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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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.

 

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How To Excel At Hiring For Your Business

So, you’ve got everything your business needs. You’ve got a premises or a solid e-commerce marketplace running. Now it’s time to truly move forward.

Every business needs a good leader and a solid team. Think about it: what is better? A team of scattered individuals, or a motivated workforce pulling together in the same direction? Easy answer, right?

Let’s take a look at how to get your business hiring—the right way.

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The first thing to analyze is your hiring process. Is it working at all? If you’ve got a consistent turnover of employees, it might not be working. A 2015 survey looked at 20,000 new employee hires and found that 46 percent of those hires failed within a year and a half of the contract signing. That’s worrying news.

You can make yourself and your business a better prospect for employees by questioning them at the recruitment stage. Ask them what attracts them to the company so you can use this data to improve the package you’re able to offer to new hires. You can get help by involving a staffing agency in your process.

A way to truly improve your hiring is to decrease the time of hiring. On average, it’s lasting almost a month right now. That’s pretty unacceptable as it’s not only leaving your business in the lurch, but it’s increasing the potential that your prospective candidates are going to receive more and more job offers. You’re going to lose out if you wait too long. Don’t feel like you need to chuck every test in the book at potential employees. Also, make your decision quickly; don’t add any unnecessary time to the process.

There’s another side to waiting too long. If your new hire isn’t working out, make sure you talk to them quickly. Most people realize that a new hire isn’t a good fit quite quickly. Don’t wait a year if the fit isn’t good and the employment isn’t working out.

Also, don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations during the process. You’re not going to get a jack-of-all-trades for peanuts and if you do, that’s quite unfair on them and they will leave you when they realize their worth. Get a good package made up and decide what qualities you are looking for and what they are worth. Don’t expect everything.

During the interviewing process, you need to be consistent. If you don’t want to waste time, you can’t muck around and ask each candidate new questions. Ask each candidate the same questions and compare the answers. This is the key to a good hire because you need to set the same bar for each candidate. Don’t mess about and vary the levels because you’re going to open your hiring field too wide.

These are just a few ways you can reinvigorate your hiring policy to ensure your business builds a strong team that can take your company to the next level—but, of course, that all starts with you and your decisions.

Where Should You Begin With Your New Business?

As an entrepreneur—whether you’re an operating on a local scale, or a global scale…with small dreams, or with big dreams—your focus and drive for success is the thing which pushes you ever onwards. You had an idea or a brilliant, new concept non-existent elsewhere in your market of choice; or perhaps you’ve had an idea for a brand new market. Whatever the case, you wanted your idea to be more than an idea, so you’ve taken the initiative and striven to make that happen.

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But where do you actually begin with a brand new business idea?

In whichever early stage you find yourself, if your business is still new, you have a long way to go before you’ve fleshed it out from a startup into a fully-fledged enterprise. Perhaps you already have a company name; perhaps your idea and brand are fully realized and you’re ready to get on the road.

You might have a few friends with the experience needed to make this business a reality. Make sure your aims are clear and you’re all up-to-date on the avenues necessary to promote and build your business. Once you’ve done this, you’ve already taken the first few important steps.

However, manpower and expertise are only two parts of this huge equation. The financial elements of starting a new business will be the aspects which make or break this concept of yours, no matter how brilliant it is or how brilliant you are as a driven, intelligent individual (or how smart your group of multi-skilled individuals may be).

When you apply for a loan, depending on the company offering it, there may be a series of hoops through which you’ll have to leap before you’ll be seriously considered. It’s the same for all startups, because you’re a potential risk if your new company flops.

Ensure that your business plan is tight, your financial projections are promising and you’ve budgeted everything correctly. A safety net of well-planned finances is crucial to your success in these early stages, so you have to think about money to eat and drink as well as money that you and your small team will be investing into the new business.

You need to think about your base of operations.

There is no “perfect” office—only the perfect kind of office for your specific company. You need to consider your size projections for the roughly foreseeable future. Maybe you’re only a small startup right now, but if you have plans for rapid growth, then your team might have to rapidly grow to meet the needs of your business and its ever-expanding services or products on offer.

You also need to build an image within the office as part of your overall brand. The aesthetic is important as the core services within your new business, so ensure that you project professionalism to achieve professionalism. You should invest in an office which allows room for growth and is located within a professional setting, with a mail forwarding service and other facilities on offer, so that clients know you are an organized and serious corporation.

Remember, innovation and determination make up 90% of creating a successful business, but the other 10% comes down to how you project the brand itself.

Is the Fear of Failure Holding Your Business Back? Here’s How to Mitigate the Risks

Fear can be a real constraint when you are trying to run a business. It’s only natural to fear failure to some extent, but don’t allow that fear to straightjacket the company and hold it back. That would be a complete disaster for everyone, and you can’t let it happen. Here’s how you can mitigate some of the most common risks out there:

Perform Regular Risk Analyses

If you want to mitigate the risks, you first need to know what those risks are. Every business faces different risks because they all do different things. That’s why it’s so important to perform regular risk analyses. These allow you to see where the business is and what the major risks are. When you do this, you can be sure that your business is prepared for the worst and is able to battle threats.

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Set Controls and Keep Records

You should set clear controls in the office when it comes to things like accuracy and quality. When these kinds of things are in place, it’s much easier to achieve consistency and avoid disappointing the customers. This is something that you should definitely think carefully about if you want to keep the ship steady and mitigate risks. Keeping records helps too because it allows you to pick up on changes and monitor how processes are being carried out.

Use the Best IT Setup

The IT setup that your business has in place will play a big part in setting the direction for your business. If it’s in good shape and able to do what your employees need it to do, your business should tick over nicely. But if the IT system is shoddy and below par, your employees will be less productive, and work will be done in a less efficient way. There are many companies out there that can provide you with managed IT services, so take advantage of this.

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Get the Right Insurance Cover

You can transfer some of the risks your business will carry by getting the right insurance cover. Then you won’t have to worry about things like damage to your property. If something like that does happen, the repair costs will be covered by your insurance company.

There are so many different types of insurance you can get for your business, so make sure you explore all the options. It’s a great and simple way to mitigate some of the risks you’ll face.

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Keep Debt to a Minimum

It’s always a good idea to keep debt to a minimum when you are running a business. Nothing can be achieved by running your business in a way that is financially unsustainable. Sooner or later, those problems are going to catch up, and you’ll have to find a way to deal with them.

So, when setting up the business, it could be better to find an investor rather than borrow from a bank. That way, your debt can be kept down, and you can focus on other things rather than worry about repayments.

 

Little Changes, Big Impact: NUMBER Small But Important Details You Can’t Afford To Overlook In Your Business

It would be understandable to feel as though businesses were only based around the broad strokes. The big, tangible elements of business take up so much time and energy that it’s easy to end up feeling as though they’re the only things that matter.

In a lot of circumstances, this can be pretty accurate. If you’re not dedicating your time to the big, important parts of your business, then you’re pretty much guaranteed to fail. However, this doesn’t mean that the big, obvious elements are the only things that you need to focus your energy on.

As much as a business needs to function in the broadest terms, you also can’t afford to ignore some of the more unusual details. Of course, there are a lot of details in business which might end up feeling as though they’re a waste of energy. But it’s surprising just how much of a difference taking care of the smaller, more specific aspects of your business can make.

If you want to create a successful, profitable business, then you need to look beyond the obvious. Here are some small but important details of your business that you might be overlooking.

Fostering Creativity

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The age of offices filled with employees, sitting silently in cubicles is long gone. Business owners discovered a long time ago how much of a difference creating a comfortable environment for their employees can make. It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that people work better when they’re relaxed and comfortable. Not to mention that they’re able to communicate openly. Collaboration is at the heart of modern business, and the idea of going back from that is practically impossible.

However, there are far too many instances where businesses decide that that’s all they need to do to create a healthy, dynamic working environment. There is so much more that an employer needs to do to get the most out of their employees. The simple answer to getting the most out of your employees is this: develop and foster creativity. Now, this might seem like it should only apply to creative industries. And it is true; you can’t have a creative business filled with employees who don’t feel able to be creative themselves. But there’s a lot to be said for doing the same for any other type of business. A business can’t be a static object.

Stasis is like tar to a business. Stay still for too long, and you’re liable to sink into the ground and disappear. A business should be a moving, dynamic system. Think of your business as a body. Each and every part of the body needs to be working independently as well as all together. If you only ever send down instructions for your employees to perform, then your business will begin to stagnate very quickly.

The best thing that you can do is to create an environment where your employees feel capable and willing to be creative in their work. Set up a format where they can share their ideas and concepts for improving the business itself. Let them know that it’s alright if they want to try to tackle a problem from a different direction. If your employees feel stuck in doing things the same way over and over, it’s a surefire way to leave them feeling frustrated and dissatisfied.

Create a Comfortable Work Environment

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It’s not just a matter scrapping the cubicles and creating open plan offices. There’s a lot more that goes into your work environment. Considering this is the place that you and your employees may well be spending the majority of your time, it pays to make it a pleasant place to be.

Light is one of the major elements that can make an office somewhere that people don’t want to be. If an office is dark and dreary, then it’s going to create an environment where you feel unmotivated and tired. Opening up the spaces and bringing light into the office can work wonders for making it a more positive place for everyone. But don’t think that you should leave it at that.

As strange as it might sound, you should be looking into it even more deeply. Simplifying things as far as possible: think about the air that you breathe. Improving the quality of the air around you is the first step to creating a healthier, more productive office. If your office is filled with people suffering from allergies and dust being kicked out by electronics.

For more information on creating the right environment then check out Healthy Office World. It might seem like a tiny change and not one that many people would think of, but it really can make a huge amount of difference. Making sure that your office is a comfortable and healthy place to be is a small but critical step in improving the performance of your business as a whole.

Support

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In a perfect world, a business would run perfectly all the time with no issues. Sadly we don’t live in a perfect world, far from it. In the real world, sometimes things can go wrong. When that happens, the last thing you want is to be left panicking with no idea how to deal with it.

When problems arise, they can throw your entire business into disarray. This is doubly true if your business has a fairly heavy online focus. If your computer system goes down, there’s a chance that your business can come to all but a complete standstill. The most important, yet constantly ignored thing that your business needs is support. The infrastructure of your business needs a solid support network to function properly.

Make sure that you have dedicated tech support available whenever you need it. This could be someone you have on staff, or it could be an outsourced service. Either way, it’s important to make sure that you have strategies in place for any potential emergency.

Like the old saying goes: failing to plan, is planning to fail. If you don’t have a plan in place in case something goes wrong, then that problem is much more likely to spiral out of control and have real, unpleasant consequences on your business.

Understanding Your Customers

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Now, I know what you’re thinking: what self-respecting business doesn’t have an understanding of their customers? Of course, this is true. If a business doesn’t know who their target demographic is then there’s no chance of it being able to succeed at all. The problem comes when far too many businesses think that they can get by with only the broadest definition of who their target customer is.

If you believe that you only need to see your customers in the broad strokes, then, in the end, you’re not going to be able to really understand them. Make sure that there’s no detail of your target customer that goes misunderstood. Go deeper than their age and gender. Look into the other kinds of services and products that they use.

Are there correlations you can find in their consumption habits? Do your target customers find themselves predominantly in specific areas, be it rural or urban? You should be able to create such a distinct and significant profile of your target customer that you’d be able to spot them in a crowd with ease. Don’t let your business push forward with even the smallest missing detail about who you should be marketing and selling to. And don’t think of them as a single, unified demographic either.

Remember that your customers are individuals. Even within a single demographic, there are variations and unique qualities. Make sure that you’re making a note of the ways in which individuals within your target demographic differ. If you do this, you’ll be most effectively set up to market to them as efficiently as possible.

This is not to say that you should ignore the big things that make up your business, far from it. These details should be able to complement the broad strokes of running your business to make is as successful as you possibly can. Think of the large elements as the bricks you build your business with and the smaller details as the cement you fill them in with. Without these smaller details, eventually the cracks will begin to show, and your business will begin to crumble. It might start slowly, a little bit at a time. But eventually, those cracks can grow and become much more significant and damaging problems.

Remember: it’s much harder to fill in the cracks later on than to make sure that they never appear in the first place. Don’t neglect the details at the start and you’ll find yourself having a much easier time further down the road.