Sunday, November 27, 2016

Business Management

Cash Management – A few Tips

In today’s economy, many small and mid-size companies lack sufficient cash reserves to ride out the storm. Finding new customers is tougher than usual. Raising prices isn’t always an option.

Here are a few tips that may help:

1. Manage your receivables. Try to turn your receivables quickly without antagonizing customers. Advise key customers what you’re up against, and arrange more favorable terms. Ask them, ‘What can we do to get me paid more quickly?’ If you can persuade customers to pay quicker you improve your receivable balance. This creates more money.”

2. Manage down inventories. Growth doesn’t always improve revenues. If the business is seasonable make sure inventories do not exceed needs for the current year’s cycle.

3. Ensure new employee hiring is necessary. Employee salaries are a significant cash drain so efforts to maximize productivity from current employees are paramount.

4. Plan ahead. Make sure you forecast financial activity. A plan outlining expected revenues and expenditures is vital to understanding cash needs. You certainly want no surprises on cash flow activity.

5. Go to the clouds. If your business is large enough to have in-house servers, you are aware of the maintenance costs. If business is increasing this may be a cost effective way to create additional capacity without buying expensive new servers.

Business owners should share their cash flow objectives with other key managers to ensure every opportunity to maximize cash savings is realized.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Crisis Management

Do you have a Crisis Management Plan?

No matter the size of your business or the industry in which you work, you never know when a crisis could rear its ugly head. From financial issues to disgruntled employees, you should be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Here are a few tips to consider for your business.

1. Create a mission statement. This will make it much easier to act in a responsible and ethical manner, no matter what type of situation arises.

2. Know your core values. Establishing a set of core values early in your company’s existence is of utmost importance. Not only can this save you in the event of a crisis, but it will help employees better understand what you expect of them.

3. Collaborate with others. While there is nothing more important than forming a strong bond with your employees and clients, don’t overlook others with whom you should forge a relationship. This includes the local police department, community centers, and educational institutions among others.

4. Know your audience. Who are you going to notify in the event of a crisis? Since this depends on the type of crisis, you need to spend time pinpointing your audience for any situation that could arise.

5. Create a crisis management team with a mandate to trouble shoot, identify potential problems and empower them to recommend and enact changes to protect the business.

6. Don’t panic in a crisis situation. As the leader employees want strength. Keeping a cool head may facilitate focussing on the issues and getting a solution right.

No matter what has happened in the past, you never know what the future holds. At some point, you are likely to face a crisis. How and when you deal with this will determine what direction your company takes. I hope these suggestions help.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Business Management

Time Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs

It has often been stated that Time is the scarcest resource a business has and if not well managed the business will not optimize results.
Here are a few tips that may be worth spending your precious time to read.

1. Plan Ahead
At the end of a day, plan time segments for the next day for specific activity so you can start the next day with a prepared schedule. If the activity is important for your success, set aside the time to work on that issue.

2. Focus
Plan to spend at least 50% of your time on strategy and activity that produce most of your results. Try to ignore distractions such as checking email or chatting with associates. These activities break your concentration, interfere with your priorities and are rarely urgent or productive.

3. Don’t Stress over Trivial Matters
If an issue does not have significant impact on the business, don’t get stressed over it. Perfection can be a big time waster.

4. Limit Meetings
Meetings can be essential, but they can also turn into time wasters if they go on too long or happen too frequently. Accept and schedule meetings only for agendas that are meaningful.

5. Say No
Don’t take on tasks just because someone asks you to. If you don’t have the time and it won’t help your business, don’t do it.

These are but a few ideas to help manage one of the most important resource we use – TIME. I hope they help. Let me know

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Business Management

Maximize Your Competitive Edge

Long-term business success involves creating, managing and exploiting assets and skills that competitors find difficult to match or counter. Developing this advantage is a continuing process, not a fixed event. Here are tips to help you develop competitive advantage and build barriers to entry.

1. Leadership
The top management team leading your company must develop a vision for the organization; obtain employee commitment to achieving that vision; and build effective relationships with key stakeholders (e.g., partners, customers and suppliers). At the same time, management must be a catalyst for change.

2. Leverage Core Competencies:  
One key to sustaining a competitive advantage is to develop a core set of competencies that customers want and that are difficult for others to imitate. These competencies can be exploited and leveraged to develop new products or to go after new markets. The ability to leverage core competencies across geographic and product business units helps firms to achieve economies of scale and scope.

3. Develop Customer Loyalty: 
Every business seeks satisfied customers who return again and again because they trust a company’s product or service. Their repeat business comes at a much lower cost to you than that of a customer who must be constantly enticed to continue buying or a new customer that takes time to cultivate and switch from a competitor.

4. Attract and Retain Key Staff
Companies must start by investing appropriately to recruit and select top-quality employees. Then they must invest in training and development to continuously build employee skills and develop a corporate culture that promotes loyalty, commitment and cohesion. Finally, employees must be rewarded for skill development. Staff turnover can be more expensive than rewarding existing key employees.

5. Protect Intellectual Property:
Products, technologies, business methods, patents, trademarks, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property can significantly enhance a company's ability to secure and defend sources of marketplace advantage, even in times of rapid technological change. Intellectual property is a means of creating a proprietary, defensible market advantage.

6. Stay Flexible: 
Sustaining competitive advantage requires a continuous rethinking of current strategic actions, organization structure, communication systems, corporate culture, and asset deployment. In short, every aspect of a firm's operations must be examined frequently in order to maximize their long-term health. Strategic flexibility gives any firm the ability to respond quickly to changing conditions and thereby develop and/or maintain a significant competitive advantage.

I hope these ideas help maintain that competitive edge that is key to continued growth of the business. Please share your thoughts:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Business Management

Is your Business Facing Challenges?

Navigating a business successfully today can be tricky. The speed of economic and technological changes means yesterday’s path may not fit today and certainly may not work tomorrow. Keeping pace with change may separate a company that excels from a company that closes its doors.

1. Integrity
Moral challenges to business in today’s global economy are severe. Businesses struggle to be more successful, to beat last year’s earnings, and sometimes for key individuals to keep their job. There is temptation to cut corners, omit key information in publicity releases, and do what is needed to get ahead. Sometimes this is infectious in an organization and it becomes part of the business.
This can erode trust needed between business partners; without trust business cannot compete effectively and may eventually fail.

2. Resource Management
Cash is king! Wow heard that before.
Seriously, healthy profits look nice on financial statements but if capital expenditures or slow receivable collections are draining cash the business can fail. Professional help in managing business accounting and taxes may be a good idea.

3. Market Entry
It has never been easier to start a business. Anyone can buy a domain name and register a business on line. Staying in business is another matter. Finding a niche within which to operate may be a key, differentiating your product or service with a unique positioning is important.
The key battle is for attention, focus and marketing when buyers can change suppliers with a click of the mouse. Businesses that can master the challenge are more likely to enjoy success.

4. Risk
Another challenge is identifying, assessing and mitigating risks. Lack of problem solving skills often leads management to jump from one fire to another depending on the issues of the day and the urgency of the fire starter.
Developing strong problem solving capabilities at many levels is an important key to success.

5. Staffing
Almost without exception finding, training, and retaining key staff is a challenge for most business. In small business particularly key managers can have a dramatic impact on results so great choices by ownership become paramount. This becomes an even greater challenge in industries that rely on changing technology.

These are a few of the challenges facing business. Care to share others?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Business Management

Is Time Management an Issue?

Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven't accomplished much?
Time management skills are especially important in small business where owners often handle many responsibilities.

Here are a few tips to increase productivity and to stay calm and cool throughout the day.

1. Manage
No matter how organized you are there are only 24 hours every day. Focus on managing yourself and what you do with that time.

2. Time wasters.
It is easy to be side tracked and waste time “surfing the net”, reading emails, interruptions. Track your personal time so you can see where the focus of efforts are and how to improve time usage.

3. Plan.
Develop a plan to focus on changing behavior not changing time. Start with eliminating personal time wasters like taking personal phone calls at work. This will help improve productivity and reduce stress.

4. Prioritize.
Start the day with prioritizing tasks and bench marking performance. If you have a list of 20 items, how many must be done that day? Use the 80/20 rule and spend time on the 20% of activity that generates 80% of results.

5. Delegate.
Every effort should be made to have others share the work load. A review of activity will help determine what can be delegated or outsourced and allow you to focus on priorities. Make sure those delegated to certain tasks are properly trained.

Remember, time is one of the resources business owners have that is scarce, cannot be replaced once spent, and it cannot be borrowed or purchased. Manage it judiciously.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Let’s Reduce Stress in our Business

Being an entrepreneur can be hazardous to your health. Many small business owners believe that the stress of running their business has damaged their health.
This is not surprising when you consider that entrepreneurs work longer hours than almost anybody else. Two thirds of small business owners work more than 40 hours a week.

To make matters worse, most entrepreneurs find it difficult to take time for much-needed rest and relaxation. More than half are afraid to take even a full week of vacation, often because they're afraid to trust staff to continue good service for customers.

Fortunately, there are ways that entrepreneurs can reduce their stress levels and recover both their health and sanity:

1. Learn to Say "No"
When you commit to 10 percent more than you can actually accomplish, it "feels" like you've got 50 percent more, thereby creating even more stress. By not taking on more of a workload that you can reasonably carry, you create more time for meaningful activity and therefore less stress.

2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Taking on more than your fair share of the responsibility for getting things done leads to fear of things "falling apart" when you take a day off. Giving more responsibility to your employees and contractors--and trusting that they'll get the job done--can take a huge weight of stress off your shoulders.

3. Don’t procrastinate and postpone decision making. Difficult decisions are not made easier because you postpone them. At times conditions may worsen if issues are not resolved.

4. Stay Fit. Learn to relax, stretch and find some quiet time to ward off anxiety. Find the time to exercise regularly; being in shape helps deflect stress. A well balanced diet also improves fitness levels. Finally, get enough sleep to allow the body to restore itself. Deadlines may be more flexible than you think.

These suggestions won’t eliminate all of the stress in your business but you may find they help keep stress at a manageable level. Please let me have your comments.