When it comes to small business financing options, it’s usually traditional funding methods that come to mind: working capital loans, SBA loans, business lines of credit, etc. But did you know an alternative option exists that’s allowed thousands of entrepreneurs to launch businesses debt-free? It’s called a Rollover for Business Start-up (ROBS), and it enables you to leverage your own retirement assets to buy a business without having to pay any tax penalties or get a loan. (more…)
Employee reviews get a bad rap – a lot of people assume they’re meant to judge a person’s work and weigh whether or not they are worth their wage. In reality, reviews are a great way to force a person to reflect on the past year, figure out what they’ve done well, and highlight potential growth areas. And you don’t suddenly outgrow their use after creating your own business. Too few small business owners actually take time to reflect on the past year; we assume we made money so, therefore, we did well enough. That’s a dangerous attitude, as it leaves you open to stagnation and contraction. This year, instead of just closing out the books and handing them to your accountant, do an employee review and really figure out just how well you did.
What do you ask?
Think back to your last employee review, and remember your manager brought up. Reviews are usually pretty standard, so you’ll be asked to come in with some accomplishments and possible improvements. There’s then a quick ten to twenty minute back and forth to sketch out goals and ideas for next year, and you’re done. Your one-person review does not need to look any different. It’s the end of the year, so you have a good idea how you did financially, but think of a few ideas or initiatives you’re particularly proud of and jot them down. Then ask what you’d change if you could do it over, and write those down as well. You’ve just outlined a plan of attack for next year. Keep doing what you do well, adjust as needed to help spur improvement, and plan out whatever new initiatives need adoption to ensure those improvements happen.
Do you have to talk to yourself?
No – in fact, if you can, involve someone else. You’re more than capable of doing this “review” on your own, but outside perspective is invaluable. We are our own echo chambers – we always wind up thinking our own ideas are good. But what you need is someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to poke holes in your plan, and refine that sketch you just put to paper. Involving someone else also adds a bit of culpability to the process. Not only does it force you to actually think about, and write down, that list of accomplishments and improvement areas, but talking about that list means someone else knows your plan, and may ask about it periodically over the next year. Extra, external motivation is always helpful.
What’s the point?
Honestly, this process is something every business owner should do already. But running a business is tough, tiring work. And at the end of the year, when life is already hectic and you have tons to get done before January first, the last thing you’ll want to think about is next year’s plan of attack. Small business owners are great at mapping out big plans and focusing in on microscopic details. We usually aren’t great at connecting them. This employment review exercise helps by forcing us to see what works, and how we can leverage our talent to meet attainable, worthwhile goals over the course of the next year. Then, when 2016 hits, you aren’t forced to fly by the seat of your pants.
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A 2014 study by Google found that a little over half of small businesses have a website, though it’s likely that number has gone up since the survey was done. Still, the fact that a little under half of small businesses don’t even have a website it appalling – without one you are losing customers every day. Over 50% of people surveyed said they look up a business online before making a purchase, and that same study found local searches are twice as likely to lead to a purchase. Creating a solid web presence, though, is more than just parking a site under ‘yourbusiness.com’ – you’re going to have to put in a bit more effort to see any real returns. (more…)
Independent, or 1099, contractors run their own businesses. A properly classified independent contractor is allowed to set their own hours, decide from where to work, and are allowed to negotiate payment. When you work as a 1099 contractor, you have to think of the businesses who you do work for as your clients, rather than your employer. And as a small business owner, an independent contractor should treat his or her work like any other entrepreneur would, and that includes considering the formation of a separate business entity. So should 1099 contractors form an LLC? That all depends on their personal situation, but there are some great benefits to it.
Fewer Misclassification Concerns
The state has cracked down heavily on 1099 misclassification after years of erroneous assumptions as to what employers could and couldn’t expect from an independent contractor. Employers had been using the 1099 designator to keep employees from earning the wages and having the protections required by law. (more…)
As you small business grows, it’s hard to pin down the best time to hire new people. Managers are especially difficult to time correctly. In many cases, they are seen as a luxury for small business and should only be brought into your management team if absolutely necessary. But as your company grows and your job as owner changes, managers are the key to a successful, growing small business.
When you first started you may have ended your day at 6pm, then it became 7pm, and now you leave later than you ever intended. If you find that your days are getting longer because you have to fix every little problem in you company, it’s probably time to hire a manager. As Reza Chowdhury, of AlleyWatch said in an interview with Bplans, ”You’ll likely find yourself trapped in a perpetual hamster wheel, focused on tasks that are not a good use of neither your time nor skill set. At this point, it’s time to bring in the help to allow you to focus on the big picture.” (more…)
Hiring your first employee is an exciting time for your company. Your daily duties have expanded and you need to hire someone to take over some of the responsibility. Before you interview and find the person you want to bring into your company, you need to understand the legal requirements for hiring and maintaining employees.
The trend of big data has led to the rise of social media platforms handing their consumers analytics on their presence online. LinkedIn is no different. As a small business, understanding your page’s analytics is vital to its success as it gives you a great amount of information on your target audience’s preferences. But with all analytics, there are some key figures and terms to monitor that give the most insight into your successes and failures.
LinkedIn is a very effective medium to increase customer acquisition, especially in the Business to Business market. But with the different types of advertising, the bidding payment system, and a plethora of targeting opportunities, the advertisement choices on the platform can be a tad difficult to navigate. The key to understanding LinkedIn paid advertising is to know a great deal about your target audience.
So you are all set up with a personal profile and company page, and now you want to attract your target audience. There are a couple of different ways to go about creating content, but the most important thing to remember is to give before asking. Whether it’s contributing to your own groups, your friends’ groups, or your company page, very little of your content should be conversion based. Nobody wants to follow someone who only takes and never gives.
The core of your LinkedIn success comes from your profile. Without a reputable and strong presence, it is virtually impossible to gain real traction on the website. But where do you start? Your company’s LinkedIn page will be different from any other social media outlet, and your personal and company profiles require different approaches.