Small Business Cyberattacks and Ways to Prevent Them

The consequences of small business cyberattacks are no joke. IBM research shows that a small business data breach can be particularly severe for companies with less than 500 employees, according to a recent press release. In the study, small businesses suffered losses of more than $2.5 million on average.  The number equates to costing up to 5 percent of annual revenue.

And the effects of small business cyberattacks can be felt for years. In fact, IBM looked at the long tail financial impact of data breaches and found that 67 percent of associated costs were realized within the first year.  An additional 22 percent accumulated in the second year.  And, another 11 percent amassed more than two years later. Moreover, the long tail costs were higher in the second and third years for businesses in highly-regulated environments, such as healthcare and financial services.

However, small businesses can mitigate cyber risks by implementing some of the following security practices.

Use Access Controls

Strong access controls can help prevent small business cyberattacks. An access control policy should at least address who should access company data as well as the circumstances in which to deny access to a user with access privileges. Small businesses can use authentication factors to reduce cyber risk, including:

  • passwords
  • personal identification numbers (PINs)
  • biometric scans
  • security tokens

Implement Extensive Use of Encryption

Studies have shown that 96 percent of stolen data is unencrypted, according to IT Security Guru. Therefore, in addition to implementing access controls, small businesses should routinely encrypt their primary copies of data as well as their secondary copies of data, such as backups, migrations, archives, transfers and live data to keep information safe.

The extensive use of encryption can also reduce the total cost of a data breach by $360,000, according to IBM.

Deploy Security Automation Technologies

Security automation technologies allow businesses to handle security tasks that would otherwise be done manually. These technologies can automatically check for system vulnerabilities, for example, without human intervention.

And when it comes to cyberattacks, security automation technologies can help small businesses mitigate losses. According to IBM, businesses with fully deployed security automation technologies experience about half the cost of a breach compared to those that do not have these technologies.

Properly Vet the Security of Third Parties

It’s important for small businesses to vet the security of their partners and suppliers, as it can cost businesses $370,000 more than average when a data breach occurs, according to IBM. This can be done by ensuring that security standards align and by actively monitoring third-party access.

Have An Incident Response Plan

A solid incident response plan should be in place well before a cyber incident occurs.  Why? Because the speed and efficiency at which a small business is able to respond can reduce consequences. IBM finds that businesses with an incident response team and an extensively tested incident response plan have had approximately $1 million less in data breach costs on average compared to businesses with neither measure in place.

By implementing these security initiatives, or a combination thereof, small businesses can stay protected against costly cyberattacks.

Best Books for Small Business Owners Series: The E-Myth Revisited

September Monthly Must-Reads: Best Books for Small Business Owners

Business and career experts often stress the importance of lifelong learning. But, as a business owner, you have a lot on your plate, making it difficult for you to make time for learning and professional development.

You need a strategy that’s simple and can be folded into your everyday life–try reading. One simple way to keep up with current innovation, management and workforce trends is by reading the right business books for tu situation.

With our Monthly Must-Reads series, we aim to save you time by covering well-known and new business books. We share each featured book’s main focus and key take-aways, so you can determine within a minute if it’s relevant to you—really, whether it’s worth your valuable time. This month, we’re sharing The E-Myth Revisited as one of our best books for small business owners, and you can also check last month’s must-read: Blitzscaling.

Business Book:

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber


Exploring why 80% of small businesses fail and what pitfalls new business owners should avoid

Main Idea:

Even if you understand and perform technical work wonderfully, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can successfully start and run a business around that type of work.

Great for Small Business Owners Who:

Are still in the early stages of business planning.


Voted as the #1 business book by Inc. 500 CEOs, The E-Myth Revisited opens by dispelling the “entrepreneurial myth” with what author, Michael Gerber, calls the “Fatal Assumption: if you understand the technical work of a business, [then] you understand a business that does that technical work.

Gerber argues that new business owners must prepare to take on three different roles to achieve success:

  • Technician (e.g. an expert)
  • Entrepreneur (e.g. a “big picture” thinker)
  • Manager (e.g. the one who sees to the details that get things done).

While walking readers through a typical business’s lifespan, Gerber points out that successful companies run on repeatable processes and achieve success using proven business models. Beyond hard work, Gerber argues, business owners must focus on three ingredients to create a thriving business: rules, regulations and a plan.

Key Take-Aways:
  • Successful small business owners balance their time between managing employees, getting things done and performing big picture thinking.
  • Work on your business, not just en it. It can be tempting to let yourself remain distracted by the day-to-day tasks of running your business—think ordering inventory, serving customers and making sales—but in order to succeed and grow their companies, business owners must make time to work on their businesses. Working on your business includes high-level thinking like strategic planning, market research and developing unique selling propositions.
Reviewers Say:

“I own a small service business with around 15 employees. I had been struggling for years doing all managerial work myself so that it was done up to my standards. We did great work but at the expense of my sanity! A mentor told me to read this book. The E-Myth was the driving factor that took my small business, which had been controlling my life, and transformed it into a business I could run remotely. If you own a small business, you need to read this book as soon as possible.”

“I owned my own successful retail business for 12 years and this was the Resource Book that helped the most. Here’s the core message – it’s easy to spend time working IN your business, but If you want it to grow, you need to block out critical time to work ON your business.”


Kapitus Monthly Must-Reads:

August – Blitzscaling

September – The E-Myth Revisited

Small Business Owner Stress: How to Train Your Brain to Reduce Your Worries

When you run a small business, you’ve got a lot of responsibility. Sometimes that results in small business owner stress that can hurt your company. A estudiar conducted by OnePoll on behalf of found that the average small-business owner in America loses 44 minutes of productive work time every day due to worries about their business, representing an annual cost of about $10,000.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to combat it. Our brains have four natural chemicals that help us feel happier. It’s possible to naturally trigger the chemicals to tap into their power and better handle the stress of being a business owner.

1. Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s naturally produced in the brain. It contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system, according to Psicología Hoy. When we achieve a goal, our brain releases dopamine. This chemical is also linked to focus, which can be derailed when you’re stressed.

If you’re overwhelmed by a big project, you can get a natural dose of dopamine by setting small achievable goals. For example, break down a large task into tiny steps. When you hit each milestone, you’ll get a release of dopamine that can help you overcome your stress. Be sure to mark each completion in a way that fuels your brain. For example, simply making a list and checking off tasks when you’re done can be all you need.

2. Endorphins

Called “feel good” chemicals, endorphins are the body’s natural way of stress reduction. They boost happiness and act as a pain reliever, according to Medical News Today.

One of the easiest ways to get a natural release of endorphins is through exercise. This can be as simple as a brisk walk, or you can choose another activity that you enjoy. Another way to increase your endorphins is to do something nice for someone else. Volunteering is one idea, or even just giving someone a compliment can work. You can also release endorphins with food. Studies have found that dark chocolate can help. And another way to release endorphins is to laugh. Take a break at work and watch a funny video—anything that gets you to laugh will relieve stress.

3. Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a chemical that is linked to trust and loyalty. It’s known as the “cuddle hormone,” according to Psicología Hoy. While you probably don’t want to cuddle with your employees, this hormone is also triggered by social bonding. When you release oxytocin, you enhance the sense of camaraderie.

You can naturally release oxytocin by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each day. You can also express gratitude to others. Make a point of thanking employees or recognizing them for jobs well done. And make time for bonding experiences with your employees. Work retreats can help release oxytocin, allowing you to get rid of stress and come back strong and refreshed.

4. Serotonin

Finally, serotonin is a chemical that regulates mood and helps with sleep. This is also known as the “confidence molecule,” according to Psicología Hoy. Higher levels of serotonin are linked to self-esteem and accomplishment. This can be helpful when you own a business and you need to be willing to take risks.

You can naturally release serotonin by simply reliving a moment when you accomplished a goal or tackled and completed a difficult task. It can help to write down your successes in a journal so they’re handy. Sunlight or bright light can also trigger serotonin. Put your desk next to a window or make sure your office is well lit. Using daylight light bulbs can help. Exercise can also increase serotonin. Make time to take a walk outside, especially on a sunny day, and you’ll get yourself a double dose.


Small business owner stress can cost you productivity and money, and sometimes a simple solution is the best one. When you’re feeling stressed at work, take a break and do an activity that will release some of your happy chemicals. You’ll recharge your outlook and feel ready to tackle whatever comes next.

5 Tips for More Productive Meetings

Who doesn’t want productive meetings? There’s no law that says meetings have to be boring and time-consuming.  Yet, the business environment is littered with plenty of those. Many meetings take place simply because someone “wanted” to have one, or because “we always have them.”

When meetings lack purpose, agendas, active participation, and any follow-up strategy, they achieve nothing for anyone. If this describes meetings in your workplace, here are five tips for turning things around and ensuring that your team actively takes part and walks away ready to move forward:

1. Insist on a goal for every meeting, and make sure the right people attend.

Too often, meetings occur with no clear objective and employees are obliged to attend, during which they serve no useful purpose. That’s why “planning a productive meeting is not only about knowing what you want to cover but also, and more importantly, what do you want to get from it,” Forbes notes. “Clear, detailed and relevant agendas are a must!”

Prior to a meeting, draft a working agenda and have it distributed beforehand to all participants. Encourage attendees to review the agenda, add notes of their own, and come prepared to be actively involved in  conversations.

Just as importantly, if an employee’s job responsibilities aren’t relevant to the agenda, leave them out. You’ll get more accomplished with the right people in the room.

2. Adopt a “no devices” rule, with no exceptions.

There may not be any quantifiable data on this, but employees who set aside their mobile devices during a meeting actually make it through unscathed.

On a more serious note, it’s clear to everyone that keeping such devices on hand in a meeting can prove enormously distracting for all involved. If you haven’t done so already, hold your next meeting with an ironclad “no devices” rule and see what happens.

In the same respect, if you as meeting leader are making use of video conferencing or other communications technology as part of the meeting, have the system tested ahead of time. Nothing kills the interest of participants more than sitting around while attempts are made to fix a technical glitch.

3. Stick to the meeting agenda and closely moderate the discussion.

Some people like to talk at great length, while others can’t be persuaded to say a thing. Most of us fall in-between but whatever the case, the meeting moderator should pay close attention and keep the conversation on track. (That’s also where agenda bullet-point items are helpful.)

Make clear that the time allotted for the entire meeting is no more than 30 minutes. Which means discussions debe be appropriate and limited. Don’t hesitate to tell someone, “That’s a very good point, but we’ll need to take it up further at the next meeting” (or off-line).

Do your best not to let any one individual (including yourself!) dominate the conversation. As AZ Big Media notes, “less-outspoken team members … often have innovative ideas but might not be inclined to jump into discussions without prompting.” Also, be ready to “ask individual participants directly for their input.”

4. Start and end on time.

One big complaint about meetings is that they frequently start late (after someone straggles in) and never seem to end. The most productive meetings occur when they begin at the allotted time and, regardless of where participants are with an agenda, end at the prescribed time. This demonstrates efficiency on the part of the moderator, as well as respect for everyone’s busy schedules. You’ll get a lot more buy-in from employees if they know a 30-minute meeting means no more than 30 minutes.

5. Assign action items and follow-up with a summary.

The best meetings end with team members being given specific assignments and/or action items to complete. In this way, decisions made during the meeting are translated into tangible progress towards some larger goal. And people understand that, going in, they’d better pay attention to what’s going on.

Finally, take it upon yourself or ask another attendee to draw up a brief summary of what took place in the meeting. This can take the form of an email with a handful of bullet points and/or additional thoughts from the moderator or others involved. Whatever the case, the summary gives people something to refer to afterwards.

Meetings may never be “fun” in the common sense of the word. But, handled effectively, they can be productive, energizing, and a way for people to bond closely with their co-workers.

Recession Indicators Are Here – Should You Borrow for Your Small Business Now?

It’s time to start preparing. The stock market’s most well-known recession indicator—the inverted yield-curve—indicates there’s trouble ahead. This is especially the case for small businesses that are trying to get financing before a recession hits.

That’s because an inverted yield curve typically implies, as CNN Business’ Julia Chatterley states, investors are getting paid better to lend money for a shorter period of time (a two-year Treasury note) than a longer period of time (such as the 10-year Treasury), even though the opposite is usually true since a longer-term investment typically are riskier and pay out better returns.

Right now the opposite is happening. Spreads are between the 10-year Treasury yield, which is typically a benchmark, trading under it’s two-year Treasury counterpart. That’s created a 30-year rate under 2 percent. Its lowest level since 2007.

For many in the investing sector, as well as businesses across the U.S., that means major warning bells sounding an alarm that a recession is pending.

To better prepare, here’s what Howard A. Tullman, executive director of Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, suggests doing when it comes to preparing your small business and financing before a recession hits.


Consider Increasing Your Credit Line.

Many small businesses were hindered by their inability to secure bank credit before the financial crisis of 2008. In the years following the recovery, access to credit and lending to small business lagged behind, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

A survey done by The Federal Reserve of Senior Loan Officers found credit standards for small-business borrowers increasingly squeezed through October 2008.

That’s why having the right access to capital is essential for the long-term survival of any business. As is maintaining the proper amount of funding and cash flow.

It’s important to be strategic about it.

While some business owners many borrow to increase their cash flow, Tullman says don’t borrow in order to finance speculative expansions or new undertakings in this type of economy.

Instead, be smarter, more prudent about what you do.

Tullman recommends small business owners rely on “real cash” that is available; but also consider increasing their credit line, Tullman says, “especially if there’s no cost in doing so.”


Slow Down Payments as Part of Cash Flow Plan

Slowing down payments isn’t something most business owners like to do. But sometimes being more strategic with how you manage your cash flow can make a big difference.

It’s important not to mismanage strategic relationships that can be key, especially during a recession.

“If you can defer or slow down your outbound cash payments on debts you owe without jeopardizing the long-term relationship, then that’s a wise plan, Tullman says.

“Big businesses make slow paying a part of their cash flow management all the time. Small businesses shouldn’t be too proud to do the same thing.”


Increase You Cash in Reserve

When it comes to creating an emergency fund, more is always better. As a recession approaches, owners should think about their cash flows and the amount of money they hold in reserve. Unfortunately, one size doesn’t fit all.

“There is no simple rule of thumb. It all depends on the type of business and the size of the business as well as the nature of the typical cash flow,” Tullman says.

Since we might be going into a tough economy, it makes sense to have 3 to 6 months of payroll and payroll taxes in reserve, says Tullman. You should also shoot for 3 months in reserve of what your other payables are based on an average month.

SCORE, a volunteer network of business mentors recommends looking at your monthly cash flow report to provide historical and seasonal perspective, determine the cash received from sales versus the cash that was spent for your “net burn rate.”

Then determine how much cash you plan to use in the next 12 to 15 months. Create a financial forecast or look at the financial section of your business plan if you’re a start-up.


Defer Discretionary Expenses, Focus on Retention

For now, consider deferring discretionary expenses, Tullman says. Especially ones related to marketing and new customer acquisition costs.

Instead focus on retaining customers. Tullman says too many businesses take their current customers for granted. That retention is important and “a lot better investment in tough times than trying to recruit new customers,” he says.

Instead commit resources and people to getting the job done to ensure your current clients are happy.”

Move immediately to protect and secure the people presently in the boat–existing customers are the most accessible, nearest to reach, and hopefully the easiest to hang on to,” Tullman says.

That means anticipating your customers’ needs so you are being proactive instead of reactive. Focus on customer quality and loyalty, not merely quantity, Tullman says, to build up the right clientel.

“The smartest business builders will tell you that not all customers are equal in value or importance. Even if they’re not ‘bad’ customers,” Tullman says.

Then when the recession hits, “hunkering down and making plans to hang on to the customers you have is the smartest option right now,” Tullman says.

Other Advice – Lock-in Rates When the Interest Rates Are Lower

When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, as they did in July, it’s usually an indicator the economy is leaning towards a recession. That’s because interest rates are usually raised when the economy is improving. When the economy is slowing down, the Fed cuts interest rates.  This is to encourage borrowing in the hopes of spurring on the economy.

“The best time to borrow long-term money is when the Fed stops aggressively lowering rates; however, this is not easy to time, because it can take many months to attract a private lender, and banks are not always willing to commit to long-term loans at low rates when they expect rates to rise in the near future,” says Victoria Duff of the Houston Chronicle.

Best Books for Small Business Owners: Blitzscaling

“Lifelong learning is fundamental to long-term success,” says Justin Kulla, member of Forbes Coaches Council and founder of BusinessBlocks. Today, the world moves much faster than it did even five to 10 years ago. And there’s more competition than ever.”

One way to keep evolving as the leader of your business is to read books for small business owners. But, as a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. It’s often difficult to make time for continued learning and professional development, but making time to focus on your own growth is crucial. Not only does it set a good example for your employees, but it also keeps you up to speed on current innovation and workforce trends. In today’s world, change is accelerating on several fronts, and as a business owner, you need to stay nimble.

With this new series, we aim to save you time by covering well-known and new business books and their key take-aways, so you can determine within a minute if a book is relevant to your business and your situation—really, whether it’s worth your valuable time.

August Monthly Must-Reads: Best Books for Small Business Owners

Business Book:

Blitzscaling, by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh


Exploring business tactics that spark and manage periods of high growth

Main Idea:

“When a market is up for grabs, the risk isn’t inefficiency—the risk is playing it too safe. If you win, efficiency isn’t that important; if you lose, efficiency is completely irrelevant.” – Blitzscaling

Great for Small Business Owners Who:

Have identified a new opportunity and want to quickly capitalize on it and grow, especially if theirs is a low-margin business and/or related to digital technology


Written by co-authors who have scaled start-ups into billion-dollar businesses, including PayPal, Blitzscaling opens with a foreword by Bill Gates and then introduces the concept of blitzscaling, which “prioritizes speed over efficiency in an environment of uncertainty, and allows a company to go from ‘startup’ to ‘scaleup’ at a furious pace that captures the market.”

The authors explore the ideal market conditions and business models for this strategy—including when not to move forward with blizscaling. The contents:

  • Describe situations when blitzscaling is imperative.
  • Explain how to recognize when to stop blitzscaling.
  • Cover critical management changes to make as companies grow.
  • Include case studies of notable fastest-growing companies, like Uber, AirBnB and Amazon. It also includes case studies outside of the technology sector.
Key Take-Aways:
  • Blitzscaling is a strong strategy only when speed-to-market is the main and crucial factor to success.
  • Companies should only engage in blitzscaling if their product and/or market, their business model, and the market conditions are the right fit for it.

As the business world evolves, new opportunities will continually arise. Be ready to capitalize on them with the lessons from this Blitzscaling in mind.

Reviewers Say:

“I take away a better understanding of why some companies engage in blitzscaling hyper growth as their #1 priority, and why this is such a powerful technique to overwhelm the competition. This book reveals some really interesting techniques to grow the customer base, organizational strategies depending on the size of the company, and management styles.”

“I highly recommend this book to learn the benefits of blitzscaling. It’s very interesting to read, it’s sometimes hard to put the book down because there’s something useful on every page. Just don’t expect much depth about companies that attempted blitzscaling and failed while trying, this book is more about success business cases.”

Taking A Vacation from your Small Business: How To Get Away This Year

Business owners are known to work a lot of hours, and most find it difficult to take time off. According to a estudiar by the small-business accounting firm Xero, 85 percent of business owners work while they’re on vacation.

Getting out of the office and taking a vacation can help you avoid burnout that can happen when you work long hours for a continued amount of time. A change of scenery can get your creative juices flowing. And entrusting your staff builds and deepens your relationships.

So, get out your calendar and block out some time to take off. Here’s what you need to do before and during your vacation so you can get away and return refreshed and ready for work.

Train Your “Replacement”

While it sounds cold, everyone in your business should be replaceable, including you. If not, an unexpected absence could wreak havoc on your business. To find your own replacement, choose the person in your business you trust and consider to be capable and reliable. It can help if they are already a manager or have management experience.

Train the person to handle your daily tasks. It can help to have them shadow you for a few days or weeks before your vacation. While the employee probably won’t be taking care of big-picture actions, like long-term strategies, they may need to solve problems in your absence. He or she should be comfortable making decisions. Leave detailed instructions on the tasks you do. And create a list of trusted vendors and service providers they can call in case of an emergency, such as a crashed website or building problem.

Prepare Your Staff

In addition to finding someone to assume your duties, prepare your staff for your absence. Let them know who is in charge as well as the level of their authority. Make sure you’ve left your staff with everything they need to do their jobs. Also, let employees know when you do want to be contacted. Do you want a daily update via email? What types of things warrant a phone call? Should they text if they have a question or make a phone call? Be very clear about what warrants communication. It could be a call from certain clients, or only in case of a fire.

Inform Your Customers

Let your clients know you’ll be away on vacation, especially notifying those you consider most valued. Sometimes clients prefer to work with an owner rather than the employees. You don’t want your best customer finding out you’re away from an out-of-office (OOO) autoresponder email. It could send a signal that their business isn’t important. Be proactive, letting them know ahead of time, so they can plan accordingly by getting what they need from you before you leave or as soon as you return. Also, let them know who will be in charge in your absence if they need something before you’re back.

Create an OOO Autoresponder

Even if you’ve notified your VIP customers, it’s a good idea to use an OOO email or voicemail message while you’re away. Some of them might forget about your trip, or you may receive a message from a potential new client. Be sure to provide the name and email of someone at your business who is handling work in your absence. Don’t give into the temptation of responding; that negates the purpose of an OOO. Trust that your team can handle situations that arise or that your client will wait until your return.

Don’t Make Any Big Changes Before You Go

You want your business to be “business as usual,” so don’t make any big changes that might become emergencies. For example, don’t launch or redesign your website, don’t schedule a big sale and don’t create a new marketing campaign. You don’t want to have to deal with questions or concerns while you’re away that will be hard to resolve from afar.

Time the Trip

It can help to be strategic and time your vacation during your slow season. You’ll leave your staff with less to handle, and you’ll have more peace of mind that they aren’t overwhelmed. Or consider taking a shorter trip instead of an extended vacation. If your office is normally closed over the weekend, for example, tack on two days for a four-day getaway. You can still get lots of R&R with a shorter vacation.

Do a Trial Run

Before you leave, test the waters and see how your staff does. You could work from home for a few days or just go away for a day. Seeing how well your team handles your absence can give you the confidence you need to go away on vacation.

Set Rules for Yourself

When you’re gone, set some rules for what you will and won’t do. Even if you prepare before you leave, it’s easy to get drawn back to your business. You might think a quick call won’t hurt, but it’s important to set limits and rules for yourself. For example, limit checking business email to certain times of the day. Or make a rule to not check it at all. If you do check into the workplace, do it at a time when you are on your own, so you don’t disrupt the vacation of those you’re traveling with. Unplugging completely may not always be realistic, but you need to set rules.

Have Fun

Once you’ve prepared your team and your business for your vacation, it’s time to enjoy the time away. Owning a business gives you a level of freedom, and it’s time to enjoy it. When you take a vacation–De Verdad take a vacation–you will benefit from the time away and return feeling refreshed and ready to take your business to the next level.

5 razones para el fracaso de las pequeñas empresas (y cómo evitarlas)

El fracaso de las pequeñas empresas es una realidad que todos los propietarios de empresas en ciernes deben enfrentar. A pesar de lo emocionante que puede ser un nuevo emprendimiento empresarial, es una locura apresurarse en la experiencia mientras se descuidan ciertos elementos clave, como la gestión del flujo de caja, la contratación y la retención, el marketing y las operaciones. Es una tarea difícil bajo cualquier circunstancia, pero aún más cuando la vida de un negocio incipiente cae sobre los hombros de una persona.

Hay muchas razones por las cuales una pequeña empresa no lo logra. Una causa principal, según Investopedia, es que los dueños de negocios exitosos "deben poseer la capacidad de mitigar los riesgos específicos de la compañía y al mismo tiempo llevar un producto o servicio al mercado a un precio que satisfaga los niveles de demanda del consumidor".

Este desafío gigantesco puede ser la razón por la cual aproximadamente solo el 20 por ciento de las nuevas empresas logran completar su primer año completo de funcionamiento, y por qué casi el 50 por ciento de las pequeñas empresas no pueden soportar hasta cinco años o más. Citando estas estadísticas, EE.UU. Hoy en día señala: "La buena noticia es que las tasas de supervivencia comienzan a nivelarse después de varios años de operación".

Enfrentar y superar estos desafíos significa la diferencia entre la supervivencia y el fracaso en el mercado actual. La estrategia más efectiva consiste en comprender las causas principales del fracaso y la planificación. antemano cómo los abordarás.

Aquí hay un vistazo a cinco razones principales por las que algunas pequeñas empresas no logran ganancias y éxito:

I. Insuficiente capital y mala gestión financiera.

Para cada propietario de un negocio, existe una tensión constante entre comprender cuánto dinero se requiere para mantener las operaciones diarias y la cantidad de ingresos que proviene de la venta de productos o servicios. Cuando esta discrepancia se agudiza, una empresa simplemente puede quedarse sin dinero y luego verse obligada a cerrar sus puertas.

De hecho, mantener el ritmo del flujo de caja es esencial para la supervivencia de las pequeñas empresas. Más del 80 por ciento de las empresas cierran debido a problemas relacionados con el flujo de efectivo, lo que hace que esta sea la razón número uno para el fracaso de las pequeñas empresas. Incluso "las empresas rentables fracasan todo el tiempo por la sencilla razón de que se quedan sin efectivo ".

Para compensar este grave resultado, es de vital importancia crear (y atenerse) a un presupuesto operativo realista para su negocio. Un plan de presupuesto debe incluir lo siguiente:

  • Evaluación de la cantidad de dinero necesaria para las operaciones diarias.
  • Costos por gastos generales fijos y variables
  • Fondos para pagar a proveedores y vendedores externos
  • Un plan para pedir dinero prestado cuando sea necesario, ya sea a través de financiación basada en activos, capital de inversión, préstamos convencionales o subvenciones comerciales

Los expertos abogan firmemente por investigar y recopilar información sobre estos elementos del plan presupuestario antes de en realidad necesitas el capital de trabajo. Es mejor tener estos datos a mano cuando se necesita dinero, en lugar de esperar hasta que ocurra una crisis relacionada con el efectivo.

2. Falta de planificación comercial y un modelo comercial viable

Como se señaló, una estrategia de flujo de efectivo viable debería ser un componente esencial de un plan de negocios. Otros factores incluyen:

  • De qué se trata el negocio (sus productos o servicios, misión, visión para el futuro)
  • Un sólido modelo de pronóstico financiero (basado en los costos operativos estimados y los ingresos generados)
  • Necesidades laborales actuales y proyectadas (la cantidad de empleados necesarios ahora y en el futuro)
  • Un análisis en profundidad de la competencia (que comprende cómo se ve el mercado)
  • Estrategias de marketing y ventas (cómo llegar a clientes potenciales y cerrar negocios)

La adopción del modelo de negocio correcto es otro elemento para incluir en sus planes. Estudie negocios similares en su industria, tanto localmente como en otras regiones, y establezca un modelo que incluya algunos o todos estos elementos:

  • Infraestructura planificada de la compañía
  • Una tabla de hitos con tareas y objetivos clave que deben abordarse y completarse en las fechas asignadas
  • Políticas y lineamientos de contratación de personal
  • Estrategias de marca preliminares o más sofisticadas

Abordar parte o la totalidad de lo anterior una vez que el negocio esté en marcha corre el riesgo de ponerse al día durante una etapa de crecimiento inicial de importancia crítica, y podría conducir rápidamente al fracaso de la pequeña empresa.

3. Deficiencias de liderazgo y gestión

La incapacidad de pasar de ser un emprendedor solitario a un CEO o dueño de un negocio con empleados es otro "campo minado" para muchas empresas.

No todos los emprendedores vienen equipados con los tipos de liderazgo o habilidades de gestión necesarios para supervisar, inspirar y administrar un grupo de personas. Alguien mal equipado para esta tarea puede cometer una amplia gama de errores de gestión, como contratar demasiado rápido y tener el equipo equivocado a bordo, o no crear una política de recursos humanos que cubra la mayoría de las contingencias laborales.

Tales deficiencias pueden dar como resultado que un lugar de trabajo exhiba una moral deficiente y baja productividad, ingredientes clave para el fracaso de las pequeñas empresas.

A los propietarios de pequeñas empresas les corresponde encontrar el tiempo y los recursos para perfeccionar sus habilidades de liderazgo. Tome clases de administración de capital humano en línea. Participe en seminarios web de liderazgo. Profundice en su red profesional y localice a una persona que esté dispuesta a ayudar como mentor de liderazgo. Hacer todo lo posible para prepararse para reclutar y administrar empleados antes de surgen problemas de gestión.

4. Ausencia de una estrategia de marketing efectiva.

Hacer frente a la financiación, elaborar un plan de negocios y comenzar el proceso de contratación son grandes desafíos en sí mismos. Suponiendo que tiene una gran idea de un nuevo producto o servicio, y los medios para ponerla a disposición de los clientes cuando lo deseen, la siguiente pregunta es: ¿cómo hará correr la voz?

Algunas pequeñas empresas fracasan porque no están preparadas para las demandas de comercializar las ofertas de su empresa. Carecen de una comprensión de quien sus clientes objetivo son, qué problemas o desafíos que enfrentan esos clientes, y cómo su producto o servicio servirá como una solución. Estas pequeñas empresas no prestan suficiente atención al valor de la marca, las relaciones públicas y los esfuerzos de marketing relacionados.

Nunca se trata de "Construirlo, y vendrán". ¡Tienes que encontrarlos!

Asegúrese de comprender lo que distingue a su empresa: su propuesta de valor única. Luego haga todos los esfuerzos posibles para correr la voz.

"Utilice las redes sociales, el boca a boca, las llamadas en frío, los correos directos y otras técnicas de marketing probadas y verdaderas", aconseja Bplans. Encuentre formas de encapsular su propuesta de valor en un lenguaje que los clientes puedan entender "para que pueda capturar una cuota de mercado y comenzar a construir sus tasas de conversión".

El marketing consume una cantidad impredecible de tiempo, dinero y recursos. Es esencial incorporar un plan de marketing completo en el plan de negocios, para que tenga una idea realista de lo que se necesita para llegar y atraer a su público objetivo. Sin ese plan, corre el riesgo de pasar por todo su efectivo disponible y tener poco que mostrar.

5. Negarse a anticipar los desafíos de crecimiento y expansión

Finalmente, está el desafío asociado con emprendimientos comerciales más exitosos. En un período de demanda acelerada del consumidor y ventas récord, llega un punto en que la infraestructura existente, el modelo comercial actual, la fuerza laboral de los empleados y otros elementos clave ya no son suficientes para manejar los problemas relacionados con el crecimiento y la expansión.

El hecho de no anticipar este evento casi inevitable ha provocado el cierre de muchas pequeñas empresas. Esto es, simplemente, porque carecían de la visión y los recursos para expandirse cuando era necesario.

Para contrarrestar esta amenaza, incluso en las primeras etapas de su negocio, busque las siguientes opciones para manejar los riesgos (y beneficios) del rápido crecimiento:

Prepararse para el éxito es tan importante como protegerse contra el fracaso. Con planes y estrategias establecidos, está mejor equipado para hacer frente a las condiciones cambiantes del mercado.

Sí, el fracaso de una pequeña empresa ocurre, a veces a un ritmo alarmante. Pero la investigación, el conocimiento y el aprovechamiento de experiencias pasadas y el aprendizaje de otros pueden allanar el camino hacia un resultado más fructífero para usted y su pequeña empresa.

7 Signs You’re Heading Toward Cash Flow Issues (and how to solve them)

Cash flow can make or break a small business. While generating sales is nice, you’ll still be in trouble if you don’t have the money on-hand to pay your employees, vendors and other bills. It’s no wonder that 69% of small business owners reported being kept up at night because they’re worried about cash flow issues, according to a survey from Intuit QuickBooks (slide 2).

The earlier you can start addressing potential cash trouble, the easier it is to find a solution. Here are the top warning signs of cash flow issues small business owners face as well as how you can respond.

1 – Invoices Aren’t Being Paid

Making a sale is often just half the battle. You also need to collect payment on your invoices. If you notice that it’s taking clients longer to pay their bills, that can lead to a serious cash flow squeeze.

When it comes to collecting payment, don’t be shy. Contact clients as soon as their payment is late and keep reminding them until they catch up. The longer they go without paying, the more likely it is they could skip payment altogether. For future sales, you could shorten the payment terms as well, like moving from 30 days down to 15 days or asking for a partial advance on orders.

If you need money now, another solution would be to factor your invoices. You trade your unpaid invoices to a financing company for a cash advance. They are then responsible for collecting payment from your customers. Once they get the payment, they deduct their fee from the proceeds and give your business the rest.

2 – Uncertainty Over Future Income and Expenses

If you aren’t sure what the next few months will look like for your business, that could be setting the stage for the cash flow issues small business owners face. While uncertainty itself doesn’t create the financial trouble, it gets rid of your ability to plan so when trouble does come your way, you’re caught off-guard. For example, you have no idea whether a major client will renew in 3 months. Or that your monthly expenses are slowly creeping up without you noticing.

Take some time to forecast your future cash flow, revenues and expenses over the next six months to a year. Even if your estimates are off, just spending some time thinking about the future can help you catch problems earlier, like you can start cutting back expenses now just in-case that large client doesn’t renew. It’s better to overprepare than underprepare.

3 – Having Trouble Meeting Payment Deadlines

You need cash to cover major expenses during the year like payroll, taxes and your lease. If you find yourself missing these deadlines, that can lead to serious trouble. Not only could you face penalties and fines, like from the IRS, it can also turn into even worse problems like a key employee quits or your top vendor stops accepting your orders.

In the short-run, consider borrowing to cover these expenses. It would cost your business a lot more to replace your star employees and repair your reputation versus paying interest to take out a business loan. Long-term, keep working on your budgeting and cash flow forecasts so you can better anticipate when these deadlines are coming up and have enough cash for them.

4 – Growing Short-Term Debt

Debt financing can help you grow your business, but you need to find the right balance. If you keep adding more and more short-term debt because you don’t have enough cash to cover your bills, that problem could start to snowball. Not only will you still need to cover your existing business expenses, you’re also adding on the interest and loan payments for your debt.

One way to see whether you’re borrowing too much is by looking at your debt-to-income ratio, your total monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. Ideally, this ratio should be 43% or lower.

If you have too much short-term debt, contact your lender and see if there’s a way to consolidate to a smaller payment or if you can pay off some of the loans ahead of schedule. That’s why when you borrow, it can be useful to work with a lender that doesn’t charge prepayment penalties because then you can get out of debt earlier.

From there, work to bring down your business expenses and speed up your cash flow collections so you can start paying off the debt and bring your ratio back to a more manageable level.

5 – Inventory Starts Piling Up

Inventory piling up is another sign of potential cash flow trouble. Not only are you spending money on unsold inventory, you’re also paying for the storage, security and insurance to protect these goods. If it’s taking you longer to turn over your products, you may need to downgrade your sales forecasts so you buy less inventory or change your business model because client tastes have changed, so they want something else.

You could also use inventory management software to keep track of what’s selling and what needs to be resupplied. It takes out the human error where you mistakenly order too much of certain products and they go unsold.

6 – Missing Vendor Discounts

Some vendors offer discounts when you pay early, like before 30 days. If you take advantage, that can help boost your profit margin by lowering your cost of goods sold. Even a small discount of 5 to 10% can make a difference.

But you need cash to meet these discounts. If you’re unable to qualify for vendor discounts or even worse, you’re getting hit with penalties from paying late, that’s another warning sign. While it’s not as urgent as some of the other problems on this list, it’s still costing your business money.

A business line of credit could be the answer. When you don’t have the cash, you can borrow against your line of credit to pay early and qualify for the vendor discounts. Once your business has money, you can pay off the line of credit and then borrow again in the future. Even after paying interest to borrow, chances are you’ll come ahead by claiming the vendor discounts.

7 – Turning Down Projects/Sales

When businesses are short on fund, they may have no choice but to turn down work because they can’t cover the supplies, staff and other costs. It’s an all too common problem as 52% of small businesses have missed out on sales/projects worth $10,000 or more because of a lack of cash, according to Intuit QuickBooks (slide 2).

This is a clear-cut scenario when borrowing money will grow your business. With a short-term cash flow loan from an alternative lender, you could finance the new project/client, collect your earnings and then pay the loan back as soon as you want, as these lenders do not typically charge an early payment penalty.

If you can prove that you’ve got a sale nearly locked up, you can also use purchase order financing. Under this arrangement, the lender gives you cash to complete the order and collects their fee only after the client pays for the job. You don’t have to take on debt.

Cash flow trouble can sneak up on you and by then, it’s often too late to fix. If you see any of these warning signs, it could be time to make changes and fast. By following this advice, you’ll keep your business cash flow positive no matter what challenges come your way.

How Better Listening Makes You a Better Leader

Talking, rather than listening, seems to be a common trait among leaders in business, culture, politics, and elsewhere. The presumption is that anyone who attains the status of “leader” must have important things to say, and don’t have to bother hearing what anyone else wants to tell them.

In fact, the opposite is true.

The most effective business leaders get more accomplished because they know how to listen. While, of course, it’s important to weigh in on business strategy and organizational design, there’s a great deal to be gained by listening to what others have to say. The alternative–not paying attention to others and often not understanding what they are trying to tell you–is a good recipe for business failure, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

If you want to improve your ability to hear those around you, keep the following tips in mind:

Stop thinking about what you’ll say next.

When in conversation, we’re all guilty of thinking more about what we plan to say next, rather than making the effort to truly hear what’s being said.

But as The New York Times points out, it’s more important to be “comfortable not knowing what you’re going to say next.” Rely on your ability to “think of something in the moment based on what the other person just said,” because this “sends a powerful signal to the other person that you’re truly listening to them.”

Tune out distractions.

It’s become a challenge for all of us to clear our heads in order to listen to what someone else is saying. But it’s imperative to make the effort. In a conversation with a customer, employee, vendor, or other stakeholder, do the following to listen better:

  • Shut off mobile devices.
  • Look away from your computer screen.
  • Close your office door to screen out external noise.
  • Avoid interrupting the other person.

Also, refrain from jumping in when there’s a pause in the conversation. “Never rush a speaker by completing his or her sentence,” notes Right Management. Being patient “will go a long way to building trust and rapport.”

Observe non-verbal cues.

People communicate through non-verbal cues and body language almost as much as they do through words. Effective listeners closely watch the speaker’s gestures, facial expressions, and their tone of voice. From these “clues,” they often deduce the real meaning behind what the other person is trying to articulate.

Expert listeners use their own body language to communicate, as well. While listening, they nod at appropriate moments, engage in friendly and welcoming eye contact, and display “open” body language (that is, not standing or sitting at a distance, with arms crossed). These non-verbal cues let the other person know they really are the focus of your attention.

Ask the right questions.

A good listener demonstrates his or her focus by following up on what the other person has said with a pertinent question. (This is also a good way to ensure you grasp the point of the conversation.)

When the moment is right, ask questions that drill down beneath the surface of the discussion. Avoid questions the other person can only answer with a “yes” or a “no.” Instead, ask open-ended questions that invite deeper commentary or invite the speaker to offer examples of what they’re talking about. These exchanges have the potential to yield far more effective insights that benefit everyone involved.

Listen to your team.

The strongest business leaders have abandoned the need to dominate a conversation. They understand that empathy grows out of genuinely hearing what others have to tell them and that they can make better decisions because of what they’ve learned.

This is often particularly true with people who make up your workforce. Leaders who “fail to truly listen to their employees run the risk of losing them,” notes Medio, adding that employees “who don’t feel listened to are more likely to feel resentment at their job and seek other opportunities.”

Business leaders who listen have a competitive edge over people who never stop talking and who neglect the growth that comes from listening to others.

How to Maintain a Healthy Work Life Balance as a Business Owner

As a business owner, it can often feel like you are in a constant struggle between feeling like your personal life is interfering with your work and feeling like your work is taking over your personal life. When the balance between your work life and personal life is out of sync, frustration, resentment, and burnout abound.

To avoid these issues and keep the best of both worlds in check, use these tips for maintaining a healthy work life balance as a business owner.

Create a designated office space in your home

Each space in your home has a purpose.  And each space is specially designed to allow you to function efficiently in that space. You wouldn’t try to cook meals in your bedroom.  You wouldn’t do laundry in your living room. So why would you try and do important work in a space that wasn’t designed for it?

A spare room could easily be converted to a designated office.  However, this  isn’t the only option for creating your space. Even a partial room can be your designated work space if it’s utilized correctly. In your space, be sure to have plenty of storage for office supplies, files, and other tools or stock needed for your daily operations. Hang visual elements on the walls that help you get into “work mode” and can be used for easy reference if needed. This might include a whiteboard, project timelines, blueprints, calendars, inspirational photos, or other industry-specific materials. If you don’t have a door to close off your space, try using a curtain or portable room divider. This will create mental separation for your space and help eliminate distractions from other areas of the house

Keep separate work and personal calendars

Calendars help us stay organized, but documenting every aspect of your life in a single place can sometimes feel overwhelming. Keeping separate work and personal calendars encourages a healthy separation between your work and personal life.   It can also help you quickly identify if your work life balance as a business owner is getting off track.

If you use a digital scheduling option, such as Google Calendar or Outlook, you can create separate personal and work calendars.  Then you can toggle them on and off as needed. If you prefer a paper calendar, try using a smaller pocket calendar to track your personal appointments that you can easily store inside your larger calendar. Whichever method you choose, view your personal calendar regularly to make sure you are designating time each week for activities away from work.

Avoid household chores during “work hours”

When you work from home, it’s easy to look around and see a multitude of personal tasks that need attention. While it may be tempting to do some dishes between conference calls or throw in a load of laundry in between work tasks, this could hurt your productivity – both personal and professional. When your mind is constantly distracted by personal chores, you aren’t giving your best focus to your work projects. Similarly, completing chores in fragmented bits and pieces throughout the day can cause you to lose momentum. This could end up creating more work for you in the long run. For example, forgetting about the laundry in the dryer when a conference call runs over can result in you having to unexpectedly iron an entire load of clothes.

If you worked in an office, you wouldn’t run home on your lunch break to do the dishes. So, give your home-based work hours the same respect. Set designated times for work and personal activities and compartmentalize your tasks. This will help you feel more focused and productive.

Listen to the “Back to Work” podcast

If you’ve jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, you likely have an extensive playlist of entertaining, inspirational, and personal development podcasts. “Back to Work” is a great addition to any play list, especially for entrepreneurs and work-from-home business owners. Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, the podcast covers an entertaining mix of productivity tips, communication skills, suggested business tools, advice for overcoming work barriers, and more. Mann and Benjamin often discuss their own struggles with finding a healthy work life balance as a business owner. They also provide relatable stories and actionable advice for overcoming those struggles.

To live your best SBO (small business owner) life, it’s important to bring your best self each day. To do that, you’ll need to proactively take steps to balance your commitments and obligations throughout the week and develop a healthy relationship between your work life and personal life.

Cómo no administrar a los empleados

Los jefes a menudo luchan contra la necesidad de administrar a los empleados, pero desafortunadamente, muchos ni siquiera reconocen que lo están haciendo. Si está lidiando con la retención, podría deberse a que usted o uno de sus supervisores está microgestionando empleados y alejándolos.

Peor aún, la microgestión puede dificultar el crecimiento de la creatividad dentro de la organización. "La innovación se ahoga porque los errores, que son una parte necesaria del aprendizaje y el crecimiento, no se toleran", señala Cía. Además, cuando los supervisores esencialmente están haciendo el trabajo de otra persona, "no están haciendo el suyo tan bien como deberían".

Aquí hay consejos sobre cómo dejar de lado el impulso de microgestión y dar a los miembros de su equipo una mayor libertad para hacer su trabajo:

Comience confiando en sus empleados.

Ningún lugar de trabajo puede funcionar por mucho tiempo sin una base de confianza. Presumiblemente, sus empleados son individuos que han demostrado que poseen las habilidades y / o experiencia para manejar sus responsabilidades laborales. Al asumir una actitud de confianza, los ayudas a ganar la confianza necesaria para resolver problemas o desafíos. Es posible que esto no ocurra de inmediato, incluso los empleados veteranos que vienen de otras empresas necesitan tiempo para adaptarse a la cultura de su empresa. Pero confiar en ellos para tener éxito ayuda a lograr el objetivo deseado.

Deje que los empleados sepan lo que espera.

Algunas microgestiones ocurren porque los empleados no entienden las instrucciones que se les dan. O tienen que adivinar lo que quiere su jefe. Un enfoque más efectivo implica describir las expectativas en el comienzo de un proyecto o tarea. Deje que los miembros de su equipo sepan cómo será el "éxito". Mejor aún, comparta ejemplos de iniciativas pasadas que sean de naturaleza similar. Y recuerde proporcionarles los recursos necesarios para realizar la tarea.

Admita que no puede hacer todo usted mismo.

Muchos dueños de negocios comenzaron como empresarios que tenían que hacer todo por sí mismos. Cuando necesita contratar a otros para hacer crecer el negocio, a veces es difícil "reconocer que otros pueden hacer algunas tareas mejor que tú"Y" aún más difícil de aceptar que otros harán la misma tarea de manera diferente ", pero hasta que deje de lado estos prejuicios obstinados, sus empleados no serán tan productivos como podrían ser.

Delega más.

Si tiene dudas sobre cuánto puede delegar en el equipo, intente asignar una tarea pequeña o de corto plazo a las personas y deje que "corran" con ella. El resultado de esa asignación determinará su próximo paso: (1) continuar dando proyectos individuales más sustanciales; o (2) tómese un tiempo para aconsejar al individuo sobre cómo mejorar su proceso y tener más éxito.

Siempre comunicate.

Brindar retroalimentación no es lo mismo que tratar de administrar a los empleados. A medida que las personas asuman más responsabilidad, consulte con ellos de vez en cuando. Asegúrese de ofrecer comentarios generales sobre qué tan bien están avanzando. Si el progreso es lento, proporcione retroalimentación constructiva que los impulse a adoptar un enfoque diferente. Si se le ocurre una idea sobre probar algo nuevo, esté abierto a sugerencias y fomente hábitos de trabajo más creativos. Los empleados ganan confianza cuando el jefe muestra una actitud de tolerancia y apoyo.

Los gerentes efectivos programan visitas periódicas con los empleados, al menos una vez al mes. "Una vez que te pones en marcha, las conversaciones de responsabilidad ayudan a los miembros de tu equipo a hacer ajustes en el momento y evitar catástrofes importantes". Forbes notas

La microgestión puede ser algo astuto, y los supervisores pueden ni siquiera darse cuenta de que lo están haciendo. Pero al prestar atención a las banderas rojas, como una caída visible en la moral del lugar de trabajo o un éxodo de empleados valorados, los propietarios de negocios pueden trabajar para minimizar la necesidad de microgestión y hacer más para fomentar la creatividad y la independencia.

Este enfoque no solo generará mayor confianza e innovación entre los miembros de su equipo, sino que también puede mejorar significativamente sus esfuerzos de retención. Los empleados están mucho menos inclinados a buscar trabajo en otro lugar si se sienten valorados por sus esfuerzos dentro de su organización.

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