Monday, August 27, 2012

Small Business Video - Connecting To Local Customers With Ease

Are you thinking about having a small business video to promote your local company? Now is definitely the right time to that since online clips are fast becoming the most popular content among internet users. Surveys show this online content format can boost the visibility of a brand by leaps and bounds without much expenses involved. In the same manner, it prods the viewers to do suggested action incorporated in the clips.

Believe it or not, this advertising tool is affordable for all kinds and sizes of businesses. Even those that are professionally crafted can be bought through budget packages. In fact, you can create an effective small business video on your own. If you choose to do this your way, you can really save a lot of money. More so, you will have all the means to add personal touch on all your promotional clips.

As you draft the contents of your video, make sure to highlight all the strengths of your products. Have a very short script that is free from sales and marketing jargons. Compose each sentence in a conversational tone just like how you would talk to a friend. While the objective of your clips is to sell your products, look for the human element in your products and make it your point of connection with the viewers. For example, you can present a problem or a situation that your target market is facing. Show how your product can put an end to that recurring problem and do not forget to end your presentation with a convincing call to action phrase.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Office Supplies For The Proper Operation Of Business

Office supplies, also known as office equipment, are the materials that are required in the office area for the purpose of proper operation of businesses. It comprises all the equipment that is needed to conduct an office. In this article, I am going to discuss about the significance of office supplies.

It is the responsibility of a company to supply different office equipment to its employees for ensuring better efficiency. Office supplies consist of all the necessary things that are useful for different purposes in offices. There is a large number of equipment used in offices. It comprises of both small and large items. Among small items, the commonly used things are paper clips, staples, pen, ink-pot, envelops, small pages, different small devices such as punchers, staplers, laminators, scanners and more.

The large items include the supplies such as printers, desktop and laptop computers, fax machines, photocopy machines, money counters, various desks similar to steel desks, solid wood desks, cup desks, chairs, shelves, racks and many more. All the mentioned items, whether small or large, are very essential for a wide variety of purposes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Forecasting - A Tool for Small Business Success

Putting together a budget has left me feeling both satisfied and empty. When I was wearing my finance hat, I enjoyed seeing how all parts of the organization were putting together strategies and action plans to accomplish goals that would help grow the business.

The other positive was that as a finance team, we had a tangible output - a budget. We consolidated all the inputs from other departments, asked questions, challenged assumptions, performed what-if analysis, and put together a pretty package that was sent to the executive teams and department heads.

After the "high" of completing the budget, reality soon set in. In working with colleagues from other departments, I could see the budget package on a shelf, under a stack of papers, and in some cases, the budget wasn't to be found. Talk about a cold dose of reality.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sales and Operations Planning for SMBs

When it comes to Sales and Operations Planning (S&Op), there are two perspectives. The first, or as some like to call it, the old school approach involves developing a plan to match demand for new and existing products with the current supply chain. Many organizations take this approach, as it is a traditional model that has been successful in the past.

With more volatile markets, this approach can be very dangerous. It leads to missed opportunities and inventory issues. When developing an S&OP, there are a few potentially negative outcomes. The first happens when marketing and sales are too conservative.

Sales opportunities are missed because production planned for a certain level of demand that has now been exceeded. Production can't ramp up quickly enough to meet customer requests. Marketing and sales smile and say "isn't beating forecast good news?" The answer is a resounding no.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Demise of Cash And Its Impacts

While out and about running errands this weekend, I started thinking about the demise of cash -- after all, many of us use debit, credit and vendor-specific cards or "speedpays" or mobile pay, PayPal, Square and goodness knows what else.

Essentially, we use everything but cash -- Economist Robert Reich states "95 percent of the transactions in America, or more, have nothing to do with physical pieces of paper or coins" and that was apparent as I started paying attention to what was going on around me...

    there was the Farmer's Market where person after person had to put their selections back as the card machine was down, lots of grumbling -- once should be enough for this to have happened, the owner should have a Square or other mobile payment account

    a boy scout troop had a table full of popcorn (their annual fundraiser) and sad faces outside a local pharmacy. Turns out they had lots of "I'm sorry, I don't carry cash" comments and very few sales -- if only these 9-year-olds had a Square account or whoever set up the locations realized there was no ATM in the vicinity they may have fared a lot better.

    a local restaurant doesn't accept cards, and doesn't share that until you try to pay (we all take those "credit/debit card" decals on doors and windows for granted and don't notice when they're NOT there) -- several tables had one person while the other was out finding an ATM machine to pay for the dinner they just ate -- we've often decided not to go there simply because we didn't have the "cash in pocket"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Small Businesses and Banking Lines of Credit

In a recent Los Angeles Times article titled 'Bank of America Severing Some Small-Business Credit Lines', the issue of Bank of America closing out small business lines of credits was addressed. This brought to mind how many small businesses are victims to this type of financing dealing. This is not new. What is new is the increased number of small business owners being affected by this process.

Credit lines are certainly monitored by banks. Banks keep an eye on all accounts and will check the business and personal credit of its clients from time to time. This is not just a practice by Bank of America, but is common practice amongst banks and other financial institutions. In closing small business lines of credit, the closure rate has increased and it has even impacted the bankruptcy rate of these entities. With so many small business owners being affected by these credit line closures, instead of keeping quiet about it, they are now fighting back.

Risk Assessment

When small businesses start having financial difficulties or sudden growth, they rely heavily on their personal savings and their available lines of credit. They also tend to go the traditional route of asking family or friends. These are all great ways to raising much needed capital. On the other hand, using a business banking credit line for survival or growth can have positive and negative consequences.

With lending institutions being totally risk averse, they are canceling lines of credit when their small business clients have exceeded the maximum base line usage or ratio the banks have put in place. This ratio varies per bank. It is the reality of banking sector, so expect to see more. What the lenders are monitoring is the business' debt to income ratio and current spending habits, so do not take on more debt than you can handle.

Who owns the asset?

The problem many small business owners face is that often they do not have any viable assets except their homes and the business' accounts receivables. These are the primary collaterals many use to gain access to their current credit lines. When banks use the collateral presented, they then file the applicable UCC or UCC1 (Uniform Commercial Code) form with the state. This document notifies all parties that the bank is in 1st position on the business assets, and their accounts receivables. All future creditors will have to get in line behind the bank in the event that the business owner defaults on paying back their credit lines and legal action is required.

Once the bank files this document with the state, the collateral the small business used, such as accounts receivables, cannot be used or pledged in any other financing transaction. In this case, any additional future access to capital will require some other form of collateral to secure the additional financing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Selling Receivables for Small Businesses: Is It Right For You?

You need cash. You just landed the big account you've been working on, but don't have the funds needed to complete the service promised in the first place. Maybe you have payroll due in the next few days and are still awaiting payments from your customers. Regardless of the context, one thing is for certain: you're strapped for cash and the banks are refusing to give your business a loan. What can you do? In such circumstances, more and more small businesses are considering selling receivables to solve their cash-flow woes. Operating under the same philosophy as credit cards, factoring (or receivables financing) involves selling your receivables to a third party in return for upfront payment. Factoring companies will thus buy your receivables at a discount, usually between 75 to 80 cents per dollar, and in exchange give you the hard cash you so desperately need. As of late, this method has been gaining a lot of steam within the small business community, for its ability to produce quick results-regardless of a company's size, credit score or status. While certainly effective, it must be noted that this service does indeed come at a price. If not used properly, it can lead to a pretty sticky mess for you and your small business. Start considering how selling receivables can help your business but also, how to do it wisely and efficiently.

Selling Receivables for Small Businesses: Is it Right For You?


- Fast Cash - As senior financial analyst Mike Lubansky points out in Business Week, "In the past, some may have seen factoring, because of its higher cost, as associated with troubled situations. But now it's just another source of financing, especially for funding that businesses need to grow when banks that have tightened credit standards and are focused on preserving capital are not able to lend as much." In this light, selling receivables can be a great way to get the quick financing you need. In the words of Cindy Phillips, "Accounts receivable is the lifeblood of all business," but cash flow sometimes doesn't always function the way we have intended it. Bills come in at different times, payments are collected late, all in all, sometimes the cash isn't there at the exact moment when we need it. What we do have are receivables and by selling them we can get fast access to an immediate source of cash to use on urgent matters. In this way, your small business can get the money needed to, let's say, pay your employees, take on that new account or simply stay afloat when otherwise you wouldn't have been able to.

- Collection Agency Alternative - Selling your receivables can also we a good way to get rid of some of your delinquent accounts. While granted you won't be able to get all of your money back from the invoice, you could at least recover some of it through selling receivables to a third party. Remember that these factoring agencies make their price based on your customers' credit, size of accounts and time it takes your customers to pay, so chances are, with delinquent accounts, the fee will be a little higher.


- Use Sparingly - As appealing as the prospect of immediate cash sounds, when selling receivables you must to be careful. It can often be the start of a slippery slope-especially when operating at already reduced profit margins. As Bill Hettinger, principal at the Institute for Finance and Entrepreneurship, warns, "Once you start factoring, it's a difficult process to break. The key to a factoring or discounting decision is a complete analysis of all the financial implications of the decision. It's more complicated to analyze than a bank loan." Selling receivables comes at a price and you must weigh the costs inherent when making the decision. There is something to say about receiving money upfront, but you must also remember that by selling receivables you are also eating away your profits. Therefore, only consider going the factoring route in cases of extreme urgency. Sometimes the discount can be so great that you will end up selling receivables for less money than it actually costs you to perform in the first place. Making a habit of this could eventually get you into financial trouble.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Value of Employee Involvement in Achieving Success

The recession has led to a re-examination of what creates business success and one important factor to emerge is that 'good work' can be at the heart of good performance and is as vital to the small and medium-sized enterprise as to any corporate because a highly competitive global market applies to all. You need to be prepared for life after recession; to be ready to make the most of it; to be in the front line of your particular area of expertise.

In his "Key Speech" in 1955, Ove Arup spelt out the importance to business success of motivating your employees. To quote: "There are two ways of looking at the work you do to earn a living: One is... Work is a necessary evil... The other is: To make your work interesting and rewarding. You enjoy both your work and your leisure. We opt uncompromisingly for the second way."

Ove Arup established a world-wide company and this fact just emphasises the strength of his argument; his principles apply equally to smaller enterprises. Indeed, it is probably easier to implement these principles when you have a relatively small workforce. His point is that you need to inspire your employees to feel important and valuable, but you cannot just assume you know what makes them feel that way. You need to make the effort to find out and then collaborate with them to achieve those results. Done properly, it will be time well spent and you will find the enterprise of which you are head has the motivation to surge forward and ahead of competitors.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Establishing the Right Pricing Strategy For Your Small Business

In today's tough economy, your pricing strategy can be everything. It can be the difference between striving and falling flat, between soaring and completely crashing, between being the next big thing or next big flop. Price too high, and no one will buy. Price to low, and well, you will loose money with each go. With all rhyming aside, your pricing strategy can have a major impact not only on the profitability of your business, but also on how people perceive your goods or services. While pricing alone doesn't drive sales, it certainly plays a key role in the process. There are many things to consider when crafting your pricing strategy. "The first question to ask is not, What should the price be?" as Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Robert Dolan writes, "But rather have we addressed all the considerations that will determine the correct price? Pricing is not a matter of getting one thing right. Proper pricing comes from carefully and consistently managing a myriad of issues." Be prepared to consider MANY things when determining the perfect pricing strategy for your goods or services.

Establishing the Right Pricing Strategy For Your Small Business

Be Consistent

If a customer saw just your price and nothing else, what would they think? How would they perceive the type of good or service you are selling by just the dollar amount? Price should hence be the first line of your message to the consumer, and thus needs to be consistent with your overall brand image. Both Swatch and Saturn use a low affordable price to give their products an air of approachability. At the same time, Mercedes' price marks it as both luxurious and high-class, (something they wouldn't necessarily achieve with a moderate price tag). For this reason, before pricing you need to determine what exactly you wish to portray about your product. If you want it to be perceived by its quality, maybe a high premium price tag would be the best play. But, on the other hand, if you want to highlight a product for its functionality, a lower, more moderate price tag might better do the trick. Your pricing strategy, like all other elements of the marketing mix, must work in collaboration with the overarching strategy and not against it.

Put Yourself in the Customer's Shoes

When attempting to determine a pricing strategy, sometimes the best bet is to take a step back and see the product with your customers' eyes. As Dolan notes, it is a common pricing pitfall to simply factor how much a product costs to make, add your desired profit margin and then like magic, establish a price. The fundamental problem with this method is that it completely ignores one of the most important pieces of the whole pricing puzzle: the customer and how much he or she would be willing to pay for the product or service's perceived value. We must remember that regardless of the product, it will be perceived by different people, in very different ways, at very different values. Furthermore, different people will have not only different uses for the product, but also very different levels of price sensitivity-all of which must be considered when constructing a pricing strategy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

9 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Businesses are never predictable. Though forecasting is done often by business and marketing analysts, the fact remains that it is forever changing and the trends come and go.

It is, therefore, essential for every business owner to know these trends so that the company's marketing tips will be suited to the needs of the people, his customers.

1. According to a Forrester Research, online purchase will influence about 50 percent of transactions. Therefore, it is imperative for business owners to also engage in online marketing because even as early today, or this coming Christmas, people are already going online to initially get a price check of the items they want and then eventually buy them there. So don't be lagged, make your business available online as well.

2. With the increasing number of people trading their cell phones for smart phones like the iPhone, Blackberry, and Samsung, there is a need for your business to be accessible on the mobile phone. With the apps that can be download for free, not conforming to this trend would mean losing a great part of your clientele.

3. With the sprouting of different social media networks - from Facebook and Twitter, to MySpace and LinkedIn, reaching your target market has never been easier. And with every customer spending at least 4 hours on the internet everyday, these platforms have become an interesting and effective online business tool.