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10 Things Every Small Business Should Do To Be Successful in Today’s Tough Market Conditions

The news about the recent economic problems and the looming double dip recession has been tough. The on-going Eurozone economic concerns have triggered a complete collapse in consumer confidence not seen since the original 2008 recession. The consumer confidence collapse coupled with the growing anxiety around global debt has led to a restriction of credit made available to small businesses as worried banks reduce their perceived risk to bad loan repayments. With consumers keeping hold of their money and credit becoming harder to access it is no wonder that small businesses are struggling. This article talks about the important role and benefits accounting software can play in allowing small businesses to navigate through these hard economic times.

How can accounting software help small business?

Business must be lean and financially sustainable to survive through the current business climate. Small businesses with large overheads and complex financing structures should work on re-organising the business to regain control of their long term economic futures. Now is not the time for reckless investment in the pursuit of growth that only adds increased debt and inflexibly that could ultimately lead to the businesses downfall. Now is the time for prudence and tight financial management that allows a business to be financially independent. Accounting software can be central to supporting small businesses become financially independent and below investigates how.

1) Complete focus on cash flow

A business owner should be 100% focussed on the financial health of their business. This means having a thorough understanding of the businesses cash flow position. There is nothing more important in a small business than its cash flow position and as result should be very tightly managed. One of the difficulties for small businesses keeping on top of cash flow is the organisation of receipts and invoices. An accounting software package easily compiles all of the relevant financial information and presents easy to understand dashboards and reports of company performance. Once provided with the required knowledge of the company’s performance appropriate action can be taken to improve the company’s performance.

2) Focus on customer satisfaction

In times of economic hardship competition is notably increased in every sense. As customers are more considered with their buying decisions small businesses need to ensure that every aspect of their proposition is appealing to the customer. Margins are widely squeezed across all industries in the hope of enticing hard-up customers and therefore the only real differentiator to attract business is customer service. An accounting software package does not only improve business productively it also helps structure all customers and suppliers into an easy to manage database. This structured knowledge allows staff to provide a more tailored service to clients.

3) Look for ways to cut costs

In this economic climate any investment that doesn’t directly add value to the top line should be cut. Accounts Payable features with an accounting software package detail every penny that is spent in the business. This allows a thorough review of expenditure to take place to ensure that savings can be made where appropriate. For example costs could be cut down on paper, postage, transitioning to direct debit payroll. These cost cuts would allow the business to reduce its operating cost without cutting expenditure that generates income into the business.

4) Consolidate Suppliers

Businesses can also use accounts payable features within their accounting software package to streamline its supply chain. Many businesses needlessly have similar supplies from a range of suppliers. Buying in bulk is always a more economical way of doing business. Condensing suppliers with larger orders is more commercially viable in reducing supply costs. Generating reports by independent supplier will provide valuable information regarding the profitability of each supplier contract.

5) Negotiate better rates with long standing suppliers

In addition to the consolidation of the supply chain there may also be an opportunity to renegotiate rates with long standing suppliers. The longer the relationship between a business and a supplier the more appropriate it would be that the business qualifies for a rate that reflects the loyalty of the relationship. Reducing the costs of the supply chain can make a significant and welcome difference to a small business P&L during tough recession times.

6) Continuously look for ways to reduce non value adding admin work

In any small business the time of employees is one the company’s biggest assets and therefore spending time on non-value adding activity should be minimised wherever possible. An accounting software package ensures that people are not tied up managing basic bookkeeping tasks and completing quarterly and end year financial reports. Managing a business’s financial affairs can be very admin heavy if not managed in the correct manner. Having efficient software to automate these admin tasks allows staff to focus their attention on growing the business and generating income.

7) Streamline payroll and human resource management

As already discussed people are a huge asset in any small business. An accounting software system can help provide detailed information around staff costs in addition to hours worked and absence information. Having detailed information about staff costs allows a business to more accurately plan for the future and correctly budget for human resources. Also from a financial perspective large fines are imposed on businesses that make mistakes on Tax and National Insurance contributions. Having automated software negates the risk of mistakes occurring at a time when fines cannot be afforded to be taken.

8) Streamline billing and invoicing

Not being on top of your receivables can literally be the difference between success and failure in today’s challenging business environment. An accounting software package allows a business to fully manage and organise its invoices and payments deadlines around the businesses bills and costs. This way invoice payments get received in advance of bill payments ensuring cash flow is never a problem. Having effective and well organised billing and invoicing ensures that a business income remains consistent.

9) Assertive debt collection techniques

Even if a business has streamlined invoice and billing processes there will still be some customers that do not pay on time. All of the structure and process in ensuring invoices are aligned with business costs will have been wasted unless good debt collection processes are adopted as well. Businesses should know when to make phone calls, send written communications and when work with debt collection agencies in order to optimise income collection.

10) Know you financing options

The Accounting software package allows a business owner to have detailed forecasts of predicted income and expenditure over the short, medium and long term. Having a longer term view of capital expenditure allows more intelligent decisions to be made around company financing. As a rule of thumb last minute loans tend to be expensive as owners run out of time and simply need to pay bills. All forms of business financing from credit cards to structured loan agreements should be reviewed in line with long term accounting forecasts to ensure that the best suited finance is in place at the best possible price.

It has never been more relevant for a small businesses to invest in an accounting software package. The benefits run much deeper than simply allowing businesses to keep accurate and timely financial records. Accounting software enables a business to self-analyse every business process in the eyes of profitability and business return. Businesses that adopt the mind set of accounting software by definition embrace the notion that all company expenditure should be controlled and used to drive additional revenue for the business. These lean businesses will be financially sustainable and able to withstand these hard economic times in order to be well positioned in the market to capitalise when consumer confidence returns.

 

Best Small Business Tips and Ideas

Deciding to start a business can be one of the most exhilarating decisions you make in your life. We are living in a world wherever everyone wants to make extra money and add to his income. Most people have achieved this by acquiring great business ideas. When one starts up a company, he must be ready to meet competition. It is important to note that you would not need to become rich or popular to succeed in business but have to think smartly. But there are a lot of moving parts and many different elements to consider.

10 basic tips essential to start a business successfully.

Tip 1: Get inspired and Love your idea

Every business begins with an idea you may have imagined of opening your own business for years, or motivation may have hit you suddenly. Nevertheless of the source, the first step of starting your own business is coming up with a business idea. And as important as your idea, you must in love with the idea.

Tip 2: Do Your Research / learn everything about the business

You’ve recognized your big idea, now it’s time to balance it with the reality. Are you truly ready to start a business? Answer the questions below and see what you need to prepare yourself for business. For a small business succeed it must fulfill a need, solve a problem or offer something the market wants.

You can identify this need in many ways by doing research, focus groups, and even trial and error.

As you search the market, some of the questions can be:

• Is there a need for your anticipated services or products?
• Who needs it? (Target Costumers)
• Are there other companies offering similar services or products right now?
• How is the competition?
• Can or how will your business fit into the market?

Tip 3: Make a Business Plan

You need a business plan in order to make your business idea a reality. If you expect to seek monetary support from an investor or financial organization, a formal written business plan is a must.

Even if you don’t need monetary support, a simple business plan can give you precision about what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to do it.

In overall, your business plan should summary your business goals and the inspiration behind them, as well as your plan for realization of your goals in terms of marketing and funding.

Tip 4: Planning Finances

Opening a small business doesn’t have to involve a lot of money, but it will involve some investment.

There are a number of methods you can fund your small business:

• With Small business grants
• By Financing
• With Small business loans
• Or Angel investors

You can also attempt to get your business off the ground by bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start your business.

Tip 5: Business Structure

Your small business can be an individual ownership, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The business structure you might choose will impact in many factors from your business name, to liability, and how you file your taxes.

You can choose an initial business structure, and with time re-evaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs to be changed.

Tip 6: The Business Name

The name you choose plays a role in almost every aspect of your business, so you want it to be a good one. Make sure you think through all of the possible consequences as you explore your options and select your business name.

Once you have selected a name, there is the need to check if it’s trademarked, currently in use and if stills free you will need to register it. A individual proprietor must register their business name with either their state or county clerk. Corporations, LLC, or limited corporations usually register their business name when the creation paperwork is filed.

These days you need to have a website, so please don’t forget to register your domain name once you have selected your business name. The best domains and more valuable online are the ones ending with .com.

Tip 7: Licenses and Permits

There are a range of small business licenses and permits that may apply to your situation, depending on the type of business you are starting and where you are placed. You will need to inquiry what licenses and permits apply to your business during the initial process.

Tip 8: The Business Location

Setting up your place to work is essential for the operation of your business, whether you will have a home office, a shared or private office space, or a retail location. You will need to reflect about your place, equipment, and overall setup, and make sure your business place works for the kind of business you will be doing.

Tip 9: Accounting System

One of the most essential systems for a small business is an accounting system. Your accounting system is essential in order to build and manage your budget, set your charges, conduct business with others, and file your taxes. You can set up your accounting system by your own, or hire an accountant to take away some of the work.

Tip 10: Promote Your Small Business

As soon your business is up and running, you need to start attracting customers. You’ll want to initiate with the essentials by writing a single selling offer and building a marketing plan. Explore as many small business marketing ideas as you can so you to choose how to promote your business most successfully. Completed these business start-up actions, you will have all of the most important small business bases protected, and be prepared for small business success.

15 Business Ideas to Generate Extra Income

If you want or need to start a side job because you still need to wait a little bit longer to start your own business, here are 15 suggestions for you.

1. Make money Blogging

If you enjoy writing, find a theme you’re passionate about and start a blog dedicated to covering that theme and anything else interesting you enjoy to talk about. All you need is a laptop, some time, and inspiration to consistently write. It can start as a hobby and turn into a business over time. Creating a blog is free, but if you want to look professional it can cost less than $ 12 per month.

2. Buying or selling on eBay

Thanks to internet there are more opportunities to make money than ever to buy and resell products for extra money. There are lots of people buy at a discount and resell them on eBay for profit.

3. Freelance writing

If you’re great with words, you might be capable to find some work as an online freelancer. A variety of publications need online content in the form of product, stories, service descriptions, and reports, and if you have the talent and ability, you could easily be the one to create them. Luckily, all you need is a computer and Internet connection to get started. You can start here freelancer.com

4. Social media expert

Now a day almost everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, but did you know that many companies are willing to compensate people to support them managing their social media accounts and sometimes you can do it part-time from home. If this appeals you, to find social media jobs you can start by writing companies with a social media presence and visiting sites like Elance.com for opportunities.

5. Proofreading and editing

Do you have strong English skills and outstanding grammar? You may have chances to work as a proof-reader from home. Marketing for this can be hard; seek out those who might actually be able to use your services and advertise directly to them.

6. Virtual assistant

Many companies and individual professionals like having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, someone who can update their calendars, and perform other administrative tasks, with minimal communication. The best of being a virtual assistant is that you can offer this service from home with a good Internet connection.

7. Website design

If you know a little bit about web design you can approach small businesses in your community, as they could use a very basic web presence to tell others about their business. These businesses usually don’t have a large budget for websites and create a great yet simple website is for you, get a bunch of clients from your local community, create sites for them, and maintains them for a small fee. You can easily get enough businesses to have a nice side business of your own with a low investment.

8. Affiliate marketing

Certain types of online businesses will pay you to promote their products and encourage sales. If you’re interested in learning more, check out affiliate marketing programs such as Click-bank, Commission Junction, and these websites are trustworthy and you can earn money by posting their products in your blog, website or Facebook. The secret of online business is all knowing targeting the right public and marketing efficiently. It can be overwhelming with all the information available online as more than 50% of the information is just a waste of time.

9. Become a business or life coach

If you are a good speaker and passionate about the business world and able to inspire and encourage others in a unique way, you could marketing your services as a business or even a life coach. Take your passion and expertise to the next level giving advice and suggest actionable steps people can take to progress their professional and private lives.

10. Start a resume writing service

If you’re excellent at writing remarkable resumes that in the end result in people getting the job, contemplate advertising those services. Most of your work will spin around writing, editing, designing, and proofreading, so you will only need few supplies outside of your computer and basic software to get started.

11. App Developer

Web app development is the creation of application programs that reside on remote servers and are delivered to the user’s device over the Internet. Now a day you can do apps with software’s you don’t really need to be a weirdo to do it, you can be an app developer for Facebook for instance and of course you can do it part-time and home based.

12. Business Consultant

If you are high organized and skilled being a good problem solver this job is for you. Companies bring Business Consultant to identify their problems, provide solutions and optimize companies. The only investments are your skills.

13. Data Entry Service

Many companies and online businesses require some type of manual information tracking, creating a vast amount of data entry work. Although there are many work-at-home scams related with data entry work, there are a lot of genuine chances available for genuine data entry businesses. If you are an excellent typist with an eye for detail, a data entry business is a great idea for you.

14. Freelance Writer

If you have the skill to write and inform people in a certain area, you can write small books or guides and sell them online, the biggest books platform is Amazon.com, where you can display your books for free and when they are sold, you will receive a percentage from the selling. Payments are made every month depending on your sales. Investment is only your time to write and imagination.

15. Internet Researcher

The Internet provides a vast amount of information. If you can quickly and efficiently navigate through that wealth of information, and essentially find a needle in a haystack, you can create a very successful business as an Internet researcher. Search for this kind of job online or about a company which is looking for this of service.

I give you only a glimpse what you could do, and these are just a few ideas, but many ideas were left behind.

First of all I advise you to think what you like to do as a hobby or in your free time, why don’t you make profit from what you are doing already?

You have the world as your disposal, but for a business to work out the first thing from all things is, it doesn’t matter what you intent to do, but you have to love it. If you love what you do it doesn’t feel like a job, you will be doing it with joy and this way you will be successful.

There are some side business opportunities that have grown more common in the past few years. And thanks to internet you have much more opportunities, ideas and help to develop your business.

 

Small Business Identity Theft Protection – One Step You May Be Missing

Over $8 billion dollars was stolen from small businesses through identity theft in 2008 according to Javelin Strategy & Research of Pleasanton, California. Small business identity theft continues to outpace individual identity theft by a rate of 4.1 percent in 2010, compared to 3.5 percent for consumers.

Small businesses are suffering because thieves know they don’t have resources including time and money to put up a strong defense to protect their information against a data breach. Thieves have developed sophisticated techniques to steal private information from the smallest businesses to largest corporations.

Michael Barnett of the Identity Theft Protection Association states small business identity theft is a growing problem. “Thieves have discovered that businesses have fewer legal protections.” Cybercrime and identity theft is a far more likely loss for businesses than fires or floods.

Most of the time organizations will never retrieve their losses because they have less fraud protection and a shorter reporting time, a business is not a “person” or “victim” so state and federal laws treat a them differently, business transactions on personal cards are excluded from “zero liability,” and personal identity theft services and insurance are excluded from businesses.

For most owners their personal and business information are closely tied together, so, a data breach can severely impact both the owner and his company. Just one serious incident could take a small business out. It is important to maintain a vigilant effort to protect their personal and business information.

There are many things a small business should do to protect it’s information including monitoring banking account and credit card balances on a daily basis, check billing statements when they come in, conduct a regular credit check with the credit agencies and Dun and Bradstreet and regularly change passwords used to log into areas where private information is stored. Employees should be trained on what can and cannot be shared with individuals outside of the organization and strict rules must be in place to limit the chances of a theft happening.

There’s one more identity theft protection step most small businesses miss and it could cost them dearly

One of the schemes thieves use is information from registrations with state governments. Most states are “Good Faith Filing” states, which means the information filed about a business or organization with the Secretary of State is simply accepted and recorded at face value. For $10 to $15 in most states, thieves can easily file a change of address, change of officers, directors or registered agent, or even reinstate a previously dissolved company. They may also register a company as a foreign company operating in a different state as their target company.

By manipulating state records in this manner, thieves can obtain the standing and verifiable records needed to deceive creditors and finance institutions, or conduct any number of fraudulent transactions in the business name.

One step they may be missing to prevent small business identity theft is to monitor their state registration information. There are three things every owner can do, that won’t take a lot of time, to prevent or limit the impact of fraudulent state registrations and identity theft:

1. Enroll in Email Alerts – Check to see whether your Secretary of State or Corporations Division business registration website offers free email alert services that can notify the owner when his registration information has been changed or updated. This information includes: name, address, registered agent, and business owner information. Enrolling in such a service can provide early warning of potential small business identity theft.

2. Regularly review your registration information online – If your Secretary of State or Corporation Division doesn’t offer email alerts, you can go to their website and use the public “Business Entity Search” to review the information on file. You should also periodically check any past businesses that you have closed, to ensure that they have not be reinstated.

3. Be certain to file your annual reports and renewals in a timely manner.

Small business identity theft is the new target for identity thieves. Identity thieves feel pretty secure since only one in 700 ever get caught. So, when you compare the risk against the reward most of us can see why criminals have turned to small business identity theft.

The challenge for every business, small or large, is to implement safeguards to protect against breach before it happens.