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3 Business Fails Small Companies Need to Avoid

If you are a business, you need to operate with circumspection. No, not because it’s a guarantee for growth. Because it could save you from failing. It may be hard for you to grasp, but chances of failure are always there, even when you are an established business.

As always, small firms are more likely to fail than large firms. So, if you own a small company, you might find value in this article.

Here I am listing down three ways a business, especially a small business could fail.

Not understanding data

There’s a reason big data is ubiquitous in today’s business world. Big data or pattern recognition can help you better understand your customers, their preferences, the most opportune time for approaching them, likelihood of bagging leads and the odds of closing a sale. But so many businesses – mostly small-scale and locally owned – underestimate data.

The biggest problem of ignoring data is inability to understand the pace of scaling. The economics of scale tells us competitive advantage lies in small scale and in zero scale. Here’s the link to a research paper that studied the competitive advantage of home-based businesses. The researchers concluded that repair services that advertise on Yellow Pages and hold membership of a national chain don’t always get positive customer ratings.

It’s only a misperception that small scale lacks competitive advantage. Truth is, competitive advantage is always there, and for all types of businesses. However, identifying it is heck of a job. Unless you dig into big data, you can’t identify it. So, never make the mistake of thinking big data is not important, especially if you are a small business. Install state-of-the-art software to collect customer data and see if you can find any pattern there.

Under/overestimating cash supply

Small businesses need to be realistic. Large businesses can make mistake and learn from those mistakes. But for a small business, a mistake can be very upsetting and financially disastrous. One mistake many small business make is they either underestimate or overestimate their cash reserve.

What happens when a small business overestimates its cash reserve? It spends on unnecessary stationery items. Or might hire people who’d later become a burden on the company. Every business – regardless of size and scale – must have realistic goals. Overestimating cash reserve causes a business to pursue unrealistic goals.

Underestimating the cash reserve is equally troublesome. It limits growth opportunities. If you are too shaky and hesitant and refuse to spend money, business will never grow. So, understand what your business requires for steady growth. If it means hiring new staff, go for it. Just make sure they are efficient. If it means opening new branches, go for it, but only when you are certain new branches will give your more business than the existing branch.

The bottomline is you should be level-headed about your business. To think you have enough money and to think you don’t have sufficient operating balance are both mistakes you want to avoid.

Outdated marketing practices

The advertising industry is growing at a phenomenal rate. Brands are changing their outdated strategies to catch up on this growth. As a small business, you don’t want to be left out as employing the right marketing strategies could mean your ascension into a brand.

You need to revamp your existing marketing techniques. Don’t discard the strategies you are following now. Improve on them. Let’s say for example, you are a retail merchant and you have items on display for customers. Are these items placed strategically? Strategic placement means placing low-selling items in high-traffic areas.

This is just petty technique. You can churn out custom techniques yourself. Local restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores often provide free WiFi hotspot to customers so that they arrive more frequently at the stores. For B2C stores operating in consumer retail, coupon deals are a great way to increase outreach. B2B companies can harness webinar marketing and connect to large companies who might one day become their clients.

These are not copybook marketing strategies. These are niche-specific, industry-specific and most importantly, company company-specific. Archaic marketing techniques, on the other hand, are too generic to rely on.

Marketing is evolving

That’s right. You need to keep pace with this evolution in order to stay on top of things.  Many small businesses in the United States (and many outside the US) don’t understand this and as a result, they lose it.

Conclusion

It’s wrong to think small businesses lack competitive edge. The truth is, some opportunities are exclusively available for small businesses. The three tips discussed here can deliver insight into the fails that small businesses must be aware of. If a business avoids failing and excels at marketing, it’d have no difficulty getting clients. Hence, if you are a small business owner reading this, save yourself from failing.

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Business

Here is How to Become a Wealth Manager

Circa post-recession, importance of wealth manager sharply increased. Many who earlier went to the mortgage refinancing route realized in the hard way that not managing finances could have catastrophic impact. They started managing debt cautiously and became more careful with their finances. Some of them made a wiser decision and hired a wealth manager.

Need a wealth manager?

Do you need a wealth manager? It depends on couple of things. First and foremost, what is your net worth and how much can you invest at any time? If the figures are under $100000, there’s no need for a wealth manager.

In the United States, many have over $100000 in their savings. Some of them are risk-averse while others love taking financial risks. Those who belong to the latter category need the service of a wealth manager. A wealth manager can help them taking calculated risks, resulting in further increase in wealth.

How wealth managers help

Some call them financial advisors. However, wealth manager is a better term because financial advisors normally work for large enterprises or very wealthy clients. Wealth managers offer advice to people who hire them. By following the advice, clients can retain wealth, find new investment avenues that are safe and profitable.

How to become one

There’s lot of money in this profession. Naturally, many aspire to become wealth managers. Some even change their careers to become one. The first thing you need to have is money-management skill. If you think you can manage finances well in your personal life, becoming a wealth manager might not be hard for you.

Keep reading to know how to become a wealth manager.

Acquire preferred skills

You need to have a range of skills. The skill set includes analytical ability, the ability to persuade others, risk-calculation and most importantly, communication skills. If you think you have the ability to think critically, pay attention to every detail and excel at interpersonal skills, the job of wealth manager may be the right one for you. In addition, you need to be a confident decision maker and an overall trustworthy person.

Academic requirements

The minimum educational requirement is a 2.1 or upper second class degree. The degree must be obtained in math, economics, finance or management related subjects. A liberal arts degree is not useful at all if your dream is to manage other people’s wealth and you are curious to know how to become a wealth manager.

What about people who have degree in other academic disciplines? If they have professional exposure to the financial domain, the lack of economics or finance degree can be mitigated. A minimum of five years of experience in finance, especially in sales or stock market is preferable.

Clients may expect you to complete certification courses. For your information, you need to have a specific qualification to be able to work as a wealth manager. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the sanctioning authority. Check FCA’s Appropriate Qualification list today.

Need focus and direction

To become a wealth manager, you need both focus and direction. Why are these two so much important? First off, without focus, you cannot have a vision or even if you have one, cannot implement it. Without direction, you don’t have a plan.

Think about it, why would someone hire you. Unless they are convinced that hiring them would increase their wealth, they won’t show any interest in hiring you. You should be able to convince prospective clients that you have a focus, as in, you have decided whether to invest their money in the bond market or in the equity market.

The ability to convince

A wealth manager is one who can convince others that guided investment can yield favorable return in a short span of time. Of course, he should never promise anything that sounds shoddy. Get rich quick type schemes are outright scams. A wealth manager must advise his clients to avoid such investment plans.

If you want to know how to become a wealth manager, here’s a kicker for you; most people want to become rich but at the same time shy away from investment schemes that are risky. To convince them that risk equals reward can be a herculean task. An efficient wealth manager is one who listens to clients patiently and allays their fear by explaining how the market works.

Be knowledgeable

To convince prospective clients, you must be highly knowledgeable. In-depth knowledge in share market, bond market, future market, mutual fund and index fund is needed. If clients are reluctant to invest in risky areas, insist them to invest in index fund. Those who lack knowledge in finance will ask you to explain why index funds are safer. Unless you have extensive knowledge, your explanation won’t satisfy them.

Summing up

So, there you are. Now you know how to become a wealth manager. Follow the tips shared here in this article, enroll yourself in a certification course if you haven’t already, increase your knowledge in finance and economics and work on your communication skills. As described here in this article, these are building blocks for becoming a successful wealth manager.

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Business

Ways To Update And Improve Your Sexual Harassment Policy In 2018

With the recent focus on sexual harassment, your company may wish to revisit your sexual harassment policy. An effective policy will address behavior expectations and begin to transform the culture and environment in your business. Consider adding the following information to your existing policy as you protect your employees, prevent sexual harassment and create a healthy and safe work culture and environment.

Sexual Harassment

Adjust the Culture

To secure a harassment-free workplace, change your company’s culture. You can hire and promote more women, provide equal pay for both genders and embrace diversity. Ideally, the culture will respect and value men and women and treat both genders as equal. In this environment, your employees look out for each other, treat each other with respect and strive to create a workplace that’s welcoming, safe and kind to everyone.

Encourage Civility

While you want your employees to avoid sexual harassment, you should also encourage them to act in a civil manner to one another. Ask your employees to brainstorm ways they can show respect and kindness to their co-workers. Examples include offering praise, not interrupting and sharing the workload. Then provide scripts, videos and other resources that teach your employees how to deal constructively with rude behavior, listen without being dismissive, give credit where it’s due and remain civil always.

Empower Bystanders

Your harassment policy will include guidelines for reporting incidents. It should go a step further and equip bystanders to recognize and address wrong behavior.

Bystanders don’t have to engage a harasser in the moment and escalate the situation. However, after the situation diffuses, the bystander can talk openly with co-workers and ask if others saw the questionable behavior.

In the meantime, bystanders can suggest something like, “Hey, that joke is not funny.” They can also cause a distraction like making a loud noise or asking the victim for help.

Bystander intervention may also include asking the victim or target of harassment if they thought the interaction was silly, consensual or offensive. At that point, the bystander may wish to accompany the victim to the human resources department and enter a violation report, a step that demonstrates solidarity.

Simplify Reporting

Anyone who experiences sexual harassment must know who to tell, trust that they will not face retaliation and feel confident that the issue will be handled promptly and professionally. Your reporting system will meet these needs. Also, consider implementing EEOC suggestions that include offering rewards to departments with high reporting counts and giving dozens of employees the responsibility to receive harassment reports. These changes encourage reporting and improve the atmosphere in your company.

Hold Frequent and Effective Trainings

Lectures on the dangers of sexual harassment no longer work. Incorporate interactive presentations, role-playing activities and trainings geared to your specific workforce and challenges. Everyone in the company, including management, should attend the frequent trainings as you strive to educate your employee, change ongoing bad habits and reform the culture.

Review the Employee Handbook

In addition to addressing the culture, revisit your company’s sexual harassment policy. It must define sexual harassment and should include ways employees can recognize harassment and the steps they should take to report violations. Additionally, make updates such as:

  1. Include all genders and sexual orientations.
  2. Add gender-neutral language that addresses harassment by both men and women and removes gender stereotypes.
  3. Include disciplinary guidelines.

Then require all your employees to read the handbook and sign a form that verifies they have read it. Post the policy on your website and app, too.

Your business must take sexual harassment seriously, especially this year. Take these steps as you address this challenge, update and improve your sexual harassment policy, and create a safe, healthy and civil workplace.

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Business

How to Get Cashflow Right When You’re a Start-up

It doesn’t matter how big or successful your business is. Cash is key. Maintaining a healthy flow of cash throughout the business, is the lifeline to keeping the business trading. Simply if you don’t have the cash to flow through your business, you may not be able to cope with the day to day dealings of your business, let alone your overheads. Naturally the business will inevitably encounter some problems. When setting up your business and planning things out, more likely than not, you will know that at some point you will come face to face with these difficulties. The important this is being prepared for these issues when they hit the business.

How to Get Cashflow Right When You’re a Start-up

Likely causes of cashflow shortages

For the majority of start-ups, it’s simply timing. If you’re business is doing everything it required to be successful, but your clients won’t pay on time, how do you cover outgoings on time? It leads to owners being left short of cash and unable to pay bills. Even if your sales are high, if the cash isn’t coming into the business quickly enough, trouble will hit.

Cash flow problems can sometimes occur through no fault of the business. You could be hit with a large unexpected cost that you didn’t see coming. Ultimately making sure that you have cash in reserve is vitally important for covering these costs. Having enough in reserve can also help cover quarterly or yearly tax bills.

Good planning can be a huge help in managing cash flow. Taking into account all incomings and outgoings, then implementing them into a cash flow forecast, is a huge part of setting up for any business. An owner has to consider the timing of all income and outgoings to make sure they don’t run out of cash.

New start-ups must also make sure that during the planning process, they take into consideration seasonal variations. Some businesses may rely more heavily on summer or winter months, so it’s essential to spend wisely and make sure you have enough cash for the remaining months.

Efficiency with outgoings and incomings

There are simple things an owner can do to make sure that cash remains a steady entity within the business. Trying to make customers pay in a timely fashion seems obvious, but not enough businesses stay on top of it, especially start-ups. Following up outstanding invoices with your clients immediately is a sure way of staying on top of them and ensuring that they pay within a reasonable time. To reduce the chance of suffering bad debts, check new customers’ credit scores before you offer them credit.  Look at how reliable they have been previously at paying can give you a good indication of the risk of offering credit.

Making deposit payments your business norm is another great option of bringing in cash that bit quicker. Getting a percentage of your invoice means you aren’t strapped for cash and waiting on a client for full payment.

In terms of outgoings, taking full advantage of repayment terms yourself can help manage cash flow and give you more time if you’re short on cash. Try to time your expenditures so that they run in parallel to when the business receives its payments.

If you are short of cash flow and unable to pay a supplier on the due date keep your suppliers informed and if possible make a part payment until the full balance can be paid.  To keep a good relationship with your suppliers, it’s key to be honest with them. As a customer to them, they will want you to succeed and might give you extended terms when it comes to paying them.

How can you get yourself out of trouble?

If you’re already in troublewith your cash flow, thankfully there are solutions available.

B2B businesses can turn to invoice financing, which can be a fantastic option, especially if you have a lot of late paying clients. Effectively invoice financing allows the business to obtain an advance based on the value of your invoices and frees up a lot of cash.

A factoring company will first asses your invoices and the potential risk involved. They will then advance you a sum up to a certain value of the invoice, before collecting the payments from your clients, taking back what they’re owed before returning any remaining cash. Not only does this aid any cash flow, it also frees up time for an owner to work on the business, which is especially important for start-ups.

Another simple solution can be found in the form of a business overdraft. The amount available to you is agreed with the bank beforehand and is designed to meet the business needs. If this is a temporary arrangement and a relatively modest amount the bank may lend unsecured. However, a more permanent arrangement and for larger amounts is likely to require security.

Alternatively, you could apply for a bank loan. The bank will usually ask for a business plan particularly for larger amounts. In simple terms, this will outline why you need the loan, what it will be used for and importantly how you are going to pay it back. They will also consider the likelihood of things “going wrong” and to that end with a new business they may ask for security as a backstop.

If despite your best planning, you run into serious cash flow problems, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Speak to your accountant or contact a licensed insolvency practitioner without delay. They will help you assess the situation, look at what options are available and formulate a recovery strategy.

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How to Create an Ideal Budget for Your Business

To have a certain level of financial security, it is essential for you to possess money management skills. And for this you should first learn budgeting. So, here is some help for preparation of a budget.

Whether you are a newbie in the business world or an industry hot shot, you cannot dare to overlook the significance of a budget. Being the most basic and effective tool for managing your finances, budgeting connotes what you need to do next. That’s not all!

Budget for Your Business

 

There are many other benefits such as;

  • It gives you control over your money.
  • It assists you take a right decision in advance for how your money will work.
  • It savesyou from those expected and unexpected costs.
  • It helps you stay focused on your money goals
  • It creates awareness for what is going on with your finances.
  • It let you organize your spending and savings.
  • It gives you an early warning for potential problems.

And the list can be very long. So, it is pretty clear, budgeting is not an additional work.

Australian Research Council’s CEO, Aidan Byrne, tweeted- Budget is a proxy for project planning.

While projects can differ dramatically, thestrategies to create a great budget remain the same. Hence, here is a step by step process for ideal budgeting;

Step 1: Target Your Financial Goals

You can classify these into two categories, i.e. immediate and long range.

Immediate goals: These include the tasks which focus on using your money today, or very soon.

Long-range goals:The areas which requires money investment in the long run falls into this category.

Both are significant, and complement each another. The money you save from your ‘immediate goals’ will affect what you spend in the later (for long –range goals). Hence, you need to determine which goals address necessities, and then you can prioritize.

Step 2: Evaluation of Income and Expenses

Once you have determined your goals,you need to lay out a plan to achieve them. For this, you will first have to calculate your income and expenses. You can try doing it on a monthly basis by enlisting your monthly income sources, including earning, taxes, payments and much more. In case, you don’t know the exact amount, using an estimated sum will work for you.

As these calculations can be bit tricky most of the time, it is advised to trust some automated tools for this purpose. One simple solution could be maintaining your pay stubs regularly. Even if you are running your own business, you can still generate a pay roll through check stub generators. Plus, you get them delivered in your email’s inbox, which means you don’t need to carry paper documents everywhere.

Step 3: Analyze Your Spending Timely

What if more money is going out than is coming in?

Things can be problematic. Thus, when you are into budgeting, it is essential to make sure that your expenses do not exceed your income. No, this never means you need to start penny-pinching. But yes, you must learn to make adjustments. To start with, you can follow these basics:

  • Maintain records for your deposits and purchases.
  • Keep your monthly bank statement saved for future use.
  • Cross-check your deposits and withdrawals to ensure that your bank hasn’t taken any liberties with your money.

Step 4: Revisit Your Budget

Beinga living document, your budget demands some changes over the passage of time. Hence, it will be good to regularly review you budget. Once you have monitored your income and expenses, you will be quite aware of areas which needadjustment.

Now, you might be wondering what to consider?

Well, as far as the income side is concerned, when you get a raise or receive a windfall, changes would be required. It is worth noticing that sometimes the changes are smaller or temporary. In such a case, you don’t need to overhaul your entire budget. Make some minimal changes unless you get back on the track.

Definitely, there’s particular rule to review your budget. Few experts recommend doing it constantly, others would suggest gearing up for the same at interval of several months.

Step 5: Stay Committed

This is the last and most significant part of budgeting. While you have completed almost every aspect of planning toward a more financially sound future, it is vital for you to honestly commit and follow the same.

Lastly, creating a budget is the first step. Success comes along when you learn to maintain the budget. Sticking to a budget can be a daunting difficult task initially. However, it can be simplified by deciding on some spending boundaries and having self-discipline in finance. And not to forget, you need to maintain a positive attitude toward the process always.

Remember, everyone can benefit from taking this proactive approach to control finances. It is just a matter of commitment towards your budget. All the best!