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Keys to a Successful Business

Rule 1 – Always be timely.

I know, this sounds like common sense, but how many times have you been told something, and it has not been carried through. For example, you ordered a birthday present and it was promised you would receive it in 2 days (1 day before the birthday), and then not received it for 4 days. Now you don’t have the gift to give because someone was not timely. This is a simple example but I as a business owner live by this rule. In fact, if I tell someone I will have their project to them by a certain time, I shoot for 24 hours before. Why do I do this? What happens if I plan to send it to them when it is due, but oops, my hard drive crashes? They don’t get the project on time-even though it was finished in advance, and it puts them behind. This does not help my integrity or reputation, and it will probably affect if the client will do business with me again, or not.

Now, all of us understand that acts of God can interfere with our work or we can make a mistake (after all, we are all human). It’s bound to happen sometime. So what do we do?

Rule 2 – Always be honest.

This is a hard rule to live by, because sometimes you are so ashamed of your mistake, you don’t want to admit your foolishness. Let me share a horrifying mistake I made that could have destroyed my business. I was creating an e-book for a client. I found beautiful pictures which I designed the cover with and added throughout the book. I sent the book to her and she was delighted. The day before she was to send it to her webmaster to get it added to her site, I happened to realize that the pictures were not royalty free, which means we did not have permission to use them. I could have pretended I didn’t know and let the book go on the market and hoped that no one said anything about the pictures and my client didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t do this. I embarrassingly relayed my mistake to my client as soon as I discovered it (who is by the way, still my client). Because I was honest, she was understanding. Now, do you think I charged her to fix this mistake? See the next rule.

Rule 3 – Always fix your mistakes immediately.

Do you charge for your mistakes to be fixed? Absolutely not! It is not your client/customers fault that there was a mistake! How did I fix my big mistake? I went and bought royalty free pictures (with my money). I then redid the whole book (on my own time). I stayed up late that night and got the book fixed and ready to go. My client did not have to pay out a dime for my mistake. I took full blame and then went the extra step to fix the mistake. This client has been with me for a year now, and continues to refer me to everyone she comes across. We have a wonderful relationship, that could have been ruined had I not followed Rule #2 and #3.

Now these are just 3 rules to help you along the way in your business. There are many more things we must do to build our integrity and reputation, but if you follow these 3 rules, you will not take those 20 steps backwards, but go 20 steps forward.

Running Your Own Business Risks

Running a business yourself has both risks and bonuses, with one of the greatest risks being the fact that you are now in charge of your own destiny. There is no employer to provide a paycheck or benefits; it’s all up to you. That means that you must make certain that you bring in enough work to take care of your financial needs, something that can create a great deal of stress, especially if you are the only wage earner. Depending on what business you choose to go into you must make sure you have enough money to invest before quitting your full time job.

Another risk of owning a business is that of losing your personal possessions, especially your home, over business debts. It’s important, even if you are operating a home-based business, to make sure that you protect your personal assets frombusiness seizure by incorporating. If your business is rather small, it may not be of much importance, but if you’re running a rather substantial business, especially one that involves the purchase or any kind of products and supplies on a credit plan, make sure that you pay for the extra protecting your personal assets from seizures.

You must follow the laws in your individual states because not all states have the same regulations. However, if your state is one of those that only allows business creditors to touch property that is assigned to the business, you definitely want to consider that as an option.

Loss of income due to illness is another risk involved in owning your own business. You are no longer protected by the employer’s sick time and short time disability, so you have to assume those risks on your own either by setting money aside in case the need arises or investing in insurance to protect you from those kinds of things. The same holds true for health insurance””having a business means that you are responsible for all of the costs of your health and illnesses. It also means that unless you have others working for you that if you aren’t able to work, there will be no money coming into the household from the business.

 

Tips to Create Small Business Strategy

1. Define your business vision. If there were no barriers, nothing stopping you from taking your company as far as you could — what would that look like? How much would you make? How will you create your income? What markets would you seek to dominate?

2. Decide your company’s core operating values? What are its guiding principles? In other words, why are you in business and how do you do business?

3. Now create a 3 to 5 year plan. Your strategic is based on the top-level aims that are devised to get from where you are now, to where you want to be.

4. Develop a plan for this year. These are the specific goals you plan to achieve in the next 12 months that will lead you closer to your long-term goals. Remember to be “SMART” when setting your annual goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). As with any plan you need to define the tasks, who by and when. Perform a gap analysis on the resources you need against the resources you have. You may need to adjust your objectives at this stage. Now build your plan.

5. . Create a set of benchmarks. This step is important. This is very important, so that you can measure your progress.

6. Communicate your strategy and plan. The short-term plan from your strategy creates the momentum and direction for your day to day activities.

7. Walk the Talk. Actions speak louder than words.

8. Make sure you know exactly how you are doing on a day by day basis. Create a dashboard to report on your key performance indicators.Prompt corrective action is often more important that the plan itself.

9. Put a process in place so you do the same thing each year.

Building a robust, realistic and achievable business strategy is not easy. It requires commitment, effort and discipline. Yet the rewards are obvious. Juat about every successful business has an active, documented business strategy.

Tips to Marketing your Business for Sale

One thing that makes marketing your business for sale complicated is that it’s possible to sell your business without ever advertising it. There may be situations where a buyer is standing by, waiting to take on your business at a moment’s notice. There may even be a pre-arranged price and set of terms. In this particular situation, there is essentially no marketing whatsoever. Your business simply changes hands.

Even in cases where some amount of advertising or notice will be required, it’s often a good idea to limit the amount of advance public notice. This caution is good for two reason. First, early advance notice that your selling your business could provide a helpful heads up to your competitors. That’s probably something that you don’t want to do in terms of helping your customers and preserving the legacy of your business.

Advance notice of a sale by marketing your business could also have a demoralizing effect on your employees. They might become concerned about their own job security and begin looking elsewhere for employment. This could actually end up lowering the value of your business, especially if productivity or customer service begins to decline.

One way to avoid most of the stress that comes with marketing your business for sale is to sell your business through business brokers. Business brokers buy and sell businesses for a living, so they can bring quite a bit of experience to the deal. They may have a ready list of buyers who are interested in purchasing a business just like yours. Even if this is not the case, they will have knowledge of places where your business sale can be listed and marketed effectively.

Some business owners try to avoid the need for marketing their business by trying to sell their business to a family member. They believe that selling to a relative will be less stressful than negotiating with a stranger. While it’s true that the marketing phase might be simpler, most experts agree that negotiating a business sale with a family member is far more stressful than most people anticipate.

Marketing your business for sale normally includes the whole process of pricing your business for sale and publicizing its availability. As you might expect, the real key to successfully marketing your business for sale is to connect with the right person.

Another reason that some business sellers turn to business brokers for help is to save time. The most valuable place you can be during a business sale is where you’ve always been–running your business and making it as valuable as possible. Marketing your business for sale requires around-the-clock effort. It’s more than just advertising your business for sale. Documents will need to be prepared and released to potential buyers. At the same time, you’ll need to continue to maintain confidentiality.

Marketing your business for sale is more than just getting the word out. It is an entire process that includes pricing your business and creating an exit strategy for you. You could also include activities like interviewing potential buyers, negotiating with qualified buyers, and completing the sale.

If you’re thinking about marketing your business for sale on your own, without business brokers, it’s certainly not impossible. Other business owners have done this successfully. If you have the time and expertise to maintain the necessary documentation and negotiate the various financial planning and tax issues, you may find that you prefer to be personally involved in all parts of the process.

Ultimately, how you go about marketing your business for sale is your decision. Many sellers find that business brokers provide a competent hands-off service that usually ends with a successful sale and transition. Other sellers prefer to draw on their own experience and passion to communicate the value and worth of their business to potential buyers. You may find that marketing your business for sale is not as complicated or traumatic as some believe.

 

Teenage Business that Grows into An Adult Business

One of the best examples of a teenage business that grows into an adult business is that little girl who used to sell cookies around the neighborhood and grew up to be the proud owner of two successful bakeshops across town. From earning a few coins selling cookies each summer around the neighborhood, that little turned her business into something that brings about thousands of dollars in profit every year. The secret of her success is that at an early age, she was already exposed to the nitty-gritty of finding good suppliers of ingredients for her small business and had established a good relationship with these suppliers. Furthermore, when she was still a teenager and do not have any pressing needs to earn a living on her own, she had all the time to experiment in baking different types of cookies and pastries that she was able to come up with some really good recipes.

Advantages of Starting Young

There are many advantages of getting into business at a very young age. Teenage entrepreneurs learn their trade early and had more time to hone their business skills. After years of engaging in their teenage businesses, these young people develop a system of their own when it comes to handling their business affairs. These systems will then play a vital role when the teenager later on decide to pursue his or her teenage business and turn it into a full fledge adult business. According to studies, most young entrepreneurs used the skills that they learned early on to expand their business when they get older.

Another advantage of starting a business at an early age is that teenage entrepreneurs gain loyal customers over the years. It is not uncommon for people around the neighborhood to feel an affinity for the young entrepreneur thus they will not really think twice when it comes to supporting the younger entrepreneur. Since teenage entrepreneurs have already established rapport and good relationships with their clients, keeping these clients will not really be hard for them. In fact, some loyal clients will prove to be very useful when it comes to advertising the business expansion of the young entrepreneur. Note that a good word from a very satisfied customer will always bring in more business.

 

Tips to Creating Effective Follow Up

1. Update as you go along! Whenever you speak with or email a contact take a few minutes afterwards to update your database with this information BEFORE moving on to the next task. For example, did your conversation end with you promising to contact them again in a months’ time? If so, note this down and create a follow-up task there and then so you don’t forget.

2. Touch base regularly. Each month go through your database and see who you haven’t had any contact with over the last few months. Send them a ‘just getting in touch with you’ email, or call them.

3. Don’t forget good old-fashioned snail mail! Even snail-mail has gone all hi-tech. A great follow-up tool, and one that I currently use, is Send Out Cards – it’s really quick and simple to use. You can choose to send either a card or postcard, and it makes for a great ‘stay-in-touch’ service. And just as simple to use as email, only more personal! You can even upload your own handwriting font to personalise your cards even more.

4. Send a newsletter. Okay, it’s not exactly personal one-on-one follow up, but it is keeping you in touch with your database. Very often your newsletter will generate a response from your reader, which means you will be able to turn this into a one-on-one communication with your contact!

5. Keep the process going! Make it a habit to update your database regularly. If you don’t get the opportunity to update your database as you’re going along (Tip #1) spend 20 minutes at the end of each day reflecting on what you’ve done during the day, who you’ve contacted, what the outcome was, and enter all of this information into your contact management system.

About Incorporating Small Business

One of the primary advantages of incorporating your business is that it offers limited liability. If a business is under a sole proprietorship the liability of the business is the responsibility of the proprietor. When the same business is incorporated, the responsibility will depend on the amount of stake or share in the company.

Another salient feature of incorporation is that if you have a debt under the name of the corporation you as an individual will not be held responsible for it. With a proprietorship or partnership, a similar debt would have resulted in the seizing of your assets.

The second most important advantage of incorporating your small business is continuance. In comparison to a sole proprietorship a corporation has a larger life span. In fact legally it has an infinite life span.

If the company shareholders leave the company, die or if the ownership changes. A corporation will always exist.

Business is driven by capital and as a corporation it is easier to raise capital. Influx of capital or funds will help the business to develop, grow and bring in more funds. When you incorporate your small business, you are not only able to borrow as a corporation, but you can also sell shares and raise equity capital.

If the key benefits of incorporating are in line with your companies goals you can begin the process of incorporation.

– The first step to incorporation is to choose a corporate name and have a proper business address. You can not run corporation out of home unlike with a sole proprietorship.

– Secondly, you need to select the state in which you will be incorporating. Your home state may not be the best state for incorporation. You should Chose the state that will derive maximum benefit.

– Thirdly, you need to select the type of corporation that will most benefit your company. Speak with your accountant, business consultant and/or legal consultant to determine what type of entity will be the best for your business. It may be a LLC, an S corporation or maybe a C corporation.

– The next process is to choose the type of share. As a corporation, you can issue common stock as well as preferred stock.

– Next, you will need to obtain a Certificate of Incorporation, which is normally available with the Secretary of State’s office.

– Lastly, you need to process and file your incorporation documents. This process can be taken care of by a registered agent or an attorney.

Once you are incorporated make periodic appointments with your resident agent to ensure your corporation is in compliance with the secretary of state.

 

About Business Loan Strategies

This is usually especially difficult if there is no commercial real estate as collateral for buying a business opportunity. Commercial borrowers should anticipate that business financing choices will be substantially different in comparison to a business acquisition that can be financed with a commercial real estate loan when buying a business opportunity that does not involve commercial property.

The suggestions and advice in this commentary build upon commercial loan covenants that are commonly provided by commercial lenders willing to offer commercial financing throughout much of the United States for buying a business opportunity. There will often be various private financing scenarios in which the seller might be willing to wholly finance a business opportunity acquisition, and we will not attempt to discuss those commercial loan possibilities in this commentary.

Length of Business Loan to Expect When Buying a Business Opportunity

Business loan terms to buy a business will typically include a shorter amortization period than commercial real estate financing. A ten-year maximum term is common, and even that length of business financing is likely to require a commercial lease of at least ten years.

Likely Interest Rates to Buy a Business Opportunity

In the current business loan interest rate environment, the likely range for buying a business opportunity is 11 to 12 percent. To put this in perspective, it is not unusual for a commercial mortgage to be in the 10 to 11 percent range. The cost of business financing to buy a business is routinely higher than the cost of a commercial mortgage due to the lack of commercial property for lender collateral in a business opportunity transaction.

Down Payment Requirements for Buying a Business Opportunity

A typical down payment for business financing to buy a business opportunity is 20 to 25 percent depending on the type of business and other relevant issues. Some financing from the seller will be viewed as helpful by a commercial lender, and seller financing might also decrease the business opportunity down payment requirement.

Refinancing Alternatives After Buying a Business Opportunity

A critical commercial loan term to expect when acquiring a business opportunity is that refinancing business opportunity financing will routinely be more problematic than the acquisition business loan. There are presently a few business financing programs being developed that are likely to improve future business refinancing alternatives. It is of critical importance to arrange the best terms when buying the business and not rely upon business opportunity refinancing possibilities until these new commercial financing options are finalized.

Avoiding Problem Lenders When Buying a Business Opportunity

Most commercial borrowers are likely to consider the most important part of the commercial loan process for buying a business to be the choice of a business lender. Not to be overlooked is the importance of avoiding lenders that are not generally successful in finalizing business opportunity financing.

Commercial borrowers are likely to avoid many other commercial financing difficulties usually involved with buying a business opportunity by eliminating problem lenders from consideration. Eliminating problematic lenders will be critical to the immediate success of the business financing efforts as well as to the future financial condition of the business being purchased.

 

Customer Service Skills

Customer service can be defined as simply the ability to provide a product or service in the way promised, but it should be viewed by business owners and employees as so much more. Customer service should be viewed as customer care. Not only should you treat your customers the way you’d want to be treated, but you want to go above and beyond even that. Customer care should be viewed as one of the basic philosophies of your business. Without your customers, you wouldn’t have a business. They should be treated with respect at all times. Not only should you be providing the highest quality goods or service in your market, but you should be doing so with the right attitude, the highest amount of knowledge, technical support and doing so with a smile.

Customer service is a dying art form in most businesses today. It’s like they don’t care about their customers at all. Salespeople and store employees often display a complete lack of respect for the customers, no willingness to learn about the products or services they’re representing, and even the lack of a smile on their faces.

Lack of good customer care leads to disgruntled customers who complain to other potential customers about their bad experiences, loss of income and potentially even a complete shut-down.

Customer service skills shouldn’t be employed only when customers are complaining, nor should it be used only as a last resort by a manager who’s called over to deal with an escalating situation. Customer service should become one of the cornerstones of your organization. Every contact with your business should leave the customer feeling respected, cared about and content with the outcome.

Train your employees to think about angry/rude/impatient customer situations like this:
1. Am I doing something to elicit this response from the customer?
2. Do I deserve this behavior?
3. Why is the customer acting this way? What can I do to improve it?

Any representatives of your business should always answer any and all questions from your customers as promptly as possible, as politely as possible and with a smile.

When you utilize good customer service skills and truly value your customer’s place within your company, you will earn more business. They will refer friends and family to you for the same great service they received and they’ll keep coming back themselves. Let your customers know that they’re the backbone of your business and build relationships with them. Give them the “mom-and-pop” shop sentimentality, even if your company is more like a mega-mall.

 

How To Take Action ?

However, when you think about taking action, make yourself successful, doing the necessary sacrifices, or more precisely how can you turn yourself into the type of person who take action…

It is a fact that we can change our nature, by what we repeatedly do. Therefore it’s not enough with just a single act, you have to make it a habit.

Many people can share with you why certain traits or habits are important for them, it’s harder to explain why the same traits should be important to you. If you’re not motivated and have inspiration to do what you do, why do it at all?

You probably read and hear a lot of success stories of people making money from this and that. They all had to start from the beginning at one point.

Each and every one of them had to make the decision, “I want to be successful”,”I must take action”. Now, each and every person who want to get out of the rat race has to find the motivation and inspiration to do so.

I’m out of that race since many years, and when I sometimes feel down and lack inspiration to do my thing, well, for me it’s enough to think “what if I have to go back to the rat race?” Like a finger snap I get all the motivation in the world.

You need to get the motivation and inspiration to find and unleash your best small business ideas. The best way is to ask yourself questions…

When you want to start your own small business, identify what steps you need to take and get started. You need to realize that it won’t be enough think and dream about it. Change yourself and your behavior pattern by start to take actions.

Start in your day to day life, whit small ideas that comes to your mind, make it a habit to actually go through with your ideas.

 

The Buy-Sell Agreement

Let’s take a look at the rationale behind a funded buy-sell agreement.

Creates a Market

Most businesses are closely held. A person can’t call their stockbroker and buy shares in the business. Essentially, there is no market for the business.

If the business is a sole proprietorship or one-man or one-woman corporation, who is going to buy the business when the owner dies? In rare cases, a family member may be able to step in and successfully continue the business. Most of the time, the businesses simply closes its doors.

If the business owner is a partner or minority shareholder in a corporation, where is the financial motivation for the other owners to buy a minority interest? A buy-sell agreement among the person’s partners, or one involving one or more key employees for the sole owner, creates a market for the business.

Avoids a New Partnership With the Heirs

In my experience, there is no quicker way to get a male business owner’s attention with respect to business succession planning than to ask two questions.

“Do you and your partner have a buy-sell agreement?”

“No.”

“If your partner died, would you like to be in business with his wife?”

Silence.

When a partner dies, and the dust settles, generally one of two things happens. The wife calls up her husband’s partner and asks where her paycheck has been for the last month. The partner has to explain that her husband’s salary was a result of his active participation in the business, not tied simply to the fact that he owned stock in the business.

The second possibility is the wife, who has no experience or participation in the business, takes over her husband’s position.

A buy-sell agreement avoids both of these scenarios.

Sets the Price

Assuming buyers surface, what is the value of the deceased owner’s interest? If the seller is the deceased owner’s family, they want as much as they can get. The remaining partners want to pay as little as possible. Oftentimes, the dollar amount is far apart.

By setting a price that everyone is happy with while living, there is no haggling over price at death. In addition, this “pegs” the value of the business for estate tax purposes. In the absence of an agreement, the estate lists a value on the estate tax return, if one is required. The IRS often comes back with their valuation opinion: a much higher amount. What ensues is a back and forth argument, involving attorney’s fees and stress. Some of these cases have dragged on for as much as ten years.

Converts an Illiquid Asset to Cash

A properly funded buy-sell agreement instantly converts bricks, mortar and steel into cash. This provides funds for the heirs to pay obligations and taxes. Cash can be invested to generate an income; cash is easily divided among heirs.

Funded With Life Insurance

Assuming that a buy-sell agreement has been drafted, the next question becomes, “Where will the funds come from for the obligation now mandated by the buy-sell agreement?” There are three typical choices.

1. Pay cash. This is only an academic choice. Most businesses don’t have cash in these amounts laying around.

2. Buy out over time. If the business interest is worth $500,000, the arrangement is to pay, for example, $50,000 plus interest over 10 years. Negotiations could be tough. The family wants their money as quickly as possible; the remaining owners want to string it out for as long as possible.

This option is expensive. It requires the survivors to pay principal plus interest. The payments put a mortgage on future earnings and have to go through the tax wringer. The result is paying much more than a dollar for each dollar of business interest purchased.

3. Fund the agreement with life insurance. This is the “discounted dollar” method. Money is available immediately to fund the agreement, and the total premiums on the policy will come nowhere near the amount received.

If you own a business and do not have a buy-sell agreement in effect, call your life insurance agent, attorney and accountant. Set up a meeting, come up with a value, have an agreement drafted, and fund it with life insurance. You have probably spent a lifetime putting your business together. Now allocate a couple of hours toward keeping it together for your heirs and circumventing a myriad of problems.