5 Ways to Fight the Recession As a Small Business

If you have been watching the news, reading the paper, or browsing the Internet, you have stumbled onto the many hopeless articles written about the recession. It seems as if everyone is depending on a financial analyst to give us the green light that things are on the up and up.

However, there are tremendous advantages that a small business can have during an economic crises of this nature. Keep reading this article that will help you to obtain a bit more focus. Just remember that there are many companies out there that are NOT struggling. We can reap the benefits if we understand a few key concepts with an open mind and are willing to invest the time and dollars into the efforts that bring profitability. If you currently are struggling then I ask, why not try something different?

1. Marketing Budget

Advertising your business has many advantages that can reap long-term profits. Simply put, if you have cut your advertising budget there is a good chance your competitors have done the same or it could be that they are still spending and driving away customers from you. Given those conditions you must continue to advertise your business. Why take the risk when you can also take a piece of the pie?

If your competition has reduced their advertising budget, you now face less competition and can easily acquire that market share. Companies with the largest presence reap the rewards, so do your company a favor – invest in the right type of advertising for your business. This is the time to get creative! We always recommend that you take a closer look at the successful companies. What are they doing right that you are doing wrong?

2. Web Presence

Having a web presence has many advantages. First and foremost, most consumers and businesses conduct research on the web when they look for products and/or services. While they are doing research, they are always looking for a reason NOT to buy from you. That is why your web presence must be polished and well presented. If you don’t have the ‘WOW’ factor for your target market, you will lose to your competition. So do yourself another favor and invest in a website that is setup to turn your business into a selling machine. Be a smart consumer and if you need to pay additional money for a custom solution then trust me it will be worth it.

3. Process Centered

Can a new employee walk into your company, open up an operations manual and run the show? If the answer is no, it is time to start thinking about process. The more you streamline and document, the easier and more efficient your business will operate. Many small businesses constantly face losing a key team member in this market. When that team member leaves, things can come to a crashing halt as other team members lack understanding and/or proficiency to meeting those important deadlines. Therefore, take the time to turn your company into a process-centered organization that operates efficiently without the missing pieces of the puzzle.

4. Weekly Evaluations

In order to understand your business and its efficiency, you must spend a couple hours at the end of the week to evaluate what you accomplished and what went wrong. This evaluation is aimed at opening up a discussion so that future problems can be avoided. It should also be noted that you should also create a system for documentation to record your wins and struggles. It is a great tool that you can use to forecast future growth. If it happens once, it can happen again. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a binder filled with answers?

5. Network Network Network

Business owners should know other business owners. It is the Golden Rule. As a small business it is imperative that you are always expanding your network and reach. There has always been a misconception about networking. It is NOT about how many people you know, it is about how many people know about you. More importantly, what is their perception of you?

Businesses are always in front of other consumers and businesses. It is the belief that you can usually obtain about 3% of your customer reach the remaining might become your client later down the road. So take the time to network and build your referral network. Do not be shy to refer other businesses as a connection. After all, if we work together then we can all build a profitable business.

Use the five criteria points outlined above to help move your business into profitability. All five concepts are key components to running a business that is always in line with the market. Get Creative!

8 Investment Property Documents That Landlords Should Keep

If you are a landlord, or thinking of becoming one, there are certain financial documents that you will need to maintain for your records. These documents generally fall into the areas of rental income, allowable expenses, and capital costs. You should keep detailed records of every dollar of rent that you charge and receive, as well as all documents regarding the lease – including all pertinent dates.

In addition, your allowable expenses need to be recorded and maintained. These include every expense related to managing or leasing your investment properties. Each of these expenses can be deducted from the income you earn from rentals, which will reduce your taxable income. These expenses involve costs such as 1) any documentation of fees provided to leasing agents, attorneys, and accountants; 2) property insurance for both buildings and contents; 3) property loan interest documents; 4) property maintenance and repair records; 5) costs for utilities; 6) rent and service charges; 7) local tax bills, and 8) advertising and other costs associated with leasing the property.

Beside those 8 investment property documents, you should also maintain records of any capital costs for the property – including furniture and appliances you provide. Equipment used in your day to day management can also be included, but only if you keep proper documentation of the dates and costs of each purchase. Your best bet is to have your accountant guide you on what costs can be deducted. Your primary concern should be to document all income and expenses, and be sure to separate your business and personal records.

Of course, should you sell any of your properties and realize a profit from that sale, you will have to pay the proper capital gains tax. Fortunately, some of these costs can even be deducted from your capital gains tax, which is another important reason to maintain the appropriate documentation. As with other financial decisions, seeking the guidance of your accountant is always recommended. He may even have advice as to which time of year is best for selling property, from a tax perspective.

Feng Shui for Investment Property

Feng Shui is based on the premise that you are affected by your environment in both obvious and non-obvious ways. As an extension of that, people sometimes wonder if you can be affected by a property you do not dwell in, but own.

On a certain level we can say that everyone affects everyone else and that there has to be some kind of relationship between the owner and their physical property. But that relationship is usually a mere shadow of influence compared to the people who actually occupy the building or house. When people seeking to buy investment property call me to find out if they should be concerned about the Feng Shui for income property, I always have a few questions for them before answering.

First and foremost, I have to ask the investment property owner-to-be if there is even an iota of chance that they will live in the house them selves one day. If there is a chance that the person will live in the house some time in the future, then it behooves them to follow through with a comprehensive evaluation. This is a service that many classically trained practitioners provide because not only can we calculate how the house will affect current occupants, but we can even predict how occupants may be affected decades into the future. Some properties improve over time and others go through undesirable cycles that can last for as much as twenty years.

If the person knows for sure that they will not ever live in the investment property, then we have to contemplate just how much, if anything, they can or should do on behalf of their prospective tenants.

Landlords cannot really dictate how a renter uses the rooms, such as a sleeping room compared to a home office. Landlords cannot ask a tenant to use one entry door over another. Landlords cannot mandate what colors an occupants uses, with the exception of pre-choosing wall colors or flooring. In a typical setting, practitioners will make recommendations to clients for colors and natural elements that can be incorporated into the rooms with furnishings and other décor items. A landlord cannot insist that a tenant adhere to any of these suggestions.

Some of the most powerful adjustments that can be made are on the outside, such as water features like a garden fountain. But you can’t insist that a renter use a fountain or maintain it. These are just a few examples of how limited the landlord is, even in a well-meaning situation where the landlord would like to help their tenants be healthy, happy and prosperous.

The property owner can in fact be indirectly affected by the Feng Shui of their rental spaces. One example is the house or apartment which can undermine financial luck. There is always the chance that this kind of energy could come back to the owner if their tenant sometimes struggling to pay the rent. There are so many variables to consider. If an owner has a rental where the Feng Shui indicates the occupants may be vulnerable to legal problems, crime, injuries, theft, marital strife or mental instabilities, these are some unpleasant situations which could affect the landlord in their legal relationship with the tenants and even safety issues.

As you can imagine, in a commercial environment, similar situations can apply. If the owner of a business does not work at the physical location of the business, he or she may be a lot more concerned about the employees since there would be a much more direct effect on the business owner than the landlord-tenant relationship in a residential situation. And in this setting, the owner would have much more control over how to arrange the interiors and exteriors.