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Optus SMB launches Optus Smart Shop

Establishes 24-hour team of tech specialists to take the guess work out of mastering apps and technology in new apps marketplace

Optus SMB is continuing to ramp up small to medium business services by introducing a marketplace of cloud software applications and a specialist 24-hour IT support line to help customers make the most out of their apps.

Optus Smart Shop is designed to make running a small business easier by providing technical support and apps that reduce time consuming tasks such as creating invoices, managing expenses or providing access to business documents from a mobile device or tablet.

Matthew Ball, Head of Optus SMB said, “We know that often small business operators invest considerable sums into IT infrastructure and IT support services.

“Optus Smart Shop is designed from the ground up to gather a comprehensive suite of business software applications to more cost effectively meet the needs of Australian small business.”

According to Mr Ball, technology can be challenging for SMBs that are not tech savvy, so providing tailored technology support and solutions is increasingly important.

“To help SMB operators, we have created a support service for the new Optus Smart Shop marketplace so customers can select and set-up apps and programs to improve business efficiency in order to spend their time doing other things.”

Sage One, a one-stop-shop to help small businesses manage cash flow and monitor how their business is performing financially at a glance, is just one of the apps that Optus offers as part of this new initiative.

To announce the launch of Optus Smart Shop, the telco and Sage One have come together to offer Aussie small businesses tips to avoid a cash flow crisis.

10 ways to avoid a cash flow crisis

1. Credit control. Setting up a good credit control system shouldn't be complicated - it’s really all about getting paid as soon as possible - but it’s essential to put some procedures in place. The basics include setting clear credit limits and payment terms for your customers, sending out invoices promptly and firmly chasing all debts when due. You should also stay on top of customer payments and be quick to stop offering credit to bad payers.

2. Sales forecasting. Put simply, sales forecasting is all about predicting what’s ahead so you can prepare for cash flow peaks and troughs. As soon as you have a month’s sales behind you, you can start forecasting cash flow - using your market knowledge, think about your pricing, the level of competition, the state of the economy and so on, to work out demand.

3. Cutting unnecessary costs and spend. When it comes to maintaining cash flow, think lean and mean. Scrutinise every item you buy, know exactly where your cash is going and always get value for money. Work out what you really need, too - those office pot plants might look nice but they won’t grow your business.

4. Negotiating good terms with suppliers. It’s always worth investigating to see if you can extend payment terms with suppliers. After all, if you can settle your bill in 60 days or even 90 days rather than 30, you get to hold onto your money for longer and this helps regulate cash flow in a business. If you’re thinking about making a big order, don’t miss the chance to negotiate - could you set up a regular payment plan for example rather than paying off outstanding amounts in one go?

5. Managing stock. Monitoring stock closely and only ordering what you need is essential to avoid outlying unnecessary cash. Work out what sells quickly and profitably in order to keep income steady and make sure you’re not tying up funds in slow moving items that are difficult to shift. If you’re looking for a quick cash injection, try selling off old or outdated stock at a cheaper price.

6. Don’t tie up cash. If you’ve got orders coming in, it’s always tempting to buy the latest equipment or splash out on impressive new kit. But think wisely before splurging on excessive purchases and try to hold on to liquid cash. If you’re buying assets like computers, ask if the supplier will offer a finance deal over a year or consider taking out an overdraft. Be sure to make use of the generous small business tax concessions wherever possible and consider the timing of your purchase.

7. Keep on good terms with lenders. Times might be tight and it’s harder to get a loan than it used to be but it still pays to keep on the right side of the bank. Always keep your books up to date so you can show your figures, just in case you need to borrow - and don’t forget, if you’re struggling with repayments, talk to your lender rather than burying your head in the sand about the debt.

8. Invoice discounting. It won’t suit every business model but one way to regulate cash flow is to use invoice discounting, also referred to as factoring, where a third party ‘buys’ your invoice and releases cash based on its value. If you’re growing, it can be a good option and some lenders will give you up to 90 per cent of the invoice amount. Fees can be high however so always shop around - it’s a very competitive market.

9. Spotting the warning signs. A drop in turnover, customers taking longer to pay and being forced to settle supplier invoices later than usual - these are all classic signs that your cash flow is suffering. Don’t ignore the warnings - it’s generally easier to work out ways to increase working capital before you’ve built up a lot of debt.

10. Managing accounts on the go. Not all business owners manage their accounts in an office using a desktop. Ensure your accounts stay on track even when you're out of the office by getting easy access them online via the Sage One App. The app, available from Optus Smart Shop, will help to manage your accounts effectively when you're on the go with your smartphone or tablet device.

The Optus Smart Shop provides a range of cloud based apps and services for small business owners including:

*   Microsoft Office 365. Access to all the Microsoft Office applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook securely online. Includes Skype for Business.

*   Microsoft SharePoint. Access content on-the-go. It’s like having your company’s intranet in your pocket.

*   Norton. Access to protection tools that identify suspect files, emails, websites and social media for malware, intrusion and virus dangers.

*   Sage One. Keep track of money going in and out of your business and monitor at a glance how your business is performing financially.

*   Xpenditure. Say goodbye to manual data entry and capture receipts by simply taking a picture with your phone.

*   MozyPro. Ensures you never lose critical business files again by backing them up to the MozyPro secure servers.

*   PlanHQ. Access all the help you need creating each section of your business plan, with detailed guides and sample plans to map your vision for your business.

*   Act! Cloud. Merge all your contacts in one place, drawing information from multiple sources so you know who is who.

*   Cloud Flow. Optus’ key SMB ICT service partner and the provider of Small Business App Support and Setup & Configuration services.

More Smart Shop information including pricing can be found here: Optus Smart Shop

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