Tag: Business Management (61 articles found) - Clear Search


Janet Behm’s Tips for Building a Business Emergency Fund

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“Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent.” - Langston Coleman

Prior to the economic fallout from 2020’s happenings, the typical American small business only had 28 days’ worth of cash reserves on hand.

Meaning, the average small business in this country couldn’t survive for a full month if revenue were suddenly turned off. As a result, Congress had to prop up small businesses through programs such as the EIDL and PPP loans that you’re sick of hearing about by now.

As the economy rebounds strongly, it’s a good time to set aside a business emergency fund for your business to tide you over during the next period of economic upheaval. This isn’t doom and gloom thinking, it’s simply the reality of the business cycle: There will be another recession at some unknown point in the future.

You Need To Know How Much Is Enough
In many ways, your business eme
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5 Cybersecurity Steps all Business Owners Should Take

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“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” - Margaret Thatcher

Whether your business is in full-on work-from-home mode, or your business is such that this is a totally foreign concept, the reality is that cybersecurity steps are something you absolutely need to address.

Your office computers, employee laptops and tablets, cloud services (which can be accessed remotely), and even company cell phones all have an insane amount of information on them that hackers would love to get their digital hands on. Along with customer credit card numbers and employee SSN’s and DOB’s, your digital records contain a wealth of valuable information. Even something as seemingly innocuous as customer estimates and invoices can look like hidden treasure to the world’s digital pirates.

Taking basic cybersecurity steps is cheap protection against potentially embarrassing and expensive data breaches.

If you do have employees working remotely, it’s your responsibility to protect customer and employee data. Just like the IRS sets minimum requirements for us to protect YOUR private information, you should als
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Businesses Win That Are Controlling Costs

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“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”  - Beverly Sill

Depending on the type of business you run, you have a myriad of things you need to pay for to stay in business from rent to office supplies to payroll to inventory (not to mention all those pesky taxes).

When a business is brand new, most business owners go over the top controlling costs. But over time, they tend to loosen their grip on such things and inevitably experience “cost creep.” Sound familiar?

Every dollar you spend on a business expense means one less dollar in profit for your business (think renovations). So, it’s a good idea to periodically check in on your expenses to make sure you’re controlling costs where needed.

But where do you start?
Looking at your income statement may just give you a headache. Plus, that P&L is a summary of categorized expenses and doesn’t tell the full story about individual costs racked up throughout the year.

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Janet Behm's Building Your Brand Update

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"A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts." - Richard Branson

Unfortunately, many small businesses brainlessly ape big corporations with their marketing, by (wrongly) believing that "if these huge companies built their businesses by that kind of marketing, then it surely should work for us." Build the brand,” they say.

The thinking behind that kind of marketing is that you "get your name out there," and the clients and customers will pour in. "It's all about word of mouth," they say.

Well, if you choose to go down this road, far better is real word-of-mouth advertising.

And that is something that can actually be stimulated and stewarded. And one of the best companies to learn from about this is Disney, specifically about their parks.

(And this is still true in 2021, btw, with all
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When The Crazy Customer Strikes

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“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” - Lao Tzu

Last week, I wrote about handling upset customers, and I laid out a simple four-step method: H.E.A.R.

1) Hear the customer and don't interrupt.  
2) Mirror back (Empathize) with something like: "I can understand why you're upset.  I would be upset too." Or, "I'm really sorry that happened to you."
3) Ask: "What can I do to make this right?" 
4) Resolve - Unless the request is absolutely ridiculous, DO IT!

But what happens if the customer is completely ridiculous?

It starts here: as the owner or general manager of the business you'll need to decide just how much empowerment you'll give your staff to resolve an issue.

Let's assume you have 3 levels of personnel in your business – front-line, manager, and you. You might give the front-line person the aut
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What Numbers Should You Be Looking At In Your Business?

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"You have been blessed with a mind that can direct your actions in any way that you choose." -Ramon Luis

It's easy to get lazy when a business can pick the low hanging fruit available in an easy marketplace.

But, that's not always the case, is it?

Markets shrink, funding dries up, prospects aren't as easily found, or profitability margins decrease. So what do you do? Many business owners don't know how to tweak their marketing and sales systems, so they can track the numbers at each step in the sales process and grow in new directions.

I have seen (in several industries) that the businesses who create a culture of accountability, have weekly sales meetings, track their numbers, and hold team members accountable, are successful ... while those that guess and "assume" are usually out of business. It's just a matter of time.

The key is knowing the numbers -- what is the average expected result, and how you are measuring up against that result for each step in the process. This is where accountability starts.

But
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My Small Business Health Quiz (part 2)

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“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” -Confucius

Regardless of national events, or where things are at with PPP and EIDL -- as a small business owner, it's important that you take a REGULAR, clear-eyed look at the underlying legal and financial foundations of your business.

As we all pull our tax documentation together, I can't think of a better time.

I started with these last week, and I'm wrapping them up today.

My Small Business Health Quiz (Part 2)

From last week...

#1: Is the value of your business firmly established?
(Buy/Sell Agreements)
#2: Is there an emergency plan?
(Will & Asset Protection Strategy)
#3: What happens next?
(Business Succession Plan, and more)

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My Small Business Health Quiz (Part 1)

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#1: Is the value of your business firmly established?
Questions to consider:

  • Have I ever had my business value appraised by an outside party?
  • Do I have a formal buy/sell agreement in place?
  • Is my buy/sell agreement funded?
  • Does my buy/sell agreement adequately protect my heirs, my business, and my partners?
  • Has this agreement been reviewed in the last 3 years?

If you have any plans to someday extricate yourself from your business (and you should ALWAYS consider your exit strategy), these are critical questions.

#2: Is there an emergency plan?
Questions to consider:

  • Do I have a will, and is it up to date with my business wishes?
  • Do I have a plan to retain key employees if something were to happen to me?
  • Are my assets protected from potential litigation?
  • Have I identified and written down my trusted advisors?

Unless you plan to forever cheat death, a business owner would be foolish to not prepare for that event.

#3: What happens next?
Questions to consider:

  • Do I have a formal succession plan prepared and on file?
  • Does my succession plan have a provision for disability?

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Last of the LAST Minute Tax Moves

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“Every task, goal, race and year comes to an end…therefore, make it a habit to FINISH STRONG.” - Gary Ryan Blair

As I mentioned, time is short, and some moves do require more than this week to pull off -- so I'm restricting myself to those items which you can realistically do something with before the end of the year.

And, again--these are focused on what will apply to your business

Also, the fact that expenses paid via PPP loan proceeds are now deductible might affect these calculations for you.

1) Buy Supplies in Advance (to increase expenses and offset income)
How much disposable equipment do you expect to use in 2021? Order it now so the cost is deductible in 2020 if you need to offset income. Buy what you think you'll need for the coming year, as long as you have the space to store it. This is especially easy to do with software, information courses, or other subscriptions that you know you want to keep.

A word of caution: Under a 12-month rule, yo
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Good News Depends On Where The Fence Is

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There's both good news (for some) and bad news (for many) as we round the corner into December.

And I'm not talking about our culture, or politics, or sports, or anything like that.

I'm talking about TAXES.

I'll start with the good news. This is applicable to some of my readers only, but it is nice news for business owners in certain high tax states.

One of the difficult aspects of the TCJA was the "SALT" (state and local tax) deduction limitations. Specifically, in high-tax states, this represented a difficult setback in what could be deducted.

Well, one semi-sneaky way around this limitation has just been tentatively approved by the IRS in Notice 2020-75: paying these taxes on behalf of the owner or partners through an S-corp or partnership (pass through entity), and enabling them to be counted as a business expense.

This workaround immediately came into effect in MD, LA, CT, NJ, OK, RI and WI. Four more states already have legislation on the dockets: AL
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