Digital Marketing for SMEs: Business without boundaries

Information availability and decision-making is becoming increasingly dynamic in nature. This constant state of change has impacted customer expectations and many organizations are grappling to keep up. Amidst this chaos, a few companies have found opportunities and strategies to leverage this change.

Most companies which are successful in understanding and fulfilling new-age customers’ expectations have exponentially grown and created very strong value propositions and brands in the minds of the customers.
Some proponents of change defining the business ecosystem today are big data, cloud computing, mobile and content. Digital Marketing as a science, art or technique sits right in-between all of these factors. Is digital marketing complex and difficult to understand? Is it a type of marketing that only large companies with large budgets can afford to execute? Read on to find out.

In many ways digital marketing has democratized business reach to consumers. It has presented a level playing field for small and large brands alike. This is one platform where intellect and ingenuity trumps everything else.
Applications of digital marketing are aplenty – from exploring new markets to growing a stronger brand in existing markets, all in a budget that you can decide and control in real-time.

In this day and age, the question isn’t whether you should do digital marketing, but rather, the pertinent questions are “how” and “where to start from”. Following are 5 simple things small businesses can implement to mobilize their digital marketing:

1. Website for E-Commence and Product Catalog
A website is just like a salesperson. It may need attention and hand-holding early on, but over a period of time, it becomes independent, yielding a steady stream of income. Do bear the following aspects in mind while building your website:
• Does your website have all the information that you would like your customers to know?
• Does your website provide your contact details in case the customer wants to place orders or make enquiries?
• Is it easy for the customers to navigate and find information about your brand and products?
• Is your website persuading customers to take specific actions?
• Is it easy to update information on your website?
Once you have all the content ready for your website, you can use one of the many website builders to set-up the framework. Most of these builders offer plenty of templates and customization options. In case you plan to sell your products online, some of the payment gateway companies can offer to set up the infrastructure for free. Sounds complicated? It’s not. You needn’t be a software geek to implement a fully-functional website.

2. Create local awareness about your business
It is quite possible that some of your prospective customers, even though located very close to you, may have never heard about you. Even if they have heard of you, they will resort to searching information about you on the internet.
Facebook and Google provide you with options to create local awareness and an identity on the internet. You can even place your business on Google maps to help customers locate you. All of this at little or no cost.

3. Catalyze word of mouth with referral schemes
Very few marketing campaigns can outshout the voice of a customer operating as a brand ambassador. While social media can intensify word of mouth, it takes experimentation and genius to go viral.
Win-win referral schemes help you achieve similar results with greater certainty.
There are plenty of plug and play tools which can help set-up referral schemes, leverage your customer’s social network and give your brand a fair chance of going viral. You can track and manage these schemes on the go. Much like your website, these tools are very easy to implement.

4. Advertise on Digital Media
It would be wise to advertise online if a good portion of your customers reside on the internet. Digital advertising unlike conventional advertising is highly targeted and permits small spends. You can choose from promoting your brand in existing markets to exploring new opportunities in new locations, all at the click of a button. And the good news is, all major online advertising platforms provide advertisers with account managers to help them set-up and run marketing campaigns. If you are lucky, you may even find free coupons to run your campaigns.

5. Email-Marketing to connect with your customers
Emails are a very convenient and effective way of communicating to your customers. You can use emails to inform your customers about new products, features and offers. Free guides and manuals can help your customers use your product better.

E-mail provides for two-way communication; feedback enables you to know if your email was received with a smile or a frown.

Much like this blog, you will find plenty of guides, free tools and services that can help you execute digital marketing. It may be tempting to do all of the above or possibly more to join the digital business bandwagon, but begin by evaluating your options and strategizing accordingly. If executed well, one or two targeted options are likely to provide better results rather than a scatter-gun approach.

Hope these points demystified digital marketing for you. So go on, roll up your sleeves and get ready to build a business without boundaries.

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Samarth is a marketing professional with expertise in Digital Marketing. Lead generation, customer engagement & retention, brand building and people development are some of his areas of interest. During his leisure he likes hanging out with friends & family, riding his bike to nearby destinations (sometimes even without a destination), watching movies​ ​​and reading.

​Samarth is a Marketing Manager at Capital Float.​

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Revised GST Rates – with effect from 25 January 2018

The 25th GST Council was held on 18 January 2018, and the rates of 29 goods and 53 services were reduced to lower tax slabs. These revised rates came into effect on 25 January. Other highlights of the panel included the decision to divide between the Centre and State, collections worth ₹35,000 crores from the Integrated Goods and Services Tax. The proposal to bring petroleum and diesel products under the ambit of GST is likely to be considered in the next meeting.

Here are the key goods and services that have been lowered or raised into new GST slabs.  

Good/Service Present GST Rates Revised GST Rates
Diamonds & precious stones 3% 0.25%
Articles of straw, esparto or other plaiting materials, Velvet fabric 12% 5%
LPG supplied to household domestic consumers, Raw materials and consumables needed for launch vehicles, satellites and payloads, Tamarind kernel powder, Mehendi paste in cones, Tailoring services, Transportation of petroleum crude and petroleum products, job-work services for manufacture of leather goods and footwear 18% 5%
Sugar boiled confectionery, Drinking water packed in 20 litre bottles, Biodiesel, Drip irrigation system including laterals & sprinklers, Mechanical sprayer, Fertilizer grade Phosphoric acid, Bamboo wood building joinery, Transportation of petroleum crude and petroleum products with ITC credit, Metro and monorail projects, Common effluent treatment plants services for treatment of effluents, Mining or exploration services of petroleum crude and natural gas and for drilling services in respect of the said goods 18% 12%
Old and used motor vehicles(other than medium & large cars and SUVs) with a condition than no ITC is availed 28% 12%
Old and used motor vehicles [medium and large cars and SUVs] with a condition that No ITC is availed, Public transport buses that run on biofuel, Services by way of admission to theme parks, water parks, joy rides, merry-go-rounds, go-karting and ballet 28% 18%
Small housekeeping service providers, notified under section 9 (5) of GST Act, who provide housekeeping service through ECO,  without availing ITC nil 5%
Actionable claim in the form of chance to win in betting and gambling including horse racing nil 28%
Rice bran(other than de-oiled rice bran) 0% 5%
Cigarette filter rods 12% 18%

Oct 24, 2018

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How to Determine Your Working Capital Needs

The availability of working capital is probably the most critical aspect of running a business smoothly and successfully. Also known as the current capital, working capital basically refers to the cash available with an organization for managing its daily operations and is calculated by simply deducting the current liabilities of a business from its current assets.

Assets that can be easily converted into cash within a year or a business cycle are termed as current assets and include cash, accounts receivables, inventories and short-term prepaid expenses. Similarly, current liabilities are the ones that a business needs to pay off within a year or one business cycle and includes accounts payable, accrued liabilities, accrued income taxes and dividends payable.

If current assets are greater than current liabilities, the business has a positive working capital situation or extra cash to meet unexpected expenses. Conversely, if the current liabilities are more than the current assets, the business is said to have negative working capital and needs to take working capital business loans.

Adequate cash availability also allows a business to take care of newer opportunities that require quick infusion of funds. However, not all businesses have access to adequate funds to carry out their operations smoothly and often need working capital loans.

Working Capital: Need and Importance

Every business needs to maintain some working capital to continue its operations smoothly. The amount of liquid funds available with a business is a measure of its ability to meet its short-term obligations. It is also a reflection of a company’s operational efficiency. Here are some reasons why working capital is essential:

Smooth Running of Business: Funds are needed for the smooth working of day-to-day operations and spending on the purchase of raw materials, overhead expenses and payment of wages and salaries. Working capital enables an uninterrupted flow of production or provision of services.

Goodwill: Sufficient cash with a business means it is capable of making prompt and timely payments, which in turn enhances its goodwill.

Easy Loans: Banks and financial institutions prefer to lend to organizations with adequate working capital.

Ability to Deal with Unexpected Expenses: Adequate availability of funds prepares a business to meet any unexpected expenses or situations.

Working capital is often used to judge the financial health of a business. A positive working capital situation indicates that a business is capable of paying off all its short-term debts, operating expenses and salaries with some extra amount remaining for reinvestment. In contrast, negative working capital is a cause for concern. It hints that the business may not be able to pay off its creditors.

Need for Working Capital Finance

Many businesses do not have sufficient cash in hand or liquid assets like money in the current account to meet their daily operational expenses. This is where working capital finance comes to their rescue. Small retailers or merchants typically require capital to fund seasonal inventory buildup. Also, businesses that do not have stable revenues through the year may still need to maintain a specific amount of inventory to fulfill any sudden increase in demand for their products. Such units often require a working capital loan to pay wages or meet other expenses during lean periods or when they are servicing an order, and the receivables would become due only after order fulfilment.

A working capital business loan is a short-term finance option that is generally repaid in the period when sales are high and the company has surplus cash. A major benefit of such credit is that its terms is short, which allows a business to maintain full control of its operations. Such loans need to be sanctioned quickly, without a lengthy approval process. Working capital funding can be secured or unsecured, depending on the financial product or lender.

Determining Your Working Capital Needs

The proper assessment of working capital needs is an important part of efficient financial planning. It allows a business to plan well and arrange the necessary funds on time to ensure smooth functioning of daily operations. The amount of current or working capital required by a business may vary. It is dependent on the operating cycle, or the amount needed to pay suppliers, the amount of inventory held and the time taken to collect cash from customers. Also, this may change with changes in demand for its products and services.

The working capital requirements of a business can be calculated by subtracting the accounts payable from the sum of the inventories and accounts receivables. Businesses need to fill the working capital gap by using internally generated profits or external borrowings or a combination of the two.

In case of new units or startups, working capital refers to the amount of money to be borrowed to keep operations going until the business starts generating adequate revenues to cover its operational expenses. Calculating the amount required to carry on business in the initial few months when there are no or very little revenues challenging and often leads to businesses borrowing too much or too little. A business should look towards raising working capital loans that have a prepayment option, or the option to repay the loan before the term is over.

Raising Working Capital Business Loans

Financial institutions use two ratios – the current ratio and the quick ratio – to measure the financial health or liquidity of a business. The current ratio is obtained by dividing the value of current assets by the value of current liabilities. A ratio above one means the current assets are more than liabilities, which is viewed positively. The quick ratio measures the proportion of short term liquidity (current assets minus inventory) to the current liabilities of a business. It gives a good idea of the company’s ability to meet short-term expenses quickly.

Working capital business loans are granted after assessing a company’s liquidity and working capital needs.

Oct 24, 2018

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GST Rates Revised for 27 Goods and 12 Services

GST Rate Revisions as on 6 October 2017

Good/Service Present GST Rate Revised GST Rate
Duty credit scrips 5%  Nil
Mangoes sliced dried  12%  5%
Khakra and plain chapati / roti
Namkeens other than those put up in unit container and, –
(a)bearing a registered brand name; or
(b) bearing a brand name on which an actionable claim or enforceable right in a court of law is available [other than those where any actionable claim or enforceable right in respect of such brand name has been foregone voluntarily
Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy medicines, other than those bearing a brand name
Paper waste or scrap
Real Zari
Food preparations put up in unit containers and intended for free distribution to  economically  weaker sections of the society under a  programme duly approved by the Central Government or any State Government, subject to specified conditions  18%  5%
Plastic waste, parings or scrap
Rubber  waste, parings or scrap
Cullet or other waste or Scrap of Glass
Biomass briquettes
Hard Rubber waste or scrap 28% 5%
Sewing thread of manmade filaments, whether or not put up for retail sale  18%  12%
All synthetic filament yarn, such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, etc.
All artificial filament yarn, such as viscose rayon, cuprammonium
Sewing thread of manmade staple fibres
Yarn of manmade staple fibres
Poster Colour  28%  18%
Modelling paste for children amusement
All goods falling under heading 6802 [other than those of marble and granite or those which attract 12% GST]
Fittings for loose-leaf binders or files, letter clips, letter corners, paper clips, indexing tags and similar office articles, of base metal; staples in strips (for example, for offices, upholstery, packaging), of base metal
Plain Shaft Bearing
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with fixed Speed Diesel Engines of power not exceeding 15HP
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with power driven pumps primarily designed for handling water, namely, centrifugal pumps (horizontal and vertical), deep tube-well turbine pumps, submersible pumps, axial flow and mixed flow vertical pumps
E-Waste 28%/18% 5%
Imposing GST only on the net quantity of superior kerosene oil [SKO] retained for the manufacture of Linear Alkyl Benzene [LAB] 18% 18% (Clarification to be issued)

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Oct 24, 2018