Three Main Objectives For a Small Business Consultant In Helping Their Clients

The other day, someone asked me to help them solve a business problem having to do cash flow. Personally, and I've been doing this for a while, consulting that is, I've always noted that whenever a small business person or corporate executive needs help, it's always about cash flow. Many entrepreneurs are really good at selling, marketing, and getting business, they often aren't very good at getting paid, or controlling their expenses.

Accountants and MBAs are generally really good at managing and controlling costs, but they usually aren't so good at the creative marketing level to get the business. You've got be good of both to win in business. So, with that said I would submit to you that there are three main objectives for a small business consultant when helping a client, they are;

1. Increase Revenue
2. Lower Costs
3. Work on Efficiencies and Synergies

The easiest way to handle a cash flow situation is to have more cash. If you have a bucket of water and you are worried about the amount of water in the bucket leaking out, it's easier to add more water often than patching the leak. That doesn't mean you don't have to watch your costs, you absolutely do, and therefore you need to find ways to lower your cost. Every time you save a dollar, you are making a dollar. Often in a business you have to make three dollars so you can keep one, so you need to work on the outflow as much as the inflow.

Next, you have to work on efficiencies and synergies, ways to make your business run efficiently, so your workers are highly productive, and your operations aren't wasteful. That's not so easy, yes, a good MBA could probably figure it out, but often also takes a little creativity. This is why I suggest if you are a consultant to look closely at the numbers, the marketing and sales, and the collection on receivables.

Is the small business owner paying out the money as fast or faster than it's coming in? If so, that needs fixing, and that often starts with an attitude adjustment, and remember, you can't help someone who won't help themselves. Providing the entrepreneur is willing to go the distance, you need to work on those three items if they ever hope to attain the level of business success that they had hoped for when they started. Best of all, once they do, there's no telling how far they can climb. Please consider all this and think on it.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Consulting Topics. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank;

Big Climate Change Issues, Small Business Matters

This elephant in the room may be old news but it is still impossible to ignore the evidence of increasing global temperatures, extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels. Climate change is, without doubt, the single biggest environmental challenge facing our planet today.

So what can a small business do to mitigate global events?

Climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere - these are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, hydro-fluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. Each gas has a different capacity to cause global warming.

The primary source of these gases is the use of electricity generated from fossil fuel power stations, burning gas for heating or driving a vehicle. Within the UK it is estimated that business activities account for about half of all the UK GHG emissions.

What your business can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and why you should do it

    Saving money is normally a good enough incentive for any business - identify those aspects of your business which are energy and resource intensive and develop a strategy to reduce the level of usage and costs
    Sustainable business management stimulates business growth - if you brand yourself as a 'green business' and embrace best practice, you not only reduce your resource use and costs, you satisfy customer demand for green products and services, attract new business and become more competitive
    Satisfying procurement demand for information on your sustainable management plans for greenhouse gas emissions is the key to business growth
    Understand the contribution your business is making to climate change and reduce it

So, you've decided you want to do your bit for the environment - well done, but...where do you go from here? how do you measure your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

Well, you'll be pleased to know that you already have much of the information you need at your fingertips. You just need to put the tools in place to help you calculate your greenhouse gas emissions.

Start by identifying the parts of your business that you need to include in the measurement process. You need to take into account the aspects of your business which you own or have control over to ensure that you measure only the emissions which relate to your business operations.

If you are a small business this should be relatively easy since you are likely to own or control all of the aspects of your business. If the structure of your business is more complicated and includes subsidiaries, joint ventures, partnerships or franchises, it will take a little more effort to identify the aspects which you can directly control or influence.

Now that you know which parts of your business you need to include, you need to identify which activities your business carries out that release greenhouse gas emissions. This is likely to include, but may not be limited to;

    Resource use - raw materials
    Energy use - electricity/gas use
    Waste disposal and recycling
    Business travel
    Owned or leased vehicles under you control
    Employee business travel
    Staff commuting

To calculate the greenhouse gas emissions for your business, you will need to collate data from each relevant emission-releasing activity. You'll be pleased to know should already have most of the information you need to collect this data in the form of energy bills, materials invoices, waste invoices, travel / expenses forms, staff surveys, etc...

The quality of the data you collect is important to ensure that GHG emissions measurements are as accurate as possible. You can quickly develop a simple spread sheet to record your data. This will provide a useful means of analysing and evaluating the data and tracking your performance.

Data sources include;

    Electricity and gas - total usage rate from energy bills or meter readings
    Water supply - total supplied in cubic metres (m3) from water bill
    Water treatment - total water treated in cubic metres (m3) from water bill
    Waste disposal and recycling - tonnes of waste sent to landfill and / or recycled (from your waste contractor)
    Fuel used in company owned or leased vehicles - litres of fuel purchased from receipts
    Vehicle mileage from mileage returns / expenses
    Employee passenger travel receipts / details of travel

Try to measure your greenhouse gas emissions over a twelve month period and align this with your financial accounting period.

Once you have the data monitoring and collection arrangements established its time to convert the data to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each aspect of your business.

You will need to convert the data you have collected using emission factors - multiply the data by the emission factor and you have the level of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for your business. You might want to use GHG conversion factor tools which are freely available from the Carbon Trust; (

You can input your annual figures into the appropriate spread sheets which will automatically calculate the greenhouse gas emissions. These convert input data into Kg of carbon dioxide equivalents.

The information you obtain through the calculation process can then be used as a baseline which you can use to benchmark performance against as you introduce efficiency measures.

Setting emissions reduction targets is a good starting point but only set targets which reflect;

• the aspects of your business which you own or control

• all the emissions you measure are based on reliable and robust data

• your emissions compared over time against your baseline year

• achievable targets (over three to five years initially)

Monitor your performance routinely and communicate the results internally. Breakdown the headline targets to encourage behaviour change and staff "ownership" at a local level.

While you are not presently obliged to release this information into the public domain, there are benefits in publicly disclosing this information as part of your 'green branding' marketing strategy.If you do decide to do so, decide who would be interested in your greenhouse gas emissions data (e.g. customers, suppliers, staff, etc....) and where you wish to publish the information - business website, corporate responsibility report, customer surveys, supplier questionnaires and contract tenders.

Whatever you do, by taking climate change seriously and building 'green actions' into your business model you become a part of the solution and can take comfort from doing your bit for the environment while establishing a foundation for sustainable business growth and increased profitability.

EMC Business Solutions aims to assist businesses in the development of environmental quality management systems, providing a platform for regulatory compliance, sustainable business growth and increased profitability.

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Branding Your Small Business's Social Media

More and more business owners are embracing social media everyday, you hear the importance of using Twitter and Facebook and getting in front of a bigger audience from just about any business source you can find. One of my favorite business publications, Inc. Magazine has entire section of their website that focuses on online marketing, and social media is a major part of that. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube let you put yourself in front of your audience in the comfort of their own environment and in the convince of their own schedule. It's not as simple as signing up though, not long ago we discussed what you need to do to make the most of Twitter. A part of that was branding, and that rule doesn't only apply to Twitter. All of your social media profiles should remind the viewer of your website. It should clearly reflect your business' brand. I like to think of my social media profiles as an extension of this website.

I've collected my major social media sites and added some screenshots below along with a few tips specific to each network -


Make your profile photo, a photo of you, not a logo. Personally unless you are Best Buy or Samsung I want to see a photo of a person. Personally for me I am my business, my clients know me and my name so I want them to see my photo. I like the personal connection that is often overlooked in utilizing social media for business. The background of my Twitter page looks a lot like my website, the colors match the feel matches.


This is something I really love about the cover photos, it allows me to continue to use a photo of myself as a profile photo but I can use my logo as my cover photo. The cover photo done well can be amazing - it's really worth the time investment to design or even a small financial investment if you're not comfortable designing it yourself.


It is worth remembering that YouTube is a powerful social media tool. I recently started embracing video and uploaded my very first video in hopes of winning a scholarship to Marie Forleo's B-School. I'll be launching more videos in the future including some great social media, email marketing, and WordPress how-to videos. YouTube can be branded in a very similar way to Twitter, with a profile picture and a background. I use the same background and profile picture as my Twitter page. The only difference is one is Twitter and one is YouTube.

It's important to note the consistency between the sites, you'll notice I have the same profile photo everywhere, and it matches the photo that is on the home page of this site, and the bio box at the bottom of this post. It makes it clear that it is in fact "that Stacey" and "that On Demand Virtual Assistant" I believe consistency is key in every part of social media.

Stacey Harris provides administrative and technical support as well as WordPress design and maintenance to entrepreneurs. For tips on making the most of your virtual assistant visit or email