Growing a Debt-free Business

When you are a start-up or small-to-medium business, the proper management of your finances and establishing a strong financial state is critical, yet often it is nothing but an afterthought for excited and budding entrepreneurs who will do anything possible to get the ball rolling.

One of the biggest pitfalls for new start-ups and SMBs is financial ruin – most of these new companies do not have much cash to splash around, yet many still do. It’s not just this either, bookkeeping, taxes and accounting are all stress-inducing factors for the founders of these new businesses, and this can cause them to go under.

By staying out of debt, however, new companies can help themselves stay afloat even when cash is tight. Loans, especially those targeted at new businesses, can be an attractive prospect, however, they should be avoided wherever possible. Remember, loans always have to be paid back; how can you do this if you do not have a steady revenue stream?

Loans are great when you have had some growth and are ready to scale up your business, but they should be avoided in the very early stages when you are just establishing your company. Here are some tips for growing a debt-free business, loan or no loan –

 

Managing Cash Flow

One major reason for start-up failure is running out of money, often caused by a lack of cash flow management. When you are running a business, you need to account for every single penny and know where money is both coming from and going to.

If you neglect to stay on top of your cash flow, you will put your new start-up or SMB in a very precarious situation. It doesn’t matter how great your business idea is, when you run out of money you have two choices – i) take out a loan; or ii) call it quits. Many business owners when faced with this ultimatum will opt for the former, and you can easily avoid debt by proper cash flow management.

 

Prepare for the Worst

Although you should be remaining optimistic about your new business and its success, you never know what can happen. It is easy to be blindsided by problems when you least expect them, and by having some cash stowed away on the side can help you alleviate these problems when they crop up and prevent you from having to take out loans to cover sudden business expenses.

If you have a full or part-time job, keep it until your business is generating money from which you can take an income. Don’t quit your job and obliterate your personal income source until it can be replaced by your new company.

 

Hire or Contract an Accountant

Yes, you probably can’t afford to hire a full-time accountant, but that is fine – you don’t need one.

You should contract an accountant, however, as they can help with all aspects of your finances. From taxes to bookkeeping and securing investments, having a good accountant on your side who is familiar with your industry and has a good reputation can help you out with more than just balancing your books. In many ways, accountants are great business advisors and can help you run your company as well as keep you out of the red.

Don’t Buy Everything

Do you really need a fully-furnished office kitted out with all the latest tech and cool furniture? When you’re starting out, probably not – that should be something you work towards!

Lots of new businesses ruin their finances with frivolous spending on things which they don’t need and may never use. Your new start-up or SMB should be saving money wherever possible, and buying that three-seater leather sofa for your office isn’t going to help you do that. If anything, it pushes you closer to the red by squandering finances which could come in useful later on down the line.

Amazon’s main headquarters was a dingy office located down a back alley, with Jeff Bezos still using the same recycled wooden pallets as a desk well into the website’s success. Learn from that!

 

Set Financial Goals

Rather than just thinking about wanting to earn X amount of money, set a goal to do it and have a series of miniature goals which you can work towards to help reach your final one.

Revenue goals enable you to stay on track with your finances and make adjustments wherever necessary to help growth. They also ensure you are constantly up to date with how much money your company has and is earning, enabling you to make better commercial decisions and give you the confidence needed to keep pushing on through your business’ journey.

When you start hitting your revenue goals, you will put off unnecessary spending as it will detract from the great feeling you get from reaching targets.

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How to Make a Workcover Claim

Workers Compensation Claim Form Insurance Concept

No one wants to suffer a workplace injury or illness.

However, with more than 100,000 serious claims compensated in Safe Work Australia’s last report, it’s something that could affect any Australian – regardless of what industry you work in.

If you have been injured or fallen sick as a result of your work, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation. To be eligible, the injury or illness must be new or an aggravation of a pre-existing one.  Whether you’re a full time, part time, permanent or casual worker you are still able to make a workcover claim. This includes being employed by your place of work or through an employment agency.

Claim benefits help with weekly payments when workplace injury or illness is preventing you from working. It also offers support for medical and rehabilitation expenses, including specialist appointments, treatment and medication expenses.

Here’s what you need to consider before you make a workcover claim:

Keep Your Employer and GP in the Loop

Even if you’re unsure whether you’re going to make a claim, it’s important to inform your employer and doctor.

By reporting the injury immediately (in writing if possible), you minimise the risk of losing any legal rights you may have to receive workers compensation benefits.  Be cautious of time constraints however, as work-related injury or illness must be reported within 30 days of becoming aware of it.

If your workplace has a Register of Injuries, make sure the incident is recorded there, as well as the written notification to your GP and employer. Some claims may not be processed without  a ‘first medical certificate’, which can be obtained from your doctor.

As an employee in Australia, you have the right to visit your own doctor for workplace claims and treatment. Once your employer and GP are notified, a doctor’s report will be written within 30 days of your workplace injury or illness exam.

Your workplace injury report must contain your name, address, the date when injury/illness first occurred and the nature of the case to be processed properly.

Check if Your Employer is Insured

It’s mandatory all employers have workplace compensation in Australia, but it’s still recommended to ensure they’re properly insured.

Self-insured employers will need to manage the claim and return to work assistance themselves.

Tip: Workcover claims are a no-fault scheme. This means that by you making a claim, you’re not ‘blaming’ the workplace incident on your employer, you’re simply saying you have been injured at work and you need time off work or to cover medical expenses. With workers compensation, medical expenses and wages for your time off work will be covered from their insurance, not their pocket, so the business’s bottom line will not be affected.

Seek Legal Advice

It’s recommended to seek independent legal advice when making a claim, as well as engaging with your employer and GP.

This gives you a clear understanding of your entitlements and whether you’re entitled to other rights as part of your compensation. Even if the claim has been accepted by WorkCover, seeking legal advice is strongly encouraged.

Complete a Claim Form

If you need time off work or medical treatment because of your workplace injury, you must complete a WorkCover Worker’s Claim Form.

If the injury or illness is permanent, you’ll need to fill out the Worker’s Claim for Impairment Benefits Form.

Claim forms should be completed by you and your employer together. Not only will this keep the lines of communication open, but it’ll give you both the opportunity to discuss support options to help you return to work as soon as possible.

To make a workplace claim for payment benefits, it must be within 12 months of the date your injury or illness occurred in Western Australia. However, it’s important to note that each state varies with its claim time.

Your claim form must also include:

  • As many details of the incident as possible, including when you first noticed and when it was recorded with your GP and/or employer.
  • All symptoms listed which are associated with the work-related injury or illness. Different industries may not cover certain things, so it’s a good idea to check your claims will be covered.
  • Ensure the claim form is signed and dated, with a copy kept for your records too.

Accepted Claims vs. Not Accepted Claims

Claims that have been accepted mean you will receive weekly compensation (income entitlements) for loss of wages and any medical expenses.

If your claim is disputed, no payments will be made. The insurer will advise you of the reason for the disapproved claim. If you feel your case you should be reassessed, you can approach the insurer or lodge an application here.

Tip: Whilst you’re waiting for your claim to be processed, discuss access to sick or annual leave with your employer. You may wish to apply to Centrelink for financial help too. However, they will need to confirm with your workplace the claim is still waiting to be accepted.

Understand all Obligations

You, your employer and your workplace’s insurer all have obligations when making a workplace claim.

Employers are obligated to allow you to visit a doctor, make a workcover claim and prepare a Return to Work program. Following your obligations to report the injury or illness, your employer has a duty of care to act as soon as possible, complete the register of injuries and assist you in making a claim. Once the form has been filled out, your workplace is required to forward it to their insurer within three working days.

You can find out more about you or your employer’s obligations here.

Returning to Work

Workcover claims are designed to get you back working as soon as possible, as well as protecting your place of work.

If it has been indicated on your report by your doctor that you have the capacity to return to work, it’s likely your previous position can still be held for you. To return back to work safely and quickly, you’ll need to consult with your employer and GP to implement a Return to Work Program.

Making a workcover claim doesn’t have to be stressful or challenging. With the right information and support, you can have compensation for your workplace injury or illness.

Author Bio:

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who recommends Perth City Legal – a specialised workers’ compensation law firm.

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4 Ways to Differentiate Your Small Business

Running a small business is challenging enough on its own. Not only that, but you have to compete on a highly crowded market, where most other companies largely resemble your own business. For online consumers, this creates a shopping mess, especially since it’s complicated to choose the right company to do business with. If neither company offers anything unique, the one with the most funds to invest in marketing will undoubtedly win. Fortunately, that’s not how the online market works.

Businesses, no matter how big or small, are able to outrun their competition by being different. If you offer something fresh and unique to consumers, you’ll guarantee their attention. That’s why it’s important for your business to differentiate from others on the market, in order to cut through the noise and capture potential customers’ interest.  Here are a few ways your small business can differentiate from others.

Approach your audience differently

It’s no secret that most modern businesses collect data about the market, as well as their audience, in order to craft their messages and marketing campaigns in a more efficient way. Developing compelling offers and promotions is a good way to get customers’ attention, as well as to encourage them to buy from you. However, a lot of companies share this approach. Instead of doing things the conventional way, try to think of a different approach that will make your small business stand out.

For instance, when researching your audience, try to determine their most common problems or issues they have difficulties with. Also, try to adjust your products, services or content to help solve those issues. That way, you can approach your audience with a solution instead of a personalized offer, which will definitely help you draw their attention. You can even adjust your small business to serve a specific niche of consumers, in order to position your company well on the market.

Become an industry’s professional

Creating exposure and improving visibility for your small business is crucial for standing out on the market. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the surest ways to achieve that. Not only will SEO help you become more visible, but it will also help you build credibility and trustworthiness online. That way, you can easily become an industry’s professional that your target audience will turn to.

SEO activities, such as guest posting and link building allows you to share relevant content on reputable sources, in order to build your own authority on the Internet. You can even consult with this a New York SEO company to help you devise the right strategy, if you have trouble managing on your own. That way, you can build more visibility and exposure for your small business, helping it differentiate from competitors on the market along the way.

Showcase your values

Online consumers these days aren’t just looking for the best offer from various businesses. They also look for companies whose values they can relate to, as well as connect to. If you truly want to differentiate your small business, you should strongly consider developing a brand. Brand is not just a company logo with a fancy design. As a matter of fact, a brand is your company’s core values, mission and culture combined with a uniqueness that will inspire engagement and loyalty in customers.

Not only that, but customers are known to form emotional relationships with brands that can meet their expectations and needs. Moreover, a branding strategy also helps you identify your unique selling proposition that will differentiate your business even from other brands on the market. That way, when customers are looking for something no other brand has to offer, they’ll turn to your small business. Over time, you’ll have a loyal consumer base that will be drawn to your company’s values, as well as its distinctiveness.

Deliver an exceptional experience

Attracting customers is simpler than actually serving them properly. Many businesses rely on the excellence of their offers, products and services. Whereas, they oftentimes neglect delivering a seamless customers experience, service and support. No matter how good your products or offers may be, you won’t be able to retain customers without proper service and support, or guarantee their satisfaction for that matter. In order to differentiate your small business, it’s important to focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience and not just focus on sales.

Customer’s experience, service and support help you stand out on the market. Customers whose needs have been properly met are more willing to return for repeat business, as well as promote your business further through referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations. More consumers will be more willing to choose your business over the others if you’re able to provide them with good service and support.

It’s no secret that small businesses have plenty of challenges to face on the market. This is especially true for companies that are new on the market and are about to face more developed business that have already established their presence online. That’s why it’s important to differentiate your business. That way, you can draw customer attention and interest, even if you’re behind your competitors on the market.

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The Ultimate Guide to Expanding Your Business to Japan

Has your business been looking to take its operations to one of the world’s most forward-thinking and robust economies in Asia? In this article, we’ll cover what it takes to expand your business presence to Japan, as well as offer an alternative method that can save you significant amounts of time and resources — something any business owner can appreciate.

Why Choose Japanese Markets for Your Business?

Japan has a reputation for being difficult for foreign investors to approach, with its unique formalities and attention-to-detail. These traits have made the tiny island nation of Japan a world economic power. However, with this fastidiousness comes great power — after all, when one conjures up images of Japan, the country’s temples, incredible food, high-speed trains, a well-educated and hardworking populace, and the nation’s mindset of futurism come to mind.

Considering Japan boasts the world’s 5th-largest economy (according to the World Bank) and has a per-capita income of $44k per citizen, businesses choose Japan as a place to engage its citizens and rub elbows with Japan’s many robust industries, including automobiles, biotech, retail, and ecology.

Getting into this excellent economy, however, is not easy. For a complete list of steps and regulations that you’ll need to adhere to, you can read more in Japan’s External Trade Organization’s online guide to setting up a business as a foreign national. This is further complicated by the fact that many of Japan’s top companies recruit high-performing employees and talent, leaving foreign entities to have to interface with those who purposely tailor their services towards foreign commerce. Lastly, setting up a physical presence in Japan is difficult due to it being a relatively small island with concentrated financial hubs in Tokyo and Kyoto.

So, if you’re looking to expand your business to Japan, you’ll have significant barriers to deal with before even testing out the market to see whether your business will gain traction in Japanese markets. By now you’re probably wondering: Is there another way? Yes, with virtual phone numbers!

An Easier Way to Expand to Japan: Virtual Phone Numbers

Virtual phone numbers are a simple concept with nearly unlimited potential for business expansion.

First, it’s crucial to understand how virtual phone numbers work. When a virtual phone number is dialed, that call is instantly routed to another phone number (known as the destination phone number). Thanks to cloud computing, the destination phone number can be located anywhere in the world. That means that if you purchase a Japanese virtual phone number, you can have those calls routed to your already-established customer service reps and salesforce in your headquarters or branch offices.

There a number of advantages that come with virtual phone numbers that work especially well with Japanese markets. First, virtual phone numbers are indistinguishable from local numbers — something that Japanese customers appreciate when they seek to retain their unique culture and way of doing business.

Secondly, virtual phone numbers are cost-effective. As we’ve discussed, it can take significant resources and time to establish a physical business presence in Japan. By using a virtual phone number service provider, like Global Call Forwarding, your business can significantly reduce the amount needed to establish a business in Japan; instead, you can tap into the Japanese markets by leveraging a virtual presence in Japan. This is important for small businesses and startups, where resources may be limited and capital may be better leveraged for other uses.

Third, virtual phone numbers come in many different varieties that your organization can adapt to its needs. For example, using ITFS numbers (International Toll Free Service numbers) — which are toll free numbers that work internationally — you can reach Japanese customers and clients that aren’t charged for calling your business. On the same note, not all Japanese citizens may be able to call internationally due to restrictions by their service provider or just by personal preference. For those customers, Japan toll free phone numbers bridge the gap and ensure obstacle-free access to your business.

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Start A Business With Less Than $10,000 – Three Brilliant Ideas!

The idea of owning a flourishing business excites every budding entrepreneur; however, the lack of money and experience often becomes a roadblock for success. Despite the risk of failure, some passionate people do not give up on their dreams and start saving for the day when they can become masters of their financial destiny. It is true that starting a venture requires massive capital, years of hard work and an enormous undertaking, but people with tons of zeal and great determination have accomplished the impossible with limited means. Without exaggeration, a budget of $10,000 is enough to help you make a mark in the industry.

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Best Financial Planning Tips To Avoid Debt

There are many ways that can help you to avoid falling into debt. There are many ways and tips that you can apply to stay away from a debt and there are other ways that involve guidance from an external source regarding a debt. A financial advisor or expert can be an example of an external source. We will discuss both so that every individual can benefit from this article.

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5 Tips for Financing Your Start Up Idea

Finding the funds to set up your own business is a challenge in just about any economic climate. Everyone knows that there is a lot of work involved in starting a new business but the financial aspect is perhaps the most challenging for many. While some entrepreneurs are fortunate enough to have loads of money saved up to launch their own business but perhaps don’t have a viable business idea, others are faced with the opposite idea. Many potential business owners have a fantastic business idea, but lack the capital to finance it.

Unfortunately, no matter how groundbreaking or unique your business idea is, it’s unlikely to take off without the proper funding behind it. You will more than likely need a website, office space, tech team, not to mention the various other costs involved in running a business, and this is just the beginning. This, of course, means that you need money.

Whether it’s a cool new app, an import and export business or a posh new restaurant, almost all businesses and entrepreneurs require a bit of funding to get their business off the ground. The good news is that there are plenty of funding tips out there that entrepreneurs can use to finance their business dreams.

Here are a few tips for turning your dream business into a reality.

 

  1. A detailed business plan is key

Having a sound business plan is crucial to the survival and development of any business. Without a business plan you have no real direction of where your business is headed and investors won’t see any value in investing in your business. Some of the most important aspects to cover in your business plan is research into your market, identification of competitors, your target audience, the opportunity your start-up offers to investors, a thorough financial breakdown including how you plan on turning a profit, and how you plan to implement everything.

Your business plan should be thorough, properly researched, have clear objectives, processes and overall goals. If you want to secure funds from investors, you must be able to present them with a detailed business plan. If you want some tips on writing a business plan that banks can’t resist, then check out this article.

 

  1. Get advice from experienced investors

Who better to get advice from than those that have already gone through the process right? Not only can they give you insight into how they went about obtaining funds to start their own business, but they will also be able to direct you to the lending firms in which you can obtain business loans at the lowest interest rates.

If you have family, friends or associates that are known for their business minds and have experience investing in other businesses, then these should be the people that you approach first. Pitch your ideas to them, present them with your business plan, and then listen to their feedback. They will probably have some invaluable advice for you. Also, you never know, they could end up investing in your business.

 

  1. Maintain a good credit score

Essentially, your credit score could make or break your business. If you have a great business idea but poor credit history, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to obtain any sort of bank loan. Borrowers with a poor credit score are seen as being at a higher risk of defaulting on a loan – which is why banks are hesitant to lend to those with a bad credit score. It is still possible to get bad credit loans however, so all is not lost.

We’re not saying that it’s impossible to succeed in your business if you have a bad credit score, there are certainly other ways to obtain funding. But a good credit score will certainly make things easier. If you have a bad credit score, it’s important that you repair it before approaching financial institutions for loans. Here are a few ways to steadily maintain your business credit score overtime:

  • Establish business credit history: The more vendors report a good payment history, the better your business credit will be. Thus it’s very important that you maintain a good working relationship with vendors.
  • Keep up to date with taxes: File your business taxes in a timely manner to ensure compliance.
  • Maintain a good personal credit rating: Even if your business is a separate entity, your personal credit score will still have an impact on various types of business financing.

A credit card is a great way to increase your credit score. Applying for credit cards, making everyday purchases with them and then paying them off immediately, is a very effective way to improve your score.

 

  1. Networking

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before but the value in networking cannot be overstated. This is the best way to find investors. You want to build relationships naturally with key people in your industry and local community, rather than having to cold call. Chat with other business leaders, go to local events, and make yourself known in your industry. You could even offer to help other entrepreneurs and established business owners – they may return the favour by introducing you to reliable angel investors or they might direct you to a venture capital firm that helped to launch their start up.

When you’ve done a good amount of face to face networking, you can put these networking skills to good use online. Look into crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.com which can be a fun and effective way to raise money for a relatively low cost project. You set a goal for how much money you would like to raise over a period of time, i.e. $1000 over 30 days. Your friends, family, associates (hopefully people you’ve met through networking), and strangers then use the site to pledge money.

 

  1. Make a budget and shop for financing

The budget is the financial aspect of your business plan and it’s essential to gaining investors. Each and every investor that you approach will undoubtedly want to see a detailed financial breakdown, outlining how exactly you plan to make a profit. Here are some important things to consider in your financial plan:

  • Estimate your costs: Have a plan in case to cover your expenses for in the first month. Don’t underestimate your costs. The main reason why most businesses fail is that they simply run out of cash
  • Understand what types of costs you’ll have: one-time vs ongoing costs, essential vs optional costs, and fixed vs variable costs
  • Project your cash flow: Cash flow is vital. You need to know exactly how much money is going out and expected to be coming in.

Once your budget is in place you can start approaching financial institutions. With a thorough financial plan in place, investors are far more likely to buy into your business idea.

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