Guarding Your Balance Sheet – Tips for Survival in Today’s Volatile Market

saving money in a down economyAs the recession continues to extend into 2010, we continue to be inundated by news about the challenges that face the small business community.

While we are not completely out of the woods in terms of the economy, there are several things that small business owners can do to protect their businesses during these challenging times:

Manage Collections: Outstanding invoices should be aggressively followed up on round-the-clock. Having unpaid invoices will create instability. Be aggressive and assume the worst.

Collect Upfront: Make sure that all of your contracts stipulate payment upfront. Net 30 can stretch into Net 60, then you are stuck doing work for 2-3 months without being paid.…

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Searching For A New Bank To Suit Your Business Needs

searching for a new bankThere aren’t many good news stories about banks these days so if you’re looking for a new bank you may be facing the quagmire of what to look for and who to turn to when searching for a new bank. The answer may rest upon what your personal and or business banking needs are.

For business owners, entrepreneurs and consumers seeking personal guidance, it is important to recognize that your relationship with your bank is extremely important.  This is one relationship that requires serious time and examination.

I believe the examination process is twofold. On one side of the equation you’ll want to look at the financial stability and business model of the bank to ensure it can provide the financial strength and safety needed to stay in business and serve your needs in a favorable manner to you.…

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Small Business Owners: Beware of Fraud

business fraudSmall business owners have a higher risk of identity fraud than other adults according to a recent study co-sponsored by ITAC, the Identity Theft Assistance Center, and The Financial Services Roundtable.

The Javelin Strategy & Research 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report found that overall identity fraud grew by 14% in 2009 to 11.1 million adults, in part due to the economic downturn. Small business owners are one-and-a-half more times likely to be a victim than other adults

“The higher incidence of identity fraud among small business owners is probably due to the fact that they have more accounts and conduct more transactions,” said ITAC President Anne Wallace.…

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5 Tips to Work More Effectively From Home

tips for working from home successfullyThrough recent advances in technology, the number of individuals working from home offices has greatly increased in the past decade.   When individuals have taken the proper steps, home offices allow one to work from the comfort and convenience of home without sacrificing productivity.   There are a variety of reasons why individuals would choose to work from home.

Those who own and operate their own small business may choose to work from home because they do not have the necessary funds to afford a lease on a commercial property.   Many corporations now allow their employees to telecommute because it cuts down on expenses and the amount of office space needed.…

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How to Build Your Competitive Advantage By Seeing What Does NOT Change

building a competitive business advantage

Have the requirements for leadership changed?

Is it true that “The time of the great leaders like Churchill, JFK, FDR, and Golda Meir, is over because the world is too complex for one individual to know everything”?

Is it true that  “One of the things that people need to master now is… not only to be like Reagan and Martin Luther King who were great speakers, but also to be a great listener”?

In  a recent video my colleague, Thomas Zweifel, argues “yes” to all these questions.   I disagree.

The Dangerous Myth of the “New.”

“Man does not live by bread alone, but also by the catch word.”

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How Your Small Business Can Easily Stand Out

helping your business stand out in the crowdOne of the biggest challenges facing small business owners is “How do I distinguish myself from my competitors?”

The answer is simple, and so, there is no shortage of people toiling to make it complicated.

To stand out, dedicate yourself to your customers. Care more about helping them than you do about making money. The company that cares more will understand more. And the company that understands the customer’s world will think up ideas that will impact their world. In other words, they will stand out.

If you really care, you will even ask questions that risk making you look bad, because it serves the greater purpose of helping your customers.…

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Benchmarking Customer Expectations – What’s the Right Yardstick?

measuring customer expectationsSo you benchmark your company against others in your industry. Maybe you look at maximizing revenue per full-time employee, increasing first call resolution in your contact center or IT expense as a percent of revenue. How do you compare to your competitors? Is that the right comparison?

Your customers, whether they are consumers or businesses, rarely measure you against others in your industry. Think about it. When you pay your doctor bill, do you compare that process against other doctors, or do you think about being able to pay your credit card bill online? Health care organizations get compared by consumers to their auto insurance company, their bank and their cell phone companies.…

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Four Secrets to Productivity When You’re Away from the Office

productivity tips for working away from the officeMaybe you’re working the tradeshow at the industry’s big annual convention for the next four days. Perhaps it’s a long-planned romantic vacation to an exotic resort in the Caribbean. Or maybe you’re just calling it a night and are heading home for the evening. No matter what your situation, there’s likely to be a time when you aren’t at the office, but you need to access something that’s on your office computer.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options for working and being productive even when you aren’t in the office-and none of them involves packing up your office computer and lugging it with you everywhere you go!  …

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Take A Look In The Mirror

A client recently asked me to help her analyze the overall state of her company. Her decision to conduct this productivity audit was prompted by an unexpected personal opportunity that would take her out of the country for the better part of a year. For continuity and efficiency reasons, and to make sure her managers had their marching orders throughout her absence, my client wanted to make sure she was “doing things” as well as possible.

conducting a business productivity audit

As it turns out, she wasn’t. She was doing great, no doubt; but she wasn’t operating as efficiently and productively as possible. The subject business, a relatively straightforward, mom-and-pop, retail operation, had just shy of two million dollars of annual sales.…

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11 Tips For 2010: Taking Control Over Time

tips for controlling your time in 2010Happy New Year!   Wouldn’t it be great if this year you could buy extra hours on Ebay or Overstock.com?   It would also be great to win the lottery but that’s not going to happen (at least not today).   While I can’t give you more hours in the day, I can give you some tips for saving time.

  1. Don’t rely on your memory. No matter how small the task, put it on a to-do list. Without a list, you run the risk of letting smaller tasks fall through the cracks.
  2. Throughout the day, evaluate your priorities. Face it…you can’t do everything.
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