Monday, February 4, 2008

How Small Businesses Waste Money

Most business owners subscribe to the thought that you "must spend money to make money". This can be true, but you also must know exactly where that money is going and the results it brings. A small business owner never has any money to waste.

Some ways that your business might waste money includes the following:

1. Manage your credit cards - If you have several cards, develop a computer program that will show you the exact balances, due dates, and the interest rate you are paying. Always be aware of other solicitations that save you money and possibly change your balances over to a new company. If you have any employee cards, see if you can set a limit on them. If not with the credit card company, make sure that the employees know their limits. Manage your credit cards wisely and never, ever miss a due date.

2. Develop an annual plan so you know where you will spend money. This helps you in several ways. The business person will be aware of what portion of the profits are going to advertising, towards incentives, towards accounting and other internal expenses, etc.

3. Do not over-purchase any products or services for a business. If you buy in bulk, the money is tied up and a place must be provided to keep the extras. That might be an unnecessary expense.

4. Developing an advertising budget and knowing just what resources to use is key to keeping money under control in a small business. You must advertise, but you also must get value for your money or you will soon be out of business. Keep a record of how much is spent, can you get payment terms, when is the most efficient time to advertise your particular product or service to get the most value for the dollar. Every dollar must be accounted for in advertising because the lifeline of your business depends on new and paying customers. Advertising is the way to get the word out to the community or the Internet.

5. A small business owner will sometimes be under self-induced stress to manage all aspects of the business. Sometimes, leaving the control and decisions to others that are qualified is the best way to manage the business. Releasing control may be hard to do sometimes, but in a lot of businesses, money can be wasted because the owner cannot possibly be as efficient as the person who has studied or is knowledgeable about a particular field. For instance, if a business owner does not know accounting, many mistakes in reporting income and taxes can be made. A qualified accountant can possibly save more than the cost of their services in reduced taxes.

Take a hard look around your business and do not let anything be set in stone if saving money is the goal. Challenge everything that will cost money and see what can be done to change the situation. Any money that is saved is money that can be put back into the business either in profits or in growth.

A business owner wants their business to be successful and will work hard to sustain growth. A business owner wants a way to continue making and growing money from a product or service that is interesting to them. After growing a business and being smart with cash flow, many business owners will sell their businesses only to start another business.

The reason is that business owners are independent types and challenges are rewarding when met and faced. Saving money through every day operations will help the business owner to meet their financial and emotional goals.

Four Tips for Boosting Your Profits with Business Cards

A business card may be the most overlooked advertising medium in the business world. But these simple rectangles of cardboard can be powerful tools to help any entrepreneur increase sales. Similarly, a poorly thought out or clumsily designed business card could be as much of a detriment for your sales as an "out of business" sign.

Business cards have actually been around for much longer than most people realize. The first ones, in the form of visiting cards or calling cards, were used in China about 600 years ago. They started being used in Europe approximately 200 years lager. When one aristocrat went out to visit another, the prospective guest's servant would deliver his master's calling card to the servant of the prospective host. An elaborate system of calling card etiquette developed and was followed by the gentry across England and France.

Today, anyone from North America or Europe who has gone on a business trip to Japan, China or other Asian countries knows there is very much a tradition of etiquette that must be followed when exchanging business cards in those countries.

But even if you are only going to be doing business in your hometown, you can help boost that business by following four tips before you have your next business cards printed.

1. Legibility. It's fine to have a creative, attractive design for your card, but do not fall for the trap of selecting a type face that is so fancy it is not legible. If people cannot decipher all the words and numbers on your card, it is useless. Also, remember that, especially in this era of aging baby boomers, type that is too small may also be difficult for some old eyes to read properly.

2. Individualize. You are a unique individual, and your business card should reflect your unique personality. One easy way to do this is to put your photograph on your card. Of, if you are an artist, crafts person or photographer, why not put an image of one of your creations on the card? If you sell unique widgets, put an illustration of them on your card.

3. Proofread. Just as a wood worker should always measure twice before he cuts, every word should be double checked for proper spelling. Every telephone number should be dialed and every web address visited to make sure they are letter perfect before your card goes to press.

4. Use the back. Your business card has two sides, and you are missing a prime opportunity if you leave the back of your card blank. Instead, utilize that space to say what is most important about you, your business, product or service. It could be as simple as "bring this card in for a 10% discount." Or you could use the back of your card to show off testimonials from some of your satisfied customers.

There are several very good Internet business card companies that let you design your own cards online. In some cases, their shipping costs are less than it would cost you to drive to a local print shop and back.

Finally, if you only need a few cards, or if you want to experiment with different card designs, you can purchase perforated, blank business card stock at office supply stores and make your own cards using templates that come with many computer word processing software programs.

However your business cards are eventually printed, remember that they may leave a lasting impression of you and your business for many years to come.