If you are a retail operation, consider using a tablet with an app-based credit card processor like Square or Intuit GoPayment Reader instead of a bulky point-of-sale system at each register. You can synch your transaction data to your accounting software and utilize the tablets for other purposes as well.
There are countless apps and plug-ins that allow you to connect multiple platforms to enable your different systems to talk to one another. Cloud-based customer relationship management tools like Salesforce.com and Oracle, project management platforms like SmartSheet or 5pm and accounting programs like QuickBooks or FreshBooks make it easy for you to utilize available technology no matter where your office is located or what type of computer your employees are using. (Well, assuming your computer was developed and purchased within the last 5 years.)
At a minimum, your customers should be able to identify your company’s products and services and your brand’s value proposition. Then, your website should be easy to navigate, pleasing to look at and contain enough valuable content to keep readers engaged.
You will, of course, need to spend extra hours and work harder. But the transition from being an employee to a business owner will be far smoother as you won’t have additional expenses to worry about.
Ensure collection methods are in place. Be sure to account for how your business will collect on bills due and outstanding debts to your company. A successful business needs constant cash flow. Being unable to accept customer payments or waiting on those who owe you money will disrupt your business.
Starting a business is no small feat. But running it is when the real fun begins. This guide walks you through the basics of running a business, covering everything from managing your finances to planning your marketing efforts and hiring employees.
To store and share files, there are programs like Dropbox or Box.com. To measure your website’s online performance, there’s Google Analytics. To communicate with your customers, there are email service providers like MailChimp. There are even free resources to calculate employee payroll, like Intuit’s Snap Payroll app. Check out additional free business resources [hyperlink: http://www.slideshare.net/FitSmallBusiness/top-25-free-business-software] compiled by FitSmallBusiness.com.
But most importantly, it helps you start to contextualize your ideas by how they will play in the real world. Not how you HOPE they will work out or not by what you’re the most excited about — but by what has the best chance of working.
Use technology to your advantage Successful big businesses know how to use available technology to increase their productivity and streamline their operations. Doing the same for your small business does not mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on the most high-end equipment available. But you do need to be smart about the technology you choose to implement in your business.
“If you’re going to make serious money, a corporation gives you real tax advantages,” said Consulting Canada CEO Barry Sharp. “If you’re providing a product or service that has a significant liability risk, I’d be incorporated.”
Evaluate your competition; if their market share or product offering is too strong and stable, then you will have a very hard time breaking into the market. No one will want to buy an equally priced or more expensive version of a perfectly good product or service which already exists.
Think strategically You started your business with a plan. You need to grow your business with a plan, too. The most effective leaders are those who analyze, plan and look ahead when solving problems and making decisions. Harvard Business Review said a strategic approach to leadership is 10 times more important to being an effective leader than other common traits like communication and skill level. Approaching your daily tasks and long-term goals with strategy and planning will increase your opportunities to achieve success.
Your Square Dashboard also has your historical sales information. This is particularly helpful when it comes to future planning. You can look at how business went last December, for example, to be strategic about what you want to do this December. You could re-up on your best-selling items from previous years, or spot trends in your peak sales times to be smart about planning your hours and staffing. Read our post on 5 Ways Square Analytics Can Help You Run Your Business to see what other insights you can glean.
Running your own business is a stressful but good career and life choice. It demands your time and focus. Start by expecting to live your work until it is established, so it can get off the ground. There are many different opinions about how to start a business. Below are some basic ideas and guidelines to get you started.
You’ll also want a payments device that can accept mobile payments like Apple Pay, which is ultimately where everything is headed. Contactless (NFC) payments like Apple Pay are by far the best customer experience. They’re convenient, secure, and fast, so you can check people out in seconds. Having the latest and greatest payments processing technology allows you to securely accept any form of payment that comes across your counter.
Choose a business structure that makes sense for your ownership arrangement, such as a partnership, if you’re starting your business with one friend. Consult a lawyer about the best structure for your particular circumstances.
Cash transactions are easiest to deal with on a day-to-day basis, but are often difficult to track over longer periods. Also, dealing with cash makes securing your company’s incoming cash flow more difficult, as it is easier for employees to steal from a cash-based businesses.
Always be looking for ways to improve your business and to make it stand out from the competition. Recognize that you don’t know everything and be open to new ideas and new approaches to your business. (For related reading, see: How do I determine my company’s competitive advantage?)
Be involved. Once you have decided who should be responsible for the duties in your business, you need to remain involved to make sure all of your employees are following through with the tasks that have been assigned to them. Also, you need to be responsive to the needs of your customers. Make sure you are aware of customer needs and feedback and don’t back away from engaging with your customer base, even if that duty has been assigned to an employee.
When it comes to taxes, make sure you’re filing everything correctly and on time. The website for Governement of Canada has a section of its website dedicated to a checklist for new small businesses and their fiscal obligations and their implications—it’s a good idea to spend some time there to make sure you’re compliant.
You do not necessarily need a full-time employee to handle financial responsibilities. For example, if you have a solid grasp on your inventory flow and cash flow management, you may only need a CPA when tax time comes around.
In addition to a secure payments processor, you can streamline your operations using a variety of software. There are affordable tools to help you manage inventory, employee schedules, payroll, email marketing, and invoicing.
If invoicing is a constant hassle (a common gripe among many business owners), get set up with Square Invoices, which lets you easily send and track digital invoices right from your Dashboard. (Which means no more stacks of paper to sift through.)
Be realistic with your growth potential. Keep in mind that growing your business requires a growth in investment capital as well. Projecting too much growth in too short a time period can quickly deter potential investors.
Manage your inventory efficiently. Inventory management can make or break a small retail business, so manage it carefully to ensure that you’re maximizing every dollar spent. Invest in small inventory quantities at first and continuously monitor inventory numbers so you know what’s selling and what isn’t. Rotate inventory frequently to remove slow sellers and replace them with new items.
Make use of benefits. The most valuable long-term benefit you can offer yourself and your employees is a retirement savings plan. In addition, find out how to provide insurance and other benefits and reduce your tax bill at the same time.
Face it: many of us dream of leaving the 9-to-5 behind and going into business for ourselves. Who wouldn’t like being their own boss? Thing is, if you’re about to go all in on your killer business idea, you’re probably feeling equal parts exhilarated and overwhelmed. How do you get started?
To avoid any derailing issues, you should also take some time to make sure you’re good to go with all your legal and tax obligations as a small business. It’s a good idea to consult with a reputable lawyer and accountant to ensure you’re not missing anything and are filing everything on time. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve taken care of all the permits or fees that are required to do business in your province. You don’t want any future surprises that could eat up your budget. Ensuring you have all these things set will save you both minor and major headaches that take you away from running your business.
Always start small, meaning start online, and only produce what you are sure you can sell. You can always make more if demand increases. Start by marketing yourself on social media, and start a virtual store front on a site like Etsy or eBay.
Be accessible. Make sure potential clients and customers can get in touch with you and your business whenever they may need to. The best way to grow your reputation as a respectable business is to be responsive to your customers’ needs.
Capital Expenditures. Also known as capital expenses, these are the one-time costs of buying assets such as inventory, property, vehicles or equipment as well as making upfront payments for security deposits. These start-up assets don’t usually qualify for deduction, but some can be written off through depreciation at tax time.
Try to find the reason that your income has slowed and act accordingly. Look at your audience and situations. For example, ice cream won’t sell as well in the winter as it will in the summer. To circumvent this, you could serve something else that would do better in the winter, such as hot chocolate.
Before you do any estimating, it’s important to understand how start-up costs are categorized. All start-up costs (meaning costs in the period before you start generating income) include two kinds of spending: expenses and capital expenditures.
Pay attention to your customers. After all, you have to see a customer to know one. No matter how busy you are, especially in the early years of your business, be sure to spend at least 25 percent of your time with customers. You can’t make the right business decisions without understanding the customer’s viewpoint.
When hiring, make sure you have an in depth review and interview of the worker. Make sure you get their real information, passports, ID, former work, license and many others that they are truly honest and they are dependable.
Use crowd-funding. If you still can’t drum up enough funding, use websites to raise the money you need to start. These funding sources have several benefits: you will not have to pay interest on the money you get (since it is money which is used to provide actual product or services) and it will help you not only gauge interest in what you have to offer but also help you build a customer base. You’ll start business with hundreds or thousands of customers already lined up and ready to tell other people about what you have to offer.
Consider hiring a financial professional. It may be fiscally worthwhile for you to hire a dedicated staff member who can control the financial affairs of your small business. Accountants can help you identify areas of your business that are not running efficiently from a fiscal standpoint, allowing you to maximize your profits.
Starting your own business is one of the most powerful ways to take control of your life and make extra money month after month. You can start with just a few hours a week. And best of all, you get to choose your hours, pick projects you find exciting, and meet interesting people.
Keep costs low As a startup or small business, you know the importance of spending less to earn more. Big businesses operate on this same philosophy. While big businesses are often able to leverage buying power to reduce expenses, there are many no- or low-cost resources small businesses can take advantage of.
If you ask people about an idea they will all say “YEAH! THAT SOUNDS GREAT!” And then they don’t buy. Get past this base level of feedback. To figure out if your idea has legs it helps to plot it on a demand matrix like the one below:
There are many ways for a small business to be successful, from financial return, to work-life balance, to making the world a better place. To run a successful small business, first develop a clear idea of what success looks like to you. As you work out the mechanics of running your company, keep this vision in mind and make choices that will advance you along this path.
I need funds for state filing and office equipment. I am also a paraplegic so my mobility is very limited but a home-based business would be ideal for me. Does anyone have any specific suggestions for me to raise funds for this. I need about $3500.
Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can’t be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.
Make use of marketing and PR. You will want to reach out to potential customers in ways that make them want to use your business. This is especially important when you are first starting, before you have an established, regular customer base.
If your services are seasonal you will want to consider what the best time of year would be to advertise. Also, television advertisements will need to be timed so that the right demographics will be watching when they air.