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Minimize Foreign Trade Risks with These 10 Tips

foreign

Minimize Foreign Trade Risks with These 10 Tips

Does your company follow a strategy to go global? International expansion brings endless opportunities. Statistics show that companies that export boost their productivity by 34% on average over the first year. They are also more likely to survive in the long term when compared to companies with a local focus. 

However, we must emphasize the fact that foreign trading comes with risks. Currency, credit, intellectual property, transport, logistics, ethics… you’ll be dealing with a lot throughout this journey. Being aware of these risks and taking steps to minimize them will ensure the success of your brand’s international trade management.

10 Tips on How to Minimize Foreign Trade Risks 

Make Sure Your Products Are Allowed for Distribution

This is the first thing you need to check: are you allowed to trade with your products in the respective country? For example, the EU has strict regulations that prevent many goods from China from being imported. Each country has its rules, which your business must respect. Otherwise, you would waste a lot of time and resources planning an impossible expansion project. 

You can get familiar with the rules by reading relevant laws and regulations or contacting the customs services.  

Focus on the Legal Aspects of Business Expansion

Each country has its own regulations regarding businesses from abroad. Legislators set the legal framework and conditions for FFcustomers, sales, and particularities regarding the industry. It’s important to be aware of all these details ahead of time. When designing your strategy and drafting the initial contracts, you should make sure you stay within the legal framework of the country where you expand the brand. In addition, you should be aware of potential legal disputes and their solutions. 

Most business owners hire lawyers in their respective countries. A lawyer from your own country can also make connections and give you the details you need.   

Get Shipping Insurance

Everything looks well on paper. You consider the costs of production, transport, marketing, sales, and everything else related to selling your goods abroad. But there’s a risk that business owners often forget: damage during shipping. Items may break or get lost during transport. Your shipment may become a subject of theft or even vandalism. Accidents and contamination happen during transport all the time. If you don’t get good insurance for your shipment, you risk losing a lot of money. 

Proper insurance is not cheap. You should talk to several agencies to get the best offer on international shipments. We recommend using the best finance apps to plan all costs, including insurance over a longer period of time. These apps will help you calculate a decent budget and determine a final price that won’t leave much space for losses. 

Consider All Currency-Related Things

When planning foreign trade financing, you’re guided by the official currency in your own country. You focus on evaluating the risks related to credit, but as most business owners, you might forget about one thing: currency conversions may initiate losses, too. 

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t been kind in this aspect. In March 2020, emerging-market currencies faced losses of up to 30%. That’s something that nobody could have predicted. However, you can analyze the movement of relevant currencies and estimate potential losses. You might need to work with a financial expert to make these evaluations.  

Evaluate the Risk of Protectionism

Trade protectionism is a policy for protecting domestic industries from foreign invasion. If, for example, a particular country stimulates the domestic flour milling industry, it will impose import quotas, tariffs, and other handicaps on foreign traders. Governments do this because they don’t want foreign products to drop the market prices and get the domestic industries in trouble. 

If you plan for global exposure, you have to learn about these policies. You must take the additional expenses into consideration, so you’ll evaluate a realistic final price. Will it be acceptable for the living standard of the respective country?

Register the Corporate Names and Trademarks

When doing business abroad, you risk violating another brand’s intellectual property rights. You can avoid that by registering your brand’s names and trademarks. If that process goes undisturbed, you can feel free to offer the products on the respective market. 

Consider the Risk of a Changing Market Environment

No market situation is stable and rigid for all times. You will develop a general strategy, which will be based on solid international risk management. But no matter how well you predict potential risks and future circumstances, you cannot be 100% sure that you did it properly. 

In Deloitte’s Global Trade Management Survey, none of the Swiss chief financial officers who participated thought that the global trade environment would become less complex. Only 15% of them said they expected the conditions to remain the same. 

Your company must continuously review the strategy and make the needed adjustments as the market circumstances evolve.   

Evaluate Foreign Ethical Standard

When offering your products on a global market, you should think about the differing ethical standards that you’ll face. For example, Israel has a thriving vegan culture. It might not be a good idea to trade fur there before evaluating the risk of getting your brand dragged through discussions as an unethical one. 

Get well informed about the customs and social conditions in the country where you plan to expand. 

Invest Time and Resources on Collaboration

Business owners often neglect the need to get comprehensive advice through collaboration with foreign lawyers and governmental services. They want to save time and money, or they simply forget that getting insider information is crucial before international expansion. 

You need to talk to experts who will explain the laws and regulations. You might need finance experts from abroad as well. In addition, you have to collaborate with industry insiders who know the market and can help you build a solid network of connections.

Get Acquainted with Foreign Business Customs

You may be used to a direct, friendly approach with a bit of humor in the mix. But in a foreign country, such an approach may be considered unserious or even offensive. Intercultural differences are a major factor in foreign trading success. 

You have to get acquainted with business etiquette when entering a new market. You can find this information online, but it’s best to hire a business advisor from the country in question. You’ll get proper guidance from someone who knows the target region and the communication etiquette in the particular industry. 

The country’s culture, politics, and economy are also important. Learn as much as possible, so you can start and maintain a productive conversation with potential partners. 

Foreign Trade Is a Complex Endeavor

Yes, it will be a rewarding experience for you as a business owner. With the right approach, you’ll take your brand towards substantial growth. However, you have to conduct basic research regarding the risks you’ll face during the expansion. This is a process that requires thorough planning, so don’t rush through it.

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James Dorian is a technical copywriter. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.

changes

Disrupt The Disruption: How Businesses Can Meet COVID-Forced Changes Head On

Businesses continue to navigate the changes that COVID-19 has wrought on the economy, rethinking how they serve customers, searching desperately for ways to cut spending, and trying to make long-term plans while ensuring short-term survival.

But it’s worth remembering that change that disrupts the economy is nothing new – with or without a pandemic, says Juan Riboldi (www.ascent-advisor.com), an international business advisor, author, and president of Ascent Advisor, a management consulting firm.

“The real issue businesses leaders must deal with is not change,” Riboldi says. “Instead the issue is what can we do so that we and our businesses can benefit from the change that COVID has brought.”

Anyone wondering where to begin should first look inward, he says.

“Since all change starts with individuals,” Riboldi says, “we must learn to recognize and correct negative tendencies in ourselves that keep us from successfully addressing change. A better understanding of these bad habits or tendencies will help us know how to effectively resolve them.”

To meet the changes caused by COVID-19 head-on, Riboldi says business leaders should:

Keep the trust level in your company high. When a manager goes back on decisions, hides uncomfortable news, or plays office politics for personal convenience, others in the organization will begin to distrust that manager. “If you make promises, be sure to keep them,” Riboldi says. “Otherwise you will lose the trust of others as well as their respect, both of which are desperately needed as you manage change.”

Stay focused. “Lack of focus is a main cause for why smart people do dumb things,” Riboldi says. “Being busy does not mean accomplishing more. When we work at a frantic pace, we often make more mistakes.” For businesses, this problem is magnified by the kind of economic uncertainty the country is going through right now, he says. “Companies experiencing  tough times often respond to unpredictable situations by panicking,” Riboldi says. “They try to do more with less, rather than simplifying and becoming more focused.”

Keep employee training on track. Businesses already worry that entry-level employees are deficient in many of the skills needed to do the job, Riboldi says. Many companies respond to economic downturns by cutting training and development budgets. “Doing away with training may provide temporary financial relief, but at a long-term cost on the capability of your workforce,” Riboldi says.

Inspire commitment in employees. The role of the immediate supervisor is essential for fostering commitment in workers, Riboldi says. When a supervisor fails to lead employees in a way that inspires teamwork and collaboration, commitment falters. “The most common problem affecting morale is when supervisors don’t provide employees with sincere recognition for their work,” he says. “Too often, supervisors fail to give heartfelt praise for a job well done. This simple action costs nothing and takes little time to do, and yet it is a crucial component in engaging a workforce.”

Understand the importance of short-term results. Riboldi says most major organizational change efforts fail to deliver the expected results. One of the main reasons for that is a lack of success early on. “Many promising change initiatives become prematurely aborted due to failure to show short-term gains,” he says. “Insufficient attention to short-term results kills even the best strategies and plans.” To be successful, Riboldi says, an organization must balance the short and the long term. “Achieving early wins builds support for pursuing longer term goals,” he says.

“Fortunately, the problems we encounter as we deal with change are both avoidable and curable,” Riboldi says. “We can identify their root causes and replace them with something better.”

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Juan Riboldi (www.ascent-advisor.com) is an international business advisor and principal and president of Ascent Advisor, a management consulting firm. He is the author of the upcoming book, Strategic Transformation: How to Deliver What Matters Most. For over 20 years, Riboldi has been advising leaders at the highest levels of business, education and government on strategy, organization, and execution. His clients include Fortune 50 corporations as well as fast-growing private enterprises. He successfully launched and led three consulting firms, and completed post-graduate studies at Harvard Business School and Wharton School of Business.

buy a business

With Jobs Eliminated Daily, is Now the Right Time to Buy A Business?

The economy and job market have been on a roller coaster since the pandemic hit in the early part of 2020.

First, the stock market took a nosedive and reached some all-time lows, only to rebound to all-time highs. The same has occurred in the job market. First, we were experiencing the lowest unemployment in years, only to be followed by the highest unemployment since the Great Depression of 1929.

Presently the stock market is rising, but there is still unemployment, and daily you read about major companies that are either laying off or eliminating jobs by the thousands.

If you have lost your job and find it difficult to find another job in an area of your expertise, then you may want to consider taking control of your future and buying a business. By owning your own business, you have more control of your future. You are allowed to use the talents you were using at your old job and apply them to a vocation that will allow you more flexibility and income.

The pandemic has created chaos in all areas of our daily lives and business, but it has also created lots of opportunities, too. Remember, overall nothing has really changed. People still need to eat, shop, communicate with each other, travel, vacation, read, sleep, etc. The only thing that has changed is how we will do these things after the pandemic is over, and it will be over eventually. Our world will be different just as travel and security have changed since 9/11, but we will still continue to live and thrive, and life will go on.

Buying a business is the quickest and least risky way to get into business, because when you buy a business that is already operating with employees and customers you have a cash flow from day one. If you can’t or don’t want to buy a business, you can start a new business. And in today’s world, if you want to reduce your risk, you may want to consider buying a franchise. A franchise is a business with a proven track record in the industry of which the franchise specializes, and all you have to do is follow the business formula the franchisor provides to you.

If you are really passionate about a certain business idea or concept, then you can start your new business from scratch. Either way, whatever option you choose you will be in control of your future more so than what you would be if you were to get another job – if another job is available.

As I was taught many years ago and live by today: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Maybe there is a business calling your name now.

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Terry Monroe (www.terrymonroe.com) is the president and founder of American Business Brokers & Advisors. The author of four books, he most recently published Hidden Wealth: The Secret to Getting Top Dollar for Your Business, with ForbesBooks. Monroe is a professional intermediary, consultant, and market maker for privately-held companies and has been involved in the sale of more than 800 businesses. In his 35-plus years of service, he has owned and operated more than 40 different businesses. At American Business Brokers & Advisors, he serves as a consultant for business buyers and sellers throughout the nation. As an expert source he has been written about and featured in The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur magazine, CNN Money, USA Today, CEOWORLD, and Forbes.

small business

The Struggles of Small Business Don’t Bode Well for the Overall Economy

The year 2020 can’t end quickly enough for most small business owners.

Across the country, the pandemic forced many of them to close their operations temporarily – or permanently – and the continued economic uncertainty threatens to kill the ambitions of entrepreneurs who planned to launch businesses but now must put their dreams on hold.

None of that bodes well for the overall American economy, says Andi Gray, president of Strategy Leaders (www.strategyleaders.com), a business consulting firm.

“Small businesses make up 50 percent of the gross-domestic-product and also employ half the workforce,” she says. “What happens to them determines what happens to the overall economy. We as a country cannot afford to fail them.”

Gray points to the 2008-11 banking crisis as a disturbing example of how a national crisis can sabotage entrepreneurship. In 2008, for the first time, the number of business starts fell below the number of business closures.

“In other words, more businesses were killed off than were launched,” she says, ”and it wasn’t a one-time event. The problem continued on for years.”

The ripple effects? By 2009 small business contributions to GDP fell rather than grew. By 2010 the economic contribution gap between large and small businesses widened four-fold as small businesses struggled to keep up with their large corporate competitors. People lost their jobs, exports dropped, taxes fell and economic opportunity disappeared as entrepreneurs fought to recover. It took over five years for the small business community to get back on track, Gray says. But the damage was already done. By 2015, the U.S. was ranked 12th among developed nations in terms of startup activity.

She worries such lingering effects could happen again – and be significantly worse this time.

“Today’s COVID crisis is far larger and deeper than the 2008 crisis,” she says. “I would not be surprised if it takes far longer than five years for the small business community to get back to producing GDP and employment numbers we took for granted at the beginning of the year.”

In the meantime, small business owners hit hard by this latest recession must find ways to weather the storm. Gray offers a few suggestions for how they can do that:

Stay energized and focused. The single biggest determinant for survival of any small business is the commitment, ambition, and drive of the owner, Gray says. “If you are feeling worn out, take time off to recharge,” she says. “Keep your eye focused down the road, on what’s way ahead, and don’t waste too much energy and sweat trying to control what’s happening right in front of you day-to-day.”

Take care of the finances. If money is in short supply, investigate sources of capital. Put together a bankable plan that justifies increased investment and provides guidance on how best to use funding to recover, expand and weather future challenges, Gray says. “Talk to your banker, the SBA, reputable SBA lending consultants, and private investors to find out what kinds of capital might be available,” she says.

Figure out how to play the hand they were dealt. Small business owners need to get creative and innovative, Gray says. “Rebuild as you protect cash flow,” Gray says. “Find suppliers to replace the ones struggling to perform. Rethink your business model and evaluate customer viability.” In addition, look for new markets to add size and profits, implement processes to cut out waste, and transition more and more customers to internet communication and ecommerce buying solutions. “Decide what size business will be right for you in the future and layout a plan to get there,” Gray says.

Pay attention to employees. As scared as small business owners may be about what the future holds, many of their employees are even more frightened. “After all, you have the resources of your company to use to build solutions,” Gray says. “Employees who live paycheck to paycheck may be running out of options and wondering how long they can hold on – or how long you’ll be able to let them hold onto their much-needed jobs.”

“The good news is that small business owners are known for being nimble, flexible, and resourceful,” Gray says. “Many of them are finding new opportunities by solving problems that didn’t exist, or weren’t priorities, at the start of 2020.”

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Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders (www.strategyleaders.com), a business consulting firm. Gray’s career started in sales, marketing and new business development at Xerox, American Express and Contel. Gray earned an Executive MBA from Columbia University while conducting research on success and failure drivers for entrepreneurial businesses. Gray writes a weekly column called “Ask Andi” in which she provides practical advice to business owners. She also authors a monthly column in Chauffeur Driven Magazine. Gray is also the co-founder of the networking group BOHCA (Business Owners Hemp and Cannabis Association), where she helps industry-specific owners grow their business through strategic planning.

nexus global

New report by Nexus Global Reveals State of Business Confidence in Wales Amid COVID-19

Businesses in Wales are most assured about launching new products or services, and least confident about hiring new employees.

·Sectors hit hard by COVID-19 are the least confident including leisure and sport and travel

·Law is the most confident sector in the UK

The current pandemic has thrown drastic obstacles in the way for UK businesses. With a total business confidence score of 91.89 out of 190 in Wales, these figures show just how uncertain businesses feel at present – according to a new, Business Confidence Report by Nexus Global.

Nexus Global surveyed senior managers in businesses across the UK to determine how confident they feel at present regarding the current economic climate. According to the findings, businesses are most assured about the overall health of their business, yet least confident about the health of the country’s economy.

To determine the figures, respondents were asked (on a scale of 1-10) how confident they feel at present regarding the following aspects. The results from Wales are as follows:

The South West of England ranks 8th in the UK for overall confidence

From a regional point of view, businesses in Northern Ireland are the most confident about the current climate, scoring 102.3 out of 190, nearly 10 points over the UK average. Whereas businesses in Scotland are the least confident by scoring just 83.8.

In Northern Ireland, businesses felt most confident about the happiness of employees, but least confident about the overall health of the country’s economy, this again is unsurprising given the current circumstances

Commenting on the report findings, John Westwood, Managing Director, says: “It is by no surprise to see business confidence at a low during such an unsettling and turbulent period, during which the UK economy has suffered its worst-ever decline. 

Looking forward, business confidence levels will be a key factor to influence the pace of consumer spending once lock-down measures continue to ease. This change in behavior will need to see businesses adapt if they stand a chance of seeing growth.”

For more information follow the link to click through to individual sectors to discover more in-depth information on the current climate and future predictions.

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Nexus Global IFA network was founded in 2011 to bring compliance and regulatory support to financial advisory firms.

Nexus Global is presently the only IFA network to have gained Network Membership status with The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers (FEIFA). Nexus Global – Registration Number 10465.

The RIA firm, Blacktower Financial Management (US) LLC is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC File # 801-111088) in the United States of America.

selling

3 Key Steps to Selling a Business in Good Times or Bad

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting people out of work, slowing down lots of industries, and causing businesses to close. But at the same time, an uncertain chapter in America’s economic history may provide opportunities for individuals looking for a fresh start – or a soft landing.

Nearly half of small business owners in the U.S. are 65 and older, and a good number are considering selling their business rather than putting their resources and energy into bouncing back from the recession. But isn’t an economic downturn an inopportune time to sell a business?

Not necessarily, says Terry Monroe (www.terrymonroe.com), founder and president of American Business Brokers & Advisors (ABBA) and author of Hidden Wealth: The Secret to Getting Top Dollar for Your Business.

“Some think due to the current difficult times many businesses are having that they wouldn’t be able to get a reasonable sale price,” Monroe says. “And they worry that they’ll have to delay retirement for several years because of COVID-19. But the reality is, there are lots of people, including the unemployed, looking to reinvent themselves and for a chance to run their own business. Investors with plenty of money are always around looking for good opportunities.

“The baby boomers who own many of these businesses are burned out and want to get out. But small business owners in general often don’t realize all that is required to achieve a successful sale. Done the right way, selling can result in owners walking away feeling they got good value for all they put into their business.”

Monroe says owners should think about the following factors when considering putting their business on the block:

Ask yourself why. “Selling a business can initially be an emotional consideration, but one has to drill down to the reality of why they want to sell and why it would make sense,” Monroe says. “Burnout is a common reason. If it’s affecting health or company performance, it’s time to get out. Another common factor is the inability to expand when necessary – the owner doesn’t want to incur the added debt relative to their age.” Other reasons owners decide to get out, he says, include lack of a family succession plan, too much disruption in the particular industry, and hitting a wall in terms of profitability.

Put together a professional team. “The selling process is very stressful,” Monroe says. “You can manage that by putting together a team of professionals who will guide you through it.” The team should include an accountant, a mergers and acquisitions specialist, and an attorney, in that order, he says. “You’ll hear business owners brag about the money they saved in fees because they did the negotiations themselves, when in reality they ended up leaving considerable amounts of money on the table,” Monroe says.

Know if you’re selling too low. How do you know if you are selling too low? Do the research before you decide to sell your business. “Finding out what a business like yours is selling for in the marketplace is not going to be very difficult in the internet age,” Monroe says. “In the end, you should confer with a professional who understands your industry and can provide data to find your business’ worth in the current climate. Don’t over-focus on the price. What you should focus on is how much you would put in your pocket when the sale is complete.”

“Selling a business involves considerable thought and performing lots of work with an unknown timeline,” Monroe says. “But doing it right can lead to the reward one deserves.”

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Terry Monroe (www.terrymonroe.com), is founder and president of American Business Brokers & Advisors (ABBA) and author of Hidden Wealth: The Secret to Getting Top Dollar for Your Business.  Monroe has been in the business of establishing, operating, and selling businesses for more than 30 years. As president of ABBA, which he founded in 1999, he serves as an advisor to business buyers and sellers throughout the nation. His knowledge and expertise in multi-store operations and sales has led to many multimillion-dollar transactions. As an expert source in the convenience store industry, he writes a routine “Financial Insights” guest column for Convenience Store News and has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur magazine, CNN Money, and USA Today.

essential business

4 Factors to Consider Before Buying an Essential Business in COVID Times

The shutdowns and rollbacks of businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to play havoc with the U.S. economy. But the least-affected businesses during the crisis, for the most part, have been those deemed “essential” by state and local governments, allowing those companies to remain fully operational or close to it.

Meanwhile, with the idea that essential businesses can be recession-proof and even boom during a public crisis, buying one is becoming a more attractive prospect for some people, says Chris Buitron, president of Mosquito Authority® (www.mosquito-authority.com).

“Our current economic challenges as a nation are showing that owning an essential business can be a solid financial strategy for an individual,” Buitron says. “They are practical purchases. They are not often glamorous businesses, but they make sense largely because they offer services that are currently in demand, and as such they can weather economic downturns.

“Some essential businesses, such as ours, are busier than ever as people are trying to maintain social distance by staying home and not taking many vacations. People consider protection from mosquito bites and the diseases they carry as a high priority for their family’s health and outdoor enjoyment. Like other essential businesses, our franchisees provide measures of security and comfort, allowing people to enjoy being in their yards at a time so many are cooped up inside due to the pandemic.

“And at the same time, all kinds of essential businesses provide ownership opportunities while millions of unemployed people are looking for new opportunities or new career tracks. Perhaps they’re looking to be their own boss and to have more control over their financial future.”

Buitron suggests considering the following when weighing whether to buy an essential business:

Focus on successful types of essential businesses. Among the essential businesses  that have the potential to succeed even during difficult economic times are: delivery services, grocery stores, convenience stores, e-commerce, gas stations, cleaning services, liquor stores, auto repair, lawn care, pest control, mailing/shipping services, and contracting. “The pandemic may be with us for a while,” Buitron says. “People will be home more often, and businesses that can service their needs while home will gain customers.”

Consider franchises as ownership opportunities. While some franchises are struggling during the pandemic, others are in a better position, Buitron says. “For franchises in general, much of the industry will be entering a buyer’s market, and those with the means will find some good opportunities,” he says. “People need jobs, and franchises annually employ 9 million people in the U.S. One benefit of buying a franchise is having an organizational and management team already in place to train you and help guide you. Reach out to other franchise owners to get a sense of the company’s commitment and support.”

Know a bargain vs. a bad investment. A relatively low sale price tempts some people into making a poor buying decision on a business. Buitron says it’s important to pore over the business’ financial numbers that it recorded before the pandemic and do all the research possible – especially of the market where the business is located – to determine if it was on a growth track and what the competition is like. “Two questions you need to ask yourself as a potential buyer of an essential business are: What can you bring new to the business to make it more successful, and why was or wasn’t it profitable?” he says.

Be sure you’re up to owning a business. “There are no guarantees with owning an essential business,” Buitron says. “The pandemic has put a spotlight on their importance, but they take lots of work and organizational skills to run. If you are someone who can’t deal well with uncertainty, buying a business any time, let alone during the most uncertain time in our history, isn’t the right choice. Buying a business and committing to it requires thorough research, a passion for the business, a solid financial foundation and a leap of faith.”

“Owning an essential business brings with it the satisfaction of providing necessary services for people,” Buitron says. “In these times especially, that’s a noble pursuit.”

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Chris Buitron is president of Mosquito Authority® (www.mosquito-authority.com), a nationwide leader in mosquito control with franchises serving communities across the U.S. and Canada. Buitron has an extensive background in franchise industries. He was chief marketing officer for Senior Helpers, vice president of marketing for Direct Energy (home services division), and director of marketing for Sunoco Inc., where he supported the company’s 4,700 franchised and company-owned rental facilities across 23 states (over $15B in annual revenues).

business owners

All In Or Out? How Business Owners Can Deal with COVID’S Cloudy Future.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, small businesses have reopened across the nation but certainty and optimism are a long way from being restored.

Spikes in infections in many states, double-digit unemployment, consumer and lender concerns, and steep economic challenges in the wake of a long shutdown make it difficult to forecast if and when many companies will fully recover. Small business owners – many of them baby boomers and in the retirement age range – are in a difficult position trying to decide whether to risk staying in business or sell and cut their losses, says Michael Sipe, author of The AVADA Principle and founder of the consulting firm 10x Catalyst Groups (www.10xgroups.com).

“We are in the early stages of a depression that’s going to go on quite a while,” Sipe says. “Many small business owners are in their 60s and 70s, and they’re tired and beat up. Some recovered from the financial collapse of 2008, but now they’re getting hammered again.”

“Customers and employees are scared or nervous. The supply chain is a big problem, and there’s this crazy situation where prices are going up because of the shortages, but meanwhile we have a depression because there aren’t enough transactions.”

Sipe offers the following suggestions to small business owners as they try to sort out their future amidst so much uncertainty:

Quit. “A lot of people are going to do that,” Sipe says. “And if that’s the decision, they should quit fast. Don’t drag this out. One of the things that happened in the recession of 2008 was people refused to face reality, and it cost them everything, their savings and retirement. If you’re 60 to 70 years old right now and don’t know if you can gut this out another 10 or 15 years, then cut your losses. You’ll have a little nest egg now as opposed to spending all of it trying to bail the business out.”

Reinvent. “If you’re not going to quit,” Sipe says, “then you’ve got to change. Just slugging it out and hoping it’s going to get better or that it will get back to normal – that kind of thinking is ridiculous. We have huge structural problems as a country. So if you’re going to reinvent, you have to come back to the fundamentals of business. The owner has to back up and say, ‘What are the fundamental concerns of customers we are actually trying to address here?’ And focus energy on those prime areas that are going to move people to pay a good margin for your product. Don’t ask why it’s not easier; ask how you can get better.”

Be flexible. Given the fluid state of our world, Sipe says changing some of your business model and processes may have to become a habit. “The next thing business owners have to do is realize what they changed today may need to change tomorrow,” he says. “The innovation has to happen every day. That has a lot to do with listening to customers and anticipating what they would respond to. Engagement with customers and engagement in the innovation process for owners is absolutely critical. If an owner is not willing to try and get that figured out with and for their customers, they’re going to fail.”

“The business has to be infused with a fresh energy and a fresh passion,” Sipe says. “If you’re not going to quit during these extremely difficult times, that means you’ve got to get back in the game. And you’ve got to play hard because this is going to be tough.”

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Michael Sipe, author of The AVADA Principle, is the founder of 10x Catalyst Groups (www.10xgroups.com), which helps entrepreneurs grow profitable and thriving businesses organized on a foundation of Biblical principles. Sipe has also enjoyed a successful 30-plus year career in mergers, acquisitions, and business development as the founder of CrossPointe Capital, a middle market investment-banking firm. In that capacity, he consulted with and evaluated over 5,000 companies and has provided advisory services for approximately a half-billion dollars in business sales involving hundreds of companies. He remains active in transactional work and has been a key advisor in mergers and acquisitions projects covering a multitude of industry sectors.

business in the UK

Important Things to Know about Doing Business in the UK

Interested in expansion into UK markets? It’s a worthwhile investment. The UK is one of the most prosperous and stable markets in the world, with a high wealth per capita and plenty of opportunities for capital acquisition, especially within London. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking this kind of prosperity was fairly exclusive. Indeed, following Brexit, it would seem that opening up a business in the UK as a foreign national is going to be quite a challenge. But, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Starting a business in the UK is really easy for newcomers and foreign nationals. You can establish a Limited Company in Britain without jumping any additional hurdles. You don’t need VISAs, agreements of trade or anything else — and there is no requirement for specific ID or passports. All you need is a company name, at least one director, to provide all necessary documentation (not as intimidating as it sounds) and to follow the process of registering for taxation. The only barrier you may face compared to a British resident is you’ll need to register your business to a UK address; easily done these days through virtual offices. This criterion of requiring an address does not exist to exclude anyone from starting up in Britain. It is merely a gateway to simpler correspondence and domestic accountability — should accountability be necessary.  

It should be noted that accountability is rarely necessary, but when it is, it’s vital. This is because the UK business landscape rests upon a complicated legal structure. Industries form around different regulatory bodies, and standards are upheld by various commissions, depending on your area of business. The nature of the UK business landscape is very protective and favors business stability and longevity. Follow the legal processes correctly and you’ll have a lot of the tools you need to thrive. However, failure to follow the legal structures imposed on your business can result in problems. Regulations are strictly enforced and consequences for non-compliance can be severe.

Education is your best bet. Enter the market aware of all your obligations and legal responsibilities. Legal advice from specialists — those who can ensure you get set up properly and conform to the right guidelines — is often recommended if it is an affordable expense. More than anything, this is to ensure you don’t miss any of the finer details — because your competitors, and customers, will likely be aware of those finer details and take you to task for rule-breaking. 

Standards of education in the UK are very high. Similar to the USA, it is legally required for all students to attend formal education until they are 18. Following basic education, many move on to university as higher education is often subsidized by the government with the rest of the money obtained through widely-available student loan systems. Expectations for levels of education are high, so be prepared to meet the high standards set by domestic learning, and contend with partners and consumers who know what they’re talking about. It’s a good business practice in the UK to assume that your customers know as much about your industry as you do, if not more. 

This fact leads us to the most important lesson you can learn about doing business in the UK. Good business routinely comes down to good business relationships. Every successful entrepreneur and business owner knows that who you know is just as important as what you know. That means no matter where you do business, you need to build healthy alliances and relationships.

In the UK, the key to building great relationships lies in navigating society and culture. The UK business landscape is a powerful environment for building strong, long-lasting, and loyal relationships that can provide pivotal opportunities for growth. But you have to get this right. In general, UK business culture — particularly the modern and adaptive landscape of London and other large cities — is very open to foreigners. The more you travel outside of cities to do business, the more cultural barriers you may find stand in your way, but this often comes not from hostility towards outside opportunities, but a lack of familiarity. Time and effort to establish yourself is what’s important when dealing with business communities with a lack of experience of foreign trade. A slow and tactful approach is always going to play favorably in the UK, no matter where you are trading.

However, with this idea of openness in mind, there are certainly still some cultural lessons to be learned before diving head-first into business within the UK. As we’ve mentioned, you’re building relationships, and the key to any successful relationship is behaving correctly. Loud, obnoxious, and forceful traits are unwelcome in British culture. Pushing for hard sales or getting in people’s faces with ideas might seem like the mark of passion and enthusiasm, but it won’t make you many friends — even in London. Modesty, restraint, and an even temperament are important. You’re looking to play the long-game here, building up stable bridges over time through humility, gradually increased levels of trust, and real-world demonstrations of your expertise and worth. 

In the UK, talk is cheap. 

Once you do start forming those relationships, you’ll have to be careful not to lose them. Bonds in UK business culture are tough to break once established, but the early days make them vulnerable if strife is introduced. Privacy is coveted, as is space. Don’t get too personal, and respect distances people establish. 

While there are ways your behavior can influence the business relationship, there are also ways that the actions of your new British partners could affect you. If you’re not aware of these factors, you may misinterpret them, which can again lead to conflict. We’re talking specifically about humor. Jokes — commonly at the expense of others — are prevalent in the UK. Referred to as “banter”, these are often light-hearted remarks aimed at teasing another individual. The intent is most-always friendly, but if you’re not familiar with the custom, it can appear to be offensive. The levels of “banter” you’ll experience can vary wildly from person to person, but it is a widespread form of social interaction in the UK. Just remember, it’s all in good fun, so laugh along. People who are unable to take a joke are generally looked upon unfavorably. 

Anything else it’s important to know about doing business in the UK?

To make a cup of tea, first, boil the kettle. Place a tea bag in a mug. Ask how many sugars. Each request, for example, “two sugars” means one teaspoon of sugar. Add the requested amount of sugar. Pour the water in. Leave to brew for a few minutes. Ask if they’d like milk. If yes, add a small amount of milk until the tea goes from dark to pale brown. Stir well. Remove the tea bag with your spoon. Extra points if you use the spoon to crush the teabag against the inside of the mug to squeeze out any remnants of flavor.

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This article was written by Rajesh Velayuthasamy, founder and director of Mint Formations, a company that supports local and foreign nationals to establish a business presence within the UK. 

Successful Entrepreneurs

10 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Many aspiring entrepreneurs see business ownership as an avenue to quick riches, a path to becoming “that boss” and creating jobs for the less fortunate, as a ticket to the freedom of working how and when they feel like; as they please! But owning a business is not that easy and convenient. If it was, everyone would succeed at it. The truth is that entrepreneurship can be your ticket to wealth, but it definitely is not your ticket to freedom. If anything, it calls for you to work harder than you ever did before, take huge risks, and fail at so many things without giving up. That is the entrepreneurial spirit.

There are many traits that define successful entrepreneurs. Here are 10 of those:

1. They network

Regardless of the niche they are in, or the success they’ve achieved already, successful entrepreneurs never stop networking. They work with influencers on social media, reach out to potential investors via emails, and generate leads by all means necessary. You will find seasoned entrepreneurs networking with freelancers in a coworking space in Chicago or using a shared workspace to get inspiration for business ideas from likeminded individuals. They regularly host events that create an engaging, exciting, and inspirational platform for their employees, clients, and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and challenge the status quo. That helps them to grow and compete more effectively.

2. They are disciplined

Successful entrepreneurs have clear goals and timelines, and data-inspired tactics to accomplish them. They are always ready to cut out anything that weighs them down in order to only focus on things that make their businesses work. They are disciplined enough not to deviate from that path.

3. They are passionate and motivated

They know the problem they want to solve within their niche, and their main motivation is passion; not money. They derive joy in seeing their target clients happy and satisfied. They wake up every morning eager to learn new things; to perfect their skill in order to change the world in a positive way.

4. They are creative

You need a unique, original business idea in order to cut a niche for yourself within a crowded marketplace. And because your fresh idea will always be challenged by newer ideas every single day, you must constantly figure out ways of doing everything better than it’s been done elsewhere. If you wish to remain at the top, you have to challenge the status quo and think outside the box even when you feel like you have the best ideas and strategies. That is why you need to be creative.

5. They are flexible

Flexibility helps entrepreneurs to adjust fast whenever things don’t go as planned, or when new and better opportunities present themselves. Successful entrepreneurs are quick to acknowledge a good idea even when it comes from a competitor. They are always open to their ideas being challenged, and they change tact as soon as they realize things aren’t working as they should.

6. They are persuasive

Entrepreneurs negotiate with stakeholders all the time. You have to persuade the best talents to work for you, clients to trust in your services and/or products, potential investors to buy into your ideas, and your employees to help you actualize your vision. That is why you need to be a persuasive person.

7. They work hard

Entrepreneurs have to work harder than their employees in order to set a good example, and for the fact that they own the vision of their establishments. As much as you can hire department heads to help you manage your business, you must be willing to be the overall supervisor in order to ensure that everything is done as per your directives. Sometimes you will have to work overtime and through weekends in order to catch up with all departments.

8. They are decisive

Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with questions and dilemmas that can make or break their business. Being decisive helps them to make sound judgment under immense pressure.

9. They are futuristic

Future-oriented entrepreneurs know exactly how they want the future of their business to be. They have a plan. They set their goals around a strong vision. They know how to read market trends and predict how those trends will affect their strategies in future.

10. They take risks

You cannot be successful if you aren’t willing to take risks. New marketing strategies, new technologies, and new investment opportunities are all risks that can make or break your business. Some risks are harmful, others are beneficial. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must know how to distinguish between those two types of risks, when to take the beneficial risks, and how to create a plan B in case plan A backfires.

Conclusion

Entrepreneurship is an art that you have to master. Some of the qualities discussed above are inborn, others have to be developed.  But even as much as some of them come naturally to you, you must identify and perfect them if you are to be the best.