How To Manage A Catering Business Real Life Skills For Success

You have a dream of starting and managing your own catering company. You have the drive and a flair for cooking delicious food that is to die for! Now you are doing research about how to run a catering business and you are thinking about if you really have what it takes to manage your own catering business.

As a small business owner, you will have more responsibility and work longer hours than you did as an employee. It’s almost impossible to truly separate your personal life from you business life. Running a small business is a lot of hard work and far more than just a full time job — it’s a lifestyle.

One part of your job will be getting clients and then the second aspect is preparing for and managing the catering job itself. Once the job is booked, there are a lot of details and organizational skills required in order to complete any catered event.

First you will need to get the event basics from your client: What type of event is it? How many people are expected? How formal or casual is the meal? Does the client have a theme in mind and know exactly what type of food they would like to have served? If not, you will be expected provide appropriate menu suggestions based on the event and the client’s budget.

For larger or more formal events, clients usually request a “tasting” to sample the items from the proposed menu. The client is expecting to not only sample the food, but to see the caterer’s presentation skills.

If you and your client are in agreement about the menu, this will be a wonderful experience for both of you. However, some times the food or menu does not match the client’s expectations or perhaps the client has simply changed their mind. Either way, having a few alternative suggestions is always a great idea, plus your client will feel secure in both your abilities as a caterer and the success of her event.

The number of people attending and the formality of an event will help you determine the amount of catering staff will be required for the event. Many catering companies use freelance staff, so it is a good idea to have a list of recommended people you are comfortable working with that you also know are professional and reliable.

For many people, when they think about how to run a catering business, they focus on the food preparation and cooking responsibilities. In fact, many people start catering businesses simply because they love to cook and do not mind doing all the cooking themselves.

As your business grows and you book larger events or multiple events in a short period of time, it is definitely much better to hire additional cooks and also servers who you have trained to make sure the level of serve offered meets your standards.

In addition to meeting with clients, food preparation and staffing, there are a few other details ever caterer must take into consideration. For example, how will you transport the food and equipment to event? Is you current vehicle large enough to handle the job or will you need to consider alternatives?

Prior to the event, you will need to order the ingredients, cooking and serving utensils. The amount of time required to shop for and prepare the food needs to be taken into consideration and you will need to create a schedule to properly manage all of these details. Most caterers are also responsible for at least minimal cleaning after an event, so keep this in mind when deciding upon your staffing requirements.

Now you have a better idea about how to run a catering business. Running a catering business is not difficult, but it does excellent organizational skills and a realistic time line for each event. Creating and managing your own catering business will give you amply opportunity to be both creative and a strong entrepreneurial manager.

20 Business-Building Practices

Business BuildingYou have nurtured your idea, created a business plan, and secured financing. Now for the make-it or break-it question: How do you continue to grow your business year-after-year?

Building a better “mousetrap” doesn’t guarantee that the world will beat a path to your door. And, contrary to the inspiring message in the movie, “Field of Dreams,” there are no assurances that, “If you build it, they will come.” Increasing demand for your products/services and growing your business is realized by the creation and implementation of well-defined strategies.

Two major factors of marketing are the recruitment of new customers (acquisition) and the retention and expansion of relationships with existing customers (customer relationship management). Once you have converted the prospective buyer, customer relationship management (CRM) takes over. The process for CRM shifts from that of being the marketer, to that of being a builder of relationships. Building customer relationships involves nurturing the links between you and your customer, enhancing the benefits that sold your customer in the first place, and continuously improving the product/service in order to protect your business from competitive advancements.

The marketplace is ever changing; therefore, a marketing strategy that works today does not necessarily mean that the same strategy will work in the future. These changing environments necessitate the need to continually analyze and measure the results of each and every one of your promotional efforts. A system that tracks and monitors incoming sales inquiries, by the lead source, is imperative.

The basis of your business development strategy is the recognition of the concept that marketing is a process and not an event. Building a business is, in fact, building a brand. Building your brand is a process that consistently broadcasts your message through a number of different channels to a targeted audience. The trap in event marketing is that it creates the effect of start and stop marketing and produces gaps in the frequency of your promotional efforts.

The need for a written marketing plan is critical. The American Marketing Association (AMA) states, “Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives”. Your marketing plan is your road map that guides you through the marketing process.

There is a variety of ways to generate greater demand for your business. Whether you are starting a new business or jumpstarting an existing one, you need to identify at what stage of the business life-cycle your company is currently in. This information will impact your choice of strategies.

Here are twenty (20) effective business-building practices:

Review your unique selling proposition: The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is your biggest marketing weapon and the key to differentiating your business. What is a USP? In essence, it is a simple statement that sums up the unique features, benefits and value that you provide, that no one else can. You arrive at your USP after you identify the features, benefits, and advantages of your company’s products/services. After you apply the same process to each of your competitors’ products/services, then compare and isolate the elements that distinguish you from your competition.
Establish a marketing communication budget:: Determining and allocating a specific amount of money to fund your marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Whether you use the affordability method, percentage-of-sales method, competitive-parity method, or objective-and-task method to determine the amount of your marketing budget, you must pre-establish an amount of money that you will spend on marketing activities to achieve your sales/revenue projections.
Incorporate integrated marketing communications: A management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing must work together as a unified force. In practice, the goal of IMC is to create and sustain a single look and message in all elements of your marketing campaign.
Utilize indirect marketing: Needless to say, putting more “boots-on-the-ground” in your sales and marketing activities can pay huge dividends. Some of the more popular indirect marketing methods are networking, strategic alliances, independent sales representatives, affiliate marketers, and dealers/distributors.
Ask for referrals: You know the importance of referrals. But, if you do not continually ask for referrals, you will not generate them. It makes good business sense to always ask for referrals. Just ask your customer if they may know of other companies that could utilize your products/ services. You may be pleasantly surprised by their reply.
Explore different markets: If your products/services are presently being sold to one or two different markets, then it is time to explore the opportunities that may be available to you in other markets. A little brainstorming with your staff about this often produces a good “hit list”. As they say, “think outside the box”.
Consider additional channels of distribution: There are a number channels of distribution that may work for you. For example, selling direct, such as via mail order, Internet and telephone sales. Companies also use sales agents who sell on their behalf and/or
distributors (also called wholesalers) who sell their products to retailers. And finally, there may be possibilities of selling direct to retailers and end users.
Expand your geographic reach: Additional channels of distribution are often needed for you to expand geographically. You may want to consider the possibility of franchising or licensing others to promote and sell your products?
Increase product/service offerings: This is a very common method to increase sales/revenues. Important considerations when evaluating a new product/service offering are: Can the new product/service be sold to your existing customer base? Does the new product/service complement your existing products/services?
Differentiate your business: Differentiating your business means that you define your company in relationship to the competition and that you communicate to your customers the value added benefits of doing business with you, versus doing business with your competition. Differentiating your business also means that you continuously make improvements to sustain a leadership position.
Identify your customers’ competitors: A great source for new prospective customers is your customers’ competition. In most cases, these competing companies have the same or similar needs as that of your existing customers.
Survey your customers: In order to effectively differentiate your business, you need to look at your business from your customers/prospects’ perspectives. A customer survey is a great avenue for your customers to express their opinions, to air their complaints, and to voice their satisfaction with your business. The information collected from a customer survey provides the foundation for your marketing strategy.
Profile your competitors: A competitive analysis lists your leading competitors. It summarizes their products and services, promotional strategies, distribution methods, strengths and weaknesses, locations, offerings, prices, and branding. A competitive analysis also outlines strategies for gaining an edge and defines a course of action to take in order to keep competitors out of your market. The analysis helps you expose the competitor’s weaknesses and areas of vulnerability. With this information, you are better equipped to craft competitive and marketing strategies that you may choose to fine tune your brand and your messaging.
Acquire new customers: This is a given…your business cannot sustain itself without the addition of new customers. New customer acquisition is a process that combines market data with direct marketing tools to identify and reach high-potential prospects and convert those prospects into customers.
Mining your existing customers: It is far less expensive to generate additional business from your existing customer base than it is to generate new business from new customers. A regular review of your customers’ buying history and frequency of purchases can reveal some interesting facts about your customers’ buying habits.
Create customer loyalty programs: As the marketplace continues to be more competitive, more and more businesses are offering loyalty programs. These programs help to transform first-time customers into repeat customers by rewarding them with incentives, coupons, certificates or discounts.
Up-sell: Capitalize on the untapped value of your existing customers by promoting related or more expensive products/services. As an example, your customer who regularly buys golf balls is a strong candidate to purchase golf clubs, apparel and other golf accessories. Make a routine practice of recommending additional items that can be added to your customer’s order.
Merge or acquire a competitor: The benefit of combining your company with another company creates an immediate sales growth opportunity simply from the acquisition of their existing customer base. And everything else being equal, the new “combination business” should have the potential to become even more profitable than the two businesses operating independently. This potential for increased profitability comes as a direct result of both sales increases and operational efficiencies (opportunities to reduce total costs) that accrue from combining the two businesses.
Use SWOT analysis: SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is an assessment technique that paints an accurate picture of how your business stacks up based on those four factors. SWOT can identify your venture’s pros and cons, so that you can align internal strengths and weaknesses with external opportunities and threats. This exercise is essential to sound strategic planning. With SWOT, you can identify and prioritize the issues that will accelerate success.
Revisit lost customers: According to the research in the book, Customer Winback How to Recapture Lost Customers and Keep Them Loyal, written by Jill Griffin and Michael Lowenstein, a firm has a 60% to 70% chance of successfully repeat-selling to an active customer. A 20% to 40% chance of successfully repeat-selling to a lost customer and only a 5% to 20% chance of successfully closing the sale on a brand new customer. These statistics suggest that a key opportunity exists for businesses to increase or maintain a customer base by mining and evaluating their database of defected customers. Bernd Stauss and Christian Friege make this argument even more convincing in a case study entitled, Regaining Service Customers. Their findings show that the net return on investment from a new customer obtained from an external list is 23% compared with a 214% return on investment from the reinstatement of a customer who has defected.
Bonus Item. Dead prospect files: Dig out your old prospect files and make a “hit list” comprised of all of the old prospects that you think may still have life. Contact each one of them. Express your wish to discuss their present-day wants and needs, as well as, the opportunity to explore the possibility of you servicing their needs.

Which of the above business-building practices have you, can you, or will you implement in your business development strategy?

Useful Phrases For Doing Business In English

When it comes to English for business youll find there are a number of expressions that you probably wont encounter in casual speech. Here are five expressions that you might hear if you are going to a business meeting or you are in a business situation.

1. Manage expectations

To manage expectations means to ensure that the client has realistic expectations. For example, a company may take an order to deliver a certain amount of products. The client, who does not know how long it takes to manufacture and prepare a product might expect in a week. When you manage their expectations you make sure they know exactly how long it will take and what to expect. In this way, the client is not disappointed, and you are not under increased pressure from an unhappy client.

Example: We need to manage their expectations so they know they will not get delivery of the product before April.

Anyone who has to deal directly with clients will need to know how to manage expectations.

2. At the 11th hour

If you do something, or deliver something at the 11th hour then you are doing it at the last minute. If you had two weeks to write a report but you leave it until the last minute, you are doing it at the 11th hour.

Example: Jane always delivers her reports at the 11th hour. One day she will miss the deadline if she is not careful.

A company might finish a project at the 11th hour, or an individual can finish a task at the 11th hour.

3. The lion’s share

The lions share is the largest share. If you are talking about a competitor and the fact that they have the lions share of the market, then they have most of the business.

Example: Martins have the lions share of the market as they make 80 percent of the sales. We need to increase our efforts to increase our market share.

This is phrase is generally used when referring to companies or organisations.

4. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s
If you are told to dot your is and cross you ts you are being told to make sure you get all the details right. You have to check and recheck your information to make sure that the end result is perfect.

Example: This project could bring in 2 million dollars in sales so make sure you dot your is and cross your ts. We need to make sure everything goes smoothly.

A manager or director will use this expression to ensure employees and other colleagues are careful when preparing the project.

5. Get your foot in the door

To get your foot in the door means to get an introduction to someone or something. You can get your foot in the door of a company by getting an introduction to the director or by selling a small amount of product to a company. If you do well and make a good impression, you can go on to increase your involvement with the client or the company.

Example: Make sure they agree to trial our latest products so that you can get your foot in the door. If they like it we can introduce the rest of our product line to them.

Both individuals and businesses can get their foot in the door.

How To Get Hired For Competitive Business Analyst Roles

Looking for a new business analyst job can be intimidating whether you are a seasoned business analyst looking for a challenging business analyst position or you are applying for entry-level business analyst positions.If you do not handle your business analyst job search correctly, you may be passed over for positions that you are really qualified for or your resume may never get to the desk of the hiring managers or you may get discouraged by the lack of interest in your resume from potential employers. Whatever your situation, what I am about to say next may help you find your ideal business analyst job quickly, fast track your business analyst career or help you become a star player in the business analyst industry, so, pay attention!

Why Do I Need A Cover Letter and a Resume?
One of the things that can set you apart from all the other business analysts out there is your cover letter. This statement may be unexpected because most of us assume that recruiters and human resources departments receive so many resumes that your cover letter barely receives a cursory glance. However, this is no reason not to send out a great cover letter with your business analyst resume. You need a cover letter for the following reason; a cover letter shows that you put extra effort into introducing yourself to the company by creating a customized letter describing your business analyst training, business analyst skills and business analyst experience. Without the cover letter, the company assumes that you may be applying to every single business analyst job out there rather than taking the time to apply to specific business analyst position that matches your skill set and background. Your cover letter helps recruiters to select you from the hundreds of candidate’s resumes they receive. The recruiter scans your cover letter to see if anything jumps out to grab him and if your cover letter is memorable, he or she will move your resume over to the “Read” pile instead of the “Toss” pile.

A Good Cover Letter Will Help You Get Hired Fast!
Your resume will probably look much like that of other candidates who have the same business analyst education, skills, and training. This is why I highly suggest the use of a cover letter when applying for a business analyst position if you want to make a favorable first impression. Even if you dont have much prior business analyst work experience a cover letter highlighting your business analyst education & business analyst training gives you the means to show the hiring manager that you still have what it takes to do the job well. You should showcase your applicable characteristics even if they are mentioned on your resume. This shows that you took the time to create a unique cover letter that specifically addresses the company you are applying to. Note that you may not reuse the same cover letter over and over, as each cover letter must be unique and customized in order to stand out from the other candidates.

How To Write An Awesome Business Analyst Cover Letter!
You have decided to apply for a business analyst job posting and you have read the rest of this article, so you are ready to write a cover letter that makes your resume stand out. Here is what you must do. Read the job description and then use your cover letter to position you for the business analyst job opening. If the job opening is for a Business Analyst with Agile Methodology experience, mention that. If the resume requires Rational Unified Process (RUP) experience, mention that or else mention that you have Rational Unified Process (RUP) Training. List the key, measurable business results you have been principal to achieving. List all UML Training, Agile Training, Use Case Training, Requirements Analysis Training, skills and job experience. Mention any Fortune 500 corporations, business consulting experience, or experience in any industry aligned with that of your potential employer.
Finally, make sure your cover letter matches your key business analysis skills, training, certifications or job experience with the qualifications or requirements of the business analyst job posting.

Get the Attention of the Hiring Manager
How do you get noticed from a cover letter? The answer is getting the hiring managers attention right from the beginning of your cover letter. The introduction of your cover letter should be concentrated on grabbing attention in order to interest the reader into reading the letter through to completion. In the introduction you can tell of how you became interested in the business analysis industry, any formal experiences you may have in gathering business requirements, your successes, and your passion for being a business analyst. Then get into some of your previous business analyst projects and the results of the projects. Continue on by filling in the details about the business analyst skills you have mastered and the experience that makes you the better choice for the position. Accentuate how those learned skills will help the company to accomplish its objective of requirements gathering.

How To Format A Business Analyst Job Search Cover Letter
When writing your business analyst job search cover letter stay close to the straight and narrow path in formatting the letter. Use normal business conventions in the opening paragraph, when addressing the business analyst job position, and in the closing paragraph of your cover letter. This will apply to cover letters that you send to business analyst job postings by email, fax, snail mail or business analyst jobs posted on job boards like Monster.com, Dice.com, etc. Be courteous and business-like. Formality will not take away from you if you have something interesting to say, so keep the cover letter short by being focused and getting straight to the point. The entire cover letter should not be more than four paragraphs. Avoid starting out with to whom it may concern., that is old school If possible, you should use the name of the recruiting manager mentioned in the business analyst job posting. Do not use slang, cute phrases, emoticons or graphics. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. Use a spell-checker and if possible, get a friend or mentor to proof-read the cover letter before you send it out.

Finally, remember that your cover letter presents you with an opportunity to get your ideal business analyst job. It is your opportunity to connect with and capture the recruiters or hiring managers attention, tell your professional story and stand out from the crowd. It may take hard work to create great business analyst cover letter, but it is worth the effort, when you land that great business analyst job while others wonder why they are not as lucky as you.

I wish you success with your business analyst job search.

How To Integrate Your Usp To Your Existing Business

Integrating USP to your existing business process is critical to your business success. Given that you have a state of the art, invaluable USP in your business, if it is inside your brain only, it is completely useless. Your customers should know the reason why they should buy from you but not other people, therefore it is required to expose to your target prospects that reason to buy from you. And this is the process of integrating USP to your business. In other words, if you want to make money without spending additional advertising cost, you are strongly suggested to integrate your USP to your business process.

In order to do that, it is assumed that you have already had the USP ready. And here is the steps of promoting your USP.

1. Get more prospects using USP: In your existing advertisement channel like Yellow pages, PPC, banner ads or facebook ads, put your USP in the advertisment. Rather than doing “putting your name out there” advertisment, give a reason to customer on why should they buy from you. You can say something like: “Providing the most variety of jewelry collection in town”, “Guarantee satisfied hair cut in 15 mins for only $7.”.

2. Train your sales people: you can ask your sales people what is your company’s USP and listen to their answer. Their answers may surprise you! Usually the top sales in the company got the USP right (it is also the reason why he/she is top sales!). Therefore you can optimize your sales force by telling them to sell your company products and service with your USP. Given the USP is in every sales pitch presented from your sales, you may easily get 5% – 10% increase in sales by converting more prospects to customer.

By the way, to make sure that your sales are doing the work, setting up tracking and rewarding program to see improvements before and after applying USP.

3. Get your existing customer to buy more from you: Packaging your existing products and services to make it unique across the industry is another way to generate more sales. While you create that packages, it is another USP of you and you simply up-sell them to this package. Provided that your offer is valuable enough according to your customer’s perspective, you will get more sales from existing customers.

4. Referral: If you are doing a good job in integrating USP, you can go one step further by providing another bonus or value added service to your existing customers if they get 3 people to join your list. Since you are providing value to your customer, they will be happy to promote you in return, and you will get viral effect for your business, simply by creating and integrating your USP!

To conclude, you need to put your USP out of your brain and have it in everywhere of your business. Both your advertisment and your sales people should know your USP is and presenting them clearly. Integrating USP can increase your conversion rate of your business and hence get more sales and make more money from it.

Before You Sell Your Material Handling Business

If you’re a family business owner, chances are you’re thinking about what you’ll do when your working days are over. As William Rothwell, a professor at Penn State University, noted in the foreword to Exit Right: A Guided Tour of Succession Planning for Families in Business Together “More than 40% of the people who run the closely held operations that comprise 80% of the North American economy will retire by 2007.”

Even if you currently view the idea as unlikely, you are wise to consider the possibility of selling your material handling company. The decision to sell is all too often a reactive one rather than a proactive one — the primary reasons are a serious health issue, owner burnout, the death of a principal, general industry decline or the loss of a major customer. Advance planning can ensure that you exit your business from a position of strength, not from weakness due to necessity.

1. The biggest mistake business owners make is waiting too long to sell. Have you ever heard, “I sold my business to early?” Compare that with the number of times you’ve heard somebody say, “I should have sold my business two years ago.” Unfortunately, waiting too long is probably the single biggest factor in reducing the proceeds from the sale of a privately held business. The erosion in business value typically is most pronounced in that last year before exiting.

The decision to sell is often times a reactive decision rather than a proactive decision. An individual who spends 20 years running their business and controlling their outcomes often behaves differently in the exit from his business. The primary reasons for selling are events such as a serious health issue, owner burnout, the death of a principal, general industry decline, or the loss of a major customer.

Exit your business from a position of strength, not from the necessity of weakness. Don’t let that next big deal delay your sale. You can reward yourself for that transaction you project to close with an intelligently written sale agreement containing contingent payments in the future if that event occurs.

2. Figure out what you will do with your time after you are no longer working sixty hours per week. We all create business plans both formally and informally. We all plan for vacations. We plan our parties. We need to plan for the most important financial event of our lives, the sale of our business.

Typically a privately held business represents greater than 80% of the owner’s net worth. Start out with your plans of how you want to enjoy the rewards of your labor. Where do you want to travel? What hobbies have you been meaning to start? What volunteer work have you meant to do? Where do you want to live? What job would you do if money were not in issue? You need to mentally establish an identity for yourself outside of your business.

3. Get your business ready to sell. Now that you are all excited about the fun things you’ll do once you exit your business, it’s now time to focus on the things that you can do to maximize the value of your business upon sale. This topic is enough content for an entire article, however, we will briefly touch upon a couple of important points.

First, engage a professional CPA firm to do your books. Buyers fear risk. Audited or reviewed financial statements from a reputable accounting firm reduced the perception of risk. Do not expect the buyer to give you credit for something that does not appear in your books. If you find that a large percentage of your business comes from a very few customers, embark on a program immediately to reduced customer concentration. Buyers fear that when the owner exits the major customers are at risk of leaving as well.

Start to delegate management activities immediately and identify successors internally. If you have no one that fits that description and you have enough time, seek out, hire and train that individual that would stay on for the transition and beyond. Buyers want to keep key people that can continue the momentum of the business.

Analyze and identify the growth opportunities that are available to your business. Get rid of that outdated inventory. The buyer will not pay you for it anyway and it just clutters up the place.

4. When you are wearing all the hats already, trying to sell your company yourself can hurt your business. A major mistake business owners make in exiting their business is to focus their time and attention on selling the business as opposed to running the business. This occurs in large publicly traded companies with deep management teams as well as in private companies where management is largely in the hands of a single individual.

Many large companies that are in the throws of being acquired are guilty of losing focus on the day-to-day operations. In case after case these businesses suffer a significant competitive downturn. If the acquisition does not materialize, their business has suffered significant erosion in value.

For a privately held business the impact is even more acute. There simply is not enough time for the owner to wear the many hats of operating his business while embarking on a full-time job of selling his business. The owner wants the impending sale to be totally confidential until the very last minute.

If the owner attempts to sell the business himself, by default he has identified that his business is for sale. Competitors would love to have this information. Bankers get nervous. Employees get nervous. Customers get nervous. Suppliers get nervous. The owner has inadvertently created risk, a potential drop in business and a corresponding drop in the sale price of his business.

5. To maximize your selling price, you must get multiple buyers interested in buying your material handling business. The “typical” business sale transaction for a privately held business begins with either an unsolicited approach by a competitor or with a decision on the part of the owner to exit. If a competitor initiates the process, he typically isn’t interested in over paying for your business. In fact, just the opposite is true. He is trying to buy your business at a discount.

Outside of yourself there is no one in a better position to understand the value of your business more than a major competitor. He will try to keep the sales process limited to a negotiation of one. In our mergers and acquisitions practice the owner often approaches us after an unsolicited offer. What we have found is generally that unsolicited buyer is not the ultimate purchaser, or if he is, the final purchase price is, on average 20% higher than the original offer.

If the owner decides to exit and initiates the process, it usually begins with a communication with a trusted advisor – accountant, lawyer, banker, or financial advisor. Let’s say that the owner is considering selling his business and he tells his banker. The well- meaning banker says, “One of my other customers is also in your industry. Why don’t I provide you an introduction?” If the introduction results in a negotiation of one, it is unlikely that you will get the highest and best the market has to offer.

You may have spent your life’s work building your material handling business to provide you the income, wealth creation, and legacy that you had planned and hoped for. You prepared and were competitive and tireless in your approach. You have one final act in your business. Make that your final business success. Exit on purpose and do it from a position of strength and receive the highest and best deal the market has to offer.

The Benefits Of Leasing A Printer For Your Business Instead Of Buying One

While increasing amounts of work are being done on computers and via email, the idea of the ‘paperless office’ has still not come to pass. All businesses need a printer as an essential part of their IT infrastructure, but a surprising number of businesses have not yet realised the benefits that leasing a printer can bring. Indeed, many small and medium enterprises are not even aware that leasing a printer is an option. So, what are the benefits of leasing a printer for businesses?

1) Reduced Capital Expenditure

The purchase of a new printer outright requires the spending of a significant sum of money – money that has to come from somewhere. It is either liquid cash that is no longer available for running costs or other purchases or requires a line of credit that could better be used for other requirements. Both of these options could be better used in other aspects of the business.

2) Enhanced Budget

A leasing option is in essence a one stop shop for a business’s printing needs. The business simply pays an agreed monthly fee for its printing infrastructure needs, allowing the cost to be spread out across the budget, with maintenance and replacement fees included in the price. This has important connotations for the next benefit.

3) No Surprise Expenditure

When a business owns its own printer it is responsible for repairing or replacing the printer should it wear out or malfunction. With a leasing option, these costs are covered in the price of the lease. A leasing option avoids a budget crunch when a printer needs to be replaced and removes the need to keep money in an emergency fund for printer expenses.

4) No Maintenance Worries

Money is not the only consideration – the time of a business and its employees is also valuable. Rather than having to organise printer replacement, maintenance or repairs themselves, a business with a leased printer can leave these activities to the leasing company, freeing up employee time for the core aspects of the business.

5) Avoidance of Obsolescence

Capital expenditure on a printer is basically a money-sink. IT infrastructure is constantly developing and hence a printer depreciates at a rapid pace. These factors reduce the benefit of having such an ‘asset’ on the company’s balance sheet.

6) Easy Upgrading

Should a business’s printing requirements change then those that own their own printers will need to write off their old hardware and make a new purchase. With a leasing option the business avoids such costly capital expenditure as they can simply renegotiate their lease with the supplying company. This is equally valuable in the case where printing requirements decrease, allowing the business to decrease the cost of their monthly lease without needing to purchase a whole new printer. This benefit is particularly advantageous to new or rapidly-growing businesses who may have quickly-changing requirements.

7) Removal of Disposal Worries

The responsibilities and worries associated with your IT infrastructure do not end when the printer has reached the end of its life. As with all IT hardware, the disposal of printers is covered by a plethora of rules and regulations. With a leasing option, this responsibility and its associated costs is removed from the business.

8) Increased Flexibility

With so many rapid and game-changing developments in printing technology and business practices occurring on a daily basis businesses need to be able to be flexible in their IT infrastructure. A printer lease increases this flexibility by requiring only a change in the lease rather than the purchase of new hardware by the company.

Business Finance and Commercial Real Estate Mortgage Loan Choices

Even though longer-term business finance techniques might be appropriate for many circumstances, there are some important short-term business loan options that will be less costly in producing improved credit card processing and commercial mortgage results for business owners. Short-term business financing choices can be misunderstood because of a preference by many business owners for long-term commercial real estate loan and commercial loan programs.

Two Important Short-Term Business Finance Options

Two of the most overlooked short-term working capital business loan strategies are short-term commercial mortgage loan programs and business cash advance programs in conjunction with credit card processing. Both of these business finance options are relevant for most business owners but are frequently misunderstood.

Short-term Programs for Commercial Real Estate Investment Financing

A long-term business loan is appropriate for many businesses that own commercial real estate investment property. Business properties should normally be financed with a combination of short-term and long-term business finance funds. When a longer-term commercial mortgage is viable, it is preferable to secure long-term business financing, preferably for 30 years.

However there will be many commercial mortgage loan situations in which longer-term real estate business financing is not appropriate for the business owner. In such circumstances it is important for a business owner to realize that there are viable short-term working capital management options.

When a Short-Term Commercial Mortgage is Appropriate

If a business owner plans to sell or refinance their business within a few years, it is preferable to explore short-term business finance options. The best short-term business loan will have minimal prepayment penalties in comparison to terms commonly included with long-term commercial real estate investment property financing.

The avoidance of business finance prepayment fees and lockout fees fees in some short-term business financing programs is an important benefit of these short-term commercial mortgage approaches. The absence of these potential fees could produce a savings of up to 20% or more if the business property is sold during the period which would have involved lockout fees in a longer-term commercial loan.

Short-Term Commercial Real Estate Investment Property Financing Limitations

There are some trade-offs that need to be understood if a business owner chooses shorter-term business financing even though prepayment fees will usually be avoided with a short-term business loan. When short-term commercial real estate financing is a realistic option, the loan-to-value will usually be no higher than 70%, the commercial mortgage will not be readily available for special purpose business investment properties such as golf courses and the interest rate will frequently be in the range of about 12%.

Best Investing Possibilities for a Short-Term Commercial Mortgage Loan

Warehouse, multi-family, office, mixed-use and retail business properties are the best possibilities for short-term business financing. Business owners should be comfortable with a time period of less than three years for a typical short-term business loan.

Fewer Mortgage Lenders for a Short-Term Commercial Real Estate Loan

There will typically be a very small number of commercial real estate investment property lenders who are effective at implementing the short-term commercial mortgage loan strategy properly. There are also a number of problems to be avoided with a short-term commercial real estate loan, so choosing an appropriate provider is extremely important to any business owner considering a short-term business finance program.

Credit Card Processing and Business Cash Advance Programs

For any business that accepts credit cards as a method of payment, a business cash advance is a critical working capital management tool that is often overlooked. Even thriving businesses frequently need more working capital than they can borrow. One of the least-known business finance strategies for successful businesses is potentially the single best working capital loan strategy for obtaining needed cash for growing their business: the use of a merchant cash advance or business cash advance program.

Primary possibilities to take advantage of this business financing program are service and retail businesses. This credit card processing and credit card financing strategy uses credit card receivables to determine the amount of a merchant cash advance.

Working Capital Management: Credit Card Financing and Credit Card Processing

This business financing technique is called credit card financing or credit card factoring. Some business owners might have used a business finance technique referred to as receivables factoring to sell future receivables at a discount and receive immediate cash.

Many service and retail businesses cannot document business receivables to obtain a business loan. Businesses such as bars and restaurants do not typically have receivables to use for business financing.

What these businesses do have in many cases is documented sales volume and documented credit card sales activity. It is this documented level of sales volume and credit card sales activity that becomes a financial asset to the business and its business finance strategies. Business cash advances from $5,000 to $300,000 can usually be obtained based on a merchant’s sales volume and future credit card sales.

A business financing merchant cash advance must usually be paid back in less than 12 months. For business owners that want to renew the working capital cash advance program, it is typically possible to get more working capital after payback of the initial advance.

Limitations and Problems to Avoid with Credit Card Processing and Merchant Cash Advance Programs

As with any successful business finance strategy, there will typically be only a small number of commercial lenders who are effective at implementing this working capital management strategy properly. There are also a number of problems to be avoided with business cash advance programs, so choosing the appropriate provider of this commercial financing service is extremely important to any business owner considering a credit card financing program.

Identifying Your Business Team Member's Personality Colors

Being a business team leader can be a very daunting task. Almost always you will find that your team consists of very diverse individuals. As a team leader it is your responsibility to motivate your team members towards a common goal. This can be very difficult when your team members each have their very own strengths, weaknesses and conflicts. In this article we will discuss how to recognize the four main personality types by color so that you can better understand the needs of your team members on an individual basis.

As a leader you will quickly notice how well your team works together once you have identified the individual strengths of each team member. Also, by recognizing each individual’s strengths you will know which task they will naturally excel in. This will lead to better delegation on your part which will ultimately build a stronger, more efficient, stream lined team. You will also find that you are able to communicate better once you recognize each team member’s needs, work ethics and values. Your team members will notice the change in how you are leading them and in turn be even more motivated to reach their goals.

Below is a short overview of the four main personality colors Orange, Blue, Gold and Green. Each color will be listed with the working styles, personality types and values attributed to it.

The Orange personality works well with other people in a healthy team work environment encouraging competition and camaraderie. They are very creative and highly energetic and do well with action oriented tasks. They love having the freedom to use their skills and show off their abilities. An Orange personality does have a difficult time dealing with too much structure or management. They tend to feel blocked and have a difficult time functioning if they feel they are being micro-managed. Time consuming and prolonged administrative tasks can difficult for the Orange where they may feel impatient and bored.

The Blue personality is a very social type. They love making friends and having a strong social network is very important to them. This makes them very good at building relationships with clients, customers, coworkers and employers. The Blue personality can be very sensitive to conflicts or strong competition but will thrive in any positive, service orientated atmosphere.

The Gold personality is a very serious individual and is so with their work responsibilities. They like to be part of a successful and productive team where they can continually contribute. They love receiving rewards, incentives and positive recognition. The Gold personality tends to need a great deal of structure where time lines should be enforced and expectations made very clear. They look to their leaders for constant reassurance on how well they are doing.

A Green personality lacks in people skills. They love facts, data, research, and anything analytical. You will find that they are almost always seen as an expert in whatever interests them. Most of those interests will be complex systems, data analysis, statistics, or design. The Green personality’s weakness can be the lack of follow through and tend to be quite rude in some social scenes.

By recognizing the personality colors of each of your team members you will have the ability to meld your team into a well coordinated, unified group. Your leadership skills will shine as you delegate tasks to each team member according to their strengths and expertise. Remember, a well harmonized team is a team made for nothing but success.

Carrie Krishnek

Passing On Your Home Business

A big part of the business world is passing on your business to someone as you get older. There are many home or small business owners that make a big production of this, in the same way that a larger business is going to do. The idea of building up a business that you put many years into and handing it off to a child or another person that you care about is something that many people strive for. This is an idea that a lot of people have come to care about and often in families it is an idea that is passed on for years and years.

There is no reason that you should not consider this with your home business as well. Many people spend years on a home business and work very hard to build up a business that they can be proud of. This means that when the time comes for them to not be running their own business any more, many people do not want to simply hand this business off to strangers or to see it fall apart. So, as you are working on building up your home business, there are several things that you should remember.

The first thing that you want to remember is that your business is something that you are building on your own and something that you should be proud of. So, when it comes time to hand off your business, you want it to be to someone that you can trust to keep things running in the way that you have done and to allow your business to continue to grow in the same way. You want to take your time when you are picking someone to run your home business, because you want to make sure that the person you pick can live up to your ideals.

Remember, this does not always have to be one of your children. Many people will choose to bring on a business partner later in life that they can pass their business on to. Usually this is someone who is young that they can train in the way that they would like to and later that they can leave the business to. This is something that you want to remember because it is often better to leave your business to a partner who is very good at what they do and who is very interested in the business, rather than a child who does not have any interest in what you are doing. Many people make the mistake of thinking that it is better to keep the business in the family no matter what and this is not always the case, because it is simply better to give the business to whoever is the most interested and the most trustworthy as well.