How to use Pinterest for small business

how to use pinterest for small business

Keeping up with the latest developments in marketing for your small business means staying up-to-date on the world of social media. Aside from the challenge of simply staying informed about new platforms and changes to existing platforms, figuring out how to maneuver within the sometimes overwhelming sea of actual socializing to make your company’s presence felt – and not ignored or resented – presents a serious challenge to small business owners and marketing professionals.

Not to add to that challenge (but we’re about to), the time has come for all small businesses to take a look at the new kid on the social media block, Pinterest. Realizing that you could be using Pinterest to engage with your online audience is a far different thing from knowing how. And even knowing how is sometimes a far cry from knowing how to best engage with them. So to start sorting all that out, and to build a plan for your small business to start “pinning”, here are some tips to follow:

Think visually

Across all social media avenues, posts with strong images attached to them get on average three times as much user engagement as those with no images. This is especially true on Pinterest, being almost entirely focused on image content. The more immediately captivating your pin is, the more likely it is to be repinned. No matter what your content, find a stunning image to accompany it. Or better yet, translate your data into charts and infographics. Infographics are insanely popular. Not only will it appeal to your audience based on the content, but it will reach a whole new audience just for its sleek design.

Pin book covers

If you, or someone in your company, has a book or e-book, pin that cover! Pinterest is primarily a visual medium, but people do dig deeper into posts. So if you want people to download your book, or read a specific excerpt, post that cover. Ideally, the cover of the book that you post will be in line with your brand, so that it gives people a better insight into your business. People who are interested enough in the topic will follow up on the suggestion.

Have a guest pinner board

Getting your followers involved in your boards (collections of pins) is a great idea for small businesses. It increases your user engagement, makes your followers feel more personally invested in your brand, and gives you automatic feedback and insight into the interests and opinions of your audience. Similarly, creating a board specifically to share stories and feedback from customers is a great idea to represent how deeply your small business wants to connect and service its clients. Showcasing this board prominently on your website will also allow you to more effectively demonstrate your ability to satisfy customers, which will encourage future prospects to engage with your business.

Introduce yourself

As is true on all social media, your small business will have a stronger brand if it’s built on the actual people running the social media outlets. Introduce yourselves! Pin a photo of an employee’s face, attached to a profile or fun interview with them. Post one per week, and collect them all on a board that serves as a truly personal, vibrant company profile. It’s the Pinterest version of an “About Us” page, and is much easier for customers to connect with than a simple wall of text.

Pin videos

By now you’ve probably grasped the idea that Pinterest is a hyper-visual environment, and extends beyond just 2D images. Pinterest also allows you to pin videos, and this is a feature that you should certainly take advantage of. You can post videos either produced in-house or from relevant industry sources. This can either be content that directly communicates something from your business to your customers or something you think would interest them. Remember: social media for small business is almost entirely about becoming a hub for information that’s of interest to your clients and customers, not just about selling your particular business. Online users want to see brands that are about their needs and wants, instead of just about your business agenda. And if you can find and/or create content that achieves both goals, then you’ve hit the jackpot!

Promote deals with graphics

Translating any deals, sales, or special offers into smart-looking graphic coupons is a powerful way to boost their circulation. The days of simply putting a sign in your shop window to let people know that you’re having a sale are long gone. Nowadays, many people will either shop online or at the very least decide where they’re going to spend their money based on online searches. If you want to capitalise on the online market, you’ll need to notify people of your sales. Using graphics to promote sales and deals online can further develop your company’s brand in a way that doesn’t just offer great deals, but looks chic while doing so.

So, these are just a few of the ways that you can make Pinterest work for you and your small business. It’s quite a unique social media platform in comparison to more generally applicable mediums like Facebook, so you’ll have to see if it works for you. There are no doubt some businesses that will find more success using Pinterest than others, but it’s worth a shot regardless. The potential reward is huge, as there are a lot of committed users on Pinterest that almost solely consult the platform for everything from deals to meal ideas. So get going, and make your boards Pinteresting!

Small business debt is growing

small business debt growing

Small business debt in Australia

Current surveys show that small businesses are owed over $10 billion; of this amount, bad debts account for over 60% of this outstanding amount. Surveys conducted by the Commonwealth bank of businesses with turnovers up to $2 million shows the average debt owed to each business is around $20,000 and rising. Of all the Businesses surveyed, 60% agreed that late payments are “standard practice” and the other 40% are holding on to payments to preserve their own cash flow. Queensland Businesses are shown to be doing marginally worse with a total of 66% of all debts owed falling into the overdue category.

What does this actually mean?

This research reflects a recent report from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), which shows that 62% of business accounts were settled an average of 53 days or later in December. While this shows an Improvement from the post-global financial crisis high of around 56 days, it still underlines an increase in accounts being paid outside of standard payment terms. The figures of small business debt clearly point out a direct need for prompt action to recover outstanding monies owed as well as an increased need to grow cash flow and secure funds.

What you can do to collect bad debt?

Before enlisting the help of an expert debt collection, like Profcoll, there are tips you can take to resolve the bad debt. If you have bad debt have you can try these tips to handle customers with outstanding accounts:

  • Avoid harassing people with outstanding accounts: As a business owner, you probably don’t need to reminded not to harass customers, but when it comes to collecting debt, it’s a good legal practice as well. If your actions are ruled harassment then you could be facing a legal challenge. If you decide to call your debtors, make sure it no more than once a day.
  • Keep calls short: When you call customers, make sure you keep calls short. Stick to one central message, short and formal. Avoid attacking your customer, or making threats. Remain calm during the conversation and avoid become defensive.
  • Write letters: In addition to calling them, you can also write a demand letter to your customer who owes you money. You should also save copies of the letters because if you do decide to enlist the help of a debt collection agency, they could be useful.
  • Hire a debt collection agency: That’s us! Profcoll is an expert debt collection agency that can help recover your bad debt. You wouldn’t do your own wiring, so don’t leave your debt collection DIY, instead enlist the help of the experts. When you’ve exhausted over avenues, like contracting them yourself, then it’s time to turn to debt collection. We know exactly how to legally recover your debt, and you can get back to what you do best.

Why Profcoll for small business debt?

Profcoll is an expert debt collection agency that is ready to help recover your debt. Bad debt is code for cash that should be in your business! So, don’t leave it hanging, pursue your bad debt with the help of Profcoll. Trust over 20 years experience in the industry and expert account managers that will handle every step of your case. Whether you live in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney or Perth, you can enlist the help of Profcoll to recover these pesky debts. Get your cash back in the back in your business where it belongs.

To discuss ways we can help you do this please call our Sales Manager Aaron Bey on 0417 030 761 to book an appointment now. If you want to stay in touch with Profcoll, follow us on Facebook and stay tuned ot our blog for the latest tips and tricks on debt collection and small business debt.

How do debt collectors recover debts that you can’t?

how do debt collectors collect debt

We take a closer look at the professional debt collection process.

Getting paid for your products and services are the cornerstone of any business plan. There are few things are more frustrating than having your cashflow disrupted by clients not paying their invoices. As you probably know, cash flow is key to any business and can be the difference between success or failure.

There comes a time when you’ve followed up on the overdue payment to no avail. No matter how many times you have requested rightful payment for goods or services provided, you have made no advances in getting the invoice paid. It may be time to accept that your late-paying client has become a non-paying client, or worse still, a runaway debtor.

If you have exhausted every possible step of your in-house debt collection procedure, you might be wondering if it’s time to turn to the professionals. Here, we look at the steps, techniques and legal rights that debt collectors use to make sure your unpaid invoices get paid.

4 key characteristics of professional debt recovery:

1. Fine-tuned debt collection processes

Professional debt collectors have a streamlined, step-by-step process for recovering debt. Their efficient process, combined with years of specialist experience, means that a great debt collector often gets faster results with more chance of a successful resolution.

From issuing a reminder letter for payment to following up with calls and SMS reminders, conducting searches and investigations, offering payment plan management and, if necessary, pursuing legal action. Professional debt collectors have a streamlined selection of debt collection tools and techniques at their disposal beyond the average businessperson’s repertoire.

2. Tools for tracing runaway debtors

If your non-paying clients have become runaway debtors, you may be wondering how debt collectors find them in Australia (or even overseas if necessary).

Effective debt collectors use a variety of professional tracing services, databases and paid search engines to conduct location searches and in-depth investigations to track down persons of interest (runaway debtors beware!). These services are also available in Australia, where there are much stricter privacy laws and less tracing in comparison to some other countries.

3. Ability to leverage the law

Collection agents have an in-depth understanding of the ins and outs of the debt collection code of conduct and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s debt collection guidelines.

Additionally, any respectable collection agency has expertise in debt collection rules and legalities. They’ll know your rights as a creditor, the rights of your client and how to avoid costly legal action by knowing the most effective channels.

Typically, a professional debt collector will step-in between the expiry of your letter of demand and the first step of legal action. They may be able to reduce the cost of legal action or avoid matters being taken to court altogether. This is particularly the case for debt collectors who enjoy strong working relationships with debt recovery lawyers.

They are also familiar with undertaking legal action and can help throughout the process, with field agents assisting with out of office tasks such as serving a court order. Once legal action is underway, the recovery process may typically involve sending a statement of claim to the debtor, then hopefully being awarded a court judgment, and finally enforcing the judgement (If payment still isn’t received) through further action, with the majority of costs being added to the debt.

4. Debt collection professionals focus on logic rather than emotion

Debt collection agencies take emotion out of the debt collection process. They make sure it is entirely factually based. They don’t have a history or ongoing client/supplier relationship with the debtor complicating the recovery process – instead they simply act as an independent extension of the accounts department.

As an impersonal third party, a good collection agent will maintain an amicable, professional manner with your debtors, peers and suppliers throughout the process. What’s more, in the event of a dispute, debt collectors can act as a mediator between you and the debtor, whilst being on your side and acting in your interests.

Collection agents are also less likely to accept unproven excuses for non-payment, thanks to specialist resources and processes for determining and confirming genuine financial hardship.

Sometimes, all it takes is the involvement of a third party to signal to the debtor that you are serious about recovering that payment. In some cases, simply having the matter escalated to a debt collector is enough to finally see the overdue payment settled. Having professional support behind you is a great way to encourage debtors to pay. They can see that you are serious and willing to take it further.

Next steps

Debt collectors are able to fast track collection, saving you time and resources whilst offering additional tools and expertise. From drafting letters of demand for overdue payments through to making calculated follow-up calls, chasing up debt is a drain on resources and time that could be better spent elsewhere – like bringing in new clients and helping the business grow.

Plus, at Professional Collection Services we have no signup fees and only charge commission for debt that is recovered, so your bad debt doesn’t cost more than it needs to. If you’re in need of any debt collection advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us so one of our specialists can give you a hand.

A simple debt recovery process for small business

debt collection process

For small businesses, cash flow is very important. So it’s important to stay on top of chasing outstanding payments from customers (or recovering debt). Having unrecovered hanging over business can crash it. However, collecting debt is a very delicate process. They are many legal minefields to work through to protect you and the customer. So, if you feel overwhelmed it’s important to enlist the help of a debt collection agency like us! Otherwise, your company should devise a debt recovery process, and we’d love to help! So, if you’re small business doesn’t have a debt recovery process yet, read on!

If you’re struggling to collect payment, this process will help you stay on top of your ‘slow payers’. And of course, you can always call in the big guns (us!) to help you sort out pesky debt.

Debt recovery process

You may like to use the following procedure or parts of it to help develop your own. Apart of your debt recovery process is knowing when to call a debt collector, like us! If debt becomes too stubborn, then it’s time to call a debt collection agency. It’s important to know when to call in the experts to help get that money back in your business.

1. Friendly reminder

Once the payment is overdue phone or email the customer. Remind them that payment is due and has not been received. Ask them when they will be paying you and keep a record of the conversation or email. Remember to be nice, they may have forgotten or paid into the wrong bank account. It’s important not to attack the customer, just inquire politely about the unpaid income. You’ll want to avoid the customer becoming defensive.

2. Overdue reminder

If they do not respond to the phone call or email, try contacting someone else in the business. Let them know who you are trying to contact. This often results in a return response from either the person you were trying to contact or someone else from the business. Throughout the debt collection process, it’s important to remain polite to your customer. Whether you intend of having them as a client again, or not, to avoid further legal battle, stick to alternative means of communication, not aggressive.

3. Final notice

When the customer has not paid as per the terms and conditions agreed upon, give them a final phone call or email to let them know that you have not received payment. Again, it’s still important to remain polite during this process. Don’t let your anger and frustrated dictate the conversation. To avoid a legal challenge with your customer, remember to adhere to debt collection guidelines. If you feel overwhelmed by unrecovered debt, enlist the help of a debt collection agency (that’s us!).

4. Direct contact

If there still isn’t a response consider visiting the customer in person (or phoning them if the previous contact has been via email) to ask for payment. This sometimes helps create a personal relationship with the customer that could useful future payments. When contacting people regarding debt, it can be tricky and sensitive. That’s why it’s important to remain calm and professional. If you think you’re too close to the situation, then it’s best to call in the experts. If you need some debt taken care of, enquire today by filling out our form.

5. Formal letter of demand

In the event that all attempts to contact them have failed, consider sending a letter of demand. This should be only done as a last resort, as it can damage your relationship with the customer.

Formal letters of demand are just one of the many services we provide.

If you still haven’t been paid, then you should consider using a debt collecting agency to collect the outstanding money from your customer. It is useful to check a list of fair debt collection practices, developed by Consumer Affairs so you know the boundaries of debt collection.

# Helpful Tip:

Train your staff

It’s important staff are aware of payment terms for their customers. Often sales staff are rewarded for the number of sales they make and so they may ‘bend the rules’ to book another sale. One way to avoid this is to reward your sales staff once the money has been collected not when the sale is made. You should have financial policies and procedures manual which every staff member goes through as part of their induction.

We hope this has helped you with your cash flow needs. If you have any further questions you can contact us on 1300 799 067. We have expert debt collection managers to handle each step of your case. Don’t be overwhelmed by uncollected debt, instead, call in the professionals!

Why ProfColl?

When it comes debt collection sometimes you need the help of the experts. That’s us! You can trust 23 years in experience, and a commitment to expert and professional debt collection. ProfColl understands that when it comes to debt, things can get tricky. That’s why we employ a professional manner and expert strategy to help recover your debt, so you can get back to what you do best. At ProfColl, we think that we shouldn’t get paid unless you do. That’s why if we fail to recover your debt, we won’t charge you for our service.

Make sure your business is in safe hands with ProfColl. DIY works for homewares, however, for debt collection it’s best to turn to the professionals to avoid unnecessary legal matters or fees. At ProfColl, we adhere to all the correct protocol and uphold a professional manner when working to collect your debt. So, if you’re looking for some help with pesky debt, fill out our enquiry form and tell us about your situation. From there, we’ll assign your case an experienced manager that get to work recovering your debt and returning your money back where it belongs.

5 steps to great cashflow forecasting

cash flow forecasting

A well-prepared cashflow forecast is an early warning system that lets you spot signs of cash trouble months or even years in advance system. More importantly, it provides the time and space for businesses to take action to avoid a cash crunch.

The bad news is that cashflow forecasting, like most of life, follows the GIGO principle (garbage-in-garbage-out). You can’t just grab a notepad and pencil or fire up Excel and expect to throw together a robust cashflow forecast in a few minutes. It does take some effort, but the effort is worthwhile if it means you can enjoy Christmas lunch without worrying about where your next meal is coming from.

What is cashflow forecasting?

Cashflow forecasting is vital to any small business that’s just getting off the ground. Developing cashflow forecasting at the beginning of your business helps to guide you through your money intake. For those who are first-time small business owners, then it’s vital to help understand just how much you expect the business to make in the first month or even year. Start by laying out how much you expect to earn in sales, then how to it cost to run the business day-by-day, and how much you can expect to receive from outside sources (such as bank loans, or investors). Cashflow forecasting isn’t projecting profit, rather it’s highlighting when and where you receive income and where you spend it.

So what does it take?

Thankfully, there are software tools like Castaway Forecasting available that make it easy to prepare your cashflow forecast the right way. They will look after the calculations, freeing you up to focus on getting the assumptions right.

The goal when building a cashflow forecast is for the model to reflect reality as closely as possible. The more realistic the model, the more reliable the outcomes, so the more confidence you can have in making the right decisions. To help you get there, I’ve boiled down the 5 principles of building a great cashflow forecast:

1. 3-way is the only way

If you want to be sure your cashflow numbers are properly calculated, the only way to go is a 3-way forecast. This is a special type of model that combines forecasts for all 3 basic financial reports for a business – the Profit & Loss, the Balance Sheet and the Cashflow Statement. Banks love 3-way forecasts, because they know the cashflow numbers have ‘accounting integrity’. They also provide a great sanity check to make sure you haven’t missed anything in your forecast workings.

Although it may sound complicated at first, the idea is that you forecast the Profit & Loss Statement (revenues, expenses, taxes and dividends) and the Balance Sheet (assets, liabilities and equity), and then the cashflow numbers will ‘fall out’ of movements in the 2 reports. The great thing is that if the Profit & Loss numbers are realistic and the movements in the Balance Sheet seem sensible, then the cashflow forecast by definition will also make sense.

2. Set specific cashflow attributes for every line

In the real world, the cashflow pattern for, say, your Electricity Expenses line will be different to the cashflow pattern for Staff Wages, or Rent, or Stock Purchases. Electricity Expenses might be paid quarterly, Staff Wages might have, say 70% of the cost being paid in the current month with 30% being held back to be sent to the Tax Office next month. Rent might be paid one month in advance and Stock Purchases might involve a 30% deposit up front, with the other 70% paid 30 days after the goods are received.

A good forecast will reflect these differences by using a separate set of Cashflow Attributes for every line. This means a little more time in setting up the forecast, but the increase in accuracy is well worth it.

3. Build a dynamic model using operations drivers

When putting a forecast together, you will often face a choice between entering static numbers or building the numbers up from the underlying operations drivers.

Consider these two alternative approaches. If you decided to enter static numbers, (the first approach), you might enter $1,000 for revenue, $600 for Cost of Goods Sold and $1,200 for Closing Inventory. If you instead worked from drivers (the second approach), you might enter sales as 50 units being sold at $20 each. Cost of Goods Sold would be set as 60% of sales and you would hold 60 days of Closing Inventory.

Both methods will show the same results on the Profit & Loss and the Balance Sheet, so you might think the simplicity of the first method is more attractive. However, when it comes time to update the forecast, you will find the second approach far more useful. Let’s say business has been good and you want to increase your sales forecast by 10%. In the first approach, you would need to work out the new sales, COGS and inventory figures and then enter them into the forecast manually. In the second, more dynamic approach, you only need to change the sales units (up to 55), the forecast will then automatically update the sales revenue, COGS and Closing Inventory numbers for you.

4. If it’s not up to date, it’s out of date

In business, the only constant is that things change. Customers come and go. Prices and margins change. The business environment changes. As the world changes around your business, it is important that your cashflow forecast changes to match it. We encourage our clients to review the forecast often (at least monthly) and update it where necessary so that it always reflects the ‘best view of the future’. An out of date forecast is at best misleading and at worst dangerous as a basis for making business decisions.

5. Play with different scenarios

As economic times become more uncertain, our approach to forecasting needs to become more sophisticated. Once you have a robust cashflow forecast in place, don’t stop there. Create several copies of the model and test the cashflow impact of different scenarios – it could be general sales growth or decline, gaining or losing specific customers, taking on new product lines, buying new assets, or whatever is on your mind.

Getting started

When you’re getting started with your small business, cashflow forecasting is vital, however, it’s also important to have a debt solution. Luckily, Prof Coll are the experts in all things debt collection, so if you ever need a helping hand collecting your funds, enquire today!

Don’t forget to leave us a review!

5 steps for preventing bad debts

5 steps prevent bad debt

We know how painful debt can be. And we also know how hard it is to recover. We are professional debt collectors for a reason. We understand debt and how it hurts. So, we’d like to pass on some wisdom for preventing bad debt from building up and taking over your finances, like an ugly weed.

Bad debt can be crippling for an individual or a small business. So, it’s best to prevent bad debt before it starts to grow.

As a small business, bad debt can be a financially painful and even disastrous experience, especially if cash flow is tight. When it comes to bad debts, prevention is always better than the cure, particularly when it comes to the impact on customer relations. As a small business owner, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent late and unpaid client invoices from happening in the first place.

Check their credentials:

For larger transactions, conducting a credit check on a potential customer can give you some idea of their ability to pay on time. We can provide varying levels of credit and financial reports for businesses you are considering taking on as a client or customer. It may also be a good idea to speak with industry contacts such as other suppliers or business owners. In some cases, you may be able find out about customers who have a frequent habit of making late or non-payments.

Upfront payments:

For large sales or long-term projects, it may be advisable to ask for partial upfront payments before delivering the product or service, according to Small Business NSW. For example, a business may ask for a 25 per cent upfront payment before beginning a project, with the remainder to be paid on completion.

In the event the client fails to pay in full, your business will still have recouped some of the losses. Alternatively, it may be possible to ask for staggered payments, with customers invoiced for each stage of a work project. This can be especially useful for freelancers and contractors who may need a regular source of income while working on the project.

Agree on payment terms:

Where possible, ensure you have an agreement in writing regarding payment policy. This not only provides clarification to your customers but can also assist in the event of legal action. Invoices need to be professional and detailed, listing each specific charge and how it relates to the products or services your business provides. It is also extremely important to detail payment terms and payment options on invoices – otherwise, your customers may decide to pay by their own terms!

Offering incentives to pay on time can also be effective, such as discounts for early repayments. Alternatively, attaching late penalty fees or interest can motivate customers to pay on time or reap you financial compensation for late payments, but it may also damage the relationship with your clients.

Communication:

In many cases, customers who fail to pay on time may have simply forgotten the matter. If you don’t hear back from a customer shortly after sending an invoice, follow the matter up. Send regular, but polite reminders by mail or email. Remember, it’s your income you’re searching for, so you can follow-up multiple times. If the customer fails to respond, try calling. However, avoid any form of harassment or even publicly “naming and shaming” late payers – this is not only unprofessional, but it can also expose you to legal action.

Record keeping:

With so many other duties to tend to, small business owners can often fall behind on collecting payments. Ensure you have an efficient, up-to-date database of customers and outstanding payments. Accounting products such as MYOB usually include invoice records software, or you can use a generic spreadsheet product. That’s where Prof Coll can help. We the debt collection experts that you can trust to collect your cash. There are no joining fees; if we fail to recover your debt, then you won’t be charged a cent.

Of course, if all else fails, you can take the next step outsourcing your debt to an experienced debt collection agency. This allows you to receive more cash sooner, focus on core functions and reduce your operating costs, if you get to this point you can call us here at PCS on 1300 799 067.

Why Prof Coll?

Sometimes bad debt happens and you may need some experts on the scene to help collect it. If you need some bad debt collected, we can help! We are an expert debt collection agency that can deliver results, professionally. We want to get your cash back to where it belongs. So, inquire about your debt today and we’ll get to work learning about your business and returning your money back where it belongs. At Prof Coll, you only get paid if we do. We assign dedicated managers that will individually assess your situation and to produce the quickest outcome.

We aim to provide affordable debt collection for small businesses and individuals who have found need some help with bad debt. Invest in 23 years experience when you need some help recovering bad debt.

The real cost of bad debt

real cost of bad debt

Most business owners know the sinking feeling they get when a debtor either refuses to pay or goes insolvent and cannot pay. There are few options left for a business owner whose debtors go insolvent. While this is a frustrating situation, it can also be a dangerous situation for the health of your business.

Bad debt can affect virtually every part of your business. Plus, when it is allowed to go on for too long or you find yourself with too many debtors who cannot pay, it can even endanger your business. The lack of cash flow can make it impossible to run your business on a daily basis, not to mention the added stress and possible closure of your business.

Limited Cash Flow:

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Without cash flow, there is no business. Unfortunately, a large part of your cash flow is tied up with people who owe you money. While there are some things that you can do to make sure they pay you what they owe you on time, it is ultimately in their hands whether you get paid or not. That can be a very scary thing for a business owner. This is literally putting the future of your business in someone else’s hands – someone who has no interest in whether or not you stay in business.

Added Stress:

Another real-life cost of bad debt is the added stress both on the business and on you, the business owner. Stress can slowly pull the rug out from under a business. Whether it is financial stress on the company or physical stress on you, stress is difficult to overcome. Having debtors who cannot pay you is a definite source of stress. That stress may ultimately cost you quality of life, time away from your family and even make your business suffer under the weight of emotional stress. This stress can also take away from the time that should be spent concentrating on good credit control and preventative strategies to avoid bad debt in the future.

Facing Insolvency:

Finally, bad debt can even put you in a position of facing insolvency yourself. This is the true final costs of having bad debt. If you do not plan for all possibilities, having insolvent debtors can adversely affect your business to the point that you must close the doors. No business owner wants to face the day when he has to think about giving up his business dreams and hard work. That is especially difficult when it is a result of bad debt that could not be paid by debtors. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many business owners who do not plan for the worst.

Bad debt is one of the worst nightmares of any business owner. It is also a nightmare that can be avoided with some simple business practices and by having commercial risk insurance. The cost of bad debt is not worth the minor cost of protecting yourself against it. No one wishes for the day to come when they have to close the doors on one’s dream, relinquishing all the hard work they put in to get there in the first place.

Luckily, there is a simple way to avoid the detrimental domino effect of bad debt. So, if you’re facing bad debt and aren’t too sure on what to do, give us a call at PCS and we will do everything we can to get your business back on track.

Or find out how to get a credit check

5 tips for small business Facebook marketing

facebook marketing small business

As of March 2013 Facebook had 1.11 billion users. No matter how you slice it, that’s a whole lot of people who use Facebook. Honestly, it’s a number that’s hard to wrap your brain around. With a platform like Facebook having that many users it only makes sense to market your business there. There are so many articles about how to market on Facebook, but below are 5 simple tips that will help you start bringing fans to your Facebook page.

Facebook is a wonderful tool to market your business. Even though creating a Facebook page for your business doesn’t cost money, managing it certainly isn’t entirely free. It takes time, effort and possibly a little cash here and there to build a successful fan page on Facebook.

1. Post content regularly:

Just like cleaning the dishes at your house, posting content on Facebook is something you need to do every day. Engagement from your fans is your #1 priority. The key to getting people to visit your Facebook page is to always have new content. From my experience, your daily posts don’t have to be the end all and be all of Facebook posts; they just have to engage the reader. Remember, people are looking for a reason to visit your page. If you don’t have fresh content they will forget about you and move on.

However, there is such a thing as posting too much. Whilst the goal is to have fresh content to show, too many posts will start to seem like spam – both to your followers, and Facebook. Posting multiple times a day could cause Facebook to see you as a spam page, which can result in your page being unpublished. To avoid any potential dramas, try and keep to a schedule of posting regular, engaging content. Striking a happy medium between posting too frequently and too inconsistently is key.

2. Ask questions from your Audience:

This point goes back to reader engagement. Your goal is to open up “two-way” communication. To do this, you want to try and ask some questions that are related to your business that people will also engage with.

For example, if you are a pizza place you could ask your followers what their favourite pizza topping is. If you’re a video game store, you could ask “What’s your favourite video game and why?”. Getting people to interact with you breaks down the “internet wall”. The internet is not a very personable place, and a business page doesn’t seem very inviting on the surface. So, if a fan feels like they know you better or can connect with the interests of the people behind the business, they will feel comfortable on your page and will come back to see what’s going on.

Just like with your content posting, there is such a thing as getting too personal with your audience. Try to keep your business page personable, but not personal. You can definitely post some things that align with both your interests and your audience’s, but keep your business page free of any unnecessary information about yourself. That’s what your personal Facebook profile is for.

3. Use that smartphone and upload some pictures:

People love photos. The attention span of an average Facebook user is very small. The average user scrolls down their Facebook page at a furious pace, often while they’re otherwise unengaged. As such, they’re looking for something to jump out and grab them. Pictures are great because they are easy to consume. They don’t require any reading, have a higher chance of providing short-term enjoyment and people know they don’t have to sacrifice much of their time to view them. All they have to do is click on the photo, then get back to scrolling.

As with all content, try and relate the photos you upload back to your business somehow. Restaurants and cafes can upload mouth-watering photos of their food, whilst stores of all types might use some pictures of new products or even items on sale in order to entice more customers.

This sections reminds me of a quote I once heard. “Facebook is like a fridge. When you’re bored, you keep opening and closing it every few minutes to see if there’s anything good in it.”

4. Contests and Giveaways:

And the winner is… you! Potentially.

People love to win contests. By offering free stuff and prizes it rewards your loyal fans and gets them to post on your page. For example, I’m an avid golfer and a local course I frequent has contests all the time relating to the latest golf tournament going on. Not only do I enjoy watching more because I could win, but I keep going to their website/Facebook page to see where I rank.

Ideally you would offer a prize that is somehow related to your business, but it’s not essential. More generic prizes such as vouchers for supermarkets or department stores, or even useful everyday items such as vacuum cleaners, can generate a lot of buzz. The key is to gear the entry requirements for the contest/giveaway so that it boosts your page reach. The easiest way to do this is by telling people to simply like the page in order to enter. However, if you want to try maximising engagement as well, you can ask people to also comment something as well. This may be why they would like to win, or perhaps what they would use the prize for if they won. Keep in mind that this may limit the page reach numbers you can rake in, but perhaps give you more engaged followers.

5. Build your Marketing Brand and be Consistent:

If you have a store or a website, you need to have a place where people can see your Facebook link and your activity. You can even put live feeds from your Facebook account onto your website! Notifying people that your business is active on social media is key to growing your followers. I’ve even seen it on business cards: “Like us on Facebook.” It’s on commercial websites, political ad campaigns, and just about everything in between. These days, being active on Facebook can be the difference between the success or failure of a business. There is no denying Facebook is here to stay. You need to make sure Facebook is part of both your offline and online marketing campaigns.

5 tips for using Twitter as a small business

twitter marketing small business

Having a social media presence is key in maintaining our present and active brand. And good news, it’s free! All you need to do is set up your social accounts, and you’re ready to connect with a new audience. However, like anything, there’s some strategy involved, the sheer amount of competition for small business on the internet is massive. So, get informed by diving into the deep end.

Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, and for small businesses, it could be an untapped market. Many small business owners don’t see how Twitter can help them market their business. But many major retailers have already gotten the hang of the Internet’s fastest-growing and most talked-about social media site and are using it to their advantage.

– Dell recently announced it’s made $7 million in sales through Twitter, by hanging out and tweeting with “no strategy” in particular.

– Best Buy’s Twelpforce has answered 20,000 customer questions since July, and is featuring Twelpforce in company TV ads.

How can you use Twitter to grow your business? Here are 5 basic tips to get you started.

1. Make a profile

The first step to making an impact on the internet is creating an outstanding account. Fill it out completely, providing a good description of your business, and a link to your company website. In some cases your social media account might be the first impression that potential customers have of you, so you want to make it a good one. When you’re uploading your company logo, make sure you adhere to the size guidelines to best show off your brand. For Twitter, the logo guidelines are as follows:

– Profile picture: 400 x 400

– Cover picture: 1,500 x 500

When setting up your profile, you’ll also want to write an engaging bio for your business. Your bio should be a summary of the core focus of your business, so that your followers and potential customers know exactly what you’re about. As your business grows, you may want to set up a second Twitter account – perhaps one as a customer-service channel, and another as the main company page. This will allow you to better address queries and issues, rather than them getting lost in the replies to your tweets.

2. Listen & learn

At first, don’t post much… just search for Twitter users in your sector who have a lot of followers and watch what they’re saying. Follow them – some will follow you back and you’ll start to build an audience. Locate influential Twitter users such as Peter Cashmore of Mashable (@mashable) or Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and read their Twitter tips. Of course, also locate users that are relevant to your field, and interact with their community. When you start gaining followers, look at their profile and see how they interact and what they like.

Once you start posting, you’ll soon learn how to interact with your audience. With social media, you should spend time gaining a new audience, and also learning how to interact with the audience you already have. Twitter has built-in analytics, so you’ll be able to measure how people saw your post, interact with it and click on any links etc. When your audience interacts with your posts, it encourages Twitter to spread your post even further and helps you gain new followers.

3. Care & share

To encourage engagement, you need content that inspires your audience to interact. So, you need to provide value in your content. Talk about subjects that interest your audience, apply what you’ve learned from your previous posts. And tailor your blog content to suit what your audience is interested in. You can also interact with your community. Start retweeting interesting posts from others. Participate in discussions. Search on your company name and find customers with problems – then solve them. Share news about your company too, but keep it to about one-quarter of your total posts.

4. Attract attention

Hold a contest, take a poll, make a Twitter-only free offer, ask a question, or start a hashtagged discussion thread (a keyword that begins with the # sign). Start a blog on your company Web site and post links to your posts on Twitter to draw visitors over to your URL. If you decide to hold a competition to increase your audience, make sure you offer a prize that will interest your audience or the audience you wish to attract. To encourage engagement in your competition, set guidelines to enter, like follow our page, our like this post and share it with three friends etc. On social media it’s all about the give and takes, you have to give to your audience, as much as you want to take.

5. Promote it

If you already have a website, then utilise the audience you already have and connect them with your Twitter account. Feature your Twitter handle prominently on your own site and in all your marketing materials to help customers and prospects connect with you on Twitter and build your following. You can use your business’ Twitter account as a way to announce certain things that are important to your business, and post pages from your website that you think might appeal to your current followers and attract new fans.