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Calling All Women Entrepreneurs: Top Tips for Managing Your Inventory

Business

When you are entering the realm of running your own business, there are a lot of things that require your attention daily: from relationships with vendors to opportunities to reach out to new clients to managing your employees properly. But when you are in the retail business, then the heart of your company is the one thing that needs to be put as a priority every day: your inventory. It is crucial that your inventory is managed properly every single business day – so do not wait until the end of the year to start implementing these tips.


Understand the Advantages of Managing Your Inventory

Imagine the trouble that comes with not having enough products to respond to orders or of having ordered too much stock that sits idly on the self – or worse, goes spoiled. There are many advantages to managing your inventory correctly, and the first one is that it saves you money. You avoid losses that come with products that can no longer be sold because they reached their expiry date – like food – or because they have gone out of style or season or have become obsolete, like clothes or gadgets. It also helps save on the cost of renting out space that you might not need – or renting out too much space for idle produce that you are not making money on. Proper inventory management can help you cut back on all those costs and keep your cash invested where it really matters, while it can also allow you to make more accurate financial projections and manage your resources more efficiently.

Set Your Minimum Stock Levels

It requires some research and effort on your part, but the first thing you need to do is understand your company’s needs. Start by counting and comparing: how many goods have you sold each month and how does that fluctuate with seasonal demand? That will give you an idea of the quantity of products you need to keep available every time. By setting a minimum amount that you need to have in stock every time for each of the products you sell, you will be able to react quickly every time your stock is approaching that limit by ordering more before you sell out. The minimum stock level will depend on various factors, such as the demand for the product, how quickly your stock order can get through, as well as how easy it is for the goods to go bad – it makes sense to set lower minimum levels for goods that will go bad if you do not sell them quickly. Remember to always revisit the minimum stock levels you have set throughout the year and readjust if they do not reflect your real needs any more.

Invest in a Plan B

Even if you have set out the more detailed inventory management plan, you might encounter an unforeseen surge or slump – so it is always important to keep your options open and know where you can turn to. One of the best ways to do that is to research your options when it comes to inventory loans and financing. These are short-term loans or revolving lines of credit that are

specifically designed for companies looking for quick funding solutions in order to replenish their inventory. They are usually flexible and come with favorable terms, as they are meant to be a tool to address seasonal fluctuations and not a standing financing mechanism. They are typically secured through your current inventory, so they do not require you to give up any additional collateral. Inventory loans are also quite quick to process and do not require any personal credit score. However, they are not always easy to qualify for, so it is advisable to do some research beforehand; even if you do not foresee that you will need inventory financing in the near future, knowing the types of financing available to you might come in handy when you need to react quickly.

Your Employees Are Your Best Allies

One common misconception among entrepreneurs is that you need to do everything yourself; to the contrary, making sure that you allocate tasks to your employees is key for efficiently running your business. More often than not, your employees are the ones that will manage your inventory daily, so they need to be prepared. Perhaps the most essential skill that you need to make sure they have in order to successfully manage your inventory is proper cataloguing and tracking your inventory goods. Do not hesitate to invest resources and time in training them on best practices in order to organize your inventory in the most effective manner – and also make sure that you regularly get feedback from them on what works and what not in order to finetune the details. It is advisable to put a specific employee in charge of your inventory in regular intervals in order to have a person of reference that you can talk with directly about your current needs in terms of stock.

Keeping track of what goes in and out and making sure that you never run out of stock nor stock up too much – they may sound pretty straightforward goals, but it takes a lot of organizing and testing in order to get things just right.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.