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Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

Sunday, November 5, 2017

FIVE THINGS YOU MUST DO WHEN STARTING BUSINESS

ONE
Own your name. Make sure the company name you choose is one with an available trademark and Internet domain name. To see if a trademark is available, you can do a trademark search online through the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website. Failure to properly obtain a trademark could put your fledgling business at risk -- not to mention that the time and money you have invested in establishing your business name could go to waste if someone else owns the trademark. Don't assume your new business name is not trademarked because you were unsuccessful finding such name on the Internet, either. Someone could have used the name for a business that closed, or filed a trademark and never used it.

TWO
Get in with the law. Understand what regulations, licenses and taxes you will need to follow, obtain and pay for your new business. After doing some initial research on your own, consult with a lawyer and accountant to confirm your understanding and to help structure your business to be in compliance with the law. Generally speaking, you will need to need to (i) ensure you are charging the correct amount of tax your service or product that your business is promoting, if applicable and (ii) obtain all of the proper licenses needed to run your new business, at a minimum. Establishing a successful business is hard enough. The last thing you need is some technical legality or administrative detail to stand in the way of your success.

THREE
How much do you need to live? When working on your business plan, do not forget about the most important factor: YOU. You need to take into account your living costs. Rent, mortgages, and health insurance -- these are all things that don’t pay for themselves. You will most likely need to cut out all the unnecessary extras you can live without. Make sure you account for unforeseen or unexpected expenses by factoring a little flexibility into your budget for those “just-in-case” moments. You might even consider taking a part-time job until things pick up with your new venture and speak to a financial planner to help you budget yourself properly.

FOUR
Where are you in your life? Starting a new business takes brains, bravery, and what will seem to be endless hours of hard work. When you own your own company, there is always something that has to get done. You will most likely find yourself working at least 60-80 hours a week for the first two years. With that said, I’ll ask you one very important question: Are you ready to give up your personal life for the next three years?

FIVE
Don’t over -- or under -- spend. Starting a business can be incredibly financially taxing on you and your family. You will need to learn where and when to spend. It’s important not to waste those precious seed dollars but it’s equally important to spend where necessary. In any business, you often have to spend money to make money.  Don’t skimp out on things your company needs. For example, it may be worth it to put $1500 in an online vendor listing, but it may not be necessary to give every new customer a $15 mug. Be sure to keep up with technology too -- there are many time-saving programs and apps (including free or inexpensive ones) that can help you keep track of it all, and as we all know, “time is money."



Thursday, November 2, 2017

5 REASONS WHY YOUR SMALL BUSINESS NEEDS A BUSINESS PLAN

1. To map the future

A business plan is not just required to secure funding at the start-up phase, but is a vital aid to help you manage your business more effectively. By committing your thoughts to paper, you can understand your business better and also chart specific courses of action that need to be taken to improve your business. A plan can detail alternative future scenarios and set specific objectives and goals along with the resources required to achieve these goals.

By understanding your business and the market a little better and planning how best to operate within this environment, you will be well placed to ensure your long-term success.

2. To support growth and secure funding

Most businesses face investment decisions during the course of their lifetime. Often, these opportunities cannot be funded by free cash flows alone, and the business must seek external funding. However, despite the fact that the market for funding is highly competitive, all prospective lenders will require access to the company’s recent Income Statements/Profit and Loss Statements, along with an up-to-date business plan. In essence the former helps investors understand the past, whereas the business plan helps give them a window on the future.

When seeking investment in your business, it is important to clearly describe the opportunity, as investors will want to know:


  • Why they would be better off investing in your business, rather than leaving money in a bank account or investing in another business?
  • What the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for the business arising from the opportunity is?
  • Why people will part with their cash to buy from your business?
  • A well-written business plan can help you convey these points to prospective investors, helping them feel confident in you and in the thoroughness with which you have considered future scenarios. The most crucial component for them will be clear evidence of the company’s future ability to generate sufficient cash flows to meet debt obligations, while enabling the business to operate effectively.


3. To develop and communicate a course of action

A business plan helps a company assess future opportunities and commit to a particular course of action. By committing the plan to paper, all other options are effectively marginalized and the company is aligned to focus on key activities. The plan can assign milestones to specific individuals and ultimately help management to monitor progress. Once written, a plan can be disseminated quickly and will also prompt further questions and feedback by the readers helping to ensure a more collaborative plan is produced.

4. To help manage cash flow

Careful management of cash flow is a fundamental requirement for all businesses. The reason is quite simple–many businesses fail, not because they are unprofitable, but because they ultimately become insolvent (i.e., are unable to pay their debts as they fall due). While the break-even point–where total revenue equals total costs–is a highly important figure for start-ups, once a business is up and running profitably, it becomes less important.

Cash flow management then becomes more vital when businesses pursue investment opportunities where there are significant cash out flows, in advance of the cash flows coming in. These opportunities need to be assessed against any seasonal variations in the business and the timing of the flows. If you are a “cash-only” business, you can bank the income immediately; however, if you sell on credit, you receive the cash in the future and hence may need to pay some of your own expenses before that income hits your account. This will put a further strain on the company’s solvency and hence a well structured business plan will help you manage funding requirements in advance.

5. To support a strategic exit

Finally, at some point, the owners of the firm will decide it is time to exit. Considering the likely exit strategy in advance can help inform and direct present day decisions. The aim is to liquidate the investment, so the owner/current investors have the option of cashing out when they want.

Common exit strategies include;


  • Initial Public Offering of stock (IPO’s)
  • Acquisition by competitors
  • Mergers
  • Family succession
  • Management buy-outs
  • Investment decisions can be taken in the present with one eye on the future via a well-thought-out business plan. For example, if the most attractive exit route appeared to be selling to a competitor, present day management and investment decisions could focus on activities that would increase the company’s attractiveness to that competitor.


Given that valuing firms is notoriously difficult and subjective, a well-written plan will clearly highlight the opportunity for the incoming investors, the value of it and increase the likelihood of a successful exit by the current owner.

Monday, February 2, 2015

50 Ways NOT to Start and Run a Business


Plan to fail if you;

  1. Don't research the market you wish to enter
  2. Don't develop a business plan
  3. Don't create a business model
  4. Don't adjust your goals and plans as you move forward
  5. Don't create  3 year revenue and expense projections
  6. Don't understand the meaning of Cash Flow
  7. Don't create a budget and stick to it
  8. Don't keep receipts for every purchase no matter how small
  9. Don't keep good records
  10. Don't set money aside for tax payments. GST, PST, Income Tax
  11. Don't learn what is deductible and what is not. Accountants are not babysitters
  12. Don't set up a good bookkeeping system with the help of a good accountant
  13. Don't avail yourself of a good insurance agent
  14. Don't have insurance covering yourself and your key employees.
  15. Don't have business interruption insurance 
  16. Don't treat people as you would like to be treated
  17. Don't listen to good advice from peers
  18. Don't listen to your customers and clients
  19. Aren't prepared to go all out to satisfy an unhappy client or customer
  20. Don't consistently check your revenues against your expenses
  21. Don't pay your suppliers on time
  22. Don't contact your suppliers if your cash flow has slowed down and you need an extension
  23. Don't keep a journal and jot down ideas as they come to you
  24. Provide a product or a service no one wants
  25. Let your ego take over and ignore good advice
  26. Get married to your idea and don't listen to people offering ways to improve upon your idea
  27. Are arrogant and unbending
  28. Stop learning because you know it all
  29. Hire relatives and friends to save money instead of qualified personnel 
  30. Aren't  prepared to work long hours
  31. Aren't prepared to learn how to work smarter
  32. Don't take courses to improve your knowledge
  33. Don't join groups who can provide referrals
  34. Aren't prepared to network
  35. Chose cheaper materials for your products to save money
  36. Cut back on advertising and marketing during busy times. 
  37. Don't take your accountants advice
  38. Don't do your research on what is the best bank for your business. Not all banks are alike
  39. Don't keep money aside for a rainy day.
  40. Are not prepared to negotiate deals. Therefore give up something to get something
  41. Don't learn to bargain
  42. Don't become web savvy. 
  43. Don't take the time to learn more about marketing in the 21st century
  44. Don't use your family in the business to create additional tax benefits.
  45. Don't become tax smarter
  46. Don't read, read and read more about your industry and your clients industries
  47. Don't subscribe to influential trade magazines in your business
  48. Don't manage your time efficiently
  49. Are late for appointments, particularly with clients
  50. Don'r recognize good employees for their handwork and diligence
These are listed in no particular order of importance but do cover many of the reasons businesses fail. The old saying; "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" is as true today as when it was first stated by Benjamin Franklin. 

IN THE IMMORTAL WORDS OF THOMAS EDISON:



Monday, November 10, 2014

IMPROVING YOUR COMPANY'S BOTTOM LINE

There are two basic methods for improving the bottom line of any business. 
  1. Lowering overheads / costs.
  2. Increasing cash flow. 
The former is a great deal easier to accomplish than the latter. Increasing cash flow means developing new business, finding new customers / clients or providing more products or services. The latter is a relatively simple exercise if you do not know how much revenue you have to generate each month to make a profit.

If you plan on reducing costs as a first stage, you need to know what your monthly "nut" is. The monthly nut is the amount of money required to operate the business month to month including every business cost down to the cost of toilet paper and excluding the business owners or partners salary or draw. That can be included in the monthly total if you wish.

In the businesses I have owned, I have always wanted to know what my monthly cost is before my draw. How much money do I need to bring in over the next 30 days to cover my company expenses.

If you don't know what your business overheads are, how will you know if your business is profitable? First step; create an Excel spreadsheet and list all your expense categories. Next step is to ensure you get receipts for every purchase whether it is paid by cash, check or credit card. With items like parking, if you just use coins, keep a small notebook in the car and write down the amount you paid the meter. If you do a lot of driving and a lot of roadside parking, you will be surprised to see how much you spend on meters. Keep in mind, this amount comes off your business taxable income. Same with meetings over a coffee. Or buying a train ticket, as examples.Get a receipt and keep a file folder for the receipts. Total them up at the end of the month. Carry out this exercise every month for the next 3 months and then do an average. 

Costs that have to be paid annually, divide over 12 months in your spread sheet. At the end of 6 months, divide by 6 and at the end of the year, divide by 12. 

Now figure out what you (and your partner or partners) need to draw each month. Add this to your monthly total and now you know exactly how much revenue you need to generate each month. From this, you can deduce if the mark-up on the products you sell  or the hourly rate you charge for your services is is sufficient. 

You do not need an MBA to carry out this business analysis.