Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Economic Stimulus Package - 5 Ways to Invest the Rebate in Your Business

Uncle Sam has your best interests in mind this year by doling out a sizeable chunk of change to each tax payer to spend on whatever your heart desires. There is some debate as to how helpful the rebate will really be for the economy, but that argument aside, you have the ability to do something REALLY great for your business with the funds.

How much do you get? Provided you paid taxes and filed a tax return for 2007, you may be eligible for up to $600 per taxpayer, $1200 per couple, and $300 per each dependent child.

Entrepreneurs can be a lazy bunch. They are known for working day in and day out on the technical aspects of the business, and not looking at the big picture. They can ignore the long term plans for business growth just to keep up with the daily grind. They can ignore the need for knowledge growth and can lose sight of the need to delegate. They can also let themselves off the hook for doing those key actions that really grow the business.

Here are some ways you can get the most out of the rebate:

1. Hire a Virtual Assistant – What tasks are you doing day in and day out that are really not your cup of tea? Consider your hourly rate versus the administrative tasks you are performing. If your rate is $100 per hour and you spend five hours per week on bookkeeping, then you are spending $2000 per month on tasks that can be delegated for far less.

2. Rebrand your business – Is your brand exciting? Do you stand out from the crowd? If not, consider hiring a professional design company to rebrand your business. The easiest way to attract the best paying clients is to present a professional business image.

3. Invest in Your Business Skills - Take a workshop – What skill do you need to upgrade? Look around for workshops and seminars to help you improve skills you need to grow yourself and your business.

4. Invest in YOU – Are you happy with your life? Are you stuck in “all work and no play”? What could you do to improve your personal life? You could take a Life Planning Workshop, invest in a counselor to work out some old issues still plaguing you, or take a mini vacation.

5. Hire a Business Coach – Remember when you where involved with sports in school? The coach didn’t let you get away with slacking. Having a business coach to help you brainstorm ways to bring in new business will help you grow your business because you’ll be accountable to someone and they won’t let you off the hook if you’re not doing what you say you’ll do. Go to the International Coach Federation, click on “Find a Coach”, and enter the key terms for the type of coach that would be most helpful to you.

Whatever you do, don’t fritter away this tidy sum of money. If you chose to invest in your business it will pay off big time!

Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hear Ye, Hear Ye Marketing – Ten Tips to spread the word about your events

Ever had a party where no one showed up? You spent time decorating. You had the food catered from this nice little hole-in-the-wall up the street. You got all dressed up and when the door bell didn’t ring you were crushed.

This is much like an event a client had recently that was poorly attended. He spent time putting together and getting approval for a presentation for his financial advisor practice. He rented a conference room in an upscale boutique hotel and had scrumptious food brought in by an executive chef. He set up a PowerPoint presentation and waited.

What happened? He spent more time planning the event than promoting it. What could he have done to spread the word so that his event came off with a bang?

There are many ways you can promote your events so that they are well attended. The methods you employ will depend upon how ritzy you want your event to be and the goal for the event. Do you want new clients or just exposure?

1. Send invitations to your clients six weeks in advance and ask for a RSVP. Word your invitations to include a free invitation for your client’s best friend.

2. Have your staff follow up the mailed invitation with a phone invitation. Your response rate will be much higher if you touch your clients through mail and phone.

3. Attend networking events and announce the details of your event.

4. Send a blurb about your event to your local newspaper at least 3 weeks in advance. Your local newspaper has business and lifestyle event calendars that will list your event free of charge.

5. Use the services of online Press Release Distribution websites. Some are free and some charge an annual fee: http://www.prweb.com/ http://www.prnewswire.com/ http://www.marketwire.com/

6. Send a Press Release to your local newspaper, both before AND after your event. Use a professional or someone with experience to write the release. You want to make sure it’s newsworthy.

7. Announce the event on the home page of your website and include a link to the page on online calendars.

8. Use online event listing services such as the Business Journal in your city http://www.bizjournals.com/. This can be a GREAT way to drive traffic to your website and give you excellent exposure.

9. Utilize Yahoo’s service http://upcoming.yahoo.com/ to post an event in your city. Also use http://www.yelp.com to broadcast your event - allows comments from attendees.

10. Give Event Brite a go if you want to send email invitations and monitor the status of your RSVP’s: http://www.eventbrite.com/

Use these tips to pack the room and get the word out about your event. Spend time promoting your event and make it a success!

Grow Your Business & Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors
Scottsdale Arizona

Friday, May 2, 2008

6 Simple Steps to Organize your Business Finances so that you can Sleep Soundly at Night

Here's a great article I wrote to help a start up client get her business finances organized.

Loose papers, receipts, notes, credit card bills, financial statements, tax returns – these are the byproducts of owning a business. They take up space on your desk and in your mind and every time you look at the litter you feel disorganized.
Before I created a system to organize my business paperwork in the manner I’ll soon explain, I felt disjointed, out of whack, and like I never got anything done. I’d walk into my office and want to turn right around and walk out.

Is there a better way to organize your business finances? You bet. Follow the steps below to create a simple, yet functional way to organize your business and live a more carefree life.

Step 1 – Get a Binder - Purchase a three-ring binder based on the volume of paperwork you produce annually. A 1.5” or 2” binder would be adequate for most businesses. You will use one binder for each year you are in business, so that every detail pertaining to your business that year is in one place for easy retrieval. In the viewing window type a cover that shows the name of your business and the year.

Step 2 – Get a Three Hole Punch – Purchase a three-hole punch. This is to hole punch all larger receipts, documents and financial statements and have them fit neatly into your binder.

Step 3 - Get a Zipper Compartment – Purchase a plastic zipper compartment from an office supply store to hold small receipts.

Step 4 – Purchase Accounting Software – Get yourself accounting software so that you can track your finances. Professional business owners track their profits and losses using the right tools and analyze their financials regularly. I recommend QuickBooks, but there are others such as Peachtree, Microsoft Office Small Business, and Simply Accounting. Try to begin tracking sales and expenses from the beginning of your business or the beginning of the year.

Step 5 – THE SYSTEM: Arrange paperwork in your binder according to month. Keep all receipts, credit card statements and bank statements (make sure to reconcile these monthly), and sales tax reports (if you sell products). At the end of each month, run a Profit and Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet (collectively known as Financial Statements). The Financial Statements become the separator for each month. File small receipts that can’t be hole-punched in the zipper compartment at the back of your binder.

Step 6 – CLOSE IT OUT – At the end of each year, reconcile your accounts, print your annual Financial Statements, and close out your year. Put the binder away and start a new one for the New Year. Give your accountant or CPA a copy of your QuickBooks file to prepare your income tax return.

Only handle receipts one time. Review them. Record them in your software program. File them in your binder.
Use one credit card for business and one for personal expenses. This way you can maintain separate business and personal expenses. If you ever need to carry a balance, you can easily determine the tax-deductible interest.
Consult with your accountant or CPA regarding what is and is not tax deductible.
Make an appointment with yourself one to two hours a week to do your business finance organization. When you have room in your budget, hire someone to come in and do it for you.

The system above is one way to organize your business finances. If you would like to go beyond this system and organize your business for financial success, you may want to consider writing a Business Plan. I have created a plan that incorporates Goal Setting, and heavy Branding and Marketing with My Success Book - a built-in Daily Action Planner to encourage accountability and results. Find it here: The Two Page Mini Business Plan™.

©Copyright 2008- Suzanne Muusers - All Rights Reserved

About the author
Suzanne Muusers is a Business Coach and Business Expert based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a credentialed member of the International Coach Federation and has owned or managed a business every year since 1981. She is the creator of The Two Page Mini Business Plan™, The Six Step Guide to Creating a Business Plan That's Short, Easy, and Gets Results! Visit her site: http://www.prosperitycoaching.biz/