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29 Apr
How to Manage Time Wisely

How to Manage Time Wisely

Here are some effective tips to help maximize your time and efforts no matter what your role or profession:

Prioritize

Time management means knowing your highest priority. Get a clear picture of what your goals are and focus on them.

Because it’s impossible to always get everything done, focus on the most important items first. Discipline yourself to concentrate on the most important rather than the easiest, the most demanding or the most fun.

Crisis Management

Undoubtedly there are true crises that must be dealt with before anything else and knowing how to correctly identify them is often a challenge.  Being able to properly access, communicate and effectively manage during a crisis will help dictate its outcome.

Focus

Everyone has distractions regardless of job title, or responsibility and because of this learning to focus and maximizing creative and analytical periods now becomes more important.  Most people are far more effective when working on one specific task or goal rather than multi-tasking.  Here are some tips to help with focus:

– Limit time checking emails and social media sites

– Use “To Do” lists each day

– Make notes

– Organize your workspace to maximize efficiency

Delegate

Assign projects or specific tasks to others.  Remember, delegating, although an effective learning tool for others still requires that you keep track and take responsibility for a projects progression.    Keep an eye on deadlines and follow up in time to make sure all is on track to complete the project on schedule.

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There will never be enough hours in the day for small business owners and managers to accomplish what needs to be done.   Using these time management tips however, may help ensure you make the most out of the time you do have.

 

22 Apr
5 Important Tips for Small Business

5 Important Tips for Small Business

Starting your own business can be exciting but sometimes tricky when it comes to balancing your daily life with your business obligations. You may have the enthusiasm needed to be successful, but you also need to have the right procedures and people in place to avoid costly mistakes.

Always market yourself…

Starting out, you continually promote yourself and your business to get as much business as possible and it’s easy to rest on your laurels when business is good. Continually market your business so there are no highs and lows.

Know your worth…

Knowing what you’re worth is tricky for small business and it’s important to get it right. If you under-value your goods and services it may be harder for customers to pay a higher price later on.  Check out the competition in your industry and use it as a guide.

Know your financial position…

Money and financial concerns are part of small business.  Cash flow, payment obligations and knowing the basic financial responsibilities are fundamental in running a business. Business owners should always be keenly aware of the company’s financial condition so as to avoid difficulties later.

Plan ahead…

A solid business plan is vital for the success of any small businesses.  These plans should be reviewed and updated periodically to document changes in the overall business and to plot the strategy for the business.

Hire good people…

Business owners are tempted to wear many hats to reduce costs but in the long run this can be damaging. Hire a trusted team of individuals to help manage the  daily responsibilities. Hiring the right people can help you avoid future burnout and even business failure.

 

15 Apr
Read this interesting article recently published in the Houston Chronicle….

Important Are Small Businesses to Local Economies?

by J. Mariah Brown, Demand Media                                        

While small businesses may not generate as much money as large corporations, they are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of local economies. Small businesses present new employment opportunities and serve as the building blocks of the United States’ largest corporations.

Contributions

A small business is defined as a business (corporation, limited liability company or proprietorship) with 500 employees or less. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms. Since 1995, small businesses have generated 64 percent of new jobs, and paid 44 percent of the total United States private payroll, according to the SBA.

Economic Growth

Small businesses contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community in which the business is established. Small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. Small businesses tend to attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas. Larger businesses also often benefit from small businesses within the same local community, as many large corporations depend on small businesses for the completion of various business functions through outsourcing.

Adaptability to Changing Climates

Many small businesses also possess the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changing economic climates. This is due to the fact that small businesses are often very customer-oriented. Many local customers will remain loyal to their favorite small businesses in the midst of an economic crisis. This loyalty means that small businesses are often able to stay afloat during tough times, which can further strengthen local economies. Small businesses also accumulate less revenue than larger corporations, meaning they may have less to lose in times of economic crisis.

Schools and Local Government Offices

When consumers patronize local small businesses, they are essentially giving money back to their local community. A thriving local business will generate high levels of revenue, which means that the business will pay higher taxes, including local taxes. This money is then used for local police and fire departments as well as schools.

08 Apr
10 Tips for Running a Successful Small Business…

10 Tips for Running a Successful Small Business…

1Keep Score: It’s amazing how few small businesses have any idea of the daily, weekly, and monthly numbers and financial trends in the organization. Spend time getting to know your business inside and out.

2. Set Realistic Goals: Goal setting is an essential part of business success. Set obtainable goals and when reached set the bar a little higher for the next one.

3. Use Marketing Wisely: It’s easy to waste money on ineffective marketing. Learn how to use your marketing dollar and resources to improve your small business.

4. Excel At Your Business Presentations: A powerful business presentation can help improve your small business.  Be relatable but knowledgeable whenever presenting your businesses persona.

5. Monitor Trends in Business: No business operates in a vacuum. Stay current on events and issues that relate to your business.

6. Sharpen Selling Skills: No matter what you’re selling don’t forget to focus on sales improvement.

7. Find  Your Niche: Every industry has its own way of doing things that work best for them. Don’t re-invent the wheel.  If it’s working use it!

8. Motivate Your Staff: Motivated staff members can bring huge improvements in business. Learn what motivates people and capitalize on it.

9. Know Your Limits: Every successful business owner has a  pretty clear idea of their limitations. Knowing your own  business personality can help you manage your resources and find help in areas of weakness.

10. Take a Break: Running a small business is hard work. Sometimes the best way to improve your business and recapture your passion is to take time away from the office.

01 Apr
Got a Gripe About Red Tape? There’s an Ombudsman for That. How the SBA’s point man handles owners’ gripes about red tape

Here’s a great article recently published in the Wall Street Journal…

By:  Rhonda Colvin

Roughly one in 10 small-business owners say government regulation is their biggest challenge. Brian Castro says he feels their pain.

The 41-year-old Washington, D.C., lawyer is currently the U.S. Small Business Administration’s national ombudsman, a little-known post that requires him to act as a liaison between small businesses and federal agencies when it comes to regulations.

When a small business believes an agency has hit it unfairly with a penalty or fine, the business can submit a complaint online at the SBA ombudsman’s website, or send one in by mail.

Mr. Castro’s office will then get in touch with the agency, requesting that it lower, or eliminate, the fine. The ombudsman’s office of seven staffers handled roughly 350 complaints from small-business owners in the 2013 fiscal year ending September 30, up 40% from about 250 in fiscal 2012.

Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees in 2010 paid nearly $10,600 per employee to comply with regulations, roughly 36% more per employee than did large businesses with more than 500 employees did, the latest available data from the SBA shows.

According to a January survey of 603 small business owners by Wells Fargo/Gallup, 11% listed government regulation as a top concern, while another 11% listed the economy. In comparison, 21% said their biggest worry was attracting customers.

One of Mr. Castro’s duties is to keep tabs on how quickly the various agencies respond to complaints as well as the “quality” of their responses.

Consider U.S. Homeland Security, a recent underperformer. Both its U.S. Customs and Border Protection division, as well as its Citizenship and Immigration Services division, received “Fs” because they failed to respond within 120 days to eight total complaints that small businesses made about them during 2012.

“CBP works to answer all inquiries from multiple entities in a timely manner and is coordinating closely with the Office of the National Ombudsman to review and improve the response process,” said a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection office.

In an interview at his office Tuesday, Mr. Castro provided an insight into the regulatory hassles that small businesses grapple with today:

WSJ: What are small business owners’ top three complaints?

Mr. Castro: The top one has to do with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services audits of durable medical equipment prosthetic and orthopedic suppliers. These firms have contracted with Medicare to provide those products. We have received hundreds of complaints and comments both from individual device providers and from associations representing many, many more.

The issue in a nutshell is an ongoing practice of what are called “recovery audit contractors.” These are third parties, non-governmental, for-profit entities that come in for the purpose of finding ways of fraud and abuse. The impact has been extremely severe for many of these small businesses, to the point of driving them to the verge of going out of business, or out of business altogether. We’re developing some proposals [to address their concerns], working with my counterpart over at CMS.

We also do receive concerns about visas, such as whether a H1-B visa was approved or re-approved or not, or a visa for seasonal help, particularly for agricultural small businesses.

For government contractors, late payments are a very significant worry. Small-business owners understand the liquidity crunch that can come from a slow paying client — and the last thing we want is the federal government to be one of those, particularly during our economic recovery.

WSJ: How do you figure out whether to give an agency an A, B, C or an F?

Mr. Castro: It’s a cut and dry, objective metric, based on the number of days it takes before we get a response. So it could be that there was turnover in the office perhaps, in that office and for whatever reason, the matter did not get addressed. Some agencies have declined to participate in this resolution process. I’m learning more about that, but the legal basis is unclear. One example is the Department of Defense. That agency hasn’t viewed the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act as extending to it.

WSJ: Is your office preparing to address concerns related to the new health-care law?

Mr. Castro: I have not seen any comments filed about the Affordable Care Act regulations yet. Before the ACA, small businesses paid 18%, almost one-fifth more, for health-insurance premiums for their employees than did large businesses. They faced far fewer choices and of course exclusions on pre-exiting conditions. So the small-business owners that I’ve talked to are concerned about getting those issues rectified, and want to have the benefits for their business. They want a workforce that is healthy, happy and productive and reliable. Health care is critical to that.

WSJ: Do you have personal connections to small businesses?

Mr. Castro: When my grandfather immigrated to New York [from Spain], he opened a diner. It was something he undertook so his family could have a better future.

 

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