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Common Mistakes Small Businesses Make and How to Avoid Them

Unfortunately very few start up businesses make it beyond their 3rd year. Failure is usually down to a number of clearly identifiable mistakes, which if small business owners are aware of, can increase their chances of survival.

small business failures, reasons for failure, closure

Unfortunately very few start up businesses make it beyond their 3rd year. Failure is usually down to a number of clearly identifiable mistakes, which if small business owners are aware of, can increase their chances of survival.

Here are the top 10 common mistakes which small businesses tend to make.

<b>Lack of Market Research</b>

When a budding entrepreneur comes up with an idea for a new business he assumes that because he would buy such a product or service then everyone else will. This may be the case for day-to-day necessities but for other items this is usually not so.

It’s important that when you start up you carefully research the market to check that:

• There is demand at a level which would lead to a sustainable business

• People are prepared to pay the price required for you to make a decent profit

Undertaking market research may appear time consuming but the effort will pay off.

<b>Poor Record Keeping</b>

Some business people are not born administrators; they feel more comfortable getting out there and ‘doing the business’. Paperwork is too easy to ignore but can never be put off indefinitely.

Sales, purchases and other expenditure must be carefully documented, so you know whether you are making a profit or not. Invoices must be issued on time and chased up promptly if there is a delay in payment. It’s all very well having the sales but poor record keeping can hold you back.

Having your paperwork in order will also save you time when it comes to your accountant doing your year-end books!

<b>Insufficient Capital</b>

When starting off it’s easy to decide what capital is required for fixtures and fittings, machinery and stock. What many new business owners forget about is the cash needed to fund day-to-day requirements, i.e. cash to pay expenses before your customers pay you. This is known as your working capital requirement.

Small businesses can fail because they have insufficient cash to start off to meet these immediate expenses. If you wish to survive make sure you set aside enough cash to meet all your needs for the first few months.

<b>Ineffective Marketing Or None At All</b>

You cannot afford to treat the cost of marketing as an unnecessary expense. A business with no marketing is like waving in the dark – you know you are doing it but no one else does!

There are many ways to promote your business on a small budget; it’s just a case of being inventive and creative. What ever you do, don’t assume that people will quickly know you are in business – they won’t, unless you tell them.

<b>Ingoring Changes In The Market Place</b>

As a small business owner it’s very easy to get immersed in your business and not see what is happening around you in the market place. Always keep your eyes and ears open to what the competition is doing and what your customers want. Don’t get left behind.

<b>Owner’s Attitude</b>

Attitude is everything in business. Don’t forget that the real boss in your business is the customer. Running a business may make you feel important but don’t let this develop into an ‘I am better than you’ attitude. Do this and you will quickly chase your customers away.

<b>Spending On The Wrong Things</b>

Being in business can be exciting, especially as the cash starts to roll in! However, don’t be tempted to spend it on a new car, a house or just a good time. If you are to own a successful business then you have to keep some cash back to fund future growth. A business cannot grow without cash, so commit to spending business money on the business.

<b>Dependent On A Small Number Of Customers</b>

Don’t fall into the trap of setting up a business just because one person says they will buy from you every week or month. Setting up and running a business, which is dependent on one customer, is not a recipe for success. What happens if, one month after you have spent all your cash to set up your business, that customer says he has changed his mind and has decided to buy elsewhere? Unless you can find other customers very quickly you are faced with closure.

Before embarking on a new venture make sure you have a sufficient number of customers such that if a few go elsewhere you can still continue trading.

<b>Growing Too Quickly</b>

Surprisingly, growing too quickly can be a problem. You have to be disciplined enough to only take on work you can handle. If you are tempted to accept too much you could end up disappointing not only the new client but also your existing ones.

Also, don’t under-estimate the impact rapid growth can have your administrative burden. As I mentioned earlier, getting behind on the paperwork can have an equally damaging effect on your business.

<b>Trying To Do Everything</b>

Finally, the problem most small business owners have is the fact that everything falls on their plate. Inevitably this is how it’s likely to be in the beginning, when the limited budget means that staff are a luxury, but as the business grows be aware that you cannot continue to do all tasks. There will come a point when you become inefficient and not have enough time to complete everything in sufficient detail. Taking on an extra pair of hands will increase your costs but you will be surprised at how much time will be saved, allowing you to do what you do best – getting the business in.

Take a look at each of the mistakes and make sure that you don’t fall into these traps.

 

Disaster Preparedness For Your Small Business: How To "Weather" Any Storm

In the event of a potential disaster, do you have a business continuity plan for your employees and your business?

Disaster Preparedness For Your Small Business: How To "Weather" Any Storm

In the event of a potential disaster, do you have a business continuity plan for your employees and your business? Are you backing up files on a routine basis, and could you recover them in an emergency?

On average, nearly 60 percent of businesses damaged in a disaster close after a year, according to the Association of Small Business Development Centers.

Last year's devastating hurricanes heightened awareness of the importance of disaster planning for businesses, large and small. But destruction of your company's infrastructure is not limited to natural disasters-it can happen anytime. Daily misfortunes like computer crashes, network breakdowns, and power outages threaten your business each and every day.

Having weathered four major hurricanes last year alone at its corporate headquarters in South Florida and across nearly 100 stores in the Gulf region, Office Depot has real-world experience in disaster planning and recovery. To help businesses be more prepared, the retailer has compiled "Disaster Preparedness: Advice You Can Depend on to Weather Any Storm."

"A sound contingency plan can enable your small business to respond effectively to a crisis, and prevent that crisis from becoming a full-fledged disaster," said Tom Serio, Director of Business Continuity Management for Office Depot.

According to Serio, the overarching principle in disaster planning and recovery is to protect your most valuable and irreplaceable assets: your people and your data. Among the guide's other recommendations:

&#8226; Keep contact information for employees and local emergency services, as well as key vendor and supplier information, updated and easily accessible. Establish a clear process for communications and plan how you will contact one another in different scenarios.

&#8226; Protect your business from faltering after a disaster by backing up key data at least once a week. Copy data to removable media, including DVD-R or CD-R discs, or to removable drives such as the Ativa McAfee Flash Memory Drive with anti-virus software.

&#8226; Move back-up software to a secure off-site location. Store copies and documents you use in day-to-day operations in a secure and fire-proof location like the Sentry Fire-Safe Electronic safe.

&#8226; Periodically review the data being stored on any back-up systems to ensure that the right data is being copied and that it can be restored.

 

How To Avoid Double Taxation Of Your Small Business Profits

Have you been thinking about incorporating your small business or self-employment activity? The advantages are many!

For starters, you'll be protecting yourself and your family from the possibility of a business ending lawsuit. Forming a corporation is Step One on the path known as "Asset Protection" -- you are moving from the world of unlimited liability to the world of limited liability.

(NOTE: For further insight into the legal advantages of incorporating, check out ...

tax, small business tax

Have you been thinking about incorporating your small business or self-employment activity? The advantages are many!

For starters, you'll be protecting yourself and your family from the possibility of a business ending lawsuit. Forming a corporation is Step One on the path known as "Asset Protection" -- you are moving from the world of unlimited liability to the world of limited liability.

(NOTE: For further insight into the legal advantages of incorporating, check out the article: "It Can Happen To You: Why Any Sole Proprietorship Is A Risky Business" at http://www.YouSaveOnTaxes.com/happen-to-you.html)

From a tax standpoint, there are both advantages and disadvantages to incorporating. Yes, forming a corporation can either reduce your taxes or increase your taxes, depending on what type of corporation you create.

There are two main types of corporations: "C" Corporations and "S" Corporations -- and which type you choose can make all the difference in the world of taxes.

NOTE: The question of "C" Corp vs. "S" Corp has no effect on the asset protection provided by your corporation. This is a tax issue, not a legal issue.

A "C" Corporation can lead you into a Tax Trap known as "double taxation". Yes, income from a "C" Corporation can actually be taxed twice -- once when it's earned on the corporate level and again when it's paid to you, the shareholder, in dividends.

There are several ways to avoid double taxation. Often the easiest way is to tell the IRS that you choose to be an "S" Corp instead of a "C" Corp. The profits of an "S" Corp are not taxable to the corporation; instead, those profits are reported directly on the shareholder's personal income tax return and are therefore only taxed once.

And once is enough, don't you think!

Of course, any article on Choice of Entity must contain the old disclaimer, "Consult your tax professional" -- I am not prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach to this issue. But for many small biz owners and self-employed folks, the "S" Corporation is a good fit because it provides protection from personal liability and avoids the nasty tax trap of double taxation -- two great benefits worth checking into.

Should you incoporate your sole proprietorship and then decide that the "S" Corporation is the right fit, you must inform the IRS that your corporation is choosing "S" Corporation status by filing Form 2553, which is, in effect, an application to become an "S" Corporation.

IMPORTANT:

If you incorporate and do not file Form 2553, you are automatically considered to be a "C" Corporation by the IRS. In other words, to be a "C" Corporation, you just incorporate; there is nothing you have to do to inform the IRS you want to be a "C" Corporation.

There are critical rules regarding how and when to file Form 2553, so be sure to read the instructions carefully, or check with your tax pro.

Failure to file Form 2553 on time or filing Form 2553 incorrectly results in a rejection of your corporation's "S" Corp application, and the corporation is then by default treated as a "C" Corp, subject to double taxation, the very trap you were trying to avoid.

To download a copy of Form 2553, go to: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2553.pdf

The instructions for filing Form 2553 are found here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i2553.pdf




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