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.
As you prepare to launch your Michigan business, be sure you’ve done your due diligence. While it’s still pretty simple to start a business in Michigan there are a few guidelines you need to follow.
One step of particular importance is determining if your business requires any type of license or permit to do business in the state of Michigan, and if you need to organize an office to work, the use of sliding walls can be a great option and you can get them from sites such as https://www.movablepartitionwalls.co.uk/sliding.
Not having a license in place can be serious problem, especially if you’ve already been doing business for some time. Not doing your homework early on, can lead to massive headaches down the road and possibly a fine or closure of your business.
You’ll need a license if you fall in the following categories:
- Occupational (see full list below)
- Real Estate
- Retail Fuel
Not every business in Michigan requires a license. If your business isn’t in the above list and you’d like to double check, Michigan offers an alphabetical list of required licenses by occupation.
If you require assistance getting the most out of your business, contact us at TalanSBS. We believe in the power of the entrepreneur.
- Veterinarian Exams
- Inspector – Information
- Plumbing – Information
- Plumbing – Forms
- Architects – Information
- Barbers – Information
- Cosmetology – Information
- Forester – Information
- Hearing Aid Dealer – Information
- Landscape Architect – Information
- Morticians – Information
- Nursing Home Administrators – Information
- Ocularist – Information
- Engineer, Professional – Information
- Polygraph Examiner – Information
- Police Officer Licensing – Information
- Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
- Commercial Driver Licenses
- Notary Public – Information
- Chauffeur License – Information
- Commercial Services License Look-up
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?
Often mistakenly called an Employee Identification Number, an EIN, or Employer Identification Number is also known as a your Federal Tax Identification Number according to this tax payment tips. Similar to a social security number, an EIN is used to identify a business entity.
Do I Need an EIN?
If you have employees or operate a partnership or corporation you’ll need an Employer Identification Number. If you answer yes to any of the other questions you’ll need one as well:
- File employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco and firearm taxes?
- Withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien?
- Do you have Keogh plan?
- Are you involved with the following types of organizations: Trusts, IRAS, Estates, Non-Profits, Farmers Co-ops, Plan administrator?
Getting an EIN is a free service and you can apply online.
Your EIN will be a nine digit number assigned by the IRS. It’s important to keep this number safe.
If you recently started a business that falls under the above listed categories, this is an important step to launching your business. Be sure to follow all the steps listed on the IRS website to ensure timely processing.
Employer Identification Exempt Organizations
A tax exempt organization is non-profit org that is exempt from certain taxes as described under Section 501 of the IRS code. If you think your exempt you’ll need to apply to the IRS for a determination letter that would grant you formal tax exemption, also known as 501(c)(3) status.
Avoiding Common EIN Problems
- If you file as an S Corporation be sure to file Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation
- An association, LLC, or other org that elects to be taxed as a corporation must file Form 8832, Entity Classification Election
- Remember to always include your SSN, EIN, or ITN on Line 7b or Form SS-4
- Always use the full legal name you entered on Form SS-4, line 1 and the EIN given to you, consistently on all business tax returns
- If you change your address after receiving your EIN, you must use Form 8822 to notify the IRS of the new address
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.
Planning is important in any business. A business plan is a tool that keeps on giving. Providing guidance when necessary and answering questions when you stray off the beaten path.
A business plan can help you woo investors, get bank financing, identify potential markets, point out potential competitors, and ultimately gives you a clear path and direction for your business.
Quite often business owners skip this phase when launching a business.
As we move forward in our Starting a Michigan Business Series, this weeks focus is on how to structure a business plan.
1. Executive Summary
An overview of your business. Even though this will be at the beginning of your business plan, it should be written last, after you’ve evaluated other areas of your business.
2. General Description
Explain the type of business your in. If it’s an existing business give a history of the company. If it’s a start-up focus on the qualifications for starting the business. Note why the business is needed and it’s chances for success.
3. Products and Services
What are the unique features of your products and services. Use this section to describe them and how they will attract customers to your business.
Specify your target market. You should be able to show that there are specific market segments that will pay for your products or services. Outline what your strategy (marketing) will be to attract customers. List your competitors giving an honest evaluation of their strengths and weakness and how you will compete against them.
List the people that will be active in your business. Showcase their skills and experience. Think abbreviated resume.
What will the structure of your business be? Corporation, Limited Liability Partnership, S or C Corp? Will there be patents or trademarks involved? What sort of agreements are in place between owners?
List the business’ financial needs and where you expect to get these funds. Be sure to project revenue, expenses and profits. Going through this section to create a financial statement will help you understand cash flow, the life blood of every business. It addition you’ll understand your break-even point and how sensitive your business may be to market fluctuations.
What systems or process will be used in your business? Where will your business be located? What type of facilities will you require? Do you need supplies? Where will be the be obtained? What will the hours of operations be? Use this section to explain operational process for your business.
Your executive summary is going to be the most important part of you business plan. Most investors won’t get pass this point, so be thorough when crafting it. Focus on drawing the reader in, give them a reason to move past this section and on to your overall plan.
Remember the depth and complexity of your plan will depend on what type of business your launching. No matter what, it’s an important exercise in getting insight to your business pre or post launch.
What do you think, is a business plan still a important part of launching a business?
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?