Hold Onto Your Cash for a Healthy Business

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 50 percent of U.S. businesses fail within the first five years. The primary reason is poor cash management, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) cites. Good cash management is about keeping your cash as long as possible, and convincing your customers to pay promptly. Keeping a few cash management principles in mind will help you keep a healthy business and stop you from becoming just another statistic.

The Confusion Over Profit

Profit and cash flow are related but not equal, stresses Inc. Your profit and loss statement gives you the simple results of revenue minus expenses. A positive result is considered profit, but you can’t tell how healthy your cash flow is by just seeing a profit. Areas you need to watch include:

  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Inventory
  • Capital expenditures
  • Level of debt

If customers are slow to pay, resulting in a high receivables, you could see a profit on the books, but a lack of cash in the bank. You could see a profit on paper, but not be able to make payroll or pay your suppliers.

Getting the Bigger Picture

You need to have visibility into your cash flow to know where your company stands, and where you might be in a week, month or year. Future cash flow prediction is an educated guess based on the trends you see in the areas mentioned above, says Entrepreneur.

As soon as you can, get your business onto a consolidated system, so you can easily see the patterns in your business. Cloud-based applications, such as the retail management software from NetSuite, bring together both your online and offline activities to give you a complete picture. Relying on spreadsheets or different applications to track online and offline channels makes it painful to bring the data together so you can accurately predict your cash flow.

When you have the complete picture, you’ll have visibility to such trends as:

  • The payment history of your customers
  • The accuracy of your planned expenditures
  • The ability to cover unplanned expenditures

Without the consolidated view of your performance data, you won’t be able to make those educated guesses needed to plan for your company’s future.

Managing Receivables

Ideally, all of your customers would pay for your products and services at the time of the sale. That won’t necessarily happen as your company grows and increases the customer base by offering credit and special terms. Increase your cash by bringing in more customer payments:

  • Give a discount for paying bills early
  • Request a deposit when an order is taken
  • Get invoices out quickly, and send reminders at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals
  • Once you’ve identified slow paying customers, put them on cash-only terms

Small business owners don’t like the idea of being a bill collector, but the SBA suggests you should do all you can to get something from the customer, because third-party agencies take at least a 30 percent cut if they are successful. Giving discounts as an incentive for payment will let you keep more of the cash in your pocket.

Managing Payables

Keep your cash as long as you can. This improves your cash outlook, especially to banks and investors.

  • Use your supplier’s credit terms whenever possible
  • Make payments on the last day of your vendor’s cycle — day 29 on a net-30 term
  • Use electronic funds transfer (EFT) whenever possible
  • Communicate with your suppliers, and build rapport in case you need a break to delay a payment
  • Select vendors to work with that have the best terms for your cash flow, not necessarily the lowest prices

Talk to a Factoring Broker

A factoring broker is someone who purchases your invoices, so you use the cash flow immediately for things like making payroll or purchasing needed equipment for the business. This is an excellent solution especially when traditional means of borrowing aren’t available. A factoring broker I highly trust and recommend is Jack Wilson.

A healthy cash-flow is integral to helping you grow your business to the next level. You need cash flow to allow you to hire top talent, beef up your marketing and upgrade your systems. As the saying goes, “you need money to make more money”.

QUESTION: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to increasing your cash flow? Please share your comments in the box below.

© Copyright 2016

5 Cool Web Tools for Small Business

small businessRunning your own business can be very overwhelming at times. You’ve got so much you’d like to do, but never enough time it seems to get it all done.

The good news is we now have access to a growing list of web based tools that offer excellent solutions for the busy entrepreneur.

Here are 5 cool web tools I highly recommend for small business owners to increase your productivity, so you can work less and earn more.

Cool Web Tool #1. Work and train remotely. 

freescreensharing

It’s easier now more than ever to work remotely. Whether you’re on the road or your staff is working virtually, you can easily share your computer screen with others. I use Free Screen Sharing to train a group of people or even just one person. The tool allows me to share whatever is on my computer screen with those who I invite to my session. This tool offers unlimited meetings with up to 96 participants at a time. They also throw in free, dedicated conference bridge line you can use at anytime. Visit FreeScreenSharing.com

Cool Web Tool #2. One application and dashboard to organize your entire business.

FusionForgeFusionForge has tools to help your team collaborate, like message forums and mailing lists; tools to create and control access to Source Code Management repositories like CVS and Subversion. FusionForge automatically creates a repository and controls access to it depending on the role settings of the project. Learn more about them at www.fusionforge.org

Cool Web Tool #3. Free invoicing with easy online payments.

vogogo_300x100Vogogo is a B2B risk management and payment services business that has spent recent years developing and launching technologies to enable secure and compliant online transaction processing between businesses and their customers. This unique combination gives Vogogo the security, flexibility and scalability to meet the demands of a marketplace driven by technology and seeking reliable risk management as well as effective access to conventional banking and payment services. Visit www.vogogo.com

Cool Web Tool #4.  Easily track your billable hours for each client. 

harvest-time-tracker-1392-b-512x250Whether you’re a landscaping company needing to track design time for 30 different clients or you are a solo attorney needing an easy system to track your billable hours, Harvest is a great tool. They let you easily and accurately track time as well as analyze your time with powerful reports. This cool web tool also allows you to instantly create branded invoices for your clients. You can get this both as desktop and mobile applications. Visit www.GetHarvest.com

Cool Web Tool #5. Stop wasting time with staff scheduling.

shifthub-logo Shift Hub is a great new employee scheduling and communication platform to save you time and money for the small business owner. Now, as a small business owner you don’t have to waste valuable time putting schedules together and responding to constant scheduling change requests. Visit www.ShiftHub.com

There are hundreds of excellent web tools out there today. The place to start of course is to first identify which of your tasks are tedious, recurring and/or involve multiple steps to getting it done.

Once you’ve shortlisted the time consuming tasks in your work you can then begin searching for the right tool. Or, even better why not just ask our community right here and share what you’re searching for in the comment box below.

QUESTION: What is your favorite web tool that has saved you time, money or headaches? 

© Copyright 2016

5 Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Note From Yoon:

Time management crops up as a constant concern for many of my clients. Today, I share some of the same strategies that have helped my clients monetize their time. These strategies have been successfully employed by my clients from solopreneur new coaches to those who are CEO’s of 30 Million dollar companies.

 It is a fact that most modern day parents struggle  to balance caring for the needs of  children and family. Everyone wants more time for their kids.  With three kids of my own, I know that I have to make every minute count in my work day. I do not enjoy engaging in activities that waste my time or deplete my energy. I am sure that most people feel that way!

 As a result, it is particularly important to make sure that your work time is well managed. Here are some ideas and strategies to help you manage your time. Feel free to reach out and share on my blog with others. Share how these tips are working for you, your business and your family!

 Here’s to Your Success! 

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5 Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs

time managementI have found that time management is one of the most challenging disciplines in the life of an entrepreneur. As an employee, your schedule and tasks are structured for you. Employees will still earn the compensation they were offered regardless if they were more productive or less productive in a given day.

When it comes to time management skills, the cracks show faster when you’re an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs who have weaker time management skills will feel that direct impact on your revenues and profits.

What’s great about being an entrepreneur is being your own boss.
What’s challenging about being an entrepreneur being your own boss.  

Whether you are a solopreneur or your have employees the fact is you do not have a boss who measures your productivity and holds you accountable to higher standards of performance.

It’s just so easy to get distracted whether it’s by allowing others to constantly interrupt us or by falling into a pattern of interrupting ourselves. I know myself, I find the internet to be very distracting. I jump on Google to search for the answer to one question that should theoretically only take me 10 minutes tops, but I can easily wander to 14 other sites and not do what I intended.

Meanwhile, emails are popping up that draw me away from what I came to do, many of which include links for me to review that leads me onto yet another set of 12 more interesting websites I somehow feel in the moment I must explore.

I confess that yes, I too get bit by the distraction bug. Here are some strategies that have worked for me to overcome my self interruptions. Rather than practicing what I preach, these tips I preach are the ones I have practiced.

Time Management Strategy #1. Keep a daily time journal.

This is something I do everyday even now that helps me in the moment to see just how much time I gave to a task and assess the value of what I accomplished in that time. I jot down my tasks contemporaneously throughout the day as I switch tasks. Of course, sometimes it will happen that I jockey back and forth from 3 or 4 different tasks, in which case I write that as one line item. Here’s what my form looks like:

StartEndHow LongResults of What I Accomplished w/ Each Task
Week Total: hrs
Task Category

When I jot down the results of what I actually accomplished it sheds light to where the greatest ROI is (return on investment) on my time. It also brings awareness to those tasks I ought to outsource, delegate or delete because I’m either overqualified to be doing those tasks or those tasks just are not in my areas of core competency.

If I keep doing certain tasks I am weak at, all I’m doing is acquiring a lot of strong weaknesses. If I keep doing entry level tasks just because I know how to do them, all I’m doing is paying 3 times to 10 times more salary then if I just outsourced or delegated those tasks to a lower paid assistant.

One of my past clients, who is an eye doctor with a new private practice, used this form for two weeks. We found he spent on average 2 hours a day answering the phone which totaled 20 hours in the two week period.

I asked him, “Did you invest in medical school to earn $12 per hour?

Because that’s what a receptionist is for.”

Time Management Strategy #2. Plan your week in advance.

It’s important to take all those pesky to do items out of your head and onto a form. You should choose what type of form works best for you. There are some great free tools available I found at https://www.productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/

There’s also another great tool called TimeDoctor.com. It’s really for companies to keep track of what hours their employees are working and what they’re doing, but you can also use this tool for yourself.  It gives you reports on how you spend your days, but what’s really cool and a bit surprising is that you can get screenshots of all the websites you were on during the day and what you were doing on them.

Time Management Strategy #3. Color code your time on your calendar.

The best time management technique that works for me is to simply color code my time on my iCal (or if you’re on a PC your outlook calendar). Then of course, you should sync your calendars so you can access the same info from both your smartphone and laptop.

Here’s my personal color code system:

I set up the week ahead of time and put all of my

  • client session appointments on there in red,
  • my marketing to-do tasks in pink,
  • my follow up items in orange
  • admin to do is blue (which I try to have the least)
  • Emails are brown
  • Kids commitments are in green

I make myself note what outcome result I accomplished on the tasks (not client sessions though) and that is my own built in reporting system of where my time is going.

Time Management Strategy #4. Choose a system to hold yourself accountable.

To succeed as an entrepreneur half the battle lies in setting the right goals and developing a smart plan to helping you achieve those goals. The other half of the battle is following through and implementing that plan. Here are 4 solutions to consider to help you succeed in following through.

  • You can hire a business coach like me to hold you accountable.
  • You can ask a friend or family member to be your accountability partner — although some people may not be tough enough on you.
  • You can join a mastermind group — a peer group of like minded entrepreneurs who are there each month to hold you accountable. Take a took at one that I facilitate for the Women’s Business Forum at https://www.paramountbusinesscoach.com/mastermind-group
  • You can also consider some tools out there like www.Stickk.com where you have to pay money for every to-do item you do not follow through on.

Following through does take discipline. It takes discipline to say no to all those shiny baubles that show up in our week. It takes discipline to plan out your calendar week in and week out. It takes discipline to audit yourself on a daily basis to assess how well you stayed focus and stayed on track.

The good news is the more you repeat a pattern of behavior the easier it becomes to continue that pattern of behavior.

Time Management Strategy #5. Let go.

The reality is there are only 24 hours in a day and your body needs to sleep for 8 or 9 of those hours. There will always be more to do both at home and with your business. If you are constantly racing the clock and running out of time, why not just give yourself less to do? A huge break through in my own success occurred when I made the decision early on to let go and let others take care of a lot of my tasks.

I’d like to invite you to join to the conversation.

 QUESTION:  What is one discipline, decision or tool that has helped you get more of the right things done as an entrepreneur?  Please share your comments in the box below.

© Copyright 2016

Business Skills for the Consultancy Start Up

Note From Yoon:  

It’s interesting the uptick I’ve been seeing of people leaving the corporate world to start their own consultancy firm or solo consulting practice. I’d say half of my consultant clients fell into becoming an entrepreneur after becoming a victim of wide spread lay off’s. The other half of my consultant clients chose to leave the corporate world in pursuit of a better work life balance… (this cartoon strip I found says it all!). 
Work Life Balance CartoonBoth would unanimously agree that keeping their high paying executive jobs became more and more high pressure with grueling demands on their time. 
Starting your own consulting practice can be very rewarding giving your full reign over your time and income. In today’s article I want to share with you some tips for the consultancy startup. 
 
Enjoy! 
 
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Business Skills for the Consultancy Start Up

It may seem tempting to launch a consultancy startup rather than go to work for a traditional business. You’re your own boss, and all that you need is a group of fellow fledgling entrepreneurs, a dry erase board, a dream and a little seed money to put your innovation into action.

However, the real truth is that the lean startup model has a success rate of about 25 percent, according to research by Shikhar Ghosh, a Harvard Business School lecturer. If you are exchanging a steady shot at a corner office for a high-risk-high-reward startup consulting venture, you may need to assess your business school training to ensure you have the right stuff.

#1. Soft Skills: Maintain professionalism

 

You may have heard stories about Google programmers who walk around Silicon Valley wearing old T-shirts and long underwear because they are so valuable to the company. With a reputation for cultural creativity and out of the box thinking, startups can be more compelling than the traditional corporate model, but you have to learn the rules before you can break them.

  • Be on time.
  • Dress your best.
  • Confidently present yourself to potential colleagues, clients and investors.

In a competitive startup culture, keeping these areas tightly organized on your own without corporate pressure guiding you is challenging and essential.

#2. Select compatible colleagues
 

In a startup, you need to take on the a human resources role and decide who will complement your skills and accomplish your mutual goals together. Search websites that can help you network and meet someone with similar business plans. Such as:

#3. Reduce the scale: short-term analysis

 

In the beginning stage of a startup:

  • Launch the research and development
  • Acquire potential customer feedback
  • Make iteration changes daily

This is different than the analysis and planning you learn in business school intended for established businesses with a long-term outlook and slower, sustainable changes. If you try to logically find a solution from beginning to end on a dry erase board, the long-term projections will fall flat in the testing and development phase. Implementing quick changes is part of the inherent high risk and reward model.

#4. Accounting


Accounting is the same. Business schools often use three-to five-year financial projections, NYU B-school graduate Brett Nelson told “Forbes” magazine. Some businesses actually use 30-year projections. A startup can estimate the cost of salaries and office operations, but in the beginning the cost of producing the product or service, compared with the return on investment, is more intuitive than planned.

A startup usually has a lower seed cost than a brick-and-mortar new business because the model begins small and eventually advances with technology and mass implementation, which is where the investor money comes in.

At that point you will need to:

  • Hire the attorney, accountant, insurance agent and other professionals
  • In the beginning, bring out the dry erase board and your colleagues, and get to work! Explore all options and opportunities. What are your goals? What are your colleagues’ goals?
  • Include business insurance that not only protects your assets, but also offers coverage for particular issues that a startup may be susceptible, such as data breach and interruption insurance.

Keep in mind also that your MBA skills will begin to pay off once a startup begins to grow into a larger version of itself that resembles the scale of a larger corporation. In the meantime, shelve the long-term planning and focus on the tasks at hand, one day at a time.

QUESTION: What one business skill has been vital to you succeeding as a startup consultant? 

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 
© Copyright 2016

My interview in Entrepreneur Magazine

*This is a reprint from the article published in
https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/228294#7

Note from Yoon …

In case you missed the story that was published yesterday on Entrepreneur.com here it is again below as a reprint. Did you know …? that I got into business coaching to help other entrepreneurs to grow your businesses without missing out or sacrificing the quality of your family life. Let’s keep remembering those lessons from 9/11. The pursuit of business success should never overshadow relationships with our loved ones.Success and Blessings!

 

Entrepreneur_logoScreen Shot

 “As a type A personality, it was easy for me to get sucked into the ‘workaholism’ syndrome. 9/11 was a huge wake-up call that shouted the reminder to me that we never know how much time we have left here on earth.”

Yoon Cannon Business growth coach
Paramount Business Coach, LLC
Doylestown, Penn.

9/11 inspired me to completely change the business I was in. When 9/11 happened I was running three different businesses at the same time – a large performing arts center, a retail store, and a production company – with 35 people on my payroll. As a type A personality, it was easy for me to get sucked into the “workaholism” syndrome. 9/11 was a huge wake-up call that shouted the reminder to me that we never know how much time we have left here on earth.

No one ever says on their deathbed that they wished they worked more or achieved more. When we face death and tragedy we all evaluate the relationships in our lives. As a working mother with three children (two at that time), 9/11 inspired me to create instead a lifestyle business, so that my new business could be built around my family which would allow me to be available for them on their schedule. I didn’t want to miss out on enjoying my family and loved ones.

I ended up selling all three of my businesses and started my lifestyle business which is my coaching practice. The majority of my work is virtual, allowing me to be at home in the mornings to see them off to school and available for my kids when they get home at 3pm. I choose how much I want to work each week. I can work anywhere in the world, so when we decide to pick up and travel I can work around that no problem.

My lifestyle business also comes with the added perk of no overhead. I used to have a high maintenance- high overhead 5,000-square-foot building. Plus, my lifestyle business offers me a leveraged business model which allows me to work a fraction of the time while earning 10 times more than the traditional billable hours model.

I think the anniversary of 9/11 each year serves an important reminder for us all to prioritize and cherish investing in the relationships of our family and loved ones.

*This is a reprint from the article published in
https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/228294#7

QUESTION: What about you? How did 9/11 change you as an entrepreneur? Please share your comments below:

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 
© Copyright 2016

Business Blogging Tips to Attract New Clients

Note From Yoon:

September is a great time to get refocused and refreshed.
With the kids back in school (here’s my youngest on the bus!)
and vacation season now ending this is the week to kick start your
business back into gear.
One great strategy to focus on this week is business blogging.
Enjoy this week’s blog article on blogging! Please share your
comments below.

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Business Blogging Tips to Attract New Clients

Blogging is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate your area of expertise and also increase traffic to your site. That is why a number of businesses use blogs, not merely to attract new clients, but also to connect and interact with your prospects on a regular basis. It is important to understand that blogging will be as effective marketing strategy assuming your blogs provide great content to your target audience.

Why Blog?

You may wonder why you should blog for traffic, when there are a number of other online marketing techniques that can do the job for you. Here is why blogging is a good idea.

#1. Blogging is free – You can’t get better than free. All you need to do is add an extra page on your site or set up a WordPress blog page to get started.

#2. Google favors sites that add new content – The page rank of your site also improves each time you add a new blog post, thereby increasing the traffic. Updating your business blog on a regular basis adds high quality, meaningful content giving your site greater visibility in the search engines.

#3. Blogs reflect your expertise – Business blogging is a great way to tell the world what you know and how good you are in your field. When you want to gain the trust of your customers, post informational blogs on your site, offer tips and answer the common questions asked by them. Blogging is the easiest way to gain the trust of the audience by sharing of knowledge and information.

What to Blog About?

The next question would be — what should you blog about? Frankly, you can blog about any topic as long as it is relevant to what your offer is, your industry or your niche. To grab the attention of your audience, you should write about specific questions your prospects and clients frequently ask. Think about what your prospect’s greatest areas of struggle, pain and frustration is in their business as it relates to your area of expertise and that’s what you write about.

Tips on Choosing Your Business Blog Topics

Here are some useful tips that can help in selection of a blog topic.

#1. Industry Trends – Company blogs usually revolve around the hottest trends and events in the industry. Writing about these happenings, or giving your opinion or analysis about these trends through your blog is yet another way to tell your audience that you are up to date.

#2. FAQs – As mentioned earlier, blogs that answer the commonly asked questions will increase your readership immensely. Think of 10 or 12 questions your prospects ask you the most when they are considering hiring you.

#3. Case Studies – You can also blog about your client success stories which is an effective way of telling your audience how you have helped other clients. They help the readers relate their problem to the one discussed in your blog and keeps them hooked to your website longer. Make note, case studies work best when they are real stories and not fabricated.

Now that you know why you need to blog and what to blog about, what else is getting in your way of leveraging blogs so you can attract a steady flow of new clients?

Please share your comments and questions below.

Here’s to Your Success!

Blessings~

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About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development.  Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com  To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947. 

© Copyright 2016