Startup Failure: 4 Reasons Your Small Business Struggle To Survive

Yesterday you were filled with enthusiasm, excited about the idea of running your business, but that excitement was abruptly replaced by disappointment as your boat suddenly sinks to the bottom. What have you done to make your business take a nose dive? What should have been done to ensure business survival?

It is disheartening to discover that 8 out of 10 small business owners fail within the first 18 months according to a study conducted by Bloomberg. At an alarming rate of 80%, you cannot help but ask: What did I do or What did I not do?

Another study also discovered that only 50 percent of small businesses barely make it to the five-year mark and only one-third survive the tenth year of running their business.

According to Forbes, each month, more than 500,000 businesses are started. Unfortunately, many of them fail.

Here’s why:

1. Poor Management

Putting up your own business is not a decision you make on the spur of the moment. It takes years of planning and analysing. Everyone can say they have what it takes to be a business owner, but once they are confronted by problems with cash flow, taxes and payroll, they choose flight over fight.

Business management encompasses a lot of things. You can be good at selling, but hey, there are still other business aspects you should not overlook such as hiring and managing employees, purchasing, production and more. Did you make the cut?

When you start your own business, educate yourself on skills you lack. Also, do not forget about your employees. Without them, you will not be able to accomplish your goals.

Employee engagement should not be ignored. Be mindful of the leaders you hire to manage your employees. Do they encourage productivity or are they the reason for employees’ lack of motivation?

2. No Strategic Planning

A business plan is critical to all businesses. Even if you are a seasoned entrepreneur, you are not going to be immune to problems. A business plan will help you analyse workforce needs, competition, budget, promotional activities and other business components. If you decide to expand your business, bankers will also request a business plan from you before you can secure additional capital.

3. Starting A Business For The Wrong Reasons

What is your primary reason for starting your own business? Is it making a lot of money? Pursuing your passion? Spending more time with your family? These are benefits you reap from being a business owner, but you might have failed to realise that it will take years of hard work before you can savor success. When starting your own business, you need to have the right reasons: love and passion for what you will be doing, drive and determination and ability to face failures.

4. Insufficient Operating Funds

You may have the passion and skill to become a successful business owner, but without sufficient capital, launching your business will be a big challenge. Although it takes a year or two for your business to finally take off, you should also take the costs of staying in business into consideration.

Self-made millionaires have a positive mindset, determination and drive to succeed. They also view mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. There is no secret sauce to becoming a successful business owner. If you think that failure is never an option, you will do whatever it takes to succeed.

Which Bookkeeping Software Is Right For You?

Bookkeeping may not be your top priority because your small business is not as complicated as large and established companies. One mistake that business owners make is taking bookkeeping for granted for the belief that it will not hurt a small business.

However, with the stiff competition going on, no business, regardless of size can remain complacent. If you dread bookkeeping, you no longer have to spend your day working on manual and repetitive tasks. Bookkeeping software will make your daily  life easy. Unfortunately, choosing the right software can be complicated. Narrow down your options by considering the following points.

1. How much are you willing to spend on bookkeeping software?

Before you can explore your options, you will need to analyse your budget. Depending on your business needs, the price will vary from feature to feature.

The more features offered, the more it costs. Avoid choosing software loaded with features if you are not going to use all of them because it will be a complete waste of money. Some software providers offer a free trial or demo so you will know the features you need for your business.

Aside from the features, you will also need to check how you are going to pay for the service. Additional updates may also require an extra fee. Find out if you can purchase packages with a comprehensive pricing structure. For most business, paying a monthly fee is the most preferred payment term.

2. Is it user-friendly?

Not everyone enjoys manual to digital transformation. This is why choosing the best software for your business also involves knowing how to use it. The right software will enable you to learn bookkeeping over a short period of time. You do not have to spend your workweek learning bookkeeping.

The right software helps you track your income and expenses. It will also help you record your daily transaction. If you cannot make smart financial decision, it only means that your software solution is not doing an effective job.

3. Can you access your financial information whenever and wherever?

The digital era makes it easy for business owners to run their business even outside of the office. Flexibility brings convenience and as a small business owner, your software selection should also depend on the application’s ability to give you access to your financial information on your mobile device.

Aside from instant access to your reports, the software should also give you the option to share the information with your bookkeeper and business partners. While applications capable of giving you access to information from any device is a huge advantage, security must also be prioritised. Confidential records must be kept safe and secure. It will be useless to purchase bookkeeping software if it cannot create layers of protection to sensitive data.

Once you provide answers to these questions, the process of choosing bookkeeping software will be a lot easier for you.

Top Four Common Mistakes On Tax Return

A business tax return is best prepared by someone who knows the ins and outs of your business. Hiring an accountant gives you peace of mind when it comes to tackling one of the most challenging tasks of running your business. However, an accountant does not guarantee immunity to mistakes. There are many reasons your business can fail on making a business tax return.

Not taking bookkeeping seriously

Poork bookkeeping has a negative effect on your business as it involves record-keeping. Your company tax return is computed based on your records and when the task is handeed over another bookkeeper who seems to run through everything including making necessary adjustments, things can get really mixed up. For a seasoned bookkeeper, these tasks are just a walk in the part not until tax time. When the ATO knocks on your door, checking your records is one thing that make bookkeeping a tedious task.

Nowadays, bookkeepers no longer spend too much time on reconciling bank accounts, chasing unpaid debts, reviewing reports and others. Cloud services such as Xero allows bookkeepers to deliver accurate reports and ensure that superannuation is paid up. These are simple and basic tasks, but they are the ones that business owners often miss out.

Not paying on time

Tax returns are usually due on May at the end of the financial year. Since your company has all the time in the world to prepare and lodge timely payments, there are still business owners who still lodge late. As a result of late payment, business owners suffer from penalties.

The good news is penalties can be avoided by ensuring that your tax affairs are in order. Having a good process is key to preventing problems associated with your tax returns. It is also imperative that you plan your tax bills in advance.

Taking out personal loans

Cashflow is an important aspect of your business and just because you are the business owner does not mean you can borrow money from your company. Before making any decisions of taking the cash, take tax rules into consideration. Taking money from your company to cover living expenses can impact your business. Speak with your bookkeeper or accountant so you can obtain sound advice and recommendation.

Not paying superannuation

Superannuation brings stress to business owners especially those who do not completely understand how it works. If you are still wondering whether or not you should pay super, checking out ATO’s employee/contractor decision tool will be a huge help. Knowing what you need to pay for will enable you to pay the superannuation on time.

How To Protect Your Business From Fraud?

Small businesses are vulnerable to fraud and because there are too many priorities to think about, the company’s level of security has to take a backseat. Aside from investing in high levels of security, there are also other practices your company should follow to reduce the risk of fraud.  There are many types of fraud that a small business may face. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid or at least minimise them.

Set Boundaries

Shared passwords increase the risk of fraud. Setting clear boundaries decreases the likelihood of fraud. A code of ethics may be difficult to follow for small business owners. If expectations are not properly set, it will be difficult for you and your employees to draw the line. Boundaries do not only protect you against fraud but your employees as well. Putting rigid policies in place will prevent instances in which you say one thing and enforce another. A code of ethics also take you in the right direction in the event matters are taken to court. When you have encountered breach of agreement, the first step you will take is to document it.

Verify Reports and Receipts

A bookkeeper can keep things organised, but this does not mean that you will no longer actively participate in reviewing reports. Being hands-on allows you to prevent oversight. If transactions are not authorised, the reports will clearly show where your business is headed. Deposits, invoicing and even outside audits must be properly verified. In the long run, you will be able to uncover fraud or even prevent it from taking place as your employees are fully aware you are also doing a personal audit.

Perform a Background Check

It is not easy to hire employees especially for small business owners. A basic resume can be peppered with impressive descriptions to win the nod of employers. References are important as it enables you to know a potential employees work ethics. Before you consider hiring an applicant, the conversation must be enough for you to gauge their character. More due diligence is essential if the job requires additional responsibility.

It takes a lot of hardwork to run a small business successfully. Fraudulent transaction is one thing to worry about. There are even businesses that discover fraud when it is already too late. Aside from breaking up essential tasks, setting clear expectations is also important. Violations of polices must not be tolerated so employees know you are serious about implementing stricter rules.

4 Ways To Cut Down Time In Bookkeeping

There is a lot of work involved in starting a business and bookkeeping is one of them. Bookkeeping is essential in making sure that your business runs smoothly. If it takes an extended amount of time to carry out your bookkeeping tasks, there are 4 ways you can reduce the time spent on this task.

Automate Your Payroll System

Manually processing the paychecks of your employee demands a large chunk of your time because you need to make sure that the details are correct. You will also have to print and sign the checks. The hours you spend on payroll processing can be reduced by using automated payroll systems. With automated payroll, you will be able to make time-consuming processes such as printing, signing and approving hours easier. The only tasks you need to do is to approve the payment and checks. It will be beneficial for you and your employees as they get the checks faster and you also get to manage other aspects of your business.

Sign Up For An Online Banking Account

In the digital age, almost all institutions have embraced technology. With that said, creating an online banking account will be more convenient for you to take care of your transactions. Instead of having frequent trips to the bank, you can choose online banking to deposit checks or withdraw funds. With just a few clicks, you will be able to move your money around. Transactions such as paying vendors or issuing refunds will not consume your preciious time. All you have to do is to enable automatic payments in your online banking account and you are good to go. An instant access to your debits, credits and account balances is another benefit you can get from having an online banking account.

Switch to Bookkeeping Software

Reliable bookkeeping software keeps any bookkeeping task to a minimum. Bookkeeping software allows you to record deposits, debits, creating reporting, tracking bank accounts and many others. As the bookkeeping software gives you the ability to reduce manual tasks, it will be easy for you to generate accurate reports. You just need to dedicate regular time to prevent your business from falling too far behind from your obligations.

Separate Personal and Business Finances

It is still surprising that there are still business owners who do not separate accounts. Having separate savings accounts will help you manage your business accounts by accurately tracking how much you are spending for your business. If you have the same personal and business accounts, monitoring your spending habits will be all too confusing. It is also wise to carry a business card and a personal card at all times as you never know when you are going to spend something for your business.

How To Stay Ahead Of Competitors As A Small Business Owner

Even if you are a small business owner, it does not necessarily mean that you have no reason to stay ahead of your competitors. If others have cutthroat instinct for survival, you too should have some strategies that can help you thrive in a competitive business world. Even the best ideas can flop. This is why having a competitive advantage is one way you can pull ahead of your competition. Here are four techniques that can help you outperform competitors.

1. Identify strengths and weaknesses.

Your competitor may have an edge over your products and services, but this does not mean that you cannot emerge victorious. Every company has a weak point and this is something that you can use to outperform them. A company with a great product may have the poorest customer service. Find out what makes your company a better choice. It is also important to consider marketing and presentations. Even your prospective customers should know the importance of these selling points.

2. Keep customers involved.

Your product may be great today, but it can be easily forgotten the next day once they find a better replacement. However, if you are going to ask customers how you can enhance your product,  your competitors will be the last thing for you to worry about.

3. Choose large clients

One reason small business owners should go after larger clients is that they can help you yield better results such as increased revenues and more business. Compared to small companies that may require hand holding, larger clients are easier to service. You can also improve your credibility and even meet potential prospects. If the thought of approaching larger companies intimidates you, think about the long-term benefits you can get such as moving faster and gaining better ideas.

4. Keep track of your financial health

Any profitable business should never remain complacent just because of a good business performance. Your competitors can be like a thief in the night that will steal your position at the drop of a hat. If you are going to allow other businesses to pull ahead of you, growing your business will be a challenge. There is a good reason you have a good bookkeeper and that is to keep track of your financial health. Make sure you are checking your financial statements so you will know if your business is doing well.  Ask your accountant or bookkeeper about some recommendations to improve your business.

Change is also essential to stay on top of your game. This means that if you are still into traditional business process, you need to up your game by embracing technology.

5 Signs You Have A Great Bookkeeper

A business will not be complete without hiring a bookkeeper. In searching for a great bookkeeper, there are some qualifications that must be taken into consideration. Keep in mind that you will be entrusting the most important aspect of your business and an incompetent bookkeeper will not be able to provide sound advice and recommendation.

Aside from training and accreditation, your bookkeeper should also be experienced. It is not easy to monitor your business and a less experienced and less qualified bookkeeper will not help you accomplish your financial and business goals.

If you have been keeping a bookkeeper for quite a long time, here are some signs that you have hired a great one:

1. They completely understand the process.

A bookkeeper who knows the ins and outs of your business will understand how it works. Being able to understand your process enables bookkeepers to find the best solution possible to ensure that your business will become successful in the end. A bookkeeper who has the ability to understand the process will see the areas of your business that you can streamline.

2. They ask questions.

Some business owners may not entertain questions as they find it annoying. However, bookkeepers want to ensure that every transaction made is correctly allocated. This is why a bookkeeper who really cares for your business will ask questions instead of simply guessing which direction your business is going to take. A business owner may assume that everything is going fine, but upon inspection, you will realise that the figures are not correct.

3. They know their scope.

The accountant’s job differs from the bookkeeper’s. A great bookkeeper knows what they should do and they will even collaborate with the accountant to gain the best solution so your business will have a healthy financial state.

4. They do their homework.

Business strategies need to change as technology changes. Since trends come and go, bookkeepers should take the initiative to keep up with the changes. These days, cloud technology is one way to make every transaction easy and hassle-free. A reliable and trusted bookkeeper should know when to make the switch. A business owner may not easily agree to the changes, but explaining how the transformation will create a positive impact on the business will make a difference in convincing the business owner.

5. They can be trusted.

It is not easy to hire a trusted bookkeepers these days. Some business owners are not comfortable sharing their financial details with their friends or even family. A bookkeeper should know how to keep confidential information private.

5 Danger Signs Your Business Is Failing

Going out of business is the last thing a business owner wants to do. This is because doing so signifies that the business is already failing. When your company is taking a turn for the worse, the signs are going to be evident. Unfortunately, some businesses fail without warning. Here are five signs your business is on the brink of trouble.

1. Problems with cash flow

Your profit and loss sheet may not signify that you are struggling around your cash flow, but not paying your bills on time means that something is wrong. Your cash flow is important in operating your business. If it seems impossible to ensure a steady flow of cash, it only goes to show that your business is not doing well.

2. Lack of innovation

As your business grows, embracing the new technology is inevitable. However, if your company does not innovate or come up with new things, it is a warning sign of a dying business. When customers are bored and you are no longer encouraging new customers, your business no longer offers things that will keep customers come back for more.

3. Low sales

Another danger sign of a dying business is having low sales. When your business fails to make a sale, you will no longer have enough cash flow to ensure business continuity. Sales ensure your business continues to operate. If you begin to notice a period of low sales, it may be time to push the panic button.

4. Negative reviews

When people are talking about your business in a positive manner, it shows that you are in the right direction. However, if people are talking about your business, but in a negative way, it means that your business is as good as dead. You will need to think about the next step to take especially when you are no longer getting any positive word of mouth.

5. Lack of learning and development

Your business needs innovation, change and differentiation to survive. Welcoming growth and changes paves the way for development. Providing training to your employees is a sign that you remain relevant in the industry. When you are no longer seeing any development and learning, the chances of growing your business are decreasing.

It takes years to enjoy the fruits of your hard work as a business owner. This is why when planning to start your own business, the key recipes must be included in your strategic plan. Proper cash flow management is one way you can protect your business from bankruptcy. Hiring a bookkeeper will help you stay on the right track.

4 Techniques To Help You Trim Down Your Business Expenses

For small business owners who cut corners to ensure survival, saving money should be a priority. No one is exempted from recession. However, trimming down expenses is not a good reason to set aside plans to grow your business. You may want to take a look at your spending habits for you to find out whether you are cutting costs or increasing efficiency. There are simple techniques you can use to streamline your business operations. These ways can create a positive impact on your business.

1. Automate Business Processes

Nowadays, businesses consider embracing technology as a wise move because it reduces repetitive tasks and operational costs. Have you ever heard of cloud technology? This technology enables business owners and employees to work efficiently. Mistakes are minimised and producitivity is increased when you switch to cloud. Technology reduces operational cost in more ways than one.

If you perceive payroll to be one of the greatest burdens of operating your business, incorporating payroll software will ensure that the data you enter is true and correct.

Another reason technology cuts costs, is by lowering marketing costs.Since traditional forms of marketing are not only outdated but also costly, it is important for businesses to be more effective and targeted in more ways than one.

You will also pay less on office supplies because of Skype and other voice technology services that make communication and collaboration much easier.

2.  Use Video Conferencing Tools

Travel expenses can also hurt your business. When you need to meet employees in another location, it will mean spending money to organise presentations and meetings. These days, there are video conferencing tools you can use for free. These tools allow you to touch base with your clients and employees anytime, anywhere. Location will never be a problem with this technology.

3. Develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Dashboard

When running a business, it is important you are aware of your company’s performance on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. KPIs help you understand how your company is performing at a glance. Even employees need to have KPIs as this is also a way to manage them. While it may be challenge to build KPIs at first, it will be a breeze with a lot of effort.

4. Use The Service You Paid For

It might be difficult to streamline your business if you are still sticking to traditional business processes. If you have paid for a service, why not use it? If you have signed up for a service you are not using, it is better to cancel them. You can always sign up again in a month if you do decide to use them. Keep in mind that the services are paid on a monthly basis and it will be an additional expense if you pay for it without using the service.

 

4 Benefits of Going Paperless

Going paperless in a traditional business environment is seemingly a drastic move. It requires you to step out of your comfort zone and deviate from the usual process. Most companies are more comfortable using paper than computers. However, as paper starts to become obsolete, digital files will make record-keeping easy. It is also imperative that businesses shifting from traditional to advanced business environment should increase levels of security. Vital information can be lost or stolen at the drop of a hat without putting a security plan in place. If you are still having second thoughts about going digital, here are the significant benefits that will help you make the right decision.

It is cost effective.

For small business owners, cost-cutting is a constant practice that ensures a steady flow of cash in times of rainy days. Expense reduction involves minimising spending habits especially when purchasing office supplies such as paper, ink and many others. Although you need to spend money on the transition, the long-term benefits you will enjoy outweigh the cost.

It prevents overcrowding office space.

Paper can take up a ton of space in your office. You need boxes, cabinets and storerooms for your documents. Aside from running the risk of losing important bookkeeping files, you will need to free up closets to give way to new files. Once you go paperless, problems with office space will become a thing of the past. Since digital files are stored remotely, you will no longer have to waste money on physical file storage.

It saves time.

Filing documents can be time-consuming as you need to be accurate and make sure that receipts are stored correctly. It will also be difficult for you to access information instantaneously as you need to dig from a pile of documents. Paperless filing will reduce time spent on accessing valuable information. In just a few clicks, you will be able to get the documents you need.

It improves level of security.

When filing documents, it is also important that sensitive files are protected. Digital documents are kept in a safe place where layers of security prevents unauthorised individuals from accessing the files. If employees leave, it is easy for small business owners to keep documents confidential because of advanced file storage method.

When it comes to transitioning from traditional to advanced business environment, going paperless is not an easy task. This means that you have to be prepared by creating a long-term plan and providing extensive training to employees. You will also have to invest in additional software especially in terms of implementing policies on security.