Have you ever seen the excitement of plate spinners at a circus? These incredible performers take on the impossible task of keeping a multitude of plates spinning on many sticks, simultaneously!
The goal is simple yet challenging: keep all the plates spinning without letting one fall to the ground and shatter. The plate spinners dart from stick to stick, keeping a ferocious spin on every plate.
Do you remember the electrifying tension as the plates wobble and seem on the brink of disaster? These fearless performers never give up. With lightning-fast reflexes and incredible focus, they get those plates spinning again just in the nick of time!
Running a small business can feel like a never-ending juggling act, with multiple tasks and responsibilities pulling you in different directions. It is like you are the circus’s ringmaster, with many plates spinning on sticks all around you, and you must be as nimble and skilled as the performers to keep them from crashing to the ground.
Just like those plate spinners, you need to be adroit and agile, always on the move and ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way. You must keep focus and determination, ensuring each plate spins smoothly without hiccups or disruptions.
There is little room for mistakes in the business world, and every plate that falls can mean lost opportunities and revenue. One critical aspect of small business success is your initial and ongoing business planning. Business planning can help you keep the plates spinning. This week we will discuss tips and strategies to help small business owners create a comprehensive business plan.
Create a business plan
Writing a business plan is an essential step for small business owners. A business plan is your roadmap, outlining your business’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. It can help you find potential challenges and opportunities and provides a framework for making informed decisions.
When writing a business plan, it would be best to start by outlining your business mission and vision, including a description of your business, the products or services you offer, and your target market. You should outline your marketing and sales strategies, including an analysis of your competition, pricing strategy, and marketing plan.
If you plan on raising money to help lift the business off the ground, your business plan should also include a detailed financial analysis, including a sales forecast, profit and loss statement, and cash flow analysis. You should also have information about your funding needs and how you plan to use any funding you receive.
While writing a business plan can be time-consuming, it is an essential step for any small business owner. A well-written business plan can help you secure funding, attract customers, and make informed decisions about the future of your business.
There are various ways for small business owners to raise capital, depending on multiple factors, not the least of which are their needs and goals.
If you do not want partners, you can raise capital through using personal savings, credit cards, or other personal assets to fund the business. While this method can make it risky to raise capital, it can also give you, more control over your company’s direction and growth.
One of the most common ways of raising capital is through equity financing, where investors buy a stake in the company in exchange for capital. You can do this through friends, family, venture capital firms, angel investors, or crowdfunding platforms.
Loans from a bank are another way to raise capital. Bank loans can be a good choice if you have a solid credit history, a clear repayment plan, and do not want partners.
One often overlooked place for your small business to raise capital is through grants or government programs. These programs are designed to support small businesses and can supply funding for specific projects or initiatives. One of the best websites I found is from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has grants available for a large variety of businesses.
Regardless of the method chosen to raise capital, you need to clearly understand your capital needs and develop a comprehensive plan to raise the necessary funds. This plan may involve creating a detailed business plan we discussed above and networking with potential investors or lenders. By taking a strategic approach to developing capital, you can potentially position yourself for long-term success and growth.
Developing banking relationships is a critical aspect of small business success. A strong banking relationship can supply access to credit, cash management services, and other products and services that can help you grow and thrive.
When developing banking relationships, it’s essential that you conduct research. It would be best to start by finding banks in your area with experience working with small businesses. Seek banks that offer the products and services you need, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, and lines of credit.
Once you have found potential banking partners, you should contact them to schedule a meeting. You should use this meeting to discuss your business needs and learn more about the bank’s products and services. Ask about fees, interest rates, and other costs associated with the bank’s products and services.
As a small business, you must establish a relationship with your banker. These relationships can help you build trust and credibility with the bank, which can be beneficial if you need to apply for credit or other financial products in the future.
Choosing an Accountant
A good accountant can supply valuable insights into your financial health, help you show areas for improvement, and provide guidance on tax planning and other financial matters.
When looking for an accountant, there are several things you should consider. First, look for someone with experience working with small businesses. Small businesses have unique financial needs and challenges, and working with an accountant who understands them is essential.
You should next consider the accountant’s qualifications and credentials. Consider looking for someone who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or has other relevant certifications. These certifications prove the accountant’s knowledge and expertise in providing high-quality financial advice.
Create a Budget
A budget is the financial roadmap that outlines your expected revenue and expenses. You must create a budget to help you understand your cash flow and identify areas where you can cut costs or invest more money.
To create a budget, you should gather your financial statements, including your income, balance, and cash flow statements. These statements will give you a clear picture of your business’s financial health.
Once you clearly understand your financial situation, you can start creating your budget. Start by finding your expected revenue for the year. Revenue sources can include sales, investments, or any other sources of income. Next, you need to outline your expenses. Consider rent, salaries, supplies, and any other costs associated with running your business. Make sure your account for any unexpected expenses that may arise.
Understand that your budget is a living document. Update it regularly. As you track your actual revenue and expenses, you should compare them to your budget every month to see how you are doing. You may need to look for new revenue streams if you are not meeting your revenue goals. If your expenses are higher than expected, you may need to cut costs or find ways to reduce your overhead.
Separate Personal and Business Finances
As a small business owner, keeping your personal and business finances separate is essential. Separating them will help you avoid confusion and mixing business and personal expenses.
Separating your finances can also make it easier for you to track your expenses and prepare your taxes. When filing your taxes, you must provide a detailed accounting of your business expenses. If you mix your personal and business expenses, it can be challenging to provide correct accounting.
To separate your finances, you can open a separate account for your business. You can use this account to pay for all your business expenses and deposit the revenue you receive. Ensure you keep detailed records of all transactions, including receipts and invoices.
Plan for Taxes
As a small business owner, you will hopefully have tax obligations! Planning for taxes can help you avoid surprises and ensure you have the funds available to pay your tax bill when it is due.
It would be best if you started by understanding your tax obligations. These obligations typically include federal, state, and local taxes and any payroll taxes you may be required to pay. Remember that you may have to pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS. Your accountant can help with this task.
Establish an Emergency Fund
As a business owner, you may face unexpected expenses at any time. It’s crucial to have an emergency fund set aside to cover unexpected costs.
Your emergency fund should be separate from your other accounts and easily accessible. A good rule of thumb is to set aside three to six months of operating expenses in your emergency fund.
Your emergency fund can provide a safety net in case of a cash flow issue or unexpected expense. It can also help you avoid taking on debt or dipping into your personal savings to cover business expenses.
Invest in Retirement
As a small business owner, you may not have access to a traditional employer-sponsored retirement plan. However, you can examine the many retirement plan options available, such as a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), SIMPLE, or a Solo 401(k) plan, that can help you save for retirement.
Investing in retirement is essential to ensuring your long-term financial security. Setting aside money in a retirement plan allows you to take advantage of possible tax savings and tax-deferred returns.
Summing it Up
Planning is critical for the success of your small business. By creating a budget, understanding your business’s financial health, planning for taxes, setting up an emergency fund, investing in retirement, and seeking professional advice, you can direct your business on the path to success.
Like spinning plates, planning is a continuous process; reviewing your financial plan and adjusting as needed is essential. By staying on top of your plan, you can potentially build a successful and thriving small business.
“51 Grants, Loans and Programs to Benefit Your Small Business” by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, (n/d) https://www.uschamber.com/co/run/business-financing/small-business-grants-and-programs
Disclosure: This communication is general in nature and provided for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal, tax, or investment advice or an investment recommendation, or as a substitute for legal counsel. Any investment products or services named herein are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered an offer to buy or sell, or an investment recommendation for, any specific security, strategy, or investment product or service. Always consult a qualified professional or your own independent financial professional for personalized advice or investment recommendations tailored to your specific goals, individual situation, and risk tolerance.
Dunham & Associates Investment Counsel, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser and Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC.
Advisory services and securities offered through Dunham
& Associates Investment Counsel, Inc.