Archive for

Small Business Still Running Out to Retail Stores

Small Businesses in Canada are continuously running out to their local retail office store to purchase their computer supplies and accessories for their business. This practice is great for those businesses that need an ink cartridge or some DVD’s to backup their data, however, it is not the best practice for them to run out to purchase their next notebook computer or computer system.

Today’s small businesses are often purchasing the wrong computer system for their business. Many times when meeting with small businesses during my travels and inspecting their existing infrastructure, we are still finding many Windows XP Home or Media Centre computers that they have purchased for their business at the local retail office supply store. The sales people at these locations may lack the business technology training to properly understand what a small business needs and how business affects technology investments. The small business world is definitely different from the home or SOHO marketplace.

The business decision maker is often upset when the IT professional has to pass along the bad news that their existing systems need to be upgraded or the operating system replaced when they hit that critical point in their business that the need for a server in their business is identified. Computer Professionals that focus on small business often struggle with this daily, the need to inform the business owner that their existing systems will not be able operate effectively in a Windows domain with a home based operating system adds additional stress to their daily job.

The original reason why they went to purchase their latest computer at the retail store was perhaps the immediate gratification of getting a computer system that they can use today or out of urgency that they need something immediately. Small Business today, needs to start planning their technology investments wisely instead of spontaneously purchasing or impulse buying. This is where the Microsoft Small Business Specialist can assist them to ensure that they are investing in the right computer systems to allow their business to thrive with the right technology solution.

Where can small business turn? Business owners must find a trusted technology provider to assist them before they run out to the local office supply store. Microsoft has a great website for business owners to find that trusted resource at http://www.microsoft.ca/smallbusiness. An experienced small business specialist understands what a small business requires and will recommend the correct solution, even if they do not have a server today, a small business specialist has the skills to plan for the future. The Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Vista Business Editions are what a small business needs to ensure that are ready for grow, so when the day comes that they need to invest in their first server, they can purchase the server and it can easily fit into their existing investments.

What prevents the home or media versions from working in business? These versions of Windows were developed with scaled down functionality to work in the home market or to work with your entertainment systems, sure they will run all the software that you purchase for your business, however, they lack critical business functionality like logging into a Windows domain network, file synchronization and they lack the additional security features found in the Professional and other business editions of Windows XP and Vista.

The Small Business Specialist community needs to continue its effort in educating today’s small business marketplace to ensure that they are investing in the right technology solutions for their business needs. Small Business consultants can leverage the Business Assessment Toolkit to paint the picture for the small business on their exact needs and ensure that they are investing their dollars wisely in technology.

Timeless Advice For Small Business Costs

Small business costs are often the reason that many businesses either fail or do not begin in the first place. For some small business owners, the business startup cost can be so intimidating that they lose their dream before they even get started. For other small business owners, small business costs can put a strain on the finances set aside for the business. Between paying employees, stocking inventory and finding the time to manage a business, small business costs can be a good reason for a small business to fail rather quickly. Fortunately, entrepreneurs have access to a number of options to relieve some of the stress of small business costs.

In order to access the financial assistance to help cover your small business costs, your first essential step is to create a business plan. A well-written business plan will lay out your plans for how you plan to create revenue for your company along with attaining a certain amount of success. Additionally, a business plan also gives you a plan to follow along for your new venture. Most importantly, though, a business plan helps to convince investors and other institutions that you are a good risk for them to put their money into. Put more simply, without a business plan, you are unlikely going to get a business startup loan.

A business plan for the sole purpose of receiving a small business startup loan must contain several components. The first few pages include the Executive Summary and the Table of Contents. After this is the company description. This is one of the most important sections of a business plan. Your company description will give potential investors a short history of your small business along with the future you are planning for it. It describes plans you might have to expand your business. For purposes of getting small business startup loans, this is one of the sections that loan providers and investors are most interested in.

In the company description, you will want to avoid mentioning that your business is a startup business. Startup businesses are considered very risky investments by most investors. As an alternative, outline details of what you have contributed to the industry that you are currently in or plan on entering. Without sounding arrogant, mention some details or things that you have changed or something you have done differently than others in your market that has proved to be successful. Also, discuss how your business has grown in recent months or years and don’t be shy about your predicted growth. Your excitement and passion regarding your new business needs to be seen in the writing of your business plan to help increase your chances of getting a business startup loan.

One of the last parts of a well-written business plan, but certainly not the least important, is your marketing plan analysis. This is an explanation of your demographics using facts and figures and a study done about your new, potential customers and clients. This section also explains your advertising plans, especially your target market and how you intend to reach them. This section must show that you have done extensive research, appropriate with your market to ensure that your product or service has a large demand. In order to obtain small business startup loans, you will also need to include a sound financial plan, including pro-forma financial statements for your new business.

With the worries and frustrations of starting a small business, small business costs are generally the biggest worry. Thankfully, in today’s society entrepreneurs can obtain business startup loans and other forms of capital to carry them through the slow times and help them finance their small business. The professional and most effective way to acquire a small business loan will be to create a well-written, though out business plan. Without a plan, most investors and banks will not give your business a second look.

The Quest For Affordable Small Business Health Insurance

Studies have consistently shown that small businesses are much less likely to provide health insurance to their employees than larger companies. Indeed, the smaller the business, the less likely it is to offer health insurance benefits. As recently as 2003, about 50% of the uninsured in the United States were either self-employed or worked for companies with less than 26 employees.

The main reason for this disparity is cost. Health insurance for small businesses is typically more expensive than for larger companies (on a per employee basis) because it is more difficult for insurance companies to accurately predict the average cost of medical care for a small group. That is, risk is greater for insurance companies for small businesses since small businesses have fewer employees to spread the risk of health claims. It only takes one employee with significant health claims to have a significant impact on the overall costs for the group insurance. This is also the reason why small businesses do not self-insure; the financial risk is simply too great for the majority of small businesses.

So what can a small business do if it wants to offer health insurance to its employees? Often they have no choice but to pay the premiums. More often than not they will split the cost of premiums with their employees, typically 50/50. Unfortunately, these small business health insurance plans are not only quite expensive, but also include significant deductibles and co-payments for the employees.

Small businesses can sometimes reduce their health insurance costs by either joining or forming a purchasing cooperative to negotiate better rates and benefits from companies offering small business health insurance. Depending on the type of business, professional organizations can also offer better health insurance rates to small businesses.

In their search for affordable health insurance, small businesses should obtain multiple quotes before deciding on any one small group plan. One of the best places to start the process is online. By using the Internet, within a very short period of time, small business owners can access dozens of quotes from several insurance companies, making comparison of various plans much easier.

Of course, as a small business owner, if you are not comfortable shopping for your small business health insurance on the Internet, look for a good health insurance broker. If possible, interview more than one broker, and ask your peers for recommendations.

In order to remain competitive in the labor market, small businesses need to be able to offer health insurance benefits for their employees. This is not always easy as cost can be a limiting factor. With some effort, however, small business owners can find affordable small business health insurance. Joining buying cooperatives or professional organizations, using the Internet (probably the most convenient), or contacting a health insurance broker can be effective ways to begin the challenging process of securing affordable small business health insurance.