The Worst Cashflow Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

The worst cash flow mistakes a small business owner can make can be counted on one hand. They have one thing in common, and that’s about failing to follow the money. They’re about keeping your eye on the prize, and we go through them here, ending with advice about how to track your own company money using expense management software for small businesses…

Failing to think before you splurge. Great! You’ve started a business. You’re on the road to fame and fortune, and now’s the time to invest in an expensive suit and a new car, isn’t it? No, in short, it isn’t. This is exactly the time NOT to commit money – yours of the company’s – to anything you don’t need. So there’s the first lesson. Understand the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. To succeed in business you need a phone, but the Armani suit can wait…

Expecting the best. This is about your financial planning. Understand that you’re not going to be a millionaire in the first year. On the contrary, you’ll be doing well if you can afford to pay yourself anything like a salary in Year One. If you overestimate the number of units you can sell, or the clients you can get to come on board, then revenue will be lower than you predict, and you may find yourself overstretched with any finance package you’ve put in place.

Offering credit. Poor paying suppliers can cripple small businesses. If you’re made to wait for payment, that’s like offering them an interest-free loan, and you shouldn’t do it. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for payment up front, so long as you’re ready to honour your commitment. After all, you wouldn’t expect the local supermarket to give you a month or more’s credit on your grocery shop (though if you’re a supplier to them, the boot would be on the other foot). In general, large organisations are slower payers, and also have complex internal procedures in place about how and when payments can be made. Better to work with smaller companies, where you have direct access to the person with the power to pay.

Being cash poor. If you’ve made careful and conservative cash flow forecasts in the early days of your business, everything’s fine, so long as cash moves as you’d predicted. But what happens if it doesn’t? If you have no cash cushion you could be in trouble. Try to have a couple of months-worth of cash in the bank so you could carry on if you had no income at all. It’ll help you sleep easier, too.

Not making an unpaid finance assistant work for them. Bet that caught your attention didn’t it? This is not about the kind of modern slavery that has people working for nothing, but it’s about technology. It’s about arming yourself with good quality business expense management software for small businesses and being disciplined in its use. In the early days of your business you need to be especially careful with money, because having little of it generally sharpens the focus in the need to be a good money manager. In later years, when you’ve earned a wedge, there’s no reason to take your foot off the control pedal. Keep a tight rein on finance, and you’ll be rewarded with better dividends in the future. Selection of the right small business expense management software will enable you to keep track of expenses very easily, but more importantly, it will allow you to interrogate the data, and show you how effectively you’re managing spending and cashflow – and show where improvements can be made. And picking the right package means it’ll offer excellent value for money, because the savings you make by using it are probably going to be more than the cost of investing in it in the first place.

Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.

Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.

Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.

Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.

Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.

Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel

If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.

Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.

Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights

Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports

When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings

Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time

Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

These strategies can help you save money while booking flights and hotels.

Palm Oil Plantation Business in Indonesia: How to Get Started

Palm Oil Plantations are a very lucrative agricultural business for agriculture entrepreneurs and companies to invest in. The potential in this business makes palm oil one of the largest revenue streams in Indonesia. After the President of Indonesia Mr. Joko Widodo (Jokowi) imposed a moratorium on the land available for plantations, the value of palm oil plantations has increased dramatically.

The process of acquisition or take over of plantations, especially oil palm plantations, is not as easy as imagined. There are a number of important factors that are key to success in the take-over of oil palm plantations that must be followed and implemented based on the principle of gentlement-agreement by each party.

Considering that transactions in the property sector, especially the take-over of oil palm plantations, contain very high capital business and involve many parties as mediators, the government in this case the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia feels the need to make rules to safeguard the rights and obligations of the parties involved through the Minister of Trade Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia no. 33 / M-DAG / PER / 8/2008 concerning Brokerage Company of Property Trade.

However, even though there are regulations governing trade transactions, it is not uncommon for a transaction to be too convoluted and less cooperative between mediators, so that the take-over process actually becomes unsuccessful or completely void.

The following are steps to acquire a palm oil plantation in Indonesia

First, contact a trusted brokerage firm and ask if they have palm oil plantations to sell. Do not contact individual brokers as they may not have the complete detail on specific plantations, and generally they are not clear with the actual relation to the available plantation. Such cases often occur in Indonesia and you should make sure that the plantations have no legal issues.

Second, ask the brokerage firm to do the due diligence so that you avoid future legal issues in Indonesia. A trusted brokerage firm must have qualified survey tools such as drone mapping and a reliable agronomist / business analyst team. Thus, there is a match between the plantation legal documentation and the actual physical plantation.

Third, make sure the selling price of the plantation is fair. Almost all individual brokers markup the original price up to 30%. You should be careful in doing business with these types of individual brokers because of this type of lack of transparency. In this case you need to appoint a trusted agent to represent you in the take-over process. A typical commission fee of 1-3% should be expected from the plantation selling side.

5 Tips for Typography Best Practices

This was my first year at Typographics 2018. Typographics 2018 is a conference for typography enthusiasts around the world, that’s held at Cooper Union. There were panelists from San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Japan; it really felt like a truly international experience.

I had the chance to sit in on both the conference and TypeLab parts of Typographics. Here are a few highlights from the panels/breakout sessions that I really enjoyed:

1. Emojis = Pictures + Character (Jennifer Daniel, Google Emoji)
Emojis are images that may translate into different meanings across different devices. Jennifer gave an example about how the “dumpling” emoji looks different across different chat platforms -every culture has a dumpling!
I found an interesting tension in this statement -emojis should have a consistent user experience (across platforms), yet still be personalized to their users.

2. Ubiquitous type is can cause user confusion (Mr. Keedy)
Mr. Keedy created Keedy Sans, a popular font in the 90’s. The font was considered “uncool” 10 years later and used everywhere. Keedy sans is used on teenage girl makeup packaging, as well as winebars. This could create a bad user experience for people because of lack of branding. Last year, Mr. Keedy refreshed his font -to create greater customization and allow Keedy fans to layer the font for interesting visual effects.

3. Braille is a form of typography (Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt)
Ellen talked about how blind individuals read Braille in a unique way -holding it across their body. She also demonstrated a blind person’s experience watching music videos by showing the accessibility voiceover.

4. Brand holds content together with design (Gale Bichler, NYTimes)
Gale foused on how the New York Times(NYT) has branded itself as a publication that experiments with many types of fonts. NYT can play around with different types and massive fonts as illustration. If someone picks up a page from the floor, they can usually tell that it’s from the New York Times because of branding.

5. Picking fonts is like eating ice cream. (Veronika Burian and Jose Scaglione, Type Together)
When combining fonts, look at mechanic and organic feels. Veronika and Jose talked about how people like humanist fonts, with a hint of a calligrapher’s hand. Ideally, you should find a balance typefaces share a common language.

The overarching theme is that typography is wide-ranging and crosses various mediums. Visual languages include symbols, braille, and audio caption. The challenge now lies in how to design the best experiences for these new forms of language.

Keeping Costumes Clean and Beautiful

Costumes are a big investment whether they are store-bought, custom-made or handmade by you. Keeping your costume looking and smelling wonderful will enhance your confidence and stage presence. In particular, costumes embellished with beads or other decorations need to be handled with care to preserve their beauty. Precautions to prevent damage and prompt stain removal will give your costumes a long and beautiful life.

Preventing damage

Perspiration is acidic and will damage and stain fabrics. Using dress shields or promptly removing stains prevents acidic damage. It helps to use deodorants or anti-antiperspirants that dry clear; some products leave white residue that transfers unsightly debris to fabrics.

Perfume and many hairsprays contain alcohol, which damages sequins and fades the color of some fabrics. A towel or other cover over your costume will prevent damage from spills when dressing for a show.

Keeping costumes fresh and clean

One of the best ways to keep your costumes clean is to ensure that your body is clean when you get ready to wear it. If you sweat during the day and then put on your costume, you immediately transfer dirt and odor onto the costume. You can prevent this by taking a shower or using wipes on your body just before putting on your costume. Use hypoallergenic wipes for sensitive skin.

Some costumes are more sweat-proof than others. A thin cotton t-shirt or crop top worn under opaque, loose-fitting costumes will absorb perspiration, keeping acidic moisture away from the costume. Some long-sleeved folkloric costumes have cutouts in the armpit area, which prevents perspiration stains and odor on fabrics while allowing more freedom of movement for the arms. Dress shields are also a useful alternative for preventing fabric damage in the underarm area.

Washing and dry cleaning

Silks and some cotton fabrics are prone to fading when washed or dry-cleaned, losing their color vibrancy. If cleaning is necessary, test a fabric swatch or inconspicuous area of the garment. Dry cleaning is less dangerous to some fabrics than washing; however, dry cleaning results in loss of glued-on decorations, applies heat and fades silk.

If washing a costume in the washing machine is unavoidable, you can put it inside a pillowcase and tie the opening in a knot, using the delicate cycle and cold water to avoid damaging sewn-on beads, coins and other embellishments. A stain remover stick is helpful for removing stains. Be sure all the stain is gone before putting the item in the dryer, since heat will set some stains, making them harder to remove later. Delicate fabrics can be laid out to air dry, which is safer for them than using a dryer.

Storage

If your costume is not washable or dry-cleanable (as is the case of many beaded costumes) let the costume air dry after a performance in order to allow perspiration to completely evaporate. This is also very important for shoes and wigs.

Some performers lightly spray costume linings with a vodka and water mixture to minimize odors. If you do this, test an inconspicuous area or fabric swatch first to determine whether it is safe for your fabric. Always avoid spraying alcohol-based products on embellishments such as sequins, beads and plastic decorations. Alcohol fades some fabrics, so use with caution.

Costumes should never be stored until completely dry, because wet storage will result in mold, which could completely ruin the costume. Be especially careful not to store wet shoes in plastic. Store your costume away from direct sunlight and bright lights to avoid fading; this is vital for preserving delicate silks and antique fabrics.

Costumes with heavy beadwork, or made of net or stretchy fabrics should not be stored on hangers, since they may be permanently stretched. These costumes can be stored flat or rolled. Fasten hooks and eyes and close zippers when storing. In addition, avoid wood and plastic hangers, since they release acids, which cause fabric stains with long-term storage. Padded hangers are a safer choice.

Taking care of your costumes will ensure that they look and smell lovely for many performances.