How to Build A Successful Business?
Starting a business and becoming successful is often part of the American Dream. But there is a difference between starting a business and building a successful business. Many businesses fail within the first few years of existence due to the lack of planning for the long-term. There is not enough vision and there is not enough done to strengthen the business properly from the ground up.
If you want to start a business there is an easy way to get a better understanding of why some businesses fail and others don’t. When starting a business think about it similar to building a house. If done right it is protecting you against any kind of storm or danger of the outside world and will last for a long time. It offers shelter and protection. For you and your business that could be translated to that you want to have a business that is able to weather economical ups and downs (=storm) and that will provide income to pay the bills (shelter and protection).
When building a house there are several different steps you need to follow to have the house build. You know you want a house, but you got to pick a location and get an architect to plan everything out. In the business world that would be: you know you want to start a business, but you have to come up with a business idea and work out a business plan. The next thing for the house would be to build the foundation (and eventually the basement) for the house. In the business world – you got to build the initial infrastructure (example: connecting with vendors, find a manufacturer for your product, create a sales team, rent office space, get a delivery truck, etc.). Once that is in place you able to actually do business and earn some money. But you are not completely done yet. You need to build a frame, put in windows and you also need a roof on house. For your business this means that you pay off debt, improve business processes and get professional help when needed (example: find a tax accountant, select a payroll service, etc.).
Once the house is build you probably want to fill it with furniture and make it livable for the future. Nobody wants to sleep on the floor, right. Again translating this to the business world it could mean that you invest money you earned back into your business. You buy machinery instead of leasing it. Eventually you buy a building, hire more staff, develop more products, move into new markets, build up a high cash reserve, and buy other businesses and so forth. This is often the step where winners and losers separate. Re-investing money into the business is a key factor for success. If you go and spend all the money on your own salary to buy things you have nothing to go back to when the economy slips into a recession or if disaster strikes.
The successful business owner has build up a cash reserve or can borrow money from bank – securing loans with the assets of the business. Going back to building a house this pretty much matches the same efforts. You pay off your mortgage and have equity available to eventually borrow against when emergency arises. Emergencies do not include paying off credit cards to use them again or to buy a car. Financially responsible you should be looking at the long term and not finance short-term goods with long-term debt.
April 15th The Day of Reckoning! Every year, millions of Americans get ready to pay taxes to Uncle Sam, or get ready to collect a tax refund from Uncle Sam; when did this become the great day that it is for taxpayers, and when are we actually required to file a income tax return? Lets take a look at the beginnings of the income tax date of April 15 and why it was chosen?
The first known income tax that Americans were legally required to pay was enacted during the early 1860s, and the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The Civil War was proving very costly to finance, and the President and Congress created the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted a law requiring citizens to pay federal income tax. This could be considered the start of our modern day income tax. This income tax was based on principles of graduated or progressive taxation and of withholding income at the source. The commissioner was given authority to assess, levy and collect federal income taxes. The authority to enforce tax laws by seizure of property and income and by prosecution.
Originally, the deadline for completing and filing your individual income tax was not April 15th. In the beginning, it was first set for March 1st. Then, during 1918, Congress pushed the date out to March 15th. Then, in the great overhaul of 1954, the date was once again moved forward to April 15th, and this is where it remains today. Why April 15th? The main thought from most scholars say the reasoning is that the date gives the IRS more time to handle the work load and more time to hang on to your money before offering a tax refund. This date has only been set this way for a little over 50 years. Thats not very long, in historical terms, and it could possibly be changed again.
If you are an individual taxpayer, you are required to file either a return or an extension of time to file (Form 4868) by April 15th. Corporate and other legal entities are required to file their federal income tax return by March 15th, and if not, they also must file an extension of time to file. What this extension does not do, is to extend the amount of time you have to pay any taxes due the government. So, if you are unable to ready your personal or business financial information in a timely manner, and have no reasonable estimate as to the amount of tax you may owe, you can expect to pay some form of penalty.
In the years following WWII, the burden of tax responsibility was shared fairly equally by the corporate world and the individual taxpayer. Today, however, the shift has been toward more responsibility on the part of the individual, and less on the business backs. To demonstrate how special interests have begun to overtake American politics, during 1867, public opinion was so strong, and the outcry of the general public so loud, that the President and Congress abolished the income tax law in 1872, and from 1872 until 1913 almost all of the revenue for government operation came from the sale of liquor, beer, wine, and tobacco. Although the income tax did make a small come back in 1894, it was found unconstitutional in 1895 by the U.S. Supreme Court because it was not apportioned among the states in conformity with the Constitution.
An interesting time during the formation and eventual taxation of America occurred during 1918. Until that point in time, the vast majority of tax revenue for government funding came from alcoholic beverage sales and high tariffs. In 1919, Congress passed an amendment to the Constitution that made it illegal to manufacture or sell alcohol; what would replace the revenue? American federal income tax was the proposed solution, and weve been paying since. Although during the great years known as Prohibition, many revenue agents spent their days tracking down moon shiners not tax evaders, the American citizen, the individual taxpayer took on the heavy burden of supporting government revenue, and it has become heavier with each passing year. On a side note, although moon shining was illegal, the moon shiners still had to pay taxes on the moon shine so they were incarcerated for tax evasion and not moon shining. Taxes seem to always come into play when looking for a way to prosecute someone.
Then, during 1942, the Revenue Act of 1942 was passed and the New Deal era was begun. Since that point in time, government control, power, and expenditures has continued to increase at a phenomenal rate, and today the American taxpayer supports a trillion dollar giant known as the United States government. This ravenous beast consumes more than 10% of our earned income each year, and if the Social Security Administration has their way, will continue to consume even more of our weekly earnings. We can foresee no other relief in sight.
Currently, all the tax regulations for this country are the responsibility of the Internal Revenue Service, and there are four major divisions of this government office: the Wage and Investment, Small/Business Self-Employed, the Large and Midsize Business and the Tax Exempt and Government Entities. Each division has responsibilities as they pertain to their individual specialty.
There continues to be talk on the hill to change the way taxes are calculated and collected. The most common themes are the flat tax and the national sales tax. Until Congress actually has the courage to step up to the plate and change it, taxes will remain as cumbersome as always.
How to grow a money tree
It is a well-understood axiom of the business world that there are two ways to improve the bottom line of the business. Stated simply, those two ways are to make money or to cut costs. Now no business can cost cut their way to profitability. But by the same token, waste and excessive internal costs for any business can eat away any profits that business is enjoying. So to get ahead in a competitive business environment, both methods must be employed.
When a business turns its eye to cost cutting, there is a stated or unstated business objective that the business owners will discover significant bleeding of revenues that are going on within the systems of doing business. So if those systems can be improved to eliminate that waste, the business would literally make money from the inside out because the overhead of the business would drop so dramatically.
The usual progress of such a cost saving campaign by a business is to find the low hanging fruit first. By that we mean that in order to satisfy the demands of management, middle management will identify superficial savings in hopes of satisfying the requirement. Hence switching from disposable cups to mugs or cutting back on break room amenities often go on the chopping block first.
Sadly, while there may be some superficial savings to be found in such places, the significant introduction of efficiencies for any business lie at a deeper level and take a more in-depth process of locating problems with how things get done internally. The methodology of finding these money pits within a business is often called Process Improvement. The concept of process improvement is to diagram a particular business process from inception to completion and document the stages it goes through, the handing over of authority for the process and to pin point places where inefficient methods are causing excessive cost in executing that process en route to the final stage of process completion.
Routinely, the areas of business structure that most often identified as being candidates for a process improvement examination are
* Excessive overhead between departments. Departments within a business are notorious for taking on the atmosphere of a fiefdom and becoming resistant if not suspicious of other departments in the same company. When that happens, department managers will introduce paperwork and unnecessary processing to cause work to move to his or her department from another or for completed jobs to continue along their path. This excessive overhead can be costly at the department level and bog down the business as a unit enough to actually reduce the profitability of the organization.
* Communication problems. A business process moves through the organization as each department or entity adds value to the process through to the completion of the job. However if communications between departments or people along the process chain are flawed, a process can grind to a halt and wait for hours if not days before the missed communication is discovered and the work is put into the cycle to be completed. This slow down or break down in communications can be a tremendous drain on the company. To correct the problem, modern tools of communication should be reviewed so each significant person along the chain is quickly made aware of work that needs to be done and can signal to the next agent that their step is complete and that the process is moving to the next stage.
* An inefficient IT infrastructure. Out of date computer programs that are not integrated with each other cause needless work to be done to take data from one system and moving it into the next computer program only to be entered again at the next stop along the chain. Standardization and integration of data and systems will introduce huge efficiencies to the process.
By streamlining the process of moving a business requirement from inception to conclusion, we can remove much of the inefficiency and waste that has become inherent to that process. We can introduce up to date integration designs both at the IT and process level to quickly move the process from one department to the next upon completion. The outcome is a streamlined organization that is no longer bleeding money due to inefficiencies and as such is making money from the inside out.
Entrepreneurs - Recession-Proof Your Business Success
To be a successful entrepreneur you are going to have to learn to deal with failure. There is no way around it. Thomas Edison tried over ten thousand different experiments before he finally demonstrated the first incandescent light bulb on October 21, 1879. Bill Gates' first company, Traf-O-Data, was a failure. Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot; And missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
In my short stint as an entrepreneur I've failed more times than I can count. I have also had my share of success, but its not even close to equal. The failures far outweigh the successes, and Im sure I have a lot more failure ahead of me. Im OK with that because I know that as soon as I stop failing, I have stopped trying to innovate. It's the nature of the business of being an entrepreneur, and of success in general.
If it were easy, everyone would do it. It is naive to think that every good idea that you have will result in a successful business venture. I have yet to hear an entrepreneur say "every single idea I come up with seems to work." More likely, you hear something like "I failed at my first five businesses before this one took off."
Think about that for a second. Five businesses. Sometimes the number is three, sometimes it's 20, but the important point is that most entrepreneurs don't hit a home-run with their first company. It really does amaze me - how many people have the stones to fail five times and still start a sixth business? You have to be supremely confident and treat those previous five times as a learning experience for the sixth. And if number six fails, you have to do the same and move on to number seven.
In my opinion, the most important thing is how you deal with failure. Once you accept that it's inevitable, you are able to learn from your mistakes and move on. It's easy to let the failure consume you - not so much because you are pessimistic, but more so because it is hard to see something that you poured your heart and soul into be ignored or rejected. As soon as possible you need to come to the realization that your business is what they are ignoring or rejecting, NOT you. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can objectively analyze why you failed and learn the things necessary for improvement in the future.
Failure isn't easy and is extremely frustrating, but it's a necessary part of success. Don't believe me? Ask Thomas Edison, Bill Gates or Michael Jordan! Ok, asking Thomas Edison might be a little tough, but you get the idea 🙂
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