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Business Cash Flow Lesson From A Fairy TaleA Business Cash Flow Lesson From A Fairy Tale:

Remember the fairy tale “The Princess And The Pea” By Hans Christian Anderson?

A prince was looking for his soul mate. He wanted a REAL princess, not a FAKE princess who was only after his money and his castle.

He decided to test some candidates, so one-by-one he invited the candidates to spend the night at his castle to test them to see if they were for real.

He piled something like forty gazillion mattresses on top of each other and under the bottom mattress he put a dried pea. He figured only a real honest-to-goodness princess, sleeping on that towering pile of mattresses would be able to feel the pea, and it would bother her enough that she would say something about it.

Using this testing method, he found his soul mate and the fairy tale had a happy ending.

When it comes to doing things that affect your business cash flow, it’s smart to be discriminating and test things out.

If there is something nagging you, or worrying you about your cash flow that has you sleeping not-so-well at night, you want a tool that really can put that problem to bed. A solution that will positively affect your income and your profits, and put you in control of your financial future.

That’s why we offer a 30-Day trial of the Cash Flow Mojo® software for less than the price of lunch.

So you can test it and decide if it’s the real deal for you.

Use it on a weekly basis, and I mean REALLY use it, to see if it works for you like it has for thousands of other business owners.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do that here:

http://cashflowmojosoftware.com

You’ve really got nothing to lose but a lot to gain. Test it out and see for yourself.

A Business Cash Flow Lesson From A Fairy Tale

Increase Business cash Flow
Business cash flow is the lifeblood of every business, but all too often, businesses don’t pay enough attention to bringing cash into the business as fast as possible. The consequences of doing this can be dire: it can mean you don’t have enough money to pay staff or suppliers or, worse, the business could fail completely.

There are lots of steps a company can take to increase the quantity and speed of cash coming into the business. The idea is to be alert to opportunities to increase the cash flow and consistent in your approach to cash flow management to make sure the company is maximizing the inflow of cash.

1 – Set Sales targets And Quotas

Setting sales targets and quotas for yourself and your sales staff is a very effective way to keep them focused on what they are supposed to be doing, and checking with them at the end of each day to find out if they made their target for the day keeps them focused.

2 – Stay On Top Of Collections

If you do offer payment terms or bill certain clients and wait for payment, have someone assigned to collections who is ruthless about following up and getting the payments in. Set collections targets and quotas for your collections staff too.

Statistics from collection agencies say that for every month a payment is late your chances of ever collection the money decrease by 10%. At that rate you should be turning customers over to a collection agency a week or so before the receivable ages past the 60 day mark.

If you need a good collection agency who doesn’t charge high fees, has an excellent collection record, and doesn’t burn the bridge between you and your customer, send me an email and I will introduce you to my resource that I have referred to my clients for years.

3 – Negotiate With Suppliers and Get Competitive Bids

If you purchase products and services that a variety of suppliers carry, don’t be afraid to get competitive bids and to negotiate a good price. I don’t understand why the U.S. hasn’t taken a page from the art of negotiating from other countries. America seems to believe that the sticker price, or the quoted price, is the price. Negotiate anyway. It’s actually fun and can save you a ton of cash over the long haul.

The last time I bought a company car it was on a Saturday during the car dealer’s annual Labor Day Blowout Sale. My husband and I were the only customers on the car lot that afternoon. They had the exact car I wanted – 2 years old with 21,000 miles on it, and it had a sticker price of $29,500. My husband and I negotiated hard and actually walked away 5 times and had the salesman chasing us down the sidewalk. I was paying cash and trading in my 6 year old car. We got the car for $17,500.

Everything is negotiable, especially when you’ll be buying in volume for your business.

4 – Raise Your Prices To Cover Increases In Costs

Be vigilant about checking suppliers invoices to make sure you got what you ordered, and ask for updated price lists on a regular basis. If you miss the fact that a supplier raised their prices and you don’t pass those increases on to your customer by raising your price it will slowly eat away at your profitability. Also check the suppliers invoice for things like an additional or increased “fuel charge” or “surcharge” that can increase your cost without you realizing it.

Watch your overhead expenses too. Increases in costs of telephone and internet service, postage, utilities, insurance, etc. can erode your profitability. Updating your business cash flow budget to get an updated income planning target can help you decide when and how to pass the increases on to your customers and how much to raise your prices.

Hint: It’s much more palatable to customers to be faced with small increases several times a year than one huge increase all at once. That’s another reason to update that budget every 3 to 4 months.

5 – Be Selective About The Customers You deal With

Do business with high quality customers who not only appreciate quality products and services, but are also able to pay promptly and are more than willing to do so.

It’s the customers who always try to whittle you down on price or expect extra service at no additional charge who usually cannot afford to pay and they’ll make trouble and complain about the smallest things. You have a right to decide not to do business with them.

Don’t be afraid to fire a customer who is more trouble than the account is worth. It’s almost magical what happens when you fire a troublesome client. It seems like it creates a positive magnetic effect that pulls several high quality replacement clients into your business.

6 – Get The Payment Up Front

You can set your payment terms to be anything you want, so why not set them for what you really want – full payment up front, or a large deposit and then the remainder on delivery. There’s no law that says you have to offer payment terms to everyone. Many customers are willing to pay up front, and those are the caliber of customers you want to deal with.

Accepting credit cards is vital, and now that they have those nifty card swipe devices that plug right into your cell phone or iPad there is no reason you cannot accept credit cards, even without a physical brick-and-mortar store or office.

7 – Be Very Selective About Offering Payment Terms

There is no rule that says your company has to offer payment terms to everybody, or even the same payment terms when you do decide to offer them. Reserve the payment term privilege for selected high quality, long term clients who need and deserve them, but only so long as they pay on time. Don’t be afraid to cut off the payment terms for late or non-payment.

In addition, there is no rule carved in stone that says your payment terms have to be 30 days. Reduce your payment terms to 14 days if you want to. Whatever works best for maximizing your cash flow. Even better than offering payment terms, is to offer an incentive to pay Cash-On-Delivery instead. Your company doesn’t have to act like a bank and finance your customers’ purchases.

8 – Negotiate for Progress Payments

Take a page from the construction industry’s manual for very large jobs or orders and negotiate progress payments that cover your costs and a portion of your profits at each stage with a final payment due at the time of completion. This tactic can keep you from getting over-extended with your suppliers or subcontract labor only to find that the customer can’t pay.

Tip: Put the agreement with your customer in a written contract and have the agreement drawn up by a corporate attorney so it will stand up in court.

9 – Promote, Promote, Promote!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that promoting your products and services on a constant basis is critical. If you aren’t consistently talking to your customers through advertising and promotion, I guarantee your competitors are talking to them. Use off-line marketing if it works well and gives you a good return on your investment, but definitely use internet marketing as well.
Almost every one of your potential customers who is out and about has a computer in their pocket or purse these days. It’s called a cell phone, and it has internet capabilities. People use their phones to shop for places to buy exactly what you are offering when they are on the go in addition to using their computer at home.

In addition, consumers expect you to have a website and be present on the internet promoting. If they look for you and don’t find you, they’ll move on to your competitors’ sites and buy from them instead. Learn to do keyword research and search engine optimization so your sites come up when consumers type in what they are looking for. If you are too busy to do it for yourself, or just want someone to do it for you because you can spend your valuable time more profitably by servicing your customers, and you need help with this, email me and I will refer you to a trusted resource who gets consistently excellent results.

10 – Consistently Measure Your Return On Investment (ROI)

Your hard-earned cash flow is too important to waste, so always measure your return on investment to make sure that your profits are adequate. This applies to measuring the ROI on your advertising as well as the ROI on selling your products and services for a profit. Nobody decides to start their own business just to pay the bills and make their suppliers wealthy. You need to make a good profit and pay yourself what you want and deserve to make.

The Cash Flow Mojo® software can help you increase the amount and speed in which cash flows into your business, and it only takes 20 – 30 minutes a week. You don’t even have to understand accounting to use it. You can take a tour of the software and even try it out for 30 days for less than the price of lunch.

Business cash flow is the fuel in the gas tank of your business, and I don’t want you driving around with the needle hovering on empty and not enjoying the ride.

Internet Marketing Boosts Cash Flow
Yes, you can use internet marketing to expand your business and increase your cash flow.

In today’s business climate, it is more important than ever to be proactive and take effective action against dismal economic forecasts. True, our politicians may have done serious damage to the economy, but a successful money management program will work even when times are bad. And, an integral part of any successful cash flow management program is promotion and advertising.

“Many business owners, health care professionals included, will cut back on the amount of promotion and marketing they do when the economy takes a downturn. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what they should be doing. A good cash flow management rule in a down economy is that a business should actually increase the amount of promotion that it is doing, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to use Internet marketing.

The Internet is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing to a very large audience for relatively little money. Although many business owners already have websites, there are still a large proportion of business owners who have not yet taken advantage of modern marketing technology. And for those who are, there are ways of increasing the amount of web traffic you get in order to attract more customers.

There are four important factors that a business owner should take into consideration regarding websites, according to Internet marketing expert Brian Dawson, CEO of Customer Finder Marketing. “The four things are the choice of the web address, the design of the site, the continual freshening of the site, and the promotion of the site.”

Factor #1 – Create a Great Web Address

The web address (the www.websitename.com portion) is actually one of the most important aspects of a website. There are several factors that go into the mix.

“First of all, your web address should be easy to remember and not overly long or complicated,” says Dawson, “and it also should be connected to your industry in some way. This is important because a major component of Internet marketing is the websites performance on search engines like Google. More than likely, your new potential customers are going to find you through a search engine, and if your website address is incorrectly named, you won’t show up on the search engine.”

Search engines like Google use your web address in order to determine where you show up in the search results. If a potential customer is looking for braces for their teeth, the words “orthodontist” or “braces” should probably be in your web address for maximum effect.

And there is another little trick that Dawson recommends in order to rank highly on the search engines and thus drive in a lot of web traffic.

“Many times you can take advantage of the availability of local web addresses which include the name of the town or city where the practice is located,” observes Dawson. “For example, the web address “www.PlumberDallas.com” might be available if your practice is located in Dallas, Texas. This can be extremely advantageous as many people do local searches beginning with the area that they live in. Doing this could put the business immediately at the head of the line.”

In order to find out what web addresses are available, go to sites like GoDaddy.com or Register.com. It may take a bit of trial and error, but with a little patience and creativity, good web address names can usually be found. Don’t bother buying an address that ends in anything other than .com (dot com) as internet searchers habitually and automatically use .com for every search, and if you have .net (dot net) or .biz (dot biz) or something else as your website ending, then your site won’t show up to the dot com searchers.

Factor # 2 – Don’t Make Me Think

Obviously there is an almost infinite variety of ways in which to design a website. In most cases, the business owners themselves are not going to be the individual who actually builds the website. This is usually going to be left up to a web designer. However, there is one over-riding philosophical principle that should guild the ultimate look and feel of your website: Don’t make me think.

“In web design, there is sometimes the temptation to throw everything at once at the visitor,” explains Dawson, referring to the way that some websites are constructed. “But this is usually a mistake. Websites that are too busy or have too much information on the home page can actually confuse the visitor and actually cause them to leave the website,” he says. “We’ve all experienced this, and the fact of the matter is that most of us have little tolerance for a website that doesn’t give us the information that we are looking for in a fast and intuitive way. That’s why I recommend that the primary design concept should be “Don’t Make Me Think.” Follow that principle and you will create a much more successful site that attracts new customers and keeps them on the site once they arrive.”

“Don’t Make Me Think” means a site design that has a natural flow to it and is easy to navigate. Visitors should be able to find any information that they are looking for quickly and easily, without having to hunt for it. Rather than trying to say everything at once on the home page, Dawson recommends that you start simple, and use a navigation bar and clear calls to action to lead the user deeper into the website to get into more detailed information.

To this end, Faulkner recommends a simple test. Take someone unfamiliar with the site and give them the web address. When they get to your site, don’t say anything and watch how they react. Any points of slowness or confusion are points that should be corrected in terms of your design. It is a simple but highly effective test. If your web design is truly intuitive, the person should have no problems understanding and navigating around your site.

Factor # 3 – Freshen that Web Site!

“A search engine, like Google or Yahoo, has one job. That job can be described this way,” says Dawson. “When someone types in what they are looking for in the search bar of Google, then Google’s job is to dish up the freshest, most relevant content as the answer to that question.” Pages on the internet that deliver the freshest, most relevant content as the answer will appear on page 1 of Google’s answer to the search query, along with the businesses’ Google Places Pages that have a Google Places Page that has been claimed and optimized correctly. If you don’t have your Google Places Page set up, verified and optimized correctly, we can help you with that.

Now here’s the thing, what do the search engines consider “fresh and relevant” content? Well, it’s the content that has most recently been added to the internet websites that best answer the question for the searcher. So, it is fatal to have what we call a “static” website where nothing is ever added and the visitor has nothing to do when they arrive. For that reason it is highly advisable to have a Blog where new articles are posted about your industry and your business at frequent intervals. Of course these articles should be optimized to contain your industry’s keywords that the person typing in the search bar will use to find you. There are also certain types of website platforms that Google likes, and ones they definitely don’t like…right now having a WordPress website is important. Google loves them. It’s also critical to have a dynamic mobile responsive website that looks great and is easy to navigate on a cell phone.

Factor # 4 – Promote that Web Site!

“Once website is up and running, it should be promoted in every way possible,” says Dawson. “The web address should literally appear on every piece of promotional material that you have. Letterhead, business and appointment cards, brochures, you name it. Anything that has your name on it should also have the address of your website on it.”

It also pays to be creative in this regard. Virtually anything in the office is a potential source of promotion. Pens, bags, packaging, balloons, etc., are all potential promotional vehicles. Every article that a customer takes home with them becomes a potential source of advertising for the practice.

Another excellent means of promotion is the use of Marketing Articles and your Blog. The term Blog is short for “web log” and is a place the practice owner can post journal entries or articles on any topic that would be of interest to their patients. Examples are announcing events at the practice, tips on teaching kids how to care for their teeth, the difference between bridges and implants, anything that is newsworthy or that the dentist would like to tell patients.

Dawson also recommends marketing articles as one of the best choices to put on the Blog. “Google responds best to fresh, relevant content,’ he says. A marketing article is an article that the public is going to find informative and that has relevance to your industry in some way. It is a highly effective way of getting noticed on the Internet and getting more customers.” The marketing article doesn’t have to be overly long, nor should it be overly technical. Be informative but use terms the average customer would understand. Without being too self-promotional, always mention the name of your business, and, of course, your web address.

“Every website should have a blog attached to it, and at least once or twice a week that blog should be updated,” explains Dawson. “The reason for this is that blogs instantly send out your information to the Internet and the search engines. As the search engines notice your site, you rise up through the rankings and the odds of the public finding your site increase dramatically.”

Other methods of adding fresh content about your business, your products and your services are posting regularly in the social media sites like facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Make short, interesting, well-optimized video ads that direct viewers to your website and contain a strong call to action to do something; visit your website, call for an appointment, or sign up for your email list to get free, high quality information. Get these posted on your company’s video channel on YouTube on a regular basis.

Add local listings for your business a few at a time so that by the end of 12 to 24 months you are listed in the top 150 local directories on the internet linked to your website. It is a lot of work, and you have to do it right for it to pay off, but it can sure make the phone ring and customer traffic show up at your store or clinic. If you have no idea how to produce video ads for your business, or where or how to do local directory listings, Brian Dawson can help you with that too.

Internet marketing is a big subject, but following the principles above is a proven way to develop a successful web site that attracts new customers and patients. There is a saying “When times are good you have to promote, and when times are bad you have to promote more.” Don’t buy into the doom and gloom of the mass media. Take effective action and expand that business.

Internet Marketing Expands Your Business And Increases Cash Flow, so use it liberally.

Business Cash Flow Problems
Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business, but all too often, business owners don’t pay enough attention to bringing adequate income into the business as quickly as possible, and on a consistent basis. The result is not having enough cash in the bank to pay employees or suppliers. You can correct financial mistakes that keep your business cash poor.

There are numerous actions a business can take to solve cash flow problems, make sure income meets cash demands, and ensure the company stays in a financially solvent and viable condition.

Know Your Exact Income Planning Target

Knowing exactly how much income the business needs to bring in on a weekly or monthly basis to meet all the income demands is simple if you create an accurate cash flow budget. A budget is a calculation of how much the company needs to operate, to pay for present and future expenses, and to pay off debt. The calculation also reveals the income planning target for the company. I often find a business owner under-estimates their income target by 13% to 25% based on the industry they are in. Creating a cash flow budget is a real eye-opener when they realize they have been operating on a number that is too low and that alone created a large part of their cash flow problems.

Set Sales and Collection Targets and Quotas

Holding a weekly meeting with sales and collection teams where targets and quotas are set based on the income planning target can immediately boost income. Without a specific demand put on the individuals in the teams and the managers of the teams, they have no target to work toward. Additionally the business owner has no method of evaluating the production of the team members and their managers.

Know When To Raise Your Prices

How long has it been since your business raised its prices? The cost of doing business goes up 8 to 12% a year and your suppliers are undoubtedly raising their prices they charge your business, sometimes disguised as a hefty added on “fuel charge” for delivery of their products to your business. Supplier cost increases need to be passed on to your customers.

Customers are smart, and they know your prices from your suppliers are going up. Heck, the cost of a gallon of milk has gone up at least 30% in the past year alone, so consumers are aware things are getting more expensive. If your prices stay the same year in and year out, your customers will start to wonder if you are desperate for business. Especially if your competitors are raising prices and you are not. Consumers can sense when a company is confident and certain, and when they are desperate and starting to view customers as a wallet walking in the door, rather than a person to be served with great customer service.

Tip – When you do raise your prices, it is better to do it in small increments more often than in one large jump that will shock your current customers. If you raise prices in small increments, your customers will justify the increase by saying to themselves, “Well everything is getting more expensive, so I’m not surprised.” So you raise prices a little and it validates the conversation the customer is already having with themselves inside their own heads, and it eliminates the shock value.

Promote Your Products and Measure Your ROI

There is an old advertising adage I learned from an advertising guru back in the early 1970s. He said, “When times are good you need to promote, and when times are bad you need to promote even more.”

That is still true today. A business owner often makes the mistake of cutting marketing and promotion spending when there are cash flow problems. They treat advertising as a discretionary expense, and it is anything but that. Advertising and promotion is mandatory, especially online internet marketing.

Most consumers have a computer or two at home, but they are walking around 24/7 with a computer in their pocket or purse. It’s called a cell phone, and they use it to search the internet for a place to buy whatever product or service they want or need at the moment they decide to buy it. If you aren’t talking to your current and potential customers using consistent promotion, I guarantee your competitors are talking to them, and then your potential customer is more than likely going to buy from your competitor.

Measuring the effectiveness of the advertising dollars you spend is critical. Knowing that internet marketing takes time to build traction is as important as knowing that a postcard mailing will take a couple of weeks to produce measurable results. Just because something doesn’t seem to be working doesn’t mean it won’t work. Sometimes it is a time factor, and other times something is slightly wrong with the message, or the target market demographics are not focused enough.

Don’t Be Afraid To Waste A Customer

Some customers are never-satisfied and will constantly delay their payments to you, or try to negotiate big discounts based on some strange value they have on their importance to your business. They forget that you are in business to make a profit, and you have every right to make an adequate profit that will help you meet the financial goals you set when you opened your business. Nobody opens a business just to pay their bills and make their suppliers wealth, right?

Don’t be so desperate for a sale that you allow yourself to deal with a customer who does not appreciate the quality of your products and services. Maintain a standard of quality for your customers and you will attract only quality customers who can and are willing to pay you promptly what you deserve to be paid.

Don’t Bet Your Financial Future On One Client

Never have a client who owes you more money than you can afford to lose. Bankruptcy filings are rampant these days and you don’t want to be in a position of having to eat a loss that causes your business to go down the tubes. Work to have many, many good quality customers who pay consistently. Make non-payment punishable by putting them on permanent COD terms.
Set Firm Financial Policies That Speed Up Cash Flow

Setting financial policies that can speed up cash flow are very effective, especially when your sales team encounters a customer asking for special concessions. Some financial policies to consider are:

Getting Paid a Percentage Or The Entire Amount Up-front
Break Up Payments For Large Jobs
Be Very Selective When Offering Payment Terms
Make It Financially Painful For Late Payers

Putting in the correct cash flow management and financial policies can quickly and effectively solve the most pressing cash flow problems.

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