Small business owners need to wear many different hats to keep things running smoothly. From start up costs to seasonal slowdowns, smaller entrepreneurs need to plan for everything including the unanticipated. Here are 10 things every small business owner should do to plan for the unexpected.
How to Prepare for the Unexpected in Business
Don’t Put All your Eggs in One Basket
“The problem is best expressed by the old saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket, ” says Jay Ferrans, president of JM Financial & Accounting Services in Southfield, Michigan. “If you have one or two major clients, believe me, they can and do go away. It can cause a business owner to close their doors. It is essential to add clients no matter how secure an owner believes the customer to be.”
Establish an Emergency Fund
Even if you have a good client base, an unexpected slowdown in the general economy or particularly rough seasonal dip in sales can reduce or eliminate your paycheck as a business owner. The best way to buttress your business up against these unexpected types of slowdowns can be an emergency fund that covers expenses for 6 to 12 months for you and your family.
Research Equipment and Other Costs
“Startup costs for things such as equipment, building and payroll are an unexpected challenge for new businesses,” says Mike Windle, retirement planning specialist at C. Curtis Financial Group in Plymouth, Michigan. “A big mistake I often see is a new business owner grossly underestimating how much they will need to sink into their business before they start to turn a profit.”
Taking time to write up a good business plan will include the necessary elements and costs like remodeling, hiring staff and getting inventory. These are things you might otherwise miss without this document.
Adapt to Clients’ Changing Needs
A successful business stays on top of customer needs and wants. This means being aware of the latest technology and how up-and-coming generations are focusing on different things. A sales campaign that works one day might not the next. Having a good social media presence and someone to monitor it will help you adapt to changes.
Adopt a Work/Life Balance at Home
Some business owners are surprised by the toll running a business takes on their family. Adopting a work life balance and setting aside time for people at home will make both aspects of your life stronger.
Predicting a business cycle and when you’ll get paid from clients can be a crap shoot. Extreme weather is just one of the factors that comes into play.
“Knowing how long it takes between you spending the money and getting money back from your customer is important to be able to keep the right amount of cash flow,” says Windle.
Business loans and lines of credit are just two of the options available.
Pay Taxes On Time
If you’re not careful, small business taxes can cause money issues and stress. Lots of small businesses like sole proprietorships are responsible for keeping tax money aside. Remember that owning a business can change personal taxes too.
It’s best to pay the full amount when it’s due to avoid trouble.
Keep on Top of Changing Laws and Regulations
If you don’t keep on top of the changing regulations in your state and even federally, they can blindside your small business. A good example is the burgeoning opportunities in the marijuana industry in places like California where sidestepping a local ordinance can actually mean breaking the law.
A good team of trusted advisors here should include someone who can handle legal matters.
“Owning a business will be most people’s only shot at truly having the wealth they desire, but you need to go into it with the proper expectations about the time, money and work it will take to get a business going and keep it successful,” says Windle.
This means small business owners need to set realistic goals for the time needed to turn a profit taking into account the work life balance and financing factors.
Embrace the Risk
Running a small business isn’t as secure as getting a paycheck. Embracing the risk means planning for dry spells, wonky cash flows and understanding how to make the most of uncertainty.
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