Archive for 'Business'
Effective shipping is essential in a world where online shopping is so popular. Businesses can suffer if their orders are not being shipped on time or if they are not regularly updating their customers. The following are some ways you can improve shipping.
- Improve your communication with your shipping facility: Communicating with your warehouse and shipping team or company regularly will mean that they are updated with orders and avoid delays.
- Offer order tracking and estimated delivery times: Letting customers track the progress of their orders and track shipping reassures customers that their package is on the way. Estimate delivery times are particularly useful so that customers can plan ahead for delivery if possible.
- Shipping costs should be built into the budget: Shipping rates will change regularly, but this should not change what your customers have to pay. When creating your budget, allocate more money to shipping than you have calculated to account for potential rate changes.
- Streamline your packaging process and do standard quality checks: Invest time into creating a process which works efficiently for your business. For example, you could find software which communicates with the warehouse and creates documents which make collecting and shipping the packages easier for staff. Quality checks should also be conducted regularly to guarantee that the product the customer will receive is what they were looking at online.
- Declare items for customs ahead of time: This is especially important if you offer and regularly conduct international shipping. Declaring your package online when the order is placed will help it get through customs faster, and to your customers earlier.
The internet and social media have made it all too easy for customers to relay their feedback to businesses. This can be a great thing because it shows other customers or potential customers why they should choose your business.
However, this also means that if a customer has a negative experience, then their public feedback has the scope of preventing future customers. Hearing what these reviews have to say to implement change can benefit your business and responding sensitively to the reviews will help with damage control.
Follow these steps to construct an appropriate response:
- Address the customer by name: Rather than using Sir/Madam, refer to the client by name so that they know their feedback is valued and not simply a scripted and automatic response.
- Sympathise with the customer’s problem: Try to understand what happened from the perspective of the customer to find out why they might have had a bad experience. Apologising will also let the customer know that regardless of whether you agree with their review, you sympathise with their negative experience.
- Let them know you are solving the problem: Acknowledge their problem and let them know that you will be addressing it. This will let future customers know that the negative review may no longer apply so that they are not immediately driven away.
Make sure you do not ignore negative reviews and feedback. Either the review is specific to the customer or they are making a valuable contribution towards how the business can be improved. In order to identify which it is, you should listen to what the customer has to say.
Businesses can gain a lot from collaboration, regardless of the industry they are in. The following are some reasons why businesses should care about collaboration.
As a business, it is important to build a routine and figure out day-to-day operations. However, this might mean that you stop trying different techniques which could be more efficient. Collaboration could give you a fresh perspective and encourage new ideas and methods you could apply at the workplace.
Grow your network
Initiating collaboration will help you meet people who share common interests and goals. Building connections will benefit your business and could result in partnerships down the line.
Collaboration opens up opportunities to learn from those outside your immediate circle. This can provide you with valuable information that may be helpful for your business which is not otherwise accessible to you.
Two heads are better than one. Therefore, with collaboration, you may be able to solve problems that were otherwise difficult to solve. This is because collaboration allows people with different expertise and backgrounds to contribute ideas.
As a business owner, you need to continually update various different skills. Improving these skills will enable you to improve all aspects of business operations.
Being an owner means being able to manage finances. You should be able to effectively forecast your cash flow, monitor profit and loss, create budgets and make financial decisions which reflect all of these factors.
Marketing and Sales
You should understand how the promotion of your products and services will take place. Marketing strategies are always changing and updating with technology, so make sure you keep up with these changes to ensure you are increasing your chances of sales.
Communication and negotiation
Building relationships with your suppliers, potential investors, customers and employees is essential. Effective communication and negotiation skills are the cornerstones of success in this area – so make sure you cultivate these skills.
Leadership, project management and planning
Having an understanding of each aspect of your business will allow you to plan your projects and lead your team members. Keep yourself updated with different management styles, develop policies and procedures that will help your team members and manage resources to achieve your business goals.
While you may be able to hire advisors, marketing directors, and managers, this does not absolve you from the responsibility of overseeing your business. This is why it is integral to continually update your skills and knowledge so you can understand the decisions being made about your business.
Adopting sustainable practices for your business is a great way to contribute positively to the environment. These changes won’t significantly impact business operations, but will effectively reduce the carbon footprint of your business.
- Office location: This is relevant if you are moving to a new location or are newly starting your business. Choose a location which is convenient via public transport or accessible to bike lanes. This will help employees avoid driving to work which contributes significantly more to the carbon footprint than public transport.
- Reduce the use of single-use products: There are lots of disposable products such as cups, spoons, and coffee pods regularly used in the office which cause excess waste that can be easily avoided. Instead, opt for reusable items and also put in recycling bins around the office so that if single-use products are used, they can be disposed of appropriately.
- Reduce water usage: Conserving water usage can be very simple. Install a dishwasher to efficiently wash the reusable utensils you have bought for the office. Ensuring that there are no leaking taps and the office uses low-flow toilets and faucets will also contribute to reducing waste.
- Recycle electronics: Whenever you are replacing your electronics (such as monitors, smartphones, printers, etc.) to update your technology and find that they are still working well, consider donating them to charities or schools who will be more than willing to put them to good use. If the electronics are not working, then there are technology recycling programs that you can use.
- Sustainable partnerships: Building sustainable partnerships with like-minded businesses benefits the environment and makes it easier for businesses to make more environmentally conscious decisions.
Making these changes isn’t particularly difficult for businesses but will significantly impact the carbon footprint businesses leave.
You’ve found the perfect business for you to buy. It fits all your requirements and you’re in a position where you can comfortably buy the business. What’s next?
Before you sign the contract to finalise the buy, it is important to conduct due diligence. For this, you should review the financial records, business operations and legal documents. These will prepare you to manage the business and identify any risks or problems in process that you might need to tackle head on. You will also be able to better understand what will be expected of you as owner of the business and which responsibilities have been allocated to that position.
You should review items such as:
- Licenses and permits: Have all the necessary permits and licences been acquired, and if not, look into why this might be the case – were they denied a permit due to any issues with the business?
- Contracts and leases: Have you spoken to the landlord and whether they’ll be transferring the lease agreement/negotiating a new lease? Is the business in contract with another that is problematic?
- Agreements: Are there any agreements the business is in that you don’t feel comfortable with?
- Status of plant, equipment, and fixtures: What is the current status of the equipment and machinery? When will you need to replace it? Has it been approved by the relevant authorities?
- Assets: Identify any assets that are under the business. Does it have any intellectual property?
- Inventory: How much inventory is there? Is it included in the sale? How is the inventory managed and will you still be able to source it from the same place? What is the status of the current inventory i.e. can it be used?
- Liabilities: What liabilities do you need to be aware of? Are there any outstanding debts? Any fines, warranties, refunds that need to be paid for?
Additionally, you need to conduct financial due diligence. Examine the past 3 to 5 years of the following financial documents:
- Tax returns
- Business activity statements (BAS)
- Records of accounts receivable and payable
- Balance sheets
- Profit and loss records
- Cash flow statements
- Sales records
You should examine these to make sure that record-keeping has been conducted and maintained appropriately. This will also inform you of any changes that need to be made once you start running the business yourself.
Company culture has become an important part of how businesses are perceived. Businesses with a positive culture are more likely to attract clients and customers. Statistics also show that over 50% of executives believe that having a good culture can influence productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates.
However, while it can be easier to describe and quantify a company’s products and services, defining culture is a lot more difficult. It requires capturing the company environment, values and relationships.
Identifying what your company culture is, or what you want it to be, will determine your work processes, hire new people into your team, and how you and your employees interact with clients.
The first thing to do is to identify key traits that describe your culture. Bring together a diverse group of people from across your company and brainstorm words and qualities which describe the culture. Collate the words which you hear the most so that you end up with a list which is representative of the culture that employees most relate to.
The next thing you need to do is distil this list down to the core values you can see in it. You can conduct surveys (if you have a large company) or talk to your employees (if the company is small) and ask them whether the values you have chosen resonate with them, and if not, which ones do. At this point, you should aim to have around 5 values, but this is a flexible number.
Last of all, once the core values have been established, share them throughout the company. Employees should relate to these values and they should also feel motivated to embody them. Communicate with your employees about why these values may or may not be working/suitable.
Remember that this is a process. You may not get it right the first time, which is why it is important to be receptive to feedback from all members of the company.
A business loan can give you the support you need to fund growth or temporarily relieve cash flow pressures. These are some things to know before applying for the loan:
- Understand the purpose of your loan: You should be sure about why you want a loan and what you will be doing with the loan.
- What loan amount do you need: Realistically calculate how much money you need and how you’ll be allocating it to your needs
- What can you afford to pay: Consider the length of the loan, payment options and other details before you apply. Think about what you can afford to pay so that you can discuss which of these features can and cannot be adjusted to suit your needs.
- Secured or unsecured loans: A secured loan means that you provide an asset for the loan, your interest will be lower than for an unsecured loan and the lender may be able to sell your asset if you are unable to pay the loan. An unsecured loan means that you don’t provide an asset so that the interest rate is higher. It may be difficult to get approved for an unsecured loan.
- Fixed or variable interest: If you are confident that you can meet the repayment requirements even if the rate increases but a fixed rate makes it easier to manage your cash flow as all your repayments are the same.
- Fees and charges: The true cost of any loan is only apparent when you take into account all the additional payments that are incurred. These could include early repayment fees, exit fees, valuation fees (to secure your loan), etc.
- Paperwork: Planning your paperwork ahead of time will make it easier for the lender to approve your loan, this will also make the entire process faster.
- Consider speaking to an expert: You may want to discuss with an advisor about whether a loan might be the best option for you and what alternatives are available if any.
Having a strong relationship with your partners is extremely important, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Having a document which covers all aspects of running the business, both those which are liable to disputes and those which are not is essential.
If you haven’t done so already, the following are some reasons why you should create a written agreement now:
- You and your business partners have a clear understanding of the rules and regulations which will apply to the business and to your business relationship.
- If there is no agreement in place, then all the partners share equal profits and cover losses equally. This will be regardless of how much time and effort each partner contributes to the business. Creating an agreement will allow partners to tweak these aspects and create a unique division which represents the partner contributions more accurately.
- If there is no agreement in place, then the terms of the partnership will be covered by the legislation of your state or territory. These have a one-size-fits-all approach which might not suit your business. Creating an agreement specific to your partnerships will mean it is tailored to the specific circumstances and relationships within your business.
- Minor disagreements can lead to bigger problems if there is no set method to resolve them. A written agreement will allow you to create clear and unambiguous procedures to deal with those sorts of matters and allocate roles to each partner so that there are no confusions about decisions-making.
- Creating an agreement will allow you to focus on the business end of things as opposed to spending time on dealing with specifics of the partnerships.
A written partnership will help streamline the nitpicky processes so that you can focus on the growth of the business.
Innovation doesn’t have to be a revolutionary and world-changing breakthrough. It can also be small changes you make to continually improve your business. Innovation can help in multiple aspects of business.
- Improve sales and customer relationships: Putting the time and effort into improving your products and services is essential if you want to retain customers. Customers will recognise the changes you make and your commitment to doing the best you can for them. This will inevitably translate into improved sales.
- Reduce waste and costs: Implementing changes which utilise new ways to eliminate waste and increase efficiency are extremely important. This will help you either increase your profits, or invest the money you save back into other necessary improvements for the business.
- Improve employee performance: Creating a work environment that promotes innovation is more likely to keep employees stimulated and interested in their work. When employees are given the opportunity to suggest and implement changes, they are more likely to take pride in their work. This will also result in greater productivity.
- Boost your market position: Innovation is also important in keeping up with changes in the market. Creating a company culture which is flexible and facilitates regular changes will mean that you can transform according to the needs of the market. This will differentiate you from competitors and boost your position in the industry.