Business Communication: Improve Your Relationship Building Skills

Like so many things in our rapid-fire business world, people always want to know if there are shortcuts when dealing with issues of cultural diversity. Businesses know they need to develop sound listening skills and observational integrity, but want to fast forward their relationship building skills and still have the same results.

There is no cookie-cutter rule on how long it takes to build good relationships since so much depends on what two people meeting for the first time have in common, whether their business interests are aligned or widely separated, and if they can experience a cultural degree of comfort with each other.

So while there is no formula to speed up relationship building skills, there is one factor that can be guaranteed to slow it down.

That is when one of the parties involved fails to show respect for the other.

The challenge when dealing in multicultural worlds is not so much just resolving not to be rude, for that could be managed by most of us. The challenge instead is how not to mistakenly cause disrespect through lack of understanding of the culture and protocols of the person with whom we are trying to build a new relationship.

For that we need cultural competence, but we will still risk walking into quicksand if we assume that we can do our research and prepare ourselves so well in advance that we don’t need help.

There is no website, no book, and no course that can teach you all you need to know about someone else’s culture. In this case, by culture we mean not only doing business in different countries or with Indigenous people, but people in different companies and different industries whose way of doing things may be completely different from our own.

That is why we need to solicit the help of guides who have insider knowledge of the places we want to go in that relationship. These people, and there are usually more than one, can move us from step to step until we get to the person with whom we need to connect.

A guide can tell us things we can’t know from titles or quick observations. For example, they can tell us if the leader is really the leader, or if someone you would least expect is making all the decisions. They can tell you whether it is appropriate to engage in small talk before turning to business, or to launch right into the issue at hand as soon as you sit down.

You can use your instinct and your research and even your charm to move relationships along as quickly as possible.

But you cannot fast-track your way over gaps in understanding in today’s multicultural business world. It is only by slowly and deliberately using principles to guide mutual understanding and respect that you can get to the degree of comfort and agreement that you seek.

Finance Solutions For Companies Venturing In The Import Industry

Importing pertains to the process of bringing in goods or services from another country. They come from foreign countries and are usually brought in for resale. Many companies find this type of business quite attractive since the products or services from other countries are really affordable and they can be resold for a nice profit margin.

Although the process of importing and reselling goods seems like a simple concept, entrepreneurs who are considering starting this kind of business will have to overcome various hurdles. One of these is finding the right financing solution.

At present, there are various finance solutions or methods you can choose from. The most recommended one by finance experts are:

Factoring in accounts receivables.

Also known as asset-based loans, this method involves selling your credit accounts or accounts receivable to a bank, lending company, or other financing institution. Accounts receivables are usually sold at a discount, between 80-90% of the face value of your credit accounts. An advance payment will be given to you by the factoring company, about of 2-3%, for the accounts you would normally have to wait on for payment.

Purchase order financing.

This method has similarities with asset-based loans. The main difference with this financing solution is that you take your invoices or purchase orders and assign or sell them to a financing company. This company will then assume the risk and the task of billing and collecting. When the goods are produced, the financing company collects the payment from the customers, takes its cut of the proceeds, and pays you the profit. This option is highly recommended if your profit margin is high enough on the goods you are importing. Having a good and reliable supply chain and creditworthy customers are important factors to consider as well.

Inventory financing.

Although inventory financing is an expensive solution, it is still a highly effective way of financing an importing business. Under this method, you will have to use your present inventory to secure a loan that will permit you to buy the imported goods your customers want or need. Because of this, you can effectively increase your inventory without impacting your cash flow. However, with this option, it is crucial to make sure that you can service or repay your debt. Inventory financing comes in three types: blanket inventory lien, floor planning, and field warehousing. Choose the type that best meets your requirements.

5 Common HR Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Below are 5 common Human Resources mistakes that can trip up a small business. Avoiding these mistakes can reduce the risk of disputes, being fined with hefty penalties or even being sued.

1. Poor recruitment practices

Even potential employees have access to workplace rights under the Fair Work Act and can sue for adverse action. In these instances businesses carry the burden of proof, not the applicant. It’s also a lot easier to employ someone than to terminate them so put in the effort upfront and make sure you have a robust recruitment process. Understanding employee rights and anti-discrimination laws is the first step in minimising these risks. Developing a Job Description, preparing interview questions, conducting reference checks and making it clear what the expectations are and how you will measure success is also good practice and helps to ensure that you employ the right people.

2. Not getting the status of your employees right

Do you need casual, permanent part-time, full-time, fixed term or fixed project employment arrangements or perhaps a Contractor? This too needs to be well understood from the beginning because there are pro’s and con’s associated with all of these. For example, there is no point hiring a casual if you intend on giving them regular, systematic and ongoing employment for more than 12 months. Alternatively, paying someone as a Contractor with an ABN when they are deemed to be an employee can also result in fines and penalties. Refer to the relevant Award requirements in the first instance and understand your options.

3. Not understanding Award obligations or entitlements

In addition to the National Employment Standards there are currently 122 different Awards that cover most industries and occupations. It is necessary to understand which Award applies to your employees from the get go so you don’t end up having to pay expensive ‘back pay’ to your staff for not paying the correct wages, penalty rates or allowances.

4. Poor record keeping

Like the Australian Taxation Office, the Fair Work Ombudsman can issues fines and penalties to Companies for not keeping accurate employment records. For example you need to issue payslips to your employees and keep time and wage records for at least 7 years.

5. Lack of consultation and cooperation

The first step to achieving a harmonious workplace is to develop mutual respect through consultation, communication and collaboration. This not only helps to minimise mistakes and disputes but there are also legal requirements to consult with your employees about workplace change, health and safety. An important tip is to keep records of consultation especially when it involves proposed changes to an employee’s work arrangements, a company restructure, changes to rosters, termination of employment, workplace health and safety matters etc.

Building Confidence in Business

Do you sometimes feel like you just don’t have the bold confidence necessary to succeed in business? Maybe you need a boost in your business confidence, or maybe you are just getting started and need some extra confidence to take that first step. Here are some tips for building confidence in business.

Get Educated

One of the most important confidence-builders is knowing that you know what you know! You may have a lot of great business ideas but you don’t have the know-how to make it happen. Educate yourself about how to market your product or service – what is your competition? How can you reach your demographic? What kinds of advertising should you do?

You may need some nuts-and-bolts education, too – for example, how do you set up an effective website? You may need some practical knowledge to help you reach your goals.

There are many ways to educate yourself in business. You can hire a business coach to help you one-on-one. You can also download eBooks, sign up with boards and forums where business-savvy people congregate, and ask questions of successful people.

Get Focused

Getting educated is key to getting focused. You really can’t boldly march forward if you don’t know what direction you’re going in. Take some time to focus on your business. What, exactly, are you doing? What do you want to do? Who is your target market or demographic?

If you have diverse interests, this can be difficult – but it’s even more necessary, because diverse interests can be distracting if you don’t focus on one at a time. So once you get yourself educated about your market and what you want to do, you can launch a focused business (or focus an existing one).

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

We all know that businessman or woman – the one who has written ten books, has a dozen jobs, and has a perfect house. You may not be that kind of person, and such a schedule and goals are just not realistic for you. It’s really not advantageous to compare yourself to others. Set your own realistic standards and compare your progress against those.

Believe in Your Success

A lot of people swear by the power of positive thinking. It is said that visualizing your goals can attract the very things you need to reach your goals. Even if you don’t get into the visualization bit, you can benefit from believing in your business and your own competence.

Once you get confident, you will be much more likely to attract clients, which in turn will boost your confidence. It’s a good cycle to get into.