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Fixing Cash Flow Problems

Fixing Cash Flow Problems

For most businesses, cash flow tends to fluctuate up and down. Some months sales are high, others, sales are low. A sudden emergency can arise and drain the finances, or a stream of customers can be late with their payments. If cash flow is starting to cause problems, it’s important to find out why the problem is happening, and then implement a solution.

Causes of Poor Cash Flow

Poor cash flow generally happens because of one of four possible causes:

1. Sales Are Too Low

Poor sales could be caused by:

  • Your prices being too high;
  • Insufficient demand for your product or service;
  • Your sales and marketing efforts not working. ●
2. Expenses Are Too High

If your sales are healthy, but you still have cash flow problems, you may need to look at your business expenses. It’s not uncommon for business owners, especially in small businesses, to ramp up spending when sales are high.

3. Customers Are Not Paying

If sales are high and spending is normal, the most likely cause of your cash flow problems, is around your customers who have credit but not paying their accounts quickly enough.

4. Holding Excess Inventory

Often businesses are holding inventory which is potentially obsolete or extremely slow-moving, which leads to taking up unnecessary floor space. It is better to sell the inventory at reduced margins or at a loss, so that the generated cashflow can be reintroduced into the business, so that it can be used to purchase new inventory in lesser quantities, that meets current market demand. I refer to this as the Circular Flow of Cash.

Solutions

Once you have identified the cause/s of your cash flow problem, you can focus on a solution, depending on the cause. Here are some ideas:

  • Hold a cut-price sale: sure your margins might be lower, but you are aiming for volume. The net effect is cash coming into the business quickly.
  • Raise your prices: a rule of thumb is that if you raise your prices by 20%, you will only suffer a drop in demand of around 10%, which is a very good net result. But you must be able to demonstrate to the customer, (especially repeat customers) why they should pay 20% more.
  • Tap your line of credit: a business line of credit is preferred to almost any other type of financing, because of the revolving nature and affordable terms. With a business line of credit, you only have to pay interest on the amount of credit you use. And once you pay off the debt, you immediately gain access to the full amount again. It’s essentially a credit card for your business.

For self-help articles to help you manage and grow your business, visit our Client Hub.

How did you find the article? This is a chapter from my book: Starting a Business, Growing a Business. The Critical Insights No One Tells You About, But Should. If you are in business, you know how challenging it can be at times. If you’ve thought about running your own business, you’ve probably heard the odds are against you being successful. But all is not lost… Get your copy of my book where you will learn more tips to keep you on the path to success!

strategies to improve cash flow

Contact Us

If you want help identifying problems in your cash flow and formulating solutions to resolve them, you can check out our Cash Flow Management Coaching or simply book a call so we can discuss the specific needs of your business and how to best approach it.

cash flow management

Succeeding in Tough Times: A Guide to Business Continuity

Succeeding in Tough Times: A Guide to Business Continuity

It’s no secret that times have been tough for a record number of businesses across the world in the wake of the global pandemic.

For business owners in every country, the question of continuity has been a big one over the last 18 months. Running a successful business is already challenging enough — but throw an unforeseen set of factors into the mix and many entrepreneurs find themselves navigating uncharted territory more now than ever before.

So, how do you keep your business succeeding in tough times?

Are there practical steps you can take to keep your business running in the black no matter what’s happening in the world?

Here at Insight CA, we have some good news: yes — and it’s far simpler than you might think. Upping your chances of business success actually isn’t that hard, even in tough times like these.

Before we dive into our ‘this-seems way too easy’ guide to business continuity and succeeding in tough times, let’s have a quick word about risk.”

A word about risk

At every stage in the game, risk management is a concern for small to medium (SME) business owners. And while each business is unique, we’ve found that business owners of all shapes and sizes have common experiences and share common concerns.

As a business owner, it’s easy to believe that you have a viable level of control over external factors that affect your business. You might be confident that you’re adequately managing your risks — even though this may not actually be the case.

Risk management can be a literal minefield littered with unforeseen circumstances and surprises around every corner. And while there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, the starting point is for business owners to identify and prioritise the risks that affect their business. 

Risks can develop quickly and unpredictably, even if your business operations are riding an even keel in the black. It’s not always safe to assume that the status quo is a given, and your business’s operating conditions are always subject to significant impact — even in periods of success.

For instance, take the global pandemic.

Who would have guessed that in the space of a few weeks, we’d witness the lockdown of entire countries, suspension of stock markets, international travel bans and massive market volatility. It’s a testament to just how interconnected we are as a world and how vulnerable our economies really are.

Success in our ever-evolving, modern world means more than just embracing change — it means understanding and managing the broader risks that come with running a business. And knowing just how quickly you’ll have to duck and dodge.

So, what are some reliable, foolproof ways to circumvent risk within your business?

Here are a few tried-and-tested tips from the experts.

Mitigating risks 

What do all the best athletes, entrepreneurs, and business people in the world have in common?

They’ll all tell you that when it comes to minimising risk, it is crucial to move quickly.

You may be thinking, “Alright, duly noted — but what is the first real step I can take to set this in motion?”

We hear you.

Many SMEs are looking for solutions, ways to lighten their load — but they can’t do it alone. Especially during uncertain times, SME business owners need the added support of a trusted business advisor.

A rising number of SMEs are being overwhelmed with surmounting challenges and increasing pressures facing their businesses, with a staggering 61% of SMEs reporting a high (29%) or very high (32%) degree of owner reliance, according to our 2021 SME Report.  The silver lining: business owners can alleviate the pressures behind these numbers simply by bringing in an advisory professional.

And while profit margins and bottom lines are what SME business owners scrutinise most, the support provided by a trusted adviser goes well beyond looking at the numbers.

Speak with your chartered accountant or business advisor as soon as possible about your concerns and business goals. They can help you to re-examine your business plan — and to do it with a sense of urgency.

It’s a great place to start, and a relatively small step that might just inch you closer to a successful outcome.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting. Procrastination can work against you when you’re dealing with risks like volatile markets and global economic concerns.

What is your current situation and how is your business planning for the future? After a careful assessment, you may find that it’s time to scrap your current regime and start fresh.

Another thing to remember: advice can go a longer way than you think.

Both independent and objective advice (from qualified and experienced professionals, of course) can help you to curtail risk and position your business for long-term success.

And it can ultimately mean the difference between your business thriving or simply surviving.

The bottom line: throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. When times are tough, it can’t hurt to gather as much knowledge and information as possible. Having more information at your disposal will enable you to pick and choose which practical applications work for your business’s specific situation.

To help you quickly assess existing risks within your business that may be affecting your profitability, check out our handy Risk Survey, a diagnostic tool designed to help you benchmark your company against the industry.

Protect your best assets 

Have you got a few select clients that are really your bread and butter?

It turns out that those high value customers are more important now than ever before.

As times change, so does your B2B and B2C dynamic. Rapid and unpredictable change on the global stage will likely shift how each and every one of your clients does business. For you, it’s about being there to accommodate that constant influx of change in your clients’ situation.

And to foster trust in the process.

Make contact. Reach out to your highest grossing customers to remind them what’s on your services menu and that you’re there to offer your continued support.

Even more good news: this slice of high ticket clients likely makes up just a small fraction of your overall customer base, so this process shouldn’t be too time-consuming.

Checking in often will help to establish a rapport with your most valuable clients, who are likely grasping for a helping hand now more than ever.

Protect these key relationships and you’ll construct a safety net that can not only carry you through tough times but also pave the way for more potential business down the line.

Reduce your costs

When times are tough, you’ll need to rethink many aspects of your business. And it may be time to take a systematic approach.

Perform a cost-benefit analysis. Place your current assets under the microscope. Are your fixed costs as low as they could be? How many variable costs does your business handle each month? Have you got any unnecessary expenses floating around under the radar?

For doing business in tough times, you’ll want to keep your fixed costs low. Try to eliminate any superfluous or extraneous expenses that don’t ultimately increase profitability, like non-trading costs.

Variable costs, on the other hand, could work in your favour. Investigate ways to migrate your business’s expenses from fixed to variable. Outsourcing is often an effective variable cost strategy.

For some valuable guidance about improving your business’s performance, check out our 2021 SME Report, a comprehensive guide for curtailing risks and optimising your business in the current climate.

Take care of your own

Did you know that you can use periods of risk as opportunities to touch base with your staff?

It doesn’t stop at keeping your highest-grossing clients warm.

So, go ahead — give your staff some added incentives to remain with your company. Is there a holiday coming up where your employees could use a day off to do some shopping? Do you have a few star employees that deserve some recognition to boost morale?

Ask yourself: why not take a human approach when dealing with your staff? This can go a lot further than you might think — and keep your best and brightest from jumping ship.

Simply put: increase morale and you’ll also increase employee retention. The two are directly proportional.

Highlighting achievements within your team is actually one of the smartest moves you can make as a business owner, and it costs you absolutely nothing. Employees who feel seen, heard, and recognised will often make efforts to maintain consistency, synergise with other employees, and generally work happier. And as the old adage suggests, happier workers work harder.

Taking care of your own is a simple, low-cost, and effective way to keep your business strong and strengthen your bottom line.

Because at the end of the day, your high-profile customers aren’t your only asset — your staff is the behind-the-scenes driver of these key business connections.

Collect Cash

Collecting cash from your customers in these tough times may prove more difficult than it used to be.

Watch your cash flow carefully. You may even consider amending your policies to focus more on debtor collection and stock management.

This means placing tighter limits on the amount of credit you extend to your customers. 

And if you have exposure to large customers, it may be time to obtain some assurances or guarantees about how they will pay their account. Speak with their accounts payable or billing departments to make sure a concrete, ironclad arrangement is in place.

Be proactive. Take decisive action in a predictive way — rather than a reactionary way.

Follow up on your largest customer accounts before they become overdue. This practice will insulate you from having to chase down your highest grossing customers later. Protect yourself now by exercising a little more caution than you normally might. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

But what about investing?

We’re glad you asked.

Keep your stock ordering proportional to customer sales. If your sales are falling, lean out your investment strategy and take fewer liberties than you ordinarily might.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so trim the fat by exercising a bit more frugality during uncertain times. This will allow you to save capital for when markets bounce back to better numbers.

Remember: if your customers’ tendencies, spending habits, and general behaviours are trailing in a certain direction, you must adjust course to suit. Trends within your own customer pool are usually good indicators of what’s on the horizon — so act accordingly.

Hiding in plain sight

Risk isn’t always external, and it doesn’t always look so obvious. It often hides in plain sight — and it could be lurking between the lines in your own company.

And the answer goes far beyond HR.

Before you take a gander at restructuring your internal job structure, we urge you to reconsider reducing your staff or eliminating job roles from within your company. Cutting your workforce scarcely solves long-term expenditure issues — and it could leave you shorthanded (and vulnerable) once market fluctuations die down.

A viable solution? Perhaps some of your existing employees could learn how to multi-skill to increase their per-hour employee returns.

We think it goes without saying that as a business owner, you must be prepared to make some hard decisions — especially during tough times. Multi-purposing your already existing staff, while challenging, could be one of the smartest plays to make sure you’re better prepared to face ongoing external risks.

Remember: tough times don’t necessarily call for staff reduction!

Risk, meet Reward. 

A precariously wise man once said, “There can be no reward without risk.”

And while we are inclined to agree, we think that risk can and should be curtailed at every opportunity.

When you implement the simple, effective, and low cost strategies we’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll find that risk transforms into reward. And that reward is the impenetrable continuity of your business.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to speak to someone about mitigating risk and keeping your business running successfully in these tough times, get in contact with us today to organise a free, no obligation chat. We will listen and formulate the best strategies to help you achieve your goals. Alternatively, click on the Book A Call button now to get started.

cash flow management

Are you looking to improve your cash flow and make it more consistent? If so, we recommend reading this article next for just the right strategies you should know about.

Best Strategies to Improve Your Cash Flow

Best Strategies to Improve Your Cash Flow

As a business advisor and chartered accountant, I believe my job is not simply to crunch the numbers. Sure, it is important to know where the money is coming from and going, but it is also important to make sure money (cash flow) is coming into the business, consistently. In fact, the number one reason for businesses failing is poor cash flow. Cash flow is confidence.

Cash flow is created by:

  •  Generating leads (marketing);
  • Turning those leads into customers (sales).

There is no limit to the strategies you can use to bring in business and turn prospects into cash-paying customers. Let us discuss business marketing strategies:

Marketing comes in many shapes and forms, let me share with you some of my favourite ideas.

Gift Vouchers

For around a dollar, you can create an extra product that people can purchase for others. A gift voucher provides flexibility for people who are unsure which of your product range may suit the person they are buying for. Do not include too many “Conditions of Use”, as people are paying you cash in advance. It is wise to include an expiry date, but do not exceed 12 months. Make sure your voucher is attractive and well-designed, and is presented in a quality envelope. Make your vouchers difficult to duplicate – include a serial number and log the vouchers into a gift register.

Customer Referral System

If every customer referred one person to you, your business would double. Most businesses say they rely on “word of mouth”, but very few have a system in place to generate those referrals. Do not assume that customers are reluctant to make referrals. Your customers like you, trust you, and believe you provide quality and value, exceeding that offered by your competitors. Otherwise they’d be using someone else! But you have to make it easy and rewarding to refer others to you, (they won’t always be thinking of you; it is your responsibility to remind them).

The best way, is to just ask them for referrals. Identify your good customers and tell them you appreciate their business and want more loyal customers like them. Most people will be flattered and only too keen to help. Give them a voucher to give away, and another one to keep for themselves.

Another idea, is to invite your best customers to a Customer Appreciation evening, (or a seminar) and ask them to bring one or two friends along. This must be an event that provides genuine value. Make it all about them, not you. Do not make it a sales pitch.

Regular Specials

Everyone enjoys a bargain, because it makes them feel like a winner. By offering them extra value, you give them an extra reason to buy from you, (especially if your competitors refuse to offer special deals). But the real trick here is to offer special deals ​on a regular basis.​ If you offer a new deal every month, you will be amazed how people will keep you in mind and check out what your upcoming deal is. It also keeps your marketing message fresh. If the deal only lasts a month, (you can make it shorter) it creates a sense of urgency, because people don’t want to miss out. If you start with just six special deals, you can offer these twice a year. Here are some examples:

  • Two for one deal;
  • Buy one, get the second one half price;
  • Spend $100 and receive a free [item]
  • Free delivery worth $35.00;
  • Free seminar worth $45 (limited places);
  • Free installation worth $45.00.

All the major supermarkets know the power of having regular specials. As we browse the meat section, we are so easily drawn to the current specials and load up the freezer if we find a bargain.

Customer Guarantee

Every time a prospect buys from you, they take a risk. How do they know if the product or service they purchase, will meet their needs? What if it fails? Do not assume they will happily return it, as many people feel too embarrassed to make a fuss. If they are unsure if it will work, they will simply choose not to buy it. You can reverse the risk, by offering them a guarantee. Many business owners say, “I can’t do that. What if they keep enforcing the guarantee?” It makes sense that it should be the seller, not the buyer, who takes the risk. It is the seller who should back the quality and effectiveness of their product or service; and they are in the best position to put things right. Naturally, you want your customers to be happy with their purchase, (otherwise they will share their bad experience with others)?

The Warehouse​ may not offer the highest quality products on the market, but you know if your item is defective, you can return it and get an immediate and full refund, without any fuss.

Legislation like the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act, exist to protect the public, and business owners need to accept this trend will only grow. If you are uncomfortable about offering a wide guarantee, you can simply word your guarantee so that it reflects the customer’s rights under the law.

Loyalty Card

If you want customers to keep coming back, give them a reason to do so. They have already bought from you, so it doesn’t take as much effort to get them to make subsequent purchases. Cafés know how powerful this is, because they offer their coffee cards, e.g. buy 10 coffees and receive your next one free. They know that the free coffee only costs them less than a dollar.

This strategy works well for businesses who offer products and services that customers buy on a regular basis, as opposed to items they buy rarely.

Bundling Products

This is a proven way to increase the average sale per customer. A prospect may approach you with the intention of buying one item, but you can tempt them to increase their purchase, by adding other items to their order. This is called “bundling.” Takeaway shops use this strategy very effectively. While you can customise your order, the retailer offers (say) a $10, $20 or $30 pack that is worth somewhat more value than that. Tyre retailers will offer deals for replacing all four tyres on your car, plus a wheel alignment. Bus companies and fitness centres will sell multi-passes at a discount.

Bronze, Silver, Gold Options

A clever way to upsell your customer, is to offer tiered packages. This may be offered as a Bronze, Silver or Gold package. The business draws the prospect in with a low-priced “bronze” offer, with the intention of persuading them to upgrade to a higher-priced (more profitable) silver or gold package. Airlines do this well. They might offer a cheap “budget” fare, but then offer upgrades (and add-ons), which the customer finds hard to refuse. This can include an upgrade to a better seat, or to business class. It could include paying for meals and entertainment.

Domino’s​ offer a $5 pizza, but as you browse through their offerings, you may find more expensive pizzas to order. I often wonder how they can offer a $5 pizza and make a profit, but it is probably just a loss leader. They make their money on all the upgrades and add-on sales.

The starting point is to create your “bronze” offer. What is a basic, low-priced offer that will appeal to most of your prospects? How can you present it in a way that they find it difficult to ignore, (remember, the goal is not so much to get them to buy the bronze product. It is simply to use it to get the prospect’s attention and for them to look at your other offerings).

Checklist

I heard of a hardware store that used a checklist strategy to increase sales. When a sales assistant approached a customer and found out they were painting a room, they produced a comprehensive checklist, pen and clipboard, for the customer. Instead of the customer buying a $20 paint brush, they might end up walking off with paint thinners, sandpaper, drop-sheets and a ladder – a $300 sale. Business owners may feel this is pressure selling. I prefer to see it as providing excellent customer service; (Imagine the frustration when the customer returns home and discovers the items they didn’t buy!)

I know a lawyer who trains all their legal employees to talk to their conveyancing clients about wills, powers of attorney, property sharing agreements and family trusts. Not a single client has ever complained or felt pressurised. Rather, they felt their lawyer was looking out for their best interests.

A restaurant’s menu is a checklist. A hairdresser and beauty therapist will often provide a list of their services, to show the prospect what they can choose. But these tools are really just a “catalogue” that appeals to all their customers. Instead, take the time to break those products and services down into groups, so that they appeal to customers with a particular need.

Joint Venture Relationships

If your advertising or lead-generation ideas have failed in the past, it’s very likely to have arisen because you have targeted “cold” prospects, i.e. people who don’t know you and/or have never bought from you before. But you will achieve much better results, (300-400% better results) if you seek leads/referrals through your existing database. This is because you have an existing relationship with these people. They know you, trust you and are more likely to act on any offer you make – compared with people who haven’t dealt with you before.

But you don’t want to limit your marketing efforts to your existing customers only. There are thousands of new prospects out there to target. But how can you tap into this lucrative market, without approaching them cold? Easy – by approaching them through someone else, who has a pre-existing relationship with them. It’s called “joint venture marketing”, and in my opinion, it is the most exciting and under-utilised form of marketing. Here’s how it works …

Who do you know locally, (a friend, family member or customer) who owns a business with lots of customers that fit your target market profile; and someone who really looks after their customers? Imagine how great it would be, if they were to tell their customers about you.

But very few, if any, business owners will help you, if it takes too much time, effort or money; or if there is no benefit to them, in doing so. Therefore, I suggest you print out vouchers or referral cards, for the other business owner to give away to their customers. If done properly, it can make them look like a hero to their customers.

I know of a mechanic who works with a panel beater. He gives the panel beater the following vouchers to give away to customers, (with a short note to say nice things about the mechanic):

  • A free set of wiper blades (fitted);
  • A free WOF;
  • A free engine steam clean;
  • A half price service;
  • A free safety check.

The more generous that your offer is, the more likely it is the prospect will take up the offer. The cost of the offer is your investment to gain a new customer.

Let me finish by saying, that this tool has the ability to return tens of thousands of dollars in extra business, especially when you consider the lifetime value of a customer. It costs very little to implement and will set you apart from all your competitors – how many of them are doing this?

Here is what you need to do:

  • Find a joint venture partner, whose customers fit your target market;
  • Develop a special offer or giveaway, that would appeal to those customers (low cost to you; high value to them);
  • Create the offer as a voucher, flyer, letter etc;
  • Approach the other business owner and sell the benefit of the idea, in terms of their interests, not yours.

Sales Techniques

No business will succeed if it can’t sell its products and services. Selling is the process of converting prospects into customers. There is no such thing as a “born salesperson.” If someone is good at sales, I bet they have been trained well and they follow a proven sales process. While there are many ways to sell, here are a few strategies which, if implemented, will certainly improve your conversion rates:

Building Rapport

We tend to buy from people we know, like and trust. It takes time to build rapport and generate trust. Here are a few simple and practical tips to get people to like you and trust you, faster:

  • Use their name and pronounce it correctly;
  • Smile often, as appropriate;
  • Take a genuine interest in them, rather than talking about yourself;
  • Find common ground between you;
  • Use common courtesies, e.g. thank you, please;
  • Compliment them genuinely, but don’t overdo it;
  • Be a good listener, and don’t interrupt them;
  • Maintain eye contact;
  • Be positive and don’t criticise them or others.

You must tailor your rapport-building, to the other person’s personality. Sociable people like it when you spend a lot of time building rapport and can find you pushy if you talk about business matters too quickly. But direct people, will get frustrated if you are too friendly for too long; they prefer you to get straight to business.

Asking Quality Questions

If you want to be more effective in sales, master the art of asking the right questions. Have you ever heard people praise a salesperson, by saying they have “the gift of the gab?” It’s true, that a good salesperson knows how to say the right things, but only after they have discovered certain critical things about the prospect. This is where the ability to ask quality questions, comes into play.

Screening Process

The first set of questions to ask, are “qualifying questions” which screen the prospect, to determine whether they are likely to want your products or services. Unless the prospect has approached you, you can’t be obvious with these qualifying questions, otherwise you can come across as being a pushy salesperson.

A good real estate agent knows to ask subtle questions, to quickly determine whether the prospect is a local homeowner. A consultant knows what questions to ask, to find out whether the prospect is a business owner.

What subtle questions can you ask, to qualify (or disqualify) a prospect? What critical features do they have to possess or lack, to be a potential customer for you? How can you phrase those questions, so they sound genuine and caring, as opposed to being pushy, aggressive or self-serving?

Discovery Process

Once you have qualified the person as a good prospect, you need to discover whether they have a need for your products or services. Not only that, you need to ask the questions in a way that they feel that they really do need your help.

The first part of the discovery process, involves asking “Now questions.” You are trying to find out where the prospect is right now. Who is their current supplier? What is working well, and what isn’t? How much are they spending? What problems are they experiencing? Do they make these decisions on their own?

The second stage is to ask “what if” questions, which are designed to find out what the ideal solution would look like from the prospect’s point of view. Here are some examples:

  • Describe the perfect product/service for me;
  • How would you like it to be?
  • If you could have the perfect product, what would it look like?
  • If it could work better or faster or more efficiently, what would that look like?
  • How soon would you like to achieve this desired state? Why?

Note: You are not making any promises that you can deliver this future state. You are just trying to find out what is important to them. In the back of your mind, however, you might be working out how your business can meet these needs.

The third stage is to find out what their barriers and obstacles are, i.e. to discover why the prospect has been unable to achieve their perfect scenario. I like to ask, “So what has been stopping you from achieving that outcome?” When they give me an answer, I might ask them to expand, or just ask, “What else?”

The final stage of questioning is to ask, “How important is it to you ​personally,​ to have that sort of result?” This is to discover their motive to change. The stronger their emotional drive, the more likely they are to do business with you; (you really need this if you expect them to leave their existing provider). The following example answers mean you have a very motivated prospect in front of you:

  • It means my family will be proud of me at last;
  • It means I can feel good about myself;
  • It means my boss will finally trust me again;
  • It means I can provide for my family;
  • It means I can protect my family;
  • It means I can sleep at night;
  • It means I will live a long life.

So that’s the questioning process. When was the last time a salesperson had a conversation like that, with you? Probably never. That’s because most salespeople don’t ask any, or certainly not enough, quality questions. They go straight into selling mode and start talking about them and their products and services. But if you think about it – how can they persuade you that you need their products and services, when they don’t know anything about you?

Please note:

  • You can choose to ask these questions in sequential order or mix them up. The prospect might mix up their answers, which is okay (don’t correct them and ask them to stick to the script, because you don’t want them to know you’re following a process).
  • You are not selling during the questioning phase. You are only gathering information that you need when you offer your solution. It is tempting to jump in during the questioning phase and say, “I have the perfect product for you” or “I can help you with that.” You must resist that temptation, otherwise you will lose your momentum and frustrate your prospect, just when they were beginning to trust you and think you actually care about them.
  • The more complex and expensive your product or service is, the more time you need to spend in the questioning phase (and vice versa). You would only do a shorter version of this process, if you were a tyre retailer. But you might spend a couple of hours asking questions, if you build new homes for people.

Presenting Your Solution

Now that you know what the customer needs, you get to have your say. This is when you get to share with them, how you may be able to help. This is when you talk about your product and services. In giving your proposal, you want to:

  • Show them how you will take them from their “now” to their “desired state”;
  • Explain how you can help them overcome their barriers and obstacles;
  • Remind them how good they will feel when they reach their desired state, (this is the emotional step);
  • Why your offering is so much better than what they are using, (or not using) at the moment;
  • What the features and benefits of your offering are.

All your statements will reflect the things that are important to the prospect. They will not include anything that the prospect indicated was unimportant. You know these things, because you asked all the right questions. Being a good salesperson is as much about what you don’t say, as it is about what you do say.

Closing the Deal

Once you’ve presented your solution, it is important to ask for a decision. You should do it confidently, immediately, and in a way that assumes they will say “yes”. One of my favourite ways to do this, is to simply say “So, I suggest we get the process started, by filling out a Client Information Sheet and booking in our first consultation next week. Does Thursday at 10 am suit you?” This is called an “assumptive close” and it makes it difficult for the other person to say “no”.

Handling Objections

Of course, there is no guarantee the prospect will say “yes”. They might have a few objections. You must be able to confidently answer these objections. I expect 95% of the objections will be the same. They might include:

  • That is very expensive;
  • I don’t think I need it;
  • I’m not sure that will work;
  • I can’t afford that;
  • It isn’t the right time for us right now;
  • Let me think about it;
  • I need to talk to my partner;
  • Can you leave me with some information?

I don’t want to go into all these objections in detail, but I want to make a few comments about the much-feared price objection:

  • They should have discussed their budget during the questioning phase;
  • If they literally don’t have any money to pay you, you should have picked this up in the screening phase;
  • It probably isn’t about the money. Rather, they haven’t seen the value in your solution;
  • It might be an excuse, for another reason that they are reluctant to share. You can overcome this by saying “Apart from the Investment, is there any other reason why we can’t proceed?”

Once you’ve answered their objection to their satisfaction, ask for the order again, using a slightly different method, (don’t use exactly the same one you did earlier, but you can refer to it). For example, “Well, I suggest we get started. Here is the Client Information Sheet and a pen.”

I just want to finish, by saying this: it might feel awkward to sell this way at the start, but you will get better as you practice it. Don’t revert back to your old ways that lost you more prospects than you won. Dare to be different and stand out from your competitors.

In case you’re wondering, the above process follows the teachings of some of the best sales coaches and training organisations in the world. All their advice follows a method that is identical, or very similar, to what I have shared above.

How did you find the article? This is a chapter from my book: Starting a Business, Growing a Business. The Critical Insights No One Tells You About, But Should. If you are in business, you know how challenging it can be at times. If you’ve thought about running your own business, you’ve probably heard the odds are against you being successful. But all is not lost… Get your copy of my book where you will learn more tips to keep you on the path to success!

strategies to improve cash flow

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If you want to earn more consistently and learn more about the cash flow of your business, you can check out our Cash Flow Management Coaching or simply book a call so we can discuss the specific needs of your business and how to best approach it.

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The Key to Managing Debt for Small Businesses

The Key to Managing Debt for Small Businesses

Challenges for small businesses coping with debt

Taking risks is part of running a small business and debt is one of those risks, but it is also a positive tool for small businesses that is usually necessary in order to fund your growth or keep you afloat. You can’t easily plan for recession, pandemics, natural disasters, or other negative events, because if you take a too-cautious approach then you’ll never succeed. But sometimes the odds will go against you.

If you find yourself unexpectedly further in debt than you’d like, don’t panic. There are options available but they require action. If you sit back passively and wait for the worst to happen, it just might.

So take action. Manage what you owe before it becomes unmanageable. Here are some useful tips to help you take control of your debts.

Understand your situation and take action

If you’re facing increasing debt, take action instead of hoping for the best. If you fail to make payments on your debts, the consequences are often disastrous. They can include loss of employees, seizure of stock and costly court cases brought by your creditors.

Potentially worse than that is the risk of government intervention. If you fail to pay the taxes you owe, the government will come after their money.

Depending on where you live in the world, governments have the authority to get their money any way they can. They can seize your business assets, help themselves to the contents of your bank account, declare you bankrupt and even take personal assets such as your house or car. Sometimes this can be done without even a court hearing.

So stay sharp and aware of your situation. Use good quality accounting software to keep a close eye on your outstanding debt and monthly payments. This information should be at your fingertips at all times.

After that, your priorities will depend on the type of business you run and how flexible your suppliers are willing to be. The following payment priorities are suggestions, but the actual order is for you to decide:

  • Payroll
    If you don’t pay your employees’ wages on time you may be penalised for this. You may be able to renegotiate contracts with some staff, but that’s likely to affect their morale.
  • Suppliers and business partners
    Avoid losing valuable goodwill with your most loyal suppliers and business partners.
  • Aged payables (60 days or more)
    If you don’t pay, your credit score will be impacted, which will affect your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Bills
    Outgoing costs such as rent and utility bills need to be paid to keep the lights on! And again, not paying these could affect your credit rating.
  • Secured debts
    If you run your business as a sole proprietor or partnership, you might be held personally liable for debts, and creditors could try to take your assets. This is one good reason to form a corporation or limited liability company.
  • Insurance
    Especially professional indemnity and public liability cover.
  • Credit cards
    Avoid penalties or interest charges as these can pile up quickly.

Good accounting software is vital here. Without it you’ll have little idea who, and how much, you’re paying each month.

Renegotiate, refinance or consolidate bank loans

You may be able to renegotiate your bank loan so it’s spread over a longer term, to reduce the interest payments and also the monthly repayment cost.

The bank may want to charge a higher rate due to the perceived increased risk of default, so you won’t save as much money as you might like. Even so, this can give you some breathing space.

You may be able to combine your business loans into one payment that will reduce monthly costs and not adversely affect your credit score? Talk to debt consolidation companies about this, but read the small print carefully.

Consider refinancing, if your credit record will allow it.

Discuss more favorable payment terms

Talk to all your creditors. Explain the situation and make it clear you have a comprehensive plan for resolving it. Stay positive – tell them you want to pay in full but need to renegotiate terms for that to happen. They should understand that it’s in their interest to accommodate your request. After all, if your business fails they’ll get nothing back.

Be proactive here. If you approach your creditors before they start chasing you for missed payments, they’re more likely to take you seriously and agree to your terms.

Increase your revenue

Easier said than done, of course, but there are ways you can boost short-term revenue. By taking action, you could reduce your debt payments enough to get you back on track.

  • Offer your customers mark-downs or reduced prices
    Discounts for fast payment can help improve your cash flow.
  • Get to know your customers better
    Get their feedback on your business so you can tailor what you sell to meet their needs better – and maybe charge a mark-up for doing so.
  • Meet with your accountant, financial planner or banker
    Share your business plans and see if they can introduce you to some of their other clients, perhaps in exchange for a small finder’s fee.

Reduce business costs: Three tips to consider

Think about where you can cut costs. Use accounting software to list your largest outgoings and see where you can make reductions. For example:

  1. Reduce the amount of space you rent or lease, especially if you’re not using it all.
  2. Consider making some employees redundant, but be careful about hiring too many short-term consultants instead – as that can work out to be more expensive.
  3.  Negotiate with suppliers. Don’t be shy about asking for discounts, especially if you buy in bulk or place regular large orders and have a good payment history.

Be intelligent about where you cut costs

You might feel like you need to cut costs to the bone when debt looms over you, but sometimes it can be counter-productive. For example, consider the global economy. Some countries chose ‘austerity’ because of excessive debt – yet they suffered with more sluggish economies than those that tried government stimulus exercises (at least in the short term).

There are different schools of economic thought about this, but don’t assume cutting costs will automatically save you money. It’s where and how you cut costs that matters.

For example, if you slash your marketing budget you might save a lot of money in the short term, but you will lose potential new clients. Cut your shop floor space and you’ll save rent, but reduce the range of stock you can display to customers. Make some of your staff redundant, and you won’t be able to handle any larger contracts that come your way.

Cut when you need to, but do it sensibly. Before you start, use accounting software to forecast the financial impacts of different cost-cutting options. Trim the fat out of your business, not the muscle.

Raise funds to pay your debts

This will be difficult. A new business that’s free from debt is a better investment proposition than one that’s having financial problems. Still, you have choices:

  • Borrow from friends or family
    This can be awkward and could strain your relationships, but you may get favorable rates.
  • Liquidate assets
    Creditors are likely to accept this because they’ll want to be paid at least something, and this way they’ll get a better deal than if you went bankrupt. Their only other option might be litigation, and that’s timely and expensive.
  • Look for new investors
    Be aware that any new money will be expensive for you. Investors who might have wanted 5% of your new business in exchange for their money might want 30% now you’re in difficulties.

Read more about ways to finance your business in our guide.

Be realistic about your options

More than a third of business owners are less than comfortable about their levels of debt, so you’re not alone. Do everything you can to keep your business running, and talk to local business advisory agencies to see what help they can offer.

With luck and perseverance, you’ll be able to turn your business around. But if things don’t improve, you may have to consider closing your business and declaring bankruptcy. That would hurt, of course, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your dreams.

Many entrepreneurs fail in business at least once before finding a successful strategy. And as long as you learn from the experience, you may be able to bounce back stronger next time.

Contact Us

If you’re struggling to find a debt repayment plan that works or if you need help understanding your numbers, let’s chat. Through our CFO Program, we aim to provide you with accurate financial information to help you manage debt or grow your business. Book a free, no-obligation call below. 

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Increase Your Sales Without Increasing Your Advertisement Budget

Increase Your Sales Without Increasing Your Advertisement Budget

Are you looking for ways to increase sales without blowing through all of the advertising money? Have you explored every opportunity to extract the most value from your current contacts and customers? 

Here are five suggestions that will get us where we want with less cash outlay. 

Referrals 

If every customer referred one person to you, your business would double. Most businesses say they rely on “word of mouth”, but very few have a system in place to generate those referrals. Do not assume that customers are reluctant to make referrals. Your customers like you, trust you, and believe you provide quality and value, exceeding that offered by your competitors. Otherwise they’d be using someone else! But you have to make it easy and rewarding to refer others to you, (they won’t always be thinking of you; it is your responsibility to remind them).  

The best way, is to just ask them for referrals. Identify your good customers and tell them you appreciate their business and want more loyal customers like them. Most people will be flattered and only too keen to help. Give them a voucher to give away, and another one to keep for themselves.  It’s a great way to generate low-cost advertising and increase your sales: your customers send visitors and earn a small reward (or receive a small percentage of every sale), then those new customers refer their friends, who refer their friends, and so on! 

Another idea, is to invite your best customers to a Customer Appreciation evening, (whether it be in person or virtually) and ask them to bring one or two friends along. This must be an event that provides genuine value. Make it all about them, not you. Do not make it a sales pitch.  

Before long, you can have an army of loyal customers actively promoting your business – with every new referral, you exponentially increase the chance of getting more customers. And all for the price of a small commission on each sale or some other loyalty reward. 

Joint advertising 

If your advertising or lead-generation ideas have failed in the past, it’s very likely to have arisen because you have targeted “cold” prospects, i.e. people who don’t know you and/or have never bought from you before. But you will achieve much better results, (300-400% better results) if you seek leads/referrals through your existing database. This is because you have an existing relationship with these people. They know you, trust you and are more likely to act on any offer you make – compared with people who haven’t dealt with you before.  Also don’t be afraid to re-target your historical database of either closed or lost opportunities, you never know, they may be in the market for your product again. 

But you don’t want to limit your marketing efforts to your existing customers only. There are thousands of new prospects out there to target. But how can you tap into this lucrative market, without approaching them cold? Easy – by approaching them through someone else, who has a pre-existing relationship with them. It’s called “joint venture marketing”, and in my opinion, it is the most exciting and under-utilised form of marketing. Here’s how it works … 

Who do you know locally, (a friend, family member or customer) who owns a business with lots of customers that fit your target market profile; and someone who really looks after their customers? Imagine how great it would be, if they were to tell their customers about you.  

But very few, if any, business owners will help you, if it takes too much time, effort or money; or if there is no benefit to them, in doing so. Therefore, I suggest you print out vouchers or referral cards, for the other business owner to give away to their customers. If done properly, it can make them look like a hero to their customers.  

I know of a mechanic who works with a panel beater. He gives the panel beater the following vouchers to give away to customers, (with a short note to say nice things about the mechanic): 

  • A free set of wiper blades (fitted); 
  • A free WOF; 
  • A free engine steam clean; 
  • A half price service; 
  • A free safety check. 

The more generous that your offer is, the more likely it is the prospect will take up the offer. The cost of the offer is your investment to gain a new customer.  

Let me finish by saying, that this tool has the ability to return tens of thousands of dollars in extra business, especially when you consider the lifetime value of a customer. It costs very little to implement and will set you apart from all your competitors – how many of them are doing this? 

Here is what you need to do: 

  • Find a joint venture partner, whose customers fit your target market; 
  • Develop a special offer or giveaway, that would appeal to those customers (low cost to you; high value to them); 
  • Create the offer as a voucher, flyer, letter etc; 
  • Approach the other business owner and sell the benefit of the idea, in terms of their interests, not yours. 

Note that joint advertising is rarely an equal proposition: one party almost always pays more than the other, as they stand to gain more from the advertising or bring less to the combined project. Be flexible and ready to compromise. 

Most relevant advertising medium 

Choosing the most relevant advertising channel is absolutely critical in decreasing your advertising costs. You’ll have to do thorough demographical research, or invest a little money in trial-and-error learning to figure out the best medium for your business. 

For example, television and radio offer a massive return on investment for some companies, but if your business targets young adults who spend the majority of their time online, they may be a bad choice. You would almost certainly be better off investing in a combined multi-channel approach using online advertising and running a social media campaign as normally no single advertising channel provides the magic bullet.  

Create loyalty 

It is often said that it is more expensive to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. For this reason, it is important that you strive to build a relationship with your customers. Answer queries quickly, make sure complaints are dealt with swiftly and always try to exceed their expectations. This will ensure that you build a positive, rewarding relationship with your clients, and allow you to decrease your advertising costs in the long run. 

Also, if you want customers to keep coming back, give them a reason to do so. They have already bought from you, so it doesn’t take as much effort to get them to make subsequent purchases. Cafés know how powerful this is, because they offer their coffee cards, e.g. buy 10 coffees and receive your next one free. They know that the free coffee only costs them less than a dollar. 

This strategy works well for businesses who offer products and services that customers buy on a regular basis, as opposed to items they buy rarely.  

Don’t forget the real world 

Depending on your target market, “real world” advertising – as opposed to online, virtual adverts – can still be the best choice. For example, flyers and leaflets can be a very successful, yet inexpensive, form of advertising. The important thing is to ensure that your ads reach the right audience. 

For example, if your target market is women, you should distribute your flyers or leaflets in areas frequented predominantly by them. Ideal areas are near beauty stores, clothes shops, hairdressers, and gymnasiums. This will help ensure that your flyers are reaching the right audience, and are therefore more effective. 

Most successful businesses spend a large chunk of their money on advertising, so it is critical that you get the best possible returns. Don’t just assume that throwing money at an ad campaign will make it work better: research the best medium, consider all the options, then run tests to figure out where and how to invest most effectively. 

Want to know more on how you can grow sales? I have the answer in my new book Starting a Business, Growing A Business. 

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Wondering how you can manage your workload better?

Read: Business Automation Can Ease Workload

Business Automation Can Ease Your Workload

Business Automation Can Ease Your Workload

Small and medium-sized businesses are spending on average 120 hours a year on admin tasks, according to recent research.

If your people are spending 120 hours wading through tedious and unproductive admin, that’s bad for the business and for your overall efficiency. Fortunately, technology and software automation can go a long way towards automating the low-level admin tasks.

Better productivity through automation

Automation is an important way to ease your business workload, with a host of different business apps and cloud solutions offering ways to automate your admin.

With ‘smart business tools’ increasing in number and choice, software is utilising automation algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cognitive solutions to help remove the mundane admin tasks from your workflows.

Core processes that will benefit from automation include:

  • Automated bookkeeping – Just take a photo of your receipts, expenses and invoices and ‘optical character recognition’ (OCR) technology will digitise the output and pull it through into your accounts software. No data entry, no human error and no lost receipts! We can do the rest to ensure your records are accurate.
  • Automated credit control – chasing up debts and late-paying customers takes time. Automated credit control apps track your debtor numbers and automatically sends out customised chaser emails as soon as an invoice is late. This reduces your credit control time, speeds up cash collection and cuts your aged debtor figure.
  • Automated payment collection – the easier it is to pay you, the faster your customers will pay. Automated card payments and cloud-based Direct Debit solutions allow you to automatically take payment from a customer as soon as an invoice is due. Some solutions will even automate the invoice matching and bank reconciliation process.
  • Automated reporting and forecasting – the better your reporting and business intelligence, the easier it is to make informed decisions about your company strategy. Accounting platforms and fintech tools now offer automatic, real-time reporting and forecasting, giving you access to the important numbers and metrics, fast.
  • Automated digital marketing – digital marketing is key to raising your brand’s profile. Marketing platforms offer important time-saving ways to schedule and post social media content, or email automation that sends a pre-programmed cadence of emails to specific target audiences within your wider customer base.

Talk to us about embracing the power of automation

If your admin is starting to hold you back, come and talk to us about how automation can pick up some of the heavy lifting as well as giving you the metrics you need for decision making. Through our CFO Program, we can review your business processes and identify the automation opportunities, helping you choose the best apps to drive your business efficiently.

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If you’re wondering how an accountant can save you money, click here to read our recent article about it.

6 Reasons To Look at Your Financial Reports

6 Reasons To Look at Your Financial Reports

Making time to look over your financial reports each month is an important task for any business owner. If you are not taking the time to do this, either because you’re too busy, or perhaps you don’t really understand what you’re looking at and it doesn’t make sense to you, then here are 6 reasons we recommend that you should start to.

But before we get our 6 reasons, let’s talk very quickly about which reports to look at. At a bare minimum, and depending on the complexity of your business, you should be looking at the following:

  • The Statement of Financial Performance – also known as the Profit and Loss report (P&L) or the Income Statement – tells you, as the name suggests, how your business is performing over a period of time, such as a month or a financial year. In broad terms it shows the revenue that your business has generated, less the expenses for that same period. In other words, it shows how profitable your business is.
  • The Statement of Financial Position – also known as the Balance Sheet shows the value of the business’s Assets, Liabilities and Equity.
    • Assets include things like money in bank accounts, Plant and Equipment, Accounts Receivable balances
    • Liabilities include things like Bank loans and credit cards, Accounts Payable, and Hire Purchase balances
    • Equity is the difference between your Assets and your Liabilities and includes Retained Earnings and Owner Funds Introduced
  • Accounts Receivable Ageing report (Aged Receivables) – this shows how much money is still owed to the business as at a certain date in time, and is usually segmented as to how overdue they are, or sometimes by how far past the invoice date they are. Generally, you will have Current, 30, 60 and 90 days columns.
  • Accounts Payable Ageing Report (Aged Payables) – this report shows who the business owes money to as at a certain date in time and, like the Accounts Receivable Ageing report, is usually segmented by overdue period.

So why bother?

  1. Understand your business better – by looking at your Profit and Loss report monthly you will get a good picture of how your business is performing month by month and it will give you a better understanding of what makes up your profit. It can be helpful to compare periods, or to look at a month by month P&L, so you can clearly see on one page the revenue and expenses month by month. This will help to identify trends in your data and many also help to highlight anomalies in coding/categorising.
  2. Accurate information for lending purposes – If you are applying for a loan or an overdraft, the bank or financial institution will look closely at both your Profit and Loss report and the Balance Sheet as a lot can be learned about a business by looking at these reports together. If you are unsure what some of your balances are in your accounts, get in touch and we can explain them further.
  3. Get paid quicker and reduce bad debts – by looking at your Accounts Receivable Aged Summary each month you can follow up with overdue accounts promptly which often results in getting paid quicker. The longer an overdue amount is left unpaid the higher the risk of it not being paid at all, so it is important to keep on top of this.
  4. Better relationships with your suppliers – Assuming you are entering your supplier bills into your accounting software (recommended for most businesses to get an accurate profitability figure) your Aged Payables report will alert you to any unpaid or overdue amounts. Supplier relationships are an important aspect of your business and paying on time is crucial to maintaining those relationships.
  5. Better cashflow – having an accurate understanding of how much money the business is owed, and how much money the business owes, can help with cashflow planning to ensure that there is enough money when needed. Additionally, understanding the trends of your business, its profitability drivers, its expenses, etc., can help to plan sales and marketing campaigns so that the revenue keeps coming in.
  6. Better business decision making – Your financial reports tell the story of your business and it’s important that you understand the story that they are telling you. The better you understand what’s going on in your business the stronger position you will be in to make better business decisions that affect the profitability of your business and its financial viability.

If you would like to know which reports are relevant to your business, and you want to better understand what’s going on in your business , then get in touch so we can make a time to go through them with you.

Your business success is important to us and we are here to help you.

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ACCOUNTING BASICS: THE PROFIT AND LOSS AND BALANCE SHEET REPORTS

 

 

Accounting basics: the profit and loss and balance sheet reports

Accounting basics: the profit and loss and balance sheet reports

Understanding your finances is a vital part of running your business. But getting down into the nitty-gritty of the company accounts isn’t every entrepreneur’s top skill. If you are new to company accounting, or simply want to expand your knowledge, we can help explain accounting basics.

The profit and loss report and the balance sheet are both key reports when it comes to getting in control of your company’s financial health.

What’s a profit and loss statement?

Your profit and loss statement is commonly called your P&L, but is also referred to as your income statement or statement of earnings. It’s a full breakdown of your company’s revenue (money coming into the company as sales and other business income) and your expenditure (direct costs, overheads, expenses and other costs).

As a business, you obviously want to turn a profit and make money from your venture. Careful observation of your P&L allows you to track your revenues and expenses over a set period of time. You can then look back over the period and see exactly where you’re making money, and where you’re losing money. The more you make, and the less you lose, the greater your profits will be at year-end – and your P&L is your barometer for measuring these metrics.

The P&L statement is good for:

  • Giving you a breakdown of all revenues and relevant costs and expenses
  • Showing the profit and loss figures over a set period of time
  • Summing up your profit and loss for the period to gauge if you’re profitable.

What’s the balance sheet?

The balance sheet gives you a snapshot of your company’s financial health at a given point in time, based on the following accounting equation: ‘Equity = Assets – Liabilities’

The balance sheet shows shows you the company’s:

  • Assets (the things the company owns, including cash)
  • Liabilities (the things the company owes other people)
  • Equity (retained earnings plus the funds you originally invested as shareholders)

Unlike the P&L – which shows you the revenues and expenditure over the course of a given historic period – the balance sheet is best seen as a ‘screenshot’ of your current finances. In a nutshell, it shows you what the company is worth on paper right now, based on the current numbers in your accounts. So it’s a vital tool in your accounting toolbox.

The balance sheet is helpful for:

  • Assessing the current financial position of the company
  • Providing evidence of your financial position to banks, lenders and investors
  • Giving potential buyers an idea of the company’s tangible net asset value, if you plan to sell up.

Talk to us about expanding your accounting skills

If you don’t know your assets from your equity, we don’t blame you. Accounting can be complicated and it takes time to fully grasp all the different terms and processes.

But if you’d like to know more about the basics of your company accounts, we can help. We’ll be happy to run you through your latest management or statutory accounts and explain exactly what each report means – and how it reflects your current performance as a business.

Get in touch to find out more about your accounts.

Find out more about our CFO Program here.

Cyber Security | Is your business focused enough?

Cyber Security | Is your business focused enough?

We live in a digital world where our company’s data and (crucially) our customers’ data is under constant attack. Hackers are always looking for new ways to break into your systems and databases – and this has resulted in many significant data breaches in recent years.

When your security is breached, and your data is compromised, this isn’t just an IT issue, however. It’s a breach of trust between you, your customers and your suppliers – one that can be hugely damaging for your brand reputation and consumer’s perception of the company.

So, why are so few companies taking cyber security seriously? And what can you do to enhance your cyber security and protect your valuable data?

In the 21st century, your data = your business

It’s the customer information in your CRM system, the supplier details in your invoicing system and the financial data in your accounting software. It’s your bank account details, your confidential client information and your company’s secret intellectual property or hard-won R&D findings.

If you lose your data, you damage the business too. So protecting the safety and security of your data and systems has to be a top priority for any business owner.

To boost your cyber security:

  • Make cyber security a company-wide concern – if a data breach occurs, there’s no use blaming the IT department after the fact. Cyber security has to be a concern for the whole business and something where you have clear advice, processes and training in place for. The better your people are prepared for protecting the company’s valuable data, the less chance there will be of a security error or accidental data breach.
  • Keep devices and computing hardware secure – where your employees are using laptops and work mobile devices, it’s vital that they keep this hardware safe. Don’t leave computers unattended in laptop bags in a coffee shop or bar, and don’t leave your phone unsupervised on a hot desk. Offer secure lockers and desk drawers where laptops and devices can be secured and always think about the security implications of leaving your hardware anywhere other than in the office.
  • Use a secure network connection – when connecting to work applications, databases and shared folders, always use the company network or an approved virtual private network (VPN). By using a secure network connection, you greatly reduce the chances of your data being intercepted and stolen, with VPNs allowing employees to log in securely when off-site or working at a client’s premises.
  • Save important data in the right place – you should have clear protocols regarding what kinds of data can be saved, and where this information should be stored. If employees are storing spreadsheets full of confidential client information on their laptop hard drives, you are only one lost laptop away from a security breach. Set up clear guidelines on which drives and folders to use, and make sure only the right people have access to any confidential folders and content.
  • Use proper authentication and encryption – use two-factor authentication or even multi-factor authentication for access to all your cloud and SaaS tools. And make sure you have proper data encryption of any confidential information that’s shared. By putting the best possible security steps in place, you greatly reduce the risk of a slip-up.
  • Factor in the added security threat of WFH – with so many employees now working from home (WFH), there are extra threats to factor in. Good cyber security at home means using a secure VPN, keeping laptops safely stored, always using the latest versions of applications and not sharing passwords with family or flatmates etc.
  • Log all security breaches – if the worst-case scenario does happen, make sure to log every single security or data breach – and be transparent about what’s happened when communicating with customers, suppliers or employees who may have been affected. The sooner all your stakeholders are aware of the issue, the sooner you can work to resolve the problem and limit the potential damage.

Speak to IT security experts and protect your data

Keeping your data safe and secure is now a foundational need for any business. If you want to reduce your security worries, it’s sensible to speak to a cyber security expert. They will be able to review your current systems, networks and security practices and advise you on the key actions that are needed to tighten up your security.

Got questions?

Feel free to drop us a message through our contact us page or book a free, no-obligation call with Murray so he can address all your business worries.

Here are other articles that may interest you:

HOW YOUR MINDSET CAN HELP YOU TO ACHIEVE MASSIVE SUCCESS IN YOUR BUSINESS

THE TOP 6 THINGS LENDERS WANT TO SEE IN YOUR FINANCIAL REPORTS BEFORE THEY WILL LEND YOU MONEY

 

HOW YOUR MINDSET CAN HELP YOU TO ACHIEVE MASSIVE SUCCESS IN YOUR BUSINESS

HOW YOUR MINDSET CAN HELP YOU TO ACHIEVE MASSIVE SUCCESS IN YOUR BUSINESS

Did you know, approximately 70-80% of your business success is determined by your mindset?

Your mindset as a business owner is probably one of the biggest risk factors in determining the likelihood of your business succeeding. The good news is that it is one of the risk factors you can control which means you can do something about it.

If you want to increase your chances of business success, it starts with you. Read on to find out if your mindset is helping you, or preventing you, from achieving your business goals.

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that our talents, skills, and abilities can be developed through hard work and good strategies.

A fixed mindset is a belief that our talent, skills, or abilities are static or fixed – they are things that cannot be changed in any meaningful way. Unsurprisingly, business owners with a “growth mindset” tend to achieve more, push themselves towards more opportunities.

They are often more open-minded towards pursuing new ideas and have higher chances of success than business owners with a “fixed mindset”.

Eliminate your Limiting Beliefs

A fixed mindset may not be the only thing holding you back from achieving your goals.

Limiting beliefs, things we think (assumptions or perceptions) about ourselves or the way the world works can prevent us from achieving our goals in life, or business.

The way we act is always consistent with the way we think.

Some Examples of Limiting Beliefs:

  • “I’m too OLD to run a high-growth business…”

  • “There are many other businesses that ALREADY do this…”

  • I don’t have ENOUGH experience/skill to pursue that contract…”

Eliminating our limiting beliefs help us move towards a growth mindset, pursue our goals, and increase our chances of success.

Since limiting beliefs are often subconscious, the first step to eliminating our limiting beliefs is to identify them.

  1. Write down a stretch business goal – something you want to achieve but are unsure it is possible

  2. Ask yourself, why have you not already achieved this and/or why do you think that it will be unlikely you will achieve this?

  3. Write down any beliefs you have that you feel are preventing you from reaching your goal.

  4. Challenge your beliefs – why do you believe this? Remind yourself these are beliefs, not truths.

  5. Try a new belief – what is a belief that is aligned with what you want or would help you achieve your goal.

  6. Take action on the new belief – next time you find yourself held back by a limiting belief, act as if your new belief is true.

Shifting your Mindset for Success

Changing the way you think is not easy. Many beliefs, limiting or otherwise, are resistant to change as they have been developed from an early age.

Shifting your mindset requires hard work and conscious effort but the results can be very powerful.

SO ARE YOU READY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS?

Here are three things you can do to shift your MINDSET so that you can start to achieve MASSIVE SUCCESS in your business TODAY…

  1. Take responsibility for your life – You make your own economy through the power of your own mind. Start being proactive rather than reacting or accepting things are “just the way they are”.

  2. Take action – You don’t make money from what you know, but from what you do. Make a plan and start taking the required steps to achieve your goals. You will not find out if you can unless you try.

  3. Invest in yourself You can achieve your goals (and change your mindset) by yourself, but it will take longer. An advisor in business, and in life, can challenge your beliefs and hold you accountable towards achieving your goals.

mindset