Category Archives: business tips

Spotting A Great Niagara Business Leader

Finding a leader is a difficult thing to do. What qualities should you look for and how do you know if they are there? Read on and find out:

  1. Integrity: Take an individual without integrity and you get a BAD leader. So, how do you know if your candidate has integrity? Just outline several hypothetical situations drawn from business case studies and see if your interviewee can recognize subtle ethical issues like trust and transparency they hold.
  2. Empathy: A leader can’t possibly lead if he doesn’t understand what his followers are feeling. To see if your candidate has empathy, pay particular attention to his listening skills. You can also use crisis simulations to see how empathetic the person is to others under pressure. A discussion of a case study in which empathy plays a role comes in handy too.
  3. Emotional intelligence: A leader should know what his weaknesses are and should thus be able control himself, especially when under the scrutiny his position brings along. Asking candidates about their past experiences might be helpful if you want to find out what they have learned and how honest they are in revealing not so stellar performances. Candidates who are passionately committed to career development should also be on your radar.
  4. Vision: The ability to imagine a better future and the capacity to lead followers to it; this is what you should be looking for in a leader. Innovative thinking is the best way to demonstrate vision, so look for innovative thinking. Also look for candidates who are part realists and part optimists; this healthy blend is what it takes to persuade others to accept change and make something even of the worst of situations.
  5. Judgment: A leader must be able to make good decisions even under pressure and this is something that takes experience and an ability to control the emotional influences that distort decision-making. To find out how good your candidate’s judgment is, use case studies which reflect issues in the candidate’s own organization. The precise answer is not important; it’s how the candidate thinks under pressure.
  6. Courage: Is your candidate capable of withstanding the pressures of leadership? Facing attacks and setbacks with poise? Taking educated risks? Find this out by giving your candidate a hypothetical scenario. The answers should be evaluated according to three key elements of courage: commitment to core values, ability to navigate uncertainty, and patience.
  7. Passion: A passion to succeed and a passion for what he’s doing; you’ve got to look for this in your candidate. If your candidate speaks convincingly about how the organizational mission and his personal passions are intertwined during the interview, you’ve just found your leader!

Keep these 7 points in mind when looking for a leader and you’ll definitely do a great job of finding the perfect candidate.

Looking for great Niagara IT support, look no further than your team at Solve-IT.  We are your local IT team.  We help business across Niagara get the most from their IT investments.

Cash Flow: The Lifeblood of Every Niagara Small Business

Guest Blogger:  Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any small business and how it’s managed can mean the difference between your company’s success or failure. Having ample cash on hand will ensure that your suppliers, employees and other vendors can be paid on time. It also allows companies to invest cash back into the business in order to generate additional revenue and profit and, most importantly, improve their bottom line.

Let’s take a closer look at how cash flow management can affect small businesses and review how your business can take control of and better manage its cash flow immediately.

Setting up for Proper Cash Flow Management

Preparing accurate cash flow projections on a regular basis is one of the most important things a small business owner can do, as it can raise red flags to potential problems before they arise. Small business owners can start their cash flow projection by adding cash on hand at the beginning of the period with other cash to be received from various sources. However, it is crucial that other factors are also accounted for, including upcoming cash outlays like rent, inventory, salaries, benefits, taxes, office supplies, advertising, etc.

Better Manage Your Small Business Cash Flow

There are two key areas to analyze for better management of cash flow: receivables and payables.

Improving Receivables

If small business owners got paid immediately following a sale, cash flow would never be a problem. Unfortunately, this rarely happens, but small business owners can still improve their cash flow by better managing their receivables.

Because cash is such a vital asset to all businesses, there are a number of things that small business owners can do to help facilitate getting customers to pay in a more timely fashion:

  • issue invoices promptly and follow up immediately if payments are slow in materializing
  • offer discounts to customers who pay their bills quickly
  • offer several different ways for your customers to pay you
  • track accounts receivable to identify and avoid slow-paying customers

Managing Payables

Expenses must be carefully watched when managing a growing company, as strong sales growth can conceal underlying problems. If expenses are growing faster than sales – or even if they are not –payables should be examined carefully and methods to better control them should be identified:

  • make payments on the last day they are due to retain the use of funds as long as possible
  • keep an eye on sales and expenditure patterns and selling and billing cycles
  • maintain good knowledge of suppliers and understand who offers the best terms and pricing
  • manage and track inventory levels

What is the Best Way to Take Control of Your Cash Flow Management?

Accounting software solutions, such as Sage Simply Accounting or Sage Peachtree, for managing all financial records and cash flow on a daily basis can be beneficial to small business owners.

Even if the business is profitable, a company can close down because of a cash shortage. With the right accounting system, small businesses can:

  • quickly issue professional invoices with detailed and accurate information
  • reduce delinquent payments by offering ways to electronically send and receive money
  • accept credit card payments online for easy, on-time payment
  • access cash projection and customer aged summary reports to understand what monies are owed to you and what your cash position looks like at any one time
  • easily track inventory to reduce waste and keep tabs on your inventory levels
  • establish a preferred suppliers list that identifies previous pricing for materials or goods purchased
  • forecast sales so you can plan ahead and be aware of customer buying patterns
  • pull information directly from most banks and quickly cross-reference every transaction

However you track it, cash flow is the key to your business’ success, and having the right system in place will help improve your cash flow and boost your bottom line!

Connie Certusi is the general manager of Sage’s Small Business AccountinSolutions (SBAS) business unit, which includes the Sage Peachtree and Sage Simply Accounting businesses, as well as the Sage Accountants Network.
Ms. Certusi’s efforts are focused heavily on ensuring that all aspects of the accounting solutions business unit deliver a premium customer experience to small businesses as well as to key recommenders, such as accountants.

Prior to joining Sage, Ms. Certusi gained comprehensive experience in the financial software industry at MSA/Dun & Bradstreet Software, SQL Financials and Ross Systems. She spent 10 years with MSA/Dun & Bradstreet Software in various areas of product development, marketing and management.

Ms. Certusi holds a B.B.A. degree in management science from the University of Georgia.

Best Well-known Tactics For Finding a $100 Million Idea

So you want to go into business, but are not sure what business to get into? How do you think the pros do it? Successful entrepreneurs don’t just happen on a good idea, you know. As a matter of fact, in a recent article I read, a survey was done of 45 company founds. Each one of them started their company, grew it into an unbelievable empire, and then sold it for more than $100 million or more or took that empire public for $300 million or more. Did they reveal any secrets during the survey which a Small to Medium-sized Business (SMB) could use? Let’s take a look:

You need to satisfy their need — not your dream.

You might be surprised to know that most successful businesses don’t necessarily follow the road of passion; more than likely they became successful because they were smart enough to look into a niche where people needed help.

Example: Dick Costolo, founder of Feedburner, responded to publishers that had content but didn’t have any way to distribute it to clients.

Listen to what your customer’s biggest problem is.

Established Information Technology (IT) specialists are very good at doing this. They listen to the client and then go into action to resolve the issue — whether it be with data backup and disaster recovery or keeping a client’s equipment and data secure.

Example: Cardiologist Donald C. Harrison was successful with his idea for his medical device company AtriCure because he thought long and hard about how he could develop a medical device that would help his heart patients in a way that provide them with a much better life.

Work from the bottom and use your experiences — not your head.

How many times have you started from the bottom of a company and worked up through the ranks? You didn’t think you knew everything right off the bat, did you? You had to learn from your experiences. Use your experiences as a one of the best well-known tactics for finding a $100 Million idea.

Example: Billionaire Tim Krauskopf of FreightZone had his idea that he gained when he started driving a semi in the trucking industry.

Great ideas come from collaboration.

Brainstorming can be one of the most effective ways for creating great ideas.

Example: Rock Mackie knew Tomotherapy was a feasible idea only after three of his graduate students collaborated with him sharing their own separate and important discoveries with him that combined resulted in a new and remarkably better CT scanning technology for treating disease.

Think you have a good idea? Sell it.

How many times have you thought you had a wonderful idea that might work for a solution. Oftentimes, if you don’t try it, you’ll never know. Bounce your idea off of someone else. What do they think? Sell your idea to them as only you can do.

Example: Jim Dolan of the Dolan Company found out early that selling is the fastest way to uncover issues with a product so you can come up with a solution and get on with other things.

Get help when you need it.

Don’t think you have to market your idea by yourself. There are plenty of Hamilton IT support companies in your area that would only be too willing to listen, offer feedback, and work right alongside of you to help you find a $100 million idea on how to make your SMB business be the success it can be.

Example: Mahendra Vora, a launcher of multiple highly successful technology companies didn’t just rely on himself or colleagues; he even put his ideas into the hands of his customers.

Do you need help with your idea? Contact your Hamilton IT Support team at Solve-IT today and let’s get started.


Five Tips To Build Strong Client Relations

Your clients keep your business going; and unless you build strong relations with them, the chances of your business growing are almost nil. If you want your business to grow by maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers based on trust and good-will, here are five tips that will help:

  1. It is hard to support any relationship without keeping in touch, and your relationships with your clients are no exceptions to the rule. Stay in touch with your clients on a regular basis giving them relevant information about upcoming offers they might be interested in. Correspond with them using tailored and personal messages to make your customers feel more appreciated and focused on. There are plenty of Clients Relationship Management tools and software solutions out there that will help you create and manage relationships with your customers; but make sure you don’t bombard them with promotional messages.
  2. It is always easier to keep up relationships with existing customers than to create new ones. Focus on strengthening the relationship you already have with your clients. Find out clients who have been loyal to your business and make them feel special by giving them information first or sending them gifts for their birthdays or special occasions.
  3. If you have clients who run businesses, don’t just be a supplier for them. Change your transaction-based relationship into a partnership.
  4. Take it slow. Don’t except the relationship to become a strong one as soon as you have created it. Moving things too fast will make you seem as pushy and give your clients the feeling of being manipulated.
  5. Be honest with your clients. When dealing with your clients, be upfront and open. Hiding facts will only turn your clients skeptical.

We understand the importance of our client relationships. As your trusted Hamilton IT support professional or St. Catharine’s computer tech, we value each relationship with each client. We welcome you to test us out.