Five Ways to Avoid Burnout

While running a business can be stressful, here are 5 proven No-Cost and Low-Cost ways to help your clients avoid burnout…

#1 Have a Business Plan – Failing to plan is planning to fail. Thanks to online tools, there are two easy ways for your clients to build and maintain an effective business management strategy; No-Cost 5-Steps to Self-Employment, and 10-Steps to Venture Success eLearning Certification Course in Entrepreneurship.

#2 Manage Cash Flow Weekly- One of the most common reasons why people go out of business is lack of cash flow. This can happen when sales are low, as well as when sales are high because it “takes money to make money.” To minimize cash flow problems, encourage clients set up and maintain a Cash Flow Management System (Excel).

#3 Understand and Track Breakeven – Helping clients to know whether their business is making more money than it is spending is very important. While encouraging them to work with a bookkeeper, CPA firm or an outsourced CFO can be very helpful in this regard, you may also direct them to an easy to use Breakeven Analysis Template. Completing this worksheet themselves is a way for them to more fully understand what their revenue breakeven level is at any given point in time.

#4 Use a Time Planning Schedule (PDF) – There are many different time planning tools available. The important thing is for clients to use one and use it regularly. If there are staff involved, they should also complete and submit a weekly time plan at the start of each week. This practice will help to keep productivity high and stress low for everyone on the team!

#5 Surge and Recover – Lastly, avoiding burnout in business (…and in life) is all about balance. Be sure to encourage your clients to make time to step back, shut off the cell phone, ignore email and recover. This may be as simple as taking a walk, a nap, listening to music or just sitting quietly.

Paychex Releases Top Five Small Business Issues of Upcoming Election

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 21, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Paychex, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of payroll services to small businesses, today released its list of the top five issues of great importance to small business owners and entrepreneurs as the country approaches the upcoming national election.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small firms represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ half of all private sector employees in the U.S., making the concerns of small business owners especially significant to the November election.

“As campaigns for elected office intensify between now and November, it is important that the issues small business owners care about are included as part of the national debate,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “Paychex works hard to help business owners and entrepreneurs stay on top of the issues that influence how they run their businesses, and we want to ensure their voice is heard.”

The regulatory team at Paychex has identified the following five election-year issues of importance to small business owners and entrepreneurs:

1) Taxes: Deficit reduction and tax reform are sure to be significant areas of dialogue during the election, especially when considering the potential provisions that could specifically impact small businesses. These provisions include: the continued viability of business structures (such as S-corps) largely intended to provide insulation from certain types of tax; the possible scaling back (or conversely, creation) of certain tax breaks targeted specifically to businesses; the ongoing potential for increased unemployment tax burdens on businesses; and the general question of whether the basic federal business tax rate should be adjusted.

2) Overall Regulatory Burden: Another likely election subject will be the degree of existing and proposed regulations facing small businesses and the appropriate balance between business and consumer priorities. In addition to taxes, the existence of a “business-friendly” environment, also referred to as freedom from undue regulatory burden, is usually seen as a primary factor in a small business owner’s appetite for expanding and/or investing in his or her business.

3) Employment Regulations: A particular area of focus this election season will be the topic of worker-focused regulation by the federal government. Such regulations include an increase to the federal minimum wage, the creation of additional “protected” categories during the hiring process (i.e. the unemployed, those with criminal records or poor credit histories), steps to ease the formation of labor unions, and other items which might not garner broad support from the business community.

4) Immigration: Early indications are that immigration policies may be a key point in the election, particularly in select swing states. A key focus of the immigration debate will likely be the extent businesses should play a role in managing and enforcing immigration policy through hiring practices.

5) Retirement Security: An item which could emerge as an election issue is the growing concern over the inadequacy of retirement savings for many Americans, and the possible role that some think employers could play in a mandated solution such as an Auto IRA program or other similar option.

The election-year list was compiled by the regulatory team at Paychex, which works closely with the IRS and other government agencies to constantly monitor legislative and regulatory issues that impact the company’s 564,000 clients across the country.

Paychex released the list as part of its sponsorship of National Small Business Week, May 20-26, a weeklong celebration and annual conference, hosted by the Small Business Administration, recognizing the special impact made by American entrepreneurs and small business owners.

In honor of the week, Paychex will provide new resources and features on its website for entrepreneurs and small business owners, BuildMyBiz.com, including a special podcast and blog post on this topic.

To learn more about these or other regulatory issues Paychex is following, please contact Paychex or visit http://media.paychex.com/regulatory-updates/ for the latest Paychex Regulatory Update, a monthly list highlighting the latest in small business regulatory issues.

What Do Investors Want?

What do investors want? I’ve read more than 100 business plans in the last two months. Entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly predictable on this point. Investors want disruptive. Investors want game changing.

But not just saying it. Being able to believe it. Two of every three plans says it. Only a very few make it actually believable.

And believable, in this context, is still a matter of huge uncertainty. Nothing in startups is fully believable. The closest you get is an interesting market story about solving a real problem and doing something important differently, and a team that seems to have experience and background that indicates it can execute the idea.

The best thing I’ve seen in a while on what investors want — at the high end of venture capital — is this one on The Anatomy of a Successful Entrepreneur, that appeared on TechCrunch about a week ago. Post author Rip Empson digs into the recent Kaufmann data on venture capital, adds some analysis by Fred Wilson, Chris Dixon, and others, and comes out with the short list shown here.

 

Creative Fundraising for Startups

Contributed by Mark Shreve, WeDidIt Blogger

Fundraising is one of the most vital aspects of any organization. Whether you need money for an educational, scientific, philanthropic, creative, or business-related cause, comprehensive knowledge of how and where to solicit funds is essential. WeDidIt helps nonprofit organizations raise money through engaging crowdfunding campaigns. But for the past twelve months, we’ve been coming at fundraising from all angles in order to finance our own business as well as advise our nonprofit clients in fundraising.

In our initial conversations with our current clients, one of their biggest concerns was that online fundraising – and crowdfunding in particular – is a new(ish) model of raising money. They were concerned that if they launched a WeDidIt campaign, the fundraising they did with us would be a replacement to previous methods of fundraising. This isn’t the case at all. Crowdfunding is an excellent way to reach potential donors who you wouldn’t have access to through more traditional channels.

An important rule in raising money that we tell our clients and follow ourselves is that you should capitalize on every opportunity to raise funds that you can. As we continue to grow our own company, we’re continually seeking new opportunities to raise funds outside of our general sales operation.

Here are the five sources we used and considered for raising capital:

1. Business Plan Competitions. After we finalized our business plan, we researched and applied to several business plan competitions and eventually won the MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneur Series. A solid business plan is a must if you’re thinking of entering a competition, so get yourself some good business plan software to improve your chances.

2. Business Accelerator/Incubator Programs. We’ve applied to at least a dozen accelerator programs over the last 12 months from TechStars New York to Y-Combinator in Silicon Valley. Although we didn’t join any of the accelerators, the interviews and process was rewarding because it made us think about our startup venture in very productive ways.

3. Crowdfunding Project. We launched a crowdfunding campaign directed at our friends and family through our own software and website. The costs were minimal and the returns were better than we’d expected. We raised 127% of our funding goal and showed the world that crowdfunding does work.

4. Investors, Friends & Family. We reached out to people we knew that we thought could help. This wasn’t always asking for hard cash, but for networking opportunities and advice as to where to look for funding. When courting investors, make it a priority to get in bed with investors who can also add strategic value to your startup or organization. Great investors have money AND experience. Use them both!

5. Bank Loan. Loans are one of those resources that make the most sense when your organization has sufficient enough cashflow to handle your monthly loan payments. If you’re a startup still discovering your business model, loans may not be for you. But if you’re fortunate enough to have significant cashflow already, a loan can provide you smart capital without the loss of equity.

Seize as many opportunities to raise capital as you can and don’t think that one fundraising project will replace another. It’s like when you were younger – if you get an allowance, that’s good. If you get a job, that’s great. If you can get an allowance and have a job, you’re doing it right.

To learn more about WeDidIt, check out their Small Business Spotlight featured on Up and Running last week.

Fundraising image courtesty of Shutterstock

Cloud computing good news for many small businesses

Why should we wake up everyday and go to the office? This is not a whiny worker grumble, nor a rhetorical question about the meaning of human existence, but a true dilemma for companies, according to workplace experts who say cloud computing will over the next decade make “the office” as we know it an optional-bordering-on-obsolete destination.

Those experts spoke at WorkTech 12 New York, an Unwired forum held in New York today that gave a glimpse of a future workplace that could be sparsely populated, or at least set up completely differently. All seemed to agree: the rise of cloud computing and big data will not just allow some people to work from home sometimes, but entice an army of workersto get the job done anytime, anywhere.

“I think there will be no more reason to come to a workplace unless we make it compelling,” says Philip Ross, futurologist and chief executive officer of Cordless Group and Unwork. “All is headed to the cloud.”

Much more work will be automated, done by machines via what Brian David Johnson, chief futurist at Intel, calls the “secret life of data.”

“It will feel like data has a life of its own,” he says. “You will have algorithms talking to algorithms, machines talking to machines.”

So what role will human workers have in all this? They’ll be there to handle “serial” tasks, completed one after the other versus the computational tasks machines can do in parallel, Johnson says. They’ll also be there to collaborate on ideas in a workplace that, panelists suggest, will be wireless and sparse.

In what he calls the “thin” workplace, Ross sees workers being able to dock their smartphones to slim laptops, the use of wireless display or WiDi, and the ability to transmit photos from a smartphone to a screen just by holding the phone up to the screen.

Forget giant writing pads on easels during meetings. There will be digital wallpaper that will let us write or sketch on the walls with a finger, and within two to three years, Microsoft Kinect business technology that reacts to people’s movements.

Peter Miscovich, managing director of corporate solutions at Jones Lang LaSalle says that everything will be wireless. “Keyboards will go away and we will all be talking to our screens,” he says. Or at least, that is, when we are in the office at all.

He points out that by 2012, 30 percent of the workers across Fortune 100 companies will be part of a “contingent workforce” that clocks in as needed. By 2020, 60 percent will be free agents, and by 2030, he predicts that 80 percent of the workers will be contingent meaning while there might be 100,000 workers in an office on Monday and 20,000 on Friday.

Several speakers—who were addressing workers whose primary task is creating and maintaining workplace facilities—mentioned that workers will have no reason to go to an office if they don’t want to.

“How will you attract people to bring them into the office?” Ross asks. He says that quirkiness, great design and a sense that is a workplace is a relaxed site for innovation will be key. He points to the eclectic array of workspaces at the Google offices in London as one example.

“They brought in desks and put in desk phones, but no one uses them,” Ross says, pointing out that there are living room-like spaces where people can work more comfortably and that staffers are each given their own swatch of an outdoor garden on the roof.

Ryan Anderson, director of future technology at Herman Miller, says all of this mobility is nothing truly new, but what the office of the future will bring is more interactive design that bring aspects of Facebook or Twitter into the office. What companies should not do, though, is mandate mingling since jobs that require thought often require solitude or at least a team of two, not eight.

In one photo of a workplace in his slide show, Anderson shows two people working at a table, and one man in a hammock with a tablet.

“We all need time to think and reflect,” Anderson says.

And an office hammock would be nice too.

Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/executive-style/2012/05/16/is-going-into-an-office-going-to-become-obsolete#ixzz1v8YflDVe

Rhonda Abrams offers good advice to graduates looking to start a small business

Some of those who graduate from college will have newly minted degrees in entrepreneurship. Many more, who’ve studied other fields, will one day start their own businesses as well. Throughout America, and the world, millions hope to own their own small business or launch the next big thing. So I think it’s time for a Commencement Address for aspiring entrepreneurs.

First, have big goals. I don’t necessarily mean you have to aim to build a huge corporation, worth billions of dollars. You can be a success — a big success — without creating the next Google or Facebook. Perhaps start small, but don’t be afraid to have a big vision — especially when you’re young. Stretch your imagination; be bold.

Make a difference. Businesses only succeed when they meet a real need. But those needs can be petty or small: Think of those who’ve created reality shows about housewives and New Jersey. Instead, look to fill needs that are important, your contribution positive. Do something — create something — that has an impact. It doesn’t have to be world-changing — you don’t have to invent a miracle medical device or devise a way to feed the world’s poor. But whatever you choose to do, try to have a beneficial impact on the world you inhabit.

Create jobs — and I mean good jobs. One of the sure-fire ways you can change the world for the better is to grow your business in ways that you create good jobs for others. By good jobs, I mean jobs that pay a fair and living wage, where employees are treated with respect and they have a chance to have their ideas valued. Think of the impact you have when an employee of yours goes home with pride in the job they’ve done, feeling respected and valued, and with the ability to support themselves and their family. There is no end to the good you have done. And they, in turn, help you succeed.

Make something. I often say that there are two main types of businesspeople: builders or traders. Builders create — new products and services — whether physical or digital. The long-term health of our economy depends on these new creations. Traders serve an important need, but they aren’t the fuel for our economic engine. I’d rather be a builder.

Don’t be greedy. Even if your goal is to get rich, you don’t have to get filthy rich. Don’t focus on making a fortune; instead focus on creating a great business — focus on your product and your people. A baseball player — I believe it was Mike Piazza — said the only way to hit a home run was not to concentrate on hitting a home run. The same is true in business — just go out and hit the ball.

Share. Recognize that whatever success you do achieve, you won’t have made it all on your own. Your family, teachers, customers, employees, even suppliers will have helped you succeed. You may have had the benefits of going to a good public school, benefiting from the help your fellow citizens have given you. Remember that it took a network of people to enable your success; in return, be sure to support and give back to that network. And help other entrepreneurs who come after you.

Fail. Don’t be afraid to have crazy ideas. Great entrepreneurs typically fail, so don’t be afraid to try things that don’t work, launch businesses that go bust. If you’re afraid of failing, you’ll clip your own wings. So recognize failure for what it is €” a chance to learn what went wrong so you can make sure you set it right.

Finally, remember that the origin of the word is entreprendre; French for “to undertake.” Take a look at that word — “undertake.” Notice that it emphasizes an attempt to act, and not the outcome of that action. You undertake something. What matters is that you have begun something; you’ve started on a journey. And although traveling on that journey may not always be a smooth ride, at least you’re in the driver’s seat.

So to those of you just starting out on your journey of building your own businesses, I wish you all the very best of luck on your entrepreneurial road.

Top Choices for small businesses

By IBISWorld Analyst Lauren Setar & Research Editor Matthew MacFarland

Across the United States, industries, businesses and consumers are climbing out of the Great Recession’s lows. US gross domestic product is forecast to grow 3.3% per year over the next five years, a welcome change from the meager growth of 0.6% per year between 2007 and 2012. Some industries, however, aren’t just recovering – they’re flourishing.

IBISWorld has compiled a list of these standout industries based on their contributions to the economy as a whole (measured as industry value added), absolute revenue growth and establishment growth over the past 10 years, as well as performance expected through 2017. Whether by focusing on environmentally friendly practices and operations or benefiting from technological advances, these industries are expected to continue their meteoric rise and far outpace the rest of the economy:

Thinking green

Over the past decade, the dramatic rise in energy costs and an increasingly vocal, environmentally conscious public have led to the growth of green industries. The Solar Panel Manufacturing industry has been at the forefront of the green industrial movement with average annual revenue growth of 32.3% from 2002 to 2012, including expected growth of 9.4% in 2012. As the federal government looks to reduce the United States’ dependency on fossil and other non-renewable fuels, green energy firms have reaped the benefit of substantial subsidies. Without assistance, solar power generation firms would have little chance against entrenched, traditional fuel sources. Moreover, falling silicon prices have allowed US firms to compete with low-cost manufacturers abroad. Over the next five years, revenue for the Solar Panel Manufacturing industry is expected to continue expanding at an average rate of 8.2% per year.

The construction industries were early victims of the Great Recession, but the Green and Sustainable Building Construction industry capitalized on the green movement and weathered the downturn well. Since 2002, industry revenue has experienced annualized growth of 28.9% and anticipated 18.3% growth in 2012. Firms in the industry construct energy-efficient buildings that are often largely composed of sustainable materials. Aided by local and state building codes that promote the use of energy-efficient building design and materials, demand for green construction has skyrocketed. Government programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Energy Star have also driven demand forward. Over the five years to 2017, revenue for the Green and Sustainable Building industry is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 22.8%.

Taking care

Along with their heightened concern for the environment, Americans are increasingly seeking ways to become and stay healthy. Consumer awareness of the harmful effects of UV ray exposure and the prevalence of skin cancer has led to the rapid emergence of the Self-Tanning Product Manufacturing industry, which has experienced average annual revenue growth of 22.7% per year since 2002.

With the dangers of tanning beds foremost in many consumers’ minds – a study by the National Cancer Institute found that tanning lamps and beds can more than double the risk of skin cancer – self-tanning products have become more popular. Heightened interest in such products has led to more innovation. Today’s offerings produce a more natural tan for a wider range of skin tones. In 2012, revenue for the Self-Tanning Product Manufacturing industry is expected to grow 18.1%, with average annual growth of 10.7% projected over the next five years.

Consumers are also seeking alternative ways to stay fit. The Pilates and Yoga Studios industry provides health-minded Americans with conditioning routines focused on building strength and flexibility. From 2002 to 2012, the industry grew an average of 12.1% per year and is projected to expand 5.1% in 2012. Pilates and yoga studios were highly resistant to the recession; instead of facing negative growth in 2008 and 2009, revenue merely slowed. In the five years to 2017, industry revenue is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.8%.

Emerging technologies

The accelerating speed and accessibility of the Internet has led to skyrocketing growth for web-based industries. Over the past five years, social networks, in particular, have become an integral part of life for many consumers, connecting them with others and helping them find a cheap alternative source of entertainment. The Social Network Game Development industry owes its existence to these needs, and as sites like Facebook have grown exponentially, so too have social network game developers: Since 2002, this industry grew an average annual 128.0%. The industry’s games are usually free to play; developers earn revenue through the sale of virtual goods that enhance game-play and through advertisements shown onscreen. Unlike most of the economy, the recession was a boon for the industry because under- or unemployed consumers spent extra leisure time with these low-cost games rather than with expensive console games or software. In 2012, industry revenue is expected to grow 20.0%, and over the next five years, revenue is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 22.0%.

As the speed and security of online monetary transactions grow, online retail for more products will become commonplace. Eyeglasses and contacts are increasingly being sold through online stores thanks to the higher prevalence of broadband Internet in households. Between 2002 and 2012, revenue in the Online Eyeglasses and Contact Lens Sales industry has grown 28.2% on average annually; in 2012, revenue is expected to grow 11.9%. New technologies, such as virtual try-on systems in which shoppers upload a picture to see how frames look on their faces before ordering a pair, have made customers more confident in their online purchases. Over the next five years, industry revenue is expected to grow 8.8% per year on average.

Rapid technological advances, falling costs and a greater need for new medical devices have led to the growing presence of 3D printing, a process in which successive layers of material are laid down until the product is finished. 3D printers allow the manufacturer to create something from precise schematics in a single build process. The 3D Printer Manufacturing industry’s revenue has grown an average of 8.8% per year since 2002, with 20.3% growth expected in 2012 alone. As the cost of producing these high-tech machines decreases and printer technology is refined, they will be used for an increasing number of applications, such as aerospace-related part manufacturing. With the rapid pace of innovation already present in the industry, double-digit annualized growth (14.0%) is projected to continue into the next five years.

Other upstarts

In 2012, the For-Profit Universities industry’s revenue is projected to grow 5.0%, and over the next five years, revenue will grow an estimated 3.6% per year on average. As more and more high school students seek a college education after graduating, gaining admission to traditional public and private universities has become more difficult. At the same time, state budget cuts have shortened the resources these institutions can use to cope with the influx of students. Stepping in to alleviate the heightened demand for higher education, for-profit universities have become a common sight in education in the United States; since 2002, the For-Profit Universities industry grew an average of 13.6% annually. Classes taught at for-profit universities are often accessed through alternative means to the classroom, such as through TV programming or the Internet. The low cost of teaching online classes has been particularly essential to the rapid growth of these institutions. Moreover, with the high unemployment caused by the recession, workers and high school graduates without a job chose to continue their education rather than combing the job market. Independent of state budgets and able to avoid the high tuition costs of private schools, for-profit schools grow by selling shares to investors.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry has found sustained growth over the past 10 years, with average annual revenue growth of 9.6%. As the median age of the US population increases, more consumers require a greater amount of prescription drugs. Generic drugs are sold without patent protection and tend to be cheaper than brand-name drugs, making them more attractive in the face of rising overall healthcare costs. Many industry operators have closed inefficient plants and removed redundant sales positions to cut costs, expanding profit margins. However, as more consumers qualify for private insurance, insurance providers will gain more leverage to negotiate lower drug prices, which could reduce the industry’s profit margins. Still, revenue is expected to continue rising, with 8.1% growth expected in 2012 and average annual growth of 6.3% projected through 2017.

The Hot Sauce Production industry has heated up over the past 10 years, with average revenue growth of 9.3% per year and expected 2012 growth of 4.5%. While the recession did cool the industry’s prospects, rebounds in 2010 and 2011 reestablished it as a rapidly growing part of the food sector. Demand for hot sauce has been driven by demographic consumption trends, immigration and international demand from Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan. As Americans’ palates have become more diverse, hot sauce has earned tenure on the dinner table. Demand from supermarkets and grocery stores has reflected the change in consumer taste, and food retailers are dedicating more shelf space to ethnic cuisine. Ethnic supermarkets – also growing rapidly – more prominently offer a variety of hot sauces than more traditional stores. Hot sauce production isn’t expected to burn out any time soon: Over the next five years, industry revenue is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.1%.

To download full research reports for the industries discussed in this article, click on the report titles below.

Generic Pharmaceutical ManufacturingSolar Panel ManufacturingFor-Profit UniversitiesPilates & Yoga StudiosSelf-Tanning Product Manufacturing3D Printer ManufacturingSocial Network Game DevelopmentHot Sauce ProductionGreen & Sustainable Building ConstructionOnline Eyeglasses & Contact Lens Sales

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