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10 Tips for Managing Small Business Finance

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Small Business Finances|10 Tips for Managing Small Business FinanceManaging your small business finance is crucial to maintaining stability and growing your business over the long run. From setting a budget to regularly monitoring your books, you should be proactive when it comes to managing your finances. Here is everything you need to know about managing your small business’ finance.

If you want to ensure long term growth for your company, then managing your small business’ finances is a top prerogative. From paying your employees to purchasing supplies, cash flow management is crucial to business success. Small business owners often make mistakes that, such as not separating personal and business accounts, or not paying taxes in time. Some small business owners avoid taking loans, out of fear that they’ll only be an additional financial burden.

Many of these ideas affect sustainability as well as scalability for your business. Here are ten financial management tips that will help you grow your small business:

1. Keep Your Business and Personal Account Separate

As a small business owner, starting a business bank account should be your priority. There are several benefits you gain from a business account, such as incentives, interest rates etc. that are not made available to personal bank accounts. You also ensure that financial matters related to your business is conducted through your business account only – this includes business taxes, overhead costs and paying employees.

2. Pay Yourself

Small business owners also make the mistake of not paying themselves, thinking that the extra capital can help the business. However, despite being a business owner, you also need to take care of your own expenses. Remember that you are also an employee of your business, and that means that you should be paid accordingly.

3. Loans Can Help You

Don’t be afraid of business loans. Loans can help you scale your business. Not every business owner has the capital to purchase expensive equipment, or purchase surplus supplies during a time of high demand. A business loan can help you grow your business. When done right, the return on investment is more than enough to compensate your loan as well as the interest on that loan.

4. Maintain Good Credit

This means that you need to pay your credit card bills on time, pay off any loans by the time they are due, and file your taxes on time. Good credit can help you down the line when you need to get approval for business expansions. Say you want to purchase more property, or take out a business loan. In these situations, good credit can help you get what you need to grow your business.

5. Invest in Business Growth

Your small business might benefit from better equipment, more employees, or an additional store at a good location. Investing in such opportunities helps your business to grow. At the same time, partners, lenders and even employees are more likely to see you in a positive light. This is as they see that you understand the potential of your small business, and are willing to invest in its growth.

6. Create a Budget

A budget is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t spend more than you can afford to. Every business has three costs – one time costs, recurring costs and variable costs. One time costs include equipment purchases, property purchases etc. Recurring expenses are bills, taxes, payroll, overhead costs etc. Variable expenses can come out of anywhere – such as business travel costs. Keeping these in your budget prepares you against any business disruptions.

7. Monitor Your Books

Even if you have a bookkeeper, you should also be aware of your income and expenditure. Look at your books every month so that you’re aware of your business’ cash flow.

8. Negotiate With Vendors

If your small business purchases supplies from vendors, then don’t sign any contracts immediately. Negotiate with them and see if you can bring the cost down. Ask them about grace periods and penalties in case you’re late on payments. Ensure you’ve met multiple vendors so that you know you’re getting the best deal.

9. Inspire On-time Payments for Clients

Some clients and customers don’t pay on time. If this happens to your small business, then you could find that your cash flow is being affected. Introducing incentives in the form of discounts can help you mitigate these issues. Tell customers tat if they pay on-time, they can get a 5% discount, or else they have to pay the full amount. Introduce penalties for payments that are overdue past a grace period.

10. Think Ahead

Sustainable business growth depends on a long term strategy. You need to think ahead, invest in the future and continuously grow your business in order to succeed over the long run.

It is also important for your small business to have the best business insurance. To know more, click here.

Sources:

  1. D’Angelo, MAD, Updated January 7th 2021, ‘10 Tips for Managing Small Business Finances’, viewed 11th February 2021, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5954-smb-finance-management-tips.html
  2. Gregory, AG, Updated October 21st 2019, ‘5 Everyday Money Management Tips for Small Business Owners’, viewed November 11th 2021, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/money-management-small-business-owners-2951600
  3. Ignjatovic, AI, February 15th 2019, ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Small Business Finance’ viewed 11th February 2021, https://www.shopify.in/blog/small-business-finance
  4. Square Contributor, September 25th 2020,’How to Manage Your Business Finances’, viewed 11th February 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/square/2020/09/25/how-to-manage-your-business-finances/?sh=452d16b237fc

Where’s Your Business’s Safety Net?

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Business Safety Net|Where's Your Business's Safety Net?Running a business can often feel as though you’re walking a tightrope. You’ve got to keep your balance and your composure or you could end up falling. However, there’s one big difference between running a business and walking a tightrope: there’s nothing impressive about running a business without a safety net. The reality is that the risks of running any kind of business are so high that having no potential protections in place if something goes wrong is simply irresponsible. With that in mind, here are just a few things to consider when making sure that your business has the safety net it needs.

Insurance

If you’re looking for a way to protect your business in the event that something goes wrong then there are few more obvious and effective things to consider than the right insurance. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the right insurance for your business. Everything from how much it will cost to what kind of cover you need to the specific risks that your business poses. Click here to find the insurance that’s right for your business. Insurance can be a frustrating cost, especially in the early days, but the value it provides is absolutely worth the money you spend on it.

Investors

Investment is something every business needs. After all, it really doesn’t matter how great your business is, you’re never going to be able to get things off the ground without some form of capital. That’s where investors come in. They can provide the capital that you need and can often help to prop up your business if it requires a little extra nudge. Of course, you need to remember that investors are not just giving you money. If you can’t guarantee that you’re able to provide them with a return on their investment, they’re going to take their money and walk away.

Careful Planning

One of the most common reasons that a lot of businesses fall apart when things go wrong is that they were entirely unprepared for it to happen at all. This is because a lot of new business owners only ever plan for the things that they want. Instead, you should be planning for every possible eventuality. You need to know what your business is going to do if something were to go wrong. Do you have contingencies in place? If not, you need to go back to the planning stage and think more carefully about the areas where your business might be vulnerable.

When your business is doing well it’s often all too easy to assume that things are just going to work out and that you have nothing to worry about. The problem there is that it means that you’re going to be utterly unprepared for the moment that something does go wrong. As counterintuitive as it might feel in the short term, the reality is that it’s far better to have these protections in place and not need them than it is to realise too late how valuable they would actually have been.

The Importance of Business Insurance and the Types of Business Insurance that Every Business Needs

Running a business and being your own boss is a dream that most people nurture. After all, is there is anything better than being answerable to no one, and working at your own pace? Owning a business provides you with full control of various aspects of your life. You get to decide when to work, whom to work with and how to work. You do not have to be answerable to anyone, and that is perhaps the best thing ever. However, as appealing as the idea of running your own business sounds, it also comes with a number of challenges. Being an entrepreneur is not a cakewalk.

You have a world of responsibilities to shoulder and take care of the smallest details. One slight error of judgement or carelessness on your part can lay waste to the little empire you built for yourself and leave you with nothing. You not only have to take care of your employees but also feel responsible if anything happens to even one of them. Plus, there are several other aspects to factor in too, while running your business. From accounts to shipping, shouldering the weight of a business is not an easy task. That is why, if you have ever nurtured the dream of becoming an entrepreneur, you need to be careful about and consider several things.

Having said that, in this article, we shall shed light upon one of the most important aspects of running a business. We shall talk at length about the necessity of business insurance and the types of business insurance plans you need to know. Most entrepreneurs pay very little attention to this crucial part of their business. They fail to comprehend the complete scope of business insurance policies and the role they have to play in securing their business, and thus, end up leaving a lot of money on the table. That said, let us now proceed to the main part of this discussion and help ourselves become better and responsible entrepreneurs.

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Why Does Your Business Need Insurance?

There are a number of insurance policies that people come across in their lifetime. From home insurance and car insurance to life and health insurance, the types of insurance policies are very many. We do not waste a single minute before purchasing the right life insurance plan or car insurance for that matter. We want to protect our loved ones long after we are gone, and also protect the car that we have invested in. Then why would you think that your business is any different?

You have spent a lot of time, invested yourself emotionally and financially and put in a ginormous amount of effort in building your business. Therefore, leaving it at the risk of various potential threats is inane. This is where business insurance policies step into the picture. Let us now look at a few other reasons why you must purchase business insurance without fail.

You Could Be Sued

The law across most of the countries makes it mandatory to purchase business insurance policies. Therefore, if you do not invest in the same, you could be sued. Plus, in an event where a lawsuit has been filed against you, or there is an instance of a liability claim, without the right business insurance policy at your disposal, your business could shut down. It only takes one employee or an unhappy client to sue you. And even if you happen to win the suit, the cost of legal defense could leave you in tatters and cause your business to fold.

Business Insurance Keeps Your Business Afloat

The second and perhaps the most important reason to purchase business insurance is that the right policies keep your business afloat. No one can predict natural disasters. In the event of an earthquake or a fire, your business might suffer irreparable losses and damages. The right business insurance policy, about which we shall discuss in the next section, shall help you pull through the tough times and make the difficult phase relatively easier. Without any business insurance policy, your business might never be able to recover and fall flat on its face.

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Business Insurance Protects Your Employees

Your employees are an irreplaceable resource. You might have cutting-edge technology at your disposal and AI that makes your job easy and hassle-free. But you cannot manage without human labor. You need your employees to run these machines and technological innovations that you are ever so thankful for. Without your employees, your business shall have a cataclysmic downfall. Therefore, it is extremely important that you have business insurance that protects the interest of your employees as well. From workers’ compensation to disability coverage, your business insurance shall help your employees make a living despite the odds and stay safe at all times.

The Policies Cover Acts of God

One final reason why it is imperative for businesses to purchase business insurance is that these policies cover Acts of God. Acts of God are events that are not human-made disasters. Therefore, if your business experiences losses due to earthquakes, floods or tornado, the right policies shall cover these damages. There are two types of insurance policies that protect your business against such losses- all-risk insurance and peril-specific insurance. Without these insurance policies, you might end up losing everything, and it might then be extremely challenging for you to rebuild your business.

Types of Business Insurance You Must Know of

Now that we have discussed at length all the reasons you need to invest in business insurance, it is now time to look at the policies that you absolutely need to have. As we already discussed at the beginning, running a business might seem appealing, but it has several inherent risks. As an entrepreneur, you will not always have the best time in your business. There will be highs, lows and potential threats that you need to navigate. However, if you invest in the right business insurance policies, you might have to suffer less when disaster strikes. Therefore, without any further ado, let make our way to the next section of the article and enlighten ourselves.

Professional Liability Insurance

The first type of business insurance that you need to learn about is the Professional Liability Insurance. This policy is also known as the Errors and Omissions Insurance and for good enough reasons. This insurance policy covers your business against professional negligence due to errors on your part or failure to deliver on time. The best thing about this policy is that businesses can customize the policy based on what rubrics they function on.

Property Insurance

Just as employees are one of the most vital resources of a business, equipment, workspace, and other properties are equally important. Can you imagine your business to function without the right computers or the right tools? Plus, some of these pieces of equipment like desktops, electrical parts, crucial tools like permanent lifting magnets (the best of which you shall find at https://magnetized.com/products/model-1037jr-permanent-lifting-magnet-1000-lb-capacity) come at exorbitant rates. You cannot always manage to buy them all over again once they are damaged or lost due to a calamity like a flood or fire.

This is where your business needs Property Insurance. This insurance covers pieces of equipment like the ones we discussed a while ago, signage, inventory and furniture sets in the event of a fire, torrential rains or even theft. However, there is an aspect that you need to be careful about while purchasing this insurance. A standard version of this insurance might not cover earthquakes and floods. You have to talk to your insurance agent to clarify this part and figure out what extra policy you need for such instances.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

One of the most important insurance policies that we need to talk about is the Workers’ Compensation Insurance. You must not wait for your business to expand and hire more employees in order to get this policy. Once you have hired your first employee, you need to purchase this policy.

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance covers the instances where a worker is injured or passes away as a result of his responsibilities in your business. In such a situation, the policy shall cover the workers’ medical treatment, and provide the families with death benefits as well. Your workers are an integral part of your business. You cannot do without them. Therefore, it is mandatory that you purchase the Workers’ Compensation Insurance as soon as you hire your first worker.

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Product Liability Insurance

If your business is associated with manufacturing and selling products, it is imperative that you invest in Product Liability Insurance. It goes without saying that every business takes the necessary precautions to make their products as safe as possible. However, human beings make mistakes and sometimes the mistakes could lead to lawsuits being filed too.

The Product Liability Insurance comes handy at this juncture. This insurance policy helps you fight the battle easily in case you have a lawsuit filed against you due to a product failing to perform as was expected.

Vehicle Insurance

Another insurance that you need to buy to secure your business is Vehicle Insurance. This type of insurance comes handy, especially if your business uses vehicles for shipping and transportation. You need to insure your company vehicles fully. They cost a fortune, and you might not be able to invest in them again once they run into some kind of an accident.

If your business uses its own vehicle, your personal insurance will cover these situations of accidents. However, if you lease out vehicles, you will need to get a policy that shall insure you against third-party injuries.

Business Interruption Insurance

The final type of business insurance that we shall discuss in this article is the Business Interruption Insurance. In the event of any disaster or natural calamity, you might be forced to fold your business for a while. And this shall obviously cause you to lose a significant amount of money. This is where Business Interruption Insurance comes handy.

This insurance policy shall cover your expenses and prevent your business from running into a major financial debacle. Until you are ready to open your office again, this insurance policy shall cover you and protect you from further legal and financial complications.

Summing Up

There are a number of other business insurance policies that you might want to invest in if you have a business to run. However, the ones that we have mentioned in this article are the most important, and you must purchase them without fail.

However, if you are interested in finding out more about these policies, dig around some more and enlighten yourself. Your business is like your child, and therefore, you must do everything in your capacity to protect it.

Starting a Business for the Post-Pandemic World

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Post-pandemic World|Starting a Business for the Post-Pandemic WorldThe world has changed. That is what everyone is saying as we are in the midst of a once in a generation global crisis. Change can be daunting. Whether you are a potential new business owner or someone who has been in the game for years, you knew how your industry operated before, and you at least had an idea of how to navigate within that system. Now you have to figure out a whole new way to play.

Change Is the Name of the Game

The pandemic has caused a massive change and forced many businesses to fold. However, companies that have been around for decades and make it through the crisis will recognize that change is nothing new when it comes to business. While some industries may face more frequent and drastic changes, every business needs to adapt sometimes.

Restaurants may seem like an industry that hasn’t faced much disruption overall. However, even they have to monitor the latest dietary trends. Then, of course, one of the largest shakeups came with the rise of fast food.

Some industries face change at a greater rate, but all industries change over time. Some of the most successful companies don’t just change how they operate within an industry but switch industries altogether. Many of the largest companies now operating today started out doing something completely different. Some companies that started out doing something entirely different include:

  • Nintendo – This video game manufacture began as a playing card company and also ran a taxi company, food company, TV network, and hotel chain.
  • Nokia – This popular mobile phone brand started as a paper mill.
  • Wrigley – One of the biggest chewing gum companies started out selling soap and baking powder.
  • Marriot Hotels – Began as a street-side root beer stand.
  • Samsung – This electronics king got started by exporting noodles and dried fish.
  • American Express – The credit card company that originally delivered parcels across the country.

The point is that businesses have to learn to adapt to survive and thrive. Sometimes a change in business comes from forced outside conditions, and other times it comes from inspiration from within. Inescapably, though, it always comes eventually. Starting a business in the current climate is a great way to prepare yourself for success because you can’t rely on following an already laid out way of doing things. You need to innovate immediately.

Filling a Gap or Flooding the Market?

If you are planning on creating a new business that you will hope to launch as the world opens back up again, it is important to recognize the market you will be entering.

Once the world returns to normal, some industries will operate in much the same way as they did before. However, others will operate in a vastly different fashion. There are also going to be a number of industries that don’t recover to pre-virus levels, while others will be bigger than ever before.

You need to figure out where your proposed business lies along these spectrums so that you can fully understand the risks of your endeavor.

Many businesses were forced to close down during the pandemic, but the industry need will return to pre-pandemic levels. That means there will be a lot of holes to be filled, and you could be stepping in at the perfect time to provide the service that people need. Many other services that boomed during the pandemic are likely to drop off dramatically as the disaster recedes.

Basically, opening a new restaurant where you have half the competition you would have had if you had opened your doors in 2019 will be a much safer bet than starting a business that sells medical masks.

The Importance of Insurance

One thing that the pandemic has certainly shown is the importance of insurance. Health insurance, cancellation insurance, and business insurance that covered disruption are three prominent insurance options that many people who had them were very grateful for once the pandemic hit. While hopefully, we will not face another crisis of this level anytime soon, these are still great safety nets to have.

Whenever you invest a lot of money in anything, like your business, home, car, wedding, or self, purchasing insurance is a good option. People planning to get married in early to mid-2020 who had to postpone may not have benefited from buying wedding liability insurance. However, if they bought wedding cancel or postponement insurance, they were certainly breathing a sigh of relief.

The same goes for business owners. Those who left business disruption insurance off their coverage plan were left out in the cold when forced to shutter their doors due to lockdowns.

The Digital Age Has Truly Grown Up

The world has been transitioning to digital more and more over the past few decades, and the pandemic pushed that movement forward even further. Many businesses who adopted a more digital approach with things like having employees work from home don’t plan to go back to the old way of doing things. Many former office jobs have switched to being fully remote and will stay that way while others will keep a partially remote aspect.

There are many benefits to having your employees work from home. Your good employees are often more productive because by cutting out their commute, they are less tired and more able to focus. At the same time, it is easier to identify your bad employees and demand improvement or part ways. You can also rent smaller offices or have no main office at all. Either option can save a lot of overhead costs.

Due to this and other factors, you may find that this is the perfect time to start your new business. With many industries, you won’t find yourself at a big disadvantage to your more experienced competitors, since they will be learning the new way of doing business right alongside you.

How to Start Your Own Small Business

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Small Business|How to Start Your Own Small BusinessIf you have dreamed about being an entrepreneur and starting your own small business, the process may be easier than you imagined. Since you are not opening a large or medium business, the steps to create your business are much more manageable. You do not have to deal with stock, public trading, large demands for capital, or complex tax or legal issues. Here is what you need to know about taking on this endeavor.

Steps to Starting Your Own Small Business

You can quickly launch your business after completing these steps:

Business Planning

Every business should have a business plan. This is the foundation of your request for outside funding. However, even if you do not require funding from a bank or other financial institution, a business plan can be helpful in creating a roadmap on how to operate and grow your business.

Funding Your Business

You may need some initial capital to start your small business, such as to pay for inventory, equipment, staff, and other needs. You may have several options to fund your business, such as:

  • Using personal funds
  • Asking friends and family to invest
  • Using crowdfunding
  • Borrowing from a bank or other financial institution
  • Seeking out investors

You will want to consider the funds you need to initially start your business, as well as your capital needs for the future. You don’t want to make an initial ask for funds and then have to return to ask for more shortly later.

Pick a Business Location

The location you choose for your business can have a dramatic impact on the potential success – or lack thereof – of your business. The business location you choose can affect your revenue, legal requirements, and taxes. Additionally, if you choose a bad location that is associated with past problems or legal issues, this can negatively impact the community’s perception of your business.

Use appropriate tools to get an address report about locations that you are considering. This can help you to be informed about the location and any potential issues with it.

Select Your Business Structure

The legal structure you select for your business will impact important aspects of your business, including requirements on how to register your business, your potential personal liability, and the amount you pay in taxes. Common types of legal structures for small businesses include:

  • Sole proprietorship – This is the simplest structure to have and if you do not choose any other structure, this will be the default classification for your business. With a sole proprietorship, you do not have any protection from personal liability and your business income is taxed at your individual rate.
  • Partnership – A partnership involves two or more people who are in business together. It is possible to limit personal liability with certain types of partnerships.
  • Limited liability company – A limited liability company has the same types of legal protections as a corporation but provides tax benefits of a partnership.
  • Corporation – A corporation is a separate legal entity from the individual owners. It can own property, pay taxes, enter into contracts, assume liability, and make and defend against legal claims in its own name. Corporations provide protection against personal liability.

You will want to choose the business structure that best suits the needs of your business, now and in the future.

Register Your Business

You will want to register your business to make it legal and to establish a brand for it. You will likely need to register with the government, potentially with the federal, state, and local government. Corporations must file articles of incorporation that identify the business name, its purpose, the legal structure, and other pertinent information.

If you hire employees, you will need an Employer Identification Number.

Acquire Legal Permits and Licenses

You may also be required to obtain various legal permits and licenses to legally operate your business. These vary by your state, location, industry, and other factors. Some trades require you to maintain a professional license. You may also need a permit before you collect sales tax from customers.

Purchase Insurance

Keep yourself protected by purchasing a general business insurance policy. You may also inquire about other types of insurance that may be able to protect you, such as errors and omissions insurance. A competent insurance broker should be able to inform you of your options.

Seek Out Additional Resources

Fortunately, there are many places that you can turn to for assistance and information. The Small Business Administration offers a wealth of information, including many free resources. Many states also have other organizations that provide assistance to small businesses and can help with everything from market research to financial planning. You can also check with the agency where you must register your business for additional assistance.

Conclusion

By following the steps above, you can soon be on your way to starting your own small business and becoming your own boss. Good luck!

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Ben HartwigBen is a Web Operations Executive at InfoTracer who takes a wide view from the whole system. He authors guides by sharing the best practices and does it the right way!