Category Archives for "Small Business"

Tough Luck, You’re Not Going to Get Rich Quickly in Your New Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

revamping-TNIn starting up your own business there are some things you must do if you want to succeed. If you go through these steps and decide at the end of it that you are not ready, you have saved yourself a lot of money and frustration. On the other hand, if you have all these answers and are still keen, you have a much better chance of making it work. There are a lot of people, self-help books and websites out there to assist.

The Business

  • Decide exactly what your business is to do. Are you selling products? Services? Consulting? Advisory? Buying? Define it in ten words or less. Then define your objective within ten words, e.g. ‘Be a world-leading producer of top class music recordings’. This is where your dream gets expressed and you should imagine the best results that you can.
  • What skills, qualifications and work experience do you bring to the business?   Having work experience in another business of the same type will give you a good start and enhance your chances of success. It will also inspire more confidence in your investors or bank that you know what you are doing.
  • Prepare your Business Plan. This includes everything about how you intend to achieve the objective. It is how you will make money with your business and how much over how long a period. It states how you are going to set the business up and what you will need to use (people, money, materials, time, machinery, etc), what risks you anticipate, what hurdles must be surmounted, and your best estimate of how much money you expect the business to spend and to bring in over the course of one, two, and three years. This is important for deciding a lot of these details for yourself but, if you wish to borrow money, a lender will also want a copy. It is proof that you have thought it through thoroughly and that it is feasible to expect to end up with more in receipts than payments. Wherever possible use lists to keep things succinct. Even if you think you are ‘no good at numbers’ you still need a plan. Just get on with writing down all the things you have worked out in your head or get help, but don’t just skip over it. The bank might be able to give you a template, or you could find one with a bit of research in the library or on the Internet.
  • You also need to put thought into ‘what if I succeed?’ What if the business is still running well next year? In five years? Are there any ongoing costs to take into account, e.g. maintenance or equipment replacement? A fun one is ‘what if I am a raging success?’, but it’s worth a thought about ‘get more staff, move premises, acquire more equipment’ or whatever would be needed if you got more work than you could handle. It will uncover any areas where a trap might loom.
  • If you’re going to be selling things, how are you going to buy or make whatever you will sell? If you are buying anything in, you will need a plan for purchasing, transport, quality control, delivery, payment, and storage. If you are making things, your supply plan will include raw materials and equipment and you will need a quality management plan. Don’t forget the insurance and maintenance plans for the equipment. You will also need a contingency plan; what if you can’t get your supplies or your equipment doesn’t arrive in time? There is a wealth of valuable advice available relating to supply, stock management, and storage (warehousing) that is worth looking at before you decide to jump in.
  • Are you hiring anyone? It is a good idea to already have 6-12 months wages in the bank. There are rules and regulations about hiring (and firing) and about maintaining a safe and healthy working environment, e.g. some jurisdictions require display of the Health & Safety Regulations in the workplace. You need to understand these requirements and be able to comply.
  • If you want a limited liability company, you will need to get your lawyer or accountant to set it up for you. Be prepared – a registered company has legal obligations, such as filing annual accounts with the Companies House. This will need an accountant and must be included in your budget. You are also obliged to keep accounts – a strict record of what goes out and what comes in. There are a number of small business accounting software packages on the market. It’s worth asking your accountant if he/she has a recommendation. For example, if they use software that will only need your backup copy for the accountant to do the annual accounts, it will save you a lot of time and hassle. But you will need to use that particular software to be able to do it that way.

Finances

  • You need money to start with. Where’s it coming from? Do you have enough savings, are you borrowing from the bank, or is someone else investing? How much money is enough is very dependent on what you are planning to do. If you can cover your first year of operation you are in a very good position, provided you expect to make more money during that time. If you are planning to borrow, you need to know exactly how much you require and how long you think it will take to repay. The lender will need to be convinced that you can make your proposed business idea work and have researched it and identified your market.
  • What’s your budget?   What income do you expect and what do you expect to pay out? Don’t forget the overheads like phone, broadband, rent, rates, electricity, water, cleaner, window cleaner, gardener, etc. You will need to include (and earn) some money to pay yourself a living wage, so this goes into the budget as well. Some banks offer a ‘new business’ package, which includes guidance on keeping your accounts. Break down the budget so you know how much income per month you need to earn in order to keep your head above water. It is also useful to develop a payments plan at the same time. This uses the same information as the budget but lists the payments that you expect to make each month. This will show the effect of the quarterly and annual payments on your bank balance and whether you will need to negotiate an overdraft facility to cover any difficult spots.
  • Who is going to do your accounts? You will need an accountant for the annual returns but what about the day-to-day bookkeeping? Some businesses simply record and collect all receipts and payments and hand the records to the accountant who then provides financial reports. Some hire a part-time bookkeeper that comes in once or more times a week just to do the bookkeeping. You can do it yourself and be more on top of the numbers, but the time you spend doing it is time spent away from earning money and doing the job that you love doing. A daily update of a small business accounting package is not hard, however, and will save you money if you can do it easily yourself.

Marketing

  • Research your market. Are there enough people who want to buy what you are selling? Will they come back again or could you run out of customers in a year or two? Who are your likely customers – young people, middle-aged men, elderly folk, and other small businesses? The answers to these questions belong in your Marketing Plan along with the answers to the next question. This is another useful document for the bank, as part of your Business Plan.
  • Why should people buy what you are selling? Is it something they need (like care services, chiropractic services or shoes)? Is it the best quality on the market? Is it the only blue one in the world? You need to identify what makes your product or service special. This is your Unique Selling Point (or ‘USP’) and should be a part of any advertising you do.
  • What is your plan for telling the world about your business? People will not come through the door unless they know it’s there. Review every option you can find. Are you going to use Internet marketing? Are other people recommending you? If you are planning on an advertising campaign, it is very important to know how much it will cost, before you commit to it. Having identified your market (above), where will those people see your advertisement? Watch out for con artists who tell you they can earn you millions of pounds over the Internet with their ‘special software’ or similar. If you don’t understand exactly how it will work, you probably don’t want to get involved, however attractive the £ signs might appear. There are exceptions but, as a general rule, you should be able to approve a copy of any advertising or directory entries before you pay anything.
  • Do you need a venue? If so, is it easy to access? Do you need a spot where you will get ‘passing trade’ (people walking past the door)? If passing trade is important then location is critical. It is usually a plus if there are other similar businesses close by as people will come looking in that area for what you offer. You also need to assess how ready the space is for starting business. Does it have all the necessary amenities? (e.g. Toilets for you and staff, sink with drinking water, facility for making tea/coffee, security locks, Fire Exit signs, power supplies for equipment). Check the insurance cost and what the rates will be. If customers will be visiting, your venue needs to feel welcoming – clean, light, comfortable, smart and business-like. Don’t overdo the smells. A clean smell is good but strong bleach is off-putting. Incense and other fragrances can trigger allergies in some people, which might stop them at your door.

Once you’ve started…

  • Keep your personal money and the business accounts totally separate. You may have to lend money to the business to get it going. Make sure it is properly recorded in the accounts as a loan. It is a debt that the business owes you and can pay back without you having to pay extra taxes on it. But this will only be if you have properly recorded it and kept everything separate. There is no such thing as ‘just taking that back out of the cash box’. If you have a limited liability company, the law requires you to regard the business as a totally separate thing – like another person. Anything that passes from it to you will be wages, ‘director’s emoluments’, loans or ‘drawings’. If in doubt, don’t touch and consult your accountant.
  • Update your accounts regularly. Once a day is excellent, once a week is good, once a month is rarely enough.   The further in the past things are, the harder they are to remember or track down. Doing the bookkeeping frequently will make it easy. It also means you are very much in touch with how your business is doing and can address problems before they become too big.
  • Keep an eye on whether you are making money or losing it. From month to month the figures will vary but you must know if your plan is working out in reality and identify any issues that can be corrected. If the numbers show that more is going out than is coming in, you will need to increase the income and/or decrease the outgoings to stay in business. A monthly review is usually sufficient to know what’s happening and soon enough to apply remedial measures. This is another important reason for keeping the accounts up-to-date. Badly maintained records increase the chances of an expensive mistake.
  • Step back and take an overview that is as objective as you can make it. A monthly review of how close you are to your objective should keep you on track, e.g. ‘How close am I to being a world leading producer of music recordings? It means that you have worked out how to measure the activities in your objective and are keeping tabs on it. If your objective has ‘quality’ in it somewhere, do you have someone else measuring the quality? Are you getting reviews on it on your website? Are they good or bad? Are you 5-star or ‘no comment’? If you want to be world leading, which magazine should be talking about you?   This review should tell you if you are out of focus or if you should really be producing boots instead of shoes because you do that better and like it better.
  • Keep a notebook. Write down everything that happens – receipts, payments, and agreements with people, phone queries that you make, decisions you make. You will have what you need when you have to check up on ‘what did I say?’, ‘the tax people told me something about this’, or ‘I didn’t agree to that, did I?’ Also, it is a reference point when you are doing the weekly accounts and need to clarify something. Don’t duplicate effort and let the receipt book be the receipts record, but have everything recorded somewhere. Using your memory is unreliable and clutters it up when you need to be focussed on the job.
  • It’s sad, but you can’t expect business colleagues or contacts to be your friend. They are in it for the business and will be very nice to you but don’t try borrowing money from them or expect them to hang around waiting for money you should have paid them. The basic rule is to keep your personal life quite separate from business. It’s what everyone else is doing, so you need to understand it and fit into the flow. If you get a ‘nasty’ letter, don’t let it upset you, just see it as someone ‘doing business’. Getting advice before you respond could also prevent you making a mistake based on an emotional reaction.
  • Similarly, you shouldn’t accept poor service or low quality just because you want to ‘be nice’.   It’s not doing anyone a favour to let them sell you something that’s not fair value. Some people will try to sell you nothing for something and it’s to their benefit as well as yours to just not play that game. You can be nice as you do it, but people will respect you more for being firm about what you want.
  • Market, market, market. If people don’t know you are there, how will you get business? There are a lot of companies that will help you with marketing (for a price) but there are many things you can do for yourself. Prepare a professional-looking website and a brochure that can be handed out or posted. A website won’t be enough by itself – what prompts people to look at it? Where would you expect to see your sort of service and what are other people doing? Get some professional photographs of what you sell and put them on the website and into your brochure. Where will you advertise? The local Chamber of Commerce may have advice or there are a number of government or local council initiatives that could assist.   Look at other opportunities e.g. fairs, a display case, magazine advertising, local papers, brochures in the local hairdressers, or a notice up in the library.
  • Look smart. A tunic or apron is appropriate for some jobs but in any event you need to look well cared-for and as though you are successful at what you do.   Clothes must look clean and tidy. Holes in jeans may be the ultimate fashion at the time, but not many customers would be impressed by it. Make sure your hands and nails are clean, keep a nailbrush on the hand basin and use it. If you work with your hands and keeping them clean is impossible on the job, wash them thoroughly before you are in front of customers.
  • Celebrate your successes and see mistakes as challenges and opportunities to know how to get it right next time, when it might be more important. There will be times when it looks too hard, but it gets easier if you can look back to your high points.
  • Pay all the right taxes. Don’t pay any more than you should, but don’t try to cheat. Cheating is not smart because (a) you’ll get caught and it will be far more expensive than paying the right amount in the first place would have been, and (b) it takes you off-focus for succeeding at what you do best and want to do in your business.   If you’re paying taxes, you must be earning money. The UK government Revenue and Customs website has a lot of very helpful information about what you can claim as expenses when you are self-employed and they provide free training courses.

And – tough luck – don’t expect to get rich quickly. It’s more about doing something you love doing and being your own boss while you do it. You might get rich if you do whatever it is very well. The more you believe in it, and the more you work towards doing well, the more likely you are to succeed.

 

Before You Even Start Your Business You Need to Ask These 4 Questions

By Randall Orser | Small Business

business strategy on a wall and running businessman TNIn light of the past economic recession, when companies all over the country are downsizing and finding a good job is next to impossible, millions of people have taken to starting their own businesses and are hoping to earn a considerable income through their own efforts. While many individuals have succeeded as small business owners, some were met with failure simply because of inadequate planning. The truth is that starting a new business takes a lot of time and effort; you need to consider certain factors before launching a business. If you’re toying with a business idea you think is going to be a hit, ask yourself a few questions before you take the plunge into the business world.

Do you have time to run your business?

So many people mistakenly assume that just because they will be running their business from home, it means they will have a lot of free time on their hands. On the contrary, quite the opposite is true. Most home-based business owners need to work a lot more and a lot harder to match the income they used to make when they were working in a traditional office. This is particularly true during the first few months of running the business. Once your business has taken off, however, you may be able to relax a bit and work less hours. Before this happens, you will probably have to work extra long hours, so that’s an important factor you have to consider.

Are you qualified?

Quite often, people think they have a brilliant business idea and find out too late they aren’t qualified to offer that particular service. Let’s assume you’re a mom of four and you’ve just started a business that involves child care. Being a mother of four, you’re quite confident in your capabilities in this field. Your potential clients, however, are likely going to look for an individual who is not only experienced but certified in child care as well. In this case, you will have to get the certification or come up with another business idea where your skills will be put to better use.

Do you have room for your business?

Many home businesses start out small. Once your business takes off, however, you may find yourself in need of bigger space for your supplies or your products. Unless you have extra space in your home (e.g., a spare room or garage), you may soon have to expand outside by renting storage space, which is obviously an additional expense. If you don’t want to deal with such problems, think ahead when you are still in the business planning stage

Are you financially capable of running the business?

Money is one of the most significant factors you have to consider before starting a business. Many people underestimate the costs required to set up a business. Even if they take out a loan, sometimes it isn’t enough to cover all the initial expenses. To avoid these hassles and to increase your chances of business success, plan your finances thoroughly.

Business Insurance Just Might Save Your A$$!

By Randall Orser | Small Business

broken piggy bank TNBusiness insurance is essentially a requirement for all businesses. The benefits of business insurance definitely outweigh the costs, and it is worth paying for whether it is a corporation or a small business. Business insurance does cost money, and there will likely be some annual or monthly fees for the service, but the cost is still small compared to the amount that the business would have to pay if there were a costly lawsuit. The main reason why business insurance is necessary is because it protects the business from liabilities like theft, vandalism, lawsuits, storms, fires, and more. Going without business insurance will expose the company to a lot of liability and potentially cause the company to haemorrhage money if and when something happens.

What is business insurance?

Business insurance is like any other type of insurance, and the only difference is that it is designed to protect businesses. Business insurance is different depending on the business, their needs, and the insurance provider, but it can include things like property insurance, auto insurance, workers compensation coverage, and general liability insurance. Business insurance is designed to protect the business in the event that something damages the building, their products, equipment, employees, or even customers.

Why do you need business insurance?

All businesses need business insurance whether they are large corporations or small businesses. It is generally not required in most provinces and many start-up and home businesses may not have any insurance in the beginning. Since business insurance does cost money, some entrepreneurs will forgo getting insurance until they have become profitable, and that is understandable. However, it is important that they obtain a good insurance policy shortly after they start because any type of disaster could cost them thousands or even millions of dollars in damages. For example, if a new store opened without business insurance and a customer slipped and fell on the floor, they could be sued for thousands or even millions of dollars for an injury. If the store had business insurance, then they would be protected and they would only have to pay the insurance costs as opposed to all of the money for the damages since the insurance company would resolve the matter.

Since there are other types of business insurance, they still provide protection for a number of scenarios. General liability insurance and property insurance helps provide coverage for fires, thefts, natural disasters, accidents, and etc. Workers compensation insurance is designed to provide protection for the business if an employee makes a workers compensation claim or if they try to sue the company. There is product liability insurance. Product liability insurance is available for companies that make products and it protects them in case a product is defective or injures someone. Auto insurance can protect all of the company vehicles and provide coverage if a car is damaged by another party or if an employee gets into an accident or damages a vehicle.

Business insurance may actually be required for certain types of business depending on the province. Some provinces may require medical related businesses such as hospitals and doctors offices to carry malpractice insurance in case a patient gets injured. Many financial businesses such as investment firms, banks, and credit unions are required to have a certain type of insurance policy as well. Umbrella insurance is also available as a package deal of sorts because it combines all of the different types of coverage into one policy. A business can work with an insurance company to create a policy that will fit all of their needs and include different types of coverage.

How to save money on business insurance

Business insurance costs can change due to a number of factors, so there are some ways to reduce costs. The first thing that businesses should do is compare quotes across the board and meet with different insurance providers to get the best rates. Try to negotiate with them and make sure that all of your needs are met in the policy that you create because you are not obligated to accept a standard policy. Sometimes a business can reduce their insurance rates by increasing their credit rating and just improving their standing as a legitimate business by signing up with the chamber of commerce and the Better Business Bureau. Generally, with most policies if the business gets a low deductible there will be a high premium and if they get a high deductible there will be a low premium. Take some time to look around and never accept the first offer.

The benefits of insurance does outweigh the costs because the costs of lawsuits, natural disasters, or a fire could be so devastating that the company may close down altogether if they cannot afford to pay the entire bill on their own. In this day and age, business insurance is really a necessity, and it is just part of the cost of doing business.

Why Having a Good Customer Returns Policy Makes Good Business Sense

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Oops vector signboard TNSatisfaction Guaranteed, Or Your Money Back!

Having a good or item returned by one of your customers can be disappointing, perhaps leading you to conclude that your products are of poor quality and not worth the money paid for them. But there is another way of looking at this undesirable situation. Providing a good returns service can prove to your customers that you care about their satisfaction, and can result in their repeat business for years. Sears is a great place to buy something as they take it back no matter the reason. Costco is another store that takes it back, sometimes way beyond the normal amount of time.

Why goods are returned

Unlike brick-and-mortar shops where a person can touch, see and feel the product they are considering buying, online shoppers have to rely on photographs, product descriptions and other buyers’ reviews, and as such, an item when received may not meet with expectations. An item may also have become damaged in transit, or a customer may simply have changed their mind. With an online shop, a customer cannot walk back into the store with their receipt and insist on a refund or exchange. They have to rely on the returns policy of the business.

Reassurance for your customers

Customers like to feel they have some form of protection when they shop online. One way of doing this is to promise secure financial transactions, but another is with a returns policy. Such a policy lends credence to your trading reputation, and demonstrates confidence in the products you are selling. A customer will believe in the representation of your products because you offer the option for them to return anything that fails to live up to their expectations. Without this assurance, a customer may become suspicious of the product and your reliability, and choose not make the purchase.

Contents of returns policies

Every business can establish its own returns policy, but there are certain elements that a customer expects. These include the option to return the good for any reason, not just damage. There does have to be a time limit imposed on returns, otherwise goods might be kept for months or even years, depreciating in value and becoming nonviable as re-sale material. Most standard returns policies have 30-day limits, just as most will require the product to be returned in its original packaging. It is up to individual companies to decide whether to offer free returns, but these are undeniably more attractive to customers.

Making returns even easier

If you want to encourage even higher degrees of customer loyalty, you should make it even easier to return goods. This is simpler for big-name companies to achieve, as they have greater resources at their disposal; but you could consider working with a parcel delivery company that has drop-off locations on main streets or at train stations, so that people can drop their returns off on their way to work. You could even arrange collections from home or workplaces so your customer does not have to do anything except submit a return request online.

However you choose to word your returns policy, ensure that your customer can quickly see or find it on your website. A highly visible returns policy will enhance your seller reputation and help to build customer loyalty.

27 Interesting Facts About Canada

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Canada Day card TNCanada is the second largest country in the world, right after Russia.

Canada is the World’s Most Educated Country: over half its residents have college degrees.

Canada’s lowest recorded temperature was -81.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-63 C) in 1947.

Prostitution is legal in Canada. Buying the services of a prostitute is not.

Canada consumes more macaroni and cheese than any other nation in the world.

Residents of Churchill, Canada, leave their cars unlocked to offer an escape for pedestrians who might encounter Polar Bears.

Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined.

The first Canadian casualties of the Afghanistan war were from an American pilot bombing a training exercise.

Licence plates in the Canadian Northwest Territories were shaped like polar bears.

In 2010, a Canadian man rescued a newborn baby from a dumpster, only to find out he was the father.

Canada has the largest coastline in the world.

In Newfoundland, Canada, the Atlantic Ocean sometimes freezes so people play hockey on it.

Every Christmas, one million letters are addressed to Santa Claus at his own postal code:

“H0H 0H0, North Pole, Canada.”

With 1,896 km (1,178 mi), the Yonge Street in Canada is the longest street in the world.

Canadians own the Mall of America.

The U.S. / Canada Border is the longest international border in the world and it lacks military defense.

Canada has no weapons of mass destruction since 1984 and has signed treaties repudiating their possession.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII, Canada declared war on Japan before the U.S. did.

“Canada” is an Iroquoian language word meaning “Village.”

Canada’s official phone number is 1-800-O-CANADA.

Large parts of Canada have less gravity than the rest of Earth. The phenomenon was discovered in the 1960s.

Police Departments in Canada give out “positive tickets” when they see people doing something positive.

Americans have invaded Canada twice, in 1775 and 1812. They lost both times.

Canada has the third largest oil reserves of any country in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

The third country in space, after The U.S. and the USSR, was Canada, which was considered to have the most advanced space program in 1962.

In Canada, Mexico, India, Russia and Israel, bank notes have Braille-like markings on them for the blind.

Canada has fewer people than Tokyo’s metropolitan area.

Efficient Ways of Handling Money For Your Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Piggy bank TNWith the help of the Internet, it is now very easy to run a business without leaving your home or even hiring employees. In the last few years, the increase in the number of home-based businesses in Canada and the United States alone has been nothing short of astounding. Despite the ease and convenience of running a home-based business nowadays, there are still certain skills that any business owner needs to learn in order to ensure the success of his business. One of these skills is efficient money management.

People who run home-based businesses are their own boss and as such, it is their own responsibility to make sure that the financial aspect of the business is handled perfectly. If you have a home business, you can always seek money management advice from professionals but it is good if you learn a technique or two about the proper ways of handling money.

  1. Open a business account.

Your personal savings account should always be separate from your business bank account even if you are working from home. This way, you can clearly monitor the performance of your home business, as well as help keep your personal finances secure in case of business problems. It is also interesting to note that many banks offer special interest rates and rewards to business accounts. In addition, you appear more professional if you do business with your clients using a business account rather than a personal account.

  1. Use a financial software program.

Even if you have had no formal education on business management, you can easily take care of a home business with the help of a good financial software program. Most of these programs are capable of handling everything from budgeting, paying bills, financial forecast, and so on. Choosing which financial software program to use is not that difficult either. First of all, there are probably hundreds of options you can choose from and there will always be at least a few out there that can cater to your needs perfectly. In making your choice, consider the features included in the software, as well as customer testimonials and reviews.

  1. Keep transaction records clear and updated at all times.

When you think about it, this should actually be easy to do since you are the only person handling all transactions. However, many business mix-ups usually begin precisely because of this line of thinking. To avoid any problems, make sure you record and organize all cash and receipts as soon as each transaction is completed.

  1. Create a business budget and stick to it.

This is one other thing that most home-based business owners fail to do. Many of them think that this is an unnecessary step, particularly if their home business is quite small. But small or not, a home-based business is still a business and every business must have a well-planned budget. As a matter of fact, it is even more important to have a budget for a home business because the risk of overspending is much higher, especially if home expenses and business expenses are tied together.

Once you have mastered the proper money management techniques, you can easily grow your home-based business in no time at all.

4 Good Reasons to Build a Home Office for Your Home-Based Business

By Randall Orser | Small Business

modern-home-office--Tidbits 2015-06-03 TNFollowing the recent economic crisis, many people who lost their jobs have decided to become entrepreneurs. Their encouragement to do so comes from stories and news about individuals who succeeded in their home-based businesses. Indeed, running a business from home offers a lot of benefits and can be profitable too. If you have begun doing business at home, you may want to formalize a little. Specifically, you may want to build a home office from where you can manage and operate your home business. This is one aspect that is often neglected by many small home business owners especially those who put value on how much they save by working from home. Building a home office, however, will open greater opportunities for your business.

  1. A Home Office Boosts Your Professional Image

If your business goals include growth and expansion, then you will need a home office. It will validate the professional image you want to impress on your clients. By having a home office, you have your own place to meet and entertain your clients and prospects in a businesslike manner. Do remember that image is very important when doing business and you need to hold up that image.

  1. A Home Office Offers Convenience

Another reason why you ought to create a home office for your home business is the convenience it will give you. You get to save on time and energy while exerting lesser efforts in operating your home business. You have a designated space in your home that is dedicated to your business affairs. You can have everything you need in there, from furniture and equipment to materials and supplies, to make your work easier. And when you feel that pressure is building up at work, you can always cross over to your home and enjoy its comforts even for a short while.

  1. A Home Office Keeps Your Business Life Separate from Your Personal Life

Those working from home may find themselves constantly interrupted by demands from other family members and other household responsibilities. As a result, you may not be able to complete your tasks and could miss out on deadlines. Having a home office can isolate you from domestic concerns at least for the duration of your working hours. You should then be able to have peace and focus on your tasks yet be accessible enough in case of emergency.

With a home office, you are not abandoning your responsibilities to the home. You’re merely establishing a boundary for your professional life. The other members of your household need to understand that your work is real work and that you will need to be serious about it. It will help if you let them know about your working hours so they won’t bother you during that time. It is for this reason that the ideal location of your home office is in a separate room with a door you can keep closed while working.

  1. A Home Office Gives You Opportunities for Growth and Expansion

If you have a home office, you can explore more opportunities that will help you grow and expand your business. As you may be aware, traditional business establishments have separate personnel attending to the different aspects of the business, like a human resources department has its own staff and so do the other departments such as tech support, finance, and sales, to name a few. It is different with a home business setting, especially those that are in the start-up stage when the business owner does everything. In time, when you can afford to pay salaries, you may consider hiring employees although you will need to take care of a few things like withholding taxes and insurance coverage. Then again, the increase in your expenses and in your administrative duties may well be justified considering the many benefits of having employees to help you generate bigger revenues while reducing your own workload.

How to Come Up With a Winning Business Idea

By Randall Orser | Small Business

a_bright_idea--Tidbits 2015-05-20 TNEvery entrepreneur has spent countless hours thinking about what the next big thing will be. What did the great business leaders of the past know that helped them to achieve such extraordinary success? Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Fred DeLuca of Subway, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks are just a few among the long list of individuals who came up with a Winning Business Idea that brought them success beyond their wildest dreams. So how did they do it and what can we learn from them to help us to achieve our dreams too?

Although there is a lifetime of lessons to be learned from each of the individuals the reality is that none of them came up with a fundamentally original business idea. Think about it. Harland Sanders wasn’t the first person to sell fried chicken. Sam Walton wasn’t the first person to open a discount store. Fred Deluca wasn’t the first to open a sandwich shop and Howard Schultz certainly wasn’t the first person to open a coffee shop. Every one of these businesses had existed long before these people changed the world with their vision.

What each of these people did was to take an old business and reinvent it.

Sam Walton reinvented the discount store by taking the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of offering the lowest price very, very seriously. He made it his mission to offer his products at a price that couldn’t be beaten. It wasn’t just words in an ad. He stood by it and made it happen. In fact he was so good at it that he changed the way business was done around the entire globe.

Howard Schultz, while traveling, experienced a cup of coffee that told him coffee could taste much better then what most people were accustomed to for about the same cost. He offered it in an environment that was clean and trendy. A place you would enjoy spending time with a friend.

So to begin looking for a Winning Business Idea you may want to look at the business you’re in now. How can you reinvent it? Sometimes it’s as simple as giving the customer what they want. In one instance an online seller of beauty products recognized that one of the most significant objections people had to buying online was paying shipping. He reinvented the way online retail was typically done and his sales took off.

If you don’t have a business now then start by making a list of traditional businesses and ask yourself how you can reinvent them. Has the particular business been run in essentially the same way for decades without any fundamental change? How can you bring it into the 21th century? Are customer’s expectations different now than they once were as a result of changes in technology or cultural norms of the times?

One thing is for certain. More business will be reinvented and more people will achieve unbelievable wealth simply by reinventing a business that already exists! Will you be the one to bring change and reap the rewards?

Why Small Businesses Go Bankrupt and How to Avoid It

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Debt Word And 3d Character Shows Bankruptcy And Poverty TNStatistics are regularly released that say something to this effect: “85% of new businesses fail in the first five years”. The message is clear. If you start a small business there is a high probability that you will fail. You would think that this would send the smart money straight to the Help Wanted ads but what about the businesses that succeed? What made them different? What secret did they know that lead them down the path to prosperity? Here is what you need to know to be one of the winners.

Lets look at a scenario. Andre is a baker. Not just any baker. When anyone who has eaten Andre’s baking hears mention of it they start to salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. One day Andre’s grandmother passes away and leaves him a modest inheritance. His time has come. He takes his money and starts his dream business. Five years later the inheritance is gone and Andre is back working for his old boss. What happened?

Andre had spent all his time learning about his passion, which was baking. In order to succeed he needed to know an equal or greater amount about business. For every cookbook he read he needed to read a book on business. For every cooking class he attended he needed to attend a course on business. Andre didn’t know the difference between a Monthly Bank Statement and a Cash Flow Forecast. He had heaps of Specialty Knowledge and almost no Business Knowledge.

So the first step to succeeding in business is to learn about business. Sounds simple doesn’t it. It is but it is a sad fact that most people will only figure this out after it is too late and maybe not even then. Here are some things you can do to give yourself a huge edge and increase your likelihood of success.

  • Sign up for some courses in small business at your local college or university. Maybe even start working on a degree in business. Be aware that there are now programs aimed at learning to be an Entrepreneur, which differ somewhat from a typical business degree designed to send you into the corporate world.
  • Start networking. Meet successful business people. You will find them at your local Chamber of Commerce, at work in their business and as members of clubs such as Toastmasters.
  • Read books on business. The libraries and bookstores are filled with them. Read reviews to find some of the most recommended titles and take notes when you read them.
  • Make use of the excellent resources online. The United States Small Business Administration website is just one example of a tremendous (and free) resource on starting a small business.

Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks but the reality is that the skilled entrepreneur takes risks that are calculated and based on knowledge and experience, which is available to anyone who will go looking for it.

One west coast entrepreneur has owned a jewelry store, a pub, a community centre, a restaurant and a music store. Each one was a success and was ultimately sold as a profitable business. The key elements of his success were his solid business fundamentals.

Some things you need to know before you start leasing space, hiring staff or buying equipment include:

  • A sound understanding of Business Plans and which one you need (and you absolutely do need one).
  • The basics of marketing, who your customers are and how to reach them with your message.
  • What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and how this differentiates you from your competition. Why would your potential customers choose you over them?
  • What are the important numbers that you need to know and monitor to measure the health of your venture.
  • What is Cash Flow, how does it differ from Monthly Sales, what potential Cash Flow pitfalls effect your business model and how can you protect against them.
  • Who are your competition and what are their strengths and weaknesses.

Taking the time to gain a solid business education to supplement your Specialty Knowledge is the key to surviving your new business venture. It is what separates the winners from the losers. Reading this article is a sign that you are on the right track. Use the list given above as a starting point as you build a framework of required business knowledge and continue to fill your areas of weakness until you are strong and prepared to enter the arena. Do this and you will enhance your potential for success and give yourself the edge you need to achieve your dreams.

Six Ways Small Business Owners Can Reduce Costs

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Reduce Overhead Costs TNIf you own a small business, you may need to cut your business costs in order to survive the global recession and to protect your business and personal assets for the future. Reducing your business costs at any time will increase your profit margin, and during a recession, it may make the difference between going out of business and fiscal survival.

  1. Offer Personalized and Interactive Internet Services

Offering a good service on the internet to your customers can save your business some costs. Often the labour costs of your small business are the highest regular costs. Providing an interactive internet service means your customers can order products without needing an individual to service the request.

Providing a personalized internet service means you have one customer service representative answering emails and customer queries on the website, which could save your business some labour costs.

  1. Become Efficient

Streamlining your business processes and eliminating waste from your business can save you a lot of money. Look at every task your business has and break down each process. If there is any duplication in the process or parts of the process that you can streamline or cut, changing your processes could save your business in many ways.

  1. Barter and Negotiate for supplies

Every small business needs supplies and services by other businesses. You may be able to cut your costs by bartering for your business needs. For example, you may need to employ a website designer to get your website up and running. If your business offers the website designer free advertising on the website, you may be able to negotiate for a discount.

Use your imagination to see what services or products you can barter in return for the supplies and services your business needs. If you can offer products or services in place of cash for some supplies, you can cut down on your business costs. Restaurants can offer meals for a certain period in exchange for menus, and the printer can offer flyers for the website design for the print shop. You may not always be able to negotiate a straight barter situation, but you can certainly try to negotiate for discounts and reduced costs with your suppliers.

  1. Manage cash flow to reduce expensive loans

Managing your business cash flow does not have to mean borrowing money from the bank and paying high interest rates. You can factor your income by paying a small fee to a credit company to get immediate payment on outstanding invoices. Instead of offering credit to your customers, you can create a business where customers must pay up front for your products. Customers who order a product via the internet will expect to pay by credit card or a secure internet payment site, such as PayPal. Using these services means your customers pay before you ship the product, so your cash flow is easier to balance.

  1. Find Cheaper Forms of Advertising or Marketing

While it is not advisable to cut out advertising and marketing completely, even during a recession, it is possible to reduce your marketing costs. Internet advertising can be relatively cheap. You can send an email newsletter to your customers instead of paying for printing. Local radio and community newspapers can reach a wide market within a local region for relatively little cost, especially in comparison to advertising in national newspapers or magazines.

  1. Reduce Packing Costs

If your business ships products across the country and overseas, the freight costs can be exorbitant. Look at how you pack your product. Many cargo and freight companies charge on a volume rate, as well as a weight rate and choose the larger rate for each package. Even if your product is relatively light, you could pay for the volumetric size of your package. If you pack a small product in a large box with lots of packing foam or air envelopes, you could be paying to ship air across the country. Reduce your package size to reduce your packing and freight costs.

You can easily save money and cut your business costs by streamlining your business processes, cutting the costs for supplies, packing, freight, and marketing, and by offering customers internet self service options. Managing your business cash flow can reduce your costs in paying loan repayments.

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