Identify Small Business Advantage

The business is managing the owner/operator

When there are 117 different things to do in the business every day but there is only a few people (or one person) to do the tasks, some things are not done very well or not done at all. As a result the owner/operator is working like a firefighter – putting out the fires as they appear, rather than prevent the fires to start in the first place. This becomes a viscous circle, which leads to the next point

The strategic perspective is lost

During the working hours the owner/operator is focusing on the operational tasks, and it is hard to take a few steps back and look at the business from an objective perspective
As a result the, the business owner does the same thing day after day, week after week and so on. Unless the owner/operator has an active supporting network to step in and provide guidance, the owner will keep making the same mistakes and end up the same place that many before has ended.

Get an advisory board

The solution is to establish a formal or informal advisor board. An advisory board should consist of a group of experts of their chosen field. It can be private friends (though this can include some complications and as such is not advised). An alternative to an advisory board is finding a business coach or even better – a business mentor. They all have in common the fact they do not work directly within the business and can see what is going on and help managing the business. Once an advisor has been identified, it is important to identify the core business functions and analyse if certain activities can be fulfilled more effectively, and maybe even outsource some of these activities.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a great tool to manage the business with, in particularly if the owner keeps attending fires. Outsourcing simply means that someone else is a called in as a “hired gun” to do some of business activities, in particularly the activities that does not contribute to the business profit. One such thing is bookkeeping and accounts, which is very time consuming, but is not a core business function (unless you are a bookkeeper). When outsourcing the bookkeeping function to someone else, it is very important that the bookkeeper not only does the simple bookkeeping tasks, but also provides the owner with the proper reporting tools that the owner need to manage the business.

Virtual Assistant Can Help Business Grow

In today’s tough economical times it’s hard to think of hiring someone else to assist you, but it may be more cost effective than you think. You are probably spending more time on projects, sending out correspondence, bookkeeping and many other tasks that an assistant could do. Don’t have the space in your office or want to deal with payroll taxes? Then hire a “Virtual Assistant”.

A Virtual Assistant only works when it is necessary. In other words, you only pay when there is work to be done. You might need someone to send out your monthly newsletter, do some research for the book you’re writing, keep your schedule/calendar, bill your clients or maybe it’s all of the above. With today’s technology she or he can live anywhere, so you do not need to provide office space or equipment. Taxes, social security, and benefits won’t be a worry for you because your VA is working for herself.

Finding and hiring a VA is also an easy process. Many assistants are leaving the workplace and starting their own businesses from home and bringing all of their corporate experience with them. You can get their resume and references or just hire them for a small job to start. There are many resources out there to find VA’s. You can do an Internet search and there will be hundreds of names at your fingertips. There are also many sites that have VA directories, so if you prefer your VA to be in the same state then that will narrow your search results. There are all sorts of VA’s, some are certified or have been trained as Virtual Assistants and others, like myself, have taken our corporate knowledge and translated it into a VA business.

Hiring a VA may be the best thing for your business whether it is small, large or just starting out. Try one out; you may be pleasantly surprised at what a VA can bring to you and your growing business.

Advantages to Incorporating

While many business owners give a lot of thought to location, store décor, customer service, hiring employees and management issues (and rightly so); choosing the proper business structure (such as sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company) doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize this, but the business form they choose can often times be the difference between success and failure, especially in today’s competitive and litigious marketplace. If you want to succeed, you need all the advantages you can get. High on the list of safe bets is the corporate form of business.

Incorporating, while definitely not for everybody, offers several distinct and money-saving advantages over the other types of entities. Here are some of those advantages:

  • Asset Protection – If you operate as a sole proprietor or partnership, there is virtually unlimited personal liability for business debts or lawsuits. In other words should you go out of business or be a defendant in a lawsuit, your personal assets such as homes, jewelry, vehicles, savings, etc. are up for grabs. This is generally NOT the case when you incorporate. When you incorporate you are only responsible for your investment in the corporation. The limited liability feature of a corporation, while not a guarantee, is DEFINITELY one of the most attractive reasons for incorporating.
  • Easier To Sell – Corporations are generally much easier to sell and are usually more attractive to buyers than either a sole proprietorship or partnership. The reason for this is because a new buyer will not be personally liable for any wrongdoings on the part of the previous owners. If someone buys a sole proprietorship, for example, the new owner can be held personally liable for any mistakes or illegalities on the part of the prior owner…even if the new owner had NOTHING to do with the situation! This is usually NOT the case with a corporation.
  • Tax Savings – When you incorporate there are numerous tax advantages at your disposal that are virtually impossible to accomplish with other business entities. When you incorporate you create a separate and distinct legal entity. Because of this, there are many transactions that you can structure between you and your corporation to save big money on taxes. For instance, if you own a building you can rent office facilities to your corporation and claim depreciation and other deductions for it. Your corporation can then claim the rental expense. You are prohibited from doing this if you are a sole proprietor or a partner in a partnership.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality – The corporate form of business is a great way to keep your identity and business affairs private and confidential. If you want to start a business, but would like to remain anonymous, a corporation is the best way to accomplish this. States such as Nevada offer even more privacy protection for corporations and their shareholders.
  • Easier to Raise Capital – When you’re looking to raise money through investment or borrowing, a corporation can actually make finding and getting the money you need easier. If you want to take on investors you simply sell shares of stock. If you want to borrow, a corporation can add clout when dealing with banks or other lending institutions.
  • Perpetuity – As I mentioned in #3, when you incorporate you create a separate and distinct legal entity. This separate and distinct entity (the corporation) can endure almost forever irrespective of what happens to the shareholders, directors, or officers. This is NOT the case with sole proprietorships, partnerships or even limited liability companies. For example, if an owner, partner, or member dies the business AUTOMATICALLY ends or gets wrapped up in legal red tape. Corporations, on the other hand, have unlimited life.

Sail to Success With a Good Business Plan

A business plan is the framework of your business (your ship). The success of your business is ultimately determined by how detailed, well built, efficient and leak-proof your vessel is. If you are facing setbacks in spite of having a business plan, make a list of all the functions of your business, and examine them one by one to see where the holes are. Do you have a crew of individuals on board who know their functions and perform them well, or do you (the captain) also find yourself swabbing the deck?

Do you know how to hoist your sails to catch the best breeze to send you on your way? If your business is sagging due to lack of income in one area, can you figure out which way the wind is blowing and make adjustments (like adding new packages, developing a niche, marketing e-books) to keep you moving forward? Your business plan should have all these potential problems covered, so your business can move along at full sail.

Your business plan is also the map upon which you will chart your path to your desired destination. The process of developing your business plan will require you to focus on exactly what you are trying to achieve, pinpoint where you want to be going, and figure out exactly how you plan to get there. A solid business strategy will help you avoid rough waters, stay the course, and make level-headed decisions when you discover new and exciting opportunities to pursue. Have you embarked on a journey, only to discover half-way that it is not what you expected when you set out? A well defined business plan gives you a standard by which you can measure your progress; it will either keep you self-assured in your chosen direction, or provide a clear indication that you need to change tack.

Finally, a well-designed and well-executed business plan is your calling card. It shows third parties – potential investors, loan officers, or buyers – that your business concept is solid and successful, and worthy of their interest and investment in you, when you go for that loan to expand, or seek to sell your company.

Many entrepreneurs jump into the day-to-day of starting a business before really taking the time to map out a detailed business plan, and find they are floundering later when unforeseen problems, or opportunities arise. Investing the time and effort it takes to create a plan before setting sail will ensure a rewarding journey in the long run.

Ways to Speed Up Cash Flow

Increase Receivables Collection Efforts: This is the easiest and fastest way to generate cash but, surprisingly, most companies do a terrible job of it. Start by calling all customers whose invoices are between 25 and 30 days old to ensure that they have your bill and to find out when it is scheduled for payment. These are the easiest collection calls to make and they often result in faster payment. And, it allows you to quickly rectify problems that may delay your check.

Get Payment In Advance: Another often overlooked technique is to simply ask customers for advance payment, or for a partial payment for goods and services. This approach is especially valid with large purchases, or on work where you’ll incur significant expenses before being able to deliver the final product. Most customers will agree to such a request without asking any questions.

Invoice More Frequently: Many companies send out invoices once a month, typically at the end of the month. That gives buyers who purchased early in the month up to 30 additional days to play with your money. The frequency with which you prepare bills will depend on your business, but most companies can justify preparing invoices at least weekly.

Shorten Your Payment Terms: Most accounts payable departments schedule your payment based on the terms printed on your invoice. If you provide 30-day terms, don’t expect to get paid before then. However, many customers won’t even notice if you change your payment terms to 15 days, or request payment upon receipt of your invoice. You’ll still have to nudge the same “slow pays,” but your good accounts will probably process your invoice more quickly.

Accept Credit Cards For Payment: This isn’t really a no-cost method, since you’ll have to pay a service fee to the bank that clears the transaction. But, you’ll get paid within days and eliminate much of the clerical support required to follow up on payment. Those savings alone often more than offset the service charges. And, your customers might even thank you for the frequent flier miles they pick up by using their credit card.

There is, of course, one other important way to quickly generate cash for your business, and that is to increase your attention to sales. In all but a handful of cases, increased sales will make cash flow problems disappear.

Business Growth Through Leverage

There are many ways you can use leverage in your business to increase the results you are achieving. The term leverage is often used in reference to the financing of a business. Getting in with little or nothing down using someone elses money is a form a leverage.

Marketing is arguably the most powerful business lever of them all.

Why?

Because marketing has nearly unlimited upside potential with nearly no downside potential.

Leveraging your business success through marketing can improve your results by 100%, 500%, 1000%, or more with almost no risk or downside potential.

Let me give you a few examples.

It costs the same fixed amount of time and money to run a newspaper ad whether that ad creates one response, five responses or a hundred responses. It costs you the same whether you close 1%, 10% or 20% or those that respond. It costs the same whether the fee income you create is $1000, $2000 or $3000.

When you send a follow up letter to your prospects it costs the same to mail it whether it generates a 0.5% response or a 1% response or a 4% response.

So, as you see the risk or downside potential is limited. And if you are already running the ads anyway the risk is nothing. But the upside potential, the opportunity to improve your results, it virtually unlimited.

And what is the lever that makes this happen? Your marketing.

In other words by becoming better at marketing, by learning how to use better words, better systems and better approaches to your potential client you can greatly increase the results you are getting with little or no risk.

Now that’s a lever!

You create leverage on your investment of time and money and create a much greater result. That’s called leveraging your mind.

How to Start an Investment Club

  • Corporation. Most investment clubs will avoid becoming a corporation. This is because corporations are taxable business entities that require knowledgeable accounting skills to make them run smoothly and in accord with government regulations. A corporation generally means a lot of paperwork. This paperwork can be avoided by choosing another business model for your purpose of running an investment club.
  • General partnership. This type of business model requires less paperwork and knowledge about taxes and other financial issues. Most investment clubs choose a general partnership as their choice of a business entity. A general partnership has nominal paperwork and costs associated with it because the taxes are passed to each partner’s tax returns. This type of business model will let you accomplish what you need to do to run your investment club with the least amount of tax influence.
  • Limited liability corporations. This type of a business model is much like the general partnership but it gives individual members of your investment group a bit more liability
    protection. Keep in mind that this type of business entity can be expensive and will need more paperwork.

Members of your investment group will have to decide which of the above business models works
best for your club.

Dig Deep for Small Business Ideas

Success is how you define it.

Finding the right idea to bring you that success takes a willingness to be patient, good timing, and a lot of research.

And there’s nothing wrong with taking your time, being careful trying to figure out which small business ideas are best.

If you rush this process, you’re bound to come up with a business that doesn’t excite you at all.

You’ll be bored.

You won’t reach goals and it will become more like a job … maybe even harder!

You’ll feel like you would working for someone else. (You don’t want that again, do you?)

First, Figure Out What You Really Want

Starting off, you really have to force yourself to relax. I know what it’s like being very, very unhappy at a job. And I can tell you from first-hand experience that walking away from a well-paying job and jumping into your own business is stressful.

But if you carefully plan your “escape,” it will make it that much better!

Set Your Short-Term Goals

Maybe you want to make a ton of money and drive around in a BMW.

Or maybe you just want the freedom to enjoy your family or friends. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of being in control of your life — being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Whatever your long-term goals are, first you have to concentrate on the shorter term goals before you can begin to see that “big picture.”

It’s up to you.

But understand that the type of business you start will play a roll in whether or not you meet your goals — both short and long-term.

If you’re trying to startup a part-time venture while working full-time for someone else, you’re going to have to set daily goals to try and squeeze in a few hours of work every day, often before and after work! (I used to get up at 4:30 in the morning, go to my full-time job at 8:30, come home at 5 or 6 and get right back to work on my new business … and I loved it!)

But if it’s a small business idea you came up with on the ride home and it doesn’t really “drive” you, it’ll make reaching your short term goals — often the hard part — a heck of a lot more difficult.

What are Your Long-Term Plans?

That big picture includes, more than anything, something you can see yourself doing every day. Something that — even on weekends — you love to do.

And even though it is something you love to do, make sure it will feed your long-term plan. And you won’t know that until you know what your long term plan actually is!

For instance, if your plan is indeed to make a lot of money and retire at a young age, you’ll obviously have to look at small business ideas that are highly profitable.

This would include mostly business-to-business models. There is typically more profit selling to businesses (a product or service) unless you make it big in the consumer market.

Why would the business-to-business market be more profitable? Because a business would be more willing to invest in a product or service (that may even be a write-off) versus the consumer market which is more “luxury” driven. Meaning, consumers base a lot of their buying decisions on want instead of needs.

It’s also a financial issue.

A larger business can pay a $300 invoice without thinking about it whereas a consumer getting a $300 bill may sweat a little more.

This is just an example of understanding your long-term goals so you can look closer at a finite number of business ideas to get you closer to where you want to be.

And if you go ahead and hang your “open for business” sign and then realize, “Oh, I can’t make that much money doing this!”, you’ll only be taking one step forward and two steps back.

Grab a Pad … Ideas Will Come and Go

Because — like all entrepreneurs — you’re a thinker, you’ve always got ideas popping into your head. Probably more than you can handle (the brain only has so much room, right?).

That’s why you should always keep a notebook by your side.

Sure, some of the best ideas get written on a cocktail napkin. But you’re better off trying to give these ideas more permanence. And having a notebook dedicated to your small business ideas will give you a growing and buildable “diary” to use when you’re good and ready to go for it!

And once you start putting your ideas in writing, you’ll find yourself getting into the habit of using your notebook more and more. It’s like anything else that takes practice.

The more you do it, the better you get at finding the best small business ideas. And each idea will help you grow more specific or “niche” ideas.

Become a Private Investigator!

What you want to do is really learn how to research. You’ve got to dig — and dig deep — to determine what business really could work best for your success.

Not only do you have to know who you are and what’s going to drive your personality the most, but you also need to think about what sells.

What type of business can be profitable?

Too many people make the mistake of looking at only one aspect of starting a small business. If you love parakeets and you’re passionate about them, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to open up a store in your town without knowing if anyone else likes them!

As a side note, starting an internet business allows you a greater opportunity to build a business around something you’re passionate about. If it’s parakeets you love, you’ll find more people on the internet with your same passion than you would in your own backyard. For some great information about finding your passion on the internet, click here

You research should include looking at what other businesses are doing (successfully and not so successfully) in your city or town.

Look at small businesses and even what the “big guys” are doing.

Maybe you could create a smaller business with a personal touch that the “big guys” are typically missing out on (no matter how hard they try.)

Figure out more about what makes you tick …

What kind of hobbies do you have, if any?

What kind of magazines do you enjoy?

What do you like to do most in your “free” time?

What was the best job you ever held? Even if it’s one you had when you were a kid, you may find a business in something you know and love — but don’t even realize it yet!

Business Ideas Are Everywhere

Start to think about needs in your town or city. Is there something missing? Is there a need or a product or some type of service people would use that they “want?”

What is the majority age population in your city or town? Is it mostly seniors? (a huge market because they are more active and living longer than ever.) Or is your community made up of younger families?

Check out the local sections in your paper. Read the Lifestyle and Arts section. (I always find articles about local business people who have started businesses.)

Look at local and state businesses. Look at consumer trends and what people “want.”

Is there something other businesses in your area need? Don’t be afraid to go around and ask!

Think about concerns we all have in the world today.

There are so many opportunities out there, waiting for like you to step up and get started with a new business!

Don’t be afraid to ask!

This is where your friends, family and neighbors come in. Ask them to give you their number-one need. A product or service that’s “hard-to-find.” A complaint about what’s missing from their lives.

How many times have you looked for something — a product or service — and had to travel a long distance to get it?

Answering questions will give you plenty to think about and some good material for your notebook.

And if you’re interested in the business-to-business market, you could always put together a survey and mail it out to local businesses. Give them an incentive (a low-cost, high value gift) and find out what they really need to help them improve their business.

You may find that all of the local businesses in your area need someone to take care of local deliveries. Or someone to help them type or use their computer more effectively..