TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
ACCOUNT FOR FLUCTUATIONS Even if you don’t sell Christmas trees or pool toys, your business probably has a sales cycle. Assuming that your revenue and spending will be consistent throughout the year sets you up for failure. While making your budget, be sure to consider when you expect an off-season. This will allow you to focus on marketing efforts in your downtime and keep profits coming in when you need them most. Similarly, you should limit unnecessary spending during the months when you expect revenue to be down. REALISTIC PROJECTIONS Too many companies look at the future with rose-tinted glasses. “You never want to be in a position where you’re spending more than you have coming in,” says Annie Scranton, owner of Pace Public Relations. How do you end up in this quagmire? There’s no surer way than projecting huge growth without the data to back it up. Your sales forecast needs to be realistic, if not a little lean. After all, 20 percent extra in revenue is a bonus, but 20 percent under can be a catastrophe. When a disgruntled client goes off on your star employee, there are few better cures than the attention of a friendly dog or cat. Not only that, but pets can serve as conversation starters. They even foster trust between teams, as reported in a 2010 study from Central Michigan University. A common gripe among managers is that, though regular breaks have been empirically proven to increase worker productivity and health, too many employees simply skip them to keep working. Allowing office dogs gives your worn-out employees a valid excuse to take a quick walk. If the increased happiness of your team still isn’t enough to convince you, you might want to consider your customers. A potential client or customer’s interest is piqued when they see a dog ambling around your office. It’s just one more way you can connect with them, and the presence of an animal lends your company a relaxed and personable atmosphere. Pets in the office might seem a little millennial, but even a cursory glance at the research reveals it’s worth mulling over. Although, you might want to stick to dogs and cats — we’re not sure an office snake would be received quite as well.
As you begin the year, you’re probably developing a new budget for your business. No matter how much you sell, there’s no quicker path to a cash shortage than bad budgeting. Victor Butcher, head of Butcher Financial Services, says a well-prepared budget serves as a road map for companies. “You need the road map to understand where you’re going with your business,” he says. With that in mind, here are a few tips to ensure you make the most accurate budget possible for 2018. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE EXPENSES Whether you’re talking about internal projects, marketing initiatives, or client services, you should always assume you’ll encounter unexpected costs. If you don’t leave wiggle room in your budget, you’ll have to borrow cash allocated to other endeavors. “Every project seems to have an extra cost that was never anticipated,” notes Shufflrr CEO James Ontra. It’s much better to budget for these speed bumps than run out of gas before you reach the finish line
The modern office has changed. Gone are the days of musty cubicle wastelands and domineering bosses. In their stead, we have in-office mixers and peppy startup cultures. In fact, 20 percent of American companies either allow employees to bring in their pets or adopt a furry friend of their own, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. If you’re on the fence about whether to let a literal animal into your workplace, you should know the data firmly supports it. In 2012, Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who brought their dogs to work showed reduced levels of cortisol, a hormone commonly associated with heightened stress levels. The Centers for Disease Control has also released several
studies that show the connections between pet contact, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, and heightened happiness — all of which would benefit no place more than the office.
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