How to Walk the Tightrope When Raising Prices

How to Walk the Tightrope When Raising Prices

Raising prices can be fraught with risk during good economic times. So what happens if you try to raise prices during bad economic times?

As Hamlet would say, “Ah, there’s the rub.” If you raise prices, you risk losing clients to competitors. If you don’t, decreasing revenue or rising costs can capsize your company. So what’s a small business supposed to do?

The Art of Pricing

Raising (and, sometimes, even lowering) prices can be a balancing act. As with any major business decision, pricing should take into account various factors. Here are several to consider.

Analyze costs. First, you need to carefully analyze the costs needed to bring your products or services to market. Such expenses might include raw materials, storage, personnel, advertising, delivery, rent, equipment, taxes and insurance. Failure to cover all these costs in your price will inevitably lead to shrinking profits.

Establish profit margin. Next, it’s important to establish an acceptable profit margin. This is where the art of pricing begins. To find your company’s sweet spot with regards to pricing, consider researching competitors in your region to determine their pricing for comparable products, raising your finger to the wind to discern the business climate and asking your customers about their preferences.

Listen to your customers. Your customers will tell you if you raised prices too high. They’ll either continue to buy your product or seek out a competitor.

Consider incremental price increases. Small, incremental price increases tend to be more palatable to customers than a few large changes. We see this every day in the rising cost of gasoline, utilities and taxes. Many customers can handle incremental inflation…just don’t shock them with a huge increase all at once.

When considering pricing, it’s important to take a long, hard look at both your costs and the quality of your products and services. Customers will generally pay a premium for goods and services that provide greater value. Successful business owners endeavor to increase both the actual quality of their products and the perception of that quality in the minds of customers. Do both well, and a price increase may be in order.

Don’t Make These Business Website Mistakes

Don’t Make These Business Website Mistakes

Your company’s online presence leaves a lasting impression—positive or negative. When people check out your homepage, will they stick around? Will they buy? Will they return? Make your website easy to use and current, and new orders may be just a click away. Annoy visitors and they’ll flee to a competitor.

Steer clear of the following website mistakes:

Designing the website for you—not the customer. Studies have shown that online visitors form an opinion of a company’s brand in about three seconds. If your home page is well designed, they may stick around for another ten to twenty seconds. Don’t waste these precious moments spouting details about the firm’s stellar history and the owner’s credentials. Consumers are visiting your website to get answers. Provide these answers quickly or they’ll click elsewhere.

Heavy graphics, poor load time. Many consumers are surfing the web from smart phones and tablets. Don’t make them waste valuable time waiting for a fancy webpage to load. Consider projecting a professional image with text-based content that answers the most pressing questions about your products and services. Graphics can work well, but only if size and load times are fully vetted to ensure a seamless load experience.

Unfriendly navigation. If your homepage looks cluttered, potential customers will become frustrated. Make it easy for users to navigate your site from home page to supplemental pages and back again. Use a handful of clearly-labeled tabs in a top level menu. Deliberately design each page to have the same look and feel.

Stale data. When you visit a webpage and note that it was last updated five years ago, do you sense a vibrant, cutting-edge enterprise? Keep your site up to date. Consider subscribing to content services that will keep your information fresh. Remember, developing a web presence is not an event, it is an ongoing journey. Your site must display current prices, merchandise that’s available right now, with up-to-date details about new product offerings.

Sloppy content. A website riddled with typos, grammatical mistakes and industry jargon will turn customers away. Visitors may ask themselves if your business doesn’t care about the quality of its website, how can they trust your products and services?

A carefully crafted website can draw customers in, enhance their buying experience and leave a lasting impression of professionalism and quality.

Should You Incorporate Your Business?

Should You Incorporate Your Business?

You may have started your business as a simple sole proprietorship that files its taxes as a Schedule C on your Form 1040. As your business grows, you may want to change the structure. Here are several scenarios where it may make sense to do just that.

Reasons to Create Business Entities

  • Establishing limited liability. The primary reason businesses form corporations and limited liability companies is to create a separate legal entity that provides legal protection. If your business receives a legal summons for a claim, for example, having limited liability may protect your personal assets like your home and car.
  • Hiring your first employee. Businesses are generally liable for their employees’ actions taken on behalf of the company. If an employee performs an act that causes an outside party to sue your business, the outside party can come after your personal assets to satisfy the lawsuit if you don’t have limited liability. You should, therefore, incorporate your business if you anticipate hiring your first employee in the near future.
  • Establishing credibility. Having LLC or Inc. after your business’s name conveys maturity in your business to customers and vendors.
  • Accessing credit and/or capital. Incorporating can also make it easier for your business to obtain financing through banks or investors. Banks want to see that your business is legitimate and not simply a hobby. Bringing in investors also requires a business form that allows you to do this. Individuals often co-mingle personal funds with business activity, making it hard to consider lending money.

What you need to do

There are several different business entities to consider, including corporations and limited liability companies. There are pros and cons to each entity that must be considered. Added to the complexity are constructing the correct legal filings and related tax obligations for sales tax, income taxes, unemployment and workers’ compensation.

The process of selecting the right structure for your business is not for the faint of heart. Develop connections with professionals that can walk you through this decision-making process.

Protect Your Video Conference Meetings

Protect Your Video Conference Meetings

Avalanche of new remote workers creates latest playground for hackers

Hackers have found their new playground amid the increased use of video conferencing during the coronavirus pandemic: Zoombombing!

Zoombombing defined

Named for the company Zoom, the unfortunate first high-profile victim of this phenomena, Zoombombing occurs when internet trolls hack video conference meetings and join as uninvited attendees. After infiltrating a meeting, the hackers then have their fun, doing everything from performing harmless pranks to posting sexually explicit content.

Ideas to keep your meetings private

You can protect yourself, your friends and your company while using popular video conferencing tools with these tips.

  • Monitor meeting attendance. Designate an employee to monitor the attendees of your video conferencing meetings. By assigning a moderator (host), attendees can be removed or dismissed.
  • Create a waiting room for new attendees. Most conferencing platforms have a feature called a waiting room. When this feature is enabled, each user who connects to your meeting is put in a queue. The meeting host then approves each person waiting in the queue for admission to the meeting.
  • Turn off screen sharing for everyone but the meeting host. A favorite Zoombomber prank is to hack into a meeting, share their screen and then draw something really funny or inappropriate. Consider only allowing the meeting host to share a screen and to give permissions to others who subsequently want to share a screen.
  • Password protect your meetings. As a meeting organizer, you can also choose to password-protect your meetings. Don’t forget to distribute the password to all attendees prior to the meeting.
  • Carefully choose your video conferencing service. With many different companies offering video conferencing services, it can be difficult to find which company features the best security measures. Take the time to do your homework to find the platform that’s right for your business.
It’s Time to Prioritize Inventory Management

It’s Time to Prioritize Inventory Management

Extraordinarily low interest rates and a rapidly evolving business climate has made inventory management a lost art. Other business initiatives may seem to be more urgent and impactful, but in reality, mastering inventory levels is a key to most successful and growing businesses. Here are reasons why prioritizing your inventory management is a must:

  • Less shrink. Shrinkage represents cash that goes to waste because inventory is damaged or past sell date. It is a sign of a weakness in the inventory control process. Adding quality control practices that account for climate control and other factors can help avoid damaging valuable stock and catch defective purchases before they make it into your warehouse. Tightening up your inventory controls equals less stuff to throw away which means less money wasted.Action: Create a shrink scorecard. Note all product that is non-saleable, and track units tossed, their dollar value, and who supplied it. Compare waste to prior year and against your goals.
  • More cash. In a perfect world, you receive your inventory as soon as it is sold. Material or product that sits in the warehouse adds storage costs and risks turning into unsaleable product. Aligning your inventory operation with your sales cycle plays directly with improving your cash flow. Understanding sales trends will allow you to optimize your stock levels and save money in the process. When you spend less on unnecessary inventory costs you have more cash to invest into marketing, new product initiatives or capital equipment that can bolster your bottom line.Action: Implement just in time (JIT) with key suppliers. Explore ways to deliver product when you need it versus purchasing a larger amount and then storing it.
  • Improved forecasting. The old saying garbage in, garbage out applies perfectly when trying to forecast inventory demand. If you can’t trust your inventory process, it’s impossible to accurately predict future output. This leaves you flying blind when budgeting and preparing for future expenditures. With a firm grip on your inventory needs and procurement-to-sales cycle, your forecasting will become more accurate.Action: Create a rolling 12-month forecast of sales. The forecast should provide details on major product lines. Translate this forecast into lead times for your inventory procurement.
  • Better customer relations. Once you’ve optimized your operation, the quality of your customers’ experience increases exponentially. You can cut prices without sacrificing margin, improve lead times, and add new product lines with your extra cash. While the effective inventory process you built is humming along, you can focus your attention on improving your products to better match the needs of your target market. This will help boost your sales!Action: Set inventory targets to shorten lead times. Measure how many back orders you have and note how often products are returned as defective. If your inventory management is improving you should see positive results in both areas.

Inventory management will not take care of itself. Giving your inventory system the attention, it deserves will pay major dividends both now and in the future.

GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims Process

GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims Process

GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims Process – Employers Must Take Action

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has adopted an emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5 Partial Claims, effective March 16, 2020. The rule mandates all Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time/part-time) works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee. Download the How Employers File Partial Claims Desk-Aid found on the GDOL Alert Page and follow the step-by-step instructions.

Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically. Employees for whom you file a partial claim are NOT required to report to a Georgia Department of Labor career center, register for employment services, or look for other work.

Please continue to monitor the Georgia DOL website at gdol.ga.gov for any updates to these guidelines.