The Worst Cashflow Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

The worst cash flow mistakes a small business owner can make can be counted on one hand. They have one thing in common, and that’s about failing to follow the money. They’re about keeping your eye on the prize, and we go through them here, ending with advice about how to track your own company money using expense management software for small businesses…

Failing to think before you splurge. Great! You’ve started a business. You’re on the road to fame and fortune, and now’s the time to invest in an expensive suit and a new car, isn’t it? No, in short, it isn’t. This is exactly the time NOT to commit money – yours of the company’s – to anything you don’t need. So there’s the first lesson. Understand the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. To succeed in business you need a phone, but the Armani suit can wait…

Expecting the best. This is about your financial planning. Understand that you’re not going to be a millionaire in the first year. On the contrary, you’ll be doing well if you can afford to pay yourself anything like a salary in Year One. If you overestimate the number of units you can sell, or the clients you can get to come on board, then revenue will be lower than you predict, and you may find yourself overstretched with any finance package you’ve put in place.

Offering credit. Poor paying suppliers can cripple small businesses. If you’re made to wait for payment, that’s like offering them an interest-free loan, and you shouldn’t do it. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for payment up front, so long as you’re ready to honour your commitment. After all, you wouldn’t expect the local supermarket to give you a month or more’s credit on your grocery shop (though if you’re a supplier to them, the boot would be on the other foot). In general, large organisations are slower payers, and also have complex internal procedures in place about how and when payments can be made. Better to work with smaller companies, where you have direct access to the person with the power to pay.

Being cash poor. If you’ve made careful and conservative cash flow forecasts in the early days of your business, everything’s fine, so long as cash moves as you’d predicted. But what happens if it doesn’t? If you have no cash cushion you could be in trouble. Try to have a couple of months-worth of cash in the bank so you could carry on if you had no income at all. It’ll help you sleep easier, too.

Not making an unpaid finance assistant work for them. Bet that caught your attention didn’t it? This is not about the kind of modern slavery that has people working for nothing, but it’s about technology. It’s about arming yourself with good quality business expense management software for small businesses and being disciplined in its use. In the early days of your business you need to be especially careful with money, because having little of it generally sharpens the focus in the need to be a good money manager. In later years, when you’ve earned a wedge, there’s no reason to take your foot off the control pedal. Keep a tight rein on finance, and you’ll be rewarded with better dividends in the future. Selection of the right small business expense management software will enable you to keep track of expenses very easily, but more importantly, it will allow you to interrogate the data, and show you how effectively you’re managing spending and cashflow – and show where improvements can be made. And picking the right package means it’ll offer excellent value for money, because the savings you make by using it are probably going to be more than the cost of investing in it in the first place.

Buying Art

Everyone buys art from time to time, some pay large amounts of money for original artwork – more people buy cheap forms of the arts on-line or at their local market. But regardless of your wealth there are plenty of great art sites selling many great forms of art.

Times are quickly changing and the world of arts is fast becoming more affordable for everyone. With today’s access to information on the web, finding reasonable works of art can save the average person a bundle.

Wealthy people pay large amounts for original art – this is understandable because they are buying the original work of an artist who has made a good reputation for himself . Buying original art is also considered to be a good investment. For some, buying original art may also be a way of increasing social status and attempting to conform to culture norms.

More people stick to buying limited edition art.

Limited edition artwork can range from two copies upwards to infinity. Should we pay big bucks for something that may be hanging on hundreds of walls?

I recently came across a Spanish artists website. His artwork was to a very high quality. He limited each print to 250 copies; they were on sale for EUR650 each. Is this too high a price for a limited edition print?

Are artists charging too much for their work?

I am constantly asking myself this question. How do we price our work? The answer is far from simple.

Do we, as artists un-limit our work and make them affordable to everyone or do we set an enormous price that only a small minority of the worlds population can afford.

When buying art, set out a budget that suits you before you go on-line. It you look at a large range of sites you will find some form of arts that suit your own pocket.

Just remember that the arts are for everyone to enjoy. People from all classes can enjoy, gaze and admire the many different forms of art. If you are looking to buy some form of the arts don’t rush into it. You may have to look at it for the next twenty years.

The King James Onlyists’ Nightmare

Last Sunday night’s big event came as a shock to the small church – the St James Congregational Baptist Church in Silock, Alabama. An elderly group of five men and women were participating in a Bible class when a young preacher ran and told them to leave their class and walk with to the nave.

“What is it, Pastor?” one of the ladies asked the question everyone was wondering. “Just follow me as quickly as you can!” he said urgently. “You’ll be in for a shock.” As they approached the door to the right side of the nave, everyone could see a bright light beaming radiantly from the square mirrors.
As they went in, they looked and saw a bright angel. Everyone fell on the floor and began worshipping him. “No!” the celestial being said in a booming voice. “You must not worship me for I am only a servant of the Lord, much like yourselves.”

The angel turned down his brightness gradually so that he appeared as a human being. “Is this better?” he asked the stupefied congregation. “Please. Everyone sit. I have come on a mission. Your little group has been chosen to come with me in a time machine to watch some of the greatest events in the Holy Bible.”

Everyone sat up in astonishment as a large translucent box gradually appeared behind the angel.
“I know all of this is hard to take in, but the Lord has scheduled three events of the Bible that you as a group must choose… What scenes do you want to see?”

Although the five people and the pastor still had their mouths and eyes were stretched open as wide as possible, one of the elderly women asked, “Can I see when God found out Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden?”
“So be it,” the angel said.
“I’d like to see is Moses parting the waters.”
The angel said, “So be it!”
Then a man said hesitantly, “Can I see Jesus as He was being tempted by Satan?” “So be it,” said the angel. “Now, let’s all get into the time machine and watch these scenes.”

All five parishioners and the pastor got into the machine together with the angel and they suddenly vanished. In a matter of moments, the time machine arrived in the Garden of Eden. They stepped out into the garden, they saw Adam and Eve looking down in shame before God who was in the form of a mist. The angel told them they would be invisible where they went.

As the scene unfolded God spoke to Adam and Eve in a language, the elderly travelers couldn’t understand the language that they were speaking. The angel knew what they were thinking and said to them, “They are speaking in an ancient form of Hebrew.” Suddenly, the group stared at each and they looked upset and the angel knew why.

Thirty minutes later, after they saw the two other Biblical scenes, they looked extremely discouraged and all looked a little depressed. One of the elderly ladies got angry and said, “Why wasn’t everyone in the scenes speaking in English straight from the King James Bible?” An elderly man shouted, “This setup must have been a scam! Those people from the Bible must have been actors!” “Everybody knows everyone in the Bible spoke old English from the King James Bible – the perfect Word of God!”

5 Effective Ways to Reduce Field Service Costs

There are five ways an organization can reduce their cost of field operations and delight the customers at the same time.

1. Go Mobile:
According to a recent Mobile Analytics Report released by Citrix, the total number of enterprise mobile devices worldwide had increased by 72% last year. Without mobility, service organizations can’t overcome some of the critical challenges like lack of real-time information, reduction in productivity, profitability and overall customer satisfaction. Customers, service managers, and field technicians can effectively use a single mobile platform for raising a case, managing work orders and invoices and get a real-time visibility of field support processes. Developing a customized app can streamline the workforce and push the productivity even further. Internet connection is mandatory to get the real-time visibility through mobile.

2. Minimizing fuel cost:
Fuel price is increasing every year globally. Every time a field technician covers longer distance, organizations have to bear the cost of fuel which reduces the profitability. With map integration, technicians can prioritize tasks based on distance, which helps to cut down on fuel costs. In a day, field technicians have to visit multiple places depending on the task assigned by service managers. Map integration not only helps field technicians to track the locations but also it helps customer and service managers to track the particular technician on the field as well. Map intelligence makes a big difference in travel optimization and cost reduction.

3. Knowledgebase integration:
It’s quite possible that field technicians may not be aware of a particular issue every time raised by any customer. Any unresolved issue generally leads to lower customer satisfaction. Organizations should integrate a knowledge base with the present application to look at similar issues and see how they were resolved. This knowledge base can be enriched every time when technicians face a critical and unique case and share their experience in the portal. Parallelly, customers can also have access to the knowledge base which helps the customer to resolve the less critical cases by themselves. It eventually leads to the reduction of service requests and overall cost.

4. Parts Management:
Effective parts management also plays a crucial role while it comes to the reduction of costs and productivity improvement. Most of the spare parts used in the day to day field service are quite expensive. A parts management application integrated with the current application can help organizations to enlist the relevant parts related to the particular products. It can also help to get the list of available parts of the warehouse, enable the field technician with the right tools and skill required. A knowledgeable and skilful service technician makes all the difference when it comes to customer delight and ensures service department with high first-time fix rate.

5. Timely alerts and notifications:
Alerts and notifications feature should be there in service manager console of the particular application which organization is using currently. It can play a major role when it comes to cost reduction and overall customer satisfaction. A manager should be informed of the cases which are not been resolved or an SLA is not met. It should also notify technicians when a new task is assigned or the task priority is changed. It helps to save ample amount of time and increase the overall service efficiency.

The key to managing service operations effectively is to assign the right technician with the job. Mobility can help with faster issue resolution, reducing time and cost for the organization. Customized solutions with the consideration of the above factors can improve the response time. It creates a positive impact for service managers, technicians, customers and overall organization.

Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.