Thursday, October 30, 2014

Barcode Equipment and the Bottom Line

I was recently asked about barcodes and similar for small businesses. I know many of you are small business owners or want to have your own business. Here is some information with various options.

Barcode Equipment is one of the most easily available additions a company can make to increase its efficiency. In the realm of production and management, barcode systems increase their operation immensely. For a small to medium business, acquiring a barcode system might seem like a daunting task. However, there are a lot of websites, such as Shopify that offer great options on barcode printers and scanners. What a company is really concerned about when it comes to barcode equipment is how expensive it is to buy and to maintain. A lot of equipment sounds like a great addition to a small or medium enterprise, but upon buying it, the company realizes the returns it gets for the money it spends is far too little by comparison. Here we examine how barcode systems can influence the bottom line of a company.

Low Cost for Installation
Probably one of the biggest concerns that companies have when examining barcode systems for use with their operation is the startup cost involved. In the case of dedicated point of sale terminals and other systems like those, the startup cost can be quite expensive, sometimes running into the tens of thousands. For a barcode system, however, the startup costs can be as low as a couple hundred dollars. Some barcode systems can even be set up for under $200. The benefits it gives for the setup cost far outweigh the paltry sum needed to start using it. Efficiency and improved inventory management can make a lot of difference to a small or medium business by making the company more attractive in the eyes of consumers. Since the startup cost is small and it increases the potential for earnings in the long run, it's not surprising that a barcode system can pay for itself within the space of six months easily. All things considered, a barcode system is definitely the best value for money for a small or medium enterprise.

Low Maintenance Cost and Effort
When purchasing a new system for integration with a business, you need to consider the amount of money and time that needs to go into maintenance of the system. For example, when a company purchases an asset like a vehicle, it must be in proper working condition so as to limit the probability of it breaking down when it's needed. For a barcode system, there is little worry about that happening. Barcode printers and scanners do not require a lot of maintenance. In fact as far as barcode printers go, the only thing they require are ink and paper to make their barcode labels. Cost for these additions are minimal and can usually be recovered after a single hour of business. The time it takes to deal with maintenance is similarly trivial, since it doesn't involve anything complex or complicated to replace these things.

Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Implementing a barcode system can lead to an increase in productivity and efficiency across the board. The result for the bottom line can be quite large over time. Efficiency in a business' dealings can have the inadvertent effect of making the business more desirable as a partner. This leads to a larger flow of contracts or retainers for the business, which effects the cash flow in turn. Productivity increases are desirable for another reason. Workforce productivity means more things get done and more work gets pushed through. In many non-retail industries there may be a backlog where work comes in and tends to remain without being processed for a certain amount of time. Barcode systems deal with fixing this problem by providing a method of tracking and responsibility making sure that no pending projects fall through the cracks resulting in disgruntled clients.

In the world of retail, a barcode system is extremely impressive in what it can do to bolster or boost the profit margin of a particular business. Understanding that barcodes are basically electronic assistants that never make a mistake goes a long way towards incorporating their unique talents into making a retail company more efficient. In a non-retail industry, the use of barcodes can make for some interesting work flow improvements, especially across multiple departments. The end result is a much better aligned work force combined with a more detailed system of tracking and following up on pending projects. Productivity and efficiency impact the profit margin of a company significantly and since barcodes work towards increasing a company's performance in both of these areas, it's not a wonder why these companies grow exponentially after the addition of their barcode systems. The first step for a small to medium enterprise to be able to compete with larger stores or chains is to give them a competitive edge. Barcodes do this, making a small business operate like a multinational chain with very little cost to the owner and very little effort from the workers. Barcodes basically allow a company to gain profits by working smarter, not harder.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

German Words to Use in Your Everyday Personal Finance Conversations

This post is inspired by Messy Money's experience with schadenfreude.  All languages are classed into language families.  English's family is Germanic.  English has one of the most extensive vocabularies of any language on Earth, but somehow German still has so many words for complex concepts that would take us almost an entire sentence to explain.

Schadenfreude has already been covered, but let's look at these 8 words and examine how we could use them in our lives when we talk about money.

  1. Verschlimmbesserung- Something that was supposed to be an improvement, but actually made things worse.
    Use it in a sentence:  I invested in US property in 2007.  That was a total verschlimmbesserung to my portfolio.
  2. Torschlusspanik- Fear of time running out or opportunities slipping away.
    Use it in a sentence: The investors started dropping their shares as torschlusspanik set in.
  3. Fernweh- The urge to leave your familiar surroundings and be anywhere else. The need to discover new places.
    Use it in a sentence: Mia realized she had made a verschlimmbesserung when two weeks into her new job, she was feeling fernweh.
  4. Weltschmerz- What you want your reality to be like is not congruent with what it actually is, largely due to outside circumstances.  Weltschmerz makes you melancholy and apathetic.
    Use it in a sentence: He was born into a poor family, and felt there was no way to become wealthy, causing him great weltschmerz.
  5. Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung- The struggle to come to terms with the past.
    Use it in a sentence:  She could not get her budget under control because her vergangenheitsbewaeltigung kept her from thinking about the debt she had incurred.
  6. Kummerspeck- Excess weight gain from emotional eating.
    Use it in a sentence:  Once she finally confronted her vergangenheitsbewaeltigung around her debt, she binge ate for days, causing her kummerspeck.
  7. Inner Schweinehund- The voice inside that causes laziness or apathy.  (Literally means inner pig-dog.)
    Use it in a sentence:  After her clothes stopped fitting, she banished her inner schweinehund and started paying off her debt.  (She also jumped on a treadmill.)
  8. Handschuhschneeballwerfer- A coward willing to criticize from a safe distance. (Reminds me of blog trolls to a certain extent.)
    Use it in a sentence:  Every time she posted her budget for the month, there was a handschuhschneeballwerfer who criticized her spending down to the penny under the name "Anonymous."

Do you have German experience and want to add more words to the list?  Leave them in the comments!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ten Must-haves for Business Success - Sponsored

Turning your business into anything that could be considered a success is a tricky proposition. Experts have their theories as to the magic ingredients that lead to success in business, but the truth is, most of the time, it just comes down to hard work and playing to your strengths.

1. A Niche

What’s your hook? A specialty product? Great service? What could you offer that no-one else in your industry possesses? That’s the first step to bringing customers in - being the only one who has what they need, when they need it.

2. Technology

Businesses need a lot of things to run efficiently: computers, internet, accounting software, email. But businesses revolve around phones. VoIP phone systems are perfect for businesses looking to minimise their expenditure, and there are plenty of organisations, like Com2 for instance, who will install and maintain these systems for you.

3. Amazing Management

Good management is key to a successful business. This is because good management has a knock-on effect that affects a multitude of areas elsewhere in the company. Your management team should be shrewd and experienced but open to the new ideas and, most importantly, they should have the respect of your employees.

4. Loyal Employees

This is the second part of the knock-on effect. Well-managed, cared-for staff will be more loyal and will work harder, increasing productivity and decreasing expensive turnover and training. Your employees should be diligent, keen and, above all, happy. Sales staff in particular perform better when their contributions are seen to be valued.

5. Awesome Product

Combine a happy, well-managed staff with a great product they can get behind and you have an instant recipe for success. It’s easy to enthuse about something when you like it, so having an awesome product to spruik is going to be reflected in your sales charts.

6. Customer Service

This can be one of the hardest areas for staff to work in. All it takes is one unhappy customer to ruin someone’s day. But you’ll find that customer service staff who have management behind them when they’re needed and are allowed to go the extra mile for a customer when required makes all the difference.

7. Customer Retention

You tend to return to places where you received excellent service, right? This is why exceptional customer service is so important – it allows you to build reputation via word of mouth, and get those wonderful repeat customers.

8. Connections

One facet of having return customers is that they refer friends and family, who refer their friends and family. Regular customers can potentially provide sales leads. It’s also important to cultivate contacts with other industry movers and shakers.

9. Marketing

This is going to be the other area where you’ll need to spend money to make money. Marketing will extend awareness of your brand and your products beyond what word of mouth could accomplish and there’s any number of ways to approach it - TV, radio, online, billboards, newspapers, Batsignal. Get creative.

10. Focus

Have a mission statement. Stick to it. Know what you want to achieve and don’t be afraid to change tack in pursuit of your goal. The best and most successful businesses evolve and grow in response to customer demand, product updates and other considerations, without compromising their vision.

Do you run your own business? What are your tips for success? Got any horror stories? Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are You Defined by Your Job?

My husband and I are very different people. Sure, we have commonalities that helped us bond at the beginning of our relationship, but our vantage points of the world and life often differ in the starkest of ways.

Nowhere is this more true than our perceptions of work and identity. When I think of who I am, the first things that come to mind are generally occupational (including motherhood.) When I'm overwhelmed with life, rather than taking a break, I throw myself into my work to find peace. I like to think of myself as someone who is cultivating her entire self, but the truth is my default identity is tied closely to my occupational pursuits.

That's not necessarily a horrible thing. If you work hard enough, you can become a leader in your field. You're often a good provider. But there are also some extremely negative aspects. If you become a workaholic, your family can start to feel neglected. If something negative happens with your job, your self-esteem most likely plummets. Your value comes from your endeavors in your industry, and not from within.

My husband is the polar opposite. He's never viewed his job as who he is, but rather as something he does. He projects this image to all those around him. When I look at him, I don't see an occupation; I see a whole person. A father. A husband. A brother. A son. A friend. A sports-lover. Someone who loves to laugh. Someone who loves to make others laugh. Someone who's stubborn in his opinions. Someone who doesn't do dishes as often as I'd like him to. Someone who cares deeply for those around him.

He has a strong work ethic. He provides for our family. At one point in our relationship, he supported me when I was in school, and had no job. But he doesn't let that work consume him. He doesn't always have a tab open in his brain about his job. He shuts it off. Because while the job is important, it doesn't define him.

Sometimes I'd like to close my work tab. I'd like to worry less about security and more about what's happening right in front of me. I feel like that's going to be a long process including some deep soul-searching. I feel like it's going to be difficult, and I don't really know how to get there. But luckily I have someone near me to emulate. I have someone to learn from.

As I start this process, I want to pose a question to you: Is there someone close to you that you've learned a positive behaviour from? One that has helped you become a better person or function in life? It doesn't have to be a spouse or partner. It could be a family member, coworker, friend...the list is endless.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The final 6 months of my goal

Have you ever set a goal so high, so ridiculous you weren’t sure you’d achieve it? I did and on the journey to my goal, my life changed so dramatically, I don’t even recognize myself or the life I had when I set this goal, it just seems so far away from who I am and what I do now.

It’s 6 months until my 30th birthday. Due to circumstances in my personal life, I can’t give exact financial details on anything anymore. I was hoping things might change but it has been over a year and still, I can’t. I will say this, the journey has been amazing and where I am at in my life is pretty close to perfect.

I find it fascinating to look back over my journey and see the things I have overcome and the things I have achieved as well as how much what I want and strive for in life has changed.

When I started this blog, it was predominantly about my desire to make more money, to become a millionaire because I was unhappy with my life.  My bucket list was full of places to travel, things to see and do. I didn’t want what I had.

Fast forward 5 years and I don’t have that life anymore, but I also don’t have that desire to travel, go everywhere else and do anything else except live the life I have. I hated my life, whereas now I love it and even though my most recent trip was to my favourite conference (FinCon) to a place I have always wanted to see (New Orleans) and I enjoyed it, before I even left I missed my life here already. I had a great time, but I wanted to be back in Canberra, with my daughters, with my family and friends.

My sister said it best when I made a comment about my lack of travel desire:
“Maybe that’s because you always had a life you wanted to escape from. Now you love your life.” Or something to that effect, and she’s right.

I am still interested in seeing the world, but only if I have my daughters with me.

Where to from here?
Right now, I own multiple sites and have various forms of income. I live in a house I know I can stay in long term, my daughters are happy and I just landed my ideal contract through my business which not only pays the bills, but helps others, particularly the disadvantaged around Canberra. My goals for the next 6 months are fairly simple.

My only goal is to spend more quality time with my daughters and the rest of my family. I won’t go into more detail than that.

I have achieved a few health goals, I lost over 30kgs in the time I have been blogging. I learnt a form of dance, did a 5km run and other things. I have slacked off lately. I am relatively happy with my body, but could be much healthier.
Whole 30 – I want to try doing a whole 30 month, essentially cut out sugar, preservatives and eat real food.  Whole 30 refers to an actual program my friend has tried with success. My eating habits have improved greatly over the past 5 years, but I slipped recently and want to kick start my healthy lifestyle.
Run 10km – even if it’s not a public run by my birthday, I want to be running 10km on the treadmill, the whole way.
Complete a 100 challenge – this goes for push ups, sit ups, squats and planking for 100 seconds. I see many challenges online and every time I start one I end up injured, not because of the challenge but other random ways. I want to complete at least one by my birthday.

Get virtual assistants – not just one, because different assistants have different areas of expertise and I want people to spend a few hours a week focused on the areas they are strong in instead of one person trying to do it all.
Read and implement business books – I have a stack of business books I have read bits and pieces from. They have great advice and I will read and implement the applicable advice of the ones I own by my birthday.

Uluru – My daughters and I will be heading to Uluru for my 30th, well just after in the school holidays.  That is the only travel I have planned between now and my birthday.

After I’m 30
I’ll still continue to share ways to make and save money plus goals or things I am working on here. It won’t stop just because I have reached the age for my goal. My life has changed so much that money is no longer my focus, I just enjoy the journey.

What are your plans for the next 6 months?