As the impact investing industry has matured rapidly in recent years, the field is increasingly recognizing the need for commonly accepted approaches to defining, measuring and managing impact. Still, there is more work to be done to effectively manage for impact alongside financial risk and return.
In response, we at Pacific Community Ventures launched the Impact Due Diligence Initiative to identify emerging best practices in impact due diligence and offer practical tips and guidance to help investors more systematically examine impact prior to committing capital and ultimately make more impactful investments.
The forthcoming Impact Due Diligence Guide is comprised of two sections, each containing case studies demonstrating how investors have successfully developed and implemented processes to assess anticipated impacts during due diligence.
Developing Impact Due Diligence Approaches
This section contains practical guidance on developing impact due diligence approaches, including recommendations for both novices as well as seasoned experts in impact measurement and management. Investors should review this section to determine which approach is most appropriate for their organization and draw upon recommendations to develop resources and processes to evaluate expected impacts.
Implementing Impact Due Diligence Approaches
This section offers recommendations intended to help investors operationalize a systematic approach to impact due diligence within their organization. This includes guidance on integrating impact due diligence into existing processes, staffing, engaging with investees, informing investment decision-making, and enabling more rigorous post-investment evaluations.
We at Pacific Community Ventures are thrilled to announce the publication of Impact Due Diligence: Emerging Best Practices, a report which surfaces the shared impact due diligence approaches employed by leading impact investors.
The report examines trends and offers insights in an important, yet underdeveloped, area of investment practice. While impact measurement and management (IMM) has become increasingly sophisticated and widespread in recent years, many investors focus primarily on what happens after, not before, investments are made. This limits the potential of IMM, because systematically examining which investments are expected to generate more or less impact can help investors more closely align their investments with their objectives and increase the likelihood that their portfolios reflect their values and goals.
Impact due diligence, which encompasses all assessments of expected impact before making an investment, is therefore essential to effective impact investing. Not only does impact due diligence enhance investors’ capacity to make more informed investment decisions and increase the impact of their portfolios, it also helps safeguards the entire field against “impact washing” as the market grows.
With support from the Heron Foundation and the Impact Management Project, and with research support from the Global Impact Investing Network, this report synthesizes findings from interviews with leading practitioners, IMM experts, and consultants, and draws from extensive desk research and PCV’s own experience developing impact due diligence systems for clients and our own loan fund.
While systematic impact due diligence approaches are still emerging across the impact investing industry, seven areas of best practice stand out among investors who lead the field in this practice. These include the following:
Assessing Impact Using the Five Dimensions: the Impact Management Project is a useful and widely accepted set of norms for understanding and assessing impact. Investors should check their approaches against the five dimensions of impact to ensure they are comprehensively assessing expected impacts on people and the planet.
Bridging the Divide Between ESG and Impact Assessments: When assessing anticipated impact, investors should ensure they are evaluating all impacts an enterprise has that matter to people and planet including those related to business operations (i.e. ESG considerations) as well as products or services. In this way, investors can evaluate all impacts that matter – not just the intended positive ones.
Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals: Incorporating the SDGs into impact due diligence helps ensure that investments’ anticipated impacts align with the global development agenda, and also enables effective communication about expected impact across a diverse portfolio. This best practice is most appropriate for investors whose strategies have significant overlap with the global goals.
Elevating the Perspectives of Key Stakeholders: Incorporating the perspectives of those who are impacted by investees helps investors better align on impact goals, mitigate impact risk, amplify stakeholder voices, develop feedback loops between investors and investees, and assess both investor and investee contribution.
Evaluating a Commitment to Impact and Learning: Investors should explicitly assess investees’ commitment to achieving impact as well as their ability to improve, adapt, and learn. Specifically, investors should evaluate whether investees’ impact thesis is clearly defined, their understanding of key stakeholders’ needs, the robustness of their IMM systems, whether they have financial incentives linked to impact performance, and their ability to change strategies and tactics based on results.
Adopting a Portfolio-Wide Approach: Investors should develop a consistent impact due diligence approach that enables direct comparisons of different types of investments across a portfolio. This is an essential component of effective, impact-driven portfolio management.
Prioritizing Accessibility: To ensure that their impact due diligence approaches can be easily adopted, investors should use consistent language, appropriately balance rigor and efficiency, and seek to understand the expectations of internal and external audiences.
Impact Due Diligence: Emerging Best Practices is the first of two reports intended to elevate the practice of impact due diligence. In the coming months, we look forward to sharing The Impact Due Diligence Guide, which draws upon the findings in this first report to offer detailed recommendations regarding the design and implementation of impact due diligence approaches. The forthcoming guide contains actionable advice for both novices as well as seasoned experts in IMM, covering topics such as building impact-focused due diligence questionnaires and quantitative tools, integrating impact due diligence into existing processes, and using impact due diligence to inform investment decision-making.
This research has been a collaborative effort, and we are especially grateful to the fund managers, foundations, development finance institutions, institutional investors, consultants, and industry experts in the impact investing and IMM communities who have generously shared their work and insights with us as part of this report. We look forward to continuing the conversation and collaborating further on this important topic and hope that this research can support more widespread adoption of impact due diligence and deepening of IMM practice across the industry.
CalSavers, a state run auto-enroll ROTH I.R.A., launched in 2019 as a response to California legislation for all types of employers to offer some type of retirement plan for their workers to save in attempt to help today’s workforce adequately prepare for a financially secure future.
As a small business owner, you may ask is this mandate really necessary Why is the government stepping in now and imposing more requirements on my business?
It starts with the fact that people have the potential to live longer today than in any other time in history, and as such, workers need to financially prepare themselves for a longer lifespan. And by extension, a longer retirement. In today’s economy, the burden of obtaining a financially secure retirement is falling on employees—rather than the employer. Insufficient savings, coupled with subpar or unequal economic growth, rising household debt, and low investment interest rates, are preventing today’s workers from achieving the retirement reality they always envisioned.
The necessity is the current retirement landscape is unsustainable; too few people are adequately preparing for the golden years of their lives, too many people are relying on Social Security to fund their retirement, and too frequently, employers aren’t doing anything to help. If we continue down this path, the future (not to mention the economy) may look drastically different than what we envision when thinking about retirement and the future in general.
Consider, when a mass of people hit retirement and they don’t have adequate savings to cover things like healthcare, housing costs, and other every day essentials, it’s the states that end up paying more money—both earlier and longer—than the federal government. CalSavers is stepping in because with 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching Full Retirement Age every single day, California is starting to feel the pain.
Workers clearly need a little bit of help from their employers to reach maximum retirement readiness.
The fact of the matter is this: workers are more likely to take control of their retirement outcomes and proactively save for the future when they have access to an employer-sponsored plan. According to Employee Benefit Research Institute, 77% of Americans across the nation with median income between $30,000 to $50,000 are saving if they have an employer plan, and a disturbing 3.6% if no employer plan is offered.
There are large discrepancies in regard to employees even having access to a retirement savings plan based on company size, industry, employee education level, and the like. California now mandates all employers offer some type of savings plan to employees, allowing workers who would otherwise not have access to a plan to begin putting away money for their future.
How will business owners, now being mandated to offer either CalSavers or another type of retirement plan, be affected?
Wage cost may be an initial concern for some—but in reality, CalSavers doesn’t take funds out of small business owners’ pockets since the plan will be state-funded and state-run. However, the employer can expect a time expense in learning administration and answering employee questions, necessary to implement the program. Currently, if employees do not ‘opt out’, employers will send payroll contributions to a CalSavers account. This is like payroll taxes, social security, and Medicare.
“The employer is responsible for providing employee information, setting up payroll deductions, and keeping a record of employee contributions. One problem is, many small employers are not prepared with the knowledge or time to respond to this upcoming requirement.” Shãn Sutherland, Simple Impact LLC Investments.
Private retirement plans such as a 401(k) can offer more benefits for the employer, the employees, and satisfy the legislative mandate. Benefits include employer fees can be tax deductible, Participants can save more than any other retirement savings vehicle, owner-only Solo401(k) options are available, matching contributions are allowed to attract the best employees, and the 401(k) comes with plenty of help in the process! If the employer chooses to use a private retirement plan provider, the cost of sponsoring a retirement plan tends to be lower than that of other benefits that are usually offered to employees, like health insurance and paid leave.
Should I offer my employees a state IRA or a 401(k)?
A recent survey reported that nearly three in four employers believe most of their employees could continue working until age 65 and still not have enough saved to meet their retirement needs.
Kudos to the state governments for stepping in to provide some type of solution to this problem—but a state-run plan may not be the best option to help workers truly own their retirement readiness and reach financial independence. Taking a cue from this statistic, doesn’t it make more sense to offer a retirement plan that employees can save more than $6,000 per year in? Why not offer a retirement plan such as a 401(k), where employees can save up to $19,000 per year? Wouldn’t that get employees much closer to reaching the retirement of their dreams? And not just them—but the business owner, as well?
The deadlines for Cal Savers enrollment or establishing another plan like a 401k (k) vary depending on the size of your business. Size is determined based on the average number of employees you report to the Employment Development Department quarterly. For eligible employers with more than 100 employees June 30, 2020 is your deadline. For employers with more than 50 employees, June 2021 is your deadline. For employers with 5 or more employees June 30, 2022 is your deadline. Penalties are stiff starting at $250 per employee if noncompliance extends past 90 days.
We know that the new retirement state mandates are creating uncertainty and murkiness around employers’ specific requirements, but we want to remind you that you’re not in this alone There’s a certain factor of convenience with choosing the state plan—we get it. But when it comes to taking care of your and your employees’ futures don’t wait. You can receive more assistance with a higher degree of added value and customization for you and your employees with a 401(k).
This piece was contributed by Shannon “Shãn” Sutherland, AIF®, AAMS®, ADPA Wealth Advisor. Sutherland is an advisor in our Business Program, and has set up 401(k) retirement trusts for companies with 100+ employees and, more frequently, individual 401(k)s for S-Corps. Being responsible for the money of others, she obtained the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation, which increased her knowledge of fiduciary considerations when reviewing retirement plans. The AIF® process is best applied to overseeing and recommending choices for large-scale 401(k) retirement plan asset and charitable trusts. She also advises other fiduciaries (such as board members) on investment policies, asset allocation, and regulatory updates.
Sutherland owns Simple Impact LLC Investments. Located at 4500 Park Granada, Suite 202 Calabasas, CA 91302 . Call us today at 424.422.1001. (CA Insurance Lic. #0D28620) is a Registered Representative and an Investment Adviser Representative with/and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products and services offered by Simple Impact or CES Insurance Agency.
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
– Mark Twain
What does it mean to get involved with your company?
A small business owner gets up each morning and eats frogs. Those frogs may be customer complaints, collection problems, disgruntled employees, or other daily problems. If you have experience owning a small business, you know what loneliness feels like when decisions are required. Most employees shuck hard issues, as they should, and others do not understand enough about the business to offer valid opinions.
Owners of small businesses (good ones, that is), make sure all expenses, payroll and vendors are paid before they take any money from the company. Rarely in the life of a business is there sufficient money for the owner to get the amount of money they might ideally want every period. It takes time for the business to get established and be able to weather business problems (recessions, floods, competition, etc.). In those periods, the owner may even have to put money into the business to cover its needs. The first time the owner goes without a paycheck or has to put money into the business is when eating frogs becomes clear.
Then why do people start and buy businesses? Because if done right, the rewards are often greater than being an employee—not just monetary rewards, but the ability to make decisions, have an on-demand work schedule, or just choose co-workers.
As the owner of a small business, what do you need to do each day? What’s important to a company?
Work in every department or area of your business with key personnel of your company. It is easy to fall into a groove where enjoyable tasks like design or sales dominate the day. Few small business owners will work to collect money from overdue invoices; that is one of the uglier, more difficult jobs. Fewer will work in the warehouse to help pick, pack, and ship orders; not all enjoy physical labor. Obviously, it is important not to devote too much time to tasks that employees can handle, but a small business owner must be willing to do these tasks under certain circumstances.
Donald Thompson, former CEO at McDonald’s, said on a 60 Minutes interview that he worked at McDonald’s restaurants in all capacities, including flipping burgers and cleaning bathrooms. Working every job at a company is not a necessity for running a business, but Mr. Thompson understood the inner workings in his restaurant and was able to apply that experience to the whole chain. Anyone who owns a company should not underestimate this kind of experience.
Importance of working everywhere
Companies operate more effectively when the owner knows how to do each employee’s job. Employees respect owners who will work alongside them and often work harder knowing that the boss understands how to do their job. An owner will make better hiring decisions when they understand the job’s tasks. Having good employees who work hard is necessary and essential for any successful business.
As a consultant, I always jumped at the chance to work in every part of a company and learn as much as I could about all aspects of business. Working in hot, non-air-conditioned factories in Mexico with a temperature of 105 degrees outside taught me how important well-placed fans could be. Unloading and packing boxes in warehouses was another task for which I earned respect from employees who, while working, often told me things about the company the owner would never have learned. If the owner learned what I knew, he or she might not have needed me.
Case Study 5 – Torreon, Mexico
One of my challenging engagements was a home-furnishing manufacturer in Torreon, Mexico. Their lender sent me to find out why the company was not making scheduled loan payments. My Spanish wasn’t great, but I thought it would be an interesting job, so I took my overused passport and went to Mexico.
Torreon is in the northern part of Mexico and a short flight from Houston Texas. It is not Mexico City but a very quaint town with less traffic and a comfortable amount of energy. For my safety, it was highly recommended to use only certain taxis located at hotels or those called by trusted sources. Each meal was a culinary adventure, as menus outside of the hotel were only in Spanish; menus with pictures were much appreciated. Having the specialty of each restaurant seemed like a good bet, and this region specialized in cabrito (baby goat). As vegetables are mostly the same from country to country, that part was easier and cooked fresh.
What went wrong
Management did not pay attention to the needs in its factory, including production efficiency, quality control, and effectiveness of machinery.
Upon arriving at the manager’s office, one floor above the factory, I was greeted warmly as a representative of the lender. After some routine questions about the factory, I asked the manager about his work effort on the factory floor. He was not prepared for this line of questioning, as his answers, with wandering eyes, were vague and unresponsive. I learned that he had no set schedule. (Maybe he plays in a weekly poker game that I could attend. It would be easy to see when he was bluffing!) He claimed to work often on the factory floor, but employees later reported he was rarely there, only to introduce new employees. It was disheartening to learn he generally sat in his air-conditioned office, only leaving for lunch and breaks. When he needed information, he would summon factory workers to his office. He did not know how products were made, nor could he assist if there was a manufacturing problem, and there were many.
Problems with machinery
One machine would roll out fabric until it hit a stopper. This stopper allowed the machine to measure the exact amount of fabric required to begin the process of making a comforter. Too much and the sewers would have to cut off the excess, too little and the comforter could not be made. That stopper was quite an important piece in the manufacturing process! Sometime in the past (no one remembered when), the metal piece broke and was replaced with a piece of cardboard that wore out often. I asked the manager about replacing the cardboard piece with the correct metal one. He claimed not to know there was a problem (staff behind him rolling their eyes), and asked me to show him why the part was necessary. The manager said he would look into getting a replacement part. I knew I could probably kiss my elbow before he would do that.
Problems with mechanics
Next, I met with the head mechanic and three assistants in their workshop. Repair logs that are essential to knowing when machines need repairs were void of entries for many days, as if the plant was closed. The head mechanic began his explanation with, “But Señor.” (In my career working in Central American countries, nothing good followed “But Señor”.)
“But Señor, we are a bit behind in logging our work.”
“How many machines do you work on each day?”
“Señor, we are busy all day.” It probably will not be surprising to know the mechanics were not busy all day. They barely worked at all. Some “broken” machines just needed oil but were put in the graveyard where unusable machines go until repaired.
Some problems discovered
After working for just one week, the following was uncovered:
Machines were not properly serviced. Many needed oil and were about to break. Some machines worked at less than full capacity; others were just broken awaiting repair. All were reparable with minor work required.
Employees who were short in stature folded large comforters, and this resulted in dragging the comforters on the dirty factory floor. The Quality Control department (QC) rejected the damaged products and sent them to a section of the warehouse used for bad products that could not be sold. (It looked like the closing scene in Indiana Jones where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.)
Boxes used to pack sets of sheets were too small. Each set of sheets required two people to close a packing box: one to hold the box closed and the other to tape it shut. It was funny watching one person taping another person’s arm to the box because the box holder didn’t move out of the way in time. One time, an employee sat on the box before realizing that his associate couldn’t tape the box closed with him sitting on it.
Factory supervisors received no instructions on what to make and decided that on their own. Often, orders were not filled completely because of this lack of control over production.
An attempt to get management to get involved
When asked if meetings with management were ever scheduled, factory workers replied, “Nunca.” (Never.) After much coaxing, the factory manager finally held the company’s first production meeting. The manager sat far from the exit. As the meeting became heated over his lack of concern for the employees and their work effort, I became apprehensive his position was too far from the exit for a quick escape should the employees start a riot.
Many of the workers thanked me for that meeting. They gave me a bag of M&Ms to say thanks. Perhaps my large frame made them think candy was an appropriate present, but I did appreciate the gesture. Nothing significant changed after that trip. The bank sent me back to Torreon, where I was greeted warmly by the staff and ignored by the factory manager.
The problems uncovered were symptoms of bad management. Hearing the word “factory” often conjures up a picture of a Henry Ford type assembly line. This concept worked at the turn of the 20th century, and with enhanced modifications works today.
In the Torreon factory, more attention needed to be paid to work schedules and output of product.
One solution to those problems is a scoreboard for each production line. The board has columns for expected and actual production. Results for each period (usually two hours) are reported and monitored on this board. Workers can look at the board and know how they are doing with relation to expectations. The scoreboard also acts to incentivize employees to hit daily goals in two-hour increments.
More attention was needed in QC.
The solution was to implement stronger QC. If product was not completed in a saleable manner, then QC would inform production that changes would need to be made in the production line to reduce the number of damaged products.
Mechanics didn’t have service schedules that kept equipment in top form.
The solution was to instruct mechanics to service machines more frequently, keeping them in top form. Additionally, a periodic timetable/schedule for regular maintenance schedule was created, and mechanics were instructed to record all service on the schedule.
Meetings with key factory production personnel should have been scheduled periodically. Production staff should have been allowed to voice their opinions on improvements.
A meeting schedule should have been established, so that production staff could be invited and encouraged to express their opinions regarding improvements.
Management’s failure to interact with all phases of production resulted in inefficiency and poor morale.
The manager was encouraged to conduct walk-throughs as often as needed during the workday, to be on the lookout for problems, and to correct problems in a timely manner. Had the manager conducted such walk-ins and addressed problems, the issue with packing and shipping could have been discovered and corrected much sooner.
Additionally, the manager was encouraged to improve morale by showing production staff that he cared, simply by asking their opinions on improvements, not just during the meetings, but also during his walk-throughs. This is just common sense.
This article was contributed by Neil Goldstein, the founder of Elementary Business Inc. a specialized consulting firm for distressed businesses in transition. Mr. Goldstein works closely with owners to structure improvements in both operations and finances. With many successes in his portfolio, Mr. Goldstein focuses on the needs of the owner to achieve results in profitability, sale of the company or finding a partner for growth. As a hands-on consulting practitioner, he has personally negotiated with foreign governments for incentive programs, worked with union management to improve productivity, and restructured warehouses for efficiency and other specialized operational assignments.
Imagine you are in the job market, and just came across this chart, would you be inspired to join the workforce?
Today’s workforce is proving to be quite dynamic and diverse. Those willing to engage their hire (employers), and those willing to understand employer’s culture before joining (employees) will reap mutual gains and leadership. Lead in disruptive innovations that could potentially boost revenues, shareholder’s value, as well as the employees’ energies, focus and participation.
Employee Engagement is a state of being. Employees who exude curiosity, agility and a sense of happy are more likely to enjoy what they do, invest more of their time at work than their counterparts. Simply put, they do not need to feel inspired to come to work—they are already inspired!
When asked to comment on The Future Workforce, Blair Sheppard a global strategy and leadership expert, remarked, “it’s not knowable”.
Nevertheless, he urges that to succeed, one must know the trend and manage the change, by solving today’s problems with the future in mind.
Given today’s uncertainties, millennial are entering the workforce with a different set of goals. They want engagement: the need to feel a sense that their daily work makes an impact in the world. At the core, they feel and are convinced that in order for the world to change, they must be the change they expect to see.
So, why are we faulting them when we hold the same belief ourselves? Wouldn’t you want to do work that connects you to a higher purpose? The truth is that we all do.
Millennial have proven cable of boosting the overall state of the economy by building juggernaut organizations like Facebook, Tumblr, Mashable, etc. Could it be that we are frustrated not with them but with our own lack of engagement—in that we have not taken the time to understand ourselves, our motivations, the organizations where we work, and how the world has evolved and continues to evolve?
Different generations are inspired by different set of beliefs and purpose. The baby-boomers were likely to be motivated by the need for certainty. Then, management sought to address those needs by following the Maslow hierarchy of needs theory. Although, the basic human needs remain unchanged, the reality is that our world is no longer as it used to be. The Internet of things has disrupted everything: virtual life and virtual money (crypto currency) are upon us.
The thinking that corporations exist for the shareholders is rather inadequate; because without an engaged workforce there are no such gain —human capital is the real capital. Without it, the creative genius that drives business innovation is dead.
On the other hand, if you are an employee you must engage yourself: grow your skills, and be agile lest you become obsolete. Already some jobs are automated, and more and more will be done by robots.
AI, Artificial intelligence is here, and it’s not remedial. In fact, your sense of happiness can no longer be tied to your boss, company or anyone for that matter, because it is your responsibility to design the life you want—harsh but true!
You and your employer both need to adapt swiftly. To be successful in future workforce space, demand pivoting and taking into consideration the current trends reflecting how purpose and inspirations go hand in hand. A must if disruptive innovations are to be augmented.
Therefore seek to attract the right hires, those aligned with your vision, purpose and culture. While the employee examines if the environment they wish to work aligns with: why you want to work there (purpose), where you see yourself in the future (vision) and what you stand for—your values. The“Me Too Movement” is a great example.
Simply, do you want to work in an environment where women are sexually harassed just because they need a paycheck? Unfathomable I know… but you get my point.
So how can you be engaged (applicable to both the employer and the employee)? The following tips are vital if engagement is to be realized:
Purpose (Vision): We all need purpose to ignite our passions and inspires our daily living. Align your vision with the company that you wish to work for or build.
Presence (Identity):Your true essence and personality comes alive when you engage what you love. You know it when you find it, it’s your flow, and it’s like finding true love. So, building on ‘know thyself’ daily is absolutely vital…it’s where innovations are drawn.
Passion (Abilities): When purpose is known, nothing can deter you from doing what you MUST. Your latent abilities of what you love to do and a capability lies within—a well that never runs dry. All you need is to get in touch with the Real YOU or the authentic you, and you’ll realize a scaling factor in your capacity.
Profit (Value): The reality of life is that you need to eat, and if you are a corporation, your shareholders need their returns. Consequently, when you serve others by addressing an unmet need, delivering valuable goods or services you win.
I once read that people who build their work, life and dreams/ businesses around purpose and passion always seem to weather any storm. They adapt swiftly and leverage the current trends.
Yours my friend is to tap into your purpose whether you are a corporation or an individual—because Purpose, why you or your entity exists, is the initiative to true engagement.
What work do you do? Do you feel engaged both at work, career and in life?
The world we live in is fast-paced, and businesses rise and fall in an instant. In 1998, Nokia was the biggest mobile phone brand in 1998 and in 2003, they launched the Nokia 1100, which was the best-selling mobile phone of all time. However, in 2007, the iPhone arrived and in a mere six years, the market value of Nokia declined by 90%. If a company of that size can fold so easily, how can a small business make it over the long-haul?
One can imagine how important cash flow is when a company the size of Nokia bit the dust. Although their downfall wasn’t directly related to cash flow, eventually they had to cut their losses and break even. Establishing your break-even point is one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur.
It is a guide that you can follow to determine if your company’s growth is out of proportion or not. You can imagine if your revenue falls 10% short of your expenses for a couple of months. Before you know it, you will be closing the doors to your business.
Always work toward your breakeven point before you attempt to grow your business. Once you start showing profits, you can look to expand gradually.
Build a cash reserve
Along with establishing your break-even point, building up a cash reserve is just as important. As a small business, you won’t have the luxury of falling back on your massive profits all the time. Plan and work closely guided by a good business report based on which your business started.
Based on the business report, make an assessment of each and every business expense, including any hidden expenses, or an unforeseen business contingency that might arise in the near future. Cash is the lifeline of every business and you can’t afford to falter on this because of lack of planning.
Having a decent cash reserve will get you out of the woods during the slow months. As a general rule, building a reserve that can carry your company for four months is ideal. The reality you need to face is that you are bound to have shortfalls during your early years and months.
Rarely does a company start off without a hitch. You need to build trust and a name for your company before your revenue stabilizes. When you see that your revenue is stable, you can start looking at expansion.
Don’t let debtors slide
Being a small business that’s keen to keep your clients, you will often be tempted to let your debtors slide on their payments. You are not doing anyone any favors, especially your cash flow.
You will be dependent on every penny you make and letting your debtors off the hook, or allowing them to pay late, makes it impossible for you to grow your company.
However, if you aren’t the type of person who can hound people for money, get someone who can. If you can’t collect money on the day of delivery, you should try and not go over 30 days. Also, understand the difference between a good debt and bad debt and act wisely.
People in the business world are often on the lookout for bargains or service without having to pay for it. However, you won’t be able to do your business if you don’t have money. Setting incentives for your clients for paying at the point of sale or setting up contractual financing plans is one way in which you will get your money on time.
You are at risk of losing revenue and also credibility if you cannot pay your expenses. Taking your clients to court is also not a win. You’ll never get all your money back and you also have to find the money after a court’s judgments.
Accounting tools matter
For any business, wages make up a large portion of the company’s running expenses. In the service industry, up to 50% of the gross revenue can go to paying staff.
That being said, not every small business owner has the money to pay a full-time accountant. This is where the right accounting software comes in. Your initial expense for the software might be big, but it will be a one-off expense. Finding the right package for your company will be key, though.
These software packages can do anything from generating invoices to sending notices. If there is one aspect that you should look for, though, it is cloud storage. Your data is always kept safe and is not dependent on your hardware, which is another expense that you can cut down on.
Finally, as a small business you could be tempted to boost your revenue by giving your clients discounts. This does not promote any loyalty with your brand. In fact, it creates an expectancy that there will always be a discount on offer.
As soon as you drop the discounts, you drop your client. Rather, promote your company by living up to the standards that you set. Providing a stellar service or product will generate confidence in your brand and create an environment where you could keep your clients or make regular clients.
Running a small business can be quite daunting, but if you make sound financial decisions, you can navigate the waters of financial turmoil. Apart from the product and service that you provide, keeping an eye on your money is the most important thing you can do.
Investing time in making all the calculations of your expenses and revenue will pay off in the end. It will ensure that you stay afloat and also grow over time.
There are different ways that you can market your small business to your audience in the digital age. You can use online advertising, but advertising is similar to renting an audience. There is email marketing, but this form is more of a sales channel rather than a means to build a connection with your customers.
One of the best choices for a small business owner has to be social media marketing. Social media allows you to build an audience and create a connection with them. Research shows that 68% of adults in the United States are Facebook users. This goes to show how big social media is.
Here are some tips that you can use to take advantage of social media for your business.
1. Research your audience
To know what platform to use, you need to know who your audience is. Connecting and engaging with your audience is crucial if you’re social media marketing strategy is going to succeed.
There are many methods you can use to get a deeper understanding of your audience. You could:
Perform a survey on your audience to understand their needs
Examine audience demographics to know which platform will work best
By understanding your audience, you’ll be able to craft a social media strategy that connects to them and builds a strong bond/relationship.
Find Your Platform
There are many social media platforms available online, each with its own type of audience. As a business, it’s not advised to be on all platforms. It’ll be difficult for you to maintain all of them more so for a small business.
For instance, a B2B business will have much better lack on a platform such as LinkedIn where most of the audience there are businesspeople.
Images and Video work best
Posts that have videos and images perform better than posts without. This goes on to show you how important images and videos are to social media. If you’re looking to increase engagement on social media, then it’s important to include videos and images with your posts.
With all that said, don’t post images/videos for the sake of it. It’s a bad habit to fall into. Make sure you have your audience in mind when selecting the videos and images to add on your page.
The content that you post should add value to the user’s lives in some way. The posts should be unique and high-quality. If your writing skills aren’t the best, read the best essay writing service reviews and order content from quality sites like Edugeeksclub.
Listen and Promote
Most businesses use social media to promote their services/products. This is not a bad thing, but the tide has been changing for quite some time now. Social media has now become a customer service platform. Communication is open-ended on social media. Customers have a way to voice their opinions and qualms with businesses.
Instead of focusing on promoting all the time, also take the time to listen. You can find tips on how to improve by looking at the frequently asked questions of not only your audience, but also your competitor’s audience as well.
There are many tools that you can use to see what people are saying about your competitor’s. Through listening to your audience, you can also solve their problems at a faster pace, which will be an advantage to your business.
Determine Your Goals
This is a no brainer, it’s always important to set your goals before you start the business process. The same applies to social media. You need to know what you aim to gain from a social media campaign.
Do you want to build brand awareness and thus, more followers? Do you want to get a good ROI out of your campaign? What is your main goal of your social media strategy?
You can use the SMART strategy to set your goals for your social media marketing strategy.
Specific: In short, make sure that your goals are Specific, that they should pinpoint what exactly they need.
Measurable: You also need to make your goals measurable. You need to a way to know when you hit your goals. Is it a certain number of followers? Is it a certain conversion rate?
Attainable: You also need to make your goals Attainable. You can aim high, but make it high enough to reach. Unattainable goals are frustrating and demoralizing.
Relevant: Make your goals Relevant as well. They should tie into your overall marketing goals.
Timely: Make sure to add a Time frame to your goals. This will help keep you on your toes and accountable as well.
The goals set will help drive the overall strategy that’ll be used for the business.
Social media is used by most savvy marketers today. The number of businesses using social media is only increasing: You’re losing out if you’re not on it. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can look at previous successful campaigns or even to your competitors to see what works best. Always look at the stats and test different strategies to see what works best for your business.
Launching and running a small business is a challenging task, and it gets even more complex if you need to handle your financial statements single-handedly. One study suggests that almost 30% of small businesses fail because they run out of cash, which clearly show how important it is to keep an eye on your money and to plan expenditures properly.
If you are not really sure how to handle it, keep reading our post to learn eight ways to make sense of your small business financial statements. Let’s take a look!
Take Care of the Income Statement
We open the list with the financial basics. The income statement is one of the most important elements of your financial report, so you have to treat it with due diligence. This statement shows the ratio between the profit gained and the costs incurred in a given period.
Jake Gardner, a finance expert at Ninja Essays, says the purpose of the income statement is to evaluate the profitability of your small business: “In case you handle it precisely, the document will also give you inputs on how to improve and grow revenue.”
The Balance Sheet
The balance sheet is often considered to be an even more important financial indicator because investors use it to assess the fiscal stamina of a small business. While income statements analyze specific periods of time, balance sheets provide owners and their clients with the most recent financial data. The document covers some of the key business elements, including a company’s net value, liabilities, assets, and equity.
Mind the Cash Flow
We already mentioned that cash flow is the number one reason why new companies fail. Therefore, creating the cash flow statement becomes another major component of the company’s financial construct. What does it tell you?
On one side, this report shows you how quickly the money flows into your company. On the other side, it also shows how quickly you run out of cash. If you have any issues with missing payments, the cash flow statement will warn you about it.
The first three segments of financial reporting describe the current situation in your company, but this one is doing the opposite. Namely, a revenue forecast is a data-driven estimation of the profit/loss in the following year. As such, it helps you to make a realistic plan of investments, salaries, and other expenditures. Without this type of forecast, your business can hardly remain solvent in the long run as you won’t kno whether to initiate new projects, grow your team, take a new loan, etc.
Invest In Growth
This advice goes hand in hand with the previous one. If you want to keep your financial records in good shape, you need to think and behave proactively. In other words, you need to invest in growth to ensure the sustainability of your small business.
Product developers at Best Essays and Rush Essay say they always search for growth opportunities and try to save as much money as possible for future projects: “Investments have an amplifying effect because our customers notice that we keep improving your products and services.”
Return on investments (ROI) is yet another fundament of financial reporting because it helps business owners to figure out the results of their activities. For instance, you can learn whether your marketing campaigns deliver the planned results or not. The same goes for all other components of your business – customer service teams, new products, sales agents, and so on. But if you fail to measure ROI, you can hardly ever justify your investments.
Check the Books Regularly
Although financial reporting is periodical, you should not neglect it and wait for the whole year to be over before you engage. On the contrary, you should embrace a precious habit and check financial statements frequently.
You can do it once a month as it won’t take you too much time. It is only a matter of practice – experienced business owners don’t need more than an hour to examine the books and make sure that everything goes as planned.
Use Accounting Tools
Who says you must do everything manually? The year is 2019 and there are dozens of accounting tools that you can use to handle financial reporting. Finance professionals at XpertWriters tested most of the platforms and recommended a couple of options:
Fresh Books: This is one of the simplest accounting tools that cover all of the major financial operations. It is highly convenient for beginner level users.
Tipalti: If you are worried about scaling your business properly, use Tipalti to simplify the process. The platform will help you with everything from invoice processing and tax compliance to global payments and scaling.
Running a small business and handling all of its finances is certainly a complicated job, but it becomes much easier when you learn the basics of financial management. We showed you eight ways to make sense of your small business financial statements, so make sure to use them and keep your company stable long-run.
Sales as a discipline is arguably the biggest winner of the internet revolution, with around 12 percent of the busiest 100 thousand websites belonging to eCommerce entities. With such a well-developed infrastructure, snagging a piece of the pie for yourself is difficult, and there are tools that can help you increase your sales potential.
Since the internet is full of data that you as a small business owner can use to perform a comprehensive analysis of your market and competition, understand weak spots, identify our target audience, and putting all that information to use in order to enhance our sales prospects. Larger commercial entities that operate with substantial budgets even employ Artificial Intelligence-driven software to keep their domination over the market. Nevertheless, there are some tools that even small and mid-sized businesses and startups can afford. Let’s take a look at the four top-rated software solutions that drive small business sales upward.
One of the most notable features of this piece of software
is its ability to undergo complete customization to fit your business
requirements. The customization includes more than just turning on and off
different modules or options, it includes the ability to create custom messages
and responses for client communication, and also add custom fields that you
might need other than those already provided. Moreover, the app allows you to arrange
your deals up to the tiniest detail, and create schedules so you don’t miss any
When it comes to making use of all the data you gather with
Pipedrive, the app offers the chance to gather all the important information
and place it in a centralized database, where you can choose among numerous
options, including exporting data to third-party systems or create custom
performance reports to keep track of your success. Since mobility is an
important issue, due to the fact that half
of the internet traffic is going through mobile devices, Pipedrive
also comes as a mobile app that you can utilize on the go.
This is a software solution that allows complete sales
management in one easy-to-use digital tool. The app allows managing orders,
inventory, customer information, various reporting option, and accounting, all
of it in real time. Speaking of accounting, it’s completely automated, meaning
you won’t have to deal with most of the manual bookkeeping tasks that you would
otherwise do. It’s as if you would run a blog and hire the best essay writing
service UK, US, or some other country has to offer.
Brightpearl is a multichannel focused app, which makes it a
great choice for retailers as an efficiency enhancement option, thanks to its
Omni-channel sales orientation. In addition, it is a cloud-hosted application,
available as a mobile app as well, which means you can use it anywhere you are,
from any device you want, as long as you have a proper internet connection. The
decision-making process is seamless, thanks to Brightpearl’s ability to gather
data, analyze it, and generate real-time reports.
More than just managing your sales, this piece of software
also provides CRM (Customer Relation Management) features which can help in
building your customer base through email communication or lack of it. A poorly
written email content is often the reason behind the missing engagement, a
problem that could be fixed by hiring any of the numerous writing agencies that
deliver all sorts of textual content and essays on time to save your campaign.
The user interface is simple enough, allowing less
experienced operators to manage the software capabilities with ease, at the
same time simplifying most sales tasks you would otherwise have to spend your
time dealing with. The combination of task scheduling and advanced
differentiation among pending, won, and lost deals makes it impossible to
forget about a pending task you should look into.
Freshsales manipulates data in order to provide you with filters
that can pinpoint bestsellers or close dates. Furthermore, you can create
custom sales reports,
even display individual client reports, as well as email, territory and other
types of reports that give you a clearer image of your business opportunities.
Since the software offers an open API, you can integrate a third-party solution
without any trouble regarding the access to necessary data.
When it comes to combining all the major components of a
successful sales business, few apps can challenge the potential that HubSpot
brings to the table. It manages your sales, marketing and CRM aspects of the
business, which saves the time and trouble you’d have to go through with
integration of separate systems. In the blogger’s terms of speech, it’s like an essay
writing service that provides the hottest topics drafts the content
for you and shares the post.
Since the software allows comprehensive control of your
business process, it reduces the time to arrange or close sales, data
utilization between modules is automated which simplifies work, making you more
efficient. Speaking of automation, HubSpot allows you to generate and schedule
different personalized emails that the software sends out automatically
according to your settings.
The software is available as a single package and as three
individual modules, each dealing with marketing, sales, or CRM functionality.
Furthermore, the software is available for all popular OS options, both mobile
and desktop, making a stable internet connection everything you need in order
to use HubSpot.
No matter if you run an online or brick and mortar business, it’s of paramount importance to utilize any assets you can manage in order to reduce operational costs. Startups and small businesses usually aren’t enthusiastic about spending money on software, especially if it’s not absolutely necessary. These apps can help you organize your business, keeps things under control, and get a deeper insight into your growth potential.
Too many people are struggling to make ends meet because they haven’t been given a fair chance. In 2018 the unemployment rate dropped to a 17-year low, yet almost half of American workers are stuck in low-wage jobs; the number of new small businesses is at rock bottom; and race or where you’re born are the biggest factors for financial success in life. These challenges are key drivers behind growing income and wealth inequality, as there are fewer jobs that afford working people and their families dignity, financial security, and economic mobility.
At Pacific Community Ventures, we know things can be different. We envision a world of thriving communities where everyone has a fair shake. Our mission is to invest in small businesses, create good jobs for working people, and make markets work for social good. We achieve our mission through a combination of fair lending, free mentorship, skilled volunteerism, social impact measurement and management, and field-building research.
We’re working with entrepreneurs and investors to create higher-quality jobs and more equitable communities. This report highlights our recent progress, and we hope you’ll join us on this journey.
Our Impact In 2018: Investing in Small Business
716 businessesacross 50 states received access to capital and mentorship
68% of supported companies grew their revenues
16% year-over-year median revenue growth at supported companies (vs 6.1% for comparable small businesses)
13% job growth at our companies surpassing national and state rates (1.6%)
2,582 jobscreated and retained at the businesses we served
Our Impact In 2018:Investing in Quality Jobs
Average wages at supported small businesses were $22/hour (full-time) and $18/hour (part-time)
$89,463,239 in wages paid to working people from underinvested communities
55% of full-time workers at supported small businesses are eligible for health benefits, 28% are eligible for retirement benefits, and 64% have paid time off
67% of small businesses provide workers with their schedules at least two weeks in advance
Our Impact In 2018: Investing in Communities
$30 billion in investment capital evaluated across asset classes
Over $325 Million deployed or managed using our customized Impact Measurement and Management systems
Our Impact In 2018: Investing inRacial and Social Equity
87% of the businesses we funded were located in, or hiring from, low-income communities
71% of the small business owners we work with are women or people of color
Pacific Community Ventures is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen small businesses, strengthen communities, and create better livelihoods for working people. We believe that by investing in small businesses and making markets work for social good we can create stronger communities without poverty, where everyone has a fair shake and access to good jobs, affordable housing, and healthy food.