5 Tax Saving Tips for Small Business Owners in India

For running your own business in India you require a string of statutory compliances and remember to pay the attached fees and taxes. Even after the implementation of GST last year, the Indian taxation system remains complex as ever and your business ends up paying a significant amount in taxes to the government.

Today, we are sharing 5 tax saving tips for Indian business owners, including best practices to help you earn more from your business venture.

Claiming  benefits on a housing loan

If you have an active home loan, you can claim its interest to be a deduction from house property and claim the principal as deduction under Section 80C (limited to a maximum of Rs. 150,000).  This will effectively reduce your overall taxable income by reducing your ‘income from house property’ in ITR.

Electronic payment of municipal taxes

You can also claim the taxes paid to your municipal corporation or municipality as deductions under income from house property. You simply need to keep a record of the payments and copy of receipts. Electronic payment of municipal taxes ensures that your bank account have the necessary proof in case you damage or lose the receipts.

Switch to smart and efficient accounting

Since most small businesses in India are labour intensive enterprises, they are used to pay wages in cash. Sometimes, as much as 40% of a small business’s manufacturing expenses may be going into direct and indirect wages. If your business fails to keep track of these expenses, then your profit margins increase because of unrecorded entries in your expenses account and you are liable to pay more taxes. So if you have been neglecting bookkeeping for a while now, it is time to take a closer look at the state of affairs in your accounts department. You can also take help of a free accounting software to make matters easier.

Claiming Additional Depreciation

The Income Tax Act allows a claim of additional 20% depreciation on new machinery installed during the year. The provision meant for the benefit of certain notified industries under the Section 35AD and it is only applicable for the first year of a new machine or equipment’s operation. By claiming the additional depreciation @20% you can claim save that amount as expenses incurred.

Deducting TDS

There are certain transactions which require you to deduct the tax at source, such as payments made as commission to your business agent or a freelance employee. If you fail to deduct the TDS the whole amount becomes inadmissible for claiming tax rebates. So make sure that you keep track of all such transactions and deduct tax @10% for them.

So these are some tips / best business practices which will allow you to save more by reducing your tax burden. In case you have been a little less prudent with accounts management in the past, it is never too late to adopt these practices. In the meanwhile, you can also apply for short term business loans to get out of current financial troubles and start your business’s recovery. To know more about fast business loans, click here.

Business Registration – Helping in Faster Loan Approvals

How Business Registration Helps in Faster Loan Approvals

When your business model is ready to move from its pilot phase, the first thing to do is to register your company. Business registration in India can be done online through the Ministry of Corporate Affairs portal. Apart from giving legality to your operations, there are numerous reasons why you should register your business.

Get Faster Loan Approvals

Business registration makes it easier to raise money through business loans and to get backing from investors. The lenders, such as banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), are more trustful of a legally registered company or business. Hence, making it easier to get faster business loan approvals.

For example, if your company has been registered and is in business for more than 6 months, you can apply for a business loan from Lendingkart – one of the leading NBFCs in India. Lendingkart promises business loan disbursals up to ₹1 crore within 3 days of your document verification.

 

Minimize Your Personal Liability

If you are a sole trader or running a partnership firm, it makes you liable for all aspects of the business, including the debts and losses. The costs of any accidental product defect or service disruption are to be borne by you, which can be financially risky.

After business registration, a company becomes a separate legal entity and setting up one can help protect your personal assets from a business loss.

Decrease Your Tax Liabilities

Since, your business becomes a separate entity, it also becomes a separate tax payer. Additionally, you can apply for tax rebates and subsidies under various programs, such as “Startup India” and “Skill India”, being run for the promotion of MSMEs by the government.

Streamline Ownership

Business registration helps you clearly define the roles of different founding members and their relative share in the business. It will give the company a steady leadership and help in resolving any future conflicts within the top-level management.

Establish a Brand

Through business registration, you will also can establish a brand image among your customers and suppliers. It will also give you a position of strength when dealing with third parties, as the contracts will be between companies rather than owners.

At Lendingkart, we are always happy to share or experience in the MSME finance to help new companies and entrepreneurs. If you are looking for fast business loans, use our website or download the Lendingkart app from Google Play or App Store to get a quick quote.

How to Get a Small Business Loan for a Startup

Small Business Loan to Start a Business

For a new entrepreneur, one of the biggest hurdles to resolve and overcome is the need for capital. Funds are critical to any business venture. Finding ways to raise money can sometimes become a full-time occupation for a business owner. A business loan can be a very important supplement to the life blood of a company.

There are many ways that startup capital can be raised. There is the option of:

  • Going for a bank (most bank offer small business loans these days)
  • Exploring and applying to non-banking financial institutions
  • Using alternative methods such as crowd funding
  • Approaching angel investors and venture capitalists
For most new businesses the preferred method out of above is to apply for loans with banks and other alternative lending institutions.

How to Get a Small Business Loan to Start a Business

As a startup or a business idea in a nascent stage, the best bet to raise funds lies in non-banking financial institutions. It’s recommended to direct one’s energies towards acquiring capital from alternative lenders rather than traditional banks.

Most banks prefer to give loans to small businesses that are already in existence as opposed to someone who is just starting out. Banks prefer to cover risk and it’s for this reason that the documentation and evaluation processes are long drawn and rather stringent. For a new business, sometimes it can be difficult to meet all requirements. This greatly affects the chances of getting the loan approved.

Coming to alternative lenders, they make the process rather hassle-free and easy to get through. Some of the advantages that non-financial banking institutions offer are:

  • Slightly more flexible requirements and eligibility criteria
  • Possibility of applying online very quickly
  • Quick turnaround time on loan approvals
  • Instant loan disbursement after approvals

Amongst all these the leniency on the eligibility criteria as well as requirements are the most beneficial.

It is helpful to have lenders who will be willing to consider giving out money to owners who may not have a detailed and long credit history. Your top pick should be lenders who focus on your business idea and go-to-market strategy rather than those who focus on cash flow history. Armed with a solid a dynamic business plan, the loan can be applied for still.

Process to get a Small Business Loan to Start a Business

There are different types of business loans available and depending upon the requirement of the business, a relevant one can be sought and applied for. Some popular options of business loan include working capital loans, startup loans, cash advance loans etc.

The first step is to determine how much money is needed and what it is needed for. This will go into the business plan that will be evaluated during the loan approval process.

Once the amount has been determined, the next step is to do some research and seek out the available options in terms of lenders in the market. Choosing a lender is also a process that requires time and effort. Things like credibility of the lender (reputation in the market), interest rate being offered, support system on offer, options of how loans can be re-paid, process of loan application etc. need to be factored in before choosing the one(s) which would be applied for.

Once identified, the next step is to get all the required documentation ready and up to the mark. A great business plan which details out information about the business idea, the profitability of the idea, the scaling plan, the vision behind the idea, projections regarding staff and infrastructure as well as the marketing strategy. A clear and transparent business plan goes a long way in putting the odds in the favorable position.

The final step is to apply and go through the process.
 As mentioned, the turnaround time with non-banking financial institutions is rather quick and if all is okay, the loan should come through within a fortnight or less.

Of course, if you have a business that is already 6 months old or more and has a revenue of INR 12 lakhs or more, you can always apply for a working capital loan at Lendingkart!

What do you think about this article? Please let us know in the comments. If you need to know more about how important it is to choose the right business loan, you can read our article here. We have also written in detail about small business financing options in India and you can read about it here.

5 Clever Small Business Financing Options in India

For a new small business in India, like everywhere else globally, finance is the key to success and sustenance. Efficient and consistent fundraising is not the easiest of jobs. Still it does not have to be the toughest either. Traditionally banks tend to be the first and most preferred source of raising capital. Though they do not necessarily have to be the only option.

 

For a business to get to the stage of revenue generation and a profit making stage, the initial solid push is critical. That push comes from money. It might be for a brand new business starting out or a small business looking to scale up.

 

Here a few ways in which that money can be raised smartly.

 

Alternative methods to raise finance for a small business in India –

 

With the digital economy taking flight with rocket boosters, one has to think beyond banks. There are a number of other reliable options that can be explored. Such as:

 

Angel Investors 

While most business owners are familiar with angel investors, in simple terms, these are individuals with interest, initiative and investing power looking to vest in businesses. They keep a close watch on sectors that they think will work best for them and will be interested to fund businesses that meet their profitability criteria. Typically they operate as part of networks where they collectively scour through proposals and business plans to finally decide which ones they are going to support. Getting the nod of an angel investor(s) to fund a business is a big deal for most businesses. Depending upon their background and expertise, angel investors also tend to take a keen interest in the business and offer advice and suggestions for improving the revenue generation. Need to know the 8 most prominent angel investors in India? Read this article on Forbes online.

 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is already a great fundraising option albeit a fairly competitive space. Given the popularity and ease of accessibility it’s fast turning out to be a preferred method for particularly startups. Crowdfunding literally means getting individuals to invest or give money for a business idea by putting it out there on a crowdfunding platform. Of course, the idea has to have potential and the investors need to see some ROI before they commit. Even so, this one is a fairly new age method and those who know how to play it properly can get good support for their business or business idea. This link lists the top 15 crowdfunding websites/services in India.

 

Lending Institutions

There are a number of independent lending institutions that can help raise finance for a small business in India. The requirements to secure a loan can be exhaustive for a small business at most banks. Unlike banks, these institutions are willing to take the risk to finance a small but solid business if basic eligibility criteria are met. This is a very effective source as there are high chances that the loan will come through. These institutions exist to cater to the newer and smaller entrepreneurs who have trouble taking their proposals to traditional sources. While they don’t come with as great a repute as banks, the financial help provided by them is great for most small businesses. Lendingkart is one of such institutions in India.

 

Bootstrapping

While mostly explored by startups, bootstrapping can be an effective way of securing finance for smaller existing businesses as well. A small business requires capital when wanting to scale up or expand. It can also be for acquisition of equipment, logistics or payroll management. Bootstrapping involves either investing one’s own funds into the business or getting some money from friends and family at low interest rates. It’s imperative to understand that this method works if the loan requirement is not too high. As the popular saying goes, one shouldn’t keep all their eggs in one basket.

 

Venture Capitalists

Funding from a venture capitalist is like finding a diamond in a coal mine. It’s hard to come by, but scores incredibly big points for a business owner. Most VCs prefer to support existing small businesses as opposed to startups. If they find proof of potential and scalability, they come on board not only with money but with expertise, mentorship and a lot of guidance. They tend to stay with the business till it’s either acquired by someone or till it goes public. The only possible downsides are that they exercise control and there is a lot of accountability towards the VCs.

Why Customer Engagement is Important? Part 3 – Returns and Refunds

As an entrepreneur in today’s times, it is important to understand the value of customer engagement and how it is linked directly to the success of your business. An interactive relationship with your customers helps boost positive brand loyalty and this goes a long way in boosting the overall credibility of your business.

The advent and consequently, the rise of social media has led to customers having almost direct access to businesses and brands that they purchase from. Leveraging this channel in the most optimal possible way should be an integral part of your business strategy and planning.

While there area number of ways to connect and engage with your customers, social media handles are the most popular and effective. The ease of access and your clientele knowing that they can reach out to you with any sort of comment, suggestion, complaint or idea gives them a feeling of being heard and helps reiterate how important they are to you.

Customer engagement through social media can be promoted in many ways:

By sharing useful content: Good content is a mix of information, releases, your own product promotions and interesting articles or blogs that generate interesting discussions about your industry. Customers get bored with pages that only highlight their products. Think of variety when posting to sustain interest.

Being answerable: This is very critical as a big part of customer engagement includes making sure you reply to any and every comment, rant, review or suggestion that has been posted on your handles. Don’t let this slip and this can really have a negative effect if not taken care of.

Regularity: Find the right balance when it comes to posting. Don’t spam but post regularly enough so that your customers do not forget about you. There is a thin line and it is important to have a dedicated resource looking after your social media platforms.

Customer engagement helps returns and refunds. Here’s how:

Most customers are looking for quick resolution when it comes to returns and refunds. Including this aspect in the customer engagement strategy is a must.

Make it easy- Whether it is online or through a customer call, make it easy for your customers to return products and apply for refunds. Positive customers engagement is fuelled by not just the sale but also the returns that needs o be taken care of very sensitively. In fact, this is one thing that can prove to be the Achilles heels of many a businesses.

Define the terms clearly: Customers need to know what the terms for refund and returns are and this needs to be very clear, transparent and out there through the entire sales process. Find ways to get the information to your clients in advance so that there are no rude surprises for them. This will count as a credible point when it comes to rating your customer engagement.

Staff: Nothing can be more critical to your customer engagement than your staff. And this means both online and offline or via phone. Your staff needs to be knowledgeable about your products and return policies and be able to handle your customers in the utmost polite manner. A bad experience with a staff member can damage the reputation of a business immensely and this is especially true during returns as customers are already on the back foot and anticipating problems. Alternatively, a positive experience here can lead to a very healthy and long customer association.

Evidently, customer engagement cannot be treated as a by the way, one the side kind of activity. It has to be a full blown, thought through process that involves methods that are effective, innovative and garner successful results. There is no running away from this. This concludes our series on Customer Engagement. If you haven’t read the previous articles, you can visit Why Customer Engagement Is Important? Part 1 – Rave Reviews and Rants and Why Customer Engagement Is Important? Part 1 – Revenue Impact. We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

Got a Growing Sales Team? A CRM can help!

So here’s the thing. Growth of a business and consequently a larger sales team is a potentially positive development. A larger sales team means that more customers are being catered to. At least more clients are wanting to engage with your business which led you to hire more people.

All of this is great. However, what you also need to be mindful of is the management of this customer base. Customer satisfaction and retention is directly related to customer relationships. You would never want the quality of interaction to suffer due to increasing quantity. The solution hence is to turn to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and invest in a good CRM tool.

Why CRM and what will a tool do?

Typically CRM refers to all that businesses do in order to analyze customer data, their patterns, behavior as well as interactions during the entire time or life cycle that the customer is with them. This information is extremely helpful, as it will enable you to formulate strategies and best practices both to be able to give your customers the kind of service required and also to have them stay on with you for longer.

There are a number of CRM systems that are available in the market and it is better for you to do some thorough research before choosing which system you’d like to invest in. However, that being said, most CRM systems are designed to incorporate these features below:

-The CRM system will identify the different points of contact between the customer and your business and then compile this data for analysis. These points of contact could range from anything such as social media handles, telephone, website or email marketing etc.

-There is arguably one feature of a CRM system that is very beneficial for businesses. Whatever data the system collects gets consolidated and reflected into a single database that you as the business owner or your sales team can easily manage and access. Having all of this information in one place helps to get a bird’s eye view of what your customer base is up to and what is it that you need to do to mange them effectively

-A good CRM system can also help with the productivity and efficiency of the sales team. There are options such as marketing automation and contact center automation. These features help in automating certain tasks such as sending out marketing alerts to potential new customers automatically. Options include using a pre-recorded voice system for problem solving and giving out information

-A CRM system also records the various customer interactions and you can use this information to track and evaluate performance as well as the productivity of your sales team. A growing sales team makes it harder to micro manage and this is where the CRM system can step in and make things more effective

CRM systems are very popular with most growing businesses and it would make sense for you to evaluate your needs and invest in one. With a larger team, automation and streamlining of processes not only boosts efficiency but it also leads to much better management of your customer database, something that is critical to your business.

Another plus point and one that is also very important is to be able to track lead generation. A lead that is lost is a conversion opportunity gone down the drain. This is not something that you would like to consistently encounter in your business model. CRM systems help in effective lead tracking and facilitate the process of cultivating a positive customer relationship too.

The point being, a CRM system will eventually be an eventuality. If you want to seamlessly transition into the next level of your business growth plan, it will be helpful to invest in such a system sooner rather than later.

Credit Scores – Part 1: The What, Who and When

Introduction

“Sorry, we won’t be able to process your loan application because your credit score is too low.” As a person who has availed loans before, I can testify to how much this single statement can hurt. Especially when there is a pressing need of funds, and you know that the low credit scores are mostly your own folly. Banks and non-banking financial institutions do not take any pleasure in harming your credit score on purpose. Delays in payments, improper follow-up, willful defaults are just some of the culprits that lead to a bad credit score and report.

We’ll help you know what your credit report is, how to read and understand it and some tips on improving your credit score faster.

Credit Bureau, Credit Scores and Credit Reports at a Glance

I’m sure most of you would be familiar with the term ‘CIBIL Score’. CIBIL is one of the four institutions in India that collect and compile credit information of individuals and business entities from across the nation. Along with Credit Information Bureau of India Limited (CIBIL), Equifax, Experian and CRIF High Mark are the Credit Information Companies that deal with credit data in India. CIBIL is by far the oldest and the most popular, having its origins in the year 2000. Experian has been in existence since 2006 and achieved a license of operation in 2010. Highmark and Equifax also received operating licenses in 2010.

Lending, be it for personal, business or residential purposes, is always laden with risk. Credit Information Companies provide the data to lenders that helps them take a rather calculated risk instead of a blind one. Based on how a business has been performing financially or how a person’s bank records are, credit scores are given by these agencies within a range specific to each of them. A small comparative chart of the same is shown below –

CIBIL Equifax Experian CRIF High Mark
Score Range 300 to 900.
900 the best
300 the worst
1 to 999.
999 the best
1 the worst
300 to 900.
900 the best
300 the worst
300 to 850.
850 the best
300 the worst
Good Credit Score Threshold 700 and above 650 and above 700 and above 720 and above
Poor Credit Score Threshold 600 and below 500 and below 600 and below 640 and below

 

The good and bad thresholds are the trends that are followed by most banks and/or NBFCs when deciding to issue loans or credit cards. There might be institutions who can define their own set of credit scores that they consider good or bad. This is just a general idea. You might notice there are gaps of quite some values in between the good and bad score thresholds. These are the popular ‘gray’ areas.

If your credit score falls in these gray areas, it is mostly up to the lender whether to approve or reject a loan or credit card. There are some people for whom the CIBIL TransUnion score would be in negative or in single units. In such cases, mostly the person has never had any loan or credit facility ever. For them, most lenders do quite a few background checks, but if everything is fine, loans and credit card approvals are not far away.

Credit scores are just a summary whereas credit reports are the more important reports that you should be keeping an eye out for. These reports deal with extensive information and need to be read carefully. Every loan you have ever availed, and every credit card you have used is listed in here, along with the payment delays, delinquency status and status of the credit instrument. Sometimes, there might be inconsistencies in these records and based on the same, you can even file a dispute with the respective credit bureau. Based on the validity of the dispute claim, they will get in touch with your lender and sort out the problems in your report.

Each bureau takes a certain amount of time to generate your report. Every report generated comes with an associated amount of fees. The following table gives a general overview of the rates and time taken by these bureaus for generating credit reports. Additional services offered by the bureaus is also mentioned in the table –

CIBIL Equifax Experian CRIF High Mark
Services

For Individuals –

CIBIL TransUnion Score

Credit Information Report

Market Insights

For Companies –

Portfolio Review Reports

CIBIL Company Credit Information Report

CIBIL Bureau Analyzer

Extra services –

Portfolio Management

Fraud Prevention

Customer Acquisition

Custom Solutions

For Individuals –

Equifax Credit Information Report

Equifax Alerts

Equifax Portfolio Review

Equifax Risk Score

For Companies –

Credit Risk and Fraud Management

Portfolio Management

Industry Diagnostics

 

For Individuals –

Experian Credit Information Report

For Companies –

Customer Acquisition

Collection and Money Recovery

Customer Management

Data and Analytics

Customer Targeting and Engagement

 

For Individuals –

CRIF High Mark Credit Report

Portfolio Management

Alerts

Geo Analytics Consulting

For Companies –

CRIF High Mark Credit Report

PERFORM Score

Portfolio Management

Extra services –

Verification

Data Quality Management

Credit Assist

ETA for Credit Report 5 minutes for CIR

7 days for Detailed Report

10 days 5 minutes for paid CIR

3 days for free CIR

5 minutes for paid CIR

3 days for free CIR

Fees

Free once a year INR 500
INR 800
INR 1200
based on subscription

INR 400 Free

INR 399 for detailed report instantly

Free

INR 399 for detailed report instantly

 

When to Use What

Normally, getting a credit report and score from any one bureau should work for any individual or company. If you are running a small business, it is advisable to get separate reports for yourself and your business from at least two bureaus every 6 months. These reports will also have varying credit scores depending upon the usage and repayment of your loans/credit cards and EMIs/bills respectively.

That way, you can easily keep track of what problem areas are in the reports that can be fixed. Often, sometimes rectifying incorrect data in the reported information can go a long way in increasing credit scores. In all the bureaus, you will need at least one government-issued identity proof and acceptable address proof to raise a dispute. If you have multiple credit cards or multiple loan accounts, it can be a bit tough to keep up with the process of CRIF High Mark. Experian and CIBIL do not require as many multiple checks to show you the credit report and the corresponding credit scores.

With a basic overview of credit scores here, we are presenting you some links where you can access an annual free credit report from some of these bureaus –

  1. Free CIBIL Report (Once a year) – https://www.cibil.com/freecibilscore
  2. Paid Equifax Score and Credit Report – http://www.equifax.co.in/consumer/forms/credit_report/en_in
  3. Free Experian Report – http://www.experian.in/consumer/experian-free-credit-report.html
  4. CRIF High Mark Report – https://cir.crifhighmark.com/Inquiry/B2C/B2CommercialPortal.action

Did you find something in your reports that you don’t remember? While you can raise a dispute any time, it is better to be safe in the future. Perfios is a money manager that can track any financial account for you and is free for individual users and can include small businessmen effectively. Do check it out!

If there’s something in your credit report that you don’t quite understand, read our next article to get an insight into how to read the more complex reports from bureaus.

The GST Game – What Can SMEs Do to Stay Ahead?

With GST having become a reality now, every business and service provider is dealing with its ramifications, the good ones as well as the bad ones. As a business owner, no matter what you think of GST, India’s biggest tax reform is here to stay. In case you are looking for how dual GST works or want to have a general idea about GST, please click here to read the previous article.

In such a scenario, compliance is no longer a choice but a mandatory requirement. As a small business owner, it is helpful to understand what needs to be done to stay ahead of the curve.

Managing Your Working Capital:

Inability to generate and consequently not being able to manage working capital effectively leads to slowdown in growth for many small businesses. GST affects working capital as well. The trick is for you to understand how and then also to find a way to use the same to your advantage.

Earlier, there was a limit to what the business owner could claim as credit, especially for money that was spent on overheads. Under GST, this concept of input tax credit has been broadened. So, now you can claim input tax credit on all tax paid for services used for furthering of business. Thus, cost of operation will go down and margins will increase. The bottom line, you will need to understand input tax credit quite well.

Digitization:

One of the biggest changes under GST is that the process of taxation and compliance has been made online. Given that invoice matching is critical to GST, investment in technology as well as capacity of staff are things that you will need to invest in big time. In addition to this, you can also look at purchasing some compliance software that will make the task of filing much easier.

Deeper understanding:

To play the game well and stay ahead, you need to invest time and get involved to fully understand the implication of GST and how it will affect your business. Rules of compliance should be thoroughly considered and all required transitions should be expedited. It will make sense for you to get a good tax consultant on board who can offer advice and complete transition of any sort of implications under the new guideline.

Competition:

The GST game, as we are calling it, will open a world of opportunities for you as a small business owner. It will allow you to play on the same field and market along with much bigger businesses. By the opening of this platform you will be able to compete with the big boys. One of the rules to stay ahead in the same thus, would be to bring out your most dynamic strategies and leverage the competition to your advantage, the best that you can.

When it comes to the overall effect of GST on small businesses, there are both pros and cons. As a business owner while it will be easier for you to start a new business with better and more streamlined logistics as well as faster delivery of services, there is also the downside of compliance costs going up.

Given that the tax reform has only just come into implementation, whether the effects of it are going to be more positive or negative remains to be seen. Your business needs to be GST ready and that is a reality. There are steps that you can take to ensure that you are optimizing the benefits and navigating the challenges effectively. Other than that, the larger overall scoreboard of this GST game is yet to come to the fore.

The Ultimate Guide To Grow Your Business Online

Given the economic climate, for any business intending to grow to its maximum potential, there is no shying away for exploring the online space. In fact, as a small business owner what is important and critical for you to understand is that optimizing your business on the web is no longer a choice that you can contemplate making or not making. It’s actually a necessity and a reasonable amount of time and resources need to be diverted for this.

The big question however is- how do you get the best returns on your investment and what is it that you can do to make sure you are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding new ways of growing your business online?

Here is a best practices guide to help you navigate this space effectively:

Build your online presence:

The first step for you is to evaluate your online presence. What we really mean by this is that “being online” can mean number of things. A lot of people confuse online with just social media. Do not make that mistake. Your online presence quite literally consists of a combined effect of all the different avenues available to you. This usually consists of your website, all the social media handles that you are on and tools like email marketing that you can employ. A complete overview of your online presence and an in-depth strategy on how the different platforms are going to be connected to each other is a must.

Think about mobile:

With over 300 million people in India accessing the internet via their mobile phone, you need to make sure that your mobile strategy is well thought out. For this to happen, your site needs to be mobile savvy and you need to work on that. Invest in building a mobile site that is nicely accessible on smartphones and also rich in content. Search engines consider mobile friendliness as an important factor when they rank your site. It is important to keep this in mind as, if you are not able to do this, you will lose online visibility and this will affect your online growth immensely.

Engage on social media:

We cannot emphasize this point enough. Using social media for business can be tricky but if played well can reap very high rewards. Remember, you can use your social media handles as the voice of your business. Whatever you want to convey about your business, your products and services can be done via these platforms. You can use these handles to talk to your customers and this will keep them engaged. In addition, your customers will get to understand your brand better and this usually leads to a more personal connect and builds loyalty. One way to sustain this engagement is to remember that your handles should not become cluttered with information just about your business and promotions. Create a content calendar that has space for sharing information about the industry, storytelling and giving your followers a chance to interact with you and your business directly. Focus on authentic and creative ways to hook your followers.

Social Media Marketing:

In the present web scenario, there is no running away for online marketing. Most platforms expect you to invest some money in online advertising and it’s only with that that they will give you the outreach that you desire. The good news however is that if you are able to invest smartly, you can get very good returns on this money and you’re the visibility of your business can really grow online. For this to happen you need to make sure that target audience is chosen well, the posts that you are going to promote are picked after some research and thinking and also make the best of what each platform has to offer in terms of advertising. Other than this, regular SEO for your website is a must and reaching out to customers and keeping them informed consistently via e-mailers is very important.

While it doesn’t end with these four, given the expanse of the web, even investing and getting these right as basics can help kick-start online growth, something that can then be built on consistently.

Working Capital Management for Small Business Owners

Working Capital Management for Small Business Owners

Any business can have different sources of income and efficient management of the same can work wonders in the running of the business. While startup capital and fixed assets are typically long term, for the day-to-day running of any business, an efficient cash flow structure is necessary. In the light of the same, working capital becomes quite crucial for small business owners.

What is Working Capital Management all about

Working capital management is the relationship between a company’s short term assets and short term liabilities. In simpler terms, it is the way in which a company handles its income generation and expenses. For example, if your company deals in a lot of paperwork and you need prints of documents every second hour, that is an active expense happening almost every day. Getting an office printer would make the expenses considerably less, over the course of time.

Efficient working capital management ensures that any company can run smoothly while being able to repay maturing short-term debt and expenses that might rise in the near future. In working capital management, the most basic tasks revolve around managing inventories, accounts receivable and payable and cash. Inventories in our example can be ink cartridges, blank paper that can be used in the future. While your sales on credit can be a part of accounts receivable, if the printer was bought through a loan, the EMI would be part of the accounts payable. Cash is pretty self-explanatory and is basically used for expenses that can’t happen on credit or are quite diminutive.

Importance of Working Capital Management

Efficient working capital management is an important component of sustainable growth. If a company runs out of money for running its day-to-day expenses, the production of wares and services will eventually stop. In such instance, the business will fail to cater to its existing customers and henceforth fail to acquire new ones as well. To restart production, the company will then tap into the company capital. While this step may offer a temporary respite, it will affect long-term stability by jeopardising asset and equipment acquisition and manintenance. Therefore, it is important to have a working capital management system in place, which can realisitically assess the company’s working capital requirements, hence giving the managers and business owners, enough time to come up with a solution. Working capital management also helps businesses in streamline processes, cutting down sundry expenses and reduce the cases of theft and fraud.

Ways in which Working Capital is used

The importance of cash for companies can never be expressed in enough words. Cash in hand is majorly used for three purposes, namely – Speculation, Precaution and Transaction. All the three are quite pivotal in deciding the growth of a small business.

Speculation

Speculation is the scenario where having appropriate cash in hand can aid in taking benefits of special opportunities related to purchase. Suppose a small business is dealing in fireworks. They would normally have stock left from the past year Diwali in their inventory. Let’s presume the business is paying a monthly fee of INR 20000 for storing its stock in a warehouse. The annual fees come to INR 2.4 lakhs. During September, the business gets an offer to receive an amount of new stock (equal to the old stock) at a seasonal discounted price of INR 1.8 lakhs. Here, the cost of the new inventory is less than the carrying costs of the old stock. But it is actually more profitable for the business since the old stock has a depleted value now along with the carrying cost of 2.4 lakhs. The business will do much better if it purchases the new stock at a discount and disposes the old inventory at a discount to small retailers. That way, the business will be ready for the festive months ahead with a new stock that has a much higher chance of being sold out fast.

Precaution

Precaution is when a business holds cash in hand to safeguard against unforeseen situations. Let’s consider our old example of the small business selling fireworks. Speculating on a booming sale in the festive months ahead, the business had bought in new stock on credit, hoping to settle the dues after the sales are done. But due to some state-wide problems, people didn’t celebrate as much and thus, didn’t buy much fireworks. But the business still has to honor its promise of repaying the dues, so it uses the cash in hand to do that.

Transaction

Transaction is perhaps the simplest of the reasons why small businesses should have access to cash in hand. Every small item needed in a day-to-day operation of a business can’t be settled through online transactions. Cash in hand is required for sundry purchases that are then added up at the month end for the expenses.

Working Capital Finance or Loan

These days, working capital requirements can be met with a working capital loan. The working capital finance industry offers short-term small-ticket loans for small and medium business owners to help them cope with the rigours of workong capital management. Working capital loans also allow business owners in streamlining their finances through flexible EMI schedules, instead of constantly worrying about invoice clearances and various due dates.

Non-banking financial institutions are leading the race when it comes to working capital loans and  financing.  There is a simple reason for this, NBFCs have developed products and services which cater exclusively to the needs of small businesses; meaning, it is easier than ever to apply for a business loan, the verification process is quick and hassle-free, and the loans are approved faster. NBFCs like Lendingkart Finance promise credit of funds within 3 days of loan application submission and verification, and that’s what a small business, struggling with working capital management, needs.

Tips to Improve upon Aspects of Working Capital

Accounts receivables, cash in hand, inventories, marketable securities and prepayments are current assets that will become cash within 12 months and likewise, account payables, wages to be paid and unearned revenues are current liabilities that need to be settled within 12 months of time. Good working capital management involves keeping the current assets consistently higher than the current liabilities to avoid financial complications or operational problems. Here are some small tips that can help you manage your working capital in your company more effectively. Keeping an eye on these can allow your small business to prosper –

1. Take advantage of float – Float or floating capital is basically the difference between book balance and bank balance. Let’s suppose you have dues of INR 3 lakhs to settle by the 31st of October. However, only INR 1 lakh is supposed to be paid by the 5th of October. Considering that you have INR 3 lakhs cash in hand by September 27, you could use INR 2 lakhs as a short-term deposit if you have no other assured profitable short-term business venture that can pay within a month. The return could be less than INR 1000, but it’s better than nothing. If you like investments, you can check the market and invest in equities for a short term for getting better returns, but this is a riskier approach

2. JIT Inventory – Just-In-Time inventory allows a business to cut down on costs involved in storing stock. Materials are purchased and received in time for the production line or for sales. Though this is quite difficult to achieve, if your relationship with the supplier is good, you can manage this effectively

3. Sales on Credit – Here, your sales play a crucial role. The goal is to shorten the amount of time your customers can take to pay their bills. You could offer a period of 30 days till their bill is due and offer a promotion of 3% discount if the same bill is cleared in maybe, 10 days or less. This allows you to sell more in a short time and pushes your customers to pay earlier to get a discount of 3%

4. Alternative Funding – This method can include availing working capital from banks, NBFCs, asset-based lenders, crowdfunding. In most cases, a genuine business idea, long term efficiency and good revenue generation can get you access to alternative funding rather quickly

5. Timely payments to suppliers – This is the easiest and simplest rule to follow. It goes without saying that if you pay your suppliers their dues on time, you can negotiate better deals and get discounts on your purchases

6. Group Purchase – As a small business, you might not always have access to funds to buy stock at a discounted quantity, or you might not have the available storage to accommodate a bulk of material that you get at a discount. It is always a good idea to look for other small businesses in the state or region who do the same trade as you and pool in resources to get the stock from your supplier. That way, you don’t have to spend a lot and still get to avail the discount

7. Learn the benefits of e-procurement – If you are into electronics, electrical equipment, garments, gift items and the like, you can look into sites like mytradebox.com where you could find interesting items with heavy discounts on bulk orders. These can help you source items quickly at very affordable rates

Working Capital Management and your Small Business

Small businesses aren’t much different from regular, established business giants. They just have a smaller market footprint. While larger businesses have to deal with multiple rules and regulations that they have set for themselves, as a small business owner, you will be much more flexible in making changes to the processes that are followed in your business. Taking working capital management seriously and handling the details through which your cash flows are dealt will definitely make your business a more profitable one. This, combined with social media, ecommerce and data science can work wonders for your small business. But those are topics that will have their own articles. Follow our Lendingkart blog to be regularly updated about the same.