5 Common Misconceptions About Barcodes

Barcode printers and scanners are becoming an increasingly popular solution for small businesses looking for ways to streamline multiple business activities. They offer a number of benefits, including organized tracking of inventory and sales. Barcodes can do a lot for your business, but there are some things that they cannot do. If you are considering adding a barcode system to your business, it is important to research the device and fully understand its capabilities and its limitations. Before making the financial investment, you need to know that it will meet your business needs. Here are five common misconceptions about barcodes.

1. Barcodes Can Store an Incredible Amount of Product Information.

The idea is that when a business adds barcodes to its products, those barcodes can include every bit of data that you might need on a specific product. In fact, the barcodes store almost no information at all on their own. A barcode is a visual representation of a binary code number. The only thing it includes is that reference number. The additional information must be stored in a business’s computer database. Upon scanning a barcode, the computer references the information associated with the number in the database. This can be incredibly handy for storing information, but the information must be created in the first place.

2. Barcodes Must Contain All Necessary Information.

Like the fact that the barcode is holding the information, it is not really true that a barcode needs to include all information. A standard barcode is a nine or 13-digit number. A longer one can include additional information on a product, but those numbers are more difficult to read with a simple laser barcode scanner. These longer numbers are more often used by shipping companies for tracking purposes. In a retail setting, the shorter barcode is more practical. It can be associated with a database of information that is available when the product is scanned. However, there is such a thing as too much detail. Some details need only to be available in a product manual.

3. Barcodes are Universally the Same.

There is a universal barcode system that is used globally called a UPC. These code numbers are created by an organization named GS1. This non-profit created barcode numbers for products to create a global method for sharing data. A business must purchase these UPC code numbers to be able to use them, which is quite cost-prohibitive for small businesses. For internal use, creating your own barcode system is much more practical and cost-effective. The only need for acquiring UPC barcodes is when your products are sold through a third-party merchant that requires them, such as Amazon. For most businesses, barcodes are only needed to keep track of inventory and sales within the business.

4. Barcode Systems are Difficult to Use.

Many business owners, upon discovering that a barcode contains no specific information itself, assume that the process of setting everything up is too difficult to be worthwhile. Although there is some setup required, using barcodes is not complicated. First, a database of products must be created. This database can include categories for the manufacturer, point of origin, product details, measurements, and price. If your business sells online through an e-commerce store, it can also include shipping rates and other details. All of this information can be associated with the identification number in the barcode. When it is scanned, the information that has been entered will be pulled up within seconds.

5. Adding Barcodes is Too Expensive.

Traditionally, barcodes have been the domain of big businesses that operate nationally or globally. They have the resources to print and maintain thousands of barcodes using expensive hardware, but for small businesses this is too impractical. Although this has been true in the past, new barcode technology has made the system affordable for businesses of all sizes. Now a barcode scanner can be picked up at most business or office supply stores for under $100. Your business needs only a printer, scanner, and program for connecting the barcodes to a database. Most businesses already operate a database for product sales anyway, so this is only a single step further. An entire setup from Shopify is under $1000 and includes everything one could possibly need.

For most businesses, any big change is going to come with some hesitation and even a little resistance. However, change is the only way to grow and when your business grows, so do your profits. Adding a barcode system now can benefit your business in the long run. You will already be ready if business suddenly takes off. In the meanwhile, your business will be much more organized, efficient, and professional looking to customers. The addition of barcode can take your business from a mom-and-pop shop to a competitive marketplace participant.

The Baby Steps of Investing

A lot of people are afraid of investing. They fear that there is a stock market bubble (and that it will burst). They worry about another crash, like the one we experienced in 2008 where lots of peoples’ retirement accounts were cut in half. The truth is, as you already know, that if you want to ever retire you cannot count on Social Security to keep you afloat. You have to invest and you have to invest wisely.

That’s an intimidating prospect. There are so many stocks and bonds and dividends and investment opportunities out there. Choosing between them feels like a Herculean task. Here’s a little tidbit of good news that most investment advisors don’t want you to know: you do not have to have a perfect portfolio from the beginning. In fact, it is better to start small and build your portfolio over time. This way you can learn about the investing process. You can figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Here is how you get started.

Step One: Make Sure You Can Afford It

A lot of people believe that investing is something that they can only do after they have paid off all of their debts. This is absolutely not true! While you might not be able to invest as much or as widely if you’re drowning in debt, you can still invest. At this stage of the game, you are simply investing in yourself.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you should put off paying your debt in favor of investing. It is imperative, if you want to become a successful investor, that you get your financial house in order. For some this might simply mean making a budget and setting up automatic payments. For others professional help might be required.

If you decide to hire someone to help you clean up your credit and get your finances back on track, it is important that you hire the right someone. There are a lot of scam artists out there. One of the best ways to tell the difference, according to the Lexington Law reviews page on Lawyers.com, is the value the professional places on transparency. In some cases, transparency is even more important than the rates they choose (especially if you’re thinking of hiring a non-profit).

Step Two: Start With Yourself

As we’ve already mentioned, it is absolutely possible to fix your credit, get your finances in order and build an investment portfolio at the same time. You simply have to start building that portfolio by investing in yourself. Building an emergency fund and having a savings account that can keep you afloat for at least a year (it used to be six months, but given the economy a year seems more practical) are your first goals.

Step Three: Baby Investments

As soon as you have that year’s worth of savings built up you can start contributing to your investment fund. You can create this fund by setting up a separate account with your bank. In fact, that separate account–if you make it a money market account–can be your first real investment.

After your money market account, you should buy a few CDs. CDs are basically high-powered savings accounts that you can’t touch for a predetermined period of time. “High powered” in this case means higher interest rates than your standard savings or money market accounts.

Step Four: Build Momentum

What a lot of people do is open a couple of CDs and, when they have matured, take the interest they’ve earned; after reinvesting their original CD deposit into new (and hopefully even higher interest rated) CDs use that to start buying small but more “high profile” investments. They might, for example, buy a few shares of stock in a company. They might buy into a small mutual fund.

If you have multiple CDs you might consider, after one of them has reached maturity, cashing it out so that you can invest even more into “high profile” investments.

Step Five: Diversifying

By the time you’ve reached this point you will have likely built up at least a passing knowledge of what the major types of investments are and how they work. This is knowledge that you can use to start diversifying your portfolio. For example, if you’ve been concentrating primarily in straight forward stock purchases, you can start exploring our preferred type of investment: dividends (which are actually just a different type of stock, so it shouldn’t feel like a big stretch to explore this area).

Some people do so well with their investments that they start to branch out into things like angel investing and non-profit building (which carry their own tax benefits). The point is to diversify as much as possible so that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.

Hiring Someone to Help You

It is totally possible, especially if you have the knowledge and the know how, to manage your portfolio yourself. It is better, though, to hire someone to take care of your portfolio for you. This doesn’t mean that you give that person completely control over your investments. On the contrary! A financial or investment manager might advise you and encourage you to make certain investments, but they cannot actually buy into anything without your express permission.

Make sure that you choose your financial planner with the same level of care that you used to hire your personal finance advisor or credit repair professional. While the person will require your permission to do anything with your money, it is important that you hire someone whose advice you will trust. Just like in other areas of financial management, there are a lot of amateurs and scam artists who are just trying to make a quick buck. (you’ve seen Wall Street, right?)

The point is this: you can invest. You should invest. You should start laying the groundwork for building your portfolio now so that later you can enjoy your retirement!

How Does Cash Advance Work?

A cash advance is very similar to a payday loan, except the terms are generally a bit longer. For those with poor credit, this is often a better option when emergency funds are needed. Cash advances are not legal in all 50 states, so it is important to make sure they are legal in your state before obtaining one. This is an alternative to a traditional loan and is generally for an emergent purpose.

Loan by Check

Some lending facilities for cash advances do not give actual cash; some provide a check that is made out to you for deposit into your bank account. In return, you must furnish a post-dated check to them for repayment of the loan or authorize a direct withdrawal from your personal bank account on the specified repayment date.

Advance from Credit Card

Some credit cards allow for cash advances. Not only are you charged an interest rate with the credit card company but the lender also charges a fee. In some cases, you can go to ATM for a cash withdrawal, but when you need a larger sum of money, you must visit either a bank or financial loan institution for the advance.

Varying Terms

There are varying terms by location and facility. The average cash advance interest rate is 15-percent. This fee is attached to the loan amount and must be paid in full at the time of repayment. Other fees can include administrative fees, processing fees or local taxes imposed by a specific municipality.

It is important to review the terms for the facility you wish to work with prior to accepting any funds or signing any paperwork. Always read the fine print as this can include disclosures for hidden or any additional funds that may be required.

View the repayment terms as these do also vary.

Short Terms

Most cash advances are scheduled for repayment within 14 days. Terms vary by location as some will extend out to 21 to 30 days. Most cash advance lenders require you to leave a check with them that can be deposited into your bank account for collection on the scheduled repayment date. Other lenders will require you to come to the office and make the payment in person. If a credit card advance was issued, repayment may be requested in cash form. Always ask about the terms of repayment before accepting the advance.

In a sticky situation or one where you have limited resources, this is an option to consider. This is better than a payday advance since the interest rate is much lower. Your credit does play a factor in the amount that you can advance. Your income is the biggest deciding factor as a lender cannot advance you what they don’t see you bringing in as far as income is concerned. Your other bills are not taken into account in this situation as it is a short term loan that is to be paid back in one single payment. In this situation, it is best to only ask for exactly what you need and not extra.

The Importance of Company Credit Checking

Understanding how your company, potential business partners and new customers that you choose to deal with can be affected by credit reports is vital. Here we explain what credit checks are and look the importance of company credit checks.

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 What are company credit check reports?

This type of report gives an up-to-date true and fair view of how a company manages its financial obligations. The report usually includes company background such as director details and shareholders, accounts receivable information, current and historical credit score, and public information such as records filed with a government agency.

 Why are they important?

 

While it’s important to increase your customer base as your business grows, late and non-payment of bills can cause major cash flow problems for your company. Before entering into business with new customers or new business partnership, it’s essential to conduct checks to ensure they’re creditworthy. Remember that the size of a company is not a guarantee that they’ve a healthy level of cash flow. Company credit checks enable you to have a good financial understanding of potential business partners and customers. Assessing the risk will save you time and money in the long term.

Credit histories are often affected by debts, loans, and credit score. Checking the company’s credit will let you know whether they have previous form in defaulting, the ability to pay the debt, and whether they take on loans which they cannot afford. A company that has an average or poor credit score means they’re less consistent in repaying their debts.

It’s a good idea to look at your own company’s credit check report to find out how it appears to your suppliers and customers. Moreover, comparing your company credit report with your competitors’ will enable you to benchmark your performance against them. It can help you to identify opportunities and threats by exploiting your competitors’ weaknesses.

If you’re seeking finance for your business, it’s likely that your company credit history will be checked. Your company credit score may go up and down depending on the financial activity. Hence, it’s a good habit to check your company’s credit profile regularly to ensure the information is accurate and up to date. Regular checks will enable you to identify discrepancies and prevent any fraudulent transactions on your accounts. Make sure your company address history is correct as you may be penalized for debts incurred by others. Credit reports provide valuable information that allows you to rebuild a previously damaged credit rating to boost your chances of obtaining finance for your business.
How can you carry out credit checks?

You can ask for references from existing suppliers of your new customers and potential partners. Another reliable way to check on the financial situation of a company would be to approach a credit checking agency that specializes in supplying creditworthiness reports.

Company credit check reports provide valuable information to make smarter business decisions. Obtaining a copy of your company’s credit report is the first step towards protecting your credit rating. It’s important to undertake checks of your potential customers and business partners to make sure they are credible. Benchmarking your company’s financial status with your competitors will ultimately help to understand how your competitors are operating.

 

Image by Simon Cunningham,