Small Business Round-Up – 24 January 2011

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In this new column, our aim is to provide useful resources for small businesses who are interested in growing their company and client base.

The focus of these weekly round-ups will be to give an update of what’s happening in business across the world, new ideas and interesting statistics and information.

 

Small Business Loan Detail Stalls

Attempts by the coalition government to reach an agreement with the UK’s biggest banks on the amount they lend to small businesses have stalled. It was expected that £200bn in loans were to be made available to small businesses in 2011 but this appears to be in jeopardy according to a breaking BBC news story.


How to make the most of your business cards

We recently came across an excellent aggregation of some of the best and most well-designed business cards in the world. From a printer who printed their business card on a map to the dentist who wove dental floss into their card to the divorce lawyer whose business card splits in two, there are some great ideas here.

Cool business card designs

9 Great American Businesses that Aren’t Recovering

The Huffington Post has an interesting article on 9 stalwarts of the US & UK high street that seem to have gone into terminal decline. It may be useful to help you detect markets that aren’t recovering.

 

20 Green Tips for Small Businesses

Even though small businesses might feel it’s the end of the world at the moment, there are a few things that we can do to prevent the world from ending through climate change or poor management of our resources. Here are 20  simple tips that won’t hurt at all & that might even save you money.

 

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Company’s Credit Control

Category: Credit Control | 3 Comments

The idea of outsourcing has become quite a controversial one in recent years, especially as it relates to the elimination of heavy and hi-tech industry jobs to other countries.  Yet that is only one type of outsourcing, and other varieties—such as credit control outsourcing—have been going on for a long time without eliciting much backlash at all…in fact, if anything this is an outsourcing modality that is widely and warmly embraced!  As we will see below, there are several important benefits to outsourcing the credit control (also known as credit management) of your company—here are just a few:

  • Credit control is highly technical work that requires very qualified talent to execute it properly, and unless a business is already working in the financial services field as its principal (core) area of business then such employees will represent an unwelcome, heavy saddle.  Having a credit control expert on staff as a full-time, in-house worker constitutes a major raid on most businesses’ budgets, and the opportunity to outsource this work is often too good to pass up.
  • Not only does outsourcing your credit control offer considerable savings, but it also will likely result in improved cash flow for your business.  Always assuming that you have outsourced such work to a professional, knowledgeable organization, it is highly likely that invoices will be paid in a timelier manner and that debts will be collected more efficiently and effectively.  Whereas your business may not have the resources to chase down delinquent customers, the organization you outsource such work to will—and they will furthermore help ensure that further invoicing issues do not arise, or that they are promptly dealt with if and when they do.
  • Though it might seem counterintuitive given the fact that invoicing, credit and debt issues are no longer handled directly between the business and their customers, these relationships may actually benefit as a result of this outsourcing.  Business-customer relationships, even very solid ones, oftentimes crumble under the stress of unmet financial obligations; having an outsourced provider handle these issues will allow the business to stay focused on other aspects of the relationship in the knowledge that the best payment plan possible will be created.  Furthermore, through more skilled and precise assessments of customers’ creditworthiness, a business will be more likely to get into working relationships with customers that will live up to their obligations—and that’s the basis for the very best of relationships in business!
  • Ultimately, businesses benefit through greater peace of mind regarding their current and forecast financing situation, and that translates directly into more energy and attention being applied to getting the actual work of any given business done.  The feeling that comes with not needing to fret over where funds will be coming from is the true reward for the leader of a business that outsources its credit control to a reliable entity, and this benefit trickles down to every member of that business in the form of more reliable paychecks.

Take a look at our website to learn more about Cash Protection Agency’s services – providing successful debt collection in Leicester.

Choosing the Right Debt Collection Agency

Category: Debt Collection | 0 Comments

When the topic of debt collection is brought up, many of us automatically imagine a couple of roughly-hewn men with clubs or even more lethal weapons in tow.  While there may have been a time when this was the most common method of debt collection, it is not advisable to pursue this path in this day and age: beyond being uncivilized, it is illegal and it can totally tarnish the reputation of the creditor entity.  When outstanding debts have to be collected, then it is time to consider contracting the services of a debt collection agency.  Choosing the right agency can be a bit of a tricky matter, however, so let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the more important points to bear in mind:

Finding trust… If you are going to delegate your debt collection work to an outside (third) party, then you will want to ascertain that the agency is trustworthy.  Though trust is a subjective and somewhat slippery concept, a good way to find it is through references from friends, family, peers—anyone that you already trust.  You don’t want to blindly fumble for the agency you think has the neatest sounding name; you want to get the opinions of people you trust that have used the services of X, Y and Z collection agencies, and to draw your own conclusions from there.

 

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Customization… When looking around for a collection agency that suits your needs, you want to make sure that they will be able to suit those needs as closely as possible, adapting to changes that may arise.  Customized plans are an indicator of a highly reliable agency, as it proves (in part) the entity’s commitment to getting solid results for its customer.  Customized payment options are particularly important: for many businesses and individuals, the best agency is going to be the one that offers them a flat-rate fee that can be honored in one of several ways.  Finally, though not always an option, it’s a good sign when the agency commits to not charging anything until the debt has been collected (either in full or in part).

Licenses and permits… A debt collection agency may meet all of the criteria detailed above, in which case you’re practically sold on them, right?  Well, if they’re not licensed then you shouldn’t make that leap, as you don’t want to have anything to do with agencies that are operating on the margins of or completely outside the law.  Check to see whether the agency has all the appropriate licenses and permits to operate; similarly, check to see whether the individual agents it sends out into the field/courts have the proper certification.  Failing to look into these details could come back to haunt you.

Local, national, and international reach… A business’s debts may be scattered around their local area, or they may be held by people or organizations in other parts of the country or even other parts of the world.  Many debt collection agencies are licensed and certified to operate across vast geographical areas, including overseas, but you will want to pull that information up and compare it with the nature of your debts to be collected.

The Cash Protection Agency are leading providers of debt collection in Leicester.

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Factoring vs. Outsourcing

Category: Small Business Cashflow | 0 Comments

Managing a business is no small feat, and in a world that is increasingly interconnected it is a process that demands awareness of all the options out there—without exception.  Two key services that more and more businesses are drawing on these days are factoring and outsourcing, which are related though distinct services that deserve individual treatment.  Below, then, we’d like to review each of these concepts separately and then reveal the critical, logical link between them to help business leaders comprehend how they could weave these services into their broader business plan.

Factoring: The service known as factoring constitutes a three-way financial transaction, where the three parties are the business (the seller), the client (the buyer), with the third party being the factor.  Factoring falls under the general umbrella of what is known as accounts receivable, or the management of invoices within an organization (the seller, that is).  Many businesses do not have regular invoicing periods, or at the very least are not able to rely on timely payment of their invoices—and that puts the business at financial risk, in extreme cases leading to full-out bankruptcy.

Entities offering factoring services offer a solution here by stepping in and buying the invoices from the seller, at some sort of a discount (which is how the factors make their profit).  The factor acquires the invoices and assumes total responsibility for securing payment on the—work that factoring entities specialize in—while the seller avoids cash flow shortages by having much-needed cash in hand at the time that it is most needed.  The slight loss of monetary value is seen as being worth it because the alternative, going for an unknown period without any immediate financing options, is completely unacceptable for 99.9% of businesses.

Outsourcing: This is a much broader concept, whereby services (and in other cases, products) are provided by an alternate source—generally, one that is not in-house (hence the “out” in outsourcing).  Factoring is, technically speaking, an example of outsourcing: rather than handling accounts receivable work in-house that demands skilled labor that is not involved in the business’s core tasks, these services are passed along to another entity that may be just down the road or, as the concept has increasingly come to be seen, across the world.  It makes a lot of sense that outsourcing is being implemented by more and more businesses globally, as it provides an excellent way to reduce overall staffing needs and, in the same stroke, reduce the operation’s total budget.

Outsourcing can be done in varying degrees.  Factoring, for example, usually is a form of partial outsourcing: a business only outsources the management of problematic customers’ invoices, while keeping in-house talent to do similar work that is less time- and budget-consuming.  A more complete form of outsourcing along these lines is known as credit control or credit management, entailing the complete elimination of such talent within a business’s internal structure.  Though outsourcing is usually implemented for non-core activities and services, this isn’t always the case.

The Cash Protection Agency specialise in debt collection in Leicester.

The Differences between Suing a Limited Company, Individual, Sole Trader & Partnership

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Filing suit in court is something that most people and businesses only do as a last resort, as it usually involves spending time and money that could be better applied in some other manner. All the same, lawsuits are part and parcel of our highly litigious society—and when it comes time to actually sue, you (or your lawyer, to be precise) had better have a clear understanding of the differences between suing different legal persons: individuals or sole traders, limited companies, partnerships, and so on. Let’s take a look at how legal liabilities play out in these contexts, then, so that our readers might have a better understanding of what to expect as they enter into legal disputes.

Sole traders & individuals: Individual persons and sole traders have the same legal liabilities, as a sole trader is nothing more than an individual that has a business that they are entirely (and solely) responsible for—a genuine one-man-act. Sole traders personally bear the full weight of the financial and legal obligations of their business; so if, for example, a debt is accrued then that person will have to pay for it in whatever way they can, whether from their business accounts or from their personal accounts (or assets). While there are tax advantages to operating as a sole trader, many people tend to avoid this type of business structure because of the vulnerability it entails if and when a lawsuit is eventually filed against them.

Partnerships: These are much the same as sole traders from the legal liability perspective, with the only difference being that there isn’t just one person involved. Partnerships are businesses of two or more persons where business liabilities are, as in the case of sole traders, entirely transferrable to the individual shareholders. An interesting legal point to bear in mind here—for the people suing equally as much as for the people being sued—is that though partnership members may not share in company profits equally (an issue determined by their operating agreement), they all have equal responsibility for meeting the company’s debts. This liability is a full 100% for all members of the partnership, which is highly favorable to the party filing the suit in court.

Limited companies: These businesses are known by this name because the personal liability of the shareholders (usually the owners and managers of the company) is limited. Unlike with the examples above, when dealing with a limited company (also known as a limited liability company) the party suing will rarely, if ever, be able to make claims to anything but the company’s funds, assets, etc. Though creating this type of business is more cumbersome as more paperwork is needed—and company operations records are in the public domain, another major difference—it is nonetheless a highly popular business structure to choose due to this legal shield.

It should be noted, that recently a new business structure has been created: the limited partnership. The limited partnership structure allows for a legal shield against personal liability, but retains the internal organization perks of a normal partnership.

Please visit our website to learn more about our services, debt collection in Leicester.

Small Business Round-Up – 17 January 2011

Category: Small Business News | 0 Comments

In this new column, our aim is to provide useful resources for small businesses who are interested in growing their company and client base.

The focus of these weekly round-ups will be to give an update of what’s happening in business across the world, new ideas and interesting statistics and information.

 

Business in 2011

Last week, Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor, gave his outlook for business in 2011. In this interesting video, he talks about stories that are likely to make the headlines in the next 12 months. Bankers’ bonuses, the City of London, the crisis in the Eurozone and the hard times ahead were all discussed.

 

 

All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy – INFOGRAPHIC:

In the week when Steve Jobs took further medical leave, it’s worth reminding small business owners that your health is as important as your wealth. This infograhpic, cheerily titled Workaholism may be killing you, gives some interesting information on our work habits, and on how we can often bite off more than we can chew.

 

Marketing – PODCAST

For those of you who are looking to promote your business and who have a few minutes to listen to a podcast, there is an interesting one on CopyBlogger called: Why Every Smart Small Business is in the Media Business.

 

Software and Productivity

If you’re interested in finding cutting-edge software that can work for you, 2011 offers some interesting opportunities as we move deeper into the cloud. It seems as though 2011 will be a year for web-based productivity applications like Google Docs. This article outlines 3 pieces of web-based software that could help all small businesses in 2011:

3 Best Overlooked Software Buys for 2011

 

A Tip of the Hat to Small Business – INFOGRAPHIC

Collectively, America’s largest employer is small business. Small businesses in the U.S. employ more than half of the private workforce in the country and are the primary exporters. Here in the UK, 98% of businesses have fewer than 50 employees. Small business is the driving engine of a modern Western economy & an economy that can recover from recession well is one that can help small businesses to flourish. Here’s a look at some business statistics in the form of an infographic that provides a useful snapshot of how businesses are made up & lets you see when, as a business owner, you can feel like your business is here to stay:

Small business and hard facts