10 ways to Reduce Your Print Cost

10 ways  to Reduce Your Print Cost

There are many factors to consider if you want to calculate the true printing cost in your company’s office in order to know how to reduce it.

The expense of using an office printer isn’t just the purchase price of the machine. Total Cost of Ownership depends on the price of an appropriate toner or ink, the paper you use and maintenance expenses.  Further, you should include fitting replacement parts, the photoconductor drum in a laser printer for example.

For example, if your employees print about 3,000 pages per month, multiply this number by your per-page cost to determine the average monthly cost of laser your printing. For example, 3,000 multiplied by 2.47 cents (If the cost of paper is 1.2 cents per page, toner is 1 cent, and the printer drum is 0.27 cents) equals $74.92 per month.

Today, all of us are witnesses of a significant changes in corporate America in favour of bifold awareness of internal efficiency and impact on the environment.

At the same time, the price of energy and all other basic assets have significant impact on the costs of doing business so companies are necessitated to cut their expenses.

Companies of all shapes (industries) and sizes feel the pressure to streamline their operations in favor of saving money and meeting the growing need for environmental responsibility and accountability at the same time.

If you look more carefully in your company overall costs, you can notice that printing is a key area of unnecessary financial and environmental waste. This can be a big and an expensive problem that can be easily fixed.

Here is a list of 10 best practices for printing that will help you reduce printing costs:

1. Don’t use personal printers

When you want to buy printers for your company, you should consider minimizing or even eliminating use of personal printers. Instead, insist that your employees shared a larger and multi-function printers (MFPs). They are more efficient and easier to maintain and allow you to control who has access to sensitive data.

Tip: Look for the Energy Star label printers because they are 25% more efficient in comparison to non-Energy Star models.

2. Lease the printer and use Manage Print Services

If you want to purchase printers for your business, you should  using Managed Print Services (MPS). Using MPS, your company’s printing devices and practices are maintained well monitored, and optimized for maximum productivity  and efficiency. This way you can save up to 30% on overall printing expenses and improve the security of your company’s network.

MPS are managed by the vendor, and you can pay based on number of pages printer. Also it is recommended that companies don’t sign long term contracts with minimum monthly commits.

3. Use B&W vs. Color printers

Black and white or monochrome printers have only two “colors”, black (toner or ink) and white (no toner or ink). As your employees usually use the printer for text or other things that need to have a printed character to be black and the background white (unprinted).

Most Canon and HP laser printers continue to use color cartridges even though you tell them to only use black.  That way you can just slow down the usage of the color cartridges but not completely stop them.  So, if you really want to reduce your printing costs, your staff members should use  a color laser printer only when they really need to print something in color, while using a low cost black and white only printer for printing text and stuff like that.

 

4. Print on both sides

The average office worker in the US prints 10,000 sheets of paper (equals to two boxes of paper) per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If double sided printing is used in companies this amount could be reduced by 50%, so as costs for that meter. That way of printing can have the big impact to whole world since it has influence on saving energy, water, and reduce the need to cut down trees to make new paper.

If you want to reduce your company’s waste, you should most definitely use of double sided printing whenever possible.

40% of the overall waste that can be found in landfills is actually paper, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So, anything we do can do to save paper will certainly help in reducing the amount of trash going into landfills.

Days when you had to waiting for a document to print so you can turn it over to print on the other side and wondering if it will it come out upside down or backward are over few years ago. With modern printers, the process of printing double sided has become a lot easier and less time consuming.

In order to save paper (read $$$), you should set your printer to duplex printing. So, whenever you print, no matter of what type of document you are printing , or what program you are printing from, your documents will automatically print on both sides.

If you would like more instructions on how to set a multifunctional printer to automatically print double sided click here.

Hope this section has shown how double sided printing can be easy and both environmentally and financially beneficial.

 

5. Reduce print density in your printer or multi-function machine

If your employees use a multi-function (print/scan/fax) machine they should reduce ink /toner usage simply by reducing the density of copied documents.  Their copies may look a bit lighter, but may do the job just as well.  

Some laser printer also have density settings even though they are not scanning or copying documents.  Same as multi-function machines,  playing with these settings on your printer will make your printing lighter but will save you toner in the long run.

Remember:  When your toner cartridge wears out you may need to increase the copy density for acceptable output.  

6. Use ECO-friendly font

A European company called Ecofont has created a font that has small holes in the letters.  If you use this font, it can reduce toner or ink usage by up to 25%.  For simple use, you can just download a free font and use it in your documents.  If you are a more advanced user, you should download their professional package that converts any document to an ecofont.

Tip: Download and test ecofont using it directly in your documents and if you are happy with the results,  check out what their professional version has to offer.

 

7. Scan more and copy less

It’s 21st century, just use the modern technology and simply  scan the documents and send it in email instead of copying it and leaving it in someone’s mailbox or on their desk.

 

8. Print only the text you need

We all see that the most web sites we visit have loads of pictures, ads, banners, and other assorted content that go along with the actual text on each page. Because of that, printing out those web page can be extremely difficult and printing out the unnecessary banners and photos wastes ink.

On some sites, you can find a “print this page” option that removes much of the irrelevant content.  However, you can often find ads left in the printout.

If you want to help your employees to deal with this problem, you can ask them to copy and paste individual paragraphs from the web site into Notepad or Word, and print from there. That is very good idea but they don’t need to use that old fashioned way because now they can find much more sophisticated option.

There are few web sites that make printing a lot easier. For example, your staff can use websites like PrintWhatYouLike. They just need to go on the home page and enter the address of the page they want to print.  Moreover, the service is completely free, and they don’t have to register or log in. Once they entered the URL, the chosen web page will appear on screen and they should collect together all the areas that they want to print, or removed those they you don’t, and hit the Print button.

This can be a great idea that will save you time and money.  

 

9. Print a Draft Copy

Users of word processing softwares like Microsoft Word (or others) can save both print time and ink simply by printing draft copies of their document as they edit them. In “Draft Output,” not all graphics,  formatting, and other features are printed, withal this feature can be useful for checking grammar, spelling, and content in a hard copy. You should check if your printer supports this feature. Then click “Options” in the print dialog box and check “Draft Output,” and click “OK.”

Note:  These steps can vary slightly based on which version you’re using.

 

10. N-Up Printing

Using “multiple pages per sheet” or the “n-up” option within Printing Preferences can be pretty effective way of including two or more pages on one sheet of paper. However, formality and readability can sometimes eliminate N-Up as an option for corporate use.

 

Reports by both The Recycler and The Gartner Group show businesses spend 1% – 3% of their annual earnings on printing. Most of companies underestimate their printing expenses, and don’t have any software for tracking these costs anyway.

That’s a big an expensive problem. The good news is that this problem can be fixed and your company can easily reduce printing costs by using some (if not all) of the tips listed in this article.

 

20 ways to get funded if you are a SMB

20 ways to get funded if you are a SMB

The SMB funding sector has been seriously heating up in the last few years. However, many ambitious business owners often have the opposite problem — they have the ideas, but the capital is the problem.

You’re probably asking, how to resolve fund issues?

As we all know, traditional SMB funding took a hard punch during the financial crisis in  2008, with banks preferring for bigger, more secure and stable investments over SMB ventures. Most SMB owners know a lot about the challenges of getting financing for their companies or financing for a new product. It can be very hard and there’s no short and easy road to funding, in most of the cases, but I hope that these 20 SMB funding resources can help.

  1. Banks

Banks can help you only if you have a stable business, strong credit, and finances, or collateral. Traditional banks can be a great starting point and can help you investigate your real position in terms of funding. But don’t worry, even if your company doesn’t have a strong track record and sufficient assets as collateral to get a loan, talking to some employee of a traditional bank can help you find out what documents you need and to pick the best option possible for you.

  1. Small Business Administration  (SBA)

If your business doesn’t fit the strict lending criteria of the traditional banks, the U.S. Small Business Administration maybe can help you. They offer lenders ( in most cases banks) and federal guarantee on your loan. That way, SBA make it less risky for lenders to lend you the money you need to make your business strong and prosperous. By doing that, the SBA also connects you with agreeable rates that traditional lenders can offer to you.

Also, unlike most loans  by bank, you can ask SBA for financial help even if you want to start your business. But, the application process isn’t easy, you can easily get trapped under a stack of documents while you’re working on the appropriate forms. An online lender like SmartBiz can provide a more up-to-date application process, issuing SBA loans much faster than traditional banks.

Click here to find more information about SBA.

  1. Credit unions

In case you like a personal touch and have an existing membership, credit unions may be the good choice for you.

Like banks, they can offer you encouraging rates and loans backed by the SBA. But unlike banks, they have increased their SMB lending since 2008.

If you are a member, the co-op nature of credit unions generally  ties them to the community, and that can help you get the benefits of name recognition and more personal relationships.

  1. Crowdfunding

According to The Oxford Dictionaries , crowdfunding is “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

The whole deal with crowdfunding is that is to use everyone you know to help fund your business through small investments. Usually,  these small investments come with some bonus, whether it is a piece of product or some kind of ownership in the company.

Here are few crowdfunding sites you should consider investigate more

Kickstarter – Their mission is “to help bring creative projects to life”

GoFundMe – “Fundraising site for personal causes and life-events”

Indiegogo – “A way for people all over the world to join forces to make ideas happen”

Street Shares– “A new kind of business loan. Fast. Fair. Affordable.”

  1. Online alternative lenders

If you need cash fast,  have bad personal credit, or just don’t want to wait for a bank to approve you a loan, online alternative lenders can help you. Since traditional banks limit access to capital, online alternative lenders have increased in popularity.

Online alternative lenders are especially useful for owners which are in constant struggle with the need for fast cash  or bad credit, there are various online lenders that can turn around funding within 24 hrs.

However,you need to know that the cost of borrowing is way higher than other solutions. So, some online alternative lenders charge annual percentage rates over 100%.

However, these alternative lenders can be the good option if the bank says no to you.

For more information abut online alternative lenders, click here.

  1. Peer-to-Peer lending (P2P)

Peer-to-Peer lending  is a method of debt financing that permits individuals to borrow money – without using intermediaries such as official financial institutions. It usually removes the middleman from the whole process, but it also demands more effort, time, and risk in comparison with the general brick-and-mortar lending scenarios, for example.    

Here are some of the most popular P2P Lenders you can investigate:

Prosper

Lending Club

Funding Circle

  1. Merchant Cash Advance

Merchant Cash Advance works this way: Your company sells a part of its future credit card sales to a Merchant Cash Advance provider and in exchange, you get a sum of working capital. So, your company tells its credit card processor to automatically forward a fixed percentage of its credit card earnings directly to the provider once they are settled.

Here are some Merchant Cash Advance starting points:

Fundworks

Elevate Funding

RapidAdvance

  1. Private Loan Guarantees

If your company is in early stage and the bank is ignoring your appeals, you can find an investor to guarantee your loan.

  1. Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) belongs to private-sector. Their  primary mission is to financial intermediaries with community development. They usually attract capital from both public and private sources. CDFIs helps economically afflicted communities by providing capital and financial services, and credits that are generally unavailable from mainstream financial institutions.

Click here and find out more about CDFI.   

  1. Offices of Economic Development

The government cares and constantly works to make and promote job opportunities.

The basic principle of the government is that they can help people to create an environment that boosts innovation, awards risk-taking and endorse equal opportunity range from job priorities, investing in public infrastructures to developing affordable housing.

  1. Business Line of Credit

A business line of credit can be a true asset to your company because it will help you meet the short-term working capital needs such as covering cash flow shortages or buying increased seasonal inventory or unpredicted operating expenses.

Find out more about Business Line of Credit.

  1. Asset Based Lending/Financing

Your SMB can manipulate  with your inventory in order to secure working capital.

Your line of credit, or loan, which can be secured by inventory because it provides structured working capital so term loans (which are secured by inventory, accounts receivable, equipment and/or real estate, machinery. This type of financing can be the best way for you to start up your business, refinance loans and manage buy-ins/outs.

According to The Oxford Dictionaries , Asset Based Lending/Financing is:  “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

For more information about this funding model, click here.

  1. Bartering

Bartering  is the act of exchanging of goods or selling and services without using the money. It enables those SMBs with the lack of monetary currency to still collect goods and receive services.

Here you can find 36 bartering websites.

  1. Vendor Credit

Vendor Credit  is a loan from one company to another that is usually used for  buying goods from the company that provides that loan. The vendor can increase sales, earns interest, and sometimes even acquire an interest in the customer.   

More information about Vendor Credit.

  1. Customers/Vendors

Customers or Vendors is a person or an organization, which receives and/or sells goods and services from/ to another party and has the capacity to choose between different businesses and products.

Learn how to create Contacts as Customers, Vendors, or Bank Accounts

  1. Factoring

Factoring  represents a financing method in which a company owner sells accounts receivable at a discount to a third-party funding source in order to boost capital.   

Fond out more about factoring

  1. Purchase Order Financing

Here are the steps to purchase order financing :

  1. get a purchase order from customer;
  2. find a reliable supplier for the products;
  3. place the order with that supplier.

It can be a great solution if cash flow reserves of your SMB are low. Purchasing order financing can frees up cash for the critical business cost. Another benefit from Purchasing order financing is that it doesn’t show up as debt for the company. Besides using that extra cash to get discounts on purchases, it also allows your SMB to get approved for more financing.                                                                                             

King Trade Capital is the largest purchase order finance company in the United States.

  1. PayPal Working Capital

PayPal Working Capital let SMBs pay their loan back as they get paid.

See how PayPal Working Capital realy works

  1. Equity Financing

Equity financing represents the act of boosting money for company activities simply by selling general or preferred stock to institutional investors or individual. So, in return for the paid money, shareholders receive ownership interests in the company.   

If you want to find out how it works, click here.

  1. Equity Crowdfunding

Equity Crowdfunding is a hybrid way of funding, which combines crowdfunding and equity financing. It can be classified as a relatively new way of funding since it was opened to the public in May of 2016. Even if you’re not accredited investors, you can fund your SMB in exchange for equity in the company.

More information about Equity Crowdfunding

Conclusion

Most SMB owners are familiar with  the challenges of getting funding for a new product or financing for their business. As you already know, there’s no short, easy way of funding, in most cases, but I hope these SMB funding resources can help.

10 Ways to reduce operations cost for SMB’s

10 Ways to reduce operations cost for SMB’s

 

If you want to improve the profitability of your Small or Medium sized business and want to do it very quickly, a natural solution is to reduce operations cost.  It sometimes can be tricky because some reductions can impact the ability of your company to generate revenue.

When cost-cutting season knocks on your company’s door, the first two things that usually need to go are salary expenses and marketing. But if you look closer at your operations spend, you can see few savings opportunities. The fact is, most SMB owners don’t have a clear insight into their real expenses of day-to-day operations. So, just run a detailed cost report by category and you will be surprised with what you discover. Here are a few places for you to look:

1. Make a list and check it twice

When you carefully list your SMB’s expenses, you will be able to see that your business is carrying a handful of operating costs that are totally unnecessary. Those operating expenses quite often can fall below the SMB’s owner threshold of concern. Bring together all those small cash leaks and put them out of your misery once and forever.

Next step is to check your list one more time and search for controllable operating expenses. You should start tracking those expenses. Remember – “what gets measured gets managed!” In other words, you can reduce your operating expenses by just tracking them but if you add active management of them, the controllable costs will seriously cut down.

Every good operations consultant knows how to cut, track and manage operating costs and to earn good fees with those three steps alone. If you learn how to do that, you can do your own operating costs management and save even more $$$ by not hiring a consultant.

2. Negotiate

Now when you know where your operating expenses are coming from, you should focus on two of them:

  • largest monthly expenditure
  • longest-standing relationship

If you manage to shave even 1% off of the largest monthly expenditure, it can do magic for your bottom line. If you leverage your longtime customer status with some other provider, it can lead you to size-able discounts.

So before you pick up the phone, you should do your research, look for promotional rates and check in with several competitors for quotes. Try to open up your negotiations saying “We’ve enjoyed being your customer, but our monthly bill is getting too high for our wallet. How can we cooperate to bring it down?” That way you can set a synergetic tone, and convince them to work with you and help you lower your operating expenses.

Now when you have these prosperous negotiations under your belt, try to make it the best method of reviewing other expenses and constantly repeat that process to uncover opportunities for future savings.

3. Hire freelancers to do the work which doesn’t core to the business

You probably know that your savings can go way beyond the simple fact that you don’t have to pay payroll taxes or give benefits to an independent contractor. Most SMB’s don’t have full time work for non-core assignments. Outsourcing these assignments (website maintenance, book keeping, etc.) gives you the opportunity to pay for the project and to get a specialist for that task. Hire freelancers are always a better option than having an internal “jack of all trades”, not only because the work will be handled with more quality of the work but also because of the overall savings.

4. Change spending behavior of your staff

Cash often also tends to leak from SMB’s operations cost in seemingly irrelevant ways, usually because of wasteful spending or hasty activities. The problem usually begins with behavior.

Typical things like misplaced pens, lost meeting notebooks, unnecessary postage, and excessive printing. Most of the business owners don’t question those as necessary office expenses. A simple solution that often can save serious cash can be a little planning ahead.

It can be good to have insight into your employee’s spending habits, so you should take the time to monitor company’s card spend on a monthly basis. Just use purchase card monitoring to see how much your staff is spending on things like fast food and drink ,where they were spending, and ensure they were staying within the P-Card limits. Armed with the knowledge of what employees are spending when traveling or out of the office can lead to the following positive actions:

-You could restrict particular online and offline stores MCC codes so the company purchase card can’t be used at those places.

-You could monitor the spending to determine if that kind of spending correlate with an increase in productivity.

As you can see, having access to this kind of card data can lead to serious changes in your company, usually for the better. You can find this type of data using operational expense audit solution technology and see every purchase your employees make. Bottom line, lots of data gives you more insight into the heart of your company’s spending.

5. Reducing infrastructure costs

You can do both reduce infrastructure costs and keep your employees occupied with the managing of daily operations. Sure, it’s a brilliant move but you’re probably not convinced that you can do it. Don’t worry. You can accomplish that, just follow tips that are written below.

Move your SMB to a smaller office space. You can replace old fashion offices with a shared workspace for client/customer where they can have meetings and your employees can collaborate. This way your staff will share workspace, desks, and means at the office.

With a little creativity, your rent and similar costs (insurance and utilities for example) can be notably reduced.

6. Telecommute

As I already said, infrastructure costs can be a drain on your funding. Depending on the industry of your SMB, you should allow your staff to telecommute. They can work from the home for a particular part of their working week. Working from home is usually a favorite perk among employees, as they can cut down on their own commute time and expenses. All of that can accomplish significantly improved employee satisfaction – creating a win-win situation for everyone.

With a quantity of connectivity available now, the difference between a staff member sitting in an office and sitting at home is almost indistinguishable.

The number of SMB’s that has teleworkers is growing because of many advantages that can be arise from employers and employees engagement in telework. Except improving employee morale and productivity gains, telecommute also can reduce infrastructure costs.

7. Cancel Unused Services

You are probably thinking that this is a no-brainer, but unused services can easily continue to withdraw from your bank accounts or billed from your credit cards if you forget that they are left on auto-pay. So, you should look at all company’s costs in last six months. In case you find out that haven’t used certain service in 90 days, make sure to cancel it.

Also, maybe it’s time to reassess the services you still use and to find cheaper alternatives or use the opportunity to renegotiate your existing contracts.

This approach is called “spend analysis”, Spend analysis is the process of collecting, cleansing, classifying and analyzing spending data with the purpose of cutting down procurement costs, improving efficiency, and monitoring accordance. You should be interested in learning about this new technology of collecting and managing spend data, along with the growing acceptance that in order to know how to operate your spend and understand it.  Those are some of the reason why this new method have raised interest in spend analysis from many SMB’s and large companies as well and is performed every quarter. You can find out more about spend analysis here.

8. Use an online bill and pay software program

Implementing an online bill and pay software program can eliminate paperwork and save about 50% of payments time and bill approval.

Paying your company’s bills (and any other bill for that meter) online is a great benefit that internet has to offer us. So, you should consider using an online bill pay service and set up a secure online account which allows you to pay all your bills from one place. This way you can save your time, plus  automated payments will help you avoid late payments. Many banks offer some kind of bill paying feature via their website.

Use an online bill pay service and you will probably never receive another paper bill again. This service can make payments to any individual or company in the U.S. If you want to be more secure and like to keep record, you can demand images of bills and payment information that are retained for seven years, on a CD with bill payment data for every year on it.

9. Inventory and the strategy to reduce the cost

Many SMB’s are looking for ways to reduce expenses and quite often ignore the effect that inventory sitting in the warehouse and the expense of keeping that inventory has on their finances. Usually, inventory expense can run serious percentage of a company’s fund but that depends on the industry.

Inventory carrying expense includes taxes, expense of capital (you need it for financing the inventory purchase), insurance, warehouse, labor and administrative staff for operating the warehouse, material handling, and equipment, utilities, etc. Inventory carrying expense can add up to 25% or more of the inventory rate on top of the inventory expense.

As Omar Khan (a senior consultant with Procurement Solutions Group) says “the larger the volume of “on hand inventory”, higher the carrying cost and total cash layout of the business. Hence the “single most effective approach” to reducing the operating costs of a small business is to reduce the on-hand inventory and associated carrying costs.”

So, if you want to significantly reduce your costs, you should focus on the inventory features that make a large percentage of the inventory rate or expense. These items usually are maintenance supplies, consumables, raw materials, etc. – depends on the type of the SMB we are talking about. Therewithal of the type of SMB however, the main goal is to cut down the quantity/volume of those large ticket pieces from the warehouse. You can do that by pushing those items back to their manufacturing facility or the suppliers’ warehouse and pick up only the quantity/volume that will be consumed, used in daily/weekly manufacturing at your business or sold.

If SMB is resource constrained, it makes perfect sense to keep outside consultant or expense reduction service provider which offers contingency based service. In the end, inventory expense reduction is unquestionably the best and most effective cost reduction strategy that will harvest most benefit with least effort, comparing to other expense areas.

10. Go Green

Consider making your SMB’s office space as green as you possibly can in order to reduce energy usage. You can do that by replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting. Also, you should find the way to reduce heating and cooling expenses by improving your windows and insulation, and consider cutting back on the volume of physical waste. It’s very important to encourage your employees to communicate via email, Skype or other electronic means – ask your vendors to do the same. Going green will drastically decrease the expense of company’s monthly office supply order.

Conclusion

Cutting operating expenses for your small to medium sized business can be hard but isn’t impossible.  It can take some time for you to get used to working within a lean budget, but you will be comfortable with that when you realize how important that step is for your business. Don’t get me wrong, you should never be afraid to spend money on employees and the services you really need, but take an extra time to consider the long-term expense of ongoing expensive technology or services.

 

10 Ways for SMB’s to reduce Employee benefits cost

10 Ways for SMB’s to reduce Employee benefits cost

For businesses for all sizes, employee benefits is one of the top spend category. Large companies can somewhat control and reduce employee benefits cost by leveraging the volume discounts but for small to medium business that is not an option. Also given the recent changes due to Affordable care Act(ACA), SMB’s benefits cost will further increase  

Following are some of the ways in which SMB’s can control and reduce  their employee benefits cost

  1. Consider Outsourcing HR to a PEO

Besides providing experienced and professional HR support, outsourcing HR to a Professional Employer Organization(PEO) can considerably reduce your cost of the employee benefits.

The PEO groups all clients into a “buying pool” when negotiating rates with insurance providers. That means that SMBs can take advantage of negotiating large company rates despite their smaller size. That can be especially beneficial as you can find some insurance providers that often apply “age bands” when pricing out a SMB’s benefits plan.

Plan costs per employee are subject to what “age band” an employee falls into. So, the older the employee is, the higher the individual plan cost is needed. Using service of a third party HR provider for benefits administration can eliminate the utilization of “age bands.”

  1. Educate your employees

As you probably already know,the costs of HMO and PPO plans are not the same thing. So, educating your staff on the costs and features of each of them and helping them choose the right plan can remarkably impact overall benefits costs. This is especially true for SMBs with a younger demographics.

Most of the plan providers are willing to educate companies and their employees about the options by holding seminars on-site. According to Principal Financial’s Friedrich,

Every SMB should start the process  of selection by breaking the benefits into three main groups: health care, retirement, and specialty benefits.

If you want to read more about health care, retirement, and specialty benefits, click here.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but plan providers can give you guidelines for choosing the right benefits package. The also can advise you while picking a local broker to help you steer the multitude offerings.

  1. Offer a more booming benefits package but make employees contribute

If SMB wants to compete effectively and attract talent, executives should offer health insurance, life and disability insurance and a retirement savings plan. For specialty benefits such as vision and dental coverage, investigate what your current employees need and whether they’ll be willing to contribute.

It common practice that employees pay 10-20% of the cost of their benefits package.

  1. Investigate the market

Switching providers are really  time intensive process, but it’s always a good thing to check rates of several providers every year. The tendency of increase of annual rate is not universal for all providers.

Investigating the market can give you the chance to find more good advice like the opportunity to shift to Consumer Directed Health Care programs, which are customized to meet the needs of a specific group employee benefits plans.

  1. Choose higher deductible plans

The traditional health insurance plan works with copays and deductibles. It helps with paying Doctor bills, prescriptions and lab tests from day one. However, there may be an initial deductible to be met, but it is lower in most of the cases.

A high deductible plan, naturally, has a high deductible that must be met before the insurance will start paying for the doctor’s bills, prescriptions, and lab tests. To be in the situation to qualify as a high deductible plan your deductible must be at least $1000.00. The average deductible is $5000.00. Once you reach the deductible the insurance will chip in with 100 % coverage. That means that you will no longer be obliged to pay additional costs. This can be a good option if you think you can’t afford health insurance.

  1. Offering employee discounts on Wellness Program

There are insurance plans that include a wellness program at a minimal cost such as  $150 to $200 per employee per year. The government is weighing tax incentives for SMB wellness programs as well.

There are many companies such as Facebook that extend their benefits to offer help when it comes to health (fertility treatment for example), stress, fitness, and general well-being. That way of thinking can be very beneficial for staff, and help with improving productivity as well as reducing absenteeism.

  1. Work with a Third Party Administrator

One of the best ways to implement a expense-reducing strategy is to work with a Third Party Administrator in order to analyze your Employee Benefit Program costs. The Third Party Administrator will use this information to find opportunities to reduce expenses and increase the satisfaction of the employees with your health care program.

  1. Rewarding employees for good health

In most cases, this is positioned as a cost cut for employees who participate in company-sponsored wellness programs  and/or who are engaging in healthy activities.

It’s a fact — healthy employees are often very productive employees. That is the reason why you should reward your employees and their families for a healthy lifestyle. Through such stimulating reward program, you surely will get a workforce more committed to good health and a healthier climate in your company.

Like with many other employee motivation programs, disciplining employees for unhealthy lifestyles is usually not as effective as rewarding wanted behavior.

You can find many ways to reward employees who are working toward better health.

  1. Offer more transparency into an employee’s health information

Offering more transparency into employee’s information and expanded access to an  individual health care expenses can be good practice . Most employees would like to have online access to this information, but only if their privacy will be protected – they do not want for their health care information to be integrated with any online record keeping or social networking.

  1. Manage benefits cost with technology

Managers and employees can come to significant cost savings by using online tools like benefits enrollment  and payroll entry. The number of companies that are found their way to lower their costs by expanding their usage of benefits technology, automation, and employee self- service is rising every day.

Remember, the expense of premiums isn’t the only thing that makes benefits so expensive. The cost of administering benefits is significant factored as well. So, making good use of benefits management automation is critical if you want the best practice in your company.

Savings extracted from technology can come from the ability to:

  •    Run faster transfers of registration information to benefits carriers
  •    Realize important savings in time required for preparation and entry of data
  •    Boost employee satisfaction with benefits information access
  •    Cut down information errors in benefits admission

SMBs which set up web-based services for benefits are often able to lower their cost for benefits, decrease overall HR administration associated with benefits, and improve their ability to attract job candidates and retain employees.

Conclusion

It can be a very nasty choice – offer juicy benefits and give up on profits vs. cutting back on benefits and risk losing good employees.

The need of figuring out the right formula has grown more critical as health care costs continue to rise and the economy continues to stand. Even worse, most entrepreneurs of SMB don’t have the time and/or the expertise to unscramble this messy calculation.

It’s very hard to manage to come with a well-balanced basket of benefits, which is neither too luxurious nor too Spartan for most SMB owners.

Hope that this 10 ways will help you reduce employee benefits cost.

5 Things SMB’s/SME’s should Outsource

5 Things SMB’s/SME’s should Outsource

Like large businesses, small and medium businesses (SMBs) can strategically use SMB outsourcing techniques for reducing their cost and find partners who can help support the growth of the small and medium business.  As a stable source of job creation, small and medium businesses make an important social function by absorbing surplus workforce in processes of transition and transformation state and social businesses.

I hope you find next five tips helpful in a determination of  strategy for outsourcing the key support functions of your SMB.

1. Payroll

Payroll is one of the most outsourced operations in the business world for a long time. Many large corporations’ titans such as Paychex, Inc. and Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) can be held responsible for cutting checks for businesses large and small for years.

However, as SMBs have increasingly plucked out market share from the big corporations, large payroll firms have had to advance their service to meet the needs of these smaller clients. Simultaneously, technology progress has led to feasible payroll software solutions, and vendors have to meet the needs of SMBs who feel underserved by the payroll beasts.

As a result, today’s SMBs have a wide range of payroll options. First, we have in-house administrators who usually employ payroll software to do the work. Second, we can find large, traditional payroll services—and a bunch of smaller competitors striving for their piece of the outsourcing pie.

Payroll is one of the largest expenses that SMBs have. It can also be the company’s enormous headache if it isn’t done correctly. Whenever is your payroll done by a member of your team or a service provider, he or she must understand the relevant tax laws and regulations-they alter remarkably from state to state. It can be an administrative disaster, and that kind of mistakes could mean a phone call or visit from the IRS.

2. Accounting

When we are talking about outsourcing, finance and accounting (F&A) are one of the first processes that are under consideration.

As the market develops, SMBs are constantly seeking for fresh ideas and hoping to find new answers to streamline F&A processes. They are spreading outsourcing to new areas F&A, and new industries.

Today, a vast number of SMB’s are outsourcing the all-important in-house inspecting function. These shifts are outgrowths of their desire to overstep from elementary transactional processes, accounts payable (for example) to even greater and centralize functions such as prognosis, budgets and internal audits.

There are two pointers, which indicate that your SMB is competent and capable to handle F&A processes:

the capability to simplify
the ability to standardize
These crucial implementations provide profit that is multifarious. There is an inflow of the money, service, and information. With the reduction of F&A processes, SMBs have realized that they are well placed to bring down the cycle necessary to close books. Even more, they are in a favorable position to evolve upgraded benchmark and standard financial processes that enable them to meet the necessary regulatory requirements.

As mentioned, amplifying the boundaries of outsourcing can boost benefits. For example, F&A industry experts say that if a SMB outsources either accounts payable or receivables, its benefits are making the most of the money at its disposal, and there with advancing the company’s internal processes.

Enterprises across the world are looking for new and improved ways of leveraging data, so as to harvest the benefits from them. In keeping with this goal, SMB s are employing the outsourcers who have exceptional skills, combined with technological resources.

Transformative technology and tools that would help improve SMB business performance, reporting, insights, process efficiency and limpidity are essential for SMBs. New generation F&A outsourcing supply the company with capability to access add-on tools, which will improve existing technology and take advantage of new technologies such as mobile, cloud, and  robotics automation. With these tools, SMBs. are in a position to achieve much better insights and upgrade productivity, and all of that during working within the parameters of their existing systems.

3. IT Infrastructure Management

The most common reason why SMBs outsource their information technology needs is that they experience fewer problems. Of course, this is an oversimplified and extracted incapacitation of a complex issue. If you want to make a proficient business decision regarding whether or not to outsource your SMB’s IT, you need to back it up with supporting information.

An IT department is made up of a composite environment of hardware, software, and computer networks, which allow you to perform crucial business functions and work flows such as customer relationship management (CRM), accounting and financial processes (ERP), email, and document creation.

Your SMB’s success depends on it being able to use these actions reliably and efficiently. For example, it is imperative for companies to receive and send emails to communicate with partners and vendors, employees, and clients, in order to fulfill product and service orders. How long can your company operate without such an essential function? Additionally, you need to be able to access financial data and customer information to run your business. So, if you want to protect these processes, you need to perform many back-end functions, including server monitoring, data backup & recovery, security, and antivirus protection.

With this large and fundamental undertaking, is it achievable for an SMB to totally take-on the tasks and responsibilities mandatory to run its own IT department? All of mentioned could not be done without a enormous commitment and investment in IT infrastructure, talent, money and time. Training IT employees, maintaining IT devices and keeping technology cutting-edge are huge responsibility for most SMBs.

4. Procurement of Goods and Services

Procurement outsourcing for SMBs is created to help the small business owner take advantage of many of the strategic assets larger corporations have been using for years. In fact, a large percentage of all big companies plan to increase their usage of outsourcing. Entrepreneur.com recently said, “Entrepreneurs have long seen outsourcing as a strategy reserved for big business, but technology has made it a more accessible tool for small businesses.” Times certainly are changing.

The most of the SMBs have very limited procurement support, which is usually a mutual resource to other departments as well. Procurement leaders already know that they can expect large talent gap in the near future due to baby boomers retiring and small companies will be the most because they have limited resources to attract talent. Procurement outsourcing can solve this problem by allowing access to industry experts on demand.

Adding additional inventory for SMBs represents a major risk because of the fluctuations in business. More employees often mean more risk. Having procurement outsourcing can help with cutting down the risk since you get the gain of the service without the further overhead expense.

Any small company can use increased purchasing power, but how can they create negotiation leverage on their own with limited purchase volume? This is an enormous benefit to using procurement outsourcing. There is strategic collaboration in place to provide prompt savings across many goods and services, which most small companies are already using.

In addition, procurement outsourcing allows SMBs to tap into competitive assets most of their competitors are not using. Many good and creative solutions can come from association with the supplier network, which is exactly the place where the procurement outsourcing lives. Therefore, new product development, exclusive distribution, packaging, inventory solutions, and financing are all fields that can help to separate small companies from the competition.

Using the best methods often can help with driving cost savings. The cost savings can also come thanks to current solution providers without the additional overheads. Needs and technology change over time and services from providers are continuously changing but most contracts stay in place costing SMBs huge amounts of money simply because they don’t localize these changes. In most of the cases, procurement outsourcing even pays for itself through cost saving divisions creating no risk for the small company’s owner.

There has never been a better time for SMBs to take advantage of procurement outsourcing in order to develop the best solutions, which can help separate them from the competition and increase their cash flow. These principles apply to practically every industry. Procurement outsourcing allows small company owners to get approach to many benefits that larger companies use without any risk.

5. Lead Generation for business

The sales leads are the lifeblood of new business development for SMBs. All companies require a reliable and consistent stream of business leads. The most common options are outsourcing the lead development process to lead generation companies, requiring sales team to create and qualify their own business leads or developing a lead generation department within the company.

The two internal options can create their own problems because lead generation lies outside of the core aptitude of most companies. That is the reason why outsourcing your lead generation to lead generation companies can make the most sense for your team.

There are two main types of lead generation companies:

  • Major account lead generation companies
  • Small sale lead generation companies

Major account lead generation companies usually look for the clients that sell “complex” B2B products or services. That targeted crowd used to generate business leads incorporate the high-level “decision makers” C-level contacts and VPs – upper management of the company. The sales chain on these business leads are mostly long and require various sales calls over a certain number of weeks and months. The style of selling is professional, oriented to solutions, and generally focused on return on investment (ROI) and the possible value to the customer’s business. This target market usually buys items with the higher price, than the accounts served by the small sale lead generation companies, and the amount of these major account B2B sales leads is important.

Small sale lead generation businesses target smaller purchases, mostly under $10,000. The target audience is still B2B but their sales chain is much shorter. In fact, since the dollar figure is lower there can be little or no sales chain at all because this type of “commodity” purchase cry out for an easier “yes” or “no” approach of making decisions. Often the level of contact can make the buying decision because the product or service is not affecting various departments.

Before choosing a lead generation company, you need to do some research and even interview a few different lead generation companies in order to see which solution is the best fit for your needs. Figure out which company is most similar to your target market, overall sales style, and company’s culture. Every lead generation business needs to serve as a logical extension of your company considering the competence, customer service savvy, and professionalism, which you would expect from your own internal sales force.

Conclusion

SMEs are already the foundation of most domestic economies. With the right tools and support, they could well become the foundation of sustainable economic growth too.

Basic characteristics of small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs, with is primarily of their size, flexibility, propensity innovative and risky ventures and greater opportunity for specialization, enabling these companies to be much easier than big business the system adjust to continuous changes in consumer demand and business conditions in the global market. In this way, small and medium encourage enterprises to strengthen competition that results in improving the quality of products and services and lower prices, the development of innovation and new technologies and economic growth of the national economy in general.

10 habits of highly successful CFO’s

10 habits of highly successful CFO’s

In today’s business environment and technology that evolves extremely rapidly, the role of the CFO has dramatically changed. In the past, they have been financial gurus behind the scenes and now are forward thinking team leaders and visionary. Also, CFOs are must be involved strategies and all aspects of company’s operations. Knowing all of that and the fact that we live in the era of technologies, communication, data analysis, and organizational structure, the main question that comes to our minds is: What are the habits of highly successful CFO’s?

Here are 10 qualities that define a well-respected and successful CFO:

1. Role Clarity

 

role_clarityThe best CFOs say that role clarity is key to their success. They agree that good CFO should be forward looking. He/she needs to know that understanding of the past is very important but they are required to influence the future. Also, they must be able to take calculated risks. Besides all things mentioned above, great CFO must nourish a strong and trusted relationship with the CEO. This is essential to the success of every company because the CEOs sees the CFOs as their co-pilot and expect from them to help steer the business. Often, CFO can find him/herself acting more like a COO, so they must be seen more as a strategic partner to the CEO if they want to be the best in their industry. For example, If the company they work for is going through major changes or transition (going public or being taken private, etc.) the role of the CFO and his/her abilities and skills are very important. Only great CFOs know that technical part of the job can be done by everybody, but the ability to work very closely with the CEO and other key stakeholders as they make decisions shaping the future of the business is the crucial thing.

 

2. Building a Strong Team

strong_teamEvery good CFO must build a very strong team if the company’s success is their primal goal. He/she needs to be aware of things they don’t know and surround themselves with a group of people who can “cover” their weaknesses. For that reason, they must fight their way to be allowed to build their own team and make their own decisions about the team. Also, they should have good documentation of all processes. As Sean Barry, CEO of Bridgevine Inc. says: “

3. Always Adjusting your Communication Style

manage_communicationThe good CFO must know to use different communication style depending on with whom is he/she is communicating with. When he/she works for the company owned by a PE firm, it’s expected to use the transparent style of communication.

The most successful CFOs agree that open, sincere, and frequent communication is a must when we are talking about leadership in order to avoid surprises. Also, it’s very important to address issues as they arise. As Brian Beckwith, CEO Formation Capital says that “Flex Communication Style” is the best thing to do. So, use the different style for the different audiences.  

Confidence when sharing information with his audience is also a very important skill for the CFO.

Some CFOs easily fall into trap of sharing too much information during communicating with colleges. So, you should be concise, short and go straight to the point, especially if you are talking with the Board, Investors, Peers or employees.

 

4. Create an Environment Of Trust

trustIf you want to be successful in leadership, you must know that building relationships and developing trust are crucial. Stick to an open door policy and try to make time and listen what your employees have to say. In order to do that, you should encourage them to speak freely to you and to always say their opinion. They should never be afraid to question company numbers and to be critical components of the business.

Also, you should try to get to know and understand all of your employees and keep them informed about any organizational changes.

 

5. Be Involved In All Aspects Of Your Business

The difference between good CFO and the great on is that the second has the priority to always be in the middle of company problems, attend sales and marketing meetings, visit customers, and go on plant tours.

Most of the CFOs spend far more time on simple reviewing updates rather than asking questions and generating discussions. If you don’t want to be just an average CFO, but the great one, you need to expand your horizons. You must fully comprehend the analysis behind financial decisions, and be able to anticipate potential company issues and risks. Besides that, you should be eagerly available to address your concerns and offer constructive criticism.

Above all, always be able to implement solutions. In other words, you should be prepared to go beyond the call of duty, be fully apprehensive of internal operations, and, if necessary, help to modify the company’s direction.

 

6. Be A Talent Magnet

talent_magnetIf your goal is to retain and bring in talent, you are on the right track to be successful CFO. That way of thinking can be essential to any growing company and represents a significant part of your role. As many great CFO s say, your capacity to help the “leadership pipeline” by adding value to your company and not your financial expertise will get you ahead. So, if you want to give the definition of your “value”, your organizational skills need to evolve. In order to do that, you must constantly assess your overall goals and make enough time for external networking and talent searching. Always advocate your team’s approach during the hiring process.

 

7. Embrace Change

Every dedicated CFO should always look into the future. So, in order to join the team of the best CFOs, you should balance your long-term and short-term goals, and never allow your company to become a slave of stagnant and ingrained because of old behaviors. You need to be the voice of your company and the one who is always pushing and encouraging change. And, when modifications are finally in place, you must concentrate on settling top priorities, effectively pass on them to your employees, and make sure that they are done.

Always consider implementing the new roles and projects and try to keep your employees concentrated on the reasons and advantages for those opportunities. And what’s most important, try to think beyond numbers and constantly develop your role as a visionary leader.

 

8. Improving Profits and Cash Flow

profits_cashflowMost CEOs demand from their accounting department to be responsible for all financial meters in their company and to control all costs.

The role of a CEO is to grow the company profitably. The CFO’s role is to provide fuel for this growth. Profits and cash flow are that much-needed fuel.  

CEOs try to keep the financial function as the only possible way of protecting company’s profits. That is the reason the financial function is constantly working twice as hard in order to produce the information and leaving insufficient time for analysis. Because of that, the company owners usually blame the CFOs for tough economic times and let them go as they see them as overhead.

If you want to be good CFO, you need to see yourself differently (more like a salesman) and not number cruncher but a numbers driver. In other words, you have a just as great an opportunity in driving profits as the best salesman in the company!

 

9. Don’t be Controller

This step is a logical continuation of the previous one.

The main difference between a CFO and Controller is one their focus point – controller needs to look into the rearview mirror while CFO must look out the windshield. In other words, be focused on the future and let the controllers deal with the past.

 

10. Know When to Buy and When to Build

build_vs. buyGrowth of every company usually comes in these three ways:

  • Increasing core business volume (organically)
  • Building new capabilities, products, or lines of business
  • Making acquisitions

You are now probably asking, how you as CFO can help your company decide when to buy and when to build?

For most companies (including UPS), the preferable option is the first one.

In that case, the time and resources required to add these abilities will likely be constructive, and it will be easier to meet rate-of-return requirements.

However, sometimes building capabilities in-house can cost too much or take too much time. That way you are letting your competitors get critical competitive advantages and acquisitions make more sense. So, make sure to buy capabilities rather than market share. Also, try to avoid the bait to make trophy acquisitions. Companies need to make most acquisitions to fill in capabilities they don’t already have and can’t easily build. Capabilities tend to last a lot longer than temporary spikes in market share.

What’s more, when acquisition madness hits your industry, your company can easily be tempted to make a trophy acquisition or even few of them. Ok, paying a premium price for a premium company can be a good solution only if you do your homework. However, more often scenario is that the projected savings and revenue synergies don’t fully occur because of incompatible cultures and conflicting business models. So, acquiring smaller and cheaper company that is considered fixer-upper can pay off bigger if you agree on a longer road to travel. Whether the company decides to build or buy, the strategic CFOs need to serve as a neutral arbiter, to perform modeling and present financial implications and risks for each new growth opportunity.

 

Conclusion

At the end, the general advice you should listen is to never forget about the needs of today’s employees. Work is something that people do, not a place they go to, so a manageable career and life balance is important to everyone. You should circulate amid your colleagues every day and make sure that both, your dedicated level of involvement and your communication with them, be formal as well as informal. So, socialize with your team and become involved in the interoffice “water cooler” conversations. If you manage to have all mentioned habits you will definitely understand your employees and work in favor of your company dynamics.

5 Tips For Cutting Cost and Improving Profitability

5 Tips For Cutting Cost and Improving Profitability

Cash flow represents the amount of money coming into your company and the amount of money going out. It’s extremely important for small businesses.

Cash inflow is the core of your company and comes from different sources – payments from customers, interest on savings or investments, receipt of a loan, monetary infusion from an investor, etc. Cash is very important because you will need it to pay for things that make your business run such as expenses like stock or raw materials, employees, rent and other operating expenses.

Naturally, positive cash flow is recommended because it means that your company is running smoothly. If you manage to have high positive cash flow, you will be able to make new investments (hire employees, open another location). That is the only way if you want your business to grow.

All you have to do is to avoid negative cash flow. Here are 5 ways that might help you with that:

  1. Implement a spend policy

Companies often use the spend policy to provide guidelines on how to spend and what to spend on.

You should also think about including purchase approvals in your spending policy. In order to do that, you will need to involve your employees to make request for purchase approval and forward it by email to somebody with authority to approve it or this can be automated by using an E-procurement system.

Besides purchase approvals, you should also include Travel and Expense (T&E) reimbursement policy. The policy should provide guidelines on what is reimbursable and what is not reimbursable.

  1. Get Better visibility into your spend

If you run the small business and want to reduce your spend, you should focus on getting better visibility into your spend. That will help you not just with understanding where you are spending money but it also with identifying opportunities for cutting spend (cost avoidance) or opportunities where you can get better price for the same product or service (Cost savings).

A very basic spend analysis should answer questions like where your company is spending money (Product/Services), with whom (Suppliers) we are spending and who is spending(Individual/Departments). You can categorize your spend into different categories (For example Office supplies, Information Technology).

At the end, you should assess your monthly expenses. This step can be a little tricky because it’s easy to overlook small things (advertising, marketing, website hosting, travel, etc.) and get a surprise you really don’t want. Monthly expenses also include working capital, rent or mortgage, insurance, taxes, loan payments, utilities, payroll, inventory, and of course paying yourself.

  1. Get Better Pricing

Once you conduct spend analysis, you would know what you are buying and at what price. You should then try to get a better pricing on those items. There are multiple ways to do that:

a) Having an internal procurement team who can reach out to vendors and get different bids can be good for your business. There are multiple e-sourcing tools like like Coupa, GEP, Ariba which can help in automating this process.

b) You can use third party services like ProcureDesk, Xchanging, Optimum Procurement which provides spend visibility, and negotiate pricing on your behalf.

c) You should consider combining purchasing volume using a group purchasing organization (GPO). In the United States, GPO is an organization that is created to combine the purchasing power of all parts in order to provide higher value to members. That way, sellers treat all members as part of a single entity and base contract pricing as well as other benefits on total sales to the group. This kind of greater volume of sales allows contracting sellers to offer lower prices and higher levels of customer service.

  1. Extend payment terms with your suppliers

Extending your payment term with suppliers could be a potential vehicle for extending your cashflow. Identify your top vendors and have a conversation with them regarding extending the payment terms. Let say from Net 30 to Net 60 days. Even if it not possible for all vendors, extending the payment terms for top vendors will give a significant boost to your cash flow and reduction in working capital cost.

  1. Reduce Unwanted expenses

Reducing business costs is not just a matter of cutting cash outflows aimlessly. To reduce business expenses, it is important to take a considerate and methodical approach.

You should start with reviewing all of your company expenses to identify those costs that you can easily eliminate without any negative effect.

For example, in most of companies 40% of office paper is discarded within 24 hours after printing on it. If you calculate how much money you spend on printing supplies, paper, and labor, you’ll quickly see that using electronic file storage can help you with reducing business expenses. So, just use free online space through services like Google Docs, DropBox or Cloud Drive.

Bottom line, once you know what your expenses are you will be able to see what costs are not required.

Conclusion

It’s a fact, it is easier to save money than to make it. So, you should learn about the importance of saving and teach your employees the same lesson. Cutting costs is the most appropriate, the quickest and easiest way to improve the profitability of your small business. Hope these tips will help you with cutting down on expenses and ensure that you remain competitive in the longer term.

This article was originally published on Business2community.com