Top Five Small Business Tips For Success

There are plenty of small business tips for success that are not necessarily dependent on having a lot of money or technology savvy. In fact, tens of thousands of small businesses are using the multitude of free and very low cost tools that are available on the Internet to manage their business, increase revenues, and reduce expenses. These tools are easily accessible, easy to use, and downright cheap if not free.

#1. If you a business that is local to a specific city then you can use Google’s free service called Google Places to advertise your business whenever someone keys in a search for your type of business within that city. This service is free, and is increasingly being used by many people searching for a product or service.

#2. Create flyers for free using the multitude of free templates that are on the Internet. For example, if you go to Microsoft website you’ll see that there are plenty of people who have offered free templates for flyers. These flyers have already been preformatted to give a professional look and feel. No need to hire an expensive graphic artist to create a flyer for you. Once you’ve created your flyer, put them in every place imaginable such as the local Starbucks or Jamba Juice bulletin boards, your local private mailbox boards, or even some Chamber of Commerces.

#3. Save time and money by using small business tips for success and a free service provided by Google called Google Docs. This is service allows you to upload all kinds of documents into an area where people can share and collaborate on them. No need to buy expensive hosting service to share documents between people. These is a great service, especially if you are tracking and sharing lots of documents between people and have a hard time managing, who has the latest revision.

#4. Want to work with a number of like-minded people, but don’t know where to go? How about creating your own group that has common goals in mind? You can create groups/communities in both Facebook and LinkedIn. These two social communities were designed to help people get connected with other people to share ideas, to collaborate, and to generally stay connected.

#5. Set up a virtual phone system and create your own advertising channel, as well as save money. There are a multitude of virtual phone systems available today that are downright cheap, very easy to use, and extremely flexible. Many people shy away from a virtual phone system, but if you leverage it correctly. You can reduce the need for a full time answering service, create multiple extensions that advertise your product and save on support issues for your clients and customers.

These top five small business tips for success are just a fraction of what you can do by using many free and cheap services available on the Internet. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Corporate Governance and Small Businesses

Let’s start with some review of what types of companies primarily drive the US economy.   We know that there are about 16,000 publicly traded companies represented on the NASDAQ, NYSE and the AMEX.  The key economic driver in the US is the 27 million small businesses.  The Small Business Administration 2008 Presidential Report on The Small Business Economy clearly communicated “the economy generated 1.1 million net new jobs in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, 74 percent of the net new jobs were in small firms with fewer than 500 employees and 22 percent were in firms with fewer than 20 employees.”   Yet, the gross amount of attention in the media and the federal bureaucracy is around what is happening in the Markets.  This is understandable with the volumes of dollars transitioning in this public environment. The economic recovery program is not addressing the core of the economy, small businesses.   More than ever the public market environment is being questioned about corporate governance.  The new legislation being considered for public companies has sections that may very well trickle down and require the small businesses to adhere to similar if not exact rules on Corporate Governance.

A simple definition of Corporate Governance for the small business:  

Corporate governance simply refers to the set of internal policies, rules, and procedures that a company follows on a regular basis to ensure that it operates in a fair, equitable, and appropriate manner for the benefit of the company, its management and its shareholders. A corporation usually has a board of directors and a senior “C” level management team.   Most small businesses do not have these organizational entities clearly defined and functional.  For private companies that are registered as a corporation and have investors, the various states require these entities to have a governing board.  Yet many small businesses incorporate for tax issues and do not necessarily pay attention to the concepts of corporate governance. 

How does Corporate Governance apply to small businesses?  

All businesses should look at their organizational structure and continually assess what will allow the company to perform in an optimal way.  The simplest way to implement this is to have an advisory board.  The advisory board is non-paid individuals that have business or industry specific backgrounds that can contribute ideas or mentor management.  In more formal and traditional cases a small corporation has a board of directors comprised of the founders, a spouse, an employee and maybe – just maybe an outside director.  The focal point of corporate governance within small businesses is that all businesses need to set company strategic goals, provide the leadership to put them into effect, supervise the management of the business, and if the company has stockholders, report to the stockholders on their stewardship.  For those small businesses that do not have the hierarchical structure in place to implement formal corporate governance plans, it is recommended that regular self assessment of the company will be the starting place for accountability, to enhance performance, grow the company and be a greater contributing force in the economy.  At the end of the day, if you follow some set of policies and procedures and are reporting your stewardship of the company to someone even if it is your dog, then you have accountability that is key to corporate governance practices.

Will the government impose its will and definition of Corporate Governance from the public markets into the small business environment?

This imposition of government from the public market companies to privately held companies is making its way through the halls of congress.  One idea being tagged onto present legislation is to extend Sarbanes-Oxley down to privately held companies.  Anyone that knows anything about SOX is aware of the high cost to implement the documentation processes and the reporting.   Pushing this down to the small business environment would be cost prohibitive and stunt economic growth.  The general politics of mandated corporate governance is to wait and see how new legislation will affect the small businesses driving the US economy.

As a final note, every company, no matter what size it is, will see the positive effects of implementing the principles of corporate governance.  The facts remain that there are 27 million plus small businesses in the US who are the job creators and the drivers of the economy.  The greatness of US business is that it performs the best when individuals come together in a free market environment to meet the needs of the economy and society.  In the end, best practices of corporate governance can be freely implemented to benefit the company or corporate governance can be instituted by the government, which can cost more in resources, planning and profit.  Take the time to assess how your small business views corporate governance and how this will enhance your growth in the market place.

What is Sales Financing?

Running a business is a difficult process and one which is constantly fraught with unexpected financial difficulties. Balancing acts are constantly required to ensure there is enough money in the business coffers to cover wages, rent, tax and other regular bills, as well as stock and equipment purchasing.

For all businesses, one of the key factors of success involves ensuring the quick release of funds in order to enable further purchasing or investment decisions. If funds are tied up rather than available for use, then the entire business process can screech to a halt.

One of the most common problems in business usually occurs when large sales are successfully made and the work is invoiced to the client, but payment is not immediately forthcoming. This means that there is a lot of cash tied up in sales ledgers which are not available for use on other projects such as restocking. This is an all too common situation which can prove disastrous to many companies – especially smaller businesses and start-ups who are usually the least able to effectively deal with these types of situations due to generally low levels of liquid assets in the first place.

This has lead to the creation of a number of business and sales financing products by larger institutions and specialist business finance organizations to fill the gap in corporate finance. These days, many banks can provide business banking services such as factoring, invoice discounting, and stock finance to enable their clients to free up many of the assets that they normally have access to for working capital.

Sourcing a financial institution to deal with the recovery of funds tied up with stock or invoices and to help deal with sales ledgers can enhance a business on several fronts. Not only does the company not have to worry about chasing up debtors, but the money is quickly made available for reinvestment; and the risks of suffering from bad debt are significantly lowered, as it can become the province of the factoring company to pursue reticent debtors. Factoring companies will often also make available additional debt recovery litigation services if they should become required.

While some businesses may see the costs of using sales finance services as cutting into profit margins, the benefits of having funds made accessible for use towards working capital – rather than sitting with inaccessible funds which do not for the company – can prove to be invaluable in enabling company growth and stability.

Sales Training and Support

If you are in the market for a sales position, you need to find a truly exceptional recruiting agency. When you work with industry leaders or specialists in sales recruiting, you can expect sales training and support to be exceptional as well. A successful career in sales requires an open mind and a positive attitude to support the appropriate skill sets. If you believe you have the right attitude and mindset, agencies with clout in sales recruiting will supply you with the skills and knowledge you will need to be triumphant. Corporate clients consist of many of the world largest organisations and they have come to rely on exceptional recruiting staffs to supply them with the most talented sales recruits in the industry. The ideal sales recruiting agency also goes the extra mile in understanding their client’s business and their individual needs. It is through this thorough understanding of both candidate and client that intelligent and well suited combinations of organisation and staff member are made.

The best sales skills development techniques begin with a scrupulous screening process that is initiated by an in-depth series of interviews. The telephone interview helps eliminate the need for background information during in-person interviews while letting recruiters gauge a professional’s interpersonal skills. During in-person assessments, recruiters make it their job to understand your current skill sets, culture, personality and interests. A complete understanding of these characteristics is critical to placing you within an organisation with which you will naturally blend with on a cultural level and assist in tailoring your future training and development. These assessments usually include psychometric testing, group exercises and test scenarios that may include an individual presentation. Sales professionals need to understand that these extensive testing methods are becoming standard in an increasingly competitive industry. However, these are often only the beginning acts in the process of placing young professionals.

Sales professionals need to consider the search for a recruiting agency like the search for a new car. While you want a car that is fuel efficient and safe, you also consider it an investment in comfort while on the road. Recruiting agencies increasingly are adding optional professional development offerings available to their sales recruits. Many agencies provide accredited courses in technological, academic, and business methods that are necessary in the modern workplace. As well, agencies are beginning to offer yearlong or career-long professional development options that are meant to ensure success over the life of a sales person.

Small Business Ideas to Help You During Economic Downturn

Are you looking for ideas that will help your business sail through some really difficult economic times? Or are you looking for ideas for businesses that will be successful, despite the financial slump you see all around? Either way, the answer lies within you. The creative ideas have to come from within you. If you feel that things are going too slow, do not be dejected. Because if you lose heart, then recovering your confidence will be difficult. With your true confidence you can come through all tough spots and be a winner.

The first thing to do would be to forget that you are in a bad economy. You have to have a winning attitude. If you believe things will improve, they will. So the first thing is to keep yourself feeling positive. This is just a phase, a stage of your life and like all other stages, this too shall pass. You just have to keep your focus on your goal and be mentally prepared to face anything.

Next, call a meeting of your staff. Ask them to contribute to their thoughts and ideas. Listen to them and take notes. Try to chart out a list of problems you are facing and are likely to face. Then work out how you will cope up with each problem. Let every member contribute. Brainstorm on every aspect of the business from all angles possible. Do not reject any of the small business ideas the others come up with without giving it a thorough thought. Weigh the options well. Look into the pros and cons of every suggestion. If the idea is not of merit now but can be used in future, make a note of it.

Even before you start asking others for small business ideas, there is something that has to be done. You have to build a feeling of team spirit. Make every member associated with your organization feel special. Every one of them is going to contribute to the success of the business and they all have to feel needed. Prepare a motivational speech. Speak from your heart. Strike a positive note that all can identify with and then get down to the task of getting everyone involved in creative ways to develop more sales and improve business.

Have a dialog with your vendors and pick their brains for creative ideas and thoughts. Find out what others in your industry are doing. Look for the positive and not the negative.

Always remember that others have been successful during tough times too. There are many great visionaries who had to face challenges before the world accepted their genius. So when you want small business ideas or are sailing rough seas, say to yourself that if they could do it, you can too.