Nowadays, companies are encouraged to diversify their workforces. Yet it is very easy for a trading company to end up failing on this particular account (of staff diversity). It is very easy to end up with a trading company where all workers are men, specifically middle-aged men. Or, in another case, it is very easy to end up with a trading company where all workers are of a certain race or where all staff members subscribe to a certain religion. Embracing staff diversity is clearly not always easy. But it is critical: for some studies that have shown that companies with a good mix of staff (in terms of diversity) tend to perform better and are more resilient than companies that are poor in terms of staff diversity.
There are some companies that strictly prefer to hire people who fit a certain rather (thin) profile. If you ask them why don’t hire people from other groups, they give all manner of excuses. Some will tell you that people from those other groups are ‘unfocused’, ‘lazy’, ‘irresponsible’… and so on. A HR manager once told me that she stopped hiring people from a certain group when she found out that one employee from that group was spending all his work-time watching fxnetworks series. It alarmed me that an entire group of people was suffering discrimination due to the sins of just one individual. But such is the thinking of bigots.
Enhancing staff diversity in your trading company shouldn’t be too hard, if you really want to do it. It is just a question of looking at your current workforce, and asking yourself how it can be diversified. This may be a question of trying to figure out which other groups of people (in terms of gender, race, age and so on) you need to include, to have a more diversified workforce. Then the next step would be to simply ensure that you hire more people from those groups, in order to attain the desired diversity. Remember, you don’t have to compromise on qualifications or competencies, to get a more diversified workforce. If you search hard enough, you can get people from all backgrounds who have the requisite qualifications and competencies for the various roles in your trading company.
As your trading company grows, it will soon get to a point where you will have to set up a customer service department. This is the department that would be tasked with the responsibility of handling customers’ complaints and concerns. It is also the department that would be handling enquiries from customers, and generally ensuring that customers are well attended to.
While setting up a customer service department for a trading company, you will need to:
- Hire the customer service personnel: these need to be people who have pleasant personalities. They also need to be folks who have requisite training and experience in customer service.
- Set up the customer service infrastructure: so this is a question of first acquiring the premises where the customer service department is to be based. Then you need to acquire the phones and computers that are to be used in customer service. Many organizations prefer to base the customer service department near the marketing department. That makes sense, because many of the issues that the customer service department deals with require input from the marketing department. In fact, there are organizations where the customer service is set up as a section within the broader marketing department.
- Create a customer service manual: this would give concise and precise instructions on how various customers’ issues are to be handled. In the absence of a customer service manual, the personnel are left to use their own discretion in dealing with customers’ issues. This is likely to lead to some rather awkward situations, because certain individuals may not always make the right decisions, if they are left to use their own discretions.
- Train the customer service personnel: you need to train your customer service personnel on how exactly you’d want your trading company’s customers to be handled. Don’t assume that the personnel will handle the customers in the right manner, just because they (the personnel) are individuals with good personalities or just because there is a customer service manual. You need to hold training sessions, where you emphasize the key points on how you’d want your company’s customers to be handled.
If your trading company is to be successful, you need to ensure that you are on good terms with your suppliers at all times. If you are not on good terms with your suppliers at any point, there is a risk of them sabotaging your business operations. And your business would then have to suffer, as you look for other suppliers. In some niches, your business could actually be brought down by suppliers – especially in the niches where you deal with just a single supplier, or where you deal with a few suppliers operating as a cartel.
Some of the ways in which you can maintain good relations with your trading company’s suppliers include:
- By seeing to it that you always pay your suppliers on time
- By giving reasonable delivery terms to your suppliers
- By generally dealing with the suppliers in a respectful manner
It is also a good idea to ensure that you ‘touch base’ with your suppliers from time to time – even when you don’t actually have orders for them. The objective here is to ensure that you maintain the relationship, so as to ensure that the suppliers prioritize your order when you eventually have one. You need to avoid the situation where you only contact the suppliers when you need something from them. It surely doesn’t take too much time, nor cost too much money, to pick up your phone and call your suppliers from time to time: just to know how they and their businesses are doing. In terms of phone charges, if you are using, say, the Metro PCS system, you won’t really be charged much more at the pcspaybill portal on account of having made just a few friendly phone calls to your suppliers. While paying the resultant phone bills at www.metropcs.com/payment, you should view the extra amount you have to pay as one of your legit business expenses. Maintaining good relations with your suppliers may seem as if it is a non-issue, yet it is one of the key things you need to do, if you want to keep your trading company from failing.
We are living in an age where you really need to have computers, to run a business successfully. Therefore, while setting up a trading company, you will need to give some thought to the question of how to acquire computers. This is not one of those things that you can deal with as the company grows. On the contrary, you need to have computers right from the outset. For instance, you need to set up an accounting system right from the outset. That requires a computer equipped with the relevant accounting software program. It is also a good idea to have an inventory management system right from the outset. This, in turn, requires a computer with an inventory management program.
The number of computers you will need at the outset will depend on the size of the trading company you are setting up. If it is a very modest enterprise, then you can start out with a single computer, and then acquire others as the company grows. With time, if the company grows well, you may eventually get to a point where you would have computers for all your employees. That is what we see with bigger enterprises – some of which are even able to set up web-based payroll systems for their employees. Take, for instance, Darden restaurants: and you realize that they have the web-based krowd darden paycheck system, accessible to (and used by) all their employees. This is why you find even the lowest cadre staff at Darden trying to figure out how to login to krowd portal: because they are all expected to use the web-based HR system.
Therefore, if the trading company you are setting up prospers, you can be assured that you will eventually get to a point where you will definitely need more computers. But, as noted above, if you are starting out very small, then a single computer may suffice at the outset.
The actual process of acquiring computers has several steps, where you need to:
- Identify the computer (hardware and software) specifications you need.
- Make a decision on whether you will be opting for brand new or used computers.
- Get price quotations from various computer vendors (both local and online vendors), so as to make a decision on where/from whom you are to buy the machines.
- Make an order for the computers — and receive the machines on delivery.
- Install the relevant software as per your trading company’s needs.
Thereafter, you can start using the computers in day to day business operations, to enhance efficiency.
As your trading company grows, you may soon find yourself having to set up a warehouse for it. This is where you’d be storing extra inventory – that which is too much to be displayed in the company’s showrooms. With a warehouse, it will be possible for you to keep several weeks’ (or even several months’) inventory. This way, even if there are disruptions in the supply chain, you’d be in a position to keep your trading company running (selling whatever was in the warehouses) even as you wait for the supply issues to be sorted out. Conversely, if you have no warehouse, and you only order for new stock when the old stock starts running low, you could be very badly affected if there are supply disruptions.
Contrary to what one may imagine, you don’t necessarily need to have lots of money while setting up a warehouse for a trading company. Yes, if you are building a new warehouse, or purchasing a new warehouse in cash, you will need to have lots of it. But there is also the option of renting the warehouse or acquiring one on mortgage. Renting is particularly cheap. You can afford it, even if you are relying on your personal resources to keep your business running. Like, for instance, if you work at USPS, and you are relying on your liteblue eretire 401(k) funds to keep your trading company afloat, you can still afford to rent warehouse space. In that case, you only need to visit the liteblue epayroll login page, sign in there, and proceed to see how rich your retirement fund is. Then you can ‘borrow’ some money from the retirement fund, and use it to improve your trading company, by way of renting some warehouse space.
In the final analysis, while setting up a warehouse for a trading company, you need to:
- Figure out how much warehouse space you actually need.
- Identify a ready-built warehouse with that much space (or otherwise acquire a piece of land where you can build a warehouse with that much space).
- Acquire the funds necessary to build or rent the warehouse.
- Make the necessary payments for the warehouse.
- Prepare the warehouse, by installing the necessary furniture – including wood pallets for the floor, ventilations (if these weren’t provided in the original plan), shelves… and so on.
- Move stuff into the warehouse.
- Consider installing inventory management software, to track the stuff that is stored in the warehouse, lest it be pilfered.
If you want your trading company to do well, you will need to ensure that you consistently pay your suppliers on time. Sometimes (and rather unfortunately), it is easy to get the impression that the suppliers need you more than you need them. This feeling arises out of the fact that you are the one who pays them. And money has a way of making one feel powerful. Yet when you come to think of it carefully, you realize that you need your suppliers just as much as they need you. For if you have no supplies, your business is bound to close shop. Once you come to terms with these realities, the reasons as to why you need to pay your suppliers on time become obvious. And for you to be in a position to pay your suppliers on time, you need to:
- Create reasonable expectations at the outset: how soon can you (realistically) manage to pay your suppliers, after delivery? This is the question you need to ask yourself, before engaging the suppliers. Then, while engaging them, you need to tell them that that is how long they will be waiting for their payments. And that within that time frame, they will be (for sure) getting their money. If, for instance, you tell the suppliers that you will be paying them after a month, and you indeed pay them after a month, they will regard it as a ‘timely’ payment. But if you tell the suppliers that you will be paying them after a week, and you end up paying them after 10 days, they will regard it as a ‘delayed’ payment! So it is important to manage expectations right from the outset.
- Manage your cash-flow properly: the idea here is to ensure that you always have enough money (from your sales revenues and so on) to pay the suppliers on time, consistently.
- If necessary, borrow to pay the suppliers: you can take a bank overdraft, or a short-term loan to pay the suppliers. You can even use your own private funds — just to ensure that you pay your suppliers on time. Like if, for instance, you also work at a company like PepsiCo (on top of running the trading company) you can use part of your paycheck to pay the suppliers. So you just visit the Mypepsico website, to check the said paycheck. That is essentially a question of proceeding to the Mypepsico login page, signing in, and checking if your paycheck has been credited to your direct deposit account. You then use the money to pay the suppliers. And then you use the money you get from the sale of the merchandise you paid for to reimburse yourself.
As your trading company grows, a point will soon come where you will have to hire an accountant. In fact, if the scale of operation is huge enough, you may find yourself having to hire an accountant right at the outset. Either way, there are some important things to put into consideration, while hiring an accountant for the company. Those include:
- The accountant’s qualifications: you need to look at the educational and professional qualifications held by the prospective accountant. You could opt, for instance, to go for a person who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and who also has a business-related degree.
- The accountant’s experience: ideally, you should go for an accountant who has some real-life experience. If you can get an accountant who has previously kept books for a company similar to yours, that will be even better. When all is said and done, you need to remember that in hiring an accountant, you are essentially hiring a financial manager. So you need to go for someone who really knows his stuff.
- The accountant’s reputation: the most critical thing here is to subject the job applicants to background checks, and to also check with former employers and former colleagues.
- The accountant’s personality: the person you select to work as an accountant should be someone who can work well with others. He should be a person who is a team player. He should also be someone who can take instructions. You don’t want to end up with the sort of fellow who can’t even follow simple instructions. You know, like a fellow I encountered recently who, in spite of being well schooled, couldn’t even follow the simple instructions on the Mygiftcardsiteguide. That was a case where the fellow was given a link to the guide, and told to follow the instructions on it to go to the check mygiftcardsite balancelogin page, sign in, and check his card’s balance – only to end up being unable to follow such simple instructions. So the person you select to work as your trading company’s accountant should be one whose personality allows him to take – and act on – instructions. He should also have good leadership skills, because he is likely to have people working under him.
There are several ways in which you can enhance your trading company’s profits. In today’s article, we will be focusing on those ways, in which you can grow your trading company’s profits. And without further ado, if you want to enhance your trading company’s profits, you need to:
- Minimize the operating costs: there are several ways in which this can be done. For instance, rather than fueling the company’s executives’ cars, you can have them cater for their own fuel costs. Or if you feel that you are paying your employees for hours they haven’t worked, you can opt to set up a ‘clocking in’ system, to ensure that you are able to track the employee’s hours well. The ‘clocking in’ system can then be linked to the payroll system, to ensure that the workers can see how their paychecks are arrived at. The said payroll system can in turn be linked to the employees portal. The portal in question would be modeled along the same lines as the Nordstrom employees website. What Nordstrom has is an arrangement where its employees can, at any given time (and from anywhere) go to the Nordstrom employees sign in page, log in, and view their paystubs – complete with the numbers of hours worked. You can have a similar system for your trading company employees. Other costs you can cut include those related to power consumption, those related to space/rent and those related to stationery… to name but a few.
- Improve your marketing: the objective here is to get new markets for your products, while also tightening your grip on the markets you already hold.
- Find cheaper sources of merchandise: if you can find cheaper sources of merchandise, while maintaining your old prices, it would (naturally) mean that you would be getting higher profits. But in your search for cheaper merchandise, you must not compromise on quality.
- Minimize the financing costs: trading companies are usually run using borrowed money. When you borrow money, you incur financing costs — because the borrowed money has to be repaid with interest. The most important thing here is to ensure that you minimize those financing costs. This a matter of building your credit profile, to ensure that you can be lent money at lower interest rates. It is also important to shop around, comparing the interest rates offered by various financiers. You should ultimately settle for the financier offering the lowest financing costs.
One of the main reasons as to why trading companies fail is employee fraud. Therefore, if you want your trading company to do well in the long run, you need to put in place measures to minimize employee fraud. Your goal should actually be that of eliminating employee fraud altogether. But if that sounds like too lofty a goal, you can opt to — at the very least — try to minimize employee fraud. And in that regard, if you want to minimize employee fraud in your trading company, you need to:
- Hire honest people: so this is a question of undertaking proper background checks, before hiring people. You need to ensure that you don’t hire folks who have a track record of being fraudsters. You can weed out such individuals through proper background checks.
- Educate your employees on the need for them to avoid fraud: so this is a question of getting them to see the bigger picture. Getting them, for instance, to appreciate that if they defraud the company, it will fail – and they will end up being jobless.
- Put in place deterrence measures: these would include proper accounting and audit systems, through which you can detect employee fraud. You can also have CCTV and other monitoring systems (including human ‘observers’), to further minimize the possibility of fraud in your trading company.
- Pay your people well: the objective here is to get reduce the incentives for fraud. For all other factors being held constant, well-paid employees are less prone to fraud than ill-paid employees. To ensure transparency in the way you pay your employees, you can set up a web-based portal (akin to Lowe’s portal, at www.myloweslife.com) through which your employees would be able to view the calculations that lead to their paychecks. You also need to consider paying bonuses to your employees so as to inculcate a sense of ownership in the trading company. This will further lower the possibility of them engaging in fraud.
There are two key things you need to focus on, while creating a business plan for a trading company.
The operational aspect
Firstly, while creating a business plan for a trading company, you need to focus on the operational aspect. Here, you need to deal with questions like the one as to where you plan to be procuring the merchandise for sale, and how you plan to be selling the merchandise. While dealing with operational matters, you will also need to deal with the question as to how many employees you will need for the trading company, and the basis on which you will be engaging them. While dealing with these operational issues, you will also find yourself having to tackle the ultimate question — as to whether the trading company you have in mind is viable or not.
The financial aspect
Secondly, while creating a business plan for a trading company, you need to focus on the financial aspect. Here, you need to deal with questions like the one as to how much money you will need to establish the trading company, and how exactly you will be deploying the capital. It is also while dealing with the financial aspect that you will have to tackle questions like the one as to how much money exactly you hope to make from the company. Further still, while grappling with the financial aspect, you will need to deal with the question as to how exactly you plan to get the required capital. Can you, for instance, finance the business using your own resources? If, for instance, you work for a company like Walmart, you can make reference to your Walmartone pay stub to see whether you can finance the company using your salary savings. So you just go to the Walmartone sign in screen, log in, and peruse through your paystubs, to see whether the money in them is enough to finance the trading company you have in mind. Further, while dealing with the financial aspect, you will get to confront questions like the one as to how long it will take for the trading company to break even, and how much profit you hope to make from the company once it matures.