Newsletter - January, 2016

A Guide to Writing a Business Plan

A business plan is not a one-time document made in the hopes of impressing investors and then forgotten. Even if the business plan is only for a self-funded bootstrap operation, it is a vital tool, when updated on a regular basis. In fact, most small businesses (and large ones as well) would benefit greatly by having an annual update of the business plan.

The article published in Entrepreneur, entitled “The Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan” is a very quick read. Budding entrepreneurs, as well as seasoned ones, will benefit from the tips given in the article. If that information is absorbed and followed, it will support their business success for a lifetime.

Let’s Face it - Everyone Gets Lazy
Business plans may seem like filling out tax forms - a dreary process. Nevertheless, this idea is wrong. They are more like treasure maps. If one digs deep into the value of a business plan, they see two important things, which are:

  1. Business Plans are Guides - It is a way to show succinctly the understanding of the marketplace, the reasons for a company’s viability, and how a company becomes a success. It does not matter if the business is a small neighborhood shop or a mega-international-conglomerate. The principles are the same.
  2. Success Metrics - A good business plan identifies realistic goals. A good operating business achieves them.

To learn more, read the full article “The Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan” to find your treasure map.

Simple Budgeting Tips Boost Profitability

Business owners and CEOs hoping to control their bottom line and increase profits need to first focus on budgeting, an effort many mistakenly believe isn’t helpful. However, when budgeting is in place as a top line control, it can help any company to invest resources more wisely, providing better opportunities for controlling the bottom line. More so, it doesn’t have to be challenging to put in place or difficult to learn.

A few key tips for budgeting success in business can make the entire process more streamlined and even simplistic. One key tip is not to think your business is an exception to the need for budgeting. Most startups, for example, overlook this crucial step, but budgeting is essential for these companies to secure lucrative funding. What else are you missing when it comes to budgeting? These 8 simple-to-use tips can help ensure your business takes full advantage of this profit-making step.

Myths about Small Business Lending

Securing small business capital can be a harrowing experience. But don’t let it be tougher than it really is by believing some of the myths out there about hurdles and barriers that are not really factors.

For instance, approval time no longer takes as long as it once did. Online lending has streamlined the process so funds can be secured far more quickly today. And if you
have heard that new businesses can’t qualify, that is old information as well. There may be a few other qualifications to meet, but more lenders are starting to generate start-up loans.

Online lending isn’t just a high-rate con game. The unreasonable rates of predatory online lending do exist, but not all online lenders are in that category. Check out a few before writing them all off.

Approval is not heartlessly automated. While striking a loan agreement with eye contact and a handshake may be far less common, there remain some subjective considerations that can weigh in your favor. Another outdated assumption is that your credit score is all that matters. Loan eligibility is now determined by a range of factors, only one of which is credit score.

Learn about some of the most common myths that are unnecessarily holding back some small business entrepreneurs from getting the cash they need.

Tips for Financial Planning

Security is a vague concept that has a different meaning for every individual. What is common, however, is the anxiety that surrounds financial planning and saving for a secure future. Those are top stressors for three-quarters of Americans. It is important to remember that effective financial planning is an ongoing process.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t try to go it alone; share your concerns with your partner or trusted adviser. Work out a plan together, and stick to it.
  • Pay bills on time. If you have a problem, communicate and try to work out a solution, no matter if it’s a car payment, credit card debt or your utility bill.
  • Save something, no matter how small the amount, from every paycheck. It’s hard, but you have to start somewhere. Put your savings into a separate account and let your “Rainy Day Fund” build over time. Set goals, and aim to build up an emergency amount equal to six months of income. As your reserves grow, celebrate by starting a separate vacation or trip fund.
  • Reduce unnecessary expenses. Prepare a realistic budget, and don’t forget a category for fun, no matter how small the dollar amount!
  • Develop a new income stream. Try to find alternative “safe” ways to earn extra money. Look to hobbies or work-from-home ideas, but beware of scams.

Finally, remember that anything worthwhile takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged.

Making Your Company More Like Family to Attract Talent

Attracting top talent to your organization isn’t just about offering unique perks or throwing down top dollar. Making your company more like a family will lure talent.

Make sure you are prioritizing corporate culture over money. Treat your employees like close friends and family members by getting together outside of the office and talking about topics that don’t relate to work. Always remember that new hires and existing staff will take their behavioral cues from you. If you’re late to meetings, they’ll stop arriving on time. Model the behavior you wish to see and inspire others through your leadership.

Be transparent about your organization and expectations. This gives everyone the tools to do their job effectively. Finally, remember that your employees won’t stay forever, and that’s a good thing for them and for you. While they’re on staff, your job is to nurture their professional development. If these ideas resonate strongly with you, be sure to read the full article.

The McLinden Group strives to offer guidance and direction in business and accounting needs for small to mid-size companies. We constantly stay on top of trends in the financial world, accounting technology and best business practices.