Monday, August 29, 2016

How to Build a Good Relationship with Your Suppliers

How to Build a Good Relationship with Your Suppliers

No small business is an island.

Every small business will need help in running the day-to-day operations, especially in times of growth. This is why building a relationship with those suppliers that provide your small business with the tools necessary to keep your business running smoothly is important. Here are some tips on how to build a good relationship with the suppliers of your business.

Pay your Bills Early

As a small business owner, I am sure you would appreciate it if a customer decided to pay your invoice well before the due date. Imagine how your suppliers will feel if you do that for them.

Regularly paying your suppliers invoices early goes a long way towards building goodwill. They will appreciate it. That is one less invoice to worry about collecting. This is especially true if your supplier also happens to be a small business.

Many accounting software programs, like Xero, can assist with this by allowing you to set-up automatic bill payments directly from your small business's bank account. For more information on billing in Xero, click here.

Give them Referrals

One thing all businesses have in common is that they all would love more customers. If you come across someone in need of something that one of your suppliers can help with, refer them to your supplier.

This helps your business by building a relationship with your supplier, but it also provides your small business with a potential referral source. By sending customers to your suppliers, they may return the favor by sending customers your way. Referrals can be a source of exponential returns for both businesses.

Do Unto Others...

There may come a time when your supplier may become your customer. When this happens, provide your supplier with even better service than they have provided you. Do more than simply fulfilling their needs.

If your supplier gives you some concessions because your small business has been a loyal customer, be sure to return the favor. They will appreciate the efforts of your work along with reciprocity and may be willing to do even more for you in the future.

Being a small business owner is about building relationships and having a good relationship with your suppliers plays a huge part in your business’s long-term success. Show your suppliers how much they mean to you and your small business by becoming their most prized customer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

How to Present a Business Plan to Investors

How to Present a Business Plan to Investors

With your business plan in hand, you confidently walk into the potential investor's office seemingly ready to show him the next big business idea. You have diagrams and charts. You have crunched the numbers and determined that your business will see 120% returns within two years.

Your plan: to take an hour or two presenting all the facts and figures to the potential investors and walking out with a huge vote of confidence and a large check. Five minutes into your presentation and one of your audience members stops you to ask, "How do you know people want what you have to offer?" Your response is a blank stare and deafening silence.

The truth: potential investors want to hear about the next great product or service. They want the first opportunity to reap the gains from a business venture, earning from them in year one, year two, year three, and so on. What potential investors look for in a business plan presentation is evidence of such long-term viability. They want proof that a demand for the business exists. Potential investors also want to see that you have the right entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen to handle that demand.

When preparing your business plan presentation, remember, brevity is paramount. Nix the idea of taking up two hours of the potential investor's time. Cut off the fat and show them how your proposed business will be profitable. Give them facts.

Show them how the business worked on a smaller scale. Provide evidence of the demand for your product or service and demonstrate how your business will grow by attracting more of its target market. Also, show the potential investors that you have the right background to handle the task. For any areas that you lack experience, introduce them to members of the management team that can compensate. The key is to sell the business plan and the leadership’s qualifications to the potential investors.

Finally, show them the numbers. Potential investors are not looking to hand out any amount of funding you request. Sure, they expect you to have a figure in mind, but they also expect you to show how you determined that amount and how you will put their investment to work.

It is up to you to give them realistic financial projections. Present yourself as thrifty with regard to your business' finances. Every start-up company would love to have the biggest and brightest, but realistically, they may have to start without.

Have confidence when preparing to give your presentation. Make sure you know all the important facts of your business plan thoroughly so that you can explain them clearly to the potential investors. Let your enthusiasm for the venture shine through as you share your plan with them. When your presentation is complete, give them ample time to ask questions about the plan. Thank them for their time. In the end, you just might get the funding you need to get your business plan in motion.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How to Develop a Marketing Strategy for your Small Business

How to Develop a Marketing Strategy for your Small Business

Starting a business means little unless you let the world know you exist. You must seek out your target customers in the least expensive, most effective ways possible. By developing a marketing strategy targeting whom you believe will be your small business’s best customers, you give your business the best chance for achieving success.

Finding your Target Market

Finding customers requires you to research your target demographic. Will your business be for millennials or Gen-Xers? For the bachelor or the family man? For the casual sports fan or the tailgating, jersey-wearing fanatic?

Trying to market to everyone is a challenge and will prove costly when accounting for a return on your investment, or how many customers your marketing strategy brings in. By narrowing down your marketing efforts to a select few, you increase the likelihood that your potential customers will see your business and purchase your wares. This means your strategy is more efficient on a per customer basis.

Learning the Competition

When starting a small business, it helps to know your competition. You need to know what type of market strategy they are using because you want to get their customers. Learning their methods can provide you with tips on what to use in your strategy and ways to counter their strategy.

Any competitor, large or small, has shortcomings in regards to serving the market. Use the weaknesses of your competition to your advantage. Maybe your competitors are not targeting the same potential customers your business will. Maybe their current customers are not pleased with your competitor’s customer support for their product or service. Make your competition’s weakness your strength and grab some of their market share.

Determine the Price

Getting into a pricing war with a larger competitor, especially as a small business, could spell the demise of your business. In your research of your competitors, you will find valuable pricing information so that your small business can be competitive.

Remember, increasing prices and reducing costs are the best ways to increase your profits. Set a price for your products or services to give your small business the best chance to make a profit while at the same time covering your costs. Find other ways to differentiate your business to gain customers beyond price, such as having a strong customer service or support team.

Find the Location

Now that you have a determined a good price to sell your product or service, you must find a place to house your small business. Should it be online only or a traditional brick and mortar location? Whichever location you choose, be certain that your target customers can find it. Choosing the wrong distribution channel can eat away at your profits and turn away your customers.


Finally, you must advertise your business. Once you have your target market in mind, you want to develop a promotional strategy that will get your ideal customer's attention. Try various forms of advertising to determine which works best for your small business. Would television ads bring in the most customers or would using billboards work better? Alternatively, would ads on Facebook be better? Once you find the best form of advertising to use, maximize it. Also, combine advertising channels to get your small business in front of as many eyes as possible.


Success for your small business depends on how effectively you use your marketing strategy. Determine how you can gain market share and grow in the midst of your competition. Keep your business flexible and ready to adapt when needed. The success of your small business depends on it.

Use this marketing strategy template to help get you going.

Top 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Pick Xero

Blog Post by Tim Howell reposted with permission from Xero.

Top 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Pick Xero

A few years ago, who would have thought you could be watching your kids play sports while keeping on top of your business’s finances? All from a phone in the palm of your hand? Or that you could be travelling – across town or across the world – and be able to login to your accounting software and see where your business stands at that precise moment in time?
As we reach the end of National Small Business week, it’s important to reflect on how technology plays a pivotal role in most small businesses and, for businesses using Xero, how you can take advantage of its capabilities to achieve your business goals.
If you’re a small business owner, here are five reasons you should use Xero to help you run your business.

1. Work where and when you want to

Whether you want to use your smartphone or tablet, or your PC or Mac, Xero lets you keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. Xero also works hard to ensure you – and anyone else who needs to access your finances – are working off the same data, wherever you are, whenever you want.

2. Improve cash flow and get paid faster

Every business needs to get paid, and Xero equips small businesses with tools you can use to get paid faster.
Go beyond “traditional” printed invoices and start using online invoices. Rather than send your customers a PDF file – or, worse, a printed document – you can send them an online invoice. The advantages? Not only is it faster, you can also see whether they’ve opened it, and they have the ability to pay you online through your invoice. The faster the process, the faster you get paid.

3. Let Xero do the heavy lifting while you sleep

Smart software should be easy to use and also work behind the scenes to help you save time. Let Xero perform those tedious, repetitive tasks that take you away from doing the things that can add more value to your business.
If you use invoicing, then Xero’s automated Invoice Reminders can do the chasing for you. If your customers take a while to pay you, or you are spending hours chasing overdue invoices, then Invoice Reminders is a must-have. It will automatically send an email to your customers if an invoice is overdue (or about to become due).
And if you’re an advisor, then Find & Recode could save you hours. It’s easier than ever to find your way through a client’s records and then update those records en masse. Hundreds of records to update? Find & Recode will save you hundreds of minutes.

4. Collaborate with your advisors

We call it the Single Ledger, but think of it as the single set of data that both you and your advisor can work from. This means you’re both seeing the same set of data at the same time.
This saves you from having to export data and send it to your advisor – as soon as you sent it, it’s likely out of date. And as an advisor it saves you the trouble of importing the data into another solution, which not only means you may not be working off the latest information but, because it’s often unwieldy to do, then any problems in a client’s business may not be discovered for months.
What’s more, you’re free to invite your advisors into your file at no additional cost – we make it easier than ever to collaborate with those who matter.

5. Xero grows with you

Whether you’re just setting up your business, or you already use multiple systems, Xero’s ecosystem can help you. Xero works with more than 500 products so you can craft a solution that meets your needs.
Whether it’s integrating with your email (Xero integrates with Gmail and Office 365) or you want to use specialized systems – such as customer relationship management, inventory or industry-specific solutions (such as Vend or Shopify), then Xero’s add-on marketplace gives you the flexibility to create a mix that meets your business’s specific needs.
If you’ve yet to try Xero, you can easily sign up for a free 30 day trial. And if you’re a current Xero user, why not take the time to reflect on how you use Xero and explore our range of videos andcourses to get the most out of it!

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How to Develop a Marketing Strategy for your Small Business

How to Develop a Marketing Strategy for your Small Business Starting a business means little unless you let the world know you exis...