As an SMB, you’ll never have a shortage of sources for tips and insights. From retail websites (such as this one) to mentors and fellow retailers, there’s always somewhere to turn to for business advice and best practices.
We’ve all been there before. You’ve called about those overdue invoices once, maybe twice, maybe three times, and payment still hasn’t been made.
What to do next? Throw up your hands in despair? Give up on it as a lost cause? No way, Jack. Not in this economy.
Personalization is one of the most important aspects of retail and one of the biggest industry trends for 2017. The key to building lasting relationships with customers, personalized shopping experiences generate satisfaction and loyalty on the part of the consumer — and increased revenue for the retailer.
Seven vehicles on the road. Ten electricians in the field. One business owner working overtime, all the time...
Such was the norm for L&L Electrical, a versatile electrical services company in Campbelltown, Victoria, and proud owner John Libroaperto.
Proud and successful owner he was, yes – but at a hefty cost in a most valuable currency: time.
It’s often how you say something that determines whether you get the result you want. This applies in financial services, marketing and even tax collecting.
In one experiment by the Nudge Unit they improved the payment of vehicle taxes by using simple plain language, “pay your tax or lose your car”. In fact HM Revenue & Customs attributes the recovery of an extra £210 million a year from taxpayers by using behavioural insights in its letters i.e. changing the words to influence behaviour.
With more than 350 million products on Amazon.com it becomes more and more difficult for sellers to get their products in front of the customer. Thus, Amazon’s “Sponsored Products” ads (“Amazon PPC”) are becoming extremely popular among sellers as they offer an (allegedly) easy way to bring their products on the first page. The following tips will help Amazon sellers avoid some common mistakes and get the most out of Amazon Sponsored Products.
While any time of year is a great time to pause and reflect, many people find January is a great opportunity to understand how well their business has performed for the past year and what their targets are for the year ahead. To do that, you need to understand the difference between a budget and a forecast.
Time and again you hear that being overstocked is bad and a situation to avoid, however sometimes this is just not possible. And when it is not possible, you need to be in a position to handle it properly and turn the situation into something the company can benefit from. There are a number of ways to do this in fact, let’s look at them more closely.
We’ve worked with thousands of small businesses over the past few years and managed over $1B in receivables, so we’ve learned a few things when it comes to getting invoices paid earlier with less effort and stress.
“There’s more reasons for an invoice to be paid late than there are for it to be paid on time…” – Debtor Daddy Survey
The problem is that when it comes to getting paid on time there’s more reasons for an invoice to be paid late than there are for it to be paid on time. This means that you’re going to need great systems and great people to keep your receivables under control.
Efficient omnichannel strategies used to be the ultimate goal for retailers — a milestone to work toward on a continuous basis. But times have changed, and both shoppers and retail itself have evolved. Omnichannel is now the standard.
There are several things that go into managing a business and optimizing its performance. These are often reflected in the balance sheet, customer satisfaction and low staff turnover amongst other factors. One component of managing the business effectively and which has a big impact is inventory control. To better achieve inventory control, there are specialized software packages such as Unleashed. However, before purchasing a package, you need to be sure of the benefits to your company’s performance.
I was catching up with a friend over the holidays who was telling me about one of his friends getting made redundant from a small family business just before Christmas. The basic premise of the story was that the bank had told them they needed to make cutbacks, and as part of this they had to reduce staff numbers. They didn’t want to do this, but they had no choice…
Let’s face it, concepts like paperless office and cloud computing are not ‘new’ concepts anymore. It still surprises me when I encounter businesses that are not paperless and in the cloud. It just makes sense. I’ve been running businesses as ‘paperless offices’ since I co-founded Business Fitness back in 2001. My current business, PARADOX, has been ‘paperless’ and had 100% cloud-based IT and business systems from day one, almost 8 years ago now.
If you’re a fashion store owner looking to set your sales soaring in 2017, opening an online store might just be the best way to do it. Online sales of clothing, shoes and accessories are booming, with 43% of Australians aged sixteen and over now shopping online for these products, a 14% increase from the previous year.
You’re back at work ready to make your mark in 2017, and your employees are all rested, recharged and raring to go, right?
Wrong. The spectre of financial stress is wreaking more havoc than ever among the Australian workforce and crippling productivity levels in its wake.
Happy 2017, everyone!
In light of the new year, here’s one question you should think about: are you planning to bring anything new to the in-store experience? If your answer is “no” then 2017 could be a rough one for your physical stores.
There’s nothing quite like starting the new Year with a clean bill of health on all your HR documents, systems and processes.
And in 2017, as if you needed further impetus, there are some new, and pretty compelling reasons to put HR compliance on the top of your to-do list!
It’s no secret that smaller retailers face the challenge of their lives against ecommerce giants such as Amazon — and in Britain, this fight has recently been compounded by Brexit and its potential effects on the retail and trade industries.
But there’s hope yet. A recently launched organization called SaveTheHighStreet.org aims to give the power back to high street retailers and local shopkeepers by endowing them with the tools, skills, and digital capabilities they need to compete in the modern age.
Do you really need a bookkeeper? Or is an accountant enough?
Lessons learnt from growing up in a family business.
Unsurprisingly, some of the early-adopters of cloud software were the IT, Communications and Financial Services industries. The many advantages of using cloud Software are beneficial to a broad scope of businesses.
Since Henry Ford built his first assembly line in 1913, automation has revolutionised manufacturing industries. Similarly, manufacturing can greatly benefit from the multi-functional nature of cloud software and services, improving forecasting, inventory management, sales support functions, HR, product development and life cycle management.
Are you struggling to motivate your employees? Do you constantly chase after them to get their timesheets in on time or wonder why they aren’t more focused or driven? Is absenteeism, poor morale and failure to meet targets a common occurrence?
One of the most overlooked and under-practiced habits in today’s businesses is creating annual profit and loss budgets. But why is this so critical for your business?
With a profit and loss budget, you’ve considered and developed an understanding of the key areas in your business that really make your profit and loss come to life.
Do you feel like it might be time for a change in your office environment? Perhaps the productivity isn’t as good as it use to be or there are a handful of employees who just don’t seem to be performing at their best. Conducting a performance review can greatly help you manage your employees and make sure that your workplace stays strong, efficient, and goal driven.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when the word “paperless” is brought up?
Do you know what your business would do during a natural disaster? Planning for emergencies and natural disasters is essential to help protect your business against the worst.
Help make sure your business is prepared for extreme weather conditions this summer, and create an emergency management plan.
Happy employees are engaged employees. It’s the HR holy grail. So gaining a measure of employee happiness in your business makes good sense. But all employee happiness surveys are not created equal. An employee happiness survey is only as good as the questions you ask and how you follow through on the responses.
I am astounded by the number of times I search for a product online, click the option to purchase, only to find that I then need to phone the retailer to pay. In 2016, this kind of disconnected experience is not good enough. Connected consumers want the freedom to buy from anywhere at any time, with a recent Zendesk survey revealing that 67% of consumers use multiple channels to make purchases.
It’s easy to take for granted the innovative technology we have at our disposal today. For small businesses, something as simple as email has completely revolutionized the way you communicate with customers.
In order to run a modern business, you need to utilize modern technology. Doing so means that you can run your business as efficiently as possible, hire staff that are best-suited to the job and retain them.
It’s the Holy Grail of business: increasing the number of profitable hours in a day. Short of asking staff to do more overtime or take shorter breaks, how do owners and managers coax more revenue-raising activities out of every employee and every subcontractor on every shift? And how do they become more effective at making decisions that will boost business efficiency every week?
In contemplating what to write about in this post I turned to the bevvy of online news sites for inspiration. Every second headline seemed to shine a spotlight on the issues our organisation deals with every day: minimum wage increases, penalty rates, protecting Australian jobs, childcare affordability and superannuation. Federal elections certainly have a way of getting people focused on employment services topics!
Are you looking for ways to ensure your employees are happy at work?
With the right approach, flexible working arrangements can help your employees achieve a work-life balance and benefit your business.
You’ve had a hectic day at the office. A last minute crisis occurred and you worked 2 hours overtime to get everything done. When you finally arrive home you’re too exhausted to cook dinner (and substitute with greasy takeaways and a cheap bottle of wine).Your ‘quality time’ with your spouse consists of a few muttered sentences before doing the laundry and other crucial tasks, then rolling into bed exhausted.
As a manager, it’s important to do your best to keep your workplace from becoming an episode of the Real Housewives. Here are some tips for managing conflict.
We all know that cash flow is king. But just how much sway does it have? Well, you might want to ask the nine out of 10 small businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. That’s, right, according to D&B, 90% of small businesses close their doors because of poor cash flow management.
Everyone makes a plan at some point in their life. Whether it’s for their wedding, family, business – or even just the weekend. Spontaneity is fun when it comes to road trips and skinny dips, but successful businesses need to think about the future and how to work smarter, not harder.
A recent study focused on identifying the current issues and trends facing Australian SMEs has found that 38% of small businesses pick Marketing & Advertising as the primary strategy for growth.
With more than a third of small business competing in the open market it will mean that it’s going to be harder and harder for your prospective customers to differentiate your business to your competitors. This often means that with a limited budget, as an owner of a business you would rather hire new sales or marketing personnel than HR. Or invest time in prospecting new business rather than increasing employee engagement and other people management strategies.
If there’s one phrase found on the lips of finance-conscious small business owners more often than any other, it’s surely this old chestnut: “Cash flow is king”.
But how often does the average small business owner actually walk the talk of ‘cash is king’? Could it be that the simple distinction between ‘cash’ and ‘profit’ is actually unclear for many SMBs? And just what is the difference?
With smartphones at our fingertips, customers are searching online more than anywhere else to research a product. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you have a website ready for customers who are looking you up. Understanding why it is important and figuring out where to start can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know.
Small businesses will often say that their number one goal is business growth. But where does business growth come from? An easy answer to this can be “attracting new customers”. But attracting new customers can come at a very high price. Marketing has become increasingly difficult with online advertising and social media offering. Competition is fierce. Every other small business is online competing for potential customers. On the other hand, you could rely on word-of-mouth, but that is going to be a very slow process.
What should your tax accountant be doing? What is your responsibility? How do you know if they've got it right?
Mention the word ‘millennial’ and the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of employers is ‘risky’. Today’s university graduates are looking to fast-track their career, and are not afraid of jumping from employer to employer to achieve advancement.
As an employer, it's important that you understand the difference between employees and contractors. Employing someone under the wrong arrangement could put your business at risk of penalties. Things like your tax and super obligations are also affected by your workers’ arrangement.
If you’re like most small business owners and managers, you probably wear many hats and are responsible for many areas of your business. You’re the CEO, bean counter, marketing whiz, sales guru, lead developer, and more.
So you’ve typically got your hands full developing growth strategies, optimising the cash flow, managing customer relationships, product and service innovation, not the mention the human side of running your business.
Not too long ago, customers walked into retail stores without knowing much about their products. They’d browse the merchandise to discover items they liked, relying on store associates for more details and information.
Are your staff turning up late, grouchy and stressed? Do they have a distant look in their eyes (like they’d rather be anywhere else)? Is your turnover rate on the rise?
Have you ever wondered what makes successful business owners tick? Do you share their good habits? We surveyed 2,000 business owners to help you find out.
Job sheets, whiteboards, clipboards, filing cabinets … these are the communication and information storage tools of old-fashioned, inefficient small businesses. For owners and managers of trades and services companies who are only familiar with these traditional ways of working, and systems that may have been used for decades, it can seem like a difficult task to move to modern, cloud-based job management software.
If you track income and expenses on a spreadsheet, you could be losing sight of how your business is performing and wasting a lot of time on data entry. There are low-cost alternatives that allow you to monitor business cashflow really simply.
Working with family members presents unique advantages, and unique challenges. If you've built up your own business, now might be the time to bring in other family members. Here’s how to avoid some of the pitfalls.
Several years ago, I had a customer who would glower at me as soon as I entered his department. He would say, ‘Fix it right this time, or get it out of here,’ no matter what the problem was.
If I was even one minute later than my ETA, he would be on the phone with my boss, complaining about the horrible service he was getting.
Because he would place a service call for the slightest imperfection or hiccup of the machine, I was going there almost every day.
Marketing. *Cringe*. You can think of a million things you’d rather be doing. The ice bucket challenge in the middle of winter. A half marathon with your ridiculously fit niece, a Toastmasters table topics competition in front of 100 unknown people.
‘I love deadlines…. especially the whooshing noise they make as they go by!’ That’s one of my favourite “Dilbert” quotes about business but it flies in the face of what motorsport stands for. Motorsport is a business of hitting deadlines because it doesn’t matter what reasons or excuses there are, the race will always start on time…. Whether you are there or not.
A big mistake made by small business managers is not providing adequate staff training. It doesn’t matter if a business is bringing in a new employee or the latest piece of specialist machinery or mobile technology, staff who aren’t trained properly will cost time and money. In the long run, businesses who don’t make training a priority will likely lose good staff, too.
One of the tougher challenges for many trade businesses today in terms of finance is what’s commonly referred to as a cash gap.
A cash gap is a lag which occurs between income and cost of goods sold (COGS); that is, cash inflows and outflows. Businesses that suffer from a cash gap may be profitable on paper, but have cash flow problems because they have to pay their suppliers (COGS) much earlier than they receive money from their clients (income).
How did trust, that fundamental building block of human behaviour, become a cornerstone of modern business? Once something that required significant time and investment to build, maintain and yield results, trust is now being made and broken by strangers at speed – and that shift is being commoditised.
Good managers can make or break a business. They're essential to developing a positive and productive workforce, which, in turn, improves employee retention levels and ensures everybody in the business is working in line with the company’s strategy and objectives.
Freelancing and gigging are gaining popularity fast. Not only do you get the flexibility to work when and how you want, a lot of these jobs let you work from home. However, if you’ve never worked from home before this can be a challenge.
Treating your home like an office can take practice, especially if you don’t have enough space for a dedicated home office. If you’re freelancing and want to work more efficiently, here are some tips to help.
Much like finding an old $20 in those jeans that you’ve had away since last winter, or like realising you’ve ordered your pizza on cheap Tuesday when you go to foot the bill, figuring out that just a small change to the way you work can save you time and money is gold.
Sometimes, it’s the minor details that matter. It might seem like a small win at the time, but it’s one that can make a big difference to your business.
Hiring the right person for the job isn’t always a straightforward process. There are many variables to consider and whether you are a startup looking to hire your very first member of staff or already have a few team members on board and are looking to expand, the right person with the right skills can really enhance your work environment and have a positive impact on production. Hiring the wrong person does just the opposite and can not only be a costly exercise, but it can also be time-consuming and even have a negative impact on employee morale.
It’s been a huge year for M&A in the tech industry. For startups, there are many valuable insights that can be gleaned from this activity. By looking to organizations that have been around for a long time, entrepreneurs can learn what it takes to stay relevant in the coming years.
These days, using a mortgage broker certainly makes sense if you want some expert help in whittling down the huge number of loan options out there.
You’ll certainly save a lot of time and legwork, but to make the most of a broker’s services, it’s critical that you share your financial goals with them so they can actually show you the best loans to help you achieve your financial goals.
Change is a normal and essential part of business. It’s an important step in improving your staff performance, enhancing goods or services and expanding.
No matter what type of business you start, while you’re getting up and running, you’ll have a number of expenses that you’ll need to pay for up front.
To help you invest more money in growing your business, you’re now able to claim back certain startup costs, sooner.
In the world of small business, the changing nature of competition requires us to constantly adjust and adapt, succeed and remain grounded. Everyday business decisions can be a continuous battle between the urge to stand still and consolidate, or push to achieve more.
So how do you strike the right balance? Multi-medal winning swimmer Michael Klim shares four top tips.
Starting your own business can feel like scaling Mt Kilimanjaro. You dig your feet in, climb, and pray for the best. It’s an exciting, chaotic, and hope-filled journey… But what happens when you reach the top of the mountain? Is there anywhere to go but downhill?
Unfortunately many small businesses grind to a halt - or even start to decline - after climbing their first mountain. This is known as the small business profit plateau. Your company is finally up and running smoothly, but its exponential growth suddenly stops. Your profits start to flatline. It feels like your team is working twice as hard just to maintain the same ROI.
Applying for funding from a bank can be daunting. It’s a lengthy process which involves jumping through hoop after hoop with no guarantee of success.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, follow our guide to ensure you go into the loan process with the correct information and watch your chances of approval soar.
Ah, meetings. With their almost universally hated status, running one can be tough going. You can almost *hear* the groans as you schedule one in the team’s shared calendar (and heaven forbid you try and make it a regular weekly occurrence). Given the enormous amount of pressure you – as the brave meeting organiser – face, it’s easy to default to a boring Powerpoint deck and read off the slides word-for-word. Unfortunately it’s also a great way to send everyone to sleep or to seek solace in tea breaks and lunch.
All too often a brand will launch a new product or service that flops because of a poorly thought through marketing campaign – so here are 8 tips for a successful marketing campaign.
Xero was born to achieve a simple but bold purpose: to build powerful, relevant and beautiful cloud accounting software that would change the lives of its global accounting partners and small businesses.
That’s why we consider it our greatest achievement to know that small business owners and key decision makers have named Xero the most-loved accounting software for a second year in a row, beating MYOB and Intuit Quickbooks, through independent research.
If you haven’t heard already, there are some big changes around the corner for workers covered by modern awards, which are has kicked in at the start of August 2016. Importantly, there are some big changes in the way employees can cash out annual leave.
Whether you’re an architect or a personal trainer, you’ll know the importance of using the right tools for the job. When it comes to running a thriving business, cloud-based apps are becoming an increasingly essential item in a small business’ toolkit.
Providing access to real-time information on the go, as well as reducing time spent on manual data-entry are just some of the benefits apps can provide busy small business owners.
How many times have you been on a road trip with children and heard that constant question that gratingly gets on your nerves: ‘Are we there yet?’
If you’re like me, you want to answer with, ‘Of course not or we’d be… there.’ Kids, knowing the potential fun to be had at the destination, get weary in the waiting of the journey itself.
Research suggests it costs a business between 4-10 times more to acquire a new client than it does to retain a current client. As a business owner, you will do well to look for ways to nurture these clients who’ve used you once into not just returning, but spreading the word about your company.
Choosing a bank is one of the most important decisions when starting a small business.
It’s as important as choosing where you’ll set up a brick-and-mortar store, developing a business strategy or deciding who you’ll partner with.
Choosing a bank should be the start of a long and fruitful business relationship.
They may stand alone on the podium, but gold-winning medallists always thank the team that made them. So how do you build the right team around you when you’re only just off the blocks – and why should you bother?
Corporate espionage… A sinister plot to a movie or a real threat to your small business? You’d be surprised by what you don’t know about your company’s cyber security.
This week on Xero Gravity we are joined by our very own Felix Shi. Felix is the product security specialist at Xero and has seen it all when it comes to cyber breaches. On this week’s episode, we explore the holes hiding in your business’ cyber security systems and offer some valuable steps you can take to protect yourself.
You’ve got a beautiful business blog, full of white space and full bleed imagery. It’s responsive, a pleasure to scroll through and sure looks a whole lot snazzier than what your competitors are pushing out on a regular basis. You know you’re getting traffic because comments are surfacing every now and again, “likes” are trickling from your social feeds – but all in all it’s not really converting to new business or opportunities.
What are you doing wrong?
It’s the beginning of the new financial year which means it’s time to review, reset and plan for the year ahead.
Here are 7 steps to help your business start the new financial year out right.
As the company owner, you have that entrepreneurial streak, that will to succeed. You can see the big picture and have a clear view of where you want the company to be in 5 years time.
The big problem comes when you can’t seem to translate that enthusiasm and drive to your team. They’re qualified and hardworking, but they just don’t really seem that fussed what happens to the company. You want them to be resilient, driven and – above all else – as motivated to succeed as you are.
According to world-class athlete and Olympian Sally Gunnell, as well as adapting to change, sustaining excellence in a new business is one of the hardest parts of the journey. In both business and sport, people ask and expect you to consistently perform at a massively high level with challenging deadlines. Sally’s advice in this regard is to stay focused on your goals and remember that they can of course be tweaked when they’ve been achieved or part achieved.
While the similarities between olympians and entrepreneurs may be few and far between, they do share one unifying cause: both strive for gold. Seeing the dedication of the athletes at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio reminds us of the long and hard path they forged to get to the Olympic arena.
For former Olympic athlete Michelle Roark, the transition from freestyle skiing to business owner was a no-brainer. Roark started skin and haircare company, Phia Lab, and with this came the realization the skills she had developed as a professional athlete were more than transferrable. Her inspiration for the brand was even inspired during training.
When you own a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day: from ensuring jobs get done, to checking employees and customers are happy. That’s before we even factor in our families, let alone ourselves.
But when we don’t take care of ourselves too, it can take a toll on the quality we operate at, affecting business productivity and ultimately profitability.
Is your small business on social media yet? I’m sure you’ve heard of the great potential social media holds for marketing your company, so I won’t preach to the converted. Everyone knows about the 6 big players - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn - but trust me, not all of them are right for your small business.
Having a good working relationship with your suppliers is vital to ensure your business runs smoothly. Although it’s likely you’ve taken the time to find the right suppliers for your business and build up a good supplier relationship with them, it’s still important to know what to do if any issues arise.
No one likes late payments from their customers. Late payments have a negative effect on cash flow. Chasing customers for payment takes valuable time. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to getting your invoices paid on time. Here are some tips to make your invoices highly likely to get paid quickly.
Tax time is a prime period for scammers to target businesses. It’s important to be one step ahead by being aware of scams and knowing how to protect your business.
However there's extra time and help available to you if you need it…
You put a lot of work into gaining your customers.
So once you have them, you don’t want them to simply buy from you once, and then leave you to go out acquiring new customers.
That’s exactly what might happen if your customer has a bad experience with your customer service.
A robust rostering system is essential in any hospitality or retail business. Ensuring you have the right number of staff rostered on will keep your customers happy, and your wage cost looking great.
On the contrary, building rosters inefficiently can be a real time-waster. So, how do you get maximum results from your roster?
As a small business owner, could getting too embroiled in the day-to-day work of your business harm its overall development?
Often, your time is spent working in the business and not on the business.
Yet, in order to grow from a small outfit to a successful, profitable company, and to make the transition from owner-worker to managing director or CEO, you need to invest time managing your business.
Below are a few tips to help you make the transition.
It’s Saturday night and dozens of people are starting to stream into your restaurant for a bite to eat. Your staff are ready and everyone’s looking sharp… except Dave, who was supposed to be there 15 minutes ago. Turns out he didn’t realise he was meant to be working and is away for an epic skiing weekend. Awesome for him – not so much for you.
The major issues facing service businesses with a predominantly mobile workforce are universal. They tend to be all about controlling costs and effectively managing job schedules and staff.
The major issues facing service businesses with a predominantly mobile workforce are universal. They tend to be all about controlling costs and effectively managing job schedules and staff.
A recent US survey of 100 small- and medium-sized business managers showed that the biggest challenges when managing a mobile service workforce were keeping operational costs in line (25.7%), scheduling and dispatching (20.8%), managing workflow and processes (17.8%) and hiring and retention (11.9%).
Many years ago, I was on lunch with two other techs when one asked, 'Have you seen Tom around lately?'
Tom was a bit of a 'lone wolf' so it wasn’t too strange that we hadn’t run into him, but our manager had also requested a few times that we take his service calls.
I decided to call Tom to find out why he had been MIA for the past few weeks.
Some customers are simply not worth having – they cost you more than the revenue they bring in. They consume a disproportionate share of time and money, and create stress by paying late. They disrespect your people, complain often, and expect the earth, yesterday, and all at a rock-bottom price.
Think about the stars of Hollywood’s red carpets and you probably have in mind a certain sort of person. Someone who embodies the glamour of the silver screen, effortlessly suave, confident and full of panache… Or maybe you just see someone who’s made it lucky and never done a proper day’s work in their life.
From freelancers to fencers, techies to electricians, if you issue invoices as part of your day-to-day business, you will have experienced the frustration of not having those invoices paid on time.
And the part that really blows? The cringing follow-up phone call where you try to coax payment out of the client while not damaging your relationship.
Since the recession in 2008, there have been many complaints that the banks aren’t lending to SMEs. As a result businesses are increasingly seeking out alternative finance routes to access funding.
Surprise bills hurt businesses. Make sure you know upfront what your accountant is going to charge.