5 Mistakes Small Business Owners Should Avoid Making

We all make mistakes at times and, hopefully, learn from each and every one of them. However, if you can avoid making certain mistakes in the first place, it certainly can’t hurt your cause. 1-800Accountant offers up the following 5 mistakes small business owners should avoid making – and ways to actually avert them:

1. Starting a business without being ready to run it

A primary reasons small businesses and startups fail early on is because their owners set them up too soon before being fully prepared to manage them. In many cases, entrepreneurs do not have adequate funding in their personal bank accounts to lay the proper foundation for an enterprise from the get-go. In other cases, entrepreneurs have a great idea in mind, but they don’t have a formal business plan that is sustainable over time. The big thing to remember here is that you must be fully prepared and committed to getting your ducks in a row before actually taking the dive into starting a business.

2. Not accounting for advice/feedback from those around you

Many small business owners are so confident in what they know and do that they forget about the aspects of running a business that they have no clue how to handle. Because of this, it’s critical to listen to feedback from those around you and make appropriate adjustments when necessary. Listen to your business partners and your employees. Take the time to listen to what your customers are saying about your products, services, or overall approach as a business operator. While constructive criticism isn’t easy to accept, it can make a major difference in the success of your small business over the long haul. Plus, getting unique vantage points on things is the best way to become more open-minded.

3. Not claiming eligible small business tax deductions and tax credits

Small business owners are eligible for a whole host of IRS tax deductions that individual taxpayers are unable to claim in many cases. That’s why you should take full advantage of all tax-saving benefits for which you qualify. Not doing so is a big mistake – and can be extremely costly. Check out the vehicle deduction, the home office deduction, deducting startup costs, and tax credits for purchasing energy-efficient business equipment or hiring certain employees. It’s wise to consult with an accounting professional so that you don’t miss out on any valuable business tax breaks.

4. Not having enough time to dedicate to your venture

Like it or not, you absolutely need a substantial amount of time on your side in order to be a successful business owner. This means having ample time to communicate with customers, respond to voicemails and e-mails, keep up your retail store or home office, conduct marketing initiatives, and travel when necessary. If you have another job to help fund your entity, make sure you have enough time in the evenings, on weekends, and even on holidays to work on your business. If you’re married, have children, or have other family obligations, try to strike the perfect balance in terms of time.

5. Not seeking help when you need it most

If you are a first-time small business owner, there are probably some roadblocks ahead on your brand new entrepreneurial journey. The good news is that there is help out there – but only if you ask for it. You might need a web designer, an accountant, a lawyer, a financial planner, or another service provider designed to assist businesses. Do some research to find the support that will benefit you most. Never be afraid to ask questions and get help because every successful entrepreneur has needed guidance at some point in their careers.

For more tips on starting a business and the tax and finance requirements tied to small business ownership, call 1-800Accountant today at 1-800-222-6868 or visit www.1800accountant.com.

What are the Benefits of E-commerce for a Small Business?

There are many benefits of e-commerce for a small business. (Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons)

There are many benefits of e-commerce for a small business. (Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons)

Since the “.com” boom, small businesses and their larger corporate counterparts have turned to the World Wide Web to either spread the word about their products and services or actually sell them online. Conducting business on the Internet has since become formally known as e-commerce. If you proudly operate your own entrepreneurial venture, there are several reasons why you should jump on the “Information Superhighway” to do business if you haven’t done so already. These are just a few of the benefits of e-commerce for a small business:

– It significantly increases your base of potential customers.

Because the Internet is such a wide-reaching entity around the globe, why would you not want to increase your potential pool of customers by using it to sell online? For example, let’s say you sell some comfy hand-woven sweaters that you spend lots of time crocheting in your living room. Maybe you’ve reached a deal to have a local clothing store sell some of them. If you launch a website and sell them online, you could beef up your audience considerably because of how many people might want to wear such a sweater, whether they live in your hometown or are several time zones away. In theory, you could find a manufacturer to mass-produce your items, and you could be set for life financially before you know it if your small business turns into a big one.

– It can help make your small business more competitive in your industry.

Lots of small business owners out there fail to take advantage of the great perks of e-commerce. So if you are doing business virtually, you can immediately separate yourself from the competitors in your industry. Customers love choices. Purchasing options certainly fall under this category as well. You could sell your goods in a retail store, right out of your home, or online. You could even offer additional products over the Internet that supplement what you sell through other methods. Plus, who doesn’t like the convenience of having an item shipped right to your doorstep without even having to set foot outside or get in your car to go somewhere to make a purchase?

– It helps in your marketing/advertising push.

Even though an e-commerce platform for your small business differs from a basic company webpage, it still plays a significant role in your marketing and advertising efforts. You can showcase all of the products and services on a shopping cart page that you ordinarily sell in-person, at a store, or from home. Additionally, you can certainly post links to your e-commerce site on your main website, on social media pages, and in the body of e-mails you send out through your e-mail marketing campaigns. Finally, on your e-commerce site, you can include detailed descriptions as a menu of your offerings, along with relevant images when appropriate.

– It is not terribly expensive and is simple to conduct.

Some business owners are under the assumption that setting up an e-commerce system and maintaining it will break the bank. Or, you might think it’s completely over your head in terms of actually configuring it. Don’t fall into these traps. The Internet is chock full of business service providers that allow anyone to quickly and easily set up an electronic shopping cart system or other form of e-commerce interface. The good news is that such a process is not very expensive, either. In fact, even if you aren’t all that tech-savvy, you may not have to hire a contractor or business to handle this task on your behalf because of how basic it has become.

– It can beef up your company’s bottom line.

Ultimately, by offering a variety of purchasing options to your customers, you can increase your sales and profits. You are limiting yourself by only selling goods or services in a single location. But when you start using e-commerce for a small business, the sky’s the limit in terms of your bottom line. A merchant processing platform is typically required for e-commerce purposes. This system will allow your customers to pay via credit or debit card. Of course, you could also accept PayPal and other forms of payment. All it takes is a few mouse clicks by a few extra customers, and your business bank account will appreciate the results.

To stay on top of your tax requirements as a small business that conducts transactions via e-commerce, turn to the accounting professionals at 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or click over to www.1800accountant.com. Keep in mind that by selling in more than one state, you could face additional state tax filings.

5 Emergency Preparedness Tips for Small Business Owners

There are several steps you can take to prepare your small business for emergencies, including having a fire extinguisher on hand.

There are several steps you can take to prepare your small business for emergencies, including having a fire extinguisher on hand.

Every day we get out of bed, there is an uncertain adventure ahead of us. Emergencies and mishaps can arise at the most unexpected times. Being fully prepared for potential problems is the best way to minimize the effects of any issues, particularly if you operate your own small business.

Here are some important emergency preparedness tips for small business owners to consider:

1. Be prepared for bad weather.

Regardless of where your small business is based, there is always the possibility of bad weather having a negative impact on it. Every part of our country is potentially at risk of a flood, a tornado, a hurricane, a blizzard, or an earthquake. If you maintain a home office in your residence to operate your venture, be sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your home from inclement weather conditions. It’s even more imperative to protect your small business if it is housed in a retail location or separate office complex. You could either own or rent such property. Make sure you have necessary insurance, equipment, and other items to help protect your business and your assets during a weather emergency.

2. Use proper security and backup systems for computers/equipment.

If your small business consists of computers or other expensive electronics and equipment, it’s critical to properly back up and save all data in case of an emergency. Take advantage of external hard drives, thumb drives, or cloud solutions designed to back up your business-related files. You can usually access files from any location on any device if they are in the cloud. You certainly don’t want a flood, fire, or tornado to damage your systems, especially if they are not backed up. This could be devastating.

3. Use fire prevention methods.

By utilizing fireproof safes, equipment, or other fire-prevention techniques, you can significantly reduce the chances of fire and smoke affecting the location of your small business and your business assets stored in it. In addition, consider buying a fire extinguisher for your place of business, installing smoke detectors, and having an evacuation plan in place. Finally, simply use common sense when it comes to cooking or other potential fire-causing activities.

4. Be prepared for any first aid needs.

When you have multiple employees on payroll who are working within your company, there is always a chance of health issues in an office environment. Be sure your office space is kept clean and picked up. Educate yourself on any health problems or needs of those around you. Keep hand sanitizer in your office. Have a first aid kit as well.

5. Use security systems.

Break-ins and thefts are always an unfortunate possibility for homeowners. They can be even more of a risk for small business owners. So use an alarm system, surveillance cameras, and even have someone keep an eye on your office at certain times. The last thing you need is for someone to steal money or private information from your business.

If you need assistance running a business from a tax or development standpoint, 1-800Accountant is here to help. From handling your small business taxes to providing a business plan for you, our business consultants and accountants can help you in so many ways. Learn more by calling 1-800-222-6868 or by visiting www.1800accountant.com.

Helping Clients with the Biggest Investments of their Lives

1-800Accountant and Behalf client Marvin Pryor shares his startup success story of launching Pryor Realty, Inc.

1-800Accountant and Behalf client Marvin Pryor shares his startup success story of launching Pryor Realty, Inc.

Marvin Pryor loves looking at homes and helping others fulfill their dreams. So he decided to combine these two passions into one small business – Pryor Realty, Inc.

Pryor, a 1-800Accountant client, launched the startup company in March 2014. He is based out of Newport News, Virginia, but he serves clients in several cities around Virginia like Hampton, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Suffolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.
Through Pryor Realty, the entrepreneur works as a real estate agent. He lists, buys, and sells residential property to clients of all ages and backgrounds. He primarily handles single-family homes.

“I have done real estate for the past 14 years,” Pryor explains. “I got interested in it when my wife and I bought our first home. It kind of just drew me in. I really like going in and out of homes. I figured that if I can do something I enjoy and make money at it, then I should give it a shot.”

Pryor explains what the true satisfaction is in running a startup company in the real estate industry.

“It’s so rewarding selling buyers a home and then seeing the satisfaction on their faces,” he says.

Like other small business owners out there, Pryor believes that the way in which he handles his clients is what will ultimately drive the long-term success of Pryor Realty.

“It’s all about customer service and that personal connection with my clients,” he explains.

Overcoming Competition with a Small Business in Real Estate

No matter where you reside, there are probably a fair share of real estate agents within your market looking for business. According to Pryor, his focus on top-notch customer service is what makes him unique from the rest of the pack in this frequently oversaturated line of work.

“I separate myself because of my loyalty and customer service. My clients are not just another number. Many of them become personal friends of mine, and I try to keep my relationships going with them. They’ll even call me up when they’re having a party and invite me over.”

In terms of the demographics of Pryor’s clients, he says he’s worked with everyone from investors to military veterans to young couples.

“If you want to buy or sell a home, I’m the man,” he says.

Advertising a Real Estate Business

While many entrepreneurs spend lots of money on marketing initiatives through online and more traditional forms, Pryor admits that word-of-mouth referrals have driven most of his business. However, he has tapped into some real estate websites like Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia.

Getting Over Hurdles When Starting a Business

Just like fellow entrepreneurs, Pryor has faced a number of hurdles in the startup phase of his enterprise, including the challenge of making a name for himself.

“Real estate is challenging because there are a lot of agents in this area. So the most challenging part has been getting my name out there. But once you close a few deals and people find out who you are and the quality of your services, it gets a little easier.”

Tips for Entrepreneurs

He offers some valuable pieces of advice for entrepreneurs who are seriously thinking about launching their own ventures.

“You have to have a willingness to work hard and go above and beyond the call of duty for your customers,” he says. “Also, don’t get frustrated and give up. Keep trying. If it’s something you really want, you have to strive for it and put in the time and work.”

He admits that there are advantages and disadvantages to self-employment.

“You don’t have to schedule around someone else’s time, so what you put into it is what you get out of it. If you have to take your child to the doctor at 2 p.m., you can schedule your work around this to take them. In real estate, a disadvantage is that it’s all commission-based work. So if you don’t work hard and close deals, you won’t get paid.”

Experience as a Behalf Client

Pryor did not have to pay for his accounting services with 1-800Accountant upfront. Instead, he had the option to finance his payments over time through a company called Behalf.

“Working with Behalf and the financing option takes a lot of stress off of me,” he says. “I don’t have to spend my money on these accounting services right away so I can save it up for the future. It really helps not having to pull money out of the business at this point. I also like the payment plan I received.”

Experience as a 1-800Accountant Client

In Pryor’s words, he has been very satisfied with his small business accounting services as a 1-800Accountant client.

“I opened up this business without knowing the ins-and-outs of business taxes and how to deal with the IRS. I have done my own taxes in the past, but this was totally different. 1-800Accountant has been a great help to me.”

Photo credit: The photograph of Marvin Pryor was provided by Pryor Realty, Inc. and is used with permission.

Tips on Research and Development (R&D) in a Small Business

In order to launch a small business that has a great chance of being both profitable and sustainable over time, small business owners must conduct an adequate amount of research and development (R&D).

Here is a lowdown on what R&D entails – and how you can apply these important processes to your own startup venture:

What is Research and Development (R&D)?

The concept of research and development – commonly abbreviated as R&D – involves the research that must be conducted to determine what a small business will offer, in addition to the actual development and creation of its tangible goods or intangible services. Even though the concept of research and development is often associated with in-depth scientific research or companies doing business in the medical field, the practice of R&D should be a major part of any small business or large firm in any given industry.

The Research Process

The first part of R&D involves research. Entrepreneurs must conduct research on the specific goods or services sold by a business. For instance, let’s say you have the idea of developing a revolutionary vacuum designed to pick up every last piece of dust in your house. You’ll have to define several specifications about such a product before moving forward with its production. You will have to determine its weight, the materials required to create it, manufacturing costs, and a potential selling price for it. In addition, researching your competitors is essential to know what similar products yours will be up against. Are there other vacuums on the market like the one you have in mind? How much do they cost, and would yours be comparable in features and price?

The Development Process

Once you have done all of your necessary research and have ironed out certain details, the development phase is the second part of the R&D process. Development means actually designing the offerings of your small business – or turning your dream into a reality. This might involve getting a prototype made from a manufacturer if you plan to sell tangible items. If you’re planning to sell handmade items like crocheted scarves or blankets, the development phase would require you to purchase the materials and make your creations come to life. If you offer services like music recording or counseling, developing these intangible offerings would require you to determine the items you need and how you’ll effectively deliver your services to clients from start to finish.

Benefits of R&D in a Small Business

Research has shown that small businesses and their big-brother counterparts typically have a better chance of being successful when performing an appropriate amount of research and development than those who fail to devote time to R&D. Since small business owners wear countless hats in their roles, it’s often wise to outsource some of the tasks involved in R&D.

For all of your small business development needs, and to ensure you stay IRS compliant, contact 1-800Accountant today at 1-800-222-6868 or at www.1800accountant.com.