Posts Tagged ‘Growth’


Work Your Biz Wednesday: 6 Tips to Better Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money for a small business. Find out how to get started from The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


Are You a Fake?

a-penguin-imposterMany small business owners suffer from the imposter syndrome. They feel that their customers or employees will find out "who they really are" and lose confidence in their ability to run the company. This fear holds many people back from displaying who they really are at work. This becomes a problem in the transparent world of the Internet where "being human" and authentic are highly valued by customers.

Customers buy from who they believe, like, and trust. Without being authentic as a leader and a company, this will never happen and it will become impossible to build a profitable company. Here is what to do:

1. Tell the truth. This is more difficult than it first seems in small business. Most owners have good intentions, but sometimes are afraid to disclose to employees and customers what is really happening. How to be authentic: Focus on the companies strengths. Always deliver good and bad news in a timely fashion. Don't be afraid to be humble and show personal or company warts. Build a culture of openness and frequent communication. 

2. Stick to the brand. Many times, companies want to be everything to everybody. This leads to telling the customer that the company can do things that they really can't. This leads to frustrated employees, disappointed customers and an unprofitable businesses. How to be authentic: Determine the exact customer segment served and the pain solved. Get clear on what the company cares about. Stay focused on delivering outstanding results in this niche area.

3. Hire employees that want to be part of the company's culture. Too many times, owners hire a person to fit a particular job. They rush into a decision and don't understand how that person would work in the overall company culture. How to be authentic: Hire for attitude over skill. Think about how the new employee will complement the rest of the team. Have team members give feedback on prospective employees.

4. Be consistent. Too many times, the company's brand does not match it's culture. The friendly company persona contradicts the cut throat office atmosphere. The boss is sometimes an angel and other times an ogre. How to be authentic: Live the company brand. Be the same person inside and outside the office. Be the same in front of managers, staff and customers. Have no hidden agendas. Set an example by practicing whatever is preached.

Are you authentic? How do you demonstrate it? 


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to get More Likes on your Facebook Fan Page

Find out ways to boost your Facebook fan page engagement and build your brand online with the C-Q-H-L approach from The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


5 Ways to Boost Your Cash Flow Right Now

2014-01-13_1019During the 1992 presidential election, there was a sign that was reportedly hung by James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign manager in their Little Rock Office that simple stated “It’s the economy, stupid”. This was a reminder to everyone that worked there that the only thing that the national race was about was the economy. That year, I started my third business after failing in two others. This time, I made my own sign and tacked it up in my office. It read: “It’s cash flow, stupid”. It became my daily reminder and mantra. Starting out in my first business in 1980′s, I thought that the only thing that mattered was to sell my product to whoever would buy it. I reasoned that if you make sales, you eventually make money. This worked great until customers didn’t pay me on time or at the same rate as my business expenses grew. Unfortunately, even if my customers did not pay their bills when they were due, my employees and vendors still wanted to get paid on time. What I realized is that sales do not pay bills, cash does.

Collecting the cash from sales means everything. It is the gasoline that makes your business engine work. Without cash, your business literally suffocates. Most businesses fail because they run out of cash leaked through losses or other poor management practices.

How to improve your cash flow in your own business:

  1. Open the bank monthly statements. Check to see if you have more or less cash when comparing the beginning month and end of month balances. If the end of the month cash balance is higher, the company is cash flow positive. If the end of month balance is lower than at the beginning of the month, the company is cash flow negative.
  2. Learn to read the cash flow statements. Don’t outsource the math. By definition, cash flow is typically your monthly profit, plus the change in accounts payable, the change in accounts receivable, and the change in inventory. The higher this number is monthly, the healthier your company will be.
  3. Collect accounts receivable faster. The sooner a customer pays, the higher the cash flow. The Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) for your business should never be more than 133% of your invoice terms. Don’t extend credit to a customer that has not proven they can pay in a timely fashion. Remember that credit is a privilege, not a right. Better yet, get your customers to pay with credit card or prepay your services.
  4. Get longer terms from vendors. Extended credit from your vendors will boost your cash. Always pay within the agreed period of time. However, if you have 30 day terms, try to get 45 days by building up a reliable track record.
  5. Selling inventory faster and keeping your inventory levels lower.  Buying inventory only to sit for months on your shelf waiting for customer orders can take a lot of cash out of the business. Track your inventory carefully. Know what sells quickly and what never moves off the shelf. Know how long your customers will wait for a product and still be satisfied. This will determine the setting of reorder points (when a product is reordered to be put into inventory) and the reorder quantities (how much is reordered).

What have you done in your business to boost your cash?


5 New Years Resolutions Small Business Owners Should Keep

By now you’ve probably made a list of New Year's resolutions and already crossed a few off your list. And it’s still January. Don’t worry; you aren’t alone. Only about 8 percent of us keep our resolutions every year, according to the University of Scranton.

Defy that depressing statistic this year by sticking to these five resolutions from small business expert Lauri Flaquer.

#1. Embrace change

Don’t be afraid to change things up this year. “Look at your opportunities to grow and look at what needs to stay the same,” recommends Flaquer, owner of Saltar Solutions, a business consultancy in St. Paul, Minn. “Invite change and growth will follow.”

#2. Evaluate your performance

How good of a job are you doing? Not sure? “Many managers live in their own little worlds and are not always able to see things the same way outsiders see them,” she says. Put together a group of people whom can interdepedently tell you the truth about how things are going and considering asking your employees for 360-degree reviews.

#3. Make work fun

“Strive to be a company that your employees rave to their friends about,” says Flaquer. Focus on upcoming holidays—like Mardi Gras—and spring for a cake, beads and masks for the whole office, she recommends. Or host a monthly birthday party.

“It really doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,” she says. “I know a company that has a barbecue every Tuesday where one person brings in all the food for the department. Each person has to bring in food about four times a year, but they get to eat for free during every other Tuesday.”

#4. Clear clutter

You know that piece of inventory that has been sitting in the corner of the break room for the last two years? Get rid of it and don’t look back. If you haven’t used it, you don’t need it. The same goes for the mountains of vendor magazines piled up in your file cabinet, collecting dust.

Parting ways with your office clutter will make you feel better. “Clutter holds you back from having new ideas, fresh thinking and getting around your workspace,” she says. “Task your employees with clearing how their workspaces, too. Everyone will breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

#5. Join a mastermind group

A mastermind group is a collection of people that get together to discuss a business topic and look for solutions to problems. Flaquer recommends small business owners either create their own group with other local business owners or join one online.

“Look for a group of people who are more successful than you,” she says. “Those are the people who will push your forward and help you achieve your goals.”

??????????????????????


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to Build a Network to Grow your Small Business

Are you building your network and obtaining new referrals? Learn how with these 4 tips from The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


10 Startups to Watch in 2014

Here are 10 startups launched in 2013 that are ready to rock the world next year:

Collegefeed has a noble mission to help every college student and new grad get hired. The service has already grown to tens of thousands of users, over 1,200 schools and hundreds of employers. It was created by Google's former product chief Sanjeev Agrawal who has turned all of his passion to using technology to solve the job crisis for millennials. Students are facing skyrocketing tuition, massive loan debt and nearly 50% can't get jobs that use their degree. Users have been hired using the tool from Morgan Stanley to Facebook.

Rockbot is an out-of-home music service disrupting the billion dollar market dominated by Muzak. Many bars, restaurants and airports stream music. This service lets customers vote on the playlist and request songs. It’s the modern day jukebox from the customer’s smartphone. They recently announced their newest customer, JetBlue in their JFK terminal.

Cover is a restaurant payment application that changes the way people pay at restaurants. Using an Uber-style experience, it lets diners leave without ever "paying" the check. The app lets people prepay it or split it among diners.  The product is live at about 30 top-tier restaurants in New York.

startupKONO was inspired and created by culinary genius, Rossano Boscolo. It has over 130 locations in countries throughout world where it offers consumers an entirely new pizza experience with its cone-shaped crust filled with fresh Italian ingredients. Launched in August 2013, KONO USA has over 15 units in its development pipeline.

Sense Health helps providers create, deliver and monitor interactive patient support plans called ‘scripts’. Providers simply answer three assessment questions about their patient: their specific condition, their goals for the month and barriers that might be hindering their ability to accomplish them. Through their proprietary algorithm, Sense Health automatically creates a 28 day script which consist of daily text messages delivered automatically. Scripts are comprised of reminders, educational, motivational and interactive text messages. Providers have a dashboard which alert them when a patient asks a question or are non-compliant.

Touchcast is an innovative video platform that brings interactivity of the web into an online TV viewing experience so users can engage with Twitter, web pages, maps, and polls inside the video without interrupting playback. It has been nominated by AdWeek as Hottest Startup in their Hot List. The company saw record downloads since launching in June.

Tok is a new social opinion network that turns online commenting into discussions and users into communities. Its networked, visual conversation interface creates a richer experience that brings people together and will offer companies with an audience an effective way to share targeted, dynamic, interactive content.

3Dagogo is an online marketplace of certified 3D designs to “print” consumer products at home. The company crowdsources “proven-to-print” designs and has an intuitive search interface that allows users to search for designs that work with their home 3D printer, materials, and skill level.

Simply Insured is a way for small businesses to find and buy health insurance online. With the problems on Healthcare.gov, many companies will be facing different requirements and options for health insurance. This company helps small businesses navigate the changing health insurance landscape, using their technology to make it transparent and easy to understand.

TestRocker brings together premier academic tutors with the best technology to make quality private tutoring available to students around the world whenever and wherever they desire. Launched by two sisters, the company's first two programs are SAT and ACT prep. Within one year of launch, TestRocker had students in 14 different countries studying on its platform.

What startups are you watching in 2014?


10 Actions to Avoid in 2014

This is the time of year that a lot of articles are written about what to do to get ready for 2014. Instead, this is a guide to the 10 actions to strictly avoid for next year:

  1. Avoid changing your strategy too quickly. All small business owners want to take action, but many times they make too many actions. It is critical not to change target customers, product release dates and employee compensation plans too often. It produces organizational whiplash!
  2. Avoid canceling your employee health insurance. With the delays in the Affordable Care Act, you have another year to make the decision. Check your renewal rates as well ask your broker to use the Healthcare.gov website to check those additional options.
  3. Avoid bad mouthing your competition. While this may seem like a viable marketing strategy, it almost never is. Customers want to hear what is right about your solution, not how the other guy stinks. A business culture that takes “the high road” is always more sustainable.
  4. Avoid buying more phones without a plan. Stop adding to the telecommunications chaos for your company. Ensure that all your devices are connected through a central voice over IP systems (VoIP) to have one seamless system that never loses customers.
  5. Avoid posting on social media when getting angry. While this may feel good at the time, remember those posts take on a life of their own once they are online. Write it out if you have to, but then never press the send button.
  6. Avoid growing yourself broke. Contrary to popular wisdom, growing a company too fast can actually put you out of business. Ensure you have enough cash flow to support any expansion strategy. While bigger may feel better, it is not always more profitable.
  7. Avoid bragging about your company’s achievements. In a social media world, customers really do not like people that brag. A better strategy is to highlight your customers’ many achievements!
  8. Avoid using business funds for personal use. Even during difficult times, this is a red line that should never be crossed. Keep a strict separation between funds for business expenses and your own personal needs.
  9. Avoid extending credit to customers that don’t pay their bills. Cash flow is the critical life line for your business. As a result, extend credit as a privilege, not a right. Remember, customers that do not pay on time are not valuable customers,
  10. Avoid borrowing more money when sales are shrinking. Never borrow capital when revenue is going down since you are then using that cash to only cover losses. This is also the best time to stay away from borrowing with family and friends, since the chance of successfully paying them back is very low.

What do you vow to stay away from in 2014?

2014-business-technology-predictions


Work Your Biz Wednesday: 5 Ways to Make More Money in 2014

Make 2014 the best year ever for your small business! This week's Work Your Biz Wednesday with Melinda Emerson offers five tips to make your business more money in the upcoming year.




 
Nextiva Logo

phone-icon(800) 799-0600 Sales phone-icon(800) 285-7995 Support
Nextiva is the leader in Business VoIP Services. Copyright 2014 Nextiva, All Rights Reserved,
Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, Patents, Sitemap