Monday, February 24, 2014

Accounting and Finance... Something Small Business Owners HATE

"The only irreparable mistake in business is to run out of cash. Almost any other mistake in business can be remedied in one way or another. But ... when you run out of cash, they take you out of the game." - Peter Drucker

Finance deals with analysis of past and present data for the purpose of deploying or investing the organization's monetary and capital resources to greatest advantage.... and dealing with this area is one of the least favorite things a business owner wishes to do.

BUT, they must deal with it and plan because if they don't they will never be successful and survive.

Most small businesses do not go under because they are not profitable but rather because they lack capital and have poor cash management.

Accounting and financial issues tend to be unpopular among entrepreneurs. This is somewhat strange because MONEY is important to most entrepreneurs – they are often obsessed with it. They struggle to raise it, they save it, they borrow it and they spend it.

Some entrepreneurs find the financial issues behind money tedious. Others find it intimidating. The result is that many entrepreneurs do nothing. Finances in many businesses become the state of the checkbook each morning. If there’s cash, the business is still around and if there’s no cash, the business has major problems.
To be successful businesses MUST attend to the numbers and attend to the most important number of all – profit – closely, diligently and professionally.

In order to be successful, we must sell our goods at a profit and satisfy our customers.

As Steven Covey says, "No profit, no mission."

“Civilization and profits go hand in hand.” Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933), U.S. Republican politician, president.

If YOU are a business owner who hates dealing with finances... hire someone who does and listen to them.

Friday, February 21, 2014

For the Family Business: The Family Retreat

Trying to plan a business strategy during normal office hours is almost impossible. Plan a family business retreat to discuss the goals of the individual family members and the goals of the business.

The first retreat should focus on reviewing the firm's history, defining family and business values and missions, creating a statement about the future of the business and reviewing areas that need more attention.

The purpose of the retreat is to provide a forum for introspection, problem solving and policy making. For some participants this will be their first opportunity to talk about their concerns in a non-confrontational atmosphere. It is also a time to celebrate the family and enhance its inner strength.

A retreat usually lasts two days and is held far enough away so you won't be disturbed or tempted to go to the office. Every member of the family, including in-laws, should be invited. Begin plans for your retreat about six weeks in advance. Note: If you have a trusted business advisor have them work with you on your agenda and planning

Once you have picked a time and place, establish a tentative agenda. Your actual agenda will be tailored to meet the unique needs of your family and business. Usually families will identify some of the following issues for discussion at their first retreat:
A family creed or mission statement.
Management succession.
Estate planning.
Strategic business planning.
The reward system.
Performance evaluation.
Communication within the family.
Preparing adult children to enter the business.
Transition timing.
Exit and entry policies.

You may consider using a retreat facilitator, a professional experienced in helping family-owned businesses. The facilitator helps identify issues for discussion before the retreat and keeps the atmosphere non-confrontational during the retreat. The facilitator does not solve the family's problems but guides the family in doing so.

The retreat is the beginning of a process. When a consensus is reached by the participants, policies should be set, courses of action planned and responsibility for implementation assigned. When agreement cannot be reached, further discussions should be planned, possibly with the continued assistance of the facilitator.

One important outcome of the retreat should be plans for periodic family meetings and retreats in the future, so the dialogue will continue. Open communications will enable the family to come to grips with problems and issues while they are fairly easy to solve. Once family members have reached a consensus on the continuity of the firm and their roles in it, you can begin planning for succession.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

OED Brings the LBAP to You!

OED's premier Small Business Outreach is the Local Business Assistance Program. This summer, we're rolling out a big push to increase the number of small businesses receiving services under the LBAP.

Beginning today, with our social media campaign rollout, we're working to:
Generate awareness
Address major issues all small businesses face
Match entrepreneur with OED Certified Advisors for one-on-one support!

So get started! This program is open to ANY small business, including brand new start ups and 1-3 person businesses, each often considered too small for even small business benefits. (What's that about, by the way?)

Go to for information and to submit your question & request!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Time Management for the Home Entrepreneur

One of the biggest obstacles for home-based businesses is Time Management, ESPECIALLY if you have a family. Your children see that you are now available to chauffeur them and your spouse wants you to run errands. For those without family around friends and relatives can become distractions with every phone call becoming an adventure.

If you don't lay down some ground rules for yourself as well as your friends and family, you will soon find yourself back at that J.O.B.. you fled from! Here are some tips and strategies to help you manage your time more effectively:

1. Have an area designated as your office. Keep the tools you need right there, even small things like paper clips. The better situated and equipped your office is the better your success will be. Yes, many successful businesses were started at the kitchen table but before they made the leap into the “big time” most did actually buy a desk.

2. Schedule your days. Set up a Daily Method of Operation that is your daily To-Do List. This will include what times of day you will check your email, return phone messages, schedule new appointments, etc. If it's absolutely necessary, schedule in things like soccer practice, but also make sure you set "Start" and "End" Times for your work day.

3. Stay focused. Keep a running "To-Do" list that you can jot down ideas on and come back to later. If you're reading email and get a great idea for a new ad, jot it down, and come back to it later at the appropriate time in your daily schedule.

4. Don't be afraid to say "NO". If you are too busy to handle additional requests, save everyone time and frustration by saying no at the beginning. People respect you more for being honest about what you are capable of handling.

5. Use Voicemail. It is not necessary to take all of your calls
immediately just because the phone rings. Let the caller leave a message and return the call later.

6. Delegate tasks. Figure out what you make an hour. If you can make $200 per hour selling your product or services, then why WOULDN'T you pay someone $25 an hour to clean your house, do your taxes, etc.?

7. Know your Priorities. Small, one- or two-person operations cannot do everything in a single day. Plan your day according to what MUST get accomplished. Break larger jobs down into small tasks, and complete these tasks to achieve an end result.

8. Set Your Goals. This is replacing that "Deadline" your old boss gave you. It will also help you to determine if your current activities are on track to helping you achieve those goals.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Going Into Business

You are thinking of going into business. This can have advantages and disadvantages.
As one frustrated entrepreneur (who had still kept their sense of humor in tact) was heard to quip – “The only thing more over-rated the natural childbirth is owning your own business.”

Running a business of your own will bring a sense of independence, and a sense of accomplishment. You will be the boss, and you can't be fired, though there may be days when you would welcome it. You will experience a pride in ownership - such as you experience if you own your own home. You can derive great satisfaction from offering a product or service that is valued in the market place. By being boss you can adopt new ideas quickly. Since your endeavor undoubtedly will be a small business - at least in the beginning - you will have no large, unwieldy organization to re-direct if a change is needed. This opportunity for flexibility is one of small businesses greatest assets.

These are some of the advantages and pleasures of operating your own business. Now take a look at the other side. As one small business owner attending a conference put it: "When I came here, my business lost the services of its chief executive, sales manager, controller, advertising department, personnel director, head bookkeeper, and janitor."

If you have employees, you must meet a payroll week after week. You must always have money to pay creditors - the man who sells you goods or materials, the dealer who furnishes fixtures and equipment, the landlord if you rent, the mortgage holder if you are buying your place of business, the publisher running your advertisements, the tax collector, and many others. All of these must be paid before you can pay yourself.

You must accept sole responsibility for all final decisions. A wrong judgment on your part can result in losses not only to yourself but, possibly, to your employees, creditors, and customers as well. Moreover, you must withstand, alone, adverse situations caused by circumstances frequently beyond your control, To overcome these business setbacks and keep your business profitable means long hours of hard work. It could very well not be the work you want to do. As someone else's employee you developed a skill. Now, starting a business of your own, you may expect to use that skill 40 or more hours a week. Instead, you must perform the management tasks as well. You must keep the books, analyze accounting records, sit back and do long range planning, jump and handle the expediting and, when everyone has gone home and you finally have caught up with the paper work, you may even have to sweep the floor.

As your business grows and you become more successful, you may not do some of these activities. As an owner-manager, however, you must - at least at first - give up the technical aspects you know and enjoy doing, and focus on the management aspects. To get your business off to a successful start, you must be a manager not an operator. As one small business owner attending a conference put it: "When I came here, my business lost the services of its chief executive, sales manager, controller, advertising department, personnel director, head bookkeeper, and janitor."

You will never be entirely your own boss.

No matter what you choose - manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing or service business - you must always satisfy your customers. If you don't give the customers what they want, they'll go somewhere else and you'll be out of business. So every customer, or even potential customer, is your boss. Your creditors will also dictate to you, and your competitors' actions may force you to make decisions you don't want to make. National and local government agencies will insist that you meet certain standards and follow certain regulations. The one thing you can decide yourself is how you will satisfy all of these bosses.

All these things considered more and more people are starting their own businesses everyday – many of these businesses will be the Microsoft’s of tomorrow!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mistakes of Home-Based Businesses

In this day and age of cloud-storage, VOIP PBX's, and countless ways to work anywhere from anywhere, a growing number of people are choosing to start their businesses by going... (wait for it) ... no where.

From a corner in a finished (kind of) basement to the spare bedroom down the hall, office spaces are popping up in homes across the US at a rapid pace. Sure, it's a great way to keep overhead down, but are you falling into some bear traps and bad habits as well?

We love this post from titled "8 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business from Home." From the 24/7 work schedule to spending too much time home alone, we really encourage you to check out this traps and the tips to get on a better, much more effective path.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Do You Need a CEO?

As a provider of insight, guidance and education to small business owners via our Local Business Assistance Program, we at OED couldn't help but notice this question posed on

How Can I Find a CEO for My Startup?

How can I find someone to lead the way for my startup healthcare website? The website is completed and has had great reviews in beta testing with family and friends. I need investment capital, business organization and someone with knowledge to secure an initial workforce. I have some initial funds to help start the process but not the experience or time to do it by myself. I’m stuck. Any ideas?

Read more:

Read the article for advice, and contact us to see what pro-bono, highly experienced support OED can make available to you!