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.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.