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 Outdated Homepage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.
In my talks with other aspiring business owners I’m always surprised by the lack of awareness of Michigan Business One Stop. What is it? It’s Michigan’s online portal with pretty much everything you need to get your business up and running. All in one location. Talk about a time saver.
Here are just some of the things you can do with Business One Stop:
- Learn about Financing your Business
- Tax Information
- Play with the One Stop Simulator
- Find Employer Resources
- Business Entity Search
- Keep track of filings
The Business Start Up Tool on One Stop is a great tool for creating varying scenarios for launching different types of business. It will help you understand the state requirements for that business, including costs and time frames. It’s really simple to use and leaves you with a wealth of knowledge for the onset.
The site includes a online secure service for starting your business. Right online. Register for taxes, apply for licenses and permits.
If you’re in the process of starting a business, Michigan Business One Stop is the place to go.
Have you used Michigan Business One Stop?
It’s Monday, which means only one thing. Starting a Michigan Business time. This week the focus is on Forming a Corporation, what you need know, where you need to go, and how to find the documents you need to get started.
First things first.
1. Choose a name.
Have you settled on a name? Make sure you name is not already taken by visiting the Michigan Corporation Division Name Availability Search.
You’ll also need check the list of restricted words. These words are not allowed in your corporate name: List of Restricted Words
2. Determine if your business is subject to special licensing or permits.
No need for surprises. You can check online here: michigan.org/medc/services/license. You may also want to check with your local county, city or township clerk for local requirements.
3. File Paperwork with the State of Michigan
Be thorough when completing the paperwork. Be sure to have the proper corporate form, filled out completely. Forms are returned if not properly completed.
4. Register for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You can apply for an EIN number by faxing your SS-4 (Application for Federal Employer Identification Number – EIN) to 859.669.5760 or calling 800.829.4933
5. Register for Michigan Taxes
You’ll need to complete Michigan Taxes Form 518 and return to the Michigan Department of Treasury and fax to 517.636.4520
- 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
A great resource for starting a business is Michigan Business One Stop. It’s an online portal with access to FAQ’s and necessary documents for starting a business.
If you have questions you can call the DELEG (Department of Engery, Labor & Economic Growth, Bureau of Commercial Services, Corporation Division) at 517.241.6470. Or visit online at michigan.gov/corporations
It’ never a bad idea to seek out the services of a lawyer and accountant when launching a new a business. While these steps will get you on your way they should never be considered a replacement for legal advice.