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21 Posts authored by: Carol Roth

There are many instances where declining business can be beneficial to the growth of a small business. In her latest video, Carol Roth details three circumstances where saying no is saying yes – to a healthy bottom line.

 

 

Transcript:

 

Hey it’s Carol Roth, and I want to talk to you today about the best time to turn away business. Now, as an entrepreneur you are probably always chasing that almighty dollar, but unfortunately, chasing cash is not a business strategy. So if you want to grow your business, here are the times that you should say no and actually turn away business.

 

The first time is when somebody won't pay you what your worth. You obviously have a rate that you’ve set based on what you think your value is, what the market thinks your value is, your time, your experience, your skill set, your network. If somebody is not willing to pay you, especially as an established business, anywhere near what your rate is then feel free to walk away. It gives you that opportunity and that time to go find clients who will pay you what your worth.

 

The next time you should turn down business is when somebody is asking you to do something that isn’t core to your mission and strategy. You should have a goal and a benchmark for everything that you do. And certainly sometimes clients offer cash to do other things, but if that’s not aligned with what your business is doing or where you want it to go, then again say no in order for you to have that opportunity to grow your business.

 

And then the last time you should say no is when something turns out to be a time suck, or at least when you assume it will be a time suck, even if somebody is willing to pay your rate. If you know that it is going to take you ten times as long as it would take you with another client to do the same thing, well, that is probably on a per hour basis and is not the right dollar amount for your time. Something is going to be so time consuming and so painful for you as a business owner, then again, just say no.

 

Now, I know it’s hard as a business owner to turn down business, but if you want to make room for those new opportunities, you have to learn to just say no. So, join me in turning down the things that aren’t relevant and start pursuing the things that are.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

Small Business Profile: Sweet Beginnings

While the economy is improving, certain communities remain behind the curve in terms of employment and opportunities.  For example, while national unemployment hovers at just over 4 percent nationwide, in Chicago’s North Lawndale community, unemployment is around 23 percent.

 

However, in every challenge there is opportunity. Brenda Palms Barber, the CEO of Sweet Beginnings, LLC, decided to take things into her own hands.  “As a frustrated leader of a nonprofit with a mission to improve the earnings potential of the North Lawndale community through innovative employment initiatives, I knew I had to provide our participants with the second chance they so desired and greatly needed,” she said. “If the employers in North Lawndale would not be willing to hire our program graduates, then it was in my and my team’s own hands to create a way.”

 

Palms Barber helped create Sweet Beginnings as a social enterprise that trains the formerly incarcerated for jobs in manufacturing, food service, customer service, hospitality, retail and more. They do this in part through their beelove® brand of certified, natural urban honey and honey-infused skincare products. As they say on their website, the company is “where your purchase transforms lives.” Sweet Beginnings’ growth allows them to employ traditionally difficult to train individuals, and to empower them with financial and life skills to help build independent and more meaningful lives.

 

Employees at Sweet Beginnings start with job readiness training, which is provided by Sweet Beginnings’ non-profit parent company, the North Lawndale Employment Network. Currently, Sweet Beginnings has eight employees, all of whom spent time in prison.

 

Sweet Beginnings beelove products don’t just provide opportunity, they are fantastic natural products that are beloved – no pun intended – by locals and celebrities alike. The company says that due to the support of married entertainers Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, who recently talked about the company’s products in People magazine, their most popular product is currently their beelove nourish & smooth body cream.

 

Having a small business dedicated to teaching skills to former prisoners has had a tremendous impact in North Lawndale. , “When communities are ravaged by poverty and violence, generations of families suffer as neighborhoods are drained of their primary wage earners, investment from local business owners and a tax base which can support community social resources,” Palms Barber said.  Now, between beekeeping (which Sweet Beginnings does to make their honey-based products), harvesting and selling honey and honey-infused products, they provide transitional jobs for those returning to the workforce, while developing important and tangible skills the participants can use to become more competitive in the job market.

 

The results speak for themselves. Sweet Beginnings says that more than 75 percent of those who complete their program will go on to secure permanent positions with other employers, start their own business or enter into post-secondary education. Fewer than 8 percent will return to prison.

 

As in any small business, Sweet Beginnings employees learn a number of skills.  The company says their employees learn manufacturing, sales, inventory, quality control, customer service and digital literacy, which transfers to positions in a wide variety of industries.

 

Sweet Beginnings has a goal to provide transitional employment to at least 60 citizens returning from incarceration and other hard-to-employ jobseekers in the next three years. To do so, the company is expanding distribution. In addition to selling products via their beelove website, they also sell in all Mariano’s Fresh Markets, Hudson’s at O’Hare and Midway International airports and other Chicago-based retailers. They are looking for other retail partners.

 

If you are looking to make a social impact with your small business, Palms Barber has some additional tips to share.

 

  • “First, it is important for a social enterprise to be in clear alignment with the mission of the nonprofit organization. I also learned it’s wise to listen and embrace your critics’ feedback because they will lift up critical gaps in your business assumptions that you may be blind to address, resulting in a stronger business model. One thing about Sweet Beginnings is clear – we have done nothing traditional or conventional. Be open and willing to carve a new path and create a new direction for the business. Not every social enterprise will fit into a neat box.”

 

  • “Another key piece of advice is the importance of engaging and retaining professional legal counsel. Invest in legal counsel upfront because they will guide the legal structure that supports your long-term vision.

 

  • “Finally, I have to say that everything takes longer then you think it ever, ever, ever will. It takes time to grow a messy idea to a profitable business!”

 

Everything worthwhile takes time, and it is clear Sweet Beginnings’ time invested is really paying off.

To learn more about Sweet Beginnings’ beelove products and mission, visit their website.

 

Bank of America's related social efforts:

Learn how Bank of America supports formerly incarcerated individuals operating mission –driven organizations.

Bank of America helps neighborhoods in need get access to critical funding and assistance.

Bank of America is deeply involved in community development work related to affordable housing, small business lending and neighborhood revitalization.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

Preparing for a sale can add substantial value for you as a seller, if you do it early and correctly. Part 1 of this series covered transition plans and management incentives, and Part 2 covered key financial decision making and organization.

 

Once you have familiarized yourself with those steps, continue with the important steps outlined below.

 

Create a Future Strategic Plan

Nobody wants to buy a business that’s best years are in the past. Understandably, buyers pay more for future opportunities and growth.

 

Even though you may be ready to sell your business, you need to demonstrate your business has plenty of opportunities ahead of it. Therefore, it is important that you create a three- to five-year strategic plan.

 

This will help you identify opportunities and issues to address prior to selling the business and give potential buyers a roadmap to future growth prospects. The more opportunities and growth you can demonstrate to a buyer, the more value they will place on the business.38311345_s.jpg

 

Beware of Making Unnecessary Investments

If you are contemplating a sale, resist the urge to make investments that aren’t required to keep the business operating or those that may not show a financial benefit in the short-term, like an acquisition.

 

If you are planning an exit within a few years, it is risky to have to integrate an acquisition successfully on a short time table or pursue a brand new and unproven operating strategy. This is as important a time as ever to make sure that the rewards justify the risks.

 

If an investment lowers your financial performance in the short run, you may be penalized in terms of a lower valuation, even if the investment pays off in the long run. Obtain objective input from your trusted service providers to give you an extra level of scrutiny to ensure that your investment doesn’t decrease the company’s value during a sale.

 

Also, beware of making acquisitions or pursuing opportunities that could complicate your business to investors. For example, if you sell a shelf-stable food product and suddenly decide to sell a product needing refrigeration during transportation, your decision could limit the number of buyers for your business; some buyers with shelf-stable only distribution may not see the combined business as a fit for their business – or they might give you less value for it.

 

Beware of Business Cycles

While you can’t always time the market for selling your business, you can time your own business cycle. If your business is growing, you may worry that your next year will be bigger and that you may be missing out on value by selling it today.

 

However, timing works both ways and you will severely decrease the value you receive for your business if you wait to sell until the growth has slowed. I personally have seen the sale value of businesses cut literally in half because the owners waited one year too long and sold after a non-growth year.

 

Growth businesses get to participate in future value through getting a larger, growth-oriented valuation multiple for their business. Also, there are mechanisms such as earn-out structures that can help you participate in future growth of the business.

 

After reviewing your numbers, if you have had growth over the past few years and expect that to continue for at least the next year, you are at the right point in your business cycle to take advantage of a sale. If you have hit the skids, you will want to right the ship to get the most value possible when selling your business.

 

Selling a business can be an emotional endeavor, but it can also create a serious payday for you as an entrepreneur. Be thoughtful and thorough with your preparation – and make the sales process pay off for you.

 

Related: Exit Strategies: Positioning Your Company for Sale (and Cashing Out the Right Way)

 

 

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

Just like any other facet of your business, when it comes to a sale, planning is critical. In Part 1 of this series, I covered prioritizing shareholder objectives, getting a team in place and more.

 

Below, I share additional steps, so that you can get full credit for the strong business that you have built.

 

Identify and Eliminate “Non-core” Expenses

Closely-held companies can often be run for tax efficiency, which maximizes short-term tax benefits for shareholders by minimizing reported cash flow and earnings.

 

Strategies of running expenses through the business that aren’t critical to the day-to-day operations of the business — such as your car or a “company meeting” in the Bahamas — may soften your tax bill, but are ultimately detractors from sale value.

 

Businesses are typically valued as a multiple of cash flow or earnings. For a business that is valued at 6x cash flow, for example, saving the taxes on $100,000 from extra expenses (at whatever tax rate you pay, so some fraction of the $100,000) will cost you $600,000 of value in a sale. 35643204_s.jpg

 

Start cutting these non-core expenses two years prior to selling your business. If you are close to initiating a sale and it is too late to eliminate such expenses, work with your investment banker on what is called “pro-forma” financial statements.

 

This pro-forma will identify and add back the expenses that would not be needed by the new buyer. While a buyer might fight you on some of those, you should get at least partial credit for reasonable add-backs, enhancing your sale value.

 

Get Your Financials Audited

While an audit can be a lengthy and pricey process, it is critical for a sale of a business with any meaningful valuation (if you have more than $5 million of revenue, this means you). If your financial statements have not been audited by an experienced and reliable accounting firm, they are not typically regarded as trustworthy by potential buyers.

 

This can result in a worse deal for you in two ways:

  • First, in financial terms, it can lower your valuation.
  • Second, regarding business and legal terms, you may be penalized by having to make stronger guarantees and warranties as part of the transaction.

 

Have your financials audited for the last complete fiscal year prior to the year of the sale. If you are a bigger company, have at least three years of audited financial statements.

 

As a bonus, if you do an audit in the years prior to selling your business, it can point out weaknesses in your company’s financial operations and controls, giving you sufficient time to correct them prior to an exit.

 

Organize Your Key Documents

Many small and middle market businesses are guilty of letting their record-keeping slide a bit – or a lot. However, getting your files and documents in order will preserve value in a sale.

 

While you won’t get a higher valuation for your organizational skills, you will prevent “value leakage;” this is where a seller is financially or otherwise penalized in terms of part of the deal proceeds being held back or via onerous legal representations as the deal is finalized and the agreement is drafted.

 

The more administrative items that are unaccounted for or are in disarray, the more penalties you will likely incur from a buyer. These items include a wide array of documents and files, such as all contracts signed, technical drawings, and back-up copies of source code.

 

Also, examine your contracts on a regular basis and look for any special requirements, such as change of control provisions, which could have an impact on a sale by making a third party required to give consent to keep the contract valid (this could range from a vendor to a landlord, the former potentially affecting prices paid). Review your contracts and special situations with your service providers to make sure that they will not adversely affect your sale process.

 

Continue working on the steps above and stay tuned for our final installment of tips to help you prepare for a sale.

 

Related Content: How to Get Your Business Ready for a Sale: Part 1—Before You Plan to Sell

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

Jen Welter is the first woman to coach in the NFL. As I read her new book, Play Big, I was deeply impressed by the powerful insights it offered for entrepreneurs. So, I reached out to her to talk through some lessons derived from her book and her own experiences to share with you here on the Business Advantage Small Business Community.

 

Play Big

For a small business, the challenge is often how you can compete with companies that are further along in their development. Welter suggests you play big on your own terms, with your own advantages. For example, she advises if you are at a disadvantage in terms of staff, resources etc., “…instead of trying to ‘out-big them’, why not out-little them? What you lack in size you have in mobility and responsiveness, so out-little and out-fast them – it’s what I did my whole career!”

Play Your Own Game

Success is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for anyone. For business owners, defining your own vision of success is critical, and being authentic is your competitive advantage. As Welter says, “Never try to play someone else’s game; you have to define your own. You cannot be all things to all people, nor should you want to be. What makes you different is absolutely what makes you special. Why fit in when you can stand up and stand out?”

 

Dr. Welter had to use her own measures of success as she played pro football and ultimately coached in the NFL. Use the same philosophy as you decide what goals and objectives are right for you.

 

Give Feedback with Grace

In Play Big, a great learning moment came from one of Dr. Welter’s coaches, who told her not to play for his football team, but he did so in a way that ultimately empowered her. Welter says that, “The best gift a coach can give a player is to make him or her better. If I knew a coach had my best interest at heart and was invested in me personally, I would run through a wall for that coach.” 

 

The same philosophy can be applied to your business dealings, with employees and partners. As Welter notes, “Feedback can be hard to deliver, especially when it seems like a ‘no’ or bad news. However, sometimes by sharing the thought process and a bigger picture for how a person fits in the puzzle or skills which would change the dynamic with improvement, you can actually set the person up for success, which should be the goal.”

 

Go All-in

One of Welter’s top mantras is, “If you really want to change the game, you have to be willing to bet on yourself. There is no guarantee for success, but there is a guarantee that if you don’t go for it, you will always wonder what would have happened if you would have tried.”

 

Entrepreneurs make that commitment up front, but sometimes that dedication becomes hard to sustain. However, continuing to be “all-in” makes all the difference in being successful. Welter adds, “…once you do go for it, you have to go after it. You will never regret the work you put in.”

 

Don’t Question Yourself

As an entrepreneur, you constantly face new challenges, which can bring about doubt and rejection. As Welter says, “Being an entrepreneur means that you are betting on yourself. You have a unique vision that has allowed you to see business in a different way, so guess what, there are going to be a whole lot of people who call you and/or your idea crazy. Guess what? I was told I was crazy my whole career. Guess what else? I love my brand of crazy. You can’t change the game by doing what has always been done and if someone else could see what you do, they might have already done it!”

 

Be Vulnerable

Finally, a key area that entrepreneurs struggle with is the emotional part of being an entrepreneur.  Whether it is opening up on their struggles to family, asking for help or admitting to feeling like a failure, many entrepreneurs put walls up. However, Welter advises vulnerability is a key part of attaining success.

 

“As athletes, we are taught never to admit fear and never to admit weakness,” she notes. “As a player, you want everyone around you to see you in a certain way – your teammates, coaches, fans, opponents should see you as capable, strong, good under pressure, an asset. It’s a persona which is developed with practice. However, what many athletes struggle with is when and if to turn that invincibility mode down, and with whom. This is a common challenge in business, as well. On the one hand, we want to have all the answers, but then we are stuck with no one to answer the questions. Needing help, or as I like to say, seeking next level greatness, means you just might have to get a bit uncomfortable and let that invincibility shield down and get help from others who can complement your talents, answer your questions and coach you.”

 

“Why limit yourself by your view of the situation and your personal expertise? That’s not strength. That’s being stubborn. Find trusted advisors or ‘teammates’ who push you to be better, that you can trust enough to let down your walls a bit.”

 

Hopefully, you can follow some of these tips from a true barrier-breaker to continue to break barriers in your own business. For more on Dr. Jen Welter, visit www.jenwelter.com and to learn more about her book, Play Big, click here.

 

Related Articles:

Interview with Confirm Biosciences, Inc. founder and CEO, Zeynep Ilgaz.

Dhani Jones explains why thinking like an athlete will score for your small business.

Why Thinking Like an Athlete Will Score for Your Small Business

 

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

Instead of writing a typical New Year prediction piece I will focus on what you should be doing as a small business owner this year, based on what’s going on in the economy and beyond.

 

As a disclaimer, keep in mind I am not a psychic and I do not play one on TV, so I do not guarantee the outcome of these predictions.

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Guarding Their Valuable Employees

The labor market has gotten very tight, with unemployment hanging around just over 4 percent. This means that it has become an employee’s market, giving them more choices and options when it comes to employment. And, with no clear economic catalysts to immediately derail the economic or labor trains, I predict more employees will be looking for new opportunities.

 

This leads me to further predict that savvy small business owners will pre-empt their best and brightest employees from leaving. This means raising wages, offering more competitive benefits and perks, and of course, giving employees clear opportunities to take on more responsibilities within the business.

 

Related article: 6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Spending Quality Time with Their Tax Advisors

The end of the year saw the passing of tax reform and while it is touted as simplifying taxes, for small business owners, it actually makes things more complicated. If you have a C-corp, you will have new tax rates. The same goes for pass-through entities, but with all kinds of complications depending on if you are a service provider (and what service you provide), what you pay as W-2 wages to other employees and overall, how much you earn (again, varying on whether you file by yourself or with a spouse).

 

With that, savvy small business owners will head to their accountants early and often this year to make sure they are making tax-efficient business choices. As accountants are just getting up to speed and there are a lot of specifics related to small business in particular, business owners will want to check back often throughout the year to make sure things are on track and there are no surprises come tax time.

 

Use this tax guide to help inform conversations with your tax professional and advisor

 

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Locking in Low Interest Rates on Loans

We have had an extended period of low interest rates, moderate growth and low inflation, the latter courtesy of our Federal Reserve (aka the “Fed”). However, as growth continues, I predict the Fed will continue to raise interest rates at an accelerating pace either directly and/or indirectly. Directly, they will raise rates through votes during their Fed meetings. Indirectly, as they unwind their multi-trillion-dollar balance sheet, the effect will be upward interest rate pressure.

 

So, with rates potentially going up, I further predict that small business owners will engage in a last hurrah and lock in low interest rates on business loans, whether that be for working capital, equipment or otherwise, while rates remain at lower levels.

 

Find the right financing for your business here.

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Using More Cloud and AI-Based Technology

The democratization of technology continues and more and more high-level technology is becoming accessible to small business owners at affordable prices. While the cloud reigned supreme in 2017, many small business owners have yet to harness its power, and I predict they will do so in 2018 to help run their businesses more efficiently.

 

I also predict that AI (aka “artificial intelligence) will become more important for small business owners who will begin to embrace it for tasks ranging from chat bots to voice assistants to help with tasks that currently human assistants perform (like maintaining calendars, booking travel and reminders). Technology is providing immense opportunities for small business to do more with less and I believe with the economy on solid footing, 2018 will be the year that more small business owners start to harness that power.

 

So, those are my 2018 predictions. If you are a small business owner, consider getting ahead of your competition for the year by seeing how my insights might help you accelerate your growth in the twelve months ahead.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

The Fall Small Business Owner Report (SBOR) from Bank of America shows that while small business owners are generally optimistic, there’s a downward trend of individuals who expect to grow their business – even from just this spring.

 

This trend may not be surprising given the heated political environment and the concerns that, despite the rhetoric about the importance of small business in the economy, policies to help small businesses thrive rarely follow suit.

 

In the SBOR, the two biggest economic concerns impacting business owners weren’t things like consumer spending or even credit availability—no, the top issues were healthcare costs and corporate tax rates, with the latter at a slight increase from just a year ago.

 

Not entirely coincidentally, those issues have been at the heart of important yet stalled legislation over the past year. This means that government could, with the right focus and guidance, truly help small businesses create more optimism and, ultimately, growth. Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.58.45 PM.png

 

While most small business owners will tell you that they’d just prefer government to get out of the way, here are a few of the top ideas government could implement to address those top small business economic concerns, as concisely laid out in the SBOR:

 

Free Market Approach to Healthcare: I’ve said many times that the solution to fixing healthcare is to address the costs via transparency and choice. In terms of healthcare insurance, we need coverage that’s available to all, that’s cost effective, and ensures quality care. This requires a free market approach to healthcare where individuals and families can buy nationwide. It also means reducing the burdens on business. You shouldn’t have to depend on an employer to get great insurance, and you—as a small business owner—shouldn’t fear growth because you will be inundated with extra costs.  These fixes will allow small businesses in particular to focus more on growth and hiring.

 

Give All Small Businesses a Real Tax Break: Small businesses outnumber big business by a huge margin (around 28 million vs. less than 15,000), but the big businesses are in for the big tax breaks. And, recent proposals that theoretically offer a small business tax holiday come with a big asterisk in the form of so called “guardrails.” Millions of professional service providers and solopreneurs could face no tax break and also lose deductions. Treat the small businesses as the real economic and hiring engine that they are and more growth will be the obvious outcome.

 

Create Small Business Tax Hiring Incentives: Not only should small businesses get a tax break, but creating an incentive—such as tax holidays for a new employee’s salary for the first year—would take the risk out of hiring and allow small businesses to get the personnel required to grow. If just 5% of the small businesses in this country were to hire their first employee, that would be one million new jobs available!

 

Keep Creating Pressure to Lighten Regulations: Finally, make it easier for small business owners to be in business. While much of the red tape is at the local level, everything from confusion over independent contractor definitions to having to get worker’s compensation insurance for work-from-home employees in some states makes it hard to be a business owner. Let business owners focus their time on running their businesses – and growing.

 

Although the these changes would be ideal for small businesses and perhaps increase owner's optimism in business growth, it's important to remember change doesn't happen over night. For now, I suggest learning a few ways to grow your business.

 

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Related article: Four Things Small Business Owners Should Consider Before Offering Employee Healthcare

Related article: Top 10 Overlooked Tax Deductions for the Self-Employed

Related page: 5 helpful tips for tax season

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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 think of myself as an entrepreneur, not a “woman entrepreneur.” That said, there are things women tend to do as they approach business ownership that often hold them back from being even more successful.

 

Here are some of my top tips to leave the qualifiers behind so women can become more successful entrepreneurs.

 

1. Remember, Entrepreneurship is a Meritocracy. When you are the boss, you are the boss, and your potential is unlimited. You have every ability to pursue an opportunity in the same manner as anyone else, so don’t psych yourself out and create self-doubt that holds you back. Only you stand in the way of your own success.

 

2.  Think Big. Women tend to take on less risk than men. This, again, is not because of some rigged system as much as women holding themselves back from going really big. Whether it’s concern over disappointing someone or a fear of failure, you need to be able to lean into risk and uncertainty to be successful.

 

It’s also often just as difficult to start and run a small business as it is a big one, so why not really reach for a crazy goal? It’s ok to take calculated, educated risk. If you don’t fail at least part of the time, you aren’t pushing yourself enough.

    

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55497765_s.jpg3.  Delegate, but Don’t Abdicate, Responsibility. Generally speaking, women are often detail oriented. And the strengths of being good at the details also means you can get bogged down in running your business, instead of growing your business.

 

You need to create systems to teach other people to do tasks that aren’t the best use of your time or the best service to the business. While others may not be as good as you are at a task, if it is good enough for customers to be happy, go with it.

 

4.  Watch Your Language. Women don’t realize how often they portray themselves as non-entities or minimize their value. They apologize where there’s nothing to be sorry for, they draw attention to items that nobody needs to know and they downplay accomplishments. Often, women feel badly about talking about their work and business for fear of coming off self-promotional.

 

Use powerful language, own what you do and don’t offer irrelevant information that detracts from what you are accomplishing. That language informs your attitude, which informs your success. And remember that if you aren’t willing to promote yourself, it’s not likely that anyone else will either. People follow the cues you set for them.

    

     RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

 

5.  Expand Your Network. While it may be comfortable to network with people just like you, it will never get you to the next level. Go outside your comfort zone, approach and mingle with people who are where you want to be and let that inspire you to move up to their level.

 

6.  Set Your Own Goals. Lastly, it’s important to note we all have different definitions of success. For some people, family accomplishments are more important than professional ones and deserve extra focus. There are also some that judge contributions to a team and seeing projects succeed as more important than individual compensation or overall business growth. There are others that frankly don’t want the stress and responsibility that comes with trying to pursue an eight-, nine- or ten-figure business.

 

All of this is ok, as our individual success should be measured by our own goals and objectives. There may always be a differential in the types of businesses each individual pursues and how they approach them. If you are pursuing something based on your own measure of success, that’s not anyone else’s business to judge.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png


Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

You have already demonstrated a sense of optimism if you have taken the leap into entrepreneurship. However, as the business roller coaster goes through its peaks and valleys, maintaining a positive attitude and the drive to keep going can be difficult.

 

That’s why it’s great to pause and get some inspiration via wise words from others. I’ve assembled 20 quotes from innovators, athletes and entrepreneurs (including one from me) that can give you a push in that time of need.

 

Consider posting your favorites in plain view as a constant reminder of the leadership, persistence and motivation you need to stay the course and make your business an even bigger success.

 

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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” - Peter Drucker

 

“There's never a wrong time to do the right thing and never a right time to do a wrong thing.” - Lou Holtz

 

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” - Arnold H. Glasgow

 

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Persistence, Success and Failure

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” - Bill Gates

 

“You miss 100% of the shots you don't take” - Wayne Gretzky

 

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford

 

“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” - Tom Kelley

 

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan

 

“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” - Dale Carnegie

 

Problem solving

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein

 

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.” - Peter Drucker

 

Ambition and Focus

“Jet pilots don’t use rear view mirrors.” - Joel H. Weldon

 

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.” - Ayn Rand

 

“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.” - Elvis Presley

 

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi

 

“Entrepreneurs too often make choices based on ROE (Return on Ego) vs. ROI (Return on Investment).  A particular opportunity may make you feel great, but if that opportunity is not supporting your goal, or isn’t the best way to achieve your goal quickly and efficiently, then pursue the opportunity that will.” – Carol Roth

 

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

 

Competition and Motivation

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” - Theodore Roosevelt

 

“And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.” - Andrew Carnegie

 

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.” - Steve Jobs

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png


Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

It is often said that “money makes the world go ‘round.” This couldn’t be truer for entrepreneurs, who may find that money goes out the door at a more rapid pace than it enters the business.

 

Business owners often need to be entrepreneurial when it comes to operations, including finding ways to get creative with financing. While we always think of money as our only currency, many of us provide expertise, goods and services with substantial value that can be bartered to grow your business.

 

Done correctly, you can use barter-based partnerships (let’s call them “bartnerships”) to take care of some business needs while building great collaborative relationships in the process.

 

However, like anything else, where you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. And, in the case of bartering, that means anything from incurring hefty legal costs to unexpected tax bills.

 

Here’s a roadmap to help you barter and partner better so that it adds to your business.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Vet potential partners

When you go to partner on a barter deal, you want to ensure that your “bartner” has a positive reputation and shares your base business values.

 

One way to do this is to approach associates in your network where you already have a positive relationship. You can also seek recommendations from trusted business associates and advisors. If you expect to barter regularly, consider joining a barter group that verifies or rates participants, or even a barter exchange that intervenes in negotiations.

 

Whether you know your bartner or not, do an online search and check reviews, their social media postings and Better Business Bureau complaints to see if there is any history that could create an issue for the relationship and your business’s reputation.

 

Establish a fair exchange

Even in barter arrangements, the dollar remains the core standard of value. Both parties need to set and agree to a firm dollar value for the goods and services they’re exchanging to create a benchmark of “fairness” for the transaction.

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You want to make sure that the trade has as equal a value as possible. For example, if a web developer wants to barter for legal services, the parties may choose 12 months of website maintenance with a $2,400 value for the creation of three template contracts that also have a $2,400 value.

 

While you may want to get a great deal with a lopsided arrangement benefiting you, that often backfires. You don’t want the other party to do a lousy job or feel like they are being taken advantage of – that can impact the quality of the trade and the relationship. Going for a win-win arrangement is always the best for both parties in the long term.

 

Date before marriage

Successful marriages typically begin with a low-key first date before the parties move in together and ultimately tie their lives together. Keep your first barter with a new partner like a first date – small in scope and low-risk.

 

You need to evaluate how you work with a partner before entering into a business relationship. Even if both parties have good intentions going into the bartnership, like marriages, they don’t always work out as planned. Until it’s very clear you can work effectively with and trust this partner, keep it small. It’s much easier to take on a larger exchange or partnership once you have a few small successes behind you.

 

Put everything in writing

The word “barter” may sound casual, and while a handshake may technically be viewed as a legal contract, it’s tough to prove in a court of law. A barter agreement may be even more complex than a straight cash-based compensation arrangement, so you need to identify all aspects of your agreement in detail and put them on paper.

 

By doing this, you limit misunderstandings before, during and after the barter arrangement. Document every detail thoroughly, from what is to be delivered by which party at what quality level and in what time-frame, as well as any remedies if one party doesn’t follow through.

 

Also, if you create a product or service collaboratively (such as working together to create an email list), specify what happens at the end of your agreement. If the agreement stipulates that your barter partner takes full ownership at the end of the partnership and you can no longer use the email list after a defined period, perhaps you should agree to supply fewer names than your partner.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Which Gig Economy Delivery Service is Right for your Small Business?

 

Know the finish line

Your agreement might last for a week, a month or longer, but it shouldn’t last forever. You absolutely need to set an end date for the arrangement. Even if you enter into an identical arrangement many times in the future, it’s best to create a new contract or at least put together an amendment or extension each time.

 

If your first agreement worked well, creating the next one will be a simple matter. But, if you discovered that some provisions didn’t work as expected, you now have the flexibility to tweak the next version.

 

Communicate early and often

Don’t wait until the final deadline to check in with your partner and find out how things are going or to let them know where you stand on your deliverables. Define key milestones with your partner and check in with each other to ensure you’re both on track and maintaining appropriate quality levels.

 

Naturally, when unexpected issues arise, don’t wait for a milestone date to speak up. A setback on one side can affect the other side. Plus, an informed partner may have a solution to fix the issue.

 

Talk taxes with your accountant

When you trade goods or services that have a cash value, the taxing authorities, of course, want their share. This means that you should discuss tax implications with your accountant before entering a barter agreement.

 

In the U.S., the IRS typically requires you to report barter arrangements on your tax forms. However, if you exchange like goods or services, you both gain and lose valuable assets, so you may not need to pay excessive – or any – additional taxes if you properly track both sides of equal-value exchanges. However, IRS valuation rules can be complex, so that’s why a chat with your accountant is advisable.

 

Using your expertise, goods or services as currency can be a big boost to your business, but plan well so you reap the full benefits and minimize the risks for your business.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

 

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

There are plenty of viable cost-cutting measures and small businesses should take advantage of every one of them.

Why spend thousands on a top-quality cherry wood conference room table when a pine table – not to mention a second-hand model – will look good at a fraction of the price? Unfortunately, cost-cutting does not always make sense and can cost your business more than it saves over time.

 

Here are 6 areas where spending more money can provide economic benefits to your business.

 

1. Employees and contractors

If your core team is comprised solely of entry-level workers, you will save money… until their lack of skills and experience lose customers for your business. Good decision-makers and customer-facing personnel will cost more, but they help your company prosper and grow.

Build your team out of the best employees you can afford and supplement their efforts with skilled contractors. These are the people who can later train less-expensive entry-level employees, who may become top-tier team members over time.

Also, compensating employees well gives them less of an incentive to leave, which saves you money in terms of head hunting, retraining and more.

 

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2. Accounting services

Well-designed, intuitive business accounting software is universally used to save on bookkeeping costs. If you choose your software carefully and learn how to use it, this is a valid cost-saving measure.

But don't count on software to make financial decisions for your company. You need to send the numbers to the best accountant that you can find. Look for someone who reads and interprets numbers like you read the news. A good accountant can instantly spot positive and negative trends in your business — and has the intimacy with federal and local tax codes to help ensure that you take every available tax break, while avoiding potential penalties. They can also help you set up pension and benefit plans and do other work that’s very valuable for you and your business.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

3. Legal support

Your cousin Lenny may be a wonderful personal injury lawyer who took business courses in law school – but he is not a corporate legal expert.

Even an off-the-shelf contract must be carefully reviewed to ensure that it preserves your unique interests. Strong legal counsel in your corner can make a tremendous difference when negotiating deals or disputes, while helping you avoid the stress of a courtroom battle. Perhaps, you can't afford to put a top business lawyer on retainer, but you still need to find someone who has the in-depth understanding of the state and federal laws your business needs. With dedicated legal support, you can save money by getting fair treatment from other parties — and stay out of trouble.

 

4. Software and technology

Low-priced web hosting can save you a great deal of money if you're ready to take a do-it-yourself approach to build your site. But do you know what designs and techniques make your website effective? If you don't understand how to design a site that attracts customers bring in a web developer with a good track record.

This is just one example of when you might want to spend more on technology. Don't count on a student from your local technical school to program a custom system to keep control over inventory. And if you can afford to hire an in-house technical support person, you might avoid wasted downtime while waiting for a technician to fix something on an as-needed basis.

Free software programs can get you started but aren’t robust enough to provide the level of tools that you need to grow your business and analyze data properly.

 

5. Education and training

Do you and your employees have the knowledge needed to keep up with your competitors? It is possible to obtain decent free online training in some cases, but think of the negative results when this type of ready-made training goes awry. Without proper guidance, students can misunderstand pertinent facts and carry misconceptions deep into your business operations.

When your team members need more knowledge than they currently have, do the research needed to get quality training. You might be able to save money later if your properly-trained employees can share their knowledge with future new hires.

 

 

RELATED ARTICLE: LISTENING TO SOCIAL MEDIA CAN GROW YOUR BUSINESS

 

6. Disaster planning tools

Nobody gets excited about paying high prices for insurance but just one natural disaster or major theft can quickly change a business' attitude toward this important recovery tool. Bring in a knowledgeable insurance agent who can explain the merits of obtaining the right amount of coverage for your business and whether business interruption and other types of insurance make sense for your company.

Since insurance is only one part of disaster planning, you should also consider purchasing off-site or cloud-based data backups, storing extra inventory at another location and more. Investing in a disaster-planning consultant might be money well-spent to quickly recover after a catastrophe.

 

I will also add cybersecurity planning into this mix, as small businesses are becoming targets more often. Not investing upfront can cost you a lot on the back end.

 

Cutting corners can be an expensive proposition

Finding the best deals can be wise but make sure that you consider long-term costs and the time that you might have to invest to fix problems. Before you spend good money on reduced-quality services or merchandise, gaze into your crystal ball to envision the future results of your decisions. Spending less money upfront can easily lead to bigger losses down the road.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

Carol Roth Headshot.pngIn 2002, Elon Musk founded SpaceX, essentially because he wanted to colonize Mars, but he didn’t even have affordable rocket power to send some plants to the planet. Late last year, NASA signed a contract with SpaceX, making them one of two companies contracted to take passengers to the International Space Station.

 

Granted, most small businesses don’t have the financial resources to literally reach for the stars in such a grand fashion. But, this doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t think big.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Here is an organized approach that can help your company move toward amazing accomplishments and profits.

 

Develop a lofty long-term vision

You’ll never fly to Mars if you don’t even know that you want to go there, but a vision with a strong sense of purpose can make anything possible. Musk believes that populating a second planet with humans is the only way to prevent the extinction of humanity. On the other hand, you may believe that a previously untried way of implementing the software design process can bring greater efficiency to your company and profound benefits to your clients.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 RULES TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS FROM SMALL TO BIG

 

If you can imagine that achieving your vision will put your face on the front cover of every business magazine — and interviews on prominent cable business networks — then don’t worry about the potential costs or even immediate client acceptance. This is your perception of a better future; you’ll address the practicalities soon enough.

 

Create a segmented strategy

It took countless steps for SpaceX to get to today’s space station contract and it has many more steps to go before they begin populating Mars. The chances are that your company cannot fly to your long-term vision in one fell swoop, either.

 

Your job is to break your long-term goals into manageable chunks. Step 1 is to look hard at all possible options. There is probably more than one path toward accomplishing your vision, so take some time to try to predict the pros and cons of each step before writing down the ones that make the most sense. Once completed, your strategy document can double as a road map of the implementation process.

 

52826431_s.jpgAllow for failure

As you start working your plan, recognize all the strategizing in the world cannot prevent surprise glitches. Everyone knows that failures are the best teachers, yet most of us fear failure more than we welcome its valuable lessons.

 

You have to dig down to the underlying reasons, which might turn out to be very minor in nature. Did your new programming strategy fail because someone missed important steps when designing the new process or did a minor typo create the glitch?

 

The point here is that failure seldom signals the need to quit. In many cases, you need to identify the causes for failure, fix them and then applaud the fact that you are one step closer to achieving your vision.

 

Don’t forget that a perceived failure might lead to another big idea. The adhesive used for sticky notes was developed by a failure to create super-strong adhesive for use by the aerospace industry. It took about five years, but someone finally recognized the value of a mild tacky substance that led to must-have products for office workers everywhere.

 

Share your vision

Everyone on your team has different skills and interests, so you never know who might think of something that will take your vision over the top. It is so important for everyone in the company to know where you want your company to be in the near, middle and long-term future. Invite them to share ideas on how to get there.

 

Also, consider discussing your dreams judiciously with individuals outside of your immediate business. Friends and family members can surprise you with solutions that you may never have considered, and professional organization meetings are a great source of ideas.

 

Factor in realism… to a point

Even NASA says that the odds are in favor of a successful SpaceX Mars mission, but getting people there safely is less certain, much less planet colonization. In late 2016, Musk addressed an enthralled audience about the project and its progress, but he clearly indicated a lack of concern about the many serious outstanding issues.

 

For small business owners, most big visions do not come with the potential for fatal outcomes, but any number of major concerns can still factor into the mix. Naturally, you need to identify the risks and consider them in your plans. But, if you want to achieve big goals, you can’t let seemingly unmanageable problems hamper your vision. By keeping your mind open to the impossible, you can often achieve it.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

Carol Roth Headshot.pngIt would be wonderful to make business decisions based on 100 percent factual criteria, but how often are all facts etched in stone? Life is full of uncertainty.

 

Economic downturns can stop great customers from continuing to pay their bills. New regulations can suddenly prevent you from conducting business exactly as you have before. Some key employees may retire. These are just a few examples of the types of uncertainty that can affect your decision-making process.

 

Entrepreneurs are typically risk-takers by nature, but uncertainty can make or break many companies. Here are 5 ways to handle uncertainty when making business decisions.

 

1. Don’t let uncertainty stop you from moving forward

First and foremost, uncertainty should not put your goals on hold. If you fail to move forward with plans, your business cannot achieve success. A positive attitude helps you break through a stagnating thought process, so you can think clearly and make plans flexible enough to transcend the unknown.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

When uncertainty looms, recognizing silver linings can help. If your go-to supplier shows early signs of unreliability, for example, don’t view the situation as upcoming doom for your company. With the right attitude, shopping for new vendors can be as exciting as a trip to your favorite retailer. You might find a vendor that’s better than the original one — and you’ll sleep better knowing that you have a backup plan in place.

 

2. Pre-plan for all imagined possible outcomes

Even when you can’t precisely predict unknown situations that can throw a wrench into your plans, you probably know what circumstances might pop up in the future.

 

For example, are you a carpenter who wants to add high-end furniture making to your business? News reports pointing to a possible upcoming cherry wood shortage won’t affect your plans if you know that customers would be just as happy with furniture made from beautiful red cedar, instead.

 

This is known as potential problem analysis, a system developed by Kepner Trego about six decades ago. By using this systematic approach to predict what can go wrong, you essentially reduce uncertainty by developing a roadmap for handling anything that might arise.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IN A HEALTHY ECONOMY, TRY THESE TIPS TO RETAIN YOUR BEST EMPLOYEES

 

18982398_s.jpg3. Turn to your professional network

Do you belong to one or more organizations that focus on issues that are important to your business? If not, then you should consider some memberships.

 

Don’t be surprised if meeting topics sometimes specifically address matters that create uncertainty in your industry. And, attending meetings puts you in touch with like-minded individuals who are more than willing to help you work through some of your concerns, just as you are willing to do for them.

 

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to turn to people in your industry for solid suggestions. Trusted relatives and friends in your personal network can be surprisingly on-point when providing business advice — even if your industry happens to be rocket science.

 

4. Learn current trends by monitoring the news

Don’t let your overcrowded schedule serve as an excuse to avoid regularly keeping up with the news. Current events can have a major impact on your business and the more you know, the more you can reduce uncertainty.

 

General or industry news identifies trends and how other companies are handling them. For example, if businesses are resuming spending after an economic downturn, it may be a sign for you to analyze if it’s time to reconsider a stalled buying decision.

 

Keep in mind that this type of news is hardly an edict. Consider whether those companies are similar, versus large enough to handle more risk. And, countless other details specific to your business must drive your decisions. But, at least you will gain some new thoughts.

 

5. Monitor closely

Particularly if you pre-planned as suggested in No. 2 above, you need to keep current on an issue, so that you can identify when to put an alternate plan into action.

 

Uncertainty is not stagnant; it can change over time or disappear altogether. A client that stopped paying its bills might resolve its financial issues, while another might go out of business. In either case, monitoring their circumstances will tell you if you can resolve their bill-pay issues and add them back to your current customer list — or end the relationship and take a tax write-off.

 

If anything’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty.

 

They say that nothing other than death and taxes are certain in life, with change being a possible third certainty. Still, uncertainty does not mean pandemonium. When you learn how to keep control, you can reduce the effects of uncertainty and make the decisions needed to keep your business healthy.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

Carol Roth Headshot.pngI constantly have entrepreneurs clamoring for me to give them opinions on their new businesses.  However, this request is always followed by asking me to sign a non-disclosure agreement for fear of their precious new idea getting out.

 

And every time I am asked to sign an NDA, I decline.

 

This is met with the protest follow-up question, “Well, then, how do I protect my idea?”

 

My answer is always the same. “You don’t.  And it doesn’t matter, because your idea is basically worthless.”

 

You heard me right; ideas have little to no value. It’s the execution of the ideas that holds all the value. It’s why Facebook is worth billions of dollars and why myriad other social networks aren’t. It’s why the very same company can be worth nothing or millions at different points of its lifecycle – or under different management.

 

Let me explain further.

 

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First, with rare exception, your idea already exists in some form. Most ideas are an improvement on or a different spin on an existing idea. Also, regardless of which components of your idea you believe to be “new,” there are probably others that have thought of it, as well. This is a main reason why neither venture capitalists nor I will not sign nondisclosure agreements; very frequently, the same ideas come to light independently at the same time or near the same time.

 

Moreover, the components of your idea that differentiate it, including you, your experience, your network, your intellectual property and other unique things you and your team bring to the table, can’t be replicated. You and your team are what differentiate how you frame a problem and its solution, the technology and other resources you bring to the table and your willingness (or lack thereof) to do anything it takes to make it happen.

 

A standout example of this is Google. When Google started as a mere search engine, the idea to create a search engine was not new. In fact, there were many search engines that preceded Google, including OpenText, Magellan, Infoseek and Snap. What was different was the way that the founders envisioned search, their competencies and ultimately, their code. The idea for Google wasn’t valuable, but the execution of Google was, and remains so today.

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That’s why the execution of a business is all that matters in determining value. It’s why investors bet on the founders behind a business more than anything. Most business plans pivot – some in a small way, some entirely – but investors back people they believe will execute well, regardless of the pivots required along the way.

 

When Starbucks was created, the idea of a coffee shop on every block that charged significantly more for coffee when coffee was widely available wasn’t a great idea. But Howard Schultz’s management and execution of that idea is what made Starbucks change the landscape and our consumer habits.

 

Another way to illustrate the non-value of ideas are the companies that have had different fates under different management.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 STEPS TO FINDING A BUSINESS MENTOR

 

If you know anything about mixed martial arts, you are probably familiar with the Ultimate Fighting Championship or “UFC” league. It was created by Semaphore Entertainment Group in 1993. As I explain in my book, The Entrepreneur Equation, it almost went bankrupt. Years later, two casino moguls, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, along with Dana White, bought out the struggling business. Less than a decade later, the UFC was valued at approximately $1 billion. In July of 2016, the business was sold to WME-IMG for approximately $4 billion.

 

So, one company based on a single idea was once worth nothing and later worth $1 billion and then $4 billion. This variability is because the idea for a mixed martial arts league was worth nothing. It was the execution that created the value.

Since I brought up my book, you may ask why I decided to copyright it if ideas have no value. The answer is straightforward: I didn't protect the idea of the book; I protected the final work product.

Here’s the differentiation. My idea was to write a book around the framework of evaluating the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship. Had I done nothing with it, it would have no value. Only after writing the 80,000-plus words and then revising, editing and packaging it into a final product did I seek protection.

 

So, get over holding onto your ideas and get out there and do something with them. When you have put the time, effort and money into generating something of value, you can protect that, but don’t let your fear of sharing ideas hold you back.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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

Carol Roth Headshot.pngThere may be no better source of finding out what will help you grow your business than your existing customers. Those who do business with you have a keen understanding of what works and what maybe doesn’t work so well.

 

Here are seven things you should ask your customers about immediately. Even though many will give you feedback without anything in return, you can use the opportunity to thank them by providing a discount, special offer or other small token of appreciation.

 

You can use a simple email form, website form or survey software to gather your information. Just make sure you review the results and act on the feedback afterwards!

 

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1. Why do you shop or work with us?

You may think you know what your competitive advantages are and why your customers and clients choose your company over competitors, but perhaps they know a strength you are not emphasizing or they may highlight an employee you may not realize is a gem. Give them a blank to put in their answer and also have them choose key adjectives from a list that fits their “why” – such as convenience, customer service, high quality products, etc.

 

2. What do we do well?

This is another way of asking about strengths, but it also makes sure you double down on the reasons why your customers choose you.

 

3. What do you wish that we did differently or better?

This one is self-explanatory but extremely important. This will help identify deficiencies in your staff, operations and product/service offerings. It will not only ensure that you know where to focus to keep your existing customers, but it can provide ideas on what else you can do to make those customers buy more often.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: YOUR CONSUMER IS CHANGING AGAIN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING TO GEN Z

 

25524437_s.jpg4. What are your favorite products and services?

While you can look at your sales reports to figure out what products and services are most popular, this question helps you identify if there are certain products/services that are cornerstones to your business. This may include ones that aren’t bought as frequently, but are critical keep your customers happy, as well as products/services that could be expanded or highlighted to gain more business.

 

 

5. What products and services do you wish we had?

By asking existing customers what else they want to buy from you, you have a built-in focus group. Keep track and alert those customers when you do add those products/services to your offering to target those who you know already desire that product/service.

 

 

6. How likely is it that you would recommend our company or brand to a friend or colleague?

This is a question that is asked on a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best) and makes up something called the Net Promoter Score. It’s a simplistic but widely-accepted method for determining customer loyalty. Per the Net Promoter Network, those who are 9s or 10s are loyal enthusiasts who will refer others. 7s or 8s are satisfied but not enthusiastic and are vulnerable to competitive offers; and 0s up through 6s are unhappy and can damage your brand via negative word of mouth. This gives you an opportunity to double down with your best customers and step it up with those who are vulnerable, including assuaging those who are not happy.

 

7. Will you recommend us/refer us/give us a testimonial?

Finally, having a concrete referral program or testimonial program allows you to specifically ask your customers to help get you more business. If you don’t ask, someone else will!

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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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