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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Solutions for SMME success

By Susan Bapsnill

Each small business owner and freelancer wants the edge; that thing that's going to set them apart from the pack. That magic quality that is going to make their business the shining example instead of the cautionary tale. But doing it is never as easy as it sounds. In todays competitive, fast paced marketplace small business owners and freelancers are faced with many challenges on the way to success.

Making a success out of your business is not as easy as it looks. Efficiently and effectively managing the billing and payment collection in your businesses is one of the main obstacles obstacles faced by SMME's and freelancers. Most of you will be shocked to hear that this important part of a business's success is shockingly often overlooked. You can never put too much importance on the necessity to have an effective billing policy.

Making your business successful though efficient invoicing policy:

Lower cost of operations

Keeping the cost of operation to a minimum is a chief care for anyone wishing to make their small business successful. This is extremely important when it comes to monitoring the cost of your billing and collection of funds.

Use smart online systems and systems automation to keep the amount of workers you need to employ in your accounts department low. There are lots of systems on the market currently that allow you to automate recurring billing giving you comprehensive control over your day-to-day operations with an almost skeleton staff.

It is vital to remember that you have choice. You must shop around for payment gateways with the lowest fees. To keep your options free look for a payment facilitator to act as intermediary between your business and the payment gateway. Some payment gateways do not let you to readily export customer data and for companies using more than one gateway centralized management is crucial. A payment facilitator will save customer banking details securely on your and your gateways behalf and allow easy changing between gateways.

Become trustworthy and professional

How many times have you received a poorly formatted invoice full of spelling mistakes, omitted fields or wrong information? What does that make you think of the business sending the invoice? Poorly formatted, incorrect invoices reflect negatively on the products and services you render. This way of making a bad impression of your businesses level of service is just as easy to prevent as it is to do.

Switching out those badly formatted do-it-yourself Microsoft Word or Excel format invoices for properly generated invoices is likely one of the smartest investments you can make in your enterprises future. Get software or a web-based product made to issue professionally made invoices. And even then remember to always ensure the customer information are correct and review spelling. If you are issuing tax invoices insure all the legally needed fields appear correctly on any invoices you create. Looking professional inspires trust in your customers.

Many payment options

Now that you have issued your professional looking invoice you need to get payment for it. Allowing your customers many ways to pay your invoices is always recommended. The easier it is to pay you the more payments you will get. We recommend having the following payment methods available to maximize your ability to receive payment:

- A credit card payment gateway where customers can instantly and safely pay for your products on the web

- A payment gateway that automates recurring billing via debit order from bank account or credit card

- The facility for customers to pay via an automated repeating debit order from bank account or credit card

Good cash flow: Control bad debits

The necessity to monitor and control bad debt in an important factor in the success of your business. Controlling bad debt will ensure that your cash flow remains strong and constant. One of the best ways to do this is working hard to prevent it in the first instance. This calls for communication on an organised, automated scale. By this I mean, keep your clients informed every step of the way.

This requires communication on a managed, scheduled scale. Sending text message (SMS) and email messages to customers throughout your businesses repayment, due and past due periods will increase your chances of being payment. We recommend going with a simple warning schedule for at least thirty days after sending of an invoice. If funds on not received on cash on delivery invoices within ninety days of issue we recommend making use of a professional debt collection service to handle recovery of payment.

Create outspoken positive brand advocates

Standing out from the crowd means more business. What makes you better than your competitors? Have you got something to make you stand out from the herd? The best way to genuinely stand out from the herd and keep customers coming back is to offer a quality service or product reliably.

That being said, a small degree success can be achieved through other ways. But the only way to build long lasting customer relationships and create vocal positive advocates for you business is to give your customers constant, excellent service and quality products and services that meet their needs and conjectures.

So there you go. Now you know the secret to making your small business successful. What are you waiting for? Go forth and achieve it!
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