Post Office Reports a Record $15.9 Billion Loss

The U.S. Postal Service’s endless battle with red ink has been an ongoing story year after year, as decreased demand and increasing labor costs have outstripped even Congressional bailouts. This year the service saw record losses. Entrepreneurs and business owners have no one to bail them out when things go badly. Various problems from cash flow to productivity issues can affect your business. Here we review some of the top issues and how to keep your business strong, despite the economy.

The Bottom Line

Return to sender. The U.S. Postal Service’s troubles are nothing new. With shrinking demand for its services due to issues ranging from e-mail to independent parcel delivery companies, the postal service has seen decreasing revenues. But a record $15.9 billion in losses for this year was also thanks in part to $11.1 billion in mandatory future retiree health care benefits. While the Postal Service’s problems seem rooted in insurmountable obstacles, many businesses have challenges that are more easily met. Associated Press

Cut your costs. Many businesses don’t know how much money can be saved by taking advantage of various companies offering services from legal to hiring to document printing and beyond, that significantly reduce the friction of starting and running a business. The list includes companies like LegalZoom, Elance, Vista Print, HP Magcloud, and RingCentral. Ramon Ray interviews John Suh, CEO of LegalZoom, in this video. Smallbiz Technology

A Winning Team

Hire the right help. Cutting costs in important staff positions isn’t always the key to making your business profitable. If an entrepreneur can be thought of as the super hero of his or her small business, that hero sometimes needs a sidekick. Serial entrepreneur and blogger Matthew Toren has some suggestions for how to find a right hand man or woman who can keep up with problems that may arise in your company, and allow you to focus on the big picture stuff. If you don’t yet have a sidekick, you may want to consider recruiting one to make your business more successful in the long run. Entrepreneur

Treat your people well. You might think by looking at the problems experienced by the U.S. Postal Service that the cost of employees is one of the greatest challenges businesses face. But in this post and accompanying video, two entrepreneurs, one of them well known author Gary Vaynerchuk, insist business owners who think of their employees only as an expense are making a huge mistake. Instead, put your employees first, and you may find that customers will follow. Chris Ducker

Build relationships that last. In a world of purchased “likes” or worse yet, Twitter followers, it’s easy to forget what true business relationship building is really about. Well, blogger Rosemary O’Neill is here to remind you of just how important the real deal is to creating a successful business. Real connections will help you when the chips are down. Invest real time and energy in building those relationships and they will be worth much more than that investment as time goes by. Successful Blog

Room for Improvement

Be productive. Business owners and managers are all busy people, but there is a difference between being busy and being productive. Business coach Ray Williams, President of Ray Williams Associates, says learning to be more productive is the key to becoming more successful in your business. Finding the time to complete what needs to be done will help you grow your company. Daily Blogma

Automate your operations. Bookkeeping and invoicing can be two of the most time consuming functions in your business. Some of these and other administrative functions can, of course, be outsourced. But another option is to automate some of these functions, according to Melody Waterberg. Doing so can improve the efficiency and operations of your business while giving you more time and money to focus on profitability. Check out more details here. Waterberg & Company Bookkeeping Inc.

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.