Copyright 2020 - Pfeiffers Accounting & Consulting LLC

Disasters, natural or otherwise, could ultimately lead to your company’s demise. Fortunately, advance planning can keep you on track. Here are seven scenarios to be prepared for.

  1. A natural disaster. To paraphrase the old saying, you can talk about the weather, but there’s not much you can do about it – except have a plan in place in the event a natural disaster damages your business premises. Two tips: Maintain adequate insurance and store valuable business data at a secure off-location site.
  2. A key employee quits. Cross-training can avoid business interruptions if a key employee leaves unexpectedly. You might also want to consider asking key employees to sign a reasonable non-compete agreement to protect confidential information. Typically, these agreements prohibit an employee from working for a competitor for a certain period.
  3. An employee embezzles company funds. To safeguard your business assets, divide responsibilities so one person doesn’t have complete control over the books. Set up a system of checks and balances.
  4. Your biggest customer leaves. To keep your business from going under, update your marketing plan, stay in touch with former customers, establish an emergency budget, and diversify your revenue stream.
  5. You become disabled. “Key-person” disability insurance can provide funding to keep your business afloat. The policy may also cover employees who are vital to operations.
  6. Your company or partnership splits up. Draft a buy-sell agreement to ensure a smooth transition due to the sale of a business interest, including a forced sale on the death of one of your shareholders or partners. The agreement can establish the terms of a buy-out and set a value for the respective business interests.
  7. Your computer system crashes. Extra hardware, such as tablets or laptops, regular off-site backups, and cloud storage for important documents can avoid a crisis when your computer fails.

Many people dream of owning their own business. However, the percentage of people whose small business survives is small. This is due to poor planning for your business in the first place.  Some things to consider when going for the goal of being an entrepreneur are as follows:

  1. Spend at least 6 months or more planning your business before you actually get it started.  This step is perhaps the most crucial element to develop during the planning stage because it tells a complete story about your business. A well-prepared and  comprehensive business plan (updated every six months) serves many purposes. For one, it makes you take an objective, critical and unemotional look at your business project and helps assist you in setting goals as well as how workable and desirable your business venture is. Additionally, it's an important sales tool for raising capital to outside investors. Investors are interested in the future potential value of a business. They need to be confident in knowing that they can earn a return on their investment in a reasonable period of time. A business plan also serves as a tool for applying for a loan.  Your business plan will reveal your evaluation of your venture's ability to prosper and reflect your management abilities as well.  Finally, you will need this business plan in the event that you are audited by the IRS.  They will want to know if your business is a legitimate business and having a business plan proves your case.
  2. Business plans can vary depending on the type and size of the business.  However, all plans should be organized into different sections. The Small Business Association is a great resource to help you in setting up your own business plan. If you are not comfortable with doing it on your own, you can hire a lawyer who is specialized in business law who can set it up for you.
  3. After preparing your plan, you should be able to understand lending and investments so that in the event your business plan needs work, you can revise it before you submit it to lenders.

As I've stressed in this article, the importance of a business plan is not just the document itself, but also the process and thinking involved in developing it.  Furthermore, although it may take more time and energy to get a business plan together, the time is well spent if the business grows and prospers.

These days it's not that easy to start a business and keep it running due to the recession we have encountered recently. As a way to help businesses survive, these are some of the things businesses have done to weather the storm:

  1. Cut back on the number of stores they have.  Instead, stores such as Blockbuster have decided to downsize and put their stores on the internet instead.  As a result, overhead costs are reduced, giving a higher profit.
  2. Keeping inventory low, and only selling highest selling items in the store.  In addition, more special ordering is in place. Incentives like offering more discounts for large purchases helps bring in more customers.
  3. Keeping unnecessary costs down like cutting back on payroll and/or advertising, can help with the bottom line.  Also understanding what their financial numbers mean makes financial decisions easier.
  4. Appeal to customers with their new "storefront"-the internet. Remember when you had an actual storefront where you had to change it periodically so that you would gain new customers? The internet is like your new storefront. A business webpage with a great look is vital to keeping business alive.  Social networking and the web is used much more by customers. 
  5. Make sure you update your accounting systems to a low cost system that will grow with your business.

Copyright Jeanine Pfeiffer

When you are operating any business, there are some things you should keep track of beyond your financial recordkeeping. Spreadsheets are used to manage this. To determine what spreadsheets you need, here are the suggestions:

  1. If your employees purchase goods/items on their own personal account and are then reimbursed, you need a spreadsheet for them to document what was purchased, what expense it is associated with, and the receipts for proof of purchase.
  2. If your business pre-pays for goods before they are manufactured, you will need a spreadsheet for the vendors with open purchase orders listed with the total amount of the purchase orders. When the order is originally pre-paid for, the vendor purchase order should be reflected as the amount prepaid.  As portions of the purchase order are received, the spreadsheet should be updated (reduced) to reflect the amount of the order the vendor shipped, thus reducing the balance of the purchase order amount.
  3. In the event you ore your employees travel, you should prepare a travel reimbursement spreadsheet showing all travel related expenses with receipts.
  4. All businesses should have a budget. You can easily set up a budget by forecasting monthly expenses and income, and have a separate column for actual.

There are many more types of spreadsheets you can or may be required to use in your business. These are the main spreadsheets all businesses should consider.

Copyright Jeanine Pfeiffer

There are some ways to help manage your business credit so that your business can look favorable with suppliers, banks and so your cash flow stays positive. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Establish a business credit history. You can easily do this by putting your expenses (such as business cell phone lines for example) in your business name.
  2. Cash flow management: Good credit = better financing. Delayed financing is a common reason for why businesses fail. If a business has a poor credit rating, banks may increase credit card interest rates from 9% - 18% and loan interest rates average 8% - 12%.
  3. Suppliers look at your credit and decide how much credit they are willing to extend to you. Good business credit can ensure you get the supplies you need under the best possible terms and frees up more money for your business.
  4. Make better credit decisions on customers: Knowing your customers credit enables small businesses to give better terms to creditworthy customers and avoid doing business with customers who are slow payers. These can greatly increase cash flow.
  5. Pay bills on time: In order to improve your credit scores and build a positive payment history, the most important thing is to pay your bills on time.

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