Canadian Small Business Owners: “Lacking in Financial Literacy”

There is both good news and bad news when it comes to the level of small business financial literacy possessed by the average Canadian small business owner. The results of a recent small business financial literacy quiz conducted by Intuit Canada show that more than 8 out of 10 respondents failed to achieve a score of “good or basic knowledge” or better. Nearly half of these respondents revealed “well below basic knowledge.”Put another way, only 17 percent of respondents achieved a score of “very good knowledge” or better, and only 2% said they have “great knowledge.” The quiz consisted of 10 questions about business financial fundamentals, such as what is the role of the balance sheet and how can short-term cash flow be improved?What’s the Good News?That’s the bad news. The good news is that a majority of the respondents said they understand that financial management is important to the success of their business and they need to start closing the “knowledge gap.” Specifically:
42 percent said they wanted to spend more time with an accountant.
24 percent said they would benefit from information sessions with other small business owners.
22 percent said they would benefit from online tutorials.
The study indicates that small business owners’ use of financial literacy tools and resources increases their financial management confidence. Three-quarters of respondents who use financial software are confident that they have a good knowledge of accounting principles. Only 16 percent of respondents who rely on their own financial knowledge expressed this same level of confidence.Up Close and PersonalIn our position as small business financial consultants, we see the reality of these statistics up close and personal every day. Most entrepreneurs start businesses because they have particular talents or skills when it comes to manufacturing and delivering a product or providing a professional service – not because they are financial experts. However, they quickly learn that a good level of financial knowledge is very important to achieving success.It’s not uncommon for an entrepreneur to have a great business idea or product, a strong distribution system and/or sales force, a crack customer service team and raving customer reviews – only to fail because it suffered from poor cash flow.You’ve probably heard it said before that “cash flow is the lifeblood of a business” and it’s true. Companies can often withstand short-term periods of slow sales, and even unprofitability, but a lack of cash flow can prove fatal – even to companies with strong sales and high profits.Cash Flow SolutionsIf your company is suffering from poor cash flow, you owe it to yourself to speak with a small business financial consultant willing to sit down with you and help analyze your situation and suggest solutions. Often, these involve asset-based lending (ABL) solutions like factoring and accounts receivable (A/R) financing.A full-service factoring company will purchase selected receivables on an ongoing basis for a small discount to provide immediate cash flow for your business. This form of financing is widely used around the world – credit card companies are essentially doing the same thing. The elimination of a “receivables lag” can mean the difference between success and failure for businesses with a lack of working capital, or those that are operating with long or unreliable cash conversion cycles.An A/R financing company will lend to a business based on the total value of its eligible receivables. There is a subtle but important difference between this and factoring receivables outright: With A/R financing, the receivables become the primary collateral, a workable advance rate is established, and the company is able to call upon funds based on the “borrowing base” of eligible receivables.Many business owners fail to seriously consider these two options because they are unaware of how they work. They don’t realize how quick and easy it is to qualify, or the many advantages of these options over traditional financing. And many think they are simply too expensive but fail to ask themselves, “Compared to what?” The result of doing nothing is sometimes the loss of the business or bankruptcy.Don’t Be a Statistic Statistics indicate how hard it is to be a successful Canadian small business: While 85 percent of Canadian small businesses make it through the first year, only 51 percent are still around after five years. How many of these failures could have been prevented with a bit of knowledge and a stronger grasp of business financial management?If you own a business or know someone who does, you are in a position to alter the statistics directly. Start by learning about or improving your knowledge of alternative financing solutions. The success or failure of many Canadian small businesses may depend on it.

Real Estate Auctions – The New Land Rush

On a sunny afternoon in Florida, an energetic crowd gathers on the lawn of a high end luxury estate. A loud and eager banter between an auctioneer, a group of bidders and bidder assistants fills the air. For several minutes the auctioneer asks for the next highest bid and the bidders respond. Suddenly the bidders grow silent. The high bidder holds his breath in anticipation of winning the auction. The auctioneer calls for one more bid. In a loud clear voice which rolls over the audience he says, “Fair warning, last chance” the auctioneer pauses, “SOLD!” And in less than 10 minutes another multimillion dollar estate has changed owners.

Successful real estate auctions like the one above are happening all over North America and the Caribbean. Recently real estate auctions have been on the rise, the increase in popularity is partly driven by growing inventories and fading buyer confidence. Properties that were selling in weeks using traditional methods are now languishing on the market unable to attract buyers even as seller’s lower prices. Many say the real estate boom is over but savvy buyers and sellers are profiting from real estate auctions.

Real Estate Auctions Work in Up or Down Markets.

Regardless of trends or market cycles, real estate auctions provide an open and transparent process for buyers and sellers. Properly conducted real estate auctions attract ready and willing buyers and motivate them to act now.

The auction method removes the “wait and see” attitude which serves to further depress real estate values. Buyers are always concerned about overpaying. Buyers gain confidence with their purchases at real estate auctions because they can see what others are willing to pay.

When market demand is high and inventories low, real estate auctions can deliver selling prices well above what a willing seller would have accepted in a negotiated private treaty sale. In good selling climates many property owners using traditional real estate methods; negotiating with one buyer at a time, leave thousands of dollars of equity on the table. During up markets real estate auctions are the best way to establish top market price.

Evaluating Your Real Estate for Auction

Not every property or seller for that matter makes a good candidate for auction. First of all sellers must be ready to sell now and for the current market value. Also a real estate auction will not fix problems caused by a downturn in market value of your property, if you owe more than a willing buyer will pay, be prepared to come to closing with your check book.

Properties that do well in real estate auctions have a high uniqueness factor. Ask your self, “What makes my property different from most others?” Maybe you own a resort property or high end luxury home, commercial properties and land do very well at auction. Real estate auctions thrive on uniqueness. If your property is like everyone else’s, the best thing you can do is offer the most competitive price.

Most importantly sellers must be reasonable about setting a minimum bid. A seller must look at the lowest, most current comps and price below that to generate the interest and urgency necessary for a successful real estate auction. Once the auction begins and qualified bidders start competing against one another you can watch the selling price increase.

Locate a Qualified Real Estate Auctioneer

Start by checking with the National Auctioneers Association, the best real estate auctioneers belong to this organization. These real estate auctioneers are well trained and adhere to a standard of practice and a code of ethics. Many attend the annual International Auctioneers Conference where the latest techniques and innovations in the real estate auction industry are presented.

Find out if the company you are interviewing is a full time real estate auction firm. Many real estate agents are getting auction licenses yet have no experience with the auction method of marketing. Conducting a successful real estate auction is nothing like (private treaty) traditional real estate sales. Go with a real estate auction pro.

You’re probably better of with an auction house that specializes in real estate auctions. There are many qualified auctioneers who have generations of experience selling personal property; furniture, dishes, lawn equipment and the occasional rare painting. Selling real estate at auction is a complex matter that should only be attempted by full time experienced real estate auction professionals.

Commissions and fees may vary, sellers must pay all marketing expenses up front and buyers typically pay 10% of the sales price to the auctioneer of which a share goes to participating real estate agents.

Types of Real Estate Auctions

Auctions are effective because they create a seller’s market. Professionally conducted real estate auctions create urgency, a reason to buy today and competition for the property. Terms and conditions of sale are established ahead of the auction. Real estate auctions will follow one of these three approaches:

Absolute Auction

The property is sold to the highest bidder regardless of price- using this process often returns the highest sale price.

Minimum Bid Auction

Seller agrees to sell at or above a published minimum bid price – this method is useful for internet auctions.

Seller Confirmation or Reserve Auction

With a reserve auction, the seller “reserves” the right to accept or decline any bids usually within 48 hours of the auction. Reserve auctions are used when there is a lien on the property from a lender or a court ordered sale with a minimum selling price.

Are You Ready For A Home Based Business?

Today many people are currently unsatisfied in their careers and are looking for opportunities to work at home. A home based business can have so many rewards, no boss, more income, less stress and spending more time with your family to name a few. The solution for this desire is quite simple, find the perfect work at home opportunity that meets your goals and interests.

Locating the right work at home opportunity isn’t very difficult. Everyone is unique and has their own gifts and talents. Learning your gifts and talents in the business world,will help you decide what type of home based business you will do best.

The perfect home based business should include your interests. Any home based business requires that you be a “Self Starter” and motivate yourself to do better then working for that lousy boss you had at your last job.

Anyone can easily create a work at home opportunity, but finding a home based business that can financially support you is a lot harder to come by. You can look for a business that offers telecommuting opportunities that allow you to work at home The benefit of working at home in these types of careers is a safer, more secure revenue stream then owning your own business. The down side, your still working for someone else.

So your ready to start your own work at home business, and you have a concept you may like to do, then your ready to do some research. It’s very important that you, focus on what you want to do before going through the vast amount of home based business opportunities advertised all over the Internet. A great place to start is with a reputable work at home directory, such as [http://homebasedbusinesslistings.com]. A legitimate home based business directory can save you a great deal of time and energy as they have already done the research for you and will help steer you away from online scams.

Although running your own business may sound easy, motivation, determination and initiative are all very important characteristics of a successful home-based entrepreneur.

Here is the basic concept for running any successful home based business.

1st – Have an idea of what kind of items or service you would like to offer

2nd – Do the research on your competitors and see how your business can get noticed and stand out.

3rd – Getting started, how to get your plan in motion.

4th – Bigger is better, knowing your competition is key. Your goal is always to be bigger and better.

The setup process in building a lucrative business seems like it gets more difficult as you go, but if your committed and stay the course your business will soar.

In the first step of creating a home based business you need an idea or a concept and determine what you would like to do. The types of home based businesses vary greatly. You can take any interest or idea and turn it into a sales and service oriented business. You can also find a preexisting home based business opportunity that has a well thought out business model with great support and use it as a stepping stone. One of the hottest ideas right now is selling products through auction sites. Home based opportunities like http://eprofitsource.net have taken this idea to the next level, allowing you to sell any type of products or services that your interested in. Partner yourself with a business opportunity that you are interested in, and success is sure to follow.

The next step in creating a home based business is researching other businesses that offer what you are planing to offer. Market research can help you to figure out what will make your home based business idea unique. Whether it’s just finding out price points or marketing strategies, knowing your competition is a key to success.

The third big step with setting up a successful work at home business is getting paid by your customers. This area generally requires the ability to get people to understand why your service or product is important . If it’s your low cost, let them know what your competitor is selling it for, if it is a service , let them know the benefits of choosing you over your competition.

The fourth step is how you keep your business a success. Non stop research for what other businesses are doing will help you to provide better services and products for your customers. Always remember to scout for any new competitors, because if they’re as smart as you, they’ll be watching you too.

You may find that one step is usually simpler for one person than another. The simplest way to guarantee that your home based business allows you to reach your goals is to plan well and always be ready to meet your customers needs. As change is always inevitable, the work at home business that can change and grow, will always be the one that stays on top.

The last ingredient to running a successful home based business is you. If you want to keep your home based business going you must believe in yourself and what it takes to succeed. Its always a huge step when your making the decision to start a home based business, but use that “old” fuel of frustration and failure to remind you that you have what it takes to succeed, desire & determination.