Body Language Mistakes

6 Body Language Mistakes You Might be Making & How to Fix Them

Posture Perfect: Are you unconsciously sending prospects the wrong message? Here’s how fixing your body language mistakes can help you win more opportunities.

Body Language Mistakes

As salespeople, we often focus on our pitch and the carefully selected words we use when speaking with prospects, but what about our body language? Are we making major body language mistakes that are holding us back from closing more deals?

55% of effective communication comes down to body language mistakes

A famous study by UCLA Professor Albert H. Mehrabian found that only 7 per cent of effective communication actually comes down to the words we say. 38 per cent comes from the tone of our voices, and another 55 per cent depends on our body language.

How we stand, where our eyes look, our hand gestures and even subtle movements can all make a difference in the interpretation of our sales pitches. But the most effective communicators will combine all three parts: the words spoken, the tone of voice and the body language.

Related: Do you have this powerful leadership skill?

The professional sales training team at Sales Grail explains that a sales person’s body language can immediately spark customer engagement. “What we mean by posture is not a cocky guy with his feet up on his desk — this is just rude and it suggests a lack of humility in one’s leadership and sales approach. Rather, by posture, we mean one of openness and confidence.”

When genuine, that confidence can help you develop a stronger connection with the prospect, as they describe. “When we’re really behind something, we become an amazing combination of characteristics. We’re relaxed, yet passionate. We’re calm, yet excited. We’re understanding, yet persistent.”

Here are six body language mistakes you might be making, and how you can turn your visual communication and body language into a sales secret weapon.

Mistake 1: Slouching — especially while on the phone

You’ve likely heard that sitting is the new smoking, but has that made you get out of your chair more? At the very least, have you sat up a little straighter when seated? This is one of those body language mistakes that we’re likely all guilty of doing.

“Research has shown that sitting in a slouched position can send “sad signals” to your brain. You are more likely to produce cortisol, a stress hormone, and experience negative thoughts when you slouch. Slouching also can make you feel disempowered and weak compared to the people you’re interacting with – whether in person, on the phone, or even over email.” – Tech.co

Mistake 2: Too little (or too much) eye contact

“It’s good to maintain eye contact 70% to 80% of the time. Any more and you might appear threatening, any less and you may appear uncomfortable or disinterested.

Good eye contact exudes confidence, engagement and concern. Plus, it’ll help you read your customers’ emotions and body language.” – Customer Experience Insight

Mistake 3: Never “power posing” before meetings

“Breakthrough research from Professor Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School…proves that body language and body positioning directly impact self-confidence and feelings of power. … Professor Cuddy’s research indicates that a salesperson (or anyone about to go into a stressful situation) should assume a high power pose for at least two minutes. Rather than hunch over an iPhone, a salesperson should find a private place to spread their arms and pull their shoulders back.” – Fast Company

Mistake 4: Dressing to blend in, not to fit in

“First impressions get set in stone very quickly. And, like it or not, the way you look is the most important factor in shaping those first and lasting impressions.

“The key is to always dress well enough to fit in with the top people you’re calling on, yet never to blend in with the wallpaper. Think of your clothes as the way you package yourself. Always dress in a way that creates the maximum positive impact on the people you want most to impress – your customers.” – Selling Power

Mistake 5: Talking too much with your hands

This isn’t to say that you should completely stop hand gestures. They are an important part of getting your message across and creating dynamism and charisma in your communication. But overdoing your hand movements can be a distracting body language mistake that can have an undesired effect.

“Avoid chopping gestures … Whole arm karate chop gestures can psychologically cut up the space between you and your interview in an aggressive way … Pointing is often perceived as an aggressive motion and in some cultures is considered incredibly rude. … Any fast, repeated or aggressive hand gestures should be kept to a minimum. … [Instead] you should appear open and approachable, which means your hands should be in front of you and ready to gesture naturally.” – Forbes

Mistake 6: Work the room

Whether it’s a presentation, speech or in-person sales call, making strategic physical moves could draw attention to the right discussion points.

“To bring movement to your speech, use the physical space you have available and walk it. For example, if you’re presenting three points, talk about point A when you’re at your first position; then move out 2 or 3 steps and talk about point B; this way, a movement that includes space will accompany your speech.” – HubSpot

 

Next: Get these 7 new school digital marketing tips to help grow your business.

Business failure leads to success

Can business failure make you successful?

Business failure leads to success

No one enjoys failing. When you’ve poured your heart and soul into an effort that crashes and burns, the pain can be excruciating. Yet business failure is a part of running a company at one point or another. So, should you find yourself down and out, focus on the upside. It will help you get back on track quickly, and with newfound strength.

Here are five reasons to dust yourself off and considering any failure a blessing in disguise.

1. It’s an education

Thomas Edison made 1,000 attempts at the light bulb before succeeding. You could say he had 1,000 failures, but with each attempt he learned something more. Following a “failure,” you’re better educated, better experienced and, hopefully, a bit wiser.

The same mindset can be seen in modern business, with much success. For example, at NerdWallet, a company offering tools and advice for managing personal financial decisions, failure is celebrated publicly on the “Fail Wall,” a space covered with Post-it notes memorializing the lessons learned.

Related: Even out the ups and downs of running your business.

2. It can improve investment opportunities

In Entrepreneur.com’s Celebrating Failure article, Jake Gibson notes one big reason to rejoice: “Many founders of failed companies find it easier to raise money for their second company because investors know they are buying experience and the lessons learned from those failed endeavors.”

Conducting a thorough post-mortem is on many a business guru’s short list of things to do following a setback. Collect all the insights and data you can. Learn where the missteps occurred — and how they can be avoided the next time.

3. It’s a bonding experience

When we fail, we often do it in the company of partners, colleagues and employees. They are all affected, and may suffer as much as we do. Let these people know that you value them and care about them. Don’t engage in blaming or any other form of divisiveness.

Focus on moving forward as a team. The shared experience can be transformative, providing for you to emerge from the setback as a stronger, more committed organization. 

4. It provides a determined focus

Jodi Goldstein, managing director of the Harvard Innovation Labs, is one of many experts advising that you not dwell on the past as you pick up the pieces following a failure.

“Don’t waste energy by constantly thinking about how you could have avoided the situation that you’re currently in. If you decide to continue with the venture, this means working to maintain high levels of morale amongst your team, celebrating each win that you achieve as you battle your way back into business.

“If you ultimately decide that you cannot, or don’t want to continue with your startup, it means taking the lessons that you learned to whatever you might do next, while not dwelling on what could have been.”

5. It’s never the end

Finally, remember that whenever you fail, you’re in good company. The most successful people on the planet have all been failures at one time or another. Consider your low point as merely the prologue to your next chapter.

 

Up next: Do you have the ultimate entrepreneur mindset?

Business agreement handshake

How to Find the Right Asset-Based Loan Partner

Business agreement handshake

For many businesses, asset-based loans can be the perfect solution when they’re short on working capital but don’t currently qualify for a traditional loan. The key is finding the right funding partner that is willing to learn about your business, understand your challenges, and then work with you to find the optimal solution that will offer the most benefits to your growing business.

Finding that right partner is a vital part of the funding process, especially when you rely on their expertise, products, services and connections. Nothing can roadblock a company’s operations like lack of working capital. With asset-based loans, in particular, you’ll be accessing larger amounts of capital while agreeing on terms that maximize the value of your available assets. Obviously, working with a trusted partner is crucial.

 

Background: Who should consider an asset-based loan?

Asset-based loans (ABL) allow companies to leverage their accounts receivable, inventory, and in some cases, equipment and real estate to access working capital. Qualifying companies generally have a strong credit rating and maintain comprehensive financial reporting with strong internal controls — tending to be established businesses with a solid track record.

     Related: Get the 101 on Asset-Based Lending here.

 

With many funding options in the market, how can you tell which one is right for your business? Below are three main factors to consider.

1. Find a like-minded partner

Your ABL funding expert should feel like a genuine partner in your business. They’ll need to understand your business model, industry challenges, opportunities, and any unique processes you have in place. A partner with an entrepreneurial mindset and personal experience as a business owner/operator could also add to their understanding of where you’re coming from and where you are going.

Also, look for funding partners who have cut their own red tape and complicated approval processes. These can slow down your ability to access cash flow when it’s needed — but be careful to ensure they are still credible and still have a strong reputation in the market.

Ultimately, a like-minded partner will work with you in the long-term and should go the extra mile to create more availability against eligible collateral. That means your assets will provide the biggest return for working capital.

2. Look for value beyond the “money”

Your ABL partner should be more than just a person that writes you a check.

Factor in various aspects of value beyond the capital they provide. With ABL, rates are generally competitive but on par with different vendors, so it’s important to assess other criteria that can show who you’re dealing with.

Look for service partners who will provide access to their referral networks that can extend your business relationships. This longer-term value is often overlooked but can be a strategic benefit. A trusted partner will also provide access to advice related to the struggles of a growing business, and they’ll be able to offer strategic business advice and beneficial tools as you grow the company. Their network along with access to like-minded entrepreneurs are invaluable to a business facing the challenges of growth and emergence.

3. Work with a person, not just a piece of software

Technology is an important aspect of modern business, but when it comes to a funding relationship, you should be working with a real person.

In particular, find local representation and experts who will be responsive when you have questions or challenges. Look for an organization with strong underwriting, risk assessment and good relationships within the industry. Your partner should also be able to work with you to offer creative solutions to your business funding needs.

With ABL, your company is going to be relying on the funding partner for large amounts of working capital, and this shouldn’t be trusted to a piece of software or website touting fast-funding without strategic consultation.

Business Gift Guide

3 incredible business gift guides

Business Gift Guide

If your holiday shopping list is making you nervous, especially when it comes to clients and colleagues, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with gift ideas for even the most hard-to-impress business pros in your life.

Part of being an entrepreneur or SMB owner is an understanding that balancing work and life can be demanding. Even if your office closes for a few days, business doesn’t completely stop for the holidays. For many of us, it gets a lot busier. Here’s hoping that this handy gift guide makes your festive season flow a little smoother.

Here are our top picks from three of the best gift guides around. Click through further to see the full lists and peruse their expertly curated suggestions. Best of all, most of these items are available on Amazon with just a few clicks — perfect for those of us on a tight schedule.

1. Thirty Boring Gifts Everyone Secretly Wants by Mashable

The tech bloggers at Mashable really nail it with this list of essential items that will get used all year (as opposed to ending up in the garage after January). Take for example Smartwool Socks, an All Purpose Kitchen KnifeRainbow Sharpies, a Fold Up Rain Jacket, and Noise Canceling Headphones. These make outstanding gifts for the kid in all of us.

2. Gizmodo’s Gadget Gift Guide

Comprised of “things we’re hoping to receive this season,” the tech experts from popular gadget blog Gizmodo assembled an incomparable guide for all the electronically inclined folks on your list.

Highlights include Outdoor Research Stormtracker Heated Gloves for cold weather outdoor enthusiasts, the quintessential Audio-Technica LP120 Professional Turntable for those looking to get serious about collecting vinyl, and the face-rejuvenating Clarisonic Mia 2 Facial Sonic Cleansing System.

3. Gifts for Entrepreneurs by celebrity Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss

Legendary angel investor, author, social media guru and podcaster Tim Ferriss shares his list of fantastic gift ideas for fast-paced individuals like himself.

Tim’s recommendations are broken down into helpful categories of under $25, under $50, and under $100. Highlights for us include the RAD Roller, which is amazing for rolling out tight muscles in the back, arms, and legs. The Sleep Master Sleep Mask is great for anyone who sleeps on planes or on irregular schedules. And finally the multipurpose casual/athletic shorts Ferriss swears by Myles Everyday Shorts.

Bonus: Other notable gift guides

These include one from The Atlantic for the impossible-to-buy-for, which they crowd-sourced from real readers. Refinery 29 has another very fun interactive gift guide for Moms, Dads, significant others and even your ‘work spouse.’ Generate a custom selection of gifts based on traits like chill, type A, early adopter and fancy.

Startup financing

How to Get Start-up Financing Without a Bank Loan

Startup financing

Start-ups grow fast, and they need to piece together an elaborate puzzle to see the fruits of their labour. That includes brilliant people, endless hard-worked hours and sufficient cashflow. No wonder start-up financing is such an important piece of the puzzle.

It’s incredible to see a young start-up reach new levels in their business, but if the proper financing is missing, they’ll never realize the picture they envisioned. For many, the biggest challenge is getting the working capital to operate at the right scale.

A widely quoted U.S. bank study explained that 79 percent of young businesses failed due to “starting out with too little money.” Bank loans can be extremely challenging to secure at an early stage, and other financing like angel investments can bring its own set of challenges.

Co-founders and young CFOs then spend countless meetings drumming up new rounds of funding, and for good reason. Securing these series of VC funding can mean an incredibly rapid enhancement in growth, but at a cost. With pressure to grow exponentially (sometimes 10x each round) eventually, deals can be made with the wrong partners. Unfortunately, many founders never secure their funding and are forced to abandon their current business goals.

Growing like a weed, but stuck without options

Start-ups aren’t handcuffed to the traditional entrepreneur financing resources. Alternative solutions exist that can be an immediate source of consistent working capital.

For Ted Hope, President of PM Retail Solutions in Scarborough, Canada, that’s exactly what he did when faced with a financing dilemma.

“As a start-up company, you don’t have the credit or history of a more established organization. At the same time, you’re subjected to a lot of COD and cashflow issues,” Hope explained.

Hope was four months into his new business venture, a custom manufacturer of retail store display fixtures, and the outlook for the business itself was looking very promising. In fact, the company brought in almost half a million in revenue in the first six months, but that was exactly the problem.

“We were self-financing, but as we got more sales, I had about $150,000 in A/R that I wasn’t going to see for at least 60 days,” Hope explained. Since they had to wait for customers to pay their invoices, cashflow was tight.

Different kind of start-up financing

For start-ups and growing small businesses, this situation is likely familiar. It’s unfortunate, but 82 percent of businesses that fail, do so because of cashflow problems.

For companies with regular invoices like PM Retail Solutions, they found an alternative solution with accounts receivable financing (also known as factoring). By leveraging those unpaid customer invoices, they could get almost immediate cash flow from their Liquid Capital partner. Hope worked with Liquid Capital to get paid upfront for a significant value of the customer invoices.

The fix was almost instantaneous. PM Retail attained a pre-approval and received $60,000 in their account within only one day of initializing the transaction. Liquid Capital was then responsible for collecting on the customer invoices, and distributing the additional revenue to PM Retail at that time. This also freed up a lot of time for Hope and his team.

Hope had found his solution. “Factoring allowed us to free up our cash flow during a precarious time as a start-up, making us almost instantly capital self-sufficient. We can pay COD for almost everything we do, and have better terms because we have money in the bank.”

Finding the best solution for your start-up

Of course, this solution is one of many, but it’s worth investigating to see if it’s the right one for your business.

Alternative financing specialists can offer you sound advice, and should be able to work as a supplement to your traditional banking options as necessary. In many cases, Liquid Capital will work with clients on both short and long-term timeframes as needed, and can help a client graduate to access traditional bank loans as well.

Until that point, alternative solutions like accounts receivable financing can not only bridge the start-up funding gap, but can be the flexible solution that a founder and CFO have been searching to find.

Read the full story on PM Retail Solutions here.

Leadership skills

This Leadership Skill Can Unlock Growth and Profit

Can you be a super leader?

Leadership skills

“The top 10 companies on the Empathy Index increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10, and they generated 50% more earnings.”

How often do we attempt to understand things from someone else’s perspective? As an entrepreneur or small business leader, this skill is critical in human resources, but it also impacts your bottom line.

Empathy includes everything from how employees perceive you to whether customers are satisfied with your products or services. And while it’s often dismissed as overly “touchy-feely” or “wimpy and emotional,” practicing empathy is linked directly to financial gains, so ignore it at your own risk.

Why Empathy Drives Business Growth as Much as Solid Working Capital

According to the Harvard Business Review, empathy means understanding our emotional impact on others and making a change as a result. “It’s more important to a successful business than ever, correlating to growth, productivity, and earnings per employee,” HBR explained.

Need proof, check out the global Empathy Index, which analyzes the ethics, leadership, company culture, brand perception and public social media messaging of 170 companies listed on major financial indexes. Staggeringly, companies that performed well in “empathy” also had equally high overall business performance.

“The top 10 companies on the Empathy Index increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10, and they generated 50% more earnings (defined by market capitalization).”

 

5 easy steps for entrepreneurs to practice better empathy

empathy

Great business relationships, especially those involving growth capital and funding, start with a face-to-face understanding of the client’s needs, fears and goals.

As business partners, we’re always listening for ways to make our services more responsive. Renowned leadership advisors and empathy experts SYPartners recently published a list of 5 Ways to Cultivate Empathy, and it struck a chord. (This cutting-edge management consultancy also created an app called Unstuck that helps people understand what’s holding them back and how to move forward — it’s worth checking out.)

According to SYPartners, empathy enables leaders to “build stronger teams, design more ingenious solutions, and deepen their emotional intelligence, an increasingly covetable skill in the next era of business.”

Try their five proven ways of practicing empathy: 

1. Put down your guard.

“Your ability to feel emotions is what triggers them in others. If you want to connect with someone, you have to let yourself be vulnerable, too.”

ACTION ITEM: It’s easy to dismiss chitchat around the office, but sometimes these genuine interactions can take your business relationships to the next level. When someone asks how you’re doing, be real with them. Share a story from your weekend or a challenge you’re facing right now. SYPartners recommends starting your meetings with a “pulse-check” to invite your team to share what they’re excited or anxious about. By getting real with your colleagues, even for a moment before jumping into business, you’ll be practicing empathy.

2. Help others know they matter

“As Oprah often says: “Every human being is looking for one thing, and that is to be validated, to be seen and to be heard.” Your job as a leader is to help others know they matter.”

ACTION ITEM: In modern business, devices control our lives. Computers, tablets, smartphones and even smart watches. But they can also destroy our attention spans and ability to focus on the people around us. Can you go through an entire meeting without your gaze drifting to your screen? Often, that text or email can wait. When it matters most, give your full attention to the people around you — in face-to-face meetings, client conversations and critical moments with your staff.

3. Pay attention to body language

“Thousands of invitations for empathy cross your path every day. Do you notice them and shift your behavior, or do you let them glide past?”

ACTION ITEM: Your actions speak volumes, especially when you can pick up on subtle cues from your team’s body language — and then respond empathetically. In presentations, for example, notice how the room reacts to your comments. Pause to let key points sink in, allow curious minds to ask questions or shift your tone and topic if the message isn’t resonating. When you sense changes in your coworkers’ body language, these are visual reminders for you to acknowledge the mood and react accordingly.

4. Stand in someone else’s shoes

“It’s not always possible to get all the necessary voices at the table. But that doesn’t mean you can’t summon your imagination and best acting skills to pressure-test your team’s thinking.”

ACTION ITEM: True empathy comes from experiencing a situation from another perspective. SYPartners recommends that you take on personas in your next team meeting or workshop, assigning roles to each team member. By acting as skeptical customers, investors, competitors or a long-term client, they’ll be forced to take on those people’s characteristics — facing the challenges from a different point of view. You can also have the team interview these real people in advance to get a first-person perspective and immediate feedback.

5. Take a field trip

“It’s hard to get perspective when you sit at a desk every day. To better understand whom you’re designing for or collaborating with, go to them where they are and observe their routines.”

ACTION ITEM: Whether it’s a different team, department, office location or your client base, you’ll never get more first-hand experience than visiting where they work. Take your team on a “seeing exploration” to observe their environment, as SYPartners explains. Ask questions about how they operate on a daily basis, the major challenges they face, what they are proud of and even potentially how you can help out.

cash cycle

Learn This Quick Way to Take Advantage of Supplier Discounts

cash cycle

Sometimes you’ll come across a business deal that’s too good to pass up, but the payment terms are too short, or worse yet…there are no terms.

That’s the time when working capital is crucial, and there’s a quick solution to get you the necessary capital.

For instance, if your supplier network offers a limited-time bulk sale, you can take advantage of that deal with the Purchase Financing Program (PFP). This doesn’t tie up any working capital to finance the cost of the payment, so you can keep your day-to-day operations intact.

Who is the Purchase Financing Program made for?

PFP is a very attractive solution for companies that already have a strong credit rating but may have maxed out their bank loan options, or need a faster solution.

No matter where your supplier is located, your in-transit inventory can be financed. That inventory can be goods for resale, inventory or consumption. You receive the goods, then pay the PFP invoices as agreed. It’s that simple.

The Purchase Financing Program can effectively reduce your CCC by extending your purchase terms. If you have the ability to pay in regular terms, but not the short or no terms set out by the supplier, this program can help you.

Example: How PFP can lock in a great supplier deal

Jacksons Preserves, run by Meg Jackson, is a 30-year family-run business with excellent sales, suppliers, a dedicated customer base and a strong credit rating. It is currently quarter-end when Jacksons pays out many expense and payroll bonuses, and their main supplier has just offered a deep discount on an overstock of canning supplies. The catch? Payment is required on delivery (COD), and it’s first come, first served.

Jacksons holds inventory for an average of 14 days before shipment, has a standard net-30 day payable terms, and gets paid on average after 60 days. If they take the discount, they’ll be left tight on capital after also paying the bills.

Cash Cycle Reminder:

With this bit of information, we can calculate the “cash cycle” for Jacksons Preserves, which tells you how many days it takes them to turn their inventory purchases into cash. That number (known as the CCC) is one key indicator that lenders and other financial providers use to assess your potential risk level. Want to learn more? Get all the details and figures in part one of our cash cycle series.

How PFP works in this case

Jacksons calls up their Liquid Capital partner to use the Purchase Financing Program and snag this supplier deal while it lasts. Liquid Capital pays the supplier directly, deferring Jacksons’ payables outstanding for this transaction to 30 extra days, giving them time to gain working capital from other sales.

Here’s how the cash cycle calculations would look when comparing PFP to an ordinary situation. It’s quite a dramatic improvement.

ORIGINAL CCC USING THE PURCHASE FINANCING PROGRAM
CCC = DIO – DPO + DSO CCC = DIO – DPO + DSO
CCC = 14 – 0 + 60 CCC = 14 – 30 + 60
CCC = 74 days CCC = 44 days

Improved CCC by 30 days

 

In this instance, Jacksons Preserve will have an extra 30 days of breathing room to pay the expense on their supply deal. By taking advantage of the discount, their production expenses will decrease and profits will likely increase. This more than pays for their short-term financing solution.

 

More in the Cash Cycle Series:

Part 1: How to Determine Your Company’s “Cash Conversion Cycle” 

Part 2: 7 proven cash flow tactics every CFO needs to know          

Part 3: Leverage your assets to grow your working capital

Part 4: Keep suppliers happy and the cash in your pocket

workplace expectations

See how our workplace expectations have changed since 1946

workplace expectations

What motivates you at the office? How do you approach meetings and group work? Do you challenge authority or look up to them? All of your answers are probably quite different than other generations in the workforce, and unlocking the answers for each generation you deal with can be a solved mystery that will make you more effective in business.

Think how your first boss would have answered those questions. It’s probably quite different. What about that new up-and-comer entering the office this year? They will have an entirely transformed approach.

Unlocking the mysteries: How other generations think

Workplace expectations in business are very different than they were even 20 years ago, and they have hugely changed from those of 50 years past. Six key factors have all contributed to a massive upheaval of what leaders and employees feel they have a right to expect in their work life:

  1. The Rise of Woman Power
  2. Right-brain/Left Brain Thinking
  3. Education
  4. Technology
  5. Confidence
  6. Values

When considered individually, each of these factors have played a role in changing conditions within the business workplace. Together, they have created the perfect environment for the rights and expectations of individuals to become as important as the vision of the leaders and where employers need to keep their staff happy in order to keep them at all.

Taken from Confident Leadership in 21st Century Business: Bridging the Generation Gaps, the following chart offers a comparison of changing workplace expectations in business since 1946. Notice how each generation has their own shift in the way they approach the business world.

 

Category Boomers I Boomers II Gen X Gen Y Gen Z
Birth Year 1946-1954 1955-1965 1963-1980 1980-2000 1995-
Coming of Age 1967-1975 1976-1986 1984-2001 2001-2021 2008-
Meeting Style Value meetings and opportunities to brainstorm. Value the invitation to participate, and eager to show themselves capable. Like meetings with a purpose. Don’t like to waste time. Prefer independent time. Prefer short, casual meetings with team activities. Want to be entertained. Eager to participate. Little patience for repetition or delays.
Attitude

Toward Authority

Honor, respect Disillusioned and untrusting Skeptical, suspicious Need to be respected by leaders Need to be valued by leaders
Technology Master it Improve it Enjoy it Employ it Adapt it
Interactive Style Self-absorbed Self-sufficient Self-starting free agents Team player Collaborative
Work is… An exciting adventure An arduous adventure A necessary challenge Meant to be meaningful A means to a better world
Characteristics Driven, optimistic, competitive, think people should pay their dues The “in-it-for-me” group, struggling to compete with Boomers I Latch-key kids, survivors, skeptical, self-reliant Ask why, prefers teamwork and supportive structure, craves feedback and instant gratification Analytical information processors, world-wide collaborators, ready to tackle global issues
Message that Motivates You are important to success You matter We need your ideas You and your co-workers can turn this place around The world needs you

 

One career for life? Not anymore.

Choosing a career for life is no longer the norm. Today, multiple and highly divergent careers are increasingly common.

As little as five years ago, career life expectancies averaged about 10 years. Today we are much closer to half that amount. Job changes happen even more frequently — in fact, two years between companies is the norm. If you last three years in the same job now, you will either be considered the “superstar” or complacent.

Twenty years ago, business people expected to work in an office building, Monday to Friday, and with set hours. Today, workdays and hours are flexible and individuals that can work remotely are considered an asset.

Rather than choosing the corner office with a view, we would rather avoid the stress of commuting and office conflicts by working from home or even from another country. Yet we still value teamwork over individual projects. To make this working style a reality, we can now use new technology to stay connected and productive from anywhere. Ah, technology — that wonderful and ceaselessly advancing opportunity for so much more than conversation at the water cooler.

Do employees have more rights?

In essence, we have gone from employee rights rising from minimal to maximum importance. Employees that once valued security above all else, now “vote with their feet” if they are not satisfied that their psychological needs are being met.

We have moved from predominantly individual work to fully collaborative teams, and our pyramidal hierarchy of business organization is slowly, but surely, morphing into a circular design. Today, employees and leaders alike are looking to be happy, fulfilled, engaged and productive in the workplace. Individual voices, as well as collaborative teams, expect and demand to be heard.

The business that can provide this ultimate workplace culture and fulfill workplace expectations is the one that will attract and retain the best people, at least for today.

 

Business author and speaker, Rosemarie Barnes, highlights the challenges that leaders may face when dealing with multiple generations in one workplace. Learn more about how the generation gaps in business are affecting company health and profits in her book, Confident Leadership in 21st Century Business: Bridging the Generation Gaps, now available on Amazon (US and Canada). Rosemarie can be booked for presentations via rbarnes@confidentstages.com. For more information, visit confidentstages.com.

 

Featured image via Daniel X. O’Neil 

angel investor

Is that “angel investor” actually a demon in disguise?

angel investor

You’ve seen them on TV — those sharp-dressed, smooth-talking angel investors with big personalities and even bigger wallets. Sure, they’re charming and have the business chops to prove their success. But are the sharks and dragons of the world actually the right people to partner with in your next business venture?

Yes, due in part to the smash hits Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den, angel investors can be a consideration when startups and small businesses look for funding. In fact, the typical angel investment can provide $25,000 to $100,000 of funding — a significant stake in your business. Is that investment worth its value, and are there hidden costs or risks associated with this new business relationship?

There’s no doubt that many angel investors can bring incredible experience to the table. They know how to grow a company, have savvy business minds, never fear the unknown and have a wonderful ability to take on what others may see as a risk. Compound all those traits with their deep pockets and you’ve got a recipe for huge returns.

However, not all angels are watching out for your best interest. Keep your eyes peeled for these six types of angel investors that may actually be demons in disguise.

The Tire Kickers

You likely need fast funding and don’t have time to waste with investors who aren’t serious about committing funds. This isn’t a used car lot, so watch out for “The Tire Kickers.”

“As a founder, the last thing you need is to have your chain yanked. A firm “no” is far better than “we’ll think about it” or “we’ll take it under advisement.” If you feel like an angel is stringing you along, trust your gut,” advises Jenny Q. Ta in Fast Company. “Chances are pretty good they are afraid of making a commitment until they know who else is joining the round. Beware of the sheep in angel’s clothing.”

The Sharks

You’ve undoubtedly seen this personality shine on the reality shows. A would-be entrepreneur pitches their product, but can’t recall every financial figure and stat to back their claims. That’s when “The Sharks” see their prey — and they attack.

According to Martin Zwilling in Business Insider,“This is the ultimate bad guy whose sole intention of getting involved in early-stage investing is to take advantage of what they believe is the entrepreneur’s lack of financial and deal-making experience. If the term sheet process turns to pure torture, it may be time to respectfully bow out.”

The Overachievers

Angel investors are naturally more risk tolerant, and they may expect you to be as well. With high risk comes the potential for higher returns, and “The Overachievers” are going to want to see the money. Be prepared for these angels to expect bigger payouts than the average investor.

“It isn’t unusual for an angel investor to expect a rate of return that equals 10 times their original investment inside the first 5 – 7 years,” states Murray Newlands with Startup Grind. “When you are being held to this type of standard, the pressure to generate may be intense. If you are considering angel investors, you must determine whether the startup is within a position to expand at the rate the investor expects.”

The Archangels

Every good angel has a mentor, and these higher-ups are called “The Archangels.” They can bring other investors together and make deals happen fast. The Archangels can shape any idea, organize creative funding agreements and turnaround entire companies. These angels are the key contacts that everyone wants to be in touch with, and for good reason — since their influence can attract would-be investors from other industries and geographies. But be warned, as certain Archangels aren’t so trustworthy…

“There are a lot of people that pretend to be “Archangels” and offer to connect you with people that have money, sometimes for a fee,” says Todd Vernon in a recent Inc. article. “If your “Archangel” Investor is not actually investing his or her money, but simply acting as a proxy for others, take note; that is a warning sign.”

The Know-it-alls

Experienced angels have often been in the game for years, and many of them have grown their own companies by completely disrupting their industries with innovative products and methodologies. But in some cases, this is a breeding ground for “The Know-it-alls.” Because these people have been uber-successful by forging their own paths, they may now believe that their way is the right one. And it can be hard for The Know-it-alls to let go and allow you to chart your own territory.

The trick is dealing with this type of angel in a particular way, as Jonathan Moules explained in a Financial Times article. “Be diplomatic about how you receive an angel’s advice, adopting the tips on more “timeless” matters – such as how to find a good salesperson or how to launch a product – and politely ignoring the advice on matters specific to the investor’s previous forays into business.”

The Control Freaks

Although you might be looking for a hands-off investor, be assured that most angels still need to be involved in certain parts of how your company is run. “The Control Freaks” take this to a whole other level though, looking at every detail of how you run your business with a microscope, and then micromanaging to ‘tell’ you how to move the business forward.

“Angel investors aren’t going to shell out big bucks without taking an interest in how the money is used. If you’re expecting them to take a completely hands-off approach, you may be in for a rude awakening,” cautions Rebecca Lake at Quickbooks. “It’s more likely that your angel will want to take an active role in making decisions that affect the outcome of your business.” Lake warns that even with “The Control Freak” making decisions on your behalf, you are still accountable. “Even if they leave the reins in your hands, you’ll still be accountable for explaining the reasoning behind your choices.”

 

If you’re looking for investors and enhanced business funding, angel investors can still be an option. Do your homework and due diligence to know exactly who you’re working with, understand their expectations and make the right funding partnership. And if the agreement isn’t sitting well with you, don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve looked at all your options.

There are always alternatives to secure funding for your business, like with Liquid Capital Factoring or Asset-Based Lending. Feel free to reach out and we can discuss your options.

Ship illustration

Keep Suppliers Happy and the Cash in Your Pocket

Part 4 in the Cash Cycle series: Using PO Financing to get faster shipping.

cash cycle

Sometimes suppliers demand that you pay for your orders in advance or at the point of shipment.

What if you don’t have the money to pay up front? You might have a letter of credit so they’ll start the order, but what if you can’t get that either? Will they ship your goods?

How to get suppliers to ship your goods

Purchase Order Financing (PO Financing) helps you close 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. This financing option will also improve your cash flow, and your cash conversion cycle (CCC), which can help you meet supplier terms.

In normal circumstances, you might have to wait 30, 60 or 90 days to collect on your sales (DSO = 30, 60 or 90). But a supplier may demand that you pay immediately before they will release your shipment (DPO = 0). If you don’t have significant working capital on hand, this leaves a serious gap. (More on these figures in a bit.)

As you’re stuck waiting to collect on your invoices, you’re still managing the ongoing costs of running your business and your shipment might not be released. Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to meet supplier terms without finding an alternative solution.

PO Financing can extend your cash cycle and help get your product shipped. When you receive a PO from your customer, you place that with your supplier. As your financing partner, Liquid Capital would then provide your supplier with a letter of credit and they would release the shipment. Your customer invoice is then generated.

With PO Financing, businesses often use factoring to obtain faster payment on their customer invoices once they are generated, so that they can take advantage of both solutions at once.

Example Scenario: Financing the cost of the product

The Gregory twins have been running their online retail venture the past

couple years, selling car and truck accessories to the enthusiastic custom

car community. Their suppliers are located across North America and overseas, so shipping is a big concern for the duo. Their business is growing, but their cash flow is still struggling. It’s tough to get supplier payments, orders and payments to align.

Currently, their main overseas supplier requires payment at the point of shipment for a large order ready to leave. Once the parts are on the boat, they’re considered sold to the Gregory brothers – and time begins ticking – but the duo are cash-strapped and can’t pay the entire invoice. They’re in dire need to get the parts in their customers’ hands, as customer invoices usually take at least 35 days to be paid.

Fortunately, they have major customer orders with supporting POs, and Liquid Capital assists by supplying a letter of credit to the supplier. Liquid Capital finances the Gregory twins’ product costs until the order is delivered to the customer, which takes 12 days to arrive. They’ve secured not only payment, but breathing room.

And by factoring their receivables, they’ll now only have to wait 5 days to see cash flow improve from their customer invoices

ORIGINAL CCC USING PO FINANCING
CCC = DIO – DPO + DSO CCC = DIO – DPO + DSO
CCC = 60 – 0 + 35 CCC = 60 – 12 + 5
CCC = 95 days CCC = 53 days


Improved cash cycle by 42 days

    (Get the full cash cycle formula and descriptions here.)

What is the end result?

With PO financing alone, the Gregory brothers shorten their cash cycle by 12 days. That means they will convert inventory into liquid cash almost two weeks faster.

If they also take advantage of factoring their customer invoices, they could shorten by 30 more days, so their cash cycle is dramatically shortened. That’s a big difference from the three-month timeframe without financial support.

 

Get more information on the cash cycle, how to calculate it and strategic tactics for your company:

Part 1: How to Determine Your Company’s “Cash Conversion Cycle” 

Part 2: 7 proven cash flow tactics every CFO needs to know          

Part 3: Leverage your assets to grow your working capital