7 Amazing Networking Tips For Every Entrepreneur

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Where do you turn to when you need business advice?

Every entrepreneur knows the value of speaking to their peers, especially when they operate a home-based business or small enterprise and rely on a close network of trusted advisors.

We recently held our annual conference in beautiful Montreal, Canada, where our franchisees came together to discuss trends in the market and business best practices. These are some of the most successful franchisees in all of North America, and the conference gave everyone a chance to learn what works, what doesn’t, how to offer a better customer experience and most importantly, how to grow a profitable business the right way.

We gathered some of the best advice from franchisees throughout the conference to share with you as fellow business pros.

Tip 1: Build your referral network

Everyone has their traditional network of contacts, but not everyone has built a true referral network out of those contacts.

To start, create a list of all your contacts, personal and professional. Gather these from every possible source – and we mean every source – family, friends, business cards, old Rolodex files, every person you’ve ever emailed and all your LinkedIn contacts. Create a spreadsheet of all these contacts and this will be your master list.

Rank those contacts from 1 – 4 based on their potential to generate referrals. This is your starting point for finding the right contacts at the right time and building an incredible referral program.

In future posts, we’ll discuss how to use this referral list to connect with the right people via social networks, email campaigns, in-person meetings and special events.

Tip 2: Build an email list using social media

A regular e-newsletter to your contacts is a fantastic way to turbo-charge your business relationships and reach out for referrals.

As a starting point, use LinkedIn to build out your email list. If you have an existing email list, you can match it to your LinkedIn contacts and add to your list with online connections. One business owner increased his list from 300 to 1100 using primarily this tactic.

Once your list is ready, send out a monthly newsletter that provides valuable content to your readers, and ensure that you include a call-to-action asking for referrals. You can use software like MailChimp to easily manage your list and emails.

Even with a straightforward monthly e-newsletter you can get 500 views relatively quickly and make use of those valuable connections.

Tip 3: Join local business associations

Local Chambers of Commerce are a fantastic way to reach out to your business community. Every business owner should visit their local Chamber as a starting point, and then ask about related associations relevant to your industry.

Many Chambers run workshops, special events and networking groups and sessions that can include one-on-ones between business owners. This is a great way to meet peers in your community and get to know each other face-to-face, making it easier to give and receive referrals from one another.

Tip 4: Hold events in the local community

Speaking of Chambers of Commerce, you can often take advantage of their space for minimal or no charge. If you are setting up a special client event, see if you can hold it at the Chamber, which is generally a centrally located and well-maintained space.

And make those local events memorable. Use food, drink and entertainment to make your guests happy they attended. Most importantly, they’ll associate positive sentiment with you and your business brand.

Tip 5: Convenience is key when it comes to client meetings

Consider the location and timing of any events, meetings and mixers you hold for your clients. Make it convenient, as they are doing you a favour by being there.

If you’re meeting for a quick coffee, find a unique space close to their office. Or if time is tight, bring them coffee and snacks to their office and your meeting will be much more welcome. If you’re holding a special event, make sure you define specific start and end times, and stick to them. Your clients’ schedules are just as important as the event itself.

Tip 6: Show some love in return

If your clients attended your events, return the favour and support them at any functions they run. It could be a monthly mixer or a fundraising event, but they’ll notice and appreciate the support.

Get bonus points by following them on social media and then retweeting or posting something about their events to help spread the word.

Tip 7: Consider your “Return on Time”

We all focus on ROI, but do you look at your ROT – return on time?

What networking activities are you doing on a regular basis and how much time does it take to complete those tasks? You can do a quick analysis of your daily, weekly and monthly networking activities and determine what’s really paying off. If there’s something that gives you a high ROT, then continue and potentially expand that activity. Conversely, if sometimes is a massive time drain and “bad ROT,” then consider putting a hold on that activity.

Bonus: Chat to your business partners

All the vendors and partners you work with have likely gone through similar business issues and growing pains. And they are likely always looking for good advice and improving their contacts as well. If you’re looking for advice from peers, why not chat with one of your trusted partners? At Liquid Capital, we are always happy to chat with our clients and help businesses grow.

Use This Formula To Determine Your Company’s Cash Conversion Cycle

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If you buy and sell inventory on account, then you’ll need to know how long it takes to turn that inventory into cash.

That’s the cash conversion cycle, and it’s key to making sure you’re on top of your company’s cash flow.

What is the Cash Conversion Cycle?

The cash conversion cycle (CCC) tells you how many days it takes for your company to turn your inventory purchases into cash. You acquire inventory from a supplier, store that inventory, sell it to a customer on account, pay your suppliers and collect on your invoices — getting paid and putting cash back into the company.

The CCC is an important financial indicator of your company’s cash flow. It shows your ability to maintain highly liquid assets and is a metric that lenders and other finance providers will use to assess your potential risk level.

The formula follows your cash through these various stages:

  1. Inventory Purchase, Transport and Storage
  2. Accounts Payable and Payments to Suppliers
  3. Sales, Accounts Receivable and Collections

How to calculate the Cash Conversion Cycle

There are three numbers you’ll need to complete the basic CCC formula, all of which you can derive from your financial statements.

CCC = DIO – DPO + DSO

Let’s look at each component a little more closely.

  • DIO: Days Inventory Outstanding. This is the number of days on average that your company turns your inventory into sales. The smaller this number, the better.
  • DPO: Days Payable Outstanding. This is the number of days it takes you to pay your accounts payable. The higher this number, the longer you can hold onto cash, so a longer DPO is better.
  • DSO: Days Sales Outstanding. This is the number of days you’ll need to collect on the sales of that inventory after the sale has been made. Again, the lower the number, the better.

So the CCC is equal to the number of days it takes to sell your inventory, plus the number of days you need to collect on your sales, minus the days it takes you to pay your vendors.

Example:

Keisha runs an industrial supply company. Keisha always pays her supplier within 30 days. She keeps enough inventory on hand to satisfy 60 days of sales and is good at managing this. It will take 52 days on average for her customers to pay their invoices. This would be her CCC formula:

CCC = 60 days – 30 days + 52 days

CCC = 82 days

Keisha’s CCC is 82 days, meaning that she will need on average 82 days of working capital to convert purchased inventory into cash.

The above is a simplified example, and to get accurate results you must calculate and track your DIO, DPO and DSO on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, along with the dollar values for inventory and sales.

What CCC teaches you & how to make adjustments

The CCC will give you an indication of your cash liquidity position — and it can point your attention to what is helping or hindering your cash flow. Depending on the results, you may determine immediate areas that can be improved.

The longer the CCC, the more working capital you’ll need to manage your operations. And that can be an overwhelming challenge for many businesses. Generally speaking, companies want to shorten their CCC.

To shorten the CCC, you may be able to manage inventory levels better, get longer supplier payment terms, improve your collection process or adjust the payment terms you give your customers. However, this may not always be practical or something you’re wanting to change for a number of reasons.

Instead, you can use financing such as Accounts Receivable Financing — also known as factoring — to lower the CCC by turning accounts receivable into cash faster. This is where our company has been able to help businesses increase their cash flow. Using factoring you can effectively lower your DSO, which means you will get paid on your sales faster and have quicker access to working capital. That cash can be reinvested into your company faster than if you had to wait on all invoices to be paid out according to the usual payment terms.

Or you could get extended payment terms from suppliers to reduce the DPO portion of the formula or use financing tools such as Purchase Order Financing to help you make up the gap where suppliers are not providing adequate or any terms. By extending the number of days you have to pay your accounts payable, you can keep cash in the company and effectively increase your working capital.

However, the CCC alone cannot be a complete indication of liquidity. You’ll need to look at calculating other liquidity metrics like the current ratio and quick ratio to paint a complete picture. You may already have these calculations in place, but if you haven’t yet calculated your cash conversion cycle, it’s time to start crunching the numbers and tracking changes over time to manage your business better.

This is the first part of our cash conversion cycle series. We’ll be writing about practical ways to reduce your DSO and DIO, stretch your DPO and how service providers can use the CCC when ‘inventory’ doesn’t apply to their business.

PM Retail Solutions

successful entrepreneur

Think Like a Successful Entrepreneur

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We have all heard and read stories of businesses that fail and businesses that take off. Learning from the experiences of other entrepreneurs increases your likelihood of success. Here are four key takeaways to fuel business growth.

Stay Confident.

Richard Feloni, a senior reporter for www.BusinessInsider.com, interviewed 20 successful entrepreneurs about the most important lesson they learned in their 20s. One-quarter of the lessons had something to do with having confidence. For example:

“Any limitations on personal growth are self-imposed.”

“Don’t take business personally.”

“Don’t sell yourself short.”

“The first step to becoming an entrepreneur is gaining self-confidence.”

“The importance of being decisive.”

Strip away layers of bureaucracy.

Canadianbusiness.com highlights the concept in an article by Alexandra Bosanac, How Flat Hierarchies Help Companies Stay Nimble And Grow Faster. Referencing the success of Corporate Travel Management Solutions (CTMS), which has eliminated middlemanagement altogether, Bosanac explains that the result is a fluid business “with senior executives taking a hands-on approach in day-to-day operations” and better customer relations. Her advice: “For firms not ready to make such a radical leap, simply organizing staff into strategic self-contained pods that each use a flat hierarchy is an easy first step.”

Bounce back from failure.

Jodi Goldstein, Managing Director at Harvard Innovation Labs, writes for entrepreneur.com in “How Startups Can Bounce Back After A Failed First Launch.” The article highlights four steps:

1. Collect Customer Feedback

2. Consider Bringing in New Advisors

3. Look at How Your Competition Is Faring

4. Don’t Let Your Pride Prevent You from Pivoting

She encourages business owners: “Great entrepreneurs balance the conviction in their ideas with the humility to take action when their original ideas aren’t translating into the desired business results. If your customers, advisors and competitors are telling you that it’s time to change directions, I’d strongly encourage you to take this advice to heart.”

Be ready for success.

You’ve likely heard of the Pokémon GO game, which has attracted millions of users. The maker, Niantic, hasn’t been able to keep up with demand, however, resulting in server problems and insufficient tech support. (Though people still love it!) It’s an apt example of not being prepared to handle an influx of more customers than expected. Whether a software company, transportation provider, manufacturer or service provider, planning matters. Think ahead to the investments required to manage demand. You want to make a positive impression on every first-time customer.

Successful entrepreneurs pour their heart and cash into their vision; they also envision what it will take if their idea exceeds expectation.

 

3 Biggest Financial Challenges Facing Small Business Owners

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When the going gets tough, it’s usually finance-related. Here are the three challenges you may be facing with your small business, and tips to overcome them.

1. Positive Cash Flow

Every small business knows that cash flow is a top priority. You need liquidity in order to channel funds into your other top strategic priorities.

According to Simon Dell at Business.com, this is a domino effect that not only impacts your business, but all the other businesses you work with.

“Personally I think the biggest challenge affecting any small business is cash flow. Every business, including mine, has suffered from, or suffers from issues with getting money in that is owed with them. The problem stems from a domino effect of one business having poor profitability earlier on in the chain that then starts to directly affect all the others, as many small businesses trade with other small business. Thus the situation compounds itself.”

The cash flow solution:

 Dell points out that this situation shouldn’t make you feel stuck in a cash flow rut.

“However there are a number of good solutions that can be implemented. The best two I have seen is invoice factoring – where another business loans you the value of the invoice that you’ve issued and pay you immediately. The second is to move your business, where possible, to a subscription business. If you can implement a direct bank transfer for services or goods at the start of the month, then that goes a long way to eliminating many cash flow issues.”

2. Money Management

It’s hard to find a small business owner who hasn’t felt the pressure of operating their business effectively while also managing all the day-to-day financial management. From dealing with expenses, receipts and invoices all the way to tax-time issues and end-of-year reporting, these are the administrative duties that most SMBs dread.

The money management solution:

Investopedia offers a straightforward solution: get professional help.

“Money management becomes even more important when cash is flowing into the business and to the owner. Although handling business accounting and taxes may be within the capabilities of most business owners, professional help is usually a good idea. The complexity of a business’ books go up with each client and employee, so getting an assist on the book keeping can prevent it from becoming a reason not to expand.”

3. No Access to Funding for Growth

“Year after year, owners listed access to funding as one of their most formidable concerns facing the future of their businesses,” states Ryan Weaver in The Globe and Mail’s business growth column.

Finding the right funding solution is important, as your business should consider loan repayment schedules and rates when weighing the options. Weaver goes on to suggest that, “Hundreds of small business grants and loans programs exist to help businesses expand, subsidize hiring, and allow firms to take part in projects and activities proven to increase global competitiveness.”

However, many SMBs face further challenges when traditional grant programs, government funding and bank loans aren’t an option. Often, small businesses can be denied loans when the company has a limited operating history, low gross margins or when their industry doesn’t fall within the bank’s criteria.

The funding solution:

Finding a trusted alternative lender can be the perfect solution in these circumstances. And many SMBs find trusted lending partners that they can build ongoing relationships with in order to access funding with much more ease. This can be a big advantage when business demands become timely, such as when you must fulfill an unexpectedly large order or hire more staff for a new project.

Business News Daily explains that alternative lending has some major positives. “Your business doesn’t need to have a perfect financial status, there are few restrictions on what the money can be used for, and the loans can be approved almost instantly.”

Asset-based lending may also be an option for businesses in a large growth phase that have significant business assets such as inventory, machinery or real estate to leverage. Consider looking at all the alternative funding options that can bridge you to the next step in your business growth. Your business is not restricted to traditional lenders and a trusted alternative source can give your business growth the kick-start it needs.

 

New financing facility opens in Greater Phoenix Area

PHOENIX, AZ (September 6, 2016)– Liquid Capital Funding Solutions announced their opening in the Greater Phoenix Area, offering financing solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, often when traditional bank loans cannot be secured. The products offered by Liquid Capital Funding Solutions can assist companies needing to fulfill new product orders, make payroll and fulfill their strategic objectives by increasing their cash flow and working capital.

Owner and Principal, Jeromy Cushing, is looking forward to building trusted relationships with local Phoenix businesses and partners. “There is great value in meeting face-to-face with my clients, taking the time to earn their trust and respect. We get to know our clients’ businesses, issues, concerns and strategic initiatives to develop the right solution to their financing. This is a major differentiator between Liquid Capital Funding Solutions and other lending institutions.”

The company works with businesses in various stages of growth and operations, and offers products such as accounts receivable financing, asset-based loans and purchase order financing. The administrative and collections capabilities can also assist companies who are looking to improve their accounts receivables process, and in some cases they can outsource those responsibilities entirely to Liquid Capital Funding Solutions.

Liquid Capital Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer, Robert Thompson-So, welcomes Mr. Cushing to the organization. “We are proud to have Mr. Cushing join the organization and open Liquid Capital Funding Solutions. His vast experience in business including contract negotiations, purchasing and receivables is a strong asset to this business and we look forward to supporting his business growth and development for years to come.”

About Liquid Capital

Liquid Capital is a full-service working capital and trade finance network and has been in operations since 1999. The Liquid Capital network has the largest geographic footprint of alternative funding professionals, with over 80 independently owned businesses across North America, offering clients a customized and flexible approach with local decision makers. We offer a complete range of solutions for all industries and provide immediate financing upon approval with no long-term contracts or hidden fees. At Liquid Capital, we help you grow your business.

To learn more about Liquid Capital Funding Solutions, contact

Jeromy Cushing
Liquid Capital Funding Solutions
Phoenix, AZ
Call: (623) 680-2422
Fax: (623) 321-1945
jcushing@liquidcapitalcorp.com
Website: Liquid Capital Funding Solutions

linkedin tips

How Do I Improve My LinkedIn Posts?

This is a great question. You’ve been posting updates from your LinkedIn company page or personal profile, but are they being seen? And are they working?

How to see your results

The first indicator of performance is to look at the likes, comments and shares of each of your posts.

Click on “Profile” and then “Your Updates” from the drop-down menu.

This will show you a list of your recent activity including all the posts you’ve shared. At the bottom of each post you’ll see if people are engaging with your content.

If there aren’t a lot of engagements then it means the audience isn’t finding the posts relevant. Everyone’s audience is a little different, so it may take some time to improve your performance, but even a little adjustment can go a long way.

Here are five immediate things you can do to improve your LinkedIn performance.

1. Share your opinion

When sharing someone else’s blog article or post, try adding your own opinions or personal thoughts to the beginning of your post. For example, “This is the best explanation of small business financing I’ve ever seen.” followed by the post. This gives your followers insight into why you’re sharing the post and should encourage them to click and engage.

2. Change or add an image

Make sure your posts contain image that resonates more with your personal audience. Use a vibrant image with colour and interest that will cut through the clutter on people’s newsfeeds. If you’re sharing a webpage or blog article, you can flip through various images from that page by clicking on the directional arrows once you enter the website URL. Or upload your own image by clicking the image icon on the top right of the update box.

3. Post at a different time or day

Switch it up a bit by posting at different times of day. Often, LinkedIn users will be more responsive early in the morning or later in the day, outside of their regular work hours. So try to post at different times when your audience may be more receptive. Don’t forget to post on Saturday and Sunday as well. You’ll have less competition on the news feed, and users are still checking in on weekends.

4. Engage with more LinkedIn users

Usually by increasing how often you like, comment and share posts from others, the more likely they’ll be to reciprocate. Make it a habit to like at least one or two posts every day on your news feed. And commenting on posts from your connections can go a long way. Even to say “Thanks Denise, that was a great post!”

5. Post new types of content

Try to post different types of content than normal. If you always post content from the same source like your company website or favourite news outlet, it will make your page a “one-trick pony.” Instead, find interesting content from industry websites and blogs, news sites and LinkedIn Pulse, then share those on your page along with your own brief commentary. At least 50% of your posts should be fresh content from sources other than your own company sites. This will make your feed valuable to your connections.