Archive for category business events

Cash Flow Management – How do you manage yours?

Getting customers to pay their bills on time is one of the biggest challenges a business owner faces. According to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, last year 4,000 businesses failed because of late payments and cash flow issues.  Analysis of invoices highlights that many are submitted late or are deficient due to having the wrong details on them, leading to the incorrect processing of the invoices.

If a customer’s payments slow down, it’s advised that you should check them out as it may be a sign that they are in trouble, therefore it would be better to stop supplying than to suffer a bad debt. On average, small  businesses  in 2012 wait two months on top of their payment terms to get paid.

However there are a few tips for trying to ensure the invoice is paid correctly and on time:

  • Send invoices ASAP – and make sure they are sent to the right person. If they need to be passed from person to person, department to department, this will slow the process immensely.
  • Explain every single charge clearly and concisely.
  • Make deadlines clear from the very beginning – especially from when they sign the original contract.
  • More invoices to clients for smaller amounts.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note to the credit controller on a regular basis – get to know them, so that you are pushed to the top of the pile.
  • Find the best date to get the invoice to the customer so it doesn’t go past their cut-off date and another month is wasted.
  • Learn about customers’ internal accounts processes and work with them. Get your best customer to pay quickly.
  • Be tough and don’t accept excuses
  • Threaten to use winding up orders to excerpt more pressure on debtors as a last resort.

Aside from these tips, there are other methods that could potentially be utilised to secure payment on-time.

  • Take upfront deposits before you even start working. Since the start of the recession this is more acceptable.
  • Utilise discounts or loyalty rates to get paid quicker.
  • Only pay on set days in the month to hold onto your cash longer.
  • Use suppliers as a line of credit, instead of banks.
  • Swap excess funds in your operating account into an interest bearing account. Ask your bank to automatically sweep excess funds.

Invoice Finance– Is it only for struggling businesses?

That used to be the case, but now it is a good  form of finance. Invoice Finance bridges the gap between the point at which you make a sale, and the time payment is received. An  arranged percentage is released to you, which is good if the customer has long payment terms .

Choose either Factoring or Invoice Discounting- Either the finance company chase your customer or you chase your customer.

Don’t forget, under the law you can claim interest at 8% over the Bank of England base rate, and compensation of between £40 to £100 on each overdue invoice under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. This does not have to be referred to in your Terms and Conditions, and can be applied to goods exported to the EU.

To summarise, getting paid on-time to keep cash flow projections on track is hard. Use your educated guesses to project cashflow which is based on a balance between understanding your customers payment habits and your realistic management of expenditure.

All points in the article above were taken from conversations at The Business Exposure Group where business owners and Directors are invited to take part in round-table discussions at venues across the North of England.

If you are a business owner or Director and would like to be considered for an invitation, please contact Philip Drazen directly at philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Business discussion group attracts high praise and inspires new ventures

The Business Exposure Group (BXG) has recently been garnering praise for their invitation-only round-table business discussion meetings. One guest recently claimed, “It was the best three hours [that I have] spent in the last five years.”

Founder of the BXG, lawyer and businessman Philip Drazen, set up the company so business owners from various  sectors could troubleshoot, discuss, and create a mastermind “think tank” that could be trusted, by engaging with other forward-thinking business owners.

Amid these vibrant discussion forums, the BXG meetings also offer the potential for making top-quality connections.

It has already inspired  a couple of successful business ventures and could alternatively offer  you, perhaps, the opportunity to find a part-time non-executive director to help your own businesses grow under guidance from a seasoned businessman.

As it stands, these discussion groups are constantly expanding, assisting and creating a positive outlook for all businesses in the region involved in the Business Exposure Group.

For more information on how to attend a Business Exposure Group meeting in either Manchester or Leeds, Wetherby or Sheffield please e-mail:  philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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How do you value corporate entertaining in 2012?

Most companies are still motivated to entertain their existing and new customers as a way of nurturing relationships and ultimately boosting profit but many find themselves restricted by budget, time and resources, especially during times of recession. The dilemma facing any business owner wishing to improve their connections in today’s economy is to work out which events or functions are going to bring financial returns to the business and which will be fruitless.

So how do you make corporate entertainment worth the time and expenditure and how do you measure the value it has created?

Entrepreneurs should not automatically dismiss all corporate entertainment experiences as worth it just because they are ‘building’ relationships with either their customers or their employees. A return on investment is essential. For every £1k spent on corporate entertainment, the business should be looking for a return of at least £5k over and above what is already coming in.

Organising corporate functions or events is a good way of cementing relationships, enticing new ones and raising brand awareness but don’t do it on the cheap – it needs to be memorable.

It’s important to set a budget for entertaining and stick to it. Look at individual customers and assess the net profit they contribute to the business and how this can be increased. When it comes to the invitations, get the right balance of new and current customers.
Existing, happy customers can boost the confidence of prospective clients and are likely to say the right things at the event to improve your profile but pick your guests carefully. It’s also important to fill empty spaces with the right people not friends to ensure you maximise your investment so it’s always worth sending out the invites well in advance of an event.

When it comes to holding or attending corporate events don’t just send the sales team – the owner should be present to promote strong, genuine relationships.

Spectator sports are among the most popular corporate events as well as golf days, races, concerts and awards dinners. As with all entertaining, it’s essential to be clear about the objectives which should be strongly linked to long-term corporate goals as this will have an impact on the outcome.  But clearly a memorable event will increase your access to a customer over the following months, and then it is up to you to make the most of it.

This article was taken from a discussion at a Business Exposure Group event.

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Which of these business topics affects you?

I have listed below some of the issues and topics that have been discussed at various events of The Business Exposure Group.

They all attracted considerable comment and the discussions around the table resulted in a wide range of advice being offered from the participating guests.

The result being a wide range of advice from different viewpoints and great value taken from the discussion by many of the participants.

– Securing business with competing customers, without prejudicing the relationships
– Ensuring bigger customers are handled appropriately
– The need to revitalise staff meetings
– Techniques for getting access to decision makers
– Maximising the opportunities of Trade Exhibitions
– Overcoming the issues of good delegation
– The use of referrals and testimonials to secure new business
– The relevance of a mobile app to engage with your customers
– Marketing away from your immediate locality

If you would like to be invited to one of the Business Exposure Group discussion at venues across Yorkshire and in Manchester, please contact us.

Our details are on the contact page on this site and also on the website which is to be found at http://www.business-exposure-group.co.uk

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What relevance has of a board of directors for SME businesses?

A properly functioning board can be a powerful force, but a board in disarray can be a distraction.

In the past, when things were stable, perhaps more businesses didn’t require the support of a board but now, help may be needed and directors must be prepared to roll their sleeves up not just undertake a monitoring or oversight function, they can be a very beneficial asset to the business.

Getting the right director is key to creating a successful board. You need to identify what the skills gap is within the business and look for directors with this knowledge. The board should resemble the market including having technical ability and a presence of women to give a balanced view. Read the rest of this entry »

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Business Exposure Group events are providing valuable business advice

Last month’s Business Exposure Group meetings around the region were excellent and again generated some quality suggestions.

With 9 groups now operating across Manchester and Yorkshire, the main issues across several discussion groups included: –

–          Is there a need for a business plan, particularly during a recession?

–          Is social media a scary problem or a great business opportunity

–          Whether to rely on freelancers or employ full time staff

–          Techniques to control sales staff and make them accountable

–          Methods used to get your business message out to a new market

–          The value of purchasing a competitor in distress, purely to use it’s strong  brand

–         How to let go and have the confidence to allow your business to flourish

The high value of the group advice was commented on by the majority of the members.

Are you a Business owner or Director around Manchester?

Please let us know by return if you would like us to reserve a place for you around the table at our next meeting in Manchester city centre on the afternoon of Monday 4th July 2011.

The numbers are limited to 15 and this groups is getting full.

Outside the Manchester area, there are groups in Leeds, Bradford, Wetherby and Sheffield. Please let us know if you would like to attend any of these events during July.

Please email philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk for more information.

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How does your business run when you’re away?

Many business owners deny themselves an annual holiday because they simply won’t risk leaving the company in another person’s hands.
For those who are brave enough to go away, the majority spend the week fretting about what is happening back in the office.

The problem usually stems from the owner being the only person in the firm who knows how to run the business effectively because all the information is all stored in his/her head. If this continues to be the case, the business owner is never going to truly switch off when he’s away.

To build a scalable business, you need to put the correct systems in place for when you are not there and this means sharing responsibility as well as your intricate knowledge on how to run your business.

Businesses should create an operations manual which is regularly updated. The bigger the business, the more in-depth the systems.
People need clear job descriptions and firm direction on how you want your business to operate.

Stop reinventing the wheel. Make sure procedures are correct rather than constantly changing them.

Establish where you want to be in three years time – do you want to have six, 12 or 1,000 employees?

This will help you steer your business in the right direction and help you set achievable goals.

The content in this article was taken from a discussion at a recent Business Exposure Group forum.

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