I know many people who run and start their businesses from their hearts. But as they add a marriage and children or aging parents as dependents, the reality of running a business becomes more desperate. Something they had the freedom to do as they pleased prior to more personal responsibilities. But once it comes down to desperate days when needs of the other partner, children or other personal responsibilities weighs heavily, then the business is looked to for a bail out plan. So if the business is not a Fortune 500 company, chances are it will be looked at with an overly critical eye.
On the other hand, some people are intent on running their business from their hearts and prefer it that way. No amount of pointing out the short comings for fixing up will lead a business owner back on the right path.
The key point here is that if your business is not paying you what you expect for your time, then you may have to rethink it.
Here are the stages to any successful business:
There are three stages to any successful business. These apply to service businesses as well as product businesses.
First a person or people set up the business. Often this is done by a step-by-step process. Investment one leads to a payoff, that leads to another investment and so it goes the way of snowball rolling. It can often take a lot of money to set-up a business but unless you are willing to commit to a bank loan on the never never, it is often easier to set up this kind of investment in your business. Most banks also cannot lend to a business before two years of tax returns have been filed.
People can be trapped in the first stage for years alongside their business.
The second phase is identifying waste and cutting expenses. If you have too many staff members or too much of an expense account for hydro and natural gas, then it may be time to find other sources of energy like a heat pump. It may be time to trade in the inefficient light bulbs for the LED variety.
It may be time to look at staffers and let them go because their wages are too high and they refuse to take a reduction. Or, in some cases the cost of the rent is astronomical. With squandering all the money on rent, there will be no way to invest in a longterm, sustainable place to do business.
This stage is the final one where things are improved after expenses are cut and some form of investment is put forth to make it possible to save more money or to make more money by introducing a new service or product.
Here are some warning signs that your business is in trouble:
1. Your business consistently pays out over fifty percent for rent and wages as well as advertising. Above 50 percent, your business is not working its hardest. If you bring in 4,000, but pay out 2500, then your business needs some help.
Apply stage one to three and find out where your business is, then work forward to correct its inefficiencies.
2. You are consistently using a part-time job to pay for staff or rent. This is a terrible idea as a general rule. It is fine for the stage before having your business or in stage one but if it is still going on, then your business is not as viable as you are thinking it is.
Apply stage two and find out if there are enough expenses to bring it to the point where the business carries itself clear. Once you get to that point, you can rethink it and work on investing to pay for it.
3. Your business is located at a rented facility and it eats all your profits. This isn't accesptable. If your rent is the albatross around your businesses’ neck, consider scaling back your business and putting it in your house or apartment. If it is a warehouse, consider buddying up with someone with a warehouse to hold the contents, reducing your rent from full liability to a shared portion.
4. Your staff want more money all the time. You're in trouble here again because greed is running your bottom line. Remember there are always more employees in the sea. No question there. Sure, you may have to look for them or train them but you shouldn't be on the receiving end of a staff out for more money.
Consider asking your current staff to take a pay cut or become contract workers. By a contract worker, you no longer make deductions to their pay and they are left to do that. This can save a fair amount of money. If they are just out for more money and it exceeds what is standard in the industry your business operates in, consider switching your hardest working, most humble employees into key spots while trimming the dead weight.
5. Is your business always out of money? This is a problem with unexpected expenses. Everything is budgeted too closely.
You can resolve cash flow by opening up a money box at a bank. Put money orders of amounts of money into the money box until you have enough money for term deposits or GICs. By doing this though, you can always make sure you have a money order under 1,000 for direct use. Your secure investments are less liquid such as term deposits. Money orders have the ability to completely take the money out of the account and make it much harder to access.
Another way is to get a credit card you pay each month. This kind of credit card is available from Money Mart. It doesn't allow you to spend one more cent than you gave it. Unexpected expenses are no problem with this kind of card.
6. You owe too much! Some people suggest putting your credit cards into the freezer. I suggest boiling them and melting them back to their original plastic. By the nature of a business, it is supposed to generate money for spending so by exceeding the money you have with plastic, you are now eating next months profits. Go the high road and get rid of them.
If in doubt, compare your business to the three stages. These three stages can keep you on the straight and narrow but can also give you an idea of how well you've been doing running your own business.
Robyn Whyte is the CEO of Stargazer Press at http://www.stargazerpress.com , fine retailer of quality books and educational programs.
Check out Kate Rizor's ‘The Governor's Wife’ now widely reviewed on the web.