Is Flash hurting your website?
Getting and Keeping Customers
Is your website an integral part of your marketing and communication strategy. It’s how new customers find you, and how current customers learn more about you. But if your website uses Flash, it may be hurting your ability to connect with them.
Adobe Flash has long been a popular way to add animation, videos, and interactive content to websites. However, Apple Corp.’s decision to not include Flash on the iPhone or the iPad means that users of these popular devices cannot properly view websites that use Flash. And that’s just one potential downside to Flash. The other is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Until recently, search engines such as Google could not properly read or index Flash content. In the last few years, search engines have made large improvements in their ability to index Flash sites. However, you and your web developer should also review Adobe’s guidelines on how to make your Flash content more SEO-friendly to see if you need to update your site. Here are three tips to using Flash on your site:
1. Do not create your whole site in Flash. Video and animation can make your site more fun, but they shouldn’t make up your whole site. Use HTML content for the bulk of your site: this will make it simpler for search engines to find you, for your visitors to search your site, and for you to update content.
2. Use alternative text to describe Flash content. Alternative text makes your site more SEO-friendly, and provides content descriptions to users who don’t have Flash.
3. Regularly check how your website performs on search engines and on new devices. If your site has a high page ranking on search engines, and if it’s visible on the newest gadgets, then ignore the anti-Flash hype and keep doing what works for you.
What do you think? Has Flash hurt your business—or helped?
How to get paid quickly: Tips for boosting cash flow
Financial Know How
A great way to boost cash flow is to get your customers to pay you on delivery or even sooner. But how do you convince them to hand over payments that quickly? For that you need incentives. Here are some suggestions on how to get your customers to pay you promptly:
Make payments easy. No one likes to spend money, and we tend to take advantage of any excuse not to pay. To avoid this temptation to procrastinate, set up simple payment options for your customers, such as credit, debit, and online bill payment.
Invoice immediately. Don’t wait until the end of the month to send out bills—include them with delivery. Your customer may still not pay them right away, but you will probably receive your money earlier than if you’d delayed invoicing.
Offer discounts and incentives for early payments. Consider cutting a few percentage points off the bills of customers who pay in advance. This may cost you a bit of money up front, but in the long run it will save you the expense and hassle of trying to collect an overdue payment.
Check out our Blueprint for Business Check-up Tool for more ideas on how to reduce late payments. What do you think? Do you have any tips on how to get your customers to pay quickly?
How to get more from your bank
Financial Know How
Your Small Business advisor is a key member of your business support team. So it’s important that the two of you have a strong relationship. Many small business owners may not feel they have the time to meet regularly with their Small Business advisor. But it’s hard to build a relationship with someone you rarely see. It doesn’t have to be that way. By taking the time to build a full-service relationship with your Small Business advisor, you and your business can benefit in a variety of ways.
Get advice. Your Small Business advisor is an expert on both the needs of entrepreneurs and on the products and services available from Scotiabank. Review your financials and business plan with your Small Business advisor to find out if there is anything you can be doing differently.
Find out about deals. As a Small Business customer, you may qualify for a variety of special offers, such as a full year of BizLaunch BizCoaching for only $599. Your BizCoach can help you with everything from your business plan to marketing to keeping motivated and on target.
Discuss personal finances. Your Small Business advisor can help you align your personal and business goals, both through their own specialized advice and by connecting you with Scotiabank financial planning products and services. So give your banker the big picture of your financial situation and goals to ensure you get the most appropriate advice.
Invest in your future. Scotiabank offers a number of investment products that can help you grow both your business and your personal wealth. Talk to your Small Business advisor about the best plan for your situation.
Are you following all these steps? Do you good relationship with your Small Business advisor? Let us know in the comment section.
When an employee is off sick
When one of your employees is off sick due to an injury or illness, it can have a big impact on your business. Important tasks may be left undone, client calls not made, production deadlines missed, or bills not paid. Worse, the rest of your staff may not even be aware of these dropped duties. However, there is one thing you can do today to help avoid these problems: create workflows for everything your company does.
What is workflow? Simply put, it’s a step-by-step description of everything involved in seeing a task or project through to completion. When you first started your business, you may have kept most of these workflows in your head. But as your business evolves and you hire more people, it becomes important to document these procedures.
You can purchase computer programs to help you model your workflow, or you can do it manually. Identify each type of task your business routinely performs: manufacturing products, ordering materials, providing a service, making a sale, etc.
Next, highlight the main steps, and then work with your employees to fill in the details. Record how the project moves from employee to employee until conclusion. Cross-reference the workflow with employee job descriptions to make sure you’re not missing any steps.
Your workflow documentation can allow you to identify the particular tasks of each employee. That way, when they’re sick you’ll be able to predict how their absence will affect workflow, and pull in other employees to fill the gap. Allocate tasks according to workload and ability, and let your sick employee know that you’re taking care of things at work so they can focus on getting better at home.
Have you ever had a business crisis because of a sick employee? Share your stories in the comment section.
How to see what's in your credit history
Your credit history plays a big role in obtaining business financing. It’s the record of how you’ve handled borrowing and repaying debt, and is used to determine your credit score, which potential creditors check when deciding whether to lend you money.
So as a small business owner, it’s important for you to know what’s in your credit history. You can find out by getting a copy of your credit report from one of Canada’s two credit bureaus:
Equifax (1-800-465-7166, www.equifax.ca)
TransUnion (1-866-525-0262, www.transunion.ca)
Each credit bureau creates its own report for you based on information they receive regularly from your creditors, and they will mail you a free copy of your report annually at your request.
There are two things to watch for when reviewing your credit report:
Evidence of poor credit usage. Perhaps you missed a few payments on your credit card a while back. Or maybe you filed for bankruptcy. In these cases, you may want to wait before applying for credit in order to let your credit score improve. By making all your payments on time going forward, you will demonstrate that you are a good risk for financing, and your credit score will gradually rise.
Errors and evidence of identity theft. Mistakes in your credit history can hurt your credit score. For example, a loan may be reported as in arrears when in fact it’s paid in full. Or there may be credit cards listed that you never applied for, which may indicate that you’ve been the victim of identity theft. If you find any errors in your credit report, contact the credit bureau immediately.
So what do you think? Have you ever been denied financing because of an error in your credit report?