If youve always wanted a marketing manager but couldnt afford one, ModelOffice has a solution. Model Marketing Kit is a software application that will help you refine your sales and marketing efforts and keep you focused. It gives a step-by-step method, complete with guidelines, sample documents and spreadsheet templates, for analyzing optimal pricing, market cycles and more. This program runs on either Windows or Macintosh computers. For more information, go to www.modeloffice.com or call (800) 801-3880.
Virtual financial adviser
If youve ever needed a financial question answered, but didnt want to spend the money or time with a consultant, Personal Finance Fundamentals may be for you. This software from ModelOffice includes more than 2,000 guidelines, tips, spreadsheets, checklists and sample letters to educate you in all areas of personal finance and give you the tools you need to build your personal fortune. Hundreds of sample letters help you apply for mortgages, communicate with creditors and even dispute bills. The software runs on both Windows and Macintosh computers. For more information, go to www.modeloffice.com or call (800) 801-3880.
Five tips to live by
- Visit your ATM just once a week. Figure out how much cash youll need to get through seven days. Take it out on Monday morning and dont go back until the same time next week. Youll save on bank fees and probably spend less.
- Make sure your money is insured. FDIC insurance covers up to $100,000 per bank account. If you have $200,000 in savings and checking combined, its considered one account and insured up to just $100,000. Do business with more than one bank if your account exceeds $100,000.
- Cut up all your credit cards but one. Paying with cash or by check is a sure-fire way to spend less, reduce debt and have more to invest. And, unless youre frequently traveling, leave that one card at home.
- Travel lightly. Put several travelers checks in your wallet to cover emergencies instead of credit cards or a wad of bills. A wallet bulging with cash is a wallet asking to be emptied.
- Buy a car in December. At years end, auto dealers are desperate to empty their lots to make room for next years models. Consequently, they slash prices.
Source: Nancy Dunnan in Never Call Your Broker on Monday, (HarperPerennial).
I want out
When enough is enough and you want out of your business, consider How to Sell Your Business and Get What You Want, (Gwent Press) by Colin Gabriel. Buyers know the subtleties of mergers and acquisitions they get ample practice. For most sellers, it is all new. This book will help you prepare for what could be the most important negotiations of your life. For more information, call (800) 964-1902.
Show me the greenbacks
Securing adequate funding for a business can be one of the most difficult obstacles faced by entrepreneurs, but Small Business Financing from CCH Inc. can help. This book instructs readers on the best ways to raise money for growing a small business. Each source of public and private debt and equity capital is thoroughly explained from bootstrapping and IPOs to commercial loans and SBA-guaranteed programs. Sample forms are included to help you gather the data needed for the financing process. A glossary helps take the mystery out of your dealings with bankers and other members of the financing community. For more information, call (800) 248-3248 or go to www.toolkit.cch.com.
Counting numbers automatically
Accounting software can be confusing for a small business owner. The CTS Guide to Small Business Accounting Software can help sort through the options. The biggest mistake software buyers make is not buying bad software, its overpaying for what they need. The guide evaluates the leading packages in a narrative critique and includes feature charts to compare the vendors against 500 feature functions. For more information, call (800) 433-8015 or go to www.ctsguides.com.
Should or shouldnt you offer benefits to your employees?
- Tax advantages you can deduct plan contributions.
- Recruiting advantages you can use benefits packages to attract good employees and structure them in such a way to reward and thus retain your best employees.
- Personal gain you may be able to get benefits for yourself for less money, if you also offer them to your employees, than you would procuring them privately for yourself.
- Alternatives to pay sometimes employees will accept benefits in lieu of higher salaries.
The biggest disadvantage is benefits are costly to large employers, and that burden becomes even more significant for the small employer. Conventional wisdom holds that smaller employers will:
- Pay higher rates than larger employers for group health coverage because there are fewer employees among whom to spread the risk.
- Have more difficulty providing life insurance coverage to the employee group.
- Have fewer design choices when offering a retirement plan because of high administrative costs.
- Be less likely to offer fringe benefits because of administrative complexity.
Source: CCH Inc.
Cash flow woes?
Managing your cash flow allows you to narrow or completely close your cash flow gap. It does this by examining the items that affect the cash flow of your business. Examining cash inflows and outflows and looking at the components that have a direct effect on your cash flo, allows you to answer the following questions:
- How much cash does my business have?
- How much cash does my business need to operate?
- Where does my business get its cash and spend its cash?
- How do my income and expenses affect the amount of cash I need to expand my business?
If you can answer these questions, youre managing your cash flow.
Source: CCH Inc.
Drip drip drip
If youre interested in purchasing individual stocks with relatively little money each month, consider a dividend reinvestment plan, or DRIP. More than 800 companies offer dividend reinvestment plans to individual investors, including market stalwarts such as McDonalds and Intel.
To participate in a DRIP, you purchase one share of stock in the company and then enroll in a plan to reinvest dividends and purchase more stock in small increments. For example, you could buy one share of XYZ stock for $25 and then contribute $200 a month to the DRIP. The $200 monthly contribution would be used to purchase more shares of XYZ, as would the reinvested dividends. In DRIPs, companies purchase fractional shares for you if the contribution doesnt buy a round number of shares.
Many companies that offer DRIPs charge no commissions or fees, so you can save quite a bit of money. For this reason, they are often referred to as no-load stocks. Some companies even discount the price of the stock for members of their DRIPs, an additional savings.
Benefits of a different breed
A 401(k) plan is different from a company pension plan in several ways:
- Benefit With a 401(k) plan, benefits depend on individual contribution levels and portfolio performance. A pension plan has predetermined benefits based on final salary, years of service and a fixed percentage rate.
- Transferability You can roll a 401(k) account into another 401(k) plan or an IRA, but when you leave a company, your pension generally stays there.
- Investment allocation decisions Each participant in a 401(k) makes decisions for his or her own portfolio. A plan administrator makes decisions for the future pensioners.
- Funding Employees, along with (most) employers, fund the 401(k) plan; company pensions are funded by employers only.
Here are nine tips for instilling pride in employees, according to Smart Moves (Addison-Wesley):
- Hire good people committed to good work. Employees should take pride in good work and pride in themselves. Few organizations invest sufficient resources in the hiring process.
- Recognize any employee whose performance enhances the company mission. These employees are company heroes and should be labeled as such.
- No job in the company should be perceived as menial. All jobs are important, regardless of what people get paid for performing them. No manager or employee should be allowed to refer to any other employee as just a ...
- Open channels between the marketplace and employees. All employees should know what their customers are saying and feeling about the company. Share customer feedback with everybody.
- Involve employees in decisions that directly affect them. Push decision-making as far down the organizational hierarchy as possible.
- Anticipate employee grievances. Manage proactively, not reactively.
- Reward employees on the basis of group and company performance, not just individual performance. If you can, find rewards that your group will prize. Even informal prizes are pleasing. Take doughnuts in once in awhile or order a pizza for lunch.
- Create task forces and project teams composed of members from different departments. Cut across hierarchy and functional departments. Get people involved in solving organizational problems. Replace they attitudes with a we feeling.
- Try to have fun. Work should not be a penance. Find ways to celebrate the joy of working in the company.