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 Savvy, Business Start-up

2014 What’s Your Plan?

The new year is here. Have you actually sat down and made a plan for what you want to gain from your business this year? If not, then it’s time to do it or you never will. This is one of the things I find most often that business owners never get around to doing. You get so wrapped up in your business that you actually forget to set goals and make a plan for growth. How can you achieve anything if you don’t know what you hope to achieve? 2014

Do you want to add a new product line to your business this year? What is it? When do you want to implement it? How are you going to market it? What is your overall revenue projection? Maybe you want to increase revenue by 30%. How will you do it? What approach will you take? Will you increase your marketing? If so, how much and with what method? Will you add new personnel? What will that new personnel have to do to achieve your goals? Will you incorporate incentive programs? These are all questions many business owners are asking themselves but you fail to develop a plan to achieve it. Let’s change that and get you on the path to success for 2014!

bpI can’t stress enough how important it is to have a plan every year for your business. Alot changes from one year to another, sometimes even within in a few months. If you don’t have a business plan, step one is for you to make one right now. Make that your new years resolution. I’ve written alot of business plans over the years for a variety of companies, from start-ups to existing businesses and every time, the owners are amazed at what they read. They either look at the plan and think wow we’ve come a long way, or they think how did I get to where I am, or wonder why they are not doing better. The plan provides you with a snapshot of your business and is highly thought provoking. Some of the best ideas for business growth have come out of what is seen in the business plan. You can see first hand the success or failures of your business.

I am amazed everytime I see a business operating without a plan. Whether you are just planning to start a business or whether you’ve been in business for 12 years and still going strong, you should have a strong business plan. You’re in business to make money and to capture as much of your market segment as you can. The plan will help ensure that you’re doing just that and will help guide you to the next level and help keep you one step ahead of the competition.

A business plan is full of information. When it’s written well you should be able to really see your ups and downs, as well as your success and failures. You need to be honest and forthcoming when you write your plan, sometimes it’s not always fun, but sometimes it’s a terrific eye opener. goals

If you need assistance in writing a business plan or setting goals for your business for 2014, Executive Business Services can assist you in doing so. Feel free to contact me anytime.

Wishing you a prosperous new year!

Miss Executive, Tina Holtz