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E-commerce Tips

E-commerce Tips

By Debbie Gregory.

Many veteran business owners and VAMBOA members began their entrepreneurial journey by launching E-commerce websites. E-commerce, short for electronic commerce, is also known as internet commerce and refers to the buying and selling of goods or services via the internet, as well as the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions.

With global retail E-commerce sales are projected to reach $27 trillion by 2020 so you can see why this is such an attractive way to begin a business. But before entrepreneurs jump into the water, here are a few tips to aid in the success of an E-commerce business:

It begins with reaching your audience. If you’re looking to do business online, that’s where you are going to find the majority of your customers. So purchase your domain name, design your web site and set up your social media accounts. Blog, blog, blog. Add a podcast. Optimize your store for mobile.

If you aren’t great with technology, outsource the things you need help with. For example, when your customer adds a product to their cart, does your web site immediately let them know what others products previous purchasers have added-on as a suggested bundle? If a customer is about to abandon their cart, does your website know how to entice them back? If you don’t know how to build in these options, outsource them to someone who does.

Because you are at a disadvantage when it comes to your customers being able to see and touch (and smell) your product in-person, offer incentives such as free shipping or a money back guarantee if it makes financial sense to do so. Encourage your existing customers to leave reviews of your products by offering a percentage discount on their purchase to thank them for their time.

Start building a sales funnel. Think “Do you want fries with that order?” If your customer comes in for one thing, you’re going to ask if they’d like anything else before they cash out.

The more value you add — through freebies, up sells, and add-ons — the more trust you’ll build with your customers, and customers who trust you will spend more.

Building a good relationship with your customers will increase the chances that they will refer others to you, boosting your business even further.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

Intrapreneurs And Are They Good for Veteran Owned Businesses?  

By Debbie Gregory.

They think and behave like business owners, but they’re not. They are invaluable to the health of a company. They demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit within an existing organization.  They are the person(s) within an organization who are provided the freedom and resources to initiate projects, business ventures, etc. In a sense they are your employees who are internal entrepreneurs.

They’re called intrapreneurs.

For companies eager to welcome and embrace people who are creative, proactive, and flexible, the rewards of employing intrapreneurs can be tremendous.

How do you identify an intrapreneur?

Intrapreneurs are usually not primarily money motivated but are more success motivated. They understand that if they do their work in a way that shows the organization they are someone it can’t afford to lose, the money and advancement finds them.

Intrapreneurs treat their job as if it were their own business. They are driven to find resourceful ways to approach challenging situations.

Intrapreneurs are resilient and not afraid to change course. They don’t fear failure, but rather view failure as an opportunity for growth.

Intrapreneurs behave authentically and with integrity, while exhibiting the traits of confidence and humility.

Intrapreneurs are masters of building relationships, assisting others where and when they can, and not being shy about asking for help when they need it.

Intrapreneurs are in demand simply because they make companies better. Employees stay in their roles long-term because they’re challenged and fulfilled by the work they’re doing, and companies thrive because they retain the best people and best ideas and allow them the flexibility to run with their balls.

So now that you know how to spot an intrapreneur, how do you hire them?

People tend to associate with those who share the same beliefs or behaviors. So it stands to reason that a company founded with an entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial emphasis will become a magnet for more of the same. Employees recommend the company to others who share their values. A company needs to conduct itself with integrity if it expects to find those traits upheld in its ranks.

Hiring intrapreneurs is to a company’s advantage, especially a veteran owned small business. Having employees who take ownership of their work will be reflected in the company’s products and services.

When intrapreneurs work at solving problems, they foster the growth of other talented intrapreneurs and integrate more new ideas for the good of the entire company.   They also inspire others to do more and think outside the box.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

By Debbie Gregory.

Building a solid credit history and maintaining a high credit score can have a dramatic impact on your quality of life and on your Veteran Owned Business. Not only is a high credit score essential for things such as qualifying for a loan or obtaining a credit card, but it is also important for less obvious things such as obtaining cell phone service, renting a car, and maybe even a job.

Your credit score is based on your FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850, and is based on these factors:

  • How much money you owe
  • The regularity of your payments
  • The types of your credit
  • The length of your credit history
  • How many credit requests you’ve made.

If you’re at the top with a score between 800 and 850, you have exceptional credit and are considered to be a prime candidate eligible for the lowest interest rates. This is your reward for having a long credit history without any late payments, as well as low balances on your credit cards.

If your score is between 740 and 799, you have very good credit and are considered to be financially responsible.

If your score falls between 670 and 739, you have good credit, and are around the same range as most Americans, who have an average FICO score of 704.

A score between 300 and 579 is a poor rating. And there are those who have no credit. But don’t despair, these scores can improve.

If you need to improve your score, avoid quick-fix efforts which are most likely to backfire. Raising your scores after a poor mark on your report or building credit for the first time will take patience and discipline. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors and explain the situation. You may be able to obtain a time extension or fees waived.

Be responsible and don’t over extend yourself, consistently pay your bills on time, and limit the amount of credit you have requested so that you can get started on the right foot or rebuild a damaged credit score.

If you need to establish credit, talk to your bank and see if they will approve you for a small loan or a low-limit credit card. You can make the payments and pay if off improving your score. Many banks that might not approve you for a credit card will do so with a savings account acting as a security deposit with their institution. You can also start with a gas or retail store credit cards too.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

The ABC’s of Factoring

By Debbie Gregory.

When your small business faces a cash flow issue or sluggish accounts receivable, one alternative to consider is factoring.

Factoring is when a business sells their accounts receivable or invoices to a third party, known as a factoring company, at a discount. In a typical factoring arrangement, the client (you) makes a sale, delivers the product or service and generates an invoice. The factor (the funding source) buys the right to collect on that invoice by agreeing to pay you the invoice’s face value less the discount, which is typically 2 to 6 percent. The factor pays 75 percent to 80 percent of the face value immediately and forwards the remainder (less the discount) when your customer pays.

Even though invoices are sold to the factoring company at a discount, the arrangement gives your business immediate funds for the invoices.

Once used mostly by large corporations, factoring is becoming more widespread as it provides a win-win situation for both parties involved. Factoring is not a loan; it does not create a liability on the balance sheet or encumber assets. It is the sale of an asset; in this case, the invoice.

Factoring usually consists of two parts, beginning with the advance, and ending with the rebate,

One of the advantages of factoring is that your company gets money quickly rather than waiting the usual 30 or 60 days for payment. After sending an invoice to a factoring firm, a business can usually have money in its hands within 24 to 48 hours. Another advantage is that you can use the instant cash to generate growth or buy needed equipment. Furthermore, unlike traditional bank loans, factoring doesn’t require you to risk your home or other property as collateral.

On the downside, factoring will have an impact on your profit. And once you accept cash for your receivables, you give up a measure of control. For example, the factoring company could deny your ability to do business with a particular customer if they have a poor credit history or rating.

Factoring can be a great solution when your business needs a solution to short-term cash crunches. To find the best factoring company, make sure you understand your business’s needs and ask the right questions of the factoring companies, taking care to avoid getting locked into contracts or paying hidden fees.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

An online services company that connects businesses with local professionals surveyed 7,500 small business owners nationwide to determine where the best places to start, operate and grow a business for entrepreneurs are. The survey included all industries from A to Z. Ninety four percent of these small businesses had five employees or less.

The business owners’ major priorities to focus on in determining the best places for their businesses included:

•Greater support and focus on small business over large corporations. It is small businesses that are the engine that drive the nation’s economy. Seventy percent of small business entrepreneurs feel that local governments are more interested in attracting and supporting new, large corporations than making the support of small businesses a priority.
•Access to affordable healthcare. This is a policy issue that impacts their ability to be viable and stay in business.
•Rising housing and transportation costs. These costs make it more difficult than ever for small businesses to work where they live and travel to customers. This will impact training for new technologies.

In the survey, participants addressed eight key factors, including the level of support of local governments provide small businesses and the difficulties in beginning a new business for entrepreneurs in various locations. All fifty states were given a grade from A+ to a failing F.

The five states that scored an A+ were:

• South Dakota
• Tennessee
• Alaska
• Michigan
• Utah

California, which is the home of more Veteran Small Businesses than any other state earned a “D” rating, along with Wyoming, Kentucky and New Mexico. The only two states that failed and earned an “F” were Hawaii and Illinois.

Below are some of the ratings from this survey of 7,500 small business entrepreneurs:

State Rating:
South Dakota: A+
Tennessee: A+
Alaska: A+
Michigan: A+
Utah: A+
Georgia: A
Texas: A
South Carolina: A
North Dakota: A-
Maine: A-
Arizona: A-
Alabama: A-
North Carolina: A-
Minnesota: A-
Massachusetts: A-
Arkansas: A-
Idaho: A-
Montana: A-
Indiana: A-
Maryland: B+
Nebraska: B+
Ohio: B
New Hampshire: B
Mississippi: B
Virginia: B
Louisiana: B
Delaware: B-
Iowa: C+
Florida: C+
Colorado: C+
Washington: C+
Kansas: C
Oklahoma: C
Oregon: C
Wisconsin: C
Pennsylvania: C
Nevada: C
Connecticut: C-
Vermont: C-
Missouri: C-
West Virginia: C-
New York: D+
New Jersey: D+
California: D
Wyoming: D
Kentucky: D
New Mexico: D
Rhode Island: D
Hawaii: F
Illinois: F

The Cities that received an A ranking include the following:
Fort Worth, Texas: A+
San Antonio, Texas: A+
Columbus, Ohio: A+
Colorado Springs, Colorado: A+
Jacksonville, Florida: A+
Nashville, Tennessee: A+
Charleston, South Carolina: A
Manchester, New Hampshire: A
Raleigh, North Carolina: A
Charlotte, North Carolina: A-
Salt Lake City, Utah: A-
Minneapolis, Minnesota: A-
Boston, Massachusetts: A-
Atlanta, Georgia: A-
New Orleans, Louisiana: A-

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