Credit cards and debit cards are generally the most secure forms of payments, but accepting them requires your to take on additional fees paid to various credit card companies which, depending on the size and complexity of your business, may not be worthwhile.
For small business owners, there are two different categories of time – clock time and real time. Sometimes it feels like there is not enough real time to get things done and effectively manage a business. The truth is for small business owners, time is irrelevant. It’s all about doing what you need to and when you need to in order to meet the needs of the current project, product or customer.
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.
Stay organized. Organization of your time, employees, finances and inventory is one of the keys to successfully run a small business. Develop a spreadsheet that helps you keep track of all the important details so you don’t have to keep them straight in your head, and make time — at least once a week — to review everything.
We do this all the time. We see a famous CEO and point out how “he took 5 companies public and got a Harvard MBA.” We see a successful children’s book author and point out how “she already knew 4 publishers, so her book got published immediately.”
You have a brilliant idea that you know will definitely work, but what about your competition? Will it be difficult for a rival to copy your idea and repackage it in a better way? A potential investor will ask you this when you approach them for funding. It’s very important to understand the market you operate in and your competition.
Expenses. These are the costs for operations that occur during the start-up phase. They include tax-deductible costs such as travel, payroll, rent, office supplies, marketing materials, etc. They also include initial organizational costs like legal fees and state incorporation fees. Many (but not all) of these costs are tax deductible, up to $5,000 in the first year of doing business. You can deduct the remaining costs in equal instalments over a period of 180 months (starting with the month in which your business opens).
Know the tax laws. Invest in understanding tax issues that affect your small business. You can avoid trouble and, at the same time, legally slice thousands of dollars off your tax bill if you know the ins and outs of small-business tax law.
Another best friend as you’re running your business? Data. Being intimately familiar with how your business is going on a day-to-day basis is crucial to making informed decisions about how to run things. In your Square Dashboard, you can check all your sales data (across all your locations) and see which items are selling the best, which can help you plan your inventory. You can also see how many customers were new versus returning that day. This is all information you can access on the go, which means you can keep track of your business from anywhere.
As a would-be small-business owner, you might be eligible for an influx of funding from various government grants. Do your homework. Don’t just look for “grants,” by the way, but also awards, rebates, tax credits, industry-specific incentives, or non-repayable loans. You won’t want to overlook any potential source of funding.
Delegate responsibilities. You can’t do everything yourself, so delegate the various jobs and responsibilities to qualified employees. Small businesses often require employees to take on many tasks and responsibilities that may not fall firmly in their areas of expertise.
Even if you’ve hired excellent people, you have to know how to manage them. Effective management is one of the most important skills for a small business owner. It’s a skill to be honed throughout a lifetime, but if you’re new at this, there are tons of resources out there to help you—from online classes (check places like Coursera for free online courses) to books (there are countless titles to choose from) and articles like this one from the Harvard Business Review. To get you started, we also have an article outlining 5 Management Skills to Help You Become an Effective Leader and a guide on How to Motivate Your Employees.
And lastly, you should keep a cash flow statement, which highlights how much money has moved in and out of your business in a given period of time. It, too, is made up of three sections: cash flow from operations, investing, and financing.
Want to be sure if your business idea is indeed unique? Run a test and find out. A pilot will give you the confidence you need to take your idea to the next level and mitigate risk. You can start on a small scale by giving away some freebies to a few people in your target audience group to see how they respond.
All you really need is permission from your parents — and a good attitude. Some cities require a special license to sell items inside the city limits, so ask your parents if your city enforces that rule. Then you’re pretty much set to start your business!
It is helpful to think of promotions and marketing relative to the capacity of your business. Paying to run a commercial on a national network does you little good if your business is only designed to operate at the local level.
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.
It can also be useful to include questions in drafts of your business plan. Identifying what you don’t know is as helpful as listing things you are sure about. You do not want to present a business plan with unanswered questions to potential investors, but laying out relevant questions in your initial drafts will help you identify questions that require answering in your final business plan.
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you’ll need several of the following types of insurance: life, disability, partnership, critical illness, key person, property, contents, business interruption, general liability, product liability, or professional liability. If you’re unsure what you need, an insurance broker can help.
Put profitability first and rewards second. Beware of the small business that treats itself to hefty salaries, high-priced consultants, and waterfalls in the lobby. In small business, profitability must come first. To understand profitability, you must first measure your cash flow and understand your key financial ratios.
But this stuff doesn’t happen easily or quickly. So if a starting a business doesn’t sound like it’s for you, I’ve covered how to make more money elsewhere on this site. But here, I’m revealing the advanced strategies behind launching a successful business that gives you the freedom to share your skills with the world — and create something people will pay you for, even when you aren’t working.
Use a little old fashioned networking. Go to conferences, charity galas, meetings with complementary businesses and anywhere where your customers are likely to be highly concentrated. In other words: get out in public and interact with people. Use your friends connections to meet people who may be able to help you. This kind of interaction is very important for starting a business. You can’t exist in a vacuum after all.
Social media is the best way to promote your business on the cheap. Beyond that, it really depends on what your business is. Roadside advertisements are a great way to attract consumers, but not particularly effective if you are a wholesale company. The first step is to identify your clients, and figure out the best way to reach them, for consumers, the best ways are social media, road side adds, TV commercials, and good customer service has been shown to get more word of mouth. For a wholesale or investment business, the best ways to promote vary greatly, so just identify your clientele and think about how other businesses advertise to them. Also, never be afraid to self promote.
Put your idea into writing. It is important to take the ideas in your head and get them down on paper. Most successful businesses offer a new product or service or fill an existing niche in the market. Whatever your reasons may be for starting a small business, make sure to clearly and concisely put them in writing.
Do you ever find yourself wondering if you are the leader your employees need? Or perhaps their actions don’t seem to line up with your expectations. Paul Adams shows you how you can become a smart leader with these simple steps.
If you find that you’re unable to keep up with day-to-day operations, it’s time to bring on employees. You can find good candidates through referrals, job posting sites, or local institutions like colleges and universities. When you bring someone on board, make sure you comply with relevant employment and labour laws.
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.
Some days might seem longer or shorter than others, but with effective and efficient time management, you can maximize those 24 hours to their full potential. Planning is key and will allow you to be productive with the management of your business. Implementing daily habits to improve your efficiency will not only help with the day-to-day tasks, but also with your sustained success looking forward. It’s never too late to make those operation decisions and updates within your business to ensure both current and future success.
You’ve decided to run a credit check on a potential client to ensure that you’ll get paid for your services. Once the report arrives what are you really looking at and how can you use the information to make the best decision? This article can help.
Discover the reason for the employee’s laziness. Sometimes a shift in management style or communication with an employee will help you yield more positive results. Making sure your employees are both heard and properly incentivized will help make a productive work environment. The employee may simply have a lazy work ethic, or abuse a workplace when he/she doesn’t have the right consequences or supervision. Make sure your employees know the expectations, and the consequences of not fulfilling said expectations (whether it be a warning, a demotion, or possibly termination). There has to be a reward for if they surpass expectations as well (whether it be a bonus, commission, praise, promotion, time off, or simply increasing your trust in the employee).
Realize that not everyone is cut out to be a small-business owner. Take the time to explore whether you’re compatible with running your own business. Some people are happier (and better off financially) on the other end of a paycheck.
The most successful people I know have the most failures. Because they take the most chances. To get in the right mindset, let me tell you about the time we shelved a course we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on.
Remember that nothing happens until a sale is made. How many good products go nowhere because they don’t reach the shelves? Sales are what drive your business. You need a crackerjack marketing plan that details how you intend to package, promote, distribute, price, and sell your product or service.
Use mistakes and setbacks to implement positive change. Understand that mistakes are going to happen. Use these setbacks as an opportunity to help improve your business. Incorporate your learnings into updates in your instructions and policies going forward.
Consider using a credit control app. These are apps that help small businesses improve their cash flow through better management of day-to-day cash collection and customer credit control tasks. This would allow you to take-on new customers or monitor existing ones, chasing invoice payment or running cash collection more safely. There are several software providers that can help you with this such as iKMC from where you can also get a free trial.
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.
Use free resources. Your local library contains numerous useful references regarding incorporation, writing business plans, marketing, as well as information specific to your industry. The Small Business Association, Chambers of Commerce, AMEX Small Business website, associations for your industry, associations by ethnicity…all of these offer training, materials, networking and sometimes financing. Another good option is SCORE, a group of retired executives who provide business start-up advice.
Keep in mind that quality takes only moments to lose and years to regain. Quality isn’t a destination but rather a never-ending journey. After you’ve strayed from quality’s path, your journey may be sidetracked forever.
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.
Sorry, but yes, there’s more paperwork. Figure out whether you want to incorporate federally, which costs $200 for online filing or $250 for paper filing. Then, determine which permits and licences are legally required for you to get started by using a tool like BizPal.
Leadership skills are critical to the success of a new venture. Do you have them? Whether or not you think you’re a gifted leader, you should consider putting management theories aside and focus on common sense as you build your business.
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.
Social media is another low-cost way to market your business. At the very least, you should get your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts up and running, and make sure that you’re posting at least a couple of times a week. You can post things like announcements for events and sales, pictures of the products you’re offering, or even fun things like famous quotes that relate to your business. Be sure to use hashtags and tag appropriate people in your posts, which increases the likelihood of getting more shares and likes. If you’re feeling stuck, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all have guides on how to use their platforms to market your business.
When you are coming up with business ideas, silence the inner critic that says you can’t teach something unless you are credentialed or the world’s greatest expert on the subject. All you have to be is good enough to help people achieve their goals.
It is easy to come up with an idea to start a business, but not so easy to actually launch and build a profitable business. Eighty per cent of businesses fail in the first five years. Before you take the risk of starting a business, make sure:
Make your bank work for you. Run your small business with financial efficiency by exploring all the options that banks offer small business owners and choosing the right bank for your business’ financial plan. Many financial institutions offer accounts with low fees, loans with discounted rates or free direct deposit programs for small business account holders. Banking with the institution that gives you the best deals will help you stretch every dollar.