Business Briefs for 1 st Quarter 2014 Learn How to be Innovative in your Small Business. 10 Mistakes you can Avoid with Business Planning

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1 Business Briefs for 1 st Quarter 2014 Learn How to be Innovative in your Small Business There are several different sources of new and innovative ideas available to your business. Your own staff is likely to have ideas and potential solutions to existing problems which they face on a regular basis. They are often your most valuable asset when looking to innovate. Encourage staff to incorporate innovation into their 'everyday' work, and link this to your business's mission statement and core values. Read more Tech Trends for Small Business Technology changes so quickly, it s difficult to keep up. This can actually work to the advantage of small businesses because prices tend to come down faster, too. Technologies that were initially too expensive for the average small business become affordable more quickly. Learn about three of the most popular tech trends and how they can benefit small businesses. Read more 10 Mistakes you can Avoid with Business Planning There are lots of benefits to a small business owner who plans for success. Conversely there are several problems a business owner will encounter, if they do not plan for their company. Here is a list of 10 common mistakes business owners make that could be avoided with good business planning. 1. Not knowing your customers Without customers, it's not a business. Successful entrepreneurs are lifelong students of human nature. People often don't buy things they ought to buy. People often don't buy things they say (in opinion surveys) they will buy. People often don't buy things that make the world a better place.

2 Complete your SDG&E Energy-Saving Projects Soon Read more SDG&E wants to remind all businesses that the California Energy Commission recently updated its Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards, which will take effect July 1, These new standards will impact all statewide energy-efficiency programs resulting in rebates and incentives being discontinued for measures required by the new Title 24 standards. Read more Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses Read more Upcoming SBDC Workshops and Events The SBDC is committed to providing valuable training and resources for our clients. We typically offer workshops in the following areas: "Essential Tools for Starting a Business/Small Business Orientation" "Small Business Lender Forum" "Business Tax" "Understanding Government Contracting" Visit our site to get details and register for upcoming workshops. Click Here SBDCs are a program supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. SBA cannot endorse any products, opinions or services of any external parties or activities. This material is based on work supported by the SBA. Any

3 opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Dollars and Sense For Small Business Small business owners are very passionate about their business, but typically dread doing the accounting aspects of their operations. Let s face it; entrepreneurs love creating products, providing services and talking with customers. But at the end of the day, you need to ensure that you are optimizing your profits so you can continue to serve your customers. To make accounting duties easier to understand, you can use this list to help you keep your financial house in order. Maintain Separate Bank Accounts If you don't do anything else, at least open a separate bank account for your business. If you have more than one business, open a separate account for each one. Do not co-mingle (mix) your personal expenses or receipts with your business expenses or receipts. Deposit all your business receipts into your business accounts(s) and write checks for your major business expenses from your business checking account(s). If you need money from your business for personal expenses, write yourself a check from your business checking account(s) and deposit it in your personal checking account. Deposit All Cash Receipts In A Timely Matter If your activity warrants it, you should deposit your receipts each day in order to reduce the risk of money being lost or stolen. If your business does not have a lot of cash receipts activity, you

4 should at least deposit your receipts every week regardless of the amount of cash on hand. All currency, checks, and cash items received should be deposited intact without any deductions for expenses or advances. Use your petty cash fund to pay expenses or advances that require currency. Prepare Good Documentation/Deposit Slips The area for descriptions on most deposit slips do not usually provide enough space to enter detailed information. Your entries on your slips should just be a summary entry such as the customer's name, bank account number, and/or check number. Credit Cards If you accept credit cards for payments you will also need to monitor and record these transactions. No deposit slip is prepared for this type of transaction. These receipts are directly deposited into your account and you need to provide procedures for recording and tracking these "special" receipts. Prepare & Review Monthly Bank Reconciliations All businesses should not only know their actual balance in the bank on a monthly basis but on a daily basis as well. Sign Checks Only With Proper Documentation Presented You or whoever you designate as responsible for signing checks should review the invoice and/or other documentation to ensure that the invoice has been recorded and properly approved. The supporting documentation (invoice, etc.) should be "CANCELLED" -marked or stamped as paid and the check number that paid the document recorded on the document along with the date paid. Pre-Numbered Documents Where possible, use pre-numbered documents in your business. Consecutively numbered documents make it relatively easy to spot a missing document. Get The Unopened Bank Statement(s) This is a task that is simple and does not require a lot of time. Review all your cancelled checks to make sure they have all been signed by an authorized signer and that the signature appears legitimate. Setup & Maintain Customer, Supplier, Tax & Other Files Filing, if done on a routine basis, is not all that bad. It also pays big dividends if you have to investigate a customer or supplier complaint. How many hours have we all wasted in life looking for something?

5 Check Out New Customers Before Granting Credit You want to make the sale but do your homework. A non-paying customer is worse than no customer at all. Review Customers With Past Due Balances and Take Action The longer you wait the harder it is to collect;the early bird does catch the worm in this case. Credit is a customer's privilege not right. You need your cash to pay your own employees and bills. If you sell to "deadbeat" customers what good is the sale if you have to wait until the "12th of Never to get your money? Review Your Quarterly and Monthly Tax Reports Non-payment of taxes and penalties and interest can kill a small business. Take the time to check that all returns have been promptly filed and paid. Prepare Monthly Financial Reports You're in business to make money so you need a report card to see how you actually did. You need to prepare monthly financial statements or have them prepared in order to monitor the success or failings of your business. If you wait until the end of the year the barn door may have been left open too long to get your livestock back. Bill Promptly and Accurately The faster you bill the faster you get paid. Accurate billing also heads off payment stalling tactics used by some customers. Prepare and Use Cash Forecasts Anticipate problems before they occur. Besides your employees, cash is your most critical asset. Believe it or not, many profitable businesses have had to shut down because of poor cash management. Prepare and Monitor Budgets A budget provides your company with a yardstick that you can use to compare your actual results with your planned results. Is a profit of $10,000 for a month bad, fair, good, or great? Without a plan to compare against you really don't know. Prepare Receiving Reports How do you know if what you've been billed by a supplier is correct? You need to count and inspect the merchandise in order to verify the quantities received and the condition of the merchandise. What about the price that was charged? As Paul Harvey would say, see page two. That's what your purchase order is for. A good business practice is to compare your supplier's invoice with your purchase order and receiving report.

6 Accept Credit Cards Don't miss out on sales by not providing credit card services for your customers. Yes there's a small cost, but the flip side is you also get paid almost immediately. Shop and negotiate to get the best rates and fees possible, but do offer this service. Evaluate Contribution Margin Rates Other things being equal, select products that provide the best contribution margin rate; the most bang for the buck. We, as individuals, have a limited resource-our time. Your business also is made up of limited resources such as your equipment, space, and employees. In other words, you can only do so much with what you have. You need to use your resources as effectively and efficiently as possible. Don't Be Timid about Asking For Free Help Need some help but can't afford it? Use the internet and organizations such as the North San Diego SBDC to find information and guidance for your business. The North San Diego SBDC offers a variety of workshops that can assist you with your accounting and financing needs. You may also qualify to meet with our finance consultants. Please visit our website ( for more information.

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8 Marketing for the Savvy Tourist Think about your name and what it says to the outside world. All too many tourism entities go for cute over clear. Use names that are clear, precise, and permit your customers to know what you have, what you offer, and what they can expect. If your community has the same name as a place in another country or state, make sure that people know who you are and in which state or country you are located. Be creative and develop a strong brand. When developing a brand, involve as many parts of your company as possible. Make sure that the brand unifies your entire line of products and services geared towards potential customers so that wherever a customer goes, the brand is unconsciously connected with your business. Not only should the brand plus logo be on everything you produce, but it should also appear on all mailings, s, business cards and website. Connect your website with your brand and keep your website simple. The trend in tourism today is less flash, simpler and incorporates sustainability themes. Websites that are difficult to read or navigate will turn visitors off instead of attracting customers. Don t forget to optimize your website for people viewing the site on their smart phones. That means that the web- site has to accommodate a much smaller screen. When developing a website think about how many dropdown windows will work on a smart phone and how hard or easy it will be for a person to navigate the website. The bottom line in tourism websites today is get the essential information to people in the most efficient and convenient manner. Develop a tourism calendar of events. All too often, smaller communities will hold festivals that fill hotels but fail to connect the festival with the local business community. Tourism is more than merely "heads in beds." It is an economic generator that should both unify a community and make that community more prosperous. To accomplish such a task, local tourism officials, especially those in smaller communities, need to create coordinated efforts. For example, an event that occurs when all of the local businesses are closed may bring people to town but will not increase the community's economic prosperity and may even harm it.

9 Build confidence with your potential customers. One of the great challenges in tourism marketing is the lack of credibility that comes from companies over-promising and underdelivering. Never use a photo that does not come from your business or you don t have rights to use. You should always promote yourself in the best light, but do so in a manner that when the visitor arrives s/he will not be disappointed. Do not promise what is not true! Work with the local media to get your message out. The news media often seek stories to fill their newspapers, websites and or the local news programs. Send a new story to your local media on a regular basis. Meet with media leaders and ask them how you can be of service to them. All too often we hear that tourism people only contact the media when they want something rather than realizing that their local media are an integral part of their marketing efforts. You should make special efforts to contact media outlets during peak tourist times and conventions like Comic Con. Good data and research is the foundation for good marketing. Take the time to meet with a local statistician to find ways to collect data that are useful to your community. Often tourism offices spend a great deal of time and money developing research reports you can take advantage of. Many of the local chambers of commences have useful statistics you can benefit from. Use this information when developing your marketing and promotional plans. If you would like assistance with your sales and marketing efforts for business, please visit our website ( for a list of seminars and consulting services.

10 About Office of Veterans Business Development SBA s Office of Veterans Business Development is responsible for liaison with the Veterans business community; for policy analysis and reporting; for acting as an Ombudsman for Veterans in Small Business Administration programs, for providing business training, counseling and assistance, and for overseeing the Federal procurement programs for Veteran and Service- Disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses. Office of Veterans Business Development Mission Statement The Office of Veterans Business Development's mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service- Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors. Veterans and Military Families Our veterans have the leadership skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs and small business owners. When they come home, SBA provides those who wish to be entrepreneurs with the counseling they need to start, grow and succeed in... Read More About Our Office SBA s Office of Veterans Business Development is responsible for liaison with the Veterans business community; for policy analysis and reporting; for acting as an Ombudsman for Veterans in Small Business Administration programs, for providing...

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