How to Become a Successful Distributor in the FMCG Sector

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods or the FMCG sector is a place where goods are sold at a relatively low price and includes products which sell out much quicker than other products. They mostly keep perishable items as opposed to durable items. For example, packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs etc.; whereas durable items include kitchen appliances, textiles, items which can be used for many years. FMCG goods mainly compose of items which have low shelf life. Because it includes items which are required by masses in their daily lifestyle and because this sector has a huge demand, it is essential that this sector divides it work amongst various other short segments. The major segments in the FMCG sector are Manufacturer – Packaging – Sales and Distributorship – Retailer/Wholesaler.

A distributor is someone who will ensure that all your products reach the right people. Whether it is business to business or business to personal. In any emerging market, as demand for a product increases, so does the need for distributors. From everyday use items like cooking oil, packaged foods like biscuits, snacks and everything else with an expiry date, every new trend which comes up as a team of dedicated distributors hard at work to find quality manufacturers and help them bring their product to retail.

Steps to follow to become a Distributor:

Decide what type of distribution business you will run: Distributors can be split into two categories based on who they serve. The first category is, retail distributors buy from wholesalers or manufacturers and sell products directly to consumers. The second Category is, wholesale merchant distributors buy from manufacturers and resell the products to retailers or other distributors. You need to decide which type suits you best and work upon that.

Decide what you would like to distribute: You could focus on a specific product or offer a variety of items. You could base your decisions on a product about which you may feel passionately or any product which you think is not available much in the market. While many large companies are served by equally large distributors, these distributors are unwilling or unable to serve smaller, more specialized business.

Estimate your start-up costs: In addition to a business plan, you will also need some idea of how much money it will take to get your business up and running. As a distributor, your major area of expense will be your inventory. This means that your start-up costs will go parallel as to what product or products you choose to sell. If you are selling a single product then the pricing will depend on how many retailers you are targeting.

Figure out how to sell your products: This will depend largely on who your customers are and what type of products you’re selling. In any case, you have to chalk down specific goals on what methods you can adapt to sell your goods. One of the best ways to do so is to connect more and more with the manufacturers as well as the Retailer/Wholesalers. The more connections you build, the better opportunities you get. This can mean anything from advertising to personal meetings with store owners to search-engine optimization (SEO).

Form your company legally: You’ll have to legally create the company before you can do business. Check with your state regulations and see if you need to create an operating agreement or another type of founding document. Gather any business partners you have for this venture and have them sign any legal documents you fill out

Make your business licensed and registered: You will have to register your business with the correct places or business association as and when required. Your company should be listed in the legal list of companies. Other legal steps may be required to get your business started.

Contact manufacturers or wholesalers of your products: You will need to find sources from which you will buy your product. To locate manufacturers and wholesalers, you will need to build Relationships and connections which will help you to define your work. Networking is the foundation of the distribution industry. You must gain a deep understanding of your target market and clients to develop stronger partnerships. Keep communication open and available.

Purchase inventory: Once you’ve found a source for product, it’s time to place your first order. You’ll need to purchase however much inventory you need. Keeping in mind the budgetary and space constraints you will also need to buy products pertaining to the limit of your users. This is especially true of products with a short shelf-life or FMCG goods. Also, consider the logistics you will require to distribute your goods.

Find a location for your business: The size of the space you need to hold your inventory will be determined by the size of your product and your delivery method. You should consider starting off small as your business builds a reputation. As your business grows, you can move into larger facilities that can accommodate your inventory needs.

Create a website for your business: Creating a customer friendly website is essential in today’s business model. The website should describe prices and product offerings. This is especially important if you sell directly to consumers. You can also invest in search engine optimization (SEO) that directs potential customers directly to your website by placing it higher in search engine results.

Market your product to potential customers. Send out your catalogue to potential customers in your area. The tools of marketing that you can find in today’s digitally marketed world are immense and of huge influence.

Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan is a documented process to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Basically, it provides a clear idea on various actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.

Disasters are natural or man-made. Examples include industrial accidents, oil spills, stampedes, fires, nuclear explosions/nuclear radiation and acts of war etc. Other types of man-made disasters include the more cosmic scenarios of catastrophic global warming, nuclear war, and bioterrorism whereas natural disasters are earthquakes, floods, heat waves, hurricanes/cyclones, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tornadoes and landslides, cosmic and asteroid threats.

Disaster cannot be eliminated, but proactive preparation can mitigate data loss and disruption to operations. Organizations require a disaster recovery plan that includes formal Plan to consider the impacts of disruptions to all essential businesses processes and their dependencies. Phase wise plan consists of the precautions to minimize the effects of a disaster so the organization can continue to operate or quickly resume mission-critical functions.

The Disaster Recovery Plan is to be prepared by the Disaster Recovery Committee, which includes representatives from all critical departments or areas of the department’s functions. The committee should have at least one representative from management, computing, risk management, records management, security, and building maintenance. The committee’s responsibility is to prepare a timeline to establish a reasonable deadline for completing the written plan. The also responsible to identify critical and noncritical departments. A procedure used to determine the critical needs of a department is to document all the functions performed by each department. Once the primary functions have been recognized, the operations and processes are then ranked in order of priority: essential, important and non-essential.

Typically, disaster recovery planning involves an analysis of business processes and continuity needs. Before generating a detailed plan, an organization often performs a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk analysis (RA), and it establishes the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). The RTO describes the target amount of time a business application can be down, typically measured in hours, minutes or seconds. The RPO describes the previous point in time when an application must be recovered.

The plan should define the roles and responsibilities of disaster recovery team members and outline the criteria to launch the plan into action, however, there is no one right type of disaster recovery plan, nor is there a one-size-fits-all disaster recovery plan. Basically, there are three basic strategies that feature in all disaster recovery plans: (a) preventive measures, (b) detective measures, and (c) corrective measures.

(a) Preventive measures: will try to prevent a disaster from occurring. These measures seek to identify and reduce risks. They are designed to mitigate or prevent an event from happening. These measures may include keeping data backed up and off-site, using surge protectors, installing generators and conducting routine inspections.

(b) Detective measures: These measures include installing fire alarms, using up-to-date antivirus software, holding employee training sessions, and installing server and network monitoring software.

(c) Corrective measures: These measures focus on fixing or restoring the systems after a disaster. Corrective measures may consist keeping critical documents in the Disaster Recovery Plan.

The Plan should include a list of first-level contacts and persons/departments within the company, who can declare a disaster and activate DR operations. It should also include an outline and content stating the exact procedures to be followed by a disaster. At least 2-4 potential DR sites with hardware/software that meets or exceeds the current production environment should be made available. DR best practices indicate that DR sites should be at least 50 miles away from the existing production site so that the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)/Restoration Time Objective (RTO) requirements are satisfied

The recovery plan must provide for initial and ongoing employee training. Skills are needed in the reconstruction and salvage phases of the recovery process. Your initial training can be accomplished through professional seminars, special in-house educational programs, the wise use of consultants and vendors, and individual study tailored to the needs of your department. A minimal amount of training is necessary to assist professional restorers/recovery contractors and others having little knowledge of your information, level of importance, or general operations

An entire documented plan has to be tested entirely and all testing report should be logged for future prospect. This testing should be treated as live run and with ample of time. After testing procedures have been completed, an initial “dry run” of the plan is performed by conducting a structured walk-through test. The test will provide additional information regarding any further steps that may need to be included, changes in procedures that are not effective, and other appropriate adjustments. These may not become evident unless an actual dry-run test is performed. The plan is subsequently updated to correct any problems identified during the test. Initially, testing of the plan is done in sections and after normal business hours to minimize disruptions to the overall operations of the organization. As the plan is further polished, future tests occur during normal business hours.

Once the disaster recovery plan has been written and tested, the plan is then submitted to management for approval. It is top management’s ultimate responsibility that the organization has a documented and tested plan. Management is responsible for establishing the policies, procedures, and responsibilities for comprehensive contingency planning, and reviewing and approving the contingency plan annually, documenting such reviews in writing.

Another important aspect that is often overlooked involves the frequency with which DR Plans are updated. Yearly updates are recommended but some industries or organizations require more frequent updates because business processes evolve or because of quicker data growth. To stay relevant, disaster recovery plans should be an integral part of all business analysis processes and should be revisited at every major corporate acquisition, at every new product launch, and at every new system development milestone.

Your business doesn’t remain the same; businesses grow, change and realign. An effective disaster recovery plan must be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure it reflects the current state of the business and meets the goals of the company. Not only should it be reviewed, but it must be tested to ensure it would be a success if implemented.

Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.

Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.

Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.

Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.

Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.

Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel

If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.

Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.

Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights

Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports

When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings

Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time

Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

These strategies can help you save money while booking flights and hotels.

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.