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Unexpected Costs of Running a Small Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Small Business Costs| Unexpected Costs of Running a Small BusinessRunning a small business may seem easy to do on paper, but there really are so many other things that you need to think about. One of them is unexpected expenses because this can easily be the downfall of your business.

Extra Office Space

Sure, a home office may work for your small business, but zoning and other related regulations may require you to have something a bit more official. When making the decision to rent or purchase a property, you need to think about how much space you have now and how much you actually need. A lot of companies will offer you temporary office space, which is great if you are not quite sure which direction you need to take your business in, or even the arrangements that you are going to have. Utility costs can also eat away at your budget. Leased spaces will often include these types of costs as part of your agreement too, so look into those and always make sure that you are getting the best deal.

Equipment and Maintenance

The tools that you need to run your business need to be maintained. You may also need to pay out for equipment you didn’t think you’d’ need, such as a scanner, copier or even a shredder. Stationary should also be included in your budget because this can also eat away at your money more than you realise. If you want to save money here, then consider buying equipment second-hand from a range of auction sites. You should also buy stationery or any other related equipment in bulk, as this will help you to cut down on the cost per item.

Employees

Salaries, medical leave, health insurance and even training can factor in a large amount of cost for your budget. If you fail to invest in your employees by providing them with a reasonable wage or even a clean office environment then they will leave and this will cost you even more in the long-run. The cost of replacing an employee can be extortionate depending on the avenues you need to go through, so make sure that you set aside a good amount of your budget to accommodate this.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Small Business Costs| Unexpected Costs of Running a Small BusinessSecurity

If your business is not secure then you will be putting it at risk. It doesn’t cost a lot to invest in
CCTV installation, but you would be surprised at how much it could help you to prevent break-ins. You should also focus on securing your network as well. This can be done through encryption, which will cost you, but it is most certainly a worthwhile investment.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage refers to inventory loss at some point between the purchase you make for the items and the sale you make to your customers. Shrinkage can occur through vendors not shipping the required total of products, couriers losing packages or even poor inventory management. This expense can be entirely prevented by being diligent and by also making sure that you document and process every single step of the shipment until it reaches your customer.

How to Grow Your Startup Business in 2018

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleNothing can be more exciting for an entrepreneur than watching their business attract many customers, increase its profit margin, and develop a positive reputation. However, business growth can prove a challenge if you do not have the knowledge, tools, and experience to scale your startup.

While enjoying fast and substantial growth can be overwhelming, there are some tactics you can undertake to help you turn your small company into a big brand. Learn how to grow your startup business in 2018.

Maintain Your Core Vision

It can be easy to lose your company’s message when scaling your business. However, you must stay true to your core vision when promoting your brand to a larger audience. Ensure your employees have a thorough understanding of what your brand stands for and its goals, which will help them to retain the same company image in every sales and marketing strategy they undertake.

Be Selective with New Opportunities

There will be many opportunities coming your company’s way as it starts to grow, and you must choose from them wisely to avoid making a big mistake. Your sole goal must be to attract and satisfy your customers. Focusing on too many opportunities and projects could result in your business neglecting its customers, which could reduce consumer satisfaction and your profit margin. Never embark on an opportunity that fails to align with your current and potential customers’ needs.

Scale Your Business with the Right Technologies

Technology can help to quickly and easily scale your startup business. Don’t hold your business back by sticking with entry-level systems. Instead, you must invest in the right technologies to streamline your operations. For example, a reputable Netsuite Partner Provider can offer an Oracle NetSuite solution that can help your business say goodbye to manual processes, limited software, and expensive IT costs.

Hire Candidates That Complement Your Vision

Your employees will help to shape your company culture. While hiring employees based on their knowledge and experience is essential, you must also ensure they have the right personality for your business.

Look for candidates who are not only friendly and intelligent but who are passionate about both your brand and industry. As a result, you can develop one unified team who will work hard to meet your vision and goals.

Review Your Company Priorities

As stated, enjoying rapid startup growth can be a little overwhelming. During this time, you must take a step back to assess your company’s priorities. Review whether your performance aligns with your company’s ultimate purpose.

For example, your current company goal might be to retain your customers, but you may be focusing too much of your time on attracting new ones. If your performance and processes don’t match your core mission, you might need to make some big adjustments to your business.

Don’t Focus on Too Many Acquisition Channels

It is common for many startup owners to try to do a bit of everything to attract customers, rather than focusing on one main channel. However, doing so will result in multiple marketing experiments and can detract from a primary sales channel. It’s better to master one channel at a time, such as SEO, before moving onto the likes of social media, email marketing, app stores, and affiliate marketing.

Protecting Your Small Business: How to Cover the Basics

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleThe market offers a lot of opportunities for small businesses to thrive at the moment. There are more chances to expand than ever before, despite many market uncertainties. You have the internet turning the world into one global market and allowing you to tap into more potential customers.

Rapid growth, however, should never blind you from establishing a strong foundation for your small business. As tempting as growing at an incredibly pace may be, your business will not survive market challenges when it doesn’t have the basics covered properly. You need to protect your small business and there are several things you can do to get started.

Understand the Laws

One of the first things you need to do when you want to establish a strong foundation for your small business is understanding the laws. We’re not just talking about the local laws that govern the city you are in. You need to take the time to understand the laws in different markets you are operating in.

There are several things you want to dig into. First, you need to understand the employment law of the city you are in and other areas in which you plan to hire employees. You also want to get yourself accustomed to the financial laws.

Once you have these two basics covered, venture into other areas of the law that also affect your business, including marketing and advertising law and intellectual property law. These regulations affect how you can protect and market your products and services in different markets.

Understanding the law isn’t always easy. There may be jargon and specific regulations that you cannot understand even when you try. This is where having a good business lawyer comes in handy. Your lawyer can help draft the contracts you make and keep your business in compliance with the law at all times.

Protect Your Assets

Next, you need to start thinking about protecting your assets. Assets are valuable resources that every small business leans on at different times. The office you use, the office equipment you bought when you first started your business, the cash and financing options you have, employees filling key roles, and other assets of your business are equally important and are worth protecting.

For most tangible assets, you have insurance options to look into. A building insurance plan can help protect your investments and equipment. Business insurance offers coverage against interruptions, allowing your small business to remain healthy even in bad situations.

Other insurance policies protect the business against liabilities. Workers insurance, for example, is designed to not only keep employees covered but also to protect the business from financial risks associated with workplace accidents. You can even go a step further and provide additional insurance coverage for employees.

Speaking of going a step further, many small businesses now take active steps towards protecting their key employees. While business lawyers help protect your business from legal matters, you can have a team of lawyers on the side of your employees when they face their own legal problems. Advocates like the experts you can find on this website are worth retaining.

Work on Your Cash Flow

Cash flow is king. The only way your small business can grow is by maintaining a healthy cash flow at all times; well, at most times at least. Cash flow dictates how you handle expenses and income. When you have a healthy cash flow, you can keep up with expenses without an issue. An unhealthy cash flow, on the other hand, often leads to bigger financial issues for the small business.

Market uncertainties certainly make creating and maintaining good cash flow harder, but it is not an impossible thing to do. You just have to be smart about balancing your expenses with your income.

Timing is everything. Earning $20,000 from a project is great, but the amount isn’t as useful when you have $15,000 worth of expenses to pay before your invoice for that project clears. You will end up with $15,000 worth of expenses that you cannot cover, causing a serious disruption to your business cash flow.

Fortunately, you also have more financing options to utilize these days. Short-term loans, long-term financing, and project-based advances are some of the financial instruments you can use to keep your business running smoothly while you wait for the big invoices to clear.

Diversify Whenever Possible

Another thing you want to do to further strengthen the business is diversifying. Relying on a single source of income isn’t how you survive a competitive market. You need to find additional revenue streams so that the business can continue to operate smoothly in different situations.

Additional revenue streams don’t need to come from a separate business entity or another operation. Adding a product that is aimed at different market segments is a good start. Diversifying is also achievable when you cater to online and offline customers. These two groups of customers behave differently and complement each other.

Some small business owners even go as far as developing passive revenue sources for their businesses. Similar to financing options, you also have more investment instruments to add to your portfolio. For instance, you can rent out a portion of your office that you don’t need to other businesses. You are basically generating passive revenue on your asset.

Proceed with Care

Running a small business means taking a lot of risks along the way. When that big order comes in, your instinct will tell you to grab it right away. This is a good mindset to be in, but that doesn’t mean you should make reckless decisions.

With every decision you make, be sure to calculate your risks and explore ways to manage them. You need to be extra careful with every step you take, even when you are certain that the step is good for the business.

Risk management is a natural part of running a small business. When you know how to manage your risks properly, implementing the tips we covered in this article and turning your small business into a big success is easy to do.

Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses

Many small businesses are increasingly focusing on the web when it comes to making their brand a success. It’s easy to see why when you take a look at the extreme success of various online businesses and take into account that almost every high street retailer also has a website which allows them to operate online in tandem with their brick and mortar store. Setting up a website gives you an edge. It allows customers to order goods from you from the comfort of their own home. This is the ultimate form of convenience, especially if you offer next day delivery options. A webstore also allows you to operate round the clock. You no longer have to work with strict opening and closing times, as you can leave an online store unmanned and operating twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Then you can open up your brand to a worldwide market of consumers with the simple addition of international shipping options! However, your brand’s online presence has the potential to reach so much further than a website alone. You can also incorporate other forms of media into your business strategies in order to make profit. For now, let’s focus on social media. Here are just a few of the benefits that it can bring to your venture.

Facebook

Facebook is perhaps the most popular form of social media. It has approximately 2.2 billion users active every single month. So, this may well be the best place to start if brand exposure is what you’re looking for. When setting up a profile for your business on social media, make sure to establish that you are a business at the start of the page setup. This will give you access to more appropriate profile editing options that can benefit you as a brand. Perhaps the main benefit of Facebook (besides exposure) is that you can add certain details to your page’s profile which help customers to receive the best possible customer service that you can provide. Your profile can detail your store’s physical location (including address and postcode) so that customers can make their way to your brick and mortar store without hassle. You can also add a contact number and contact email address so that they can contact you easily. Then there’s the instant messenger option that you can activate. This means that customers can easily contact you, you will receive a notification, and you can respond to them as quickly as possible. You can then use your feed to give customers updates and put out announcements, such as sales, new lines, and special events.

Instagram

Another extremely popular form of social media is Instagram. This app specialises in the visual, which is particularly beneficial for online companies who only have visual representations of their goods to sell to their customers until they receive the real deal in the post after purchase. For the strongest Instagram presence possible, you need plenty of followers. The more followers you have, the more likes you will have on your posts. If consumers see that other consumers like something, it becomes increasingly desirable and they’re likely to want to purchase the goods that everyone else likes. However, cultivating these followers and likes is a little difficult to start with when you haven’t yet established a presence. Perhaps the best way to get started is to buy likes on Instagram. This will give your brand a presence, which will in turn generate more attention and more legitimate followers and likes.

Twitter

While Twitter isn’t necessarily automatically associated with brands, it’s an online powerhouse that you should engage with regardless. Twitter’s main benefit for companies is convenient communication. Tweets are capped at 140 characters, so it can be used for short and sweet exchanges with your customers and potential customers. More complex and lengthy conversations can be taken to the inbox feature. It can also be used for short announcements and updates for your followers. However, you can also take a controversial approach which brings mass attention to your brand. Just take a look at Denny’s twitter feed. Their comedic tweets have resulted in the fast food chain amassing 479,000 followers.

If you haven’t started engaging with social media on a professional level yet, it’s about time that you get around to it. After all, some of the most accessed apps have the potential to bring a ridiculous number of potential customers your way and also allow you the resources to keep in touch with them and make further sales!

10 Legal Tips that Can Save Your Business

Whether you’re just starting out or have been operating for years, there are many legal issues confronting business owners. This article will identify tips to take that can save your business.

Tip 1: Incorporate

Legal documents must be filed in order to incorporate your business, thereby protecting your business and personal assets. If you are operating as a corporation, you need to file articles of incorporation, and if you are operating an LLC, you need to file articles of organization. Fill them out and file them.

Tip 2: Select an Appropriate Busienss Name

Ensure that your business name is different than the names of existing businesses that offer the same or similar products and services, in order to avoid litigation over use of another business’s trade name. Check state and federal name registries to see whether other businesses have the same or similar names.

Tip 3: Obtain All Necessary Licenses and Permits

Many businesses require licenses and/or permits to operate, whether they are issued a federal, state, or local government. Research the requirements for your business, and obtain them.

Tip 4: Adopt Governing Documents

The structure you choose for your business determines the type of governing documents you need to have in place, such as operating agreements, bylaws, etc. Governing documents should be adopted for every business. These documents identify and set out the company’s structure, ownership, voting rights, responsibilities of directors, day-to-day operations, how profits and losses will be treated, and more.

Tip 5: Implement Written Contracts and Agreements

Many businesses make the mistake of operating without written contracts. This is an antiquated practice. Having written contracts helps all parties understand their rights and obligations.

Tip 6: Market Properly

There are many legal issues that arise relating to the way businesses market and advertise their products and services, which are governed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and also by state and local laws. The most basic rule with regard to advertising and marketing is: don’t lie.

Tip 7: Protect Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is a creation of the mind. Every business has some intellectual property, whether it is the special method for creating your product or simply your business name or logo. There are specific steps you must take in order to protect your business’s intellectual property, which can be protected through copyright (written and artistic content), trademark (logos and slogans), or patent (inventions).

Tip 8: Comply with Employment Obligations

If your business has employees, you need to ensure that your business complies with a number of federal and state employment laws. For starters, you must pay employees at least minimum wage, operate a safe workplace, and treat employees fairly. If you are not interested in having employees but need help operating your business, then independent contractors should be considered—but they come with their own legal issues.

Tip 9: Get Your Financial Metters In Order

First, open bank accounts and obtain credit in the name of your business, and keep those accounts separate from your personal accounts. Failure to do so may result in a court finding that your business is not a separate legal entity, resulting in you becoming personally liable for debts against the business. Second, ensure you pay all necessary taxes—employment taxes, income taxes, sales tax, etc. Third, get insurance. Fourth, manage your receivables. If someone doesn’t pay you and there’s no basis for the non-payment, pursue them.

Tip 10: Adopt a Recordkeeping Program

As your business grows, you will have to maintain accurate records for your business. A common issue for small businesses is failing to maintain the required records. These records may include minutes of corporate meetings, stock certificates, financial statements, payroll documentation, injury logs, etc. Adopt a record keeping program and follow it.

Regardless of the type of business you operate, you need a trusted attorney to help you wade through the many legal issues you will encounter in the operation of your business. To find the perfect attorney for you and your business, quickly post a short summary of your legal needs on www.legalserviceslink.com, and let the perfect attorney come to you. No time, no hassle, no cost.


About the Author

Matthew Horn, Esq.Matthew Horn, Esq. is the President and Co-Founder of Legal Services Link, a platform allowing those with legal needs and attorneys to quickly and easily connect via email. Matthew is a frequent speaker and author on various tech, business, and legal topics. He holds a BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a JD from The John Marshall Law School.