December BOSS Advice*: 4th Quarter Happy Endings
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Monthly ideas, terms and trends to help make your business more successful.
Last month I talked about about the importance of business manners and saying “thanks”. (Go here to find the November 2013 BOSS-Talks Archive.) This month I want to talk about happy endings.
4th Quarter Push
For most small businesses, December is a time to get ready to close the books. Hold on! If you want to make the most of this year, keep pushing to the end and start getting ready for a new beginning.
I’m going to be discussing how to improve your online networking on Thursday December 5th at 11:00 CST at my monthly free webinar. The good news about this is that you can start working on this in between parties and work because the Internet is open 24/7. This is a good time to begin to find those lost contacts, former customers, and special colleagues.
You can also take this time to push for getting your business “house” in order. What have you wanted to do all year that you haven’t? It may be as mundane as cleaning out the refrigerator or defrosting the company freezer. Those “science experiments” really should be discarded before they “grow” and take over the world.
Want something more exciting? What about sitting down and planning your marketing and doing your financial forecasts? This can be scary but it can also be rewarding and even a stress reducer. It also helps make sure you don’t plan something for your busiest season. A client of ours had planned to move until we reminded them to look at their planning calendar first. It would have been disastrous for them if they hadn’t checked before they acted.
Thinking about benefits for yourself and your employees. There’s at least one monkey wrench in terms of healthcare insurance from the government. You can still think about more pleasant ways to reward and keep staff. How about creating a bonus program if expense controls or sales goals are met. It takes time to think these through and put them in place. Fourth quarter and especially December is a great time to do this.
Push yourself to get rid of products and services that are no longer relevant or too costly. Maybe you should replace them or maybe you should use the extra time and money to explore a new area next year.
Find ways to relieve stress of your salespeople. You need them to do well and not run off first time customers just to get the sale. In a recent survey of over 2000 shoppers commissioned by Kronos, over 68% of them said one bad experience would cause them to shun a retailer. Even if you’re not a retailer, seller beware!
‘Tis the time for holiday shows and commercials. Watch and learn. Read my post on why TV is a great research tool any time of year for anyone who owns a business not just retailers.
The key is not to let up too soon. Take time to reflect but don’t relax.
Be sure to check out my latest post because you also don’t want to get burned out on business or on Networking. Read “8 Ways to Avoid Networking Burnout” to keep that from happening to you. Go here for more ideas on a better 4th Quarter finish.
Also check out the BSC Pricing Glossary available as a download from our free Business Resources section.
Here’s to your success!
Jan Triplett, CEO
Take Action to Protect Your Business from Cyber Terrorists & Scams
Latest Scam We’ve Heard About: Instagram Scam
(From the Better Business Bureau)
Tips to Spot an Instagram Scam:
Watch out for businesses seeking more followers and promising a ridiculous gift if you do. If it seems too good a deal, it probably is. Although it can be tough to tell a real account from a fraud, here are some tips the Better Business Bureau recommends:
- The account contains words like “Giveways” or “Free” in its name: The real business may already
own its name on Instagram, so scammers will create a fake account supposedly dedicated to giveaways or freebies.
- Be wary of shortened URLs: Many scam accounts will disguise a website by using a URL shortening service, such as bit.ly. Real organizations use these too, so verify the account before clicking a shortened link.
- The account has no photos or uses only stock photos. Instagram is for sharing photos, so not having any real photos is a big giveaway.
- They promise something for free: This is another area where real businesses and scams can overlap. Be wary if the reward for following seems too good to be true. A real business may offer you a chance to win a prize, but scammers will offer that same prize to 1,000 followers.
- They ask for your password: No legitimate company will ask for your Instagram password. If you do give it out, be sure to change it ASAP.
- Contact the business: When in doubt, call the business’s customer support line to check the legitimacy of the offer/account.
The Business Success Center recommends that you bookmark the following. Read the latest information they have on scams and worse. Take action to protect yourself from becoming a victim of Business Identity Theft™! Take action to protect others as well. And, you have to encourage and engage with providers and allies to do so, too. United we stand, divided we fail.
Better Business Bureau — for scams, alerts, to check out charities and nonprofits who want your money. Be sure to bookmark their consumer alert site as well as business.
Computer Security Institute — for research on cyber criminal activity, surveys that you can participate in to gather data, and more
Please also read Jan Triplett’s post because small and medium businesses are now cyber terrorists favorite targets.
Financial Matters — December
The following are some of the important tax filings for this month. They are taken from the IRS Tax Calendar for Small Business. We recommend you consult your tax professional for their applicability to your business, additional filings you may need to make, and advice.
|Fri||1||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Oct 26-29 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Wed||6||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Oct 30 – Nov 1 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Fri||8||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Nov 2-5 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Tue||12||File Form 941 for the third quarter if you timely deposited all required payments.|
|Tue||12||Employers: Employees are required to report to you tips of $20 or more earned during October.|
|Thu||14||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Nov 6-8 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Fri||15||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Nov 9-12 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Fri||15||Deposit payroll tax for Oct if the monthly rule applies.|
|Wed||20||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Nov 13-15 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Fri||22||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Nov 16-19 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
|Wed||27||Deposit payroll tax for payments on Nov 20-22 if the semiweekly deposit rule applies.|
Small Business Regulations & Protections
Marketplace Fairness Act is a hot issue this holiday season. Both sides are hoping that Congress will take action with brick and mortar retailers on one side and online retailers on the other. For small businesses, it’s a tough call on what to support since they fall into both camps. Read more in our Politics section of the website.
Business & Entrepreneurs History
(from Where Did She Get All those Dates Anyway by Michelle Carlson and About.com Inventors)
- Dec. 6, 1955 The Volkswagen was trademark registered.
- Dec. 12, 1980 The Computer Software Act of 1980 was signed. It defined computer programs and clarified the extent of protection afforded to computer software by law. Software was now considered an invention and could be patented.
- Dec. 19, 1871 Mark Twain received the first of his three patents for suspenders.
- Dec. 25, 1984 L.F. Holland patented an improved trailer aka mobile home.
- Dec. 27, 1966 The words from the theme song for “Star Trek”, were copyright registered. Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry.
- Dec. 28 1869, William Finley Semple became the first person to patent a chewing gum – U.S patent #98,304.
- Dec. 30, 1851 Asa Griggs Candler was born. Candler was a businessman who bought Coca-Cola from the original inventor and made it famous.
- Dec. 31, 1935 Charles Darrow received a patent for the game “Monopoly“.
Check out this month’s business anniversaries at Client News
Congratulate them on a job well done. You’ll find the list in our Client News Section.
Business URLs Worth Bookmarking
Thomas.gov — Federal Legislation
Texas Legislature Online — New state laws
Governor’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism — Texas Business Research Data