No one said starting a business would be simple. As Shakespeare once said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." In today’s environment, owners have to do it all. They need to be accountants, customer services representatives, digital marketing experts, and more. Too often, owners are overwhelmed by the details. Organizing invoices, tracking employees, and chasing payments all distract from the real goals of the business. Instead, you should be ensuring the quality of your service, engaging with customers, and driving new growth. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
There is an expanding school of thought that entrepreneurs shouldn’t be judged by how many hours they work, but rather by how effective those hours are. “I work 60 hours a week” shouldn’t be a badge a pride, but rather a sign you may be going wrong. Diligent, consistent work is the key to growing a business, but if it is focused in the wrong area, your efforts may be in vain. The solution is delegation. For many new business owners, it is very difficult to relinquish control. You need to be sure that the job still gets done right. You need to guarantee the payments are on time, your employees are where they need to be, and the budget remains balanced. But there really are tools out there that can help. Handlr has the resources to assist you more effectively in delegating and managing tasks. Our system makes handling finances and logistics a breeze. Applications like Handlr are so appreciated by business owners because not only does it do their tasks efficiently and correctly, they free up a lot of time for you to do what is really important – running your business.
To see Handlr in action, book a demo here.
We recently talked about tips for successfully utilizing a CRM (Read it here), something you’re probably already using as a business owner. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is typically a software that helps your business keep track of… what exactly? Well, obviously things like phone numbers, addresses, lead status, purchase history, etc. But what do these things embody? It’s in the name; a CRM is a Management tool for Customer Relationships. So let’s discuss Customer Relationships, that you can better understand how to foster and keep those very things you need a CRM for. Google the words “customer relationships” and you’ll be met with a dizzying amount of articles, books, DVD’s, Podcasts and videos promising the newest techniques, software and guides to CRM. It can be daunting to say the least. Let’s take a step back and look at the basics of customer relationships.
As a consumer, would you rather do business with a personable company than the corporate machine of a big business? Of course you would. Having personality disarms your customers, they will be more likely to trust your recommendations. Don’t try to deceive your customers, are you a small company trying to get your foot in the door? Show it. Working out of your moms garage? Show it. Customers will be further compelled to give you their business if they can see you as a peer.
Understand what makes your product or service desirable.
It’s impossible to be relatable if you don’t have a true understanding of what drives your customers. It’s easy to think about your business concept from the wrong shoes. As a business owner you may have no problem coming up with reasons for making your product or offering your service. But you need to spend a lot of time looking at it from the perspective of potential customers. What are the real reasons they might be purchasing your product? What real-life circumstances lead them to booking your service? This is an easy exercise to shrug off, “Of course I know why people want what i’m selling”. But the more you explore this practice, the more you discover about your customers and how to serve them.
Take a look at the customer experience from start to finish.
Even if you simply sell an online product, what is the experience of the purchasing process like for your customers? How do you handle inquiries, returns, confirmations, packaging? Everything, no matter how small adds to the customer experience. Obviously this entails much more for a service-based business and should be treated as such. Every aspect of the process should be scrutinized until the customer experience is perfected.
The biggest downside of the countless books, products and techniques that you’ll find when researching this subject is that through all the fluff, we’ve been taught to do anything but be honest with our customers. We’re told to follow a call sheet, distract our customers with special offers, or avoid gripes they may have with our product or service using fancy techniques. The reality is, your customers will appreciate your honesty more than you may know. Calling up a customer and asking for feedback, apologizing for a mistake or simply telling them how much you appreciate their business can take you farther than any call-sheet or internet technique.
You probably stumbled upon this article through another site like LinkedIn, Reddit or Facebook. That in itself is proof that social media is prevalent and crucial as a source of retrieving information. In the small business world, there’s a stigma around social media marketing that leads business owners to focus their efforts elsewhere. “I can’t gauge how many people are reading this,” and “I pay for ads but don’t see traction from it,” are common frustrations when you’re trying to get your name out there.
In our previous post, we mentioned The Rule of 7, which states that it takes 7 impressions or touches on a customer before they make a purchasing decision. Social media platforms can be a very heavyweight fighter in being one (or more) of those touches. Here are some tips to keep in mind about managing social media for your business.
1. Understand Who Your Audience is.
Before diving into this any further, identify who is looking at your posts. If your business is blindly posting content that isn’t relevant to your audience, your efforts won't yield positive results. Understand their lifestyle, know why they’re interested in you, and cater your verbiage and content around this information. This also differentiates a bit further on different platforms. For instance, LinkedIn followers expect more, “professional” information than let’s say, Instagram followers. That being said, Instagram followers might expect pretty, visual pictures and videos that inspire. This means your content has to get creative in different formats but consistent messaging is key. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Be consistent, everywhere.
Plan a well-defined message that you want your customers to know about your brand and/or business. Then relay that throughout all of your social media platforms. If your business is pushing out a lot of different messages, it’s a guarantee that your content will get lost in the noise, and might just confuse your customers as to what you're trying to say. Instead, hone in on one aspect of your business and drive it through all the way. A great starting point in figuring this out is asking, “What’s my company mission/belief that keeps me in business?”
Although each social media platform looks different in layout, keep your logo consistent, and your branding similar everywhere. This way, your customers can quickly identify your business and it’s a more professional way of representing your brand. It’s a good idea to have a light and dark version of your logo for the instances where the background differs. Consider having a strong accent color for your business and neutral tones to complement it.
3. Get Viral
When you offer content and information that is relevant to your consumers, they would feel inclined to pass along your marketing message. The impact of creating viral content is explosive in the world wide web and can put your business in the spotlight of many potential new customers and leads. Viral marketing involves more crafted content than normal. When brainstorming for viral content, just remember that it has to be unique, inspiring, and driven with emotion in order to get people to repost it. In a statistic reported on KissMetrics, viral content can get 500-1000 times more of a reach than neutral content.
4. Track and Analyze
We asked LA based Social Media Superhero, Nicholas Mar to share best practices for tracking a business' success online. He says, "using multiple platforms to track analytics help us really figure out how our audience reacts to our content." Using management platforms like Hootsuite or Sprout, in conjunction with Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics, paints a very detailed picture that guides the content of future posts. Facebook insights provides helpful information about the demographics of your audience, as well as high-traffic times for when your customers are looking the most. Squarespace lets you check how many people visit your page, where they’re coming from, and what pages they fall off on. Frequent the analytics page of your platforms to find a goldmine of information. Then, craft your page and schedule your posts accordingly to maximize the potential of your content.
To keep it short and sweet, social media marketing can strengthen your brand image and will convert into concrete sales when done right. Keep your messaging and branding consistent, and offer relevant, unique content. Lastly, assess often how well your posts are doing with information offered to you and craft your posts accordingly.
The late Steve Jobs said it best, knowing your customer better than your competitors is the only way to succeed. Knowing how to actually do that is where it gets tricky. A solid Customer Relation Management system is the first step in that process, so we’ve compiled some solid tips to ensure that you use your CRM to its full potential.
1. Choose a platform you can stick with.
Talk to a few business owners and you’ll undoubtedly hear some horror stories about switching CRM’s. Choosing the wrong form of Customer Management can set you back big time down the line. It’s important to choose a simple, easy-to-use software with enough features to work now, and down the line. This doesn’t mean you need to pay thousands of dollars for SalesForce to manage your ten customers and 2 employees, but don’t just take the easy route and start a messy, half-assed Excel Spreadsheet either. One of the worst experiences in business is realizing 2 years-in that you need to go back and redo all the work you’ve put into your CRM now that business is starting to pick up. We recommend checking out ActiveCampaign or Nimble.
2. Consider CRM training a crucial point in your small business growth.
Take the time to learn every corner & every inch of your new CRM, and make sure your employees do too. Employees often treat training programs as waste of time or a chance to relax. Don’t allow this to happen in your office. You’ve made a considerable investment in your CRM and you should insist that everyone takes the training process seriously.
3. Use it to track sales and new leads.
Your CRM has one main purpose, to keep track of your customers; so use it! Insist that your sales team processes any and all new leads through the new system. It will make keeping track of these potential customers so much easier as they move through the process of cultivation.
4. Use all the features of the system instead of resorting to other ones.
Even the most simple CRM systems out there come packed with features. Explore these early on and try to use them as much as possible. Does your CRM have a group huddle or chat feature to keep everyone on the same page? What about a document manager? Use them instead of an outside program for a better flow of your daily operations.
5. Use in-house feedback as much as customer feedback.
Introduce your new CRM and it’s very likely that a few employees will adapt to it rather quickly. Focus on the feedback they provide about why they like it, what features they use most and where it can improve. Customers are an equal source if this type of information. Send out a quick survey or interview your more trusted customers about their experiences with the new way your business operates.
6. Don’t forget the least active users.
If you have a few employees neglecting your new investment, don’t just slap them on the wrist and push them to use it more. Try to understand what is holding them back and why they don’t like the new system. You’ll find that some simply don’t understand it and need more training, while others have specific gripes that can be fixed with simple solutions. Don’t be afraid to contact your CRM company directly with these complaints as they will often have a work-around or trick to fix the situation.
7. Try a system that engages the customer directly.
You’re CRM is all about the client, so try using one that has tools to get you in touch with them directly. ActiveCampaign for instance, works as both a CRM and email system, so you can track your customers and message them directly from the same software. This ensures that customer management, feedback and things like open-rates and stats are tracked in the same place.
Investing in a CRM is a big step in a small business. Learning to use it properly and introducing it to your staff can be a big commitment. These CRM best practices can help you ensure your effort is rewarded.
This week's Business Spotlight is Tranquil Home based out of San Diego, California! Nicola is co-partner of this home cleaning service that has been using the Handlr mobile business management platform for 5 strong months. We asked her a few questions on her journey of starting this business.
How did you start your business? Bootstrapping, I started literally with zero resources and used only what I could obtain through either trade, or doing the work myself to get started. Seven months in, I asked my childhood friend Erin if she would like to partner with me. Erin and I then bootstrapped together, and slowly but surely established a solid business.
What was your biggest struggle in the process? Finding the appropriate business model for Tranquil Home, and just learning dozens and dozens of tiny lessons that all were road blocks but now we use that knowledge to grow faster and more efficiently.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote? "Forget past mistakes and forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now and do it." -- William Durant
Which historical person do you most look up to? The one that sticks out in my mind is Joan of Arc. The film, "The Messenger" about her is one of my favorites! I admire people that have enormous amounts of conviction like that. Granted she was leading people to war, which I don't condone - but you kind of have to stand back in awe at that level of passion. Plus the fact that it was 1492 and managed to get a man, let alone hundreds of them to follow her into war is pretty amazing.
If you could be an animal, what would you be and why? Definitely a bird, preferably one that doesn't get prayed on much so I would say maybe an Eagle. I love the thought of flying around free, it sounds so liberating and non-stressful.
What does your typical weekday look like? It varies day to day, however usually a minimum of 5 hours work starting at around 9am. I try to get in a work out at least 3 x a week.
How many hours do you spend on marketing, sales, scheduling, employee/contractor management, customer communication, accounting, business development, other? 25-40 hours a week on a combo of all the above. However, my business partner Erin focuses more on the accounting side, and I try to work day-to-day on at least hiring, and or marketing/tweaking our website in addition to editing our calendar, customer service, answering phones, following up with clients, etc.
What’s your favorite business hack? Working when I’m in the mood. I really do well with late night working. My brain has slowed down by the end of the day so I can focus easier.
What does your morning routine look like? Well, I would like to say its a morning jog, followed by a healthy smoothie but honestly it's not. Most days, it involves rushing out the door.
Where do you see your business in 5 years? I see it becoming easier and much more profitable. We learn so much every month. In 5 years, I think we will really have our act together. We are aiming for 1MM in sales this year, so to have a sales revenue of over 2-3 MM in 5 years would be a great goal.
If you could do anything right now, what would it be and why? Vacation for sure, maybe a drive up the coast. I love the feeling of returning home after a vacation, refreshed and ready to work.
If you could go back and change anything when you first started your business, what would it be and why? I would take advice from other successful people but maybe not as seriously. No one knows your business better than you, and while, yes, other successful people can, and do have great advice I wish I didn't take it as gospel. I would have joined an, "association" related to my business earlier. I also would not have let fear of breaking every tiny rule be the main motivator behind hasty decisions. I would have also read the E Myth earlier!
It is mission critical to have a logo that conveys your brand’s look and feel. According to smallbusiness.chron.com, the company logo is, “the single most visible manifestation of the company within the target market.” We couldn’t agree more. For this reason, it is heavily important that you brand your company in a position that aligns with your target market. It’s a visual first impression to your customers so, make it count. Another astonishing stat from ConversionXL says, “visual appeal can be assessed within 50 ms” (Laja). That’s a fast assessment! Where does your logo stand on the eye-catching meter? Graphic trends are ever-changing but we do know that resorting to ClipArt, gradient heavy graphics, and busy elements in a logo add noise when you’re trying to break through the clutter. Seek for a clean, easy-read symbol for your company.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you logo is a clear read if it is shrunk down to a 1-inch area. Often times, many businesses strive to include tiny details in their logo that unfortunately, get lost when it’s printed on a business card or other small marketing materials. If your logo needs a bit of a facelift, there are many platforms available to you to solve your problem. You can hire a local graphic designer to create branding and marketing materials for you. 99designs or Canva for Work is commonly used to instantly get a few designs created. Moo.com and Vistaprint.com are great options for cost-effective and high-quality marketing materials with a fast overturn rate.
If you have employees, it’s not a bad idea to have matching team shirts made. Even having branded marketing materials like table cloths and tents can help strengthen your brand image amongst customers and team members both. Having a cohesive and unified look across your company on all platforms goes a long way. Paying attention to small details and cleaning up the look of your company positions your business in a better spotlight in consumers’ minds.
Welcome to 2016, where consumers are less and less carrying around their wallets. Consumers these days are now being exposed to many different payment platforms. We have Square, Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, the list is growing everyday. Where does your business stand with accepting other forms of payment? Here are 5 reasons why your business should not just take checks and cash.
1. Checks are becoming an archaic thing of the past
Let’s face it. Soon, checks will be an extinct method of payment. According to Bank Innovation, “From 2003-12, checks decreased by half, from 36 billion to 18 billion.” It shows that soon enough, (estimated by 2021 with the rate of decline) check use will plummet to a whopping zero. Major grocery retailers like Whole Foods and Albertson’s have stopped accepting checks for the past several years now, and we’ll continue to see this trend widen as more payment technology expands and becomes available to us.
2. Cash isn’t always available on hand
If you’re anything like me, and a part of the emerging generation of the young, mobilized, “Swipe” generation, getting cash requires taking an extra step to get a transaction done. Going to the ATM to withdraw cash, or going to a store just to hit the cashback button, it all takes extra time in the day. People have to find cash and the stash (as much as I’d like it to be) isn’t infinite - the cash flow has to be replenished. As opposed to electronic funds, consumers always have access to their accounts, whenever, wherever.
3. Cash = Room for Error
Dealing with cash is a mainly a manual activity. We count cash with our hands, do the math in our heads, and in cases where cents are involved, there’s a million coins multiplying and jingling in our pockets. We’re constantly adding and subtracting figures even with a register machine. This leaves a huge margin for error and inaccurate cash handling, especially when a business owner has a staff of workers dealing with cash all day. Lessen the friction of handling cash and automate payment processing. When dealing with a large fleet of people out in the field, it's best to not have them physically handling the cash and checks so that they don't have to be responsible for dropping off payments to you as the owner.
Choosing cash as a means of payment also means dealing with receipts. In other words, generating trash. Whether a business is writing up a receipt for the transaction, or a consumer is receiving one for his or her payment, how inconvenient is this process? Going paperless is on the rise (soaring, actually), and receipts are thrown in the trash 2.5 seconds after it’s handed to the customer. Whether it’s choosing Square, PayPal, Venmo, or it’s built into an app like Handlr, automating payment processing means businesses get paid quicker, and faster. The best part of automating the payment process is avoiding the awkward conversation of, “So, that invoice from last week…”
4. Mobile payment is preferred
Since 2014 and the almighty release of Apple Pay, I’ve gotten used to the idea of not carrying around my wallet anymore. In fact, I get a bit irritated when I walk into an establishment that doesn’t support Apple Pay. I even prefer to shop at locations that accept it. When they don’t, I think, “Why isn’t this business investing in the easiest ways to accept payment?” But taking a step back, the percentage of preference of mobile payment is outstanding. TechCrunch reports that, “Ninety-four percent of consumers under 35-years-old bank online,” weighing the scale far on the electronic/mobile side. It’s the livelihood of a business to offer methods of payment that consumers prefer, otherwise, they’re not coming to ya.
5. "Electronic Funds are Not Safe."
In, “How the Decline of Cash Makes America a Safer Country,” posted by The Atlantic, Thomspon states that cash was the bloodline of the black market, because cash is absolutely untraceable and easily stolen. Now with the declining statistics of using cash, we see a correlation if a decline in the percentage of crime rates, particularly with robberies and other illegal activities. There’s dangers to using anything really, including using cash.
Also, banks and payment processing companies ensures consumer safety and most of the time, gets the money back pretty quickly to their account when there are instances of fraud. In cases of unauthorized transactions, it’s common for banks to immediately issue a new card (with a temporary card in the meantime) fast.
And lastly, we have to remember that convenience trumps all. Paper checks are quickly dying because it takes days to process and it’s simply a long process to deal with it. The success of fast-food restaurants and on-demand services like Uber, is because it’s so instant, easy, and accessible to use.
Review your financial reports for the year before and make sure that your bookkeeping is organized for the year ahead.
Financial Reports and Statements come into play when you least expect it. It’s important to stay on top of your reports because investors, creditors, and banks look at these to analyze a company’s performance and overall standing. It’s a good rule of thumb to review your statements to ensure accuracy and thoroughness.
Stay organized! We’re still early on in the year and starting off on the right foot can make this your easiest year of bookkeeping yet. Here are some tips we’d thought might help:
- Get a separate bank and credit card accounts for personal and business.
- Dedicate a small amount of your time per week to organize your finances.
- Ditch the paper & declutter- the IRS accepts electronic copies of your receipts.
- Store it in the cloud - you can’t do a quick word search through your physical folder of files!
- Sign up for Quickbooks Online to keep your finances organized and ready for taxes.
- Don’t know what you’re doing? Simply, ask for help from a professional.
I’m Behind on Bookkeeping
Is, “I can’t even right now,” your first reaction when you hear, “bookkeeping?” It’s a heavy chore, we get it. If you’re at a loss of where to even start when you need a Profit & Loss Statement, hire a local bookkeeper for a few hundred dollars per month. They can help keep you organized and prepared for taxes. You can also outsource your bookkeeping to a company like Bench.co who provide bookkeeping experts you can depend on.
Staying on top of paperwork is one of the many keys to success when owning your own business. Double checking, or even triple checking your numbers and financial reports safeguards you and your business from future mishaps when those reports have to come into play again. If you have any suggestions or ideas on what works for you when dealing with reports and statements - we’d love to hear them! Feel free to drop us a line in the Contacts section.
A few weeks ago I sat in an audience of 40 other business CEOs and founders and listened to Mike Jones of Science, Inc. say the words, “Are you doing something right now that makes you money?”. This quote ended up on my whiteboard as a constant reminder to stay on track and work on tasks that make me money instead of make me busy. Which is ironic, because right now I’m writing a blog post instead of calling a hundred small businesses to spread the word about Handlr. The truth is, starting a business is completely overwhelming. It’s like staring up at a massive mountain and thinking, “How the hell am I going to scale this thing?”. The answer? One step at a time. Mike shared with us that success rides on two basic principles: sales and an unfaltering belief in your business’ potential for growth.
The bottom line is that fear is the enemy when it comes to sales and believing in your success. It’s scary as all hell to cold call people or to walk up to strangers with your card in hand. It's nerve-wracking to put your idea out into the world. It’s scary to hear the truth and the truth is, not everyone is going to love your idea. It’s scary to put your whole life savings (and wedding fund if you're like me) into a new crazy idea and it’s scary to think that there’s a possibility that not a single soul will want to sign up for your new app. Fear is a bitch. It can paralyze you and make you want to crawl up into a ball.
Owning my own business for the last 9 years and starting a new one, has been quite the roller coaster. It’s the best feeling in the world to be financially independent and to grow something from nothing, but it’s also scary to see your bank account near zero and to have so many employees relying on you to pay their living wages. It’s sometimes terrifying to shoulder so much responsibility for your business, your employees, your business’ reputation and your own living expenses. But it’s so worth it and the last 9 years have taught me so many lessons in bitch slapping fear in the face. I’m not going to lie, I have moments of panic, every entrepreneur does, but I now know how to stand up to my fear and most importantly, I know how to change my mindset.
The only thing that we have control over in life is our own mind. We have the power to choose the way we want to think about things. Dog training has taught me to train my own brain. I can train myself to approach difficult matters confidently, objectively, logically and without fear (ok, most of the time). Today we aren’t running from saber tooth tigers or wolves to survive, but we are still experiencing varying degrees of stress to make it in the modern world. You can think about stress as something negative, or you can change your mind about it and think of it as a motivator to keep you moving forward. Some stress is good, it keeps you going. It’s just important to keep it in check and not become paralyzed by it. I’ve found that 1) perspective, 2) progress, and 3) balance, keeps stress in check and fear at bay.
#1 Perspective in life is everything. It’s really the only thing that we truly have control over in life. You can choose to think about things any way that you want. You choose to be scared, unknowledgeable, ungrateful, panicked, or clueless, or you can choose to be confident, knowledgeable, grateful, poised and clued in. You can be these things by taking action and taking control of your thoughts. To do this you must be self-aware and reflective in order to make a conscious effort to cancel out the negative and change it to a positive. Being scared or panicked is caused by a stressful response based on something that happened to you in the past or because of staring at the unknown future. Being in the present moment and taking one tiny step at a time toward your goal is really all that you can do and is completely do-able. You can look at a giant mountain that needs to be climbed, or you can look at your own two feet and put one ahead of the other. This perspective will propel you forward instead of become stuck in a quagmire of fear. Being grateful for being on your own two feet and being thankful to be on your personal journey of learning and growing will keep your perspective healthy and manageable. Like the old saying goes, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Where you think you’re going to end up isn’t always the case and worrying about the future just slows progress.
#2 Progress is another key to keeping fear in check. Checking off little goals and tasks gets you one step further on your hike to the top. Everyone starts somewhere and overnight success is a rarity, not the norm. I have a tendency to look at the big picture and end goal way too often and fear sets in. Changing my perspective to what I can do today, keeps the fear in check. I have to remind myself that DogZenergy started as Wagz n’ Wigglz on my street with just a handful of dogs and that it took a few years to walk a dog on every single street in all of La Jolla and greater San Diego. We all start somewhere and progress is made when we keep on moving.
#3 Keeping life in balance is an art form and is the key to staying calm, brave and laser focused. Even though I can’t juggle, I have an imaginary Brittany in my head who is a fantastic juggler. She juggles a lot of balls. There’s one for my family, friends, Handlr, DogZenergy, pets, fitness, fun, health, mindfulness and learning. I am happiest and most brave when all of these balls are up in the air. If I drop one, a few others start dropping and then I’ve lost all my balls and marbles. Luckily I have ball obsessed golden retrievers who help me pick up my metaphorical balls. This is sounding weird and somewhat dirty. Getting back on track here… it’s tricky to keep your life in balance, but especially as an entrepreneur, it’s essential to take care of yourself to be the best version of yourself. You are your business and your business needs you. You don’t have time to be worrying and fretting about the future or whether or not things are going to turn out the way that you want them to. You just need to keep it all in perspective, make progress and stay balanced.
Guidelines are crucial to maintaining consistency and excellence in your business. McDonald’s and every other franchise of the world have detailed guidelines and protocols in place to ensure that services are performed the same way, every time. Employee Handbooks and Business Guidelines (even if it’s just for yourself) are important to make sure that your business can run without you and that quality is guaranteed every time.
Guidelines are there to set the company’s tone that you see perfect for your business. It explains the core mission/standards of your business and covers all aspects of your business you can dream of, going beyond the protocols. From team member benefits, team member work behavior, or the specific conditions of what constitutes an absence, tardy, write-up, citation, or termination. It’s a great resource/reference to have for you and your team in uncertain situations.
Read the E-Myth and the 4-Hour Work Week to change your life as a business owner.
Gerber offers insightful strategies and tactics to conquer having your dream business. He walks you through the cycle of a business, from, “entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective” (Amazon). The E-Myth is considered mandatory reading from us for anyone looking to start a small business.
4-Hour Work Week
From an entrepreneur himself, Timothy Ferriss shares a common problem all entrepreneur encounters. The work overload and no life balance what so ever. He introduces a new acronym, (also the names of the chapters): DEAL (Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation). It’s so easy to get caught up on the hamster wheel and before you know it, running a business means working day in and out endlessly. Read the 4-hour workweek and seek the balance you want in your live/work life.
It’s a Bonsai Tree Thing
If you already have your guidelines in place, be sure to revisit them and update/edit any changes once in awhile. Owning a business is a constant learning process and as you grow, your guidelines should become more detailed and fine-tuned as your business changes.
Unfortunately, when you’re an entrepreneur/CEO of our own business, it means that you have to deal with the dry, boring paperwork that comes across the desk. But who better than yourself to set the solid foundation for the growth of your business to stand on? So. Today’s topic we’re touching base on is: insurance! Let’s get through this thoroughly and quickly so you can get back to daydreaming of your yacht and exotic miniature horse farm.
Get Limited Liability Business Insurance
Owning a business can put you in scary situations, especially when unforeseen accidents happen. A team member or customer becomes physically injured during the job, property damage ensues, or even psychological injuries can turn out to be an ugly lawsuit against your business. Safeguard your livelihood and get Limited Liability Business Insurance. Liability Insurance can help cover costs of medical expenses, attorney/court fees, and other damages that your business may be legally responsible for. Speak to an insurance agent first and see what customizable option plans there are that best suits your business. If you already have a policy in place - check this right off your to-do list! But also be aware of when your coverage expires.
Have workers? Get Workers Comp.
We hear stories everyday from our friends, family, news, everywhere - accidents happen all. The. Time. Workers Compensation Insurance is actually mandatory by law in almost every state and is available to employers through commercial insurance companies. In essence, workers compensation insurance covers costs for any illness or injury a team member obtains at work or by performing the duties of his or her job. Examples of these injuries include slipping on wet floors, straining muscles while lifting heavily, or obtaining injury by fire or explosions. Your workers compensation costs are determined by the amount of worker’s wages paid out, so make sure your estimated payroll is good for the year ahead.
Consult With an Insurance Broker
And for safe measures, it won’t hurt to consult with an insurance broker to make sure every corner of your business is covered. Don’t hesitate to ask questions until you’re blue in the face! Every business operates differently and not one insurance policy fits all. They are there to help and it’s better to be safe than find yourself in an unknown sticky situation down the road.
Well that’s great! You’re about to embark on a very exciting journey of self-exploration, discovery, and knocking down the doors to countless opportunities for your future. There are many, many aspects to consider when starting your own business. Skipping a minor step can send you down a windy, bumpy road to getting your business where you dreamt it to be. Fortunately, there are plentiful resources at our fingertips that can smoothen the journey. We’ve assembled a small starting checklist and some insightful info for the first chapter of your story.
Make sure you have your DBA and a Business Tax Certificate
First off. DB-What? It’s an abbreviation for “Doing Business As” and sometimes it’s needed to conduct business under another name. Many entrepreneurs overlook the legalities of registering a DBA and later on, encounter fines, penalties, and lawsuits. Know what your state requires for a DBA and don’t take any shortcuts. A DBA can help you open up business bank accounts and can add asset to your existing business. Legalzoom.com can get you started with your DBA for a small cost.
Obtain a Business Tax Certificate (also called Business License) in the city you are doing business in. Any person who conducts business, trade, profession, or enterprise within a specific city will need a tax certificate – and it doesn’t matter if your physical business address is in or outside the city. Your Business License is good for one year from the date of application. Check with your City Hall for fees and specific requirements.
What about an LLC or Inc?
There’s a lot of confusion between the differences of establishing an LLC or Inc., but it’s good to know the roles of each so you can choose the appropriate setup for your business. An LLC is a limited liability company – it’s a marriage of two business structures of providing the limited liability of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational adjustability of a partnership or sole proprietorship. The pros of establishing an LLC gives the business owner choices on how they will be taxed, less administrative paperwork, and record keeping (as opposed to a corporation), are protected from some or all liability for acts and debts of the LLC depending on state laws, and can even be set up with just one natural person involved (wikipedia).
In contrast, an Inc., is an abbreviation for Incorporated and it declares the corporation as a separate entity from its owner(s); nonetheless, it can raise its own funds, own property, and conduct business. Many find this an appropriate business option because it protects the owner’s personal assets against the company’s liabilities. Because this option is more ideal for larger establishments and is legally complex, it is not always ideal for new and small businesses.
Okay, maybe not Saul from Breaking Bad, but it is very well advised to speak to a small business attorney just to cover all ends you may overlook. It’s highly recommended that you have a Terms and Conditions agreement with your clients and if you have contractors working with you, have an Independent Contractor Agreement ready to go. Depending on the nature of your business, a small business attorney will assist you in making sure that you are legally protected. You can also visit LegalZoom or RocketLawyer for quick and easy standard agreements.
The Handlr team is happy to wish all of our Handlr Partners a successful new year! We are so excited for 2016 and we’ve already begun implementing our resolutions. Are you ready for 2016? Ready to double your business this year?
Our CEO, Britt Alwerud is excited to share with you her incredible 2016 Comprehensive Checklist for Growing Your Business. Whether you're just starting your mobile service business or you're gearing up to double your existing team, this guideline is a complete checklist of action steps that you can take to instantly increase your sales this year. This is a great opportunity to tap into the knowledge of a business owner who’s experienced exponential growth over the last 9 years.
If you're anything like us, we don't like the phrase "small business". At Handlr, we believe the sky is the limit and that every business has the potential to scale and become a bigger business. We hope this 2016 Checklist will help you reach your goals this year.
This checklist is broken down into the following categories:
- Legal necessities for running your business
- Business Insurance
- Business Management Guides
- Systems and Processes
- Reports and Bookkeeping
- Modernizing your business
- Mobilizing your business
- Marketing strategies and CRM tips
- Social Media Tactics
- Community Outreach
- Hyperlocal Marketing
- Content Creation
- Customer Feedback
And she's giving it all to you for free! Enter your email below to download Britt's Checklist: