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Finance

Ideas For Keeping Business Costs Down

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Every penny counts when you are running a business. Not only will it free up substantial cash that you can use to improve your company’s performance, but it can also improve your bottom line – meaning you will be more profitable. And the key thing to remember about keeping costs down is that you don’t need to implement sweeping changes into your business to make it happen – all you need is a few simple, common sense strategies in place. In today’s guide, we’re going to go through some of the things that business owners old and new should be looking at to keep down their costs. Let’s get started right away.

Track and trace

The first step in saving money is to understand where it is all going. Every cent you spend in your business needs to be accounted for, and you have to have strict procedures in place that allow you to see where your money is going. A tight, controlled budget will always outperform one that is a little on the loose side, and it will give you a chance to identify potential areas where cost cutting can be achieved.

Location

It’s nice to have a flash office or premises to show off to your customers. But is it really necessary? Rental payments can be huge if you want to locate your business in a popular area, and you will always be paying a premium. In some cases, it can be worth it, of course, but in the vast majority? You will be far better off looking for a cheaper alternative to keep down your fixed costs and overheads as much as possible.

Office size

Are maximizing the space of your offices and premises? If not, the likelihood is that you are wasting money. Don’t forget, you will be spending money on every square yard of rental space, and if you have no need for it, it’s all going to waste. There are a couple of things you can do. First of all, consider downsizing to a new place that is sized more suitable for your business needs. Secondly, fill up space by renting it out to other firms or individuals.

Equipment, furniture, software

It’s nice to buy everything you use in your business brand new – but is it necessary? The truth is that you can save a small fortune by purchasing used furniture of PCs, for example. It’s the same principle with investing in expensive software. Could you save money by using an open source word processor like Openoffice, for instance, instead of forking out for Microsoft’s version? Maybe you could seek out an alternative to Photoshop and Illustrator, too?

Energy costs

All businesses use energy, of course. But the vast majority waste far too much. One of the easiest things you can do to save businesses costs is to start being sensible with your energy use. Switch utility providers every time you come to an end of a contract, as new customers always tend to get the best deals. Turn off the lights when you leave a room empty. Close windows to ensure you don’t waste heat. Run regular maintenance programs on equipment, heating, and air conditioning to make sure that everything is working as efficiently as possible. And, most importantly, get everyone on board with your efforts. If you can create a culture of energy saving, it can save you a substantial amount of money over the course of a year.

Insurance and banking

Banking and insurance charges can also vary wildly, and switching to cheaper alternatives is a simple process. You should always evaluate your insurance cover, too, to make sure that you aren’t paying for needless policies that are irrelevant to your business. If you look around for more competitive rates than you currently enjoy, you can use this information to ask your current lender to reduce their charges.

Waste reduction

If you start tracking your waste volume, you can start to identify a lot of inefficiencies in your business. And there are plenty of ways to save, from cutting out items that are never used, to selling cardboard and paper instead of recycling it. Don’t forget, every time you throw something away, you will be wasting money – and it’s unnecessary expenditure you can easily avoid.

Outsource

Hiring full-time staff is expensive. Not only do you have to pay people a wage, but you have to give them benefits, too, including things like insurance. Employees also require space, equipment, training, and much more besides – all of which you pay for. You also have to pay your employees during quiet periods where they may not be bringing any value to your business. In most cases, outsourcing to third parties can be a much more efficient way of controlling your expenses.

DIY

Of course, outsourcing still costs money, but you can cut back on this expenditure by learning how to do those activities yourself. Many startup owners do as much as they can themselves in the early stages of business. However, you do need to bear in mind that if it takes you away from your money-making activities – such as making sales – it might be better for you to outsource particular tasks.

Haggle

Haggling can save you a small fortune, yet so few businesses try it. Once you have developed a good relationship with your suppliers, for instance, they won’t want to lose you. And that puts you in a stronger position, particularly if you are growing and need to place additional bulk orders. Shop around and see if you can find a cheaper source of raw materials, and then use that information to tempt your current suppliers to drop their prices. As long as you can guarantee you won’t lower the quality of your end product, haggling for a better deal is a great way of reducing your cost per sale.

Barter

Finally, try swapping products or services – it’s an age-old method of reducing costs. You might trade services with another business in your local community, for example. You get what you need, and provide a similarly-priced service for someone else. These types of trade-offs can help you reduce a lot of spending – and also help you develop high-quality relationships with local businesses.

Additional resources

When You’ve Got to Cut Costs—Now
10 Simple Ways to Cut Business Costs
7 Smart Ways for Your Small Business to Reduce Costs

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Finance

How To Prepare For The Next Wave of the Outbreak

COVID-19

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US warned that a second wave of the COVID-19 infection is inescapable and may cause more harm. The WHO also stated in March that COVID-19 is far from over and that a second wave is respectable.

With as many as 100,000 new cases reported since late May, the new wave may be upon us now. The global count of infected persons has exceeded 9 million, and COVID-19 deaths have crossed 480,000. The Director-General of WHO urged countries to be creative and pragmatic in finding solutions as they ease the lockdown restrictions and get back to business as usual amid the spread of infection.

The Second Wave

There has been a surge in new COVID-19 cases. On June 21 the WHO reported an increase in the global number of new COVID-19 infections. 183,020 new cases were reported mostly in South Asia, South America, and North America. Beijing recently reported 158 fresh cases.

In the US nearly 20,000 new cases were reported. India reported 15,968 new cases on June 23. There are also reports of new COVID-19 cases in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. South Korea, which contained the virus in March, now records 40-50 new cases per day since late May. South Korea’s Director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the country is going through a second wave of the virus.

The WHO believes that the new cases could be a result of easing lockdowns and travel restrictions too early.

Vaccine Development

Currently, we don’t have a proven vaccine for COVID-19. The WHO is collaborating with pharmaceutical companies and research institutions to develop one. As of June 24 a total of 141 options were in various stages of development.

In a report by the WHO on June 24, 16 candidate vaccines are in the clinical evaluation stage. One of these is called ChAdOx1-S, and is already in phase 3 of clinical evaluation. It was developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. The trials of the test vaccine will be conducted in July. More than 4,000 participants have enrolled for the trials in the UK.

Another 30,000 participants enrolled for the ChAdOx1-S trials in the US. Simultaneous trials will also be conducted in other parts of the world, including South Africa. Some of the other vaccine candidates are in phase 2 of clinical evaluations. These include Adenovirus Type 5 vector developed by CanSino Biological Inc. and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. Another of these is the LNP-encapsulated mRNA developed by Moderna and NIAID.

Treatment

Scientists at the University of Oxford reported in early June that the Steroid dexamethasone reduces mortality rate in patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 directly attacks cell linings in a patient’s airways and lungs.

Dexamethasone reduces the inflammation, thereby protecting the cells. Dexamethasone has also been used in Spain and the US to treat patients. The results from Spain and the US match the findings in the UK.

Currently, dexamethasone is only being administered to patients with severe COVID-19 under close clinical supervision. In response to the report from the University of Oxford, The Director-General of WHO urged countries to increase the production and distribution of dexamethasone.

Preparing

Until a vaccine is tested and mass-produced coronavirus will remain a threat. Governments and individuals must prepare for the second and subsequent waves of COVID-19 infection. With the easing of lockdown measures and businesses reopening we must take additional precautions.

New cases of infection in Seoul were traced to nightclubs. In Germany, the fresh cases were tracked down to a slaughterhouse. Risks increase when people congregate and precautions are ignored. Governments must rethink preventive measures.

Many countries have chosen not to ease their lockdowns until a vaccine is found. As is usual in case of public measures, the effectiveness and success eventually come down to the actions of individuals. We must be mindful of our safety at all times.

One aspect of preparation is securing our supply chains. For millions of families worldwide, remittances are lifelines. Switch now to a reliable channel to send money online. Ensure that your family back home can cope with the economic situation throughout this difficult time.

About The Author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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Finance

5 Must-Haves To Get Small Business Funding

management

Securing financing for your small business when it most needs it can be ‘make or break’. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to the volatility of poor trading conditions like a recession.

Even a minor dip in sales revenue can send a start-up or small business to the wall, and this is why lenders need to know their funds are in good hands. While the process to get a loan is stringent the positive is when you get the approval you know it’s due to have a robust business model.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of success with a lender. Here are some essential tasks that must work well for you before applying for business finance.

Well-Grounded Business Plan

Having a sound business plan is key to securing investment for your business. You need to make sure that you have a complete, realistic business plan that articulates every facet of your company. The executive summary must present what you do, who for and why it’s a great offering, so lenders are encouraged to delve deeper into the detail of the plan.

Improve Your Credit Score

If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a home loan or personal finance you’re already aware of the importance of a good credit score. The same conditions apply for companies they too must have a good business credit score – if not your options for finance from tier-one lenders, i.e. banks is limited.

Learn how your credit score is calculated and stay up-to-date with it so that you know if anything needs doing – like paying off business credit cards and other loans – before applying for new funding. If you’ve just started your business and it has no credit history, your credit score may be taken into account if you apply for a bank loan, so keep on top of that too.

Invest Your Own Cash

Putting some of your cash on the line is one way to increase your chance of success when applying for a business loan. Typically, lenders favor applicants who have at least a 25% equity stake in the company that they are applying on behalf of. And, being able to put some of your own money down will mean that you can borrow less and will start your business off in less debt.

Rent Your Premises

Purchasing an office building might seem tempting if you can, but lenders tend to prefer businesses that rent, rather than buy their workplace. This is because they prefer to see you investing your money into assets that are going to generate income for your business, such as equipment and inventory.

Of course, if you own commercial real estate and it earns an income, this investment is viewed favorably by lenders. Personal assets can be used as security for loans. Often small business owners need to use their assets like property as security to get a loan for their company.

Consider Alternatives

Finally, don’t assume that you have better chances of getting a loan with bigger banks. Smaller, local banks may be more inclined to provide funding to small businesses in their community, and you’re more likely to get individual attention.

Angel Investors

Similarly, you might have better luck avoiding the banks altogether and applying to a small business funding circle, including private investors like angel investors. This action does not relieve you from providing the fundamentals that show the health and potential of the business.

Every lender needs to earn a profit from their investment, and they will be thorough in their assessment of risk. The higher the risk, the higher the interest rate too.

Shareholding

Offering a slice of the business may also be another way of securing investment from private investors.

Summary

There is no need to shy away from seeking funding for your business when all you need to do is what you should have in the first place, a good credit rating, robust business plan and some skin in the game.

 

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Finance

Key Considerations When Applying For A Merchant Account

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As a merchant, deciding which credit card processing company to partner with can be a Make or Break issue. As such, the decision should be made with the utmost care.

Weighing profitability versus reputability can be a difficult process especially if one hasn’t dealt with finding a credit card processing company previously.

Unfortunately, poor quality companies are abundant, so choosing an appropriate company for your company’s needs will require thorough vetting and knowing exactly what your company’s needs are. There may be various pressures to choose quickly, but it is important to make thoughtful deliberations to avoid pitfalls.

High and Low-Risk Accounts

Hopefully, you already know whether you are designated as a high or low-risk merchant account. This makes a huge difference in the types and willingness of credit card processing companies to work with your company.

Low risk

These accounts are typically well-established industries with a limited chargeback, low average ticket size, and low monthly processing totals. Because these industries are easy to predict and require limited investment from the company to process your totals, these accounts are very attractive to banks and processing companies. Because of how attractive these accounts are and how plentiful processing companies may be, they can become the target for poor quality companies

High risk

These accounts are typically in an industry that is highly regulated, a possible reputational risk, or e-commerce. These accounts often face a difficult time finding quality companies to work with because of their drawbacks. However, there are companies that specialize in high-risk industries and actively seek high-risk clients in specific industries.

Customer (Service) is King

These two account types seem to have opposite obstacles but it boils down to the same decision-making process. For a business to function efficiently it is important to work with a reliable company that can cater to your needs to ensure reliability in case of an issue and keep your costs low.

An ideal credit card processing company will have easily contacted customer service representatives and is willing to tailor service to your needs, saving you money.

Easily reached customer support is vital in case of an issue, being able to speak with someone immediately to resolve an issue will vastly change the experience if something was to occur.

Although making this one of the utmost priorities may seem unnecessary, in the event of an emergency this may be the only attribute that really matters at that moment.

So How Do They Get You

Unfortunately, some of these companies operate with some impunity which makes it difficult to find companies that are reputable. Some companies will employ shady business practices which make them seem inexpensive compared to the competition then overcharging higher than industry standards. Some of these shady practices might include:

  • Undisclosed charges and fees masked by seemingly low rates
  • Locking in the long term or non-cancellable contracts which may have outrageous termination fees or monthly/annual fees that change as time passes
  • Non-disclosed information or a misleading website that makes an informed decision possible

Options that employ these tactics may try to undercut the competition while not disclosing all the important information before signing with a processing company.

Even if you are quite savvy, research, and read through the contract you may still be taken advantage of; there are many ways for companies to save money. This can be done with non-competitive rates, poor quality equipment or requiring the customer to purchase/lease the equipment, and low functioning or non-existent customer service.

What To Look For

Now that we can spot and avoid poor quality companies, it’s time to start identifying what an ideal company looks like:

  • Flexibility: A provider that is willing to tailor service to provide only what is necessary with quality products and services is ideal.
  • Communication: It is important to be able to get into contact with someone at a moment’s notice in case of an emergency or an issue.
  • Price: The most important aspects of price are early termination fees and competitive rates. Strangely enough, if it’s a quality company, the rate is not the most important issue. They will probably save you money in other ways like providing great equipment or showing extreme visibility regarding fees.

As with anything, not very much of this is cut and dry. All companies fall on the sliding scale of quality, it’s just important to avoid over compromising and protect the integrity of your business. There are good options out there!

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