7 Top Tips For Managing Business Cash Flow

In the ‘good old days’ the onus on prompt payment was on the customer. That made it much easier for business owners to manage their cash flow.

Now, along with everything else you have to do, the onus on managing your cash flow is firmly on you, the business owner, so we have put together our 7 top tips to help you out.

1. It Pays To Do Your Homework
For bigger customers you may need a signed contract and a purchase order. Find out what you need and their payment terms in advance. For example they may have money left in a budget and need invoicing straight away. For smaller customers make sure you agree the price in advance so there is no query on your invoice. Obtain the mobile number of your contact at the company and if possible find out the name of someone in the credit control department in case of a query.

2. Don’t delay
Invoice immediately on completion of the job, or if appropriate take a 50% deposit up front with the remainder payable on completion.

3. Payment terms
Ask for what you want. Don’t feel you have to put ‘Payable within 30 days.’ Either put ‘Pay on receipt’ or a due date within 14 days. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

4. Check Your Bank Account Regularly
It is worth taking the time to find out immediately whether payment has come through, and if you use cloud accounting software, your bank balance will update regularly so you will know straight away.

5. Don’t Be Shy
If you don’t receive the money when you expect it, ring up your contact in the business and find out why. Why not email? Emails are too easily ignored. Your contact may be able to chase up payment for you, or give you the number of the person you need to speak to.

6. Don’t Take ‘No’ For An Answer
If you don’t get a response, keep trying. Not just every day, but several times a day if you need to. Imagine how it would be if the tables were turned and they were owed the money? Surely they would chase it up.

7. Cash Flow In Other Parts Of Your Business
The two other main areas where you can control cash flow are stock and suppliers. Keep a close eye on your stock, as perishable stock or slow moving stock can suck cash unnecessarily from your business.

Check your suppliers’ credit terms, and use them. Bear in mind however that your long term relationship with your suppliers is like a gold nugget in your business, and they will respect you and respond to your needs if you always pay on time.

7 Tips For Event Planning

Putting on a good event isn’t always as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of preparation, coordination, and attention to detail to pull off a successful event of any type. The attention to detail will be what distinguishes the event from a ‘good’ event to a ‘GREAT’ event.

Preparing to host or put on an event consists of many things. Some of these include: budget, determining who the audience will be, what content you want presented, the venue, the schedule of events, speakers (if any), sponsors, and who should be involved.

    1. Audience: your audience will be your attendees. Will it be the public, business people, etc? Determining who your audience is will help you determine what content should be included and who should speak, if anyone, how large the venue should be, and who your sponsors should be.
    1. Venue: once you determine the size of the audience that you plan to have in attendance, you’ll want to find the appropriate venue. I always recommend scoping out the venue prior to agreeing to book it to ensure it will work for the purposes you have in mind. For example, you likely won’t want to rent out the Staples Center if you’re having a small gathering of business individuals to hear a few key speakers. However, if you’re putting on a large concert, then this might be the right way to go. Also, don’t forget about your budget. Ensure that everything you want to do will be within your budget amounts.
    1. Schedule of Events: you’ll need to determine if you’re going to have tables or booths setup, if speakers will be there, if you’re going to have door prizes or raffles, if you’re providing lunch or dinner, etc. Ensure you have enough cushion room in your timing to allow for unexpected things (i.e. a speaker goes much longer than anticipated or lunch isn’t served right on time). Having a specific schedule will also help you create an agenda for your audience, if necessary.
    1. Sponsors: soliciting money and assistance with prizes for sponsors is a great way to help pay for (and attract the right audience) the venue. These sponsors can also help off-set some of your costs, helping you stay within budget.
    1. Hire or Solicit a Team: don’t try to do everything yourself. You’re there to help plan and coordinate the event, not to do everything yourself. Some teams you may want to solicit: IT, Marketing, Setup / Tear Down, and Transportation.
    1. Plan Ahead: make lists, schedule meetings, touch base with people periodically. Make sure that you’ve listed everything you need, a plan to make every detail of the event happen (i.e. who is doing it), and follow-up with your team to ensure they don’t need additional assistance. It’s much better to know ahead of time if someone isn’t going to be able to make it, bring something, help out with a certain task, etc. so you can plan ahead for it.
  1. Attention to the Details: while you’ll want to pay attention to the details while setting up and during the planning process, don’t drive yourself (or others) crazy in the process. If you act like everything is going smoothly during the event, your attendees won’t know the difference. While planning, pay attention to the color scheme you want, the layout of the room(s), the schedule of speakers, etc. But, if a table cloth isn’t ironed just right, or a couple of balloons popped during setup, don’t stress too hard about it.

The more fun you have in the process (and the less you stress out over the event) the more fun your teams and your attendees will have.

7 Stepping Stones To Success

How many times have you caught yourself thinking?

  • They wouldn’t be interested in seeing me?
  • Who do I think I am going for something so big?
  • I am not in their league.
  • I do not have enough credibility/experience/knowledge.
  • What happens if I fail?
  • I could never do… because… would be so jealous of me.
  • That’s too hard and I would show myself up as a fraud.
  • I must do… before I make those sales calls (or something else you fear doing)

Feel free to add some of your fearful thoughts to this list. The more you identify the more you can rid yourself of them.

Fear paralyses. It stops you taking action and moving towards success. It allows you to discount valuable opportunities and can even stop you seeing them altogether. Fear of failure can hold back and even destroy success if you let it.

The first time I ever felt a massive failure in life was when I had to close my first business. After seven years of putting my heart and soul into my designer knitwear business I had to make the very difficult decision to close it down. The bottom has fallen out of the market and I had no other option.

I was devastated. My dreams were shattered and I felt such a failure. It did not help having some family and friends tell me that I was not cut out to be in business. Then a true friend came along and told me to sit down and write a detailed list of all the things I had learnt over the seven years. Four sheets of paper later she had me read it out load to her. That was powerful enough but what she then said changed my life – “So having read that out, how can you think you are a failure? Life is about learning from adversity and moving on.”

I also learnt that the more we see failure as a negative experience, the more likely we are to allow our fears to hold us back from success. So here are six steps you can take towards success:

7 Stepping Stones to Success

1. Remember that fear holds back or even destroys success, if you allow it to. Identify the fear and change your mind-set by taking positive action to move forward.

2. Look past the fear by rejecting it from your mind so that you can see the opportunities life brings to your door and take action on them.

3. Refuse to listen to people who are negative and put you down when things are going badly.

4. Surround yourself with supportive people who challenge you in positive ways.

5. Whenever you fail at anything, big or small, write down a list of what you have learnt, read it out load and see how many stepping stones you have created to move forward.

6. Look for the learning in everything.

7. Take positive action now!

What Are The Top Qualities of A Great Leader?

Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes but what makes them great is usually to do with how they can inspire the team. And sometimes having one on the team can make all the difference.

Defining exactly what makes a ‘leader’ in itself can be a difficult task. On one hand it could be to do with personality, but more often than not it’s the experiences they have accumulated that make them so great. Read these following seven qualities on how to become a great leader.

Be grounded and centered
The thing with great leaders is that it’s usually pretty hard to knock them off base. They have a solid grounding that allows them to make strategic decisions rather than just reacting to a situation.

Be aware and mindful
Being aware and mindful of both yourself and other team members is another great trait to have as a leader. Being aware means you notice how people relate to each other. You’re also more likely to pick up on the sensitivities of other people that might affect the way they work.

Create solutions
Good leaders are usually big picture-type thinkers. They’re thinking creatively about problems and the next big idea. They have the ability to see patterns and decide what needs to be done with confidence.

Evaluate risk
A great leader can usually make a sound decision when it comes to evaluating risk. They’ll consider the ramifications of each option and can put plans into place that reflect these considerations.

Have a sense of urgency
While a good leader may be able to inspire and motivate their team members to accomplish tasks, a great leader does so with a sense of urgency. To be able to motivate others to action you need to be able to communicate urgency to your team.

Be insightful
Intuition can be great in leading you to the right decision. Sometimes it can be hard to trust your intuition when your brain is saying something else. Learn to rely on insights and your gut feelings. More often than not your intuition will lead you down the right path so learn to trust it.

Build cohesion
Having the ability to get team members to work together effectively can be an art form. To motivate others to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves takes a great leader. Once you build cohesion amongst your team, you get better engagement from your team members. They will actually want to be there and they’ll want to achieve a great result.

The definition of a ‘great’ leader will most definitely vary from person to person. If you get the opportunity to work with an inspirational leader, learn from them and analyze their strategies. With these tips, learn some of the traits that make a leader so great.

7 Tips for Creating an Effective Website for Your Business

Your business website is a platform for reaching out to your customers and potential customers. You want to engage your customers with your site through offering them useful information while highlighting all that you offer.

Consider the following 7 tips for creating an effective website that serves your business well:

Look at Your Site from a Potential Customer’s Perspective

Try to look objectively at your website the way a visitor to your site looks upon it. Is the site too ‘busy’ looking with annoying pop-ups, graphics, grating sounds or music, and long blocks of uninterrupted text? Is it difficult to navigate your website? Is it difficult to find your contact information? Does your site truly represent what your business is all about, and represent properly the products and services you offer?

Have Quality Content on Your Website

Content is vital to your website. However, this content must be useful and current information that is relevant to your visitors’ needs, questions, concerns, and interests. Why would they bother to stay on your site if you only offer them fluff – content that’s focused on the hard sell? You must offer site visitors quality information, advice, tips, articles and resources that speaks to their reason for visiting your site in the first place.

Incorporate White Space

Make your web pages clean-looking and less crowded with ample white space. White space breaks up chunks of text, which makes reading easier. White space contributes to the organized, orderly look and feel of your website. White space enhances the elements of your site that it surrounds.

Keep Your Page Layout Conventional

A conventional page layout is less confusing and irksome. It promotes easy and efficient reading and viewing on your website. Conventional page layout presents an orderly structure for engaging with content on your site – whether text, video, audio, graphics, and photos. Too complicated of a page layout can confuse your visitors. It can make their perusing of your site an annoying exercise.

Search Bar Simplicity

People often like to search sites via a conveniently located search bar. They don’t want to go on a hunt to find that search bar. In their frustration to find it, wherever it’s buried, they may give up and exit your site. Therefore, make your search bar highly visible.

Test, Test, Test

On a regular basis, test your website. Make sure the search bar is functional; make sure all tabs on the navigation bar are functional and lead to the right pages. Check that all links you’ve embedded into your site are working. In addition, make sure that all video you offer for viewing is clear, and the same goes for any audio files. If e-commerce is part of your website, make sure that your shopping cart process is secure, addresses privacy concerns, is easy-to-use, and processes transactions efficiently.

Update Your Content

Keep your website fresh and current with updated content. Update on a regular basis, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on what your business focus is and what you offer in terms of products and services. If you have a blog on your website, do regular postings. In addition, keep your website updated with new and informative articles.

Follow the above 7 tips for creating an effective website. These tips will help make your website visually appealing and user-friendly. They will also make your site a go-to place for quality informative content – and with all this, you’re better promoting your products and services and taking your business to new levels.

Mobile Vending: Top Ten Keys To Success

The mobile vending business can be a rewarding and challenging career. There are keys to success that if followed can help almost anyone achieve their financial goals. I have taken what I have learned in the wholesale ice cream industry and condensed it into the ten habits that are necessary to prosper. I am sure there are other skills needed but In my opinion these are the ten most important. In the long run habits or routines can be added but this is a good beginning and will give you the base to build off of.

Responsible. I know this sounds obvious but there are a lot of people out there that think they know what being responsible means. Not everyone knows. I suggest you find a mentor or friend that is successful in business and ask them. Look it up if you have to. You, as a business owner, have many responsibilities to your family, employees, yourself… etc. It is a long list. Learn about it and live it. This is one of those things you have to be certain you know what it means.

Organized. It is crucial that you keep every aspect of your business organized. The only way to be sure of what works and what doesn’t is to stay organized. Do not try to remember everything. That may work at the start when you are small but as you grow it will become too much. Be organized from the beginning and it will be much easier to stay organized.

Flexibility. The ability to change course or plans and knowing when. I would include learning from your mistakes as part of being flexible. You realized you made a mistake and you have the wherewithal to realize it and make the needed changes without letting it become a bigger problem.

Resilient. In my opinion, being resilient can be the toughest to maintain. Staying resilient when others would have given up or when the taxman is making it increasingly painful or through whatever hardship you are facing can be challenging and rewarding.

Courteous. A courteous and polite business owner promotes repeat customers and referrals. It can be difficult to be courteous all of the time but it is a talent that can be cultivated. The way the owner acts will reflect on others and set the tone for how your employees treat your customers.

Good with People. This is different then being courteous. It is important to be friendly and likable. Customers who are comfortable will visit again. Also, being good with people opens up doors to networking which leads to better business opportunities.

Presentable. It is perfectly acceptable to dress in the latest fashion at the club or other social event but when it comes to dealing with the public it is best to dress conservatively. Keeping yourself and your clothes clean and presentable gives your customers confidence that the products you serve are clean and safe. There aren’t many quicker ways to lose a customer then handing them food with dirty nails.

Vehicle Maintenance. It will seem overwhelming with all of the other things to do but look at it like a cowboy looks at his horse. The cowboy, no matter how long and tough the day, always takes care of his horse before taking care of himself. The cowboy does that because without the horse he is out of business. If your vehicle breaks down because of lack of preventative maintenance then you are out of business.

Do your homework. As in know what you are getting into before you start. Do the research on what local permits are needed and what are the tax implications. You may find out it is not for you so it would be better to find that out before you make an investment in time and money. The research you do now will help you avoid the pitfalls that could ruin your business before getting it off the ground. Find the lawyer and accountant now so that you can take advantage of their knowledge and experience from the beginning.

Keep your mind and body clean. This could be the most important factor. If your mind is not clear then it is tough to make clear decisions. If your body is not right then it is tough to work the hours necessary. Let us be clear. No one is suggesting that you should live link a monk or be physically fit like an Army Ranger but keeping a clear mind and staying reasonable healthy will payoff in the long-term. Taking time off to spend with your family and friends is part of keeping your mind clean. You will need to find the work and life balance.

There may be some other characteristics to add to this list but, in my humble opinion, this encompasses what is the most important. For the most part, anything else will stem from one of the above. My advice would be to take each of the factors above and research one at a time until you have a firm grasp on what it means. If you feel as if I have left something out then please feel free to print this out and add to it or share it and improve it. The goal here is to get you thinking about what it takes to run an ice cream truck or any mobile vending business and to make it profitable.

Top 10 Best Ways To Market Your Business With Top 10 Lists

Basic top 10 lists can do a lot to market your business online, simply because they have ideas your market seeks. When you share the top ideas, especially when you’re part of the list, you show up on searches for other parts of the list. You’re ON the list, therefore they find you too.

When I started building my business there was a guy who did nothing but write Top 10 Lists of anything he could think of. His lists directed people to his favorite top ten of whatever he wrote about, and usually those were specifically things he was interested in. I may never forget my favorite of his lists. He had one that was called Top 10 Hotdog Stands in Denver. I remember driving home one afternoon from a meeting, hungry, tired, frustrated because the meeting didn’t go particularly well, and there it was hanging over the sidewalk, a sign that said, “Custer’s Hot Dogs”. I’d never been to the place, but I love hot dogs, so I had read the article. I remembered that Custer’s was number 3 on his list, so I pulled in and parked.

That was the best Hot Dog I remember ever having. I went back to my computer, looked up his website, and started looking for the other Hot Dog Stands he recommended. WOW! Those were some amazing Hot Dogs. And, I’ve been back to several of those hot dog stands since, even though his website has been totally gone for nearly five years. If I’m in the neighborhood, I still stop at those Hot Dog Stands. That’s good marketing!

If you’re looking for a great way to market your business, I’m telling you, “Top 10 Best Lists” are the WAY to go.

Ten Top 10 Best Lists You Could Write to Market Your Business

  1. Top 10 Biggest Competitors
  2. Top 10 Newest Concepts
  3. Top 10 Easiest Ways to Accomplish a Goal
  4. Top 10 Most Scenic Places to Do
  5. Top 10 Most Functional Habits of Leaders
  6. Top 10 Most Effective Ways to Get It Done
  7. Top 10 Busiest Days of the Year
  8. Top 10 Simplest Step-By-Step Programs
  9. Top 10 Phrases to Search in Your Industry
  10. Top 10 Marketing Ideas for Your Niche

Now just change the words that come after Top 10 and add your own thoughts, then write your top ten list to market your business online. Easy, peasy, right?

I can think of a million of these, how about you?

8 Golden Success Secrets for Small Businesses

Running a small business is as challenging as trekking to Mt. Everest without having oxygen cylinder, prior practice, and a valid map guide. The challenges are only because there are no authentic rules that can lead a small business towards success while other major obstacles comprise: low budget, limited manpower, and lack of efficient resources. But as a small business owner, you must delve into the passcodes that help you decode the secret patterns of operating a successful startup or small business. It not only helps you to sustain your current growth but also excel your business planning’s to achieve higher objectives. There are a few suggestions based on real-world experiences, which can assist you to hit the bull’s eye.

1- Utilize the power of social media:

Nowadays, the entire world revolves around social media and if you are able to use its full potential, it can immediately help you increase your sales and brand reputation with very minimum resource and effort. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, help you connect with a large scale of users, where you can directly interact with them, thereby allowing you to convert them into your potential clients. It forms a two-way channel that not only allows you to put your message across but also, listen to what your targeted audience want, which eventually goes a long way in improving and growing your business.

2- Research and analyze your competition:

A business turns to be successful only if it runs on some finely grinned facts and figures. And competition analysis is one of the most important elements of the process. Competition analysis tells you the strength you will require to establish your brand in the market as well as it helps to prepare your business planning adequately so that you could avoid the chances of business failure. An additional benefit of competition research is it allows for designing and developing more feasible and user-oriented products that eventually help you attain a competitive edge over the current market.

3- Work as per your plan but be flexible too:

Efficient planning is a roadmap that drives your business to the top in the long run with predefined routes. It is always advised to stick with our planning even if we face a few hurdles while running our business given that the strategies are designed after in-depth analysis. And day-to-day challenges should not incline you to alter with whatever you planned. The winners always back their business plannings regardless of the stiff challenges, but on the other side, a successful business requires the owner to be flexible enough to embrace new changes. Adapting the new ideas and concepts not only makes a business owner take smart decisions but also, keeps their core planning intact and fresh.

4- Use informative materials to build trust and loyalty:

The Internet is the best medium to reach out to the huge audience with less effort, but you should keep the fact in mind that there is already a heavy flow of advertisements and endorsements all over the web. So, what can be an efficient way to create our presence with a significant impact?

There are definitely some better ways to do it like using informative online materials such as well-written blogs, well-designed infographics, animated videos demonstrating some set of skills, and presentation sheets, etc. Following such practices will attract a huge mass to our platform to learn and engage with us, which gives a sense of trust and ultimately convert them into our long-term clients.

5- Hire your weaknesses:

A small business consists of a team of limited dedicated professionals, having different skill sets of all the corners to tackle most of the business requirements. Small businesses, sometimes, compromise in some crucial areas since they can’t hire specific individuals due to the lack of budget. To get your business positioned to the top, please don’t bear with your inefficient area. Rush into hiring experienced professional(s) so that all parts of your business fire with the same intensity.

6- Be ready for mergers and acquisitions:

Even after working with your full potential, you may not generate enough force to compete with the leading competitors. Other small businesses with the same concept may face the same situations. Just find them and join in the talks to check the possibilities of the merger to form a combined force, which can provide the required pace and power to achieve the common business goals. Mergers have a long, rich history of producing successful businesses, so don’t shy away with it. Similarly, business acquisitions are a noble idea to inject more strength to our business if budget allows us to do so.

7- Keep the quality service always on:

Quality service is the most important source that keeps your client for a longer period of time and it spreads huge positive feedbacks in the mass, driving in a large number of new clients. There have been more than just a few businesses reaching to the top just on the base of excellent service and even without spending a bomb on advertisements and business promotions. While there are other businesses which have failed miserably because of giving no importance to the quality of the services they provided. All in all, having the sound quality of the products/services is the key to succeeding in today’s cut throat competition.

8- Don’t give up:

Running a successful business is not a child’s play since it requires a lot of guts, courage, and risk-taking capabilities. It, sometimes, shakes your ambitions when going through some rough patches, and you need to have the burning desires within you to keep it alive. Keeping patience is also an important character that the small business owner must have, as the formation of a business and climb the ladder of success, demands to wait for long period of time. So, as a business owner, you need to instill never give up attitude to see your dreams come true!!

Summing it up, though the above-mentioned points are not entirely foolproof but yes, following these points will definitely help you to become a smart small business owner who can defy all the challenges and get on the top of the competition. Of Course, the chances of success or failure of your business completely depends on your planning and execution.