Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses
June 11, 2018
No matter where you live, you’ve probably noticed that businesses are often crammed into tiny shopping centers with nothing but a paper-thin wall to separate them. Just like residents of your community probably have spats with their neighbors, businesses often run into conflicts with neighboring businesses. Whether it’s over the music played or the type of clientele or the lack of parking space, a good entrepreneur must know how to resolve conflicts with their neighbors.
Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Give a Friendly Heads’ Up
Just like you probably wouldn’t run right to the home owners’ association in your neighborhood just because your neighbor has too many pets, you probably shouldn’t contact your lawyer immediately following the discovery of a problem with a neighboring business. Instead, pay the owner a visit and politely explain your concerns. Prepare for he or she to get defensive or to be outright hostile – that isn’t your concern. Your only objective is to lay the facts on the table and to gauge the response of your neighbor.
Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Pursue Any Alternate Solutions
If there is a way to resolve the dispute without involving your lawyer, try that first. Remember that you might be neighbors with the other business for the next twenty years, and burning bridges isn’t in your best interest. You might need a favor one day, and if you’ve involved them in litigation, that person’s help will no longer be available. So instead of marching right down to your lawyer’s office, think of ways you can amicably solve the problem. For example, if your neighbor is an electonics store owner and he or she continues to play loud music from the top-selling boom box, consider offering a compromise. If they turn down the music, you’ll pass out flyers for their store from your counter.
Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Write a Letter
If your previous attempts to resolve the conflict have been met with resistence, you’ll have to step it up a notch. Write a letter explaining your complaint and mail it to your neighboring business. You could just walk it over and leave it with an employee, but mailing it is more professional and formal. Explain that you don’t want to involve your lawyer, but that if the neighboring business owner is not willing to discuss the matter further, you will have to pursue legal action. Close by saying that you will be happy to arrange a meeting at his or her convenience. Give the neighboring business owner 10-30 days to respond before taking any other steps toward conflict resolution.
Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Consider Mediation
I mentioned above that it is never a good idea to burn bridges, and that is true. Even if your neighboring business is doing something ridiculously obnoxious, the two of you are right next door to one another and a fued could be mutually catastrophic. If other avenues of conflict resolution have not worked, consider mediation. Your lawyer can recommend an experienced mediator and it keeps your dispute out of the court system. This way, you have an intervening third party without the consequences of a civil suit.
Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Illegal Activities
If you are bothered by your neighboring business not because of a petty dispute, but because of some illegal activity, your best bet is to call the police. Don’t follow any of the advice above because your business’s reputation is not worth the price you will pay if you are named as a co-conspirator in illegal activity. Instead, let the authorities handle it and stay at a distance so as not to implicate yourself.
Profit from the Mistakes of Others
May 28, 2017
Many Internet users are inexperienced and make a lot of mistakes. Learn how to profit from these errors, and how to make sure that no one will profit from your mistakes!
The Pokemon Problem
One of the most common mistakes people make when they are looking for something on the web is misspelling the site name. This happens constantly and can mean a big loss of revenue if you don’t take it into account.
For example, Pokemon has been one of the most popular search phrases on web search engines for months. But unfortunately for Nintendo, the owners of the Pokemon franchise, a lot of people don’t know how to spell Pokemon correctly! Lycos recently published their raw information for a week of searches, and Pokeman (with an a) came up higher than Pokemon (with an o).
What does this mean for Nintendo? It means that a ton of their fans ended up at the Pokeman site instead of the Pokemon site! That means Nintendo is losing out on a lot of money because of people’s simple mistakes.
Capitalize on people’s mistakes by anticipating them. Brainstorm all the ways one someone could misspell your company name, product or site name. Take the most common misspellings and use these words as keywords when you develop your site meta tags, and consider registering additional domain names for the misspelled versions. This will direct a lot more visitors to your site. Think how much more Nintendo could be making if they had done this!
The White House Sex Problem
No matter where you look nowadays, dot-com jumps out at you. You see it on the sides of busses, in magazines, on TV, everywhere! Because of this, most people assume that if you have a web site, it is a .com web site. Many people don’t even know that .gov, .edu, .net or other top-level domains even exist.
The entrepreneurs at www.whitehouse.com (warning-adult subject matter) knew this. They took advantage of the White House name and have turned it into a huge draw for their adult site. Anyone looking for the real White House ( www.whitehouse.gov) that stumbles upon the adult site is in for a shock
You can use this type of mistake to your advantage by registering .com versions of your domain names if you haven’t done so already. This is especially important for .net, .org and foreign
sites. Register the .com domain in addition to whatever the technically correct domain is for your site. Have both domain names point to your web site. This costs almost nothing to do. Not only will this bring more people to your site, but it can avoid embarrassing situations like the White House one!
More Common Mistakes
These are just a couple of examples of common mistakes that you can take advantage of to make your site more profitable. Taking these types of mistakes into account can also help your viewers by making your site easier to find.
If you have ideas on other ways to take advantage of common web surfer mistakes, leave a message in the comment area!
Kiss Your Assets Goodbye!
May 25, 2017
The controversy over Napster and other free music sharing systems is rocking the web. If your company deals with any sort of digital information, such as music, video, or data, you should follow this conflict closely, because how it is resolved may dramatically affect the future of your business. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is suing Napster, a site that allows users to freely share music files, claiming that Napster infringes on the rights of the recording industry. It has enlisted heavy metal rocker Lars Ulrich, country music sweethearts The Dixie Chicks, and rap CEO Sean “Puffy” Combs as spokespeople.
Meanwhile, more than 20 million Internet users are actively involved in sharing free mp3 music files. Getting free music over the Internet is seen by many as just a high-tech version of getting music over the radio. The conflict is rapidly coming to a head. The U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has issued an injunction against Napster, calling the site “a monster”. The injunction may effectively shut the site down. Another free music site, CuteMX, has shut its service down pending the results of this lawsuit. Hank Barry, the CEO of Napster, vows to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court.
This case could prove to be a pivotal case in the struggle between the creators of new Internet technologies and copyright owners. The decision in this case could affect 20 million Napster users. Because the conflict is a struggle between the traditional rights of copyright owners and the latest Internet technologies, the effects of this ruling could affect all Internet users.
Free File Sharing is the New Reality
It would be hard to make an effective argument that Napster doesn’t violate the traditional rights of copyright owners. What Napster has done is become the Yahoo of bootlegging. The judge in this case is right, Napster is a business based on helping people bootleg music.
But the point is moot. There is no way to stop the sharing of mp3’s because there are so many new file sharing technologies and so many people actively using them. The RIAA can win the battle but not the war.
The RIAA is doing the only thing it can do, if it wants to fight against this. Like Microsoft in its anti-trust case, the RIAA is using the legal system to delay the inevitable so that it can figure out better ways of retaining control of its
business. To be successful in the long run, though, the RIAA members must figure out how to use the Internet to their advantage.
Fighting Won’t Work
There is only one way for the music industry to deal with this situation: The RIAA must learn how to sail against the wind. The traditional music industry can only survive this conflict by learning how to harness the power of these new Internet technologies and the people using them.
The RIAA members must adapt their ways to the reality of the interchange of information over the Internet.
- They can do this by using the Internet as a high-speed, low-cost method of generating interest in their product. (ie., The Blair Witch Project)
- The music companies can tap into the increased distribution and attention the Internet creates by making more interesting physical products, such as cd’s with more exciting design, packaging, lyric sheets, and photos.
- The music industry can translate the success of a free product into a desire for collectible commercial items by making each cd part of a set, or by creating limited editions in a variety of formats. (ie. Pokemon, Beanie Babies)
- RIAA members can create tools, software and media for distributing free music and playing it. This could include mp3 software, mp3 players, and digital music hardware.
The music industry is going to find that, even though they are technically right in their fight to shut down Napster, their success depends on turning this revolution into their own cause.
This Conflict Affects Everyone
The free music revolution is the beginning of the conflicts that Internet technologies will create over copyright ownership. The same types of technologies that are allowing the free exchange of music over the Internet can be used to allow movies, software and ultimately any type of digital information to be copied. This trend is irreversible, massive, and any company that deals with copyrighted information will have to deal with it.
Yes You Need A Good Contract
May 22, 2017
Hello folks. Now that my Dad/lawyer and I have rewritten my contract for the umpteenth time, I think it’s finally in a great state to share with all of you. Please feel free to use whatever you want from it in your contract. And yes, you need a contract. No matter what you do out of love 🙂 it’s still good to have something countersigned on actual paper just in case. Your worst enemy is actually not your client but a vague contract or no contract at all. Nothing can bite you in the ass like that.
Now let’s look at some of the more important or interesting clauses we have in here.
Here we define that the contracted work will be laid out in section 1d but that we recognise that things come up during the project. We call these “options” or “overage,” and this assures that neither I nor my staff are working for free. Options are add-on features or tasks, such as “logo design” or “online auctions” that the client may or may not want. Overage is that annoying extra work you sometimes get because the client changes his or her mind, text, or graphics and expects you to just keep redoing the same thing over and over for free. No no no. 🙂 You want your contract to say the same kind of thing, even if you don’t like my nomenclature, because you absolutely do not want to be stuck with a vague contract. You want them to know up front you are charging for anything over and above what you are contracting to do.
This is the section where I put in detail exactly what we are contracting to do and any options we’ve already priced out. Since technologies and minds change, we also lay out very clearly here what languages we are using, what it is designed to be compatible with, what server software we’re using, and the like. This saves us from someone thinking that moving a site from UNIX to NT is free or even moving from one NT server to another is free. The paragraph after that details what file formats we require and states that anything outside of those may incur extra cost. That saves you from those lovely clients who send you Quark Express documents when you need text in Word and graphics separately and think that your time to extract what you need is free. It also assures the client that if they give you exactly what you need how you need it, there won’t be any surprise charges.
This clause is the siamese twin to the rest of section 1 in that it reiterates that anything NOT contract is not necessarily included. This saves you from people who “assume” everything from “I thought that was going to be an interactive Flash file” to “I thought you were going to create a tiny simple button.” If we don’t say we’re doing it, it may cost you extra. The end.
If the client pays on time and in full, they get the rights to everything we’ve done, as in they now own it all as a work for hire. However, we have the right to reuse bits of code and why not since everyone who does custom sites (like we do) is probably reusing at least SOME code in every site. We don’t want any client coming back to us saying “hey I thought I owned the rights to email people from my site.” That’ll put ya out of business. We also say that we keep the right to show our work for our marketing; for example, we could print a color brochure that shows screen shots. Section 2e
Having my company’s logo and link has been becoming less and less important to me over the years of doing this. This is mostly because I’ve found that most of my clients come to me from (in this order) finding me on Yahoo, being referred by a client, being referred by a friend or family member, and then coming from a site we did. So nowadays, I still like to sign our work with our logo and link, but if someone wants to bury it in the site, I’m OK with that.
Our warranty covers everything we build and create as long as it hasn’t been messed with by anyone outside of us. So if the client hires another company or a high school kid or anybody else on the planet, and that person goes into the site and takes out some ASP code or who knows what, we will NOT fix that for free. I think this makes us look “good” since people like to know that we back our work yet at the same time we don’t get stuck fixing things for free if we didn’t break them.
This section is weird as you may not have seen anything like it before (or maybe you have). This clause talks about what we’ll do if something we created turns out to infringe someone’s copyright or trademark. You may not want to “go there” in your contract if you are not comfy “going there” and the client has not asked for it. But if you like saying flat out what you’ll do, you may want to check out what we say we’ll do. Just make sure you clearly say this only relates to work YOU’VE created and NOT any artwork, text, or the like provided by your client. You don’t want to accidentally be responsible for their crap by having a vague contract!
This one was suggested by a very nice consultant I met through FreeAgent.com. 🙂 This allows us to basically refuse to put up really anything on the site that we think is illegal or bad taste or the like. Obviously, if you’re making porn sites, I can’t imagine what this might be :), but for those of us doing corporate and e-commerce sites, you may want that in there. I’ve actually been doing this all along – I like to warn clients if something seems wrong or illegal, but now according to my contract, the client has to be OK with me having that kind of “final say” in a sense.
Hey just make sure you change the state and county to yours unless you’d like to pop by lovely Suffolk County for all your lawsuit needs. 🙂 Do NOT change this to where your client is located. You are doing business where you are located even if your client is in another county, state, or country. You are doing that business under the laws where you work and you don’t know poop about the laws anywhere else (it’s just safe to say that). You also don’t want to have to travel to Florida to sue someone if you live and work in Maine. Dad (aka my attorney and yes he’s a real attorney) says that anybody pushing to change this clause to their location thinks they might be sued and doesn’t want to have to travel or find an out-of-state attorney. 🙂
Get it in writing. Everything. Email, fax, letters. Anything that is a “handshake” or “gentleman’s agreement” outside of this document or anything else in writing doesn’t exist. This saves everybody from he said/she said type stuff down the road. This keeps you from the old “but you said you’d…” whether or not it’s true. Put it all in writing. I use email mostly, so if I send a client a set of options or proposal as a PDF, spreadsheet, or email, I tell them they MUST write back a full sentence saying they OK us to do X extra work for $Y. Section 8
So what happens if the client cancels? Doesn’t pay on time? What if you mess up? This clause details everybody’s rights in each scenario. We will be changing this clause soon to clearly state that a client who cannot abide by the time frame in section 1b and does not get written/emailed permission to change the time frame is in breach of this agreement. Why? Well I don’t know about you, but sometimes our scheduling is tight. If the client just thinks they can lag and lag and take months to do something that was had a real deadline, well I’d like that client to now consider that they may be in breach of the contract. I have a client currently who was supposed to OK the site design in early January so that the site could be ready for testing by late January. We are STILL working on the design and my programmers haven’t even started their work. I’d like the contract to be clearer that this guy has breached the contract. That would allow me to cut him off OR make it clear that he now has to work around our schedule.
So those are the important bits with most of the war stores of why they’re there taken out. 🙂 Hopefully reviewing our contract, what’s in there, and why will help you create an excellent contract that will cover your business ass quite well. All of this may sound really anal, but the day you have a problem with someone is the day you’ll see why we’ve done all this. Once upon a time, my contract was barely 3 pages long. Now it’s nearly 7 because vague stuff put me in too many bad places and made me eat costs I never should have had to. I’m hoping you can learn from our 5 full years of contract evolution.
An Attitude for Success for Successful Entrepreneurship
May 19, 2017
Skill and practice are of course necessary for consistently high performance. When these are supplemented with an ingrained belief that you have what it takes to beat the competition, superior performance can result. How do these apply to successful entrepreneurs?
Positive Attitudes and Thoughts
All of us would have heard about the key importance of positive thinking and how it can lead to success in what we do. Just what are the elements of this success attitude as it relates to business entrepreneurs?
- Doing What you Love: If you go into a store, what type of salesperson makes you feel like doing business with the store: someone who is not only pleased to meet you but who also knows everything about the merchandise, or someone who seems bored to be at the counter and is unable to answer your queries? The same applies to your customers and employees. If you exude happiness and have acquired detailed knowledge about your business, you will attract not only customers but also good employees. And this combination of happiness and detailed knowledge typically results when you like what you do day after day.
- Integrity that Generates Trust: Unlike the famed used car salesman of legends, successful businesspersons make sure that their customers are delighted with what they get. And the result is that these customers bring in more customers through word of mouth.
- Learning from Failures: Like the child who learns and grows by hurting herself or himself in different ways, businesspersons also learn by making mistakes and learning from these. The accomplished performance of a successful businessperson you might come across is typically the final result of probably years of not so perfect performance. Few, if any, of us are businesspersons by birth.
- Self Belief: Mistakes tend to undermine our belief in ourselves. The initial learning period when we make the mistakes will also typically be the period when we face a lot of negative responses in our business encounters. Both the mistakes and the negative responses can dishearten most of us. It is only a strong belief that we are on the right track that can sustain us through this period.
- Ability to Adapt to Changes: Products are changing, skill requirements are changing, people’s lifestyles are changing and businesses have no option but to cater to the changes. In this age of smart phones, for example, the fact that yours is a long-established business cannot get you sales volumes with the bulky old models that you sold so successfully years ago. Businesses have to adapt to changing market requirements and customer profiles.
- Setting an Example at the Workplace: If employees see you working seriously and long, and if they see you willing to listen to them and even accept criticism, the culture at the workplace will tend to be a highly productive environment. A bossy boss who won’t admit mistakes and acts arbitrarily tend to demoralize the whole workplace.
- Act, not just Plan: While you need to think and plan, what is important is to act when action is needed. There might be occasions when you do not have the time to review alternatives and take a considered decision. Intuition, based on past experiences, can be a good source for decisions. Successful businesspersons would have developed sound intuitions, and the habit of basing actions on these intuitions.
The Right Attitude can Overcome Other Limitations
To set up and run a business successfully, you need know-how, skills to get desired results in a repeatable fashion and physical and financial resources. However, right attitude can make up for limitations of know-how, skills and resources to a large extent.
For example, you are likely to find it easy to get sound advice, associates, employees and other support and help to cope with the limitations if you are enthusiastic about your business and project a dependable and trustworthy image.
The right attitude is what distinguishes the true winner from the also-rans. A success attitude consists of things like enthusiasm for your business, integrity that inspires trust, the ability to learn from experience, belief in the soundness of your business and your ability to succeed, ability to adapt to changing conditions and the habit of acting when action is needed.
Entrepreneurship Certificate Can Lead to Being a Talent Manager
May 16, 2017
When looking for an MBA program, don’t think of the barriers of acceptance such as GMAT requirements. This just means the school really does care about its students and wants to ensure the best possible education and results for each participant.
Is Choosing a New Path the Right Way to Change Careers/Follow a Dream
- Hi Paym**,
I found your email id from the website. I am from Bangalore, India.
Like many others I am in a total dilemma, about the path i should follow.
Presently I am working in a top Indian IT MNC, since December 2014.I have completed by engineering graduation. However, being myself exposed to the world after that, I dream of pursuing a good career in the media industry. This wish invaded my thoughts when I became the batch captain for the arts competition held at my college.
However, presently I am working in IT field. So for the proper career change, I want to do MBA.
Though I am interested in arts and culture, I am not talented in any performing art. But I love managing talented people. So I thought I shall do an MBA from a good university ,with an elective related to this.
But still I am confused which school shall i seek and go further regarding my research to find an apt school.
I have not taken the GMAT or any English proficiency test so far.
Guidance on the Right Path for Talent Manager
Please guide me ahead, regarding the following:
1.Am I right in choosing to learn MBA for this ?
2.Shall I do any specialized MBA or a general one?
3.Which are the best schools which do not seek GMAT score.
I will be very thankful to you for your kind reply. God Bless.
Thanks and Regards,
MBA Will Help in Any Chosen Career Change
- You are on an excellent path and have chosen the right way to get there! An MBA will certainly enhance any direction you choose with media, or any other specialized career, as all deal with business practices in some shape or form.
Specializing in media/arts would be beneficial to your degree, as would self-employment sections or small business set up.
But you’re wrong to think you wouldn’t pass the GMAT or to find a school without this requirement. If the school does not care that the students are able to fully understand the information provided, it’s doubtful the school will be providing you with the best information! There are many online GMAT courses – and there are many low cost books/resources to help you study/prepare for the GMAT (if you don’t want to take the course). Libraries will often buy books suggested by its patrons, so start there for GMAT resources.
Consider the Entrepreneurship Certificate to Start New Career Even Sooner
Online MBA programs are one option that allows you to work/make money while getting your degree. One suggestion is Keller Graduate School of Management, as you can start with the Entrepreneurship Certificate and have it apply to your MBA. But it gives you the basics of what you want to do, as a talent manager you are an entrepreneur! You may even find you can start your new career with just this certificate, and continue with your MBA as your business grows.
How to Make Career Decisions: A Systematic Approach to Choosing a New Career Direction
May 13, 2017
When asked to state their long term career aspirations, most people have at best a vague idea of what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They are embarrassed to admit to this uncertainty. Those who know what they want generally focus on advancement, either within their function or to general management – straightforward. The issue most people struggle with is what they might do if they felt a desire to do something completely different. People at the beginning of their careers or faced with redundancy commonly face this dilemma. Career decisions are difficult because making them is like trying to decide whether you like an unfamiliar item of food without tasting it.
Career Decision Making Styles
There are two styles for making any decision that are relevant to understanding how to make career decisions. One style emphasizes gathering as much information as possible; the other prefers to try things out and see what works. The first style is based on planning and factual data; the second relies on feel, experience and experiment. The former is methodical, structured and well organized while the latter is haphazard, opportunistic and creative. The truth is that not many people have a career plan. They either accept jobs offered to them or apply for advertised jobs when they feel a need for a change. That is, even people who like to plan ahead get stuck in the opportunistic mode, much to their frustration.
Making Career Decisions Under Uncertainty
One way of approaching career decisions is to combine the best of the planning and experiential approaches. The starting point is to recognize how difficult it is to choose any course of action without any experience of what the outcome might be like. A good analogy is house hunting. When planning a house move, people make a list of criteria they want in a house before they start looking, but they may well change their criteria significantly after looking at a few houses. This is because a lot of decision making is based on discovery rather than prior rational analysis. It is only by getting the feel of a variety of houses that it becomes possible to choose a particular house.
An Organized Career Search
The key to making career decisions is to follow the house hunting example. Set out some criteria that define what you think you would like in a future role, then talk to people doing or managing such jobs, and revise your criteria according to what feels right. Organizational skills alone can’t help you make career decisions, but they are useful in making sure that you obtain meetings with a sufficient number and range of people in roles that seem attractive.
Career Market Research
You can do a certain amount of research by reading up on careers and industries, but the critical form of research is to talk to people who work in those industries and roles that appeal to you. In meetings with people in prospective roles, it is important to ask more than merely factual questions. It is essential to ask feeling questions as well to determine what people like about their roles, what it feels like to work in their field and what they don’t like about it.
Getting meetings with people who could hire you (managers, not HR people) kills two birds with one stone, but it is not easy. Being able to say you got someone’s name from a mutual acquaintance helps a lot. A little subtle flattery helps, such as saying you heard that this person would be the best person to talk to about a particular career direction. Just asking people how they got to where they are is a form of flattery that can get their attention. It is also important to stress that, at this stage, you are just doing some market research, not fishing for a job interview. A final critical step is to aim to get at least two names from everyone you meet.
Networking and Career Management
The secret of career management is to network regularly at all times, always asking people what they do and how they like it. This approach combines organization and experiential feel. Of course, the best experience is actually doing the job. Total certainty before making the leap is not possible. The best you can do is minimize risk by getting as much feel for a career direction as possible before deciding.
How to Start Your Own Business: Basic steps for starting any business
May 7, 2017
Many people want the freedom and financial independence of starting a business of their own. They view it as having to work less, get paid more, and hope that it will give them the flexibility to run their lives as they want. But be careful! While these are all possibilities, there are also drawbacks to running your own business, such as the increased responsibilities, the financial worries and risk, and possibly working longer hours and harder than ever before. Here’s where to start when you want to build your own business.
Do your market research. Make sure you have an audience for your product or service, whatever it is, before you invest any money or too much time in a business. If you have a great product, but nobody knows what it is or wants it, then you are sunk. Or you are in for a long, hard struggle before you make any money. Look in the yellow pages to see how many similar businesses there are. Your Chamber of Commerce can also give you advice on how to do this research, as well as other contacts you could use. Or you may consult an expert, or even search the web for articles on market research. I’m sure you’ll find many.
Licensing and Regulations
Check with your local regulating agency as to what is required for your business. Some businesses are regulated, particularly if there are any imports or if you are professionally regulated. Government websites should be able to tell you anything you need to know about the required licensing, including business licenses required. You should also be able to find out information on any import programs or government grants available for new businesses.
Every business requires some up front financing, regardless of its size. You should make sure that you’ve done a full business plan, so that you understand what financing you will require. Most people will start their first business with some of their own savings, and possibly some “love money” from friends or relatives. Make sure that you have the required funding before you go out and start. And stick to the plan! Don’t move too fast or too hard, or you may find yourself unable to meet the financial demands of the business. And that can sink you as quick as anything else.
Don’t try to invent a new wheel. There are many business models available to follow. Use one of them! Whether it’s a retail store, internet shop, or mail order, or even a straight up clinic or professional office, use a model that already works, and you will be ahead of the game from the start. Talk to other people in the industry, and they may be willing to give you advice. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst they can do is say, “No.”
How to Stop the Profit Drain: How Invoicing and Job Tracking Software Can Increase Your Revenue
May 4, 2017
There is no denying that starting your own business is hard work and developing one that is profitable is even tougher. Half of all small businesses don’t survive their first year and a significantly higher proportion fails to make it through the next four years. Many of these failures are simply to do with not bringing in enough profit to keep the company rolling.
So, Why Are Small Businesses Losing Money?
When faced with a profit crisis, many business owners instinctively react by attempting to reduce running costs. However, this is not always the best way of getting to the crux of the problem.
“What a lot of business owners don’t realise is that, although it is important to keep your operational costs under control, factors such as not invoicing correctly and a general lack of organisation have much more of an impact on your profit margin,” says Dr. Chris Main, project manager at Software Associates, one of New Zealand’s fastest growing information technology specialists and the brains behind new job tracking and invoicing tool, JobPro.
“Many small businesses, especially in the service sector, are not as profitable as they could be due to lost dockets, a lack of standardised billing and the huge amount of paperwork they have to sift through for relatively little gain,” adds Chris.
How to Protect Your Profit Margins
One way to solve the problem of misplaced invoices and overwhelming piles of paperwork is to embrace electronic devices and software. Innovative new job tracking and invoicing tools are becoming increasingly popular, allowing business owners to keep track of job progress and billable hours more effectively than was ever previously possible.
“Lost dockets and a tendency to undercharge can easily shave 1-5% off a small business’s profits,” explains Chris. “Job tracking and invoicing software that is specifically configured to suit each individual business can help put an end to this profit drain.”
Business owners don’t even need to be particularly IT-savvy to use this kind of software. It usually takes just a couple of hours of training to get to grips with how to use it. This business tool is also surprisingly cost effective. For example, JobPro, can be purchased for under $10,000, including all training, set-up costs and support. Not bad for something that could increase your profit margin by up to 5%. Everest Software in the United States and Sage Software in the United Kingdom also offer similar, good value software packages for small businesses.
What Else Can You Do?
As well as investing in up-to-the-minute technology, there are a number of other things that businesses can do to maximise their profits.
“All businesses, from international corporations to more modestly sized start-up companies, should pay close attention to what I like to call the three ‘Ps’’, advises Chris. “Pricing, performance and paperwork.”
“If you keep your billing organised and constant, make sure that clients can depend on you to carry out consistently good, punctual work and ensure that your paperwork is under control then you are on the right track towards bringing in the income that you deserve and making your business a success,” adds Chris.
It doesn’t take much to push a small or start-up company over the edge. However, paying attention to the details, being as organised as possible and keeping up to date with modern technologies will put the odds in your favour and ensure that your company doesn’t join the many small businesses that don’t bring in enough profit to survive those first few, highly crucial and vulnerable years