Have a Question?

Ask Joe

Answering your business questions! Have a question?

This issue has come up many times over the years with my clients.  Health care, as well as the entire gamut of employee benefits, has become more and more important to prospective employees.  First of all, I would suggest that if you aren’t aware of any licensed insurance brokers that you start to ask your business associates who they use and connect with them.  Some insurance folks don’t handle individual health coverage, but others do.  Once you’ve identified them you can determine what they offer and if in fact they are actually out of reach for your business.  You might be unaware of all the options available.

If recruiting and retention are the main reason for your concern perhaps there are other less costly benefits you can provide.  For example, bonuses for reaching work goals could help offset the cost of individual coverage for employees while at the same time increasing productivity, which would help to pay for the bonuses.

Spend some time thinking about your ability to enhance the total work experience.  You’re not alone, every employer struggles with these issues.  There are options available, seek them out.

This question is interesting.  As far as the accounting issues are concerned, if you’re using quick books, you can set alarms and reminders for yourself to be sure you don’t miss important dates.  I also suggest to my clients that they start to record all important dates in whatever digital calendar they use.  For example, if you know that you need to prepare the analysis and breakdown for your annual tax return by March 15, make a calendar entry for a month before so that you can get the information to your CPA in time for them to prepare your return.  Once you make that entry, put it out of your mind until it shows up on the date in your calendar.  Getting used to relying on your calendar is important for lots of other time management issues as well.  Once you learn to use this tool you can concentrate on the immediate important tasks and not work on them until you really need to, leaving you free to work on what’s important for today.

You should have a conversation with your CPA in order to determine how often you need to meet.  If you upload information to your CPA using a portal that they provide you may be able to meet with them less.  Remember, your CPA bills you based on time spent with you.  Most small business owners try to keep the meeting short and to the point.  When you meet, try not to drift off into chit chat.  My accounting clients often tell me how a business meeting that should take 15 minutes evolves into an hour talking about personal issues unrelated to their books.  Be mindful of your CPA’s time.

The first step would be to speak with a certified financial planner (CFP).  They are specifically skilled and trained to tell you what funds you will need to retire.  Retirement means different things to different people.  Some folks consider retirement when they can stop work completely and live comfortably for the rest of their life off of their personally accumulated wealth. Others see retirement as a change in their work status.  If they are currently working 6 days a week, they consider working 3 days a week and supplementing that income with personal funds.  

There are lots of iterations to that theme, but they all start with what is enough and how do I achieve that number.

Once my business owner clients become comfortable with the money they will need to amass we can begin to tailor a plan that achieves the necessary funds to “retire”.  Often that requires a discussion about succession planning.  Determining If your business is salable and to whom.  Consider having your business valued by an independent firm to give an objective opinion on its worth.  Will your children enter your business?  If you have a partner will they be able to buy you out?  Is a buy-sell agreement in place? Will you need to obtain a buyer from the outside?  

Lots to consider.  Start early to avoid stress at the end.

It is extremely important to get involved.  As is often the case, business owners have difficulty finding the time to do so, but you must find the time.  It is a basic understanding that some networking and connecting with prospects  must occur during the work day.  Most people find it difficult or distasteful to call or try to connect with prospects in the evening or weekend.  What I suggest is that you look at it this way.  The only way small businesses grow is through the effort of the owner or principle to bring in new work.  Everyone’s livelihood depends on that effort.  With that in mind, determine how much time you need to spend on business development.  I suggest that at least 5% of your work week be devoted to that effort.  If you work 50 hours a week you need to set aside 2.5 hours per week for BD.  Everything that a small business owner does is important, but spending all of your time delivering your product or service is short sighted.  All of us have fallen into that trap only to find ourselves without a meaningful pipeline of prospects to bring in.  This is the most common cause for sleepless nights for business owners.

Start with a list of prospects or referral sources.  If you can connect with them during off hours, great.  If not, look at your week and see where you can steal 2.5 hours.  Perhaps with work that you can do off hours instead.  

Determine when you can best spend the work day time and calendar it.  It requires discipline, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Find an organization to become associated with and go to the off hours events.  Meet new business owners and network with them.  You will find that you are not alone in your desire to connect, but with little time to do so.  Ask them how they do it.  

Commit yourself to a planned business development effort.  It’s critical to the success of your business and essential for providing a stable work environment for your employees.