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10 tips to make sure your small business is prepared for anything

Every small business has unique challenges, but the economy, consumers, and your own planning (or lack thereof) can throw you curve balls – here are ten ways to be prepared through proper planning.

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Small business preparedness

What happens if your co-founder dies, will you be left in a legal nightmare? When is the right time to think about retirement, or even selling your company? Do you even have a cash flow plan or heck, a business plan pulled together, or did you find a passion and run with it? If you’re a small business owner, operator, or leader, these and many other scenarios are extremely important to consider before they are problematic.

Many small businesses are a mess, so if any of the above made your blood pressure increase, you’re not alone, but we’ve compiled some articles from this year that address these very topics so that in your preparedness, you’re ready for anything and your house is in order – what better way to keep the money flowing so you can focus on your passion?

10 tips to make sure your small business is prepared

Click any link below, they will each open in a new tab so you won’t lose your place here:

  1. 4 simple steps to creating your own company cash flow plan
  2. Profitably slays the need for Excel, streamlines business planning
  3. Your secret weapon in business: setting up your SWOT matrix
  4. Create your own expense model and projections: how and why
  5. Selling your business: strategic vs. financial buyers
  6. What happens to a company when a founder or CEO dies or is disabled?
  7. When is the ideal time for a small business pro to plan for retirement?

So what did you learn? Was there anything you hadn’t considered before, or perhaps something you’d been procrastinating about dealing with? It’s tough for small business operators because in many cases, leaders wear multiple hats, or maybe all of the hats in some cases. The best way to fight fire is with preparedness and know-how, and we hope that after doing your homework here, you’re steps closer to preparedness.

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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Business Entrepreneur

Business pro tip: when pricing your product, think like a photographer

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) On of the growing pains associated with starting your own business is knowing how much to charge for goods and services. Use these helpful tips one photographer uses for pricing a photo and get the ball rolling!

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More than a thousand words

A picture may say a thousand words, but a photo doesn’t just tell a story. A simple photo can be an excellent example on how to price your next business product.

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Photography blogger Sarah Petty wrote her method of pricing a simple 8×10 inch photograph for as advice for her fellow photography business owners. But her advice can actually be applied beyond the world of studios and darkrooms. Here’s how to think like a photographer whenever developing the cost of your next good or service.

Step One: Know thyself (and know thy client)

Your first step in knowing your next price for your next best selling item or service is knowing what type of business you run. This is solved by answering the simple question: are you a high volume seller with lower prices or lower volume seller with higher prices?

This question can be answered by looking at your sales for the past month. Are your trends indicating your customers prefer a more personalized, boutique approach to the things they purchase from you (with higher prices), or do you move a lot of product (with lower prices)?

When you understand what type of business sales trend you’re following, move onto step two.

Step Two: Understand your sunk costs.

A sunk, or fixed cost, is the price to manufacture or deliver a good that will not change (unless reacting to the market’s inflation). What is the basic core cost of manufacturing the product you intend to put in your store? That amount, your cost of goods sold (CGOS), is the baseline from which your ultimate price will come from. Now to step three.

Step Three: Look at your other overhead for producing your product.

So you know your CGOS, so all you do now is just add what money you want to make off that? Wrong. You’re forgetting that you’re not just making that product. You are maintaining a store or electronic storefront, you’ve got office space, human resource costs, and other things that may slip by whenever you’re trying to develop your price for your next big thing. This doesn’t mean you’re charging a customer a month’s rent for consultation fee, of course, but knowing that you’re going to need a comfortable cushion whenever figuring this product’s cost out. According to the federal Small Business Administration you should allocate a portion of the profit “to each service performed or product produced” and this cost should be calculated annually. Finished, now to step four.

Step Four: Profit!

Finally, after factoring your CGOS and your overhead, now you can decide what you want to make by selling. Petty personally uses the approximation of making 4 or 5 times her CGOS plus her overhead per item. Whatever the ultimate cost is, it has to be able to lend you the ability to live comfortably in order for you to be able to manufacture more in the future.

The next time you have to develop a price for a new product, don’t forget to step into the world of photography for awhile. You’ll be saying cheese all the way to the bank.

#KnowYourPrice

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Business Entrepreneur

The pros and cons of listing hobbies and interests on your resume

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) All resumes are not created equal but they should all follow the same rule of thumb when it comes to listing hobbies and interests.

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Relevancy matters

An “Interests or Hobbies” section of a resume is often a question of debate for job seekers. In general the consensus is clear: interests and hobbies are okay – if they are relevant.

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An interest or hobby section can help round you out as a candidate, and can help you standout, but it can also come with some costs. Let’s weigh some of those pro/cons.

Advantages

  • They help distinguish you from other applicants. Especially in applicant pools where the qualifications are similar – this can help you standout and make you unique in the applicant pool.
  • They create talking points for interviewers – and can help humanize you. They give places to start up conversation and generate positive “buzz” about you with the hiring manager.
  • They show-well roundedness and versatility – often hobbies or interests can indicate skills that are transferrable or represent growth potential.
  • Can give indications of fit and alignment with company culture – and can indicate how you will mesh with a team.
  • Express desirable traits like dedication, persistence, and passion.

Disadvantages

  • They pigeonhole you – they may cause an employer to limit how they think you will fit in with the team.
  • They could indicate things that are distracting – so for example, if you list “traveling”, your employer may worry that you plan on vacationing a lot or may be unavailable.
  • Expressing too much interests may trigger to employers that you don’t have enough balance, or that you have priorities that may conflict with work.
  • Expressing involvement with organizations that run counter to the organization you are applying for may eliminate you as a candidate.

Think before you list

Although weighing the pros and cons are important, there are a couple of things to ask yourself BEFORE you list an interest. Consider going through the following questions:

1. Is it relevant? While it is ok to list one or two side hobbies or interests, most of what you list should be relevant to the job you are applying for – blogging for tech if you are applying for IT, or leading a volunteer team if you are applying for a manager position. Don’t throw around random information in an attempt to fill space.

2. Is it controversial? In general, be wary about listing political associations, or membership in controversial issue groups – gun rights, abortion, immigration, etc. (Of course, if you are applying for a position that is political in nature, be careful about listing involvement in organizations that are politically to what you are doing!)

3. Is it dangerous? Probably best to not mention you engage in UFC fighting, real sword play, live action jousting, base jumping, etc. You don’t want employers to think you are expensive to insure, or worse, may not come to work alive one day.

Least important goes at the end

When including this material in your resume, be sure to consider how you present this information. Be brief – and do not list more than 2-3 interests that you can clearly connect to the job. Place them at the end of the resume – so you don’t fight with more important content like experience or education that hiring manager MUST see. Label the section correctly – consider “activities and interests”, “areas of interest”, or “other” depending on all the information you are listing. Key point – keep it brief, avoid irrelevant fluff, and indicate interests to stand out, not push yourself out.

#HobbiesNInterests

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Business Entrepreneur

How to determine your freelance rates based on data, not your gut

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Setting freelancer rates can be quite the tricky business. This tool does arms you with the data you need to grow your business

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The bulk of my professional career has been spent as a freelancer. The designation of “freelancer” has taken me on an interesting path that allowed for projects and opportunities I didn’t even know existed.

While I’m grateful for each and every opportunity, I now look back on some of these experiences and realize that I was vastly underpaid. For the most part, this is my fault as someone paying for a service is looking for the lowest possible rate and I never bothered to bargain out of fear of losing the role.

It was even at a point where I dreaded being asked my hourly rate because I didn’t know what the norm was. There was always a fear of charging too much and getting dropped for someone cheaper, or charging too little and looking inexperienced.

We recently talked about knowing your worth and how we freelancers often under charge for our services. Luckily, as this career path becomes more and more popular, there are now more resources devoted to helping us know what to charge.

Such a resource comes in the form of Freelance Rates Explorer. Created by Bonsai, this online tool gives users the ability explore rates from 40,000 freelancers worldwide.

“There are many sites like Glassdoor that offer salary data comparisons for full time employees,” said the tool’s developers. “However, there isn’t a site like this dedicated to provide insights on freelancers rates. We had this data, so we built the Rate Explorer to make it easy for freelancers to compare their rates in the largest publicly available rates database on the Internet.”

In order to find the standard rate for their field, users will input their role (either development or design), their skills (full stack, front-end, back-end, DevOps, iOS, and Android), experience (in years), and location. The Rate Explorer then generates a bar graph based on the answers and will show the most common hourly rates based on the number of freelancers and the rates range.

Bonsai also offers proposals, contracts, time tracking, invoicing and payments, and reporting. All of this is designed for freelancers.

As for the Rates Explorer, seeing the numbers calculated right in front of you may make you realize that you’re vastly underselling yourself.

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