Sunday, October 30, 2016

why your business should try and pay more suppliers by cheque

I'm aware that this blog's title is likely to make most people think that I've definitely lost the plot when it comes to business sense, but bear with me and I'll see if I can suggest a few ideas that will make you at least pause to reconsider...

As with some of my other posts here that I'm inspired to write, this one started with something that someone else posted on their blog about why as businesses we should all stop paying by cheque. When I questioned them on twitter, they threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to come up with why we should, in fact, stick with this old fashioned payment mechanism.

So, Ed Goodman, here are the reasons why I always try and continue to pay my suppliers by cheque. I've offered them as response to each of your arguments on your blog, so our readers can follow our debates more easily:

1 - it can hurt cashflow
Ed's right to say that if we pay by cheque we've no control over when/if the supplier will cash it, and that might mean our cashflow hits some very tight moments if cheques aren't paid in quickly. 
However... if we're on top of our business' finances, we should always have at least a rough idea of what our available bank balance is (which would include any uncashed payments), what we're owed, what we owe other people. 
As such, we should have some idea of any suppliers who don't seem to have drawn on our payment which can offer us an excuse to ring them up. And such a conversation would surely rekindle and strengthen our relationship with them - after all, how many of your customers do you know who take an interest in your financial health?

2 - it still costs money to pay
Again, Ed's on the money with this point. Most business bank accounts charge for you to write a cheque and stamps aren't getting any cheaper.
However, any business should always be striving for a good, close relationship with their bank, so you can likely 'renegotiate' (haggle) some of the charges that your bank would otherwise be applying to your account.
As for the price of a stamp - everyone would agree that the royal mail is a vital part of our local communities and home lives, so why should we try and avoid using it to help maintain the service for the wider good of all through making sure posties wages can be paid and sorting offices kept open?

3 - think of your supplier
Receiving a cheque means a trip to the bank to pay it in. It's an excuse to visit the high street, offer some passing trade to fellow local enterprises while we're there, and to help make sure that our local bank branches stay open by keeping them in use.
However, just as it's important to try and engage with customers on their preferred terms, we also need to try and maintain good relationships with our suppliers. To that end, I always ask them how they'd like to be paid, rather than make assumptions about them.

and one more thing (maybe two)...
And my reason number 4 as to why I like to keep writing cheques - it's an elegant tradition, like the meeting for coffee or introducing contacts to each other at networking events. In an increasingly ever changing world, it seems to offer some familiarity and custom that we can all agree on, and traditions are important to maintain as part of our shared identify and values.

Finally... when was the last time you got an envelope through the post that wasn't a bill? It's always a little exciting to get a cheque with our name of it!

Ultimately, this will come down to personal choice for everyone running their own business as to how they choose to manage and administer it. People like Ed and I can offer our views and ideas, drawing upon our own experiences and insights, but ultimately it's your business, not ours. What I try and hope to do through posts like this is to help offer some debate and alternative perspective to help you make better informed decisions.

Monday, October 24, 2016

accidentally becoming a 'specialist masseur'...

Over the last few weeks, I've been slowly moving bits of furniture, crates of files, and boxes of books by hand across Todmorden's town centre - not (just) for the exercise, but because I've recently taken on an 'office suite'!
My "working office" is now not only 2 rooms, but also a corridor and exclusive toilet (up to now, I was renting a single room on a 3rd floor with no lift and shared everything...). 

So why the move and commitment to additional costs at a time when according to various surveys business confidence is low, owners are looking to cut costs, and the general scene is gloomy for most small businesses - especially in my home town where many enterprises are still struggling to recover from the floods that hit us 10 months ago?

Well, there's a few reasons I thought it was important to invest in larger premises at this time:

1 - the room I was renting was getting a 'bit full'...

2 - if other businesses are struggling its because people aren't spending money. And people aren't spending money because they see other businesses struggling... by making a public show of 'moving up', I can hopefully help instil a little more confidence in the wider business community

3 - the premises had been vacant since the start of the year. In being based in the middle of the town, empty properties make for unappealing vistas for people and visitors, which makes it a less enjoyable place to live, work, and visit (see point 2)

4 - it's an excuse to hold an office warming party (invites going out soon...): a reason for some impromptu networking and unashamed self-publicity

5 - I have an idea that these particular offices also enhance my brand of being "not your typical consultant": the previous tenants used the rooms to offer specialist massage therapies, and the windows are largely still signed to reflect this... there was something about being named as one the of the UK's top enterprise advisors and apparently working out of a massage parlour that seemed too good an opportunity not to pass on...

There's also a 6th reason, which I suspect only some of you will get if you can spot the reference from what my 'new address' is...