(BPT) - A challenge for any entrepreneur is getting access to capital. If you’re like many, you’re constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses and free up cash flow so you can be ready for anything, whether it’s a slow season or an opportunity to expand.
When tax season rolls around, you’re already taking a deep dive into your expenses and income for the past year. Don’t stop when you file. With all that information at your fingertips (and fresh in your mind), it’s a great opportunity to take a big-picture look at the health of your business and make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible.
Use the following tips to take your tax preparation efforts a step further and boost your cash flow in the upcoming year.
Dust off your business plan: No doubt when you started out in business, you were eager to put your vision to paper. Most entrepreneurs get busy with the day-to-day pressures of deadlines, and that vision can recede into the background. Schedule some time with your board members or business partners to revisit and update the business plan. Now that you understand the realities of your market, you should have plenty of ideas on creating the 2.0 version of your enterprise. When finished, it’s important to not allow it to gather dust again. Set goals and schedule check-in meetings with your team to make sure everything’s on track.
Update your budget: The nature of entrepreneurship is being agile in the face of change. Market trends, price changes from vendors and suppliers, effects of new laws and ordinances, even road construction are variable forces that can send anyone’s budget into a new direction. That’s why your budget isn’t ever going to be a spot-on prediction. Think of it as a plan. If you stay on top of it, you can spot the trends early and make adjustments right away so you can reap the full advantage — or head off problems before they become unmanageable.
Check your credit score: If you’re planning to raise capital to expand or make improvements in the next year, checking in on your credit score is an important first step you can take several months before you apply for the loan. Even if you have a business credit score, certain business loans still require a look at your personal credit score, especially if you’re a sole proprietorship. Visit Your.VantageScore.com to find free resources to learn your credit score. There’s also helpful information on what factors influence your score and things you can do that can help increase it over the coming months to help you get the best rate possible.
Create a tax strategy: The tax break Congress passed in December will save small business owners 20 percent on their tax bill this year. In the coming year, small business owners have many opportunities to capture more tax savings with the right plan and strategy. For example, if you’re planning a large equipment purchase, you may find yourself in a better tax bracket in 2019 if you time it before Dec. 31, rather than waiting until the following year as planned. Have a meeting with your accountant to discover more ideas.
Pay down debt: One way to use the windfall of your 20 percent tax savings is to pay down revolving loan debt. Doing so is a great way to raise access to working capital should you need it down the line. Depending on the source of credit, reducing your credit-to-balance ratio is one factor that could raise your credit score. Before you do so, make sure you have enough cash flow to meet your expenses.
Improve accounts receivable: If your business extends lines of credit to your customers, it may be worthwhile to implement a credit check policy on all new customers. Knowing they’re creditworthy before the fact can help you create the appropriate plan for them and protect your business. Credit reporting is also an effective way for even a small business owner to let customers know they are serious about collecting what’s owed. In the end, you’ll get paid faster and increase cash flow.
The life of an entrepreneur means things can change drastically on a dime. A thorough check-in with your finances can put you in the best position for success. To learn more about the tools and solutions offered by VantageScore, visit Your.VantageScore.com.
(BPT) - What’s better than being your own boss, setting your own hours, determining your own salary and having an office wherever you happen to be? It’s a Utopian idea that is reality for tens of thousands of people working independently in direct sales worldwide. But getting there isn’t easy. It takes grit to abandon the familiar grind and build a business — especially in direct sales.
Just ask Wayne Nugent, founder and chief visionary officer of WorldVentures(TM), the leading direct seller of travel and leisure club memberships. He got his start as a direct salesman and, after more than two decades in the business, he has seen it all. In that time, the industry has faced many challenges largely due to a minority of companies recruiting representatives, charging them large upfront fees and persuading them to purchase large volumes of nonreturnable inventory with little or no tangible value. Though many reputable companies exist today, mere mention of direct sales, multilevel marketing or network marketing can stir memories of the pyramid schemes and shattered dreams that made headlines in the past.
Nugent contends you can’t paint all network marketing companies with the same broad stroke. He created his company in 2005 to help people find fun, freedom and fulfillment through affordable travel with family and friends. The company’s success is based on the principle of work-life balance, a philosophy Nugent is spreading through a growing network of representatives who — in his words — Make a living … Living!(TM)
“I have a creation goal,” says Nugent, who also serves on the board of WorldVentures Foundation(TM), a nonprofit that supports sustainable programs for children in need worldwide. “If we get somebody making a little extra money per month, it gives them some financial breathing room. If they’ll pursue that with some consistency, and it’s fun, we can get them making more. At that point, they’re feeling abundant. So now, guess what they do? They give back. Network marketing makes this possible.”
On the move
According to the latest figures from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, global direct sales grew 7.7 percent in 2015, reaching a record $183.7 billion. The industry’s potential is particularly appealing to millennials now entering the workforce. These individuals born between 1977 and 2000 have witnessed their parents lose jobs despite devotion to their employers, then struggle to find work regardless of their education and experience. As a result, millennials embrace entrepreneurship as an alternate path to financial freedom.
The direct-to-consumer model has been leveraged successfully to sell goods and services in the cosmetics, household wares, nutrition, travel and technology industries for more than half a century. Growth and longevity aside, there are several reasons to consider a career in direct sales, including:
After you’ve taken the leap and joined a direct-selling organization, what’s next? You’ve probably heard it so much that it sounds cliché, but staying around the campfire is key. Partnering with others and plugging into the trainings can mean the difference between mediocrity and meteoric success.
Whether you want to earn supplemental income or replace your current salary, Nugent says, “If you lean in and give 100 percent, this industry has the power to support all aspects of your well-being — financial, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.”
(BPT) - Think sales numbers trump customer service? Think again. Research shows companies focused on providing a superior experience across the customer journey realized a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction and 10-15 percent increase in revenue. Furthermore, 45 percent of people will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. And perhaps the most shocking of all: It costs six to seven times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer.
Given these factors many companies are taking a closer look at their customer retention rates and evaluating the customer experiences they provide. To meet customers on their terms and facilitate employee productivity, it’s critical to invest in new technology. However, not all businesses have the internal IT resources or expertise to efficiently implement technology and effectively manage it on a continuous basis.
For these businesses, working with a trusted technology partner provides an easier route to weather the changes and delight customers. Numerous companies have worked with Dell to ensure they don’t have to worry about downtime or system failure. Dell ProSupport Plus, for instance, provides these companies with the highest level of hardware and software support so they can deliver the best experience to their customers. Powered by Dell’s SupportAssist technology, this support program not only helps resolve issues quickly and proactively, but can also prevent issues before they happen through predictive capabilities. This means less effort by IT staff and more peace-of-mind for both the company and their customers. For example, Dell ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist users are able to spend up to 91 percent less time on resolution. Imagine what an IT staff could do when they’re able to shift that time away from maintenance.
Another time when a technology provider’s services become critical is when businesses implement new solutions. The continual evolution of technology such as cloud, converged datacenters and big data presents a world of new opportunities — and new challenges. Not only do businesses need to contemplate how to get their new technology up and running quickly, they also need to be able to maintain, refresh and address any issues that arise.
To sail over the many potential hurdles, the Dell ProDeploy Enterprise Suite is helping IT managers and business leaders navigate the growing complexity of multiple platforms and risk of transitioning to new technologies while minimizing any downtime, all within the confines of limited resources and budgets. Businesses can rely on Dell experts and partners to lead deployments from basic hardware installation through planning, configuration and complex integrations. Companies using Dell deployment services can reduce IT effort by 91 percent and deploy systems 39 percent faster.
With new technology solutions up and running, businesses should be positioned to provide the best customer service possible. However, without a properly trained crew there will be no one to sail the ship or right it when needed. In addition to investing in technology, organizations need to give their IT team the right training and tools to do their job well. Dell has addressed this critical need by introducing training and certification that gives a company’s IT staff access to the same resources as Dell engineers.
If the technology powering the business is running smoothly, it’s reflected in effortless and memorable interactions with customers that inspire loyalty and build revenue.
Customer service IT services and customer support will continue to evolve as new technologies are developed and customer expectations will continue to rise. By being proactive and partnering with a technology vendor who is intent on staying ahead of the curve, companies can gain an edge against the competition while building an unbreakable brand reputation.
Interested in Publishing on The Business IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Interested in Publishing on The Business Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Get this business content for your website with our RSS Feed below!