5 Ways To Make Your Business Work Harder for You and Your Family

Many business owners are working so hard at their business that they fail to enjoy the rewards of being the business owner. If you are letting the life of your business overrule the business of living your life, then it is time to begin turning the tides.

Finding ways to make your business work harder for you and your family is the reason we all started our businesses in the first place. If your business is obstructing your efforts to enjoy life with friends and family, this is a problem. We all know a lot of work goes into building a successful business, but if it is consuming all your time, effort and energy… is it worth it?

Why this coordination is important:

Every time you find new ways to help your family benefit from the efforts of your business, your life balance and family life improves.

If your business consumes your entire life and your family life suffers because of it, your spouse and children may actually resent the time that you spend there. Even if it provides a great deal of income, the value of family and social life may be sacrificed.

Make your business help you, your family and your social life. You will be happier, healthier and live a longer more rewarding life.

5 Ways To Consider:

Consider paying children’s education expenses as wages for work

Many small business owners make a good living and have higher than average incomes. This can cause their family to qualify for little to no college financial aid when their children are ready to attend college.

If you are going to have to pay for it anyway, why not pay your children to help out at your small business. Pay them as an employee, contractor or consultant to do work for you and your business.

If you pay them enough to cover their college costs, you will receive a tax deduction for the cost of their college education by deducting their income from your business. They will be responsible for helping out with your business and they may surprise you with how much value they add to the business. New ideas, new technology, a new and different viewpoint might be just what your business needs.

Schedule family vacations around business travel

When a family vacation is something you’re considering, think about coordinating it around a work trip. Do you need to go to conventions, trade shows, seminars or other training for work? If you drive to go to those business activities, your gas mileage is tax-deductible regardless of how many individuals you have in the car with you. Does this conference or training trip require you to stay in a hotel? Your hotel expenses for that night can also be deductible regardless of whether you have your family with you in the room.

Scheduling family vacations around business travel can help make it more manageable. This allows you to enjoy time with your family or friends while also working on your business. Consult with your spouse or family to coordinate the two.

Manage taxable income and year-end purchases to lower tax bracket

Operating and owning a business requires seeing the big picture and planning for the future. Your business will likely need new or updated equipment, computers, other technologies etc. to operate smoothly and efficiently. Be able to forecast these needs.

Here is where you coordinate your tax situation with these needs. If you know you are in need of new equipment, computers, etc. in the near future, look at your taxes. If you are looking at a higher tax bracket for the year you may want to make these necessary equipment purchases sooner than expected. Or you may want to wait until next year. This requires consulting with your business advisor to determine the best option.

Use Retirement Plans

Consider reducing your current income by using a Retirement Plan. Not only will this help you once again for tax purposes, but it’s also helping you and your families future. So many small business owners neglect to put retirement needs on their priority list. Often we hear “my business is my retirement plan.” Putting all of your eggs into one basket can be extremely risky and even dangerous for your future.

You may want to consider adjusting your salary in order to account for contributing to a retirement plan. There are many ways to rearrange things to make it possible to contribute. The tax savings alone can help justify the redirecting of your income into a retirement plan. Be sure to look at all of the different options and scenarios as this will provide further clarity.

Also if you choose to offer your employees a retirement plan, this will help attract quality employees, retain them and allow for an additional tax savings for any company match. You may even be able to take a few days off without worrying about the business functioning without you! Think of how that would allow you more family time. Consult with your financial advisor to clarify your options and the benefits to you, your business and your family.

Consider adding or using a home office arrangement

There are many benefits of utilizing a home office arrangement for you, your business and especially your family. If you’re currently renting or paying for office space it may be feasible to create or use an office space at home. With technology today, working out of the house has become much more functional.

If you’re solely stationed out of your home, this provides for another tax benefit. You are able to write off the portion of your mortgage that accounts for the square footage of your home office. Also any improvement expenses, internet expenses, utility expenses or taxes that are directly related to your home office may also be deductions. Finding ways to cut taxes is crucial for a small business owner.

If your line of work makes it unable to be based completely out of your house, even just working a day or two from home will allow you to spend more time around your family and add some flexibility to your work schedule.

Your Challenge:

Here are 5 ways to help your business work hard for you and your family. Share your ideas with your spouse, children and business advisers. In every case that we have executed these strategies properly, the rewards were three-fold. Family life improved, your work-life balance improved, and the business also benefited.

Developing an Effective Business Plan

A business plan is a document that indicates what one intends doing, how and when. This document outlines in great details, how a particular business activity is to be carried out. It gives a perfect picture of the things needed for the work, the skills to be employed, the time span to be covered, the capital needed for the productions and even how to market the finished product. In fact, it gives the total outlook of a business activity.

A business plan has several purposes. It serves as a guide in controlling the direction of an enterprise. The business plan dictates the activities of a business. It is the boss who makes the decisions as to how to do it, how much to spend, the section of the large market to target etc. It single handedly guides the affairs of a business.

Moreover, it helps in monitoring and evaluating the progress of the business. It plays a supervisory role for any business venture. It meticulously and regularly monitors the progress of a business while evaluating it to see if the set goals and objectives of the business are being achieved. When a business is declining or advancing in terms of productivity or sales it is the business plan that points it out.

In addition, it serves as a collateral or security to seek a loan or financial assistance. It acts as a security when seeking for a loan at a financial institution. It is a guarantee for assistance from corporate bodies and banks.

Several factors must be considered when preparing a business plan. Some of these have been outlined below.

I. Executive summary- This refers to the profile of the members of the executive body of the company. It is not a detailed account of each of them but a summary.

ii. Name and address of business or enterprise- The business plan must contain the full name of the business as well as the residential and postal address of the enterprise.

iii. Identification of a need to satisfy- The enterprise should identify a special need that should be satisfied. This should be explicitly indicated in the business plan.

iv. Establish what you want to achieve or do- The set out goals and objectives of the enterprise should be enshrined in the drawn business plan.

v. Find out or research from past solution to similar problems- Solutions or remedies to past problems encountered by the enterprise should be written in the business plan. The measures taken by the enterprise should be noted in the business plan.

vi. Analyze the industry or market where you can operate e.g. potential customers, competitors, etc.- A good business plan should include analysis of the target group, likely buyers of the product and potential competitors of the same product especially those in the same business location. This would help the enterprise to determine best strategies in winning customers and competing effectively with competitors.

vii. Pick the best solution -The best solution that can proficiently address the situation(s) in vi. above is selected and written down.

viii. Describe the enterprise or business (product, services, background of the entrepreneur) – The full description of the enterprise and its activities should be vividly given. This entails the products and services offered by the enterprise as well as some vital information about the entrepreneur who is manning the enterprise.

ix. Describe production activity e.g. designing and making process, machines, sources of raw materials, location of enterprise etc.- The entire production processes through which the final product or service gets to the customer are fully described. This includes the source of raw materials for the production, the actual production and the machinery or tools that assists in the manufacture of the products and/or services.

x. Marketing activities e.g. customers, pricing, distribution, promotion, advertising, etc.- The marketing and pricing strategies adopted to be used by the enterprise should be stated in the business plan. The various vents for distribution, promotions and forms of advertisement decided by the enterprise must be clearly spelt out in the business plan.

xi. Organization e.g. background of managers and their duties, etc.- The organizational structure or plan of the business thus, the chain of top executives or managers and their assigned duties should be discussed in the business plan.

xii. Financial plan e.g. capital requirement, potential profits, cash flow and sources of funds- A good business plan should have a clear financial plan with details regarding the business capital, expected profits, the day-to-day flow of cash and the sources of funds for the business. This must be explained in simple and straightforward language.

If all these factors are well covered in one’s business plan, it would be very efficient in helping the enterprise to grow and not to incur great losses but rather compounded profits.

For proactive solutions to problems in firms and how to harness your small-scale enterprises for optimum benefits you need efficient planning and organization.

Ten Important Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting An Online Business

These ten factors may not necessarily appear in the same order as listed below but certainly, they are vital for the issue at hand.

HERE ARE THE TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

1. What type of online business do I want to engage in?
2. What do I have on offer that will be better than my Competitors in my niche?
3. Do I need to prepare a business plan for my business?
4. How much will it cost to set up my business?
5. Is my business online based or BOTH online and offline?
6. Do I need a dedicated website for my business and how much will it cost?
7. How will I market my business whether online or offline?
8. What is the right strategy to use to market my business?
9. Am I getting value for money in advertising my business?
10. Am I reaching the right audience with my advertising?

Having a positive answer for all these questions can only lead you to the next stage of your pursuit of running an online business.

Engage yourself in research into the business you want to get involve in and have a go at it. Take for instance, the Mobile Phone Industry. Statistics have shown the total number of mobile phone users worldwide from 2013 to 2019. For 2017 the number of mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.77 billion. Customers and potential customers use their mobile phones to browse the internet for Products and Services more than a Laptop or Desktop computer, so it make sense for business owners to utilize this piece of technology for marketing their products and services. This could suggest that there is an opportunity to tap into the mobile app industry to meet the needs of these businesses requiring mobile apps.

Millions of apps for almost anything you can think of, are now in circulation whether for free download or at a cost. You might ask, why don’t I have a slice of the pie and start a mobile app business? The excitement kicks in, but one has to have some kind of knowledge about the whole App design process. This will probably force you to dig deeper into your research on the whole aspect of mobile app development. With this being established, my first question is answered; through study and research, you have made an informed decision to get involved in Mobile App Design and Development. But, what will you be offering that will be better than your Competitors? This is not a simple question to answer, but to say the least, strive to offer quality products and services to customers, and simply make your Products and Services more affordable while maintaining quality.

Starting a business without some kind of a business plan is like driving onto a very long motorway with 1/4 tank of fuel, with the hope that it will take you to the next service exit. The business plan will give you a breakdown of what you need for the business even though success is not guaranteed, as there are a number of opposing factors along the way.

There are a lot of businesses with little or no startup cost as opposed to other businesses with huge startup cost. It also depends on whether your business will both be online and offline. You have to decide if the business you want to indulge in, has minimal startup cost.

To setup an online business, does not have to cost an arm and a leg, if you take the time to do extensive research into the business you want to get into.

If your business is online based, advertising it to the right audience can be a huge task. Finding the right sources to advertise your business, can be quite challenging and risky as this is where you can spend huge sums of money to advertise, but yet get little return on investment if the advertising strategy is wrong.

Advertising a business to a targeted audience involves a number of factors like;

1. Google Indexing
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
3. Domain Authority (DA)
4. Page Ranking (PR)
5. Back links
6. Social Media
7. Joining Forums
8. Blogging
9. Google AdWords
10. Google Analytics
11. Keywords Research

To do all of these stuff can be demanding and boring, but if you need success in any business, you just have to get on with the task at hand.

Handing over this challenging task to an SEO Expert can be quite expensive. If you put the time and effort in and do your research and utilize the available SEO tools on the Market, believe me, you can bring your online business to life without ‘breaking the bank’.

To conclude, I would say to minimise business startup costs, try to do as much as you can yourself. When you have exhausted all avenues, seek help.

I did not need any website design experience to build the Apptitecture’s website. Therefore, not having to ask a web designer to build a website, has saved me some money which I was able to channel elsewhere in the business. Starting an online business can be quite daunting but with hard work and determination, you can have a successful business in the end.

The Importance of Disaster Preparedness for a Small Business

Any business, whether small or big, faces many challenges and some of the biggest challenges are in the shape of disasters, especially the natural ones. It does not matter which part of the world your business operates in; natural disasters are possible in every part of the planet. Floods, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. are among the most common types of natural disasters. This is why it is highly recommended that you have the right preparation for a natural disaster. According to Red Cross, major natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods are so damaging for small businesses that 40% of those that get hit by one of these shut down forever.

So, what is the importance of preparing for disasters for small businesses?

A Professional Impression

Disaster preparedness and disaster recovery plans are often associated with large enterprises and organizations. But are small businesses protected from disasters? Your small business needs a disaster plan just as much as any big business out there. Having a disaster plan integrated into your system and documented gives off a very professional impression of your business. When you become a big business, you can get audited for a hundred different things. Furthermore, your employees will also be happy that they are working with a company that thinks long-term.

Prevention of Various Disasters

While there is nothing much that can be done about natural disasters, you can do something about disasters caused by humans and their errors. A human can cause damage to your property on purpose as a result of jealousy, reaction to some unfair treatment or as a bad business tactic. When you have the right equipment and system in place, it is difficult to cause such damage to the business. In most cases, human-made disasters are in the form of a fire that can burn all the important documents for a company and any systems that store valuable customer information.

Safety of Employees

Preparing for a disaster does not always mean you have to maintain business continuity. In fact, another important part of disaster preparedness is the safety of your employees. At times, you can’t instantly tell what might go wrong. A storm or hurricane can cause damage to electric poles and wires. If not protected properly, this damage can result in the deaths of your employees. Furthermore, when you are not prepared to face a flood, you might end up calling your employees to work and getting their vehicles damaged.

Business Continuity

One of the reasons to be prepared for disasters is to maintain business continuity. If you reside in a region where certain types of natural disasters are common, you have to prepare for these first and then for other types of disasters. For example, a business in Japan will have to prepare for an earthquake and the Tsunami. In some parts of America, there are more tornadoes every year than there are storms in the entire country. When you have a plan for such disasters, you can ensure the continuity of your business even when the disaster strikes.

Continuing business operations can be as easy as asking your employees to work from home. To make this possible, you might want to have all your data and important business applications moved to cloud, so when your company servers are down, you can ask your employees to work. Another important aspect of continuing your business despite great disasters is backing up your data. When it comes to backup, you can’t back up the data in one location only. The idea is to back up your business data every day and move the backup to another location. If your budget allows, you can back up the data in even more locations than two.

Quick Response

An important aspect of disaster preparedness is to share this knowledge with your employees. You also have to update them with any changes you make to your disaster preparedness and recovery plan. For example, if a sudden fire breaks out inside your business premises, your employees must know what the first course of action has to be. You should also ask your employees to have all the important business applications, software tools, etc. installed on their devices if your response to a disaster is asking them to work from home. When your employees know exactly what to do in the case of a disaster, they can get a response to a bad situation instantly, so you face virtually no downtime.

Cost-efficiency

Disaster preparedness and recovery are not just about being ready to handle a disastrous situation. In fact, it is also about being able to operate the business and recover business operations after a disaster hits with as minimum resources as possible. A business without a disaster plan can also recover from a disaster. However, the huge difference here is that the unprepared business will have to spend a lot of money and resources to get back on its feet whereas a business with a plan will continue its operations with minimum efforts.

Improved B2B Relations

It is not just your customers but also your business partners that get affected when your business shuts down temporarily due to a disaster. They might be relying on you for their mission-critical processes, and your absence can cause them to either stop their operations or find another partner to make things work instantly. On the other hand, if your business is still running despite getting hit by a disaster, your business partners will take a very positive impression of you. This is going to help you retain your business partners as they can now trust your professionalism and seriousness with business.

Conclusion

To prepare for disasters, the first thing you have to do is change your mind about the whole situation. Many¬†small business¬†owners think that things like disaster plans are better suited for large enterprises or when a business has grown big enough to have multiple branches. What they don’t realize is that it is much easier to recover from a disaster when you have multiple locations than it is when you have only one location. So, start assessing your risks today, create a sound communication plan and document your disaster preparation plan today.

5 Things You Must Consider When Starting Your Own Business

Starting your own business may involve a lot of headaches. There’s having to find office space, getting permits, hiring people, and more. Aside from those, you also need a business plan. In what direction do you want the business to go? How much money would you like to make five, ten, or so years from now? Those are very important questions to ask, but since you’re still in the early phases of your business, you should also seriously consider these five things.

1. What sector will you be in?

Let’s say you want to be in IT (information technology). It’s a huge, cutthroat industry, with lots of companies, both big and small, competing for market share. It’s a lot tougher for you as someone just starting if you want to jump into the industry as well. So then, you first have to find your niche. What sort of products or services will you specialise in? What can you offer that your competitors don’t have? Don’t just go with the flow. Be unique and offer something really valuable to your potential customers. Ideally it’s something they’re looking for that your competitors just can’t offer them. That way, your business will stand out above the rest!

2. How much will you invest?

Of course, as a business, you need capital to turn your business ideas into a reality. If you don’t pour in the capital, your home business idea will be nothing but a big flop. One important thing to know is how much money your business needs to both begin and maintain itself.

Where would you get the money? You could use your savings, if you have a lot. If not, you could find some business partners and ask them for an investment. Or, you could take out a loan from a bank or a reputable finance group. You could even try crowdfunding like many startup owners do these days. Last but not the least, you can seek professional advice from financial planners, business experts, or business coaches.

3. Who will operate the business?

Managing your small business by yourself is never an easy task. It’s even less easy when your company is already expanding. One way or another, you will need to enlist the help of well-trained people to help run your business. Their knowledge and skills will be great assets to your expanding small business, helping it grow further.

4. When do you expect to make money?

Certainly you would want to make money at some point. How could any business owner not want to make money? With that in mind, it’s good to set a target date for recovering your capital and earning profit. And if you have a goal, you need an action plan. Let’s say you want to recover capital after one year of starting your home business. What actions will you take to achieve that goal?

5. Do you have what it takes to build your own business?

Running your own small business requires a lot of sacrifices on your part. And there’s even the chance that your business idea won’t work out. That’s something you have to contend with. You can’t avoid running into a few (or many) obstacles along the way. But if you’re convinced that running a business is your road to financial freedom, then go on ahead! By all means, do your best!

You may find these questions far too serious to think about, but one way or another you have to answer them. Starting your own business is a major life decision, and as with any major life decision, you have to be absolutely sure before you say yes. The more you know what you need to do to succeed, the more likely you will succeed. Remember that these questions are not here to discourage you from starting a business. Rather, they serve to prepare you for the journey ahead. So go ahead and start your business, for it may change your life forever!