StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article | Entrepreneurship | Why You Should Improve Your Business Credit Score

Why You Should Improve Your Business Credit Score

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article | Entrepreneurship | Why You Should Improve Your Business Credit ScoreWhen did you last check your business credit score? Most business owners know that a personal credit score is important but many have never given their business score a thought. According to Experian, 59% of small business owners have never checked their commercial credit score. And of those that had, 56% had not checked their score within the past six months. Why? Most people do not know what a credit score is or how it works. And with so many ways to improve your credit score (check out this article by Business Credit Workshop to see one way) it’s worth knowing about.

But why is your business credit score important? Read on to find out what your business credit score can mean for your business and why you should improve it.

If your business, like many others, relies or may become reliant on loans or credit cards to grow or maintain cash flow, a good credit score is essential. Your credit score gives potential lenders an idea of your reliability using past loans/credit, they look at how you have been with previous repayments and how probable it is that you might pay late or if at all.

Using this data credit referencing agencies then generate your score using a number (usually between 0 and 999 but this can vary) which generally falls under different parameters of Poor, Fair and Good. Instead of flat out rejecting your application for credit, Lenders can also set rates and terms based on this information, in these circumstances this will done to mitigate risk factors such as late repayment, however, this is not always ideal as these rates (interest) are most likely to be higher. For this reason, maintaining a good credit score will increase your chances of gaining credit in the future with better rates. But that isn’t the only reason to make sure your business credit score is in good shape. If your business garners work through tenders, a good credit score can give you an edge over competitors.

There are many things that can affect your credit score from previous late repayments to having no credit lines at all. But whatever your rating you need to know how to maintain and improve your score, nothing can boost your score overnight but getting started:

  1. First thing’s first, if you haven’t already, check your business credit score. There are plenty of services that you can sign up to that will give you an overview of your credit score.
  2. Keep up to date! Depending on the credit checker you sign up to, you may receive monthly reports straight to your email inbox but it’s worth setting a monthly reminder to check your credit score. Take some time to go through any changes in your score, often finding out the issue means you can take the correct action to improve your score.
  3. Keep your information up to date. You might be surprised to learn that changes in location or business status can affect your reliability if your information is inconsistent. So keep up to date with customers, suppliers and any business registration companies and any credit rating agencies.
  4. Not already sharing information with any credit rating agencies? Your company data is important for validating any information on your records.
  5. If your business is in its early days, it is advised that business owners take a look at their own personal data. When little information is available about start-up businesses, CRA may look to the owner to judge whether they are credit-worthy or not.
  6. Avoid late invoice payments. Because late payment terms set on invoices are a form of credit, late payments will impact your credit score.
  7. Collaborate with your suppliers: Suppliers can provide feedback on payment records and share data with CRAs which support your credit score.
  8. On that note, the financial situation of your customers and suppliers can affect your business, keeping up to date with the circumstances of their credit is important for damage limitation to your business in the event that one of those partners go into administration.
  9. Ensure your accounts and tax returns are updated on time.
  10. Limit credit applications or ask for a quote. Whenever you submit an application for credit, that lender does a search on your credit background, each search is then added to your record. Credit lenders usually check to see how many credit searches has been recorded on your record in a certain period of time. Too many searches may indicate that a business is unable to obtain funding which will deter lenders from making a decision in your favour.

So whether you want to secure funding for your business soon or further down the road, getting your credit score in line is the most important step. Even if you don’t plan on seeking loans for your business, keeping your credit score strong is a good idea; if not to secure tenders and contracts for your company, you never know whether you might need a little bit of help in the future.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Corporate Office|Corporate offices: How to make them fit for purpose for clients

Corporate offices: How to make them fit for purpose for clients

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Corporate Office|Corporate offices: How to make them fit for purpose for clientsAs we all know, offices come in all shapes and sizes. There are some huge companies that still operate in very basic facilities (or none at all) – and have absolutely no plans of adding anymore glamour to them, despite of their huge revenues.

However, there are also some much smaller companies who have invested heavily in their office space. This isn’t necessarily because they just feel the need to work out of snazzy offices, but it’s quite often related to clients. In other words, if they are regularly inviting clients for meetings, they need an office that is fit for purpose. And, fit to impress them above the competition.

So, how can you achieve this without breaking the bank? Today’s article will now investigate some of the ways you can achieve this.

Show off with digital signage

Once upon a time, companies may have left leaflets and other paper evidence of their achievements in the reception area. Suffice to say, technology has taken this over.

Now, bigger things are almost expected by clients. Digital signage solutions from Cenareo certainly falls into this category and if you can show off your business in the most visual form as soon as a client walks into reception, you’ll have done wonders for their first impressions.

Try not to lead them through the main office space

Admittedly, this next point might be somewhat out of your control. However, if your office space allows, try and have separate areas for meeting clients and the space in which the main bulk of your work occurs.

It can be really awkward for clients to tiptoe through the main office space, with all eyes seemingly on them. Not only that, but this is something that also tends to showcase all of the bad parts of your office. Whether its papers strewn all over the desks, or just general clutter, day-to-day working environments aren’t going to do your image any favors.

Provide them a working area

This will differ between industries, but there can be occasions where clients need to work from your offices.
What’s the worst thing that can happen to them in this regard? Being perched on the end of a desk, like a spare part.

As such, have a designated area for clients to work from. Ideally it will be enclosed, and offer them all of the facilities they would have as if they were working from their usual environment.

Sometimes, it’s just offering convenience

We appreciate that budgets are small, and not everyone is going to be able to afford new desk areas, or digital signage. For those of you who fall into this category, don’t discount the power of convenience. From a client’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than not having access to the regular Wi-Fi, or not being offered a hot drink on arrival. These are tiny tips, that won’t cost you much, but can make the world of difference to a client who is visiting.

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article |Improve Work Performance|6 Fast and Easy Ways to Improve Work Performance

6 Fast and Easy Ways to Improve Work Performance

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article |Improve Work Performance|6 Fast and Easy Ways to Improve Work PerformanceHow productive is your business?

A common way to measure organizational productivity is to look at your bottom line. If revenues are growing year over year, you can conclude that your company is productive.

However, that’s a simplistic way of measuring productivity. You need to evaluate the rate of output per unit. In this context, a unit is an employee.

Are your employees putting out more quality work within a defined timeframe? Is it taking them longer to complete a task that should be taking a few minutes?

If yes, you need to know how to improve work performance. Continue reading for more insight.

1. Find Out Why Performance Is Low

To fix something that’s broken, you must start by finding out the broken part, right?

Similarly, to improve the performance of your employees, you need to begin by establishing why they aren’t performing to your company’s expectations. Once you have this information, it’s easy to implement effective performance improvement measures.

So, how do you gather this information?

If yours is a medium-sized or large organization with several employees, it can be difficult to pinpoint the problem, right?

In this case, what you need to do is to run a survey. Issue questionnaires that enable employees to provide anonymous feedback on the challenges they’re facing. You can also ask them to provide suggestions on what the organization can do to improve their productivity.

2. Assess the Workload Per Employee

Sometimes productivity suffers not becomes an employee is incompetent, but because they simply have too much work to do within a short time.

This is why you need to evaluate the workload of each of your employees and determine whether it’s within their capabilities. If it’s too much for them to handle, an obvious solution is to reduce it.

Another option is to hire more employees and split the workload among them. Of course, a larger team is be suited to complete the work faster and improve the overall productivity of your company.

3. Create Organizational Policies That Boost Employee Productivity

Did you know your organizational policies could be harming your employees’ productivity levels?

For example, let’s say your company doesn’t prohibit employees from using social media during work hours. This isn’t a bad thing, especially if your organizational culture is “fun and hippy.”

However, this policy could be doing more harm than good. Social media is a major distractor for anyone, so if your employees are working while chatting with their friends on social media, their productivity will certainly take a hit.

The gist of this is you need to develop organization policies that boost employee productivity. Banning or minimizing access to things that distract your employees is a good place to start.

You can also allow them to take frequent breaks. Studies show a strong correlation between more breaks and improved productivity.

4. Ensure Office Environment Promotes Productivity

Ever walked into an office that looked so cluttered you wondered how anybody gets anything done? You definitely wouldn’t fancy working there.

Now that you’re an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide an office environment that promotes employee wellness and boosts productivity.

There’s a lot you can do to create an office space your employees will love.

To start with, there should be plenty of natural light. This means windows should be large and exposed to sunlight.

According to neuroscience research, people who work in an office that receives 173 percent more exposure to sunlight enjoy at least 46 more minutes of sleep every night. A well-rested employee will come to work energized and ready to crush the day’s goals.

Ergonomic workstations also play an important role in improving employee productivity. Other office design ideas to implement include creating collaboration spaces and bringing in office plants.

Tweaking office design might not look like a fast and easy way to improve work performance, but it is. All you need to do is hire an office designer to implement these changes.

5. Provide Efficient Work Tools and Equipment

Do you use a legacy computer in your office? Certainly not.

Therefore, you have no reason to let your workers use legacy or outdated tools and systems to do their work. These will only slow them down, no matter how hard they try to get things done faster.

If your company still has old computers and other pieces of office devices that look like they belong in a museum, you ought to invest in more advanced and efficient technology.

While at it, be sure to automate as many functions as you can. With a good enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, automating business functions with an aim to improve productivity is now an easy job. Try it!

6. Train Your Employees

You can provide your employees with the latest tools and equipment and base them in fancy offices, but if they don’t have the right occupation skills, their work performance will suffer.

To solve this problem, train your employees regularly.

A mistake some employers make is assuming that just because they hired qualified employees, they don’t need to invest in additional training programs. Don’t make this mistake.

As technology changes, so do your employees’ roles and responsibilities. They need to continually update their skills and knowledge in order to remain competitive.

Take the initiative and enroll them in occupational training programs.

Improve Work Performance the Easy Way

As an employer, no one cares about the performance of your company more than you do. And to achieve higher organizational productivity, your employees need to step up. With this guide on how to improve work performance, you now have the information you need to implement changes that will yield fast, positive results.

Stay tuned to our blog for business and workplace tips and insights.

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Security Alarms|Why It's Important To Install Security Alarms for Companies

Why It’s Important To Install Security Alarms for Companies

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Security Alarms|Why It's Important To Install Security Alarms for CompaniesManaging a company is an arduous task. From prospecting, working with clients, to leading financial aspects of the business, it seems like the challenges are never-ending.

As a business owner, you must ensure that you are doing everything right for the company to run smoothly. The problem is that most business owners become too engulfed by the issues of the company that they forget to work on another equally-important element – the security of the company.

A security system like security alarms is something that every company should have not only to prevent robberies and thefts but also to save money and time. Of course, the last thing you would want is for your company to end up in jeopardy.

Installation of security alarms is already a widespread practice among homeowners, and it would also be a profitable investment for businesses.

If you still have doubts about reaching out to an alarm monitoring company and unsure if it is going to be beneficial to your business, take a look at the following reasons why it is essential to install security alarms for companies.

It Protects Your Company Building From Fire.

Security alarms are not only all about preventing illegal intrusions and theft. This system can also be an added layer of protection against fire. Modern security alarms now have early warning features to alert business owners about potential fire outbreaks.

A dedicated team of professionals monitors the security system to ensure that the right people in the company will immediately know about sources of heat and smoke. Heat and smoke detectors have become a popular element of a fire prevention technique.

A security alarm system will also notify the authorities so that they can respond to a building fire in no time. Prompt response from the authorities is essential since time is the most significant factor in any emergency. Immediate action from the monitoring team, the company, and the authorities could identify the difference between the safety of the company employees and the destruction of the building.

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Security Alarms|Why It's Important To Install Security Alarms for CompaniesIt Receives Real-Time Updates About The Company Security Situation.

Due to the continuous development of technology, business security has never been more affordable, sensitive, and specific. Modern security alarms can now send updates to business owners through their mobile phones, enabling them to keep an eye on the security situation of their business at the comfort of their homes.

Real-time updates also mean peace of mind for business owners, even if they are away on a trip for a business meeting or extended vacations.

A multifaceted security alarm system now has complex coding systems and varying access levels, enabling business owners to secure private business information. These features take away the worry about external or internal burglary from the business owner. It’s because they are working with experts to ensure extra protection and safety of their company.

It Keeps Your Valuable Company Assets Safe.

Investing in a security alarm system for a few hundred dollars will save you lots of money in the long run. A security system deters thieves from breaking into your company building just by the thought that you have a security alarm in place.

Having security guards is not enough since thieves have become more sophisticated these days in terms of their methods for breaking into a building, and they can get past the guards quickly. Not to mention the fact that thieves have also improved their weaponry and can take down a small security force, like a piece of cake.

With a security alarm installed in your company, the relevant authorities get notified, and police can immediately help out in neutralizing the thieves. This is why company owners, as well as those who maintain commercial buildings for rent as their business, should get a security alarm system installed as soon as possible.

It Prevents Unethical Employees From Stealing Company Cash.

Have you ever wondered why your company is suffering despite hitting your target sales each month? If so, then you can assume that an internal burglary is happening in your business, and someone from your employees is the culprit.

You can prevent this kind of scenario in your company with the help of a security alarm. The security system enables you to monitor the behavior and activities of your employees. It makes sure that they are not taking out money from the company illegally.

It Lets You Focus More On Running Your Business.

While the security of your company is essential, you cannot afford to spend all your time worrying about it and forget about the other things that matter in your business.

Having a security alarm system installed in your company building gives you the peace of mind knowing that your business is protected and safe. This way, you can focus more on what you do best – running, and growing your business.

Conclusion

A security alarm system is a necessity for companies nowadays, and there is no doubt about it. It is one of the best decisions a business owner can make in the face of a rising rate of crimes related to robbery and burglary. A security alarm is one of the security priorities for the growth of your business.

StrategyDriven Change Management Article | To Drive Digital Transformation, Focus on People

To Drive Digital Transformation, Focus on People

StrategyDriven Change Management Article | To Drive Digital Transformation, Focus on PeopleBusinesses from top global firms to main street staples are looking into a future driven by new technology capabilities. Since this transformation is different from any of the dramatic changes leaders have faced over the past century, it requires a different response.

Today’s changes are not unusual in scope or pace. Consider, for instance, the changes in the last several decades: the invention and rapid propagation routine affordable air flight, the explosion of trade and globalization, and the invention of computing, networks and the Internet. New financial innovations enabled both historic global economic growth and cascading global financial failures. These revolutionary developments required equally revolutionary changes, including more truly global firms, whole new industries, new ways of organizing enterprises (think first GM and then GE), new ways of working (email, virtual global teams), and more.

Today’s digital revolution brings three new components: ubiquitous networks that connect people, devices, and systems instantly and globally; the data that these networks collect and the ability to store that data cost-effectively; and processing power and techniques that enable us to analyze and act on the available data. These new capabilities connect to the work we’ve done over the past several decades inside our enterprises to automate processes with tools — such as accounting systems, supply chain, call center, and such. We need to understand the possibilities and threats posed and act on the new potentials to deliver value to customers in a profitable way. That requires a new way of thinking about people and leadership.

The nature of large-scale digital is, I believe, something new in human endeavor. Humans have been able to organize large numbers of people into a common mission and execute amazing things, from conquering armies to astonishing constructions project like the pyramids. Digital is something quite different: it How do we get hundreds or thousands of people to come up with thousands of ideas and decisions with little physical manifestation (software), and align all into a single solution that runs and meets valuable needs? The hierarchical and process-driven methods of the past won’t work well.

But there’s a model of leadership that will. To build great invisible structures out of thousands of ideas that work together and deliver value in the real world, in a fast-paced, highly competitive environment where the tools, people, and problems are all new and at enormous scale, we need leadership that delivers three imperatives:

  • Rigor In dealing with the uncertainties driving agile adaptive process control, there are many crucial decisions to be made. Rigor means clearly defining each decision, gathering and considering facts, thoroughly considering options, and making clear decisions. Without rigor, alignment has to be command-driven. And efficiency in pursuit of decision reached without rigor is just doing the wrong things more quickly.
  • Alignment Teams must work in a way that gets the best input from all members, and gains understanding and commitment around common goals, schedules, methods, and decisions/directions of all kinds. In this new process of invisibly codifying ideas, perhaps dozens or more team members make many decisions every day that are difficult, if not impossible to control. How do we get everyone’s head in the game, draw out the best in each team member, and gain strong alignment on the way ahead?
  • Efficiency People’s time is a valuable commodity not to be wasted. From creating a meeting agenda to establishing a standard format for decision documents to holding in-person meetings instead of meetings by phone, there are proven techniques to drive efficiency that can be learned and adopted. Above all, driving the use of these techniques depends on the stance of leadership. Leadership should make it clear that they are offended by wasting time, as it’s also wasting energy, resources and brain space.

We need this kind of leadership from top to bottom on in our enterprises: on each team, in each role, at every level; whether organized around project or products, agile scrum or lean start-up; whether teams are fully co-located or spread out globally; whether focused on apps, apis, or IoT.  We need it whether we are transforming, adding to, or combining a digitized environment. Improving our leadership may require a long haul for your organization, or it may just mean a continuation and intensification of current practices. In either case, consider these three focus areas:

  • Frameworks Frameworks are the mechanisms through which a leader facilitates a team to accomplish rigor, alignment, and efficiency. In this context frameworks include physical space (e.g., agile studios), tools (communication such as Slack or Jira, etc.), organizational structure (such decentralizing and aligning technology to business areas more effectively), and governance. Frameworks also include cultural practices such as Toyota’s A3 problem-solving approach and Amazon’s six-page memos. Cultural insistence on extraordinarily well-prepared and conducted meetings is another valuable framework.
  • Leader Behavior Leaders must reinforce the focus on rigor, alignment, and efficiency. Don’t accept poorly planned and conducted meetings. Reject proposals that do not include options and supporting facts. Help teams form, adjust, and get and share needed information. Clear paths by establishing relationships with leaders of business areas or partners on which your teams depend. Fight waste and inefficiency in all incarnations. Don’t cripple your teams by over-standardizing! And be involved with your teams, available to make decisions when they need your help.
  • Training Leadership can be taught, though it’s not easy or cheap. Many leadership skills required for digital success are similar to those taught to meeting facilitators. Our leaders need to be able to solicit ideas effectively, examine them in team context, and gain agreement on next steps in a way that persists when the meeting ends. Beyond these “soft” skills, we need to encourage what Toyota calls “Towering Technical Competence”: certainly in the technical areas of data, networks, development processes and such, but also in customer understanding, testing, process engineering, and partner negotiations.  Don’t rely on just centralized training — managers must be deeply involved in the development of their team members and hold them accountable to demonstrate ongoing mastery.

I recently heard a senior leader ask when the digital transformation they were undertaking would be done — as if there’s a finite point of completion. But this isn’t a rigid set of specific transformational steps. It’s an unrelenting focus on developing the best leaders at every level of your enterprise. The results will be amazing, rewarding, and fun.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Michael K. LevineMichael K. Levine is an expert on lean and agile software development and information technology. He’s worked at the US Commerce Department, First Bank System, and Norwest Banks; was CTO of a real estate software firm; and led Wells Fargo servicing technology through the default crisis. In 2011 he joined US Bank to deploy a new branch banking system; then was technology lead at US Bank Home Mortgage, where he now leads all consumer lending and business banking technology. His latest book is People Over Process: Leadership for Agility (Productivity Press, September 30, 2019). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more at TheTalesofAgility.com