Business management tips by OnPoint, a New York, NY Tax Service Firm staffed by real accountants.

Management Success

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Business Management Success Tips

You’ve just launched your new business (or maybe just about to) and you’re full of ideas and excitement. As an accountant working with startup entrepreneurs for over 15 years I’ve compiled a list of success tips that help my clients succeed and thrive.

The first tip for anyone looking to launch a new company is to consult with a professional experienced in launching new ventures. Don’t overlook this step because your lack of knowledge and understanding about rules and obligations can be your biggest obstacle. Do your homework and get your facts first. Then incorporate your big idea!

1. Open A Business Bank Account

If you are serious about starting your business, setup a business checking account, so you can segregate, and track moneys used for launching and startup operations. Do not pay for business related expenses straight out of your personal account or credit cards. This co-mingling of personal and business funds will wrack havoc at tax time when you will be required to separate personal from professional expenses. This task is not only time consuming but often leads to errors on your tax returns.

2. Track Your Expenses, Monthly

Like any household that doesn’t precisely know where the money’s being spent, any company that doesn’t have a complete knowledge of their expenses will not succeed. The basis of thriving businesses is their constant monitoring and tracking of cash outflow. The only way to do this properly and efficiently is to implement a software that can compile this information into easy-to-read financial reports. The most common and recommended software is QuickBooks.

Part of your expense tracking process is a good organizational system for your receipts. Whether you save them in a filing cabinet or as PDF’s, they must be kept for a minimum of 3 years, as required by the IRS. Receipts for purchases under $75 don’t have to be stored, although we recommend this to all our clients.

There are some expenses that get extra scrutiny by the IRS. Save receipts for these, no matter what amount.  For each receipt, notate the purpose of the expense and the individual(s) for whom the expense was incurred.

  • Meals and Entertainment – outings with clients and / or suppliers / employees / business associates / partners.
  • Business Travel – Out of town trips, includes lodging, airfare, taxi, tips, laundry while away
  • Automobile Related Expenses: Record where, when, and why you used the automobile for business purpose. You can use either actual expenses or a percentage of miles driven.
  • Receipts for Gifts: You can only deduct up to $25 per individual. So be discretionary with gift giving because anything more will not translate into a tax saving.
  • Home Office Expenses: Accurately calculate the percentage of your home used, exclusively and regularly for business purposes. Apply that to your home expenses and you’ll be able to write them off on your taxes. Just make sure you save all receipts.  

3. Implement an Accounting system that’s easy and efficient

WARNING: Do not start a business unless you’ve established an accounting / bookkeeping system. Lacking a functional system for tracking your income and expenses is one of the biggest pitfalls experienced by new entrepreneurs.  

Accounting is the language of business. If you don’t know this language, either hire a professional or implement accounting software, especially designed for entrepreneurs with zero accounting knowledge. There are many software on the market that can accomplish accounting tasks well, but the most popular and the one we typically recommend is Quickbooks cloud software and Excel. Many businesses use a combination of both, along with apps available to streamline the workflow even more.

4. Identify a clear target market

Identify a segment or the market that represents your ideal customer. You can accomplish this by researching people's needs or desires. The better you know what people want or need, the more successful you'll be. Remember: narrow markets tend to attract stronger sales and better brand loyalty.

5. Design a functional marketing plan

Your marketing plan must accomplish the following:

  • When selling, create a perception of identifiable benefits to the potential customer in under 10 seconds.
  • Your marketing promo must be short and evoke emotions. We recommend that the message is crafted into a sentence with 10 words or less.
  • Always focus your marketing message on BENEFITS instead of FEATURES. Benefits sell. Features don't. 
  • Test and retest your message. This will help identify the right approach so you can create a marketing campaign with the highest rate of return.  
  • If after testing, you find multiple marketing approaches you'd like to use, remember to only market one message per campaign. Co-mingling marketing messages confuses people and distorts your message. 
  • Spend time designing a website highlighting your products or services. This will serve to validate and promote your company. Although there are many do-it-yourself website templates and services out there, we suggest you stay away from creating your own site (unless you're an expert at it). Home-made sites will detract from the image you're after.
  • Use color red in your marketing, as this has been shown to attract customers. Color-coordinate your marketing to your market. If you're trying to convey a sense of peacefulness, use green or blue, while red is used for excitement or action.   

6. Evaluate your gross profit margin 

As a business owner you’ll be faced with fluctuations driven by vendors, changes in industry trends, new tariffs, tax laws, etc. To be profitable you’ll need to keep a watchful eye over your profit margins and keep re-evaluating your price model, so you can intelligently adjust to the changes outside of your control.

7. Personality Check

Entrepreneurship is an adventure! It can be fun and exciting but also stressful, unpredictable and risky. I've seen many individuals with good intentions fail as entrepreneurs for one reason: personality traits that are wrong or detrimental to successful entrepreneurship. If you plan on starting a business make sure you have most of these 10 characteristics:

Focused intention 

Highly accomplished entrepreneurs make their business a priority and most decisions, behaviors and life events revolve around the welfare of the company. 

Confidence

Entrepreneurs possess an absurd level of confidence in their own abilities and ideas. In spite of criticism or doubt these individuals stay firm to their vision. If you are overly analytical thinker who overthinks most decisions or procrastinates to arrive at one, then you're missing a sense of confidence. 

Ability to delegate

Successful entrepreneurs try to find collaborators who are smarter than they are. They assign functional roles to those people and reap maximum effect from these relationships. An ability to acknowledge personal limitation allows them to comfortably delegate critical, functional roles to others and add to theh overall skillset of the organization. Those individuals who can't let go and need to feel a constant sense of control over all aspects of the business, will suffer under the weight of of doing everything themselves.  

Flexibility

Entrepreneurship is like a new romance! In the beginning it's full of promise. It's exciting and you can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. You get butterflies thinking about him/her, you're on an emotional high and you daydream about your future together. That is until reality hits. At this junction two things happen: either the relationship will progress and thrive or it will go downhill until it completely disintegrates. Individuals who possess the Flexibility trait have a higher rate of maintaining successful relationships. The same is true in business. Entrepreneurs who can comfortably and timely adjust to new situations will almost always come out on top. Their ability to make changes to fit new environments will carry them through hard times and will eventually help them arrive closer to their vision. 

Creativity

They use creative thinking and critical innovative approaches to make their dreams into reality. This is an easy one as we all have plenty of creativity, although some don't have the confidence to act upon them.

Persistence

Many fail because they lack persistence and cave-in at the first sign of hardship. Yet, accomplished entrepreneurs face their difficulties head-on, endure hardships and persevere until they reach their vision of success. Persistence or tenaciousness, as some call it, cannot exist without a belief in your success. It goes along with a level of confidence discussed above.

Need for independence

Strong need to be in control of your own financial future, a need to exercise your creativity or make extensive use of your own decision-making abilities, are common traits among successful entrepreneurs. I believe entrepreneurs naturally crave independence, much more than the average person. While many feel as sense of comfort relying on a steady, predictable paycheck, entrepreneurs are empowered by the prospect of uncertain, over-the-top possibilities.

Knowledge Seeker

Highly successful entrepreneurs may not be the most educated but they are known to be knowledge seekers. Gaining understanding from experimentation, research, literature, or just the street is a common trait. Wow, this is a hard one to admit to the kids, since as parents, we emphasize college education from pre-school.

Self-Promoters

Entrepreneurs who succeed are passionate self-promoters. They are comfortable personally touting their products or services without embarrassment or hesitation. Successful entrepreneurs make their own best marketers. Obviously, promoting your business isn't difficult when you have complete faith in what you're selling. 

Risk Takers

Entrepreneurs enjoy taking risks and practice the concept of "you'll never know it if you don't try it". Most individuals don't handle risk well. Risk makes them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. If you can withstand an unpredictable financial future or thrive in the face of uncertainty then you may just be a good candidate for the world of entrepreneurship!

CONCLUSION

Starting and succeeding in business presents many challenges, especially for inexperienced entrepreneurs. You can save your money and your sanity if you approach the business with planning and knowledge. Increase your chances for success by implementing our recommendations. We offer business development consultations to help prospective entrepreneurs succeed in business. Contact our office to schedule your own, one-on-one, FREE 1 hour business development consultation with  a professional.

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