Business Information – SWOT it For Benefits

In most situations, business decisions are prompted by information that has come into your possession. Sometimes this information comes from the information system within your business but often it is from external sources.

An interesting thing to do is to quickly apply a swot analysis to new information. If you are not familiar with the term “swot”, this stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The idea of a swot analysis is that you objectively try to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your business and also the opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are aspects of your business that are particular to your business. These are internal issues. The opportunities and threats are matters that are external forces that impact on the enterprise. It is a good idea to conduct a swot analysis from time to time.

On the assumption that you have conducted a swot analysis and therefore have objectively determined your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can apply the results of this analysis to new information that comes to you. Let us focus on information from external sources.

For example, you visit a trade show for your industry. At that trade show you observe a new technological advancement in a particular aspect of your industry. You then apply the results of your swot analysis to this new information.

As an example, you may have identified that one of your strengths is low overheads. Due to this, your enterprise is flexible and can change quickly. Accordingly, you might conclude that you could quickly adopt the new technology and steal a march on your competitors. So, off you go to your bank or other sources of capital to get the funds to adopt the new technology – and you know that this won’t be a problem because of your low overheads.

Alternatively, you might have identified the heavy capital investment in your company as a weakness. This means that it is difficult to alter the production process without very significant cost and disruption to customer requirements. When you see the new technology and realise that your competitors might be able to adopt it faster than you, perhaps this will prompt you to the decision – albeit difficult – of reinvesting in a new production process involving the new technology.

Let’s say you have identified rapid changes in technology as an opportunity for you. This maybe because of a particular set of skills that your people have. Because of their training, experience or knowledge they are able to rapidly understand the new information and apply it in a profitable way. So, you are alert to any changes in technology. You seize on this new development and give it to your people.

And, of course, if you see advances in technology as a threat, hopefully you will take action to minimise this threat.

Applying your swot analysis to every new piece of information would be too tedious. But it is a very useful practice to apply it to important information that you come across. The more regularly that you do this, the more alert you will be to developments in your industry and the more quickly you will be able to turn new information into profits or other benefits.

Organising Your Business Information For Your Accountant

I often have new business clients which are not sure what information to give me as their accountant or bookkeeper in order to prepare Australian Accounting and Tax returns, or Financial statements. So I have put together a brief explanation of a simple method of getting it all together. If you use this simple method you will not only look professional to your accountants but save them time (by doing some of the legwork and having all of the relevant information available) getting you a cheaper accounting invoice by saving accounting time and you money. This is a process primarily for businesses which, do not have an internal accounts or bookkeeper person and simply provide information to accountants to prepare returns.

I want to stress that all good businesses know how well they are doing. In fact many businesses fail because of a lack of current financial information. It is vital you know your current financial position and profit or loss statement ideally monthly or at least quarterly if the business is well established with comfortable cash flow. If you are a business who only reviews their financial position annually, I strongly recommend you consider obtaining more regular financial information. This is so you have relevant information to manage your business and profitability. This can easily be done by engaging in a bookkeeper or accountant who can also come to your office. However if you wish to prepare information for the accountant and bring it to their office here is a quick process for you to complete.

The starting point of accounting is that it is based on recording all transactions from bank statements of all relevant bank accounts including cheque accounts, investments,credit cards and loans. For this reason, businesses should aim to track all business transactions through one of their bank accounts and hence have little or no cash transactions. If you have cash transactions you may need to provide additional information.

Step one
The first simple step is to collate all your bank statements of all business accounts, credit cards and loans for the period you need to report on. Some examples to illustrate the periods involved for a tax return 2010 you’ll need to gather statements from 1st of July 2009 to 30th of June 2010, or for a BAS return March 2010 you will need to gather statements from 1 January 2010 to 31 March 2010. You should receive all statements from your bank, if any are lost or misplaced your need to reorder from your bank incurring normally a bank fee. Sort this out before you provide the accountant your information. Better still accountants love to get electronic files of your bank statements as they are quick and easier to data entry, contact your bank to do this.

Step two
Once you have collated all bank statements review all individual lines and code them with relevant information (write a relevant description of them if not obvious from the bank statement line entry). For example all credit entries all money going into your accounts, you should indicate if they are income or sometimes they are owner contributions. With all money expended (money out) from accounts, you should also be describing relevant details especially cheque numbers and EFT transfers. Remember any additional information may be useful to your accountant such as asset detail so they can process specific taxation rules. If you are GST registered, you should also indicate whether the transaction involved GST or was GST free. The more you code the more you make your financial reports accurate and speed up things for your accountants processing which will lead to cheaper fees.

Step three
If you have coded all bank statements as for step two and have made sure all relevant bank statements have been collated. You may provide this to the accountant so that the financial report can be prepared. However, as tax law requires substantiation of your transactions and keeping these records, I would also suggest, attaching all relevant invoices relating to transactions on each bank statement. There may be a few transactions which do not have invoices such as bank charges and direct debit all regular charges loan payments etc. You may have other ways of filing invoices which are also acceptable.

This has been a quick outline of how to provide information to your accountant to prepare your financial or taxation reports. It is advisable eventually for a business to take the next step and to complete it’s bookkeeping internally which may result in even greater savings. I recommend this is done with the combination of internal resources, suitable accounting software and professional accounting involvement to control and develop the financial information further. Speak to an accountant or business adviser on this issue or to discuss installing an accounting software and training you to do some of the work. Often this will streamline some of your other administration tasks such as payroll, quoting and invoicing customers, knowing which debtor accounts are due or to facilitate a purchase ordering system, and to better track creditors or cash flow.

However, if you know book work is not an optimal use of your time and do not have internal resources, please do use a professional registered BAS agent, TAX agent (in Australia) or registered accountant in your country. But, perhaps consider updating your financial information on a more regular basis. I also had a recent experience with a client who did not wish to prepare their accounts themselves, but is available when I am coding their transactions; they were also able to see how the financial report is put together giving them a better understanding of the financial information. I also recommend that you do query, and get involved with the information provided to you at a summarized level so that you are sure that it is correct.

Overall, the key to book work is to do it regularly to stay on top of it and to complete while many transactions are fresh in your memory. Having up-to-date financial reports will give you a greater sense of pride in knowing how your business is tracking. By having current financial information you are in the much more informed position to make better business management as against having only annual and lagged financial information from your accountant.

Work at Home Business Information and Resources

Want to work at home? Doesn’t everyone? Being your own boss has become a realized dream for millions of stay-at-home moms and dads, accountants, architects, contractors, pet sitters, and so many others.

Workers in many walks of life have taken the further step of starting their own businesses, and operating out of their own homes. Getting rid of the 9-to-5 job is great, but then what? Where do you start?

What product or service can you sell? How do you make contacts when you work at home? For your desk, chair and organizers. First, you have to figure out what you want to do with your computer and who will use it. Second, determine where you want your computer to live and how much space you’ll allocate to this activity.

There are many resources today–books, websites, and organizations–that provide information and assistance for startup businesses. You will be joining millions of others who enjoy the freedom to make their own work arrangements.

Your workplace may now consist of the room your computer is in. Your dress is, to say the least, casual, and your hours are whatever you choose. Some companies do the legwork so you can devote more quality time to your work at home.

Lead generation companies may charge a setup fee, perhaps from $50 to $200 a year, and charge about $5 to $25 per lead. This charge is dependent on how difficult it is to get the lead.

Taking a course in selling and marketing online or from a local community college may help you to close the sales that are generated by leads when you work at home.

Software Telemarketing – Best Means in Handling Sensitive Business Information

One of the best functions that ERP software manufacturers and resellers provide is a means of transmitting and organizing business information in the most streamlined manner possible. Providers of that kind of software focus their role in rooting deficiencies in a company’s ERP.

However, do take note though that since ERP is an integral part in the stability of a company’s structure, it’s not surprising that plenty of companies aren’t willing to admit that there could be something wrong with it. That information is sensitive. It may not be as sensitive as information pertaining to national security, but if you’re a mega-corporation, it can come a close second to that. Some of them would even go as far as desperately search for an adequate ERP software developer whilst declining to answer any questions (like ones posed by a competitor’s spies) on the possible flaws in their ERP.

Do remember though that it’s never a wise course of action for a business to just wait around for a desperate buyer. The competition will leave them behind. Therefore, how does one go about sparking interest in their product without triggering this defense mechanism of denial?

Telemarketing firms exist as a solution to that. In the practice of B2B lead generation, telemarketing agents are trained extensively to know exactly the right questions to task and are determined enough not to let rejection stop them. Furthermore, they have largely invested in databases chock full of businesses who might have problems that only good ERP software can provide. Couple that with expert data analysts who organize and refine their information to suit a client’s preferences, you have a means that is fast, wide-covering, and also cost-efficient.

To top it off, all those employed by such companies are sworn to the secrecy of whatever sensitive information they obtain (be it from you or from the contacts they have). The security of their information is critical to their standing. They will not just give it to anyone and those they contact are guaranteed both privacy and discreet use of what they have been given.

Controversial as this may sound, every company has secrets it doesn’t want leaking out. Be that secret come in the form of information about a future product, outlines for marketing plans, or problems with the company’s ERP unnoticed by the general public, sensitive information like that can be exploited by their competitors (or worse). It is therefore understandable that they take whatever measure to make sure that information remains within company bounds. If that means declining questions or even straight-face denial, then there’s not much choice.

The downside to that though is it also locks out the inquiries of people like you, who are honestly just wanting to know if there is anything your software can do for them. Outsourcing to a telemarketing firm can help bypass that by lending you not only a private database of people on the look out for aid but also the expertise of agents who ask only the right questions without triggering any alarms.