Know Your Limits
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There are some distinct advantages to not being the biggest player in the market. "We'd rather be the best than the biggest," says Rodney S. Belden, president of O.E. Meyer Co. in Sandusky, Ohio. The 115-employee company supplies oxygen-related products to the welding supply and health-care markets and, with annual sales of $25 million, competes successfully against much larger companies.
What's more important than size, Belden believes, is a company's ability to serve its customers and make a profit. Often, staying small makes it easier to manage your business, react to market fluctuations and focus on the bottom line. You can be a respected leader in a market without being a giant, Belden says.
"The success of any company depends on planning, and, in our case, a key part of planning is having qualified people," he says. "If we don't have the employees to fill the jobs, we won't pursue those markets."
Of course, growth is part of the O.E. Meyer plan, but, Belden explains, "Our growth is balanced, and it comes from providing good service and having a good reputation."
Are you hurting your employees' credit?
It sounds so simple: Employees who must spend money in the course of their jobs just use their personal credit cards, and by the time the bill comes, you've reimbursed them. But even though they make payments on time and in full each month, they could be risking their personal credit rating. That's because some lenders perceive a high credit balance as a red flag, even though the payment record is good. And employees may not find out about the problem until they have trouble getting a loan.
The solution is to issue corporate credit cards, says Mie-Yun Lee, editor of the Business Consumer Guide, a national publication that evaluates office products and services. "While similar to consumer credit cards, corporate cards have many added features to help businesses track and control spending," Lee says. "In addition, they offer an excellent opportunity for businesses to establish their own credit history."
A corporate credit card can also help you control employee spending and manage expenses better. You can set different credit limits for various employees. Card issuers also offer a range of reports that break down spending patterns.
Lee says it pays to shop around for corporate credit cards because the rates and service packages vary--and can often be negotiated. Also, she advises, create spending guidelines before issuing the cards to employees. The Business ConsumerGuide's report on commercial credit cards can be purchased for $25 by calling (800) 938-0088 or by visiting http://www.buyerszone.com
Don't let your mail get buried in the holiday rush.
With the holiday season approaching, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is urging us to mail early. While that might work for gifts and greeting cards, it isn't practical for business mail. After all, you can't mail your December invoices in November. Here are some tips to help ensure that your mail arrives when it needs to:
- Mail early in the day. The sooner your mail gets to the processing center, the faster it can begin moving through the system.
- Address your mail properly. Write, type or print the address neatly. Use complete address information, including apartment or suite numbers, directionals such as N. or S.E., and ZIP codes.
- Always include a complete return address. This lets the USPS return undeliverable mail to you. It also identifies your mail to the recipient and speeds their internal processing.
- Consider your customers' schedules. Mail timed to arrive during a business's holiday shutdown won't be seen until everyone gets back to work.
O.E. Meyer Co., P.O. Box 479, 2016 Milan Rd., Sandusky, OH 44871-0479, (419) 625-3054