The Small Retailer’s Survival Manual

In this tenth and final part of a series of articles about how to survive as a small retailer, I will summarize the main points from the articles and have a look at what the future holds.

Retailing is one of the toughest businesses there is. The reason is that, although trade may be steady, it is a low margin business. This means you work long and hard for little reward. You are in a market where the customers are very knowledgeable about the products they are buying and the have a preset idea of what range of price they are prepared to pay. You are in a business where “the big order” never comes. All you can do is grow your business steadily and hope that a superstore doesn’t open over the road and steal your customers. If you seriously struggling as a small retailer, the first thing to ask yourself is “am I ready for the fight?”. If you have doubts, it may be time to quit right now. On the other hand if you are up for it, by working to your strengths as a small retailer and by hanging in there, the rewards may be better than you imagined.

Some people bemoan the demise of small stores and blame the large chains for their downfall. Superficially this is true, but this is like Yahoo! blaming Google for its downfall (should it ever happen) or radio stations blaming television for losing audience and advertising revenue. I suspect that few of the people who want small stores kept as museums would be prepared to support them by buying goods from them if they are given the choice of better value for money in a chain store over the road. So get real. Forget blaming the opposition. You need to do this for yourself. You never know, you

may one day expand your business into a large chain yourself – and then the little guys may all blame you!

If you are struggling as a small retailer then the most obvious thing you need to do is to change what you do. Some changes may be low cost and easy, others may require you to invest in the business and will mean a lot of effort and commitment. The key thing is to compete with other stores by working

to your strengths. The greatest strength a small local retailer has is that it is small and local. Large chains cannot be small and, although an individual branch is local, it’s primary focus is to the company and not the community it serves. Large chains will never be good at buying local products. Fragmenting buying power from localities is a contradiction of the way large chains are structured. They buy in bulk for a large customer base spread over large areas – that is why their prices are competitive. On the other hand, a small retailer can forge links with local producers. There may be a factory down the road that makes toy cars (OK then, a factory down the road that imports and packs toy cars that are nowadays made in China). You may also have a local dairy that sends their milk to a large store chain but may be happy to sell you a few pints each day. Explore your locality – you may be surprised at what you discover, and the bargains that you can negotiate by going straight to the source rather than through a wholesaler. Offering your customers local products is a good way of demonstrating one of your greatest strengths and having your own unique selling point (USP). You may even be first in the queue for new product trials. This will give your store a very specific and potent USP.

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Good Retail Merchandising is Vital to Brand Perception and Customer Retention

How often do you go to the grocery store to find that your favourite product is sold out or is out of stock? How does this impact your customer experience and your perception of the retailer and the brand? If you are in the consumer packaged goods or retail business and this has happened to you then you now know how frustrating this type of occurrence can be from a customer’s perspective.

Good retail merchandising is the key to a brand’s success as it relates to brand perception, sales and customer retention. When a customer visits a retailer and items that they are looking for are not there simply because they have not made it to the shelf or, worse, are out of stock, it hurts the perception of both the brand and retailer.

Think about it. If you love Tide detergent and on your weekly grocery runs to Loblaw’s you cannot buy it two weeks in a row, what would you do?

1.You may switch grocery stores and start shopping at Metro because Tide is always in stock there. In this scenario the retailer is impacted.

2.You may switch brands of detergent, deciding to buy Sunlight instead. In this scenario the brand is impacted.

3.You may become frustrated, decide to switch grocery stores and go to No Frills, for example, to find that there is a huge cost savings by switching to the store’s “No Name” brand detergent. In this scenario both the brand and retailer are impacted.

In all three scenarios, had the brand been in stock and on the shelf, the customer would not have been inconvenienced and the brand would have retained its customer. We gave Tide as an example, which is a well-known item with massive brand recognition in the marketplace as well as a dedicated customer following. This brand may be considered “worth” switching retailers for. Many other brands may not yet have gained such consumer loyalty, which is why the stakes are high in retail merchandising.

Outside of offering a fantastic product, accessibility and reliability is a huge factor where customer retention is concerned. Products that are not properly merchandised (price tags are not on merchandise, for example) and not adequately stocked, result in lost sales for the brand and retailer and, in the worst case scenario, can result in a shift in customer loyalty.

Retail is extremely competitive and if you are a customer whose retailer is not carrying what you need you can be rest assured that another retailer (competition) within close proximity will. Something as simple as working with a company who offers retail merchandising services will ensure that the perception of your brand is not impacted by issues that occur at the retail level. Retail merchandising is something that requires constant attention to ensure that at any given time your product is in stock, on the shelf and priced, ensuring the accessibility that the average retail customer expects.

The importance of Retail Merchandising

Retail is big business. Even during the recent recession you could go down to your local shopping center and find it packed with people carrying bags from the large high street retailers. The question is how do retailers convince shoppers that they need to buy from them?

In its simplest form you could say that if someone knows they want to buy a product they will just buy it they dont need any convincing. What what about the potential for upselling accessories for that product, or planting a seed in a customers mind to buy something else?

That is where Retail Merchandising can help.

In the past many retailers have seen merchandising as nothing more than an expense, where as now it can be seen as a profitable investment. The science of merchandising is based around a solid marketing plan and no matter how big or small your operation you should allocate a sensible budget for your merchandising.

So how can it make you more profit?

Retail Merchandising isnt just about putting products onto a shelf. Its about planning, product mix, customer experience and execution. A good merchandiser will look at your store in the eyes of your customers right from the moment they enter the store to the moment they leave. Questions that you should ask yourself, from a customers perspective are things like:

-Is my shop front inviting enough to want to make people come in and browse? -Is product presentation clear and appealing? -Are prices marked in a clear fashion? -Are products placed strategically around the store?

These are just a few simple questions that should be asked when it comes to merchandising your store.

One of the important things to remember about merchandising is that retail trends change, so merchandising isnt a one off exercise. Its about moving with the times and creating a continuous appeal to your customers and audience. This might mean bringing in new product ranges, re-arranging your store, sending out seasonal messages in your shop windows. Its about staying on the pulse and ensuring that shoppers are made to want to visit your store and part with their hard earned money.

Turnaround Your Retail Business

Turning around a retail business is easy, so much a lot of straightforward in fact than the many books written on the subject. Once you cut away all the fluff, it extremely comes down to some basics. Get these right and you’ll the focus on the additional complicated ideas.
The high six concepts for turning around a retail business in tough times are:
USP. Guarantee that the business contains a unique selling proposition, product, services or different factors which make the business distinctive from others in the same field. If you are doing not contains a USP why should people search with you?
Value management. Create certain that business prices are managed, that you are not spending cash on non-income generating activities. If your prices aren’t managed and are indeed out of management then you wish to sell more to cope with this.
Use folks who wish to figure there. Cheerful employees help you sell additional products. Selecting the right folks is very important to making any business more successful.
Competitive offer. Your product combine and pricing would like to demonstrate that your business is competitive. If your costs don’t seem to be good or your product combine not right then why would client shop with you?
Traffic generation. It is vitally necessary to plug the business outside its four walls. How you are doing this can depend on the business. Too usually, businesses in trouble are spending nothing or terribly very little on promoting their businesses. External selling could be a free check in your automotive, an advertisement or a self created flyer.
Being client friendly. Ensure that your retail business is laid out to suit customers and to assist them pay money.
The following pointers are non ancient because they’re straightforward and specialize in very basic ideas. While there are lots of different ideas for turning around a retail business, if you do not have these basic ideas right then the additional complicated and time consuming ideas can not help.
if your retail business is in trouble, start immediately to require action. Doing something, anything, is healthier than nothing and worrying. The ideas in this article are designed to get you pondering steps you can take while not spending money.

Keys to Establishing an Effective Retail Pet Bird Department

How to Set up a Retail Bird Department or Shop

Establishing a top-notch pet bird department isnt difficult, but it does require a commitment to providing customers with exceptional service, knowledge and products. Sales are built on relationships, so it is imperative to develop excellent communication skills both in the store and in following up with customers and prospects. Each employee should be trained in product knowledge and sales techniques to represent your business and effectively maintain customer relationships. Wylds Wingdom has developed guidelines for getting a great bird department off the ground and maintaining strong repeat business.

A Strong Beginning

The greeting your customer receives is one of the most important parts of the retail experience. Whether taking a call from a prospective customer or greeting a walk-in, it is important to give an upbeat and welcoming greeting. “Good morning! Welcome to (or thank you for calling) store name” followed by “How can I help you today?” Asking a walk-in customer “Can I help you?” gives them the opportunity to say, “No, thanks” or “Im just browsing.” Asking how you can help or what the customer is looking for requires an answer that opens the door to conversation and allows you to begin interacting with the customer.

You can also ask a walk-in customer if theyve ever been in your store before. If they say “yes” you can welcome them back, which makes them feel valued and reminds them that theyve done business with you before. If they say “no” you can tell them a little bit about how the store is set up and give a little information about yourself, and then ask what theyre looking for.
The timing of the greeting is also important. Greet customers immediately so that they feel welcomed and know you are there to answer questions and give advice. Many customers who walk out of a store without buying do so because they feel ignored or like there is no one available to help them. Deliver your greetings with sincerity and warmth and make an effort to get to know the needs of repeat customers and you will see a big difference in customer response.

Keep the Conversation Going

As a retailer you are a problem-solver for your customers. You provide the solutions to their needs by supplying them with the products theyve been looking for. Thats great if they actually know what they are looking for and what they need. As a retailer of pet bird supplies, you have a huge bank of knowledge to draw from, to provide customers with the information needed to make more purchases. You know about new products, new discoveries in the world of avian health, food and equipment. You are the expert!

As a retailer, you should feel good about sharing your expertise, giving your customers the knowledge and products needed to give their birds what they need for a healthy, happy life. The best way to begin with customers is to engage in conversation. Asking the right questions is the most effective way to assist your customers and increase sales. Find out what they are looking for, and then ask why they want that particular product. This opens the door for the customer to talk more about their situation, their particular bird, and that birds needs. Pet bird owners generally enjoy talking about their pet, and your questions about species, housing, diet, activities and habits will provide you with valuable information. This is a great opportunity for you to use your unique avian knowledge and recommend the specific item that best suits their need, as well as additional products that might work well for the customer.

Once you build rapport with the customer and are able to make effective recommendations, you increase the chances of future purchases as well as referrals to other bird owners.

Staying in Touch Using Social Media & Email Marketing

The opportunity to interact with customers doesnt end when they leave the store. Establishing successful customer relationships requires frequent “touches”. Once you have the interest of a customer or a prospective customer, its important to stay in touch with them, reminding them of your business and what makes it special. This is especially effective in retail businesses where you provide customers with products they buy over and over again, such as pet food and supplies.

Email marketing and social media are two effective ways of staying in touch with a high volume of prospects and customers while maintaining a personalized feel to the interactions. In order to stay in touch via email marketing, youve got to be sure to capture email addresses. If your checkout system is run by computer, make asking for an email address a part of the check-out process in the store. Alternatively, you can keep a stack of information cards near the register and ask customers if theyd like to fill one out and join your email list. Make this question a part of your phone script for prospective customers as well. Let them know that you carry a wide range of products and would like to let them know when you are offering specials or have exciting, new products available.

Establishing a Facebook page and Twitter feed is a great way to let customers and bird fanciers know whats happening in your world. You can build credibility, establish yourself as an expert, highlight new or popular products, and offer followers special deals. For those in your email database, providing a clickable link to your Facebook and Twitter pages in your email updates and asking recipients to “like” or follow your business is an effective way to build followers. Provide in-store customers with a card that gives your Facebook, Twitter and webpage addresses, or have it print on every receipt. Ask followers to recommend your pages to their friends, and spread the word through your local Avian club or other community groups.

Social media has become a necessity in todays business world. Unlike traditional advertising, social media brings a personal edge to your marketing. Through social media, you become more than just a name to your audience; you become a person with whom they can interact. You can engage with your customers and not only brand your business, but build a sense of trust and credibility. When you communicate with your social media audience, you are not only communicating with your followers or fans, but also with your followers followers. The fact that someone “likes” or follows you is seen as an endorsement to their connections, allowing you to reach a whole new audience.

In addition to these benefits, social media will help you get a pulse on what your customers want. Social media makes it easy for customers to comment and give feedback, allowing you to see what it is that they like, dont like, want and dont want. You can use this information to better your service, your products, and in turn, your business.

The Latest in Social Media Trends

A sure sign of the role social media is taking in marketing is the recent launch of Google Plus for businesses. Similar to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites, Google Plus offers the advantages of communicating with your customers on a more personal level, getting to know their preferences, and getting a personal endorsement from them. Google Plus has the added advantage of the “+1” button, which takes this endorsement to a new level. Google Plus melds together social media, its email system (gmail), AND its search engine so your business gets exposure, not only through your followers, but also through your email contacts AND anyone who sees your website come up in a Google search.
If your website is properly encoded for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes and someone does a Google search using your keywords, your website could pop up and that person could see your Google Plus page and “+1” it, endorsing it to all of their followers and friends as well as Google itself. Google states, “+1s” from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a users query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a pages relevance and ranking.”
What this means is that Google itself is saying that having and using a Google Plus page will help increase your ranking on search engines. While Google Plus is going to be the major contributor to SEO, interacting on all of the different social media sites will benefit your SEO. The algorithms for SEO ranking are changing and are including more and more of the social media postings, so if you want a higher search engine ranking, you will need to establish an active social media presence.

Training Your Bird Department Associates

Giving your bird department staff the best tools for dealing with a wide range of customers and situations is an effective way to keep customers coming back and reduce staff turnover. Confident, well-trained employees will appreciate their work environment and pass on their positive feelings to customers.

Its a good idea to develop an employee handbook that outlines policies and procedures. An employee handbook can address rules, expectations, and the ways in which employees should represent your business and brand. This is the first step in developing effective retail associates who are reliable and responsible.

Developing a training program can save time down the road when bringing new employees on board. Take the time to create your training protocol once, and each new employee will receive the same consistent information on store basics such as opening and closing procedures, cleaning and pet bird care, handling sales and returns, stocking and inventory, and the customer interaction techniques outlined in the previous sections. The manual can cover greetings, collecting information, assisting customers through conversation, etc.

Product knowledge and general bird care knowledge are other areas that will require training for your bird department associates. If you have birds in your store or department, your employees should be trained on the basic information about the species you carry. Customers will look to sales associates as the “experts”, so they should be able to answer questions and provide information about various bird species.

Encourage employees to familiarize themselves with inventory, and make educational resources on bird species and care available. Holding regular meetings or training sessions before or after hours will give you an opportunity to go over popular products and how they can be introduced and explained to customers. Role playing is another effective way to work through product knowledge and how staff can effectively listen to customers and direct them to the products they need. Regular meetings will also keep everyone up-to-date on new products, new displays and promotions, and industry news.

Consistent mentoring and training of employees can often give staff a sense of ownership and accountability, which ultimately adds to your stores success.

How a Website Design Company Can Help You with a Retail Site

If you have an online store and you find that you are not generating enough sales then you should consider hiring a website design company. This is because they can help you design the best retail store, generate more customers that want to buy, and make sure your site is exactly what shoppers are looking for.

When you have an online shop your goals may be for it to appear as an online catalogue or you may want it to look like a virtual store. No matter what the goals are a web site design company is going to work with you to meet your expectations. They will build your retail store to make your products look as appealing as possible. The designer will work hard to use plenty of keywords with product descriptions, attractive product photos, and much more. Your site will look like a very professional online store that shows the visitors you really are serious.

Another thing that a website design company is going to do for your retail site is drive as many customers to your business as possible. You want as many customers as possible because you need to generate as many sales as you can. Did you know that 8% of visitors make purchases on sites. That means that the more visitors you have the more revenues you will generate to the business. A designer understands the importance of sales and they will work hard to help you bring in as many customers as possible.

Shoppers expect many things online today. When you use a professional web design company you are making a good decision because they know how to create a site that is exactly what the visitors are looking for. They know how to create interest with the visitors and how to prove to the visitors that you are the right business to purchase the product from. The designer may focus on why your products are the best or reasons why you are the best company to shop from. They will find the niche and make you stand out from the rest.

There are many things that a website design company can do for a retail store online. These things include bringing in as many customers as possible, meeting your goals, and learning what it is that the shoppers are really looking for. A design firm will make you stand out from the rest.

Enjoy Some Secret Mens Designer Clothing Retail Therapy

Everyone likes to indulge themselves at points during their life, the break of a relationship is the ideal time to spend some money and get some new clothes that make you feel better! Even if it only a quick fix who are we to complain, why not channel that energy into getting you looking your best again, and then you will feel ready to go out and take on the world.

Relationships are hard especially when they come to an unexpected end! But that doesnt mean that you should sit around wallowing for weeks! Get online instead who knows maybe you could find the new love of your life or a really cool shirt that would bridge the gap for now.

The Early Stages
Too sad to leave the house at least stay home in style wearing some great Franklin and Marshall tracksuit bottoms. They are incredibly soft and will leave you feeling comforted in your hour of misery. You can choose from melancholy grey through to deep purple for those of you who are feeling a little more optimistic!

Looking to hide from people in the street, a good baseball cap will do the job especially teamed with a pair of sunglasses. Your disguise can also be a fashion statement if you get it designer and add some designer clothing and a bit of swagger.

Ready to Get Out There Again
Mens designer clothing is a huge retail market and can exactly what you are looking for when you are feeling down in the dumps. Jeans are a big part of most mens wardrobes and they are available in a range of different cuts to suit your style and mood. If you want to drastically change your look you could change from baggy to super tight, you can bet no one would have seen that coming! Or simply stick to your faithful style and try a different designer instead there is a huge range out there for you to choose from.

With summer approaching a new polo shirt would be perfect to have you feeling good again. These t shirts that started life as a tennis shirt have become a fashion staple for the style aware guy, particularly with a popped collar, although this is to be done at your discretion!

Pretty much all of the top brand menswear companies including Lyle & Scott and Franklin and Marshall have their own brand logo polo shirt available in a huge range of colours. Not only are these shirts incredibly comfortable they are also smart looking and could help you find your next love.

With so much excellent mens designer clothing to pick from online you have no excuse to sit around feeling sorry for yourself in bad clothing.

What does a job in Retail Merchandising involve

Merchandisers are the unsung heroes of the retail industry. Whilst plenty of businesses employ their own staff to carry out merchandising work, plenty of others dont, because these businesses recognise that Retail Merchandisers can offer a lot more efficiency in store. Jobs in retail merchandising offer lots of variety, socialising and travel options.

Retail Merchandisers dont just work on the shop floor. Merchandisers who are permanently based at one company will be expected to plan trading strategies and sales forecasts, possessing good number skills to work with buyers and finance departments. Analysing the popularity of certain lines and being one step ahead of upcoming trends also means a good business head is essential.

Retail Merchandisers can also be employed by an external agency, working on contract in teams up and down the country. These Retail Merchandisers will visit stores for a short period of time when the company is implementing a new store format or undergoing a seasonal changeover. To work as a temporary or contract Retail Merchandiser, you must have excellent team working skills to bond with your colleagues and merge seamlessly with the stores existing staff, as well being sociable, approachable and professional at all times.

Jobs in Retail Merchandising are very flexible, and due to the scale of some store format and changeover plans, evenings, nights and weekend work is nearly always compulsory. If you are working on contract for a retail merchandising agency, you will be expected to travel the country and stay in temporary accommodation. Employment in a retail environment is normally essential for a job in retail merchandising, but it is desirable to have at least some experience of a customer facing role. The job is also physically demanding, so some familiarity with roles that involve lifting, moving, pushing and pulling is ideal.

Fancy joining something special? We are one of the leading agencies supplying Retail Merchandisers to major retailers up and down the country. Take a look at what Retail Merchandising jobs we have to offer.

The Small Business Loan – For Cart Outlets, Retail Shops And Restaurants

Among the very lucrative, although unpredictable, business ventures these days are restaurants, retail shops, and cart outlets. Despite widespread belief it being not only a really rewarding company due to the fact that majority of the items isnt only random and inconsistent, but they are bought from extremely low-prices, also, possibly to catch the attention of the people. Items range from toys to clothing and just about everything in between or beyond it. And also due to the variety of the items, the cart business has multiplied to grow to be a big part on the economic market, and that alone is reason enough for a few entrepreneurs to venture into this.

The good thing about these companies is the fact that despite having only a modest amount of funds, one can already start. This completely matches those who want to begin despite a limited budget. Area represents a big role within the success of cart businesses, as well as true enough, the most strategic of places happen to be targeted by merchants – from mall kiosks to theme parks to school grounds, and even corporate buildings. In a cart company, it’s crucial to reach to any target demographic as wide as achievable.

Nevertheless, loan companies remain not satisfied sufficient to loosely accept applications for company loans by carting entrepreneurs. Obtaining money for capital to start an organization could certainly a dull method even just in schemes set as an alternative to little enterprise loan. Due to the lower capital base, a quick-moving money flow is required within the retail business. If your demand for a specific product rises, carting businessmen should right away improve their supply of it to retail. Corporate lenders, however, require collateral along with a excellent company personal credit line as component in the application, as a result of the fact that retail companies are subject to market changes.

Nevertheless, new financing groups are already offering alternative methods to a small business loan through having cash completed by borrowing against future earnings. In this scheme, payment is to be taken off in the receivables till the debt is compensated. Comparable to credit cards, money is accessed in a fast and handy manner, minus the hassle of needing to wait in a seemingly never ending queue, not to mention the overwhelming documentary requirements.

An alternate program in small business financing is through restaurant equipment financing, in which the loan is amortized for a term ranging from 7-25 years, depending on the nature of the loan. This loan is assured with the government, and for that reason appeals to a fair amount of purchasers. These alternative lending programs have grow to be so appealing to tiny, medium and massive companies alike, a healthy competition among financial institutions and new lending firms have turn into apparent. As with all of healthy competitions, the objective is to reduce the prices – or in this case, the standards – to cater to the most client bases feasible. That’s undoubtedly a win-win on both entrepreneur and financing institutions.