Small businesses that experience success and growth need to abandon the mantra of doing it all. But far to often, they take on ancillary activities that distract from the core strengths that made them successful. They find themselves mired in back office processes and either work 16 hour days or the business start to slip. Success is a great thing, it is after all the point of our business, but success is a very poor teacher. “I’m a Doctor for goodness sake, I should be able to run my business!” Replace Doctor with any other profession and you have the mindset that get many business owners in trouble. My advice is stick to your core strengths and outsource the rest. If you want faster expansion for your growing business, click here to learn more about Asset Finance companies..
Don’t get nervous, you don’t have to abandon your patriotism or defy your union brothers. What I’m talking about is hiring business specialists to perform the tasks that they are specially trained in and you are not. These can and should be local businesses many of which are also small businesses. Why have a receptionist turned bookkeeper doing the CFO job when you can hire a CFO on-demand for the two weeks per year that you need them. Your bookkeeper and bottom line will thank you. Financial, Marketing, Human Resources, Employee Training and even Sales are areas that can and should be outsourced. The main benefit for small business owners is the ability to focus on the core business. The cost of being distracted (sleepless nights, missed deadlines and limited resources) is enough to make the difference in profit and loss. So now,
get more sleep, make more money and outsource everything that is not your core business.
Your website is your calling card on the web. For that reason it’s important that you take care in how you present yourself.
If any of these apply to you, do not pass go, and immediately head to Google to find the nearest web developer/designer.
1. About Us
If your About Us page is all about you and your accomplishments it’s time for a redo. Focus on what is about your business that will connect with a potential client. Why should they do business with you.
2. Latest News isn’t New
It’s amazing how many websites have a Latest News section that hasn’t been updated in several years. If you don’t care enough about your website to update it on a regular basis, what does it say about how you’ll treat your clients?
3. Outdated Homepage
The web changes frequently and is fickel. Styles change. Bell bottoms and eight tracks have long been out of style. The same goes for your website. If you’re site is still in it’s original format, it’s time for a refresh. We know quite a bit more about how people navigate websites. An update will go a long way to increasing conversions.
4. Bright Fluorescent Colors
When was the last time you visited your website yourself? Bright colors hurt the eyes and makes it hard to read.
5. Auto Start Video/Audio
Stop this immediately. Nothing is worse than visiting a website with your volume full bore, only to be blasted with elevator music from 1983. Certainly you want your video played, but let the content speak for itself. If the video is worth watching it will be seen.
6. Ditch the old Flash
Early flash sites had a lot of sound included when clicking on links and navigating to new pages. Don’t force visitors to have to mute things to navigate your website. It’s easier to just not come back.
7. Poor Navigation
Where do you want us to go? Do you have 15 different tabs? Have you tried to stuff the kitchen sink on the homepage? Make it simple. Set up your website so it’s easy for visitors to find information.
8. Designed for You
Remember this statement. “Your website is not for your current customers, it’s for prospective customers.” Your website is all about converting visitors into customers. Focus on creating content that speaks to those seeking to do business with you. Understand how they consume information and what drives their buying decisions. If the amount of people coming to your website are seeking you out by name you need to better content or SEO (search engine optimization)
A website is key to your digital marketing strategy. With the tools available today there is no excuse for having a poor online presense. If your a do-it-yourself type WordPress or Joomla both make for great content management systems. They both offer tons of plug-ins and themes to make your site look professional and polished.
If you need assistance TalanSBS can help get you started today.
What are a few of your website pet peeves?
Cash is king. In your business cash flow is the ultimate king. Do you have a firm grip on your cash flow? Do you understand how cash flow affects your business? Well you should.
The best way to monitor cash flow is by utilizing your cash flow statement. If you use Quickbooks or Peachtree, this is a built in report. A cash flow statement is a financial statement that shows how changes in a balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents, and breaks the analysis down to operating, investing, and financing activities.
Simply, it helps you understand the flow of cash in and out of your business.
The reason your cash flow is important is that:
- it allows you to know if you can meet payroll and other expenditures
- it tells potential lenders if you have the ability to repay
- it lets potential investors know if your company is financially strong
Here are 5 ways to get your cash flow positive:
1. Track customers’ payments
It’s easy to let 30 days turn into 45, especially if it’s one your best customers. But there are bigger issues here, if you have to borrow money due to late payments you’re doing yourself a disservice.
2. Set resonable payment terms
Don’t be afraid to offer a discount for early payments or a cash discount if it helps you get paid early. Having cash in hand is key. Offering a discount to get paid 15 days early can make a big difference in how you run your business.
3. Check credit histories
Must do. Don’t take their word for it. Just because they have a big new building doesn’t mean they have the ability to pay or haven’t stuck someone else for services in the past.
4. Take advantage of discounts
If you have the opportunity to receive a discount for paying early yourself, by all means take it. But remember if there is no discount offered to hold on to your cash. There is no sense in paying your bill two/three weeks early when you can use the cash (especially if you have a good handle on cash flow)
5. Get Rid of excess inventory
It’s costing you money. Even if you sell it at a discount it’s better than not selling it at all. Plus it injects cash into the business.
Do you really need that new iPhone/iPad/Tablet/Blackberry/Printer? Think hard about it. It’s easy to justify the expenditure, but will it really make you more efficient? Purchases like these can nickel and dime you and kill cash flow in a hurry.
Understanding how to forecast cash flow will be a key asset in running your business. If you need help reading or preparing cash flow projections contact us here at Talan Small Business Services. It’s what we do.
As an entrepreneur you end up wearing quite a few hats. This doesn’t always leave time for finding relevant information for your business. Were do you even begin when it comes to starting your small business? The Starting a Michigan Business Series will be designed to answer FAQ’s related to launching a business in Michigan.
First up in our series is Corporation or Partnership? Is there an advantage to one over the other?
Quite simply, it depends. Not quite what you were looking for. Yet it really is determined by your situation. Each has an upside and downside.
Let’s take a look at the differences.
- Shareholders (company owners) have personal limited liability
- Access to capital is easier than with other structures
- Profits can be divided between owners and the corporation which reduces taxes and offers lower tax rates
- Perpetual existence. Upon death of an owner (stockholder) the corporation continues to exist
- Tax benefits for employee fringe benefits such as medical, dental, and disability
- Fees. It costs money to incorporate, plus recurring annual corporate fees
- There are formalities that MUST be followed. There is no flexibility here
- Profits paid to owners are subject to double taxation
- Can be complex to set up and maintain
- Dissolution does not automatically happen
- Pooling of resources, expertise and strengths
- Fewer formalities than other business structures
- Does not pay Federal income taxes
- Liability is spread among the partners
- Investment can come from partners as a quick easy loan. This creates interest income for the partners and a business deduction
- All partners are personally liable for business debts and liabilities
- There may be unequal commitment (think time and finances, click here)
- Can be difficult to attract investors
- Partners may have differing opinions on how to run the business
If you’re a current small business owner, what has your experience been with these business structures? What would you recommend to an entrepreneur just getting started?
With the Chick-fil-A Leadercast only 10 days away, we’d like to express our thoughts TODAY on what being a leader is (before this much anticipated event). So here’s what we think, and what inspires us as leaders.
First of all, it’s so important that people realize that a leader isn’t just a manager, or CEO. This being said, an entry-level employee, or someone who is unemployed can be a leader. Leadership doesn’t just take place in a work-setting. There are mothers and fathers who are the leaders of their families, or sports players that are the leaders of their teams.
A leader is someone who has a voice- and wants to make positive change. As we’ve learned from CFA Leadercast speaker Seth Godin, a manager and a leader are two completely different things! Leadership is not practical, and it isn’t everyday- leadership means helping someone grow in a vast way. If you’re a leader you don’t just do what you’re told and wait for change, instead you’re innovative and take action now. With technology and competition the way it is today, if you aren’t being a time-based industry leader, you will fall behind!
True leaders don’t just think about how they can make a process run better, or treat friends, family and employees more fairly, they take action. They demonstrate integrity and receive respect. They aren’t intimidating and unapproachable, but rather are easy to talk to and hand out meaningful advice.
The thought that we can constantly improve our leadership mindset, working toward a common goal, and motivating employees to reach goals is what inspires us to continue and become better leaders. We know that our presence in the small business community will help small business owners increase their confidence, expertise and most importantly passion for their companies. Small businesses are what our country was built on, and we know it’s the root of improving our economy and patriotism for not only the United States, but Michigan made products, companies and ideas. We need to support and invest in our local small businesses to begin positive change.
We hope to gain more insight as to what defines a leader, and how to be better leaders ourselves after attending this once in a lifetime opportunity. Being able to hear from the world’s most influential leaders, including: Seth Godin, John Maxwell and Robin Roberts LIVE in one day, we feel extremely lucky and are enthusiastic about all we have to learn and implement in our business. We will spread this knowledge to our clients, who in-turn can spread this knowledge to others. After hearing more about the Leadercast from past attendants, we are certain that everyone in attendance will go home with actionable steps to improve their business, and every other aspect of their lives in order to be “a positive voice of change”.
Thank You Chick-fil-A for putting together this incredible event and allowing us to be the host-site for Metro Detroit!
“Your voice is a voice of change, and change creates new possibilities”. Register now at: http://tinyurl.com/46ndhch
Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail
We recently received an article from a client outlining the top reasons why small businesses generally fail. This question and the reasons related to the top 10 regularly face us in working with entrepreneurs. While we tend to focus our blog discussions on business success, rather than failure, it is important that we talk about and identify these issues because they are very real obstacles to success. Additionally, and perhaps even more importantly, the precursor to failure is ongoing stagnation and many points listed in this article are happening in your business right now whether you recognize it or not. So the question many ask is “if these are the top 10 reasons small businesses fail how do I avoid failure?” While this may be a valid question, the real question to ask is “how do I identify if my company has any of the traits that create these issues in the first place?” While there is no silver bullet in answering the question… the simple answer comes down to assessment. In your business, for which we recommend this check stub software, you should annually be assessing the organization, asking tough questions about the how and why you do what you do, and consistently measuring the results of your actions. But you shouldn’t do it alone. Bring in an outside resource by way of a mentor or consultant. These individuals should not have a financial interest in the organization or be on its operational leadership team. They should be “outside” resources whose interest is in the overall success of the company, not telling you what you want to hear. Through this process you should look at all areas of your business, giving you a chance to see it from the outside looking in allowing you the opportunity to identify potential problems before they can damage your company. Here is a link to the article-
Reading through an article today on entrepreneur.com, we were reminded of how important it is as small businesses to always stay connected to the changing needs of our customers. The article stated, “Small business owners who have worked long and hard to create their businesses and offer customer what they want are often the most resistant to change.” Interestingly enough, the ability to quickly change and adapt to the needs of customers if one of the most important competitive advantages that small business has over large and even medium sized companies. Unfortunately, so many small companies ignore this fact and choose to stay in the comfort zone, rather than seek ways to use their agility to gain advantage in the marketplace. If you are looking for ways to capitalize on your natural competitive advantage, TALAN is here to help. Contact us today for your FREE BIZstrength Profile and find out how you can stand out! Enjoy the article… http://tinyurl.com/yfaxhdv