Benefits of an Internal Business Audit
With limited resources, it can be a daunting challenge to consider an internal audit process in a small business, though this is not an area in which skimping is recommended.
They say when it rains it pours, and an internal audit can help blow the storm clouds clear away from your business!
An internal audit is a balancing act- while you may remove something here, you are usually adding to something over there. While you conduct checks and balances, you are also performing perfunctory operational checks and allowing for identification for constant tweaking and improvement functions.
While an external audit is mostly a financial function, an internal audit allows you to see some of the risks that may be underlying, that don’t relate to money. The consultative process allows for assessment on a more multi-faceted level.
Its most helpful in an internal audit if the auditor has familiarity with the business, is capable of being empathetic to the employees of the business, has a genuinely positive nature and understands the business goals.
Encourage your employee’s to employ self-audit tactics by being a prime example yourself. Evaluations at incremental phases can help when it comes time to unearth the big stuff- by making it far less scary!
Certain scenarios in a small business atmosphere may incline a business owner to conduct an internal audit, such as fraud or suspected theft, regulatory inspections or changes in your industries laws and limitations, low production outputs, slowed sales processes or the simple need for a business loan.
An audit opinion will be submitted and the tidy little package will feel like a mission accomplished. BUT. The internal audit requires one last step- action.
With the recommendations made by the auditor, sit down with the board, with the managers, with the team and get some opinions on how things can be modified.
Take the auditors role seriously- as an impartial third party, they have no agenda other than to provide you with the best assessment of your businesses current systems, processes and operations.
Original source RAN ONE.
SWOT: Your Business Health Check
A strong, healthy business strategy is necessary to build a successful business, but what makes a business strategy vital?
One of the most effective ways of analyzing the health of your business strategy is to utilize the SWOT matrix.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – analysis of these interior and exterior factors create an audit of your businesses strategy and the position of your firm in the market.
Think of the SWOT as a yearly medical check-up: blood tests, chest exams and measuring cholesterol levels help identify the areas which need attention, and those that are trucking along healthfully.
Strengths and weaknesses are controllable variables- you can influence and change them. Opportunities and threats represent the variable that is out of your direct control.
Together they work to identify the strategies that create a firm business model that will best align resources and capabilities to ensure a thriving business.
Start with identifying strengths. These can be internal, procedural, operational, personnel or team related, tangible or intangible. Strengths are the driving qualities that allow the business mission to be carried out.
Strengths should highlight the areas in which a business is most successful, and can therefore act as a model for improvement for weaker areas.
Conversely, weaknesses are the qualities standing in the way of accomplishing goals and achieving success. Weaknesses are a liability that will continue to build roadblocks on the path to success. They must be minimized or eliminated.
Opportunities can be tricky- learning how to recognize them and deciding which opportunities may prove profitable can a slippery slope. Opportunities may show themselves in the form of competition, industry, market or technology.
Threats endanger the stability and survival of a business. Much like a family history of heart disease can act as an early detection tool, recognizing threats early on is the most effective way of tackling them.
The SWOT analysis is best used as a guide, not a direct prescription. It can provide security and stability and provide early detection of developing problems to allow them to be tackled immediately. Long-term, the SWOT analysis is what will keep the business’s heart beating.
Original source RAN ONE.
Artificial Intelligence in the Small Business World
A.I. – sounds scary. Sounds like technology that will take over and sounds like something that small businesses would not want any part of… is it though?
Experts say, never fear! Embrace that A.I. is here- even in small companies!
Here are five ways that small business owners can learn to love the A.I. revolution:
- Have them play coach! HR training is notably, one of the least favorite jobs. No one wants to repeat themselves over and over again, answer the same questions and basically drift into a dull oblivion. But robots? They don’t mind! Utilize artificial intelligence as training tools. There are apps out there already that are designed to monitor, evaluate and manage sales strategies, one employee at a time. You will save both time and money with this route, plus, bonus- no boring trainings!
- Identify and address customer expectations.That’s right, some of the grunt work can easily be put on the desk of A.I. Essentially, allowing A.I technology to know more about the customer than they know about themselves allows for predictability, statistical evaluation at an earlier stage and identification of challenges and successes, faster, smoother and more accurately then we could do it on our own.
- Use it to spy on your neighbors. Just kidding- we mean use it to spy on your competition. Put away the binoculars and end those Google Alerts- artificial intelligence can man this ship and tell you everything your adversaries are working on- updating swiftly and accurately. Interested in espionage? Check out Crayon- and take yourself out of the spy game!
- Revolutionize your employee experience.You know the saying, your people are your best asset- though, what have you done for them lately? Probably a lot, to be honest, but with artificial intelligence you can single handedly return to running operations and let the robots take over. Chatbots are steadily replacing HR situations, often encouraging more honestly from employees on sensitive issues and offering 24/7 coaching and connection.
- Assistance anyone?An assistant is usually a much-needed, never-going to-happen type situation when it comes to smaller companies. With AI, you can create a digital assistant, best used as client connectors that are programmed to continue to provide engagement and interaction.
Are we saying go out and buy a robot with a brief case? Certainly not. Are we saying that some of this is safe, relatable and most of all, a way to make operations smoother while keeping costs down and people happy? Yes.
Original source RAN ONE.
The Top Business Trends in 2017 that Spells Success
Whether or not the end of the calendar year reflects the close of your fiscal year, December is still a great time to take a look at the past year, and prepare yourself for the year to come.
Looking into the future trends to give you a leg up moving into January. Be prepared to discuss the trends, how they may affect your business, and be open to discussion with your team members on the best path to moving forward in the upcoming year.
Here are a few hints towards what is to come in 2017!
- Mobile marketing to become central, no longer a suggested method. Remember that time we delicately pushed you into the world of web-centric marketing methods? Well mobile is having its year in 2017. Buy buttons, mobile apps and mobile-only social media sites will take the forefront next year, so start preparing for the shift or risk falling behind and losing customers.
- “Permission Marketing” will take the place of banner ads, pop-ups and the need to barrage your customers with uninvited digital marketing ploys. The phrase was coined by Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur and marketing guru, often found speaking at TED talks around the world. It’s just what it sounds like- marketing developed around the idea of a user designating permission. It’s targeted, its niche and its perfect for small business use.
- Not just the embracing of, but the incorporation and celebration of the millennial in the work place. As baby boomers begin the process of retirement, our work forces will be saturated by the younger crowd, and their ideas and instincts are key to the fluid transition between ‘old’ and ‘new’. Take a crash course in diverse work place considerations and be prepared for the uptick of the tech-savvy generation.
- Due to the above-mentioned surge of retirees that will highlight 2017, we can expect to see many businesses up for sale. As a small business owner, you may wonder how this will directly affect you. If you do your research you may be able to swoop up some competitors ready to leave their legacy in the hands of someone capable, buy into pieces of companies sectioning off for quick sale, or at least be in the know on the changes in your own industry.
- Holistic approaches to business management. These methods have been on the steady rise, but they are poised for a quiet transition to power in 2017. As your workplace dynamics change, you will need to be equipped for the utilization of many of these holistic, work-life-balance suggestions to keep your team happy. Get trained in management of remote workers, consult with a health and wellness advisor to ensure your work place is encouraging healthy habits, and be the center of the “love where you work” movement at your business. Competition will begin to ramp up as employers compete for employees by engaging these holistic methods.
Remember that a time of transition is both exciting and scary. Be prepared and educated and these on-the-rise trends of 2017 will feel natural, well supported and seamless!
Selling Your Business
When selling your business, you need to be prepared for several things from the outset. Whatever the purpose of sale may be, there are some suitable guidelines to follow that will best prepare you as the seller for the reality of the sale itself.
There are always more buyers than sellers and small businesses with steady cash income are always in high demand. Beef up your business to make sure it remains in the buyers’ eyes by widening your niche and boosting client numbers. Update your advertising and sales avenues and get your name out there. Offer warranties to ease your buyers’ minds, letting them know that in due diligence, should a matter arise, you will be happy to renegotiate.
Make sure you have a proper figure in mind before entering into any form of negotiation. Get your finances in order and make sure you are audited properly, so that no holes are found in your paperwork. NOUV MT can help you ensure that no loopholes are missed. The result can be a significant boost to your net proceeds.
We certainly have a tried and tested process to ensure all steps are taken to achieve your desired outcome. While this may seem like a financial drawback, the benefits of having someone on your side through each step of the process are priceless. From legal ramifications to tax considerations to pairing you up with the right buyers, we can make the transition more seamless.
“BEEF UP YOUR BUSINESS TO MAKE SURE IT REMAINS IN THE BUYERS’ EYES.”
Be realistic – do not expect to be pulling in a large chunk of cash right off the bat. It can sometimes be advantageous to negotiate a payment deal over a period of time: sometimes over a period of months or years. These terms will of course depend on the size and scope of the business and the nature of the deal.
Remain quiet about your plans to sell; the fewer people that know, the better. You do not want key employees to lose steam or suppliers to pull out. Do not let word of the sale affect the overall aspects of your business. Be honest whenever necessary and keep those in the know to a minimum – do not hesitate to ask for confidentiality agreements.
Gradually reduce your role in day-to-day activities and do what you can to prepare for the changeover. By the time paperwork is signed and the deal official, you do not want to be scrambling to tie up loose ends. It’s so much smoother if you step out gracefully.
Good Customer Service = Business Success
Nobody (and no business!) is perfect. There will be angry, disgruntled and dissatisfied customers, no matter how flawless your business plan is executed. Take control of the negative and you can seamlessly channel these into positives.
On average, a customer with a complaint tells 9-10 people about the experience. Conversely, a customer whose complaint is resolved tells (on average) 5 people.
Of course the complication nowadays is Social Media. Those 9 or 10 people can easily become 900 or 1,000. So the whole equation seems lopsided but it is the fact of the matter.
Unfortunately, negative customer experiences speak louder than positive ones. But the positive ones carry more weight – and that weight is what can convert new customers, in the blink of an eye.
Start by revisiting the basics and make sure you are implementing all of them:
1. Speed. The longer a customer waits to hear back regarding a complaint, the more upset they become. Even if a resolution may take time, a response only takes moments. Assure the customer you have heard them and that you are working on a resolution. Set follow ups and deadlines on your calendar to make sure you never leave the customer hanging.
“Complaints attract more audience than satisfied customers.”
2. Stop making promises you can’t keep. Be wary of biting off more than you can chew – a slower delivery time with an on-time delivery is a better way to earn loyalty than rushing (cutting corners and effectively straining your resources) only to be late.
3. Invest time in training your employees. In particular, those who will be handling the complaints. There is nothing more frustrating than being met with an “Um…..” when lodging a complaint. These employees need to know your product and services as you do – in depth and in detail, in order to offer knowledgeable and customised resolutions.
4. Keep clean, detailed and accurate records. This is a big one – if a customer has a complaint, the first thing you want to do is retrace the steps of their interaction. The more background information you have (emails, phone logs, receipts, time stamps, invoices, etc.) the better you can address their concerns.
Fast, efficient resolutions are the key to fostering loyalty and longevity in customers. Follow the basics and you can keep everyone coming back!