No More Excuses for Small Business Owners for Not Growing Their Businesses

owners

When talking about business owners related issues, solutions, and technologies, you will almost always group businesses as small and large. While the separation is there, it won’t be wrong to say that in a modern where digital technologies prevail, it should not be a problem for small businesses to compete with large ones. The large corporations have the advantage of having more resources without a doubt. However, there was not a time in the past when growing and expanding was as easy for small businesses as it is today.

Digital Marketing for Everyone

Digital marketing starts with a website today. When it comes to website designs, more money does not always mean a better design. If owners are working with the right people and are clear about your requirements, your website can be just as impressive as the website of a large business. In fact, internet users today are more in favor of simplistic websites with a focus on the information they are looking for rather than the glitter and sparkle.

As for social media marketing, there is no difference in the size of the market that small and large businesses have to target. They are both targeting global audiences and how good they are at it is not defined by how much money they put in their marketing efforts. Social media marketing is free marketing, so there is no excuse as to who has more resources.

And if you believe that the large corporations make it to the top of the search engine results, you always have a better and more effective niche to compete within – local. With local search engine optimization, small businesses can compete with the medium and large businesses head to head. In simple words, regardless of the size of the business, everyone has access to the same market and same people today. What matters is who does it better.

Digital Solutions Are Available Specifically for Small Businesses

When it comes to software solutions for businesses, the focus is not on large corporations anymore. Today, all types of software solutions have their versions built specifically for small businesses. These digital solutions allow small businesses to cut down their costs and make use of the same technologies that large companies are using.

Take the example of CRMs. At one point, there was a notion that customer relationship management software are only for large businesses, but the things have changed quite a bit today. Web-based CRM are a revelation for small businesses. First, these CRMs provide great marketing, database, customer service and sales solutions to the businesses. Second, they are unbelievably affordable. If you own a small business, you don’t even have to worry about software integration, hardware compatibility, updates, and upgrades, etc. Keep in mind that with in-house solutions, these are the costs that make it difficult for small businesses to grow financially.

With web-based solutions designed for small businesses, owners can now have access to a world-class CRM at a fractional monthly or yearly cost. Other affordable digital solutions available include invoicing software, bookkeeping software, payroll software, etc.

Customers Have the Power in their Hands

The Internet has empowered customers like never before. Owners can’t say that just because a business is in multiple countries, it will be impressive enough for people to buy its products. The amazing thing about today’s economy is the power that customers have in their hands. Online reviewing websites, YouTube videos, blogs, etc. are among many platforms that allow customers to know more about businesses. In fact, even Google now puts business ratings and customer reviews right within its search results.

What this means is that when customers searches for a business today, They are sometimes able to see the reputation of the product they are going to buy. Furthermore, negative reviews from customers can affect business sales, giving other businesses a chance to make their name.

Furthermore, it’s not just the quality of products that matters today. In the modern world, businesses are competing for better customer experience. If your business can give customers the experience they are looking for, your growth is inevitable despite the small size of your business.

Funding Is No Issue for Startups

It is always the starting days that matter the most for business. When you are a startup, you are looking for ways to fund your business so you can materialize your idea and polish your product/service according to the requirements of the customers. Finding a platform where you could connect with angel investors was a challenge in the past. This is not an issue anymore.

It is now easier than ever for small businesses to get in touch with investors and get the right amount of investment that sets them on the path of growth. These are websites that act as a bridge between investors from all around the world and startups.

With online funding websites, all you have to do is create a convincing pitch that explains the viability of your startup to the investors and its scope. Your business plan along with all the necessary information that you think investors should see can be posted to the website and start getting the right kind of exposure. If you have done your homework and have a team of right professionals on board, getting the right investment can come sooner.

Final Words

Owners can see that a small business and startup business can overcome almost all of their challenges much more efficiently today. Starting a business has become so easy that even students can be entrepreneurs. They can lay the foundation for a business using just their pocket money. From connecting with the right investors to cutting down operational costs, all can be done from the comfort of a person’s home. The only thing that makes the difference today is if you are confident enough to take the first step.

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9 Things to Consider Before Forming a Business Partnership

Budiness partnership

Getting into a business partnership has its benefits. It allows all contributors to share the stakes in the business. Depending on the risk appetites of partners, a business can have a general or limited liability partnership. Limited partners are only there to provide funding to the business. They have no say in business operations, neither do they share the responsibility of any debt or other business obligations. General Partners operate the business and share its liabilities as well. Since limited liability partnerships require a lot of paperwork, people usually tend to form general partnerships in businesses.

Things to Consider Before Setting Up A Business Partnership

Business partnerships are a great way to share your profit and loss with someone you can trust. However, a poorly executed partnerships can turn out to be a disaster for the business. Here are some useful ways to protect your interests while forming a new business partnership:

1. Being Sure Of Why You Need a Partner

Before entering into a business partnership with someone, you need to ask yourself why you need a partner. If you are looking for just an investor, then a limited liability partnership should suffice. However, if you are trying to create a tax shield for your business, the general partnership would be a better choice.

Business partners should complement each other in terms of experience and skills. If you are a technology enthusiast, teaming up with a professional with extensive marketing experience can be quite beneficial.

2. Understanding Your Partner’s Current Financial Situation

Before asking someone to commit to your business, you need to understand their financial situation. When starting up a business, there may be some amount of initial capital required. If business partners have enough financial resources, they will not require funding from other resources. This will lower a firm’s debt and increase the owner’s equity.

3. Background Check

Even if you trust someone to be your business partner, there is no harm in performing a background check. Calling a couple of professional and personal references can give you a fair idea about their work ethics. Background checks help you avoid any future surprises when you start working with your business partner. If your business partner is used to sitting late and you are not, you can divide responsibilities accordingly.

It is a good idea to check if your partner has any prior experience in running a new business venture. This will tell you how they performed in their previous endeavors.

4. Have an Attorney Vet the Partnership Documents

Make sure you take legal opinion before signing any partnership agreements. It is one of the most useful ways to protect your rights and interests in a business partnership. It is important to have a good understanding of each clause, as a poorly written agreement can make you run into liability issues.

You should make sure to add or delete any relevant clause before entering into a partnership. This is because it is cumbersome to make amendments once the agreement has been signed.

5. The Partnership Should Be Solely Based On Business Terms

Business partnerships should not be based on personal relationships or preferences. There should be strong accountability measures put in place from the very first day to track performance. Responsibilities should be clearly defined and performing metrics should indicate every individual’s contribution towards the business.

Having a weak accountability and performance measurement system is one of the reasons why many partnerships fail. Rather than putting in their efforts, owners start blaming each other for the wrong decisions and resulting in company losses.

6. The Commitment Level of Your Business Partner

All partnerships start on friendly terms and with great enthusiasm. However, some people lose excitement along the way due to everyday slog. Therefore, you need to understand the commitment level of your partner before entering into a business partnership with them.

Your business partner(s) should be able to show the same level of commitment at every stage of the business. If they do not remain committed to the business, it will reflect in their work and can be detrimental to the business as well. The best way to maintain the commitment level of each business partner is to set desired expectations from every person from the very first day.

While entering into a partnership agreement, you need to have an idea about your partner’s added responsibilities. Responsibilities such as taking care of an elderly parent should be given due thought to set realistic expectations. This gives room for compassion and flexibility in your work ethics.

7. What Will Happen If a Partner Exits the Business

Just like any other contract, a business venture requires a prenup. This would outline what happens in case a partner wishes to exit the business. Some of the questions to answer in such a scenario include:

  • How will the exiting party receive compensation?
  • How will the division of resources take place among the remaining business partners?
  • Also, how will you divide the responsibilities?

8. Who Will Be In Charge Of Daily Operations

Even when there is a 50-50 partnership, someone needs to be in charge of daily operations. Positions including CEO and Director need to be allocated to appropriate individuals including the business partners from the beginning.

This helps in creating an organizational structure and further defining the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder. When each individual knows what is expected of him or her, they are more likely to perform better in their role.

9. You Share the Same Values and Vision

Entering into a business partnership with someone who shares the same values and vision makes the running of daily operations considerably easy. You can make important business decisions quickly and define long-term strategies. However, sometimes, even the most like-minded individuals can disagree on important decisions. In such cases, it is essential to keep in mind the long-term goals of the business.

Bottom Line

Business partnerships are a great way to share liabilities and increase funding when setting up a new business. To make a business partnership successful, it is important to find a partner that will help you make fruitful decisions for the business. Thus, pay attention to the above-mentioned integral aspects, as a weak partner(s) can prove detrimental for your new venture.

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Overcoming a Bad Business Location – Is It Possible?

Location

In today’s day and age, experienced business owners advise future entrepreneurs to work on their online presence. They should develop an impressive website and practice social media marketing, among other activities. It almost seems as if you can build a great brand based on an influential online existence. However, even though this is true to a certain extent, don’t undermine the importance of a good business location.

This makes it crucial for new business owners to look into the location they will set up. But it’s still possible that issues like financial constraints can lead to them running a business in a bad location. Many startups seem to fail due to this reason. While there isn’t an immediate solution for the predicament, you can take particular measures to alleviate the circumstances. Here are some of the ways that you can overcome a bad business location:

Implement Impactful Branding and Signage

It’ll be hard for people passing by to avoid your store if you manage to lure them in with attractive signs and branding techniques. Captivating signage always manages to pull potential customers out of their way to stop and have a look. A billboard that appears to stand out from the rest works the best. You shouldn’t opt for one that blends in and looks similar to that of competitors. For improved results, take it a step further and provide customers with customized shopping bags that will make others do a double-take.

Brand Your Business

Oftentimes, you can turn the main disadvantage of your business location into something beneficial. Being the only brand selling something of your niche in the area is better than opening shop in a district where your competitors operate.

There are likely people actively looking for your products in the area because they’re far from the district that has most retail outlets. By branding your location online, in local publications and with flyers, you can attract loyal customers to your shop.

Developing a loyal customer base is more effective than having more people walk into your shop. There’s no point if the people walk out with nothing because ‘there’s another shop here’. These customers can boost their reputation among their friends and family. This is far more valuable in today’s world where word of mouth decides what brands people choose.

Make Friends

Since other businesses will surround you, you can use the opportunity to make friends and form collaborations with these brands. Promotions like these can raise hype for both you and your partners, so it’s beneficial for you to approach them with such an idea in mind.

A good example is that you give customers a discount if they show that they purchased from a collaborating store. While it’s best to form agreements with businesses that complement yours, such a tactic would still work when dealing with unrelated fields.

Leverage Online Presence

By becoming ‘that one brand with the –-online, you have the potential to lure in customers who live far from your business location. A charismatic and humorous social media persona will get you far as well because millennials appreciate brands that make the effort of seeming human. You can even leverage social media hashtags that have a certain amount of momentum. However, don’t generalize it, or make it too narrow.

That way, you’ll either be associated with out-of-topic posts or you won’t get any posts at all. If you have the capital for it, hire a micro-influencer to give your business location a shout out by offering samples or inviting them to your store. Additionally, you can put your skills to good use by uploading videos to YouTube. By making them informative and entertaining, you’ll drive consumers to your location.

Make Your Location Accessible

In today’s era when the youth prefers to make memories without spending too much money, you’ll be benefited by accommodating their demand. Therefore, make your business space an open one. Not literally, but ensure that it’s accessible, even by people who don’t intend to buy anything from you.

Most outlets and retail stores are condescending to potential customers who are just looking around because they don’t plan on buying anything. It’s your job to be welcoming to them by offering space for activities. Moreover, make your business location a hotspot for social activities.

You can build upon this idea by holding events yourself, and keep space reserved for events. This way, people that are close by will know that there’s a trendy-looking place in the area that’s all prepared to hold a small event.

Make Use of Windows

Windows offer an intimate look into what’s going on in a particular location. Hence, they’re commonly associated with curiosity. People have a general instinct to look into shop windows, even if they’re not paying attention.

Enhance awareness of your brand among potential customers by placing your best products at the shop window. Or better yet, make it a more personal experience by allowing others to have a look inside at the activities you hold. These are very significant factors because of how they can encourage people to walk into your store.

Talk to Local Media

There are countless ways that you can boost your visibility in the area. Hence, you can make a seemingly bad location work out for you. By talking to local media outlets, such as radio stations and magazines, you can get some flattering press, which adds value to your brand.

People who hear about you through such channels are likely to want to have a look at your products. If you’re up for it, you can write pieces for local publications or give interviews. This step allows the community to know you better. By developing a closer bond with the people around you, the chances of them putting your first before any other brand become higher. These are just a few ways that you can overcome a bad business location. While you needn’t try all of them, it helps to test more methods.

Who we are:  Funded.com is a platform that is A+ BBB rated over 10+ years. Access our network of Investors, get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

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How to Form The Culture Of Your Business Startup

culture

Right from the very beginning of your business startup’s formation, you have already begun to create its corporate culture. Whether you have taken an active role in shaping it or allowed it to organically develop, your corporate culture becomes a part of your business based on your behaviors, vision, and values of your brand. Creating a positive organizational culture can allow your business startup to thrive both internally with your employees and externally as they interface with your customer base.

Being proactive at the beginning of your business startups foundation can work to develop a culture that employees take pride in being a part of and also help to express your vision into the long term. Waiting until you are a more established business with a team of employees to worry about your corporate culture can have a negative impact on your business as you forget about the very ideals that make your business startup who it is. With a little bit of management and foresight now, you can craft a corporate culture that follows your business startup’s vision, values, mission, and expected behaviors.

Find Your Purpose

Start by thinking about what the vision for your business really is. You need to think about where you where you are headed and where you want to go. Having some direction early on with your business startup will give you, as well as your employees, something to work towards and aim for. The decisions and choices you make should directly support your vision and allow you to drive your company well into the future.

Along with your vision, you need to create the values that your business startup stands for. This is an important step as this will carve out the ideals of your brand and expectations of your employees. Your employees are just as much a reflection of your business as you are and having values that they can live up to can bring a strong reputation and recognition to your company.

Spread the Message

Once you have developed a vision strategy for your business startup, you need to be vocal about it. You can’t expect your team to catch on if they are unaware of its evolution. Spread the message and allow yourself to be transparent about its meaning to you. Allowing yourself to be open and communicative about how your vision and values align with the success of your business startup can create the buzz your company needs to take it to the next level.

Hire According to Your Values

As you add to your team, you need to find the right fit when it comes to your company culture. You want to hire employees that display your brand values as it will be an easier transition into your corporate culture to respect and stand behind what your business stands for.

As you work to select employees to work at your business startup find out what your values mean to them. Look for ways that they already integrate these values into their daily life. A prospective employee that possess experience, as well as your core values, can be a valuable addition to your business startup as they can bring that positivity your corporate culture needs. You can count on them to spread your vision message to others as well as be contagious to other employees that may have not fully onboard with your company purpose.

Reward and Appreciate

It’s always nice to offer your employees perks, but as a businessstartup, the funding may not be there to give a lot. Recognition of your team goes a long way especially for those that display your company values in the work that they do. Develop a reward system to appreciate those that are incorporating the vision of your business startup with customers or in their work responsibilities and choices they make on a day-to-day basis. This small act can boost your corporate culture and make your business startup a company that employee value and cherish.

Think About The Past

With a focus on the future it can be easy to forget about your past, but how your started and where you came from is the very foundation that shaped your business today. Think about your history and the hard work that took to get where your business startup is today. Allow your employees to also understand the story behind your company and what it took to get it to its beginning stages.

Your past is a significant part of the strength of your business and most likely is what you drew your values from. Your employees need to understand the motivation and drive that propelled your business startup forward. Be upfront about your history and embrace it with a furry as it is the sole reason you are in the position you are today. When your employees see your roots, this will impact how they feel about the company and the vision that you have created to take it into the future.

Focus Daily On Your Culture

It is not enough to create your vision and values and be done with your corporate culture. It needs constant cultivation to prevent it from going to the wayside and becoming negative in a blink of an eye. You have an amazing opportunity as a business startup to start your corporate culture from the ground up as it is much easier to manage then change.

Make it a part of your routine to enforce the vision and lead by your company values. With you focus on maintaining a corporate culture that employees enjoy being a part of, you will reap the benefits from their improved productivity and performance.

When you focus on your corporate culture from the beginning stages of your business startup, you can easily create an environment that is positive for all that work there. You will see behaviors that are in line with your core values and strength in your corporate vision. The work starts now but will be well worth your efforts.

Who we are: Funded.com is a platform that is A+ BBB rated over 10+ years. Access our network of Investors, get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

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Small Business Should Invest in Big Data and Analytics

Data

Big data refers to huge volumes of structured and unstructured information; however, processing such massive volumes of facts via traditional information management tools is inefficient and impossible. To understand big figures, you have to realize the devices that are collecting it today e.g., bar code scanners, mobile cameras, CCTV cameras, motion sensors, smoke alarms, web analytical tools, CRMs, etc. From the examples, you can see that these devices collect a vast array of data types hence the structured and unstructured part in the definition. The sheer velocity at which the data is being produced cannot be controlled and processed using traditional methods and tools.

However, the use of big information and incorporation of big data analytical technology gives businesses the competitive edge over their competitors.

Big Data and Small Businesses

It is only a thing of the past when terms like big information and business intelligence were associated with large enterprises only. Today, small businesses have to leverage the facts they are collecting in order to remain a part of the competition. For years, cost has remained the main reason why small businesses did not adopt big data analytical technologies, but this has changed now. There are budget-friendly tools available for small businesses to take advantage of the data they are collecting today. According to some experts, small businesses can take better advantage of big information since they are able to make the necessary changes far more quickly than large enterprises i.e., real-time response to insights from available data.

According to an IDG study in 2016, 78% of the large enterprises agree that big data strategy has the power to change how businesses have always operated. This shows the acceptance of big data technology and strategies for large enterprises and strengthens the fact that small businesses could become irrelevant if they did not adopt the same strategies.

Benefits of Big Data Analytics

Big Data and Big Companies, a report by IIA Director of Research, Tom Davenport, reveals that businesses are benefitting greatly from big data analytics especially in improving their products, making business decisions faster and reducing costs. Here are some ways small businesses can benefit from big information.

·         Cost Savings

The upfront cost of implementing big information tools and strategies is high undoubtedly, but the long term benefits of doing so are matchless. The healthcare industry is a great example of how the use of big data can help businesses reduce their costs regardless of their size. Using predictive analytics, Medicare and Medicaid Services forestalled more than $210 million fraud in healthcare with just 2 years of utilizing the aforementioned technology.

In addition to preventing frauds, small businesses can also reduce their costs by steering clear of creating more inventory than needed, including better partners in the supply chain, etc.

·         Improved Decision Making

This is the biggest benefit of big data. It allows businesses to expedite decision making by processing the data fast and giving insights in timely manner. In the past, business decisions were reserved for future strategies in the light of available data and the trends that were observed in it. The amount of data that businesses are sitting on today is huge and thus more powerful insights are to be gained from it. This vast amount of information requires the use of modern big data hardware technologies. Once both the things are in place for a business, they can understand customers better, create products that are a closer reflection of what customers want and develop a brand based on most reverenced values.

·         Impenetrable Security

Businesses are more focused today on using big details to improve their core capabilities, but less attended to a more serious concerns i.e. cyber threats and security breaches. Almost every small, medium and large business is connected to the internet today. Moreover, the Internet of Things has broadened the attackable security surface for businesses making it easier for cyber criminals to attack networks and penetrate company databases.

The biggest concern for modern businesses is that they have to “respond” to cyber attacks that have already occurred rather than being able to prevent them from occurring. The use of big information and big data analytical tools can be a game changer in this area allowing businesses to prevent any security attacks way before they are executed.

Key Technologies Helping Businesses Make the Best of Big Data

As a small business, you will have to familiarize with various technologies that help you store, analyze and take action on big data. Here are some important ones:

·         Hadoop

It’s a framework supporting the storing of large amounts of information using an open-source approach. Once information is stored, Hadoop enables the use of a variety of applications using “clustered hardware” at its base. Due to the cluster of commodity hardware, it becomes possible and easy for businesses to process big data despite its increasing volume.

·         Data Mining

This is the technology that enables business owners to capture insights, patterns and trends from big information that otherwise cannot be obtained with a traditional approach. Data mining is what allows you to jump in a large sea of structured and unstructured data, make sense of it all and produce analytical insights that help businesses with real-time and future decisions.

·         Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics walk side by side with data mining. Artificial is at the heart of predictive analytics, enabling business owners to adjust their present strategies by giving predictions about what will transpire for the business based on existing details.

·         Text Analysis and Mining

One huge concern for modern business is to analyze the noise on various web platforms such as forums, blogs, social networks, etc. to understand what customers expect from a particular brand. Finding out about brand mentions and understanding customer’s impression of your brand can help you readjust your marketing approach to gain customer loyalty. Text mining helps small to large sized businesses go through text data from emails, blog posts, social networks, etc. and hear customers “voice”.

With the rise of smartphones, artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things) it has become clearly visible that businesses will now have to handle mountains and mountains of data, and make use of big data analytical and processing technologies to have the competitive edge.

 

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5 Details Angel Investors Look For In A Business Plan

plan

As a business startup, you have no doubt developed a business plan that outlines your need for funding to get your company off the ground. While you may have a clear purpose and objective, angel investors are looking for specific details that let them know that your business start-up has what it takes to make it in the marketplace.

With a seed investor seeing hundreds of business plan proposals each year, you need to make sure yours hits the high notes and resonates with them. This means that you have to hone in on what is important to them and help them see why they need to put their funding dollars into your business. Use these tips to enhance your business plan and garner the attention of an angel investor for your business start-up.

Industry Experience

Angel investors are savvy when it comes to industry experience, and they want to see that you have what it takes to make it in the marketplace. They want entrepreneurs that have intimate knowledge of the industry they are looking to break into and have even worked in a similar business for a time or two. This can help your business plan sing as you are able to relate your experience to what your business should and shouldn’t do to succeed.

Market Need

Using your business plan to show that there is a definite market need for your product or service can help your angel investor see the potential of your business start-up. They will easily understand the consumer problem you are looking to solve and see how your offerings fit the bill. Be detailed in your references and be sure to show how the market will respond to the availability of your product or service.

Competitor Knowledge

Knowing your competitors is key to understanding where you will stand out and separate yourself from the pack. Remember that your private investor may not be as fluent in your competitors as you are and you need to break it down in your business plan for them to grasp as fully as you. This can prove to be beneficial in gaining the funding your need to grow your business.

Business Traction

Showing what your business startup has done so far to generate revenues is a boon for potential angel investors to see. This lets them know you are on the right track and that your company has traction. Be sure to detail all your revenue streams as well as any upcoming deals you have secured to ensure they see the big picture of your business’ potential.

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Things that can Damage Your Business Credit

Business Credit

Many of us have this dream of becoming self-employed. One way to turn this dream into reality is to use your savings as investments to run a successful business. Part of accomplishing this goal is making your financial standing-worthy. No doubt, stable credit scores play a vital role in building this creditworthiness.

That is to stay; good business status scores come with a slew of benefits that mostly include supplier financing, lines of credit, easily available business loans, and business credit cards. In addition to these advantages, good credit scores help you with lower insurance premiums and higher credit limits. It attracts plenty of financial opportunities for entrepreneurs from existing suppliers and lenders.

However, not all entrepreneurs can reap these benefits due to poor financial status scores. This often happens when business owners commit small mistakes while using their business credit cards. Although these mistakes are petty and committed unknowingly, they may damage financial standing when reported to financial agencies.

If your business also faces this issue, you might be making the following mistakes.

Mistakes That Damage Business Credit

Co-signing Loan with Someone Else

You might know that co-signing a loan for anyone, including your friend or relative can bring disastrous results to your financial standing. It happens when the borrower fails to meet the terms and conditions of loan repayment. It is important to remember that, when you co-sign a loan for a relative or a friend, you share a partial responsibility of the borrower. That means when the borrower fails to make the repayments, it automatically affects your commercial loan scores if you also do not make the payment. Being a co-signer of a loan can be potentially disastrous for your business.

How to avoid that?

The easy way to avoid that is to become selective for the people you decide to co-sign a loan for. Plus, don’t forget to investigate the borrower’s history that includes his/her financial stability to repay the loan amount. Go through the options that the borrower will use to make the payments. Determine whether or not these options are viable and will not cause you problems in the future.

Ignoring Credit Problems

How many times have you tried to cross-examine your financial reports? No wonder if the answer to this question is “never.” Most small business owners rely on the yearly report for all the details. And this one of the mistakes that you do when it comes to maintaining good financial standing. Taking out time to check monthly financial reports is always beneficial to ensure its impeccability. If you wait long, checking out the errors will become hard. Remember that, even the minor errors in your report can be damaging and will lead to poor financial status rating. The other warning signs include missing payments, zero-rated business credit cards, and not allowed to make big payments.

How to avoid them?

You can prevent this by taking prompt actions or keeping your standing scores in check.

Closing non-functional Accounts

You might feel disposing of your old-fashioned sneaker is the right way to get rid of old things. It is because you will not be using them in the future. However, this is not the case when it is about your credit cards. That means, if you cancel your old credit cards, you might lower your financial standing scores. It is because those cards might have a good financial standing history. But when you decide to do away with those credit cards, all good financial standing history that contributed to your existing scores is automatically removed.

How to avoid it?

Retaining your old credit cards or keeping those accounts open, you can save your good payment history. Even if you are not using a credit card, don’t close it as it could affect your business financial standing scores.

Late Payments

Keep in mind that your timely payments are one of the major factors used to determine your financial standing scores. If you are a late payer or delay paying your bills, it affects your standing scores. Every time you make a late payment, it negatively impacts your standing scores. Even a single late payment denies your good financial status ratings and classifies you as a late payer.

How to avoid it?

It is obvious that how could you avoid this problem. You have to ensure that you make all your necessary business payments by either vendors or creditors on time. In case you miss out on a payment to the supplier for any reason, you may settle it through an agreement. Request the supplier to not report to the business financial agency and make up for the payment.

Max out Credit Cards

Maxing out a credit card is another vital mistake that many business owners do. Doing so raises the ratio of financial utilization. With a high credit ratio, you are always at a high risk of losing your credit rating. Many entrepreneurs believe that as long as they are paying off, the maxed-out amount on their business credit card will not affect the credit rating; which is not the case. No matter if you pay off the credit amount, it will have an impact on your credit scores. Credit bureaus interpret high utilization of ratio differently.

How to avoid it?

Financial agencies generally expect users to use only 30% of their credit limit. When this credit limit is surpassed, it indicates that your business is facing financial trouble. One way to avoid this is to use your debit card occasionally to make payments. This will keep your financial standing utilization ratio low.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, using business credit smartly is essential to improve your credit scores. And good credit scores translate into several financial benefits that may help you strengthen both your business investments and revenues. It presents you as a reliable candidate in front of banks and lenders.

Thus, avoiding the mistakes mentioned above is of paramount importance if you don’t want your business credit scores to be damaged. Think of alternative ways and solutions that can help you avoid these costly mistakes.

Places like Credit Karma can be one of many free options to monitor a couple credit reports that business credit might be attached to a personally signed business account.

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Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for Business

Social Media

In the last decade, social media grew exponentially from being a digital channel for interacting with others into a powerful digital marketing tool for businesses.

With over 3.5 billion daily active social media users, there’s really no limit to how far you can go with it. Just imagine how many of them can eventually become your customers!

But, as you jump on the bandwagon of Social Media Marketing (SMM), you have to properly plan and assess the impact and effectiveness of SMM for your brand. This is because, just like with most things, there are two sides to the coin of social media marketing.

If done efficiently, one side promises success, while the other side can be detrimental to your business. While on the one hand, there are businesses who owe a great percentage of their success to social media, there have also been brand disasters, thanks (but, no thanks) to social media. So, in this post, we’ll be discussing some of the Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing to enable you make informed decisions that will set the pace for profitable digital marketing. Let’s Dive in!

The Pros of Social Media Marketing

Business owners and marketers are going gaga over social media these days. Well, you can’t really blame them. Social Media Marketing comes with a lot of perks, and let’s talk about some of these:

Low-Cost Strategy

Compared to other marketing tactics, social media is significantly low cost, and this makes it very appealing. The most popular social media platforms are available to join for free, and all interaction tools are also free.

However, to get the most out of social media, some businesses are investing full time in SMM strategies such as content generation, digital design, page setups, influencers, and maintenance. On average, all these cost between $4000 to $7000 monthly.

But do you know what? This is relatively more cost-effective than the average of 11.1% of revenues spent on traditional marketing. SMM gives you excellent ROI for less financial investment!

Larger Audiences

Do you want to gain traction in your industry? If Yes, then social media is a powerful tool to use in achieving this. And this is one of the main benefits SMM has over traditional marketing.

While traditional media marketing only caters to fixed audiences (TV viewers, magazine readers, etc.), SMM allows you to reach out to a global audience that is unlimited in reach and scope.

Social Media is an open marketplace. With SMM, you are reaching out to a market space filled with both your existing and potential buyers who need a little push from you to decide whether or not to buy from you.

No Demographic Restriction

What’s more, social media marketing is not restricted by demographics such as sex, social status, and age. Current statistics show that 90.4% of millennials, 77.5% Gen-Z, and 48.2 baby boomers are active social media users.

So, you can have a big market for the age group you are targeting for your products and services. It’s even more impressive that SMM can pass your targeted demographic market and pave new channels for leads generation and sales.

Go International

Before we move on to the next advantage, we should also mention that SMM helps businesses that are struggling to get into the international market.

Thanks to the vast worldwide reach of social media, it becomes effortless for you to reach new potentials outside your suburb, city, or country. Facebook, in particular, has over 89% monthly active users who live outside the US. The audience potential of SMM is huge!

Brand Loyalty

It’s one thing to have customers, and it’s another thing to have a group of returning customers who are fans of your brand. This should be your goal, and social media can help you achieve this.

How?

Well, with social media, you can demonstrate your personality to customers and also tell your brand story. It helps you interact with customers, build relationships, show them that you care, and boost your reputation. This will, in turn, foster long-term loyalty.

Reports from Social Media Today show that;

  • Almost 70% of consumers have used social media for customer service-related issues at least once
  • Customers spend 20% to 40% more with companies that respond through social media

Market place Insights

Another plus of listening and engaging with customers in online conversations is that it will help you find out more about their problems, preferences, needs, likes, and dislikes.

These insights are crucial to the success of any business. They give you information on areas to improve turnouts and get ahead of your competitors.

The Cons of Social Media Marketing

For all the advantages of social media, it is not 100% perfect. There are some cons to Marketing that can lead to undesirable impacts on your brand.

Time Consuming

If you’re already into SMM, then you’d agree how much time it consumes. According to industry reports, 64% of digital marketers spend a minimum of 6 hours on Social Media Marketing.

And that’s not even the worse of it. The other 37% spend an average of 11 hours on SMM. Most business owners who want to get tangible results from their SMM efforts find this time-consuming.

Even more frustrating, if your time spent on SMM isn’t done correctly, it will lead to zero results or traffic that don’t convert into leads or sales.

Hard to Measure ROI

It is hard to define the ROI from social network marketing. A recent study indicates that 89% of digital marketers would want to know the exact ROI of their efforts on social network platforms.

Only 37% have a handle on defining the results of their SMM efforts; 35% say they aren’t sure they are correctly measuring ROI; 28% say they don’t know how to measure at all.

What’s more, it can take a long time – months, or even years before your SMM efforts start yielding sales and customer loyalty.

Loss of Control

The worldwide reach of social network means it attracts all kinds of users, including negative and malicious persons. Anything you post online is subject to comments and criticism. Providing a medium for people to publish damaging comments about your brand is literally the stuff of nightmares.

We should also mention that these negative people include scammers, spammers, trolls, hackers, and all other sorts who want to harm your online credibility.

Bottomline

From all the salient points we have discussed above, we can see that marketing really does deliver favorable results for your business.

In fact, consumers expect all brands to have a social network presence – as much as 63% of them. And 90% of social network users communicate with a brand using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

So, it is crucial for you to up your game and remain conscious of sticking to the best practices. This will allow you to get the most out of Social Media Marketing.

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How to Calculate Free Cash Flow for your Business Health

free

Free cash flow is one of the key indicators used to show the health of the business, particularly its profitability. Typically, it demonstrates the amount of money any business for other purposes after all the capital expenditures that may include equipment, buildings and various other necessary expenses that help businesses sustain their operations.

Although calculating cash flow is a complicated process, there are many ways you can do it. According to experts, it is always better to use all methods correctly. If they all generate the same result, it provides you a reliable way to cross-check your operations.

It is worth noting here that cash flow doesn’t relate to all businesses. It is precisely a measuring tool that non-financial firms use rather than professional associations and investment firms.  If you own a non-financial enterprise, you can calculate the cash flow for free with these three equations.

Equations to Calculate Free Cash Flow

1.       Free Cash flow:  Subtract operation taxes and costs from Sales revenues then subtract required investments for operation capital

The equation is one of the easiest ways to calculate free cash flow. Business owners take sales revenues, including taxes and operating costs from their income statement. The fixed assets show an increase when you invest in new operating capita. The balance sheet shows everything from investments and revenue details.

For example, if your business has earned revenues of $500,000, the amount is reduced to $300,000 because of taxes due and operating costs. If your business requires an investment of $150, 000, it will have the free cash flow of $30,000 to $50, 000.

2.      Free Cash flow:  Subtract net investments in operating capital from net operating profits NOPAT (after taxes)

 NOPAT refers to the same figure we used in the previous equation: subtract operating taxes and costs from sales revenues. Net investment of operating capital uses the same figure that is used in the third term of first calculations. For calculating free cash flow through this equation, it is better to use the increased fixed assets on your balance sheet.

That means, your NOPAT will remain at the same amount of $30,000. You just need to exchange the required investment of your business in operating capital for your net investments in operating capital.  If you assume the same figures, your free cash flow will remain the same.

3.      Free Cash flow:  Subtract capital expenditure from the net cash flow of operations

 You can also calculate free cash flow by subtracting the capital expenditure from the net cash flow that comes from operations.  Net cash flow in this equation comes from the cash flow statement, while capital expenditure is taken from the increase in the business’s fixed assets.  For instance, if your operation’s net cash flow is around $200,000, the figure might be reduced by your capital expenditures.

Interestingly, all these free cash flow calculation methods will give you the same answers when you work with these equations. You might feel like approaching the same information and data from three different angles.

How does Free Cash Flow Calculation Affect Your Business?

As mentioned earlier, free cash flow is useful for the health of your business. Firms with healthy free cash flow are financially stable to meet the bills and investments every month. Plus, they also have leftover funds that they usually distribute among dividends and shareholders. Man firms use this extra fund to seize opportunities to help them generate more revenues through acquisitions of innovative products.

That is to say, if your business is booming and has high free cash flow, it is an indication that it is doing well and you should consider expanding it. Conversely, if it fails to generate good free cash flow, you might need to consider restructuring it as there are remaining funds after the basic expenses.

However, it is important to understand that poor free cash flow doesn’t always indicate a failing business. It might be expected even when your business is pursuing growth. Development and acquisition of new products are temporarily subtracted from the main capital. That is the reason why most of the investors tend to work with the businesses that have high free cash flow. These businesses are generally considered healthy with bright prospects. If an investor finds a business that has rising free cash flow with an undervalued share cost, it may be a great investment bet.

How can you Benefit from the Free Cash Flow

Since you understand how positive free cash flow may benefit you by indicating the healthy financial status of your business, it is better to use this understanding to your advantage. It is always better to look beyond the figures. Know that established firms have relatively consistent and healthy free cash flow. New businesses, on the other hand, are in a state where they need to pour money into growth and stabilization.

Although it depends on the business owners how they use the free cash flow, using the funds to expand the operations, pay shareholders and dividends, invest in new products, research or to reduce debt is beneficial for the business.

Always remember that companies that have surging free cash flow due to debt elimination, dividend distributions, cost reductions, efficiency improvements, or revenue growth can reward their investors in the future.

In other scenarios, when free cash flow is shrinking, businesses fail to sustain their growth earnings. Not only this, insufficient free cash flow for growth forces a business to boost debt levels. In a worse scenario, a business without enough free cash flow may not even have the liquidity to sustain.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it is important to find an all-purpose tool that can help you test the fundamentals of your business that seem elusive. Free cash flow calculation is like a performance metric they provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to guard up if their business is not generating enough revenues.

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How to Identify Your Small Business Differentiator and Why

differentiator

When you are the owner of a small business, there are times when the scale of bigger companies can overwhelm you. At these times, you may wonder what you have that will make potential customers pick your brand over another. This particular factor is a business differentiator, and it helps consumers in the market identify you and set you apart from other brands.

Differentiating your company from the rest is an integral part in developing a brand, and it’s become even more difficult in recent years since it’s not merely enough to be just better than others; you need to be different. You may not have realized it yet, but being a small business is a differentiator on its own, you need to leverage it and market it enough. Here’s how you can identify your small business’ differentiators.

Analyze Your Competition

Finding your differentiator starts by learning what makes your competitors different. You need to maintain a neutral position and evaluate your competitor to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. What do they offer? What do they do better than you? How do they treat their customers?

Once you answer these questions, you discover their weak and strong points, as well as your own. At this point, you can decide whether you want to change the direction of your business to make it better than your competitors or market an aspect of your brand that’s already there.

Be Familiar with the Customer Experience

A benefit of being a small business owner is personally having experienced the life of an average consumer. By knowing the shortcomings of a large-scale company customer experience, you know what to develop in your own company. However, when working on differentiators, it’s time to start by scratch so you should map the various aspects of being a customer. What do they value? What dissuades them from buying?

You need to work on ways to build a consumer’s awareness of a need that your company can fulfill. It’s only after a consumer realizes that they need something that they will look towards brands that can provide them with a solution. You need to assess how your target demographic makes buying decisions, and whether your brand aligns with that thought process or not.

Another factor you should consider is how your customer will use your product and whether they will require any help with it after their purchase. Look towards your competitors and see what they offer, and see what you can provide when compared to them.

Assess Whether You Meet Customer Expectations

Once you’ve mapped out different points in a customer’s overall experience with your brand, you need to assess whether you meet expectations at each point. For instance, the first time a customer interacts with your brand, they expect a friendly approach that tries to understand their problem. Now you need to know if you come for your customer’s wallet at every encounter, or if there’s an empathetic side to you.

If you step into their shoes and see things from their point of view, you can ask yourself ‘do I want to be sold a product this way?’, ‘does this item have everything I need?’ and ‘has the brand tried to understand me and my problem?’ You need to learn whether your product motivates them to buy it.

The wrong approach is to focus solely on your product because that’s not what customers emphasize on when buying a product. The best way is to address different aspects of the customer experience and develop all of them.

Know Your Strengths

The first and foremost strength of being a small business is giving customers the attention they need. Since you’re not managing branches everywhere, you can afford to look after a minimal customer base.

Other than that, each business has its strengths when compared to other brands. It could be your amazing marketing, your customer loyalty programs, or your approach to customer service. Also, a small business operates on values, so they understand the needs and requirements of the average person.

Get Involved in the Community

The community you operate in should be your focus when expanding your reach. By making an impact on your community, your brand automatically earns a reputation among the other brands in the area. The people in your district will be in favor of supporting your brand since it will have a positive influence on their community.

The Importance of Having Differentiators

It’s true that ever brand needs differentiators that give them a competitive edge for business rivals, but your brand needs it more as a small business. That’s because large companies can already offer better prices due to cheaper manufacturing practices and access to raw materials at lower costs.

Hence, having a fixed market differentiator will help consumers pick your brand despite the difference between what you and larger brands can offer. However, having a differentiator isn’t only necessary for setting your brand apart from the rest. By knowing what you can do better than other companies can, you’ll have a clear view of what you should focus on when planning a marketing campaign.

A well-planned and targeted marketing effort will help you retain customers and increase your rates of promotion among people outside your community. Without a strong differentiator, you won’t be able to compete with others head-on.

At the same time, you need to uphold the values of honesty and transparency by refraining from overloading your brand profile. By attesting to being better than competitors at ‘everything,’ you risk losing precious customers. That’s why; you need to test all of your differentiators to see if they’re true, provable and relevant.

Only market things about your brands that you believe to be true, and to gain the audience’s trust, you have to prove it; whether through ‘look inside our workshop’ schemes or quality tests. Lastly, your differentiators need to be relevant. Customers won’t consider an aspect of your brand that they don’t care about or if it doesn’t benefit them. To conclude, you need to reflect upon your band’s personality and find something about your small business that differentiates it from the rest.

 

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