5 ways to keep coronavirus from stopping work at your small business

My Post - 2020-03-23T172025.292.pngAmid the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, there have also been moments of brightness. Citizens making music together from their balconies in Italy. People braving the supermarket to buy staples for elderly neighbors. Athletes donating money to hourly workers and staff whose jobs are in limbo.

Among the bright spots are the inspiring ways small businesses are getting creative to keep offering their goods and services. Notable examples include restaurants offering curbside pickup, fitness centers hosting virtual workout classes, and local retailers delivering purchases. Here are a few more ideas for small businesses looking for alternative sales avenues.

1. Reinvent your business

If you’re a brewery like Griffin Claw Brewing in Birmingham, Michigan, you probably never thought you’d be in the hand sanitizer business. And yet, that’s what dozens of breweries like Griffin Claw are doing. It’s a great lesson in creative thinking when facing business constraints.

Look around your space and reimagine what it could be. Maybe you can turn your kitchen into a community kitchen and focus on food delivery to the elderly. Or perhaps you can clear a space to sew masks for healthcare workers. Some of these efforts might go unpaid, but doing good work builds a positive reputation. And it’s possible some of the people you help now become your best customers later.

If you’re at a loss for ideas, reach out to the people who know your business best. You can still meet an employee over a video conference for a coffee and a brainstorm, even if you can’t meet in person.

2. Connect with clients virtually

Service-based businesses, in particular, may find it challenging to stay open while close contact is discouraged. But take a cue from the healthcare field: It’s been adapting a digital model for years. Telehealth connects patients with healthcare professionals by holding video consultations and monitoring well-being remotely, according to the American Hospital Association. Telehealth services include mental health services, occupational therapy, and medical consultations.

When in doubt, think like a doctor. What services could you offer via video chat, livestream, or phone? There are plenty of ways businesses can adapt their services to virtual offerings.

3. Consider (or reconsider) e-commerce

Maybe you’ve tried selling inventory online, or perhaps the thought of opening an online store is new. Don’t think about selling your products online as a way out of financial hardship right now. Think of online sales as a chance to build out an additional revenue stream that will serve your business for years to come. Check out these tips for getting your business online quickly and this list of online marketplaces that can help. – Read more

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What happens if you can’t make payroll? 11 steps to take to get your employees paid

My Post - 2020-03-16T171703.126.pngAs the coronavirus continues to spread, small businesses everywhere are feeling the effects. For many of them, the virus threatens more than their health. The CDC has advised employees and consumers alike to avoid contact with other people and limit time spent outside the house. The resulting slump in foot traffic has caused lost profits for business owners — and some say they’ve had to lay off employees due to the economic effects of the virus.

There’s always a risk that cash will leave a company’s bank account faster than it gets deposited, and that risk has only increased due to the current pandemic. Companies of all sizes have the potential to lapse on payroll. What’s more, very few organizations have the financial resources to preserve deep pockets.

So, what happens if you can’t make payroll next week? What happens if it takes weeks or even months to bounce back from the COVID-19 hit? Whatever you do, don’t stress out. You need to be able to think clearly and tactically to find potential solutions. Here are some recommendations to guide you:

Expect to miss payroll, even when you’re stable

In business, there are so many variables that you can’t control. As a leader and business owner, you need to confront these challenges head-on and believe that you are brave enough to face them. If you’re facing a financial emergency, stress has the potential to overwhelm and destabilize you.

As Stoic philosophers say, if you expect the worst—whether or not the worst actually happens—you’ll be ready to confront it.

“With anticipation, we have time to raise defenses, or even avoid them entirely,” writes DailyStoic.com, in an article about Stoic practices applied to business. “We’re ready to be driven off course because we’ve plotted a way back. We can resist going to pieces if things didn’t go as planned. With anticipation, we can endure.”

Let’s say that you don’t have a backup plan by the time you’re reading this article. You can still take steps to stabilize your operations and remedy the consequences. Here are some steps that you can take: – Read more

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How the right technology can be a game-changer for non-profits

My Post - 2020-03-12T124413.725.pngWe’re a country of do-gooders here in New Zealand. We ranked third on last year’s World Giving Index and we have 27,800 charities for a population of just under five million.

There are around 115,000 organisations in New Zealand’s not-for-profit (NFP) sector. These are a mixture of incorporated and unincorporated organisations, depending on their income, the tax they pay and the standard of required reporting1. These organisations do not carry out activities for the profit or gain of any member. Roughly 60 percent of the sector are small, unincorporated businesses who are mostly volunteer based.

Charities and NFP organisations are no different to any other small business. They have a mission, a budget, and a strong desire to deliver great results for their donors.

Xero’s two cents

Just like all successful businesses, charities and NFP organisations have a strategy to achieve their goals. Technology should be integrated with strategy to maximise the return on investment from donations.

Our thinking is that charities and NFP organisations already do so much to help out the community, so we want to try and help them out in return. Xero offers all charity and NFP organisations worldwide, a 25 percent discount on their Xero subscription to make accounting simple, seamless and smart.

Using technology to run your not-for-profit

Using an online accounting software to run your charity or NFP organisation will make it easier to focus on your mission. The old way of managing accounts with spreadsheets and paper files is only going to slow you down. Whereas, a secure, cloud-based system makes it quicker and easier to share information, collaborate and make decisions across the organisation.

Many charities and NFP organisations have teams of volunteers, who don’t have a lot of time to spend on the books. The beauty of cloud-based technology is that it is accessible anywhere, at any time to users. It means organisations can easily share expenses and donor information with board members, employees, and volunteers. As well as this, by using a mobile app managers can stay on top of workflow and send invoices or reimburse volunteer expenses on the go.

Additionally, one of the biggest headaches for many not-for-profits is compliance requirements. Whether it’s reporting to the charities register, or meeting tax obligations, a secure accounting system will help you stay compliant. Through Xero HQ,  Xero Partners are able to access NZ Service Reporting Templates that help NFP deliver compliant reports to the Charity Services.

Making life easier for volunteer treasurers

Playcentre Aotearoa is made up of more than 420 not-for-profit early childhood learning centres around New Zealand. They believe parents are the best teachers for their children. With parents as volunteers, families can learn and grow together.

The centres were recently consolidated into one group – Playcentre Aotearoa – and are now live on Xero nationwide. Before using Xero, each Playcentre managed their accounts with paper files and offline spreadsheets. Different Playcentres were all managing the accounts in different ways. Now, there is one consistent view of all 420 plus centres in Xero, providing better visibility of each centre.

The role of treasurer changes hands pretty often at Playcentres. Having all the financial records online allows for a smooth transition from one treasurer to another, with historic records all in one place.

Using data to make decisions

To make the best use of donations, charities and not-for-profit organisations need to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Clean data is crucial in these organisations. Every donor needs to feel like they’re making a difference, and every dollar needs to be accounted for.

If you can show results through data, you can bring your donors closer to the impact you’re making with their help. A great example of this is The Fred Hollows Foundation’s impact calculator, which gives examples of what a certain amount of money can be used for.

There is benefit to charities and NFP organisations running like a small business. Streamlining operations to be more efficient, setting clear goals, and ensuring accountability can help them make good decisions. People want to feel more connected to the charities and NFP organisations they support. Xero supports greater financial visibility and governance in NFP reporting using our budgeting and reporting tracking features to match expenses to their revenue and funding origins. – Read more

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