Monday, March 31, 2014

4 Ways Startups can Save Cash

Now that tax season has rolled around, you're probably thinking about all your expenses as a small business owner. At the end of each year when you look at what you've spent, you realize just how quickly it all adds up. If you're self-employed or running a small business, saving every penny is important. Here is how Alex F. Bouri did it when he started Seament.

Sharing an Office
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to have a home office. Sometimes the business is too large for a home office, but too small for an office building. If this is the case for you, consider coworking, or sharing an office with another small (but not small enough) business. You can split rent costs and even find other businesses that would be useful to partner up with. It's refreshing to have another team to bounce ideas around with, plus, you're saving money. Sharedesk is a great resource for finding someone to share office space with.

Social Media Marketing
Having an advertising team is a big cost, but as a startup, it's important to generate some branding. Believe it or not, a lot of today's businesses are having success just with social media. Create a Facebook, a Twitter, and perhaps even a YouTube account, and make sure they're all branded with logos and tones. Host contests to get people to like your page, and have friends, loved ones, and other local businesses spread the word.

Be Loyal
Many vendors are pleased to make relationships with their clients. If you show your vendor that you are a loyal customer, they might just cut you a deal – especially if you show them that you're in it for the long-term. Be sure to discuss your business goals with your vendor and let them know which products do well for you. Order in advance and always pay on time. You might be rewarded in the long run.

Bargain Shop
For small things that are necessary to your company, like paper, labels, and even transportation, be sure to bargain shop. Never buy anything without being certain that you're getting the best deal. As we said before, you don't realize it at the time, but small things add up over the course of the year!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Tips for Breaking Into an International Market

Today's technology gives us access to so many vehicles for breaking into markets abroad. Having the tools to go global with your company, however, doesn't mean that you have the skills to do so. Since international firms tend to make bigger profits, grow more quickly, and are less likely to go out of business, it's easy to see why you'd be eager to break into a new market. Just look at what happened when Alex F Bouri took his company, Seament, international: he changed the cement industry forever.

So, yes, breaking into a new market is advisable. But these tips from Alex Bouri will help you to do so more wisely, and hopefully more successfully.

Look Beyond the Obvious Cities
You'd be surprised to learn that some second-tier cities are easier to make revenue in, due to being less competitive, than larger, more "obvious" cities. For example, in India, better-known cities such as Bangalore are already saturated with certain industries, but smaller cities like Ahmedabad and Nagpur could make for a great place for your product. Plus, they also have highly skilled and eager talent to choose from.

Seek Advice
You're not alone in your exporting endeavors. In fact, there are plenty of resources for you to access before taking the first big step, such as government-run trade and investment bureaus. You could also contact other non-competitors who have already paved the way in your destination locations to ask for advice.

Crunch the numbers to figure out if the location(s) you've chosen to expand to have a market for your products and whether your company will be able to compete with local firms when it gets established. If you can safely say "yes" to both of those questions, then you need to delve further into your research, such as figuring out how you will advertise, what taxes are like, and how to finance a property.

Be Flexible
In your new location, how quickly and easy will you be able to upsize or downsize? You never know what your business's progress is going to be like, so no matter what comes your way, you need to be ablet o sustain it. If you need to hire 50 more employees on the spot, will your premises support that? Can you bring on remote employees? Flexibility is invaluable in a situation like this.

Learn the Culture
When the time comes that you want to start marketing, making partners, et cetera, it's important to know the etiquette in order to avoid rubbing anyone the wrong way. Learn the "rules," whether it's receiving a business card with both hands or removing your shoes indoors, in order to avoid making any enemies or giving your company a bad reputation.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Boost Employee Productivity

With the current status of the economy many business owners think that simply having a job and getting a paycheck should motivate employees to work hard.  Unfortunately, this is not the case, and companies, both big and small, have to motivate their employees to be productive via rewarding them.  Mark Bouri, owner of the global company Seament, implements some of the below tips into his day-to-day operations so his staff is always producing.

§  Don’t Be a Micro Manager – When employees are asked what one of their biggest pet peeves are – they’re likely to say that it’s having a manager that micromanages everything they do.  It’s very important to find the balance between managing your team but not breathing down their necks and watching their every move.  While some employees need a lot of supervision and need to be given direction and assistance, others are able to hit the ground running.  It’s important to keep in mind that micro management doesn’t allow employees to think for themselves, so in the long run it can paralyze your company.
§  Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate – A great way to naturally motivate your staff is to set realistic goals for them to work towards. Once the goal is met celebrate or reward your employees.  You can make the reward monetary or treat them to a conference that the company will pay for.  Rewarding your employees for the hard work they put in makes them want to continue to work hard because they feel appreciated.  Keeping your employees happy makes them feel like their effort is being recognized and will prevent them from not putting their best effort forward every day.
§  Make Your Employees Accountable - To keep your staff working meticulously they need to be aware that they are accountable for their actions and decisions. They will also be more likely to not make rash decisions and not take advantage of their position because they know that you’re supporting them and depending on them to do their job the correct way.

Mark Bouri, owner of Seament, has learned that when you put trust in your employees and reward them when they work hard, productivity will soar. Keeping your employees motivated and appreciated are the secrets to boosting your company’s productivity. Staff members admit that when they’re recognized, they don’t want to disappoint their bosses.