The Worst Cashflow Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

The worst cash flow mistakes a small business owner can make can be counted on one hand. They have one thing in common, and that’s about failing to follow the money. They’re about keeping your eye on the prize, and we go through them here, ending with advice about how to track your own company money using expense management software for small businesses…

Failing to think before you splurge. Great! You’ve started a business. You’re on the road to fame and fortune, and now’s the time to invest in an expensive suit and a new car, isn’t it? No, in short, it isn’t. This is exactly the time NOT to commit money – yours of the company’s – to anything you don’t need. So there’s the first lesson. Understand the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. To succeed in business you need a phone, but the Armani suit can wait…

Expecting the best. This is about your financial planning. Understand that you’re not going to be a millionaire in the first year. On the contrary, you’ll be doing well if you can afford to pay yourself anything like a salary in Year One. If you overestimate the number of units you can sell, or the clients you can get to come on board, then revenue will be lower than you predict, and you may find yourself overstretched with any finance package you’ve put in place.

Offering credit. Poor paying suppliers can cripple small businesses. If you’re made to wait for payment, that’s like offering them an interest-free loan, and you shouldn’t do it. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for payment up front, so long as you’re ready to honour your commitment. After all, you wouldn’t expect the local supermarket to give you a month or more’s credit on your grocery shop (though if you’re a supplier to them, the boot would be on the other foot). In general, large organisations are slower payers, and also have complex internal procedures in place about how and when payments can be made. Better to work with smaller companies, where you have direct access to the person with the power to pay.

Being cash poor. If you’ve made careful and conservative cash flow forecasts in the early days of your business, everything’s fine, so long as cash moves as you’d predicted. But what happens if it doesn’t? If you have no cash cushion you could be in trouble. Try to have a couple of months-worth of cash in the bank so you could carry on if you had no income at all. It’ll help you sleep easier, too.

Not making an unpaid finance assistant work for them. Bet that caught your attention didn’t it? This is not about the kind of modern slavery that has people working for nothing, but it’s about technology. It’s about arming yourself with good quality business expense management software for small businesses and being disciplined in its use. In the early days of your business you need to be especially careful with money, because having little of it generally sharpens the focus in the need to be a good money manager. In later years, when you’ve earned a wedge, there’s no reason to take your foot off the control pedal. Keep a tight rein on finance, and you’ll be rewarded with better dividends in the future. Selection of the right small business expense management software will enable you to keep track of expenses very easily, but more importantly, it will allow you to interrogate the data, and show you how effectively you’re managing spending and cashflow – and show where improvements can be made. And picking the right package means it’ll offer excellent value for money, because the savings you make by using it are probably going to be more than the cost of investing in it in the first place.

What to Read and When

Either you need information or you desire entertainment. In either case, a young person’s time fills with activity. Yet, young people stumble and fumble through their early lives because they have not experienced the pitfalls and rabbit path trails of work, love, finances, and real estate. Young people should read voraciously to get an edge on what comes next in their lives. An older person might have more time in the day, but less time in life. Older people possess the wisdom to be selective in their reading. Rather than seeking an edge of knowledge, an older person might juice more sweetness from life by identifying with a fictional character who came out on top by living a moral life in spite of torment and misfortune.

Consider this: regardless of your age, the media bombards you with plenty of information on daily news that will enable you to converse socially. Are you an online social media aficionado? You know that it only takes a few glances and a tiny bit of reading to keep up with current events with your friends. In your profession, yes, you should read to advance your knowledge, but realize that by only reading yesterday’s technical guidance, you neither prepare well for today’s technical problem, nor do you advance technically for tomorrow. Besides that, the technical go-to-person in a company receives visits from people who have technical problems. Unless that person interacts socially with the managers and employees, he or she will not be remembered for promotion. However, the technically astute person who brings fun, happiness, charisma, and stands like a moral rock, might slice through company politics like a hot knife through butter, to advance beyond his or her peers. Read fiction to learn how to be that person.

Why read a made up story? Most fiction writers create interesting stories based on what they know – things that have happened to them. The singer, Prince, famously said, “Before I dreamed it, I lived it.” He meant that he had a better story to tell through song because he sang about things that happened to him. You learn his story, appreciate his experience, and possibly get an edge for yourself while he entertains you with his song. You can get that by reading fictional stories too. Don’t limit yourself to stories that closely align with your life. It will do you little good to read what you have experienced. Instead, if a writer piques your interest in the first five pages of any genre: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, drama, history, or comedy, acquire and read that novel. Especially, if you feel a hook in your mouth that pulls you into wanting to read the rest of the story, do it. Don’t walk away with regret.

The time and setting do not matter. A 200-years-ago story on the planet Mars can be relevant to you today, as well as entertaining while you read it. You will perk up when you read about a character who faces a nasty experience similar to one that happened to you at work or at home, yet, he or she determined the effect wanted amid chaos, planned, then acted on a plan that switched them from victim to world-shaper. That information may be far more useful to you than today’s news story or your friend’s latest Facebook photo. Like Prince, you might live it, then dream it. Find a lifetime of free fiction novels online, but understand that inexperienced authors break into the writing business by giving their work away. Don’t deny yourself the better read by being stingy with vending machine snack money. #TAG1writer

Artificial Intelligence Is a Must, Not a Need

WHAT DOES ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MEAN?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the vicinity of science and engineering focusing on developing the machines as intelligent as the humans. They are created to be fitted into place on behaviors that human regard as intelligent i.e. simulation of human behaviors which they consider as intelligent via the use of machines.

It is all concerned with developing the intelligent computer programs. The main objective behind the adoption of AI is to enable a machine to discover, analyze and crack the problems in parallel.

It is not essential that the computer programs developed are as intelligent as humans in all aspects. But in some aspects, the machine fitted with artificial intelligence can be even more intelligent than humans.

The future of artificial intelligence will change everything in our lives.

WHY DO WE NEED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

The integration of artificial intelligence into the computer programs, assists to create more efficient and effective systems. The opportunity in the form of AI is challenging and efficient at the same time.

The glaring pitfall to be kept in mind while talking about the efficiencies and the opportunities offered by this hi-tech world is that the amount of data being generated on a daily basis is rapidly increasing and it is becoming impossible to mine and analyze the data fully. The amount of data generation has made it impossible for the humans to deal with i.e. it has exceeded the capabilities of humans that they can extract the valuable information out of it.

The skilled professionals in the field of data science with the expertise and their skill sets try to create correlations between various inputs in order to draw out a specific output. But with the sheer volume of data, it has become relatively impossible to correlate every possible input.

This is where Artificial Intelligence can help. Incorporating AI into the systems lets you purify the raw facts into useful and palatable information.

The driver seat in the field of artificial intelligence is handled by the fresh and innovative codes generally referred to as algorithms.

Let us consider an example to understand how the AI works:

Facebook is a very popular social media platform. Facebook deciphers the user’s likes, the activities etc. and then determine what all content is to be placed on his/her news feed. The longer the time you remain active on Facebook, the more and more data is being generated and stored in the warehouse.

The systems incorporated with AI uses the deep learning to get the incessant feedbacks on its algorithms as the users interact. This way the algorithms generally referred to as coding assist the Facebook to analyze the interactions of the users to determine the content to be mentioned on the news feed.

Not only Facebook, even Twitter uses the concept of AI to position the tweets based on the users’ relevance and interests and also suggest them the tweets as per their interests.

Signs of Poor Taxi Service

find it easier to travel on a daily basis now. The lines between traditional taxi services and ride sharing services have blurred. This assimilation has increased expectation for ride sharing services to operate more like a professional cab service.

For a smooth and non-stressful ride, it is recommended to watch out for these red flags before a service is hired.

Unusually high fares
Cut throat competition has forced transport sector to drive innovation and continue reducing fares. This has been true for taxi services too. Unless there is a shortage of drivers due to high demand or premium services being offered, there is no incentive to pay extra.

Questionable maintenance
Good taxi services walk the extra mile. They often partner up with local bodies to have their cars certifiably inspected for faults. This translates into a safe and relaxed environment for its customers and repeats business. Any taxi service failing to ensure such maintenance regularly will naturally lose credibility.

Resistance towards technology adoption
Without a shred of doubt, technology has become one of the most integral parts of our lives. Without it, our complex ecosystem will collapse. A good taxi service tries to stay ahead of the curve and employs latest technologies. While this does increase their cost in the short term, it brings more revenue in the longer term. As a rule of thumb a good taxi company will employ at a bare minimum: –

– GPS tracking

– online bookings

– dedicated platform for drivers and customers

– email confirmation

Inflexible payment solutions
In an ever digitalizing economy, less people are carrying cash with them for daily settlements. While a bad taxi service turns blind eye to this, good taxi services see opportunity to retain and expand existing customer base. As such, they offer customers the convenience of paying via not only credit cards but cash and even wallet systems.

Non-existent or poor customer service
A substandard taxi company does not feel obligated to ensure customer satisfaction. Instead, it operates on a basic, no-frills business model. An important pillar of customer satisfaction is during service or after sale service. This is done to ensure that customers have an option to provide feedback or complaint about the service. The underlying idea is to empower users to speak directly to a company representative; to share positive feedback or raise concern.

A taxi service operating without customer service could potentially turn out to be the single biggest red flag. It goes on to display the concerned company has for its users.

Unprofessional drivers
Demonstrating professionalism for a driver is myriad of, rather subjective, intangibles. Being a professional driver is not simply about driving fluidly but also ensuring customer accompanied does not feel uncomfortable in any way. A good taxi company should, therefore, have a system of metrics in place to rate the performance of its drivers.

The list is not exhaustive in any form. Indeed, many of the indicators might be trivial to one person but a deal breaker for other. At the end of the day, the service that focuses its energies on customer convenience and facilitation is likely to triumph over others. If you need the best taxi service then make sure that they don’t have bad signs.

Home Sweet Home!

He loves to be at home, almost deliriously. Home… sweet home! Some place where you follow the same delicious routine- everyday, day after day. His mother and sisters hovering around him, giving him mouth-watering meals at the appropriate hours-so religiously maintained! Precious moments at every step of the homely existence, sometimes with his father butting in at the most inappropriate ones! And then… the compulsory evening hours before the television set with family, and a lot of nonsense yet fun. This is heaven, he justifies. Nothing can possibly ever make him think of leaving it!

Of course, he reasons, he is no longer a burden on his father’s measly monthly income. Now, he too has a job-a fairly good job considering the fact that he can carry it on royally residing at home. What’s more-he is contributing to the monthly budget in good measure and as a result of that he is getting even more attention from his mother and more pampering from his beloved sisters, he’s almost sure about that! Yes, he had got several other job offers outside his city, but rejected all in an immaculate cost-benefit analysis that he often indulged in. He will get more salary no doubt, but most of that will go to renting flats, cooking for his own sake, transport costs for homecoming and going and other related costs. Therefore, he is ready to give up that extra income in favour of staying at his heaven.

Sometimes he gets bored too, as is natural. The delicious routine becomes a drag if he decides to think of his apparently purposeless existence. But then he reasons even more vehemently. Why-there is lot of purpose in his life, helping his ageing father, giving solid support to his mother, finding ways and means of marrying off his sisters and so on. Besides, home sweet home always has its never-ending store of pleasures. He can lounge out in the portico sofa by the window with a book or have noisy games of cards, ludo, carom, checkers and the lot with family or can join the guests who come almost every day for gossip or can go for a movie.

His heavenly existence was continuing in full bloom till one fateful day. In fact, for many others it would have been a momentous day of great joy and promise. However, for him it was a D-day. He had to take the decision of his life-a choice between his heaven and a future that he did not put much weight on.

He got an unexpected promotion and transfer to a big city. Maybe thanks to his heavenly roots he had been very good in his office job, and just when the employers wanted to reward him for his efforts all hell broke loose for him. He shared this news with his mother and sisters in a very casual manner, not telling about the exact pay package, but only mentioning the additional unnecessary costs. However, one of his sisters got elated at the prospect of traveling to the megacity and staying in her brother’s home. He looked askance at her.

He is more careful breaking the news to his father. He tries to convince him that this promotion does in no way mean a quick climb-up in the hierarchy; rather he’d wait a little longer and get the promotion at his hometown. Or he’d approach some influential person for a settlement where his dad could also help. And the unnecessary expenses that will come inevitably, his cost-benefit analysis in full flow. He is almost sure that his dad is convinced. Any doting father would want his only son near and around only. However, his father’s next action was not at all expected. His father just walked out of home.

It was only half an hour later, but the suspense made it seem much longer. His father comes in with huge packets on his hands. His father calls upon his mother and places all the packets on the dining table. One by one he opens-sweets, cakes, salty delights and all. He just ushers in a big celebration. His heavenly son just looks on.

“Congratulations, my boy! I was really worried about you and your ways. But you proved to be damn good in work, and the way your company is rewarding you is just terrific. Okay… you’ve gorged on home food and comforts for quite long. Enough of your logic and arguments! Now you get a start on your own. And don’t bother about me. Next time I’m coming to have comforts in your home!”

He tries to look pleadingly at his mother. But she is busy, and merrily setting the table. He must celebrate now.

Chinmay Chakravarty is a professional specialized in the creative field with over two decades of experience in journalistic writing, media co-ordination, film script writing, film dubbing, film & video making, management of international film festivals and editing of books & journals. Proficient in providing professional services in these related fields. Presently working in DD News, India.