Small Business + Small Child = Big Trouble?

There are many challenges that come with running your own business. From the get-go, the success of your business rests with you and only you (or your partner, if you have one). Businesses are like babies: they need to be constantly nurtured if they are to grow. But what happens when you have an actual baby to look after, as well as a fledgling (or established) business? How can you fit in work around a small child’s demands? Can you speak to your clients when there’s a baby wailing to be fed in the background? Will you ever again have any time to yourself?

With rare exceptions, trying to run a business in the first three months of a baby’s life is verging on the impossible. If you’re the mother, you’ll be physically exhausted, recovering from the birth and the pregnancy, possibly breastfeeding. You’ll almost certainly have no energy to do anything other than keep yourself and your baby alive and happy. If you’re a father, you’ll no doubt be suffering from the endless sleepless nights and the relentless feed/clean/ sleep cycle. Obviously if you have paid or voluntary help, you may be able to find a little time here and there to do some work on the business but it’s fairly unlikely you’ll be able to work at anything like normal capacity. Besides, babies grow so fast: take time to make the most of your little bundle of joy – before you know it, they’ll be a rampaging, stroppy toddler. Clients come and go but you’ll never get this time back with your child, so make the most of it!

As your baby grows and (hopefully) begins to find their own routine, you may find yourself with a bit more time on your hands. If they have a regular nap or naps, you might be able to do some work while they sleep. If you can get your baby into a decent night time routine, you may find that you can work for a couple of hours after you’ve put them to bed.

As your children reach the mobile stage, you will find it almost impossible to do any work without some decent childcare. When you have an 18 month old determined to empty every cupboard in the house, climb the stairs and swallow the most dangerous thing they can get their hands on, you simply cannot be at your desk at the same time. There are a multitude of options; your partner (if you have one), the grandparents, a child-minder, a nursery, an au-pair or home help… the option/s that you choose will obviously depend on your financial situation, your child’s nature and your own preferences. Most nurseries offer half days so if you’re working from home that may be an option. Some parents opt to do most of their work at night while their children are asleep – this may be possible in some businesses but in others you’re going to have to be available during normal office hours.

With school age children, things may be easier in that you’ve got more time to devote to the business, but you may find setting boundaries between work and home difficult. Sometimes you may feel pulled in seven different directions at once and feel guilty because you’re not giving 100% to anything. The trick is to stop trying to multi-task. When you’re at work, be at work – that means, if you work from home, that the door to the office is closed and that you are not at home to callers. Your children should know that if you are working, then you are not to be disturbed for anything other than a dire emergency. Similarly, when you’re with your children, give them your full and undivided attention – don’t be tapping out an email on your BlackBerry at the playground, or trying to make business calls while supervising homework. Most importantly, have a day when you do no work whatsoever. Designate one day a week – yes, a whole day – to not working. Do not check your emails or voicemails; do not enter the office; do not even allow the word ‘work’ to pass your lips. Dedicate the day to your family, to having fun, to catching up on sleep or with friends.

With organisation, a little help, a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, you’ll be able to carve out time for both your family and your business. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having ever is, is it? Enjoy the journey!

Debt Relief Programs For Small Businesses – Small Business Failed? – Consider Debt Settlement

Small businesses are a major part of a country’s economy as their contribution towards its growth directly affects the future of the country. Usually a business owner faces many challenges while he operates constantly with the protruding impacts of the business world as he has his ticks on running behind debtors and acquiring unsettled debt.

This course will possibly provide huge debts on your part which is not good at all. So now which way are you going to pick? In fact there are two ways to scrawl up your debt. Either you can file up a statement of bankruptcy or you can walk out of your worries smiling. That’s the way in which you’re going to walk along. Here you will have to be aware of small business debt relief which is in other words, your life line!

When you request the assistance of a debt relief company first of all it will identify your financial status and draw up a field plan. Next these skilled professionals deal directly with your creditors on behalf of you. Debt relief programs for small businesses is simple and it is equally important to state that under the guidance of such debt relief companies you will probably stand a chance to downgrade your financial worries in around 40-50 percent. But records show that when dealing with a well recognized debt settlement company figures go up to around 60% which promises relief.

Here what is important is that you get a period around 3 years to pay back your loan acquired from the debt relief company and in a very small installment which is fairly a relief to a financially degraded entity.

But how do you exactly figure out one such debt relief network which answers your desperate need of getting away from financial worries? Mainly you could visit the Debt Relief Network and refer to the leading service provider willing to engage in your debt settlements. It’s always a good measure as you don’t want to pull yourself into deeper trouble which will make you repent on the unwise decisions taken instead of requesting professional guidance.

Why Gift Cards Are So Good for Business – Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Needlessly Missing Out

If you own or operate a small to medium sized business and do not already do it, you should consider accepting gift cards. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the biggest reason is that your customers want and expect them. Considering the trends in current business, not offering them is risky business.

Customer Preference

Consider this: according to the National Retail Federation, in the year 2005:

• Three-fourths (75.5%) of consumers purchased gift cards;

• More than half (52.3%) wanted to receive them; and

• The average consumer spent 15.6% of their holiday budget on them.

This trend that has continued and grown more marked, and not only do people buy gift cards for holidays and other occasions, many buy them as a convenient way to budget their money or simply store value for future use and convenience. By 2013, for example, 85% of the US population exchanged gift cards, with 61% of card holders spending more than the card value – 75% of those spend more than 60% more. The market is huge, expected to reach $130 billion by 2015.

Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Missing the Boat

Here’s a sobering fact: 97% of top retail stores and restaurants sell gift cards on-line. Less than 3% of local small businesses do.

That is handing larger enterprises an enormous advantage completely unnecessarily. Gift cards are neither difficult nor particularly expensive to create, and they are not time-consuming to implement. If you need help doing this, help is available.

Business Advantage

In addition to using and accepting gift cards because your customers want them, there is also the fact that doing so will increase your profits in other ways. It’s a little like printing money.

It’s actually a lot like printing money. Consider the mechanics of the cards. A gift-giver likes your store or something you offer for sale and decides to give someone else an opportunity to try it for herself. To do this, she buys a gift card, paying you the full face value of the card. That is like printing money – the cash is in your possession now, and you will have to provide value in exchange for it, if at all, some time in the future. One sees many different figures for how often the cards are not redeemed for the full amount, from about 7% to as high as over 20%. Whatever the amount is for your business, it is pure profit.

On the other side of that coin is the fact that most people who do use the gift card’s full face value almost always make purchases totaling more than the card’s value, and so the card creates an additional purchase based on the original purchaser’s desire to buy something from you. More than half the people going to stores with gift cards in their possession do so with someone else. So it is a great way to expand your business.

In addition to these obvious facts, there are other marketing methods only slightly “outside the box.” If you give customers a gift card with some value attached when they purchase something from you, you create a very strong incentive for them to come back – to spend the money you just gave them with you. Considering how much it costs to generate a customer in the first place, this can be an extremely cost-effective way to cement the business relationship with them and keep them coming back.

You could also give gift cards to people in your target demographic who have not been customers yet. Obviously these are more impressive than coupons (and they do cost more to do), but you get your money’s worth because people who have spent anything with in the past are approximately 20 times more likely to spend money with you again. If you know how much you are spending to obtain new customers, it would be easy to determine what makes sense to give people.

Contests, give-aways, and charitable donations could also all take the form of gift cards with a certain face value. These all sound like “cash” to the customer, but they bring people into your store or site and allow you to fulfill the gift in your merchandise. Thus you are potentially generating new repeat customers in addition to whatever advertising you would get from naming the card as the gift. If it is a local charity, your gift card could bring back major dividends.

You should not be missing this opportunity.