A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Kaizen

Small Business Owner's Guide To Kaizen

By Eric Rosenberg

Kaizen is defined as “a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices” and personal efficiency. The word literally means “improvement,” but has taken on a more important meaning in the world of business.

Large Japanese companies like Toyota have long touted the benefits of Kaizen, and it has slowly moved into the corporate culture at companies around the world. Now even small businesses take notice and try to apply the philosophy of continuous improvement to their business. No matter what size organization you are a part of, your team can almost certainly benefit from Kaizen. Here’s how:

Identify Major Business Processes

Start your quest for Kaizen by identifying major processes in your business. While Kaizen concepts are traditionally applied to manufacturing, every business has room for improvement. By identifying processes your business uses on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can get started thinking about how to improve.

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6 Things You Should Do As You Start Q4

By Jennifer Lobb

Business Meeting

Despite the fact that the fourth quarter rolls around at the exact same time year after year, the realization that it’s just around the corner is always startling. In fact, every year as Labor Day bookends the far end of the summer, I find myself asking “how did we get here already?”

We are, of course, “here,”and if you’re a small business owner, it’s time to pencil in a few important tasks to help you navigate the Q4 craziness.

1. Talk to Your Staff

It’s tempting to label this as “evaluate your employees,” because that’s something you’ll want to do as well, but your efforts should exceed evaluation. Your employees are on the front lines and often offer the most candid and useful feedback when it comes to “everyday” tasks and processes. They also are likely to be the ones who have the most frequent, and therefore most insightful, feedback on client or customer relationships.

As an added bonus, this can be a great time to provide positive feedback and motivation to employees, especially if Q4 is your company’s busiest and most important quarter of the year.

Don’t have time to meet with them one-on-one? Fear that the candid feedback you want won’t be what you get when they meet with the boss? Consider offering the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback. Surveys are great options if you have specific questions you’d like answered.  (more…)

A 14-Step Checklist to Make Your Business Legit

By Gerri Detweiler
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Grand OpeningPerhaps you’ve got a hot idea for a new business and decided it’s time to turn a dream into reality. Or you’ve given up on finding your dream job and decided to create your own. No matter what your motivation for launching your own business, the journey ahead is no doubt both exciting and scary. Where do you start?

The first thing you’ll want to do is lay a solid foundation for your venture. Here’s a step-by-step list to get you started.

1. Choose a business name. Think this one through carefully. Not only do you want to make sure it will be unique and memorable, you’ll also want to make sure it is legally available. Just because there are other businesses with similar names doesn’t mean you can’t use it, but be careful. If your business name is similar to another business — particularly one in your geographic area — your business credit profiles could get mixed up with one another. While you are at it, check domain names, social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Do a Google search. Before you make your final decision, consider a trademark search to avoid any legal challenges down the line. If your business name is too similar to another, you may not be able to register that name when you create a legal entity. (See step 4.)

2. Choose your business address. It’s OK to register your business at your home address, though some owners choose to use a service such as a UPS store to give their business a location separate from their home address. Keep in mind there will be situations — such as filing a tax return — where you will have to provide a physical address for the business.

3. Get a business phone number. You may not have to get an expensive business landline from your local telecom, but you do need a number to give out to clients and customers, and it should sound professional. You may be able to use a service like Google Voice or get a virtual business telephone service or answering service.  (more…)

Small Business Payments Toolkit – A Free, Informative Resource for Small Businesses and their Advisors

By Mary Hughes
Senior Payments Consultant, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Small Business Payments ToolkitThe Business Payments Coalition recently released the third version of its Small Business Payments Toolkit. The Toolkit provides education about payments and encourages the adoption of electronic business-to-business (B2B) payments by small businesses.

Visit this link to download this free resource:
https://fedpaymentsimprovement.org/wp-content/uploads/small-business-toolkit.pdf

Breaking Up (with Checks) is Hard to Do!

Checks are the main way many small businesses make B2B payments. Checks are popular because you don’t need to know the account information of the person or business you want to pay. However, the Toolkit points out that small businesses should try to reduce their reliance on checks because they are expensive, labor-intensive and expose a small business to fraud.

What Should Small Businesses Use Instead of Checks?

Using plain language, the Toolkit educates small businesses on the benefits of using electronic payment types such as Automated Clearing House (ACH) credits and debits, wire transfers, and credit and debit cards instead of checks. It explains the pros and cons of each of major payment type.

What’s New in the Toolkit?

Originally published in April 2015 by the Business Payments Coalition (formerly the Remittance Coalition), the Toolkit is now on its third version. Original content has been refreshed and new content includes:

Same Day ACH: An Important New Payments Tool for Small Businesses
Hot Topics in Payments Fraud (round up of latest fraud scams and threats)
Self-Assessment Quiz so small businesses can test how ready they are for electronic payments
• Updated content on Online and Mobile Payments Alternatives
• New links in the extensive Resources section  (more…)

The Free Resource Your Business Is Overlooking

By Gerri Detweiler
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Free ResourceAmy Cantin and Larinda Rainwater had been travel agents for over 20 years. They loved helping their clients and were successful, but were finding themselves increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs at the travel agency where they were both employed. They knew the logical next step would be to open their own travel agency, but that prospect was intimidating.

“We knew how to sell travel but we didn’t know how to run a business,” says Cantin, echoing a common dilemma many would-be entrepreneurs face. “It was scary,” Rainwater adds.

Fortunately, a friend referred them to the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, where, for nearly a year, they worked with business consultant Robert Bahn to develop a plan for their business and prepare to go out on their own. They also hired an attorney who, among other things, made sure they didn’t take any client information with them, which could open them to legal action by their former employer.

Their planning paid off: starting with their grand opening (which Bahn attended), Jonesboro Travel Cruise and Tour was a success. “We turned our open sign on and from there it exploded,” says Cantin. “We have been so grateful,” says Rainwater, referring to both the reception from their community and the help they received from Bahn. Describing the services they received from their SBTDC, Rainwater says, “We can’t believe it’s free!”  (more…)