Gravit-e Blog

November 24, 2014

5 Steps To Streamline Your Company's Workflow

Too much on your plate? Why hiring is the last thing you should be doing.

Overwhelmed

Sometimes we become so engrossed in doing work that we forget to examine and question how the work is being done. This is particularly true when we find ourselves overwhelmed and falling behind.  Don’t make the mistake of adding before you subtract. Before you decide to hire an assistant or additional staff it is important to take a step back and evaluate what you can do to  make your business run more efficiently. You may be surprised to find you don’t need to hire many or any new staff members by streamlining the way work flows through your organization.

 

Here are five steps to take to make your work count:

 

Step One: Delegate and Automate

 

As a business owner it is important to understand what role you and only you can play in your company. Are there tasks that should be executed by technology or your staff that you constantly find yourself doing? If there isn’t any existing software that performs the functions you need you can always have software custom designed for your business. Examine how you can automate, delegate, and restructure workflow in your company to ensure everyone is focusing on their core competencies.

 

Step Two: Work Less, Sell More

 

Use Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM).  This will help you communicate more effectively with your customers and determine which ones to focus on.  It is far easier and less expensive to get your existing customers to spend money than acquire new customers.  

 

Form partnerships with businesses with similar target markets that are not in direct competition with you. For example, a catering company may form a partnership with a florist.  Valuable partnerships where you refer customers to one another can help you attract more business without spending time and money on advertising.

 

Step Three: Cut Down On Commutes

 

When possible try to get your meetings done through video conferencing.  This can save precious time and cut down on transportation, food, and coffee expenditures.

 

Step Four: Get Organized

 

Keep your workspace organized to avoid looking for lost items.  For parts of your workspace that are shared ask your staff if the current organization methods work for them.  Sometimes we organize our entire business in a way that makes sense to us without considering how easy it is for our employees to find and retrieve the same information.

 

Don’t neglect online organization.  Although a messy computer desktop isn’t as unsightly as a real work desk it can waste just as much time.  You can clean up your online workspace by:

 

  • Keeping the way you name files and where you store them consistent.

  • Having a document that contains your many usernames and passwords or using password management software such as Roboform.

  • Using a cloud based file sharing application such as Cubby or Dropbox.

  • Effectively using folders in your email.  Labelling your folders things such as ‘invoices’, ‘leads’, and ‘receipts’ can save you time in the event you need to recall an email.



Step Five: Eliminate Time Wasters

 

The internet is full of distractions.  You may have gone on your Facebook page just to post a status update for your business and found yourself still clicking through pictures and articles an hour later. Be vigilant. Over the course of a week take note of activities that are not productive such as:

 

  • Reading articles that aren’t relevant to your business

  • Getting engaged in lengthy social media conversations

  • Over reliance on email. Sometimes is better to pick up the phone rather than let the conversation drag out over the course of one or more days.




While many of these productivity tips may seem like no-brainers, even the best of us fall prey to time  wasters from time to time.  Be aware of how you and your employees are spending their time and spot bottlenecks before they happen. Ensure your technology is working for you rather than you working for your technology.  If your software isn’t working the way you need it to or you’re programs don’t work together consider having custom software built for you or having your programs integrated by a development company such as Gravit-e.

November 06, 2014

8 Major Benefits Of Custom Software For Franchises

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.06.58 PM

 

Franchising is one of the best ways to build your brand and grow your business quickly. However, just because you qualify to sell franchises doesn’t mean you will find buyers.  Becoming a successful franchisor involves making many thoughtful decisions early on to distinguish your business from competitors.  

 

Why should someone buy a franchise from you rather than start their own business from scratch?

 

How do you create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

 

If you’re a relatively new franchise and don’t have much brand recognition your business model, processes, and intellectual property will be what attracts buyers.  Having strong business software that is tailored to your unique business practices can be an integral part of your franchise strategy.

 

Benefits of Custom Software For Franchises:

 

  • Any software built for your business is your intellectual property. When someone buys a franchise they get access to your business software.  If your business is using commercial software that can easily be bought by anyone then there is nothing differentiating your technology from that of your competitors.

  • Your unique business software becomes part of your USP, allowing you to attract more franchise opportunities.

  • Custom software makes it easier for your franchisees to replicate your business processes and business model. At the same time it makes it more difficult for franchisees to replicate your business should they decide to venture out on their own.

  • Custom software contributes to the overall success of each franchise by ensuring employees are working with the most efficient systems possible.

  • You can maintain a birdseye view of all of your franchises. Custom software can provide you with real-time monitoring.

  • Custom software collects the data you deem important rather than being limited to the data capture of a software vendor. Pooling this data helps you gain important insights and spot trends in your business.

  • Custom software is designed to fit your business needs without excess features or lacking any components.

  • Custom franchise software is designed to scale with you.  Meaning you don’t have to overhaul your software systems if you find yourself going from 1 to 5 or 5 to 50 franchisees.

 

With over 76,000 franchise locations operating within Canada alone, it’s important to make your franchising opportunity stand out from the rest.  Ensuring your business software is cutting edge is an essential in today’s marketplace.

 

October 27, 2014

Financing A Startup In British Columbia

Startup-BC-financing

Do you have a great idea for a new business but are lacking the funds to put your ideas into action? Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.  Beyond personal savings, family, and friends there are many options for financing your startup in British Columbia.  Here is some information to get you started:

 

Small Business Loans

Attaining a small business loan can be difficult as Canadian banks are typically conservative and startups are frequently deemed high risk. Banks are not the only place to look for a small business loan:

 

Canadian Small Business Financing Program

Helps new and established businesses get up to $500,000 in financing.  You can apply at any bank or credit union in Canada.

 

BDC Market Expansion Financing

This loan is designed for established businesses looking to fund their growth.  You can receive up to $250,000 if you qualify.

 

BDC Startup Financing Program

Startups and businesses in the early growth phase may be eligible for a loans up to $100,000.

 

Community Loan Funds

Community Investment Funds are non-profit organizations dedicated to helping people who can’t get the loans they need from traditional sources due to insufficient credit history or collateral.  Loans range from $2000-$150,000.  Community Futures British Columbia helps BC residents start or buy a business. 

 

Industry Specific Funding

There are funds across Canada and within British Columbia that offer industry specific funding such as the AgriInnovation Program and BC Hydro’s Product Incentive Program

 

Funding For Young Entrepreneurs

There are several programs that focus on helping young entrepreneurs (typically age 30 and under) start successful businesses. One such program is Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit organization which helps aspiring business owners aged 18 through 39 through mentoring, coaching, and financing of up to $45,000. 

 

Small Business Funding For Minority Groups

If you belong to one of many of Canada's recognized minority groups you may qualify for unique grants and loans.  Here are a few examples of the funding available to Canadian minorities:

Aboriginal Business Entrepreneurship Development (ABED) 

This is a program run by the Government of Canada that provides Canadians of Aboriginal heritage with business funding in the form of non-repayable grants. An individual may receive up to $99,000 while a community owned business may receive up to 250,000.

 

First Citizen’s Fund

If you are a Aboriginal resident of BC you may be eligible for a business loan of up to $75,000.

 

Coast Opportunity Funds 

This program provides funding to First Nations communities whose projects have a positive environmental or social impact.  

 

Entrepreneurs With Disabilities Program

This program offers mentoring, counselling, and training to entrepreneurs with disabilities.  In some locations business loans are offered as well.

 

Womens Enterprise Resource Centre BC

Provides women with up to $100,000 to start, purchase, or grow a business in BC.

 

Business Accelerators and Incubators

Business incubators and accelerators are programs designed to promote the successful development of entrepreneurial companies. This is accomplished by providing business resources and services and access to business contacts. Some of them may even provide funding in return for equity.  The British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC) has published an article on their blog that thoroughly outlines the many business incubators throughout BC.

 

Angel Investors 

Angel investors are individuals looking to fund small businesses and startups that they consider to be viable investments.  They are typically looking for a higher return on investment than other investment options, such as the stock market, would offer.  They usually like to play an active role in the business itself and take some equity, which can be very beneficial given the right match. 

 

Venture Capital

Venture capital is money provided by investors to fund a business deemed to have ong-term growth potential.  You can typically get more funding from VCs than you would Angel Investors, though the funding is harder to obtain.  In addition they typically like to play a major role in company decisions and take a significant amount of equity, There are many venture capital firms throughout British Columbia.  If you plan to pitch your business to VCs be sure to be prepared with all your ducks in a row.

 

Apply and Gain Insight

As you can see there are many options for financing your business.  Even if you don’t plan on using a particular form of financing, such as a bank loan, going through the process of applying can provide useful insights into your business and help you steer towards success.  Finding out why and why not banks and investors would choose to finance your business can provide you with constructive criticism from business experts. 

 

Further Resources

A Complete List Of Government Grants Across Canada

 

Financing Your Startup Beyond Family, Friends, and Fools

 

Small Business BC’s Overview of Government Financing

 

 

 

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