Archives For Small Business

too many credit cards

Over reliance on credit is a reason why businesses fail.  Photo Credit Andres Rueda

Sunday beganNational Small Business Week in Washington D.C. sponsored by the Small Business Association. There is full schedule with some great speakers plus awards for the top small businessperson of the year.

What is the great thing about small business? Small business embodies the ideals of capitalism and hard work. It is the ability to start a successful business with only $100 and a website.  Small business is America.

Small Business is America

As a small business owner myself, I am a proud part of this group that keeps the economic wheels churning.

A small business is hard to define, but it generally has less than 250 employees and a few sources say up to 499 employes count as a small business.

Each industry has its own standards. The SBA has some technical info if you really want to know what your industry standards are for “small.”

A few facts about small business in the U.S.

  • Created 2/3 jobs in the last 20 years. (1)
  • 98.3% of all businesses have less than 100 people. (2)
  • 70% of small businesses are owned and operated by a single person
  • It takes an average 6 days to start a business in the U.S., but 38 days in China.
  • 1/3 of small business rely on credit.
  • 54% of small businesses are home based .

5 Reasons Why Small Business Fail

  • Underpricing of goods and products.
  • Illness of key personel.
  • Bad relations with vendors and customers.
  • Bad budgeting, over leveraged, reliance on credit.
  • Reluctance to get professional help.

Source: focus.com

This week is all about small business. Let us know if there is anything you want to know about small business or financial business issues. 

Check out these small business articles:

 

Odometer

How much do you drive for business? Credit PittCaleb.

Lately I’ve been driving a ton to meet coaching clients and later this month I’ll be attending WordcampLA, which will add more business related miles to our 97′ Civic.

I don’t know what I’ve been thinking, but I haven’t captured a single mile to deduct for self employment taxes. It’s time to log those miles and remind all my self-employed readers to do the same.

Why Deduct Miles?

In short, it’s smart business practice to log and take the mileage deduction for each mile you drive for self-employment business purposes. [If you have a boss your employeer may reimburse mileage directly–check with your benefits or HR department to get the details.]

If you are operating a personal vehicle for business purposes the IRS gives you tax break at the end of the year. That’s great since small business is America. For 2012 the deduction is $0.55 per mile, so check with the IRS as this rate changes yearly.

Those milage deductions add up and help to offset the high cost of gas, insurance, tags, registration, plus all the wear and tear your vehicle is enduring with each grueling mile. You won’t end up ‘making money‘, but it will help offset the costs of vehicle operation.

How to Log Your Mileage for Business

Don’t log the miles on the back of a Starbucks napkin you found lying in the floorboard–that’s not going to fly with your accountant or in the event of an audit. Purchase a mileage log or just print out a standard form like the one below.

 Mileage and Taxes

Make sure you’re following the rules set forth by the IRS. If you have a home office, the miles start counting once you leave your driveway to meet a client. Those who have an office can’t count miles commuting to the office.

Also, you can’t take mileage and depreciation on the same vehicle. Tolls and parking can also be included under certain guidelines. For specific rules and questions consult the IRS or your CPA.

Apps to Log Miles

I’m sure some of you will write in the comments, “There’s an app for that.” So let’s just state that numerous paid and free apps exists for the i-Phone and Android. If you have one you use and recommend, let us know in the comments.

Start Logging Those Business Miles

Small business owners, freelancers, contractors, whatever you call yourself–we all need a break from the higher taxes we pay. Track and take advantage of the mileage you already drive to make your business happen.

How do you track miles for self-employment? Any wisdom you want to share? 

I’m fired up and ready to go after reading The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

I have ideas floating around in my head, a long ‘to do’ list forming, and motivation to continue in this small business adventure. Let’s do this!

8 Lessons I Learned From The $100 Startup

Chis has been a successful entrepreneur for a while and he’s traveled to almost every country in world–oh yeah and he’s only 35. Chis interviewed thousands of successful entrepreneurs and share many inspirational stories intertwined with helpful advice.

This book has a ton of information and action points, but here is a a few things I learned in The $100 Startup:

1. Following your passion doesn’t make you successful. Having a passion that others care about (and will pay for) leads to success.

Passion or skill + Usefulness= Success

2. Create something of Value- Chris’ definition of value is something that helps other people. Solve a problem, save time, reduce stres, etc.

3. Every morning spend 45 minutes to activities that improve your business–not just maintain it.

4. Perform a business audit regularly: Where do you make money? How good is your messaging? Are your prices where they should be? How are you marketing to existing customers? Are you tracking, monitoring, or testing, enough? Where are the big missing opportunities? (questions from p 219-221 of the book).

5. Talk about yourself  more on social media. [This one shocked me.] People follow you and your brand for a reason, they don’t want your curation of the entire internet.

6. Small tweaks can increase profit: Increasing site traffic, conversion rates, or increasing average sale price by small increments can prove to be a large profit over time.

7. Don’t price your service per hour or based on the cost to produce it; price the item according to the benefit it provides.

8. You’ve got to hustle.  Hustling can be better than paying others to market for you–you’ll benefit from the experience and gain new relationships along the way.

What Am I Going to Do Now?

1) I’m going to become my own publisher and write an E-b00k hopefully in time for Christmas–more to come later.

2) Review and redefine the core benefits that I offer through writing and coaching and focus on those benefits.

3) Create a list of items that will improve my business and work on them each day.

4) Create a FAQ for my coaching service. (p 121) *Updated- Hey check out my FAQ based of $100 Startup.

5) I have a longer list I’m working on, but I’ll spare you the details for now.

If you are considering starting a small business, or improving your existing business then reading this book will be worth your time and money. Plus if you buy from my link, you’ll make me smile 🙂

Have you read The $100 Startup? What lessons did you learn and how will you apply them to your business?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Elam as he introduced his new book and explains his process for writing an E-book. Enjoy the interview below!

Interview With Tony Elam

Summary

00 Funny banter

1:00 Into to the book.

1:45 Who is the audience for this book?

3:40 Kindle program & discussion of how he priced the book

4:40 Mechanics of how Tony wrote the book, editing, how long it took.

7:30 Marketing your ebook

11:25 Mistakes and lessons learned

13:30 Advice for those wanting to write an ebook

Resources For Writing an Ebook

These are resources Tony mentioned that helped him write his ebook.

The Monster at the End of this Book (Sesame Street)– Grover helped inspire the title of this book.

Anthologize– WordPress plugin used to turn online content into a book or ebook.

How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!– Jim Locke

Jim Kukral– Internet marketer and business consultant. Books by Jim Kukral.

Fiverr– Hiring people to do tasks stating at $5.

Connect with Tony

Financial Monsters Blog

Twitter: @findingforward

Book: How to Beat the Financial Monster at the End of this Book

Have you thought about writing an e-book? If you have questions for Tony, contact him or ask below.

Some of the above links may be affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

A successful small business is hard work.

This is a guest post by Greg Pare. Greg is a financial coach and workplace trainer in Lubbock, Texas. 

What is it about small business that attracts potential owners? Is it the promise of working for yourself and making your own hours? Is it the thought of capitalizing on a great idea? Or is it the vision of making tons of money?

I have had the privilege of starting and owning two small businesses. Like anything you do in life, you learn by doing, learn by making good choices and learn by making poor choices. While I still own both businesses, I am really enjoying managing and growing the second business that I started 18 years after starting the first business.

So, in a sense I have become a student of myself. While I have done some things similar in the two businesses, I have also chosen not to repeat decisions and would like to share some do’s and don’ts for small business owners, particularly those in the idea stage or infancy.

As a financial coach which happens to be the second small business that I currently own, I feel obligated to start my list of suggestions from a money perspective.

6 Steps Toward Financial Wellness For Small Business

1. Avoid debt – I started both businesses by saving for my start-up costs. The last thing that a new business owner needs is the pressure of having to make loan payments. What happens if the business gets off to a slow start? There simply isn’t room for error when you have the stress of facing loans payments. When you do, you may not make the smartest decisions that will benefit the business in the long run. Instead, snap judgments are made in order to meet the demands of looming payments.

2. Buy Used – Stretch your start-up budget by purchasing used. You don’t have to have the top of the line furniture, copier, phone system or computers to get started. Grow into newer updated equipment as you can afford to. Save from the profits of the business and pay cash for those nicer items as you can afford to.

Other non-financial suggestions are important, but may not put the business at risk if you make poor choices. You can usually overcome a bad decision if recognized and corrected.

3. Hire Good People – The least expensive help is not always the best, nor is the most expensive. I have found that in small business, you must make your employees aware of company goals and individual goals. Allow employees to set their own goals within reason. Offer incentives to them when they reach goals. Remember, that if they are reaching their goals, they are helping you reach your goals, and you should reward them for that. In addition, it is your job as the leader and owner to give them the proper tools to help them reach their goals.

4. Be Prepared to Work – I don’t know many small business owners that don’t work hard, especially during start-up. Being able to set one’s own hours is one thing, but ultimately it is your business that suffers when you don’t work. No one will take care of your business like you will. After time, can you expect to be able to take time off when you desire. Of course, but that is after much hard work to put yourself and your business in position so that you may.

5. Continue to Grow – Successful people are eager to learn. You can learn by reading, participating in professional growth opportunities, and collaborating with like-minded business owners. If you are reading this blog, you are at least looking for ideas and wanting to learn. You must make time in your business to allow for growth opportunities. Otherwise, you and your business become stagnant.

6. Pray – This should be at the top of the list. Remember that we have been blessed with the ability to make choices. We have been blessed with talent of some kind. The choices we make and how we use our talent are a direct reflection on our faith and trust in God. He has given us the responsibility of using our gifts and making decisions. As far as resources, whether it be money or other worldly possessions, they are His anyway. We should be taking care of them in a manner that is pleasing to Him. So small business owners should be called small business stewards. We are simply taking care of what God has given us to take care of.

Even though these few suggestions seem fairly simple in nature, they are sometimes hard to follow because we get caught up in the frenzy of running a business. Take your time, grow slowly without debt. Hire good people and work hard. If you are passionate about what you do, others will be too. If you are simply chasing dollars and not your passion, your small business will own you, instead of you owning your small business.

What small business advice do you have? 

Greg Pare’s passion is helping others succeed financially. He is Dave Ramsey’s Referral Coach for West Texas. Greg lives in Lubbock, Texas. In addition to coaching, he owns an electronics installation company. Follow his blog at www.gregpare.wordpress.com and visit his website at  www.gregpare.com. You may also follow his posts on Twitter @gregpare.

Photo Credit Jeff