In 2014 over 580,000 new businesses were registered at Companies House, reflecting the continued popularity of bringing new ideas to the market. Being your own boss, avoiding corporate bureaucracy, freedom to make your decisions about your product – whatever your reasons, it’s an exciting time. Caught up in the enthusiasm of starting a business it is easy to overlook some critical actions:
The wrong legal structure
Failing to choose the best legal structure for your business may mean that you become personally liable if it makes a loss or if you find yourself facing a claim (although that is an insurable risk). Deciding which structure to adopt will depend on the nature of your business. The most common structures are: a self-employed sole trader, a limited company (more legal responsibilities but the company’s finances are separate from your own), or a partnership (which can be a limited liability) where you share any risk with one or more other people.
How can a small business grow sustainably? Greg Crabtree and Beverly Blair Harzog think that in a growing business, staffing costs can quickly balloon out of control. When small businesses are making the transition to medium-sized businesses, it’s possible to fall into a dangerous feedback loop of borrowing and spending. As you scale your business, your costs grow, and it’s tempting to see breaking even—your previous measure of success—as sufficiently safe growth.
However, medium-sized businesses have vastly larger costs, and can’t afford the breakneck growth speed that smaller, more agile operations can attain. As your costs grow, it’s important to retain control over those which you have the power to influence—and the biggest of these is labor costs.
Employee Handbooks are an integral part of every small business’s “CYA” arsenal. They are intended to provide objective standards for employee conduct, expectations, and disciplinary procedures.
However, the overwhelming majority of small businesses tend to rely on publicly available online forms or policies borrowed from fellow business owners to prepare their employee handbooks, whether out of necessity, preference, or convenience.
In states like California where employment and labor laws are constantly being added or amended, it is worthwhile to review your company’s employee handbook from time to time to assess whether they are adequate or create unnecessary risk that, with a few tweaks and modifications, could be mitigated. Complying with labor laws is a lot like keeping good dental hygiene: an unpleasant and frequent annoyance but one for which an once of prevention is worth a thousand pounds of cure. Here is some guidance on the most common errors or mistakes in small business employee handbooks:
A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond reveals that the number of community banks dropped by a whopping 41 percent between 2007 and 2013. That’s bad news for small business owners, who rely heavily on financing from small, local banks.
Even more troubling is the potential culprit. Analysis by the Fed suggests that the Dodd-Frank Act is at least partially responsible.
A Harvard University study shows that the rate of decline in the community bank share of commercial banking assets has doubled since the passage of the law in 2010. Moreover, almost all of the decline in the number of community banks in recent years has resulted from a cessation in bank formation during the current economic recovery, the Richmond Fed reports.
(Bloomberg) — Sterling Risk Advisors, an Atlanta-based property and casualty insurance broker with 86 employees, has added 13 workers since June and will probably hire 10 to 15 more this year.
“We are committed to growing,” said Doug Rieder, 50, president and co-founder. “We feel a lot better about business. We are pretty bullish right now.”
Small business, responsible for most American job creation, is finally gaining momentum, giving an expansion approaching its sixth anniversary some legs and leading an acceleration in job creation. Confidence is near a post-2007 peak for small companies, construction is recovering and credit conditions are easing.
Small, local businesses lack access to capital. Banks will place restrictions before giving loans, like asking for collateral, wanting to see years of revenues, or asking for personal covenants. And then venture and angel investors aren’t interested in the low-rate returns hairdressers, restaurants and furniture-makers can offer; they want “high growth.”
That is why small, local businesses generally stay as small, local businesses. But what if small businesses could reach over the top of those market failures to the general public and investors who are willing to suffer the relatively low returns on offer? That might open up options.
Obtaining funds to start a new business or to expand an existing one can be a challenging and exciting experience. Before lenders and investors can commit to funding, they will want to know there is a high chance that your business will be successful.
Certain areas need to be addressed and prepared such as a coherent and comprehensive business plan that includes marketing strategies, financials, product or service offerings, competitor analysis, and short- and long-term growth strategies.