Think about what really scares you as a small business owner. Is it the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho or a visit from the tax man? Is it flesh-eating zombies? Or, is it running out of cash? Is it a doll that has come to life? Or is it realizing you forgot to respond to a customer email? Horror movies can seem like child's play in comparison to some of the fears you face on the daily, running a small business.
This Halloween, here are some of the ghoulish frights keeping small business owners up at night and how you can avoid falling prey to them.
The Unknown Haunting Your Dreams
A sense of dread that stems from not knowing whether a deadline was met during the day is far scarier than realizing "the call is coming from inside the house." Nothing disturbs a restful sleep quite like waking with this feeling. In order to be able to put your mind at ease in situations like these, it's imperative that your organization is run on cloud technology. For whatever reason you're away from the office, whether it's the middle of the night, the day or a more extended absence, getting answers shouldn't necessitate being in the office. A good project management tool will prove priceless for your business, ensuring you keep across who is taking care of what. For internal communication, email can not only be a productivity killer but things have a habit of getting lost in there. Using an instant messaging tool like Slack is far more effective. It's technological solutions like these that will ensure smooth sailing for your business.
The thought of running out of cash might have your skin crawling faster than you can say, "ghost!". Accurate cashflow forecasting will help you make provisions for when cash is a little light, taking into account seasonality and accounting for when business is booming. Cloud accounting software coupled with help from a professional accountant can help you plan for this. Make sure you're a stickler for getting paid. Agree on a payment policy with your customers ahead of time and invoice promptly. Have plans in place if cash does dry up. Implement an overdraft facility and emergency line of funding from the outset so you've got a safety net to fall back on. Taking precautions like these are much easier when you don't need them, rather than trying to access capital when you're in a tough spot.
As a small business owner, you might think a vampire would make a better houseguest than the IRS. While your chances of an audit are extremely low - about one percent of U.S. taxpayers get audited every year - it's a good idea to be as vigilant as possible with your taxes and the way you handle your money. Audits are painful, time-consuming and can be costly. Paying your taxes on time is certainly one way to keep the scrutiny of the IRS at bay. Like with many other things in your business, cashflow forecasting will help you understand when money comes in and out of your business. Then when it comes to paying those monthly and quarterly taxes, you'll already have the money set aside to pay them. A red flag can also be raised for the IRS when business and personal transactions are mixed in deductions, so keep a careful eye on that or use accounting software that makes it easy for you to differentiate between the two.
With constant planning, organization and the right tools you can ensure that running your business is more of a 'treat' than a 'trick'.