Having been an entrepreneur myself for over 40 years, I know how much work starting and operating a small business can be. As you make plans, here are some things I advise you to consider:
The most common reason a small business fails is money — either a lack of startup or working capital. Are you financially prepared to receive no salary from your business for the first six months to two years if that’s required to stay afloat? If not, then you must include your own personal financial needs when setting your business budget and estimating startup and working capital. Failure to have enough financial reserve to pay your business expenses and yourself means someone will not be paid.
After you’ve established that you have the necessary finances, one of the first things I recommend is opening a business checking account. Deposit all business income and pay all business expenses from this account. Do not pay your personal bills from your business account. If you have money in your account and you need it for personal expenses, write a check to yourself for an owner’s draw, or salary depending on the advice of your accountant, and deposit it into your personal account.
It works the same way if you need to transfer money from your personal account to your business account; write a check to the business, and deposit it into the business account. I strongly advise against comingling your business and personal income and expenses. Keep business as business.
Another financial area that often causes problems is taxes — sales tax, payroll tax and income taxes. Will you have W-2 employees or 1099 team members? Do you know the legal and financial differences? The sales tax charged to customers and payroll taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks is a liability, not an asset, so treat it as such. One of the easiest and most costly mistakes is not planning for taxes. Speak with your accountant and devise a plan to pay your taxes on time.
Small business owners often start their enterprise as a “side job,” meaning their “regular job” still pays their bills. If you plan to continue your “regular job,” carefully and prayerfully consider whether you have enough time and energy to do both. If you are married, do you have the support of your spouse for this new business venture? He or she can be your biggest supporter or your worst critic. This support is especially invaluable on days when things don’t go according to plan.
Do you have small children? Will their lives or yours be better for the sacrifice? Are you a caregiver for your parents or others? Have you made preparations for others to assume those duties? All these factors can zap your stamina, resulting in poor performance in all areas.
What is your vision in starting your business, and what type of legacy do you want to leave? Do you have a mentor or someone with wisdom and business experience who is willing to be a sounding board for you? Seek this person’s counsel. Will you be a sole proprietor, or will this be some sort of partnership?
Money has a way of dividing friends and family. If they are involved, be sure their vision, the amount of work they are willing to commit to and their financial needs and expectations are compatible with yours. Have a clear, written plan agreed to and signed by all parties. If your partner has a spouse not involved in the business, be sure to have that covered in your written plan. Do you want to be in business with the spouse of your partner? Could you afford it if you lost your partner? Speak with a life insurance professional about coverage for both yourself and any partners in the event of a death or debilitating accident.
One thing I know after years of small business ownership is that whether your dream is just to be your own boss or to open a business with multiple locations and employees, it requires work and a can-do spirit. My daddy had a saying: “Can’t never could.”
What you believe about yourself makes a world of difference. If you believe you can, then you have a chance to succeed. If you believe you can’t, then you will never start and never know whether you could have made your dream come true. Start with your dream, learn all you can about your chosen field, develop a plan to meet the need you see in the marketplace, be willing to put in the work and make a financial plan.
The results of bringing your business dream to fruition may be just the thing this world needs.
Kathy Rogers is the vice president of Marston Rogers Group, a life planner and financial consultant. Reach her at (228) 206-5902 or Kathy@mrg.life.