Category: SME

 
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Guerilla Versus Gorilla – Small Companies Can Win

We make our living as guerillas not the bad kind, but more of a freedom fighter. By using the term ‘guerilla’ I mean EMJ (now a division of SYNNEX) fights for business against big gorillas (other distributors) in the field. Our competitors are almost 100 times our size; EMJ is a Canadian-based, $165 million per year distributor. We have made an operating profit for the past 80 consecutive quarters. So even though we are up against the big gorillas as a distributor, we must be doing something right.

If you are in a business where some of the competitors are much larger, you may be able to benefit from using guerilla tactics. The principles of running a guerrilla organization differ from running a gorilla organization. As a guerrilla, we hide from our competitor; we do not try to crush them. I even go so far as to examine what they do well and let them do it. At the same time, I look for under-serviced markets and get to these markets fast.

A gorilla takes all competitors head on, trying to crush the competition. Sometimes this takes the form of a price war. Sometimes it takes major prolonged, drawn-out investment. This works as long as you are the same size, or larger than the competition. Even then, such a long battle can sap power and ultimately profits.

Companies that die often believe they were gorillas. It is certain death for a business to fight gorillas unless they can withstand the siege. Any time we hire someone with a gorilla-company background, we watch and coach that person to make sure they are indoctrinated with the appropriate tactics. We have to make sure they understand out business model.

My 8 favourite guerilla tactics are:

1 Act fast. I use my company’s size for my advantage. I can act lightning fast. In the computer business, this is a huge asset. Things change so rapidly that moving fast and being first to market is a huge advantage. Larger companies do not react quickly. Develop a reputation for being first it gets the attention of customers.

2 Welcome smaller opportunities. Gorillas tend to say ‘no’ to manufacturers who don’t think they can do significant volume with. But a small opportunity rejected by a gorilla can be a very profitable opportunity for a guerilla. For EMJ, a million dollar per product line is an opportunity big enough to get the attention of my first string. In your business, look for the right-sized opportunity for you. Frequently, it is the smaller opportunity that has the best promise. The gorillas will leave you alone. There is always a right-sized opportunity for a company of any size. Knowing your rightful place in the market can help you to thrive.

3 Get focussed. Higher focus means we know more, stock more, and sell more product of fewer manufacturers. The smaller our product listing, the more powerful we become. We know a lot about a little. That means we know the products we sell better than a gorilla, and we become a sales tool for the reseller, not just an order-taker. Could you become more focused and specialized in a business area by giving up on a part of your business?

4 Be more flexible. We can adapt more easily to our customers and suppliers. We try not to be ruled by policy. The bigger a company gets, the more likely they are to have policy and some of it is required. As a small distributor, we can be more flexible. Are there areas that your competition is ignoring that by being more entrepreneurial, you can capitalize on?

5 Be smarter. This sounds too simple, almost embarrassing to write. Since we are smaller, we can look at the business we do more carefully and make sure it makes good business sense. We don’t pick up another manufacturer just to increase the size of our line card. That’s just not good business sense for us. That’s the way we have to think and so should you.

6 Lower your overhead. For some reason, most companies seem to choose more expensive offices and furnishings as they grow. This expectation tends to increase costs in all areas of the company that distribution, at current margin levels, can ill afford. At EMJ, we buy quality used furniture. We are on the outskirts of Guelph where the cost of land and taxes is less. Our capital base is even high enough that our cost of capital is less than some of the gorillas. Are there areas that you can be lower overhead than the gorillas in your field? Costs always add up on the bottom line.

7 Foster staff loyalty one major advantage guerillas have over gorillas is the ability to attract, motivate, and keep good people. Primarily this is because guerillas can be more flexible, easier to work for and give people more of a sense of accomplishment because what they do contributes more directly the company’s bottom line. I have always found there to be great power by being smaller and treating my people with respect and not just as numbers. Gorillas can try to do this but it is tough for them to copy you.

8 Just BE a gorilla. We like to enter market areas that we can dominate and specialize in. We may not be the biggest but in certain specific niches, we dominate. As long as we are the biggest in an area, we can act the part. We can under-price and over-service the competition forever. Anyone who enters our markets learns that it is expensive and often impossible to unseat us.

9 Be personal. One thing a smaller organization can do is to be more personal. People buy from people. You can foster relationships that will help you sell. Part of the way we are personal is by showing our customers what markets and products ARE profitable. There is nothing that cements a customer relationship better than making them money, because you’ll be making money for them AND for you!

10 Be opportunistic to sum up guerilla strategy is simply to be opportunistic. Take advantage of opportunities that the gorillas cannot do. There are many companies that remain profitable by being opportunistic.

In summary, unless you are huge think guerilla. Appropriate guerilla tactics for your size will win any battle.

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Locating More Virtual Work

Tips on how to find work from home jobs and opportunities that will actually pay you and pay consistently.

If you’re going to go fishing, you have to know where to fish, right? There are several types of job posting sites of which you need to be aware. Each type has its pros and cons. Below; I will show you the different kinds of sites available to freelancers and then discuss the good points and bad points of each.
Paid sites on which clients post their own jobs:
Don’t automatically discount an online job service just because they charge for the service or because you have to “bid” on jobs. I had to learn that the hard way. When Jim and I started seeking more freelance work, I wouldn’t touch those paid sites with a ten-foot keyboard. I figured they must be a scam. Jim says, “Hey, why didn’t you go to this one?” I said,
“I’m not going to pay for job postings! And I’m certainly NOT going to bid against other freelancers to get work!”

After more encouragement, on Jim’s part, I finally checked it out, coughed up the $125 for three months of service, built my profile, and started bidding. Hey, this is business, not a hobby.

In business, there’s competition and you need to be ready for it and deal with it. Now, I’m not saying you should go out and sign up for every paid service that exists – that doesn’t work either. What you should do, though, is pick one or two paid bidding sites. My favorite is eLance.com. They’re expensive and I don’t like using the site for long-term clients. However, it’s a good place to find clients. What you do with them after you’ve earned their business, is, uh, well, none of my business ;-).

Paid sites where the site pulls postings from other sites (uses non-original postings*):
For the freelancer, these sites are not very useful for finding work. If the posting isn’t original, meaning that the client didn’t post the job or the opportunity, you can bet that client is getting so many responses that they’re ignoring the majority of them. This type of site doesn’t do much for you in the way of job postings. They may offer some other good information, but the job postings are likely sub-standard.

Free sites where clients post their jobs
These sites share the same pluses as paid sites with client job listings. Most of the same things apply, except they’re free! One drawback for clients, however, may be the perceived value of the site and their service. Many people feel that if you don’t have to pay for it, it must not be very good. So, it’s possible that you won’t find as many good clients and/or job listings on this type of site. However, if the postings are original and credible, it’s worth a shot.

Free sites where the site pulls postings from other sites (uses non-original postings*):
This type of site gets a double-whammy for uselessness — Unless of course, they can offer you some other kind of information to help you in your job. But, again, if they’re not using original job postings, and are pulling from other sites, their jobs and clients are likely so saturated with responses rendering them useless in finding work.

Staffing agency sites:
Sites like these can be good ones to pursue. Usually, what this type of site or company does is locate its own clients and work and “share” the work with their freelance pool. In fact, this is exactly what Team Double-ClickSM does. The problem, however, is that if they’re good (they pay in a timely manner, work with good clients, and otherwise treat their freelancers well), they fill up quickly and either refuse additional freelancers or have a long waiting list. Persistence is the key here. If you can get in touch with a real human being (not their computer), sometimes it helps to send follow up notes to see if they have changed their acceptance policy.

Sites using non-original postings:
Unfortunately, the fact that a site doesn’t post original job listings isn’t something they advertise. This makes it much more difficult for us, as freelancers, to know whether they’re for real. Most clients don’t post their job openings on multiple sites – they will choose one or two and stick with them. The best way to ferret out the sites who are using others’ postings is a rather time consuming one. You have to surf. Make a mental note (or written if need be) of the sites you visit and the postings you see on them. Then you have to refer back, either by memory or to a log that you create, and watch for patterns. If you run across a posting and remember seeing that same posting elsewhere, it’s a good bet that the site is “borrowing” postings to beef up their site.
The other thing you can do is to send the companies an email before you pay for their service. Interview them, so-to-speak.

Ask the following questions:

Do you borrow job postings from other sites?
If so, how many of your job postings are original? Ask for a percentage.
What does my $29.95 get me – exactly?
How many new postings do you receive per day?
What areas do you post jobs in, ex: IT, Administrative?
Should one of your clients not pay me for the work I do, what is your support policy?
When does my membership expire?

These things will help, but again, there’s no guarantee. You’re a freelancer, which means you’re in business for yourself and there are always risks when you’re in business.

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Business Buying Guide – Detail

Business buying process can be easy with following step by step business buying guide. It is always good to check little things as much as possible when you buy business for sale since business buying process takes a lot of details.

Business Buying Process

First, You have to determining your investment. Usually minimum down payment made by the buyer is 30% of the purchase price. For example, if the business purchase price is $100,000 and loan amount is $70,000 (70%), then the buyer’s down payment needs to be $30,000 (30%). Other possible expenses are inventories, supplies, escrow fee, license and permit fees, franchise transfer fee (if applies), etc.

And then you have to set criteria of desired business. Which includes location of business, type of business, price range of business, desired income of business.

After you decide your investment amount and criteria of business, you will need to find a right business that fit your needs. You can search business through online business listing service site Business For Sale, local newspapers, or through local business brokers or real estate agents.

If you find a business that you want to purchase, you will need to evaluate the business through current owner’s income information and your projected income for short term and long term.
And then you need to make decision to purchase business or not. If the business is right for you, you need to write a very descriptive and detailed contract (Purchase and Sale Agreement).

When you are writing an offer, you have to make sure the contract includes the followings: Your offering price, Initial deposit amount, financing terms, closing date. Other terms and conditions that can be added to the contract is buyer’s loan approval, lease and lease approval from landlord, buyer to obtain all necessary licenses and permits, franchisor’s approval of ownership transfer, the buyer’s Satisfaction of books and records, closing cost allocation, buyer training session, business equipment and fixtures in good working condition, inventories and supplies amount, seller’s agreement not to compete, etc.

After you finish writing an offer, you need to present your offer to seller. Negotiate the price, terms, and conditions and settle with final price and terms and condition.

Now you will need to allocate the purchase price of business that you are buying. After you done purchase price allocation, you will need to apply for loan, license and permits.

and then you will need to obtain a lease or sublease. You will need to make sure you obtain the lease or get an approval of lease assignment before close of escrow no matter what happened.

And then on or the day before the closing date, you will need to review the equipment list that is provided at the time of the acceptance of the Purchase and Sale agreement and buy inventories and supplies. And then you can do the closing on the closing date.

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How To Get About Starting A Small Business!

People toy with the idea of starting a small business at various stages of their lifes. Some think of starting a small business after their educational career is over. Some think of starting a small business because of unpleasant or unhappy situations they have encountered in their work places. There are also others who think of starting a small business, because that is the only way they will be able to work again following a break from work for reasons such as health or redundancy.

Toying with the idea is one thing, but if you are taking positive steps to get started, then certain myths associated with starting and running a small business should be dispelled from your mind.

1. Starting a small business might appear to be an easy option to many who are desperate to get out of a situation but running a business is not as easy as it appears to be.

2. The general impression created in the minds of many people is that you can make a lot of money by running a small business. A few people do make a lot of money by running a small business. On the other hand there are many people who loose a lot of money unfortunately due to lack of proper research and planning.

3. Another myth is that you are the Boss, so you can work when you want, relax when you want and go on holidays when you want. You are the Boss that is all to it. The rest simply does not happen because of other factors that come into play which will need your presence and attention most of the time.

One major blunder made by many small business entrepreneurs is that they never made any self assessment before starting. It is absolutely important that you do a self assessment to find out whether you possess the following qualities and capabilities that are necessary to operate a successful small business.

1. You must be of sound health.

2. You should be able to work on your own most of the time.

3. You should be self motivated and dedicated.

4. You should possess an outgoing personality and have the ability to get along with other people.

5. You should have the ability to work under pressure.

6. You should preferably have some knowledge about your business.

7. Failure is no option to you.

In addition to the above the following factors have a very important and significant impact in the success of your small business.

A good support system such as your spouse or members of your family.

Contacts in the business world who could help you with advice and help you promote your small business.

Good financial assets to help you start and develop your small business and sustain you during the early months.

Conclusion:

Since they are popularly known as small businesses, many would be entrepreneurs are under the impression that it could be run in a slip shod manner. Most of the inputs necessary to operate a large business successfuly are also necessary in the small business venture too.

Success does not come overnight. There could be disappointments and failures during the early months.Those who cannot withstand these pressures should not contemplate starting a small business.The ability to withstand all these pressures and remain motivated is absolutely necessary to succeed.

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You Can Have A Successful Small Business

Owning and maintaining a very successful small business can have its challenges but if you know what you are doing, everything can really work out great for you. There are many helpful tips that you should learn, if you are the owner of a small business and then by learning about these tips you should have the ability to have a very secure and profitable future. Knowing how to operate a small business properly will give you and your employees much relief in knowing that their positions are stable and secured. Your employees will be much happier, as will you, if you do all of the right things and play your cards right. In this article I am hoping to teach you a little bit more about managing a small business so that you will be a success. Having a small business definitely has its own advantages and some of those will be included throughout this article.

It is very important for you to learn more about what it takes to run a small business successfully so that if you or someone you know becomes interested in opening your own small business, you will be much more knowledgeable about all aspects of it. Another great thing about owning your own small business is that usually this means you will for sure have many more awesome customers that will tell others about it and continue coming back themselves. You will have a reputation for owning and managing a very reputable, friendly and affordable, yet small business. A small business would typically go over very well because there will be enough customers to continue keeping you with plenty of customers and when people are on vacation in your area, they too have probably already heard about your small business and many of them will choose to come into your small business and will be quite pleased by the friendly employees and the great prices. Check out the other small businesses in your area to see what it is they are doing to draw in more new customers, do not copy them but definitely kind of take a few little suggestions and ideas from watching others with more experience.

Advertising is something that most businesses do, which you as a small business owner will as well at some point in time, however, even without the professional advertising, your small business will still be successful due to all of your loyal customers that absolutely adore coming into your wonderful store. All it takes to have a very successful small business is friendliness, determination, customers that count on you and a good knowledge about business management will always make for a better chance at success. A small business could typically go over very successfully, as long as you first do some homework over managing your own business, as well as talking with other small business owners because the more experienced people could really provide you with a great deal of helpful information and some tips that can almost guarantee your small businesses success and longevity.

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Your Small Business May Be At Risk Unless You Have A Security and Recovery Plan

Taking the time now to at least put together an informal security and business recovery plan will go a long way in the event of a real disaster or other loss. Learn what your small business should think about before the unexpected happens.

Donít think your small business is at risk? Think again. Whether you realize it or not, your business has valuable information and assets that probably are not protected right now. Your business likely has confidential client information, proprietary business knowledge or just internal knowledge that you wouldnít want to be exposed to criminals or competitors. The loss of this information could have a devastating impact to your business. While business insurance is an important part of your protection, it cannot protect clients from identity theft or your business from unscrupulous employees or competitors.

No matter how big or small, your business needs to have a security and recovery plan in place that determines what risks you have, helps protect against those risks and sets plans in place to handle the most likely types of losses you may experience. Your plan should also look at the both the ëphysicalí and the ëvirtualí aspects of your business.

Start by considering the types of risks to which your business may be vulnerable. What if your business information was lost or stolen? Do you have customer files or records, tax receipts, bank statements, business plans, customer work products?

Next, consider the physical aspects of your business that may be vulnerable. Do you have unique office equipment, inventory, computers or trade specific tools?

Finally, look at how you do business. Do you rely on technology, the internet or employees with unique skills? Does your business model depend on repeatable processes that are unique to your business?

Now, consider what would happen to your business if these parts of your business were lost, destroyed or stolen. Could you continue operating if you lost your client files? Could you be sued by customers if their personal information was exposed? Could you be the target of negative publicity? Could your competitors benefit if they gained access to the information? What if you lost email access for a day? What if that key employee suddenly left for another job? What if your office space caught fire or was flooded?

Your security and recovery plan should put in place the safeguards and policies and procedures to prevent some of these risks and the potential to negatively impact your business. Physical access to buildings is relatively easy to control although most small business have little more than a lock on the front door. Should you consider locking file drawers? Is inventory controlled? Does every employee have access, even to things that are not part of his or her job? Could a disgruntled or fired employee return to the workspace after hours with an extra key copy?

Your plan should consider how to protect the ëvirtualí parts of your business also. Do you have backups of any important files? Do you have passwords, account numbers and other ëkeysí securely guarded? Do your computers have virus and firewall protection and is it up-to-date? Do you have internet and email usage policies in place to protect your employees form harassment charges?

What about remote employees or workers who ëtake work home?í In todayís highly mobile environment vital business information can now be easily accessed outside of your physical controls? Do your employees know how to safeguard laptops, cell phones, flash drives or even print outs of business information once they leave your workspace? What if a laptop is stolen from a workerís car or home or hotel room? Do you have a backup of the data that was on the laptop? What if your employees are accessing your information from a coffee shop Wi-Fi? How do you know if your clients and business are protected?

Lastly, your security and recovery plan should consider how you would handle the most likely losses. For instance, if the computer that holds all your sales information crashes, you should probably have a plan to immediately restore that information from a backup. Where is the backup tape or disk kept? Who has access to it and most importantly, who knows how to restore a backup? If you office is flooded, how quickly can you relocate? Can some employees work from home or other remote locations temporarily? If client information is stolen, do you have a way to contact them?

Most small business owners likely have taken first steps like purchasing insurance and putting locks on the front door. Unfortunately, few have taken the time to really understand the potential risks to their business.

Taking the time now to at least put together an informal plan will go a long way in the event of a real disaster or other loss. Even the best planning obviously wonít protect against all disasters but it can certainly lessen the impact to your business once one occurs.

Aubrey Jones is President and founder of Riverbank Consulting, Inc. Since 1996 he has worked to protect internet banking clients for one of the top US financial institutions including serving as a Risk Manager.

More info’s and free registrations (restricted to pros), please join our live seminar

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