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171 Posts authored by: Steve Strauss

In a recent series of posts, I have been looking at great entrepreneurs who started small (part 1 and part 2), people like Richard Branson, Martha Stewart and Howard Schultz. What is amazing about entrepreneurs like these is not just how big their enterprises are (companies like Starbucks and Virgin). Rather, it’s  how small they started, how much they overcame and how far these entrepreneurs travelled.

 

          RELATED ARTICLE: Great Entrepreneurs Start Small – Consider Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart

 

55625037_s.jpgTake Oprah Winfrey for example. If you are looking for the quintessential rags-to-riches story, look no further. Yes, Oprah comes from incredibly humble roots, and that makes her rise and business skills more impressive. Oprah was raised by a single mom on welfare, was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and grew up in so much poverty that the kids in school made fun of her for wearing dresses made of potato sacks.

 

But, while we all know that Oprah is a gifted broadcaster, that is not what made her a billionaire. Lots of people have hosted talk shows, but what sets Oprah apart is her entrepreneurial chops, first evidenced when she negotiated the ownership and syndication rights to her show. That move allowed her to create her own production company and made her a millionaire by the age of 32 when her show went national.

 

Today, Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

 

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Another billionaire, Steve Jobs, was raised in less than ideal financial circumstances as well. Jobs grew up in a lower middle-class family, the adoptive son of a homemaker mother, and a father who was a self-described “repo man.”

 

Jobs was only at Reed College for a year before he had to drop out due to floundering familial finances. He continued to audit classes at Reed, ate for free at the local Hare Krishna temple, and returned soda bottles for change to get by. In 1974, Jobs moved to India and lived in an ashram for seven months before moving back to the Bay Area and living in his parents’ toolshed.

 

What grounded and motivated him throughout these tough, early years was a fascination with the nascent computer revolution. It was in 1975 that he and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer in the Jobs family garage. Apple, as we all know, was a hit from the start, but did you know that Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded less than a decade later? But he was nothing if not resilient. When later discussing his firing from the company he loved, he said:

 

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

 

When he died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, Steve Jobs was worth $8.3 billion.

 

               CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Walt_Disney_1946.JPGAnd if ever there was an entrepreneur who started small and overcame adversity, it is none other than Walt Disney, survivor of bankruptcy, lawsuits and more. In 1922, Disney started his first animation company, “Laugh-O-Gram,” where he and his partner made short advertising films and Walt attempted to create his first animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Unfortunately, a distributor soon cheated Disney and his partner in a big deal, causing Disney to declare bankruptcy and lose the rights to Oswald in the process.

 

Disney started all over, in a new city, and created another new company. Then he decided to create a character to replace Oswald.

 

A little fellow he named Mickey Mouse.

 

Entrepreneurs of great enterprises and companies started from humble and often extremely adverse backgrounds. Regardless of their beginnings, they all achieved incredible success. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down by losses as small business owners, but reminding yourself that every business and entrepreneur had their ebbs and flows can help keep your head up.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                                

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Yes, you want to stand out in what is becoming an ever-crowded marketplace, but no, you certainly do not want to shout and be obnoxious to get attention. Given that, is it actually possible to stand out, and if so, how?

 

The answer is yes, you can, and even better, doing so does not include yelling. I’ll tell you the secret in a moment, but first, a story:

 

Not long ago I went with my wife to an idyllic, small little fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico where the locals were kind, the beach perfect and the vibe just right (sorry, its name will remain a secret, amigos!) Many mornings we found ourselves at the same great little restaurant for breakfast.

 

           CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Did we keep coming back there for the delicious huevos rancheros? That was part of it. Was it because of our wonderful waitresses? Yes, but that was not the main reason. Even though there were tons of restaurants and bars in this town, we – and plenty more people – crowded this place every day. Why?

 

Free WiFi.

 

I54758428_s.jpgn a town where getting online was a challenge, free WiFi kept us coming back. Throughout the town there were little posters that said nothing more than “Free WiFi!” and the name of the restaurant. That was their X Factor to stand out in a crowded market.

 

Isn’t that true of your favorite businesses, the ones you frequent time and again? Don’t they offer something unique and out of the ordinary?

 

  • There is a bookstore in the Pacific Northwest called Powell’s World of Books. World of Books indeed. The store engulfs one full city block and is four stories high.
  • In Los Angeles, there is a fun sushi bar on the Westside. I don’t recall its real name because all anyone ever calls it is “Reggae Sushi.” Yep, reggae music all the time, mon.

 

These are X factors. These businesses have figured out something special to hang their hat on to distinguish themselves from the competition. So, the question you should ask yourself is – what is yours? What is it you do that is unique, different and special that you can tout that will make your business more memorable?

 

Here’s another example: Not long ago I was in Erie, Pennsylvania, giving a speech for the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Every year, the SBDC honors local businesses with a banquet, the culmination of which is the presentation of “Business of the Year” awards in various categories. I was fortunate enough to get to give the keynote at the banquet and meet these exceptional entrepreneurs. As I think back upon the award winners, each one had their own unique, memorable characteristic.

 

          RELATED ARTICLE: Is Your Small Business Ready to Go to Mars?

 

But my favorite was a company called Frontier Pharmacy. At a time when large drug store chains are putting local pharmacies out of business, Frontier Pharmacy is easily the busiest pharmacy in the area, routinely filling thousands of prescriptions a week. When I asked the owner what his secret was, he told me about the usual suspects – a great staff, loyal customers, and so on. Then he mentioned what I now see was his X Factor:

 

Free delivery.

 

Every day he has two full-time drivers do nothing but deliver prescriptions to his customers for free. “And I only hire retired gentleman,” he told me. Given many of his customers are ill or even invalid, it’s a brilliant idea.

 

So that is the answer. You don’t have to yell or be obnoxious to get noticed. You have to be different and better. What is your business differentiator? Figure it out, tout it and customers will find you and frequent your business more often – if not for the huevos rancheros then definitely for the free WiFi.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success. © Steven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Did you hear the one about the guy who went onto Facebook to launch a marketing campaign…and found himself watching funny cat videos three hours later?

 

Guilty as charged!

 

These days, it is easy for anyone to be very busy, yet very not productive. Between the many ways to communicate (phone, text, email, IM) and work (online, offline, remotely) and all the potential available distractions (the Internet,  mobile alerts, TV, life) it is a wonder we ever get anything done.

 

So yes, there is a fine line between being busy and being productive; the key is to understand the difference and aim for the latter. Here are a few quick tips to help you switch from keeping busy to staying productive:

 

          CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

1.  Start the night with a to-do list: At the end of the day, think about the next day, and create a list of essential action items. And remember, having too long a to-do list is overwhelming and can also be disheartening. Instead, focus on what you really need to accomplish the next day. Doing this the night before has the effect of giving you some distance from the actual work and allows you to see what is truly important.

 

2.  Make six lists: One of my go-to productivity pros is a lawyer friend who no longer practices and has instead ventured into sharing and selling marketing and productivity advice. His favorite productivity tip is to have not one to-do list, but six:34201639_s.jpg

 

  1. Ready: “This is an overview list of options to choose from, depending on how much time I have and my current context and priorities.”

  2. To-do today: “First thing in the morning, or the night before, I go to my “Ready” list and choose 3 tasks for the day.”

  3. Done: “As soon as I complete a task, I move it to this list. I used to delete done tasks; now I collect and review them to see my progress and learn when and how I work best.”

  4. Backlog: “These are tasks and projects I plan to do but I’m not ready to start and probably won’t be for a week or two. When I am ready, I’ll move tasks from this list to the Ready list. I check this list weekly.”

  5. Deferred: “I check this monthly. When I’m ready, I’ll move these to Backlog or Ready.”

  6. Someday/maybe: “I don’t know if I will do these or not. They are more ideas than anything I’m committed to doing.”

 

3.  Stop multitasking: In our hyper-busy society that values moving fast and always going, you’ve embraced multitasking. We all have. And that’s the problem. Have you ever considered breaking this golden rule?

 

You should.

 

Put down the iPhone and turn off the wireless. You will get a lot done.

 

More broadly, staying focused on a single task until it’s completed is one of the best things you can do for your productivity levels. Sure, multitasking will keep you busy all day, but it will not aid you in doing a quality job on a single task.

 

This is the essential difference between being busy and being productive.

 

 

4.  Plan your long-term goals: Long-term goal setting is a major part of ensuring your current and future productivity. By actively focusing on what it is that you want – what you really want – you will be able to make more calculated and deliberate decisions as to how you use your time.

 

A great way to start focusing more on your long-term goals is to write them down. The truth is, a thought is just a thought, after all. The secret is to write down what you want your long-term results to be and work backwards. Reverse engineer a process for getting from here to there.

 

And then add that to your lists above.

 

Voila! Productivity.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 8 Productivity Hacks when Working from Home

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.                     

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

I used to work from home (notice I said, “used to”). As I always say, there is good news and bad news when you work from home.

 

The good news is you see your kids a lot. The bad news is, you see your kids a lot!

 

Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. There are many obvious benefits to working from home: you don’t have to commute anywhere, you can work at your own pace, you can stay in your sweatpants, etc. And if you have kids, oftentimes, being your own boss allows you to create your own hours leaving flexibility to dedicate specific times to pick up your kids from school, attend soccer games etc. However, by the same token, these benefits sometimes make it difficult to maintain high levels of productivity.16752358_s.jpg

 

Indeed, working from home and working in the office both have their own requirements and challenges and it’s important to know the keys to success in either environment. Consider these rituals and see if they don’t increase your work-from-home productivity

 

1. Turn off notifications: Unless your work is heavily reliant on phone calls and mobile usage, you probably do not need to have your phone next to you at all times. And you know it’s true: having your phone alert you with game notifications and news alerts every three minutes only distracts you from your work.

 

Turn your phone on silent, leave it in the other room, and get going.

 

2. Have a separate workspace: Your productivity will decrease dramatically if you’re sitting on your bed, working in front of the TV, or surrounded by lots of commotion. Make sure you have a designated, separate space in your home to work. Having a space free of distractions will help you maintain focus.

 

3. Separate family from work: Along the same lines, working from home is especially unique for those with families. It is important that your partner and your children know there are rules when you are working from home. – For example, institute office hours so you can ensure hours of uninterrupted time.

 

4. Keep things organized: An organized space is an organized mind. Take a couple of minutes to tidy up your work area before sitting down (or at least once a week). This makes a bigger difference than you might think.

 

5. Start with small tasks: Everybody has their own preference, but many people find that starting the workday with smaller tasks helps one to gradually get into a workflow. For me, bigger projects are harder if I haven’t entered that rhythmic workflow quite yet. Things, like responding to emails and tidying up your workspace, are great ways to get the day moving.

 

6. Know your work habits: Similarly, you know your work habits best, so it would behoove you to and pay attention to them. If you know that you like to have a couple of hours in the morning to drink coffee, wake up, and read the news, then don’t try to force yourself to jump into work first thing in the morning.

 

7. Be disciplined: Working for yourself requires a level of self-discipline and planning, and this becomes even more important when you work from home. Make a list of what you want to accomplish for the day and try to stick to it.

 

8. Stay in the chair: There’s always some reason to get up out of your chair. Whether you think you need more coffee, a walk, a snack, etc., the solution is usually quite simple: Stay in the chair. Just keep plugging away. The fridge can wait. A couple of breaks are good and important, sure, but this is an excellent rule that will make you more productive.

 

The good news is that if you stay on target, playing with the kids won’t induce work-related guilt and everyone will be happier – you, your family, and yes, your clients too.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success. © Steven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

With fall around the corner, so is school. As a small business, this is a great time to take advantage of this busy time of year.

 

There are plenty of ways you can make this back to school season successful and mutually beneficial – for you and your customers. Here are some ideas:

 

Back to school promotions: With everybody shopping for school supplies, now is a great time to offer discounts, coupons and promotions for popular school items. This is an easy way to attract shoppers, old and new. Even if you are late to the game, that’s OK – there are plenty of last-minute shoppers or those who forgot items who would be relieved to still see deals. 43530272_s.jpg

 

Also, back to school promotions aren’t exclusive to school supplies and computers. Regardless of what you sell, it’s never a bad idea to offer (and advertise) a discount for students, especially during the back-to-school season. It’s a great way of saying good luck with the new year.

 

Bonus tip: You can offer promotional discounts in exchange for customers opting-in to your mailing list. This is a great way to grow your list.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Be helpful: A lot of parents and students are stressed out this time of year, so this is a good opportunity to put forward your very best customer service skills. Be extra helpful, friendly, accommodating and understanding of everyone, as you never know who could be going through something like this. Offer resources, such as relevant local phone numbers and email addresses, and healthy lunch ideas when possible. Being mindful of the emotions people might be feeling will most certainly pay off

Keep in mind that back to school season is expensive for shoppers so you could throw in a gift card, free meal, etc. as a way of saying thank you.

 

Get involved: Getting involved with a local school is a great way to give back to the community and to market your brand and business. There are many ways you can give back to schools, such as:

 

  • Host fundraisers for school scholarships, extracurricular programs, etc.
  • Donate items for school raffles
  • Host a shopping night with proceeds going to the school

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING—TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

Ramp up your productivity: Assuming you've had quality relaxation time this summer, back to school season is the perfect time for you and your staff to get back into the swing of things. Start by doing whatever you’ve neglected this summer. Maybe that means working a little later or taking some work home with you in the evenings or on weekends in order to catch-up. Follow the students’ back to school lead and use the back-to-school season to make this fall a productive one.

 

Summer may be ending but as a small business owner, this is an opportune time to ramp up business.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She went for a walk in the forest.  Pretty soon, she came upon a house. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.

 

At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry, so she tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

Goldilocks.png

“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed.

 

So she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.

 

“This porridge is too cold,” she said.

 

So then she tasted the last bowl of porridge.

 

“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and ate it all up.

 

When you are getting ready to retire and you want to sell your business, the process of valuing it can be a lot like Goldilocks’ porridge. Value it too low, and you won’t get what you deserve. Price it too high and you may get burned.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

The trick is to value it just right, so that potential buyers will eat it all up.

 

The question of how to value your business can certainly be a tricky one; there are many numbers, facts, figures and variables at play. In addition, it’s often difficult to take an objective, factual look at your labor of love. The good news is that there are a few methods and rules that can make this process easier.

 

Let’s review:

 

Earnings multiplication: This method is relatively straightforward and commonly used. In a nutshell, the idea is to multiply your business’s annual earnings by a multiplier. Let’s say your business has consistently made $100,000 each year, and there are no new factors that indicate any big changes in the foreseeable future. A business like this could sell up to 3-5 times its annual earnings, so you could value it anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000. Many businesses sell with multipliers in this range.

 

The problem here is that it can be tough to figure out the right multiplier; not only does it seem very subjective, but there are also plenty of variables (like hard assets, debts, accounts receivable, etc.) that are easy to overlook.

 

Be careful and scrupulous with this method.

 

Assets valuation: Instead of reducing your business’s value merely to its annual earnings, a different analysis sometimes used to determine value is simply adding up all your business’s tangible assets. These assets can be tools or equipment with potential resale value, contracts, receivables, etc. Once you add this number up and subtract debts you owe, you will come up with the net value of all your hard assets.

 

Although this method is more detailed, it can end up lowering the value of your business since it doesn’t take future income into account.

 

RELATED CONTENT: THE 4 MOST IMPORTANT DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

 

Comparables: This one is similar to the process you might go through to value your home. Here, you look at the value of other, comparable companies that have either a) been recently sold, or b) have, in one way or another, publicized their value.

 

The big flaw with this method might be obvious: There is almost always more than meets the eye. By assuming your company is comparable to another, you could be overlooking a whole gamut of variables, and thereby making a fatal apples-to-oranges comparison.

 

Professional valuation: To find out what your company is truly worth, the best thing you can do is hire a business broker and get a professional opinion. A complete valuation is a thorough evaluation and appraisal of your business – its assets, earnings, debts, future potential, etc. Anything you might accidentally overlook with your own quick valuation, a professional, complete valuation will make sure to account for.

 

Yes, this process is costly, but it’s also the most foolproof way to be sure you aren’t making a costly mistake, and that the bears won’t chase you out of your business. Taking the time to value your business for exactly what it’s worth will set you up for a sale you will feel confident in and won’t regret. Make sure to diligently research and weigh options so you know what is the best for your situation.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

With apologies to musician Paul Simon, there are a lot of ways to leave your business:

 

Just slip out the back, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan

Just drop off the key, Lee

And get yourself free!

 

Inevitably, there comes a time for almost every business owner to call it quits. Whether it’s age, health, retirement, finances, or just wanting to do something new, many entrepreneurs eventually say goodbye to their beloved business.

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

 

Typically, these are the main routes people choose to get out of their business:

  1. Pass on the business to a family member
  2. Sell the business
  3. Transform the business into something new entirely
  4. Close the business and sell assets

 

While each situation will require different considerations, and only you know what those considerations might be, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each option:

 

1. Pass on the business to a family member: This is the desire of many entrepreneurs, and often the reason someone starts a business in the first place: to create something of value to give to, or share with, the kids. 

 

The benefits of ending an entrepreneurial career this way are pretty clear:

 

  • You share a valuable asset with your children
  • Your business will be in the hands of somebody you trust
  • You won’t have to say goodbye entirely to your creation

 

Are there downsides to this plan? You bet. The first and main one is that your children may not want to, or may not be ready to, own or run your business. Your dream may not be their dream. So, long before you decide that you are going to give or sell your business to your kids, you better be darned sure they want it.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

2. Sell the business: This is a great option because it puts money in your pocket. There are essentially two ways to sell your business:

 

  • An outright sale: You hire a business broker (typically), find interested buyers, and sell them the business;
  • A gradual sale: Here, you might find a buyer who does not have the financial wherewithal to buy the business outright and, in that case, they make ongoing payments to you.

 

3. Transform the business: Maybe you're not ready to retire but are more than ready for a different adventure. The good news is that as an entrepreneur you have the potential to add new features to, and take away old ones from, your existing business. Indeed, that is one of the beauties of self-employment.

 

This will feel a lot like the early stages of a startup (which is likely what you want.) You will need to test the waters (again) to find out what works and what doesn’t, and you will go through the long route of experimentation/process of elimination. If this is your plan, this all probably sounds great to you.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Why Small Business Owners need a Retirement Plan – Now

 

The risk here is that you will certainly lose some customers and clients in the process. So you need to be prepared for this loss and have a plan for how to re-brand, re-market, and ultimately re66663758_m.jpgcover.

 

4. Close the business and sell assets: For some, liquidation makes the most sense. By selling your assets, you can either pay off debts quickly or have a solid chunk of cash to put in the bank. Liquidation is also as quick as it is a straightforward, no-strings-attached activity.  For more information, check out the SBA page on closing your business here, and liquidation here.

 

Whatever route you choose, leaving your business is a process.

 

Just slip out the back, Jack, and set yourself free!

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

 

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Retirement might seem like a far off notion to you.

 

It shouldn’t be. Your IRA or 401(k) should be your best friend. And, like any friendship, it takes time, commitment, and trust.Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

 

Now, it may be that you are young and more concerned about funding a college savings plan  for the kids than a retirement plan, or that you have no real plans on retiring, or whatever the case, but the same inspiration that led you to entrepreneurship should also lead you to planning for retirement – no matter what your age or situation.

Think about it: Why did you start your own business? It is likely because you had an idea for a business that took hold that you could not ignore. But equally, it’s very likely that you chose entrepreneurship because you believe in yourself and you wanted to create something of value that would provide long-term security for yourself and your family.

 

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And that’s exactly why you need to think about funding a retirement plan, right now.15491704_s.jpg

 

Consider all of the reasons a retirement plan makes as much sense for you as starting a business did:

 

It provides financial security: Let’s face it, Social Security is neither a viable retirement option for most people nor a lock to be there 10, 15, or 20 years from now. By the same token, the income generated by your business now may not be the same 10, 15, or 20 years from now.

 

You create a hedge against both possibilities by starting to fund a retirement plan right now. It is your security against old age and outside risk.

 

Things change: Maybe right now you have no plans on retiring, or maybe your business income is such that you don’t think you need to worry about retirement income. But if you have been around the small business block a couple of times, you know that one of Buddha’s truths is that everything changes.

 

  • Your business can change
  • You might get sick
  • You might get bored
  • Life happens etc.

 

Whatever the case, the solution is the same: The funding of a retirement plan now puts you in control.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: How To Enjoy Vacation and Keep Your Business Humming

 

Control: Speaking of control, if you are an entrepreneur then you probably like control. Among other reasons, you likely started a business because you wanted to control your career and the type of work you do. You certainly like having control over your schedule. And if all that is true, then it follows again that creating a retirement plan makes sense because it puts you in control of your finances and your future.

 

Potential age discrimination: If you are a professional, if you sell yourself and your services, one thing you may encounter as you get older – that you may not be aware of now – is age discrimination.

 

Oh sure, if you are a doctor, patients will appreciate your gray hair. But will your employer? Might they want to replace you with a younger, cheaper, healthier version? Or what if you are a self-employed salesperson? At some point customers may think that someone younger “knows the market better,” or whatever.

 

Solution? A funded retirement.

 

Slowing down: The last reason creating a retirement plan now makes sense is you might want to  slow down a bit, but not fully retire.

 

Saving for retirement as soon as possible seems like a simple concept, but many Americans don’t know where to begin. Now that you know why you should start investing in your future, here’s a tip to kick-start your savings.

 

Use the 50/20/30 rule to budget for retirement

 

There is certainly no shortage of ways to spend your way. The first step in prioritizing your retirement is budgeting. If you tell your money where to go, you won’t have to wonder where it went.

 

50 percent of Your Income – Fixed Expenses 

 

These expenses typically don’t vary month to month. For example:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Transportation, etc.

 

20 percent of Your Income – Savings and Retirement

 

Set automatic payments to your savings account each month.

  • Building an emergency fund
  • Paying down credit card debt
  • Retirement – IRA and 401(k)

 

30 percent of Your Income – Personal Lifestyle Expenses

  • Gym memberships

  • Coffee shops

  • Eating out for dinner

 

If you are looking to cut costs, this is the best category to forgo. Try limiting eating out to once or twice a week, going for a run, or bringing coffee from home.

 

Your business savvy is what helped start your business, now apply that same go-getter mentality to your future self. After all, funding a retirement plan now makes a lot of sense.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngDid you hear the one about the guy who drove for Uber and Lyft, and worked for Task Rabbit on the side, and rented out his extra room on Airbnb on weekends?

 

Neither did his girlfriend since she never saw him.

 

By now, you’ve probably heard some buzz on the “gig economy.” If not, the “gig economy” refers to people who support themselves from one contract or project – one gig – to another. Gig workers could be almost anything:

 

  • Musicians and artists
  • Web and graphic designers
  • Carpenters and painters
  • Drivers and shoppers

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

And apparently there is no shortage of gig workers today. According to US News, one-third of all workers are now part of the gig economy:

 

“A new study published by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates the U.S. holds between 54 million and 68 million “independent workers,” which it defines as “someone who chooses how much to work and when to work, who can move between jobs fluidly and who has multiple employers or clients over the course of the year.”

 

There certainly are a lot of benefits to being a gig worker. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is the opportunity to be your own boss. Needles to say, making your own schedule, setting your own prices, working wherever and whenever you want, not having a boss, and doing work you (hopefully) enjoy are all very desirable things.

 

However, the gig economy also comes with its share of downfalls and challenges.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 6 TIPS FOR WORKING BETTER WITH FREELANCERS

 

For starters, in the gig economy, being your own boss means finding your own gigs. So, not only must you be able to do the task you are hired to do (play that song, create that content) but you must also be a master marketer. This in turn makes the prospect of a steady, reliable income pretty uncertain. When you worked for someone else, work was assigned to you; you didn’t have to go look for it.

 

46722376_s.jpgMoreover, working for yourself means that nobody is paying for your health insurance or vacations. That’s also big change from the world of employment.

 

Being a contract worker similarly requires an incredible amount of self-discipline. Setting your own schedule and hours can be great, but that means that it’s up to you – and only you – to decide what your deadlines are and what your rules are. A gig worker needs to be able to resist the desire to procrastinate and act on impulse – so self-discipline is key.

 

So, this all begs the questions: Is the gig economy worth it?

 

The numbers don’t provide black and white answers, but they are certainly illuminating. Consider that 71% of gig workers have had positive experiences working in the gig industry, yet 58% of gig workers also agree that the gig economy exploits a lack of regulation. These conflicting statistics make it tough to come to any clear-cut conclusion on the gig economy’s ultimate effects and consequences.

 

What we can be (mostly) sure of is that the rise of the gig economy appears to have been born of the confluence of digital technology and the still recent recession. It is no coincidence that 51% of gig economy workers are in the 18-34 age range: yes, Millennials are generally thought of as being the most technologically savvy, as well as the most unlucky in terms of entering the job market. Since 2007, finding jobs has only gotten harder and harder, whereas using technology has gotten easier and easier. That’s the void the gig economy filled. Apps like Postmates, Lyft, and Airbnb have made it significantly easier and less expensive to find a gig.

 

It really comes down to your personal work style and the things you value in work. If your goal is to supplement your primary source of income, then part-time gig work would be great for you. If you’re an artist who wants to take your career into your own hands, then yes, absolutely. If you know how to discipline yourself, handle stress well, market yourself, and be patient, then by all means, the gig economy might be exactly what you’re looking for.

 

While the gig economy began as a means of managing unfortunate economic circumstances, it can be a great way to make a little extra cash while also taking control of your career and getting your work out there.

 

If you want to, you could be your own boss today. And that’s pretty incredible.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngAs we head into the July 4th holiday, it’s important to remember the blessings of this country. In the spirit of celebrating America, I’d like to highlight a few of our presidents who have very solid backgrounds in small business.

 

For starters, consider that before he led the continental army, George Washington was a farmer, which was a common and fruitful entrepreneurial endeavor at the time. According to MountVernon.org:

 

Initially growing tobacco as his cash crop, Washington soon realized that tobacco was not sustainable and he switched to grains, particularly wheat as a cash crop in 1766. Washington read the latest works on agriculture and implemented the new methods . . . on his five farms.

 

Additionally, John Adams, James Monroe, and James Madison were all lawyers (which certainly requires an entrepreneurial flair).

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

But let’s not stop there: 

 

Andrew Jackson was a true entrepreneurial president. Jackson, while also a lawyer, made his first fortune buying and selling real estate. He was also a founder of Memphis, Tennessee. Additionally, his progressive policies were proactive in encouraging both small business and entrepreneurship.

 

Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and an entrepreneur. In 1833, Lincoln opened a general store with a partner and took on debt to finance the company. Unfortunately, the venture failed and Lincoln’s possessions were seized by the state. Lincoln also owned a law practice and got a patent for an invention that would lift boats over obstructions in rivers.

 

Warren G. Harding was an excellent entrepreneur. When he was 19, he bought a newspaper that was about to go under – The Marion Star. Soon after his acquisition, the paper quickly gained success; so much so that his debts were soon paid off and the venture generated income for him for the next several decades.

 

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt got polio in 1921, he heard a story about a young boy who regained the use of his legs through hydrotherapy. From that point forward, FDR became what is now known as a social entrepreneur – working tirelessly to raise funds to set up a center for people with polio, later to become known as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IN CELEBRATION OF FATHER’S DAY: WHY DADS MAKE GREAT ENTREPRENEURS

 

Before becoming president, Harry Truman owned a hat store and opened his own clothing store in Kansas City after serving in World War I.

 

39788592_s.jpgJimmy Carter’s small business story is one of the better ones. Carter took over his family’s peanut farm after serving in the navy, and he managed to turn that tiny farm into a multi-million-dollar business. Warehouses, shelling plants, industrial farm equipment – the works.

 

Despite the farm’s great success, Carter almost went broke when he was leaving the White House. However, his acute entrepreneurial skills were what allowed him to turn things around yet again. He founded the Carter Center, and became a best-selling author and speaker. Additionally, he became a millionaire in the process.

 

Jimmy Carter was one of the savvier businessmen presidents – even to this day.

 

In 1951, George H.W. Bush founded the Bush-Overby Oil Development Company as well as the Zapata Petroleum Corporation. The latter is what eventually made him a millionaire. George W., made $15 million from his initial investment in the Texas Rangers. Home run!

 

Today, Bill Clinton has a net worth of over $100 million, mostly from speaking fees. This is more impressive considering he did not enter or leave office rich.

 

Maybe Barack Obama put it best when he said “[You don’t] have to look a certain way, or be of a certain faith, or have a certain last name to have a good idea.”

 

Certainly, on this July 4th it is important to remember that even presidents started small (businesses, that is)!

                                                                                                               

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngIt’s that time of year when I sound like an updated version of an old movie:

 

“Step away from the keyboard and put down the phone!”

 

It can be difficult for a lot of small business people to take time off. Vacation time might feel like an antiquated concept to you, which is not surprising considering that Americans have been taking off less and less time in recent years. Look at these recent dreary stats from the website TravelForSmallBiz:

 

  • 47 percent of small business owners took no vacation time
  • 44 percent did not go with their families on vacation
  • And 41 percent hadn’t taken a 7-day vacation in at least two years

 

This simply will not do.

 

If the sake of enjoyment is not enough to convince you to take a breather, then think of vacation as an investment: nobody can produce quality work without a bit of rest and relaxation here and there. By allowing yourself to become fully rejuvenated, you can then return to work with a clearer mind and plenty of energy.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

There are ways to take a vacation while keeping your business running. Here are my top tips:

 

Plan ahead: The key to making sure you can relax while you’re away is to make sure you’ve covered all bases before leaving town. If you’re a freelancer, work like mad for a few days and get some projects done early.

 

If going on vacation would mean leaving your employees short-staffed, then bring in extra people and resources ahead of time so that nobody has to scramble while you’re gone. It might be time to finally hire a temp or a virtual assistant.

 

Another idea is to schedule a little extra time once you get back, to readjust and catch up on your work before heading back to the office.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WANT TO BE A GREAT BOSS? DEVELOP THESE TRAITS

 

47716018_s.jpgUse technology: Ideally, it would be nice to unplug altogether while on vacation, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible. If answering a few emails or being available for your employees in case of an emergency is what makes your business continue to run smoothly (and makes you feel comfortable) then you shouldn’t hesitate.

 

Take advantage of the slow season: Owning a small business certainly makes it a little trickier to go on vacation, but it can be easier if you take time off during your slow season. If summer is your peak business season, then don’t go on a summer vacation. Make your own “summer” vacation congruent with your slow season – it will also make your absence easier on your team.

 

Reminder – people often take time off during the last week of August and late December, so consider using this slower time to your advantage as well.

 

Combine business and pleasure: In order to save money and not waste time, you can always make it a point to have fun on your business trips. That could mean bringing your family with you or ignoring your jet lag to go sight-seeing. Business trips can be a great way to create a built-in vacation.

 

Take three day weekends: If you don’t see yourself taking a 10-day vacation, then at least give yourself an extra weekend day semi-regularly this summer. It really is important to stop and reboot.

 

And so, it is time for me to heed my own advice and logoff.

 

Aloha!

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngThere were lots of things I loved about becoming self-employed when my entrepreneurial journey began, but near the top of the list had to be my newfound ability to drop my kids off and pick them up from school. I loved that.

 

Being a parent is a full-time job, and there are a lot of adjectives that describe it: fun, exhausting, frustrating, time-consuming, rewarding, joyous, and everything in between. For a lot of parents – especially new ones – it might seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do anything extra. I certainly don’t miss that sleep deprivation.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

One thing I’ve learned: Fatherhood is a very good precursor to entrepreneurship. So, on this Father’s Day, I want to salute all the “dadpreneurs” out there – both the ones who own their own businesses and the ones who don’t – because it turns out that if you are helping with the kids, you are an entrepreneur in training.

 

In fact, if you are thinking of starting a business, know that your fatherhood can bring forth your entrepreneurial ambitions. Here’s why:

 

Fatherhood requires teamwork: If you are married or have a significant other, you already know parenting requires cooperation and compromise. Knowing how to let go of your ego and make joint decisions is an essential part of parenting…as well entrepreneurship.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS REALLY, REALLY LIKE THEIR WORK

 

Many successful businesses have more than one co-founder. This is a simple matter of “two heads are better than one.” If you already know how to recognize your own weaknesses, acknowledge your partner’s strengths, and work as a team, then you are well on your way to being a successful entrepreneur. Teamwork is a cornerstone to running a successful small business, and that type of teamwork is the same when it comes to parenting. this applies to single dads, as well. Partnership obviously extends between you and your child. This has everything to do with putting your own needs aside and thinking of the greater good, and learning how and when to say no, cooperation, patience, assertiveness, and compassion. These are all the same traits needed when it comes to managing a team and a growing business.

 

Fatherhood teaches resourcefulness: There isn’t always an easy answer in the world of fatherhood, much like in the world of business. Starting a business is a notoriously challenging process that requires attention, quick decision making when things don’t go according to plan (which will happen often), and juggling, not unlike changing a diaper while engaging the toddler and talking to your partner on the phone.

 

In this sense, being a dad is excellent small business training. Can you do it all?

 

46770350_s.jpgFatherhood = patience: Starting your own business is often a waiting game. Your business will most likely not become super successful as quickly as you’d like, which just means you need to stick to it and not give up. This is very difficult for a lot of people, but dads know that program.

 

Fatherhood means prioritizing and multitasking: Being a dad means you have to wear many hats at once while t understanding which hat is most important at a given time. Is being in the school play more important than having extra time to get their homework done? As a parent, you are the CEO and have to decide. Similarly, running a small business means being able to make quality executive decisions about which tasks have more priority and which can wait.

 

As I said, part of the beauty of owning a small business is that it allows you to create your own schedule. Furthermore, it also allows you to make your own decisions, and have more control over your financial situation. For a lot of dads, these are all highly valued benefits.

 

Sure, the prospect of becoming an entrepreneur might seem risky, but chances are, you’re way more prepared than you think.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngWho do you think is happier at work? Worker A works for a fine company with a decent salary and modest benefits package. He has a normal job with standard duties and much predictability. His employers expect him to work about 40 hours a week, and he does, but there is little creativity or room for upward mobility in his position.

 

Worker B owns her own business and in the process, has created a demanding job for herself. Her flexible schedule necessitates that she works long hours – definitely more than 40 per week – and she often finds herself working at night and on weekends. Sometimes she even has nightmares about her business failing.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), it turns out that our entrepreneur, worker B, actually feels quite fulfilled with her choice and work (and I think it is safe to say that the employee likely feels pretty stifled). In fact, according to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, entrepreneurs generally state that they find their work:

 

  • “Fulfilling”
  • “Enjoyable”
  • “Interesting”

 

Those are some strong adjectives.

 

Maybe even most interesting is  while these entrepreneurs clearly work long hours, the ever-elusive work-life balance doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for them.

 

Why is that?

 

22815177_s.jpgIn my opinion,  the answer is that for many small business owners, work doesn’t much feel like work. It feels more like passion. Oh, sure, they work hard – Worker B works way harder than Worker A – but because it is their own work, based on their own vision, passion, values and schedule. It seems less like work and more like a vocation.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE EASE AND IMPORTANCE OF GOING GREEN

 

This is not to say that their work isn’t difficult and challenging. When asked to describe their experience as a small business owner, 47% said that it is “demanding”.  Almost a third (30%) used the word “stressful” to describe their job. And yes, a quarter even had nightmares about their business failing. Despite this, most small business owners also said they have little issue with their work-life balance, even though they work a lot. How long are the hours? Pretty long! More than three in five said that they work more than 40 hours per week, and more than 75% of respondents, stated that their work interferes with their home life.

 

And even so, consider these surprising statistics from the Report:

 

  • Business owners are more likely to report that they have achieved a work-life balance (82%)
  • 80% said they are “satisfied” with the number of hours they work, and
  • Almost all report that they love the flexibility and schedule that being self-employed offers them

 

So, what can we make of all of this? Clearly, small business owners are of a different breed, a breed that values creativity, flexibility, and hard work above regularity, predictability, and ease.

 

And yes, they love their work.

 

In fact, that seems to be the bottom line, the X factor in all of this. When you love something, it is difficult to see it as getting in the way of other things, even if one of those other things is time off. That is why Worker B, the entrepreneur, is the more fulfilled of our two hypothetical workers. She does work that is demanding, yes, but also fulfilling. Worker A has work that is neither demanding nor fulfilling. So, what should he do? Perhaps start his own business.

 

 


 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngWith Earth Day coming up, and the Paris Accords in the news, it’s a good time to think a bit about what we can each do in our respective businesses to make the world a little bit better, a little greener.

 

The problem is that many believe their own individual ecological efforts, especially when compared to the scope of the problem, can be pretty minuscule and inconsequential. If that describes you, there are two points to consider:

  1. Remember that individual actions do add up. That is how things change in all areas of life and business.
  2. Because businesses have a larger ecological footprint than individuals, business owners can have an even bigger impact.

 

The good news is that becoming more environmentally friendly makes you green in two great ways. First, greening your business helps green the planet, and second, greening your business also can help generate more green.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Sustainability is both good business and good for business, as it turns out.

 

Here are some of my top reasons and ways for businesses to go green:

 

Cost savings: Here are just a few of the things you can do to do your part:

  • Make re-using and recycling easy by having recycling bins available throughout the office
  • Go paperless to the extent you can
  • When buying new technology, purchase Energy Star certified goods
  • Install power timers so that equipment and lights go off at night
  • Encourage employees to take public transit or bikes to work
  • Ban plastic water bottles and offer filtered water instead so that employees can refill their water bottles at work

 

Little changes can create big results.

 

11897666_s.jpgHealthier work environment: If you choose to go green by offering organic food instead of junk food, you are directly promoting the personal physical health of your employees, which can lead to better moods and fewer sick days. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products is also excellent for the health of your employees. In fact, according to the Green Business Bureau, there is a 20 percent decrease in number of sick days for companies that actively promote a healthier workplace.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: GREAT ENTREPRENEURS START SMALL – CONSIDER HOWARD, RAY AND AMADEO

 

It’s good for morale: An ethical and sustainable work environment is increasingly becoming one of the most important requirements for young professionals. These in-demand millennials appreciate your efforts.  Consider creating a green suggestion box for instance. By offering a prize for the best ideas, you will really get some good ones as well as some happy, loyal employees.

 

Tax benefits: Some states offer tax credits for businesses that go green. For example, in Florida, businesses who either use solar energy or produce electricity from renewable energy facilities are eligible for special tax deductions. Using hybrid cars and wind energy can also be tax deductible.

 

Good customer relations: Another way to make a difference is to encourage your customers to be greener. For instance, you can

  • Offer green products. Adding green products to your inventory mix is easy and affordable and customers will love that they have that choice.
  • Offer discounts to customers who bring their own reusable shopping bags.
  • Finally, consider matching donations (up to a certain limit) made by customers to the environmental charity of their choice. This would not only burnish your green credentials, but would be a nice tax write-off to boot.

 

Good PR: Being able to advertise all the things your business does to be green is very attractive to many consumers. This can actually grow your customer base, since the sharp increase in public environmental consciousness has created a growing desire to patronize environmentally friendly businesses.

 

By being a more environmentally-friendly business, you can make yourself stand out against the crowd. Planetary green looks very good against corporate beige.

 


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

           

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngMy worst boss ever once threatened to put his cigarette out on my forehead.

 

Let’s just say he wasn’t what you’d call a great leader (although, irony of ironies, we worked for a leadership development company).

 

Yes, we have all had really, really bad bosses at some point in our life. You know the type: Bosses who schedule you on days you can’t work, who berate you, who are unorganized, who take credit for your work, who don’t communicate well, assign you massive projects with very little time, make you work late, etc. The list goes on and on.

 

It is no fun to work for a bad boss.

 

While bad boss stories make great fodder for stories at parties, tales among friends or intros to blogs, in the actual workplace, bad leadership is no joke. Every team needs a leader, and this is especially true in small business, where so much depends upon the style, vision and abilities of the leader/owner.

 

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So what makes for a good small business leader? It is not enough for a leader to be not terrible. A good leader should make you feel comfortable and at ease, excited and inspired. A good leader should not be okay with sticking with the same-old, same-old. The leader should be constantly looking for new ways to lead and engage, to discover and invent.

 

Although it is difficult to boil it down to a sentence or a definition, there certainly are traits that all great small business leaders share:

 

Passion: Entrepreneurs start businesses because they are passionate about an idea. But great entrepreneurs become great leaders when they enroll other people in that vision. Getting people excited about the business is fundamental to being a team leader. It is the passionate leader who is a great leader; their dedication to the goal shines through and percolates into all of their interactions and decisions. That type of passion is infectious.

 

RELATED STORY: REMOTE WORKERS ARE HAPPY WORKERS: MY TIPS FOR MAKING SMART HIRES

 

Excellent communication skills: Good leadership means making a habit of asking your employees how they’re feeling, what they are thinking, what’s working, what’s not, and what they need help with. It means sharing the vision. It also means listening.

 

Playing fair: A bad boss is the one who always seems to be on a power trip, using their title to justify their bad behavior or poor decision making. Great bosses and great small business leaders inspire confidence because they have little interest in their own ego, and are much more focused on making sure that the team succeeds. For this boss, the welfare of the company is much more important than their own pride.

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Positive attitude: A great leader inspires those around him or her with his or her positivity. Their belief in a better future, in the mission, vision and business, enables others to dream and think big too.

 

Creativity: A small business leader must be adaptable and creative, especially because there is often a shortage of money or time. Some of their new ideas work, others don’t, but that doesn’t stop them.

 

Integrity: Last but certainly not least, a great leader must have integrity within himself and those around him. It is through hard work, dedication, vision, honesty, and smarts that the leader leads effectively.

 

Walking the talk creates the context for excellence, and that truly is what makes for a great small business leader. (And let’s just say that it helps if they don’t want to use your head for an ashtray!)

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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