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Archive for November 2013

Small Business Blunders

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Small Business Blunders

Small Business Blunders

I am suffering from writer’s block this week so this week’s blog is a list of some things I would like small business owners to stop doing.  This is in no way a comprehensive list and they are listed in no particular order.

  1. Stop paying people as independent contractors when they are employees.  This will get extra scrutiny when Obamacare becomes effective for businesses with over 50 employees.  It has been a hot topic for years in avoiding payroll taxes and withholding. 
  2. Trying to avoid paying overtime when an employee is entitled to overtime pay.  Check out the Department of Labor’s website about overtime pay here.
  3. Being too slow to embrace new technologies.  I don’t think small business owners need to be on the cutting edge or be early adopters, but they need to take advantage as soon as they can to save time and money. 
  4. Not re-allocating money from older forms of advertising like yellow pages or newspapers to social media like Facebook pages for businesses, email marketing and Twitter.  Many of these new social media platforms are designed to work without having a high level of skills in marketing or graphic design.
  5. Not taking advantage of outsourcing.  It is fairly common to outsource payroll but what about HR, safety compliance, and other special skills that are not needed by small businesses enough to justify an in-house resource.  Many companies offer really good package deals in these areas.  
  6. Not seeking legal advice.  Check out this list from the US Small Business Administration.
  7. Failing to pay your payroll taxes.  The IRS fines and penalties can be extreme.  Do anything you can to pay your payroll taxes.
  8. Not having an adequate emergency plan in case you are not available to run your business and not having some controls in place to stop employee fraud.  Read my blogs about these two issues here and here.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

November 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

Things To Do On A Rainy Day

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It is raining, what can I do?

It is raining, what can I do?

I am writing this for myself for the next Saturday that I find myself trapped indoors due to an all day soaker.  Maybe I will refer back to this instead of lamenting the wet conditions.  I am an outdoors person and when it is raining that severely limits my activities. Perhaps you will find this list useful too.

  • Complete the long list of indoor projects that you saved up for a rainy day like; re-doing the shower caulking, painting a room, organizing your clothes closet so you know what is too big and too small too old or too weird.
  • Write or re-write your will.
  • Go to the mall and eat yourself silly and wash it down with a chocolate shake.  I never said they all had to be “good” things
  • Organize stuff like your eight track tape, CD or digital music collection depending on how far behind the times you are.
  • Cook a meal for every day next week and freeze it to save time when it is sunny and you want to bask in the sun.
  • Learn how to scan a QR code on your smart phone.
  • Learn what a QR code is.
  • Take out your slip and slide and slip and slide – arthritis be damned!
  • Investigate homeopathic remedies for slip and slide injuries.
  • Clean out the basement, set up the Christmas tree or take down the Christmas tree depending on the time of year.
  • Hand-write a letter to a loved one or if the world hates you, rage at a particularly annoying cartoon character.  I would pick one of those meddling kids on Scooby-Doo.
  • Binge watch all the Simon and Simon shows you missed when you could not stay up past 9 P.M. when you were a kid or something equally as ambitious.
  • Plot out your garden for next year.
  • Exercise indoors since we all know how fun that can be.
  • Change the oil in your lawnmower or various other outdoor power equipment so that is not the first thing you have to do next spring when it is time to work in the yard.
  • Practice being proactive after taking a 4 hour nap.

I hope there is something on the list that might help the next time you are trapped indoors and need something to do.  If you get bored call me and I will have you come over and do all the stuff I don’t want to do.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

November 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

Deceptive Pricing

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Don't Be Fooled

Don’t Be Fooled

In times of inflation or when input costs have spiked, companies will sometimes resort to reducing packaging size or sell their product in new units of measure to hide a price increase.    This happened recently to me when I was at the grocery store and noticed that a lunch time favorite – Baked Doritos went from 11.5 ounces for $3.99 to 8 ounces for $3.29 an 18% increase.  A 3 pound can a coffee went from 48 ounces to under 30 ounces which is obviously no longer a 3 pound can of coffee.  This began many years ago perhaps the late 1970’s or early 1980’s.  It has continued ever so slightly through the years to the point that now a 3 pound can of coffee can come in as little as 24.5 ounces.  Do you realize that a 3 pound can of coffee has shrunk by almost half?  If you look closely, the can size is only about 20% smaller.   I have seen Coke sell a case of its soft drink cans in a new 20 can quantity.    The catch is the price is about the same.  That is a 20% hidden increase in price.

Today’s blog is not about ripping companies that do what was described above but to take the discussion down to the level of the small business owner.  You need to ask yourself; how do you want to roll out a price increase?  I hope most business owners reading this would not resort to deceptive practices.  In my opinion, the way to do it is to take advantage of the relationship you or someone in your company has with your customer.  The companies mentioned above do not have a personal relationship with their customers just what they have built up through TV commercials and other marketing efforts.

A small business owner needs to avoid competing on price.  You need to make your customer aware that you have appropriately priced what you provide them – the level of service and or quality they receive is a good VALUE.  You can’t get Mercedes quality for a Yugo price.

Have a great week providing Mercedes quality at a Mercedes price.

Written by pacelinebiz

November 11, 2013 at 8:01 am

Fall Back

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An extra hour to sleep

An extra hour to sleep

Spring forward, Fall back.  Yes, today we talk about changing our clocks backward to go back on standard time.  Daylight savings time has ended and the evening sunshine has gone away until March 2,2014 when we spring forward.  Three years ago I wrote about this topic with a tongue in cheek list of ten things I liked about the change back to standard time.  Check it out here.

There have been several changes to the start and end times of daylight savings time. Below are a few of them in recent memory:

Due to the oil embargo of 1973 congress kept daylight savings time year round.  It began January 6, 1974 and ended on April 27, 1975.  At that time it normally began the last Sunday of April and ended the last Sunday of October.  It remained on those days until 1987 when the starting date was moved to the first Sunday of April and continued ending on the last Sunday of October.  In 2007, the begin and end dates were both changed to what we now observe.   Those are the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday of November.

I actually think the period of daylight savings time is now just about right.  Any more changes and we would be having issues in the morning with school children waiting for buses in the dark.  That was a big concern when daylight saving time was observed year round in 1974-1975.

Of course I still dislike the shock of losing that hour of daylight in the fall which effectively ends my outdoor, after work bicycle riding.  I find myself with a lot of time on my hands when I no longer can ride after work.  It is a lot like the problem I have on rainy Saturdays in the summer – what can I do?  In two weeks I will write about that very question – what can I do on a rainy day?

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

November 4, 2013 at 8:01 am