Leadership Tips – Small Business Requires Faster Decisions

Introduction

This leadership tip has something in it for managers everywhere, but it’s particularly targeted at those of you with large company backgrounds who have made career moves to smaller businesses that you own and/or manage.

My background is primarily in large scale management of IT organizations. The companies where I’ve worked were places where changing a process or behavior took some time. I always thought I was quicker than most, and action oriented. As a small business owner, I found I had to be much quicker.

I’ll offer this leadership tip in the form of a story. It’s a story of how taking your eye of the ball can cost you money, and worse than that can cost you customers.

My First Small Business

I opened a small personal services business. It was located about an hour from my home office, and with all my other commitments I knew how important hiring the right manager would be for this shop. It took a few tries, but I found one with a good background and references, and she seemed to quickly develop loyalty to the business and to me.

For the first six months we grew slowly but steadily. We were behind plan in terms of customers and revenue, but the trend was up. There were a few staff issues, but overall turnover was okay. I decided to invest a little more in marketing to try and get more new faces in the door.

Over the next three months, customer counts were mostly flat, and average sale was actually down a little. Concerned, I visited the shop a few times more than usual. The people were not as upbeat as they had been. When asked about that, they attributed their moods to less business and less enjoyment of the job. I wondered about seasonality, the economy, and whether I needed even more marketing investment.

Want to know what was really going on? My trusted manager had some personal problems that I had not been aware of before, and was exhibiting some totally unacceptable behaviors:

  • Criticizing staff in front of customers
  • Intimidating staff, letting them know they were at risk of being fired, and telling them I was out to get them.
  • Stealing money by voiding transactions and other means

The Damages

I’m still figuring out how much money all this cost me, but the money is only today’s problem. The customers I’ve lost are a more serious longer term issue, because many of them won’t be coming back.

When I figured out what was going on, I moved quickly to fire the manager. There were only two problems:

  1. I was too late, and there had been several months of damage done;
  2. There was collateral damage. I had to fire two other employees who had adopted the attitude and behaviors of the manager.

Today, I’m working on putting together data to see if I can assemble a case for prosecuting the employees and the manager. An even higher priority, though, is the work I’m doing to recruit and orient new staff and develop a recovery plan for our customer service reputation.
This leadership tip was a painful lesson that I hope never to repeat.

Options for Filing and Reporting Small Business Taxes

Large and small businesses all around the United States are required to file and pay taxes. Small business taxes are applied and determined differently than those of larger corporations. To accurately report and pay taxes business owners are encouraged to follow these helpful preparation tips.

Small business owners have the option of filing their own tax returns or they can hire the help of a professional. Professional tax help can come from a certified public accountant (CPA) or professional tax preparer. Each individual is likely to accurately prepare a small business tax return; however, many business owners prefer working with a certified public accountant (CPA). In addition to a filing a federal or state small business tax return, a certified public accountant is experienced in keeping all financial records in order. Having all financial records in order may allow business owners to claim additional tax deductions or tax credits.

It is possible for a small business owner to prepare their own returns; however, the process is often long and sometimes difficult. To make the process easy many people take a tax course or they purchase a tax software program. The majority of tax courses offer valuable information and helpful tips to those who may have to pay taxes. These courses are usually available at a local college or an establish tax preparation business for a small fee.

Since owning and operating a business is a large project there are many business people who are unable to find the time to take a tax preparation course. These people are likely to purchase a tax software program. Tax software programs can be purchased from a traditional retail store or they can be paid for and downloaded off of the internet. The majority of individuals using a tax software program to determine if they owe any money are required to use the premium software versions because they are usually the only tax software versions that supply the forms needed.

When preparing their own taxes entrepreneurs are urged to keep in mind all of the tax deductions that they qualify for. There are many business owners who do not realize that they could qualify for multiple tax deductions. The majority of office supplies and other equipment that is required to operate a business is tax deductible. It is also possible for the owner of the business to donate some of their old office equipment or supplies to a charity. These donations are considered charitable deductions. Many small business owners make the mistake of just tossing out their old equipment because they do not realize that they can receive deductions for donating old equipment as well as purchasing new equipment. Taking a tax preparation course, using a software program, or hiring the services of a professional are great ways for them to learn about the deductions that they may qualify for.

Many business owners decided to start preparing their own taxes only to later learn that figuring out small business taxes is more difficult than they anticipated. Those who are unable to complete their small business tax returns or feel that they made a mistake on the tax forms can take their partially completed tax forms to a professional tax preparer for assistance and further completion.

E-commerce Solutions For Small Businesses

The use of internet is growing at a break neck speed. Everything from booking movie tickets to buying cars can be done online. Such business deals are enabled through e-commerce services. E-commerce is a term used describe the buying and selling of goods and services using electronic devices and the web. This is now a popular and successful form of doing business. Of late many small businesses are using this service effectively to boost their sales.

Using the web to showcase products and services doesn’t cost a lot. Plus, web is a good means to sell since a lot of consumers look for products and services online. Online payment facilities have further made this trend popular. The practice of online sales and purchasing is increasing with each passing day and the cost of online transaction is reducing. This is especially beneficial for small businesses for which cost of trade is a big concern.

In order to sell well online, your website should encourage sales. It should be user friendly and should address all the concerns of the consumer affectively. It is a good idea to include testimonials of some people who have bought your products or services. Another important factor is the software that you use. Use software that specifically caters to e-commerce requirements. Also, keep your website updated. Consumers look for change and you don’t want to bore them by presenting the same look every time they visit your website.

While you may be equipped to sell, you should also make sure that potential consumers are taking note of you. You can take up some e-mail marketing to notify consumers about your product or service.

By using these tips, small businesses can effectively use e-commerce solutions to sell their products and services online.