Why Should You Apply for a Business Credit Card? May 21, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
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Did you know that over 65% of all small businesses use credit cards on a regular basis but less than 50% of those cards are actually in the business name?
Are you putting your personal credit and personal assets at risk too?
Let’s review some of the most compelling reasons why you should apply for a business credit card for your company.
First, co-mingling personal resources like credit can jeopardize the protection of the corporate veil. If you believe you are fully protected because you are incorporated think again!
The alter ego theory happens to be the most litigated issue in corporate America today so why risk putting your personal assets at risk if you don’t have to?
With a business credit card used solely for company purchases and expenses you eliminate the risk of co-mingling personal resources.
Secondly, maintaining accurate records of your business purchases and expenses are critical in running a successful company. Not to mention it can save your bookkeeper a lot of time from separating your personal expenses from business expenses.
The majority of business credit cards provide detailed reporting that breaks down your expenses by category, so it’s easy for you to budget, plan, and spot tax deductions.
Finally, establishing the creditworthiness of your company opens up much greater funding opportunities. This is especially important in reducing the reliance on your personal credit to qualify for business financing.
Many corporate credit card issuers report your company’s payment experience to a major business credit bureau. This not only helps your company build credit history but also prevents your business debts from appearing on your personal credit reports.
Now before you apply for a business credit card follow these seven key steps:
- Conduct a credit assessment- Be fully aware of where your credit stands on a personal and company level. Start by obtaining copies of your personal and business credit reports with scores. Remember, you are entitled to one free report per year with the major consumer credit agencies.
- Determine which type of business credit card you need- You should understand the primary functions of the card you are applying for including its limitations. Whether it’s a business debit card, prepaid business credit card, unsecured/secured corporate credit card, charge card, fleet card, or merchant card make sure you select the one that best fits the needs of your business.
- Read the fine print- Just because a card issuer offers all kinds of special perks and rewards doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best card. Always read the fine print so you completely understand the terms and conditions and fees associated with the card.
- Look out for teaser rates and special offers– While offers like a no-interest promo are a heck of a deal to have the ability to borrow money interest-free most of them come with strings attached. Make sure you understand what conditions must be met and how long your teaser rate stays in effect.
- Apply for a business credit card that builds your company’s credit-To protect your personal credit you should apply for cards that report your payment experience to your company’s credit files.
- Avoid supplying a personal guarantee if possible– A small segment of card issuers will extend credit without a personal guarantee if your business has established strong credit ratings or has substantial revenues.
- Do not apply for too many cards- Be selective on which cards to apply for because excessive inquiries can raise a red flag with creditors as well as negatively impact your ratings.
On a final note it’s important to realize that even though business credit cards are not covered under the new CARD Act certain issuers are extending the CARD Act protections to its business credit card holders. This is just another factor to consider when applying for a card for your business.
Don’t make the mistake of putting your personal credit and assets at risk when it comes to running your business. Obtain a business credit card so you can start establishing a creditworthy company.
Marco Carbajo is CEO of the Business Credit Insiders Circle (www.businesscreditblogger.com), a step-by-step business credit building system providing lines of credit, trade credit and funding sources.
How to Examine your Business from a Customer’s Perspective April 29, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
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How often have you, as a consumer, grumbled about a not so great customer experience? Have you ever purchased a product or service that did not meet your expectations? Was the service provider a little curt during the transaction? Has it ever been difficult to locate items you wanted to purchase on an online website? Have you ever experienced an issue that was resolved in a less than timely manner?
These are just a few scenarios that can cause a customer to refrain from doing business with your company.
Now think about how you felt during these situations and then examine your company from yourcustomer’s perspective. Here are four ways to get started:
1. Call your company.
What do customers encounter when they call your business? Is your receptionist robotic or pleasant, professional and courteous? Did you know that your receptionist or answering service serves as the face of your organization? Therefore it is important to put the right person on the front lines of initial customer interactions.
What about your interactive voice response (IVR) system? Are your call center menus user-friendly or do you become confused or worn out in the first minute of calling your offices? If it’s confusing to you, it’s probably confusing to your customer.
2. Visit your company.
Okay. So you may be thinking to yourself, “Errol, I’m already here at my organization!” Yes, but start your visit with your customer in mind … where a physical visit starts for your them.
For example, usually when a customer physically visits your business, their experience begins outside and down the street. Consider this: Can they easily spot your company’s signage? What condition is your business signage in? Is your signage visible during evening hours?If you own an online business, is your website easily searchable? Could your logo and overall branding benefit from a redesign?
The next step for most customers (if you have a physical location) is your parking lot — what condition is it in? Is your business area well-lit for evening hour customers? Depending upon your industry, the distance from the parking lot to your entrance could be problematic (e.g. inadequate parking, unkept and unclean outside areas). Consider how you can improve the exterior experience for your customer.
Now, let’s go inside. What does the customer see upon entering your front door? Is your store or office designed with your customer in mind? Is it easy to locate products or specific areas in your store (online or offline)? If it is difficult for you, it’s more than likely a headache for your customer.
3. Visit your company’s website.
Take time to review your customer service experience. How often do you view your company website (as a customer)? Have you reviewed your website’s user experience — attempted to make a purchase?
Did you receive an order confirmation after your purchase along with an anticipated delivery date? Did you receive a follow-up email providing tracking information? Are products and services easy to locate on your website; is your web content up-to-date? Are all of your hyperlinks fully functional?
If your website offers live chat is the “conversation” tone friendly and upbeat? Does the chat operator quickly address your questions?
Whatever you experience, your customer is experiencing the same.
4. File a customer complaint.
Can customers easily file a complaint with your company? If so, can they easily submit their concerns via your toll-free number, website, email or live chat? Keep in mind, if you don’t provide an outlet for your customers to express their frustrations, they’ll find another place to vent.
Take your support or help desk for a test drive. How long does it take for your customer complaint to be acknowledged? What type of follow-up questions does your team ask? What steps are taken to resolve your complaint and how long does it take?
Remember, it’s important to know what your customer experiences when interacting with your company. To get their perspective and improve your business, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Speaker, author and consultant Errol Allen is the founder and CEO of Errol Allen Consulting, a Houston, Texas based company that provides customer service training, customer service strategy development and supervisor/management training. He utilizes his 25 years of hands-on experience in assisting his clients in creating customer focused organizations.
Cold-Emailing: How to Write a Winning “Pitch” Email April 23, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
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Research suggests that approximately 294 billion emails are sent per day. More than 2.8 million emails
are sent every second and about 90 trillion emails are sent per year. According to an independent study, “the typical corporate email user sends and receives about 105 email messages per day. Despite spam filters, roughly 19% of email messages that are delivered to a corporate email user‟s inbox are spam. This includes what is referred to as “graymail” (i.e. unwanted newsletters or notifications).” Given we receive hundreds of emails each week, it’s not uncommon to bypass many and read a select few.
In fact, it’s getting harder and harder to meet people through email and then turn that email into an offline relationship. Yet for Gen Y entrepreneurs, the ability to conduct outreach via email is an essential networking skill to build your client base, find mentors and grow your support system. So, how can you make your unsolicited email stand out in a crowded inbox? Of course, an introduction or referral is ideal, but we don’t always have connections that can help us get our foot in the door. Personally, I’ve had some success meeting amazing people via email. I’m talking about not even having a connection or an introduction — just cold-emailing. A lot of things I’ve accomplished as an entrepreneur — meeting Sheryl Sandberg, getting media coverage in leading business magazines, securing a speaking opportunity at Davos and growing my own business — came from cold emails.
Here’s how I did it:
1. Write your email with the reader in mind.
What is it they want to know when they read your cold email? Who is this person? Why is it important that they read your email? What action should they take after they read it? Be clear, be persuasive and, most importantly — be relevant.
If you’re looking to form a strategic partnership start composing your email with something like, “My name is Jane Doe. I am an entrepreneur and founder at ABC Widgets with a revenue opportunity for you. Can I set up 10 minutes with you next week?”
2. Make sure to ask the question.
Sometimes we make the mistake of saying, “Let me know if you have time.” That’s not a question, and it is neither direct nor clear. If you don’t make it important to you, the recipient won’t make it a priority. Instead, write something like, “Can we meet for 15-minutes over coffee in the next two weeks?”
3. Be specific about who you are and what you will offer.
Don’t give a three-sentence bio. Give a one-sentence description about what — specifically — you have to offer. Also, cater it to the person you’re emailing; it won’t be a “one size fits all” pitch. For example, if you’re looking for a mentor, your education might be relevant if you have alumni connections. If you are forming a relationship with a potential client, your latest business accomplishments are far more relevant.
4. Avoid starting an email with “How are you?”
Everyone does it and it doesn’t mean anything, particularly if you’re sending a cold email. Nine times out of ten, the end of your email contains a specific request, and you never actually had an interest in the recipient’s well-being. People are busy — start your email with a brief sentence outlining who you are and why you are writing. Save the niceties for when you talk over the phone, meet in person or exchange more email messages!
5. Ask how you can help them, or offer something in return.
People are always looking for freebies. It could be as easy as social media support via a LinkedIn testimonial or an introduction or referral. Whatever it is, find a way you can support the person in exchange for their time and attention, particularly as a young entrepreneur reaching out to someone more experienced and successful.
We live in a new economy of collaboration and that means it’s more important than ever to find ways to help one another before asking for favors in return. For Millennial entrepreneurs nothing is more valuable than time — both your email recipients’ time, and your own.
Erica Dhawan is a globally recognized leadership expert, Gen Y keynote speaker, advisor to Fortune 500 companies and researcher at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Her work with Gen-Y leaders and future-thinking companies changes the world. Connect with Erica on Twitter and Facebook.
Anyone who has ever tried selling something can tell you the importance of accepting credit cards. Whether you’re selling products at a trade show, delivering a product, or offering an on-site service, you don’t want to miss any sales opportunity just because you don’t accept credit cards. But you don’t have to buy expensive “wireless” terminals or bust your knuckles on manual credit card imprinters. With little more than your current cell phone and an inexpensive mobile credit card processing app, you can accept credit cards anywhere you are.
Here are some of the unique benefits of mobile credit card processing:
- Real-time validation and payment processing
- Competitive per-transaction fees and low rates (both for keyed-in and swiped transactions)
- Compatibility with a variety of merchant accounts and payment gateways
- Easy online management and integration with accounting software
- Additional features like GPS location reporting, signature capturing and email/text receipts
Whether you’re selling pizza delivery, in-home pet grooming, taxi rides, emergency plumbing or homemade quilts at a trade show, accepting credit cards on your phone is the best way to go.
What to Look for in Mobile Credit Card Processing Solutions
Your business is unique, and your individual needs might make one mCommerce (mobile commerce) solution better than another. To find the best overall mobile credit card processing solution for your situation, consider the following criteria to find the right mix of features, functionality and fees.
Everyone claims to have the lowest fees or rates, but that doesn’t mean the final cost is the lowest you’ll find. There are several fees you need to be aware of to determine the real cost of using any credit card processing service. Aside from setup fees and monthly service fees, there are also fees each time you process a credit card. The per-transaction fee is typically composed of two elements, the base rate and the processing rate. These vary by the payment gateway and merchant account you use, but they can really add up. While one service may have a low per transaction fee, the authorization rate may be high. Calculate your average sales (quantity and charge) to find out which combination is the best for you.
Hardware & Compatibility
Most credit card processing apps work with a number of phones, often including iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm and WinMo smartphones. Some services offer a mobile terminal available on any phone that can access the internet, and work with just about any wireless provider or data network. But if you or your employees already have a certain phone, you’ll definitely want to make sure you find an option that will work with your current mobile device.
You can also take your credit card processing to a whole new level by using optional mobile card readers or Bluetooth printer/reader combos. These additional devices are portable and can let you take advantage of lower swipe-transaction fees.
Accepting credit cards with your cell phone isn’t just portable, it also facilitates a number of additional features. With the right phone, network and service, you can capture signatures directly on your device, calculate sales tax, accept tips, manage customer info, and even email (or text) receipts to customers.
Ease of Use
Processing credit cards from your phone is remarkably simple; it’s more intuitive than learning to use most credit card terminals (and certainly easier than using a manual credit card imprinter and re-processing each card at the end of the day). With well-designed user interfaces, simple features and additional user-friendly elements, most credit card processing apps are actually very intuitive.
Processing a credit card on your phone might seem a bit scary at first, but you and your customers can rest at ease knowing that mobile credit card processing is completely safe. Every service we reviewed is PCI compliant and uses SSL encryption to make sure sensitive information is completely secure. The individual apps are often password protected, and include additional safety measures in the event of theft or loss of the device. Furthermore, credit card information is never actually stored on the phone.
When you think about it, accepting credit card payments via phone is actually safer for both you and the customer, since the card never has to leave the customer’s sight, and you won’t have paper imprints of their credit card information lying around.
Whether you’re looking for the best mobile credit card solution that will work with your current phone/merchant account/payment gateway, or looking to start from scratch, our comprehensive reviews of mobile credit card processing apps will help you find the best solution for your business. For our all-around favorite cell phone credit card processing services, start with Chase Paymentech, Wireless ePay or Leaders Merchant Services. You’ll find more credit card processing tips and tricks with our articles on mobile credit card processing.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™
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One of the first steps in the business planning process is determining who your target market is and why they would want to buy from you.
It sounds simple, but do you really know what you are selling and to whom? Is the market you serve the best one for your product or service? Are the benefits of dealing with your business clear and are they aligned with those or your target customers?
If you aren’t sure about the answers to any of these questions then you need to step back and revisit the foundation of your business plan.
The following tips can help you be clear about what your business has to offer, identify the right target market for it and build a niche for yourself there.
Be Clear about What you Have to Offer
Sounds obvious, but more than just a product or service, what are you really selling? Think about it. Your town probably has several restaurants all selling one fundamental product—food. But I’ll bet one sells drive-thru fast food, perhaps another sells pizza in a rustic Italian kitchen, and maybe there’s also a fine dining seafood restaurant that specializes in wood-grilled fare. All these restaurants sell meals, but they sell them to targeted clientele that is looking for the unique benefits each has to offer. What they are really selling is a combination of product, value, ambience (or not), and brand experience.
So, if you are starting a business, be sure you understand why anyone would buy from you. What needs does it fulfill? What benefits and differentiators will you bring to the table that will help you stand out from the crowd? This article offers tips on how you can develop and capitalize on these elements of value: Six Tips for Creating a Customer Experience that Embodies Your Unique Business Value
Don’t Become a Jack of All Trades, use Strategy to Focus
One of the pitfalls of not defining what you have to offer is that you can quickly become a jack of all trades and master of none and this can have a negative impact on business growth.
Think about it from the perspective of a consumer. How often do you see marketing flyers promoting the service of a local handy man who claims to be an expert in everything from drywall installation to plumbing repairs, and so on? Now, this handyman may get some business out of his efforts, but he’d win a lot more if he specialized in doing one or two things well, building a reputation for himself, and fine tuning his marketing message. This is why you need a strategy: it will focus you.
Identify Your Niche
The flip side of being a jack of all trades is finding your niche and playing to your strengths within that niche. Creating a niche for your business is essential to success. For example, say you want to quit your day job and become a freelance writer. You know there’s a need in the market for a trustworthy, reliable, and consistently good technical writer – and clients are willing to pay a certain price point for that quality and value.
Now you could simply advertise your services on an online freelance marketplace, as many do, and hope to pick up any business from any customer anywhere on the map. But by identifying your niche and choosing to attract customers who will value your services, you will quickly build on that niche and be on the path towards business success.
Finding Your Target Customer
Identifying and finding your ideal target customer is a process few businesses can afford to get wrong. A few simple steps can help get you along the way and are covered here in this SBA guide: Identifying Your Target Market.
Tailor your Business Message to Your Market
Now that you’ve identified your target market you’ll need to craft a message that reaches and speaks to that market while reinforcing your brand identity. It should explain what you have to offer, why you’re different, and why anyone should buy from you. For tips on tailoring your message to your market, read: Stand Out from the Crowd – Seven Tips for Creating a Marketing Message that Sticks. The following blogs can also help you nurture and build your small business brand identity:
- Does Your Business’s Brand Need a Makeover?
- Five Tips for Building Your Small Business Brand Using its Best Advocate, You!
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According to the Washington Post, manufacturing in the USA can be a smart investment, even in the face of cheaper offshore alternatives. The article, written by Los Angeles-based small business owner Nicholas Ventura, cites “Five ways ‘Made in the USA’ can cut your company’s manufacturing costs.” Ventura is co-founder of Youth Monument Clothing, Inc.
“Made in the USA” is what built my business to what it is today. When starting your new business, ask yourself how you can harness the benefits of domestic production, too. You may be pleasantly surprised…” Why? Ventura cites the following advantages of US-based manufacturing:
- Inventory can be cut tremendously – Importing inventory often requires larger production runs to meet minimum orders that can tie up capital and cash flow in stock. But it’s a fine balance, as Ventura explains: “…missed sales due to lack of inventory is worse than having too much inventory in the first place. By being made in the USA, we can fulfill these orders and maintain a skinny inventory because turnaround times are quick.”
- Domestic supply chains are quicker – Turnaround time from overseas factories can be substantially slower than domestic suppliers. Sourcing domestic goods can help you meet demand more quickly.
- Forecasting becomes much easier – “The larger minimums and longer turnaround time forced us to buy production runs in large numbers and forecast trends with little confidence in our predictions,” explains Ventura. Domestic production increases agility and allows you to “react on the fly to the market” without “sitting on a ton of dead inventory.”
- You may save money – “Looking back, we would have made a better investment in developing our supply chains here in America rather than trying to cut costs from the onset,” says Ventura.
- “Think of your national pride!” – “Made in the USA” is a hot trend for a reason. “Production equals jobs – it’s a simple equation that many Americans ignore.”
Be Careful About “Made in the USA” Claims
If you are a U.S. manufacturer or are looking to promote your goods as “Made in the USA,” be sure you have a clear understanding of what this means. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charged with preventing deception and unfairness in the marketplace and has the power to take law enforcement actions against false or misleading claims that a product is of U.S. origin.
If half your product is made in the U.S while the other half is manufactured in China, you cannot claim it is “American-made.” To comply with “Made in the USA” standard, the FTC requires that all products advertised as American-made must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. Even if you don’t expressly state that your products are made in the USA (for example, in advertising or product labeling), giving the impression that your product is of U.S. origin (such as use of a flag or geographic reference) can get you into trouble if it is not accurate. Both of these types of expressed or implied statements are subject to FTC enforcement.
To learn more about potential red flags and how to ensure your “Made in the USA” product labeling, advertising or other claims are compliant with the law, check out this SBA blog: Made in the USA Labels: Information for Manufacturers, Retailers, and Consumers and be sure to refer to the FTC’s guide for business owners: “Made in USA.”
About the Author
Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley
The Burden of Payroll Record Maintenance March 25, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
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Paying employees means more than just issuing checks. Your company also needs to keep accurate records for current and past employees for a certain period of time. There are record requirements from both the IRS and the U.S.
Department of Labor, which enforces employment rules for several other federal agencies.
These records include the following information: name, address, occupation, and Social
Security number, as well as details of compensation such as the dates paid, tips, non-cash payments, compensation subject to withholding and payroll taxes, pay period, and fringe benefits provided to employees. In addition, you must keep copies of all pertinent federal forms filed. (See right-hand box for some record-retention guidelines.)
To further complicate matters, there are numerous state, local, and other regulatory agencies that may require additional record keeping. For example, various government agencies enforce their own laws involving unemployment insurance, wages and hours, child support, creditor garnishment, and unclaimed or abandoned wages.
Without the proper records, your company will be unable to comply with regulatory requirements. If you are subsequently audited by federal, state or local agencies, you could be hit with back taxes, interest and penalties.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof, or the responsibility to substantiate items on your tax returns, such as payroll and payroll-related costs, at one time rested entirely on the taxpayer. Since the passage of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the burden has shifted to the IRS in the event of a courtroom proceeding, but only if you meet the requirements to retain proper records and make them available for inspection. So while the law now takes some of the heat off taxpayers, it only applies if your company diligently maintains records and cooperates with reasonable IRS requests.
Obviously good records are vital but maintaining them is a daunting task. Many businesses solve this problem by outsourcing payroll. A payroll service provider can relieve your business of the many headaches involved in preparing paychecks and reporting to government agencies, and it can also store your documentation and provide you with reports as needed. Record keeping is just one more reason why outsourcing payroll makes sense for so many businesses.
Payroll Record Guidelines
|Maintain a minimum of four years to meet various state and federal requirements.|
Employee time cards
|Keep for at least three years if your business is subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (engaged in interstate commerce), although it’s a good practice for all businesses to keep the files for several years in case questions arise.|
|Retain three years after an employee has been terminated.|
Employment tax records
|Keep four years from the date the tax was due, or the date it was paid – whichever is longer.|
Quick Ways to Get Through a Cash Crunch March 19, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
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Nearly every small business will face a cash flow crunch at some point, when money flowing into your company is not enough to cover short-term payables. It can be triggered by any number of factors — seasonal business fluctuations, late-paying customers, or the loss of a key contract. While many people associate cash flow problems with declining sales, a crunch can even come through rapid growth, as companies need to pay for inventory or salaries while waiting for customer payments.
Regardless of the cause, a cash crunch has the potential to cripple a small business. But it doesn’t have to. You can get your business ready to weather a short-term crunch — and help ensure its long-term survival — by using the following methods:
The easiest way to reduce the impact of a cash flow crisis is to prepare for it before it hits. Small business owners need to monitor their companies’ finances constantly. Run financial forecasts at least quarterly, estimating sales and expenses, then modifying them as your receivables or payables change. Consider best-case, worst-case, and most-likely scenarios, using the budget that most closely resembles the current state of your finances. This may allow you to catch a cash flow dip and take actions to correct it before it becomes a full-fledged crisis.
Call in the reserves
Have back-up finances at your disposal to help you handle a cash flow crunch when it arrives. Many businesses use a revolving line of credit from a lender or bank, which makes short-term funds available on an as-needed basis. This allows a company to borrow money for a matter of days or weeks, and pay it back when promised receivables arrive. Other companies set aside funds in an interest-bearing “rainy-day” account that they can draw on in an emergency. In both cases, these reserves need to be set up before they’re needed.
Finance against your assets
It may be possible to locate short-term capital from a commercial finance company by securing a loan with certain kinds of assets. Accounts receivable financing allows you to use your billings as loan collateral. As you collect this income, you use the proceeds to repay the debt. Inventory financing uses your product inventory as collateral — the more salable or “merchantable” your inventory, the more likely a lender will accept it as security. While both of these financing methods can get your business over a cash-crunch hump, they do carry significant risk. Failure to repay the loan can result in the financier seizing receivables (potentially damaging client relationships) or inventory.
Extend your payments
Companies that have a track record for paying on time might want to consider negotiating with vendors to revise payment terms. If your company is prone to seasonal fluctuations, you can request an extended payment arrangement at the time of purchase. By building up a reliable payment history, you will be in a better position with your suppliers to make this request, since you will have proven to be a dependable, credible customer. To build a positive payment record, be sure to pay bills early or on time during cash-rich months.
Once your company has made it through a crunch and gotten more control over its cash flow, it is time to take steps to prevent it from happening again. Look for ways to build up reserves and put your business in a stronger financial position. Review expenses to plug cash-consuming, profit-reducing leaks. Attack the top cash drains mercilessly to cut operating costs. Review your pricing structure to ensure it provides enough profit, and examine your customer base to locate clients that pay promptly and find ways to encourage their business.
7 Steps to a Succession Plan March 4, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
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Small business owners are notoriously self-sufficient, hard-working, and often try to take on an extreme number of duties to make sure their venture succeeds.
But there are some aspects of the business that often aren’t on the radar, for one reason or another. One is who will take over the business – not just if the business owner dies, but also in case of an emergency such as prolonged illness or hospitalization, or other absence.
“Entrepreneurs have this ‘entrepreneurial enthusiasm’ … it’s a necessary thing but it can get us in as much trouble sometimes as much as it helps us moving forward,” said Alice Heiman, founder and chief sales officer of Alice Heiman LLC, who consults businesses on how to increase sales. Not having a proper succession plan in place, she added, “can really devastate a small business owner.”
About 90 percent of all U.S. businesses are family owned or controlled, according to the Baylor University Institute for Family Business. “Their survival is fundamental to America’s economy,” says the institute. That means a good succession plan isn’t just imperative for the individual business, but for the overall economy, as well.
Business advisors recommend a number of things to consider when choosing a successor and putting a plan into place, such as: whether the potential successor shares your values and vision for the company; whether you can truly trust that successor – and whether your customers can trust him or her; whether he/she understands the basic logistics and technicalities of the job; and whether he/she has the proper temperament and people skills for the job.
Heiman also recommends these steps in developing a succession plan:
No. 1: First and foremost, ask yourself whether your business model can survive without you; if it can’t, fill in the pieces to ensure it can.
No. 2: Get disability insurance; this will ensure that the small business owner’s family has income if the head of the household can’t run the business for a prolonged period.
No. 3: Make sure there is someone at your company who knows how to do your job, whether it’s one person or a combination of several people who are proficient in different aspects of the operation. Crosstrain different employees so that they are at least familiar with all elements of the job.
No 4: Make sure your employees will respect your decision; have “A-team” players on your staff who will support your successor.
No. 5: Don’t have anyone who can take over your job? Hire someone who can.
No 6: Make sure to tell your planned successor he or she is “the chosen one(s)” ahead of time.
“Not only would you make it known to them, but it would be in writing somewhere,” Heiman says, either with your human resources director, attorney, on your organizational chart, or elsewhere. You should do this even if you’re going on vacation or a business trip that takes you out of the office. “Let’s not go to the worst-case scenario,” she says. “Let’s do the best-case scenario. Let’s do this so you can go on vacation and not have your cell phone going off very five minutes.”
No 7: Think like a big business. Big businesses have multiple contingency plans in place; make sure you do the same.
“The people who have been through this kind of thing have learned the hard way and once it happens, it’s just devastating,” Heiman warns. “If you’re the CEO of an organization … you need to have a plan in place. If the boss doesn’t show up one day, what do the rest of us do? Who’s in charge and how does business go on as usual?”
Benefits of Selling Online February 26, 2013Posted by SBDC in Small Business General.
Today, if you are in business, regardless of whether you are a small home based business or large organization, a strong internet presence is necessary not only to provide information of your business but also allows your prospects to reach you through internet from laptops or smartphones to access the details of services or products you are offering.
Let us look at what are the benefits of selling online?
- Low cost to start, you can start selling online by creating a web page, take some pictures of products you are selling, put them in your webpages and start promoting your site to various places. The are many sites which offers free web page design and hosting services, all you need is to do the work, if you are going to start your online business with this method, your cost is literally zero.
- Low cost to maintain, marketing cost can be an issue especially for business startup, marketing your business online can be very cost effective, you can join forums where people who are most likely to look for your products and services to market your business. For example, if you are selling automotive parts online, then go look for your local automotive forums where you can post pictures of parts you want to sell. Most forums do not charge members for selling online, your cost is again zero!
- Selling online saves a great deal of time. You can work anywhere with your laptop and internet access, you don’t have to travel from your house to the office and get yourself stuck in the traffic every morning or evening. Advertising online provides the convenience of sending your message out to many people with a “click” on the mouse! Well if you match this to the effort needed to spread brochures out from house to house, emailing out your promotional message saves you time. Looking at the automotive parts business, putting banner ads in automotive forums will automatically direct prospects to your website without having to spend a great deal of time selling. You can then put your precious time on other areas to grow your business and reap the benefits of selling online.
- The beauty of selling online is that you can choose to work at the time you want, some people prefer to start working 4′o’clock in the morning and some at 12 midnight, you are not restricted to work from nine to five in an online business. You can reply your customer’s enquiries, process your customer’s orders or do marketing for your business at your convenience.
- Bringing your business online allows customers to reach you from every corners of the world, prospects who speak different language can communicate with you through free translation website on their business enquiries. Payment can be secured through many online payment services. Merchandises can be arranged to be picked up by your local postage service provider. Doesn’t it sounds convenient?
- Your online shop is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, it can never sleep! Your customer can access your website to look at the products you offer anytime they want. If you have a fully automated online system set-up, your business is running even while you sleep. You job is to check your bank account once you are awake!
- Another benefits of selling online is the increase in profit from the sales of products or services throughout the whole world. The extended operation hour allow more customers to look at your goods and services, this give you greater chances for more sales and profits. These are some of the benefits of selling online comparing to bricks and mortar businesses. On the other hand, you can bring your offline businesses online to increase your revenue. Are you ready to go online and live in the virtual world to make some serious money?
Joshua See works with the world’s largest internet marketing, mentoring and coaching center to help individual or businesses build profitable businesses online using proven strategies to market in the internet. To see free videos on How to Market your Offline Business in the World Wide Web & How to Start a Legitimate Online Business that Earns 4 Figures a Day or more for life, go now to http://www.biz3827.com
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