10 Mar 2016
It might seem frivolous to put much time or effort into thinking about the design or layout of your company’s workspace. But, office space is much more than a collection of desks, filing cabinets, and some artwork on the wall. It’s where your team comes together and where the real work of your business takes place. You could try to cut costs and not spend much in terms of time or money on the office, but the morale of your staff, not to mention their productivity, is likely to suffer.
An office space that makes people want to work will do more than just help your business grow. A well-designed and thoughtful workspace can be an asset to your company, a perk that makes you an appealing employer, and a tool for retaining the employees you hire. The office your company works out of can be shaped by your business’ culture and can also do a lot to shape the culture of your business. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing your company’s next home.
Have a Central Meeting Place
Although it was once predicted that telecommunications would lead to more and more people working from home, there’s been a shift back to bringing people into the office again in recent years. A few years ago, Yahoo decided it would no longer allow employees to work at home, and several other big tech companies, from Google to Samsung, focused on office designs that encouraged connection and collaboration, which you simply don’t get when everyone telecommutes.
Your company might not have a miles-wide campus on which to design your next space. But, you don’t need a lot of room to create a space that encourages connection. All you need is an area that’s open to all. Instead of giving each department its own break room, consider creating one main lounge or coffee area for the entire company. When there’s one central area for the entire company to use, versus several smaller lounges, people from different departments are forced to interact. That can be great news for your business, the casual interactions while heating up lunch or getting a cup of coffee can mean that employees from different parts of the company share ideas with each other.
Keep Things Flexible
Flexibility is a big deal in modern office design. It can mean encouraging employees to work in different areas or locations each day, rather than assigning them a specific desk. Having employees travel from desk to desk or area to area throughout the work week means they are more likely to bump into or interact with different people.
Flexibility can also mean having a layout that can be easily adjusted. For example, staff might need to work quietly on their own one day, during which their desks can be separated. On another day, the desks can be grouped together to encourage more dialog and discussion.
It also means creating a work space that responds to the different needs and work habits of different employees. Although some people really enjoy open floor plans, others like to work in peace and quiet and appreciate having the semblance of four walls around them.
Get Input from Your Team
Part of being flexible includes asking your team for their advice and for what they want from a work space. When your team feels their needs are being taken care of and their requests are recognized, they are more likely to work happily and be productive. You might ask where people like to work or what they want to sit on while working. Some employees might enjoy working from a standing desk, for example, while others prefer a traditional desk. Some might like to work at large table, surrounded by colleagues, while others might want a quiet spot with no distractions.
Putting together the ideal office space plays a big role in your business’ growth and development. If you need help figuring out the design or plan that will best suit your company, the team at New Direction Capital is here for you. Contact us today for more details.
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As they say, money doesn’t grow on trees. Companies are who either in their early phases or who are looking to move to new phase of growth need to come up with a way to raise or obtain money to help them cover the costs of business. Debt financing, or borrowing money, is one common option. But, financing can have several pitfalls and it is not uncommon for businesses to make financing decisions that can hurt them in the long run. Here’s a look at some of the more common mistakes made when getting loans and options for avoiding them.
Misunderstanding Fees or Interest Rates
Interest rates on loans can be tricky to understand. For example, if you borrow $5,000 and end up paying back $5,500, with interest, over just a few months, it can be easy to assume that your interest rate was 10%. But, annual percentage rates don’t quite work like that, as they look at the amount of the principal remaining over the life of the loan, not simply at its start. Paying $500 in interest on a $5,000 loan over the course of three months means an annual interest rate closer to 80% than 10%. If you feel confused about the rate on your loan, make sure you ask what the percentage is, not simply how much you’ll pay in interest.
Companies also tend to make the mistake of misunderstanding the cost of fees associated with the loan. For example, a lender might charge an origination fee, an application fee, and contract fees. Often, these fees are subtracted from the amount you receive, so you’re paying back money that never actually made it into your business’ hands. Before you agree to a loan, read the paperwork and make sure you understand what the fees are and what they will cost you.
Forgetting That Time is Money
Timing is everything when it comes to getting a loan. If you apply too late, or wait until you absolutely need the funding, you might not be able to get a loan that would work best for your company. Instead, you’re forced to take the first loan that comes your way or to accept terms that might not be agreeable.
Another time is money concern lies in how quickly the bank or lender processes your loan. While some lenders have a quick turnaround and can get your company the funding within a few days, other lenders might have a lengthy application period. After you apply and are accepted, it might be another few weeks or even months before your company sees the loan. Remember that the time it takes you to get a loan takes away from the time you could be spending running your company.
Putting together a strategic plan, so that you have an idea of when your company will need funding to take the next step, will help you avoid having to rush to apply for a loan. Allowing enough time to research financing options will help you avoid working with a lender who will take a long time to get you the funds.
Not Knowing What’s Going on With Your Company’s Financials
Before you apply for a loan, you want to know what your company will do with it and why you need it. If you don’t have a clear picture of your business’ financial situation, you really won’t have a way of knowing whether or not you need to borrow or if you will have the ability to repay the loan as agreed.
Working with a virtual CFO is one way to get a good understanding of what is happening on the financial side of your business. A virtual CFO can help you see if obtaining loans is the best move for your business or if other financing options are more suitable. To learn more about the benefits of working with a CFO, contact New Direction Capital today.
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You’ve found a person who seems like he or she will be a perfect fit, not only for the position your business has open, but also for the culture and personality of your company. The next phase, and the phase that can make or break the hiring process, is negotiating salary and benefits. In a perfect world, you’ll offer a sum, the candidate will accept, and you’ll have a great new employee. But, since that is often not what happens, knowing how to interact with and respond to a candidate during a negotiation can help you land on a salary that works for both of you.
Don’t Rush Things
It might seem like a good idea to ask candidates for salary requirements up front, as that way you can eliminate anyone who’s too expensive and zero in on the candidates who seem more affordable. But, talking about salary before a candidate has a full understanding of the job or eliminating a candidate on the basis of past salary alone can be detrimental. Instead, wait until nearly the end of the process before you discuss salary. That way, you won’t scare off any potentially excellent candidates.
Figure Out Market Value
Any potential employee worth his or her salt will do some salary research before meeting with you. You’ll want to do the same, to make sure the amounts you are offering are competitive. When figuring out the range of salary and benefits you can offer an employee, look at what similar companies offer to those with comparable experience levels. You don’t want to risk offending a candidate by offering a salary that is significantly lower than the going rate. But, you also don’t want to pay more than needed to land a hire.
Understand When the Ball Is in Your Court
When you’re hiring, there will be times when the ball is in your court and there will be times when the ball is in the candidate’s court. If you advertise for a position and you get a lot of stellar applicants, the ball is usually in your court as far as salary negotiations go. There are plenty of people who would be perfect for the job, so you probably won’t have to offer the top amount you can pay. But, if the position is very specialized and difficult to fill, the ball is likely to be in the candidate’s court, meaning you have less leverage when it comes to negotiating.
Remember It’s Sometimes About More Than Salary
For many candidates, the amount of money they take home each pay period is just one perk among many when working at a company. During your negotiations, if a candidate asks for more money than you can afford and there aren’t a lot or any other options out there for you, try to negotiate areas other than salary. For example, you might be able to offer a candidate a higher match on his or her 401(k) contributions or move up that date on which he or she is vested in the plan to make the position more appealing. You might consider offering more flex time or vacations days, in exchange of a lower salary than the candidate hoped for.
If your company has a set salary structure and a desirable candidate is requesting a sum outside of the pay grade, one option is to offer a signing bonus instead of increasing the salary offer. A signing bonus won’t solve your problems if you’re on a strict budget, but it can make a candidate happy and help you avoid distorting your company’s salary scale. Additionally, a signing bonus can be a great way to discourage job hopping. You make the bonus continent on the employee staying with your company for at least a set amount of time. You worked hard to land the right employee; you want to make sure he or she is going to stick around.
If you need help figuring out how to work the salaries of new hires into your company’s financial plan, the virtual CFO services offered by New Direction capital can help. Contact us today for more information on how you can streamline the hiring and salary negotiating process.
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It’s not uncommon to look at successful people and wonder how they do it. It takes a lot more than luck to be successful in business and in life. In fact, the most successful people tend to take a different approach to the world. They typically have different habits and traits when compared to people who might not have as much success. If you’re ready to take your company to the next level or are looking to get ahead, it helps to hone a few traits and to focus on building up certain habits.
Knowing When to Say No
There are a lot of things out there that can distract your from your goals. There’s also the assumption that to get ahead, you need to accept every offer that comes your way. The reality is that, if you say yes to everything, you are likely to burn out or to put in less than your best. Taking on a project you’re not interested in or trying to grow your business in a direction that’s not a natural fit can do more harm than good in the long run. Instead of agreeing to every offer or deciding to take on every project that comes your way, ask yourself if the offer or project on the table is something that really matters to you or something you’ll want to invest in 100%. If the answer is no, politely decline. You might look at saying “no” as shutting a door on opportunity, but it’s really opening the door to opportunities that better suit you.
The most successful people out there aren’t the people that multi-task or those who feel they need to juggle multiple projects at the same time. Instead, they’re the people who focus on one thing at one time. It’s much better to put all of your attention on one project and do a fantastic job than to focus on several projects and do a not so great job on each of them.
Developing focus also means knowing when to block things out. Try to get in the habit of checking communications just once or twice a day. Constant email pings pull you away from what’s important. Give yourself 20 minutes or so for email at the start and end of your day and maybe 20 minutes for social media once a day and see how much more you’re able to accomplish.
Successful business people know when to seek out the advice of others and know how to listen to that advice, even if it’s not something they want to hear. While there’s a myth of the solo, successful entrepreneur out there, the truth is that behind every successful business owner, there’s actually a team of people. Listening to the opinions of your mentors, getting input from a virtual CFO, and developing an admin team to help you through the day to day are all keys to your success.
Putting Together a Plan
Having a strategic business plan is an important component for success. But, that’s not the only type of planning that’s important for success. Even having a simple to do list to guide you through your day can help you accomplish goals and stay on track. When you know what needs to be completed each day, you’re likely to buckle down and complete it, rather than let distractions take over.
Focus on Relationships
Focusing on developing relationships with the people you work with goes hand in hand with listening to others. The more connected you are to those around you, the more support you’ll have when needed and the more secure you’ll feel about taking the next steps on the path to success.
Establishing long-term relationships is a crucial part of the business philosophy at New Direction Capital. Contact us today for more details on how we can help you and your business plan of long-term growth and success.
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Every business needs capital to keep going. Where that capital comes from depends on a variety of factors. There’s debt financing, which involves borrowing money and there’s investor financing, which means individuals or companies contribute funds to your business in exchange for a share of it. Raising capital for your business isn’t simply a matter of deciding that you need more money one day. There are several things to consider before you begin the process of raising money.
What You’ll Use the Funding For
One of the most important things to go consider before you start contacting potential investors or before you start exploring debt financing options is how you’ll use the funding. Think about your goals for the financing. Examine the stage your company is currently in and where you expect to go over the course of a year or longer. This is where having a strategic plan can be particularly handy. Once you have an idea of the direction you want your company to head, you can lay out how you expect the funds raised to help you get there. Be specific when detailing how your company will use the funds. For example, you might need $XX to hire a new staff member, to hire the services of a virtual chief financial officer, or to afford the higher monthly rent on leasing a larger office space.
What Mix of Financing Makes the Most Sense
Along with understanding how you’ll use the funding, you also want to have a grasp on the mix of financing that makes the most sense for your company at the moment. You can stick with purely debt financing, taking out a loan or two from a bank, then paying that money back over time. Another option is to seek out a few investors who have experience working with a company such as yours and who would be interested in seeing your business succeed. While you don’t have to pay investors back the same way you pay a loan back, when they contribute to your company they are doing so in exchange for an ownership stake. That might be fine for many people, but it can also mean giving up some degree of control in your business. You’ll want to ask yourself if you’re ready to work with investors who have a stake in your company or if you’d rather stick with borrowing money for the moment.
What the Investor Expects From You
When you create a strategic plan and map out your goals for funding, you let investors know what they can expect to gain from working with you. It’s also important to understand what an investor’s expectations are for you and your business. For example, an investor might be willing to provide capital to your company, but he or she might also expect your company to grow by X amount over the year or for your business’ revenue to increase by X percent year after year. Keeping communication open with the people who are willing to support your business is crucial at all stages of the financing process, from before someone invests in you until he or she sells the stake in the company.
How Much Money You Need
Have a strong idea of the amount of money you’ll need to take your company to the next phase or to move forward with your strategic plan. In many cases, it’s better to raise less money than you need than to raise more. If you raise more than needed, you risk setting the bar too high and disappointing your investors or being unable to repay your loan according to the terms. You can always seek out more investors or additional sources of capital if needed, but it is challenging to return money that’s already been invested or borrowed.
Using capital to your best advantage is critical for the success of your business. If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to raising funds or if raising capital is even the right choice for you at the moment, New Direction Capital’s CFO services can help. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you understand your financing options.
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