A Road Map to Small Business Success
Running a small business can be challenging. Fortunately, behind most successful ventures is a passionate owner rising to these challenges. Workers Credit Union Vice President, Business Development Officer, Gicelle Brito, has a few tips to help every owner keep their business growing in 2023.
- Consult the team regularly – Every small business owner should have a solid team of experts working towards the same vision. This team can include a banker, accountant, bookkeeper, and lawyer. Make sure your team of experts understand your business plan and goals.
- Plan for the long term – Don’t just plan for 2023, plan for the long term. All companies should have a business plan that is updated regularly and includes measurable goals and milestones. For example, consult with a financial advisor to ensure a retirement plan is in place whether it be a 401k Plan, SEP IRA, or a Simple IRA.
- Consider vendors – There are options to counteract rising prices. Small business owners can ask vendors if it’s possible to finance the purchase of supplies. Depending on the industry there may even be a discount loyalty program. If paying in advance allows them to pay less, the owner can take out a line of credit to cover the cost, which can then be paid back. Another option to reduce the cost is to comparison-shop to see which vendor can offer the best price.
- Use small business loans when needed – Small businesses in need of funding for new upcoming projects, business expansion, equipment purchases, or short-term working capital can turn to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. A good financial institution should be able to outline what type of SBA loan is most appropriate for your situation since each loan comes with their own terms and conditions.
- Pay off debt – Making consistent on-time payments is crucial. When a small business leverages itself too much it can negatively affect future financing. Invest in a bookkeeping software to track accounts receivables and accounts payables, set-up recurring online payments, and keep revolving line of credit below 30-40% usage or make payments in full when possible.
- Implement good hiring practices – Finding and retaining high quality employees is imperative. Small businesses that can’t afford a full-time HR person to help with hiring need to check references and hire a third-party payroll company to manage risks. Offer employee benefit programs such as health Insurance to increase employee retention and search for human resource support by outsourcing these services.
- Create a company handbook – Put policies in writing at a location where all employees can easily access them. Having a good company handbook can ensure clarity, encourage employee growth, and protect against fraud. It should include transparency on performance plans and what needs to be done to get a raise.
- Evaluate cybersecurity risk – Cybersecurity is an increasing concern many small businesses don’t prioritize until it is too late. For starters, we recommend that the operating account be separate from the payroll account. Set-up a Business Online Banking login and setup account alerts. Use a separate Business Debit Card for online payments or purchases. Ensure the person receiving payments is who they say they are. There are fraudsters who will copy email signatures and write legitimate looking invoices hoping companies won’t scrutinize them.
- Consult with an insurance agent – An agent can help explore business owner policies such as Business Interruption Insurance, Employment Practices Liability, and Cyber Liability Insurance, to establish protection for their businesses.
- Volunteer in the local community – Volunteering allows for additional exposure and a chance to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs to share ideas and build new relationships. Examples include participating in city hall business events in your community and providing free online seminars.
When there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity. Knowledge is power. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance when you need it. In FY22, Workers Credit Union was second among Massachusetts credit unions in SBA lending. Workers Credit Union’s Business team is ready to help when needed.
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