We have often said that relationships are the key to successful business. Creating strong alliances with people who you can trust to be there for you makes doing the tough job of managing an enterprise that much easier. Keeping things easy is only one aspect of what makes relationships important, however. Small business owners should also consider the fact that they can actually save money by promoting stable long term  relationships with their vendors. The vendors who supply your business with the essential products that it needs to function should be considered to be more than just people who sell you things you need. Look at your vendors as an extension of your business. Just like the equipment you use to be productive and the employees you coach to perform their best, the vendor relationships you have should be actively maintained. Stronger vendor relationships save time. For one thing, it takes time to shop around. Comparing and contrasting pricing, product quality and customer support all take time and

A startling revelation reported on by MarketWatch reveals that according to data from last year, 1 in 10 small businesses had employees working under the influence of drugs or other judgement impairing substances. The report emphasized the dangers posed by prescription drugs in particular, which, while legally available to those who need them due to medical conditions, nonetheless have a potential for abuse that can lead to addiction and serious health consequences, and even death by overdose. The dangers posed by an impaired employee will vary depending on their job, proximity to heavy machinery or weapons, and their level of intoxication, but in reality any case of inebriation on the job represents more than just a danger to the employee and their coworkers, and should be viewed as a serious lapse in discipline and professionalism. Social stigma aside, any substance that impairs an employees ability to do their job effectively should not be consumed before or during work hours. There are social and personal issues that

There are so many components that go into the management of a small business, each one of them vitally important in their own ways. However, one of the most important by far is the physical location of a small business (assuming that it has one). Where your business is actually located can make a big difference on what kind of foot traffic it will get, what times will be the most busy and who will be passing by. Another big potential impact is the rent that you are paying and the agreements that you have signed into the lease. Here’s what small business owners need to consider before they sign a lease for a brick and mortar location. Don’t put the cart before the horse. If you aren’t ready to get started doing business out of your location, don’t sign a lease. Often, small business owners will find a location that they fall in love with, but don’t have inventory or any clientele, yet sign a

Business owners who are planning new product releases or are trying to make sure they are getting a good deal from their current suppliers must loan enough time from their busy schedules in order to ensure that they are finding a good deal. In order to make it easier for them to get started shopping around,  we’ve put together a top five list of the most helpful tips for finding and negotiating with a supplier. Think locally. When looking for a supplier, one who is on the other side of the country is going to have to charge you higher shipping costs, raising the price of the product you are purchasing. It’s better to find a local supplier, if possible. Start out by using your network of business contacts to see if someone you know has any suggestions to refer you. A referral can potentially be beneficial by coming with a discount or a perk for the person who referred you or even for both of

When you go to a trade show, you usually leave laden with a wide assortment of promotional swag, from stress balls to miniature flashlights and everything in between. These branded materials exist in order to remind other small business owners and potential business partners of your brand, ideally so that they will reach out and kindle a business relationship in the future. While generally these gift items are created in order to serve as simple conversation pieces or keepsakes, as a savvy small business owner you’re going to want to think about ways that you can get extra value and effectiveness even out of your promotional giveaway materials. If you are running a bad credit business in particular, it is in your best interest to ensure that every project you work on has the potential to bring in extra layers of value to your small business processes and operations. What is something that your clients are likely to actually use?  While it’s all well and

The U.S. Small Business Administration is an organization that many small business owners in the US don’t exactly understand. For many, the organization’s role may not be clear, as evidenced by the number of business owners (or would be business owners looking for start up capital) who ask for loans on their message boards. The SBA does not provide loans directly, rather, it provides backing for small business loan programs provided by banks. With the current high underwriting criteria on the part of these banks, many small businesses are finding it difficult to qualify for these programs. Efforts to help these businesses, for example by changing procedures around accessing holiday lines of credit, are often less than effective. The Herald Tribune’s recent story on new SBA programs highlights the inefficiency of the changes by pointing out there are still too many businesses being denied access to the capital they need, when they actually need it. More troubling, business owners who have bad credit usually cannot

The holidays represent a great time to be a small business owner, as more business around this time of year means that you will be able to create more revenues. However, criminals are also aware of the increase in business volume around the holiday season, and target in particular businesses that handle a large amount of cash around this time of year, including retailers and other service providers like limousine and taxi services. Invest in the security of your small business, and the safety of you and your employees identities and credit, by taking the following steps to stay secure this year. Document Shredders can safeguard sensitive information. When you throw out documents, you are creating an opportunity for thieves to salvage potentially sensitive information about your business and your employees. This can be avoided by investing in a document shredder, which will destroy any records leaving your business. In general, shredding documents is a good safeguard, but for businesses that collect a large amount of

Branding is one of the fundamentals of growing a business. While you grow your team of employees and your ability to produce through the acquisition of new equipment, you should also be working on on creating a cohesive image for your business. What do you want to have people take away from their experiences with your company? If you asked a repeat customer to describe your business in as few words as possible, what would you want them to say? These are much more than trivial questions. You are going to develop a company image whether you like it or not, so it’s better that you take steps to claim that image rather than let it be decided for you. Refocusing efforts in your small business on branding should not feel like you are making a change against the grain. Ideally, your branding campaign will only need to highlight the great qualities that your small business already possesses. 1) Take a different approach. Your competition may

The coming of Black Friday abruptly signals the beginning of the holiday marketing season in a frenzy of consumer spending and bargain hunting. It is a time when many small business owners are unable to take a break because of the frenetic pace of sales, which is a good thing, as huge percentages of annual revenues are made up in the weeks of heightened consumer activity. What the season has the potential to mean for business owners who have bad credit is a relief from the pressures of their cash flow constraints as they make up reserves that can help them through the winter and allow them to work on improving and expanding their business. During the next few weeks, small business owners are going to be riding their businesses full speed ahead, and need to have solid financing plans in place in order to keep the wheels turning as fast as they can go. Make sure that you have enough inventory. If you anticipate a

This year has not been an easy one for small business owners, with bumps in the road from acts of nature to acts of government creating roadblocks, but there has been good news as well. For one thing, a gradual climb in optimism has been reported, with slight dips following the government shutdown. The economy is generally recovering as well, although on a bumpy, winding road. One of the biggest problems that has been holding small business owners back is the fact that there is relatively little in the way of small business financing available for all but the best credit risks from traditional banks. One the plus side, the financing gap is increasingly being filled by providers of alternative capital. Businesses without collateral, with bad credit scores, or even recently declared bankruptcy have been put between financing needs and the limitations of their cash flows. Alternative capital allows them to obtain financing with no restrictions placed on it, meaning they are free to allocate it

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