no one is falling behind on their payments. Create a process to follow-up with late payers to collect what they owe you.
AR & AP Solutions
Managing the accounts payable and receivable process is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to human error. Many small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to handle it properly but still cling to manual and paper-based processes.
Experts agree that there are several ways small business owners can better manage accounts payables and receivables using electronic payment solutions.
Offer Payment Options
Electronic payment solutions, such as online banking, electronic funds transfer (EFT), and ACH are quicker and more reliable, and convenient. Processing checks electronically cost less than processing paper checks, so you’ll save money as well.
Preventing Fraud
Electronic solutions also can reduce the possibility of fraud since fewer people are involved in the process.
Increased Efficiency
Unlike paper invoicing and payments, when you use electronic solutions, nothing gets misfiled, overlooked, lost in the office or in the mail. And since no one at your business has to enter data manually, the chances of human error are considerably reduced.
Electronic payments are easier for you to monitor, as well.
Automate and Outsource Payments Processing Systems
The most efficient way to solve these issues is to outsource your AP and AR to a company that can do it all for you. Look for an all-in-one solution like Bill.com, where they take care of your AR by generating invoices and billing your clients and your AP by paying your bills.
Their system is automated, so there’s less risk of you missing or making late payments, forgetting to send invoices, or making data input errors.
Bill.com integrates with most accounting solutions like QuickBooks and other financial apps like Expensify.
And don’t worry, you’re not giving up control. Bill.com offers a cloud-based solution you can monitor your AP and AR anytime, from anywhere you have an internet connection.
The bottom line is as a small business owner you have a lot to do. Hopefully, this will be a recovery year for many businesses, and your time is better spent developing ideas and on sales and marketing. You can free up your time and better manage accounts payables and receivables by outsourcing to Bill.com. Give it a try, risk-free today!

Small Business Owners: Here's What You Need to Keep, Here's What You Can Shred

Each year a business generates a lot of paperwork that must be organized and saved. Make sure you know what to keep and what to shred.
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February 24, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I’ve owned and managed businesses for over a decade and been around business owners for even longer than that. Some businesses drown in paperwork while others exist with a debit card and a wallet full of cash. One business can produce copies of a year’s worth of receipts in minutes while the other needs hours at the bank just to generate a summary.
While some may argue that too much documentation isn’t a bad thing, it can detract from time otherwise spent on productive business activities. So how do small business owners find the balance? How much paperwork is too much or maybe not enough?
The overall number of printed records has declined drastically in the last few years. Most checkout systems at brick-and-mortars will email you a receipt; but let’s face it—we mostly shop online anyway! Most of the files and documents that small businesses need to save are already conveniently emailed to us or available for download. The problem most small businesses face is in determining what is worth keeping and what can be discarded.
Related: How Does the New Stimulus Package Affect You?
To start, don’t try to save paper copies of any documents. As soon as they land in your hand, scan and upload them to the cloud. Organization is streamlined when all your documents are on the cloud. As you prepare to close out last year, here are the documents that you should save:
Bank statements
Most banks give access to online statements for years and years, however, that access is revoked when you close the account. Instead of trying to remember to save years of data before you close an account, make saving all your statements a year-end habit.
Checks and bank deposits
Not all bank statements contain copies of checks and deposits. If your statements don’t include this information, download the images at year-end. Most banks don’t keep this type of information online forever so be diligent about saving these often.
All tax documents and letters
The IRS and most state tax agencies will communicate almost exclusively by mail. Although these documents are already printed, scan them in as soon as you receive them. And remember to also keep copies of anything you mail in.
Related: 7 Tips for Keeping Receipts Organized for Tax Time
Tax returns and efile confirmations 
In our digital world, even tax returns are not printed anymore. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect to save a copy. While tax preparers are required to keep records for many years you can’t rely on readily available access in the future.
Related: 5 Steps to Tax Season Success
Receipts
Keeping receipts for everything is a tedious process. Scan each receipt while still at the register.It takes only a few seconds and then it’s off your mind. If you let your receipt pile get too big, it’s likely to be neglected and the ink faded by the time this task finally makes it to the top of your to-do list.
Loan Information
Not all your financial transactions pass through your bank. Sometimes you trade in one car for another or finance a large purchase. The purchase and loan documents are crucial to filling out tax forms correctly.
Related: How Long Do You Really Need to Keep Your Financial Documents?
The record-keeping requirements for most business owners are minimal; however, that doesn’t mean they can be neglected. Each business owner needs to develop a system that will help them manage the paper and digital trail. And while this process is very simple in today’s cloud-based world, it still requires action on behalf of the owner. Save these documents on a regular interval: it will simplify your business and save you money.
Related: The 6 Best Ways for Solopreneurs to Manage their Books

Airbnb's 'Flexible Dates' Search Focuses on Where You're Traveling, Not When

Airbnb is acknowledging the realities of travel in the remote work era.
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February 24, 2021 2 min read
This story originally appeared on Engadget
Travel is still hurting due to the pandemic, but Airbnb wants to be ready for that moment when people are comfortable heading out again — even if remote work has changed how they book trips. It’s introducing a Flexible Dates search option that shies away from choosing exact days in favor of general time frames. You can look for a weekend in June or a months-long stay during the summer, for instance. Airbnb hopes this will give you more options for places to go in an era when you might not need to return to a physical office after your vacation.
Searches are limited to homes, and Airbnb notes that the feature doesn’t account for COVID-19 travel restrictions. You’ll still need to be sure it’s legal and safe to go.
Flexible Dates search should be “widely available” now across Airbnb’s apps and websites.
It’s easy to see some of the more pragmatic reasons behind the new option. When the pandemic winds down, there may be a surge of people eager to travel for its own sake, and not too particular about when they go. The new search choice could help Airbnb capitalize on that demand. The company also hopes this will help hosts find more customers. When the pandemic has gutted the travel business, this could mean the difference between a host staying with Airbnb or leaving home rentals entirely.