Business Savvy, growing your business, Marketing

TOP 10 Benefits in Joining Your Chamber of Commerce

As a business owner, there are many benefits to joining your local Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of a Chamber is to provide educational and networking opportunities and to help businesses participate in community events which will help expand the local business economy.

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But here is a warning. You can’t just simply join the chamber and expect magical things to happen overnight. You will only get out of your membership what you actually put into it. Which means as a member you need to participate. Your participation in your chamber actually impacts the overall success of the chamber as an organization but also that of your community.

TOP 10 Benefits in Joining Your Chamber

  1. Discounts – You can receive discounts on everything from ski passes, office supply purchases, travel, shipping services, gym memberships, prescriptions, health and wellness, media advertising, and more.
  2. Services – Generally include access to business publications, roundtable discussions, industry briefings, magazines, programs,  leadership opportunities, business resources and more.
  3. Partnerships – Provide you with an opportunity to partner with other members, businesses, groups, and organizations to successfully grow and network your company and it’s offerings.
  4. Marketing and Advertising – Many times you’ll be offered discounted or free advertising once you become a member along with opportunities to have a link on the chamber website. Chambers offer a tremendous amount of advertising and marketing for businesses.
  5. Advocacy – Your chamber and the leaders within your community work together to advocate on behalf of the business community helping to protect your business and provide additional growth opportunities and incentives.
  6. Education and Training – Seminars, business workshops, webinars, small business resource events and more. You can find training on topics like a business startup, financing, human relations, insurance, payroll, QuickBooks, leadership, marketing, social media, taxes, employee engagement, and more.
  7. Economic Development – Your chamber is highly involved in growing your local community and therefore generally works with other organizations to increase the local economy and bring additional businesses into your community.
  8. Database and Leads – Chambers usually provide a membership list to members, which can be used to help market your business and services to other members. Larger chambers generally offer a leads group to help businesses find and gather solid quality leads.
  9. Events – Annual events like a chili cook-off, fall festival, BBQ, Rodeo, gala, awards ceremony, business after hours, open houses, concerts, and more. These are all terrific places to meet and great, rub elbows with fellow business professionals, and spread the word about your business. These are great marketing events too.
  10. Networking – I saved the best for last. This is the core component of any chamber and truthfully any business. The saying goes, “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you”. Take advantage of as many events and opportunities as you can through your local chamber. The chamber is for your benefit and sometimes you have to stop working in your business, and actually make time to work ON your business.

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So get out there, get those business cards and flyers ready, test the 30-second elevator speech and most importantly make time and INVEST in your business. Your chamber membership is generally a tax write off and it’s a wise investment to help grow your business.

 

 

Tina Holtz is a serial entrepeneur who owns and operates a boutique virtual assisting and business advisory firm, Executive Business Services, LLC. She has more than 20 years experience in business development, business management, operations, sales, marketing, and procurement. Tina values building relationships and is passionate about helping business owners reach new heights. She provides a vast array of support services to business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and executives.

 970-989-8047 or email at tina@execbusinessservices.com

www.execbusinessservices.com

business growth, Business Start-up, growing your business, Marketing

The Top Challenges for Small Businesses

Running a small business can be a daunting task. It might seem like you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off most of the time. Paying bills, running errands, meeting with clients, making 30 phone calls a day, writing proposals, cleaning the toilet! It may seem like you’re doing everything and yet it can still feel like you’ve accomplished nothing.

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Courtesy Canva.com

In this blog article we’re going to review the top challenges that small businesses find themselves facing everyday. In my reaserch what I’ve found is that even though small business owners are stressed about everything that they need to do and the struggles in owning and operating their small businesses, they would do it all over again if given the chance. The freedom, flexibility, and ownership out weight many of the corporate aspects elsewhere. I know for me, I love running my own business and I know that I am in complete control of my life.

1.) Financial challenges can plague many small business owners. Not having enough cash reserves, lines of credit, or access to money can limit the growth and basic day to day operations. Commit to having a financial overview weekly to ensure you stay on track, and use a good accurate accounting system like Quickbooks, Quicken, or 17hats. Financial forecasting is another tool that should not be overlooked. In order to take control of your finances, you need to know where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed. Set budgets, monitor expenses, and have a business plan that includes cash flow analysis which will help you plan your financial picture now and in the future.

2.) Proper staffing and good employees is a common pitfall. Many small business owners find themselves unable to compete in the job market and sometimes settle for the less desirable employee just to have a warm body. Trust me, this is not helping your business. The key to obtaining good employees is competitive pay, incentives, flexibility, and benefits. I know, you’re thinking there is no way you can compete with the big boys, but there is! You can offer a simple IRA, even if you can’t afford to match giving your employees a way to save for their future tax free is HUGE. You may not be able to offer full heealth insurance, however you can offer Aflac, and although this is not health insurance it does provide benefits for accidents, injuries, and some health related issues and is better coverage than nothing. As a business owner it costs you ZERO and all you have to do is offer it to your employees and you take the premiums out of their paycheck tax free through automatic deduction. You can partner with a local gym in your area for a discounted gym membership, and you can pay for half of the year’s membership and encourage a healthy team. Offering additional educational opportunities is also something that should not be overlooked and for a small cost you can increase the work performance of your team and better your company at the same time.

3.) The majority of small business owners lack time. Most of the time it’s because you started out by doing everything yourself, wearing multiple hats and so you just continue doing it. Learn to delegate tasks and duties to your staff. Being a good manager means that you know where your time and that of your employees is best spent, and providing you with the best return on that time and investment. You don’t need to be changing oil in a service truck if you should be at a meeting with a potential client. You are too valuable for that, you should be bringing in a new customer and your mechanic or laborer should be changing the oil. The same thing goes for invoicing, payroll, etc. You need to be running your business and delegating those tasks to another person. Know where the true value lays within a member of your team and where you should be really spending your time.

4.) A lot of small business owners start their company with little business management knowledge. That’s ok, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good entrepreneur, but you might need some help with the basic operations and set-up of your business. Be sure to get the help you need right away. I cannot stress this enough. If you procrastinate the problems and issues only get bigger and can lead to failure. For instance, I know a cleint who was a concrete guy, a great concrete guy at that. He knew how to pour concrete very well, but he didn’t knew nothing about how to run a business, invoice, market, hire employees, set the business up etc. Sometimes you need help, so reach out to a virtual assistant or business advisor to help you with those issues.

5.) Marketing always seems to be a BIG struggle for small business owners. Today marketing can be done very easily if the right techniques and methods are used. Most small business owners are unsure of where to begin, what methods to use, how to track it, or plain and simple don’t understand it, so they never market their business. Truthfully they really don’t have time to market because their too busy running the business. So marketing gets overlooked and set to the wayside. Marketing is the backbone to the success of every company and sooner or later it needs to be a part of your business plan. Again, you may need to reach out for assistance with this.

6.) Growing pains! This is common with a lot of small businesses. You start out small, maybe you even bootstrapped your way along and then all of the sudden one day you wake up and your business is booming. You find yourself growing so fast, you don’t even know what’s going on. You’re hiring staff with no paperwork, your throwing receipts into a box by the door, you’re only invoicing once a month because you have no time, you barely pay your bills on time even though you have the money in your account. This can be an exciting spot, but it can also be very scary. More than ever, this is when you have to ensure that your management plan is up to snuff. DO NOT cut corners or procrastinate. You have to ensure that you have the proper foundation established for your business so that you can succeed through this growth process.

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Here are some interesting stats from a research study that Constat Contact did.

43% of small business owners say they are wearing too many hats

20% have a hard time riding through bad economic times

10% struggle with hiring and managing staff

66% have trouble finding new customers

56% say they do not have enough time

40% say they have trouble retaining existing customers

32% say they have a hard time paying bills

So this just goes to show you, that you are not alone afterall. Just remember, if you need help there are loads of professionals out there available with the experience you need. You can start with your virtual assistint, lawyer, CPA, business advisor, insurance agent, etc. These professionals truly care about the success of your business and are with you every step of the way.

Tina Holtz~Miss Executive

 

 

 

Business Savvy, growing your business, Uncategorized

4 Ways to Save In Running Your Business

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I have found over the years that as business owners are consumed in running their business, often times they don’t know about potential money saving opportunities that are available.

As a Virtual Assistant providing business support services, it’s my job to stay up to date on the latest and greatest techniques, softwares, programs, and…. money saving opportunities that can increase my clients bottom line. Because I am based in Colorado these top “3 Ways to Save” mostly apply to Colorado companies, however most states do have similiar programs available.

Cost Containment Certification

This is a cost savings opportunity available to all businesses in The State of Colorado who pay for Worker’s Compensation. The State rewards businesses who implement a proper safety program that meets the following criteria:

* A safety policy statement
* A safety committee or coordinator
* Posted safety rules
* Consistent safety training
* A designated medical provider
* Claims management procedures
* Once a company receives certification, your workers’ compensation insurance carrier,           will apply a discount to the policy at the next renewal period after certification. A 5                 percent discount is applied to companies with:

* An experience modification rating
* Lower frequency and severity of losses for the most recent policy period      as compared with those from the previous policy period.
* If the company is not eligible for an experience modification rating: The      discount depends on the accident experience during the 12 months                before the renewal date. Discounts are awarded on the number and cost      of accidents and range from 2 percent to 10 percent.

If you have your worker’s compensation insurance through Pinnacol, they provide you with a workbook that walks you through the process as well as providing sample forms. I’ve helped several businesses with the set-up process of their Cost Containment Certification and it can save at a minimum of 5% on your worker’s compensation premiums and more. I had a client saving 13% annually on their premiums.

Enterprise Zone Tax Credit

The State of Colorado provides a range of tax credits available to businesses that are located in what they call Enterprise Zones. You can click on this link to see if you are located in one of these zones, http://choosecolorado.com/doing-business/incentives-financing/ez/. Here are some of the available credits.

EZ – Investment Tax Credit: Providing businesses a tax credit of 3 percent for equipment purchases.

EZ – Job Training: Companies that implement a qualified job-training program for their enterprise zone employees may claim an income tax credit of 12 percent of their eligible training costs.

EZ – New Employee Credit: A tax credit offering businesses $1,100 per new job.

EZ – Agricultural Processing: A tax credit of $500 per new business facility employee may be claimed by business adding value to agricultural commodities through manufacturing or processing.

EZ- Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone New Employee: Offers $2,000 total per new job for new businesses located within an enterprise zone.

EZ – New Employee Enhanced Ag Processor Credit: Businesses located in an enterprise zone may be eligible for a credit of $500 per new employee, if the business is an agricultural manufacturing or processing business.

EZ – Health Insurance: Offers businesses $1,000 per insured job available for the first two years in state enterprise zones.

EZ – Research and Development Tax Credit: A tax credit for businesses up to three percent, based on the increase of a company’s research and development expenditures within an enterprise zone during the previous two income tax years.

EZ – Vacant Building Rehab: Allows owners or tenants of a building in an Enterprise Zone that is at least 20 years old and that has been completely vacant for at least two years to claim a tax credit of 25 percent of the cost of rehabilitating the building for commercial use, up to $50,000.

EZ – Commercial Vehicle Investment Tax Credit: Offers businesses a state income tax credit up to 1.5 percent on commercial trucks, truck tractors, tractors, or semitrailers, as well as associated parts. Learn more.

EZ – Contribution Projects: Enterprise Zone (EZ) Contribution Projects encourage community participation and public-private partnerships to revitalize EZs. EZ Administrators may propose projects for EZ Project status to implement the economic development plan of that specific EZ. EZ Administrators work with their communities to bring forward proposals that meet the economic development needs, result in job creation/retention and business expansion, and have the support of the community. Colorado taxpayers may earn Colorado income tax credits by contributing to targeted efforts. Learn more.

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Save Energy, Save Money

Throughout the U.S., everyone is interested in saving energy and money. Many local and state governments are offering programs that provide rebates, tax credits, and more. In my area, our county has a group called Garfield Clean Energy. They offer free walk through to business owners, and will help design an energy plan for you, provide coaching, and connect you with contractors. Rebates are available for up to 50% of a cost of project that will save energy according to your energy plan developed. For more information visit, http://www.garfieldcleanenergy.org/com-rebates.html

Complete an Office Systems Audit

Having an office systems audit or analysis completed takes an in-depth look at where you spend money within your business and provides an opportunity to analyze where savings can be implemented. I personally take it a step farther and look at potential increased revenue streams that might be left untapped.

Generally you review your company as a whole; your business structure, products and services offered, your target market, goals, overall efficiency, expectations, employee morale and turnover rates, training, safety, expenses, sales volumes and reports, marketing strategies, a thorough review of policy’s and procedures, processes, softwares, weaknesses, strengths, exit plan, procurement, contracts, and your future outlook.

Savings and increased revenue are almost always located in an Office Systems Audit and with the New Year coming, this might be a terrific resolution to start your New Year off with a bang.

Tina Holtz is a seasoned business professional with more than 20 years of experience in business development, business management, sales, marketing, and procurement. She is the owner of Executive Business Services, LLC and provides virtual assisting and business support services to business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and executives. You can reach her at 970-989-8047 or email at tina@execbusinessservices.com – www.execbusinessservices.com

 

business growth, Business Savvy, growing your business, Marketing, Social Media/Online Marketing, Virtual Assisting

Outsourcing 101

So what is outsourcing you ask?

Well some people actually think that it means that you are sending your work overseas to some foreign company for cheap labor and non English speaking representatives, and although that is a possibility with some firms, that’s definitely not the case with your typical virtual assistant or virtual assisting firm.

Traditional VA’s offer outsourcing as a business service for busy professionals who struggle with a variety of situations, like time management issues, possibly lacking the specific skills or confidence with certain business tasks, or just find themselves in a position where their not ready to bring a staff member aboard to perform these duties. That’s where a well trained VA comes in.

Teamwork
Photo Courtesy https://www.workquotes.net

Outsourcing is available for pretty much everything and anything business related. A majority of small businesses already hire a group of professionals outside their business for the usual services, like an attorney, accountant, business advisor, etc. and your VA should be part of this team.  VA’s have the ability to outsource an enormous amount of business tasks. Common ourtsourcing duties include social media services and management, data entry, basic administrative needs, public relations, data maintenance, research, scheduling, purchasing, business development, marketing, training, and much, much more.

Outsourcing provides business owners with a very unique tool. Imagine that you want to get involved in the social media gold rush but you’re intimidated by the internet and all that technology stuff, and you’re probably working hard on keeping your customers happy and fulfilling their needs. Lets face it, when in the world are you supposed to have the time to start a facebook page and keep up with the content updates? More than likely, you know it’s something you should do, but it’s the least of your worries at this point.

However, in this situation it would be in your best interest to meet with a VA and review how having a social media outlet presence could help your business gain revenue and what specific methods should be used to get you there to accomplish your goals. A VA can set your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and website pages up for you, review them with you, and then once you develop a strategy, the VA can manage them on your behalf as often as you need. Your VA can also incorporate a nice professional weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletter that will keep you in constant contact with your clients. The key to keeping your clients is to remain in contact and to be seen as an informative source, rather than a pesky business who just wants to make a quick buck. Set the stage, be the leader in your market by being the go to source for what your clients need.

teamwork
Photo Courtesy http://www.carrie-persichini.blogspot.com

 

Something that is always in the back of my mind when I go to the vet clinic with one of my animals is that I think how nice it would be if my vet actually could notify me when my animals are coming due for their booster shots or their annual checkup.  I have 4 dogs and 3 cats, and trying to keep track of when they are all due for shots is a nightmare, but what an awesome service that would be for the vet to provide and I can guarantee you that there would be in increase in revenue for the vet if they had a VA who could incorporate this into their business. The same can go for any business, a dentist, doctor, chiropractor, eye doctor, service station, etc.

Start getting creative and think of ways to increase your bottom line and contact a VA to start implementing these services for you. Trust me, the investment is worth every penny and then some.

 

All the Best,

Miss Executive- Tina