Category Archives: Small Business

From Nothing to Something: My Small Business Success Story

Small tree, plant  in the hand

Jurissa Ayala

Running your own show is no picnic. You have no one to report to, sure. You can work in your pajamas while eating too many pancakes. Any time you feel like it, you can take a yoga break. Or a Big Bang Theory break. I won’t lie, that’s all pretty awesome.

There are some downsides to owning a small business, however. When you are self-employed, you report to you. Which means that sometimes your boss is a lazy slob who won’t demand that much of you. Who might make excuses for your poor behavior or let you cut work more often than you should. Plus, your boss has only as much experience as you do, and that can really hogtie you.

It took me more than seven years after graduating college to consider myself a “success.” This is partially due to a lack of determination to get there, and partially to a number of mistakes I made. By sharing them with you, I hope to reduce the time it takes you to find your own success. Ready for a crash course in small business life? Put on your helmet and let’s get started.

Mistake #1: I Went to College Too Soon. Then I Did It Again

I was always a good student, and the occasional C in Chemistry didn’t stop me from getting into one of the top programs in my state. Because school came easy, I never really tried that hard. Nor did I question whether it was “worth it” to spend time and money on college when I was still finding myself. Too bad for me.

When I graduated with a degree I would never use, I shrugged my shoulders and found jobs that didn’t thrill me: first in insurance sales, then at a bank. I used the money to pay rent and party, and started looking for another path only when banking made me so miserable it was starting to ruin my life. I chose teaching, and got another expensive degree that didn’t pan out due to a bad economy. Then I went to school for journalism. Finally: something I loved. It only took me an extra four years and untold student loans to get there.

Mistake #2: At First I Didn’t Stick With Anything

Even after receiving my master’s degree in journalism, I found it hard to settle down. School was so easy for me: I got better grades than most of my peers with my eyes closed. Naturally I assumed this would translate to my career, and was spectacularly disappointed when it didn’t.

No one cared that I was smart, or that my teachers liked me. They just wanted to see results, and I didn’t have any. My dreams of being a world-famous writer and author soon evaporated. I was crushed and lost, and only after a year of soul-searching did I finally settle into the less-glamorous but better-paying world of freelance copy writing. I had finally found something I was good at and loved … and it paid the bills too. Add two years to the clock.

Mistake #3: I Thought Success Came Before Hard Work

At the beginning, I was convinced I had to find a glorious gig to in order to really apply myself. Once I took care of my ego, I reasoned, the hard work would feel natural and the success would come.

The opposite turned out to be true. Once I took a deep breath and accepted that there would be no glory for a long while – perhaps ever – I was able to settle into my day job with a joy and willingness I’d never before experienced in life. It came naturally, fitting into the flow of my life well enough that I was able to care for my tow children at home and keep up full time work. My world became perfect. It only took one more year.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consider waiting on college until you’re sure you know what you want to do
  • Prepare yourself for hard work at the outset, and do not expect success before you put in a lot of long, inglorious hours
  • Stick with it, even when it sucks
  • Consider talking to someone in the line of work you hope to go into to find out what it will be like and ensure you’re prepared
  • Have a positive attitude! No, really! It will totally help

As a small business owner, I now write for clients all over the world. I set my hours, I sleep in, I play with my kids … and I work hard. I’ve transitioned from the nothingness of endless ego drain to the true fulfillment of hard work and a quiet personal success.

Next up? I might take a sewing class. But it probably won’t be glorious.


3 Financial New Year Resolutions You Should Make This Year as a Small Business Owner

6551534889_9c8ae52997_zAs you know, running a small business requires you to wear multiple hats. Many small business owners do not have the time to be on top of their finances as much as they should.

And it’s easy to understand why. There’s a lot to handle from making sure you’re deducting your expenses correctly, taking care of payroll, to ensuring your accounting is organized for tax season.

But here are some important resolutions you should make this New Year if you want a significant improvement in your wallet.

I Resolve to Take Control of My Business Cash Flow

Your cash flow controls the flow of your business, so delays can quickly halt the progress of your business.

If you’re dealing with cash flow problems due to the way you are accepting payments, you may have to come up with an alternative that works with your customers or clients.

If you’re spending too much on inventory at once and can’t come up with a decent budget for marketing, it’s a good idea to try to restock twice rather than all at once.

The point here is that you need to manage your cash flow to ensure that your business runs smoothly and isn’t at risk of taking a financial hit. Cash flow will be vital for paying your employees on time, having a budget for marketing, and paying for inventory, so even the slightest of delays can hurt your business.

I Resolve to Make the Best of My Inventory

If your business is based on physical goods, then it’s time to take a serious look at your inventory this year. You want to really go through your inventory to see which products are costing you money, which products to order less of on the next run, and which products you need to order more of.

Evaluating inventory has always been one of the best ways for small businesses to save money, but it is also a good way to spot opportunities.

For example, a product that you didn’t think much of may be popular with customers or a product that’s not seeing much volume might have a high profit margin and may be worth marketing to customers.

I Resolve to See My Business Tax Professional Early

Working with a tax professional that specializes in business tax can translate into a significant amount of savings for your business.

You’ll be able to get information on what you can deduct, avoid tax violations that can get you into trouble, prevent your business from being audited, and learn various ways to save even more money.

But it’s very important that you consult with a business tax professional far earlier than when your taxes are due. This will give you the time to run your numbers back to back for accuracy, better organize your tax records, and ensure that all your deductions are accounted for.

Those are just some of the finance resolutions you should make for your small business this New Year. It sounds simple enough, but each of the three on the list does require a respectable amount of your time.

So rather than trying to spread yourself thin trying to put all three into place, start with one until you feel that you’ve gotten that aspect of your small business finances in order.

Once you see some success, you’ll quickly gain the motivation to put the other two financial resolutions into action.

Photo: 401(K) 2012 / CC 2.0

Things To Consider Before Applying For A Small Business Loan

7303255278_7ccd3fc0d6_bWhether you require financing for home improvements or to purchase a new home, banks and credit unions are available to lend you money.

Of course, not everybody qualifies for a loan. Getting a loan is often determined by the applicant’s credit score and income.

Before walking into a financial institute and completing a loan application, it is important to educate yourself on the best options for obtaining a small business loan. This can enhance your chances of being approved for a low interest rate loan.

Credit History

Before you apply for a loan, get a credit report and use the information in the report, to identify factors that may cause the loan to be denied.

Your credit score determines if a lender will extend credit. In addition, a low credit score attracts higher interest rates. It’s also important to maintain a decent payment history.

In addition to assessing your credit history, lenders consider your personal income and finances.

They will request employment information, and if you do not have a steady income or employment, you may not qualify for financing.

Having few or no debts makes your loan application appealing to lenders and makes you look reliable, and having a personal savings account and down payment can also enhance your chances of approval and help you obtain a lower loan rate.

Collateral and Co-signer

Lenders may ask for collateral. This is an asset that you can use to secure a loan. To qualify, the dollar value of the collateral must match or be comparable to the dollar value of the loan.

Lenders require different types of collateral including, vehicle titles, jewelry, electronics or equity.

If your credit score makes it difficult to obtain a loan, consider using a co-signer. A co-signer is essentially somebody with great credit who guarantees to pay your debt if you are not able to satisfy the contract.

In other words, they assume full responsibility for the debt. This is a risky situation for the co-signer. However, it helps individuals who are not able to gain financing by themselves.

Loan Application Process

Select a lender. The first financial institute to contact should be the one with whom you have an established financial relationship. Local financial institutes prioritize their clients when processing loan applications.

Itemize your expenses for the small loan. For example, give an itemized breakdown of the machines you wish to purchase for a home improvement project. Give precise totals and estimates for each expense.

Grant the lender permission to acquire a copy of your credit report from one or several credit reporting bureaus. Small personal loans may not require an asset as collateral. However, lenders treat applicants who are creditworthy favorably.

Fill in required paperwork. This includes an application for a small loan. Check the accuracy of the information provided in the application forms before turning the application over to the lender. When applying for a small loan, you must include your legal name, Social Security number and year of birth.

Inquire the terms of your small loan. One such term is the repayment period of the loan. Work with the lender to come up a repayment plan that works for your budget.