Year in Review: 3 Takeaways for Small Business Owners

Year in Review: 3 Takeaways for Small Business Owners

Looking back at 2017, I’ve been lucky to work with and learn from small business owners across America.

These business owners face a number of challenges – from finding the right staff to securing financing – but their resourceful nature resulted in many success stories this year.

Now that 2018 is here, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few specific lessons – from strategy to technology to the big-picture outlook – that I hope will serve as inspiration for another great year in the small business community.

Not enough businesses have employees in the right tech roles

When you’re running a small business, it’s easy to get swamped. There’s no shame in that – you’re an ambitious self-starter and live for your company’s success. But sometimes taking on more than you can handle means overwhelming yourself with responsibilities that should be handled by others.

According to a Salesforce small business report, 49 percent of small businesses say they spend too much time and money trying to decide what technology to use, which is often the result of non-tech experts making tech-related decisions.

When it comes to IT strategy, the lack of a designated tech-savvy team member is one reason 61 percent of small businesses ignore valuable IT solutions for their business.

On the other hand, small businesses that rush into hiring a chief technology officer (CTO) too early often end up with high costs and complicated IT strategies that go beyond their needs. Waiting to hire a CTO can save you precious capital (sometimes over $230,000 annually) and allows you gain insight from multiple voices.

One solution for accessing expert tech knowledge without hiring too soon is to seek help from an external tech advisor. Dell Small Business Advisors can help you understand your IT needs and come up with customized solutions to meet them.

Protecting your company’s assets requires the right technology and mindset

Technology plays an important role in all types of businesses, and securing your key data is becoming increasingly critical. This is just as true for small businesses as it is for large corporations, yet the former often finds this more difficult to tackle given limited resources.

Earlier this year, I moderated a ransomware roundtable. One of the most impactful takeaways was just how much power hackers can gain over small businesses that don’t implement adequate cybersecurity measures. Halfway through the year, we’d already seen major institutions like the U.K.’s National Health Service and the United States CIA hacked by various groups from around the globe.

Instead of waiting for a problem to arise and then reacting, you can boost the security of your small business by proactively assessing risks and making a plan for how to deal with any breaches. It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process with the help of an expert. Setting up the right private and public cloud storage also plays a key role in keeping your company’s valuable assets safe.

Millennial entrepreneurs are setting new standards for small business IT solutions

Young generations are always trendsetters. In August, we looked at how millennials are setting new standards for how and where technology is being used in business operations.

Having grown up in a tech-filled world, these individuals are inspiring companies to adopt cloud-based infrastructure and a mobile-first mentality. Others have directed this forward-thinking approach to entrepreneurship, with millennials accounting for 16 percent of small business owners in the United States.

Freelancing is key trend driving change in the worlds of business and employment. Back in March, I outlined how Americans – millennials in general – are embracing freelancing as a way to build fulfilling careers in which they call the shots. At the same time, both small and large businesses are using the freelance economy as a flexible resource to support their work, recognizing that freelancing creates unique IT needs on both sides of the equation.

The future is full of opportunity

With a new year comes new ideas, new tech and new growth. Since the start of 2017, we’ve seen advances in tools like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which allows business owners to be forward thinking about how they approach new opportunities – a mindset we champion at Dell, too.

No one can predict the future, but I am confident that 2018 will be full of new opportunities for small businesses everywhere.

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10 EASY RECYCLING IDEAS YOU MUST TRY|10 AMAZING RECYCLING HACKS AND IDEAS

Today I will show you a brilliant DIY on how to re-purpose/recycle some things that you could find at your home. This diy project is good to do when you’re …

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Should You make $300,000 with E commerce or Affiliate Marketing Info Product 🔑🔑

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHOQ6mho2io&w=640&h=360]

Should You make $300,000 with E commerce or Affiliate Marketing Info Product 🔑🔑

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHOQ6mho2io&w=640&h=360]

Outgrowing Your Office Space? Should You Lease or Buy?

The decision of whether to lease or buy your next office space involves several factors. Choice of property, of course, is the first consideration: If you can’t find what you need for rent, you may have to commit to purchase, and vice versa. However, depending on your local economy, you may find landlords who are willing to work with you, even to remodel existing properties to suit your needs.

Cost is also important, and if you are choosing between two equally attractive properties, it pays to do a cost comparison for the short and long term. However, each option has unique benefits and challenges that affect how you do business as well as your pocketbook. Here, we discuss key aspects you should take into account, the pros and cons, and what financial aspects you need to take into account to help you make the best decision for your business.

The three questions you should ask yourself

How long can you commit to a location or building? Financial studies have shown that, for a short term, leasing is more cost-effective than buying. However, if you are considering a property where you can make your headquarters for a decade or more, then buying becomes more financially attractive. One analysis indicated that seven years seems to be the tipping point, but each case differs. See our section below on doing a financial analysis.

How fast is your business growing? If your business is booming and you anticipate rapid growth in the next few years, then leasing gives you greater flexibility to move if you outgrow the new facilities. If you purchase, you may outgrow the building or purchase more building than you need, with the associated expenses. This also applies if you think your business may downsize in the next few years.

How’s your local economy? Once upon a time, real estate was a sure investment, but now it’s more volatile. If your local area has been in a slump but is coming out of it, then this could be a good time to invest. However, if property values are declining or are overinflated, leasing might afford you a better location and protect you from losing the money it could cost you if you had bought and needed to sell.

As you read the pros and cons in the next sections, evaluate how important each is to you and weigh them accordingly.

Pros and cons of leasing

The main advantages to leasing include low initial commitment, flexibility and ease of maintenance. However, you sacrifice equity and control over your facility.

Pros

  • You have a low initial financial commitment with no down payment, just a deposit.
  • Lease payments are tax-deductible.
  • The landlord handles repairs and maintenance, sparing your time.
  • Some landlords will remodel to suit.
  • You can generally lease in a nicer area than if you buy.
  • The higher cash flow helps your credit rating.
  • The landlord may pay for a particular utility, like waste management or water, or for housekeeping.
  • It’s easier to leave if you outgrow the space.

Cons

  • If you used a broker, you will pay an annual broker fee for the duration of your lease. This is usually a percentage of the annual lease amount and is negotiable.
  • Rent usually increases when you renew a lease.
  • You are at the mercy of the landlord for timeliness and quality of repairs, which could be frustrating for a construction firm.
  • The landlord may have rules concerning the use and state of outside areas that may impact your ability to store vehicles and materials. Be sure you discuss these beforehand.
  • Even if you have a good landlord now, that could change in the future.

Pros and cons of buying

Buying provides equity, and you have complete control over what you do with the property, but you commit a lot of capital from the onset and are responsible for all maintenance.

Pros

  • You build equity, which you can use as collateral in loans.
  • If you have extra space, you can rent it out to add to your revenue.
  • Your mortgage payments will stay steady.
  • Interest payments are tax-deductible.
  • You can claim building depreciation.
  • You can make any changes to the building you like (within local ordinances).
  • You control what happens on your property.
  • Since you own the property, when you retire, you can sell it and use the profits for your retirement.

Cons

  • There are huge initial expenditures, such as closing fees and real estate agent fees.
  • There is a higher opportunity cost. In other words, the money you invest in the property could be used to grow your business in other ways. You need to determine if that is an issue.
  • You pay for remodeling, repairs and maintenance.
  • If you outgrow the space, you will have to sell the property.

Editor’s Note: Looking for a business loan provider? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Run the numbers

As noted above, the longer your commitment to a location, the more cost-effective it is to purchase rather than lease your office space. However, before you commit, run some numbers or have your accountant do an analysis of costs over time. These are some of the things to consider:

  • Mortgage vs. rent
  • Insurance
  • Down payment (10 to 25 percent) vs. security deposit
  • Taxes (consider tax advantages with leasing as well as buying)
  • Regular maintenance (factor in about $1.50 per square foot per year for maintenance and improvement costs)
  • Equity (but take resale value with a grain of salt)
  • Opportunity cost – how much a certain amount of money could earn if you invested it in your company. (When buying, you use the down payment to calculate this cost. If there’s a difference between the monthly mortgage and the lease, use that difference to determine an opportunity cost against whichever costs more.)
  • Security deposit
  • Broker fees, annually if leasing; realtor fee one time if buying
  • Lease negotiations = lawyer fees (realtor commissions cover this when you buy)
  • Closing costs if buying
  • Remodeling expenses
  • Leases covering utilities (if yours does, consider that bill as an added expense if you buy)

There’s no blanket answer for whether to purchase or lease your next property. It depends on how your business is faring, whether cash flow is more important than equity, if you prefer to control your property or have the ease of someone else caring for it, and myriad other factors. Take time to make an informed choice.

Scaling Your Small Business Doesn’t Have to Be Hard: Follow These 4 Tips

4 Tips for Intentionally Scaling Your Small Business

Scaling a business requires every business owner to make some tough decisions. Christine Burdick is uniquely familiar with those challenges. But she has been able to successfully grow her business, Christine Burdick Design, by scaling very intentionally.

A commercial interior designer based in Burlington, Vermont, Burdick never actually intended to start a business. She was laid off, along with plenty of other design and architecture professionals, in 2009. And as she interviewed with other companies, she realized that many of them still needed designers but simply didn’t have the resources to bring anyone on full time. So she decided to start her own business to provide that service.

Tips for Scaling Your Small Business

Burdick recently spoke with Small Business Trends about her business experience and some of the challenges she faced scaling the business. Here are some of the tips other small businesses can glean from that discussion.

Don’t Go Overboard with Hiring Right Away

Burdick’s business started out as a solo operation and quickly grew into a two-person business. However, at one point she actually had five employees, which was great when the company was busy. But it also led to some struggles that might have been avoidable had she been more intentional with scaling.

Burdick says, “I was spending all of my time on marketing just so I could keep all of those employees busy. And when I thought about why I started the business in the first place, it was because I loved design. But I wasn’t doing any design because I was so busy with marketing even though I’m not a marketer.”

Use Expert Consultants to Help with Areas Outside Your Specialty

For that reason, Burdick suggests that businesses looking to scale make use of consultants and contractors who specialize in areas outside of your own expertise. This allows you to get help with things like taxes, tech support and bookkeeping without having to onboard actual employees for whom you might not have enough money or work to make the hire worthwhile.

Consider Non-Traditional Spaces You Can Afford

Though Burdick now has a beautiful studio space with a lake view in downtown Burlington, the business actually started out in her own basement. From there, she rented a space that was shared with another business, and eventually outgrew it and moved onto the downtown location. Had she jumped right in with the expensive downtown studio, she might not have been able to afford the employees, consultants, marketing and other expenses that have helped the business grow. So unless a specific location is paramount to your business plan, keep the rent low when you first start out.

Always Remember Why You Started Your Business

Overall, Burdick believes that it’s important to always go back to the reason why you started a business in the first place. Of course, running a business requires more than just a passion for one specific subject. But if you’re able to secure help in those other areas, you can keep your focus where it counts even when your business grows.

Burdick says, “The most important thing to me is to always go back to doing what you love. For me that’s design. So I have to sometimes remind myself that I started the business because of my love for design. If you’re genuine and following your passion, everything else tends to fall into place as long as you have the right support systems in place for your business.”

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Scaling Your Small Business Doesn’t Have to Be Hard: Follow These 4 Tips” was first published on Small Business Trends

Ditch Those Silos! 3 Ways to Embrace Cross-Departmental Relationships

Boost collaboration. Break down those walls. Bring people together. Companies that do tend to be high-performing ones.

Advertising Campaign for Chic Place Webside, BCN – Alex Ramon Mas Studio…

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How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3WbTKBOYto&w=640&h=360]

How to Make Money From Home ! No Need to Go outside !Free Investment Idea

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HOW TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY FROM HOME HONEST REVIEW

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How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3WbTKBOYto&w=640&h=360]

"The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn — To help you master Link…

“The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn — To help you master LinkedIn [and not put it on the back burner], below is our ultimate list of 35 awesome tricks …

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Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

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3 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs From Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes Speech

Take a page out of the icon’s playbook.

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How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

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Entrepreneurs Can Find Inspiration in Obama, Rowling Others (INFOGRAPHIC)

Entrepreneurs Can Find Inspiration in Habits of Successful Women like Obama, Rowling, Others (INFOGRAPHIC)

Want to know the habits of highly successful women who certainly haven’t let gender inequality or adversity stand in their way? Check out the enlightening ‘Habits of Highly Successful Women’ infographic presented by BusinessStudent.com.

Habits of Successful Women

The three leading successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs topping the infographic are Opera Winfrey, J.K Rowling and Lucille Desiree Ball.

Chairwoman, CEO and CCO Winfrey, who is worth a staggering $2.9 billion, believes there is no such thing as failure and urges others to remember that “failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

Writing the first Harry Potter instalment when she was a single mom living on benefits, author, J.K Rowling had 12 different publishers reject her novel. The creator of a $15 billion brand, who is worth $1.2 billion, is an inspiration to women and living proof that with determination and resilience, anyone can succeed.

Facebook COO, Lean in Foundation Founder, author and activist Sheryl Sandberg, ranks high on the infographic. Sandberg advises writing ‘to dos’ down, believing handwritten schedules and to do lists are more effective than keeping a digital calendar.

Iconic singer, songwriter and businesswoman Dolly Parton also believes writing down goals has been positive in helping her meet her ambitions and keep a positive mindset.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, recommends getting sufficient sleep and meditating regularly. The Huffington Post co-founder says she sleeps for eight hours a night on average and meditates for 30 minutes after waking.

TV personality and actress Ellen Degeneres also hails the benefits of meditation, crediting the practice of transcendental meditation with her ability to still her mind.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and singer Beyonce Knowles, urge women to recognize that success is a balancing act. According to the former First Lady, Obama allows motherhood to define her, even though it’s only one of her many achievements.

Take a look at BussinessStudent.com’s full infographic below to discover the four habits of successful women.

Entrepreneurs Can Find Inspiration in Habits of Successful Women like Obama, Rowling, Others (INFOGRAPHIC)Images: BusinessStudent.com

This article, “Entrepreneurs Can Find Inspiration in Obama, Rowling Others (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

Outgrowing Your Office Space? Should You Lease or Buy?

The decision of whether to lease or buy your next office space involves several factors. Choice of property, of course, is the first consideration: If you can’t find what you need for rent, you may have to commit to purchase, and vice versa. However, depending on your local economy, you may find landlords who are willing to work with you, even to remodel existing properties to suit your needs.

Cost is also important, and if you are choosing between two equally attractive properties, it pays to do a cost comparison for the short and long term. However, each option has unique benefits and challenges that affect how you do business as well as your pocketbook. Here, we discuss key aspects you should take into account, the pros and cons, and what financial aspects you need to take into account to help you make the best decision for your business.

The three questions you should ask yourself

How long can you commit to a location or building? Financial studies have shown that, for a short term, leasing is more cost-effective than buying. However, if you are considering a property where you can make your headquarters for a decade or more, then buying becomes more financially attractive. One analysis indicated that seven years seems to be the tipping point, but each case differs. See our section below on doing a financial analysis.

How fast is your business growing? If your business is booming and you anticipate rapid growth in the next few years, then leasing gives you greater flexibility to move if you outgrow the new facilities. If you purchase, you may outgrow the building or purchase more building than you need, with the associated expenses. This also applies if you think your business may downsize in the next few years.

How’s your local economy? Once upon a time, real estate was a sure investment, but now it’s more volatile. If your local area has been in a slump but is coming out of it, then this could be a good time to invest. However, if property values are declining or are overinflated, leasing might afford you a better location and protect you from losing the money it could cost you if you had bought and needed to sell.

As you read the pros and cons in the next sections, evaluate how important each is to you and weigh them accordingly.

Pros and cons of leasing

The main advantages to leasing include low initial commitment, flexibility and ease of maintenance. However, you sacrifice equity and control over your facility.

Pros

  • You have a low initial financial commitment with no down payment, just a deposit.
  • Lease payments are tax-deductible.
  • The landlord handles repairs and maintenance, sparing your time.
  • Some landlords will remodel to suit.
  • You can generally lease in a nicer area than if you buy.
  • The higher cash flow helps your credit rating.
  • The landlord may pay for a particular utility, like waste management or water, or for housekeeping.
  • It’s easier to leave if you outgrow the space.

Cons

  • If you used a broker, you will pay an annual broker fee for the duration of your lease. This is usually a percentage of the annual lease amount and is negotiable.
  • Rent usually increases when you renew a lease.
  • You are at the mercy of the landlord for timeliness and quality of repairs, which could be frustrating for a construction firm.
  • The landlord may have rules concerning the use and state of outside areas that may impact your ability to store vehicles and materials. Be sure you discuss these beforehand.
  • Even if you have a good landlord now, that could change in the future.

Pros and cons of buying

Buying provides equity, and you have complete control over what you do with the property, but you commit a lot of capital from the onset and are responsible for all maintenance.

Pros

  • You build equity, which you can use as collateral in loans.
  • If you have extra space, you can rent it out to add to your revenue.
  • Your mortgage payments will stay steady.
  • Interest payments are tax-deductible.
  • You can claim building depreciation.
  • You can make any changes to the building you like (within local ordinances).
  • You control what happens on your property.
  • Since you own the property, when you retire, you can sell it and use the profits for your retirement.

Cons

  • There are huge initial expenditures, such as closing fees and real estate agent fees.
  • There is a higher opportunity cost. In other words, the money you invest in the property could be used to grow your business in other ways. You need to determine if that is an issue.
  • You pay for remodeling, repairs and maintenance.
  • If you outgrow the space, you will have to sell the property.

Editor’s Note: Looking for a business loan provider? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Run the numbers

As noted above, the longer your commitment to a location, the more cost-effective it is to purchase rather than lease your office space. However, before you commit, run some numbers or have your accountant do an analysis of costs over time. These are some of the things to consider:

  • Mortgage vs. rent
  • Insurance
  • Down payment (10 to 25 percent) vs. security deposit
  • Taxes (consider tax advantages with leasing as well as buying)
  • Regular maintenance (factor in about $1.50 per square foot per year for maintenance and improvement costs)
  • Equity (but take resale value with a grain of salt)
  • Opportunity cost – how much a certain amount of money could earn if you invested it in your company. (When buying, you use the down payment to calculate this cost. If there’s a difference between the monthly mortgage and the lease, use that difference to determine an opportunity cost against whichever costs more.)
  • Security deposit
  • Broker fees, annually if leasing; realtor fee one time if buying
  • Lease negotiations = lawyer fees (realtor commissions cover this when you buy)
  • Closing costs if buying
  • Remodeling expenses
  • Leases covering utilities (if yours does, consider that bill as an added expense if you buy)

There’s no blanket answer for whether to purchase or lease your next property. It depends on how your business is faring, whether cash flow is more important than equity, if you prefer to control your property or have the ease of someone else caring for it, and myriad other factors. Take time to make an informed choice.