Monthly Archives: October 2015

Ways to Limit Overhead

Business expenses are often necessary because an organization must use resources and money to become profitable. However, a business will not make a profit if it is not able to keep its expenses under control. Here is some practical information about the best practices that a business can use to manage its expenses.

Energy Efficiency

When a business is operating out of a brick and mortar location, it is going to spend money on expenses such as rent, utilities, and insurance. Financial costs such as rent and insurance usually cannot be altered, but the utility cost can be adjusted. Many businesses in today’s world are using efficient energy practices to help save money off of its bills.

Installing solar power technology into a facility is a great way for an organization to keep their electric bill from getting too high. Owners should install the latest appliances, or use updated computers or store equipment that automatically knows how to manage and conserve power. On average, energy efficient and smart technology can help a business cut its utility costs by about 25% or less, each year.

Reducing Advertising Costs

Advertising is a necessary function of a business. Sooner or later, all businesses must advertise and they will need to spend money to do this. Business owners should use advertising methods that will provide them with the most impact but with the least amount of expense. It is not uncommon for an organization to piggyback their advertising off of other source. This is an excellent way for them to inform people about their business, discounts, and any coupons they might be offering. They can also split some advertising with other businesses who are interested in this type of deal. A business can also encourage its satisfied customers to use word-of-mouth advertising for their organization. Advertising on the internet through social media or other online platforms can also get the word out about an organization.

Reduce Paper Costs

Many businesses are going paperless, and they are saving thousands or millions of dollars each year. Saving customer information on electronic files takes up less space and is more efficient. Also, 1GB of data is literally able to save up to 25,000 pages of printed information. This will allow a business to save thousands of dollars each year in paper costs. An organization will need to spend some money on paper related items. However, if they use a recycled paper product, then they will be able to save a few more dollars on this expense.

Businesses can take other actions to reduce operational costs for their organization. They can have their insurance adjusted to a better rate, and they can also buy their supplies and equipment at a wholesale cost instead of getting it at retail prices. A business should close its doors at a set time when customers are no longer walking into its establishment. The bottom line is that, a business must find different ways to take control its expenses in order to keep its costs under control.


How to Build Business Credit

If you are a small business owner, you’re bound to experience cash flow problems at one time or another. Whether it is paying employees, purchasing inventory, or repairing broken equipment, you are going to need some extra cash that you may not have yet. That is why, it is important to establish a business line of credit.

What is a business line of credit?

A business line of credit is not a loan. It is structured like a credit card which does not rely on your personal credit information but your business itself. Credit of this type helps small businesses get started, and it helps them grow. So even if your personal credit is poor, it may be possible to get a line of credit through your business instead.
When you take out a line of credit, you use the money for business related expenses such as payroll, utilities, equipment, and so on. Like a credit card, your limit will stay the same and you can use and pay off what you need each month. As you make monthly payments to your creditor on time, you may be allowed to borrow more as you pay down your debt. The amount of your payments is figured by the amount of credit you’ve used over the previous months.

How do you establish a business credit?

There are many ways to establish a business credit just like a personal credit. Here are 5 tips to help you build a solid business credit:

1.Payments

Most importantly, you have to pay your bills on time. It is also important that bills such as your telephone, your internet, and your utilities are in your business’s name, not your own name. This will ensure that they are considered separate of your personal credit.

2.Research

Check out multiple lenders before making a choice. Find out what their terms and interest rates are. There are lenders who will even give a line of credit to businesses with low or bad credit scores but the interest will likely be very high. You may have to go with a secured line of credit until you have proven yourself to the creditors; that is where you put a certain amount of money in and are allowed to borrow against it. When you make on time payments, your credit score improves.

3.Credit Cards

If you have business credit cards, keep the balance low and make your payments on time. Maxing out your credit cards is a red flag to lenders who may worry about your ability to meet your monthly payments.

4. Baby Steps

You may need to start with a small line of credit even if you really need more. Take what you can get and make timely payments to increase your credit rating.

5. Apply Right Away

Don’t wait until you are in a hole to act. Take out a line of credit right away and make small purchases on it. Pay off the entire amount monthly. This will increase your rating and come in handy when something happens and you need a larger line of credit.

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to overextend yourself. Take out only as much as you need and can afford. Do your homework and your business will be up and running in no time flat!


An Introduction to Business Law

Starting a business in today’s economy is not only exciting but it can also take you and your business for a loop if you aren’t properly prepared for the legal atmosphere that surrounds it. However, when you have completed this short article, you will not only have a better understanding of business laws, but you’ll also have the drive to learn more and prepare your business for success.

In the United States, it is NOT required for a small business to provide insurance, specifically health insurance, to their employees. However, if you do decide to provide this job incentive, there are several regulations you must be aware of in order to avoid a law suit in today’s age. I would highly suggest you read up on the recent Health Care Reform policies and regulations as well as understand the impact of DOMA on health insurance for businesses. If health care is provided for staff and spouses, then the business has to honor those employees with same sex spouses when it comes to benefits such as health insurance.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a continuing problem within the workplace especially in workplaces that have a mix of genders within their work force. That being said, as an owner of a business, you should not tolerate any sexual behavior at the work place, be it in the form of sexual harassment or Quid Pro Quo, also known as sexual favors. You should conduct a professional manner at ALL times with ALL employees regardless of sex, and it should be expected that your employees do the same even if they are sexually involved outside of the workplace.

As with sexual harassment, discrimination is also common within the workplace, whether it be racial, age, sex, or religion. Every employee has the right to be treated fairly and equally within the policies of the United States Government. That being said, it is your job, as the owner, to uphold these standards of equality in the work place whether it’s through your own personal discrimination or the discrimination your employees may possess. Remember, all it takes is a quick click or phone call to ruin a business for discrimination. So again, be professional and equal with every employee at all times to avoid this legal problem entirely.

Law within the United States is always changing and it is up to you, the business owner, to be aware and enforce old and new policies alike when it comes to running your business. So, I believe it goes without saying, knowing your business law is just as important as those weekly financial statements.


Small Business Loans: The Importance of a Plan

It is not a good idea to try to get your business going without a very organized plan because it is most likely to fail. Many banks that offer business loans know this; therefore, it is not easy to secure loans from them. The primary purpose of lending money to businesses is to get the money back. For this reason, you must have a plan that is lucrative and is sure to bring back some results. The faster the results, the better.

In order to come up with a good business plan, you need time. It is important to take a lot of time in order to think long and hard about what you intend to do to bring in the bucks. You have to think about everything from the purpose of your business to the method of carrying out the purpose. It is important to address everything to the last detail. This includes any setbacks. The sign of a good business is that it is prepared for any possible obstacles that it will face to reach its goals.

You will most likely be unable to work out a profitable plan all by yourself. You will be needing help not just from any random person, but from a professional in business instead. One thing you can do is go over your business plan with an adviser. He will look at it thoroughly and point out any holes that you need to address. He may also offer some suggestions in order to improve your plans and address any potential issues that you may not have thought about. Repeat the steps until you have a business plan that is very well laid out.

Once you are confident about your business plan, then you should get all of the paperwork together that you can find. You need a lot of paperwork that include your credit report and other pieces of paper so the bank will consider giving you a loan. Even having the most laid out business plan is not going to guarantee you being granted a loan for your business. Fortunately, there are plenty of different banks with different requirements that improve your chances of getting a loan.

If you do get that loan, your focus should be on getting the money needed to pay off the loan. However, the bank will give you the time you need in order to do it. You just have to make sure that you pay it off as soon as possible so that you’ll be in good standing.


Customer Service Tips and Techniques

Any business that does not provide outstanding customer service is selling itself short. Poor customer service can quickly cause an enterprise to lose profits and to close its doors permanently. The following tips can be used to improve customer service and help to retain a business’s customer base.

The Customer is Always Justify

One of the oldest sayings in business is that the customer is always justify. While this is not true in all situations, there is a lot of truth in this statement. A business that puts their customer’s needs before their own will probably be in business for a long time. Taking care of a customer and showing them how much they are appreciated is the number one rule of customer service.

Listen to your Customer

When a business wants to take care of a customer, they must listen to them first. They have to understand what their customers want and what they expect from a business. Sometimes, this is not an easy thing to do, but once an establishment can figure out what their customers want, it will help them to provide better service.

Respond to your Customers

When a customer has a complaint, a business should not hesitate to respond. When a customer has some concerns about an organization, its products, or service, they should not be put on hold. Promptly responding to customers just makes a good business sense. It shows that an organization cares about people and that they are concerned about their feelings.

Pay Attention to Social Media

Social media sites have become a game changer in the world of business. Customers and consumers post how they feel about an organization through it. A company should make it a point to pay attention to what is being said. If not, this could hurt their bottom line.

Go the Extra Mile When Necessary

No business should just give away products and services for free just because a customer is not satisfied. However, if their satisfaction is warranted, then a business should go out of their way to make amends. All enterprises should make it a point to go the extra mile for their customers so that they feel appreciated and not devalued, ripped off, or cheated. There are lots of organizations employed with people that do not care about the customers or their needs. This should not be the case, especially if a business wants to remain competitive in the market.


Getting a Loan for Your Company

Growing a business is hard to do without extra capital. That is often why, wealth breeds wealth. Having money to invest in an extremely valuable commodity is today’s economy.

Fortunately, for those without sufficient capital to start out with, there are various loans available.

The most obvious type of loan is a bank loan. While this is the conventional way to go about doing business, it is not always so easy. Banks have strict regulations to follow, and want to make sure you will repay the loan you have taken out.

They may ask you to prepare detailed reports, showing the amount of money you have made in the past, what type of business you are trying to start, and many other picayune details.

You may also be required to provide a guarantor or co-signer who will be responsible for the loan in case you should fail.

This is a long and often convoluted process.

This is, however, another way. If you can find a private investor or equity company and interest them in your idea, they may be willing to provide you with the capital you need and become your silent partner.

You may be able to find such people at local job fairs or community events. You will need to prepare a thorough and detailed pitch to present to them.

They will want to know exactly how you plan on starting a business, what your plan is for getting through the first few potentially difficult years, how many people you plan to hire, and many other things. The more prepared you are, the better the chance you have of succeeding.

So be prepared! Get to know your industry, understand the finances involved in running a business, and have a great sales pitch ready. Often, such investors enjoy novel business ideas and an enthusiastic presentation, so make sure to get excited about your business. Explain how it will benefit clients and how you plan on marketing the idea so people will hear about it and get interested.

If you can do a good job on such a presentation, you may receive not only the capital but also experienced and highly valuable backers to help you succeed in the business world.


Hiring Employees for Your Business

One of the hardest things I ever had to do when I owned a business was hiring and interviewing an employee. A lot will depend upon the type of job you are hiring someone to do, what qualifications they need, and how you feel they will fit into the position.

One of the things I found for the three types of businesses I owned were to hire, almost everyone who came through the door, and find out what type of employee they were after I hired them. I hired for general labor type position for the businesses I owned. Although, I have hired for corporate positions as well. You can’t tell from a resume or application what the person you are hiring is like. Everybody makes their resume look good and that is what a resume is supposed to do. Present you to a prospective employer like you will fit the position well, and make you look your best. An applications isn’t quite as easy to make yourself shine in, as in a resume, but it still does nothing but give minor details about you.

Interviewing an applicant will give you a better idea of what that person is like but it is still impossible to determine how they will fit your position, what kind of a worker they are, and whether they are really someone you want to have working for you.

Again, during an interview, they will obviously put their best foot forward in hopes of getting a job with you that is why; I always tell any prospective hire that there will be a probation period of at least one month. That way, you will have time to train them as to their duties and responsibilities, and hopefully,enough time to determine whether they are good dependable workers who are capable of learning to do the job. I seldom allowed their personality to play much of a part in their employment, as long as they were capable. And even if I found a personality clash between us, I could usually deal with it if they were good at their job. There were times however that personality did have a bearing on their employment. I often found that, if there were any personality traits I had trouble dealing with, it was in both of our best interests to go our separate ways. This was usually a mutually agreed upon course of action.

I have had an occasion to eliminate someone from employment who was not as open to the idea that he was not a good fit for the job, as I was sure he wasn’t. That is the probation period. A few problem employees have slipped by, but they were usually detected within the first 30-90 days.

So my suggestion is to hire a person and give them at least 30 days, if they pass muster during the interview. Less than thirty days may not give you enough time to train them and evaluate their work, their work ethic, and how their attendance may be.

Hiring people for any general labor job is pretty much a crap shoot unless specific talents or training are required. Often, it is better to hire in numbers if possible and keep the best of the new hires. You must decide how detailed their knowledge and dedication to their job must be. Are they looking for a temporary, long term job or career? Each type of job may require you to hire in a different way. Someone who is looking for a career will obviously have some training and likely some experience, or at least an education along those lines, whereas a day laborer would be someone with little or no training, and no plans to work beyond a short term.

Sometimes, setting requirements high will be beneficial. Sometimes, it may be detrimental to your cause. Determine the need before attempting to hire. It will make your job easier.