/Tag:business plan

Checking Up on Your Business Plan

475_3114939Check-ups are vital in the maintenance of our valuable objects. We take our teeth in for regular exams and our vehicles in for oil changes and tune-ups. But what about your business plan? By now everyone knows the substantial value of developing a livable, useful business plan, but when was the last time you brought the old gem out and polished it up? Just as your business evolves or even pivots, your business plan should evolve in tandem with your enterprise. If you put energy and effort into scrutinizing your business plan, you may be able to pinpoint your weakness before it undermines you, and you’ll also see where you’ve been successful, encouraging you to forge ahead at that crucial moment. You and and your business are the doctor and the patient, so what do you need to improve your bedside manner?

Schedule Your Check-up

Pick a period of time to review your business plan, be it monthly, quarterly, or biannually and stick with it. If you review monthly, you may be able to do it in smaller chunks and you may be able to create a more agile document. Quarterly may be the sweet spot for most small businesses, as you can piggyback it onto similar tasks such as reviewing your marketing plan. If your plan is clear and you have been responsible in the past, biannual reviews may offer the opportunity to respond to changes and improvements with flexibility while maintaining continuity. Continue reading “Checking Up on Your Business Plan” »

By | October 6th, 2014|Running A Small Business|Comments Off on Checking Up on Your Business Plan

Creating a Five-Year Business Plan

609_3680978It may be hard to envision what your company will look like in five years, but smart businesses at least try to project where they want to be in the future. Having a five-year business plan can help you create a vision of where you want to take your business.

Start with the End in Mind

Have you ever considered what your exit strategy is for your business? Meaning: will you sell it down the road? Transfer ownership to a family member? Run it until you die? Even if you can’t imagine ever stopping what you’re doing, consider the question. Maybe you’d like to move on to a different type of business in a few years. Knowing how long you’d like to run your business and how you’d like to exit can help you in creating your five-year business plan. Continue reading “Creating a Five-Year Business Plan” »

By | June 14th, 2013|Business Tools|0 Comments

Is Your Business Ready for 2013?

1010_4439319As the year winds down, it’s a fantastic time to make sure your business is ready for the new year. This means taking a look at your business and marketing plan, as well as making sure your legal ducks are all in a row.

Are You Compliant?

If you filed as a corporation this year, the works isn’t done. By law, you’re required to file an annual report on or around the anniversary of the date you incorporated. If you miss this date, you jeopardize your corporation and risk being charged fees. If you closed your company, you still need to dissolve the corporation or LLC, otherwise you’ll still be required to submit your annual report and pay fees. (learn about Articles of Amendment here) And if you’ve made any changes to your corporation, you need to let state agencies know.

Continue reading “Is Your Business Ready for 2013?” »

By | November 8th, 2012|Business Checklists|1 Comment

Running a Small Business: What Is a Living Business Plan?


436_3101416Before you even begin writing your business plan, what do you intend for your business? Businesses are founded on dreams. Dreams such as having a secure life, developing never-before-seen products or services, spending one’s working life doing something worthwhile, answering a need in the marketplace and so many more. To make your dreams live and breathe, there has to be an easy-to-use plan.

Not a dull, multi-page monstrosity

Running a successful small business depends on having a clear idea of what is going to happen over a set period of time. Imagine a business plan that was up-to-date and easy to use. You can return to it any quarter, any month, any day to stay focused and motivated. It contains the basic elements of a business plan plus active goals and measurements that tell the story of how your business is progressing. Continue reading “Running a Small Business: What Is a Living Business Plan?” »

By | November 1st, 2012|Running A Small Business|2 Comments

Is Your Business Plan Covered in Cobwebs?

713_3519655 (1)If you haven’t taken a look at your business plan since the last Apocalypse, it’s time to blow off the cobwebs. So many business owners make the mistake of creating a business plan and letting it sit for years, untouched. But a business plan should be a living, breathing thing (unlike a zombie) that you review regularly and update when needed.

Is It Still Relevant?

Small businesses roll with the punches. That means your business strategy might have changed since you first recorded it, and the technology you use for marketing certainly has changed. If your business plan is too outdated, you might do better to just start from scratch. That will give you a clean slate to think about your company’s missions and business strategy, as well as how you can best reach your target market.

The fact that all of these components can change is the main reason why you should be reviewing your business plan regularly. Even if it’s only once a year or a quarter, frequent check-ins with your plan can ensure that you’re on the right page. Continue reading “Is Your Business Plan Covered in Cobwebs?” »

By | October 25th, 2012|Business Tools|6 Comments

The Small Business Mid-Year Tax Planning Checklist

991_4165310Now that we’re approaching  the the mid-way point of 2012, it’s the perfect time to review the financial and tax picture of your business. Too often small business owners wait until it’s time to file their returns to start thinking about taxes. Have you ever met with a CPA or tax preparer and been told you could have lowered your tax payments if only you had acted earlier?

Tax planning is an ongoing process and taking actions now can help lower your 2011 taxes, and for years to come. Here is a small business mid-year tax planning checklist for you to consider:

1. Meet with your CPA

Why wait until the busy tax season to meet with your CPA or tax advisor? Make a mid-year appointment when you’ll both have more time to discuss your financials. Most importantly, you’ll still have plenty of time to act on his or her suggestions within 2011.

2. Review your estimated tax payments for 2011

Now that we’ve hit the midway point, review what your business has made year to date and your forecast for the rest of the year. Then assess your estimated tax payments to avoid underpayment penalties or overpayments (you could be doing more with that money). Adjust your final two estimated tax payments for 2011 as needed. Continue reading “The Small Business Mid-Year Tax Planning Checklist” »

Protecting Your Big Idea

440_3625174If you’ve ever seen a new product advertised and said, “I’ve thought of that very same thing! Why didn’t I pursue it?” you know the importance of protecting your ideas. No matter how terrific your idea is, if you don’t protect it and make it exclusively your own, someone else just might beat you to the market.

In business, ideas are often property. They are the seeds for inventions, which require knowledge, time, money and effort to create. And transforming an invention into an innovation, a new product accepted by the marketplace, takes a great deal of effort – and a bit of luck.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of inventors and innovators file for protection under U.S. patent, trademark, and copyright laws.

The three entities are defined as follows:

Patent. The exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years.

Trademark. Any name, symbol, figure, letter, word, or mark adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant in order to designate his or her goods and to distinguish them from those manufactured or sold by others.

Copyright. The exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.

Continue reading “Protecting Your Big Idea” »

Where Should YOU Incorporate YOUR Business?

1009_4210002Many questions invariably arise throughout the process of incorporating or forming an LLC for your business. By far, one of the most common questions is…where? And more often than not, the question is framed as, “Should I incorporate in Delaware or Nevada?”

These two states are hot choices for incorporation; and for good reason. Many larger corporations choose Delaware because it offers some of the most developed, flexible, and pro-business statutes in the country. And Nevada is increasingly becoming a popular choice for businesses due to its low filing fees, as well as the lack of state corporate income, franchise, and personal income taxes.

However, as a general rule of thumb, if your corporation or LLC will have less than five shareholders or members (a condition which applies to the bulk of small businesses), it’s best to incorporate or form an LLC in the state where your business has a physical presence. In other words, unless your business has a physical office in Delaware or Nevada, it’s going to be much easier and less expensive in the long run to incorporate or form an LLC in your home state. Continue reading “Where Should YOU Incorporate YOUR Business?” »

Is Starting a Small Business For You?

975_4320690As my 22 year-old niece enters her final semester at college, graduating with not one, but two degrees (in Psychology and Business Administration, in case you’re curious), the often asked, and still to be answered question looms. “What now?”

She’s worked for several small businesses and one major corporation since she was 16 years old, and knows one thing. She wants to form her own small business. She is blessed with that entrepreneurial spirit that runs in our family.  She wants to be her own boss and create a successful company that allows her to live her life on her own terms. The family life she envisions in her future begins with starting her own home-based business now.

And, there is no greater time for starting a small business than right now- with fewer jobs, greater competition from seasoned professionals, let alone her peers, compromising wages and fewer companies offering benefits, such as insurance, even if she should land a job. Continue reading “Is Starting a Small Business For You?” »

By | April 21st, 2012|Starting a Business|2 Comments

The 5 best things about self-employment

430_3152435I’ve been self-employed full-time for over a year, and I love it. Deciding to start a business, for me, has literally been a dream come true – every day I wake up and I sometimes feel like pinching myself. Even after 12 months, I still feel kind of amazed that this is really my career, and that I’m succeeding at it. I always tell people, “I can’t believe I’m getting away with this!”

So what do I love about self-employment?

  1. The Freedom. As a self-employed person, whether you’re a sole proprietor or incorporated as an LLC, every day of your life is truly your own. Ever since I started working for myself, I haven’t watched the clock once. I’m never truly bored, and when things are slow, I get up from my desk and go for a walk outside.
  2. The Schedule. No more waking up early to get to work on time, no more whiling away the hours on a beautiful summer afternoon. If I need to sleep in late, or take the afternoon off, I can do it. If I feel productive late at night and I need to burn the midnight oil, I can do that too. As a self-employed person I can relax when I really need to, and be productive when I really want to be. (Most of the time, I want to be productive!)
  3. The Money. I make more money being self-employed than I’ve ever made at a traditional job. And although money wasn’t my primary motivation in choosing this line of work, it sure doesn’t hurt. As a self-employed person, there are no limits to how much you can earn (although there is one drawback: small business taxes are a bit more complicated). The only limit is your own choice of which goals to pursue, and how to use your time.
  4. The Challenge. Being self-employed is a learning experience like nothing else. Every day I’m learning new things, meeting new people, adapting to new demands, and pushing myself in new directions. Not many traditional jobs could give me this kind of variety and constant growth. As a solo entrepreneur, I need to wear many hats. I have to be my own marketing strategist, CEO, CFO, customer service team and collections agency. I need to motivate myself to get the work done and reach my goals. Every day, I need to make something happen and figure out what I’m going to do next. Sometimes it’s really tough. Some days I don’t feel like working very hard. But the constant process of taking that first step, digging deep into your internal resources, and finding that extra level of energy, is deeply important and fulfilling.
  5. The Relationships. As part of my work being self-employed, I’ve been fortunate to get to know dozens of really amazing people all over the world. I’ve worked on projects with people from London, Tokyo, Australia, Germany, Denmark, France, Panama, Canada and all over the U.S. I’ve gotten connected to an exciting network of entrepreneurs and innovators in my local community who are doing really great work.  Being self-employed has opened up a whole new world to me. There’s a certain kind of person who starts a business – they’re trying to create something new, do something that has never been done, and make an impact on the world. It’s exciting to be around people with that kind of mindset and positive energy.

Continue reading “The 5 best things about self-employment” »