Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Money Saving Ideas for Your Business

Money Saving Ideas for Your Business

By Nathaniel Davis
Paper Reduction
 Paperwork can quickly pile up and add unnecessary lead times in variety of areas. As you trace the paper trail, ask everyone who handles or creates a paper form the following questions:
·         What information do you add to the paperwork and why is it needed?
·         What information do you take from the paperwork and why do you need it?
·         Why is this paperwork important for you to perform your job?
If anybody answers, "Because it's always been done that way." it is almost certain that this area of the process is a prime candidate for reducing paperwork and streamlining the process. Also, if each piece of information cannot be justified, it should be eliminated from the form to reduce the amount of work necessary to process the paperwork.
Filing and Storage
File cabinets and storage boxes take up valuable office space. Use a document management system to archive paperwork for long term storage and retrieval to free-up the office space that is being occupied by paper storage.
Saving money on cell phone business usage can be quick and easy. Competition in the general cell phone market is fierce. This is even more so for business cell phone customers. You can take advantage of the current marketplace and save money on cell phone usage in your business.
Empower Employees
Employees on the frontline and in the trenches know their jobs better than anyone else. The best employees have been with the company a long time and know the processes and decisions inside out. Look for areas where supervisors and managers are involved in day-to-day operations of the business and these will be the most common areas that can benefit from empowering employees.
B2B with Customers, Suppliers and Partners
Business to business (B2B) communications (also called e-commerce) goes way beyond just having a storefront on your web page. Having the ability to share electronic information automatically will determine which businesses thrive and which ones struggle keep afloat. Benefits include:
·         Better customer service
·         Increased sales
·         Reduced inventory
·         Capital savings
·         Improved cash flow
·         Reduced lead times
Consolidate Software
Do you have one piece of software for order entry? Another for accounting? Another for inventory control? Do you employ somebody to key the data from one system into another system? A "yes" answer to any of these questions indicates that you could need an integrated software platform. There are a variety of packages available today that can meet the needs of small companies as well as the large ones.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

10 Essential Things You Need to Know about Running a Successful Business

by Nathaniel Davis

  1. Offer what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell. 
Too often, people jump into a business built around a product or service they think will be successful, rather than one that is already proven to have a market.

Instead of creating and selling a new sports shoe with the latest trendy design and materials, you'd be much better off from a business perspective to focus on shoe category generally (a proven category because which people buy shoes every day) and then focus more specifically on the niche of high performance sports shoes, (which you may even sell in a section of a shoe retail outlet). Better to have a small slice of a large category than a large slice of no market at all.

  1. Get cash flowing ASAP 
Cash flow is the lifeblood of business, and is absolutely essential to feed bottom-line profits. So you need to find ways to jump start cash flow immediately.

How do you do that? In a professional services business, you can ask for deposits on work up-front, with balances due on delivery.

You can do the same in retail, especially on high-ticket or specialty item and position it as an added value and a way to insure delivery by a specific date.

You can also add value to generic items by creating private labels, and develop continuity programs where customers pay an up-front monthly fee to insure delivery or availability of items they will buy on a repeat basis. Of course, the key is to make sure there is little or no gap between when you pay for labor, stock inventory and when you actually get paid. Ideally, you'll find ways to get money up front, and your cash gap will never be an issue.

  1. Always find new ways to keep costs low. 
All the cash flow in the world is worthless if it's not positive cash flow, which means you have to bring in more cash than you pay out.

To do this, you need to keep your costs and expenses low. We've
touched on this before, especially in terms of outfitting a startup. The main idea is to never pay retail, and look for used or gently used items to furnish your office or your retail space.

Paying vendors up front also gives you leverage for negotiating better prices. Especially in this economic environment, where credit is at a premium, vendors are more willing than ever to find creative ways to finance transactions, and that is a trend will likely continue over time.

So do some extra work and research now to discover how owners and vendors are finding ways to work out deals, and you just may hit on whole new ways of doing business.

  1. When planning, always overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues
    Being conservative in your numbers doesn't mean you are willing to accept those numbers, it just means you are arming yourself with information you can work with and work over. It means you can gauge the kinds of efforts and activities you will need to put into sales and marketing.
  2. Focus on sales and marketing manically. 
In business, nothing happens until a sale is made. From the jump, you'll need to find a good way to get leads, convert leads into sales, and make sure you keep getting repeat sales from your customers.

The way to do this is to find or create a marketing and sales funnel system that you can work, test, measure; one that anyone in your company can utilize.

Too many entrepreneurs focus on getting their brand right before they start to generate leads. That is exactly the wrong way to go about business. Leads are always more important than your brand, so don't waste money getting your brand right at the expense of spending that same money to buy new customers.

Soon, you'll discover you can build your brand from the ground up, versus spending years and hundreds of thousands of dollars building it from the top down. Don't presume you'll even survive that long, because without leads, you won't!

  1. Find ways to exponentially increase profits. 
In business, there are five drivers that impact profits. If you can master them while keeping your costs in check, you will run a successful business.

It's as simple as getting more leads, converting more leads into customers, increasing the number of times those customers buy from you, increasing the average price point of your sales and increasing your profit margins.

Do any one of those, while also keeping costs down, you will see more profits. Do all of them and you will see your business really take off.
  1. Test and measure everything. You can't change what you don't measure, and you can't tell if a program or strategy is working if you are not faithfully testing, measuring and tracking your results.

    Another way to look at this is to think in terms of doctors. Most like to get baseline stats of your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing before they delve into identifying symptoms or recommending corrective courses of action.

    The same is true in your business. Why keep literally throwing money away on an ad campaign that costs thousands of dollars but doesn't bring any people through the door?

  1. Accept that learning more equals earning more.
 If you've never run a million dollar business, you don't know how to start a business--simple as that.

But you can learn to run one, even if it is your million dollar business you are building from the ground up.

However, you need to accept right now that learning always comes before "earning" (except in the dictionary). You'll need to be committed to learning as much as you can about sales and marketing and operations if you want to have a truly success business.

Once you do that, however, the sky is the limit. Knowing and applying those simple fundamentals in a highly leveraged way is one of the reasons many top executives and entrepreneurs earn so much.

Identify those areas and you then can decide to learn it yourself or hire an expert and learn as much as you can from that person--because you never know when you can run across a distinction in thinking or a strategy that can really take you and your business to a new level of success.
  1. Don't discount, add value. 
Whenever you discount, you are taking money directly out of your pocket and directly from your bottom-line profit. So don't do it. Instead, create added value propositions all the way up and down your product or service line.

Whatever the industry is, look to hold your price points, increase your margins with the low-cost or no-cost extras and any kind of premium offerings.

In the end, those little things won't cost you a lot, but will build up tremendous goodwill and word-of-mouth with your customers and customer base.
  1. Get a consultant. 
Even if you don't get a consultant at first to help you and guide you in your planning and operation, get someone who is objective and outside of your business you can rely on for “honest” business advice and to hold you accountable for getting results.

Too often, we think we have all the answers and are the only people who can really get things done. The reality is that another set of eyes can work wonders for how you operate both on and in your business. An outsider can also make sure you are getting the numbers you need both on the top line and the bottom line to survive.

Use this as a checklist to make sure your thinking and your business plan are on the right track, or if you need to get more information, strategic education or clarity for yourself on your overall vision, your market, or your product or service.
I hope this initial checklist will be valuable in helping you clarify your thinking and helping you prioritize some activities in your planning and start up mode.
There are no mysteries in business or in life, there's just information you don't know yet.
Armed with the right strategies up front, you can cut the time it will take you successfully get to your ultimate destination--wherever it is that may be for you and your business.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cutting Costs without Cutting Labor
by Nathaniel Davis

Eliminating jobs does not result in immediate cost-savings. You have to consider severance packages that have to be financed as well as unemployment benefits to satisfy. The morale of the employees left behind always suffers.

There are strategies that can save money immediately, keep unemployment insurance rates down, and even maintain or improve employee morale while saving jobs. You should always consider alternatives before implementing involuntary reduction of staff. Below I have listed a few.

Temporary Staffing: Temporary staffing is not a part of the human resource budget that is reserved for regular employees. You can save many dollars here due to your organization not having to pay unemployment benefits if this staff is reduced. 

Part-time Employees: Sometimes you will have part-time employees scheduled to work 25 hours per week but are working upwards of 40 hours per week. Take a look at actual hours worked versus just full time equivalents. Look at the actual dollars and hours versus just focusing on head counts.

Job-Sharing: Allowing two people to work part-time hours for one full-time position allows for seamless coverage of the position. The client and the organization work with the team as if they were one person. 2 people getting the job done and the organization benefits by enjoying 2 heads instead of one.

Telecommuting Increase: This doesn’t directly affect labor costs, but it can reduce costs in the amount of office space utilized as well as office equipment. You can take advantage of allowing multiple employees to use one office on specific days when they are not working from home.

Organizations need to be flexible and look toward long-term cost cutting measures. Lowering employee morale and gutting the talent pool can negatively alter the organization over the course of years. Not focusing on just cutting labor can find the organization benefitting more in not only the short-term but looking forward into the future.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Companies Can Cut Costs Without Cutting Jobs


The Importance of Financial Responsibility
By Molly Wider
It is well known that when people fall into debt, lose their job, or experience financial difficulties for any reason, emotional trouble follows financial trouble with the same certainty sunset follows sunrise. Relationships are strained, bankruptcies are filed and dreams are dashed. For a period at least, the feeling of failure burns not only one's credit, but one's self-esteem - deeply.
Recovery is consequently something one must initiate as soon as possible, both financially and psychologically. Although it may take time and be painful, this process can also be an eye-opener, a hard lesson one can use to build a more solid and safe future based on financial responsibility.
Nothing long-lasting, in fact, is built on the spur of the moment, but it is the result of hard work, dedication, and resilience. The widespread belief that "having a lot of money" is what makes a person's future safe does not, in fact, hold true in reality.
Big lottery winnings, for example, can be just as disastrous for a person as falling into debt. This is quite surprising to many, but lotteries' sudden "millionaires" end up filing for bankruptcy and divorce, have their homes foreclosed and their dreams and families shattered with alarming frequency.
Reading some of these life stories, although saddening, can be indirectly soothing since it debunks the myth: "if only I had more money".
What makes a person's future safe is not the amount of money in itself, rather making the concept of financial responsibility an integral part of life: the skills, endurance, and willingness to manage one's finances wisely.
Once that is accomplished, money becomes truly effective and so does borrowing. This is why banks and financial institutions rely on your credit rating: they use your credit score to determine if you have achieved a satisfactory level of financial responsibility. In the end, that is their true collateral.
But how can one get there after having experienced serious financial trouble? If your credit is not satisfactory, sometimes, this means that even if you have collateral you may be denied credit, or have to pay very high interests for it.
Fortunately, there are other options to get you back on the saddle when you're ready to start your path to financial recovery. As soon as you have acquired an inner understanding of how finances should be run, one of these options is to rebuild your credit through a secured loan such as a car title loan. These loans are approved based on the value of your car are truck and can be obtained regardless of your credit rating. Reputable financial organizations that offer these services are ready to give you another chance at building a truly safe financial future.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pros and Cons of Entrepreneurship

To everything in life there are advantages and disadvantages; entrepreneurship is no exception. As a matter of fact, entrepreneurship involves a lot of risk taking. Yet, it can pay off very nicely as well, with rewards such as profits and the opportunity to be your own boss and make your own decisions.

Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Excitement: Due to its high capacity for risk, there is a lot of adventure.

Rules and regulations: Work in a current job is difficult to do because of all the "red tape" and consistent administration approval needed.

Originality: Some people feel that they can offer a new service/product that no one else has offered before.

Competition: Employees feel they can offer their current company's product/service at a lesser expense to the public.

Independence: Some people wish to be their own boss and make all the important decisions him/herself.

Salary potential: Generally, people want to be paid for the amount of work they do in full; they do not want to be "short-changed."

Flexibility: Entrepreneurs can schedule their work hours to spend quality time with family or any other reason.

Rational salary: They are not being paid what they're worth and would rather work on their own and earn the money they should be earning for their efforts.

Freedom: Entrepreneurs can work whenever they want, wherever they want, and however they want.

Salary: Starting your own business means that you must be willing to give up the security of a regular paycheck.

Benefits: There will undoubtedly be fewer benefits, especially when considering that your business will be just starting off.

Work schedule: The work schedule of an entrepreneur is never predictable; an emergency can come up in a matter of a second and late hours will have to be put in.

Administration: All the decisions of the business must be made on your own; there is no one ranked higher than you on the chain of command in YOUR business.

Incompetent staff: Often times, you will find yourself working with an employee who "doesn't know the ropes" as well as you do due to lack of experience.

Procedures: Many times during your entrepreneurial life, you will find that many policies do not make sense, nor will they ever make sense.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Importance of Treating Employees With Respect

by Aaron Marquis


Treating your employees with respect is vital to maintaining motivation. For example, if you do not respect the time of your employees, be it from long, unnecessary meetings or poor project planning, your employees will be less motivated to put forth the extra effort needed for productivity. Additionally, if you do not respect the work of your employees or the energy they used to complete a task, they will be less motivated to complete tasks with the same quality next time.


Employees who feel as if the company does not respect their work or them personally may lose their loyalty toward the company. Loyalty is critical to employee  longevity and productivity within a company. Without longevity, companies waste valuable resources recruiting, training and acclimating new employees to the processes of the business. Employees without loyalty toward the company may go to work for companies that directly compete with their former company, further adding to intellectual loss.

Company Culture

A lack of respect for employees creates a company culture in which respect is not held in high regard. Management and decision-makers may experience this lack of respect when trying to implement strategy within the company. For example, if a manager wants to focus on a new product or  marketing campaign he thinks will move the company forward, employees may not respect his judgment because they do not respect him. Treating employees with respect is a circular process that affects everyone in the company.

Legal Repercussions

Employees with certain religious, lifestyle or cultural differences that do not receive respect from their managers or peers may pursue legal action in court. The workplace is typically a diverse environment filled with people of different backgrounds; everyone working in the office deserves respect. For example, if you disrespect an employee's religious beliefs by ignoring holiday requests, that employee could sue your company for discrimination. If disrespect is a widespread practice in your company, employees could opt for an even more expensive and costly class-action lawsuit.