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Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThanks to advances in technology, these days, there are many roles that can be performed without ever having to step foot in an office.  In fact, work-from-home or remote positions have increased by 115 percent since 2005, about 10 times faster than the rest of workforce, according to Around 3 percent of employees work from home at least half of the time.

While working remotely has its benefits, such as increased productivity, it does present a few challenges. One of those is how to manage a team when no one ever sees each other in person.

Define Expectations

Your employees need to know what they are expected to do each week, when assignments are due, and what your other expectations are for the week. Work with your team to set goals for performance and to set specific target dates for those goals. Have a plan for the week ahead, the month ahead, and the year ahead, and go from there.

Using a project management system, like Basecamp, can help keep everyone on course and help you define and manage expectations. You can use the program to assign tasks, communicate with your team, and keep track of client preferences.

Stay in Contact

When you aren’t seeing your employees daily, you’ll need to make an extra effort to keep lines of communication open with them. Luckily, there are many ways to stay in touch with your team, even if half of you are on the east coast and the other half are on the west coast. Slack is a great tool for chatting with your team, no matter what time of day. You can use Skype or Google Hangouts to schedule video conferences or the regular phone for quick check-ins when needed.

Video can be particularly useful when managing a remote team, as you’ll be able to show, not tell, your employees about current projects. You’ll be able to share screenshots with them on the video or can use other visual aids throughout the conference.

Get to Know Your Team

Another downside of remote work is that the social aspect of working in an office is gone. Remote workers don’t really get to stand around in the break room, talking about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.”

That means you’ll need to make an extra effort to get to know your team members, so that they don’t feel like just a number. Getting to know your team also helps them feel more part of the company and that their work and input is valued. Take a few minutes for an icebreaker at the start of video conferences or other phone or chat check-ins. You can also record everyone’s birthday and send a card or other type of gift to employees on their birthdays. The same goes for holiday cards and gifts.

Check in From Time to Time

Although working from home has its benefits, it can be helpful to schedule in-person check ins with your team members from time to time. Those in-person meetings help your employees feel more like they are part of the company and can also be helpful for keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to what’s going on in the business.

These meetings don’t have to take place very often, but they should be regular and anticipated. For example, when you hire someone, you can let him or her know that there’s a semi-annual all hands, in person meeting.

Hire the Right People

One way to make managing a remote team easier is to hire the right people for that team. You don’t want to have to micro-manage your work-from-home employees, so it’s important to hire people that can get their work done without having someone looking over their shoulder. Ideally, your work-from-home employees will be able to work independently, will be self-motivated and organized.

Another thing to think about when hiring a person for a remote job is whether that person will do well working solo on a regular basis. While some people are happy to work on their own, plenty of others thrive on the social interactions of an office. Those social butterflies might struggle if they need to work in a quiet setting everyday.

New Direction Capital‘s virtual CFO services are here to help you grow and manage your business. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of 1shots at FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhy do people go into business? One of the answers is to make money. When you own a for-profit business, you are continually looking for ways to increase your profits. But, increasing the amount of money your company makes is just one part of the equation. If you are able to cut expenses and reduce the amount your business spends, you’ll also be able to make your company more profitable. There are several, out-of-the-box ways you can trim your business’ expenses.

Join Forces

One way to reduce your company’s advertising and marketing costs is to partner up with another business in your area. For example, if you run a real estate agency, you might reach out to a mortgage company and see if it would be interested in sharing mailing lists or running a joint promotion with you. If you own a store in a shopping plaza, see if the stores that neighbor yours would be interested in distributing flyers for your store to their customers. You can offer to distribute coupons or flyers for their stores to your own customers.

Make the Most of Mailings

If you send your customers or potential customers physical mail from time to time, such as catalogs and brochures, trim your costs by making sure your mailings are working for you. Have someone from your company review your mailing list, weeding out any customers who haven’t responded for a certain amount of time. The US Postal Service also has a number of tools that will help you maximize your mailing list and avoid sending mail to incorrect addresses or to addresses that people have left years ago. Look into bulk mail procedures to further reduce your postage costs.

Go Online When You Can

Web-based companies are often able to offer the same services for a much lower price than brick and mortar companies. For example, you can usually get business cards, brochures and other printed products for considerably less from an online company than you would from a print store. The basic rule to shop around before you commit to one vendor over another applies here. When you need supplies or a specific service, get a quote from a few online companies and compare it to a quote from a brick and mortar store, then choose the offer that will help you cut costs while meeting your needs.

Try to Go Green

Going green where and when you can doesn’t just help the planet. It also helps your bottom line. Remind employees to power down equipment before they leave the office for the evening, to cut your electrical costs. Switch to LED light bulbs, which cost more upfront, but last for much longer than other types of bulbs and use less energy. If you haven’t already, try to digitize as much as possible, from your files to your company’s communications. Ask employees to only print documents when absolutely necessary and to try to use two-sided printing whenever they can.

Outsource and Go Virtual

Your business might not need to fill certain positions on a full-time basis. Working with independent contractors reduces your company’s expenses as you aren’t responsible for paying FICA taxes or for providing benefits to contractors such as a retirement match or health insurance. Going the contract route can also mean that you are able to work with a more experienced professional for a lower rate.

For example, you might not be ready to hire a chief financial officer full time yet, but still need guidance when it comes to managing your company’s finances or putting together a strategic plan for growth. Hiring a virtual CFO allows you to work with a professional in the field, for much less than the cost of hiring someone with equivalent experience. Another option for cutting employee costs is to lease your staff from a staffing agency or hire temporary workers to boost your team during busy periods, without the expense of going through a lengthy hiring process.

Saving your business money doesn’t just mean looking for the lowest rates when it comes to financing and finding the banks that offer you the best deal. It also means finding ways to creative cut costs during the every day operations of your company.

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3 signs its time to hire virtual CFOWhen you first started your company, there wasn’t much room in the budget to hire someone to handle all of the financial details on a full-time basis. You might have taken on the responsibility of researching financing, keeping the books balanced, and making sure customers or clients paid. As your company grows, or hopes to grow, it might become infeasible for you to continue to handle the financials as you guide your business to its next phase in life, but you might still not have the budget to hire a professional to manage your business’ finances. In many instances, a virtual Chief Financial Officer can be an appropriate alternative to a full-time hire. There are a few ways you can tell if working with a virtual CFO is the right step for your company.

Your Attention is Divided

One of the first signs that it’s time to consider a virtual CFO is when your attention becomes divided so much that you aren’t able to see the big picture or focus on planning the next steps for your company. If you’ve taken on the tasks of keeping the books balanced or making sure you have enough cash flow to pay employees and vendors, those chores can fall to the wayside when a project that seems to be more important to the health of your company pops up. If you have to worry about all of the financial details, you might not have your head in the game enough to see when a potential, big client is showing interest in your company or when the market is starting to shift in your favor.

You’re Starting to Think of the Future

You know that your business needs to take steps towards growth or that it needs to evolve to keep up in a competitive field, but you aren’t sure how to get your company to the point where it can grow or how to develop a plan for its growth. A virtual CFO does much more than just manage the books and keep your company’s accounts in order. He can also work with your business to develop a strategic plan and create road maps so that your company can grow and thrive.

A virtual CFO gives personalized advice to the companies he works with, so that each plan is tailor made for a business. If you’re ready to take the next steps with your company, but need a plan that is more in-depth and personal that the advice you’d get online, that’s usually a sign that working with a virtual CFO is in your immediate future.

You Need Help with Financing

The ways you financed your business at the beginning are most likely different from the ways you will finance your business as it moves to a new phase or seeks to expand. A virtual CFO can help open the doors to new financing options for you or help you see if the mix you currently have makes the most sense for your business. For example, if you feel that you have too much debt, a CFO can help you work on restructuring that debt to reduce its cost to your company or can help you find other sources of funding that minimize your business’ debt burden. He can help you weigh the pros and cons of working with investors versus taking out loans and help you choose the mix that paves the way for the greatest amount of growth.

If you need the advice and guidance a CFO can provide, but aren’t yet ready to hire a person full-time, we can help! The team at New Direction Capital offers individualized virtual CFO services to small and mid-size companies. To find out more about what a virtual CFO can do for you, call us today.

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Apply Highest and Best Use Concept to Running Your Business

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In some cases, terms that are commonly used in one industry, such as real estate, can also apply to other industries and fields, with a small amount of tweaking. One such term is “highest and best use.” Commonly used in real estate to determine how to use land, applying the concept of highest and best use to your business can also help it to grow or to help it develop a strategic plan.

What is Highest and Best Use?

In real estate, highest and best use is a principle used when a parcel of land is being zoned and/or appraised. The value of land is closely tied to how an owner uses it. For example, if the owner of a plot of land in the business district of a big city decides to build an office tower on the land, that is generally a better use of it than if the owner decided to build a shopping center on the land. Setting up a farm on a plot of land in a rural area is generally a better use of that land than creating a parking lot, especially if the area is sparsely populated.

The location of the land isn’t the only factor that comes into play when determining highest and best use. Competition and timing also play a part, as does the physical limits of the land itself, legal barriers and and finances. If a lot of other companies are constructing office buildings in the same area, at the same time, deciding to build your own office tower might not be the highest or best use of that land.

How it Can Help Your Business

The principle of highest and best use doesn’t have to be restricted to the area of real estate. You can also apply a similar concept when making decisions for your company. The principle works when deciding how to spend your time, whether to make a hire or to outsource a certain role or task, or whether to keep a product or discontinue it.

Let’s look at the principle of highest and best use when it comes to your time, either as the CEO, president or owner of your business. You want to find ways to spend your time that create the greatest return on investment for your company and that help your company become as valuable as possible. But, if you are spending your days making sure that your employees are completing their assignments or tasks, you’re most likely not making the highest and best use of your time as a CEO. Instead, it might be in your company’s best interest for you to spend your time laying the groundwork for the business’ next step or figuring out how to move the company forward.

Deciding to hire a new employee or to outsource certain tasks to a virtual CFO can help you make the highest and best use of your time as the CEO. But, the principle also comes into play when deciding to outsource or hire someone.

Outsourcing certain roles lets your current employees make the best use of their time, especially if the position you are outsourcing involves tasks or assignments that only need to be performed sporadically. Instead of having your administrative assistant try to solve any IT problems that arise, outsourcing those tasks to a vendor can be the best solution for all involved. The same is true when it comes to your company’s financial records. If you have been handling them, hiring a part-time bookkeeper or working with a virtual CFO allows you to make the highest and best use of your time and energy, and the highest and best use of that person’s talent and time.

The team at New Direction Capital wants to help your business grow and succeed. To learn more about what you can do to make the highest and best use of your company and of your time, give us a call today.

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Successfully running a business means more than having a terrific idea and a strong customer base. It also means having a full understanding of your company’s financial health and what your business needs to do to achieve its goals financially. At many larger businesses, a chief financial officer (CFO) is the executive in charge of overseeing a company’s financial details, taking care of both income and expenses.

While small or mid-sized companies also need the services of a CFO, they often don’t have money in the budget to hire another senior manager, which is where a virtual CFO can step in. The services provided by a virtual CFO and a company such as New Direction Capital are designed to help your business grow.

Experience You Need at a Price You can Afford

The problem many small or mid-size businesses face is that the cost of hiring a full-time CFO exceeds their budget. Hiring a full-time employee means not only having enough to cover his or her wages, but also putting together a benefits package. The more experienced and talented the CFO, the higher the cost. One solution is to hire an entry-level accountant or financial officer, but that person will often not have the experience needed to know how to go after the right type of funding or how to implement a plan that allows a company to grow.

When your business decides to outsource the responsibilities of a CFO, you can get the experience you need for the most growth without paying for a full-time employee. You can work with a virtual CFO on an as-needed basis, such as during a project or work with the CFO on a regular, part-time basis.

Grows with Your Business

The role of a virtual CFO can grow and change as your business needs grow and change. Instead of needing to hire an additional employee, you can simply shift the role and responsibility of the virtual CFO to meet your needs at the moment. For example, you may initially work with New Direction Capital to help your company save money. A few years down the road, your business might need to find a new source of capital or financing, at which time the focus and role of the virtual CFO can also change.

Services Shaped to Meet Your Needs

Since every business is different, the exact role of a virtual CFO will also be different. Although not an employee, your virtual CFO becomes an important member of your team, working with you directly to come up with customized solutions for your company. The focus of a virtual CFO is on building a relationship with you and your business. Having a clear idea of what your company wants and needs allows the CFO to tailor a solution that works for you.

24/7 Availability

There is no 9 to 5 in the virtual CFO world. New Direction Capital is committed to providing around the clock service to clients, which means that if you discover a financial problem at 10 pm on a Friday or in the early morning on a Tuesday, you can reach out to your CFO for help and guidance.

Help You Reach Your Goals

Where do your see your business in five or 10 years? If you are unsure, a virtual CFO can help you create goals and then put a plan into place that helps you realize those goals. For example, a CFO can help you decide if it’s the time to expand your company by opening another location or if it’s the time to make the move from leasing property to owning it.

If you are ready to take your business to new heights or need assistance getting your financial details in order, New Direction Capital can help. Contact us today to learn more about how our services can best serve your company.


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