Current: Guest Posts – Page 1

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A Small Business Survival Guide
The First Three Years

by Sarah Levy

The survival rate for new companies, as reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is as follows:

  • ·         Seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years
  • ·         Half last at least 5 years
  • ·         One-third make it to at least 10 years
  • ·         One-quarter stay in business 15 years or more.

How do you get your small business to and beyond the 15-year mark? The SBA has the following suggestions that focus on laying the groundwork during the first three years:


Year One: Be prepared for the unexpected.
Things rarely go as planned, no matter how carefully you set up your business initially. “You may find you need to diversify your product line or that your true niche is something else,” notes the SBA. “Maybe demand for your product goes through the roof and you can’t cope or you find your suppliers aren’t as reliable as you’d hoped.”
  

Rule #1, then, is to have a plan and sufficient cash reserves to make adjustments to your strategy during the first year and beyond. Writing a business plan and revisiting it often can help you keep your business on course while navigating unexpected bumps in the road. The SBA advises that you think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time term paper.

One important part of your focus should be maintaining cash flow and financial reserves. These five tips for building a six-month cash cushion come from SCORE, America’s small business mentors:

1.      Add up all your monthly expenses to calculate what a month of personal expenses really are for you.

2.      If you’re still working a day job, set aside 5 percent of your net pay each paycheck to build savings.

3.      Start with a goal of setting aside $100 week, or $5,200 a year, to form the basis of your cushion.

4.      Be sure to set aside money for taxes whenever you take a cash draw from the company to avoid the surprise of a nasty tax bill later.

5.      Start now to create a habit of saving each week.

Year Two: Reflect on and advocate for your business.
At the end of your first year in business, reflect back on your successes, failures and shortcomings. Ask yourself what you would have done differently. Find out how to get started
here.

Year Two is the time to work on your business, as opposed to working in it. That means positioning yourself as a true advocate for your business, not just a salesperson.  To do this, you’ll have to relinquish control of some of the day-to-day business operations you’ve handled since day one.

“Some of the most successful brands in the world are where they are today because the entrepreneur behind the brand is out front advocating its products, its successes, and its core values,” says the SBA, which offers ideas for doing so here.

Year Three: Grow your formula and niche.
This is the year when small business owners feel they have a good handle on their financial projections, enabling them to better prepare for market and seasonal fluctuations.

“If your niche is working for you, keep focused and stay true to it,” advises the SBA. “Stay customer-centric, look for opportunities to grow in that niche, and refine your business and marketing strategy to stay ahead of the curve.”

This is a guest post submitted by Sarah Levy of MerchantExpress.com.

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The Benefits Of Leasing Photocopiers And Printers

by Christina Appleworth

It can be expensive to buy a photocopier and a printer. Moreover, the cost of buying either or both will also have to be factored into the long term expenses of buying replacement ink and other parts, as well as paying for repairs. Offices that invest in a single photocopier or printer might also find that their model has become out of date within a few years, making it difficult to keep up with the competition and reduce costs.

In this context, businesses and individuals should think about the benefits of leasing photocopiers and printers. Leasing agreements can be very flexible, and can also be used to make savings in tax. A leased photocopier and printer can also make it easier to be flexible in terms of what your business actually needs in terms of printing and copying on a day to day basis. Some of these benefits are expanded on below:

1 – Tax
A business can write off the cost of leasing a photocopier or a printer by claiming it as a deductive business expense. In this way, a number of smaller payments can be deducted from the overall cost of running a business, and can ensure that the business receives a better cash flow, and saves money on its annual tax bill. Knowing that photocopiers and printers are covered by these tax benefits also means that it is easier to balance an office budget, while looking into others in which to save money.

2 – Flexible
A leased photocopier and printer can be useful, in the sense that you only use it when you need to. Depending on the needs of the business, it may only be practical to print or copy material a few days a week. In this way, there is no need to spend a large amount of money on acquiring a printer or copier that will not be used to its full potential. Leasing therefore becomes a cheaper alternative, and should be considered if you only need a basic level of printing and copying throughout the week.

3 – Short and Long Term Goals
A leased photocopier and printer is also useful if you only have a short term goal in terms of the business at present. You may only have a small office space, and will want to to focus on building the business over time, before buying expensive office equipment. Leasing consequently becomes more flexible, and contains options to eventually buy, or re-lease a printer or photocopier if the need arises.

4 – Opportunities to Upgrade
The ability to lease a photocopier or printer means that you are not necessarily tied down to one piece of equipment that might become out of data, and difficult to buy new cartridges and parts for. Leasing also means that you can upgrade to a new deal on printers, while also allowing you to invest in a combined printer and copier that can combine a range of different functions. Being able to upgrade printers, and being able to know when it is easier to combine new models into one device can ultimately help you to save on electricity and space.

5 – Understand Costs and Eligibility
It is important to have a clear sense of how much your overall budget will be for office products like printers and photocopiers before entering into any kind of lease agreement. Moreover, benefits like tax deductible expenses only apply to businesses that can declare profits and losses in this way. A non profit organisation or a charity may not be eligible for the same level of tax deductive costs, meaning that it is always important to look into whether a leasing deal suits the needs of an individual company.

Author:  Christina Appleworth.  Finding somewhere to lease photocopiers and printers can be difficult. I’d recommend using BTS Ltd, they have a nice range of Canon photocopiers and printers with leasing and finance options available.

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