Save Time and Money by Outsourcing 4 Business Processes



In business process-management, small businesses with tight budgets have to resort to outsourcing for successful completion of projects.

Small businesspeople must capitalize on money matters and save in time management — all while overcoming staffing shortfalls for strong results.

All of this is especially true for micro entrepreneurs.

There are at least four business processes that are being outsourced.

ID-100155025 stockimagesThey are:

1. Accounting/bookkeeping/payroll

Cash flow is of paramount importance. As an important function, it’s often better to outsource accounting and bookkeeping.

Accounting and bookkeeping professionals can help you stay on track. Make sure they’re up-to-date on financial matters and have applicable software.

But there are possible caveats.

For instance, I once made the mistake of hiring a tax- accounting firm that didn’t use the same software. This meant the firm inflated fees unnecessarily because the accountant didn’t inform me that they would manually entered all data into their system. It was very costly until I terminated them.

Admittedly, as I progressed as a consultant and expanded my practice for my own clients in tax and other financial affairs, I eventually did away with CPAs. (See tip No. 3 Administrative.)

You might need a separate payroll function, which can also be a big headache especially when not properly administered. Thousands of dollars are at stake.

Consider the countless regulations, requirements and tax laws at the state and federal levels.

Expertise in accounting, bookkeeping and payroll will also protect you in the event of audits.

3. Administrative

For administrative help, you can get virtual assistants. They can help you with a myriad of repetitive chores.

You can also consider hiring a personal assistant. A personal assistant is versatile person who can help a micro-business owner with a huge myriad of tasks – personal and business.

“Time is money.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Some are quite good and can be found on LinkedIn, depending on your needs here’s an excellent example.

Actually, for my firm’s needs, I was very fortunate to have had part-time personal assistants who either had or who developed strong financial skills.

Initially, I rented my business in an office building. Then, I discovered the tax benefits by working out of my home.

That’s how part-time personal assistants have helped me tremendously. With their talent and only working short hours, clients have wanted to hire them away from me.

In hiring assistants, I keep an open mind, for example:

The first was a young housewife – a retired Air Force mechanic who wanted to learn new skills by working part-time. Not only did she manage typical administrative and bookkeeping functions, she installed new mini blinds and a new screen door.

Because she received so much training in managing the books, she balked at pay increases I felt she had earned.

The second was a former consultant with an MBA, whose strengths were in financials. Plus, with her strong consulting background, she periodically suggested strategies that helped me manage my clients.

The third assistant with a financial background became so enamored with my firm’s services, after leaving a client meeting with me she wanted to learn business development. I trained her in sales and she was able to set appointments that led to new business.

4. Marketing

Many small businesses opt for content marketing help. That can include ghost blogging, press releases and writing Web site copy to generate leads and enhance client relationships.

If you’re ready for research or traditional marketing on TV and radio, you can hire a freelancer or small adjacency for public relations or advertising.

Whether you hire PR or media-advertising expertise, screen them for negotiating skills for the best value to get you top-of-mind awareness in the marketplace.

5. Technology

Cyber security is a must. You absolutely have to take precautions to protect your information technology.

Online marketing is so important now; you might also consider freelancers with proven skills in search-engine optimization and lead conversion rates.

Use due diligence. Sophisticated tech vendors and consultants of all sizes have been known for cost over-runs.

Your technology dilemmas can worsen with the wrong choice – whether the person isn’t up-to-speed or simply isn’t the right fit for your organization. Either can cost you time and money unnecessarily.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant tips:

Hiring a Personal Assistant? Hire for 8 Qualities — The right choice of a personal assistant can make a huge difference in your operation. Basically, you need someone who can manage you – represent you well in a variety of tasks – an assistant who can make you look good.

10 Tips for Hiring the Right Attorney for Your Business — In selecting the right business attorney, talent and skill levels are among the crucial traits needed for your success. Here are 10 tips.

Basics in Hiring a Consultant to Help You Improve Your Company — When hiring a consultant, here are some pointers to keep in mind.

6 Tips to Save Time and Money by Hiring the Right Tech Consultant — If you need to hire an information technology consultant, it can be costly in time and money, if you choose the wrong person.

“Time is money.”

-Benjamin Franklin


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Save Time, Money Relocating Your Business – 14 Tips



Relocating a business can be a frustrating experience for you – whether you operate a small or large enterprise. That’s true even if you have a large workforce with a corresponding level of equipment.

To make it easy and the most-affordable relocation, here are 14 tips:

1. Don’t rush into your move. Make certain you’re moving at the best-possible time for your company.

2. Anticipate your requirements for a new location. Have a clear idea that it’s an ideal location for your budget – from transacting business to recruiting new employees and obtaining services and supplies.

Puzzled professional stockimages3. If you’re moving to a new region and intend to hire workers, negotiate with local economic development officials and politicians for the best-possible tax-incentive deal as the area’s new job-creator.

Also learn about the new location by talking with the local chamber of commerce and any other appropriate people.

4. Forecast where you’ll be able to cut back. You’ll find there are negative financial surprises.

5. Strategize each level of your move so you can gauge your progress and make any unforeseen adjustments. Allow for plenty of time for each step.

6. Partner with your employees on the move. (Actually, you should already be partnering with your employees on various aspects of your business.) Keep them in the loop. You’ll want to prevent morale issues.

7. As your inspecting prospective locations, know and theoretically design your space. Keep in mind your former space.

Identify what you’d like to retain from your old location. Determine what you’d like to improve in the new space. (That’s probably a salient reason why you’re moving.)

8. Analyze the accessibility of your new building. Anticipate how the movers will enter the building.

9. If you’re large enough to hire a moving company, select one that is highly respected and is experienced in dealing with businesses in your industry.

“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”

-Plato

Discuss every detail with the movers so they can advise you. For example, they’ll know if you need parking permits and other aspects of moving.

10. Decide how you’ll dispose of your unwanted items.

11. Figure out how you’ll make your moving an environmental friendly process. That will include recycled or environmentally friendly boxes.

12. Adequately plan so that your business operation and customer relations don’t suffer.

13. Ahead of moving day, get keys to the property. Otherwise, you risk waiting around for the keys. That’d be unproductive for you, your employees and the movers.

Besides, the movers might charge you overtime if they’re just sitting around waiting to enter the building.

14. Already start thinking about marketing your new location. That includes public relations advertising and public relations, and strategies to boost your long-term customer base.

Referring to point No. 3, consult with local officials to aid your marketing if appropriate.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

Due-diligence Tips to Pick the Best Business Location — Whether you’re an established business looking to move or you’re a new entrepreneur looking for your first location, it can be a stressful process. Therefore, it’s important to adequately plan in order to alleviate the impact of such a stress factor.

13 Strategies, Precautions When Expanding into a New Market — So you see opportunities by expanding into a new market. Whether you’re expanding across town or into a different region, there are risks to anticipate in alleviating any uncertainty. Even it doesn’t seem risky, due diligence is required and certain precautions are imperative for success.

11 Tips to Negotiate Your Commercial Real Estate Lease — Depending on your locale, commercial real estate is either readily available or hard to find. Either way, it requires due diligence and skills to negotiate the best commercial real-estate lease.

Are You up-to-date on Opportunities in Emerging Markets? Why Many Managers Aren’t — Seventy-six percent of business managers at global companies don’t have information for their needs – even though it’s necessary for productive decisions in expanding into emerging markets. Some 86 percent agree that data – market sizing and growth estimates – is vital.

Take Your Business Globally with These 12 Tips — If you want to export your products to the international marketplace, keep in mind and implement 12 steps. They include: 1. Begin on a small scale in an English-speaking country. Unless you speak other languages fluently, begin in a nation where English is spoken.

9 Dos and Don’ts for Best Decision-making – The dos and don’ts for best decision-making are applicable in three ways: Whether you have difficulty making the best decisions, engage in self doubt after making one, or are gun shy because some of your decisions have failed you.

“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”

-Plato


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Entrepreneur: You Can Avoid Using Expensive Research Tools



If you’re hoping to introduce a new product or service, there are many factors you must evaluate first – if you want to be profitable and experience growth.

Why?

When it comes to product or service utility, your prospective customers will evaluate your offerings on several factors.

True, you can use formal research tools to get your answers, such as focus groups or prototype testing.

business-idea-plan actionBut as a cash-strapped entrepreneur you’ll want to save time and money, right?

You can avoid using expensive research tools if you’re diligent in asking the right questions about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a SWOT analysis.

So start thinking about the relevant typical questions: Is it practical? What are the obstacles to success? What is needed to guarantee customer satisfaction? What are the unknown contingencies?

Especially, consider eight categories:

1. Assess your personal and employee capabilities

Businesspeople who love what they do have greater odds for success. But that’s not enough to consider. You should conduct a SWOT analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.

Why? You and your employees who engage customers will disproportionately determine your success.

Eighteen percent of customers will only buy at the cheapest price. So target the 82 percent who consider value.

The five value perceptions of what your customers sub-consciously think in motivating them to buy from you:

Employees, Spokespersons – 52 percent. The key characteristics are integrity, judgment, friendliness and knowledge. Remember, about 70 percent of your customers will buy elsewhere because they feel they’re being taken for granted by your employees. And customers normally will not tell you why they switched to your competitor.

Image of Company – 15 percent. They are concerned about the image of your company in the community. Cause-related marketing is a big plus in forging a positive image. So is cleanliness and good organization.

Quality of Product or Service Utility – 13 percent. The customer is asking the question – “What will this do for me?”

Convenience –12 percent. Customers like easy accessibility to do business with you. That includes your Web site, telephoning you, and the convenience of patronizing your business.

Price – 8 percent. Price is important, but it’s the least concern among the five value-motivating perceptions.

2. Filling a marketplace need

Make sure your products create a demand by adequately solving a need.

3. Competition

Competition is healthy. However, if your competitors have a head start and are already selling products at Amazon, Overstock or WalMart, you face overwhelming odds.

4. Size and Weight

If you face competition, you’ll want a favorable size and weight. This affects consumer acceptance and shipping costs.

In our economic environment, e-commerce customers increasingly disdain paying for shipping. Many e-commerce businesses have suffered from shopping-cart abandonment for that very reason.

Paying for shipping will affect your profit margins.

5. Product durability

Not only are fragile products unpopular with customers, brittle products increase inventory costs and are high maintenance in packaging and shipping.

6. SKUs

Assess how many SKUs (stock keeping unit) you want to market. The SKU is determined by the color, size and variation of your products.

If you have too many or unnecessary SKUs, you’ll be saddled with extra time and sales-opportunity costs in keeping track of your inventory.

7. Product lifespan

If you sell perishable products, you can benefit more easily from repeat sales but it gets really tricky. If your churn rate is low, you won’t be successful.

You’ll have to overcome built-in barriers – in production, storage and shipping.

Take into account your ordering processes. And make sure your branding gives you a competitive edge.

8. Seasonality

Will your sales be affected by the seasons of the year? If so, you’ll have to concentrate on timely promotions, limited time offers and anticipating potential shipping obstacles.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

To Realize Your Business Vision, 8 Best Practices for Setting Goals – Whatever your situation, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for strategically setting goals. Here are eight best practices.

For the Best Cash Flow, Manage Your Inventory Costs with 8 Tips – With proper inventory management, you can lower your expenses and increase your cash flow. For many businesses, that means taking a look at your inventory costs. When your products aren’t selling, obviously, it hurts. Products just lurking and collecting dust in your warehouse are costing you money. Your investment in such products declines in value.

Big Data, Though a Trite Term, Helps in 6 Types of Analytics – To understand, forecast, and improve business performance, you need to know how to use data in analytics. Based on the most-popular Biz Coach articles since 2009 and the myriad of issues that cause CEOs to sleep at night, it’s worth noting top-performing companies have six significant ways to make use of big data in analytics.

For Profits, Manage Your Growth at the Right Pace – Entrepreneurs frequently try to rush their business growth. Certainly, growth is great but if you scale too fast, you’re looking for trouble. The key is to prepare.

Your Supply Chain Can Meet the Expected Standards of Customers, If… A company that fails to meet customer expectations on store inventory and delivery has problems in supply chain management. Such a company minimizes its profits. Worse, it’s a red flag about competitiveness and long-term sustainability.

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

-Peter Drucker

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

6 Tips to Save Time and Money by Hiring the Right Tech Consultant



If you need to hire an information technology consultant, it can be costly in time and money, if you choose the wrong person. Use due diligence. Sophisticated tech vendors and consultants of all sizes have been known for cost over-runs.

Again, certain precautions are needed. Your technology dilemmas can worsen with the wrong choice – whether the person isn’t up-to-speed or simply isn’t the right fit for your organization. Either can cost you time and money unnecessarily.

In hiring a tech consultant look for five values: Efficiency, information, innovation, objectivity, and productivity.

ID-10033907 photostockTo help you make the right decision, here’s a checklist:

1. Make certain the person is competent in security issues.

Cybercrime is here to stay. You need to protect your business in two ways: 1. Keep your customers’ records safe. 2. Protect your business by making preparations with precautions and response philosophy.

2. See to it that the person understands your company requirements.

Ask the person the right questions about understanding your industry and your specific project needs. A Web site developer is not an expert in accounting systems. Check references.

3. Don’t pinch pennies to your detriment.

It’s important to hire a pro. In that way, you’ll get an agreement in writing about the services you’ll receive. Make sure your employees will understand how to operate your new technology before the job is done.

4. On the other hand, be as economical as possible.

Discuss the budget and the proposed plan for new technology. If you have to take baby steps and make additions when you can afford them, make certain the old technology isn’t adversely affected.

5. Insure that communication is adequate.

You need a person who can provide a written action plan, and can fully explain the necessity of any recommendations. Don’t allow mission creep and monitor the situation on a regular basis. Some vendors want to own the intellectual property rights for custom work – don’t allow it – and see to it that it’s part of your contractual agreement.

6. Make sure you’re getting objectivity – not a biased sales rep.

Clarify to the consultant you’re not hiring a biased vendor.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are a few tech resources:

4 Recommendations to Avoid Spending Too Much on IT — To take advantage of big cost savings in information technology, a study says businesses need to change their buying habits. Here’s how.   Despite an unprecedented trend to control information-technology costs, the majority of companies fail to achieve maximum savings, according to a multi-nation Forrester Consulting study.

Risk Management – Picking the Best Cloud Storage Provider There’s been quite a buzz about using the cloud. Personally, I’m still not sold on using cloud services for many businesses. There have been too many problems, and I prefer to maintain controls to alleviate uncertainty in business. Not to mention one of the lessons I learned very early — when there’s a lot of hype — go slow with due diligence. Frankly, I’m not alone. But here are tips in case you want to retain a cloud storage provider.

How Small Businesses Can Capitalize on Cyber Strategies for Profit — Yes, it’s become important for small businesses to capitalize on cyber strategies for profit. Small and even regional retailers should be cognizant of three realities: Potential customers probably think that national chains have easier-to-shop Web sites. Big retailers have lower prices.

Some consultants are like the bottom half of a double boiler: They get all heated up but don’t know what’s cooking.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Photo courtesy of photostock by www.freedigitalphotos.net



Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.