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.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.