As a small business owner, knowing what to look for when choosing an online foreign exchange provider can be tricky, not to mention time consuming and likely scoring pretty low on your to-do list. However, taking an interest in your business’ foreign exchange (FX) requirements is important.

FX may be a by-product of your actual business, but if managed poorly it can put a dent in your bottom line. So what should you consider when choosing your online provider?

1. What rate are you getting? 
Never be afraid to question your provider about the FX rates they quote you. Booking exchange rates online is a low cost business and this should be reflected in the exchange rates you receive.

All providers keep a “margin”. This is the difference between what they buy the currency, and where they sell it onto you. Ask what margin you’re receiving.

2. Fees
Most FX providers will charge a fee to transfer your money. Take the time to shop around though – as new players enter the provider marketplace, free transfers are becoming more commonplace.

It’s important to remember though, that a free transfer does not offset a bad exchange rate. Take the time to compare fees AND exchange rates.

3. Look for simplicity
Foreign exchange does not have to be complicated. Buying or selling foreign currency online should be a simple and fast process. A lot of websites have unnecessary bells and whistles to make them look good.

When researching an online provider, look for a site that allows you to complete your transaction quickly and easily with a minimum of fuss. A good site will make you feel as if you’re being guided through the payment process, with clear, simple steps.

4. How safe is your money?
Always check who is backing your transaction. It’s great to get a good rate and no fees, but you need to know that your provider can offer online security and full traceability on your money.

Passwords and security tokens can seem tedious, but they serve a purpose to protect you and your money against such activities as money laundering and terrorism financing. Always take into consideration how seriously your provider protects your security.

5. Customer support
Make sure you have a point of contact. If you have any problems with booking a rate or organising a transfer, you need to feel secure that you can contact a customer care representative via phone, email or fax.

6. Risk Management
Choose a provider that can help you protect your business against adverse foreign exchange movements. Actively managing your FX requirements could save your business money, especially during times of financial uncertainty.

Regardless whether you’re selling software, shoes or a business, marketing your products to your target market is crucial to your business. And though TVC and billboards are still very much common, advertising is significantly shifting toward digital.

According to experts, small business owners should ride the trend if they want to survive much longer. But given their limited budget, SME owners should be wary in picking which digital medium to use in order to maximize their ad budget. Here are some of the digital channels that we recommend to small businesses.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are some of the most popular Social Media platforms. Creating a business page account on these is fast and easy. Posting and interacting with your audience is simple, too. However, it takes time to grow your audience, but once you get a knack of it, it will be very rewarding. You can also use their paid ads services to acquire fans in less time. In Facebook, for example, you can choose between Sponsored Stories, Page Post Ads, Like Ads, Promoted Posts and Facebook Offers to gain engagement and likes on your Facebook Page.

Email

Email is among the first tools that marketers use to promote their products and services. But up to now it is still among the marketers’ most considerable tools online. Why? Because email basically works. According to 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 60% of marketers say email marketing is producing ROI for them. Moreover, it has a longer lifespan compared to Facebook post where almost 74% of the messages you post are being ignored by the users.

So if you’re one of the business owners who think email is dying, think again. Email is still alive and building out your email list is important for your business.

Text Blast

Did you know that the open rate for text messages is higher than 90 percent? Indeed that’s a whopping number, making text blast a very effective and cost-friendly digital campaign tool. There are mobile servicing companies which you can hire to help you conduct a text blast campaign. You can choose your target market and the type of campaign you want which you think that would be most appealing to your target audience.

Website

Almost every business has a website nowadays. That in itself is reason enough to build a website for your business, but that’s not all. We all know that appearing on the top of the search engine results page can do your business good as users click through the sites that they can find on the first page. Hence, you shouldn’t stop on building your website. You should also ensure that your site is being found on the top of the search engine, especially on Google where most of the search activities happen.

Has your small business outgrown the garden, the front room or the garage? Do you find that the cramped space you are working in is closing in on you and that it cannot accommodate your growing needs?

As small businesses grow at amazing speeds, many small business owners are grappling with the dilemma of finding affordable business centers to operate from. A virtual office and a one-room space can provide a start-up, but they cannot help the business establish a professional business address. Only a commercial office in an up market location can do that.

This is where the current trend of leasing executive offices can help.

What is a leased commercial office?

Normally, business owners would rent a building or an office. They would then have to deal with a number of endless details like utilities, telephony, furniture, facilities and so on. On top of that, there would be a time gap between looking for the perfect office premises and finding a place that can be a good business address for your company. Then, there is the designing work and the décor to be taken care of.

By leasing an executive office, your business acquires an established commercial office in a good location in town. The office contains all the facilities you would normally require for running a business including office furniture, secretarial rooms, conference halls, telephony, facilities for high speed internet access and state of the art business equipment.

Some of the advantages of leasing a business address include:

1. Flexibility: Ready to use business centers offer you a lot of flexibility. Business owners are under no obligation to sign a long lease as is traditionally done while renting an office building. That means, small business owners can easily upgrade to better facilities as their needs evolve, without having to cut down on staff or skimp on space.

2. Speed: When you lease a ready-to-use business center, you have the freedom to move in, set up shop and start working in less than 24 hours! You will get fully furnished executive offices, with additional services thrown in, without wasting your time or energy on arranging these.

3. Impressive facilities: Fully furnished business centers generally come with: – Office furniture – Office equipment, which will be charged according to usage – Telephone services, which will be charged according to usage – Answering and fax machines – Postal services, which will be charged according to usage – Meeting room rentals – Conference halls – Refreshment areas

4. Inexpensive: Since the office equipment is maintained by the service provider, running costs are low. For a new business that leases a serviced business center, start up costs are low while they still enjoy the use of tastefully decorated business environments. State of the art equipment is available at a fraction of the cost it would normally require to purchase, install and maintain these.