Category Archives for "Small Business"

Increase your Net Promoter Score and Create Brand Advocates 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

A big thing for larger companies is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). What is this Net Promoter Score? The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of your customers to recommend your products or services to others. It is used as a proxy for gauging the customer's overall satisfaction with your product or service and the customer's loyalty to your brand. A consulting firm out of Toronto, Bain and Company, says the NPS of companies that attain long lasting, profitable growth are twice that of their competitors.

According to Bain and Company, two beloved brands Apple and American Express, which claim ardent brand advocates, also have high Net Promoter Scores. The inevitable result is that both companies are high valued businesses with profitable organic growth.

Your company if it delivers a higher quality customer experience may get a greater NPS and therefore long-lasting profitable growth. The following three tips can help you do just that.

One approach is to learn where and how to invest in order to boost your customers’ experience and determine the possible outcome.

A favourable customer experience can transform them into a brand advocate; becoming a long-term customer as well as someone who promotes you to others. One way these brand advocates get others to purchase your product or service is to post on websites or blogs a glowing review.

One way to improve your customers’ experience and increase the possibility of them becoming a brand advocate is through ‘loyalty economics’. Improving the customer experience through investment, when done correctly, will achieve direct and quantitative monetary rewards thanks to increasing sales and profits.

Looking at how you can increase your sales is one thing to determine how you should invest to improve the customer experience. Your website is one such place to invest; this could include: load time, minimizing the time and or steps the customer must make before doing an online purchase. You may also want to look at ways to improve the customers’ favour by improving product/service quality, and even making a return or exchange of the purchase much easier.

Another approach to take is look at your company from your customers’ eyes.

The customer experience is the act of interacting with your brand through marketing (ads, flyers, etc.); the attributes of your products and/or services; and customer touch-points, such as your website, storefront or office.

Feedback from your customers is the best way to gauge your customers’ experience from a typical purchase. This feedback will improve your understanding of customers’ expectations and your businesses procedures that don’t positively impact your customers’ experiences. Feedback can also be used to revise processes, such as your marketing or service practices, to improve your customers’ experience.

Create and employ processes that achieve an extraordinary customer experience.

Armed with this customer feedback, you can create a website, and process enhancements that boost the chances of your customer becoming a brand advocate. A restaurant might, for example, focus on diners’ needs, and change check-in processes so reservations are seated in less time with less effort. The experience you provide will ideally be superior to that of your competitors.

Revising your business processes, systems, products and/or services, can be challenging and tedious; however, it’s the best way to accommodate your customers’ needs who are in your profitable customer segments. This process is well worth the effort, as it increases the possibility that doing so increases the number of your businesses brand advocates. You must be customer-focused to create these brand advocates, and this requires you to commit time and effort to your customers’ experience, and aware of their expectations.

Stand Head and Shoulders Above Your Competition 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Value matters to your customers, and they’re willing to pay well for it. The problem. How is that value perceived? While appealing to your customers’ tastes can be a good strategy, it’s unpredictable. For example, cilantro is in a love/hate relationship with many people. A large portion of the population hate it as it tastes like soap to them; I’m one of those. If you’re running a restaurant and want to regularly perform well, you may have to take peoples hate of cilantro into consideration.

Make the Customer Lazy

Sheer convenience is why the fast food industry does so well, and has for quite some time. You know the food won’t be that great, but you do know it’s consistent and fast when you’re in a hurry. If you want to increase value, convenience, is the easiest action, as you’re taking up as little of the customers’ time as feasible.

We’ve done that with our Just Say: “Stuff It” To Bookkeeping™ system. All the customer has to do is stuff an envelope, we pick it up and that’s it for them. No scanning or taking pictures of receipts. Pretty simple and convenient.

Improve Customer Experiences

In this day and age of business, it’s all about the experience, not just your product or service. Take a restaurant for example, it’s not just judged on the food, but the wait time, the servers, the feel of the place, etc. A rude or distracted server can ruin your healthy appetite, or worse, drive your customers away before even eating a meal. For your business, no matter what it is, cheerful and affable surroundings is best. Many in the internet marketing business use upsells, and you may want to think about it for your business, too. However, toning down the upsells, may be best, especially if you’re using hard sell tactics. Options are always a good thing, but browbeating your customers, not so much.

Anticipate What Your Customers Want

“Customers don't know what they want until we've shown them," Steve Jobs. This quote is certainly true as most customers don’t know what they want until shown. Ironically, they also want something they don’t know they wanted before they even know it exists. Confusing, right? Look at customer complains that just don’t seem to make sense—they know they want something, but just can’t put it into words. For your business to succeed, you need to figure out a way of answering those wants. The easiest way, say for a restaurant, to meet such wants would be to offer a selection of cold desserts or drinks as the summer season begins.

Make Your Offer a Cut Above

Your business will thrive if you offer your customers a product/service that is superior to that of your competition. What is superior? That’s the thing you need to figure out. For a restaurant, it’s not just about taste, though that’s crucial. What does your customer want? Once you establish what they want, create that. For a place that does fast food, then consider easy to eat foods. For a buffet restaurant, look at offering a better selection, or more of what customers truly want.

Value, Value, Value and the More the Better

On occasion, quantity can trump quality, especially in the case of value. Want to get customers to pick you over the competition? Then make them feel that they’re getting lots for their money. The best way to evaluate your customer offerings is to look at your industry standards. What does everyone else in your industry offer at that price point? How can you improve on that? Get people to flock to your door by offering some so much more and different than the competition.

You may think everyone needs your product or service, and they may just so, but that doesn’t mean your business will be successful. Competition is harsh, but isn’t that what you signed up for anyway? You will have a successful business if you concentrate on your customers’ wants, and work hard.

How to File a Formal Dispute with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

By Randall Orser | Small Business

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You’ve just gotten back your tax notice of assessment, and notice that it’s different. Perhaps you missed something when you filed your taxes, or maybe, CRA has made an error when processing your tax return. If you disagree with an assessment, determination, or decision, you have the right to register a formal dispute.

What happens if I do not agree with the Notice I received from the CRA about my income tax or I have more information to provide?

If you have received a Notice of Assessment, Notice of Reassessment, Notice of Determination, or Notice of Redetermination and you do not think that it is correct or you have additional information for CRA to consider, please review the following Questions to determine the best course of action for you to take.

Question:
Do you want to provide the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with missing information for a tax return you have filed with us previously?

Action:
If so, rather than filing an objection, generally you can ask for a change to a personal tax return (T1) for a tax year ending in any of the 10 previous calendar years. For example, a request made in 2016 must relate to the 2006 or a later tax year to be considered. You will find the steps to follow and processing timeframes by visiting www.cra.gc.ca/changereturn.

You can also ask for a change to a corporate tax return (T2). You will find the steps to follow by visiting Requesting a reassessment of your T2 return.

The Voluntary Disclosures Program gives you a second chance to change a tax return you previously filed or to file a return that you should have filed. You can apply to the CRA to ask for relief of prosecution and penalties. www.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures/

Question:
Did the CRA send you an income tax assessment notice for a tax year that you had not previously filed a tax return and did you want to provide the CRA with information that may change that assessment?

Action:
If so, rather than filing an objection, you can still send your tax return to CRA. Information on how to send us your return can be found here by visiting Send us your return.

Question:
Did you submit your receipts and records to CRA and you did not receive the outcome you expected or the issue was not resolved to your satisfaction? This means, that you provided the requested information to CRA and you received your Notice of Assessment, Notice of Reassessment, Notice of Determination, or Notice of Redetermination and you think they have misinterpreted the facts or applied the law incorrectly.

Action:
You may have the right to object and submit an objection. Information about filing an objection can be found below.

Please note that if you received a request to provide information during an audit or were otherwise contacted by CRA with a request to provide additional information and you did not respond to those requests and you chose instead to provide this information as part of an objection, your information may be referred back to the original area for a second review.

Can I file an income tax objection?

You or your authorized representative can file an income tax objection if you have received any of the following:

  • Notice of Assessment;
  • Notice of Reassessment;
  • Notice of Determination; or
  • Notice of Redetermination.

You cannot file an objection to dispute the following: a Statement of Account, or a proposal letter from an auditor.

You are required to clearly explain why you disagree with the assessment or determination and also include all of the relevant facts and reasons.

The time limits for filing an objection are as follows:

If you are an individual:

  • the time limit for filing an objection is whichever of the following two dates is later:
    • one year after the date of the filing deadline for the return (April 30 or June 15), or
    • the day that is 90 days after the day of sending the Notice of Assessment (the date of the notice or notification).

If you are a business or for assessments of taxes in respect of over-contributions to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or tax-free savings account (TFSA):

  • the time limit to file an objection is within 90 days of the day we sent the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment (the date of the notice or notification).

What if my objection is past the time limit?

If you did not file your objection on time because you attempted to have your change made by contacting the originating CRA office or because of circumstances beyond your control, you can apply for a time extension to file an objection. You can apply by writing to the Chief of Appeals at your Appeals Intake Centre (see Appendix B of pamphlet P148), or by using the My Account or My Business Account online services. You have to explain why you did not file your objection on time along with the facts and reasons of your objection.

The application for a time extension to file an objection must be made within one year after the expiration of the time limit to file an objection.

How do I file an income tax objection?

Here is what you provide when you file an income tax objection:

  • clear details of the issue(s) you are disputing, for example: I received a reassessment and my expenses were reduced because my receipts were disallowed. I believe that my receipts qualify as proof of my expenses because (insert reasons), and
  • any documentation to support your claim.

For an example of an income tax objection letter, see Appendix A of pamphlet P148 Resolving your dispute: Objection and appeal rights under the Income Tax Act.

You will find the steps to follow to file an objection and processing timeframes below. It is important to always provide all relevant information to CRA to allow for a complete consideration of the issue, at the assessing, audit, and objection stages.

You or your authorized representative can file an objection in one of the following ways:

In all cases, you should clearly explain why you disagree and include all relevant facts, reasons, and supporting documents.

Filing an objection to a notice of assessment or (re)assessment is your right, and you should take advantage of such if you feel the assessment is incorrect. Make sure you have all the documents you need to support your appeal, and that you have explained all the circumstances that apply to said appeal. In the end, CRA is reasonable and usually an appeal does get you some satisfaction, and at least a better understanding of why your claim was originally denied.

Kill Your Dream Faster with These Five Mistakes

By Randall Orser | Small Business

How many dreams die because of a mistake? As an entrepreneur, you’re going to make mistakes, maybe learn from them, however, you don’t have to be learning from mistakes. Yes, you remember better from mistakes, but you can learn better without having to throw away months of hard work.

Forgetting Profit

Emotional rewards abound from starting a business. Being the boss of the whole thing is a great freedom, and isn’t that why you started in the first place. As Harry Truman said, ‘The buck stops here’, and that’s a great feeling. Your emotional rewards are definitely important, however, don’t get stuck on those alone as you can’t survive on joy and contentment.

Not taking into account profit of your business, can kill your dreams faster than anything. Wanting more out of your business than profit is great, and that emotional connection is needed. That said, you’ll doom the business if it’s not making money (profit). You need a business plan that helps you make money, so you can run your business, and sell your product or service.

Doing it all Yourself

A business is a many armed beast, you can’t do it all, and can’t be everywhere. Let’s face it, we all have our weaknesses, and need to think where we fall down. Are you good at marketing? What about the numbers side of things? Figure out your weaknesses find people to work them, do what you can’t and be where you’re unable. Delegation is a big key to running a successful business, otherwise you’ll kill it.

Is your venture meant to expand? Not all are, depending on your offering, or your desires. In such a case, doing it all may be okay, if you’re going to stay small.

Misjudging Demand

As an entrepreneur, you probably understand if no one buys, you don’t make money, but that’s as far as your understanding may go. Many businesses get caught up on one person buying, which proves that someone wants it, but a successful company is not made on one client.

As an entrepreneur, misjudging the number of prospective clients is the biggest mistake you can make. That’s more than just miscalculating future revenue; it’s misunderstanding your businesses viability. Once you have your product or service idea, think about your ideal client who’d buy it before even producing said product or service. You don’t want to waste time or resources because you had to change direction halfway. Think about pre-selling or crowdfunding as a way to get interest, and have some startup money.

No Unique Selling Proposition

A great product is pointless, and not a determining factor in your businesses success. Competition is fierce nowadays, and doing the same thing as you, so to get your market’s attention you need a Unique Selling Proposition (UPS), which shows how your product or service is unique from everyone else’s. You need on for each product or service you sell. Apple and Samsung are good examples. Their smartphones have comparable performance, but different in the apps available, how their app stores are setup, to how they work with other devices. Apple’s real difference is their ecosystem, which most others don’t have.

The days of jumping into an industry, and putting out your product or service are gone. You need something to urge customers to leave their existing supplier and come over to you. You can’t compete if you don’t have something unique to offer. That could be something as simple as a pickup service or drop off service.

Your Accounting Sucks

Everything has a cost. Especially when it comes to finding a business location, as you may have to focus on one area over another, or be home-based at the start. Money & time are one of the more literal and direct costs of your business. Under-funding is one of the biggest startup killers. Remember, if you don’t have money you can’t work your business.

You need room to breathe, whether it’s your plan, or your estimates. More than likely, it’ll take longer than expected, and cost more than you thought. Keep yourself safe by overestimating (being conservative).

Entrepreneurship is risky, even if it’s done perfectly. You may be strong in your way, but some errors will kill your business. You don’t need to see your business crash and burn to learn from those mistakes. Do your due diligence before you start, and you’ll succeed.

Home Accessibility Expenses 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

For the 2016 tax year, the government added Home Accessibility Expenses. This a non-refundable tax credit for those expenses you incurred to make your home more accessible for yourself, or a spouse, a parent, or a child that you care for. Whomever the expenses are incurred for, they must either qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, or be over 65 years of age. This being a non-refundable tax credit, it must be used in the year the expenses are incurred, and cannot be carried forward.

Are you eligible?

You can claim an amount for the eligible expenses for a qualifying renovation of an eligible dwelling, if:

  • you are a qualifying individual; or
  • an eligible individual making a claim for a qualifying individual.

A qualifying individual is:

  • an individual who is eligible for the disability tax credit for the year; or
  • an individual who is 65 years of age or older at the end of a year.

An eligible individual is:

  1. a spouse or common-law partner of a qualifying individual; or
  2. for a qualifying individual who is 65 years of age or older, an individual who has claimed the amount for an eligible dependent (line 305), caregiver amount (line 315) or amount for infirm dependents age 18 or older (line 306) for the qualifying individual, or could have claimed such an amount if:
    • the qualifying individual had no income;
    • for the eligible dependent amount, the individual was not married or in a common-law partnership; and
    • for the amount for an infirm dependent age 18 or older, the qualifying individual was dependent on the individual because of mental or physical infirmity.

OR

  1. If (2) does not apply, an individual who is entitled to claim the disability amount for the qualifying individual or would be entitled if no amount was claimed for the year by the qualifying individual or the qualifying individual's spouse or common-law partner.

Do you have an eligible dwelling?

An eligible dwelling is a housing unit (or a share of the capital stock of a co-operative housing corporation that was acquired for the sole purpose of acquiring the right to inhabit the housing unit owned by the corporation) located in Canada and meets at least one of the following conditions:

  • it is owned (either jointly or otherwise) by the qualifying individual and it is ordinarily inhabited (or is expected to be ordinarily inhabited) in the year by the qualifying individual, or
  • it is owned (either jointly or otherwise) by the eligible individual and is ordinarily inhabited (or is expected to be ordinarily inhabited) in the year by the eligible individual and the qualifying individual, and the qualifying individual does not throughout the year own (either jointly or otherwise) and ordinarily inhabit another housing unit in Canada.

Generally, the land on which the housing unit stands, up to ½ hectare (1.24 acres), will be considered part of the eligible dwelling.

A qualifying individual may have only one eligible dwelling at any time, but may have more than one eligible dwelling in a year (for example, in a situation where an individual move in the year). When a qualifying individual has more than one eligible dwelling in a year, the total eligible expenses for all such eligible dwellings of the qualifying individual cannot be more than $10,000.

What renovations or expenses are eligible and ineligible?

A qualifying renovation is a renovation or alteration that is of an enduring nature and is integral to the eligible dwelling (including the land that forms part of the eligible dwelling). The renovation must:

  • allow the qualifying individual to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within, the dwelling; or
  • reduce the risk of harm to the qualifying individual within the dwelling or in gaining access to the dwelling.

An item you buy that will not become a permanent part of your dwelling is generally not eligible.

Eligible expenses

These expenses are outlays or expenses made or incurred during the year that are directly attributable to a qualifying renovation of an eligible dwelling. The expenses must be for work performed and/or goods acquired in the tax year.

Work performed by yourself

If you do the work yourself, the eligible expenses include expenses for: building materials; fixtures; equipment rentals; building plans; and permits.

However, the value of your own labour or tools cannot be claimed as eligible expenses.

Work performed by a family member

Expenses are not eligible if the goods or services are provided by a person related to the qualifying individual or the eligible individual, unless that person is registered for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) under the Excise Tax Act. If your family member is registered for GST/HST and if all other conditions are met, the expenses will be eligible.

Work performed by professionals

Generally, paid work done by professionals such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and architects for eligible expenses qualifies. If you're planning on hiring a contractor to do construction, renovation, or repair work on your home, the Get it in writing! website has information that will help you.

Ineligible expenses

The following expenses will not be eligible:

  • amounts paid to acquire a property that can be used independently of the qualifying renovation;
  • the cost of annual, recurring, or routine repair or maintenance;
  • amounts paid for household appliances;
  • amounts paid for electronic home-entertainment devices;
  • the cost of housekeeping, security monitoring, gardening, outdoor maintenance, or similar services;
  • financing costs for the qualifying renovation; and
  • the cost of renovation incurred mainly to increase or maintain the value of the dwelling.

Other factors to consider

Medical expense tax credit (METC)

You may have an eligible expense that also qualifies as a medical expense. If so, you can claim the expense as a medical expense and a home accessibility expense.

Condominium and co-operative housing corporations

For condominium or co-operative housing corporations, your share of the cost of eligible expenses for common areas qualifies.

Other government grants or credits

The expenses are not reduced by assistance from the federal or a provincial government, including a grant, forgivable loan, or tax credit.

Vendor rebates or incentives

Eligible expenses are generally not reduced by reasonable rebates or incentives offered by the vendor or manufacturer of goods or the provider of the service.

Business and/or rental use of part of an eligible dwelling

If you earn business or rental income from part of an eligible dwelling, you can only claim the amount for eligible expenses incurred for the personal-use areas of your dwelling.

For expenses incurred and/or goods acquired for common areas or that benefit the housing unit as a whole (such as a ramp or hand rails), you must divide the expense between personal use and income-earning use.

Completing your tax return

To claim home accessibility expenses complete Schedule 12, Home accessibility expenses, and report the amount from line 4 of Schedule 12 on line 398 of Schedule 1, Federal Tax.

A maximum of $10,000 per year in eligible expenses can be claimed for a qualifying individual. When there is more than one qualifying individual for an eligible dwelling, the total eligible expenses cannot be more than $10,000 for the dwelling. The claim can be split between the qualifying individual and the eligible individual(s) for the qualifying individual. If the claimants cannot agree to what portion each can claim, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will determine the portions.

Supporting documents

Eligible expenses must be supported by acceptable documentation, such as agreements, invoices, and receipts. They must clearly identify the type and quantity of goods bought or services provided, including, but not limited to, the following information, as applicable:

  • information that clearly identifies the vendor/contractor, their business address, and, if applicable, the GST/HST registration number;
  • a description of the goods and the date when the goods were bought;
  • the date when the goods were delivered (keep your delivery slip as proof) and/or when the work or services were performed;
  • a description of the work done, including the address where it was done;
  • the amount of the invoice;
  • proof of payment. Receipts or invoices must show that bills were paid in full or be accompanied by other proof of payment, such as a credit card slip or cancelled cheque; and
  • a statement from a co-operative housing corporation or condominium corporation (or, for civil law, a syndicate of co-owners) signed by an authorized individual identifying:
    • the amounts incurred for the renovation or the alteration work;
    • as a condominium owner, your part of these expenses if the work is done on common areas;
    • information that clearly identifies the vendor/contractor, their business address and, if applicable, their GST/HST registration number; and
    • a description of the work or services done and the dates when the work or services were done.

The Home Accessibility Expenses credit can give you a bit of tax relief if you’ve had to make your home more accessible for yourself or a dependent. Even if you’ve gotten federal or provincial assistance, you can still claim the expenses for this credit.

Seven Things to Stop Doing Now to be More Productive

By Randall Orser | Small Business

I’m sure you have begun to realize just how much you are standing in your own way of being successful. Do you want to be successful? Then you need to just get out of your own way. It won’t be easy; however, you need to if you want your startup to last more than a year. Here are seven things to stop doing now to be more productive.

Not Preparing Enough

Flying by the seat of your pants definitely doesn’t work when it comes to your business. Your business will flourish because of a skill set that includes skill, smarts, luck, and preparation. You’ll be in trouble if you try to skip out one of them. You can develop your skill and smarts, though luck is beyond your control. You won’t falter if you are prepared, so preparation is key.

Preparation is about being informed, having a plan for various actions (positive and negative). You’re much better to plan for the uncertain, not need them, than to need a plan and not have one.

Procrastination

There are many joyful things in running your business, however, don’t overlook the boring bits. You don’t want to leave those boring bits to last, or for another day, just to get to the fun. You’ll just have to do them anyway, and may have to rush to get them done. Get those things done as soon as possible, as Nike says, ‘Just Do It’.

Are You Ready?

Even if you’re not, don’t worry about it. You’re never really ready for a lot of stuff, such as parenting, school, or running a business. Your business is a test you’ve probably never had prior experience. You may have had a business before, however, each new business has a different set of circumstances. You’re much better to centre on what needs to get done, rather than how unready you may be.

Being a Perfectionist

Striving for perfection is all well and good; however, if you resolve only for perfection then that’s when it all goes bad. Remember there’s no such thing as perfect. You may have times where the stars align, and it just feels right, but something will go astray. Don’t wait for things to be completely faultless. Figure out what needs to get done, and get on with it with what you have. As Dan Kennedy (marketing guru) says, ‘Good is good enough’.

Thinking Things Will Work Out on Their Own

If you think you’re going to succeed by doing nothing most of the time, then think again. You need to work for your business, nothing will just jump into your hands. You are owed nothing, and there’s plenty of people out their hustling day and night to get ahead. A successful startup is achieved by those who put feet to pavement, and get things done.

Constantly Comparing Yourself to Others

Always be looking at your competition as you can get a good idea of how you compare to where you are and where you should be. You can take it too far by dwelling on victories you should have achieved; that’s just privilege. Your competition took a different path than yours, got there through hard work, and you must do the same. Focus ahead, not behind or to the side.

Superfluous Purchasing

Your business runs on money, and it the basis for you being able to do the things needed. Whatever you spend money on, it needs to be about improving the company. Buying things that aren’t necessary is a waste of money, and you’ve just lost focus on what’s important. Is buying that new swanky computer really worth it? If it doesn’t improve productivity, then don’t. You need to look at every purchase before signing off on it.

You need to have the wherewithal to run your business so it can be dependable and tough. Your business won’t last with wasteful purchases, or you take months to complete anything as it needs to be perfect. You can become a successful entrepreneur, you may just need to change yourself.

How to get being an Entrepreneur Right

By Randall Orser | Small Business

You’re ready to rock the business world with your entrepreneurial spirit, but ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ As you rush from idea to action, things go astray. Too many entrepreneurs are concerned with what they want, and end up overlooking what they need to do. As an entrepreneur, it’s not just about coming up with great ideas, it’s acting on them properly. Here are some points about where the entrepreneur goes wrong and ruins the dream.

That Work/Life Balance Thingy

Think of your startup like a new baby, it’ll take up most of your time. It’ll be an exacting creature that both wants and needs your attention at every moment. It’s something that’ll occupy your mindscape, even when not working on it, and take away your weekends. You’re going to be tempted to put off your social and personal life, and focus on your business.

The minute you put off rest and your social life, the burnout starts taking over, and you fail. Can you create a balance between your work and life? Of course. You’ll always feel on or the other is deprived, however, that’s the cost of being a juggler.

Continuously Revamp on Your Idea

You’ve got your great idea, and are ready to roll; however, it doesn’t stop now. You, like many entrepreneurs, will launch and then completely concentrate on running the business, leaving the core idea untouched. You need to have focus when you launch your idea, however, leaving the idea in its original configuration could be a mistake.

You think of your idea and your new business like your baby, and like a baby it needs to grow, develop along with the needs of the market. Ideas flow like water, and you shouldn’t be afraid of running out of them; the more experience you get and have in your industry, the more they flow.

As Cold as Ice

As an entrepreneur, there are times where you need to take a step back from a distance, and look at the situation in a detached manner. You need to be as cold as ice sometimes, especially when it comes to your numbers and the money. Your feelings shouldn’t blind you to the proper decision; however, keep your coldness in check.

The main ingredient of a good startup is passion. With the odds so stacked against you, you need that fire in your soul in order to keep going even when it feels like you’re losing. Cultivate your passion you have for your startup; just know when to curb that enthusiasm.

Build the Momentum

Think of your new business as a rock rolling downhill gathering motion, so don’t let it falter. As soon as you hesitate, or lose focus, your momentum slows, as your startup is pretty much stagnant. In larger companies, that stagnation could be a fiscal quarter that sucked. For your startup, it may be as short as a week.

Building your startups momentum does require focus and good management. Don’t get stuck on one task, use delegation as much as possible. Do your best not to focus on anything that doesn’t improve the business or have a direct benefit.

Ambition is Lacking in This One

Many people face a lack of ambition, and that’s a big problem. You’ll never stand up to the big challenges and take the risks on big opportunities, unless you feel like you’re building up to something bigger. You need to have a greater goal to what you’re doing.

For you, that may be as simple as getting your name out there, and your brand a household name. Others, may need to protect their family’s financial future. You need to go down deep inside, and consider why you’re doing this.

You have your dream, and it can be a reality, though it’s not easy, however, not entirely impossible. You need the right mindset and an approach to do it successfully. Do it right from the start, and you’ll manage the transition well.

Profit from Your Competitor’s Decline 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Do you feel that your competitors are there to just steal your clients? Change your thinking and use your competitors to your advantage. Blow away your competition in your market by using the following three ways to profit from your competitor’s decline.

What do your potential customers want?

You probably have a good grasp of what your existing customers want, however, it’s important to learn what your future customers want. How do you go about that? Check out the competition’s social media sites, and see what their customers are commenting, and what they favour about the products or services of that competitor. Then implement some of these ideas in your business, at least those that fit into your brand. Of course, don’t contact them directly on the competitor’s sites, however, do invite them to subscribe to your business page or other site, maybe your newsletter.

Can you pick up where the competitor left off?

Look at the negative comments on the competitor’s sites as well. What issues are coming up in those comments? Is there an area of the competitor’s business that people are having a tough time with? Then make sure your business isn’t having the same issues. This gives you a double whammy, being able to fix the competitor’s customers issues, and having your own customers see an improvement even if they didn’t realize it was there. That said, be careful not to scare your current customers away with any change. If you think a change may be an issue with existing customers, use a poll, survey, or just ask them outright to find out how they would feel about said change. If one of those won’t work, then do some exploration of other businesses have done this change with any level of success. Your existing customers are important, and it’s far better to keep them happy than changing something just to get new customers.

What’s Your Angle?

Stand out from your competition by focusing on those things that you do best. Always look at your competitors and what they do best, then figure out a better or different angle to exceed them. For customers looking for something a little different, this would be a good draw for them. In order to stand out from the competition, do what you do best, however, have something the competition doesn’t. You’ll not only gain new customers, but they have grounds to stay loyal.

Business is all about being known for something. The best way to figure out that ‘known’ is to check out the competition. Grow your business and keep your customers happy by using your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Start learning to profit from your competitors decline, and you’ll feel less like your competitors are in your way.

Taking Inventory of Your Stock

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Inventory control is an essential part of running a profitable business. If you don't know what inventory you have, you can't anticipate demand. You won't know if employee theft is happening and you'll have trouble getting the maximum depreciation deductions on your taxes. There are many, many reasons to take stock of your inventory on a regular basis.

When Should You Schedule Inventory Checks?

Different kinds of inventory checks should be scheduled at different times of the year. Before the holiday seasons, you should schedule an inventory check to see how much you should order for the upcoming rush. You should schedule a check before tax season, usually at the end of the month of your fiscal year.

In addition to "special case" inventory checks, you should also have checks scheduled regularly. This will help you spot buying trends, as well as catch employee theft early.

What Should You Check When Taking Stock?

Here are a few of the things to look at when you're taking stock of your inventory:

* Are there items that continually don't sell? If you notice items sitting on the shelf for a long time, it might be time to discontinue those items.

* Are there items that are selling very quickly? Not only should you restock these items, but you should also consider promoting them harder, as there's a lot of demand in the market.

* The raw number of items you have. At the most basic level, that's what an inventory check is about.

* The asset value of your inventory. This helps for accounting, as well as to know how much of your capital is tied up in inventory.

* The amount of raw materials. If you make products on site, this is important to know.

* Expiration date of your inventory. Try to use up inventory that's going to expire first.

* Any missing items. If you notice missing items, it might be time to consider anti-theft policies.

Managing Stock Levels

Once you have a clear idea of where your stock levels are, the next step is to develop good stock management policies. It could be useful to talk to your employees during this process, as they tend to have a lot of first-hand experience on what is and isn't selling.

There are three main goals to stock level management:

1) Stock more of what's selling so you don't sell out.

2) Stock less of what isn't selling.

3) Stock as little as possible to free up capital.

It helps to design these processes yourself, but eventually you want to be able to hand off all your stock management programs to managers and employees. When you do, make sure the different purposes of inventory checks are clearly explained.

Grow Your Business with Startup Thinking 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Many entrepreneurs, maybe you, get caught up on small stuff when starting their business. You’ll focus on such things as company name, stationary, incorporation, etc. You end up being mired in the small details, which end up clouding your judgment and stop you from concentrating on the business’s big picture. The running of the business takes control, and you slide right past the bigger possibilities. You need to start thinking like a startup founder, and watch your business grow beyond your wildest dreams. Following are five insights you should endorse to start thinking like a startup founder.

Have an Exit Strategy in Mind

With an exit strategy in mind, this mentality causes you, and your team, to concentrate on the end goal, and how your actions today connect you to your end goal. You need to evaluate every action you take, from marketing efforts to agreements to client interactions, as to whether it moves you towards your goal and a profitable payoff. When building your business, use this exit strategy technique, and embrace a big picture outlook to ensure your business growth push is producing a profitable result.

Focus on Your Team Members’ Core Abilities

To build dynamic teams, you need to figure out your team members’ core abilities, and don’t duplicate skill sets amongst your employees. Following this philosophy of not duplicating skill sets within your staff will allow you to hire new employees based on the skill sets your business is currently lacking. The thought is that with the various skill sets covered there is better cohesion of your team, and, hopefully, less competiveness as they complement rather than compete.

Keep Management Levels to a Minimum

Open the door for high growth by not creating countless levels of management, and instead build on teamwork, and a meaningful appetite to prosper throughout your organization. You’ll keep mid-level management at bay by having this mindset, and not hire them at all. You’re better positioned for faster decisions and rapid growth; keep this top of mind the next time you think about hiring someone.

‘Fail Fast’ Has Become an Essential Component of Startup Culture

Budding, active businesses can’t afford to waste time on products or services doomed for the scrap heap. When looking at launching new products or services, ensure you have all the data to back up your decisions before any launch. You need to be ready to cut your losses early if the signs are pointing to a dying undertaking.

Startups Are Cash-Strapped, So They Bootstrap

You need to look at the return on investment (ROI) on any item you’re about to spend money on, and whether it contributes to the company’s growth. Incorporate the cash-strap/bootstrap attitude into every facet of your business. You need to consider the ROI on anything you’re thinking of buying, and does it financially benefit your business.

Integrating startup thinking into your whole business, you’ll be amazed at just how effortless your business becomes. From product development to human resources, every area of your business will be certain of success. Is this the year you incorporate startup thinking into your business’ growth initiatives?