Category Archives: Management Issues

Your Budget: A Roadmap for the Year

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

It’s that time of year again. Most businesses are on a fiscal year which coincides with the calendar year. It is time to look back and reflect on 2017 as well as look forward and create a budget for 2018.

A budget is a roadmap. Based on where you have been, it can help guide you to the desired final destination for year-end.

If you stay on the current course – where will you end up? Alternatively, if you change the route – where will you be at the end of the year? It is up to you to decide which path is the most profitable and most likely to be achieved.

Here are a few things to think about as you prepare your budget.  Continue reading

An overview of the new minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements.

Changes to the state minimum wage

The minimum wage will be $11 per hour in 2017

  • The minimum wage applies to all jobs, including agriculture.
  • Employers must pay employees age 16 and older at least $11 per hour in 2017. WAC 296-126-020(app.leg.wa.gov).
  • Employers are allowed to pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to employees under age 16. WAC 296-126-020 (app.leg.wa.gov). For 2017, this rate is $9.35 per hour.
  • Seattle, Tacoma, and the City of SeaTac currently have higher minimum wage rates. The local rate applies if it is higher than the state minimum wage rate.
  • The initiative does not change overtime pay requirements.

The initiative sets future minimum wage rates Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I protect my intellectual property when working with strategic partners?

One way to grow your business is by reaching out to strategic partners who offer complementary products or services or who otherwise can work with you to the mutual advantage of both your businesses. Strategic partnerships can expand your market reach and help you achieve more sales. But giving another business intimate knowledge about your company’s inner workings may make you a bit uneasy. There’s some inherent risk involved in sharing confidential information and intellectual property (IP).

According to Marc Goldberg, a SCORE mentor with business startup and management expertise, “It is very easy to steal your ideas or even your unique approach to customer fulfillment. Very quickly you could generate a competitor by sharing information with the wrong people.”

For that reason, you need to take measures to protect your ideas, information, and innovations from theft.  Continue reading

How big do you really want to grow your business?

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

Should you grow your business? It is a simple question with an assumed answer. The answer, of course, is YES! But, I am not sure it is quite so simple.

Before you invest your hard-earned money and time, think about what you want to accomplish and why. Then, carefully consider your options.

Decide to Grow

We have all heard horror stories of businesses that over-extended, only to lose it all. If your expansion strategy is not well conceived or executed, it could be a costly misadventure, both in terms of money and focus on the existing business.

If your business is well-established, has a loyal customer base, is reasonably protected from the competition, profitable and affords you the lifestyle you have sought (both in terms of discretionary income and time) then think hard before you take on an expansion strategy. Understand your goals – both financial and personal, before moving forward.  Continue reading

When you’re in business, it’s always Day 1.

leadershipI read with interest how Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, described his philosophy around “Day 1.”When asked what Day 2 looked like he described it as “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that’s why it is always Day 1.”

Personally, I love this approach. I mentioned it recently to a group of entrepreneurs in the Emerging Leaders class here in Seattle and it seemed to fit in perfectly with what they are working on. They have all been in business for 3 or more years and are now creating new strategic growth plans for their businesses of the future. In order to do this without all the “constraints” that experience and beliefs dictate are “true,” we have to look at it as Day 1, and then consider – what will you do differently?

Think of it like Groundhog Day. You get to keep doing it over and over again but with a different template, different knowledge, and a different environment. If you were recreating your business, what would Day 1 look like now? Who’s to say you can’t give it a try?  Continue reading

The who, what, when and why of non-disclosure agreements.

businessman signing contractYou put a lot of time, energy and effort into your business. With so much invested, doesn’t it make sense to protect what you worked so hard to build?

Various ways exist to do that, such as choosing the right legal structure for your business, installing security software on your computer, getting business insurance, etc.

And don’t forget having an NDA!  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: As a business owner, how should I pay myself?

This is an excerpt from an article by Hal Shelton for score.org. Read more here.

Pay Strategies

Depending on the maturity of your company and your plans for the business, you may adopt different compensation strategies.

  • Start-up mode: It is typical for a start-up to be cash-flow negative in its early months, if not years. This results from one-time start-up expenses like buying equipment, building out a facility, stocking inventory, marketing to attract customers, building products or websites, legal and accounting costs, and rent and utility deposits. Also at start-up, there are no or few customers. As such, during these times, your compensation will be light as there are no funds to pay more. Hopefully, you had prepared a business plan, including a cash-flow forecast, so you knew the range of your compensation during this period, and if there was not enough to “live on,” you have made other arrangements.
  • Lifestyle vs. ramp and sell: If you intend to own and operate your company for many years, which is what 95 percent of entrepreneurs plan, then you will want to develop, over time, a predictable compensation plan both to meet your personal needs and be predictable for yourself and the company.

Continue reading