Archive for Business

Improving Your Business Cash Flow

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Lots of things are pulling for your business dollars, from purchase orders to employee salaries. A steady cash flow is part and parcel of a successful business; and this is often a major source of troubles for many owners, not an actual lack of money. Many factors may contribute to this cash flow issue, from extending credit and waiting on customer payments to poor management of inventory. Luckily, it is not a problem without a solution. It simply requires taking a fresh look at how you are running your operations and identifying opportunities to turn things around. Here are some important tips for improving business cash flow.

Giver Your Finances a Good Looking Over

This tip may seem obvious but it is easy to just fall into certain patterns of behavior, and continue doing things as you have always done without ever stopping to consider if there is a better way, if there is somewhere you may be dropping the ball. Go over your finances with a fine-tooth comb to see where the problem areas may exist, to see what may need to be fixed, changed or eliminated.  If you are looking to improve your cash flow, you have to start with an examination of your current situation.

Stay on Top of Receivables

Poor management of receivables is a major contributor to many a businesses’ cash flow problems. You have a right to timely payments, and you must get on customers as soon as they come past due. You need not be aggressive, but you must act. Develop a set process to be followed every time, with every invoice. Haphazard, random efforts will not work. Invoice clients immediately. Depending on your line of work, request at least a deposit before beginning a project.

Consider Factoring Invoices

Invoice factoring is an alternative financing option to help get cash in the door more quickly. You sell your receivables to a lender at a discount, and you get the money within 24 hours. Clients then pay the factoring company directly and you get the remainder. This can be very helpful, but ultimately used as a temporary solution, not a long-term strategy for increased cash flow.

Use Credit Cards/Line of Credit

Credit cards and a line of credit can come in handy when it comes to improving cash flow. Being able to pay for something with a card or line of credit, and holding onto much-needed cash to meet other needs until those invoices get paid, for example, is a great way to keep everything flowing. But, you must be disciplined about paying them off as necessary and not just piling up a huge amount of debt unnecessarily.

Don’t Pay Bills until They are Due

While paying a bill as soon as it is due is a great feeling, you may be unnecessarily impeding your cash flow. Don’t get rid of money any sooner than you need to; of course, there may be some exceptions, such as getting discounts for early payments that really add up to significant savings .

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January 31, 2014 |  by  |  Business  |  Comments Off

4 Tips for Picking a Cloud Service Provider

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ID-10073466As businesses grow and demand for storage increases, the cloud continues to become a strong alternative for expanding enterprises. The complex nature of the cloud requires you to engage in disciplined due diligence to find a cloud service provider which fits your unique needs. Partner only with companies which make serving you the number one priority of their business and choose providers which can meet your growing needs as your organization expands. Make a confident choice by using each one of these tips.

Gauge the Expertise of Cloud Service Providers

Seek out experts rich with experience in operations management, architecture and industry best practices on design. Many businesses either do not have access to or cannot afford costly in-house skills for short term engagement. Your business can stand out from the crowd by accessing the collective knowledge base of cloud experts instead of outsourcing to an average third party which can only provide mediocre service for your business needs. Demand that your online service provider shares a community forum and frequently asked questions page with you to gauge their expertise.

Determine the Type of Cloud

Since clouds differ in type determine the type of cloud which best benefits your organization. Clouds developed open proprietary models will be different than clouds build on open source code. Open source models prevent vendors from locking-in, meaning that you can shift your workload between multiple open cloud vendors or perhaps even run your own open cloud model. Seek out support and service from open source providers to make your life easier.

Demand Reliable Uptime

Customers need information now through your website. Clients might make their buying decision based on engagement through your website. If your site frequently goes down you might lose big business and even go out of business if you are at a critically important stage of growth. Websites which go out during holiday periods like Christmas lose a small fortune and potentially prospering customer relationships which reap tremendous rewards in the future.  Research to find out your potential cloud service provider’s uptime history. Check out their track record to see how well the provider serviced former and current clients. Gauge how they handle crises like outages, check out their guarantees and observe the frequency of outages to make a firm, confident decision on whether or not you will choose their services. Sign up only with cloud service providers who make service their number one priority.

Research Deployment Models

Think about scale before you choose cloud service providers. Start up businesses might be wooed by just about any provider but dwell on the future growth of your company to get a clearer picture of the perfect match. Ask yourself if the provider can meet your needs after your company has grown at an aggressive rate. Big businesses would rarely place their full data center and workloads on the public cloud. Consider using a cloud service which could provide you with a public cloud for certain workloads and a private cloud for other workloads running in a colocation center.

About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about all things tech; if you are looking for a company that will support your business as it  grows, Togglebox lets you scale your cloud servers, making it a good choice for your cloud computing needs.

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December 28, 2013 |  by  |  Business  |  Comments Off

5 Steps for Attending a Temp Agency Interview

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6258792047_9a2a42f0e3_zTemporary work can improve your resume while providing you with steady cash flow for a sustained period of time. If you want to pursue contract work prepare yourself to successfully complete an interview with your potential temp agency.

Prepare Yourself to Stay Late

Some temporary agencies will send a link to your provided email address for completion at home. Most agencies provide you with an in office test on their computers to ensure that you are proficient in typing and processing information online. Factor in any extra time you might spend to complete these tests in addition to your interview. Since temporary agencies place a heavy emphasis on completing simple processing tasks you might spend more time finishing these tests versus the time you would spend at a corporate job interview.

Be Prompt

Some potential temp workers disqualify themselves from positions by arriving late to their interview. Wake 1 hour earlier than usual if you have an early morning interview. Factor in an extra 45 to 60 minutes to ensure that you arrive early to your temp agency interview. You need only set your alarm earlier to account for heavy traffic or any other inconvenience which would delay you. Be prompt to avoid any of these problems and arrive to your interview on time.

Dress Professionally

Wear a suit or business appropriate dress shirt and skirt to make a positive impression during your interview. You will be a representative of the temporary agency should you get hired. Fitting in at the client company will be important so dress the part to increase the likelihood of being hired. If you cannot afford a suit wear a shirt, tie and dress pants to make a favorable impression. If you expect to be taken seriously you must play the part of a serious employee.

Ask Questions

The skilled interviewee asks questions of the agency to show their interest in the organization. An interviewer wants an inquiring, informed person to work for their agency. Do your homework before showing up for your interview by researching your potential agency online. Ask questions about the organization and the companies they partner with to snag the interviewer’s attention and increase your chances of landing a position with the agency.

Get Enough Sleep

Show up to your interview alert and ready to answer any question directed your way by getting enough sleep the night before your special day. Try to get 7 to 8 hour’s worth of sleep to look good, feel good and maximize your chances of nailing the interview. Resist the urge to stay up late and please do not party the night before an important interview with a temp agency. Image is everything. Well-rested workers convey a positive self-image and demonstrate their responsibility.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Tell the truth during your temp agency interview to avoid any problems down the road. With the proliferation of online fact checking services as well as social media websites potential employers can find out about your past. Making false claims to boost your qualifications will catch up to you down the road. Lying is a terrible idea because you will damage your reputation with your temp agency and any future employer who works with the agency. Honestly share your qualifications. If you need to improve your resume take classes or simply patiently add to your skills by working new jobs.

About the Author: Ryan Biddulph can help you find temporary positions in Kansas City and other major job markets.

December 20, 2013 |  by  |  Business  |  Comments Off

4 Tips for Choosing the Right Business Vendor

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ID-10097705Before praising a vendor as the perfect business partner or giving underperforming suppliers the boot set up a clear and easy to use system for choosing the right vendor. Using metrics helps you objectively assess whether or not you should choose or release a potential business partner. Severe relationships with poor vendors quickly to make room for new, prospering relationships with quality suppliers.

Build a Plan to Evaluate Vendors

Use software applications, system metrics, surveys and forms to rate a vendor. Build an intelligent plan to evaluate vendor performance effectively. Ask employees to rate vendors via software packages and do audits to see who is up to the task. Track customer complaints due to bad vendor service, product returns due to a vendor’s inability to meet specifications and list each corrective issue you encountered to gain a better understanding of how vendors can improve their performance and how they stack up against competitors. Build reports running through the purchase point on through the vendor and supplier relationship to pick the right vendor for your needs.

Classify Your Vendors

Applying the same strict standards and surveys for similar vendors can help you organize potential long term partners. Categorize each vendor based on their level of importance to your organization. You can use levels 1, 2 and 3 to gain a better understanding of which vendors you truly need to grow business. Check to see what percentage of vendors handle your overall volume of work. Typically 20% of your vendors handle 80% of vendor business. Trim the fat to streamline your vendor relationships and grow your business.

Set Up Performance Indicators

Decide what characteristics your vendor needs to embody in order to continue your relationship. Track vendor metrics on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis to spot trends which might be helping or hurting your business. Observe the financial stability of the company as well as complaint history, quality management systems, number of certifications and size of the company to determine if you have a good fit between a vendor and your organization. Determine how quickly vendors respond to quote requests, how frequently your business receives a quality product from vendors and the percentage of on-time performance. Does the vendor have a system for handling complaints or products? Check for corrective or preventative protocols to effectively handle crises.

Gauge Your Red Flags

Decide protocols for issuing a red flag to effectively label which vendors are on the hot seat. Causing customer problems or offer a substandard or flat out poor product or service are grounds for receiving one or a series of red flags. Dropping an underperforming supplier is a possibly but it is more wise to retain vendors who might be slipping up from time to time instead of changing business partners frequently. Firing and replacing vendors on a persistent basis destroys your business continuity and delays the all critical relationship-building process between business and vendor. List number of corrective actions, return rate and on-time delivery rate to gauge whether or not a vendor is performing as it should.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of topics related to business-vendor relationships, from purchase order finance to how to negotiate better prices.

November 29, 2013 |  by  |  Business  |  Comments Off

PEO Frequently Asked Questions

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ID-10079690In the last couple of decades, the number of employee labor laws and regulations has exploded. Even a business owner with just a handful of workers can feel a bit overwhelmed by payroll taxes, benefit administration and other employee-related duties. You may worry about liability issues and staying compliant. This is where professional employer organizations, or PEOs, come in. Here are some frequently asked questions about these companies and the services they provide.

What is a PEO?

A PEO serves as a co-employer. While you continue to manage the day-to-day aspects of your business, such as customer service, product development and the like, a PEO takes over the administrative tasks associated with human resources, such as payroll, benefits and worker’s compensation.

Who Uses PEO Services?

At first glance, this may seem like the type of service utilized by big, fancy companies, but actually, the average client only has about 20 employees. Larger companies tend to handle all HR matters within house, but an increasing number are turning towards PEO companies because of their expertise in HR and the advanced web-based technologies used to administer their services. In these cases, the PEO usually works in tandem with the in-house HR staff.

Why Should I Use a PEO?

There are numerous advantages to outsourcing your human resource functions to an employee services company. First and foremost, it allows you and your staff to focus on the activities that directly contribute to growing revenue. Payroll taxes can be complicated and mistakes can be expensive; and  with a PEO, you have the experts handling it. Because the firm serves as a co-employer, much of the liability and risk related to employees is shifted from you to them. Because the PEO handles all human resource functions, companies typically have no need to pay in-house staff, or are able to maintain a very simple infrastructure.

Since PEO firms act as co-employers to hundreds or even thousands of employees, they can offer benefits packages that would normally be out of reach for your company. This co-employer relationship also means that smaller businesses with less than 50 employees, can offer protections and benefits to workers that normally would not apply. While hiring is still ultimately in your hands, the PEO can provide valuable services to help you recruit and maintain quality employees. All of these aspects can give you a competitive edge in hiring.

What is the Difference between PEOs and Employee Leasing?

Much of the terminology used to describe employee leasing carried over into tasks that are now considered the purview of PEO firms. For this reason, there is often confusion about exactly what these companies do and whether it is similar to employee leasing. These two services are very different, however. Employee leasing involves staffing firms providing workers to a company, either for a specific project or set amount of time. Once the work has been completed, these workers go back to the staffing service for new assignments. PEO firms do not provide employees, they simply manage the ones a company already has.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers all things business, from human resources to internet marketing tips.

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November 5, 2013 |  by  |  Business  |  Comments Off