We may not be accountants, but we know that business owners need to track their income and expenses as well as keep track of myriad other details that will help make tax filing time much easier. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time business owner or a long-time entrepreneur, now is the time to make certain your business is in a good place with its record keeping — don’t wait until December 31!
What can you do to stay organized and on track with your business records?
- Set up folders — whether virtual or in a file drawer — label them and take time at the end of every day to put the paperwork into the folders that needs to go there.
- Keep track of your receipts. File your invoices and income. Set up file folders for your clients so you know when they need to be billed and whether they’ve paid.
- Have your contractors and employees complete W9s or W2s at the beginning of the year and file them with your year-end tax information.
- Track the miles that you drive for business. Keep a mileage log in your vehicle and note your beginning and ending miles every time you get into the car to visit a client or attend a meeting. Tally up the miles at the end of the year and share them with your accountant.
- Build your business team. Look for an accountant, a legal advisor, an administrative assistant or a marketing person, etc. determine what roles need to be filled to keep your business viable and for which you don’t have the time or talent to complete.
We can help you with your business systems, business plan and with implementing systems and processes to make your business as successful as it can be.
Before 2015 makes its appearance, it is the ideal time to look at your achievements from the current year and set forth goals for the upcoming year. Do you look at the new year as a clean slate? Do you make it a practice to clear out last year’s goals before year end?
Here are items to reflect upon before the new year arrives. Determine now whether you need to change the way you track and monitor your goals and successes:
- Are your goals clearly defined? You need to set goals that have measurable outcomes trackable performance indicators.
- Are you tracking the correct metrics? Are you using the proper tools to measure goals?
- Do you set aside time, on a regular basis, in your calendar and on your to-do list to check-in with your goals and make certain you’re on track? Taking time to regroup and set a new course early on is the best course of action; you don’t want to get to the end of the year and wonder what went wrong.
Take time now to write your goals down and kick start the new year with a plan of action!
The new year is fast approaching and perhaps you’re thinking that you want to become a business owner in the new year. If that’s the case, you will want to not only put together a business plan, but you will want to determine whether you’ve got what it takes to lead. Not everyone who has entrepreneurial drive has the skills to be a leader.
Whether you’re a solopreneur or are leading a small cadre of employees or contractors, you will need to answer the question of, “Do I have what it takes to lead” before you leave your day job.
Consider these qualities and determine whether you fit the bill. (Remember, that leadership and business skills can be taught by working with a business coach):
- Could you share your professional value and your expertise with others? Either verbally or on paper? If you’re a business owner and need to lead, you need to be able to articulate your vision.
- Do you have the skill to look at a problem and determine where your solution aka expertise will fit in and solve the problem?
- Many a great business idea has fallen by the wayside because its creator didn’t have follow through. Do you have the follow through to cope with disappointments and downsides of being a business owner? The ability to get up and dust yourself off after a failure?
Are you looking to become a business owner in 2015? If you’re not sure where to begin, give our office a call and we can walk you through the start up process.
As every person knows, it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone. In many instances, though entrepreneurs are willing to move out of the comfortable space and take a chance on a new endeavor. I
Entrepreneurs know that if they don’t move outside of their comfort zone they won’t be able to grow or change and they — and in turn, their business — will become stagnant.
Here are three ways you can step outside of your comfort zone:
- Have big plans. Do you have a vision for your life? For your work? If you don’t then you aren’t dreaming big or planning big.
- Your attitude and perspective will help you to move out of that place in which you are comfortable. You need courage to grow your business.
- Having a “can do” attitude will help you go far. You must also be willing to fail — many entrepreneurs do and they get up, brush themselves off, and try again. Don’t be self defeating in your desire to grow and move outside of where you’re comfortable.
Are there any steps you can take today in your life and in your business that will push you outside of that comfortable place?
How robust is your business bio? Do you have a complete profile on LinkedIn or on your other business social media pages? Is your About Page on your website all it can be?
Here are some tips to write a bio that helps you sell yourself:
- Who is your audience? Your bio shouldn’t be a one size fits all, it should fit the medium and the audience you’re reaching.
- Consider what are your most important qualifications, or what words you’d like potential clients to search for you under. Think “Google” search when you’re writing your bio.
- Do you have any qualifications or specialized training of note? If so, note it!
- Make sure your bio has easy to find contact information. If someone searches you out, you want to make it easy for them to find you!
When is the last time you’ve checked your business bios and profiles?
Great! You’ve decided that you’re going to become an entrepreneur! What are the downsides to being your own boss, being the master of your own domain and not having to answer to a supervisor? Well, there are a few and they include:
- The hours are long. When you’re an employee, you punch a clock and go home at the end of the day. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have a clock to punch and you may find yourself putting in more hours than you originally imaged and when you take the hours worked and divide that by the money you bring in you may find that…
- The money isn’t as good in actuality as it was on paper when you put your business plan together. You should have a bank account that can support you and your current lifestyle for at least three (preferably six) months while the business gains traction.
- It can be stressful knowing that you don’t get paid unless you sell your goods or services and that means you have to be constantly selling. It can be stressful when you’re making a sales call that could make the difference between filet mignon and rice and beans. You don’t want to let desperation seep into the tone of your sales calls.
Take heart, though, there are benefits to being a business owner and they include:
- It is so rewarding to see your successes and know you were the one responsible for it.
- You have flexibility to work the hours you choose whether you’re an early bird or a night owl or if you want to work on the weekend and take a day off during the week.
- You can create your own destiny and perhaps even a business that you can pass down to your children.
If you’re ready to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, working with a business coach may be your first, best step!
In order to make the most of your business coaching session, you should take steps to prepare for it so that the time you spend with your coach can be beneficial and help you walk away with a plan in place to grow your business.
Here are the five steps we believe should occur during the course of a coaching relationship:
- Be clear in the goals you hope to achieve in your coaching session. Do you want to find a work/life balance? Bring in more clients? Make a conscious decision to expand your organization? What outcomes are you ultimately seeking from your coaching relationship?
- Once you have honed in on a measurable goal your coach will work with you to put a time frame into attaining that goal. Once you have a time frame, you will need to “work backwards” to break the large goal into smaller, measurable steps.
- Your coach will hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set and the time frames under which you want to meet them. He will walk you through specific tasks you will likely need to complete in order to achieve them.
- You and your coach need to acknowledge the goals you have set for yourself. Both of you will talk through roadblocks or mini-setbacks you may have — and you should be prepared for them and look at them as learning opportunities.
- Celebrate your successes! Once you reach a milestone in your goals or complete a major portion of a task pat yourself on the back. If you’re struggling to get over a hurdle, celebrate when you clear it!
Coaching is a two way street with the client (you) knowing you need assistance reaching that next level in your business and having that outside source (your coach) showing you ways to reach them!
Is there a magic formula for achieving goals? We believe that while there is no magic formula, there are specific steps that business owners can take to help them attain the goals they have set for their businesses.
These steps include:
- Setting goals that are time sensitive and deadline oriented. Rather than setting a goal to “get more clients in 2014” set a goal such as, “get new clients a month in 2014.” This goal means you have made it time sensitive and deadline oriented. Having a measurable goal brings it into focus.
- Set a goal that “forces” you to persevere. Goals that are too easy don’t challenge you as a business owner and will not push you toward greater heights of success. While you don’t want to set goals that are continually unattainable, you do want to set goals that make you work to achieve them!
- Finally set a goal that showcases your expertise and helps you achieve the measures of success you’d set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Setting a goal to “clean off your desk” isn’t helping your business grow. But setting a goal to “increase revenues by 25% by year’s end” pushes you toward success.
What steps do you take to achieve your business goals?
Do you have to be a billion dollar start up to be innovative? No. In fact, you may be an innovator in your particular field and work your way to being a billion dollar company. The trick is to get started.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you want to be considered an innovator, what can you do? Here are a few examples that may propel you toward success:
- Break the rules
- Dream big
- Take chances. Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done
- Open doors you may not have tried previously
- Be a trusted business partner
- Don’t be afraid to fail
- Pay your successes forward
“They” say that when you’ve made it to the top, you should send the elevator back down! What steps can you do today to be an innovator?
If you’re on a highway, it’s much easier to see your destination when you have a clear road ahead and a road map (or GPS) to guide you. In business if you want to grow strategically, you need a clear, well-laid out path toward the finish line of success.
What will make your business succeed where a competitor might fail? Clear objectives. Here are some of the objectives that you should write down:
- Revenue goals
- Loss projections
- Profit margins
- How you will gauge customer satisfaction
- Your salary
- How you will determine when you will need to hire help
- What products and services you will offer
- Who your target market is
- How you will determine when you have achieved success. What does that look like to you? Hint, it’s different for every business owner.
Once you have your initial objectives written down, write down this question and ponder the answer, “Where do I want to be one year from now?” Write your answers as they relate to income, business location, new products or services you might want to offer — the sky is the limit on your dreams. If you write them down, though, you might just be compelled to make the steps necessary to make them happen.