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.

Top Four Motivations for Canadians Working Abroad

Canadians working abroad are afforded many opportunities to grow and advance in their careers, a fact which significantly impacts their decision to go overseas. Whether you remain in the Commonwealth, go down to the states or travel to faraway lands, there several good reasons to find employment outside of the country.

1. Living abroad provided opportunities for adventure and personal growth.

At the end of their lives, very few people have regrets about traveling too much or seeing too many foreign countries. Living and working overseas provides opportunities to experience different cultures and gain a broader perspective on world events. Canadians working abroad are more versatile and attractive to future employers because their resumes display a level of self-motivation and perseverance that other job applicants may lack. People who work overseas have demonstrated a level of drive that will set them apart from other people in their field.

2. The Commonwealth makes it uncommonly easy.

While the British Empire is not what it once was, the citizens of the Commonwealth have an advantage when it comes to traveling to other member nations. A citizen of the United States may have an easy time working in one of the territories, but they have a much harder time getting the necessary paperwork to start a career in New Zealand, for example. Countries in South America and Africa are members, and so are Australia and India. In total, there are 53 member states, including several islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific. Canadians working abroad could find employers in any of these areas.

3. You gain additional skills overseas.

Canadians working abroad have opportunities to polish different language skills and learn to adapt to a diverse setting with new challenges. Depending on the country and type of industry, there can be unique regulations or a whole different cultural approach to the situations you encounter. For those who ultimately want to prepare for management roles, it helps to broaden your horizons by seeing how backgrounds and personal dispositions affect attitudes on the job. The ability to look out for yourself in a wide range of settings, even completely new parts of the world, will tell future employers that you need less handholding than your peers.

4. It’s great for family and friendships.

Sure, taking the kids out of school can mean a complicated adjustment, but those who attend school in different parts of the world experience a more inclusive education. Other families may take their kids on a week-long vacation once a year, but yours can have the chance to learn in-depth about other cultures for years at a time. Travel can be a transformative experience, especially for the young. What’s more, the friendships formed elsewhere can be lasting bonds regardless of whether the family eventually moves back to Canada. Back home, the whole family is equipped with interesting stories of life in distant lands, which can be a way to help entertain new friends.

One Bad Decision Can Cost a Hospital Millions

Things can go wrong without the right team in place

I recently read an article that was attempting to explain the cost overrun experienced by a hospital during the launch of their new EMR. The article was clear on what caused the overrun but failed to communicate why the decision was made that created the cause.

In many hospitals, emotions can run high fueled by attitudes of resistance to change. The pressures and stress associated with go-live can be a challenge to manage; however, allowing those forces to affect decision-making can have lasting adverse financial effects. When all planning, budget, constraints, and common sense that should be applied are set aside, you can almost always expect the worse. It may feel like appeasement is the right thing to do to relieve the stress, but it may not be the best thing. Sticking to the plan, and staying within the budget should always be the guiding factor that drives decisions even when the pressure is great.

It’s unfortunate, but some decisions are based on problems that may not exist at all but are only perceived based on excessive negativity. Having an experienced team in place that can help make decisions based on fact is vital.

Negotiating Skills Do Pay Off!

When doing logistics, treat it like it’s your money

Getting one of the best hotels in the city to give you the lowest rate with great concessions is excellent. In this agreement, the hotel managed the flight itineraries and provided transportation to and from the airport. They supplied one large conference room for orientation and then surprised us in the contract with a complimentary welcome reception for 120 guests with heavy hors-d’oeuvres. Provided two fifty-six seat luxury buses and several shuttles to transport consultants to the training facility and back. They also agreed to use their shuttles to take those consultants that worked within two miles of hotel to work and back each day. Everything listed above was in the price of the rooms $105.09 with tax. Note, this took a huge burden off the consulting firm, and the savings were passed on to the hospital.

When a hospital hires a consulting firm, that consulting company should put forth all effort to save money, not spend money. Creating a positive cost variance (CV) indicates the consulting firm is in fact on your team. Negotiating for the best price is good, but getting the most value for the lowest price is better.

Consultants Saved the Day!

Good consultants can mean the difference between success and failure

I sat in an auditorium with over three hundred consultants when the speaker invited to the podium the senior implementation project manager. “Dr. So and So has overseen the EMR implementation of nineteen plus hospitals please give him a round of applause.” Wow, nineteen projects that’s impressive. However, it turned out to be a challenging project in many areas but mainly with significant workflow issues.

Although it is confusing why this happens, it is clear the leadership was out of touch. Seeking someone with excellent qualifications can be attractive for any hospital, but having someone with the insight that can eliminate problems before they exist is priceless. I am not sure why this project manager didn’t know this.

Fortunate for everyone the consultants came with the experience and knowledge necessary to handle these types of issues. Jumping into action and based on past experiences they began the process of educating the staff and leadership on what works. This go-live would have never survived without the tremendous efforts of the consultant.

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.

How to Make a Good Flyer

Before we get to how to make a good flyer, we have to understand the strategy behind a high-quality one. Here’s a basic rundown of a door hanger. As you can see we don’t have much space to work with. This means we have to choose our words carefully. The first line you see is the largest and is meant to grab the attention of the viewer as well as qualify them.

Right away the person knows what we’re trying to sell here. Private Construction Management services. Right below it, you’ll see a picture of a house that would look like our target customer. Under that, there’s a brief description that reinforces credibility by mentioning the years of experience with all kinds of projects.

Anyone looking into renovating their homes will identify with this flyer right away. We ask them the question “Have a project in Mind?”, always qualifying them. The next line tells them what we want them to do, which is to call for a consultation.

Door hangers work really well compared to regular flyers. For one, you won’t have to worry about your message getting lost in the mail. The direct mail route is often pricey and your ad will compete with priority mail like bills. On the other hand, everyone has one front door and your ad will command their full attention.

Flyer Headline Examples
The headline is arguably the most important part of the flyer. Some people spend the most of their time trying to choose the right image that’s going to catch the attention of the customer and dazzle them with their creativity. It sounds nice. It just isn’t the case.

The reality is that we have 1 second to catch the attention of the person we’re trying to reach. We have to talk about what THEY want as opposed to what we’re offering. In the example above, Private Construction Management might not be an ideal headline. Instead, we could’ve said something along the lines of “Got a Construction Project in Mind?”.

It might or might not get a good reception. The key is to grab attention and eliminate anyone who wouldn’t buy from us while selecting those that would. We could write a whole book on choosing the right headline but adhering to some guidelines should put you on the right track. The following are some good headline examples for flyers or for any ads in general.

How-to Headline: People like to learn and the how-to headline is found everywhere. How to hire a good construction management company. How to make a million bucks in 20 min. You’ve seen it before. It works.

Question Headline: Just like the one suggested above. Asking a question engages the reader and causes them to answer it subliminally or consciously. Either way, we’ve got them communicating with us just through the headline.

Testimonial: Testimonials are great anywhere. They reinforce your brand and its authority. No one wants to buy from the new guy on the block. They want someone tried and tested.

Crazy Offer: A crazy offer can go a long way. A really long way. You should always have a crazy offer on your flyer regardless. If its good enough, it should be the biggest and first thing they see.

Choosing the Best Image for Flyers
As we said previously, finding the perfect image for your flyer isn’t as important as some people might think. A funny or creative image will get a positive response, but it won’t necessarily get us the exact response that’ll bring us sales.

Our picture should flow well without our headline and service. If we’re advertising for a taekwondo school, you might use a picture of children wearing their G.I uniforms.

A picture like that will help people identify quickly what your service is and if its for them. The image should be able to work independently from your headline, and vice versa.

The Elevator Pitch
Flyers have limited amounts of space for words and pictures. We want to get in as much as we NEED to, not as much as we CAN. This is where a lot of people go wrong. They design their flyer to include every single detailed explanation of what they do.

You should remember that the flyer shouldn’t serve as an alternative to your website. Your website is where your customers will go if they want a more in-depth understanding of your company and services/products.

The next section you should include in your flyer is a short description of what you do and why they should choose you. In short, it’s a small elevator pitch about your company.

“We manage construction projects for homeowners and have been doing it for over 20 years”. Simple, yet effective. At this point, we have a headline, a photo, and a small elevator pitch that’s going to help us land the knockout punch.

How to make a good flyer or offer
How to make a good flyer is based on the offer you give. An amazing offer has a time limit and simply cannot be passed by. These flyers receive upwards of 8-10% success rate. You really must be able to give tremendous value, or you won’t get too many replies.

A simple flyer with no offer can expect a 1% conversion rate. This means that we’ll turn 1% of the people that see our flyers into paying customers. You send out 10,000 and you get back 100 customers. Pretty simple stuff.

If you put a great offer, you can see 800-1000 customers out of 10,000 flyers. Suddenly, it makes a lot of sense to give away a great offer. Restaurants, for example, would benefit greatly by offering a free appetizer. They might lose out on some short-term profit but they’ll win in the long term.

Strategizing a Flyer Campaign
A good design is useless without a good strategy for distribution. We know flyer advertising is a numbers game and so we have to choose our target customers carefully. A restaurant might benefit better from delivering to homes instead of street promotion. That isn’t to say that a restaurant shouldn’t use street promotion as part of their campaign. However, if you don’t have enough foot traffic near your restaurant to justify it, you’re better off just targeting the homes in the neighborhood.

These customers are going to be your loyal regulars. The cost of acquiring one of them is inconsequential to the value that they’ll bring as a lifetime customer. For homes, door hangers work best. The reason is that other flyers have to be stuffed in other places near the home. They might be stuck on the mailbox or squeezed between the door frame. On the other hand, a door hanger is going on the doorknob. Basically, to get into their home they’re going to take it off the door and they’ll look at it for about a second.

They should be able to see exactly what you’re offering, how much, and what they have to do to redeem the offer. For example, you’re advertising a pizza restaurant. A really good flyer for this type of strategy would be “Get a free pizza slice with an order of a pizza and a soda”. The customer picks up the flyer and sees that they’re getting a free pizza slice and all they have to do is to go buy 1 and a soda.