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General Business

165 Posts authored by: Steve Strauss

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngPeople start their own businesses for all sorts of reasons – money, boredom, fear, freedom, inspiration – you name it. But whatever the reason, one thing all entrepreneurs have in common is that they want to succeed - to create a business that grows.

 

A common fear people have is they look at the entrepreneurial success stories of folks like Richard Branson (Virgin) or Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and they somehow think they started out successful.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Indeed, what gets lost sometimes is that every business starts small, very small. And then, somehow, be it sheer force of will, good luck, a great idea, timing, or a combination, some entrepreneurs break away from the pack and end up growing very big ventures. It happens all the time.

 

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

 

Consider Howard Schultz and Starbucks. Of course, these days Starbucks is ubiquitous, a behemoth, but it sure wasn’t when Schultz first happened upon it. In 1979, Schultz was an employee of a Swedish coffee maker company. One of his customers was a small coffee bean company with a few shops located in and around Seattle called Starbucks. Schultz loved the potential of the little company, so much in fact, that within a year he got himself hired as Starbucks Director of Marketing.

 

It was on a buying trip in Milan, Italy when Howard Schultz had the epiphany that changed both his life – and how you drink coffee. Schultz noticed that dripped espresso bars were everywhere, and served as de-facto community spots. Upon his return, he tried to get the owners of Starbucks to buy into this vision for the company (at the time, Starbucks only sold beans and machines, not drip coffee). 

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THREE IDEAS FOR WOMEN BUSINESS LEADERS TO HELP OTHERS FOLLOW THEIR PATH

 

Schultz’s vision was so clear, and overwhelming, that he eventually bought the fledgling company from the owners and, as they say, the rest is history. But the overall point is important – Howard Schultz started out as an employee whose vision created a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.

 

47375852_l.jpgRay Kroc’s story is similar. Ray was a milkshake mixer salesman in his mid-50’s when he called on two brothers, customers of his whose diner blew him away. The single restaurant they ran was unlike anything Ray had ever seen before – clean, fast, efficient, and profitable. He had to be part of it.

 

Like Howard Schultz, Ray had a giant vision for a business that was not his. And like Schultz, he didn’t let that stop him. And he too got himself hired by the then-owners, he too was thwarted, and yes, he too eventually bought out the owners. The parallels are eerie.

 

McDonald’s also became ubiquitous after Ray Kroc entered the scene.

 

Or consider the story of Amadeo Pietro Giannini. In 1904, Giannini started a small bank called the Bank of Italy, located in San Francisco. The bank served the needs of the immigrant community that was often ignored. Giannini got his big break in 1906 when, after the San Francisco earthquake leveled most of the city, he got his customers’ deposits out of his building and saved them from the fire that engulfed the city. Covering two barrels with a few planks, he set up shop on Market Street and began to lend money to residents looking to rebuild their beloved city.

 

And that, my friends, is how Bank of America started.

 

So, bravo to you, my entrepreneurial friend, even if all you have is a big idea. History proves, when combined with a big heart, a big work ethic, and a drive to succeed, it’s a compelling combination that often leads to huge entrepreneurial success.

 

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.pngThe first time I walked into my mother-in-law’s home, I saw a sign that read, “Mi casa es su casa,” meaning in English “my home is your home.” And boy, that was the truth. Irene was a wonderful woman who made everyone feel special. Her outlook on life is that family always came first and hard work was expected. She’s strong, devoted, smart, funny, loyal and she passed her values down to her kids, including my wife Maria.

 

When I met my wife, she was a single mom who had just started her own small business. She worked incredibly hard and was 100% committed to her daughter, her family, and her business. She was (and is!) an enthusiastic whirlwind.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

She is not alone. I was not surprised, indeed was heartened, when I was able to review a sneak peek of the inaugural Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Spotlight. The Spotlight surveyed 348 Hispanic small business owners from across the country on a range of issues and tells a story of business ownership not unlike my wife and not unlike her mom.

 

It tells a story of confidence, commitment, and community.

 

Not only are Hispanic entrepreneurs one of the fastest growing segments of all small businesses, they are also among the most optimistic. According to the Spotlight:

 

  • 71% of the Hispanic business owners surveyed expect their revenue to increase in 2017
  • 76% plan on growing their business over the next five years, and
  • More than half plan on hiring new staff this year

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Like all small business owners, Hispanic entrepreneurs are concerned about a wide range of business issues. Twenty-three percent say achieving work-life balance is a top challenge, 19% report finding qualified employees to be their biggest concern, and 11% find day-to-day operations to be their biggest issue.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY YOU NEED A BUSINESS PARTNER

 

But one place where Hispanic small business owners seem to be unique, and one of the most interesting aspects of the Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Spotlight, is when it comes to family and community. It turns out that community is vital to the success of Hispanic small business owners.

 

This shows up in three ways:

 

  • Hispanic business owners are much more likely to turn to family for business support. This is especially clear with regards to financial, operational and emotional support – and most (93%) reported turning to family for such support.
  • Community plays a huge role in the success of Hispanic small businesses. Whereas less than half of non-Hispanic business owners indicated that community support was key to their success, almost three-quarters of Hispanic entrepreneurs say it is. And by the same token, just about the same number say that they give back to the community that supports them.
  • Finally, and this one does not surprise me at all when I look at my own extended family, the Hispanic small business owners in the Spotlight report by more than a two-to-one margin that they plan on passing their small business on to a family member. Only 18% of non-Hispanics indicate they would, compared to 42% of the Hispanics surveyed.

 

It’s almost as if the sign in my family’s house could have said “Mi negocio es su negocio.”

 

My business is your 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.pngFor the small business, I always say that it is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. Your chances of standing out are a lot better if the pond is smaller, right?

 

The problem is finding a smaller pond is not easy these days. Between local competition, online competition, a global marketplace and social media, getting heard and seen (and bought) above the din is challenging. This is why I am so excited to share this remarkable stat with you:

 

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

 

According to the United States Department of Commerce, only 1 percent of the 30 million businesses in the United States export.

 

1 percent!

 

Consider what a golden opportunity that is. Indeed, as the Department of Commerce website Trade.gov says, “exporting is good for your bottom line.” They provide five reasons why:

 

1. Access: Access to worldwide markets is easier than ever due to the Internet, improvements in trade finance, etc.

2. Demand: More than 70 percent of all markets are located outside the U.S.

3. Profitability: “On average, sales grow faster, more jobs are created, and employees [of exporting countries] earn more than in non-exporting firms.”

4. Competitive advantage: U.S. goods are admired and desired worldwide.

5. Less risk: Selling in more markets reduces the risk of business fluctuations.

 

So, how do you jump on the export train? Here are the steps:

 

1. Analyze your competitive advantage: What is it you can offer to a global audience that is unique, different or special? Maybe you have international contacts, or experience? Do you sell a product that could prove to be popular overseas? Do you know a foreign language? Are there countries or foreign companies that need what you offer?

 

RELATED: TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT YOUR PRICING STRATEGY

 

Your business idea or product should capitalize on your strengths, and on your unique attributes. 

 

2. Do your homework. Make no mistake, exporting takes work. This is true all along the path – from inception through sale. And that means, especially up front, you need to do your homework and make sure your idea or product is viable. Taking time at the beginning will save you time, money, effort and headaches later on.

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There is a lot of help available where you can do this research. Check out:

 

 

The point of this research is to discover whether or not there is an international market for what you want to sell and if so, where. It will also help to show what doing business there would be like, and whether you would like it. 

 

3. Get your website ready. You may need a version of your site in a different language, or you may need a new site altogether.

 

4. Create the foundation: Selling internationally requires jumping through some hoops:

 

  • You will need to handle export compliance – licenses, certificates, etc. This site can help
  • Payments and sales will need to be considered – the currency you will use, how to handle refunds and returns, etc. 
  • Exporting will also require a knowledge of, and appreciation for, language and cultural differences
  • An export management company (EMC) represents many different exporters, finds business, and can handle logistics, financing, and more

 

You can find export intermediaries at international trade shows, by doing an online search, or by contacting the National Association of Export Companies (www.nexco.org).

 

The bottom line is that exporting affords you a great opportunity because, among other things, there is less competition. The bad news however is that it takes time and effort to get started. But, if you do it right, exporting your goods should offer you a nice profit center for years to come.

 

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.pngPricing your business’ products or services is a tricky business. You don’t want them to be too high because that will drive customers away. You don’t want them to be too low because that will leave money on the table. Like Goldilocks’ porridge, you want your prices to be just right.

 

Easier said than done, you say? Maybe, but let’s take a deeper look.

 

When looking to set the optimal price for the things you sell, there are three foundational factors to consider.

 

1. Your cost. With the exception of some rare circumstances determining the costs for you to buy something is where you must start when setting your prices. If you pay $10 to buy a widget, then that’s that. But don’t stop there. You must also factor in your overhead. Overhead includes factors such as:

 

  • Rent
  • Labor
  • Insurance

 

Between the wholesale cost of the item and related overhead, you get your base cost.

 

THE 7 BUDGETING TIPS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER

 

2. Your brand. What you would pay for a VW is not the same as what you would pay for a Mercedes. Why? Because each company has a different brand, different quality and different pricing strategies.

 

The same is true for your business, brand and pricing. If it’s a high-end shop, then you need to charge high-end prices. If you are the “low-price leader,” needless to say, you need to have low, low prices.

 

The key factors to remember about both is that the luxury market allows you to charge more and make a greater profit per sale, but you will sell less. The lower price strategy allows you to penetrate the market more, sell more, but make less per sale. Both are equally valid, but the one you choose depends on your brand.

 

3. The competition: You must consider what the competition is doing. If they sell that widget for $15, you are going to need to be in that ballpark. This is especially true, today, when it is so easy to price compare online.

 

Remember this too: Price is just one factor that people consider when making their buying decisions. Sure, there are times when it is the most important thing, but not always. How often is price the main reason you bought something? Exactly. It’s important, but not always the deciding factor.

 

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

 

With that foundation in place, here are a few pricing strategies to consider:

 

59230087_s.jpgThe loss leader: The loss leader is a tried-and-true strategy that can be a great way to grow any business. It’s a simple concept. You offer a popular product at a steep discount, at a loss even. By offering this, you lead customers to your business, hence, “loss leader.”

 

The idea is that once they get to your store to buy the sale item, they will hopefully buy other products or services from you as well that are not marked down. When you see an ad for an amazing sale somewhere, that store is hoping to lure you into their shop with the discounted ad price, and then sell you something else.

 

Other than getting a sale, the loss leader strategy can also be also used for:

 

  • Getting rid of unwanted merchandise: The loss leader can move old merchandise.
  • Attracting new customers: People love sales.
  • Building your brand: If you would like to be known as the “low-cost leader,” this strategy will help.
  • Build repeat customers: As indicated, people like a bargain. If they find that you are offering one, then they will likely come back again.

 

The luxury price: At the other end of the spectrum, selling for more works great if that fits your brand. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview, “We never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone.” The Apple strategy has long been:

 

  • Offer a few high-end products
  • Pursue high profit over broad market share

 

This type of strategy can work if you have some sort of competitive advantage in which people are willing to pay a premium.

 

Psychology pricing: Along similar lines, prices that end in odd numbers seem cheaper than those ending in whole numbers. A widget for $14.99 is different than a widget for $15.

 

When it comes to pricing, what works is often a matter of taking all the above into account, adding in some trial and error, and finding the sweet spot of price.

 

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.pngBack when I was an anonymous young associate lawyer at a big law firm, I had big dreams. I wanted to be an author. The fact that I had never even had a letter to the editor published should have stopped me, but it didn’t. It took a lot of perseverance, striking out, and planning big, and eventually I was able to make the leap.

 

Many small businesses face similar dilemmas. Stuck in a rut, they oftentimes want to grow, make more money, and make a difference. The question is, how do you take your business from small to big?

 

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

 

As a small business owner, you are likely very comfortable with the way you do things. However, if you feel like you’re ready to grow and take your business to the next level, the first thing to understand is that it’s time to get uncomfortable; bigger businesses do things differently. Indeed, to play in the big(ger) leagues, you will need to let go of your old ways, and learn some new tricks.

 

Here are four of the most important small-to-big strategies to prepare you for that next step:

 

1. Have a Growth Strategy: The first thing you should do is compile a list of various ideas for growth that make sense for your business:

 

    • Spend more money on marketing, or
    • Open another location, or
    • Create an additional profit center

 

There is no shortage of ideas and strategies to help grow your business. Indeed, here on the Bank of America Small Business Community, you can find scores of articles on the subject. The important thing is to come up with and commit to a few strategies that make sense for your business.

 

2. Create a Team That Is Bigger Than You: Running the show solo is one of the most common mistakes among small business owners, even if it is very popular these days. 

 

Doing it all yourself is not wise – you need your support system. If growth is your game, then teamwork must be your name. To grow your business, it is essential that you pull together a team – employees, contractors, consultants, a board of advisers, partners, investors, etc. People invested in your dream and strategy.

 

SIX TIPS TO GAIN NEW CUSTOMERS

 

This is how bigger businesses are run – with a division of labor. With more people, you have a system for instant feedback and a diverse array of opinions, which are both crucial for growth. In addition, having more assistance, more contacts, and more expertise, will only help you to accomplish more than you could by yourself.

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3. Be Unique: To grow your business, you should be thinking practically and strategically. However, you should also be brainstorming to find that one thing – the X factor – that makes your business stand out from the crowd. Think about businesses you like and patronize. Isn’t it true they do something unique, different, special and better?

 

It’s because they have an X factor.

 

So that is the question you must answer: What is it that you offer that is different and better? Amazon sells more things, cheaper. Starbucks has better coffee served in a hipper atmosphere. You need to figure out your X factor if you want to go from small to big.

 

4. Plan Big: Planning big is different from thinking big (although thinking big is certainly a part of it). All entrepreneurs think big, but growth companies plan big. McDonald’s was a single Southern California restaurant until Ray Kroc showed up with a plan to franchise it.

 

Each of these four steps is part of the growth process. After you’ve created a great team, decided on your growth strategies, determined your X factor, and planned your world dominance, you will be ready to go from small to big.

 

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 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

What if Amazon still only sold books? What if Starbucks still only sold coffee? What if McDonald’s only sold hamburgers? Would they be Amazon and Starbucks and McDonald’s? Would you have ever even heard of them?

 

So why are you still only selling the same few products or services?

 

What Amazon, Starbucks, McDonalds and countless other great businesses – big and small – learned is that one key to continued growth is creating new streams of revenue - multiple profit centers.

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Look, I get it, being self-employed can be laborious. Even after things are finally off the ground and have become a reality, there is always more work to be done. In particular, one of those ongoing challenges is figuring out how to create a regular, steady stream of income. Some days this feels effortless, while others, it does not.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

If you’ve been in it for a while, then you have most likely figured out a few solid strategies that work for your business. You have created a recipe for success. Like a chef or a baker, your recipes can be used time and time again to create the same financial result. This is how you make your dough (groan, I know!). Your recipes could be anything - Twitter ads, monthly sales, an e-newsletter promotion, and so on.

 

However, the recipe method can backfire. A lot of small businesses make the mistake of figuring out one good recipe, sticking to it, and never figuring out a “plan B” once they’ve milked Plan A dry. Having only one moneymaking formula is a problem in that the cycle of business is inherently fluctuating; just because you have something that works now doesn’t mean it will work six months from now. Tastes changes, things get stale.

 

That’s why, in order to guarantee a steady income stream, you need to be like Amazon and Starbucks and create several moneymaking strategies – or “multiple profit centers” as Barbara Winter refers to it in her great book Making a Living Without a Job.

 

Let’s drill down into the Starbucks example. The Seattle behemoth creates many multiple profit centers, typically by introducing new products and with seasonal marketing. In the summer, Starbucks tends to market the heck out of its cold beverages, whereas in the fall and winter, an array of seasonal hot lattes are introduced.

 

Related article: The 7 Budgeting Tips You Need to Consider

 

It’s like being an investor - you need to diversify your portfolio.

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And what about Amazon? Amazon started out as a home-based business that only sold books, but eventually, Jeff Bezos realized that the company would make a whole lot more money if they offered a diverse array of products. He created multiple profit centers. Now they sell everything.

 

Amazon and Starbucks are two of the most successful businesses around. Both prioritize the need for multiple profit centers and both businesses did this early. Because they did this early, they ensured a solid, consistent flow of cash and made the right impression on customers. The earlier you can diversify your business, the better.

 

There are endless ways to add multiple profit centers to your business, whether you’re a lawyer, artist, contractor or restaurant owner. Look to see what the competition does, get creative with your own ideas, and before long, you too can be sipping a full-cafe revenue latte.

 

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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