“Two heads are better than one.” The old adage is true. Entrepreneurs have known this to be a truth for years thus the reason why strategic partnerships are so commonly used in business today. Partnerships are a voluntary collaborative agreement between two or more parties in which all participants agree to work together to achieve a common purpose. Together they undertake a specific task and share risks, responsibilities, resources, competencies and benefits.
According to PowerLinx, “Strategic partnerships are increasingly becoming a vital element of businesses’ corporate growth strategies with executives setting aside 20 percent of their assets or more to developing and maintaining partnerships. In the globalizing economy, strategic partnerships are helping businesses pool knowledge resources, diversify their product lines and more.” Let’s take a closer look at the ultimate benefits of securing a partnership for your growing company.
- Expand Your Company’s Reach – Not only can partnering with another company or field associated with your business garner more customers, it can physically broaden your reach. Geographic expansion and increased revenue channels are distinct benefits of strategic business partnerships.
- Increased Revenue – By aligning resources and extending the customer base, many businesses will find that they will increase their revenue. In fact, it is one of the main reasons businesses create a strategic partnership. Increased revenue is viewed as a primary advantage of successful partnerships by 66 percent of senior executives.
- Sharing Resources – Partnerships can pool resources for marketing, sales, or even technology investments. Resources may also come in the form of employees with extensive expertise in a particular area. These shared resources can then cut down on overall costs of the business and reduce duplication of services.
- Stability – Long term brand awareness and stability is a major benefit for finding a company to partner with. Building a positive reputation can be a critical part of creating a partnership.
Starting a business means a fairly large learning curve. While there may be many areas that you need to learn the “ins and outs,” understanding the concepts of cash flow is among the more complex and important in any business. Let’s examine the main concepts and terms associated with comprehending cash flow for your budding business.
What is Cash Flow?
Cash flow refers to generating or producing cash (cash inflows) and using or consuming cash (cash outflows). Managing cash flows is essential to the life of your company and is necessary to the successful operation of your business.
What is a Cash Flow Statement?
Josh Kauffman, author of “The Personal MBA,” explains it in simple terms:
“The Cash Flow Statement is straightforward: it’s an examination of a company’s bank account over a certain period of time. Think of it like a checking account ledger: deposits of cash flow in and withdrawals of cash flow out. Ideally, more money flows in than flows out, and the total never goes below zero.”
Usually a cash flow statement keeps track of your company’s “bottom line.”
- Positive cash flow indicates that a company’s liquid assets are increasing, enabling it to settle debts, reinvest in its business, return money to shareholders, pay expenses and provide a buffer against future financial challenges.
- Negative cash flow indicates that a company’s liquid assets are decreasing.
Cash flow is not just made up of profit and loss. It also is affected by:
- Accounts receivable
- Accounts payable
- Capital expenditures
- Borrowings and debt service
- Other “timing” differences
Managing your Cash Flow
- Keep a daily record of incoming and outgoing cash
- Deposit any checks received on a daily basis
- Use numbered cash receipts and account for all of them
- Use numbered checks for disbursements
- Send customer invoices within two days
- Collect receivables within two months
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are among the top social media platforms used by businesses. LinkedIn has a reputation as a business-oriented social network, used for professional networking, job-hunting, industry content and news. When people log on to LinkedIn there is a complete mindshift from the more casual sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to the more professional types of conversations that occur. Given that the demographics of LinkedIn include these types of professionals and people with advanced education and a median income of over $100,000, LinkedIn is the obvious choice for promoting your business. Let’s review how you can get started and use LinkedIn for engagement and promotion of your growing company.
- Company Page – While you may have a personal page on LinkedIn, a company page will help spread your brand awareness via your logo, company overview, testimonials, and links to your business website. This company page can share conversations about your field of business. These conversations can engage readers and give viewers a deeper insight into what your company is all about.
- Connect – One strategy that may seem obvious but is one of the best strategies on LinkedIn is to introduce yourself to others on LinkedIn. Start accepting invitations to others who add you. The more connections you have, the larger your expanded network grows, which helps create more opportunities in the long run.
- Targeted Groups – Join, be a part of, and lead targeted groups to spread word of your field of expertise and to capture your niche audience. LinkedIn groups are platforms for connecting with others in your field and starting relevant discussions. Under the Interests tab on the site, click Groups and you’ll see a list of recommended groups that fit your business.
- Content, Content, Content! – Aside from group discussions, another way to establish yourself as an expert in your field is to post content that gets people thinking. Good content can be highly targeted and should accomplish two goals. First, it should teach others how to solve a problem or how to do their job better and, then, establish you as a leader in your field.
- Personalize your Employees – Get as many of your employees as possible to create and complete their profiles on LinkedIn. These should include appropriate photos, relevant job history that includes a description of how they help your business, and professional connections.
Many people are interested in pursuing a career path as a consultant for obvious reasons including: financial gain, flexibility, freedom and amazing business opportunities. Before beginning a venture in any field, however, read on to find out what the most common mistakes are for entrepreneurs just starting out in the consulting field.
- Financing Errors – Seek the advice of a financial adviser before you begin your consulting company. People who are successful at launching a consulting company, no matter what the field, find out how much money they have to play with for payroll, offices, products, marketing and so on. As you become a more established business it will become more clear how much revenue should be spent on different expenses.
- Lacking Focus – When first starting out many consultants can get distracted by all of the areas that need attending to: employees, marketing, sales, and the list can be endless. Have a business plan or strategy thought out well in advance that allows for many contingencies.
- Legal Errors – Consult with a lawyer regarding all of the setup of your venture. Infringing on another company’s trademark, not completing needed human resources paperwork or licensing and insurance issues will land you in legal hot water. An experienced business attorney will be able to steer you in the right direction and save you a lot of time and energy making “newbie” errors.
- Family/Friends Errors – Starting a business means long hours and numerous errors. As you get your business off the ground, you may need to forgo some luxuries you took for granted before, such as personal time. Prepare your family and friends that the first five years are the most time consuming a brutal on a new venture.
- Pricing Errors – The single largest mistake entrepreneurs make is bad pricing. Bad pricing comes from a lack of understanding of costs. Miscalculations like this can be avoided by careful scrutiny of costs vs revenue of similar companies.
Blogs have become an essential part of the content and social media marketing strategy for many small to medium sized businesses. It is no wonder, since some statistics now show, that 87% of visits to company websites make it there through blogs. But what strategies do successful companies use to make their blogs add to the credibility of the businesses, build brand awareness and engage your targeted audience. Here are some steps and tips to help you create and nurture a blog that can help grow your business and become a vital part of your marketing strategy.
- Plan – Take some serious time to decide a few things about your blog before you set off writing. Answer these questions first: Who is your audience? What message do you want to send to your audience? What voice will you use? (Casual, informative, fun.) What is your ultimate goal? How often do you plan on posting? Planning can help you know the direction and ultimately the reason why you are partaking in the process.
- Research – There are 3,000,000 new blogs each month! Make yours stand out by: creating a list of topics that your readers will be interested in, research keywords that draw viewers to your site, and do some studying up on companies in your field to find out what sets you apart so your blog can reflect your uniqueness. While researching decide where your blog will appear. Will you promote it on social media or only have it on your web page? Will it appear in a monthly or quarterly newsletter, or email?
- Write – Take on a “persona” that can help your business connect with readers. Write with a purpose that gives something extra to your readers. Give pertinent information or “how-to” information that will make the reader come back for more. Leave the corporate tone in the office and share content in a personal way.
- Analyze – Use analytics to find out what has worked as topics and what has not. Find out what engages the readers and keeps them coming back for more!