Get Your Business Ready for Summer

Are you ready for the dog days of summer?IMG_1591[1]

For some, the summer means lying around the pool with unlimited lemonade and an umbrella overhead with a convenient misting system. For others, it’s business as usual! If your concerned about how the summer is going to impact your business, plan ahead and make the summer your best quarter yet!

Many business owners run their businesses the same way all four seasons. They set up a marketing plan with the goal of promoting their services or products without any thought to the changes that occur throughout the year.  It’s important to realize that business is different in the summer and recognize how this should affect your marketing efforts and will impact your bottom line.

Typically, one would think of clothing retailers and travel-centered businesses as examples of businesses that would be most affected by the seasonal changes that summer brings. A few others come to mind as well, like rental property, or even children’s dance studios (most do not provide dance class during the summer because of summer travel).

IMG_1589[1]But it is important that other businesses recognize that beautiful weather and time off from school can impact more than the typical businesses you often think of.

Take the time to brainstorm how your business may be impacted by the following:

  • Increased time available for children and teens
  • Increased demand on a parent’s time (possibly)
  • Hot whether equals less casual attire (at home and in the office)
  • Increased level of boredom for children at home while parents are working
  • Decreased funds due to having to entertain and feed kids all day, every day
  • Decreased local socializing and purchases due to family vacations and travel out of town or out of state
  • More or less outings to restaurants due to kids being out-of-school

The above list are just some examples that may affect your community during the summer months. On the other hand, your locale may see an opposite affect. For example, if you live in a vacation destination, you may have increase in traffic. Additionally, explore other changes (not just around family and children) that may affect your business.

Some people increase the amount of reading they do during the summer months. Others hire landscapers to free up time while DIYers may take on yard work to be outside more.

Evaluate changes in the market that could impact your business in the summer, and plan ways to reduce any negative impact they may have on your business.

Possible solutions to making the summer a great experience for you, your family, and your business include:

  • Using time-saving technology to schedule obligations in advance
  • Incorporate children into your daily business routine
  • Create a different marketing strategy or campaign for your business to utilize positive changes the season brings
  • Plan ahead to occupy children while you take care of your business responsibilities
  • Include rest and relaxation into your summer quarter and you would feel like you missed out

Feel good about the plan you’ve created to enjoy and make money during the summer. Look forward and do the same for the Fall! You’ll feel more prepared for the months ahead and reduce any negative affects the next season brings with it.

Practicing Conscientious Business

christmas parade

Give back to the community!

Conscientious businesses are also referred to as conscious business or conscious capitalism. They are businesses that choose to follow a business strategy that includes corporate social responsibility. Conscientious businesses approach day-to-day operations with an underlying awareness of purpose. This purpose is value-based and shines through from an organizations mission to its overall impact on the community.

Conscientious business is not just about profits, but an ongoing process of building relationships with other organizations as well as creating a better community. Some conscious businesses even express their efforts in reducing the impact their products and services have on the local environment and planet as a whole.

The unique component of conscientious business is that sometimes the fundamental principle of profitability, one of the most important aspects of for-profit businesses, conflicts with one’s interest in helping others or the overall social good.

On a global level, conscientious business can include working with environmentally-friendly distributors to creating sustainable product packaging. Overall, a conscious business is seeking to minimize its environmental impact on the planet.

A more local approach to conscious business would be to promote your positive impact on the people, businesses, and the community in which you live. Investing your time and energy in your community results in better local environment from a socio-economic standpoint, as well as, build relationships and promote purpose. Improving your community can include such things as working to improve parks and recreation programs for the summer, or striving to reduce hunger among your neighbors.

The great thing about conscientious business is that the efforts of the few have an exponential impact of the community at large. What can you do to make an impact on your community?

20 Ways to Save on Expenses for Business Owners

  1. Use natural sunlight to light the office. Work in an area of the office that gets great light and save on utilities.
  2. Print two-sided, or four to a page. Printing two-sided doesn’t help on ink costs, but saves on paper costs. If it is necessary to print drafts, print two pages per side and look at four for the price two before doing a final print. lightbulb
  3.  Streamline staffing levels to balance pay and overtime. Ideally, you want just enough employees to manage the work you have on any given day. Cross train individuals to soak up slack in a different department, or outsource simple tasks during peak times so you can use your human resources productively.
  4. Unplug or set timers. Research which appliances, equipment, and utilities that can be set on a timer or unplugged during downtime.
  5. Offer internships. Hire college interns and students in exchange for college credit or job experience. Many colleges offer programs to area business owners. These programs offer practical experience to students.
  6. Go for Cloud technology. Today, many industries provide various services using Cloud-based technology. From accounting to legal case management, businesses no longer have high costs associated with hardware and software requirements. They simply log into web-based services for a fraction of the cost.
  7. Search for inexpensive web hosting. If you’ve had your website for a while, you may want to check into reducing your Internet and website service costs. Many companies have had to reduce prices due to the amount of competition in the marketplace.
  8. Find an inexpensive business phone service. Look for alternative telephone options. If your business requires a PBX system, try Virtual PBX or similar options. No hardware of software required, so the costs are much less than regular PBX systems.
  9. Switch from a merchant account to an online payment. Still using the credit card machine to swipe customer credit cards. Look into Internet-based payment solutions. You may be able to save lots of money in monthly fees, and per transaction costs.
  10. Hire a freelancer. No need for an employee unless you have an ongoing, long-term need.
  11. Reduce advertising costs. Market your business online is much cheaper today. Use social media rather than a local billboard to connect with potential customers.
  12. Explore alternative business locations. Evaluate whether you really need the space you are paying for. Entertain the idea of a smaller building, or different warehouse setup to reduce the space you need. Changing locations or using your space more efficiently can result in serious savings.
  13. Keep the windows open.Cut the cost of air conditioning and heating during seasons that allow you to have the windows open.
  14. Lighten up. Paint walls a lighter shade and reduce the amount of light you need on all day.
  15. Control the unnecessary expenses. Determine whether an expense is a need or a want.
  16. Do the business online.Cut undo expenses by video conferencing, online billing, or Internet-based ordering.
  17. Share a printer among departments. Cut down on multiple printers, ink, and paper supply costs by streamlining with one printer.
  18. Hire part-time employees. Offer part-time positions. You cut costs on employee benefits.
  19. Go Paperless. This may be better to do progressively. Reduce paper waste right away, then look at areas where processes can be changed to reduce paper usage by 50%. Then, strategize to find other ways to minimize paper usage. Some businesses simply cannot go without paper, but avoiding waste and reducing usage can amount to a great savings!
  20. Stop using snail mail. Postage costs have skyrocketed in recent years. Communicating through e-mail eliminates most postage needs. Set up auto-pay on bills and there is virtually no need to send anything via old-fashioned post.

Annual Gift Tax Exclusion: A Great Tool for Small Business Owners

How can a single word cause such great confusion? When it comes to taxes, most of us start in a state of confusion, so each word simply adds to the chaos. When it comes to estate planning, the difference between annual gift tax exclusions and lifetime gift tax exemptions, tends to be one of the most common causes of  confusion!

The new estate and gift tax exemption for 2017 is $5.49 million per individual ($10.98 million for a married couple. This means that a couple can leave an estate to their heirs of up to $10.98 million protected from taxes. Gifts throughout the years can be counted against the total overall exemption.

The 2017 changes to the estate and gift tax exemption from $5.45 million to $5.49 million matter more to the wealthy who want to keep their money from hitting the threshold and being subject to the 40% tax.

Most small business owners don’t come close to worrying about such a large estate. However, the $14,000 annual gift exclusion may be of more interest to you!

An individual can give away $14,000 to any number of individuals he or she wants each year and the money is not taxed. For example, if you and your wife have four children, you each can give $14,000 (total of $28,000, in 2017) to each of the children that year (for a grand total of $112,000 that year). Not only is there no tax on these gifts, but the annually excluded amounts do not count toward the lifetime gift exemption.

You can give a series of gifts throughout the year for an allowance or buy a $14,000 car for your son. It doesn’t matter!

Other excluded gifts that are not taxable include tuition or medical expenses you pay for someone, gifts to your spouse, and gifts to a political organization. (www.irs.gov).

For the small business owner, this concept can result in a win-win-win! Yes, three wins! Ultimately the gift results in lower taxable income, resulting in the recipient enjoying more of the funds available because they weren’t taxed, and you probably were going to help foot the bill for their expenses anyway!

Please see full details at www.irs.gov. Please note that this article is for informational purposes only, please contact your attorney or tax professional for details that pertain to your specific situation.

 

10 Great Super Small Businesses for Planners

  1. Farmer’s Market. Pick a locale and invite area growers, and ranchers to set up a booth.
  2. Local Food Festival. Bring local restaurants and caterers to showcase their foods for the community. Picture4
  3. Arts and Crafts Show. Invite area craft makers and artisans to set up a table and display their products.
  4. Bridal Show. Provide one locations or all the caterers, florists, DJ’s, and wedding cake providers to show potential brides what they have to offer.
  5. Office Party Planner. Connect with local businesses that wish to celebrate an upcoming event or season.
  6. Children’s Birthday Planner. Provide new and creative ideas to parents to help celebrate their children’s special day.
  7. High School Reunions. Coordinate family and high school reunions by reaching out to long lost schoolmates. Plan a event-filled weekend for participants.
  8. Flea Market Organizer. Provide an area for an outdoor garage sale. Rent booth space for days or weekends.
  9. Wedding Planner. Coordinate the wedding experience for brides by taking the stress and confusion out of the various elements one must prepare for the wedding.
  10. Travel Consultant. Pick a theme, type of client, or location and specialize in providing low-stress accommodations to travelers.

 

Why I love Super Small Business and Law?

lyngradHey ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for taking the time to visit our (my) website and blog. I say our because there are many individuals, who, without them I would not be able to do what I do. Although I’m the person you will talk to, work with, and share your story, I have a team of people that I work with that help me accomplish all I can.

I started in small business over 20 years ago. As a child I wanted to be a business owner and a lawyer. Both of my grandfathers were business owners. The idea behind small business was that it didn’t matter where you came from. If you worked hard, you could be and do anything you wanted.

To make a long story short, I started my first official business at 19 or 20. I had customers waiting before I even had a business license. I wanted to be a lawyer to fight for all the people that couldn’t get child support (but that’s a own other story).

 

Fast forward several years, I went on to get my bachelor’s degree. For some reason I was terrified to take the LSAT (the Law School entrance exam). I went on to get my MBA. Not only because I enjoyed learning about business, but as a way to avoid taking the LSAT.

In those days, you couldn’t go to law school part-time, so I looked at my first businesses as a way to provide income for me (and my kids) while I went to law school. Over then next several years, I remarried and moved to different locations due to my husband’s job, all-the-while not having to take the dreaded LSAT.

Over the years I had connected with many business owners, networking, mentoring and consulting on various business ideas and concepts.

Throughout my years of working with other business owners, there was a common theme of the unknown. Some started their businesses by accident. Others had no other choice. Many business owners were unaware of federal and state laws that required them to do things in a particular way.

While we were living in Texas, I signed up and took the LSAT, twice. I wanted to make sure my score was one that I would have a great chance of getting in. Next, we moved again!

After relocating to Arkansas, I was determined to apply to the nearest law school (85 miles away). I gave away or sold my businesses to others to devote all my time to law school.

There are so many things that affect small business owners in a different way. Divorce can impact a business value, Death can impact a succession planning and business longevity. And failure to follow the rules and laws in place can open a business to liability that can financially devastate and ruin an organization.

Don’t get me wrong, when someone calls that is not a business owner, I am willing to help them as well. However, many topics must be approached differently when you are a business owner. Sometimes the rules are different as in, wills and trusts, or taxes. Other times, you have more riding on the decisions you make. What may seem like a simple, honest mistake, for example, lack of an employee manual, or failing to provide a piece of safety equipment, can and has resulted in bankrupting a business.

 

 

 

What is Micro-Entrepreneurship?

What is Micro-Entrepreneurship?

According to Wikipedia.com, micro-enterprise is defined as a small business employing nine or less individuals and having a balance sheet of a certain dollar amount. Investopedia’s definition of micro-enterprise agrees that less than ten employees, but adds that the business is started with a small amount of capital. Investopia.com also adds that micro-entrepreneurship usually operates in the goods and services sector focusing on local business. And Micro-Entrepreneurship for Dummies offers that many of these super-small enterprises are home-based and possibly use outsourcing.

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My  personal definition is a super-small business with less than 10 people working day-to-day. I usually refer to them as micro-businesses. They are created with low start-up funds. A micro-business is usually home-based, but can and often expands to store front operations.

The most important aspect of micro-business, is that the owners cannot always apply traditional, fundamental business practices to their organizations. Micro-business requires different skills, planning, and resources than a typical small business. I believe that this is a major factor in many of the failed businesses of the recent past. They used traditional business principles in their non-traditional business.

Many aspects of a micro-business can be very successful with the application of some traditional ideas, however, micro-businesses are different in many facets. Large advertising campaigns and expensive marketing strategies are simply difficult for a micro-business to pull off, let alone continue to grow and succeed.

According to an article published in Forbes Magazine January 16, 2015, 90% of Businesses Fail. The article was titled 90% of Businesses Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know About the 10%. It was written by Neil Patel and is very insightful. In addition, Erin Griffith wrote an article on business failure in Fortune, September 25, 2014 from the founder’s standpoint. The article includes a graph of the Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. You can access that graph at: http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/.

I personally believe that more of these businesses can be saved, changed, or given new direction. It is important that micro-businesses use micro-business principles and recognize that many traditional business practices are deadly to super-small businesses.

 

References

www.investopedia.com/terms/m/microenterprise.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-enterprise

http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/01/16/90-of-startups-will-fail-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-10/#6845e29255e1

 

10 Great Businesses To Start In The Spring

  1. Children’s Activities Coordinator- So many kids sitting around for the entire summer. Promote good health and physical fitness by providing creative games in the park or in the backyard for neighborhood children.ozarks
  2. Hiking Guide- Know the area like the back of your hand? Guide others on a great adventure using the River Valley’s great trails, parks, and mountains.
  3. Garage Sale Manager- Help people that are too busy but have stuff to sell. Host garage sales for a percentage of the profit.
  4. Area Handyman- Pretty good at fixing things? Provide painting, moving, and fix-it services around town
  5. Pooper Scooper-Busy people don’t have time to clean up after the dog… $8-12 for a small backyard could add up to some serious money! IMG_0316
  6. Child Care Services-With the kids getting out of school many parents need dependable care. Provide flexible summer care for working parents.
  7. Floral Designer-Take advantage of your green thumb. Create beautiful flower arrangements for locations, weddings, and events.
  8. 8.Lawn Care Service-Provide one-time or ongoing mowing, edging, and yard clean up to area residents.
  9. Pet/House Sitter-Take care of neighbor’s pets and check on their homes while they are out-of-town.
  10. School Subject Tutor- Have a subject you are good at? Give instruction to children in need of a little extra help over the summer.

 

*** Please Note: Business ideas are simply suggestions. There is no guarantee of business success in any business. Additionally, all business ideas require planning and preparation.

 

22 Great Tips To Spring Cleaning Your Office

1. Divide your workspace into zones.clean office

2. Throw away old magazines.

3. Set a day to clean the break room.

4. Streamline your desktop icons.

5. Designate a basket for short-term storage.

6. Disinfect surfaces.

7. Backup hard drives.

8. Put up hooks to hang jackets.

9. Create a daily system for documents.

10. Shred old files.

11. Throw out manuals you can find online.

12. Scan large manuals into the computer.

13. Clean the coffee maker.

14. Get rid of unused programs.

15.  Save important e-mails.

16. Clean computer keyboard.

17. Sort out the catchall drawer.

18. Donate never used office supplies.

19. Change passwords.

20. Reorganize files.

21. Delete unneeded e-mails.

22. Create better processes.

Don’t Make Promises When Hiring

     During the interview and hiring process, managers may have the urge to boast or exaggerate about the opportunities and benefits of being a part of the company. Many business owners and managers “puff up” their company to encourage a great applicant to accept an employment offer. promiseIf you are going to do this, you better be able to deliver what you promised or you may find yourself in hot water. If you tell a potential employee about great stock options or about significant upward mobility and he or she takes the job based on what you said, then they may be able to sue you later on if your statements or promises end up being incorrect. Some courts determine that a contract was formed based on the statements you made if the employee took the job based on your promises. This can get the company into legal trouble if a manager was simply boasting about what he hoped would happen in the future.

     When interviewing and hiring potential employees it is important to stick to the truth and avoid exaggeration about the company or position. Be sure to stay away from predictions about the future, or projected estimates of year-end bonuses. Additionally, be precise about what the job entails. If you are hiring a cashier, but the person ends up doing deliveries as well, you may have a problem. Furthermore, be sure not to tell potential employees that your company “has never done layoffs”, or ”no one has ever been fired for _____.” Statements like these may come back to haunt you in the form of a lawsuit if the individual left another job for more job security at your company due to your comments during the hiring process.