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Small Biz Life

YOU STARTED A BUSINESS! YOU ARE AMAZING AT WHAT YOU DO. But there is a lot more to running a successful business: accounting, marketing, IT, sales, management. You wear so many hats. Add family, friends, health, home…no wonder you are tired! WE GET IT! We have been small business owners for the past seven years and have worked with small business owners for the last fourteen years. We know the challenges of finding the right solutions and juggling all the responsibilities. We know how hard it is to put YOURSELF on the to-do-list. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. COME JOIN THE COMMUNITY. TOGETHER WE CAN GROW AND THRIVE.
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Now displaying: Page 3
Oct 22, 2017

Kristin and I always talk to our Facebook group members. The other week the topic of Facebook ads came up. We talked about small business owners about their experience and/ or problems with Facebook ads.

What are the 3 top reasons your Facebook ads do not meet your expectations?

  1. No expectations
  2. No objective for the Ad
  3. Do not understand how to target an audience

 

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Episode 4 Who is your ideal customer https://smallbizlife.mykajabi.com/blog/episode-4-who-is-your-ideal-customer

Facebook Blueprints https://www.facebook.com/blueprint

 

 

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Oct 15, 2017

Kristin and I have been working with each other in small business since 2005. We have seen lots of good and bad times since we started working together. We have learned the most important truth about working with your spouse. 

A family business is no place for a weak marriage

The truth is maintaining a great marriage is work. No matter how much you love each other. Between survival, family, and friends many marriages strain. In 2015 16.9 divorces happened per 1,000 married women according to researchers at Bowling Green State University.  That is over 1.1 Million woman in 2015 alone and that was a good year.

You risk going from husband and wife to business partners.

However, all is not lost. There have been many family businesses that have stood the test of time. They have not only survived the marriage, they have not gone out of business. And to be honest, even if your spouse is not officially part of your small business they often help out the entrepreneur of the family run their business. 

The most important thing you can do is learn your 3 Rs

Not the 3 Rs of school. The 3 Rs of working with your significant other. 

  • Roles
  • Respect
  • Responsibilities

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DIVORCE RATE IN THE U.S.: GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION, 2015 https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/anderson-divorce-rate-us-geo-2015-fp-16-21.html

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Oct 8, 2017

Small businesses are formed for many reasons. We started ours because we loved our hobby of teaching, inspiring, and entertaining people. There are many reasons to start a small biz. You might want to work for yourself or make some more money. However, we live in a changing world. We cannot afford to lose track of the trends in small business or we risk losing the business we love. So we need to understand, where small business if going.

What is the biggest change coming to small biz?

There are many changes that will continue to happen with Small Business. Record numbers will be starting up and failing every year. However, the biggest change is that the older definitions will start disappearing. Local business versus international business and online business versus offline business will merge into business.

It really has been changing with the invention of the online business and people growing more connected to the internet via their mobile devices. The great thing is the growth of this technology provides great opportunities to those willing to keep changing.

These opportunities will create a huge challenge for small biz

We will no longer be able to hide from competition. They will invade our communities and try and lure away our customers. So, we need to adapt and move our business into this space before someone else occupies it.

Join Kristin and me as we look at this vital topic in this weeks episode of the Small Biz Life podcast.  Also, check these articles referenced in the episode "Small Business in 2020: Dramatic Shifts Predicted", "10 Businesses That Will Boom in 2020", and "Why Small Businesses Should Prepare For 2020"

 

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https://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2012/09/10/10-businesses-that-will-boom-in-2020

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/305-small-business-trend-shifts-predicted.html

https://www.digitalistmag.com/cio-knowledge/2017/09/25/why-small-businesses-should-prepare-for-2020-05359724

 

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Oct 1, 2017

Have you ever had that day where you work for hours, and check off dozens of items off your to-do list and feel like you have achieved nothing? I have. I have had so many days I started to look at this years ago when I worked at UPS. I started to find that we have a way of creating busy work for ourselves. We create so much of it, we start to use systems to create track it. And private industry has responded with those applications. The task management apps and website. 

Listen to the show on iTunesStitcherYouTubeGoogle Play MusiciHeart Radio, or with the player below. 

Task Management software can be great

It can make you get more work done. I am a big believer in getting more done in less time. However, It appears the systems can become a burden. I have worked with many large businesses and government agencies that would start creating more and more applications to track the work that then left the workers in a bind.

If you spend more time tracking yourself, then you have less time to complete the work you were hired to get completed. For more check out the show notes on SmallbizLife.com

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Episode 106 – 3 major mistakes getting tasks done, and how you can start fixing it now https://www.smallbizlife.com/blog/episode-106-the-3-major-mistakes-we-make-with-task-how-you-can-start-fixing-it-now

Google task https://mail.google.com/tasks/canvas

Trello https://trello.com/signup

Asana https://asana.com/

 

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Nozbe https://nozbe.com/?a=sblJefferyWIngram

Sep 24, 2017

Stop floundering creating task

Have you ever been told that if you work hard you will succeed? I was. I believed it. For years whenever I had an issue I just started to work more. Work more hours! Push! Push! 
I kept moving.

I would do great for a while and then I would burn out. Sometimes I would kill it and prosper, but to be honest most of the time I seemed to go nowhere.

It was frustrating. However, I just kept doing it. I would also get very focused on the work. I was told if I just work smarter. all my problems would go away. I just needed to focus on the type of work I was doing. However, that failed to make my life better, or my business larger.

I also went through a period, where I cut out all the work that I didn't like, that was the worse mistake. I lost touch with so much that was important to my business because I did not want to do work I did not like. I would store up all that crappy work until I was forced to do it. I managed to 10x the work I hated. This is a 10x you never want, please trust me.

How to fix it?

It all started with a great piece of advice from Brendon Burchard. I figured out what I needed to look like to live the life I love.

It freed me from a trap I was in. I was trapped spending so much time, trying to find new hacks, apps, and techniques to improve my time management. I missed the root problem. I needed to get over myself.

The first part of troubleshooting is finding the problem. If you get stuck in a GTD hell. You need to identify, what you are screwing up.  From my work with clients and myself, it appears most people's task management issues is because of one of these mistakes:

  1. You Focus on the work
  2. You focus on our immediate feelings
  3. How hard we are working

What we should focus on for better task management

  1. We should focus on the result the output of task
  2. How the task moves us forward in our life our goals
  3. Think about your next task before you start

This Week in the Small Biz Life Podcast

Kristin and I look at these mistakes and go into much more detail about how we should look at our task management. If you have not, I would also check out episode 104 – How to get it all done. Also read "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen. 

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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen http://amzn.to/2wNmfTi

 

Sep 17, 2017

Before you panic

Yes, it is best to be concerned about your data. Between all of our smart devices and services that connect our data over the web. It seems like it is only a matter of time before we have our identity stolen.

However, panic is never a plan. We need to understand how the latest breach effects us and what we need to do to protect ourselves better.

My biggest concern with the Equifax Breach 

Equifax is one of the three credit reporting agencies in the United States. This breach exposes the name, address, birthday, and Social Security number of 143 million people. 209 thousand people had their credit card information lost. And 182 thousand lost documents by Equifax according to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. The first thing you need to do is go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and see if you or your children have been affected.

What to do now?

Chances are you or someone in your family have been exposed.  Here are the quick steps you need to do if you are part of the 143 million.

Ways to protect yourself

  1. Check your credit reports for free on www.annualcreditreport.com
  2. Place a Fraud Alert or credit freeze on EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion
  3. File your tax return ASAP
  4. Signup for a service like Credit Karma
    1. The market leader is LifeLock
    2. Or what we use ID Shield which is like LifeLock with extra SSN protection
  5. Or better yet higher a service that will help resolve problems if you are compromised
  6. Protect your passwords and track all the sites you have bad or duplicate passwords with LastPass.
  7. Always use VPNs when you are not in a secured network. Try NordVPN

24 other reasons to protect yourself

Since 2016 there have been 25 major data breaches with at least 900 Million records lost. And out of those numbers, there have been many companies who do not know or did not state how many records have been lost. There could have also been other breaches that have not been publicly released.
In these days of an interconnected world, you should consider the best ways to protect yourself and assume that at some point you or a family member will have their identity stolen. Please consider a service like Identity Shield as a way to protect yourself.

  1. Equifax  2017
  2. Taringa 2017
  3. Grozio Chirurgija 2017
  4. Erie County Medical Center 2017
  5. Friend Finder Networks 2016
  6. Commission on Elections 2016
  7. Weebly 2016
  8. Taobao 2016
  9. 21st Century Oncology 2016
  10. KM.RU 2016
  11. Nival Networks 2016
  12. Verizon Communications 2016
  13. Apple Health Medicaid 2016
  14. University of California, Berkeley 2016
  15. University of Central Florida 2016
  16. Central Coast Credit Union 2016
  17. Cox Communications 2016
  18. Department of Homeland Security 2016
  19. Democratic National Committee 2016
  20. Inuvik hospital 2016
  21. EyeWire 2016
  22. Gyft 2016
  23. Ofcom 2016
  24. Rosen Hotels 2016
  25. TaxSlayer.com 2016

Other Sources

Get An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/understanding-your-cp01a-notice

The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do

When Information Is Lost or Exposed

Best Identity-Theft Protection 2017

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https://www.equifax.com/personal/?/              

http://www.experian.com/

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Sep 10, 2017

We all have so much to get done. Our small businesses can turn us into workaholics. Our family and friends are always trying to distract us. And all those hobbies take time. So can we really get it all done?

Human nature says no

Think of how much life has changed for humans since the dawn of recorded history. We have created air conditioning, air planes, escalators, teddy bears, the Theory of Relativity and all those major changes happened in the first 5 years of the 20th century.

As a species, we are driven to make our life, and the life of our family members better.  It has taken humans from small tribes of hunter gatherers to data scientist in ~5,500 years. So stop worrying about getting it all done, until we reach a utopian state we will always come up with new tasks to do next.

So stop trying to get it all done

Your time is better spent trying to learn how to figure out what to do and how to do what you are doing better to get to your next goals. And understanding our nature will force us to pick new goals and create new tasks along the way.

So join Kristin and Jeff in this episode as we look how we work to get the most done every day so we can maintain our momentum allowing us to focus on what is important to us and enjoy our this crazy thing that we call life.

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https://www.smallbizlife.com/blog/episode-62-improving-your-focus Episode 62 - Improving your focus

https://www.smallbizlife.com/blog/episode-16-the-why-and-how-of-goal-setting Episode 16 - The why and how of goal setting

 

 

 

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Sep 3, 2017

As a CPA, Kristin is asked many questions about how small business owners should deal with money and tax issues for small businesses.  There is one question that she is asked to most.

How should I form my company?

Well, as with most questions involving the government and taxes it is never quite that simple.

The common options:

  • S Corporation (S Corp)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership

There are many reasons to pick any of these selections. However, the first thing you need to understand is an LLC is considered a disregarded entity for tax purposes. That means that if you have one owner, your business will be treated as a sole proprietorship by default. Have two or more owners? Your LLC will be a partnership by default. You can elect that your LLC be treated as an S Corp as well.  If you ever decide to move your sole proprietorship or partnership to an S Corp you will save yourself paperwork if you become an LLC.

THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE TO REMEMBER

The time you should really consider paying a bit more to set up your S Corp is when your compensation equals the reasonable salary to replace you in the business, including an additional amount for your management function. The best place to learn your reasonable salary is Salary.com.

There will be some additional cost as an S Corp

You will need a payroll service like Gusto, plus pay for unemployment taxes and additional tax filings. Email Kristin@SmallBizLife.com to get set up in Gusto today.

There are more considerations in the process. Check out the episode to get all the financial impacts for free. It is also a good idea to discuss the legal implications with an attorney. We are not lawyers and do not offer legal advice in this episode. 

If you would like to set up a call or a video call to get Kristin's help with your situation create an appointment with Kristin today.

 

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Aug 27, 2017

Public speaking is an important skill for small business owners because it gives us another opportunity to show the world we are an authority and is great free publicity. In this episode, we discuss small biz speaking tips with Aurora Gregory, co-author of Get Picked and owner of Aurora Gregory Consulting.

About Aurora

As an 8th grader, Aurora was a finalist in a speech contest. She didn’t win but that just might have been the start of her career as a communicator. Some of the biggest brands in business have worked with her to get their message right, create communications programs that connect with target audiences and set marketing strategies – all achieving stellar results. Aurora’s gotten high marks as a communications trainer, helping people develop skills to deliver their most important messages to customers, media and presentation audiences. She has years of experience in leading speaker’s bureau programs that have placed hundreds of speakers at local, national and international conferences. When she’s not talking, you’ll likely find her hiking the foothills in her hometown or on the sofa watching classic movies. 

To find out more about Aurora, check out her website.

Purchase your own copy of Get Picked: Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Creating Irresistible Speaking Proposals.

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Aug 20, 2017

There are a lot of retirement plan options for small business owners. How do you determine which one is right for you? In this episode, we discuss all the options to help you find the right plan for your biz. 

All the numbers in this post are valid for 2017. Each year, these numbers are updated by the IRS. 

Individual Retirement Plans (IRAs)

If you are just starting to save, an IRA might be an easy way to get started. An IRA will allow you to save up to $5,500 in 2017. If you are over the age of 50, you can make an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000. 

There are two types of IRAs: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. 

Traditional vs. Roth

It's important to understand the difference between these two plans to ensure you are achieving your goals. 

Traditional

With a traditional plan, you put the money in pre-tax, which means you get a tax deduction now. However, when you take the money out at retirement, you must pay taxes based on your normal tax rate. With a traditional IRA, you are also required to take "required minimum distributions"  starting at age 70 and a half even if you don't need the money. 

Roth

Roth IRA contributions are made with after-tax dollars. You won't save on taxes today but the money will be withdrawn tax-free at retirement. There are also no required minimum distributions required. 

SEP IRA

A SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) IRA allows you to put away a lot more money if you have a lot of profit. A SEP IRA allows you to put away $54,000 per year. However, in order to do that you must have a profit of $216,000. For a SEP IRA, you are limited to putting away 25% of your profit. Also, if you have qualifying employees, you must put the same percentage of their pay into their plan that you put into your plan. That can quickly add up. You can put in less than 25% but you are also limiting your own contributions to the plan. 

A SEP IRA allows you to put away $54,000 per year. However, in order to do that you must have a profit of $216,000. For a SEP IRA, you are limited to putting away 25% of your profit. Also, if you have qualifying employees, you must put the same percentage of their pay into their plan that you put into your plan. That can quickly add up. You can put in less than 25% but you are also limiting your own contributions to the plan. 

Solo 401(k)

A solo 401(k) is designed for single-owner or husband/wife owned businesses. This plan allows you to put away a lot of money but is more costly to set up and maintain. 

This plan is a hybrid between a contribution plan and a pension plan. The owners can put in up to $18,000 per year, plus another $6,000 if 50 or older. An additional contribution of up to 25% of profit can also be added to the plan for a maximum contribution of $54,000. It's nice because you can put up to $18,000 (or $24,000) away each year without having to worry about having a high profit. You can also elect to have a Roth option for the $18,000 (or $24,000). The pension portion would need to be traditional. 

However, if you hire employees that would qualify for your plan, you'll need to discontinue this plan and choose something else. You could pick a 401(k) without the profit sharing option or one of the other plans discussed. All 401(k)s have higher fees than the other options but it may be worth it for the amount of money you can put away. 

SIMPLE IRA

The SIMPLE IRA is a popular option for many small businesses because it is a plan that works whether or not you have employees and still allows for a nice annual contribution. 

A SIMPLE IRA allows you to put away $12,500 per year plus an additional $3,000 if 50 or older. Plus, you will also put an additional 3% of your profit. 

If you have qualifying employees, you will need to match their contributions but only up to 3% of their wages, which keeps the costs low. Also, the fees are typically paid by the employee (but are very low). 

Retirement Savings Contribution Credit

In addition to any tax deductions you might qualify for, you might also qualify for the Savers Credit. If you meet the income limits, you can even take this credit if you make a ROTH contribution.

This credit is designed to encourage low-income households to save for retirement. The maximum credit is $2,000 for a couple filing jointly, but your adjusted gross income cannot be more than $37,000 and the credit is only 50% of the contribution. As the credit phases out, the percentage and the maximum credit amount both decrease. If your income is $62,000, your maximum credit is $200 and 10% of your contribution. Luckily, if you put money into a tax-deductible plan, which lowers your AGI. 

That's why it's important to work with a CPA who can help you maximize your tax deductions. 

All figures are taken from Bankrate.com.

Have any questions about this post? Join our Facebook group.

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Aug 13, 2017

We can't believe it's been 100 episodes and almost two years since we started Small Biz Life. In this episode, Jeff and Kristin reflect on where they were on episode 1 and where they are today. 

A lot has changed since we launched the show on September 15, 2015. Join us as we discuss what we've learned and how our lives have changed. 

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Aug 6, 2017

Money and Budgets affect every aspect of out a small business owners and our lives.

Personal Finances matter as much as business finances for small biz owners

Kristin and I have a discussion with Melissa about controlling budgets, working towards our dreams, and her new book, "Building My Yellow Brick Road: Life Lessons from Pursuing a Dream".

Listen to a great interview and get out and Building My Yellow Brick Road: Life Lessons from Pursuing a Dream and learn more about her business Melissa the Coach and how to deal more about your personal finances. 

 

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Jul 30, 2017

We all experience failure at one time or another. Successful business owners learn from their failures and keep going. In this episode, we discuss how to learn from failure to increase your success next time.

What to do when your plan fails

Jeff and Kristin discuss the following items this week:

  • First thing is to accept that your plans can (and sometimes will) fail
    • Understand there is risk
    • Go in with eyes wide open
    • Try not to risk it all for an opportunity
  • Own it!
  • Understand the damage
  • List out what when wrong
  • Determine what can be salvaged
  • Determine if there are other wins
  • Make a new plan to move forward
  • Breathe and smile
  • Keep moving
  • Learn from it

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Jul 23, 2017

None of us want to deal with unhappy customers but it is inevitable as a small business owner. In this episode, we discuss how to save your sanity and your reputation next time you must deal with one. 

Before you respond

Many of us get a negative email, message, or review and want to instantly respond while we are seething mad. Probably not the best way to respond. Before you reply:

  • Breathe
  • Empathize
  • Do not take it as a personal attack
  • Think of solutions

How to respond

  • Listen objectively and get to the root of the problem
  • Come up with a quick resolution
  • Implement the resolution quickly
  • Don't be a pushover
  • Sometimes you cannot make them happy, no matter what you do

Sometimes you must fire customers

If a customer is too demanding or gets out of line, you can fire customers. Make sure you have disengagement language in client contracts where applicable. 

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Jul 16, 2017

Small business owners typically struggle with pricing their products, especially digital products. In this episode, we discuss the factors that must be considered when setting your prices.

For more information about pricing your services, check out episode 90.

The components of pricing

There are four components of pricing:

  1. Direct materials - These are the materials that go into each unit of your product. This might be the cost of a product that you have someone else manufacture for you or bonus items you give away with the cost of a digital course (maybe you mail a welcome packet or t-shirt). Direct materials can also be the cost of software that is incurred on each sale (if you are selling software as a service or other products with incremental software costs).
  2. Direct labor - This is the direct cost of labor to make or provide the product. An example of this would be the cost associated with your labor to record videos for a monthly membership site like Small Biz HQ. This would also be the cost of editors and graphic designers for your new book. 
  3. Overhead costs - Overhead costs are all of your other costs associated with running your business. This includes other materials, labor, selling, and administrative costs. This definition is slightly different than the traditional accounting definition but it helps to simplify things.
  4. Profit - Yes, you must actually figure profit into your calculations. There are a few different ways to do this. The most common way is to calculate your monthly desired profit or profit over the life of the product. For products with a longer lifecycle, I want to include monthly profit. Your profit should include your take home pay, any savings you wish to retain in the business, and your taxes.

You must also estimate how many units you can sell per month or over the lifecycle of the product (if it is short). Typically, we are very conservative with our estimates. If you estimate too high, you may end up not being able to cover your costs. If your estimates are conservative and you sell more units, your profit will be higher (which is a really good thing!).

Total Costs + Profit / Estimated Number of Products Sold = Price

Delays and procrastination will cost you

Time really is money. As the time you take to get a product to market increases, so do your costs. All of these costs, including the cost of your time, must be recovered. Here are some tips to minimize delays and procrastination:

  • Have a plan to get new products to market in 30 to 60 days.
  • If longer, minimize costs as much as you can.
  • Work off your strengths to develop new products more quickly.

Additional advice for physical products

  • Look for price breaks on order quantity but balance with storage and other costs.
  • Look for print on demand for books.
  • Discuss your plans with an accountant to avoid headaches, especially when working with affiliates or fulfillment in another state.
  • Discuss your plans with an attorney for intellectual property, claims, and safety issues. 

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Jul 9, 2017

 Why do we always look at numbers that mean very little?

Vanity metrics are the numbers that push most online businesses. However, they are just that vanity. They can make us feel great when they look good or grow.  However, if they are low then we feel horrible. It makes us what to stop.   

However, we need to remember that good or bad they mean nothing on their own.  Views, downloads, likes, views, and hearts all mean nothing on their own. 

VS what we need to know

What we need to look at is revenue, customers,  conversion, cost or ultimately profit. 

However, when we start a business those numbers are bad.  They are the numbers of "old" business.  They are not as sleek and sexy as these more modern metrics that make us feel like we are at least helping others even if we are not yet making money.

We understand 

We are looking for validation as well.  We want profits.  However, we do this to help people. However, the less money we make, the less help we can give people.

So we need to look at metrics that tell us the complete picture of our business. 

Use these to use get the most value out of your vanity metrics

  • Per Customer
  • Per dollar of revenue
  • Per dollar of profit
  • Per hour
  • Cost per Metric 
  • Earnings per Thousand Metric

Other Mentions

Small Biz HQ use the coupon code REVIEW and get the first month for FREE

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Jul 2, 2017

As small business owners, we often forget to take care of ourselves in the midst of our busy schedules. Join us for some wisdom from integrative health and wellness coach, Emily Olson. 

Health and Wellness for the Small Business Owner

During this discussion, we cover food, movement, and energy so you can more effectively run your business. We had a lot of fun doing this interview and Emily provided some great tips. 

If you are interested in finding out more about Emily and working with her, check out her website and sign up for a free 30-minute Breakthrough call. You can also sign up for her free 7-Day Whole Food Challenge.

Other Mentions

Smoothie and Protein Powders

Vega protein powders

Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein (this is what Kristin uses)

Organifi protein powder and green juice (use code WLW15 to save 15%)

Shakology

7-Minute Workout App for Apple or Android

(Some of the links above are affiliate links)

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http://www.shakeology.com/energizewithemily

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/7-minute-workout-free-daily-fitness-routines/id650762525?mt=8

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Jun 26, 2017

Episode 87 - 5 keys to creating connections 

Scheduling client meetings, interviews, and other appointments can be time-consuming. In this episode, we discuss appointment scheduling apps that can help you save time and get paid faster.

Why should you consider an appointment scheduling app?

There are many reasons to use one of these apps. Here are some of the most important ones:

  1. Allows clients to schedule appointments with you without the back and forth of email scheduling.
  2. Allows clients to pay for appointments before the meeting.
  3. Automatically sends appointment reminders.
  4. Allows clients to reschedule if needed.
  5. Allows you to set up classes or workshops with multiple attendees.

You can also use these systems to book other types of appointments like discovery calls and podcast interviews. Really any situation where you need to meet with someone else, you can use one of these systems. 

Key features

There are a lot of apps out there. In this episode, we only discuss a few of them. When looking at different systems, you must determine which features you need. Most systems include:

  • Web and mobile apps
  • Payment processing (make sure to compare rates)
  • Appointment reminders
  • Online scheduling
  • Calendar management (some systems are better than others)
  • Checks your calendar for conflicts

Other features

These features may be important for some businesses. Not all systems have these features.

  • Group scheduling
  • Meeting room booking
  • Multi-location support
  • Free/trial version
  • Live support
  • Annual plan savings
  • HIPPA compliant

Popular options

SetMore

  • All key features
  • Free option
  • Annual plan savings
  • $25/mo (accept payments, reoccurring appointments, SMS, and other features)
  • No group/room/multi-location booking

Yellow Schedule

  • All key features
  • HIPPA compliant
  • A place for case notes
  • $29.95 for 1 user / $49.95 up to 3 users / $99.95 for a team of 7

Schedule Once

  • Starts at $5 per month (can be as high as $49 per month)
  • No reoccurring
  • No trial version
  • No mobile apps

Acuity Scheduling

  • All key features
  • HIPPA compliant
  • Starts at $10 per month (19/mo for up to 6 calendars and text messaging)
  • No mobile app

Is there another scheduling app that you use? Tell us about it in the Facebook group.

Links

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SetMore https://www.setmore.com/

Yellow Schedule https://www.yellowschedule.com/

Schedule Once http://www.scheduleonce.com/

Acuity Scheduling https://acuityscheduling.com/

Free Daily planner to help with focus https://www.smallbizlife.com/Focus

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Jun 18, 2017

We spend a lot of time trying to simplify our businesses, but how often do you think about simplifying your life? In this episode, we discuss tips for simplifying your life. 

Simplify your home

  • Minimize your stuff
  • Automate your home maintenance
  • Have a cleaning kit
  • Pick up 15 minutes each day
  • Choose quality first

Simplify your money

  • Automate your bills
  • Pay off your debt
  • Have an emergency fund
  • Wait 24-48 hours for major purchases
  • Live simply
  • Be grateful
  • Find the root reason for overspending

Simplify your routine

  • Having a morning and evening routine
  • Create a monthly meal plan
  • Recreate leftovers
  • Have a few Plan B meals in the freezer or pantry
  • Don't get the mail until you are ready to deal with it

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Episode 86: Finding your daily focus: https://www.smallbizlife.com/blog/episode-86-finding-your-daily-focus

Episode 33: Quick dinner tips: https://www.smallbizlife.com/blog/episode-33-quick-dinner-tips

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: http://amzn.to/2sH2jhT

72 ways to simplify your life by Zen Habits: https://zenhabits.net/simple-living-manifesto-72-ideas-to-simplify-your-life/

Dyson cordless vacuums: http://amzn.to/2rsYwB3

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 AM) by Hal Elrod: http://amzn.to/2sMyBrI

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Jun 11, 2017

There have been some significant updates to email list managers in 2017. In this week's episode, we'll discuss what to look for in an email list service and what the major small business providers are now offering.

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Mailchimp http://mailchimp.com
Aweber http://aweber.com
Convertkit http://convertkit.com
GetResponse http://getresponse.com
ActiveCampaign http://activecampaign.com

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Dream Catcher: https://www.smallbizlife.com/dreambig

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Jun 4, 2017

When you set the rates for your services, how much did you think about it? How did you come up with that figure? In this episode, we discuss how to set a rate for your services that allows you to achieve your goals and plan for the future. 

Are you a price taker or a price maker?

In the area of pricing, there are two types of companies: price takers and price makers. 

  • Price takers are businesses with lots of competition that do little to differentiate themselves from the competition. Because of the lack of differentiation, rates are set by the market. 
  • Price makers are businesses with little competition in their field or that have worked hard to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Because they create additional value, these businesses are able to set their own rates. This is where you want your business to be. 

If you have ever studied accounting, you probably know that revenue - expenses = profit. This is a commonly taught formula and is the basis for the income statement (also called a profit and loss statement). Unfortunately, this method also encourages us to think of profit last. This is a misguided strategy which causes many small business owners to stay broke or never achieve their dream of full-time, self-employment. 

There is a better way. Rather than settling for whatever profit is left over, we need to determine how much we want to make and develop a plan to get there. 

Price taker

If your company is a price taker, you should be thinking about your expenses as your bottom link. Your formula looks like this:

Revenue - Desired Profit = Expenses

Since price takers have little control over what they charge, they must work hard to keep their expenses in check or else profit will disappear. By staying in the mindset that expenses must be paid with what is left over after you get paid, your business will become more profitable immediately. 

Price maker

Hopefully, you have created differentiation in your business to become a price maker, even if most of your competition are price takers. Your formula looks like this:

Desired Profit + Expenses = Revenue

In this case, you will use profit and your expenses to determine how much you will charge for your services. 

Know your expenses

It's important to understand how your expenses behave as your revenue increases. There are four different types of cost behavior:

  1. Variable expenses: These are expenses that increase or decrease depending on your revenue. These are things like sales or affiliate commissions and pay-per-user software services. 
  2. Fixed expenses: These are expenses that do not change based on your level of sales. The total amount is fixed. These are things like your monthly internet bill, web hosting fees, and insurance. 
  3. Mixed expenses: These expenses have a fixed and variable piece. Therefore, even if there is no usage or sales, you will still pay the fixed fee. As your sales or usage increase, the total monthly amount increases. Most of your utility bills work this way. There is a flat customer service fee plus charges for your usage. 
  4. Step expenses: Step expenses look a lot like fixed expenses but they increase over large increments as usage increases. One of the best examples of a step expense is your email list management software. Typically, you pay a fixed amount as long as your list is less than 2,000 people. When you go over 2,000 people, you jump to the next plan which may cover you until you have 5,000 people on your list. The price does not increase as each new subscriber joins but rather when you jump to the new tier. 

Knowing how your costs behave allows you to plan better as your sales increase. It also allows you to more accurately set your hourly rate. 

How much do you want to make each month?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Maybe you've thought about how much you would like to make to replace your income or pay off additional debt, but have you really developed a plan? 

When setting your rate you must ask yourself two important questions:

  1. How much profit do you want to make each month?
  2. How many billable hours do you want to work each week?

Most business owners just work, work, work without a plan to stop. Other business owners have no plan for how many hours they need to bill out each month and therefore can't understand why they aren't hitting their goals. Answering the questions above will create a lot of clarity in your life and your business. 

Let's say you want to take home $5,000 per month and have 25 billable hours per week. That's approximately 100 billable hours per month. 

$5,000 / 100 hours = $50 per billable hour for profit

This does not mean that you will bill $50 per hour. This $50 is just to pay yourself. You must add expenses and other items to get your full billable rate. 

What about taxes?

if you want to bring home $5,000 per month, you need to make more than that to pay your taxes. To calculate the total amount of profit needed to take home the amount you want and pay your taxes:

Desired Take Home Pay / (1 - Effective Tax Rate) = Total Desired Profit

 

What is your effective tax rate?

Your effective tax rate is the percentage of your income you pay in taxes, both federal and state. Typically, you can get this off a summary or comparative report on last year's tax return. Add your federal and state effective tax rates together to determine your total effective tax rate. Typically for a small business owner, the effective tax rate is 20 to 35%. 

Calculating your total desired profit

Let's use our $5,000 per month tax home pay and an effective tax rate of 30%. Let's plug these numbers into our formula:

$5,000 / (1 - .30) = $5,000 / .70 = $7,145 rounded

 

 If you want to take home $5,000 per month, you will need $7,145 in profit. By building your hourly rate with your taxes included, you should never be short to pay your taxes again. 

If we divide this amount by our 100 monthly billable hours, we need $71.45 to cover profit and taxes. 

How much are your expenses?

Most of your expenses are probably fixed costs, which makes this much easier. Calculate your average total monthly expenses. To do this, look at all of your expenses each month and add them together. Don't forget to budget for your annual expenses as well. You can also look at your total annual expenses and divide by 12 to get your average monthly expenses. 

What about variable expenses?

There are two ways to deal with variable expenses. You can either directly bill client-based variable expenses to your clients (like software fees or mileage) or you can calculate the average annual amount and add this to your fixed expenses. 

Let's say your average monthly expenses are $3,000. If you bill 100 hours per month, you must add $30 per hour to the $71.45 we calculated for profit. 

So far, we have an hourly rate of $101.45 but we need to add one more thing to get our final rate. 

Allowing room for growth

All small business owners need to set money aside for upgrades, education, and new equipment. Imagine what you could do with $10,000 per year to improve your business. Does that seem impossible? It's a lot easier than you think. 

$10,000 / 12 months = $833 per month

$833 per month / 100 billable hours = $8.33 per billable hour

That's right. If you want to save an additional $10,000 per year for upgrades, expansion, and education and you bill 100 hours per month, adding $8.33 per billable hour will get you to your goal. If you only want $5,000 for growth, it's a little over $4 per billable hour. It sounds much more reasonable now, huh?

Adding it all up

$71.45 + $30.00 + $8.33 = $109.78 or $110.00 per billable hour. 

This would be your hourly rate based on the numbers we used. This would allow you to take home $50 per billable hour, set aside $21.45 per billable hour for taxes, pay your monthly expenses, and set aside $10,000 per year for growth and education. 

Do you think this is something you could do? Frankly, it's something you can't afford to not do. 

But it's too much...

When we do this calculation with new businesses, we often hear, "But I can't possibly charge that much!" 

Before you go there make sure that is really the case and it's not just your fear. Often, we undervalue our services. Jeff tells an awesome story about how a fellow author increased her sales by raising her prices. 

If you do find that your rate is too high, there are ways to still achieve your goals:

  • Increase your billable hours: if you bill additional hours you will lower the rate needed to achieve your goals (but you also need to work more which is not ideal).
  • Decrease your expenses to lower your rate.
  • Sell affiliate products to increase your revenue without additional hours.
  • Decrease non-billable hours through automation so you can increase your billable hours without working more hours.

Make sure you know what you are worth and what others are charging. You might be surprised that you are charging far too little which may be hurting your sales. Don't set your rate low in the beginning. It's hard to raise your rates later. 

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May 28, 2017

When selling products and services, we often spend lots of time focusing on the technical aspects of what we sell. However, we should be spending more time focusing on the benefits of what we are selling.

What are you really selling?

Every product or service we sell benefits our customers. When you look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, everything we sell fits into one of the five categories:

  1. Physiological needs - the most basic needs for food, water, warmth, and rest.
  2. Safety needs - the need to feel safe and secure.
  3. Belongingness and love needs - the need to have friends, family, and community.
  4. Esteem needs - the need for prestige and a feeling of accomplishment.
  5. Self-actualization - the need to live up to one's potential, including in creative endeavors. 

Where do your products fit into these needs? Are you using these needs to sell your products? 

In this week's episode, we discuss how to use benefits in your sales process and some companies that do this well. 

Other links

How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making (Great Courses)

DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online by Russell Brunson

IT Professionals of Iowa

Listen now 

Listen to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, or with the player below

May 21, 2017

Most of the business owners I have met start thinking about their website in the wrong terms. They worry about how modern or "beautiful" their website looks.

However, this is the wrong thing. We start creating the site our first concern should be how our visitors can find the content, product, or service they are looking for and then focus on how it looks?

Build your website for the audience you want to attract.

I do believe that the style of a website is important. I have left sites that look hideous. However, I mean hideous, not less the perfect or because it looks old.

The most common reason I leave websites is that I cannot find what I am looking for or it is not usable. As soon as I am confused and annoyed, I bounce.

It is not too late for your site

You do alone if you want your site or be modern and pretty.  I far too often do not think about what the user will experience will be on my site. Check out the episode below and learn about the navigation of your site. Start getting considered with the user experience.It will level your site from average to great. 

It will level your site from average to great. 

Listen to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, or with the player below.

 

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May 14, 2017

People want to do business with people they like and trust. The only way to create those relationships is to build connections. In this episode, we discuss the 5 keys to creating connections.

How can we create meaningful connections?

Many small business owners struggle with customer acquisition. Traditional advertising doesn't work and many are leery about social media or just don't know what to post. 

Today, people want to do business with brands they like and trust. However, many small business owners are waiting for a prospect to become a client before attempting to build relationships. When you start relationship building earlier in the process, it is more likely that a prospect will become a long-time customer. 

In this week's episode, we go in depth on the 5 key components to building connections. These components can be used online and in live networking scenarios. 

  1. Be authentic
  2. Show authority
  3. Bring your personality
  4. Provide value
  5. Be accessible 

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May 7, 2017

Most small business owners state that focus is one of their biggest daily struggles. In this episode, Jeff and Kristin discuss why we struggle with focus and how we can achieve more of it. 

You aren't the only one struggling

In a 2005 study of workplace efficiency, the average employee was able to focus on a task for just 11 minutes before becoming distracted. Once distracted, it took an average of 25 minutes to get back to the original task; sometimes, the employee never got back to that task! The most shocking stat for us: on average, we switch tasks every three to six minutes.

This explains a lot when you understand the effects of distraction. 

Why are we so distractable?

Our brains have not evolved as quickly as technology has. As part of our survival mechanism, we were programmed to respond to stimulus. Today, there is so much stimulus that our brains get easily overwhelmed. We are also overconnected. According to David Rock, author of Your Brain At Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Longalways being connected has the same impact on your IQ as not getting enough sleep or getting high. 

If we are programmed to respond, then clearly, we must be doomed. Well, not really. There are things we can do in order to strengthen our focus and get more done. 

How to stay focused throughout the day

Start the night before

Kristin is a huge fan of reflection before bed. Each night, she pulls out her journal and writes down 4 key items:

  1. Random thoughts - these are not tasks but random thoughts that are cluttering up her brain. Sometimes they are new ideas, reflections on conversations, or quotes. 
  2. Tomorrow's must-do-list - This is a list of three things that must get done tomorrow to move the business forward. These don't always end up being the must-do's for tomorrow, but it is the starting point.
  3. Today's wins - Every day we have at least one win. Sometimes it's as small as getting out of bed or clearing out the day's emails. Write down your wins. 
  4. Something to be grateful for - Practicing gratitude every day helps give us a sense of contentment, something that a lot of small business owners struggle with. 

This seems like a lot, but usually, this is less than one journal page. This exercise should take about 5 minutes each night once you get the hang of it. 

Starting your day off right

Each time we switch tasks, we must refocus which burns a lot of energy. This is why we get burnt out quickly when we are trying to accomplish many different things on the same day. 

Each email or social media post you engage with requires you to refocus. That means you might refocus over 100 times before you even start your work in the morning burning through most of your energy. This is why we suggest avoiding email and social media until your most important task of the day is completed. 

Since focusing requires a lot of energy in the form of glucose, it is important to make sure to have a healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast will start your day with a focus deficiency. 

We start each work day with a planning session using our Small Biz Daily Focus Planner (free download). This allows us to figure out our most important tasks and to plan our day. This is the first thing we do when we arrive at our desks. When planning, start your day with the tasks that require the most focus. 

Keeping your momentum

You are off to a great start, but distraction will tempt you throughout the day. Here are some tips for staying focused.

  1. Stay out of your browser and your email box. Each time you go into your browser, it's like a carnival for your brain. Social media, the news, and cat videos will distract you. If there are tasks you can perform without going into your browser, do it. For example, write blog posts and other documents in Word and then paste them into your blog. You can also do this with social media posts. Once you have done everything you can offline, batch process everything that needs to be posted. Schedule time for checking your email and close the window when your timer says time up!
  2. Use paper to track your "ah-ha" tasks. We all think of new tasks to do as we are working. Instead of going into your browser to add them to Evernote, Nozbe, or another task scheduler, write them down on paper. This will do two things: it will keep you out of your browser and it will instruct your brain that the task can move out of the forefront of your brain. Our brains respond better when we write things down than when we type them out (have you ever stored a note somewhere on your computer and couldn't find it later?). You can use the back of the Daily Focus Planner for those notes. 
  3. Take breaks. We use the Pomodoro Technique, working in 25/5 or 50/10 blocks. This means we focus for 25 or 50 minutes and then take a 5 or 10-minute break. This allows your brain to focus because it knows the break is coming. You can use those breaks for stress relief, moving around, or getting some of those distracting things done. Just make sure you set a timer so you don't fall down the rabbit hole!
  4. Have a catch-up hour each day. Your last hour of the day should be for catching up on things you did not get done. It might be tasks from your "ah-ha" list or other tasks you really want to finish that day. This hour can also be used for email and social media. In the last 10 minutes of my catch-up hour, I put any unfinished tasks into my online task manager to consider for the next day. 

Creating more focus is just like learning any other skill. It takes practice and there will be times when you slide back into your old routines. Don't beat yourself up. Just try again tomorrow. 

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My Pillow https://www.mypillow.com/

David's Cold 911 tea https://www.davidstea.com/us_en/cold-911-37

David Rock's article from Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200910/easily-distracted-why-its-hard-focus-and-what-do-about-it

 

 

 

 

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