Archive | In Business

What is worse: greedy corporations or lazy consumers?

How often do we pay for things we don’t need because we don’t think to question our long-standing outgoings?

Big companies, especially utilities, telecoms etc rely on consumer and business inertia to generate huge profits. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s simply the fact that for many people, once they have signed on the dotted line, it is easier to just keep making the monthly payments (especially if they are done via direct debit from their bank account) rather than go through the process of checking for better deals and switching to another service provider.

Even now, when there are numerous websites that will do all the comparisons for you and even handle the process of switching and managing the change to payment details, a lot of people will simply just not do it.

This is one reason why many companies are prepared to offer very generous terms to new customers to get them to sign up for contracts, as they know that customers will often keep on paying the same rate even though, over time, it has become a poor deal. The longer the initial term of the deal, the more likely that customers will stick and not switch

Every regular payment should be scrutinised in the same way that you would check your small change in the local shop.

I’ve just recently reviewed my domain name holdings and online hosting plan and saved my business a significant amount of money which previously trickled out almost unnoticed in a steady stream of outgoings spread over the year.

There are other ways that corporations boost their profits by capitalising on consumer inaction.

Gift-Card

Did you know that gift certificates/cards/tokens purchased from popular outlets for friends and family can boost profits for retailers due to often hidden terms that see the gift cards expire after 12 months? This renders the money spent on them pure profit.

In 2006 it was estimated that the value of unredeemed gift cards was almost US$8 billion. Many people are unaware of this and savvy/unscrupulous (your choice) businesses take advantage of it. Some states in North America (e.g. California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington) have enacted laws to eliminate non-use fees or expirations.

Maybe there is an opportunity here to differentiate your business from theirs by advertising gift cards that don’t expire. I’m sure your accountant/CPA will brand that advice as reckless or irresponsible(!) but in practice it won’t make much difference to the percentage of your gift cards that are actually redeemed. If you are not currently offering any form of gift/delayed redemption card they can be very profitable in almost all sectors and you might like to give it some thought.

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Unmasked: An Analysis of 10 Million Passwords

How strong are your passwords? Here’s an analysis of 10 million via @wpengine

Source: Unmasked: An Analysis of 10 Million Passwords

This is a good, albeit slightly nerdy, read.  It explains just how weak many pa$$word5 are, even when we think they’re not. From a business continuity point of view, how would your enterprise survive an online attack? Think about the number of sites you logon to on a regular basis: your WordPress site that powers your blog, an online retail site which hosts your e-tail provider, eBay, Amazon. How about PayPal and your online banking – what if they were taken down?!

Like many others, I use the services of an password manager, my weapon of choice is LastPass (https://lastpass.com/) which you can use for free. This provides incredibly secure passwords for all my logins and, as I use the premium version – a snip at only $12 per year, I can use it on all my devices as can all of my family. This takes all the hassle out of worrying about remembering individual secure passwords for all your logins.  All you have to remember is one safe master password and LastPass does the rest [other password managers are available].  This is an example of an 18 character password that I just asked LastPass to generate for me: U~ff!Tu%S4Inq^%g9p. That last one is the full stop at the end of the sentence by the way!  Checking the strength of that password reveals that it would take a ‘massive cracking array scenario with an assumption of one hundred trillion guesses per second’ (which sounds impressive) – 1.28 trillion centuries to crack.  In my book, that’s quite a long time.

Long story short – get a password manager!

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Low-Margin Business vs. High-Margin | Chron.com

Are you a low-margin business or a high-margin business?

Traditional market wisdom, especially in the offline business world, would have us believe that you can either make money trading high-volume/low-margin OR low-volume/high-margin. An example of each would be a convenience store who turns over a high amount of inventory earning a small profit per sale compared to a luxury car dealership who may sell a very few cars but they have a significant profit margin attached.

The rise of businesses online can increase their net profits by reducing their overheads and making more money for distribution or growth.  Does the impact of easy access to foreign sources of goods, via alibaba.com for example, mean that online entrepreneurs are able to further skew the playing field in their favour by reducing the costs of goods sold and thereby increasing their gross profit margins as well?

Are you an online or offline business and do you follow the traditional methods of sourcing stock or do you see the rise in mini global commerce as a way of competing against bigger business?  Let me know your thoughts.

Low-Margin Business vs. High-Margin | Chron.com.

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Rank by importance – then why for #1 and #3: cost reduction, revenue growth, or margin improvement? – Ask Jeeves

An incomprehensible title(!) but a great conversation between senior industry figures debating which comes first on their list of priorities; increasing revenue, reducing costs or improving margins.

What is your take, which would you put first?

Rank by importance – then why for #1 and #3: cost reduction, revenue growth, or margin improvement? – Ask Jeeves.

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