Here come the holidays! Well, not quite yet…but 2019 is more than halfway over. Now is a great time to step back and evaluate your business. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day, it can be hard to plan for the future. Our small business check-up list is a good way to get started.
Is Your Legal Business Structure Still the Right Fit?
Many businesses begin as one type of business entity but find a different structure is better after expanding. For example, a one-person business may start as a sole proprietorship to keep administration simple and compliance responsibilities minimal. However, as they hire employees, expand services, and sell more, an LLC or Incorporation is a better fit. The right structure can mean liability protection, tax flexibility, and an easier time attracting investors. The SBA has good information on their website here: Choose a business structure.
Do You Need to Hire?
Extra staff can help your bottom line and your stress level. Take a look at your sales volume from previous years and hire accordingly. The Small Business Administration stresses that labor laws still apply no matter what type of employee you are bringing on including temporary hires or interns. This article will give you good advice about hiring including when to use an NDA, details about background checks, and crafting the perfect interview: 7 Things a Business Owner Needs to Know About Hiring.
Are Your Social Media Channels Up-to-Date?
Take a look at your established social media channels. Do you have good photos and up-to-date product and pricing information? Are you regularly posting fresh content? If your social media accounts have been neglected, take a look at our article to help you get them into shape: How to Quickly Master Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses.
Social media strategy can pay off big. In fact, SmartBiz Loans has spoken with many of our customers who are successfully driving sales without spending a fortune. RoShamBo Baby, makers of kid-friendly sunglasses, has a Facebook page targeting parents with over 40,000 loyal followers. The creators of the Infinity Strap yoga prop report that Instagram drives 80% of the sales completely organically, without any paid advertising.
Do You Have Adequate Savings?
Once you start taking in or spending money as your business, you should open a business bank account. Common business accounts include checking, savings, and a credit card account. Business savings accounts are considered liquid assets. That means you can quickly access funds in a savings account to pay expenses.
Savings can act as a safety net or help you invest if an opportunity comes up suddenly. Start building your savings by cutting expenses and funneling the extra cash into a dedicated account.
Entrepreneur outlines 50 penny pinching ways to save money: 50 Ways to Save Money in Your Business.
Do You Have the Right Insurance Policies in Place?
Business owners don’t always know what types of insurance and how much coverage is needed to protect their business. You might be familiar with General Liability and Property Insurance but there are more policies you might need to put in place as you grow and hire. Our blog has an article written by a small business insurance pro outlining small business coverage: Avoid Gaps and Loopholes in Your Business Insurance.
Insurance doesn’t just protect you and your business. Lenders who provide low-cost funding like SBA loans will often require at least some forms of insurance before approving an application.
Perform a Competitive Analysis
Stay one step ahead of the competition by looking at the big picture: What has changed with your markets, customers, and business in general during the last six months? Going through the steps of a competitive analysis helps you discover the strategy used by similar businesses and if it’s working. The BigCommerce blog has a step-by-step guide here: How to Perform a Competitive Analysis in 2019.
Is Your Technology Up to Date?
Everyone knows that technology moves at the speed of light these days. Make sure you have the most up-to-date tools in place. Using clunky or outdated software or apps can slow down your business, costing you valuable time and money. Look at your online collaboration tools, accounting software, email/newsletter service, cloud services and cybersecurity.
Most small businesses do not have the resources to hire a full-time technology professional. If you need guidance for your overall technology needs, consider hiring a technology consultant who has small business experience or even experience in your industry.
Check Your Holiday Inventory
Look at data from years past to calculate how much inventory you need to have on hand for the holidays. Running out of a product can send consumers to a competitor, never to return again. Purchasing additional inventory can lead to big savings as well. Bryan Tracey of the wildly popular skateboard manufacturer, SkateXS, recently shared his scaling experience after receiving funds from a low-cost SBA loan.
“Skateboarding and stickers go hand-in-hand and we include them with every board purchase. I’ve always placed orders for just 1,000 stickers at a time. I can now buy 5,000 and it’s so much cheaper. I’d be crazy not to do that. Having cash on hand is a difference maker.”
Consider a Low-Cost, Long-Term Small Business Loan
If you qualify, the Small Business Administration’s low-cost loan programs can be a great option to strengthen your business and prepare for the holidays. SBA loans have low rates, long terms, and very low payments. For in-depth information about the popular SBA 7(a) loan program, visit the SmartBiz Small Business blog and review our comprehensive article: What is an SBA Loan?
If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan at this time, you have other options. Consider a Bank Term loan. Bank Term loans are available through SmartBiz marketplace banks. Details include:
- $30,000 to $200,000 loan amounts
- 2 – 5-year repayment terms
- Fixed interest rate from 6.99% to 26.99%*
- Monthly repayments
- No pre-payment penalties
*Interest rate depends on loan term and the applicant's credit and financial profile.
Taking on debt might seem counter intuitive but extra funds can be used to spark big growth. You can use a low-cost SBA loan for working capital or to refinance high interest debt. The 10-year term means monthly payments are very low and won’t crunch your cash flow.
Here’s an article that addresses how an SBA loan can help you expand and save money: 5 Signs That a Business Loan is a Smart Decision.