Tag Archives: small business

Why Do Startups and Small Companies Need to Attend Trade Shows

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Many people who are running a one man show businesses or even a small business believe that exhibiting at a tradeshow is out of their league because of financial considerations, because the large companies have large marketing departments with large budgets, because a tradeshow booth is not affordable, because they just don’t have the vision on how to design a booth, how to transport and assemble one, how to work a tradeshow, etc.

Except for the budgetary considerations of renting space on the tradeshow floor, everything else is untrue. In this article, I will show you why are tradeshows so important. I am writing this from my own experience, as someone who worked on designing trade show booths, set up trade show displays, worked the tradeshow floors as an exhibitor and as a visitor.

Here are some of the reasons why it is important to attend and exhibit at trade shows, even if you are just starting your business or running a small company:

1. Get competitive intelligence

As an entrepreneur running a small company, it is very hard to get competitive intelligence, that is knowledge on how do you compare to your competitors, how do they do things, what makes them more successful that you or less successful than you. Don’t forget to put some focus on the less successful scenario also, because you also want to have a list of all the mistakes others make, so you can avoid them.

At a trade show, the easiest possible thing you can do is gather hands-on competitive intelligence. It really does not get more hands-on than that, as you have your competition at the tip of your finger. On the surface, they all seem to be extremely confident through their sales pitches and the flashiness of their marketing gimmicks, but they are in a tremendously vulnerable position, as they are giving everything they got and are also worried about *their* competition, which believe it or not… is you!

Take advantage of this incredible position. The best thing to do is to walk the trade show at the very beginning – that is, before everybody gets to know everybody among exhibitors – and ask questions, ask many, many questions.

Here are some of the things you can get from a simple walk around the exhibit hall:

– A four pound synopsis of your market that you can review at your leisure, from the comfort of your couch that most likely includes a sacksful (literally) of literature on suppliers and distributors in your very targeted and unique field, the trade press.

– New market concepts.

– You can also have yourself put on mailing lists, participate in market surveys, and earn complimentary subscriptions to a handful of journals.

– More coffee mugs, promotional mints, candy, pens, laminated business cards and free golf balls than you will ever need.

2. Learn about what your competition thinks about your product or service

Again, this is something to be done at the very beginning of a trade show and works best in larger exhibiting halls.

Introduce yourself as someone else, interested in the product or service offered by you and your competitors. This is a perfect time for you to use your flirting techniques. Get creative, remember you have nothing to lose, you are in control and the ball is in your court.

Get a complete review of your competitor’s product line. You can then ask what they think of your company’s products and services. Since they do not know who you really are, they will tell you what they really think. It is quite enlightening to hear what your competition really says about you to prospects; remember you are acting as one of their prospects.

This is competitive research as its grittiest and the trade show floor is the best place for it. Studies show that companies are more eager to open up and talk about their competition at a trade show than in any other environment (sure you could just call, but you will not get the same effect).

At this point, if you are still reading this, you are probably wondering why, in the name of everything rational, I am talking about spying on your competition instead of the obvious reasons why trade shows exist, which is promoting a product or a service? Well, analysts and trade show gurus say that investigating the competition is what these shows are about.

3. Meet your buyers

Show your product or service to people who are hyper-qualified as buyers. Why? Well, because these are the people who have gone through the trouble of attending the show and are really interested in your type of business. You also get to meet current and potential customers and get real feedback and a feel for how is your product or service perceived, how it is really performing and what you can do to make it better, that is, more appealing and more useful for your customers.

4. Meet the press

Meet with people from your industry’s trade press. They always attend those events, and you will probably never get a better chance to speak one-on-one with the top editorial staff.

You also have a great opportunity to connect with distributors, with wholesalers, with brokers and others in your distribution channel.

5. Sell

You can also sell your product or service, right there, on the spot. Just make sure you have everything you need to do so in place.

Plan and allow for the opportunity for serious business. Most people who come to your booth will be tire-kickers. They will grab a handful of pistachios, check out your promotional pens (or USB memory drives loaded with your marketing multimedia presentations – hint, hint), cherry pick your printed materials and move on to the next booth. But occasionally, you will bag a live one. Know how and where you will talk to this person at length. Will it be a spot in the rear of the booth, a nearby conference room, a table in the concession area, a later meeting at your company suite? Folks trust me on this, a wishy-washy “we’ll get back to you” attitude will lose the sale. You have to be prepared, if they see you are not ready to close the transaction right there, on the spot (even if in this day and age the trend continues to move away from on-the-spot order writing on trade show floors), they’ll leave.

6. Generate leads

This is the meat of attending a trade show – creating a follow up mailing list. This is what could (and should) potentially bring return on the major investment you made by attending the trade show. Whether you just collect business cards, write names down on a piece of paper or use the more modern trade show techniques such as scanning people’s tags, you must build your mailing list and actually follow up immediately after the show is over, while your marketing effort is still fresh in people’s minds.

It really makes a good second impression if you follow up promptly, whether by just a call or sending additional literature and information. Your handling of requests for additional information will show potential clients you value their time and provide quality customer service.

Why A Business Advisor Is So Important

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The simple answer to the seemingly complex question of who needs a business advisor? is everyone responsible for operating a business.  That is right. The Fortune 50 CEO to the one-person show needs an advisor.

The CEO of a public company has mentors as well as a board of directors to turn to.  They often don’t have a choice of who their advisors are, but small business owners do.  Unfortunately, with this choice of advisors comes another choice that is often made instead.  That choice is to not get any help at all.

Not getting any help at all is very often the cause of the business failure statistics we hear so much about.  The small business owner will often claim that they do not have the time or money for an advisor.  Think about that comment.  How can you not have the money to get help from someone that can potentially save or make you more money since you obviously are not getting it done on your own?  Or how about that time you are lacking?  Maybe if that owner sat down for an hour with an advisor, they would be able to see why they don’t have time and do something about it with the help of someone who has already been in those shoes.

A coach or advisor gives to small business owners something most of them don’t have; a sounding board and a board of directors to turn to for advice. These are two great resources to use when trying to avoid trial and error decisions and processes.

I’m not knocking trial and error as the way to learn things.  I’ve personally used that method and fared well in many cases.  But that is a case-by-case basis, not for on-going daily concerns.  Do not forget that this method is also very costly and time consuming.  Why not ask someone who has probably already faced the problem?

What many business owners do not realize is that they rarely go through any trials and tribulations that someone else has never dealt with.  Not to mention that about 70-75% of their business is the same as every other business including HR, finances, sales, marketing, and funding.  The other 25-30% is industry specific. 

Small to mid-sized business owners take away much more from an advisor than big businesses.  This, if for no other reason, is the case because the smaller companies have owners that wear a lot of hats.  Many of those hats take time away from the things the owner needs to make a priority to see their company succeed.  Things they should be doing that they do not have time to get to or things they are taking care of that they have no experience in doing.  These situations take away from them doing what they do best.  That is a problem. 

The question now is how to find an advisor.  There are many types of business advisors out there.  Some are purely coaches and others are true developers and implementers that will roll up their sleeves with you when asked to.  It’s up to you to pick the type of person you want or need.  Here are a few things to think about:

Do they click with your personality?  There are many good advisors out there but if they don’t click with you as a business friend, don’t bother with them because you will end up fighting them even when you agree on the advice.

Have they owned a small business before? Gray hair does not equal business ownership knowledge.  I promise you that the ex-CEO or Senior manager from a huge company knows little about successfully operating a small business.  These are two significantly different worlds.

Don’t worry if a potential advisor doesn’t know your specific industry.  Remember that a lot of your troubles have nothing to do with your industry.  It would help though if the advisor had contacts/resources for you in your industry for when specific problems are addressed.

Look for flexibility.  A potential advisor that pushes for more than 20 hours a month of your time from day one is probably out for money.  Until they start working with you, there is no way of knowing that they need that much time per month to meet your goals and timelines.  A good advisor will understand that you have made a commitment to get back on track just by the fact that you are talking to them.  They should not need to try and get a ridiculous time/money commitment from you if they want to help.

Make it a local thing.  This suggestion is a two-part issue.  First, the advisor should agree that when face time is needed that they come to you.  Second, there is absolutely no reason why a small business with locations in one state needs a business advisor that must fly in or travel more than 2 hours to see them.  These companies somehow find suckers to take their so-so advice and huge reports full of fluff and pay for travel costs.  There are plenty of advisors local to every company in this country.  Yes, even in Hawaii.

Once you made the intelligent decision of getting help in making your business a success, keep a few things in mind.  You should really commit to working with your advisor for a good 6 months.  Nothing gets fixed overnight.  Also, since you are paying for it, please do yourself a favor and be open to suggestions, bring important things to your advisor for help in making a decision and make the use of your time with the advisor a priority.  Do not forget that an advisor or coach should never decide for you. It is your company; they are there to make suggestions and guide you.

Working with an advisor can be a very enlightening experience.  You will start to see the forest from the trees and not feel like you are the only person on the planet going through tough times as a business owner.

All business owners eventually need help.  The successful ones put aside their pride and desire to be at the center of all aspects of the company and get the help. Do yourself and your company a favor and be one of the tremendously successful business owners.  Get an advisor and get all you can out of them.  If your advisor loves what he/she does for a living as such as you love what you do, you can’t go wrong.

7 Business Financing Mistakes to Avoid

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Avoiding the top 7 business financing mistakes is a key component in business survival.

If you start committing these business financing mistakes too often, you will greatly reduce any chance you have for longer term business success.

The key is to understand the causes and significance of each so that you are able to make better decisions.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (1) – No Monthly Bookkeeping.

Regardless of the size of your business, inaccurate record keeping creates all sorts of issues relating to cash flow, planning, and business decision making.

While everything has a cost, bookkeeping services are dirt cheap compared to most other costs a business will incur.

And once a bookkeeping process gets established, the cost usually goes down or becomes more cost effective as there is no wasted effort in recording all the business activity.

By itself, this one mistake tends to lead to all the others in one way or another and should be avoided at all costs.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (2) – No Projected Cash Flow.

No meaningful bookkeeping creates a lack of knowing where you’ve been. No projected cash flow creates a lack of knowing where you’re going. 

Without keeping score, businesses tend to stray further and further away from their targets and wait for a crisis that forces a change in monthly spending habits.

Even if you have a projected cash flow, it needs to be realistic.

A certain level of conservatism needs to be present, or it will become meaningless in noticeably short order.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (3) – Inadequate Working Capital

No amount of record keeping will help you if you do not have enough working capital to properly operate the business.

That is why it’s important to accurately create a cash flow forecast before you even start up, acquire, or expand a business.

Too often the working capital component is completely ignored with the primary focus going towards capital asset investments.

When this happens, the cash flow crunch is usually felt quickly as there is insufficient funds to effectively manage through the normal sales cycle.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (4) – Poor Payment Management.

Unless you have meaningful working capital, forecasting, and bookkeeping in place, you are likely going to have cash management problems.

The result is the need to stretch out and defer payments that have come due.

This can be the very edge of the slippery slope.

I mean, if you don’t find out what’s causing the cash flow problem in the first place, stretching out payments may only help you dig a deeper hole.

The primary targets are government remittances, trade payables, and credit card payments.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (5) – Poor Credit Management

There can be severe credit consequences to deferring payments for both short periods of time and indefinite periods of time.

First, late payments of credit cards are probably the most common ways in which both businesses and individuals destroy their credit. 

Second, NSF checks are also recorded through business credit reports and are another form of black mark.

Third, if you put off a payment too long, a creditor could file a judgement against you further damaging your credit.

Fourth, when you apply for future credit, being behind with government payments can result in an automatic turndown by many lenders.

It gets worse.

Each time you apply for credit, credit inquiries are listed on your credit report. 

This can cause two additional problems. 

First, multiple inquiries can reduce you overall credit rating or score. 

Second, lenders tend to be less willing to grant credit to a business that has a multitude of inquiries on its credit report.

If you do get into situations where you’re short cash for a finite period of time, make sure you proactively discuss the situation with your creditors and negotiate repayment arrangements that you can both live with and that won’t jeopardize your credit.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (6) – No Recorded Profitability

For startups, the most important thing you can do from a financing point of view is get profitable as fast as possible.

Most lenders must see at least one year of profitable financial statements before they will consider lending funds based on the strength of the business.

Before short term profitability is demonstrated, business financing is based primary on personal credit and net worth.

For existing businesses, historical results need to show profitability to acquire additional capital.

The measurement of this ability to repay is based on the net income recorded for the business by a third-party accredited accountant.

In many cases, businesses work with their accountants to reduce business tax as much as possible but also destroy or restrict their ability to borrow in the process when the business net income is insufficient to service any additional debt.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (7) – No Financing Strategy

A proper financing strategy creates 1) the financing required to support the present and future cash flows of the business, 2) the debt repayment schedule that the cash flow can service, and 3) the contingency funding necessary to address unplanned or unique business needs.

This sounds good in principle but does not tend to be well practiced.

Why?

Because financing is largely an unplanned and after the fact event.

It seems once everything else is figured out, then a business will try to locate financing.

There are many reasons for this including: entrepreneurs are more marketing oriented, people believe financing is easy to secure when they need it, the short term impact of putting off financial issues are not as immediate as other things, and so on.

Regardless of the reason, the lack of a workable financing strategy is indeed a mistake.

However, a meaningful financing strategy is not likely to exist if one or more of the other 6 mistakes are present.

This reinforces the point that all mistakes listed are intertwined and when more than one is made, the effect of the negative result can become compounded.

5 Steps to Small Business Success on the Internet

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For years, the website design market used to fall into three separate entities for website design and development: (i) graphics and animation studios, specializing in custom graphic design and creative animations, (ii) website marketing/promotion firms, (iii) Web programming companies specializing in database-driven website development. Nowadays, however, you get to see a fusion of these three entities in several dynamic Web Development and Promotion companies operating from any part of the globe. These web design, development and web promotion firms are virtually allrounders that cater to a diverse range of clientele, include those coming up for creative web design, web databases CRM / ERP as well as for SEO (search engine optimization) needs.

Most small business firms all over the world heavily rely on the services of such web development firms as they usually cater to small business website design by providing web based marketing methods that small companies can afford due to small budgets. Depending on the effectiveness of such web-based marketing, clients often see incredible successful results from clicks to conversion. There are some case studies which show that utilizing their marketing equation; some sites have gone from 10 leads a month to 300 leads. However, to achieve this is easier said than done. Web marketing firms that create a full plan for their clients using both the strategic and tactical methods crafted by specialists/consultants in turn can give small or large businesses increased sales. After all, that is the reason one can zero down on to be in a business, right? To have more sales and offer value. Therefore, the objective behind any web development or website promotion project is to create a unique selling proposition through your website that can set you apart from your competition so your customers should only think of doing business with you, regardless of price.

Small business firms today look forward to the professional creative website design and strategic web development and web promotion companies for the simple reason that they want their site to have the look and usability of a Fortune 500 company site without having to spend huge bucks for it. Yes, it is considered a plus if the website is designed as a tactical marketing tool that aims to engage and educate their clients in turn. And most of these businesses have a concern in their minds: can their web site provide a means to gather analytical data for them to offer better service for all?

Yes, they can. However, for this, optimal, effective website design strategies need to be incorporated. In a word, small business clients should be enriched with at least some of these features to fetch more conversions:

* Cutting-edge small business website design, tailor-made to provide broad market exposure of the products and services to potential clients.

* Highly scalable digital website designs aimed at boosting up the growth and realization of the full perspective of the small business houses.

* Small business website design strategies including full-featured e-commerce solutions, to help these businesses deploy cost-effective, powerful e-commerce stores.

* Customized search engine optimization services based upon individual needs and goals.

However, there are umpteen so-called ‘cheap, quick’ solution-providers, and any small business firm must think twice before taking the plunge with them. Ideally, one should always trust a professional web development firm that gathers relevant information about their clients’ business through hours of discussion, clear up ideas about the requirement, nature, and goal of the clients’ business. Based on these details, experienced, skilled web designers and developers carry out extensive research to find out the best small business website solution. On the other hand, creative, innovative content writers create specific and unique content for small business website requirements, thereby enhancing business prospects. Finally, website maintenance and search engine optimization techniques that comprise scientifically proven techniques available at a competitive price are sure to give your business a boost. Flash Presentation, Multimedia Presentation, Multi-lingual website development and E-Commerce integration solutions complement these customized website solutions for brightening the online and even the offline image of small business firms.

The Five Steps to Success:

To ensure success of your small business through a unique website presentation, it is important that you develop a five-step process for creating websites that meet your customer’s goals. Whether it is a small business firm eager to generate leads, sell online, provide information about their services, connect their vendors to their company electronically, or start an entirely new kind of service, this five-step process not only takes them from concept to completion, but also is the trademark of any Internet development company. Consulting: Every website starts with an idea. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about developing a website or redesigning your existing site. At the consulting stage, a professional website development firm would strive to clear all doubts about the clients’ requirements. Consultation for this usually comes free in case of small to medium-sized businesses.

Website Design: After the initial consultation, the website development firm solidifies the clients’ ideas by creating a blueprint for their site by employing something they call “Strategic Design”.

Website Development: The website development project is then handled by a creator’ hive, composed of specialists who handle their own respective pieces of the site development. Remember, for successful website development, it is necessary to be handled by a versatile team of expert graphic artists, content writers, programmers, database specialists and technical personnel. This ensures that a qualified professional handles each task of the given project.

Web Hosting: Since websites are an intricate interplay of graphics, text, programming and computer resources, building your site on a rock-solid web hosting foundation is critical to its marketing success.

Website Maintenance: Once the site is available to the public, it must be maintained with the help of ongoing updates and continued development to the site so that they don’t give clients/visitors of the site a chance to complain about its quality and content.

15 Ways to Start Your Small Business

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Yeah, sure it is easy, and of course, that title is a little tongue in cheek. It takes a lot of hard work to get a business off the ground. But it’s worth every hour I’ve spent getting to where I am now.

When I decided to start my communication and image consulting business, I tried hard to find a good startup guide. I could not find any that had all the steps. So, I decided to write one. So far, it is mostly just the bare-bones outline (which is long enough as it is) you see in this article.

 I will be adding to it every week or two, and writing more detailed articles on all the steps, so try to stop by and check it out from time to time. Let me know how I am doing. Shoot off an email to me if I have forgotten something or you have questions.

Before you spend so much as a dollar, talk to a few experts.  Go to the library or get on the internet and research, research, research.  Take a little time to make sure entrepreneurship is right for you. 

Make a pro and con list of business ownership and evaluate yourself honestly.  How many characteristics do you have in common with successful entrepreneurs?  Is your financial position strong enough?  Do you have the necessary technical and management skills? 

You are not going to be the perfect entrepreneur.  Nobody is.  But to make yourself the best entrepreneur you can be, consider ways to compensate for any weaknesses you might have. 

I am from Canada, so the government agencies I have mentioned in this guide are Canadian, but really, it can be used by anyone. All you must do, if you are from somewhere other than Canada, is find out where you need to find some of the things I will talk about. Some of the steps might be slightly different, and you may not have to worry about things like GST for example, but I am sure you will find this discussion helpful all the same.

These steps to starting a business are in reasonably good order, but you might find yourself varying from it under your circumstances. That really is not a big deal if you get most of it done. There are some steps you will be able to skip as well, but please do not skip any of the big ones, which I’m sure you’ll pretty much figure out from taking a look at the list.

So, assuming you have done your evaluation and you still want to start a business, take a deep breath, and let us get started.

1.       Conduct a feasibility study of your business.  Describe your typical customer, your product, and your competitors.  Who will your suppliers be?  What will you charge for your product?  How will you market your product?  These are just a few of the questions you need to answer.

2.       Write a complete business plan for your company, using the information you gathered from your feasibility study.  This vitally important, often overlooked step needs to include a description of your company, its goals, competitors, market, financial information, and of course, how you intend to meet your goals. 

3.       Get your financing in place.  There are many ways to finance your business, from your own savings to personal credit cards to bank loans.  If you need credit, know your business plan from front to back and maybe even sideways. 

4.       Decide what kind of structure your company will have.  From a legal standpoint, there are three basic choices, sole proprietorship, partnership, and incorporation, each with advantages and disadvantages. 

5.       Choose a name for your company and check on name availability. Naming your company is highly individual, but it is the first thing associated with your business, so choose your name carefully.  You will need to do a NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) report, which checks your name choices for uniqueness against a database of other business names.  A reserved name is valid for 90 days.

6.       Decide whether you want to register federally or provincially and register your company.  If you register federally, you will also have to register provincially, which almost doubles the cost. You do not have to have a lawyer process them for you, but it might be a good idea to at least consult with one.  You can get the forms from your local government office, have them faxed to you or download them.  You can fax or email printed copies, or complete the forms online

7.       Contact Canada Revenue Agency Business Window for your business number, and to register for GST/HST, payroll, corporate income tax and import/export (if applicable).  You can also contact the CRA if you need general information about business expenses.  Chances are you will have to collect GST, but you may want to register for a GST number even if you do not have to collect it because of input tax credits.

8.       Decide whether you need to collect PST.  If you do, you need to submit Registration as a Vendor documents with your province. 

9.       Determine whether there are special permits or licenses in your municipality.  It is highly unlikely that your municipality does not have special permits or licenses.

10.     Develop the marketing materials you decided on in your business plan.  They should include at least a company identity package, press kit and website.  Your identity package is your logo, business card and letterhead.  A press kit can include letters of introduction, biography sheets, press releases, articles, and a brochure.  In today’s electronic age, printed materials are not enough.  You need a website that looks professional, matches your printed material, and has great copy.  You will also want to make sure it optimized for search engines.

11.     Set up your business bank account and record-keeping system.  Your banker will need to see your incorporation documents, and you should probably set up more than one account so you can keep track of your finances better.  Record-keeping is required and can be done manually or with a computer program. 

12.     Purchase insurance.  There are many different types of insurance, but most probably your company will need at least one.  For example, if you are going to have employees, you need to contact the Workers Compensation Board.  Depending on your type of business, you might want to contact them even if you do not have employees to insure yourself.

13.     Contact potential creditors and set up credit terms.  You should have researched suppliers when you were doing your feasibility study.  Now is the time to contact them.

14.     Decide where your business will be located.   Lease your business space.  Alternatively, you could choose to start your business from home if it is feasible.  There are advantages and disadvantages to starting your business from home.  You have tax write-offs for example, but sometimes your image suffers.

15.     Purchase supplies and office equipment.  You will need too many things to list here, and of course, each business has different needs.  You might need a fax machine and printer.  You will probably need a computer.  You will need paper, pens, pencils, and a calculator.

Congratulations! Go out, buy yourself a bottle of champagne and celebrate. You are about to embark on a most exciting journey. And may I be the first to wish you good luck and prosperous times in your business venture.

As promised, here is my email address so you can ask questions, make comments, or add steps to my list. Or, if you want, you could just drop me a line to let me know how your small business is doing. I would really like to know.

10 Ways to Reduce Tax Burden for Your Small Business

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An ideal lawyer will not just have a string of impressive credentials or gold lettering on his door. He or she will be caring, concerned, and devoted to their work. You need to think carefully before laying your trust in a lawyer after all in some cases your life, future, money, or property will be in his hands.

Apart from doing extensive research to short list possible lawyers you must ensure that there is not conflict of interest, that you understand everything the retainer agreement states, and that you have checked the references and details regarding the practice.

You will know the lawyer you have chosen is the perfect one if:

1.       He tries to spend time to understand your case himself. He will not assign a legal assistant to take facts of the case down.

2.       From experience and knowledge, he will know what is relevant and what is not. He will set aside and ignore irrelevant facts, opinions, and personal emotions that cloud the case on hand.

3.       He will insist that the footwork for the case be done thoroughly. All facts must be checked for accuracy and solid arguments jotted down with backing of earlier rulings.

4.       He will not just focus on the problem at hand but examine the problem from all sides. This will create a complete picture highlighting all factors of relevance and the different ways one can approach the case.

5.       He will use his foresight and anticipate moves by the opposition or opinions of the jury or judge and plan way ahead. Like a master chess player, he will plan the case not by the day but by many hearings ahead.

6.       He will not waste time beating around the bush or create verbose statements many words strung together which look impressive but mean nothing. He will insist that the case and its arguments be clearly stated.

7.       He will be self-disciplined, thorough, and self-confident. Courteous always he will respect you as well as all the staff who work for him.

8.       He is recommended by not just his friends and relatives but by other professionals of good standing and from his field.

9.       He will not just present to you his victories but be happy to tell you why and how he lost certain cases.

10.     He will lay the cards on the table and tell you clearly whether your case stands to win or lose. He will not claim that winning is guaranteed. He will be honest and upfront about his opinions and advice.

The bottom line is that the lawyer must be worthy of your trust. Use your inborn instincts and don’t go by the lawyer’s good looks or fancy car or office. After all it is competence in law and in court that is of essence to you.

Everyone worries about taxes and looks for ways and means of reducing the tax burden. When you have a small business of your own you must update your knowledge of tax laws that pertain to small businesses. As a business owner you must understand clearly about accounting systems and tax planning. Sit down with your accountant and plan on ways of maintaining business expenses, filing receipts, planning on tax saving investments, and a strategy for running the business in the most beneficial way.

Did you know that:

1.       According to law you can reduce your tax liability by hiring family members to carry out work in your business. Pay your children and spouse to perform assigned duties. This way you can shift from higher tax rates to lower ones.

2.       Consider hiring independent contractors instead of employees. You will save on payroll taxes. However, ensure that you meet the IRS criteria.

3.       Think about deferring income postpone receiving money to January instead of December. This means that payments received will be up for tax calculations a year away.  However, ask your accountants advice as the benefits are dependent on profit and losses for the year and your corporate legal structure.

4.       Take advantage of tax deductions allowed for charitable donations. Make donations in November or December instead of January so that you can include the donations for tax deductions in the current year.

5.       Maximize your expenditure on equipment and office supplies. Buy in advance for a quarter and use the tax deductions allowed in the current fiscal year.

6.       Include expenses of business-related travel in the current year.

7.       Pay all bills due before the end of the year. Payment to cell services, rent, insurance, and utilities related to the business can be included for accounting and applicable tax waivers.

8.       Plan a retirement plan and make payments before the end of the year. This will reduce your income for the year and proportionately the tax due. Be sure to check on the limits. Plan a feasible and beneficial strategy with your accountant.

9. Be sure to deduct from your taxable income money paid to licensing fees, businesses taxes, and annual memberships to businesses related organizations. Be sure to deduct interest paid on borrowings for running the business and related fees. Insurance premiums paid to ensure the business office and machinery are eligible for tax deductions. Make a list of your memberships and check which ones are eligible for tax deductions.

10.         Check whether you have deducted management and administration expenses as well as money spent on maintenance and repairs of equipment.

Decide whether a cash accounting system or accrual one will benefit your business. The tax deductions are different depending on the system you use. When setting up your small business take the advice of a tax and accounting professional as to which accounting system would be most suitable.

How to Get a Small Business Loan

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If you own a small business, you may encounter situations that require you to have extra cash on hand. When this happens, it is important to know how to acquire a business loan. 

Here is a comprehensive guide to walk you through the loan applications steps.

Step One: Prepare

Begin by analyzing your financing needs. This will help you know what type of loan is suitable for your small business. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the money for?
  • How much money do you need?
  • When do you need it?
  • When do you expect to start seeing returns on the investment?
  • What is your ideal repayment period?

Know what the business can afford. Estimate the revenue you expect to get from the investment. If you plan on covering a cash flow gap with the loan, estimate the time it will take to receive the delayed payment. Other things you may want to consider include seasonal ups and downs as well as additional expenses that may popup during the repayment period. 

Prepare your business’s basic information. To determine the eligibility of your business, creditors will need to know basic personal and business information. They may ask questions about the revenue, basic structure, etc. 

Step Two: Research

Know the available financing options. Understand the various types of financing for small businesses. Assess the ones that are best for your situation. 

Check the eligibility requirements and see whether your business meets them. Different providers will have different eligibility requirements. Some of the factors that they consider include industry of business, location, years in business and the business revenue. This information is usually available on the provider’s website. 

Step Three: Submit the Application for Review

What are lenders evaluating? 

Once you submit your documentation and paperwork, the lender will take some time to review your application. It may take months, weeks, days or just hours. Regardless of the duration, most small businesses use a similar fundamental set of metrics for evaluation. They include the following:

  • Capacity: this is the ability of your small business to continue operating while paying off debts.
  • Character: this shows your credit history as a borrower. It portrays your responsibility when it comes to repaying loans. 
  • Conditions: this is a measure of the economy, time in business, geographic location and industry.
  • Capital: the ability of your business to support the loan amount you have applied for. 
  • Collateral: These are the assets to be liquidated in case you default. Not all lenders require collateral—in that case, it is referred to as unsecured financing. 

Step Four: Analyze the Loan

Assess the loan structure. 

  • When will you receive the funds? 
  • For how long do they expect you to make payments?
  • When and how will you make the payments?
  • Will that loan help your business credit?

Check the costs. The math should be simple. Know the total amount you will have to pay back. See whether there any additional fees. 

Step Five: Get the Best Option for Your Small Business

Don’t make the decision based on costs only. Consider the provider’s reputation, complexity of the process, etc.