Financial Education

Ward off Complacency in Your Business with These Five Tips

Dec 17
2018
Business Woman Working at Laptop

Is it too soon to start thinking about new year’s resolutions? We don’t think so. Without putting thought into what you’d like to accomplish and perhaps do differently in the coming year, you risk complacency in your business. And complacent is a dangerous thing for a company to be. Looking to avoid that unintentional lack of change in the new year? Use these five tips to keep your business dominating in 2019.

Is it too soon to start thinking about new year’s resolutions? We don’t think so. Without putting thought into what you’d like to accomplish and perhaps do differently in the coming year, you risk complacency in your business. And complacent is a dangerous thing for a company to be. Looking to avoid that unintentional lack of change in the new year? Use these five tips to keep your business dominating in 2019.

  1.  Don’t get too comfortable.

While it’s much easier to stick to what’s familiar, magic doesn’t happen in comfort zones. Be willing to take a few risks in the new year. Take a look at trends in your market. Have things changed since the last time you reviewed your business plan? What your ideal consumer wants and needs can shift quickly. Don’t be afraid to shift with them. If you’re unwilling to go with the flow you may find your business as obsolete as a floppy disk in a computer lab. Your business plan and priorities should be evolving all of the time.

2.  Don’t forget about long-term goals.

Short-term goals can be much more inviting. You get a win, and you get to check it off your list a lot sooner. However, focusing solely on short-term wins could lead to a big long-term loss. Make sure you are considering both and that your short-term goals coincide with your big picture. Don’t miss out on opportunity due to lack of looking to the future.

3.  Keep your team engaged.

Complacency tends to trickle down. If you are complacent, your team is feeling it. If you aren’t striving to be better why should they? On the flip side, employees who are engaged in their work tend to be happier, more productive, more loyal, and provide better service. You know all those goals you just set? Share them with your staff. Give them insight on just what it is you are all striving for every day. When they do good work, recognize it. Give them a reason to keep working hard.

4.  Remember your competitors.

You should always keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Watching those at the top of the food chain is a no-brainer. They’re at the top for a reason. If you’re at the top (or even if you aren’t) you should also be watching the competition just below you. Odds are that some of them will begin to rise to your level. If you’re already familiar with them, you’ll be less likely to be blind sighted by a move made on your territory.

5.  Look for ways to improve.

There’s no such thing as the perfect business. Even if things are going well, there’s always a way to make things better. Realizing this is the best way to ward off complacency. There are various angles to consider when looking to improve your business. Can you increase your return on investment? Are there processes you could streamline to increase efficiency and decrease cost? Are there things you could do to make your employee’s lives better? Don’t wait to address these things until they’re unavoidable issues. Keeping a vigilant look for ways to improve will make for an all-around better environment from employee to consumer to business owner.

Financial Education

A Business Owner’s Guide to Winning the Holiday Season

Nov 06
2018
Business owners working on laptop with a Christmas tree in background.

Ready or not, here it comes! Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas decorations are already popping up in stores all over the country. That’s right; the holiday season is officially in motion. The holidays are especially crucial for many business owners because nearly 30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas.

Ready or not, here it comes! Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas decorations are already popping up in stores all over the country. That’s right; the holiday season is officially in motion. The holidays are especially crucial for many business owners because nearly 30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas.

Make a Game Plan

Nail down your plan as early as you can afford. If you’re going to run a special, make sure it’s something you are able to follow through on. Don’t go so big or cut prices so low that you’re unable to deliver. Once you’re decided on a promotion decide how you want to get the word out. Pick a few different avenues that appeal to your ideal consumer and start getting the word out. Not sure where to start? Check out these marketing tips!

But how do I compete with the giants?

While big businesses are slashing prices in a way you may not be able to afford on Black Friday, look for other ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. What can you offer that they can’t? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box on this one. Offer something more personal and less stressful. Perhaps you can offer free gift wrapping on purchases above a certain dollar amount or team up with the local coffee shop around the corner and give away vouchers for a free latte with every purchase to keep your tired shoppers on their feet. Think of the hassles surrounding Black Friday and find a way to eliminate them. Make your business a haven in the commotion of holiday shopping.

Bank on Small

It isn’t just Black Friday anymore! The day after, Small Business Saturday, might be your time to shine. Small Business Saturday hasn’t been around as long but it’s quickly gaining traction among holiday shoppers.  Shoppers spent close to $12.9 billion on Small Business Saturday last year. People are seeking out local businesses to support on this day, why not make sure you’re on the list? Even if your business is service-based, you can use the hype surrounding Black Friday and holiday shopping to get people excited. You can offer specials on gift cards or coupons for your services.

Stack Up Points!

You’ll probably be making extra purchases too! After all, you have to accommodate all the craziness the holidays entail. Why not be rewarded for making those purchases? Idaho Central offers Visa Rewards cards specifically for businesses. These cards have no annual fees, allow business owners to set limits on each employee’s card, and make it easy to separate business and personal expenses. Seasonal bonuses and points on every purchase will help make the holidays a little merrier, and who doesn’t love that?

Financial Education

Fall into Good Financial Habits

Oct 19
2018
Woman on a tablet outside in autumn.

Our habits, good and bad, play a huge role in our success. Establishing what may seem like simple daily practices can lead to huge financial gains in the long term.

Our habits, good and bad, play a huge role in our success. Establishing what may seem like simple daily practices can lead to huge financial gains in the long term.

  1. Establish a Budget

It may seem old-fashioned, but it is essential. When you don’t track your finances, you have no idea where your money is going and can easily spend more than you earn. Creating a budget will enable you to be in control of your money and carefully decide where to spend and save. It may be a big eye opener on how much you spend on things throughout the month and how much you could potentially be saving.

  1. Prioritize Debt

If you have debt, creating a smart schedule to pay it back will enable you to pay the least amount of interest over time. There are a couple different approaches you can take to repay debt. Make sure to research all repayment methods to determine which would work best for your situation.

In addition to repayment, look into debt consolidation. If your credit is reasonably good, see whether you can transfer the balance from a high-interest-rate card to one with a lower rate. Doing so could buy you some time to pay it off.

  1. Start Investing

The earlier you start investing, the more time your money has to grow and the more potential you’ll have to earn. A great starting point is to invest in a retirement account, such as a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA.

Many employers will match a percentage of what you put into your retirement account. If your employer has a matching program, do everything you can to take advantage of this awesome perk and don’t leave free money on the table.

  1. Save Automatically

Setting up automatic savings is the easiest and most effective way to save – it puts your extra cash out of sight and out of mind. There are several ways to automate. If you sign up for Idaho Central’s Central Cents account, every time you swipe your debit card, that transaction will round up to the next dollar and put the difference into your savings. You can also preauthorize automatic recurring transfers from a checking account to a savings account through eBranch. Transfers are so easy to set up, and you choose the amount and frequency.

  1. Review Your Expenditures

At least once a year, review insurance policies, phone contracts, and any other variable expenses you have to make sure you are getting the best rates possible. Many times you can save money by being a loyal customer or switch to a new provider to take advantage of specials.

Financial Education

Time Is Money! Five Time Management Tips for Business Owners

Oct 03
2018
Businessman looking at watch while working on laptop.

Running your own business is no piece of cake. It often means juggling several different tasks at once and working far more than the standard nine to five. So what can you do to best optimize your time? Here are some helpful hints!

Running your own business is no piece of cake. It often means juggling several different tasks at once and working far more than the standard nine to five. So what can you do to best optimize your time? Here are some helpful hints!

  1. Stick to a Schedule

Give yourself some time at the beginning of every week to write down exactly what your week will look like. Once you’ve done this, begin to prioritize that list. Which tasks need to be taken care of before you can focus on anything else?

  1. Don’t Downplay Downtime

When you don’t leave yourself some free time you set yourself up to fall behind. Scheduling free time has two important functions. First of all, you can use the time to deal with unexpected and last minute tasks. As a business owner, you know to expect the unexpected. If you schedule your days full from beginning to end there is no room for the unexpected and you’ll find yourself playing catch-up all the time.

Secondly and perhaps even more importantly, you need a break. There’s no reason to feel guilty for taking some time to do absolutely nothing productive. Giving your brain a chance to rest may help you tackle problems from a new perspective and will prevent burnout. No one can function at 100% all of the time.

  1. Get in Your Zone

Take notice of when and where you are most productive. Do you work best first thing in the morning or late at night? Are you better off in an office with the door closed or in an open area where you can bounce ideas off others? Is it hard for you to focus when your desk is cluttered? Once you’ve identified your ideal environment for getting things done, do your best to create that environment. Take a moment at the end of every day to tidy your desk in preparation for the next day, or set your alarm a half hour earlier to get things done bright and early.

  1. Delegating is Not the Enemy

If you can’t keep up, it might be time to start delegating. Letting go of something you helped create can be hard, but refusing to let go of anything could quickly become your downfall. Your team should be comprised of people you respect and trust. If anyone can handle this, it’s them. Start small and take time to set clear expectations with your team. Let them rise to the challenge.

  1. Automate Day-to-Day Tasks

Are you still bringing checks into the branch and doing payroll by hand?  Idaho Central offers electronic services designed for your business. You can manage your business accounts 24/7 with Business eBranch, schedule automatic bill payments, and even originate ACH entries. More things in one place means less time wasted switching from one task to the next. You’ll be able to manage your money from your phone or desktop anytime, anywhere.

Financial Education

5 Money Saving Hacks

Sep 28
2018
Woman shopping for groceries holding cell phone.

Saving money doesn’t have to be complicated.  Regardless of where you are at with your personal finances, saving money is doable.  You may be surprised how much you can save over time by following a few simple tips.

Saving money doesn’t have to be complicated.  Regardless of where you are at with your personal finances, saving money is doable.  You may be surprised how much you can save over time by following a few simple tips.

Save Automatically

Setting up an automatic transfer for your savings is the best way to save because you aren’t as tempted to spend money that is automatically set aside. This will help keep your savings on track and make it a priority to pay yourself first. You can also set up automatic transfers to pay bills, which eliminates the chance of forgetting to pay and getting charged late fees, which means saving even more! At Idaho Central, you can set up transfer services from anywhere.

Make a Shopping List and Plan Ahead

We’ve all been there. You get home from the grocery store with ten things you don’t need and are missing the one item you went there to get. Are you tired of food going to waste? Sit down once a week and make a list of ingredients for meals you’ll prepare for the following week. When you shop with a list, you’ll be less tempted to buy impulse items. You don’t have to stick exactly to your planned meals, but if you at least know the ingredients you have on hand, you’ll be less likely to waste food and make repeat trips to the store.

Use Generic Brands

Aside from the marketing, generic brands are generally just as good, if not exactly the same, as name brands. Whether it is a box of cereal or some cold medication, you can save big if you go generic.

Look for Tips

Keep your eyes peeled for saving tips online, in magazines, seminars or books. There are a ton of personal finance resources out there. Find a blogger you love, or money saving boards on Pinterest. Idaho Central has a ton of tips on our Pinterest page!

Review Your Budget Weekly

Making adjustments to your budget as you go along is totally normal. Your budget will fluctuate every month. That’s why it’s important to revisit your budget weekly. Look for where changes should be made and modify your budget accordingly.