10 Rules for Succeeding in Your Own Business

10 Rules for Succeeding in Your Own Business |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

What does it take to start and succeed in business? Although there is no one answer that fits all businesses, there are a number of practices followed by successful business owners. No matter what you sell, you’ll be ahead of the game if you live by these ten essential rules for succeeding in your own business.

Business successWhat does it take to start and succeed in business? That’s a question I get asked a lot. Although there is no one answer that fits all businesses, there are a number of practices followed by successful business owners. No matter what you sell, you’ll be ahead of the game if you live by these ten essential rules for succeeding in your own business.

© 2015 Attard Communications, Inc. May not be reprinted without permission from the author.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

Should You Quit Your Job Before Starting a Business?

Should You Quit Your Job Before Starting a Business? |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

When you’ve decided to start your own business, it’s tempting to quit your job so you can give your new business all of your attention. But at first, you might need the income of your job to make ends meet. Here are five things to consider before turning in your resignation.

You’ve decided it’s time to start a business. Good for you! But should you quit your job first and then start the business or run your business on the side first?

There are a number of considerations to think about before you start any business, one of which is how you will make ends meet while building your clientele. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are starting, there is always an initial start-up phase where you will be scrounging for every penny as you develop your track record. This aspect of running a business is not unique among service or product businesses.

5 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your Job

Unless you are independently wealthy, there is a good chance that you are working because you have to. In that case, it would be foolhardy to quit your job until you are sure you have another source of income to replace your weekly paycheck. However, there may be certain circumstances under which you should quit your job before kicking off your business.

Consider these 5 factors before making that decision:

Do you have a sizeable savings account? – If you have saved up enough money to live on for a few months while starting your new business, then you can get by without collecting pay stubs. But how much is enough savings? It is generally recommended that you have at least enough to live on for six months. If you’re single, that’s not going to be as much as if you are married with two children. Take your entire living situation into consideration and ask yourself how much you need to live on from month to month, then multiply that by 6, or 9 is even better, and if you have that much money in the bank, feel free to quit your job and start your business.

RELATED: Business Startup Cost Calculator

You have ready-to-go clients waiting for you – If you already have ready-to-pay clients wanting to do business with you, then quitting your job might be an option. But ideally, the total billing for all of your clients should exceed your current income by enough money to at least cover your costs for lost benefits, extra self-employment or payroll taxes, and the costs for operating your business. If you can manage, however, the best scenario would be to wait until those potential clients become sign contracts or become steady, regular customers.

RELATED: Finding Customers for Your New Business

You have investors – Anyone who makes a significant investment in your business is likely to expect you to give the business your full attention. About the only exception might be close family members.  If you have outside investors (people who are not close friends or family members) their idea of “full-time” could be 80-90+ hours a week.

Is your job a full-time job or a part-time job? – If you are working part-time and starting a business on the side, ask yourself how much time you realistically need to run the business. If you can get it off the ground working part-time while you continue to work your part-time job, then you should wait to quit your job when your income from the business is twice what you are making on your job.

Keeping your job will create a legal or an ethical dilemma – If starting your business will  put you in competition with your employer, or interfer with your ability and availability to work for your employer, starting a business while you keep your current job may be inadvisable, or impossible. In this case, moonlighting could get your fired and/or sued.

Weigh the Benefits of Your Job Against the Business Opportunity

Ultimately, you must decide whether it is more important to spend your time building the business or being a good employee. In most cases, you should wait to quit your job until you are making enough money from the business to sustain your lifestyle. In some rare situations, you could be fortunate enough to quit your job and work on the business full-time. Ask your family and friends if they can help. You’ll often find that the answer to this question is in your own back yard.

RELATED: Creative Ways Your Boss Can Help You Build Your Business

© 2015 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

The Elevator Pitch

The Elevator Pitch |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

A good elevator pitch is easy to understand and gets straight to the point without a lot of fluff. Here’s how you can create a clear and concise elevator pitch that will let customers know what you do and why they need your product or service.

Start Me Up!Excerpted from Chapter 9 of Start Me Up!

As you probably know, an elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its benefits to customers. The term “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately 30 seconds to two minutes.

Your elevator pitch should be simple and concise. Make sure you avoid platitudes, excessive adjectives, and other filler. I’ve heard a lot of these kinds of elevator pitches from some of my small-business and start-up clients. Drop words and phrases like “innovative” and “one of a kind.” To me, the worst and most nauseating word is “revolutionary.” The railroad, refrigerators, and the Internet were revolutionary; your idea probably isn’t. Here’s an example of what I mean: “AquaFree is a revolutionary and innovative product that sanitizes clothes without water!” Don’t use this kind of hyperbole because as intriguing as your idea sounds, remember that you’re not impartial.

Here is an example of an elevator pitch that I recently received from a client named Rachel:

Elevator Pitch From Small Business Client: XYZ, LLC

Simple, straightforward, goal-focused Web design for trade professionals and service businesses, with a focus on helping woman- and  minority-owned companies. We also help businesses get started with foundational, long-lasting marketing strategies.

This example is horrible, and you’ll see why shortly. The goal of an elevator pitch is to give your audience a simple and concise summary of your business. It shouldn’t be difficult to understand or share. Your elevator pitch should also encompass simple principles that answer the following questions:

By answering these questions, we can create a clearer and more concise elevator pitch.

Elevator Pitch That Answers the Previous Questions

XYZ, LLC is a Web design firm providing Web and marketing services to women and minority professionals and their service based businesses. Our turnkey services make it easier for these professionals to focus on their businesses and not IT issues.

The elevator pitch is only the first step. Now we need specifics. We’ll use these three major factors—Opportunity, Customer Benefits, and Timing—to expand your idea and determine if it’s workable:

There is a void in the marketplace between very cheap Website solutions and very expensive solutions. The cheap solutions provide “drag and drop” options with little to no customizations. The other option includes hiring a high-priced design firm which isn’t feasible for most new or small companies. We make it easier for a minority professional (lawyer, CPA, doctor, plumber) or those in service businesses to build a customizable Website for a great price.

We created packages with the following solutions:

Rachel from XYZ realized that there were a lot more women and minorities who were struggling with Website creation in Rachel’s community. In addition, Rachel has a background in Web design and marketing, so entrepreneurs in the community continually ask her questions about Websites.

Here’s another example that illustrates the importance of Opportunity and Timing. Opportunity and Timing played a tremendous role in another entrepreneurial venture I embarked on in 2008. As a CPA working for a number of large companies, I was required to dress professionally. Finding stylish clothes that fit wasn’t easy because I’m 6 feet 5 inches tall. As a former professional and college basketball player, I had a lot of friends who faced similar challenges. So I started a made-to-measure clothing line in 2008. I had the manufacturing and fabric sourcing but the idea was to feature a business model similar to Build-a-Bear.

After a brief online tutorial, customers could go online to enter their measurements, choose a style of suit, shirts and trousers and pay for them. Since the operation was “Just In Time” or “On Demand”, there was no inventory or other large fixed costs. Despite the tremendous amount of public support and media publicity, the company struggled for a variety of reasons, and I made the easy decision to close the business after two years.

Fast forward to 2013. I met a fashion entrepreneur at a social event who was a contestant of a fashion oriented reality show on a major network. He asked me about my experience in the fashion industry and why I closed the business. I was frank about the challenges I faced dealing with the fashion industry and how difficult it was to grow a brand. The entrepreneur continued to share with me that he had generated traction with his clothing line and several celebrities were now wearing his label.

Here are three important reasons Opportunity and Timing were important for my niche and idea:

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from Start Me Up! © Ebong Eka. Published by Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ.  800-227-3371. All rights reserved.



Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

A Small Success Story on Online Furniture Stores

A Small Success Story on Online Furniture Stores |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

Sponsored content from Bedsos 

These days the small online stores are making big success stories like never before due to the exposure that has made them gain popularity. There is a large number of online retail stores across the niches that are actually causing stiff competition to the big brands of offline stores. In fact, the many success stories of the small online retailers are pushing the big brands to take the online marketing more serious hence their presence is beginning to be felt. From the comfort of a home the online shops are gaining customers with sophisticated online browsing and viewing of their products while the offline stores in many niches are quickly losing their grounds.

You must be thinking of a few niche products that just because of their nature cannot be found online. For instance, you may think that to acquire furniture one needs to visit a nearby store, at least before the final purchase for you to ensure that the dimensions and measurements are perfect. Is it so? Do you still need to visit local retailers to have the first hand look at the furniture you are intending to buy? If so, then you may not have realized the benefit of online browsing yet. Despite everything else, do you know that online furniture stores do not only allow you to browse each and every other product in detail, but also provide you with an astounding huge range of furniture for every requirement you can imagine? Moreover, with these online stores you can easily lay your hands in cheap beds and other affordable yet gorgeous furniture products that are sold expensive elsewhere.

Bedsos.co.uk is one of the most authentic and sought after online sites if you want to buy sophisticated, classy and a range of elegant furniture at an affordable price. This company was started as a just small retailer but has exploded to become a big name in the furniture industry in London and the entire country. If you think that this is the only online furniture company that has succeeded, you are terribly wrong. There are other several online retailer brands and stores that have the same level of success as well as an overwhelming high level of popularity for their products. The success of Bedsos can be considered as a gradual outcome of the increased online sales and branding and has shown many businesses the path of survival and success. Today, you can easily find very good quality furniture online for every purpose and literally an inexhaustible range of product choices for every other need.

The success of Bedsos is quite a revealing one because of selling hundreds of cheap comfy beds online every week and presently being one of the most frequently visited online stores for furniture. While the sales figure continues to grow, it is the quality of the beds and furniture that makes the brand stands out from the many others. Each and every beds bearing the Bedsos mark invariably is made of high quality material with the highest standards of quality. Bedsos is a bed specialist online retail brand that in the past few years emerged one of the most coveted destinations of quality and highly comfortable beds.

Bedsos is not the only one that has succeeded when it comes to the success of online retail stores in the recent times. From room furnishing to the interior decorative products and other furniture, online sales has an array of useful products which has helped create many success stories. At a time when online stores are poised to offer everything we require for life and livelihood, the success stories of these online stores will influence more businesses to follow suit. Actually, online stores often help fostering new ideas about the same old products as well as help introducing new product ideas. Often, in these stores we come across many varieties that we might not have come across earlier. Apart from the unique products available, offering stunningly affordable prices and ready to opt offers makes stores just appear doubly appealing than their offline counterparts.

In conclusion, we must refer to the small but important success stories of the online stores such as Bedsos and others as an opportunity for learning to those companies which have tried the online platform of marketing but have not yet succeeded that success is a gradual process. 


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

Where to Get Free Help for Your Business

Where to Get Free Help for Your Business |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

Starting a business requires many skills and talents you may not have realized you’d need. Thankfully, there is lots of free help available for your business – everything from business courses, mentoring, and free training. Here’s where you can find that help.

As a business owner, you no doubt have to juggle many responsibilities. Beyond just getting your core work done, you may want to stay on the pulse of the latest internet marketing methods or if you’re a start-up, try to wrap your head around taxes or efficient cost management. Engaging the services of tax or marketing specialists will no doubt cost you. The good news is that there are a number of free business resources, most of them online, assisting and educating entrepreneurs. Here’s a look at some reliable sources of free help for your business.

1. Small Business Development Center

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide virtually the A-Z of help any business could possibly want. SBDCs were established to encourage and nurture local and regional economic development, and as such offer a number of services that enable businesses to get off their feet and thrive.

The SBDC network spans over 900 delivery centers across the country. Services are provided through professional business advisers and cover, among other things, business plan creation, procurement assistance, disaster recovery assistance, market research and financing assistance. Depending upon the communities where they’re located, SBDCs may modify their services to suit the unique needs of the businesses in the particular community. For instance, the Pennsylvania SBDC offers such services as environment management, government marketing and targeted assistance around the Affordable Care Act and shale energy. New York SBDC offers assistance with international business development, business plan redesign and employee management, among others.


SCORE is a volunteer non-profit organization and a resource partner with the U.S Small Business Association (SBA). There are 364 local SCORE chapters and 13,000 volunteers nationwide. The association offers small business assistance in four ways:

SCORE’s local chapters offer free counseling services for the full life of your business or as long as required. They serve as a reliable, on-demand source of information and advice for start-ups and established businesses alike.

RELATED: Business Start Up Checklist

3. SBA.gov

SBA.gov offers free online courses covering the basics of starting, financing and managing a business. These include half hour sessions specifically for starting an encore business, and among them is one for women over 50. The SBA also conducts local workshops and technical classes at more than 1,800 locations throughout the United States.

4. Training from entrepreneurs

If you’ve just started a business, experienced entrepreneurs can help you learn the ropes. As they’ve been there and done that, they’re more likely to go beyond the theoretical aspects of a business topic and provide actionable tips and advice. Of course, there is no dearth of private business counseling services but they don’t come for free. Some entrepreneurs offering online business coaching services, however, offer free webinars and lessons from time to time. Websites such as Yudkin.com, Therisetothetop.com and Amyporterfield.com also provide access to useful blog posts (for free of course), from which you can glean key insights and apply to your business problems.

5. BUZgate.Org

BUZgate.org is an education and resource community exclusively serving small and medium-sized businesses. The website is a directory helping entrepreneurs locate free business assistance programs and mentor services. You can download small business forms such as financial statements, profit/loss forecasting excel sheets and time-planning schedules for free. The site also offers free access to articles that cover the full spectrum of running a business. BUZgate.org is supported by a number of educational sponsors, including Intuit Quickbooks, RingCentral, IBM and International Finance Corporation.

6. Free online business courses

In an increasingly competitive and highly dynamic business landscape, you are always under pressure to take quick and smart decisions. Even if you have a degree in business management, there’s always more to learn and apply. Free courses on entrepreneurship, marketing and business finance, among others can help you wear a lot of hats and steer your company confidently.

To make your website a traffic magnet and leverage the power of social media and search engine optimization, check out the Moz Academy that offers free guides as well as live and recorded webinars on internet marketing. HubSpot Academy‘s certification program is another option if you’re looking to sharpen your online marketing skills.

It is important that entrepreneurs have their personal finances in order. LearnVest offers a mix of paid and free online classes that encompass both business and personal finance topics, helping you manage your personal finances as an entrepreneur more effectively.

The World Wide Web has emerged as the go-to destination for free business help. You can join relevant online forums and LinkedIn Groups to get introduced to both established and new business resources that offer assistance free of cost. 

© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

How to Make Accurate Sales Projections in a New Business

How to Make Accurate Sales Projections in a New Business |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

Being able to accurately forecast sales is important for determining when your business will be profitable and if it will need startup funding. But projecting sales without any historical data to go on is difficult. Here’s what you need to do to figure it out.

How to forecast sales probably isn’t top of mind when you decide to start a business. But it should be. You may want to start a business doing something you love, or to help other people, or because you want to be your own boss. But you want to make money too. So, one of the most important things you need to do is create a sales projection. After 90 days, six months, and one year, what will your sales look like and how will that translate to profit?

This isn’t a question to ask because you’re only about the profit. The answer has some big implications. Your sales forecast dictates how much money you need before you start the business.

If you need funding of any sort, any potential lender, including family and friends will want to know the upside potential of their investment. You can use sales projections to decide a launch date. Knowing how much you will make in the short term helps you figure out how much money you need to save prior to your launch.

It will help with inventory. If you have a reasonably accurate projection, you know how much product or raw materials to order. Finally, marketing. If your 90 day projection looks a little light, you might have to ramp up your marketing budget.

No business can make spot-on forecasts but they can get close. Don’t aim for perfection. Your job is to make the most educated guess possible.

Before digging into your numbers, dig into your industry. These data will help to project based on others who came before you. Looking at the past doesn’t necessarily have any correlation to the future but it’s a fine place to start.

Most trade groups can supply you with massive amounts of data but you’ll probably have to pay for it. If you’re in the restaurant business, go to the National Restaurant Federation, for example.

Before you get too far into planning your startup, quickly identify your trade group. Some of the data will come at a cost but they will also have plenty of resources that can help you open your doors. Part of their mission is to strengthen their sector of economy. To that end, they will give you all the help you need to open your doors.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and SCORE offices have counselors available free of charge. The people at these two organizations have in-depth experience and knowledge of small businesses and may be able to help you more quickly gather the statistical and anecdotal information you need to make accurate sales forecasts for your business. These two groups are invaluable resources for small businesses (existing as well as startups). Get to know them and benefit from their help. Both organizations have locations in every state in the US. 

If you’re looking for statistical data, the fastest way to get directed to the right resources to use – and sometimes to get free access to databases you might otherwise have to pay for –is to talk to the reference librarian at your local library. Reference librarians are trained to know what resources to use and can save you hours of time by pointing you to the specific source of the data you need.  The library may also have subscriptions to fee-based databases and make access to those databases available to their patrons. 

You can get data from a trade group but talking to somebody in the industry you’re entering is even better. They may not want to give you detailed financials but they’ll probably be happy to give you general figures and current industry trends. You might have to go outside of your geographical area to find a non-competitor but the information is sure to be valuable.

If you’re buying product from a vendor, talk to them about sales. It’s in their best interest to set you up for success. Expect them to have a lot of industry information that can help you make projections.

But be careful. Because vendors are motivated to sell, they may tell you what you want to hear. If things seem a little too good to be true, they probably are.

Now it’s time to dig in to the numbers. Expenses are much easier to forecast than income. If you’re getting close to opening you probably know your rent, utilities, and other fixed costs.

Costs like advertising, legal and licensing fees, and costs of goods sold are harder to forecast but not as hard as sales.

For marketing, double your estimates and for legal, insurance, and licensing, triple your number. These expenses are always higher than you originally thought.

You have dreams and there is harsh reality. Neither is likely accurate but make projections for both. Your conservative projections might assume little marketing, low price points, little or no sales staff, and higher expenses. Your aggressive projections might assume multiple price points, a full-on marketing strategy (with money to pay for it) and a team of salespeople.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Sales are important but profit is what keeps your doors open. If you have no sales, obviously, getting the cash flow going is essential but not far into your growth cycle, start making forecasts for gross margin growth instead of purely sales growth.

Seeing customers walk through the doors feels like success but it’s only success if your margins allow for the growth of your business.

Also address your operating profit margin—the ratio of all operating costs to total revenue. As revenue grows total overhead should become a smaller percentage of total costs.

RELATED: How to Estimate Sales

Your future sales are based on marketing, location, your competition, pricing structure, your business knowledge, weather, economic climate, and much more. Do your research but be on the conservative side. It’s better to aim low and far-exceed the projection than to overpromise and under deliver. After all, Wall Street has followed that formula for more than a century.

© 2017 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

6 Start-up Business Traps to Avoid

6 Start-up Business Traps to Avoid |A&C Accounting And Tax Services

All the time and money in the world won’t make your new business succeed if you fall into one of these six small business startup traps. Find out what they are and how you can avoid them. 

Getting a business up and running is a project that makes you realize what the term “blood, sweat and tears” is all about. Once you’ve set your goal on becoming your own boss, you spend hours researching your idea, planning the details, and doing a wide variety of tasks to prepare for your launch.  Chances are, you also siphon money out of your bank account and run up higher than normal tabs on your credit cards as you focus on that all important day you’ll “officially” be in business.

But no matter how much time and money you put into starting up, your new business could fall flat on its face if you aren’t aware of and take steps to avoid these common business traps:

Business Trap #1 – Not writing a business plan

If you’re not seeking outside investors or trying to get a business loan from a bank you may think you don’t need to write up a business plan.  Gathering all the data you need for a business plan will take time away from the other things you want to do to get the business going, and besides, you know what kind of business you want to start, so why bother writing it all down? Right?


A business plan isn’t just a document to be used to raise money for a business. It’s your business roadmap. It helps you focus not only on your goal, but also on what it will take to reach your goal.  Say you want to bring in $100,000 in sales your first year in business. The business plan will make you consider the number of customers you’ll need to acquire, how you’ll acquire them, and what costs will be associated with selling your products or services. Without those details, you have no way of knowing if your sales goal is realistic, or if you’ll make a profit.

Business Trap # 2: Insufficient cash to run the business

Writing a business plan will help you estimate the amount of cash you’ll need to get the business going, but unless you’ve run a similar business before, you are still likely to run into a few financial surprises and setbacks along the way. Then, too, it may take a lot longer than you predicted to build a steady flow of customers and cash. To minimize your risk of falling into this trap, try to find out how much other similar businesses spent to get started, and look at trade journals or other resources to determine average annual sales for the type of business you plan to start.  

RELATED: 7 Ways to Start a Business Without Going Broke

Business Trap #3: Underestimating the need for marketing

No matter how good the products and services you sell are, they won’t sell if customers don’t know (or forget!) that your business exists. The friends and family members you hope will talk up your business and send customers your way, probably won’t.  The business acquaintances who told you to told you to give them a call once you got started, will be out of the office or in a meeting whenever you try to reach them..  And the social media pages you hope will get you sales or leads? Surprise! You’ll need to market those pages to get them found.

Avoid this trap by developing a carefully thought out, well-rounded marketing plan for your business. The plan should identify your target customers, the various ways you’ll need to reach them and amount of funds you’ll need to do the necessary marketing.  Remember, marketing is an ongoing activity, not a once and done thing.

RELATED: 32 Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Business

Business Trap #4: Leveraging far more opportunities than are viable

The success of any business hinges on the entrepreneur’s ability to spot great opportunities and take advantage of them in time. However, it is critical to assess the viability of the opportunity and only take it up  if it is aligned with your current business focus and if your business is truly ready to add new products of features. Your business finances, manpower, current operational efficiencies, and customer base all have to be considered thoroughly. Will the new opportunity fit in with business without compromising your current level and quality of operations? If not, shelve the idea, at least temporarily.

Besides stretching your resources, jumping on every idea that comes along could prevent you from being seen as an expert in any of your core business skills.  Clients you target for your management consulting services may wonder how good you really are if you’re also selling web design services or nutritional supplements on the side.

Business Trap #5: Being inflexible

In a highly competitive marketplace, your business needs to stay focused, but also stay aware of changing marketplaces and alternate approaches to reach your goal.  Your business plan may call for you to target small local businesses with your product line, but the most profitable market might be corporations that buy in quantity.  The software your developing for desktop computer use may also need to run on smart phones.  While you don’t want to shift gears every time someone suggests an alternate route to you, your business plan and your own attitude should be flexible enough to let you change course when there is sufficient evidence that doing so is in the best interest of the business.

Business Trap # 6: Not staking your claims online

Like it or not, businesses today need to be found on the Internet, and they need to be found in multiple places on the Internet. Consumers and B2B customers alike turn to the Internet to find products and services providers and to research what they buy and who they buy it from. Even if you typically get most of your business by word-of-mouth, the people who hear about you will most likely look you up on the Internet before they contact you. They’ll search on their smart phone or their computer. They’ll look for your website (and wonder about your professionalism and longevity if you don’t have one). They’ll look at your social media pages and profiles. And they may look for you on YouTube and Slideshare, search review sites for comments about your business, or search the major search engines for terms such as,”Has anyone heard of …”  

RELATED: Claiming Your Local Small Business Listings Online

While you can’t control everything people find in their searches, you need to control what you can. Those things at the very least are having a presentable website, and detailed social media profiles, and local listings on the major search engines if your business caters to local foot traffic.

Although there is no way to guarantee any startup will ultimately be successful, being aware of and avoiding these 6 common business start up traps will help reduce your risk of failure.

© 2015 Attard Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted or reused without written permission.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

Business Strategy: Plan for the End at the Beginning

Planning a new business? Nobody wants to think about business difficulties or failures, but planning for them in advance can help you avoid much expense and drama should the worst happen. This advice will help you plan for the end at the beginning of your new venture.

Michael NapoleoneAt the outset of a new venture, no one wants to think about failure. However, the oft-cited axiom holds true: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. One of the most common mistakes people make when starting a new business is thinking that all they need to do are prepare the proper articles for filing with their state’s department of corporations, open a bank account, and they are off and running. 

While many follow this bare bones approach, you will encounter a problem when you have a dispute or change in circumstance that was not contemplated at the outset, and each owner may have a different opinion on the correct course of action. Situations that can create discord if not properly documented include: capital call requirements, the addition or withdrawal of owners, the compensation structure for ownership, the plan for management, and which day to day decisions can be made by one owner and those that require a majority or super-majority approval. Starting a business is stressful enough, but by not identifying at the outset the roles each owner will play and the respective duties and obligations of each, you have assured yourself of future problems. The time to plan for the end is at the beginning, when all parties are getting along.

This article focuses on the most common form of business structures, the limited liability company (“LLC”), but most principles apply equally to corporations or partnerships. The first decision to be made is the equity structure – how much of the business each member of the company will own.  In most LLCs a member receives an economic interest (reflected as percentage of ownership) and a management interest.  Often, this interest will correspond with a member’s capital contribution to the company, but need not; sometimes one member brings capital while another brings the concept or experience.  Either way, it is critical that the equity and management structure be defined at the start.  

Plan for the worstThe desire of a member to leave the company is circumstance ripe for controversy. As a closely held company, there is generally no open market to sell off the interest of a member. More importantly, the remaining members likely do not want to allow the departing member the right to sell her interest to just anyone, as the purchaser will become part of the business. For these and other reasons, it is important not only to include restrictions on the ability to transfer a membership interest, but a mechanism by which the value of that departing member’s interest can be determined. 

Restrictions on transfer can include the right to assign the equity interest, but not management rights. In many instances, this may be the appropriate method to provide for the reassignment of an ownership interest upon the death of the member. The agreement can provide a right of first refusal where the remaining members must be given the right to acquire the interest of the departing member at the same price agreed to be paid by a third party. Certain future transfers can be agreed upon at the outset, such as transfers to an entity affiliated with one of the existing members. This can be important for estate tax planning purposes.

The method by which to value the interest of a departing member should be determined in advance. Do you want to value the interest as a going concern? As the value of its assets or book value? Or based on an orderly disposition (where the company is sold piecemeal)? Considerations include the lack of an open market for the membership interest, as well as premiums or discounts that should be considered if the interest to be sold reflects a majority or minority of the voting interests. The best time to determine the method to be used for valuing a departing member’s interest is at inception, when all parties are presumably more likely to reach an agreement. Whatever valuation method you chose, ensure that your agreement mandates that the determination is final and binding, to help avoid “sour grapes” when the provision is invoked.

Because disputes will inevitably arise, you should provide for the method of resolution in the agreement. Absent an agreement, the default method would be to file a lawsuit in court, but a well-drafted operating agreement will provide methods that could significantly reduce the cost of resolving disputes.  A preferred method is to require members to submit their disputes to non-binding mediation, followed by binding arbitration if a resolution is not achieved. Though mediation is not binding, it generally offers the best opportunity to promptly bring the dispute to a neutral who can help the parties work toward an amicable resolution before each side has spent too much time and money fighting over the issue where each now believes that only complete victory is acceptable. If mediation does not succeed, arbitration before a single or panel of arbitrators can provide for a quicker and more cost-effective decision than the court system. Prompt resolution is important to allow the business to return its focus and the energy of its owners to the running of the business. 

There are dozens of additional issues you should consider when organizing your new business depending on the nature of the business you are creating and your desired ownership and management structure. Always remember that an operating agreement is a complex document that should be custom-tailored for your unique business arrangement and the needs of its owners. You should have the agreement reviewed periodically to make sure that the provisions are still appropriate for the current business plan and to address any changes that ownership might desire based upon practical experience in the operation of the business.  

Michael J. Napoleone is a shareholder at the West Palm Beach office of Florida law firm Richman Greer who focuses his practice on representing businesses and individuals in complex commercial and contract litigation on a variety of issues, including breach of contract, partnership, corporate, and intellectual property disputes. He may be reached at MNapoleone@RichmanGreer.com


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

13 Tips for Starting and Succeeding in Your Own Business

Want to see your business idea become successful? These 13 tips to startup success will help you focus on what’s important when starting a new business.

What do you need to do to start a business? There are dozens of websites including ours that have checklists that remind you of the many tasks you should perform to start a business. Although such checklists will help you remember important startup steps you might otherwise overlook, they are just To Do lists. They tell you what to do, but not what it takes to make a business successful.

Unfortunately, you don’t succeed in business just by completing certain tasks. Nor will your business be a success just because you think it’s a good idea.

What will make or break your business? What determines if it will be a success? Here are 13 tips for turning your business idea into a successful business.

Related: 4 keys to small business success

© 2017 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating

Increase Your Etsy Profits with These 5 Tips

Selling on Etsy? Wish you could sell more and make more money from your shop? These 5 tips will help you increase your Etsy profits. 

The Internet has brought craftsmanship back to the forefront when it comes to home décor and personal style statements. For a long time, local flea markets were the small businessperson’s best bet when selling unique items, but more crafty entrepreneurs are flocking to online selling platforms such as Etsy to reach national and even global markets. Just like having an appealing display in a flea market can help net you more customers, your online store needs a personal yet professional touch of its own to move sales.

Start with the following five tips to help make your home business a roaring success online.

1. Learn Search Engine Optimization

In order for buyers to find your store and the items you list, you need search engine-optimized content to ensure that your store shows up in a Web search or Etsy site search. Simple yet accurate product titles are key, such as “brown leather moccasin boots” instead of just “leather boots.” Including keywords specific to your product in the title can help boost your search results.

You can also improve your hits by including a succinct description for your store and products using keywords found with one of the many free keyword research tools online. Be sure to incorporate keywords (called “tags” on the Etsy site) that are specific to your item.

Once you have the right content in place, ask your friends to share links to your inventory on their websites and social media to give your page views a boost.

2. Use Professional Photos

Having a high-quality camera to take photos of your items is a good place to start, but you should also consider factors such as lighting and staging to make your products stand out. When selling homemade candles, for example, a photo that suggests a use for the items, such as dinner table decorations, will be far superior to a standard shot against a white background.

If you are uninspired or lack experience with photography, you can always hire a friend to take the pictures. To save money in the long run, you could enroll in a photography course at the local community college or simply study online.

3. Conduct Market Research

Even if your merchandise is well represented visually and descriptively, you still may not make the sale if another store has a similar product listed for a much lower price. Always check your prices and products against the competition before listing, or even before producing the items, to make sure you can make sufficient income within a reasonable time frame.

If there are many similar products on the market already, you will need to make your merchandise stand out all the more. The easiest way to stand out is to sell for less, but lower prices lead to smaller profit margins. Regardless of the sentiment your product has to you, the market will ultimately determine its value.

4. Find and Refine Your Voice

According to the Pew Research Center, social media usage has risen nearly tenfold in the past 10 years with 65 percent of adults in the United States actively registered with one or more of these sites as of 2015. In order to make more income from your online store, consider creating a brand profile with a consistent voice to appeal to social media users.

Look at what is trending; once anything related to your brand goes viral on social media, you can expect your profits to increase because people will often browse through all your posts after they have read one that they really liked. Just keep your message consistent and positive so that your fans will stay interested.

5. Be Prompt and Polite

Remember that you are only one of many choices for your customers, so you need to make them a priority in your life. Always answer customers’ questions within 24 hours; the sooner you can answer them, the less likely they are to look elsewhere.

Be prepared to ship any items that sell immediately. Before you list anything, stock up on an assortment of shipping and postage supplies so that everything is ready to go when life’s demands might otherwise interfere. A satisfied buyer is more likely to order from you again.

Finally, accept any criticism from your customers as graciously as you can, particularly if you use social media to promote your brand. You may come across difficult people who will question your product or business practices. Have a boilerplate message prepared to respond to negative social media posts and emails to prevent employing any rash words in the moment. Be sure to express your gratitude for the feedback and acknowledge the importance of the customer’s concerns as well as his or her continued business. This may prompt more positive reviews in the future, which is a good sign for customers who need some encouragement to purchase from you.

Ultimately, making money by selling online is a result of great customer service and knowing your market, just like any other small business.

© 2016 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.


Overall RatingNo Rating
ProfessionalismNo Rating
Top QualityNo Rating
Great BenefitsNo Rating