Category Archives: Business Checks

Taking a Hard Look at Your Employee Benefits Packages

4326186183_3091fe3b9a_o (1)

Providing reasonable benefits to your employees is a standard part of procedure. However, you want to do more than offer just the basics. Instead, you want to ensure that you examine the packages to offer your employees fair benefits for their work. Doing so can help to increase morale, which can then have a positive impact on the success of your business. Continue reading

Five Seemingly Small Slip-Ups That Can Sink Your Business Before It Gets Going

6586673491_d2c0ae29fb_z

Every business, no matter how big or small, comes with its own set of considerations. From management to finances, employees to inventory, there are many things to worry about on a daily basis.

That’s why you don’t want to gamble your chance for success on the smallest possible pitfall. Every year, thousands of new businesses fail because of tiny missteps that could easily be prevented.

Missteps such as… Continue reading

Shopping Like It’s Your Job: Finding The RIght Wholesale Buyer

wholesale buyer imageLast week, we talked about what it takes to get your first fashion business off of the ground. But what happens next?

One of the most important employees at any fashion business, especially at retail outlets, is their wholesale buyer. Their job is critical: Figure out what products you need, and how much to order.

Sounds simple enough, but how well your buyer performs will make all the difference in the success of your business.

So what does a buyer do?

Buyers are doing their job well if they can consistently find and purchase products that your customer base likes and considers to be a good value. Continue reading

Fighting Fraud: Eight Tips To Keep Your Small Business Safe

7454996046_8b9cac78bd_z

Scammers hurt small businesses in the United States every year. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the median loss is a whopping $98,000.

The prevention of fraud requires monitoring the workplace, continuously updated controls, data systems, and special procedures related to preventing fraud and scams. Fraud happens when there is opportunity.

The individual may believe the company owes him or her additional compensation. Perhaps the perpetrator knows precisely how weak the company’s controls and systems are and believes he or she will not be caught. Continue reading

Four Companies That Should Be Role Models For Your Startup

206911985_c0f565df12_z

All the famous companies that we are all very proud of today and those that every unemployed person wants to work for were once start-ups.Today in the stock markets some of them are considered as blue chip companies while others are rated among Fortune 500 companies.

Some of the companies that have now grown to become global brands had to start somewhere. A number of them some of which are now worth billions are said to have been launched from makeshift headquarters, coffee shops, and relatives’ garages as well university living rooms.

Some of the incredible examples of companies that start-ups should look at include;

Apple

Steve Jobs and Steven Wozniak were good friends in high school. They both happened to have a strong interest in electronics. Jobs and Wozniak had this desire to come up with personal computers that they would sell to their friends and close relatives.

It all started in the year 1976 when Woz designed what would come to be referred to as Apple 1. Jobs was excited by the idea and being the marketing genius that he was he took Apple 1 to the marketplace. The reception was incredible.

The story of Apple is an interesting one especially the fact that it had to deal with already established names in the industry like BIG Blue.

The age of Jobs and Wozniak too should offer motivation to start-ups and show them that they should not wait until it’s too late to try and make an idea a reality.

Google

Google is the leading search engine globally. It was founded by Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergei Brin in the year 1998.

It was while they were at Stanford in 1996 that Page and Brin began the process of developing a search engine called BackRub. In the year 1998, they set up their first data center in Page’s room.

Page and Brin were motivated by the fact that their fellow Stanford alum David Filo had founded Yahoo years earlier, they made a decision to start a company as well as looking for investors.

Today Google is used by almost every internet user globally and is rated as one of the most successful companies globally.

Starbucks

It started small in Seattle in the early 70’s. Howard Schultz while on a trip to Milan Italy visited the espresso bars and was greatly impressed. He decided to implement the model in Seattle, and immediately everybody become coffee crazy.

Starbucks has since expanded from a single coffee shop and has now opened thousands of its retails all over the world.

Nokia

It was founded in the year 1865. Gradually is has grown to become one of the biggest communication and information technology companies in the globe.

However, Nokia started small producing leather footwear called Galoshes. It’s in the year 1987 that they introduced Mobira Cityman 900 their first handheld phone.

There are other compelling stories of companies like Facebook that was started by Mark Zuckerberg while he was still in the university. Some of the other companies that startups should look at include; Alibaba, Yahoo, and even Toyota.

In general, the challenges that faced entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, who was a co-founder having to leave Apple and go and try out other start-ups like Next and Pixar, demonstrates to start-ups the need to forge forward even when they experience failure.

The prosperity of such companies has been associated with the fact that they make products that are well thought, superior quality, and designed to be simple to use, which should be the guiding principles for any start-up out there.

Photo: Marco Pakoeningrat / CC 2.0

Is It Time To Ditch Your Bank?

3537904106_57fe05b12b_z

The banking industry has never been as competitive as it is at this current time. This competitiveness creates an advantageous service and financial environment for consumers.

When a customer encounters a situation in which they believe that their bank is not providing them with the type of service or products they desire, they have the option to switch to a bank that offers products and services that are more in line with their expectations.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, approximately 9.6 percent of banking customers have switched banks over the past 12 months. This figure is on the rise, being significantly higher than the 8.7 percent from last year.

While the reasons that customers give for leaving their bank differ, there are certain indicators that are clear signs that it is time to leave your bank. Additionally, this move should be made expeditiously.

There are two key elements that are at the core of determining if it is time to ditch your bank, and they are the security associated with your money, and the level of satisfaction you are consistently experiencing.

Financial Strength

The financial strength of a bank is extremely important in providing security for the funds that are deposited by their customers.

Although the FDIC insures up to the first $250,000 per account holder who is a part of an FDIC-insured bank, no one wants to have to go through the process of filing a claim for their money. This is why customers should check the financial strength of their bank periodically.

This can be done by checking the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp’s website. This will allow you to confirm if the bank is maintaining its FDIC insurance.

If your bank is not maintaining its FDIC insurance, this should send up an immediate red flag. This means that if your bank should go under, you could lose all of the cash and certificates that you have deposited with the bank.

Excessive Fees

Currently, there is a push by larger banks to increase revenue by raising fees. These fee increases are an attempt to offset losses that have been incurred as a result of a loss in credit card fee revenue, which is a direct result of some significant regulatory changes.

This means that customers from some of the major banks will more than likely begin to see some changes in fees on checking accounts, ATM usage, debit cards, online banking and more.

All banks will vary in the fees that are charged for these services, however, traditionally, local banks have lower fee costs, and they may actually waive some of the traditional fees charged by larger banks.

Lifestyle Changes

Another important element that impacts customer satisfaction is convenience.

Maybe you are in a situation in which your bank no longer fits your lifestyle. Initially, your bank was ideal, providing operating hours and locations that effectively serviced your needs and preferences; however, certain changes in your life has created a number of conflicts that make your bank less attractive.

An example would be switching to a job that require you to travel substantially. If you are banking with a local bank with limited locations, this could present a problem. Finding a national bank might be more beneficial to your new lifestyle.

The same is applicable to banking hours. If you have a situation in which you are consistently leaving your office at 6:30 p.m. or later, the chances are that your bank’s branch office will be closed.

This is an instance where switching to a bank that can better accommodate your schedule might be in order.

Photo: Bryan Rosengrant / CC 2.0

3 Financial New Year Resolutions You Should Make This Year as a Small Business Owner

6551534889_9c8ae52997_zAs you know, running a small business requires you to wear multiple hats. Many small business owners do not have the time to be on top of their finances as much as they should.

And it’s easy to understand why. There’s a lot to handle from making sure you’re deducting your expenses correctly, taking care of payroll, to ensuring your accounting is organized for tax season.

But here are some important resolutions you should make this New Year if you want a significant improvement in your wallet.

I Resolve to Take Control of My Business Cash Flow

Your cash flow controls the flow of your business, so delays can quickly halt the progress of your business.

If you’re dealing with cash flow problems due to the way you are accepting payments, you may have to come up with an alternative that works with your customers or clients.

If you’re spending too much on inventory at once and can’t come up with a decent budget for marketing, it’s a good idea to try to restock twice rather than all at once.

The point here is that you need to manage your cash flow to ensure that your business runs smoothly and isn’t at risk of taking a financial hit. Cash flow will be vital for paying your employees on time, having a budget for marketing, and paying for inventory, so even the slightest of delays can hurt your business.

I Resolve to Make the Best of My Inventory

If your business is based on physical goods, then it’s time to take a serious look at your inventory this year. You want to really go through your inventory to see which products are costing you money, which products to order less of on the next run, and which products you need to order more of.

Evaluating inventory has always been one of the best ways for small businesses to save money, but it is also a good way to spot opportunities.

For example, a product that you didn’t think much of may be popular with customers or a product that’s not seeing much volume might have a high profit margin and may be worth marketing to customers.

I Resolve to See My Business Tax Professional Early

Working with a tax professional that specializes in business tax can translate into a significant amount of savings for your business.

You’ll be able to get information on what you can deduct, avoid tax violations that can get you into trouble, prevent your business from being audited, and learn various ways to save even more money.

But it’s very important that you consult with a business tax professional far earlier than when your taxes are due. This will give you the time to run your numbers back to back for accuracy, better organize your tax records, and ensure that all your deductions are accounted for.

Those are just some of the finance resolutions you should make for your small business this New Year. It sounds simple enough, but each of the three on the list does require a respectable amount of your time.

So rather than trying to spread yourself thin trying to put all three into place, start with one until you feel that you’ve gotten that aspect of your small business finances in order.

Once you see some success, you’ll quickly gain the motivation to put the other two financial resolutions into action.

Photo: 401(K) 2012 / CC 2.0

Check Security: Stronger Than Ever

2291896028_e54336ab04_bToday’s checks have a host of security features that make it difficult if not impossible for them to be forged or counterfeited. Security features on checks these range from special ink to special paper to holographic images.

Modern checks are printed on chemically sensitive paper, which causes stains or discoloration when someone tries to alter the check.

Most checks also have coatings on the paper that cause the toner to adhere. If someone attempts to lift the toner with a piece of sticky tape, it will rip the paper, rendering the check unusable.

Checks these days also come with a range of features that are meant to thwart copying and counterfeiting. These include:

Watermarks, which is a distinctive symbol that is visible on the original checks but won’t reproduce on a copy;

Visible fibers, often of varying colors, that are present throughout the check paper and make copying nearly impossible;

Security screen backer, which contains words that will fade or disappear completely on a photocopy or scanned image of the check;

Multi-colored backgrounds, which make the check difficult to copy or reproduce;

Microprinting — microscopic words, viewable only under a magnifying glass, that become pixelated and unreadable on a copy of the check;

Void indication, which is an area on the check backer with the word “void” in it that only appears in a reproduction.

You might think that check makers would want to hide these security features from those who might want to circumvent them, but today’s high-security checks do the exact opposite, using several methods to advertise their security features. These include:

A warning band on the face of the check that announces the security features;

A warning box on the back of the check that lists the security features;

A padlock icon that shows the checks meet industry standards for security features.