Tips from the Trenches: National #SmallBusinessWeek Edition
By Yacanex Posadas
As the MOBI courses advocate it’s important to continually examine your business. Similar to periodically checking your home fire alarms, businesses need purposeful inspection on a regular basis. In applying yourself to your business in this manner, you can be assured that your strategy and operations are adaptable to changing market conditions. In recognition of National Small Business Week, here are a few tips to consider while reviewing your business this spring:
Keep an Eye on Changing Rules and Regulations:
It’s always a good idea to know what’s happening within the governing bodies of your area and keep up with changes that may impact your business. Today, April 30, is the first deadline for quarterly sales tax payments in California. An important change to remember is that the Board of Equalization (BOE) is now the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). As of July 1, 2017 the CDTFA will perform most tasks formerly performed by the BOE. However, as the website is transitioning, you may see both for a short time. In a recent search, the CDTFA site for online services publicizes a May 7, 2018 go live date. Until then, you may be able to make payments through the former BOE payment page. For more information about this transition you can refer to The Sacramento Bee’s story on June 16, 2017 entitled, “How can California possibly make a new tax department in two weeks?” For information about licenses, permits and taxes that may be required for your business as well as links to other resources, visit MOBI’s Starting a Business course, Session 6 Licenses and Permits . The Small Business Administration (SBA) is also a great resource for information and local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide free consultation services.
Investigate New and Greater Access to Capital:
Kiva is a non-profit that expands access to capital for entrepreneurs around the world. There are two exciting updates to Kiva’s service in our region. First, Kiva has opened an office in downtown San Jose, so small business owners no longer need to travel to San Francisco for in-person meetings. Second, Kiva has doubled its loan amount from $5,000 to $10,000, with no interest for two years. Many small businesses have felt the pinch of the new tax law prohibiting deduction of interest from taxes. Kiva provides an excellent way for entrepreneurs to access significant capital that can make a big impact. For more information about Kiva’s entrepreneur loan programs click here. MOBI’s Starting a Business course provides more information in Session 4 Financing Your Business and there are several videos discussing financing within the Resources & Tools page.
Dust Off and Shrink Down Your Business Plan
Developing a thorough, well-researched and realistic business plan is the first step to starting any business. The MOBI course Starting a Business details this process in Session 2 The Business Plan and provides step-by-step guides in each session of the course. There is also a full business plan template here. It’s also essential that business owners regularly review their business plans and make adjustments for market conditions. A current business plan ensures a more focused and adaptive business. Additionally, there is a new trend emerging toward one-page summaries that complement the full business plan. Canvanizer’s Lean Canvas is a popular and easy-to-use one-page business plan template. One-page business plans serve several purposes. First, by necessity you must examine and distill your entire business concept to its very essence. This is a useful exercise for any business. Second, preparing a one-page business plan gives you a valuable tool when you need to seek help from your support group. Investors, partners, advisors and others can quickly and easily understand and support your proposition when it is presented succinctly on one page. You can also hang your one-page summary on the wall for continual inspiration!
Utilize Marketing Solutions for Free and Easy Outreach:
Every small business utilizes marketing of some kind. These days it is especially effective to connect with people through email and social media. As the MOBI courses suggest, creating an email newsletter with opt-in subscribers can often be the most direct way to communicate with potential customers or clients. You can then send messages or campaigns to this targeted list and measure your response rate and traction. MailChimp provides a “Forever Free” package for entrepreneurs that allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month if you have 2,000 or fewer subscribers. This is a great option for small business owners. MailChimp allows you to manage your contacts and break them into groups as well as creating campaigns and campaign templates that can be used again and again to save time. Canva is another excellent option for small business owners managing multiple social media platforms and marketing promotions. Canva is a drag-and-drop graphic design tool website that allows you to create wonderfully visual posts for specific social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook in the proper dimensions as well as flyers, certificates, presentations, letters and more. There are many templates to choose from and build upon, or you can design from scratch. It’s a great productivity tool that makes marketing content look polished and professional. It’s fun, and easy too. Additional information can be found in MOBI’s Starting a Business course, take a look at Session 13 Opening and Marketing .
Yacanex Posadas is the founder of Yacanex: Economic Development. Community. Juntos., a business providing education, professional training, mentorship and career exploration. Yacanex also teaches through the Santa Clara University Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI) program and provides strategic consultation for MOBI. For more information please visit: https://yacanex.com/
Santa Clara University’s My Own Business Institute (MOBI) provides free online business courses. Through the “Starting a Business” and “Business Expansion” programs, MOBI teaches aspiring entrepreneurs around the world the fundamentals of business ownership with actionable instruction, templates and resources. Those completing the courses earn a Certificate of Completion as well as a Digital Badge which can be used to demonstrate their achievement. Learn more about MOBI at https://www.scu.edu/mobi/.