Do you have the right partners to keep your business safe?
by Marilyn Miller
Confidence cannot find a place wherein to rest in safety. – Virgil
We teach our children to wear helmets when they ride their bicycles or life jackets when they go boating. We teach them because we love them and we want to keep them safe. For kids it’s obvious. But what keeps your business safe?
Entrepreneurs and small business owners rarely exercise the same caution with their business that they do in their personal lives. They take unnecessary risks that could cripple their business.
To keep your business safe, take a look at:
- Contracts You Sign – Never sign a contract without having an attorney review it first. If you are a new business without established credit, you may be asked to personally guarantee money you borrow or equipment you lease.
- Customer Contracts – Even if your “contract” is one paragraph with important details, it is better than nothing. A customer contract must outline the nature and scope of the project, payment terms and consequences for non-payment. Your attorney can draft a template contract for you that you will use again and again. It will not cost much and it will save you a good deal of money in the long run.
- Business Insurance – We would never think of going without homeowners insurance, yet many people overlook important business insurance policies that are affordable and provide protection against loss. A basic liability and property damage policy is a good start. There are also insurance policies to protect you against loss of income from a property loss (business interruption), employee suits and policies that protect you if your business data is breached. A professional business insurance agent should be one of your best business partners.
- Data Protection – Years ago, I suffered a major data loss which nearly put me out of business. Today more than ever, it is essential to keep your data safe. It is also important to make sure that your equipment is kept up to date and that both hardware and software function well so that your business can run smoothly. Establish a relationship with an IT specialist to review your systems for today and also to help you project your equipment and systems needs as your business grows.
- Banking Relationships – Does your bank make it easy to do business with them? Can you view your accounts, deposit checks and pay bills online? I prefer working with a local bank or credit union, because I feel they are more invested in my community. A good business bank will have attractive programs to lend you money to help you grow.
- Accounts Receivables – Even if your sales are growing through the roof, if your customers are not paying you, you have a problem. Be on top of your receivables. Review them monthly. Have a plan to recover money owed to you.
Taxes, Accounting and Investments – Do not file your own business tax returns. Hire an expert. A good tax accountant or CPA can save you money and help you plan for the future.
Keeping your business safe is a team activity, and you, as business owner are the captain of the team. Choose your partners wisely!
Marilyn “Mara” Miller is committed to small businesses. She is founder of M3 Consultants, which helps small business owners improve their cash flow through better credit practices.
If you have comments or ideas for future issues please email Marilyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.