The Worst Cashflow Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

The worst cash flow mistakes a small business owner can make can be counted on one hand. They have one thing in common, and that’s about failing to follow the money. They’re about keeping your eye on the prize, and we go through them here, ending with advice about how to track your own company money using expense management software for small businesses…

Failing to think before you splurge. Great! You’ve started a business. You’re on the road to fame and fortune, and now’s the time to invest in an expensive suit and a new car, isn’t it? No, in short, it isn’t. This is exactly the time NOT to commit money – yours of the company’s – to anything you don’t need. So there’s the first lesson. Understand the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. To succeed in business you need a phone, but the Armani suit can wait…

Expecting the best. This is about your financial planning. Understand that you’re not going to be a millionaire in the first year. On the contrary, you’ll be doing well if you can afford to pay yourself anything like a salary in Year One. If you overestimate the number of units you can sell, or the clients you can get to come on board, then revenue will be lower than you predict, and you may find yourself overstretched with any finance package you’ve put in place.

Offering credit. Poor paying suppliers can cripple small businesses. If you’re made to wait for payment, that’s like offering them an interest-free loan, and you shouldn’t do it. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for payment up front, so long as you’re ready to honour your commitment. After all, you wouldn’t expect the local supermarket to give you a month or more’s credit on your grocery shop (though if you’re a supplier to them, the boot would be on the other foot). In general, large organisations are slower payers, and also have complex internal procedures in place about how and when payments can be made. Better to work with smaller companies, where you have direct access to the person with the power to pay.

Being cash poor. If you’ve made careful and conservative cash flow forecasts in the early days of your business, everything’s fine, so long as cash moves as you’d predicted. But what happens if it doesn’t? If you have no cash cushion you could be in trouble. Try to have a couple of months-worth of cash in the bank so you could carry on if you had no income at all. It’ll help you sleep easier, too.

Not making an unpaid finance assistant work for them. Bet that caught your attention didn’t it? This is not about the kind of modern slavery that has people working for nothing, but it’s about technology. It’s about arming yourself with good quality business expense management software for small businesses and being disciplined in its use. In the early days of your business you need to be especially careful with money, because having little of it generally sharpens the focus in the need to be a good money manager. In later years, when you’ve earned a wedge, there’s no reason to take your foot off the control pedal. Keep a tight rein on finance, and you’ll be rewarded with better dividends in the future. Selection of the right small business expense management software will enable you to keep track of expenses very easily, but more importantly, it will allow you to interrogate the data, and show you how effectively you’re managing spending and cashflow – and show where improvements can be made. And picking the right package means it’ll offer excellent value for money, because the savings you make by using it are probably going to be more than the cost of investing in it in the first place.

Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.

Music Producers – You Can Pursue Your Passion

Something thats always bugged me about music production is we limit it. If you tell someone that you are a music producer you either have a Benz, or a loser with a dream.

For some reason people have this idea that there is no middle ground in a music production career. Either you’re making millions or its a hobby.

Thats just not true. Why can’t you be a music producer who makes a modest 60-70k per year? That’s more than most people make with their little college degrees. Not to mention you’re doing something you enjoy. You were born with a passion and talent for music, why not take advantage of it?

You don’t have to be the next timbo or neptunes. Their is a lucrative career in TV music, movie score, commercial jingles, etc… Those are just a few of the things you can do to make money as a music producer.

I think the real reason people are scared of pursuing a career in music is because it requires you to be an entrepreneur. Sure there are production companies you can work for, but you still are an entrepreneur. You are CREATING a product. The product obviously is your music.

You can choose to sell your product any way you choose. Some producers choose to sell them to production companies, who then re-sell them for more profits. Some producers sell them online to up and coming artist. Some producers sell them to big budget artist for $40-$50k per beat.

What To Note While Shipping To China

With a lot of players entering the international logistics market, shipping to countries that are located thousands of miles away from you, has become a hassle-free task today. Gone are the days, when you had to wait for relatives or strangers from a particular country to pass on things to your near and dear ones staying there. With international logistics becoming highly cost-effective as well, you can use them for your business and personal purposes quite easily. One of the hot shipping destinations is China. It is one of those economies that has been growing at an exponential rate. Hundreds of thousands of items worth millions of dollars get shipped to China on a daily basis. Here are some of the important processes that are involved while sending goods/shipment to this country.

1. Customs clearance/paperwork

When you want to send anything to China, you should be aware of the custom laws and regulations prevailing in that country. Items, whose values are quite low (approximately lesser than 500Yuan)are free from customs duty. If you are sending items that are worth more than this value, you need to pay the required customs fee and submit all relevant paperwork, so that your shipment doesn’t get rejected. Chinese laws are quite strict when it comes to documentation. You should have a checklist of the requirements and plan accordingly, so that you don’t miss out on anything.

2. Method of packing

Whenever you ship anything to China or any other country, you need to take extra care while packing your products. Fragile items should be covered in cardboard boxes that are well corrugated so that they are well-protected against abrasions and friction. All the items should be sealed to avoid leakages, breakages, spillage and other related mishaps. Your shipments involve a lot of investment; therefore, it is only natural that you take enough care in ensuring that they reach their destination safely and perfectly.

3. Banned items

This is one of the most important points that you need to keep in mind when you are shipping anything to China. Every country has different laws related to the list of prohibited items. You should be fully aware of the rules that stop you from taking certain items into Chinese territory, so that your package is not confiscated at the time of security checks. Prohibited items mostly related to food, electronics and other materials like wood, cane, bamboo etc. Under each category, you should know the list of items that are allowed or disallowed, permitted weight and other aspects, in order to get your shipments cleared without any hassles.

4. Service provider

This is the first step that you need to follow when you decide to send your shipment to China. Choose a service provider who is highly reputed in the world of international logistics and who has enough experience in this field. When you choose the right company, you will be given professional guidance about the items that can and cannot be shipped to a particular destination, saving you lot of time and embarrassment.

Fixing Personal Branding Errors

When it comes to personal branding, there really is no right or wrong answer. So much of it is subjective. However, that doesn’t mean that you are incapable of making mistakes or of wishing that you could have done something better/differently. If you had the chance to do it over again, of course, you would probably do those things differently. Well, even if you did make mistakes, all hope is not lost. You can still fix what needs to be fixed and move on from there.

Make fixes in a sensible manner
When it comes to fixing the errors that you made in your personal branding, you will want to approach it sensibly and methodically. There are several aspects of your personal brand that you will want to examine and, hopefully, you will be able to identify whatever needs to be corrected.

You want to make sure that your reputation is intact: If you aren’t sure what other people are going to find when they search for you (personally), you should search for yourself. The top items on the search engine should be positive about you. Additionally, those items should have value and they should help to enhance your reputation and boost your credibility. If you see that it is not the case, go back to those items and enhance them until they show you in a more positive light.
Entertainment versus marketing value: It is very important that you understand the balance between good value and the ability to entertain with your personal brand. You don’t want to have more of one than the other. Of course, if you don’t have enough on the entertainment side, other people may not remain interested. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough on the value/marketing side, from a business perspective, people may be entertained/amused but they may walk away feeling that they don’t have much to show for it.
Don’t go overboard: There is definitely value in revisiting the content that is connected to your personal brand so that it reads better. However, overediting is definitely not a good idea in general. The last thing that you want to do is to edit so much that you lose yourself and what you stand for in the process. It is important to show your vulnerable/human side but, at the same time, to demonstrate how valuable you are professionally and how your expertise can help other people.
Marry your personal and professional brands: The truth is that there is a strong connection between your personal and professional brands. They are two parts of you and those parts should have at least a discreet connection for other people to embrace. If you are communicating messages from both brands, they should be synchronized. You really can’t separate the two anyway. The best that you can do is to make sure that they exist in harmony.
Make sure that your social media profiles are current: The profiles are extremely important to your personal brand. They must be kept current. That means that you update your status periodically (at reasonable intervals), change your photo if it isn’t appropriate or is not relatively new, etc. You will want to work on all of your social media profiles. People will definitely notice if you don’t keep them current.
Make sure that your photo is appropriate: First of all, make sure that you have a photo which people can identify with your personal brand. Second, it should be an appropriate photo. That means that it should be a professional headshot. It shouldn’t be you with your cat, your logo instead of your face, you drinking in a bar or at a party, etc. After all, even though you are working on your personal brand, you want people to remember you in the right way because there will definitely be crossover to your professional brand and persona.
Make sure that your bio is what it should be: Your bio should be substantial enough so that other people are able to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. On the other hand, you don’t want to go on and on to the point where the other person has no patience to keep reading. However, you should definitely highlight your accomplishments because not only are you proud of them but they add value to you and other people will have the understanding that you are someone with whom they should form a relationship and interact.
Always be yourself: Authenticity is an essential part of your personal brand. If you are not authentic, people will know it and they will not want to connect with you. You certainly don’t want that to happen. The reality is that you will not be able to have a successful relationship with everyone but you want your relationships with those people who want to be connected to you to be solid and enduring.

Conclusion
All of the elements listed above are important for your personal brand. Getting your personal brand in the shape that you want it to be will take time and work but it will be well worth it for you. You should keep in mind that your personal brand will take you very far in business. It is really important for you to understand your target audience and to do your best to give them what they want and need. If you give them your best, you will get it back in full.

Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.

His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.