(BPT) - If there’s one thing that keeps small business owners up at night, it’s cash flow problems. Without solid cash flow, businesses can lose employees and suppliers, and watch as their normal business operations fall apart. When small businesses run into these issues, they often struggle to find a way out, making cash flow problems feel like quicksand. Thankfully, it is possible to pull yourself to safety. Here are just some of the ways small business owners can adapt their business practices and overcome the nightmare of poor cash flow.
Rethink your invoices
If you’re not sending invoices out as soon as possible, start right now. It’s simply the only way to get paid. But beyond that, you may consider changing your invoice policies to encourage timely payments from your customers. You can offer a small discount if they pay before the agreed-upon term, charge a late penalty or consider invoice factoring or financing. Whatever you do, keep on top of your invoices because they’re ultimately the key to solving any cash flow problem.
Take stock of your tech
Your technology investments were supposed to improve operations and drive efficiencies to save you money. But did they? Consider taking stock of your existing technology infrastructure. You may find hidden, costly issues that hinder your ability to maintain solid cash flow. For example, if you invested in an ecommerce site but it has poor UX design and doesn’t accept popular payment options like PayPal and Apple Pay, you’re leaving money on the table.
If you’re not a tech expert, it’s critical you have a technology partner that you can count on to give sound advice. Dell Small Business advisors can provide insight into the latest advancements and help guide your decisions to improve both your operations and your cash flow.
Upgrade your accounting software
If you’re using outdated accounting software, you may be turning a blind eye to potential cash flow problems. Newer accounting systems come with advanced monitoring capabilities, can automate invoices and generate cash flow reports. These reports provide insights into your cash inflow and outflow, so you can quickly identify and resolve cash flow problems. The best method to take charge of your company’s financial health is to have the best information available, and the simplest way to do that is with powerful accounting software.
Making long-term investments may be reckless for small businesses tight on cash. But there are other ways to make your money work for you while maintaining liquidity. For example, you can direct your accounts receivable payments to a high-interest savings account so you start earning interest immediately after your invoices are paid. You can then move money to an interest-earning checking account to pay for your regular expenses. You can also use money market accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs) to improve your cash position. The important thing is to change your investment mindset and find ways to maximize every dollar coming in and going out.
Optimism is an essential characteristic of any entrepreneur. But if you’re letting that optimism get in the way of sound business practices, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. For example, buying more inventory on the simple belief that you’ll hit your sales targets during the back-to-school season is a fool’s errand. Stop playing the “hope” game and go back to your data. Set realistic targets and expectations and build your cash flow strategy around that.
While cash flow issues can certainly be alarming, they can also be temporary. By taking these steps and developing a thoughtful approach to your inflow and outflow, you can resolve cash flow problems and strengthen the financial health of your business.
What is the EX, or the employee experience, exactly? EX is not just about what it's like to work day-to-day in the office, and it's not about benefits, half-day Fridays, sleeping pods, beer fridges in the break room and other fun perks, though those things do enter into it. But EX is deeper and more meaningful than that. It's about truly engaging employees.
(BPT) - One of the latest business buzzwords this year is EX, or the employee experience. Organizations are beginning to realize that they need to create a positive employee experience in the same way they have focused on the customer experience. In this ever-tightening job market, it's mission critical to keep employees happy, fulfilled and challenged. Only then can they keep their customers happy. Focusing on EX means evaluating an employee's entire life cycle with the company, from before they even apply for a job to beyond their last day. It's so critical that Forbes even dubbed 2018 the Year of the Employee Experience.
What is the EX, exactly? EX is not just about what it's like to work day-to-day in the office, and it's not about benefits, half-day Fridays, sleeping pods, beer fridges in the break room and other fun perks, though those things do enter into it. But EX is deeper and more meaningful than that. It's about truly engaging employees. Employee engagement (EE) and EX are intertwined so closely they can be called one and the same.
The problem with EE: There's a disconnect
In a recent study, Dale Carnegie found that 70 percent of top executives believe that employee engagement has a strong impact on financial performance. In a similar study, Deloitte found that 85 percent of company leaders say EE is an important strategic priority, but Dale Carnegie found that just 31 percent of front-line employees and managers strongly agreed that their company is actually making engagement a top priority.
Clearly, there's a disconnect between what execs are saying and what employees are feeling. That's because there's a piece left out of this puzzle: the employees' managers.
The key to aligning executive priorities with what employees are experiencing lies in the management chain. Managers need to be enabled and empowered to engage their teams on a daily basis. It means getting managers the training they need to engage their teams, by making it a strategic priority and creating a culture of engagement. Dale Carnegie programs teach the skills managers need and can help organizations do the right things to increase overall employee engagement.
Ways to increase employee engagement
Focus on getting managers and supervisors the skills they need. Immediate supervisors and managers are on the front lines of employee engagement. Leaders at all levels need to understand that the way they interact with their employees and direct reports matters to the company's bottom line. Open a dialogue with managers about EE, and listen to what they're saying about what works and what doesn't, and if they're frustrated, give them the tools and training necessary for change.
Get CEO buy-in. If your CEO does not have employee engagement on his or her priority list, the effort is doomed to fail. Make sure the CEO has the facts on employee engagement, and the knowledge that it needs to start at the top. EE needs to be treated like any other strategic priority.
Align policies with EE. You need employee-supportive policies and procedures, such as a standard performance evaluation policy. But it also means changing policies that are barriers to engagement. Are there processes and procedures working at cross-purpose with engagement efforts? If so, change them. How are your rewards and recognition programs designed? What do you reward and recognize? Are they making your employees feel valued? It requires going through your policies with a critical eye, and the willingness to change what's not working.
Employee engagement needs to be on the top of the priority list for top executives, managers and supervisors, and that's no easy task. But in this ever-tightening job market, with greener grass just a click away on a job seeker's app, keeping all of your employees happy, engaged and fulfilled is the key to your company's competitive advantage.
Welcome to the era of the open workspace, where people can work and collaborate anywhere in the office, wherever they need to be. What do these modern workspaces look like? This article outlines the five traits they have in common.
(BPT) - Step into the office of the future on the first day of work, and the things that you expect in a traditional workplace are not going to happen here.
There’s no landline, no file cabinet, no bulletin board. The employee is never taken to an assigned cubicle. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that employees will spend much of their day in the same chair.
The forward-looking workplace design discards all the usual trappings of the traditional office that lock employees into physical departments with seating arrangements, moving toward an open design. While perks such as catered lunches and ping pong tables are getting attention for changing workplace culture, it's actually the power of technology that is quietly transforming the way we work. Technology is a tool that gives us a fluid and flexible use of time and space, changing how people get the job done.
“Eventually, the open digital workspace design will not be simply nice to have, it’s becoming more and more expected. It’s going to become mandatory if you want to attract top talent,” says Donna Kimmel, the senior vice president and chief people officer of Citrix.
Welcome to the era of the open workspace, where people can work and collaborate anywhere in the office, wherever they need to be. What do these modern workspaces look like? These are the five traits they have in common:
They ditch the cubicle farm: It’s no longer necessary to spend the day alone in a cubicle rooted to one spot for access to a desktop computer or landline phone. Today, you can easily and securely access, store and share your information from anywhere whether you’re on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Without the need for space-wasting cubicles, your building space needs are reduced, in some cases up to 50 percent. And a collaborative environment is created when walls are torn down and open seating arrangements invite conversation and brainstorming.
They accommodate work needs: Because technology frees knowledge workers from being rooted to a single cubicle, the new way is to offer an entire floor of flexible workspaces that accommodate various needs and styles. For example, one day an engineer could be working at a long table with fellow engineers, vendors and a project manager. The following week, that engineer might duck into a small privacy room for a marathon session of focused work.
They invite collaboration: Unlike the traditional cubicle farm, a flexible workspace sends a different message to the team. It invites conversation and innovative ideas by actively engaging with colleagues throughout the day, rather than rushing through a meeting agenda and hustling out.
They increase employee engagement and productivity: Flexible workspaces send a message that employees are entrusted to do their jobs wherever they feel most productive. Great leaders know and understand that their actions speak louder than words. Things like corporate policies and company culture send powerful messages to employees about how they are seen in the organization. With feelings of increased autonomy and trust often come increased levels of employee engagement. Once they have autonomy, the magic starts happening.
“… The data tells us — greater autonomy leads to better engagement, better engagement leads to greater productivity, which leads to better bottom-line results,” says Amy Haworth, director, organizational readiness at Citrix.
They embrace BYOD: That is, bring your own device. Sure, many employers may still provide hardware, but as workspaces become more flexible with a burgeoning work-anywhere ethos, employees simply wish to access their work platforms using their own laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Luckily, it is now much easier to give employees seamless access to documents and networks safely — without draconian security measures to slow connections and processing speed. And as information, applications and work resources move to the cloud, businesses can securely deliver them to any device that has a secure network connection.
For example, Citrix offers a suite of solutions, including Citrix Cloud, XenApp, XenDesktop and ShareFile that makes BYOD secure without sacrificing user experience. If you are interested in learning more, visit citrix.com/products/.
The benefits of the redesigned workspace are numerous, says Kimmel.
"They break down barriers between managers, employees and departments. The increased, casual encounters make it easy to approach others to ask questions, make suggestions and solve problems," says Kimmel. "As a result, work gets done more quickly, and employees and managers alike report higher productivity.
"In the end, employees report greater satisfaction, which leads them to stay with a company longer."
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