Energy Saving Tips | How to Reduce Bills

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article | Energy Saving Tips | How to Reduce Bills

A recent study shows that energy usage in the United States is doubling every 20 years. If you are like most homeowners, reducing the amount of energy your home consumes is something you are passionate about. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to conserve energy and save money.

However, implementing the changes needed to reduce home energy use can be difficult. In this article, we will discuss some methods you can use to conserve energy and save money.

Make Sure You Are Getting the Best Energy Rates

One of the main things you need to focus on when trying to reduce monthly energy costs is getting the best rate. In states like Texas, the energy sector has been deregulated. This means that the energy providers in this state are competing with each other for business. This level of competition can help you get cheaper electricity rates.

By taking the time to compare the various rates being offered by providers in your area, you can get a much better deal. Ignoring the need for this type of research may result in you paying too much for your home energy needs.

Check Your HVAC Air Ducts

Finding sources of home energy waste will usually require you to perform an audit. Inspecting the various parts of your home can help you see where problems exist. During this audit, you need to pay close attention to the condition of your HVAC air ducts. If these ducts are filled with dust and dirt, it will be hard for air to pass through them.

The longer this problem is left in place, the harder your HVAC unit will have to work. Not only will this result in higher than normal energy bills, it can also lead to the unit being damaged. Hiring professionals to clean your ducts is a great way to keep your HVAC system efficient and reliable.

Control the Amount of Natural Light Entering Your Home

During the summer months, temperatures inside of your home can get pretty hot. As a homeowner, it is your job to find ways to reduce the amount of heat that enters your residence. If you leave your blinds open or have curtains made from sheer material on your windows, a lot of natural light can enter your residence.

The more natural light you have entering your home, the higher the temperature will get. Rather than putting your HVAC unit in a bind, you need to work on controlling the amount of light entering your home. The best way to do this is by investing in blackout curtains. The money paid for these new curtains will be worth it considering the energy they can help you conserve.

Invest in Solar Energy Solutions

If you are trying to make your home more environmentally friendly, investing in solar energy solutions is a great option. With the addition of things like solar panels and solar-powered water heaters, you can save money and reduce your dependence on fossil fuel-based energy. Most homeowners fail to realize just how much energy their electric water heater wastes. With the addition of a solar-powered water heater, you can get the consistent supply of hot water you need without relying on fossil fuels.

Solar panels are also a great addition to your home. Allowing professionals to install these panels will allow you to avoid mistakes.

It’s Time to Take Action

Using any of the suggestions in this article can help you save a lot of money and energy. With the help of professionals, making these energy-efficient changes will be easy.

Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business’ s Financial Position

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Finances|Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business' s Financial PositionBusinesses have been hit hard in recent times, as the pandemic situation has given many business owners cause to worry about their finances. Not that worry is anything new, of course. The life of an entrepreneur has always been a difficult one, as there are all kinds of other factors that can cause financial worry, including the threat of the competition and the ever-changing marketplace which can leave some businesses struggling.

Chances are, you might be struggling within your business, and your financial position might not be as affluent as you would like. This might be because of the factors we have suggested, or there could be other reasons why your business isn’t as fruitful as it could be.

Of course, it might be that your business is doing just fine. If this is the case, then great! Still, no matter how well your business might be doing, we’re sure you would like to reach further heights of financial nirvana.

So, whatever the case is for you, be you happy or otherwise with your financial situation, here are some of the actionable steps you can take to make improvements.

#1: Assess your current situation

To know how well you are doing, you need to get on top of your accounting. If you have an accountant or any other type of financial adviser, sit down with them to discuss your finances. Do the same if you have people on your payroll that deal with the monetary sides of your business. Together, work out where savings could be made, or where other changes need to be put in place and take the necessary steps to make an improvement to your financial position.

And if you haven’t already, consider cloud ERP solutions for your business. These will give you a clearer picture of your finances, with Business Intelligence tools to help you evaluate every part of the financial side of your business. Using the data before you, it should be possible to get a better understanding of how well your business is doing financially.

When you have assessed your current situation, you will be able to work out the way forwards. The following suggestions might be useful to you, so keep reading.

#2: Assess your marketing tactics

For any business to make a profit, marketing has to be key. The more you can to do to get the word out about your business the better. However, you don’t want to waste money with your marketing efforts. If you are investing a lot but seeing zero or minimal return, then you need to rethink what you are doing. It could be that you are targeting the wrong demographic, for example, or you could be using a marketing method that no longer appeals to customers.

So, here’s what you need to do. Firstly, analyze your marketing tactics. You can do this using analytic tools, so check out the link and put them into practice if you haven’t already. Speak to your team too, and ask them for their opinion, and collect feedback from your existing customers to ask about the relevancy of your marketing.

For those marketing tactics that are working, keep using them. But consider how you might improve on what you are doing, and what tweaks you could make to make these tactics work even better for you. And then think of the marketing tactics you need to ditch. While they may have worked in the past, it is important to remember that time moves on and that you might need to try different ways to engage with potential customers. Check out these digital marketing trends if you haven’t already, and take a deep dive in to work out what might be practical for you.

#3: Sell those things you no longer need

Not only will you make more money if you sell some of your unwanted assets, but you will reduce your storage costs too! So, take a look around your business and consider the items that are no longer relevant to you. You might have surplus desks or pieces of computer equipment, for example. If they aren’t being used, and if they are unlikely to be used in the foreseeable future, it might make sense to sell them. Consider the same for any other items you have lying around your office, or that are filling up space in your storage areas. When you have made money from them, put a portion of that cash into your savings if you don’t need to spend it immediately, as you will then strengthen your financial position in the future.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Finances|Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business' s Financial Position#4: Shift your surplus stock

Especially if your business is seasonal, it is important to sell off your surplus stock before you need to get rid of it through less-profitable means. So, mark down your prices and highlight them on your website. Send word out to your customers via email or social media. And if you’re still using leaflet drops to market your business, send the word out door-to-door about your discounted products. You will then make money rather than lose it, and for the short-term at least, you will see a rise in your financial position.

#5: Check for government grants

In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for a government grant. If you were to innovate in any way, for example, perhaps with a product or service that could make a difference in people’s lives, you might be able to apply for a grant from your local government. Similarly, if you were to make green improvements to your business, you might also be eligible for some money. It’s with checking, so have a look at grants.gov for anything you might be eligible for, and continue your research online for other pots of money you might be eligible for.

#6: Deal with your business debts

The longer your business is in debt, the worse off you will be, as you will never have the opportunity to fully spend your profits on things your business needs. So, do what you can to reduce or eliminate the debts that are currently holding your business back. You might want to consider consolidating them, as if you can combine your current debts into one low-interest loan, you will make life much easier for yourself. You might want to contact your lenders too, and ask if they will freeze interest charges to give you a better chance of paying off your debts. You should also pay more than the minimum payment each month, as this way, you will be paying off more of the debt rather than just the interest charges. There are further ideas here on how to manage your business debt, so have a read, and get rid of them as soon as possible.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Finances|Actionable Steps To Improve Your Business' s Financial Position#7: Stop spending more than you should be

If you want to improve your financial position (which, of course, you do), you should take a long hard look at your expenses. If you are paying too much in certain areas, stop! There are all kinds of ways to reduce your business expenses, so read the linked article, and start to make those savings. Of course, going beyond your expected expenses, you need to think about frivolous spending too. If you are buying unnecessary things for your business, then you are simply wasting money. Assess your spending, and keep in mind that saving is better than spending when you’re tempted to buy something you shouldn’t.

These are just a few of the steps you should be taking to improve your business’s financial position, so go back through each one, and commit to further research to help you increase your business profits.

We wish you every success with your business!

How to Deal with Debt and Keep Your Business Afloat

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article Deal with Debt|Deal with Debt|How to Deal with Debt and Keep Your Business AfloatThere is no magical money tree that provides unlimited finances. If there was, business would be a whole lot easier. In reality, the lack of money is the downfall for many businesses. When cash flow is skewed and there’s not enough revenue being generated, this will lead to companies descending into debt.

The debt hole is one that many will fall down and fail to escape from. The result: their business disappears forever.

There are plenty of statistics which back this up. It is said that 50% of small businesses will fold within five years of opening. The main reasons for this include:

  • Insufficient startup capital
  • Inadequate financial planning
  • Poor management
  • Cash flow issues

While the position is difficult to come back from, it’s not impossible. As the following guide will demonstrate, you can deal with the debt and keep your business afloat in the process.

Look at the numbers

When it comes to a starting point for solving your debt quandary, you should always begin by having a general overview of the situation.

If you focus on the numbers, you can gain a deep insight into your current problems. By viewing the revenue and expenses of your business with a magnifying glass, you can truly understand why your debt has cropped up over time.

With this type of information, you can begin to plan for the future. You may craft a budget that will steer you out of trouble. You will understand how many sales are required to start producing a suitable profit. You can also figure out what type of costs your business can eliminate – more on that in the next section.

Reduce costs

As with any budget plan, one of the main focuses should be on your costs. If you can cut away unnecessary expenses, you will typically save a significant amount of money – the type that can go towards wiping out your debt.

Fortunately, there are various different options available when it comes to making budget cuts. Here are a few to consider:

  • Relocate the business: It might not be cost-effective in the beginning but relocating to a cheaper location can seriously pay off in the long run. Plus if you truly want to save money, consider abandoning the office space altogether and create a remote team.
  • Utilize technology: If you select the right technology, you can reduce the need for you and your employees to spend on certain tasks. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily need someone managing the books if you use specialist accounting software that automates the process.
  • Freelancers instead of employees: In-house employees are expensive. Along with their regular wage, you have to consider aspects such as benefits and taxes. This isn’t the case when hiring a freelancer. You can simply pick to pay a set fee for each task/project, and there’s no need to retain a freelancer or agency.
  • Go paperless: Paper, mailing supplies, postage, ink – these are costs which will seem minimal on the surface. Yet they can quickly add up to being a significant expense for your business. If you go paperless, you can effectively eliminate these types of payments.

Just remember: don’t go overboard when reducing your outlays. You never want to remove so much that it negatively impacts the overall quality of your business. Your products and services need to maintain their standards – otherwise you’ll also lose something else: your customers.

Improve your marketing

Now when the previous point talks about reducing costs, you might be wondering how it’s feasible to improve your marketing. However, you don’t have to throw money at promoting your business. This can be done with a very limited budget – you just have to be savvy and strategic about it.

For instance, you can utilize social media to promote your business. It’s free to sign up on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and you can build a healthy following and reach with a regular flow of shareable content. Even something as simple as offering a coupon code can be an effective marketing approach.

When you boost your advertising efforts, you will naturally increase your sales numbers – the ideal tonic to any debt issues.

Contact your customers

Your current customer base is what’s keeping your business alive at this point. Yet this same customer base can be used to grow your company to a new level.

First of all, you can increase sales numbers by specifically targeting your current customers. If you supply them with exclusive deals, they are likely to bite. After all, they’re a customer for a reason – they already enjoy what you’re offering, and they will do so even more if they receive a discounted price.

You can also contact customers as a form of market research. Ask them for feedback on what they like and dislike about your business, what they’d like to see from a new product range, and so on. This type of research can help guide your business towards a prosperous future.

Get in touch with creditors

If you contact your creditors and explain your current predicament, they might be willing to negotiate more favorable repay terms. This can help keep away the potential of facing a debt lawsuit.

Although no matter how much you try, creditors can decide to hit you with a lawsuit. They might feel this is the only way to get you to pay the debt. Before you do, however, analyze the options available. You can acquire professional legal help with pay off when dealing with a debt lawsuit. Their expertise

Sell up

If your debt has consumed the business and there’s seemingly no solution, there is one way of getting out of the problem: sell the company. If you sell the business, you can instantly pay off your creditors and get away from the situation.

At least, that’s if you can find a buyer. If your business is in the unfortunate position of having larger debts than assets, this won’t look enticing to buyers.

How to Handle a Small Business Lawsuit

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Small Business Lawsuit| How to Handle a Small Business LawsuitThere are advantages to owning a small business and endless opportunities for success and growth. Becoming a small business owner is something to be proud of, but there are some risks associated with owning any business. While ideally, it will never happen, a small business lawsuit can be an extremely stressful situation. It’s good practice to be prepared for the worst just in case you find yourself facing a legal situation.

Stats show that each year, 35-56% of small businesses may become involved in litigation. You may not have experience handling lawsuits, specifically business ones, but that’s no reason to fret. Here are a few key things know so you can handle a small business lawsuit.

A claim is not a lawsuit

The first important thing to note is the difference between a lawsuit and a claim. If someone makes a claim against your business, it will only involve your insurance company and does not necessitate you to go to court. If the insurance companies settle the dispute between each other than it doesn’t escalate further. If they cannot reach a mutual agreement, it could lead to a lawsuit. It is also possible for a lawsuit not to make it to court if both sides agree to an appropriate settlement. If it does go to court, make sure always to have a court reporter present to transcribe everything, to ensure that nothing is misinterpreted.

Protect yourself with comprehensive insurance

Your business may never face a lawsuit in all your years of operation. Still, you must prepare yourself should the scenario arise. Proper insurance is critical to make sure that your business is covered as much as possible. The most essential type of coverage you can have is general liability insurance. It will cover you from the most common situations that could arise, such as employee injuries or any other injuries on your business property. Depending on your business operations, you may want to look into more specialized packages based on risks your employees or clients may face.

Make sure your business insurance covers courtroom costs, attorney fees, and settlement fees as well.

Obtain a quality business lawyer

As a small business owner, it is a good idea to have a lawyer on retainer. That way, you know you will have a good quality lawyer you can trust on hand if you end up facing a lawsuit. The last thing that you want to do is scramble to find a good lawyer last minute and not have time to do your research.

The best course of action will usually be a settlement because it won’t require you to go to court. That said, always speak to your lawyer first before saying anything as they will be able to advise you on the best action to take and guide you through the whole process. Even once you speak to your lawyer, you should still avoid any direct contact with the plaintiff. Always make sure that any conversations you have with the person suing you go directly through your lawyer.

Lastly, the best thing you can do after a lawsuit is to learn from it. Use the experience to ensure it doesn’t happen again by making the necessary adjustments in your business.

4 Things You Should be Looking for When Picking a Contract Management Solution

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article | 4 Things You Should be Looking for When Picking a Contract Management SolutionBad contract management costs companies in many different ways, and it exposes them to unnecessary risks. This is why contract management is essential to the long-term success of your business. Fortunately, there are many contract management systems on the market to choose from. The challenge is finding the right one for your business’ needs. Here are four things you should be looking for when picking a contract management solution.

Ease of Use

Many firms are reluctant to adopt a contract management system because of the time, money, and effort involved. When picking an option, you aren’t just spending money on a software application and its support, you also have to train people how to use it. This is why ease of use is one of the top factors to consider when researching contract management systems.

Lifecycle Management

Before you start shopping for contract management software, it is important that you understand what contract lifecycle management is and how important it is. It isn’t enough to have a decent data repository. You need a system that manages contracts from initial negotiation to completion. This ensures that salespeople present contracts from approved templates, have any changes to the standard contract approved, and save the final version in an accessible database.

The ideal contract management system ties into your task management system and email servers. This allows your legal department to know what contracts need to be reviewed as soon as possible and how much work is in their queue. Salespeople can also look up the state of the contract, and the system may send a final version of the contract to the customer for approval or just their own records. The best contract management systems notify management when contracts are up for renewal or may no longer be legally valid.

The ideal contract management system is customisable, allowing you to integrate it with your finance, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource planning system. Then your customer support staff can view a customer contract when someone calls in with a complaint, and approved contracts automatically feed into your financial planning systems.

Collaboration and Sharing Capabilities

A good contract management system should allow you to create, assign, manage, collaborate, and execute in minutes instead of days. For example, a good tool would allow a salesperson to upload a draft contract to the repository and have it available for legal review within moments. Team members should be able to share relevant documents and discuss them in real-time, and approval should arrive within minutes of legal signing it off.

Risk Management

You should also make sure that the contract management tool you choose has risk management capabilities. For example, the tool may notify you when contracts expire so that you don’t continue to work without a valid legal agreement in place. Or it may warn you when there are risks associated with various contracts. Not all contract management systems have legal analytics built-in but knowing when contracts are now null and void due to changes in the law allows you to work on mitigating that risk or renegotiating the contracts.

Email and spreadsheets aren’t good enough for managing your contracts. Choose a contract management system that streamlines your administrative processes, manages risk, and provides the legal protection you expect from your contractual agreements.