Dealing With Surprise Business Expenses That Are Hard to Budget For

Running a business obviously isn’t a cheap expense, but most of us make use of budgeting so that we understand how much money is coming in and how much is going out. Well-trained accountants can tell you more than just how much money is being used or spent. They can project earnings and estimate how much your company will be making in the future—it’s worth hiring an accountant that knows what they are doing.

However, there are nasty surprises that can pop up when running a business. No matter how big or small your company is, there are expenses that can make a huge and sudden dent in your budget, and if you don’t have a skilled accountant around, you’re most likely going to miss some of these important expenses. Running a business cheaply is very possible, but never underestimate hidden fees.

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Image courtesy of Pexels

Niche Office Supplies

Let’s start with paper. Paper isn’t very expensive on its own, but there are many different types of paper that your business might need. For example, if you make regular use of labeling machines and small printers, then you might need specialized papers that can cost more than a regular stack of A4 sheets that you use for photocopying.

If your accountant makes use of desktop calculators, then you’d be surprised at how much a spool of ribbon costs. The spools are used as ink so that the desktop calculator can print of figures and numbers. Very few businesses use desktop calculators, but it’s a crucial tool for many experienced accountants and they swear by it as opposed to using computer software.

Repairs

Even if your employees are extremely careful with all the equipment in your business, something will end up breaking. Whether it’s a pricey Apple computer or the lone copy machine in your office, broken equipment will slow down your business and create complications.

If your business’s server hardware breaks, it’ll take several days to get the system back online unless you have a well equipped in-house IT team. In addition to fixing hardware and ordering replacements, you might end up having to use data recovery services if storage devices were damaged in the process. Loss of data is a business-destroying accident, and the best method of prevention is to use cloud storage services or have several backups ready in case of an emergency.

Legal Fees

If your company is sued, then you’d better be prepared for a lot of extra money (or a legal team) to fight off the complaints and lawsuits. Legal fees can be incredibly expensive, and it’s even worse if you aren’t able to successfully defend yourself in court.

If your business is susceptible to angry customers, then it might be worth the hassle and money to hire a legal team to handle it for you because it’s much more efficient in the long run. However, the best method of prevention is just to have your employees practice good customer service manners, always make sure your products are as they are advertised, and never use underhanded methods or shady tactics.

 

Businesses: You’re Getting Facebook All Wrong! Here’s Why…

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As a tech enthusiast, it’s so frustrating to see businesses ruining their chances with social media. The worst part about it is that instead of trying again, they’ll dismiss it as a poor marketing technique. It’s almost as if business owners see platforms like Facebook as an easy, quick fix. When it doesn’t provide the intended results, they get irritable.

Why would anyone think that Facebook is a quick fix? Just like any other marketing technique, it takes time to master. If you aren’t willing to put that effort in, you’ll end up with the mistakes that you see below.

Inconsistency

 

The one major thing that always stands out to me is how inconsistent businesses are with their social media output. Many of them seem to think that after the initial few weeks, they can allow it to die out. That certainly isn’t the case. A good social media page will be managed on a daily basis for hours at a time. Consistent and engaging content will build a following, but this isn’t something that will develop overnight. You need to give it time if you want to be successful.

Ignoring Your Customers

Facebook gives your customers a lot of ways to get in contact with you. They can direct message you if they want to, for starters. Then, they can go and post a visitors comment if they don’t get a response. Finally, they can post comments on statuses that you have placed yourself. You better believe that if you’ve got an angry customer that isn’t getting a response, they’ll make themselves heard. It’s important to respond as quickly as you can to everything you receive. This will improve your reputation considerably.

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Forgetting Analytics

Facebook provides an analytics service called ‘Insights’ that will monitor things like demographics and engagement. You can tell how well each post has been received, helping you to determine future strategies. If you’re getting big results from a particular hashtag, you can use it again in the future. If you’re struggling to generate interest with big blocks of text, you’ll know not to use them next time. Don’t ignore this invaluable tool.

Missing Out On Paid Services

There a lot of options available to you when it comes to paid services. I know, I know: Facebook is free, right?! Yes, but why should you be limited to what you can get for free? Marketing has always cost businesses money, and Facebook shouldn’t be any different. Firstly, there’s the ability to boost your posts with real money, allowing you to target a greater amount of people. Then, there are expert marketing services that can help you to manage your Facebook account more effectively. There’s always the ability to buy ‘likes’ as well, but that isn’t normally as effective.

Offering Nothing Of Interest

And, we come to the most important part of it all. If you’re not interesting, you aren’t going to engage others on social media. Marketing spiel won’t work here, either. You’ve got to tap into the social media way of doing things, so educate yourself about how to do this. Include plenty of images, videos and trending content to encourage others to pay attention.

[post contributed for tamarhela.com]

How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur: 5 Rules

(Updated 10-20-14)

Oftentimes, expecting success and acting like you are already successful in a new endeavor can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who have a positive outlook in life are not immune to calamity, but they know how to get through the storms of life, conquering unfortunate situations with a sword of destiny. Maybe that sounds a little too poetic, but in principle, it’s true.

Each one of us has something unique to offer the world, but often we become so bogged down by responsibilities, that we settle for less than our best. Perhaps we feel overwhelmed by, or unfortunate in, our situations and we allow ourselves to play the victim. We begin to recite the old cliché: “I wish that I knew what I know now…when I was younger.” We become stuck in our past mistakes or failures to launch. It’s a depressing cycle.

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There’s nothing wrong with choosing the life and responsibilities that we do. Many people want to get married young, start a family, and want to live the suburban life. That is totally fine. I have never had those desires at the forefront of my life, and that has given me a unique advantage in climbing my career ladder. However, I do think there’s a problem with settling.

“Settling can lead us to become stuck in our comfort zones, and we create a drudgery-filled routine in life, too scared to move beyond the known to the unknown.” -T. Hela

Those who are successful in life are those who refuse to settle, see failures as simply lessons from which to learn, and hate the phrase “comfort zone.” And those same people are the movers and shakers of this world, helping to solve various problems for humanity, mainly because they have found their niche in life and are contributing to the world through their individual genius.

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When I began my own business in August of last year, I had two main goals:

1. To be overwhelmingly happy with my work (and thus not feel like I was actually “working”).

2. To make enough money to pay the bills.

However, it’s only been a recent discovery in which I noticed how my own niche and passion were helping to not only solve problems for my clients, but were extending beyond the scope of each project.

For example, when I copyedited a website for a client—my largest project last year—I not only helped my client to have better web copy, but affected every current and future visitor who would be looking at the website.

When I edited a manuscript for another client, I helped her novel’s message and storyline come across more effectively, and also affected future readers by better facilitating them to connect to a great story that will encourage them in their personal lives.

So you see, what I do for a living is much bigger than writing and editing; what I do affects many people, just like ripples in a lake.

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But again I ask: Why is it so hard for many to find their “genius?” Why do people settle and become miserable in their careers, have a midlife crisis around forty, and feel like what they do doesn’t contribute much to the world?

I honestly think that it comes down to two simple things:

  1. Individuals don’t know themselves as well as they think.
  2. It’s just plain scary to take a leap of faith.

But those two things can be remedied. It’s not easy, and it certainly takes a fair amount of time to develop. Yet, it can be done.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. Get to know yourself: personality-wise and career-wise. There are some great avenues in which to do so:

  • The Meyers-Briggs personality test is a great way to begin on the path of “knowing thyself.”
  • Clifton Strengths Finder (2.0) is an awesome resource for finding your strengths and applying them to your career and personal life. I have often bought the book for my clients, and have had them take the test so I could better understand their habits and ways of thinking.
  • Stand Out is another great way to discover dominant traits/strengths for your work life.
  • No matter how few or how many traumas you’ve experienced in your life, invest some time and money into either a coach or therapist. One of my amazing friends, Sarah, has a coaching business which helps people determine their goals and move past obstacles to live a life in which they thrive.

2. Plan for both success and failure.

  • As the saying goes, “Failing to plan means planning to fail.” However, keep in mind that failure is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’ve prepared. This is different than failing a test because you didn’t study. It means planning for the best and worst, but always hoping and striving for the best. Have realistic expectations and goals, but dream big.
  • The more I study successful people, the more I hear them saying the same thing: “Overnight success is contingent upon years of planning.” Though I did take a big leap of faith into starting my own business last year, I had been developing my writing/editing skills for many years, and studied all that I could about business, goal-setting, and time management. And I’ve still not struck that whole “overnight success” thing, but give me another year or two, and I believe I will.

3. Become a People Collector.

  • “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Time and time again, this saying has proven itself on numerous occasions in my life. I quickly learned at a young age just how important it is to know the right people, and develop great relationships with them. It has advanced my career more so than having three college degrees.

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4. Give back.

  • Be a People Collector, yes, but also be a resource for other People Collectors. By giving of your time and talents, you’d be surprised how many favors you can call in. Before launching my business, I did a ton of pro bono work, and now it’s paying off. By doing pro bono work, I discovered that: there was a market for my skills, my skills were in high demand, and I enjoyed coaching/writing/editing/business building.
  • Offer something of value to people, and offer it for free. Do you know something that other people don’t? I’m not saying to give away the bank and never charge for your intellectual property, BUT…divulge some helpful tips here and there. It will hook people, and they’ll feel more confident about hiring you for the full spectrum.

5. Don’t fear the unknown; fear regrets.

  • When all else fails, sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. You have to do something that no one else is encouraging you to do, except for that throbbing feeling in your heart. It’s that feeling pushing you to do something unexpected and risky. It’s the thread that connects all entrepreneurs: the courage to possibly look stupid and fail because you believe so strongly in your idea.
  • If you find yourself miserable in your career or life circumstance, ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen if I decide to take this risk? If you answer any range of outcomes, except for death, then consider how you would plan to overcome or avoid any of the consequences. Losing all your money, looking stupid, failing, etc. Seems to me that death is worse than all those things, if that helps to put things into perspective.
  • If you have such a compelling idea to do something—an idea that won’t leave you alone, no matter what—then start drafting out the possibilities. Is it helpful to others? Will it make money and help you pay the bills? Is there a market for it? Do you possess the skills and knowledge necessary for this idea to come to fruition? And if you are missing some skills or knowledge, do you know others who could help you? If you answer yes more than no, you should probably do it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is NOT a weakness; it is a strength. After all, that’s the whole point of becoming a People Collector AND a resource for others. Call in some favors, buy someone a coffee for an hour of their time as they give you advice, ask an old boss or colleague for a letter of recommendation or testimonial.
  • Think of all the possibilities rather than all the obstacles!

Like I said before: It’s not easy to be successful, but it’s doable. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we all found our genius niche and offered it to others? If we were all helpful AND successful? Perhaps we would have more time to give back to others and tackle humanity’s problems with real and lasting solutions.

So, my encouragement to you: Look inward first, before looking outward. What can YOU fix about YOU? How can you shape your life and career to be someone you’re proud of…someone who reaches others?

How can you help yourself, so that you can help the world?

Until next time, Keep Calm & Business On!

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