How WhatsApp Business is Useful for Small Business Owners

As the past couple of years witnessed a drop in data costs, WhatsApp has successfully replaced the traditional offline messaging service as the primary mode of text communication in India. Leveraging this fact, this messaging platform launched WhatsApp Business – the pilot for a dedicated mobile app exclusively for businesses – in early September 2017.

Since its launch, popular brands in India such as BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip have been using this Facebook-owned WhatsApp business strategy to connect with their target audience. Though there are many apps that cater to business users, a messaging platform like WhatsApp provides a wider scope for a larger number of businesses, be it the local grocery store, professional services, medical institutions and even the government.

Features:

  • FREE OF COST
    You read right! WhatsApp Business lets you list your business and contact your customers at absolutely no cost. With a popular messaging app enabling business owners to send service messages for free, this could mean a gradual decrease for the conventional, but costly SMS facility. This WhatsApp business plan also counters the need for SMEs to create a mobile presence by designing smartphone apps, a distinct advantage for young enterprises from a cost and complexity perspective.
  • DESCRIPTIVE BUSINESS PROFILES
    If you own a small business without a website, WhatsApp Business allows you to describe your business in detail, and you can fill in addresses, contact numbers, social media links, etc. that lets your clients know more about the nature of your operations. The app takes verification seriously; a green tick appears against the name of your business when WhatsApp Business has corroborated the details you had provided.
  • MULTIPLE MESSAGING OPTIONS
    This unique feature of customized reply settings on WhatsApp Business ensures that you are customer-ready at all times. The ‘Quick reply’ option lets you set up standard responses to frequently asked questions. To all new leads who get in touch with you, the ‘Greeting message’ can introduce your business and what makes you different. You can also frame a custom ‘Away message’ for communications during off hours or when the small business owners are busy.
  • BUSINESS ANALYTICS
    More communication also means more data, which can be leveraged to understand your customers better. WhatsApp Business offers messaging statistics, a feature that provides metrics on the number of messages that were sent, delivered and read. Using this information, you can analyze the frequency of response from your leads or customers, modify the content of quick replies and experiment on the strategy of communicating with them.
  • WHATSAPP WEB SERVICES
    WhatsApp Business supports its projection via WhatsApp Web, which lets you manage the service through your computer without the mobile app. It provides additional efficiency when interacting with clients and partners, and leaves automation possibilities open as the system grows.

Setting up WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp Business in India is present only on the Play Store; so you will need an Android smartphone to use the app. As every WhatsApp account can be linked to unique mobile numbers, you register on this WhatsApp for business by using your official business number or your office landline.

Keep these ready before you set up the WhatsApp Business app, the steps for which are given below:

1. Backup your chat data to cloud storage if you already have a number which is primarily used for business with WhatsApp. Click on Chats>>Chat Backup>>Backup to upload to the cloud.

2. Download the app from the Google Play Store, install it and then launch it by tapping on the new WhatsApp Business icon.

3. Enter your business phone number that will be used to communicate to your customers, and verify it using the SMS (for mobile phones) or ‘call me’ option (for landlines).

4. Restore the previous chat related to the number once verification is complete (from Step 1).

5. Fill the name of your business and from the chat section, tap on the menu button and head to Settings>> Business settings>> Profile. Here, you can fill in all the details that you want to share with your customers.

What’s in it for small businesses?

WhatsApp Business is extended only to small businesses, an exclusivity that budding entrepreneurs can use to their advantage. The WhatsApp for business marketing aims at streamlining and extending the reach of small businesses without making hefty investments in website development, mobile app creation, customer support, and more.

Moreover, it helps notch up the idea of personalized marketing, as you can use the app to share images of products and promotions periodically to your loyal band of customers. The WhatsApp Business app also offers credibility to small businesses – a green tick against the name of your enterprise verifies the genuineness of your services and operations, an aspect that will help a majority of SMEs to reach out to a wider audience.

There are nearly 230 million WhatsApp users in India, and the fact that everyone knows how to use this WhatsApp for business use eliminates the time required to learn the nuances of a mobile application for businesses. Thus, WhatsApp Business is a ground-breaking solution to the communication and marketing needs of small businesses. We expect the introduction of WhatsApp Payments to act as a catalyst for this business with WhatsApp option to implement artificial intelligence, data analytics and voice recognition technology to optimize it into a powerful sales and marketing channel for small businesses.

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5 Practices Business Owners Can Adopt at the Beginning of a Financial Year

The start of a brand new financial year is filled with several emotions for SME owners, ranging from relief after the intense pressure of March, anticipations and excitement for the year ahead. Amidst these, business owners often don’t find the opportunity to celebrate the year that has gone by and the new financial year up ahead.

The new financial year is the only occasion that is of sole significance to an SME, whereas every other event, festival or celebration involves friends and family. It is that time when the SME can celebrate with their team the previous fiscal year that was full of learnings, experiences, peaks and troughs. The beginning of a financial year also presents a unique prospect to start over; SMEs can renew their enthusiasm and vigor as they make new business decisions.

Indeed, celebrating the new financial year can become an ongoing ritual for SMEs as it also helps establish a stronger workforce with a refined drive towards the company’s vision. To gain an advantageous start, here are some practices to ease you into the new fiscal year, so that you can look forward to bigger success celebrations at the end of it.

1. Set financial goals
Whether your financial goals are numerical or tangible, they should be defined in a manner that lets you evaluate if they can be achieved or not. These can be long-term, such as profitability, margins, sustained cash flows, etc. that may not be accomplished over the span of the financial year ahead or specific goals that are short-term.

For example, a retail store that has rented a space might learn that the building owner plans to sell the building eventually, and intends to acquire the space for further expansion. For a smooth sale without depleting the working capital, the retailer should have a clear sense of the cost of down payment, mortgage and additional costs. Based on this, they can create a strict budget for the year and stick to it. Another option is to avail collateral-free finance options such as Term Finance or Merchant Cash Advance that offers flexible modes for repayment.

2. Evaluate the scope of debts
The beginning of the year is the best time to assess the debts that you might have accumulated over the past years. Start by weighing each of your existing loans based on its cost, interest rate and other subsidiary factors such as prepayment penalty. Always ensure that the loan with the highest ticket size is repaid first.

Business finance is not often a liability-encountering measure, but also an instrument for growth, expansion and diversification of your business. If you have a promising business opportunity at hand and are reluctant to accept it due to a shortage of funds, this is when you should consider availing business finance. To determine the customized credit solution that best suits your business, check out Our Products.

3. Improve book-keeping
Unorganized compilation of financial records is the most recurrent theme for SMEs who let go of trickling financial losses, only to discover a gaping hole in its wake. Unexpected, unrecorded cash expenses often eat their way into the profitability of a business, resulting in a long-lasting impact that might take several years to recover from.

It is integral to maintain records of operational and financial performance, and the method you adopt to maintain these play a major role in determining the accuracy of the data. If you have been managing business accounts on your own, it is advised that you hire an experienced tax accountant or opt for an enhanced accounting software this fiscal year. This will keep you free to focus on other tasks, with the assurance that you one step closer to higher profits.

4. Plan for new partnerships
Large corporations can perform the role of different stakeholders to an SME; they can assume roles as business partners, product distributors or customers. Contrary to conventional belief, small businesses have much to gain by associating with bigger businesses that operate differently from the way the SMEs function. This ensures that the partnership remains fruitful for both the entities involved, and avoids situations where they find themselves competing with each other If you feel that your enterprise will benefit from such a collaboration to supplement time, logistical organization and resources, this new financial year is when you can make that move.

5. Identify a new customer base
For any SME, extending the outreach of your brand to a wide demography of consumers is instrumental to evolve into a larger organisation. If you envision a steady rate of growth, what best time to target a brand new audience than the start of the financial year? You can also think of ways to improvise your product or service for a high-potential customer segment that is less exposed to competition. At the end of the day, this is an exercise that promotes out-of-the-box thinking.

A sound financial budget prepared with the above points in mind ensures that you are better prepared to face the new fiscal year. Also, it gives you an edge over your competitors on several fronts, and getting a business finance partner for your needs becomes much simpler when you are armed with a well-calculated plan.

Capital Float exists to serve the unique business aspirations of ambitious SMEs like you. With a growing base of 80,000 customers in over 300 cities across India, we provide customized credit solutions for the diverse needs that you might have. Paperless loan application, minimal documentation requirement and quick processing ensure that you receive funds when you need it. Choose from our new, innovative financial solutions for FY 18-19 and get ready to #BreakLimits!

Oct 24, 2018

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GIFF – Redefining Business Finance for SMEs

A global economy is characterised not only by the free movement of goods and services but, more importantly, by the free movement of ideas and of capital.”     ~ George Soros

As a fully digitized lending platform, Capital Float provides flexible credit products to small and medium enterprises that are working towards achieving business growth. The Great Indian Finance Festival (GIFF) has been initiated to add further impetus to this objective. Organised in the Q2 of every financial year, this exclusive SME loan carnival brings opportunities for SMEs to get Capital Float’s business loans at reduced interest rates. This helps SMEs in procuring adequate capital to prepare for the festive season in India when the retail industry has maximum revenue-generating opportunities.

GIFF is driven by the vision that in a huge and culturally-diverse country like India, it is significant to fuel growth and entrepreneurship by providing access to finance to high potential, but traditionally under-served SMEs.

Building on Government initiatives

The launch of government-backed schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana led to a considerable increase in the number of bank accounts, but reportedly only about 15% of adult customers used these accounts to receive or make payments. Furthermore, as per a study by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, only 6% of small businesses obtain finance from organised lenders, hinting at the challenges for SMEs in getting loans¹. To sustain an economic growth rate of 7% to 8% per annum, there has to be a focus on widening the scope of financial institutions.

A survey involving 540 SMEs by the Firstbiz and Greyhound Knowledge Group in 2016 revealed that over 90% of the SMEs in India found ‘lack of easy finance and credit instruments’ to be their most critical challenge.

With a deep understanding of the market, Capital Float has consistently worked to provide easier access to loans to SMEs when compared to traditional banking channels. We bring you customized working capital solutions, borrower experience enhanced by technology and convenient processes to power your journey. Our objective is to enable SMEs in India to #BreakLimits and realize their true business potential.

The Indian SME is becoming a digital entity

A big change in the credit market comes from the digital lifestyle of Indian consumers. Currently, India is the second largest smartphone market with a user base of over 230 million. Moreover, an increasing number of SMEs are operating online by partnering with ecosystem juggernauts like Amazon, Flipkart, Alibaba, etc. Post demonetization in November 2016, a significant number of enterprises installed POS terminals at their stores, through which consumers could engage in cashless transactions. The Government has digitized data through initiatives like AADHAAR and GSTN, which can be used by Fintech lenders like Capital Float to assess and underwrite borrowers with higher levels of accuracy.

Capital Float has emerged a market leader in this environment by establishing itself as an online lending platform that offers customized working capital solutions. We have tailored a wide SME loan portfolio to ensure that we have a loan for every kind of SME and micro-entrepreneur in the country. For instance, we provide Online Seller Finance for e-commerce sellers operation on leading online marketplaces, and also service retailers using POS machines from the likes of Pine Labs, Mswipe, ICICI Merchant Cash Services, etc.

By using Capital Float services during GIFF, business credit seekers can get loans from ₹1 lakh to ₹100 lakhs starting from 16%. This is coupled with our BAU processes to enhance borrower experience in the form of live chats, knowledge centres and means to track loan application status online.

Conclusion

GIFF welcomes businesses from across the country to empower their journey for the festive season in 2017. Capital Float is ready to take quick and accurate lending decisions for them. We have comprehensive credit packages unfettered by restrictive lending policies, inflexible collateral requirements and slow disbursals times. SMEs can apply for loans online in ten minutes, upload the documentation required and receive funds in their account within three days.

In a phase where banks have tightened their purse strings to deal with bad loans, NBFCs are coming up with new strategies to spark up the investment drive. Capital Float is leading the initiative through GIFF, thereby contributing to the growth of SMEs in India. Providing cutting-edge working capital solutions for the SME sector is our organisation’s raison d’etre, and we have planned our policies accordingly.

Know more about the Great Indian Finance Festival 2017 at https://www.capitalfloat.com/giff

Oct 24, 2018

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Can Fintech companies partner with Traditional Banks?

India’s growth as an economic power in Asia has been consistent in the past one decade. In addition to the contribution of larger corporations and the multinational companies that have forayed here, this economic growth is significantly supported by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – a highly resilient and innovative sector that employees more than half of the Indian population.

The SME sector of India holds a huge potential for growth. However, the only challenge that could thwart their evolution is the lack of timely and adequate capital. A majority of the organisations in this sector operate as small entities that may lack the detailed documents or collateral required to procure loans from banks. Some of them are simply reluctant to offer their financial assets as security for the fear of losing them.

Given this lack of funds, small businesses face problems in meeting their operating expenses and are constrained from expanding their operations. Other problems include making payments on debt (owed to any other source of finance) and buying supplies to fulfil their contracts.

Financial Challagenes Faced by SMEs

A solution against such inadequacies has emerged in the form of FinTech companies that focus on financing small and medium enterprises.

The FinTech revolution has been facilitated by digital technology wherein funds are instantly provided to eligible SMEs after the evaluation of certain documents submitted online by them. As a pioneer in Fintech lending, Capital Float has a 10-minute online application processing system, followed by a three-day disbursal TAT.

The ease of borrowing from online lenders has also raised a question – are these companies a threat to the conventional lending setup established by banks?

Contrary to what is usually perceived, FinTech companies have proved to be active partners for banks and are helping them disburse more loans. They have assisted banks in identifying good customers faster and in disbursing quick credit.

Thanks to the robust growth of the economy in the last few years and the positive outlook for the manufacturing and services sectors, there is sufficient room for growth for both traditional and new age lending institutions.

Although their functioning may differ, lending decisions for both have to be guided by a good knowledge of the customer’s ability to repay the loan. Banks typically lend to individuals or businesses that have high regular income and/or the willingness to offer collateral as security. The collateral must be a financial asset that can be liquidated in case the borrower is unable to pay back. Banks refer to income tax returns, credit bureau scores and operational history of the concerned applicant.

In comparison, and driven by their intent to know their customers better, peer-to-peer lending companies employ non-conventional data sources for underwriting loans to individuals. As these companies are in the private sector, they are not fraught by a levy of formal regulations in evaluating clients for funds. They use multiple data points, including information extracted from new age technology such as big data analytics, to assess creditworthiness. In addition, they offer unsecured loans that do not require applicants to pledge any of their assets. These companies use a streamlined underwriting process along with risk management. Their work is characterised by extensive use of sophisticated technology and lower operating costs.

As the business of FinTech lending grows, banks also acknowledge that their customers today are technology savvy, and they are looking at ways where collaborations with online lenders can help them serve their own customers better. Because of their success in the credit market, FinTech companies have proved that this can be done without operational or regulatory risk to the lender.

Since 2015, the digital lending industry has undergone significant changes, and chief among these is the shift towards a cashless system. The promotion of cashless technologies – digital wallets, Internet banking and mobile-based point of sale – has reshaped the financial sector. Later, demonetisation became a major factor that popularized the concept of online lending.

As a positive development, banks are now looking at online lenders as partners instead of as competitors in the market. Some banks have made arrangements where they, in return for a small fee, refer customers to p2p lending platforms that provide unsecured loans that not offered by banks. Through such a program, they facilitate loans for businesses that deserve to get funds but cannot procure them from banks due to long-established, inflexible rules.

Some banks are part of programs that let them use a FinTech organisation’s technology to provide small business loans. These loans are retained on the bank’s own books, but the FinTech company’s platform is used to approve and service them. The banks see this as an opportunity to offer a product they generally do not have on their portfolio but (by seeking the support of a peer-to-peer lender), it helps them retain precious client relationships.

Banks have large balance sheets that they can use to provide loans and cater to promising start-ups and SMEs with a consistent growth rate. However, their conventional underwriting practices have deterred them from promoting some SME segments. Conversely, the government has now highlighted SME as a priority sector in the economic development of India. Therefore, the banks have to meet their new business lending targets without incurring huge costs.

The credit gap in the market can be closed with a fruitful relationship between banks and peer-to-peer lending companies. Capital Float has custom-made loan products and fine-tuned technology to help banks achieve their goals. It can help them reach out to businesses in need, and banks can then use their financial strength to service them.

New age financial technology has transformed the way consumers, and businesses, borrow and spend money. The aim of FinTech lending is to enhance the convenience of financial services and bridge the gap between demand and supply of small business loans. To help their customers, banks can effectively work alongside peer-to-peer lenders instead of competing with them.

Oct 24, 2018