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Accounting & Finance

Microfinance Model Works So What Is It?

meeting, hands

meeting, handsMicrofinance, is mostly known as a financing model for, and used by, budding entrepreneurs and small businesses in third world nations. What’s interesting is it’s popularity is spreading and it’s now likely to be available in town or region near you. Microfinance has it’s roots in places like Africa, India etc and it’s helped people with its model providing start up capital to poor entrepreneurs and small businesses for years. Women in particular have been the beneficiaries of these loans and with the funds they have responsibly used them to create micro enterprises which provide an income to feed their family and in some cases their success also supports their community. So what is Microfinance?

MFLs

Traditionally MFLs (Microfinance lenders) provide small loans to business people; particularly women in areas where they can not secure funds from traditional lenders like banks, and the loans are small enough repayment within a short timeframe is achievable. The lending requirements are usually considered fair and the loan can be co-guaranteed each other people, eliminating the need for collateral as security which is a typical requirement for secured loan. The speed of the transaction attracts borrowers and lenders who are people like us. Small investors looking for a good rate of interest and the feel good of seeing what is achieved by lending small sums to peers or budding businesses in poorer nations.

Savings are encouraged

Microfinance is also not just about borrowing money and starting a business. It is also about becoming education so the borrower is more financially responsible. Borrowers can learn how to save money and how to be wise when determining what to spend their money on. Using banks with good interest rates is also taught to them so that they can grow their money in time with the traditional banks. Business oriented financial education is available too and encouraged so the recipient becomes more financially literate and what they know can be passed on.

Training is also given

This is the most crucial part of microfinance. . A lot of people are interested in starting a business. Sadly, those who are from remote areas in developing countries don’t even have the basic skills such as reading and writing. Hence, they are unable to move ahead. It is not enough to just give them the opportunity to borrow money. They also need training, so they will understand how money makes money when it’s invested sensibly. The training they receive is applicable not only in their business dealings but also in their personal life. They are taught how to make the right decision and use tools to make informed choices.

Microfinance Lenders attract funds from ma and pa investors who love the human and social enterprise aspect their contribution makes. Yes they’re in it to make a profit but it’s more than that. There’s no doubting it provides a ‘feel good’ for investors and as a finance option it is now challenging traditional banks in richer nations. There’s more information on microfinance and how it works from Sharone Perlstein.

Accounting & Finance

Which Shipping Carrier Should Your Startup Use?

packaging

packaging

The average small business spends over $4,000 per year on postage. Those who have less than 10 employees average about $239 per month. While those employing 20+ people spend over $1,000 per month.

As a startup, it’s important for you to find the best shipping rates to reduce your overhead costs. 

Read on to compare the main shipping carrier options for your startup business.

United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the least expensive option if you are sending items that weigh less than two pounds.

USPS has three options you can choose from.

First Class Mail arrives within 2-5 business days. Priority Mail arrives within 2-3 business days. Express Mail arrives in 1 – 2 business days depending on location.

If you are sending lightweight packages under two pounds, this is the best choice for your startup. If you send parcels that weigh more than two pounds but can fit in a priority mail flat rate box, go for it.

The flat rate box means that the cost stays the same regardless of how much the box weighs. 

One of the benefits of USPS is that it will deliver to PO boxes and mailboxes. The other shipping services only deliver to the doorstep.

You may prefer your items to go to your customer’s mailbox. If so, USPS is the way to go.

UPS

UPS shipping rates are higher than USPS most of the time. Yet, UPS lets you negotiate for lower rates if you ship many parcels. As a startup, you might be able to work out a good deal this way.

If your package is heavier than three pounds, UPS can be cheaper than USPS.

One of the benefits of UPS is that they offer multiple shipping options including two-day, three-day and next day delivery.

UPS is one of the most reliable shipping carriers. You can track your package easily online. And the majority of the time, it will arrive on time.

Now let’s compare the merits of UPS vs. USPS. 

UPS vs USPS

One of the things that UPS offers is guaranteed delivery. Keeping your customers happy is one of the most important steps to startup success.

UPS has excellent customer service if you need to reach them.

USPS on the other hand, (not counting Express Mail) doesn’t guarantee the delivery date. So you can’t predict when your customer will get their package.

Packages can get delayed and arrive weeks later. This isn’t great for building trust with your customers.

Also, the USPS doesn’t have the best customer service. And their tracking service is unhelpful. Many times the tracking doesn’t show up until after the package has arrived. 

Yet, USPS offers the most budget-friendly express delivery. But, it will always take two days to get to remote locations.

USPS is undoubtedly the cheapest option for light parcels, but the price for heavy packages can be high. UPS might be able to deliver heavier packages for a lower price and get it there quicker, too.

One thing to note is that UPS charges a fee to deliver on Saturday. The other carriers don’t. This could slow down your shipment by an extra two days.

If you choose to use UPS, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of paying for Saturday delivery versus delaying your package the entire weekend. 

FedEx

Many people wonder, which is better, UPS or FedEx? The truth is that they have a lot in common.

Both have excellent tracking and reliable shipping dates. They both offer detailed tracking information. Both let you negotiate for a better price if you send a high volume of shipments. 

FedEx offers a 15% discount for customers who sign up for an account. 

FedEx is a great option price-wise if you are sending packages heavier than three pounds.  

FedEx vs UPS

FedEx vs UPS does have the advantage of a comprehensive tracking system. The delivery manager feature lets you hold packages at a FedEx location or schedule a delivery for a specific time.

Unlike UPS, FedEx includes Saturday deliveries as part of their routine services. You don’t have to pay extra for this. But with UPS you do. 

Both FedEx and UPS offer a pickup service so your customers can pick up their parcel at a FedEx location. However, there is a fee for this service.

Another factor to consider when choosing between FedEx vs UPS is the location of a shipping center near you.

UPS has over 5000 stores around the world plus additional drop boxes and authorized dealers. FedEx boasts only 1900 in the US. Yet FedEx plans to add 500 stores to WalMart locations this year. 

Chances are that there is both a FedEx and UPS location in your area. It’s likely that the UPS location will be more convenient. Keep that in mind as you make your decision about which carrier to use. 

UPS vs FedEx vs USPS – Choosing a Shipping Carrier 

As you can see, there are merits to each of these shipping carriers.

The best shipping rates will depend on how many packages you are sending, their weight and how quickly you need them there.

Of course, as a startup, you need to keep shipping costs down as much as possible. This means that you will likely use more than one shipping carrier for your business needs.

When you don’t limit yourself to one provider, you can offer your customers the fastest, most affordable delivery services out there.

Next, learn how to drive your startup to success.

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Accounting & Finance

5 Benefits of Using a Pay Stubs Maker for Your Business

calculator, records

calculator, recordsHaving errors in your employee’s pay stubs can mean legal problems for your company. Fortunately, you can avoid unwanted legal expenses by simply following proper pay stub procedures.

This is important regardless of how long you’ve been paying employees.

This is why using a generator for employment pay stubs can be an asset. Check out these 5 ways your business can benefit by using a check stubs maker.

1. Eliminate Human Error

In the days of handwritten paychecks, your business was vulnerable to all kinds of human error. Unfortunately, some errors, if serious enough, could land your company in trouble come tax time.

Unsigned checks, improper amounts, you name it, all of these time-wasting issues are eliminated when you use a pay stub generator instead.

With an online system for creating your own, or your employee’s pay stubs, you can set up a pay stub template once. Simply make sure it’s correct, then easily print paychecks each pay period with the same formatting.

2. Better Record Keeping

Whether you are self-employed or own a large business, pay stub generators are an excellent way to keep accurate payment records.

Throw away those old carbon copy receipts for paychecks and make space in your home or office by clearing out now unneeded filing cabinets. With an online tool for creating pay stubs, all your records and company finances can be managed digitally.

Come the ever-dreaded tax season, having all your pay stubs in one online location online makes paying taxes each year far easier as well.

3. It’s Fast and Simple

If you’re self-employed, it can save you hours of useless time calculating your charges by hand if you simply use an online pay generator.

Even large companies benefit from more efficient use of time by having an existing online pay stub template to simply update with the pertinent information each pay period.

Time is money,” after all, so why not use yours or your employees on more important tasks than signing checks?

4. Company Customized Format

Depending on what you or your business want to include (aside from the legally required bits), you can choose exactly what information to include on pay stubs with an automatic generator.

Yearly salary, hourly rate, hours of PTO used that pay-period, you choose what your pay stub lists. If employees or clients (for those self-employed pay stub generators) have questions about payments, it’s helpful to have these details listed.

Clarity of payment information is increased with a pay stub generator as the risk of error or confusion decreases.

5. Simple to Adjust

If you have an employee suddenly decide to take a sick day, if you forgot there’s a paid holiday this pay period, whatever the adjustment needed, it’s easily done with pay stub generators.

Using an online pay stub generator makes making corrections, additions, or adjustments to paychecks much easier.

Simply log in to your program and using the already existing template, tweak what you need to in a few clicks.

Employment Pay Stubs, Just the Beginning

Having your own employment pay stubs or your employee’s handled professionally is essential to managing an effective company.

Still, pay stubs are just the beginning. Do you have a handle on your company’s intellectual property? What about building a foundation of various useful business contacts?

For help with these tasks and others, review these 5 ways to protect the future of your business.

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Accounting & Finance

Climbing Out Of The Money Pit! Quick Ways To Improve Business Cash Flow

business money management

business money managementThere are so many ways that we can learn by our mistakes in business. Sometimes, we need to work on our personal development so that we are running the ship with an appropriate mindset, but other times, we face real emergencies that mean the business will sink or swim if we don’t do anything about it now!

Cash flow is one of those problems that every company suffers from, but if you fly blindly and plead ignorance to what’s going on in the bank account, you might not just find yourself without a company, you could find yourself persecuted, not to mention prosecuted!

No doubt you wouldn’t let it come to this, but if you find yourself with a real cash emergency, are there any ways to keep you afloat? But also, are there approaches to take advantage of so you can keep everything going if this was to happen again?

Get On Top Of Your Details

You need to know exactly what all your expenses are. Accounts payable, accounts receivable, your petty cash, your expenses, the list goes on. It sounds like a very obvious starting point, but it’s surprising how many have no clue, firstly, what their finances are there any given moment, and secondly, how to handle expenditure as a whole.

The most difficult aspect of growing a business is getting new customers on board to consume the product, and this can mean a temptation to discount your products, so you can get these people to buy from you. But if you sell items at a loss, this is going to take even longer for you to get back up and running. If you choose to offer discounts in the short-term, you need to know the costs and the impact of what you’re doing.

If you have no idea of the profit margins of each product or service you are offering, you’re not going to know if you break even. The break even calculator is an excellent tool if you are not particularly skilled in mathematics. The best advice would be to lean on this until you get a good idea of everything in a financial sense.

Desperate Times And Desperate Measures

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you raise the cash, just as long as you raise it. If you are in a position where you need to raise an exorbitant amount of cash as soon as possible, you need to go to your customers. People that have bought from you in the past can be overlooked but as part of your email marketing component, reaching out to them can provide you with a quick cash flow you haven’t considered.

It’s a very difficult thing to do because in some ways it’s the equivalent of going back with your tail between your legs. But many businesses have done this and have succeeded. After all, if you don’t try, how will you know? But at the same time, it’s worth coming up with a few different quick cash flow plans.

At the same time, you can get the ball rolling with potential investors, while also considering how much free time you have to sell surplus items and raw materials, and trim the fat of the workforce. When you need cash, the biggest underestimation is that you need a huge amount of money so you go for the big options. Don’t underestimate the smaller ones as well, because if you sell the smaller items, even through sites like eBay, these small items add up to a sizeable chunk.

Understanding Your Lines Of Credit

You need to know exactly what your options are. If you have a cash flow emergency, there are a few approaches to consider. Luckily, as far as acquiring cash flow quickly is concerned, it usually comprises of an application form and a phone call. These days, you could get a substantial cash injection in the space of an afternoon. But if you don’t know what your options are, how can you reach out?

Depending on your specific cash flow needs, the best resource can vary. In the line of peer to peer lending or angel investors, there are numerous components that can provide you with the cash injection you need, but also make sure that you’re not paying as much tax in the grand scheme of things.

But, in the short term, as you need an immediate cash injection, there are resources like loans, short-term, and long-term that can provide you with the money you need. The question is which one should you go for? A short-term loan can provide that immediate cash up front, but because the repayment schedules are short, usually running up to 18 months, the percentage of the interest is so high, the loan can become very expensive quickly.

In an emergency, it is an ideal option, but you have to decide if it’s worth it right now. Long-term loans, on the other hand, can take a few weeks to process. You have to determine what sort of financial emergency you are in and whether you have more time to repay the loans as well as lower monthly payments, it can be a welcome relief, just as long as you qualify for it!

The criteria depends on how long you’ve been up and running, if you have a certain amount of available finances, as well as what collateral you have to offer up should you be unable to repay. As well as these, you can get a merchant cash advance, work through invoice financing, even business credit cards can help, as well as a working capital loan. In an emergency, this is a great way to help the business, because of the specialized aspect of the loan.

Encouraging Repeat Custom

In a business, you won’t see any profit until an individual customer makes, at the very least, their third transaction. You need to encourage customers to come back, and this will become your bread and butter down the years, so you don’t fall into the financial traps. While you can offer VIP programs, loyalty incentives and the like, if you’re savvy enough, offering up freebies that are low cost, but still encourage a customer to pay into your business, will result in a profit.

To encourage repeat custom, you don’t just have to go through the email approach imploring them to spend money on you, if you can disguise your desperation as an offer that benefits them while still making reference to the fact that you need their custom, you can either have their pity, or their help. It’s a fine line because you have still got to benefit the customer and cater to their needs, but when you are in dire straits yourself, you have to decide if the desperation angle is suitable.

Not Falling Into This Trap Again

If you manage to get out of the problem, no doubt you’ve learned an abundance of lessons. But while the problem may have been procedural or resulting from a lack of organization, you can still find yourself falling back into the money pit. On the surface, having a good appreciation of your cash flow can help, but also it’s about the foresight to put money aside.

You need to reinvest into the growth of your business, and by putting at least 10% aside, if an emergency cash flow problem was to arise, you can at least put this money into it in the short-term. But on the other hand, you’ll have to give consideration to the resources that can help you trim the finances in other ways. Saving money on tax is a very good example of this, as something like the innovative finance ISAs can ensure a certain amount of your investment is tax-free so you don’t fall into this trap again. Finding tax loopholes is a clever approach, but with these comes a lot of regulatory gray areas.

This is why it’s better for you to have an accountant on board, especially if you haven’t in the past! And doing this in conjunction with a back-end product or service, you are finding ways to keep the finances ticking over. If you find that your finances go through peaks and troughs, it’s important to work on a sustainable model with regards to your customers. Back-end products can help a lot because it’s a way to entice customers in, but by having higher price points on back-end products, you’re able to recoup more.

Those financial worries don’t go away, but if it gets to the point where you’re so desperate that you’re considering shutting up shop, and it’s not a case of bad luck, it’s a problem relating to the infrastructure or the planning and organization, panic sets in! This then results in an unstable organization, especially from the perspective of the employees. This is another battle to contend with, so it’s imperative that you have an understanding of what your options are when you get into a cash flow crisis. If you need to earn money quickly, the options are out there.

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