How a Web Based Employee Scheduling Software Helps Your Business Grow

Arranging schedules for any size group of employees takes a lot of time out of the busy day of any manager. If there are two or three shifts of workers to be coordinated, it is even more challenging. Tracking schedule changes for even a small workforce using paper, whiteboard or even a spreadsheet can prove to be a daunting and error prone task. Employee scheduling software can solve the problem.As any manager knows, wasting time is wasting money. Profits are negatively impacted when too many employees are on the schedule. Employees become unable to handle the volume if too few are scheduled. Additionally being understaffed will most definitely impact the quality of service that business provides to its customers. The software makes such decisions automatically or can assist the manager every step of the way.Such a program does everything a manager can do and at a speed above his or her capabilities. A database is developed to track vacation and sick days for each employee and save those records. The payroll can be calculated and prepared based on those records.Availability includes simple record keeping programs and more complicated ones that can track vacation requests, healthcare costs and manufacturing or distribution details. It facilitates easier gathering of information needed each year at tax time.Many businesses do employee evaluations and the record of each worker can be added to the database. If bonuses are given out, this is a quick way to determine who deserves what. It may also contribute to major decisions on who to promote and who to let go.Additional benefits include implementation of ways to respond to weather conditions for a business that does outdoors work, for example a lawn service or construction company. Use of company vehicles in an economical way and keeping administrative costs to a bare minimum is easily accomplished.Many employee scheduling systems have the capability to incorporate a module with mobile capabilities. During deliveries or sales calls, employees can be quickly contacted for any exchange of information or emergency. When a meeting or sales call is cancelled, this can avoid wasting time driving to the location for the meeting and all the way back to the home office without making contact.A scheduling software that integrates with company’s bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks will provide an additional bonus by automating client invoicing and employee payroll processes.Few scheduling solutions on the market also offer integrated electronic visit verification (EVV) functionality that allows employees to clock in and out when they start and end their shifts. Integrated EVV system greatly reduces the time it takes to reconcile employee time sheets and allows business to invoice their clients faster.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Lettuce Gardening Tips

Gardeners can select from a large variety of lettuces that are easy to grow, highly productive in limited space, and virtually pest and disease free. Lettuce is definitely one of the more “care-free” crops. Lettuce is a great way to start gardening; it is what I started out with actually. There are a few key principles though that should always be kept in mind.LettuceFor maximum lettuce production, it’s wise to select a site where the soil drains well, yet retains some moisture. The soil should also be rich in nitrogen and potassium, The best way to accomplish this is to work in plenty of organic matter (compost, rotted manure, or leaf mold) that will loosen and enrich the soil.Most lettuce varieties mature in 45 to 55 days, allowing many gardeners to plant two or even three crops. But looseleaf and butterhead leaves can be harvested at just about any time in their development. Heading varieties take longer to mature. Romaine takes 75 to 85 days and crisphead 70 to 100 days.By choosing the right varieties and with these lettuce gardening tips, it’s possible to have lettuce in your garden throughout the growing season. This lettuce is great for salads throughout the growing season. There really is nothing better than a fresh Caesar salad with fresh romaine from the garden!Lettuce Gardening TipsLettuce HistoryLettuce, one of the oldest food plants known to man, is believed to have originated in India and Central Asia. Even Herodotus wrote of lettuce being served in ancient Greece, and it was a most favorite vegetable in ancient Rome. This is where we get “Caesar Salad”! In fact, the word “lettuce” is derived from the Latin root word “lac” meaning “milk,” referring to the milky juice found in mature lettuce stems.Columbus and other European explorers brought lettuce seeds to the New World. Our early colonists included lettuce in the first gardens planted in American soil. Today, lettuce is a favorite vegetable here and around the world. It has revolutionized all cultures of food, from hamburgers to salads.More Lettuce Gardening TipsLettuce is so easy to grow it can be started indoors for early transplants or sown directly in the garden. In fact, doing both is recommended to get maximum production. Lettuce seeds are extremely tiny, so it is recommended to be generous with them when planting. It is a good idea toRomaine Lettucestart some lettuce seeds indoors in peat pots a few weeks before the last frost date in your area. Provide the seedlings with plenty of sunlight or keep them under artificial lighting until ready to move into the garden. Transplant the seedlings as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. If a hard freeze threatens, protect the seedlings with a cloche or row cover. Reserve a number of lettuce seedlings to fill empty spaces in the garden as the season progresses.To sow lettuce directly in the garden, simply plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, tamp them down, and water. It’s that simple! Space the sowings according to packet directions that are based on the size of the mature lettuce. For example, a crisphead may require a square foot of garden space. As many as nine plants of a small leaf lettuce variety can grow in the same space.Keep in mind that lettuce seeds won’t germinate in soil that is 80 degrees F. or warmer, so there’s no sense in sowing directly in the garden in the summer. Resort to starting heat-tolerant varieties indoors and moving the lettuce seedlings into the garden, preferably under partial shade, after they’ve developed a few true leaves.Lettuce CultivationHere are two cultivation tips to keep in mind:Succession plantings.Lettuce is ideal for succession planting. Sow seeds every two weeks for production throughout the season, starting with early lettuce varieties, using heat-tolerant varieties as your main crop, and then switching to fall crops late in the summer. Or, if you prefer, use lettuce in successions with other crops. For example, plant lettuce in the spring, followed by bush beans in the summer, followed by lettuce again in the fall.Watering.The key to lettuce production is supplying moderate but almost constant water, especially during hot weather. Unless there is regular rainfall, lettuce must be watered deeply at least once a week- more frequently during periods of drought. Mulch with a layer of compost or clean straw to help the soil retain moisture. A drip-irrigation system is ideal.Lettuce Growing TipsTo improve overall lettuce production, consider using the following four techniques.Raised beds.To maximize lettuce production, plant seeds in raised beds. The raised beds warm up faster than the surrounding ground. You should be able to get an earlier start in the spring and a later crop in the fall. Raised bed gardening is, without a doubt, the best way to garden anything out there. Its simplicity, organization, incredible fertility, and results are astounding.Living mulch.To make the most of limited garden space, plant lettuce around taller plants like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, and eggplants. This helps the lettuce grow a lot better; if they are left in the beating sun without moisture, they will not be able to survive. The lettuce helps its neighbor by keeping the surrounding soil moist and cool and keeping weeds shaded out. As the taller plants grow, they provide needed shade for the lettuce as the days get warmer.’Tucking.’You can also start lettuce seedlings indoors for filling vacancies in the garden in late spring and again in early fall as other crops are harvested. Simply ‘tuck’ a seedling in the vacant spot to keep every inch of garden space in constant production.Ornamental use.Many varieties of lettuce are welcome additions to ornamental beds. For example, ‘Mighty Red Oak,’ ‘Sweet Red,’and ‘Sierra Blush’ can easily fill gaps in flowerbeds, adding splashes of red where needed.Insects and DiseasesLettuce is generally disease and pest free, but you should still be vigilant.Cutworms and slugs are the most bothersome pests. Use a paper collar around young lettuce seedlings to keep the ravenous caterpillars at bay. Slugs are tougher to control. Sprinkle wood ashes or diatomaceous earth over the soil around the plants to discourage the nasty mollusks. Be sure to reapply after each rainfall.A major threat is lettuce rot which first attacks the lower leaves in contact with the soil and then spreads throughout the plant.With these lettuce gardening tips, you can stop this. The best way to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases is to rotate crops. Don’t plant lettuce in the same bed two years in a row.Raised Bed of LettucePerhaps the greatest threat to lettuce growing are deer. If there is no protection or netting over these lettuce plants, I can assure you that the deer will have a salad bar feast and everything will be gone. I specially recommend the plastic raised beds with pre-made nets from gardeners. These are what I use for my garden. These lettuce gardening tips will save you a ton of time that I had to learn by experience.Lettuce Harvesting TipsLettuce can be harvested any time after true leaves form. For the best quality, better to pick early than late as lettuce allowed to grow too long may be bitter and tough.To harvest crisphead, Batavia, and romaine varieties, cut the plant right at the soil line when mature, if you prefer to harvest full heads. You can do the same with butterhead and looseleaf lettuce, but I prefer to harvest only the outer leaves as needed. This keeps the plants in production longer. Try to harvest in the morning when the leaves are crisp, sweet, and full of moisture.When the crown of a lettuce plant elongates, it’s about to bolt to produce seed and the plant has passed its prime. Yank the lettuce plant out, toss it on the compost pile, and replant the space with another crop like bush beans, or with another lettuce seedling.Recipes and StoragePrimarily water, lettuce does not store well. For the best quality and flavor, use homegrown lettuce soon after harvest. This is particularly true for many of the looseleaf varieties, which wilt readily.Combine crisp, crunchy lettuce varieties with soft, buttery-smooth types. For example, a blend of ‘Little Caesar,’ ‘Burpee Bibb’, ‘Mighty Red Oak Leaf,’ and ‘Crispy Frills’ makes a fine tossed salad with a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. With the lettuce gardening tips, you will be able to grow and try different blends until you find the ones that most delight your palate.