Saturday, 30 March 2013

How Can Small Businesses Scale?

Stepping stones for growing a business

Creating a small business is a tough job. You have to fight for every new customer, build a reputation, and somehow pay all the other bills while you grow. The tipping point is when your business reaches a size where the revenue finally outweighs the business expenses. Here are four tips to help you reach that milestone:

Create a unified business system ­- As your small business grows, you will create will thousands of relationships with potential customers, partners and suppliers. So will your employees. That means small business purchase orders, inventory, work orders and contacts should be all in one place and accessible by everyone. A few years from now, you will wish that you had all this information in one place, so save yourself the headache and start today.

Document, automate, train, repeat ­- As a small business, you are creating processes as you grow. It's easy when a small team is working in the same room, but when the company expands to a different city, Office Two will need to know how you do everything at Office One, from small business purchase orders to how you answer the phone. Document your systems and ways of doing business so that others could repeat them. Find the right software and integrate others into the same systems so that you share resources.

Contact a marketer -­ Your speciality is manufacturing or machinery, but it’s not marketing. Reaching out to a marketer – even a simple sales call – can generate great ideas for new products, audiences, and systems. Creating partnerships with other businesses can also inject your products into new industries. If you have that unified business system up and running, a marketer can work wonders with customer data, such as contact information and purchase history.

Eliminate small problems before growing -­ Sales stalled? Systems broken? Is there a business problem that you just can’t figure out? Then it might not be the right time to expand your workforce or increase production. Small problems can grow into large ones as more people get involved in the process. So take a step back and evaluate your business before deciding to move forward with expansion.

What troubles have you encountered due to small business growth? What processes have helped your company be more organized as it expands? Leave us a comment and let other small businesses know what to do before they grow.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

How is re-shoring in the United States & Canada impacting business?

Reshoring bringing manufacturing back to north america
Increasing efficiency can have a big impact on how businesses work on a global or local scale. Re-shoring in North America is the result of some interesting global trends, and increased efficiency through technology. Here’s what you need to know about offshoring and re-shoring in the United States and Canada:

What is offshoring?

In North America, we understand offshoring as an on-going business practice that sends manufacturing jobs to far-away countries. However, as wages increase overseas and technology increases logistical efficiency at home, some of these jobs could return to the United States and Canada.

Historically, business operations have been relocated in order to take advantage of the reduced labor rates and lower taxes in countries such as China and India. The activities that are commonly offshored include manufacturing, accounting and information technology services. The industries most associated with offshoring include electronics, textiles, toys and shoes. As a result, manufacturing in the United States dropped from employing 32% of the workforce at its peak to only 9% at present.

What is re-shoring?

Re-shoring is the hypothesis that developed nations – particularly the United States – could be recapturing a significant piece of the manufacturing production that fled to Asia over previous decades, which would result in more manufacturing and technology jobs in North America.

The trend of bringing these processes and jobs to North America can be attributed to a number of factors including increasing wages overseas, the decreased value of the American dollar, and increased logistical efficiency. One example of this trend is at Catepillar Inc., which found its manufacturing to be more cost-effective using robots and skilled American workers, when compared to low-wage Chinese workers.

What impact will it have?

Additional factors that encourage re-shoring in the United States include an increase in wages overseas, improvements in domestic energy production, government incentives and the trend towards locating production closer to consumers.
Though the long-term impact of these economic changes is not fully known, it is estimated that two million manufacturing jobs could return as a result of re-shoring in the United States. OfficeBooks and many other businesses across North America are excited to see re-shoring catching on. While market forces should ultimately determine where businesses operate, buying, sourcing, and hiring locally is good for local economies.

Do you work for a company that is actively re-shoring operations? Have you seen the impact off offshoring or re-shoring in your region? Leave us a comment and let us know if re-shoring is changing how your company does business on an international or regional scale.

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