Posts Tagged ‘NY’

Bank Shopping for a Small Business

Where and how a small business owner chooses to manage their money can play an important part in the overall success of the company.

So often, entrepreneurs disregard the importance of shopping around for the right bank for the business and end up paying for it in the long run.

Understanding what services your business requires is part of Small Business Banking 101.

Common small business banking needs often include:

• Basic Services – including credit cards, savings and check accounts

• Lending Services – lines of credit, equipment and term loans

• Cash Management – wire transfers, merchant services, lockbox

• Others – payroll, superannuation, insurance, import/export, etc.

If your bank cannot offer all of the services you need, shop around. These are the bare bones of necessity and trying to operate without one or the other will be a painful process.

Talk about fees. Request a list of fee incurring services and make sure your accounting team are aware of them all. These add up!

Ask about fee bundling and compare amongst banks. Recognize your bargaining power as a new client to the bank and negotiate.

“Your business is valuable and should be viewed as such.”

Involve us in the process. Not only do we understand the things that are important to banks, we probably have good relationships with a number of your bank’s competitors!

View banking relationships as marriages – you are (with the best intentions) in this for the long haul and you want to air the dirty laundry before you make a commitment.

Go with a banker who understands your industry and has the foresight and experience to make predictions and stay ahead of the game.

Experience also leads to better crisis management and informed decision-making in heated situations.

Do the research and reach out to other bank clients if possible. Enquiring as to their sentiments regarding the handling of their accounts can shed some truthful light on an otherwise sales-pitchy-pitch by the bank.

Don’t be scared to let them know you are shopping around. Your business is valuable and should be viewed as such.

A big consideration is whether to go regional or national. There are pluses and minuses to each, weigh the benefits to your business, specifically.

Changing banks is an unwanted hassle so take time and don’t rush the process.

Leadership Styles – How to Make the Most of Them

Being an effective operations manager does not always translate into being a great leader, a common misconception in small business management.

Leadership is about creating and communicating a vision, inspiring others, teaching others and promoting a positive business model.

Operational details are one thing; human nature is a whole different ball game. A great boss inherently represents both sides of this dynamic.

Many experts agree that there are five distinct leadership styles:

• Democratic • Paternalistic • Authoritarian • Laissez-faire • Transactional

Democratic leaders promote the decision-making process as a team effort. The leader may always have the final say but group participation feeds the machine.

This form of leadership really prospers in creative and think-tank formats.

Paternalistic leadership is based on a familial style of hierarchy.  Thinking outside of the box takes a backseat here, promoting a deep dedication to the ‘father figure’ leader. Commitment and loyalty are rewarded with the comfort of job security.

“Leadership is about sharing a vision and inspiring others.”

Authoritarian leaders exploit their significance over that of the employee. Trust and creativity do not flourish in this environment however decisions are made quickly and effectively.

Consider incorporating this form of leadership in deadline stages or when pushing for proficient task completion.

Laissez-faire is all about delegation. The leader here simply allocates the resources and instruction necessary. This style leaves productivity up to the workers – when your team is highly motivated and capable, this form of leadership is prosperous.

Transactional leadership is based on reward and punishment. The relationship is one of give and take between leader and employer. Militaristic in nature, beware of killing creativity by encouraging employees to play it safe.

There is no way to determine which leadership style will work for you – the best solution is likely a mix of styles, applicable at different stages of business development. But that is not to say you should be a Jekyll and Hyde!

Recognizing an Opportunity

The saying “timing is everything” could not be more apt than when it comes to small business management.

Timing and opportunity are often what segregate successful businesses from those that flounder. A true entrepreneurial spirit is rooted in this belief.

“Stay active in the industry and up-to-date with the technology.”

Opportunity does not come dressed in a pretty package with a ribbon on top. It is often disguised as a challenge or even a plain ordinary instance.

Start by becoming a true opportunistic enterpriser:

• Always be on the lookout for demand. What do the people want and how can you give it to them in the quickest way possible?

• Tell the market what it needs and make sure the message is as widespread as possible.

• Listen up and keep your eyes open – you never know when these sneakily disguised opportunities will present themselves.

• Stay innovative, be creative and remain flexible.

• Take risks and trust your abilities.

• Value persistence, quitters never prosper!

Remaining active in the industry is also a great way to hone the skill for recognition. Surrounding yourself with other innovative and opportunistic minds fuels the fire and provides a sounding board.

Attend conferences, webinars, workshops and training sessions whenever possible. Continuing to learn and grow is part of the process.

Stay current with developments so you are never blind-sided by the industry’s growth.

View challenges and problems through a new lens. The likelihood that others are struggling with similar problems means that there may be an opportunity on the horizon!

Diversify your experiences in both professional and personal realms. This will provide you with the tools to identify patterns and parallels between seemingly unrelated industries.

Beware of the classic bad opportunity apples:

• Opportunities that seem too good to be true.

• Opportunities that others have routinely struggled with.

• Opportunities that disregard the basics.

Always consider the four qualities when assessing opportunities: attractiveness, timeliness, durability and value.

Testimonials and Referrals – The Value of a Positive Endorsement

Recommendations and positive feedback from trusted sources are some of the most powerful tools when it comes to growing a successful business.

Would you buy a new car without doing the research and reading the customer reviews? Probably not. Chances are, your clients follow the same principles.

Referrals and testimonials can also be looked at as hot leads. The groundwork has been laid and a positive reputation has been established. Now it is up to you to follow through and live up to the hype.

Clients, vendors and business associates can all provide these valuable assets. When a transaction goes particularly well, cash in on it by requesting a testimonial for marketing purposes.

Encouraging referrals should be an ongoing practice. Incorporate these strategies into your business plan and ensure that team members at all levels are engaging in the practice as well, in order to provide a well-rounded portfolio of feedback.

Make the referral process as easy as possible, simultaneously demonstrating that you value your clients’ time.

“Research and feedback are key factors in the buying process.”

Provide clients and vendors with the tools to refer you without even thinking about it. Setting up displays of brochures or passing out additional business cards helps make the process seamless.

Reciprocation is necessary in fostering long term and fruitful referrals. Avoid a ‘trade deficit’ which can dry up the well of opportunity fast.

A simple thanks will always go a long way.  When you receive a new client based on a referral make sure you show your appreciation.

Endorsements can come in several different forms these days. Consider what works best with your business’s goals. Video endorsements are a great way to create more interactive feedback opportunities but be careful not to come across too scripted.

When writing up feedback or testimonials, consider employing a copywriter to assist- their expertise can help translate the right message in print.

The moral here is that people want to do business with other people and business that they know and trust. That trust is transferable. It must be treated as a valuable commodity and addressed with as much consideration as any other aspect of a sound business plan.

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