How Prepare for a Trade Show and Justify Your Budget, PART 1
You’re back in the office after the show. You’ve thanked everyone, collected all the leads–and even collected more leads this year. The show was a success! As you prepare next year’s budget and you think about why it was a success, and why your budget should be increased (or not decreased), you’re forced to justify your participation in each show and simply increasing leads isn’t enough. So what’s next? Prepare in advance for budget justifications by following the guidelines that are outlined below.
Start by clearly defining your goals, the purpose for participating in the show and how success will be measured – in advance. Include tangible and intangible goals. Typical goals and measurement methods are as follows:
How to Measure
This is the percentage of a company’s total audience with whom the exhibitor had “meaningful engagement”. As an example, If the total show audience is 10,000 and you had 75 visitors, and 20 of those visitors requested demos or scheduled a follow-up meeting; then, your exhibit efficiency is 20 divided by 75 or 26.6%. As you start comparing your exhibit efficiency across shows, you’ll be able to see which shows provide more value.
Measure the percentage of show attendees that visited your exhibit by dividing the number of people who registered at your booth by the total show attendance (or, if available, the total number of attendees from your target audience). Survey attendees as they leave the show or after the show (dependent on show management’s approval) to determine if they recall your exhibit and what their perceptions were. An average of 73% of an exhibit visitors remember stopping by, 8 to 10 weeks following a show.
Reach when Compared to Competitors
Measure your booth attendance versus your competitors’ booths each hour to evaluate the effectiveness of your exhibit, pre-show marketing, and brand awareness. If you know the show attendance for each day, you can also determine how much of the audience you’re reaching compared to your competitors.
Quality of Leads
Evaluate the quality of your attendees against the show’s overall attendance (using post-show audience data that’s typically provided by show management). Do the show’s surveys indicate a higher level of technical attendees versus what you saw at your booth? Did you attract more or fewer attendees interested in specific products than the show average?
Value of Leads
Survey (in person or via an online survey) your sales team. What did your sales team think of the show? Did they see the right people in your booth? Were the attendees from your prospective customer base? Was the staffing sufficient to allow them to spend adequate time with prospects?
Click here to read part two.
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Fundamentals of Lean Business Planning
Every business owner should be aware of lean business planning. It’s a perfect compromise between the old-fashioned formal business plan that is too big and static, and the kind of small steps and analysis that is the watchword of lean manufacturing and lean startups. It’s all about taking small steps and evaluating results often. And planning, for real businesses, isn’t about the big plan; it’s about the management it causes.
Why Lean Planning? What are the Benefits?
Why would you, as a business owner, care about planning? I hope that’s an obvious answer, related to focus, priorities, and getting things done. Planning, done right, is about managing your business better. Set expectations, track results, and manage the difference between what you expected and what happened.
You know you can’t do everything. Every business owner knows that; so we use planning to try to do the most important things. The secret to failure is trying to please everybody, so you don’t try. You please the people who matter most, depending on what you want from the business. And that kind of focus is essentially strategy.
Good lean planning helps you lay out a map, or a route, or a series of steps to follow to make strategy real. Most people are more likely to get things done when they can work towards the next step, or milestone. And these are also called tactics, to execute strategy. Tactics are what you do with the actual day to day, decisions you make on optimal pricing, channels marketing, and product (or service) developments.
Regular review, another part of the planning process, helps you make sure you are actually executing your tactics by tracking progress towards your specific milestones, and watching the main performance measurements you set with your plan. Track results and compare them to expectations. Develop accountability.
Good planning helps you manage your money. You have the tools to regularly compare what you expected to sell to actual sales, and then you use that data to inform what to spend, and to ensure you never run out of cash.
That’s how lean business planning is a business process that will help you manage your business. Run your business to make your life better. Don’t run your life to make your business better.
First Step: A Lean Business Plan
The lean business planning method is about taking small steps, consistent tracking, and frequent course corrections. The lean plan itself only includes what adds value to management, without waste. The plan itself is lean, small, streamlined for internal use only, just big enough for optimizing the business. A lean business plan has four essential parts:
- A bare-bones description of strategy for management use only. It’s probably just bullet points, not an elaborate text. It’s a reminder for the team.
- Another bare-bones description of the important tactics; again, for management use only. The play defines tactics you take to execute strategy, such as pricing, marketing, product or service development, financing, and so forth.
- A measurable and trackable schedule for regular monthly reviews, plus assumptions, milestones, tasks, and the numbers and performance indicators you want to track. Milestones can include dates, deadlines, number of customers, and budgets. Tasks can include responsibility assignments and budgets.
- Essential forecasts including sales, spending, and cash flow.
This lean business plan is clearly not the “elaborate business plan” that lean startup experts reject. Unlike the old-fashioned formal business plan, the lean plan skips the carefully worded summaries and detailed business information for outsiders. The lean business plan is not even a document. It’s a collection of lists, tables, and bullet points.
Keep it Live. Use it Well
It’s about planning, not just the plan! With lean planning, the plan itself is useless in a few weeks if you don’t track results and follow it up regularly to manage what’s going on. Much like lean manufacturing and lean startups, lean business planning is a process of continuous improvement. It takes small steps, analyzes results, and makes corrections. Make a monthly commitment to review and refresh your plan. It’s never finished. As long as your business is alive, so is your planning process.
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It’s a Big Deal to Be a Women-Owned Small Business
While businesses are barred from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of sex, the federal government does give a little edge to businesses owned by women. Under the law, the federal government has a goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to women-owned businesses that have received certification. In fact, in the government’s fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, the SBA reported that the government actually awarded 5.05% of prime and subcontracts to women-owned businesses totaling $17.8 billion.
Types of certification
- Women-owned small businesses (WOSB). Eligibility is described below.
- Economically disadvantaged women-owned small business. In addition to the basic eligibility for a women-owned small business, one seeking certification for being economically disadvantaged must meet additional requirements.
To achieve the designation of a women-owned small business (WOSB), you must meet certain criteria and complete the certification process online.
As a female small business owner, you qualify for certification if:
- Your business is at least 51% owned and controlled by women. This means having direct control (not through another entity) to handle day-to-day management and long-term decision making for the businesses.
- These women owners are U.S. citizens.
- The company is a for-profit business. It can be organized in any form: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, S corporation, or C corporation.
- The company (nor any of its owners) has been debarred or suspended by any federal entity.
- The company has a place of business in the U.S. or makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through the payment of taxes or the use of American products, materials, or labor.
- The company is considered “small” in accordance with its primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.
- The NAICS code fits with the WOSB Federal Contract Program.
There are three additional criteria:
- The woman’s total assets must be $6 million or less. This is based on the fair market value of her assets, including her home and the business.
- The woman’s net worth must be less than $750,000, excluding equity in her home, the ownership interest in the business, funds in an IRA and income from a pass-through entity used to pay taxes arising in the ordinary course of business.
- The woman’s personal income must be $350,000 or less. This is the average annual income over the past three years.
If you meet the criteria, you can self-certify by providing documentation demonstrating eligibility. These include proof of citizenship, documentation related to your entity, two years of tax returns, stocks, and ledgers.
Third party certification
Instead of self-certifying, you can complete the process through an SBA-approved third party certifier, such as the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). These third-parties charge a fee for their services.
As part of the certification process you also need to take care of the following:
This is a number assigned to a business by Dun & Bradstreet. There is no cost for obtaining it and you can do this online* or by telephone at 800-591-8534.
You also need to sign up for the System for Award Management (SAM). This, too, is free.
If you need help, check out the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC). Just keep in mind that getting certified is no guarantee you’ll be awarded government contracts. It’s up to you to pursue contracting opportunities.
*Denotes non-governmental website
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The Pros and Cons of Being the Boss
There are pros and cons to any decisions you make in your life. This includes the small ones and the big ones. In my role as a franchise ownership advisor, I’ve had the distinct advantage of hearing first hand (from people I’ve helped become their own bosses) what they feel the pros and cons are of being your own boss are.
I’m going to share what they’ve told me, along with what I know first-hand, since I’ve been my own boss since 2001. Here are three of the many positive things to being the boss:
1. You can set your own schedule
Imagine how it would feel for you to be able to come and go as you please...to set a schedule based on your needs instead of your employer’s needs.
2. You don’t have anyone to report to
If you own an independent business, the buck stops with you. You make all the decisions having to do with your business. Believe me, it’s quite empowering.
If you end up becoming the owner of a franchise business, the buck still stops with you, but there is a difference. You don’t get to make strategic decisions about your business. In other words, you can’t just add new products and/or services in order to increase revenue. Those things can only be done from franchise headquarters.
3. You have lots of control
As the boss, you have the ability to control your day-to-day work life.
In addition to setting your own schedule, you have the final say so on who you hire, and what benefits (if any) you provide.
You can also control the growth of your business. Maybe you’re at a time in your life where you don’t want or need to pursue record-breaking sales numbers. Guess what? When you’re the boss, you don’t have to.
On the flip side owning a business, does have its drawbacks:
1. Income fluctuations
When you own a business, your income is dependent on the revenue you bring in. And it may not be consistent-especially at first.
Think about it; when you’re an employee, you expect and receive a paycheck on a consistent basis. It’s up to your employer to figure out the revenue part. It’s really not your problem. Not so when you’re the boss. You’re the one in charge of making enough money to pay your employees, pay your operating expenses, and pay yourself!
You, as a business owner, are liable for bad things that can sometimes happen in a business. For example, if you own a restaurant that serves alcohol and one of your employees serves alcohol to an underage customer who drives away from your restaurant and hurts someone in an auto accident, you can be held liable. Scary, huh?
That’s only one example. Can you think of any others? You need to.
Tip: make sure you hire a business attorney who will explain your liability as the owner of a business before you become an owner.
3. Long hours
It’s one thing to “understand” you’ll be required to put in long hours when you own a business, it’s quite another to actually work 12-14 hour shifts. Feet get sore.
Granted it will probably be easier to do knowing that the hours you’re putting in are for your own business, as opposed to someone else’s business. But still, long hours are long hours. You may want to talk to current business owners to see what kinds of hours they’re putting in.
When you own a business, tired or not, you have to be the one who steps up when longer hours are needed to keep your business up and running. You need to weigh all of the pros and cons before you take the plunge into business ownership.
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5 Bad Habits That Hurt a Company's Credit Ratings
Procrastination, overspending and nail-biting are common examples of bad habits. Let’s face it, everyone has their vices, but some bad habits are so hard to break. Although we’re all susceptible to have some bad habits in our personal lives, when it comes to business, it’s our customers, employees and bottom line that are subject to them. This can lead to challenges and may result in the loss of business.
Here’s a look at five bad habits that small business owners may find themselves battling with that hurt a company’s credit ratings.
- Paying Invoices beyond Payment Terms – How a company pays its invoices is one of the main factors impacting business credit ratings. Paying invoices several days or weeks past the due date is a bad habit that not only negatively impacts business credit ratings but also may jeopardize the credit terms offered by the vendor.
- Being Reckless with Company Data – The information a business owner furnishes on credit applications, company documents and other financial sources is critical data that makes up a company profile with the business credit reporting agencies. Providing inaccurate or outdated information will directly impact a company’s ability to obtain credit with businesses, suppliers, and lenders.
- Overextending the Company’s Credit Limits – Using credit that is larger than what is available to the business is a practice that should be avoided at all costs. This could result in over-the-limit fees, a decrease in credit limits and may result in your account being closed by the issuer. Charging more than your limit also hurts your company’s credit ratings because it is a strong indicator of poor business credit management.
- Ignoring Cash Flow Management – Statistics show that upward of 50% of businesses fails due to lack of proper cash flow management. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business and it impacts how a business meets its financial obligations such as meeting payroll or paying a supplier. Failing to pay suppliers on time will ultimately result in hurting your company’s credit history and ratings.
- Refusing to Acknowledge the Importance of a Web Presence – When it comes to business, the internet is constantly growing and evolving with new technologies, platforms and applications that are streamlining the lending process. Failing to realize the need for a company website and presence on the web can be costly. Did you know a company web site is one of the ways a creditor will review and learn more about a business? Some creditors may even consider it a greater risk if a business does not have an internet presence.
A company’s credit ratings play an essential role in the credit review process. It shows lenders, suppliers, banks, etc. how you handle your financial obligations. While bad habits are hard to break, put together a simple and workable plan that you can implement as it will help you make great strides in the success of your business.
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How to Know When to Change Your Business Plan
Sometimes you need to stick to your business plan to make it work. Even a mediocre strategy consistently executed over time is better than a series of brilliant strategies that keep going off in different directions. Strategy often takes time.
On the other hand, there is no virtue in sticking to a plan, just for having stuck to a plan. We live with constant change.
Which brings me to the dilemma that many business owners face:
Do I stick to my plan, or change it? If I change it, then is my plan vs. actual (reality) valid? Doesn’t it take consistent execution to make strategy work?
To which I’ll add;
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
– Chinese proverb
I’ve been dealing with this dilemma for years, as a business owner, entrepreneur, and consultant. I want to suggest some guidelines to help you decide whether to change the plan midstream, or not.
A Good Planning Process
It starts with having a plan that includes priorities, milestones, and expected results. Also, you have to track results and compare them to what you had planned or expected to see. And also, as you developed those expectations, you should have included assumptions.
Ideally you have that process going on already. Without it, there’s no plan to change, and you are managing reactively. If you don’t have a process of planning in place, start it immediately in order that you have a better planning process later on.
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. – African proverb
Stay the Course or Revise the Plan?
Take some time each month to review your plan and its results. Once you have the process established, it doesn’t take more than an hour or two to get team members together.
Start that monthly meeting with a good hard look at your underlying assumptions. Identify the key assumptions and whether or not they’ve changed. When assumptions have changed, there is no virtue whatsoever in sticking to the plan you built on top of them. Revise your plan, automatically, when key assumptions have changed.
Then look at the differences between what you planned and what actually happened. Identify key differences between the plan and actual results. Some will be better than planned, and some worse.
For each key difference you discover, and all of them combined, use your best judgment and common sense to determine whether the differences were caused by false expectations or unexpected good or bad execution. Also, consider external and internal factors that may have influenced the results.
Maybe your expectations were too conservative, or too optimistic. In that case, you revise your plan. Use your common sense. Were you wrong about the whole thing, or just about timing? Has something else happened, like market problems or disruptive technology, or competition, to change your basic assumptions?
Maybe you discover you and your team have executed better than expected, or results were better than expected. Hooray. Stick to the plan. It’s working.
And maybe you discover that your execution was wrong, poor, or flawed. If any of those reasons are the case, work on executing better and change the plan.
Do not revise your plan glibly. Remember that some of the best strategies take longer to implement. Remember also that you’re living with it every day; it is naturally going to seem old to you, and boring, long before the target audience gets it.
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Can You Really Start a Business With Just a Smartphone? Yes!
It might seem a bit surprising it’s absolutely possible to start and run a business from your smartphone. At the very least, you can start a business and run the majority of it from a smartphone and without a computer, from your home.
Imagine for a moment that you don’t have a full-fledged computer, and you can’t afford expensive equipment. That’s not so far fetched, because many budding entrepreneurs have minimal resources, yet most of us have a smartphone these days.
Or perhaps you simply love the idea of being a mobile. You want the freedom that comes with running a business from your phone.
With the right idea and the right mobile tools, you can run a business without investing in tons of expensive equipment or tying your business to one specific location. Here are some tips for starting a business from your smartphone.
Start with a “phone friendly” business model
This part is essential.
Certain types of businesses naturally lend themselves to being run on mobile devices, whereas others may present more challenges.
For instance, you probably cannot start a full-service web design firm with just a smartphone. You’d need a desktop computer and some professional software in order to really get the job done. However, if you want to develop mobile apps, there are tools available for you to do that on a mobile device.
Some other businesses that you could potentially start with just a smartphone include:
●Social media marketing
●mCommerce (mobile commerce)
Think also about business professionals who don’t require a computer or a place of business that customers visit, and require only a small amount of supplies and equipment. Types of businesses include handymen, maid service, gutter cleaning, home decorator, seamstress and car detailing to name a few. These are still low cost businesses to start and run, and it’s not absolutely necessary they have a computer; instead they can rely on a smartphone. You can often get leads through home-services sites, online yellow pages, social media or word of mouth, directly to your phone– and you can work out of your home or by visiting clients at their residences or places of business. Be sure to check on any licensing and other requirements in your locale.
Get the right apps
A smartphone is made more powerful and versatile by choosing and using the right software apps.
For some businesses you definitely will need add-on apps. For example, to run an mCommerce business (the term “mCommerce” stands for a mobile based eCommerce business) you will need a commerce application that is mobile friendly, and a fulfillment or drop ship service. And as a writer, it might be possible to type by hand on your smartphone’s on-screen keyboard, but wouldn’t it be so much better to use a voice transcription app of some kind?
Also, you will need basic apps necessary to run a business today. For example, you might need a note taking app to keep track of information and organize tasks. You probably will need some kind of expense tracking, invoicing and/or accounting software app to keep your books straight and get paid. And many businesses could use a cloud project management app, especially for businesses like event planning where organization skills are central to daily execution.
Master mobile communication
Communication with team members, customers or potential clients is an essential part of running any business, whether you have tons of expensive equipment or just a smartphone to work with.
You’re going to have to work around the limitations of a small keyboard.
Email is one of the most popular communication methods for mobile professionals. While a quick response with some abbreviations or spelling errors might be okay if you’re sending a quick message to your business partner, that’s unlikely to go over well with clients or customers. So if you’re communicating with clients or anyone who might expect a detailed response, you need to take the time to communicate in a way that’s satisfactory. And if you use a voice app to dictate responses, be sure to review the communications for accuracy before hitting “send.”
Consider storing canned responses so you don’t have to always fully type out long emails.
You can also shore up your mobile communication strategy with apps like Google Hangouts, Skype or Apple FaceTime that let you communicate with others on other devices through voice, video or text chat.
Being active on social media is an essential activity for a lot of businesses, regardless of whether or not they’re run on smartphones. But luckily for mobile business owners, most popular social platforms have comprehensive mobile apps to make this function fairly straightforward.
In fact, some social apps like Instagram and Snapchat are only really available for full use on mobile devices. So if you’re running a business on your smartphone, take full advantage of those social platforms by using them to showcase your social media strategy, branding and marketing from anywhere.
Back up important data
While smartphones can be great business tools, many aren’t known for having enough storage space. And what space you have may be eaten up by adding multiple apps. If you’re running a business, you’re going to need a place to store all of your important documents, images, videos and other files.
For ample storage, add a large data card, but one flexible and secure option is to expand your data storage to a secure Cloud storage app. That way, even if your smartphone drops into the river or is lost, your important business files will still be available and protected.
Some smartphone companies, including Apple and Samsung, have some cloud storage options that you can use for certain items. But you might also explore apps like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive to store some of your important items in the cloud. With these services, you can also potentially share items with team members using other mobile devices.
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Seasonal Employees: What to Know for the Upcoming Holiday Season
Retailers, food establishments, and some other types of businesses routinely take on more help to handle customers during the holiday season. These extra workers can go a long way in making your holiday season a success. Of course you need to treat them with the same care and respect as you do your permanent staff, such as avoiding any discriminatory practices and providing sufficient training. Also, be sure you consider the following special tax, financial, and legal concerns.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay the minimum wage rate, as well as overtime, for hourly employees (nonexempt employees). This applies, for example, to salespeople hired for the holidays. The applicable rate you must pay is the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour, or higher, depending on your state or local hourly rate. Of course, you can pay more, and likely will if the competition demands it and your budget allows it.
There is an exemption from minimum wage rules for workers at seasonal recreation or amusement establishments, but this clearly would not apply to retail establishments. Find more information about employing seasonal workers from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Federal employment laws
Besides the FLSA, there are a number of other laws to which an employer becomes subject when the size of the state exceeds a set amount:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: 15 or more employees
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): 15 or more employees
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): 20 or more employees
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies when a company has 50 or more employees on your payroll for 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
While independent contractors are not counted, there are no specific exemptions for seasonal workers. While you wouldn’t want to do anything wrong, regardless of the number of people on your staff, having more than the requisite per law exposes you to claims by workers, so beware.
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers with 50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees to provide minimum essential health coverage or pay a penalty. It also subjects you to annual information reporting obligations. In determining whether you are an applicable large employer under ACA, seasonal workers are excluded from the count. According to the IRS, seasonal workers are defined as those who work fewer than 120 days per year. The IRS says “retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons are seasonal workers.”
When an employee is laid off (other than for a serious cause), he or she may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The rules differ by state. For example, in Pennsylvania, anyone who earns at least 50.5% of annual income in any 3-month period is ineligible for benefits. In many other states, a seasonal worker is not barred from collecting benefits.
If seasonal workers collect benefits, it may impact what you pay for state unemployment taxes. Usually your rate is fixed on the experience of claims made against you, and having a number of layoffs can increase the number of claims and hike your rate. This may be a small price to pay for adding personnel during a busy time of year in order to keep your customers happy.
Federal laws are not your only concern when taking on seasonal help. Be sure to check with your state labor department to learn your obligations at the state level. In many cases the rules are stricter than under federal law. If you have any questions, talk with an employment law attorney.
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How Net 30 Accounts Help Conserve Business Cash Flow
For every business, the cash flowing into a company is essential for covering the day to day expenses necessary to operate a business. It keeps lights on and doors open; cash flow is truly the life blood of a business. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that companies of all shapes and sizes have to slow business growth due to lack of cash flow needed for expansion.
To combat this, a business owner may increase the amount of cash coming in by generating more sales and converting those sales into cash as soon as possible. Another way is to conserve the company’s cash flow.
While there are many ways to conserve cash flow such as cutting costs, bartering, re-negotiating with creditors, and cutting inventory; one method in particular is through Net 30 accounts.
By asking for credit terms from your suppliers you enable your business to hold onto cash for a longer period of time. You can obtain products and services your business needs and defer the payment on those purchases for 30 days, thereby conserving cash flow.
This is called a “Net 30 account”.
The fact is the wait between the time you have to pay your suppliers and the time you collect from your customers is the challenge facing many businesses today. It’s all about proper cash flow management. With net 30 accounts you delay when your cash goes out (30 or more days), at the same time you should focus on improving the speed at which your customers pay (receivables into cash).
Several ways to improve your receivables include but are not limited to the following:
- Require customers to complete a business credit application
- Offer discounts to customers who pay fast and early
- Require a minimum deposit with every purchase
- Issue invoices immediately and have a follow up system for collecting
- For slow paying customers implement a policy of cash on delivery
- Extend credit terms to customers who pass your business credit approval process
Keeping cash in your business bank account using credit terms such as net 30 accounts is often overlooked by many business owners. Most businesses focus on accounts receivables while missing out optimizing accounts payable. Keep in mind, establishing net 30 payment terms with suppliers is just the beginning.
The longer the term, the more time you have to pay and keep cash in your bank account. Negotiate the longest payback terms possible such as net 45, net 60 or even net 90 days. Many suppliers will even offer you discounts for early payments which improves your company’s bottom line.
If you can’t obtain better terms than net 30, consider paying your invoices with a business credit card. This provides your company additional time to conserve cash but be sure to pay your balance in full when the statement becomes due to avoid any interest charges.
One other creative way to conserve cash is if a supplier or vendor delivers a product on consignment, only requiring payment when the product is actually sold. If your business has the opportunity to obtain this type of arrangement, it provides a great way to conserve your cash.
With better cash flow, a business owner will position the company to achieve success by having the cash available to operate and grow the business. If you’re experiencing cash-flow problems or want to maximize your cash on hand, consider using net 30 accounts as one of the proven ways to conserve your company’s cash flow.
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Disaster/Emergency Tips for Small Businesses
September is National Preparedness Month. When disaster strikes, it’s only natural to want to protect your family and loved ones. Before disaster strikes, it very important to safeguard your small business, particularly if it’s your main source of income.
Think about the following questions:
- Do you have insurance if a storm was to destroy business property or equipment?
- Is there an emergency plan for your small business? Does your staff know what to do in an emergency?
- Have you developed a checklist in the event of an emergency or disaster that outlines specific actions to take to protect your business?
- Can you access your business records if they were destroyed?
These types of scenarios can happen at any time. Natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes or large-scale emergencies like a health epidemic may have varying degrees of impact on your business operations. No matter what the situation, there are a few necessary steps to take to build your emergency preparedness toolkit.
Create a readiness kit. If electricity is no longer availability or tap water is not safe to drink, you will need alternatives. Keep a kit in your place of business, and include items such as matches, water bottles, flashlights, batteries, and snacks. Ready.gov has a complete list of basic supplies. Remember, the kit you prepare needs to help you survive for more than 48 hours.
Develop a communications plan. In the event of an emergency, your staff will need to know whom to contact and how. Establishing points of contact, a phone tree, or meet up spot in advance will be helpful in disseminating information. Secure backup phones or have a telecommunications system in place. Use social media to keep the public aware you’re still in business, and in the process of rebuilding.
Anticipate disaster assistance needs. Think ahead by knowing how much your property and inventory are worth. Are you carrying enough insurance to rebuild after the disaster? If you have disaster losses that aren’t covered by insurance, , considering applying for an SBA disaster assistance loan. These loans can help businesses of all sizes repair or replace equipment and property that was damaged during the disaster. An SBA disaster loan can also help you cover operating expenses while you recover from the disaster.
Be prepared all-year round by thinking, developing, and communicating a plan to protect your business. Stay safe!