Jan 232013
 

planning, achievable goals, destiny, personal growth,

1. Plan a Preferred Future

As Lewis Carroll said: “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there.”  In 2013 take time to examine and discuss the details of every aspect of your lives, personal and professional, to achieve integrated success and happiness.

2. Be Pragmatic

In most of our near future, few of us will be playing for the NBA. The future has to reflect what is physically possible with available resources and limitations. We all need to create filters to keep us from wasting time and energy on what’s unachievable or irrelevant. See S.M.A.R.T. goals. Continue reading »

 January 23, 2013  Posted by at 6:00 AM Happiness, Visual Quote Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Oct 082012
 

cash management, cash flow, payment terms, managing business cash, manage accounts recieveables

Here are seven ways to recoup your company’s cash faster:

1. Offer a discount for early payment.

To incentivize your customers to pay you earlier, offer them a price discount if they do, and be sure to highlight it in the contract and invoice. Several of our customers take advantage of an early payment discount we offer, and sometimes even overnight a check to make sure they don’t miss our discount window.

2. Use online payment systems.

Several of our customers use online systems to submit invoices. If we participate in those systems, we find many of them will pay off their invoices within 15 to 18 days of receiving them. The best part is that the money is electronically deposited directly into our account. If your customers are not using an online system, consider setting one up for your company. An example is using a service called bill.com, which allows you to pay anyone or be paid by anyone electronically.

3. Require an upfront fee.

If you know that servicing a customer requires you to expend big dollars on its behalf, collect as much of that money as possible (if not all of it) right away. Submit an initial invoice, and insist it is paid on receipt, or outside of normal payment terms. Most companies understand the situation and are willing to accommodate.

4. Delay the work.

This is a hard one to do. But if you find yourself in the middle of a project and your customer delays payment, stop the process, and insist on having payment in-hand before you or your team finishes up the work. Often, this is the most valuable leverage a small business has in its arsenal.

5. Take credit cards.

This will cost you an origination fee, but the percentage might be worth it to help get you your money sooner–whether payment for your services, or coverage of upfront costs. Many accounting packages already have a built-in ability to take credit cards, too.

6. Invoice for lower sums, but more often.

When we invoice customers for large amounts of money, we find the invoices get stuck somewhere in the payment process. The dollar amount seems to have a lot to do with it. If we submit an invoice to a customer for more than $10,000, it can take 15 to 30 days longer to receive payment than a smaller amount of money. An invoice of less than $10,000 is more often than not paid very close to on-time. If you review the size of your customer base and dollar amounts you work with, you may also discover a breaking point between invoices that are paid quickly and those that languish on your customers’ desks.

7. Talk with your customers about accounts payable.

This might seem obvious but it’s often overlooked: Have a conversation with your customers about their accounts payable processes at the start of your relationship. You will find that knowing your customers’ processes will help you when you bid for new business.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 October 8, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Money Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Sep 102012
 

time management, email settings, to do list, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are 7 daily tasks you probably can eliminate from your workday to help you stay focused and be more productive.

1. Stop overloading your to-do list.

You might feel the need to write down everything you need to accomplish each day, but resist making an impossible list of daily tasks. Compiling a lengthy list of things you need to accomplish might seem productive, but you could be doing more harm than good. It results in too many items at the end of the day that are not completed. This will make you feel stressed out, inadequate and unfocused. Instead, create a manageable list of essential tasks that should be finished on a given day–and save the rest for later.

2. Stop having open-ended meetings.

Figure out your priorities before you call a meeting and make them clear to all the attendees. Too many small-business owners waste half the meeting just getting to what they really want to talk about.  You will find putting three priority topics at the top of your agenda will help you avoid getting sidetracked by other issues.

3. Stop answering repetitive questions.

If you find yourself answering the same question from clients or employees frequently, you’re wasting time. Instead, put together a FAQ on your website or create instructional videos that people can access via links at the bottom of your emails. Figure out better ways to answer [questions] without your having to be involved.

4. Stop taking the same follow-up approach if people ignore you.

If you’ve sent someone an email and the recipient hasn’t responded, don’t keep firing off more emails. Try communicating in another way–calling, sending a text or visiting in person if it’s appropriate.  Too many business owners get bogged down communicating with people inefficiently.

5. Stop making regular visits to the post office.

Instead of going to the post office, schedule mail pickups from your business or home office. You also can buy envelopes with pre-paid postage or invest in an inexpensive scale and postage printer.

6. Stop making piles.

Eliminating clutter can boost efficiency. Rather than organize papers in piles whose logic is known only to you, stick to a systematic filing system and eliminate any pieces of paper you no longer need.

7. Stop signing every check.

I am a firm believer that the task of accounts payable should be the business owners responsibility. This way we remain in control of all money and funds going out of our businesses. However, just because this task remains on our plate it doesn’t mean that we can’t look for ways to make it more efficient.

Designate a specific day and time for certain tasks, such as signing checks, rather than allow them to randomly interrupt your workflow. Better yet, you can have your signature printed on checks to avoid signing each one. Programs like QuickBooks let you use preprinted checks and keep track of transactions.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 10, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Sep 052012
 

time management, email settings, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The average U.S. professional spends half their working day on email. They are constantly tethered to their smart phone, responding to short bursts of communication, and creating email overload.

I have whittled down a list of email best practices that can help you and your team start a revolution, reduce dependence on email, and stop wasting time–today.

1. Make sure email is the right communication option.

Not all communication is appropriate for email. Segment your personal communications by interactions that are right for email versus phone versus in-person meetings. Adopt a company-wide policy, and don’t allow email to become the default communication mode. A great first policy: Don’t start discussions via email. It takes significantly more time to compose a point and then debate it on email than to have an in-person conversation.

2. Think about the person reading your note.

Many email responses are clarifications of what the sender wrote or additional questions that perpetuate email churn (rather than end a thread succinctly). You can greatly reduce the amount of back-and-forth by thinking more about the email recipient–the user, in this case–and by crafting your message to meet her needs. Before hitting Send, slow down to consider: Did I give all the information needed? Will the reader understand my message? Is my point clear? Are the next steps obvious?

3. Anticipate questions.

The easiest way to reduce needless email is to anticipate what your recipient’s impressions and questions will be after reading your message. If you send a brief email stating, “budget meeting is canceled today,” the reader will probably wonder why, and when the meeting will be rescheduled. Anticipate the recipient’s reaction and communicate more thoroughly, answering questions you think she’ll have.

4. Call out important information with headlines, bullets, and numbers.

Example:

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Most people don’t read. In our fast-paced digital culture, we scan and skim content, looking for the highlights. You’ve probably noticed that major Web publishers use headlines, bullets, boldface type, and other design best practices to ensure readers stay engaged. The same applies to your emails. Don’t send paragraphs of text in which the salient points and calls to action are buried.

5. Save time by creating email templates.

Many emails to employees, clients, or colleagues are similar in nature. Rather than constructing each one from scratch, save templates that remind you of important details to include and contain prebuilt design best practices. For example, at my company, we have templates for client service updates, for scheduling confirmations, and for scheduling reminders.

6. Target your communications.

Irrelevant messages are not opened and can create a negative impression. Think very carefully about the people you include in your “To” field. Does that recipient really need the information, or are you adding to email inbox burden?

7. Select email preferences.

Establish your email preferences (how often you like it and when), and make those norms known throughout your company. When leading a project, don’t default to being copied on everything. Indicate to your team when you should be CC’ed on communication. Likewise, ask your colleagues and staff for their preferences in your communications with them.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 5, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Feb 162012
 

 

distractions, facebook, focus, business not busyness, technology,addicted to distractions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do all these communication tools have in common?

  • Emails
  • Facebook
  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • LinkedIn/Facebook notifications
  • Monthly newsletters

They are all distractions. The truth is, maybe you are addicted to distractions just like I am. I love to see that email preview that pops up in the bottom corner of my computer screen when a new email has arrived in my inbox. Sure I could turn off this preview feature, but I like it. I like the interruption. Let’s face it these types of distractions are just more exciting that then a lot of our day-to-day activities.

Yes, of course we need the technology that these communication tools provide us in order to run our businesses. However, in the end they are all distractions from whatever task we are currently working on. As business owners we have a lot of tasks that we could be working on. Making sure to schedule time for emails, phone calls, or social media in your day will allow you to focus on your daily tasks without as many distractions. It’s not hocus pocus, it’s about focus.

Remember it is called a business not a busyness. What are your favorite distractions? Are you in control of your day or do your distractions control you?

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 

 

 

 February 16, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: ,  No Responses »