Last week we put together your foundation. Now it is time to start working on the “flooring” to your business. This is the base of your business. Think of this as the subflooring, and carpet for your business. Again there are four basics that make up the “floor” of your business.
Step 1: Get your bookkeeping set up. You will want to hire a good bookkeeper, and accountant from day one. You can do this yourself, if you have an understanding of business bookkeeping. This is something that you can outsource to someone else so you can concentrate on the remaining pieces of building of your business. If you outsource this, I always tell my clients to be sure that your bookkeeper and your accountant are two different people. For protection of your business, and your credit these two people should not be in any way affiliated with each other. They should be from two different companies, unless you are lucky enough to know one or both of them personally.
There are several reasons these should be two different people. The main reason is to ensure your books are accurate. Your money is the most important part of your business, and you should know at least weekly what your financial outlook is. More than anything you want to be able to sleep at night knowing your money is where it should be, with an accountant and a bookkeeper you are less likely to have your money taken from you when there are others looking over your books. This is especially true, if you as the business owner either don’t have time to look things over regularly or if you are not really sure what you are looking at, so you have to rely on these people to explain it from month to month. Your accountant may not be as readily available as your bookkeeper, and the cost of an accountant per hour is usually a much higher expense than a bookkeeper per hour. So your bookkeeper should be able to answer every question in regards to your financial outlook. Your accountant should be willing to answer any and all questions in regards to your money whenever you ask but sometimes may take a few days to get back to you. They should always be available or returning calls within a reasonable amount of time. If they are difficult to get in contact with after tax season, you should shop around for new ones. It is important to have your bookkeeping setup and your accountant in place immediately. This is not an easy part to start in the middle, and may cost you a lot of money to get where it needs to be.
Step 2: Your equipment. You want to make sure you have all the equipment you need for your customers to reach you. This includes but is not limited to, your website, office computers, fax machines, scanners, office supplies, and so on. You will want to make sure that this is all set up, and in place before you open your doors. Test this all out to be sure it works. The last thing you want is to open the doors, and find out none of your customers can reach you. Your website should be clean, and professional, while showing off your products, and services. Don’t be afraid to put your personality into your website. Your customers are purchasing you not just your products or services. There are many resources for the business owner on a budget you just have to research the ones that work best for you. For example, for an office phone you can use Google Voice. This is a free VOIP, you can get a local number and have it forward right to your cell phone. MetroFax.com is an online fax machine, for less than $10.00 per month you get 500 pages of faxes in and out. With a good scanner this can be a good starting fax machine. There are many other resources, and business software you can find online with some research. Just make sure you talk to other business owners in your industry to see if they have any reviews on these programs, or recommendations. You can sign up for my newsletter to get a free resources guide I have put together. This guide is full of free, or low cost resources I have used myself.
Step 3: Your services, or products. Whether you sell products, or you have services to offer you should be clear on what you are selling, who you want to sell them to, and how much you want to charge for them. You won’t convince your target market you are the perfect place to buy the products, or services you offer if you are not convinced. If you are selling services start off with marketing one service or create a package of services for a value. You can sell other services, once they are a customer that understands, and appreciates what you have to offer. If you are selling products make sure your website has clear photos, prices, and a reliable shopping cart. Your return policy, and service policy should be easy to find, and easy to read to avoid any confusion, or unwanted publicity.
Step 4: Human Resources. Even if in the beginning you are flying solo, plan for the day when you are so successful that you need to hire Employees. You will want to create company policies, and put together a handbook. You will want to create an employee filing system, if it sits empty for quite some time, when you are ready it won’t be a scramble to get everything into place. You will want a cabinet that locks, and the Department of Labor website is
very helpful when trying to decipher some of the recordkeeping, as well as some of the other requirements. You will want to create a plan as to what benefits you will offer when you start to hire employees. You don’t want to be constantly looking for new employees, then training them. Make sure you are thinking about what might be important to employees that will keep your business going. You will always need to put together a new hire packet, as well as hiring procedures. You will want a standardized interview packet, so that all potential employees are equally scored to guarantee the best candidates. The new hire packet should contain, tax forms, information forms, and contact information forms. A new hire packet put together ahead of time ensures that when a new employee is hired the paperwork is done and in compliance in record time every time. Take the time to find a payroll company that is affordable, and has a great reputation. Talk to other business owners to find the good ones. Just because a payroll company is expensive doesn’t mean they are looking out for your best interest, and doing everything right. Make sure to find one that people have used, and get recommendations.
Now your floor is down, and you have the carpeting. Next time we will move to the “walls” of your business. The parts of your business that will keep you supported. Come back next week to read Part 3.