Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tax Disaster You can Avoid

Before you drop off your tax documents to any preparer, make a copy!!!  Here's what happened to one couple, Tom and Sue,  who are still dealing with this disaster.

Here's their story.  Last tax season they were in a real crunch...Tom was going overseas so they went to their local office of a national tax preparer.  All good, right? 

Turns out, wrong....very wrong.  After a few weeks with no contact Sue called them to find out if they needed any other paperwork and the status of their return.  April 15th was fast approaching and nothing was happening. 

That's when the shuffling and the run-around started.   The more questions she asked the more no one in this national tax preparer's office seemed to know anything about their Federal and State Tax Return.   Tom was still overseas and not able to help Sue.

Sue, on her own with her two babies in tow, drove to their office to pick up their documents and start over with someone new.   All she wanted was  her file folder of personal W-2's, 1099's, and her 2009 tax return back.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What do you stand for?

Every one's talking about core values, beliefs,  manifestos but what does it all mean?  And how do values apply to my business?  What do they have to do with  me?
Actually, values have a lot to do with it.  Whether we define our values or not, they come out anyway, especially under pressure. 

Have you ever been in a business where employees are arguing in front of customers?  Have you gotten different info from each employee so you're not sure who to believe  The owner of this company has no idea what they stand for or where they're headed. YOU don't want to be that guy or gal.   

If you're new to business or your business has been growing, and you need to tweak a little bit, now is the perfect time to sit down and really figure out what you stand for.

But first you have to ask the right questions.

1. What's important around here?  What is important to your business; what are the values that you want to model?   Choose your top 3.

Legendary Service
All about Profit
Self Management
Positive Attitude
Say what you mean
Beat the competition
Bigger is better

2.  Where are we headed?   You can't answer that unless you know what's important  around here first.  Knowing where you're headed brings your vision into focus.

3. What we stand for?    Do you have a core idea to talk about?  Don't confuse your vision with your position.  A focused direction will show you where to concentrate your physical financial and human resources.  You have no substance,  no reality, no commitment.

4.  Understand the need to fall in love with risk.  Risk is the core of leadership.  Without embracing Risk,  without really falling in love with it,  you'll never voice your vision.   You'll let the fear hold you back.  Risk gives life to zing,  zest and vitality.  If there's no real risk there's no real celebration or rewards. 

5. Learn to motivate people.  In fact it isn't enough to be competent, you have to be able to communicate that competence.  Sell the benefits of your vision especially the emotional benefits.   Most people operate under the WIIFM....what's in it for me.  Get your employees, customers, and suppliers behind the company.  We want know what's  in it for us.

And right now as 2012 is right around the corner,  is your vision connected with your strategy;  have you aligned your strategy with your values; are you positioned to deal with a wide range or possibilities? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How not to go Broke!

Recently, I've had several conversations with clients and friends over Cash Flow...or more to the point the lack of Cash Flow.   The cash register is ringing, the credit card machine is getting a workout, but there's not much moohla in your bank account.  What's up with that?

Here's the real skinny on business, money, and you.

You make a few big sales; there's more money in your bank account than normal and suddenly your brain says "I work hard and I deserve to spend some of this money on ME."  But let's look at the facts.

On your desk, filing cabinet, or in those unopened envelopes are the bills for your inventory.  Oh yeah, you forgot you haven't paid for the merchandise you sold, your cell phone bill, and the car insurance.    Don't forget you hired an assistant to help organize the office who still hasn't been paid, you signed up for a workshop and you need to pay the printer for your marketing materials. 

It's true you work hard, and it's true you deserve many wonderful things but it's also true you have bills to pay.  When you're a business owner you mostly come last....certainly behind your vendors, customers, and bank. 

I get that it sounds boring to "manage" your cash but it's your job...you signed up for it when you opened your doors.  And yes, whether you're a brick and mortar business or if your office is in your spare bedroom YOU are the CEO and the CFO. 

How do you feel after your big splurge on Happy Hour with the girls, that trendy new winter coat, and oh, the boots too?  When you look at your bank balance do you want to slam your head on the screen?   Are you frustrated and want to throw the towel in? 

Slow down...go on a low budget diet for a month.  Building up a cushion of cash is essential to your success....too many businesses crash and burn because they simply ran out of cash and couldn't cover their bills.  Don't let this happen to you.

PS: You owe sales tax for last month.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rock your Intuition

We all have intuition whether we recognize it or not. It's that feeling in our gut, it's the anxiety we feel when we're  unsure, it's when we feel a little lost and alone.

Have you ever had well meaning friends and family advise you not to listen to your intuition; perhaps because it went against what they wanted for you, what they thought was best for you, or not the right path for you?  
Although they're well meaning we have to listen that gut feeling, that inner sense, that flash of insight that guides us.  When we  can't explain how we "know" what we know it feels a little creepy, a little manipulative, or even a little out of our own comfort zone....a little woo woo. People might push back with a "Who do you think you are?" because you're pushing them out of their comfort zone.

I say rock your intuition.... we have just as much success with that as we do any of the decisions so go with your intuition.   It's more than okay to just "know" it's tapping into your power. 

I have to laugh too at the irony, because the other side of me,  tells business owners to trust but verify so in reality,  find a balance somewhere in there.  

As Nancy Rosanoff, a nationally recognized author and trainer in Intuition says, "Through your intuition, you can discover inner wisdom you never knew you had. You can discover the course of action that's uniquely right for you. Successful entrepreneurs, scientists, executives, artists and lovers all have the ability to tap into intuition -- and far from being a mysterious, lucky, unpredictable force, intuition is simply a skill that can be learned."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ducks or Heron - What's your business type?

 As I was walking the beach in Edmonds on Sunday I saw a flock of ducks paddling together.  Wherever the lead duck went the rest of them followed.  First this way, then that way, and now this way again...they dutifully followed the leader. 

Just down the beach I spied a beautiful heron.  The heron was mostly still - just occasionally moving her head from side to side and still always aware of what's going on around her.   

I stood and watched both the ducks and the heron for a few minutes pondering how natural they are in their environment next to each other in Puget Sound and yet worlds apart.  A duck can never be a large, majestic heron and a heron isn't a follow along type of bird. 

As business owners we need to be more like the heron standing alone flaunting ourselves.  We all have our unique specialness to offer clients and customers so let's make it easy for them to find us.  When we're bunched in a group or flock we all look the same and nothing about us stands out in the crowd. 

So take a deep breath and be the heron in your business...show off a bit...you deserve it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do you have what it takes to be an Entrepreneur?

Recently I met two women frustrated with their very new businesses and yet both had very sizeable "know it all" attitudes.  You know the type "My business is different and that advice may work for others but it won't work for me." 

This really got me thinking about what traits and attitudes fit well into the entrepreneurial lifestyle.  And you bet, it's a lifestyle, far different from having a       J-O-B and working in the corporate world.

So I asked other entrepreneurs what traits they thought were important I'm sharing the top favorites.
Top Entrepreneurial  Attributes:

Curious:  You want to know more, find real solutions, develop business skills, keep up to date on new technology.

Innovative: Always looking for ways to do more, create more, and dream more.

Motivated: Keep your eye on the prize...good days and bad.

Collaborative: Use brainstorming  and mastermind groups to boost your creativity and skills.    Competition is so last century.

Intuitive: Listen to your gut, verify, and then go for it.

An attitude of YES: An open mind to possibilities beyond what you envision, grab opportunities as they come, and say Yes more often than no.

What are your top traits for growing and  managing your business?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Awareness. It all begins with YOU!

Awareness.  This word has been on my mind for some time now. As I go through my day I see runners sprinting across the street without a glance, business owners obliviously spending their profit each month, wanna be entrepreneurs launching with no plan in sight.

Where’s the awareness of their world? Hit by a car, missed opportunities, and money down the drain all could be avoided with a sliver of attention.

And what is awareness really? Here’s some of what I found.

Self Awareness: an awareness of one's OWN personality or individuality. The first known use of this term was in 1880. Surprising, isn’t it?

But awareness goes back further to Aware: having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.

Hmmm, aware of what….my surroundings, my place in business and in my business,  with my family and friends?  Doesn’t it go deeper than that?  What about  Awareness of how my actions and  the affect they have on  my family, my friends and colleagues, and most especially my clients.

So I was researching again…how does being aware show up in life. EMPATHY! Awareness and empathy go hand in hand…kind of like, well, like a margarita and salt.

During one of my sessions with Treysii Zamorano she mentioned we only bring ALL of ourselves with us into business....doubts, low confidence, and our inner struggles.   Now that’s a juicy bit that I can use to help my clients. Where there’s awareness and empathy there can be growth.

For me,  clients now learn No Fear Business and Bookkeeping.  This translates into confidently calculating their sales every day, knowing their bank balance before paying bills, looking for ways to increase their bottom line.  And no more sleepless nights!

How does this translate with your and your business?