All posts by Britta

Ways to Put the Spurs To Your One-Legged Pony

Businesses with just one revenue stream, sometimes called one-legged ponies, tend to drop off the radar when the single revenue source dries up.

The one-legged pony business killer seems like a kind stranger when starting out. For example, after you’ve driven Uncle Joe’s truck for a couple years, he offers you a contract and helps get you set up to buy your own equipment. Who in their right mind would turn down a lucrative, long-term bread and butter contract offered by a friend or family member? These special deals sometimes work very well, but the dependence on a lone client can become more of a problem than an asset.

The time to deal with the one-legged pony issue is long before it becomes a problem, as early as the first business plan. Here are a few actions to help diversify your business to avoid falling prey to the one-legged pony.

  1. If A Good Deal Falls On Your Desk, Take It. By all means, take advantage of the amazing evergreen contract when the opportunity comes along. A bread-and-butter contract gives any business a solid base from which to build a great business. Plan from the start to use the stability as a benchmark from which to diversify and build a broader base.
  2. Develop Efficiencies. Get the business running and become proficient at providing top-notch service for your customer. Fine-tune the business to ensure you can provide a high level of service with every engagement. More importantly, become competitive.
  3. Research Similar Businesses. Learn about other businesses similar to yours, how they are surviving, what additional services they provide, and what other clients they attract in order to broaden their base.
  4. Add Revenue Streams. After an appropriate amount of research and comparison of different opportunities, make a plan to diversify your business and increase your sources of revenue. Here are a few examples:
  • A log hauling trucking business could buy a gravel box and start competing for gravel-hauling contracts to fill in the cracks whenever logging gets slow.
  • A service station selling only gas could add a mechanic, incorporate a car wash, or begin selling high-margin trinkets to entice its customers to spend more while on-site.
  • A web designer who builds websites for small businesses could partner with a search engine optimization specialist to sell a broader range of services to its customers.

5. Keep An Eye On your Financials. Your financial reports will tell you if you’re adequately diversified. A one-legged pony’s cash flow rises or falls each time the lone customer hiccups, whereas a suitably diversified offering brings financial stability to the business.

As you work to diversify your business, make sure you look after Uncle Joe. Assuming it was your Uncle Joe that helped you get into business, it’s important to keep him happy as you seek opportunities to branch out. Keep your original customer happy. The one thing less enviable than a pony with one leg is one with no legs.

 

Fast-Track to Self-Employment BootCamp Kelowna

In Kelowna June 11-13. If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, now is the time. Navigate the transition from employee to self-employed contractor and business owner with safely and with confidence.

This workshop is designed to take individuals from working as employees to working as self- employed contractors and business owners. With the ever changing demands of the new economy many individuals are opting to direct and control their careers through self-employment. The course will assist in bridging to self-employment and fully understand what is necessary. The program will cover such topics as market research, understanding industries, identifying opportunities in learner-specific fields of interest, developing and describing a business concept, marketing for self-employed, navigating legal and regulatory requirements, assessing the competition, knowing what customers want, bookkeeping, accounting, taxation, social network marketing, business communications, and understanding labour markets.
Participants will leave the workshop with a basic understanding of what it means to own and operate a small business in the 21st century, how to start a small business, and how to get contracts and keep busy as an independent, self-employed contractor.

City Location Workshop Dates Instructor
Kelowna, BC Sprott-Shaw Campus
#200-546 Leon Ave.
June 11, 12, 13, 2012 Dan Boudreau

Training Goals

At the end of this course, the participant will be able to:

  • Discover the differences between owning a business and being an employee.
  • Determine if a business idea is feasible.
  • Identify the key components and structure of business plans.
  • Use effective business writing and communications techniques.
  • Discuss small business legal and regulatory requirements and deadlines.
  • Locate sources of assistance and information for entrepreneurs.
  • Recognize and discuss sources of labour market information.
  • List and prioritize products and services.
  • Identify potential customers and competition.
  • Ease fear of financials and develop a 3-year forecast.
  • Review proposal formats and writing techniques.
  • Recognize affordable marketing methods, including printed media, the internet, websites, email, and social network marketing options.
  • Identify professional support, including bookkeeping, accounting and legal counsel.
  • Develop a strategy and action plan to transition to self-employment.
  • Research and write a business plan.

Who This Workshop Is For

  • Employment Counsellors
  • Technicians
  • Tradesmen
  • Professionals
  • Anyone transitioning from employment to self-employment

What Participants Can Expect

This workshop is learner-centered and designed for maximum participation and practice. Learners will fill their self-employment toolchest with tricks and techniques, and have opportunities to practice applying new information in a safe and fun learning environment.

Classroom Time

18 hours (3 days)
Instructor led in-class time with the facilitator

Individual Guided Research

37 Hours
Individual guided research, business planning and set-up time.
Remote Live Q&A Discussion/Coaching Sessions via teleseminar

4 – 1 Hour Teleseminars

After attending the workshops and starting your through your individual guided research you will have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss successes, speedbumps and any other issues you have encountered.
Teleseminar 1: July 3 at 10:00pm PST
Teleseminar 2: July 24 at 10:00pm PST
Teleseminar 3: August 07 at 10:00pm PST
Teleseminar 4: August 21 at 10:00pm PST
If for any reason, you are unable to attend any of the 1-hour teleseminars, you will be provided a link to a recording of the phone call so you can listen on your own time.

Individual One-on-One Business Coaching Time

1 hour per participant individual one-on-one business coaching time.
Unlimited Access to the RiskBuster Business Plan Oasis Membership Website.
Each participant receives a membership and access to the Online Business Planner’s RoadMap

Each participant will get the following workshop materials:

  • A BootCamp reference binder loaded with business planning and start-up resources
  • 1 copy of RiskBuster by Dan Boudreau
  • 1 copy of Business Planner’s RoadMap by Dan Boudreau
  • Unlimited Membership to the online RiskBuster Business Plan Oasis
  • Information on bidding on government procurement opportunities
  • Access to a workshop participant’s forum in which to network with other learners, share information and get answers to questions

Each participant will get the following workshop materials:

  • A BootCamp reference binder loaded with business planning and start-up resources
  • 1 copy of RiskBuster by Dan Boudreau
  • 1 copy of Business Planner’s RoadMap by Dan Boudreau
  • Unlimited Membership to the online RiskBuster Business Plan Oasis
  • Information on bidding on government procurement opportunities
  • Access to a workshop participant’s forum in which to network with other learners, share information and get answers to questions

What Participants Will Need

  • A business idea and a desire to operate as a self-employed contractor.
  • A PC or Mac with functional word-processing and spreadsheet applications.
  • Basic computer and word-processing skills

Costs & Class Size

Workshop Fee: $1,000.00 per participant.
Workshop Materials: $114.00 per participant.
Total Cost (including taxes): $1,239.70

Maximum Per Class: 16

Facilitator

This BootCamp will be facilitated by Dan Boudreau, President & CEO, Macrolink Action Plans Inc.

Register Now, Seating is limited.

When you click on register now you will be taken to the Macrolink Action Plans Inc. secure shopping cart. Payment can be made by credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express). Once you have registered, we will email you confirmation of your registration, a receipt, and details of the workshop.

For more information contact Macrolink Action Plans Inc toll-free at 1-877-612-9161
or Sprott-Shaw Community College at 604-552-9711 ext 338

If you wish to pay by any other means, please call us to make arrangements.

If you would like to speak to us before registering please contact us toll free at 1-888-612-9161.

Fast-Track to Self-Employment BootCamp is offered in partnership by Macrolink Action Plans Inc. and Sprott-Shaw Community College.

 

Thinking of Self-Employment?

With the ever changing demands of the new economy many individuals are opting to direct and control their careers through self-employment.

There are several benefits to being self-employed. You will:

▪  Have more freedom.

▪  Have more control over your work schedule.

▪  Have the choice to work from home.

▪  Be paid more money for the work.

▪  Be able to take on work from different sources.

Making the transition from employee to running your own business can be overwhelming. As the business owner or self-employed contractor, you will need to figure out how much to charge for your services, learn to ride or avoid the feast or famine trap, be responsible for 100% of the finances (both personal and business), find a balance between paid and unpaid tasks, stay on top of small business legal and regulatory requirements, and get paid last. Yes, your financial advisor is right about paying yourself first – however, that advice is for people who get pay cheques. When you’re self-employed, your own cheque will be the last one you write; after all other expenses have been paid. The silver lining in this is that, if you work hard and do things right, your pay cheques should be more than when working for someone else. And that is just one of the joys of being self-employed. If you’re prepared to reach out for what you want, the world of business is a playground awaiting your participation.

If you dream of working for yourself, mark your calendar for June 2012. The upcoming Fast-Track to Self-Employment BootCamp will provide you the opportunity to make your dream a reality.

This workshop will help you make the transition from employee to self-employed business owner safely and with confidence. The workshop will cover such topics as market research, understanding industries, identifying opportunities in learner-specific fields of interest, developing and describing a business concept, marketing for self-employed, navigating legal and regulatory requirements, assessing the competition, knowing what customers want, bookkeeping, accounting, taxation, social network marketing, business communications, and understanding labour markets.

Participants will leave the workshop with a basic understanding of what it means to own and operate a small business in the 21st century, how to start a small business, and how to get contracts and keep busy as an independent, self-employed contractor.

Fast-Track to Self-Employment BootCamp

Upcoming Workshop Dates and Locations

City Location Workshop Dates Instructor
Prince George, BC Sprott-Shaw Campus
1575 2nd Ave
June 5, 6, 7, 2012 Dan Boudreau
Kelowna, BC Sprott-Shaw Campus
#200-546 Leon Ave.
June 11, 12, 13, 2012 Dan Boudreau
Victoria, BC Sprott-Shaw Campus
2621 Douglas St.
June 20, 21, 22, 2012 Dan Boudreau
Vancouver, BC Sprott-Shaw Campus
2750 Rupert Street
June 25, 26, 27, 2012 Dan Boudreau

This workshop includes:

  • 18 hours of in-class time
  • 37 hours of individual guided research, business planning and set-up time,
  • 4 – 1 Hour Teleseminars

After attending the workshops and starting your through your individual guided research you will have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss successes, speedbumps and any other issues you have encountered.

Teleseminar 1: July 3 at 10:00pm PST

Teleseminar 2: July 24 at 10:00pm PST

Teleseminar 3: August 07 at 10:00pm PST

Teleseminar 4: August 21 at 10:00pm PST

If for any reason, you are unable to attend any of the 1-hour teleseminars, you will be provided a link to a recording of the phone call so you can listen on your own time.

  • 1 hour per participant individual one-on-one business coaching time.
  • Unlimited Access to the RiskBuster Business Plan Oasis Membership Website.

For more information visit  Fast-Track to Self Employment BootCamp Course Description

Or Contact Workshop Facilitator Dan Boudreau

Nine Reasons To Charge More Than Your Old Boss Paid You

By Dan Boudreau

Congratulations! For anyone with the slightest trickle of entrepreneurial blood flowing through their veins, it’s a glorious day when the boss offers to pay you as a contractor rather than as an employee. As an employee, you worked hard to gain your employer’s trust, earned your stripes, and got the contract.

Then comes the agonizing chat about how much to charge. This is when budding contractors need to sharpen their pencils. When it comes to business expenses, the boss will have a clearer view. Unless he is willing to share financial details, most employees will be ill prepared when it comes to figuring out how much to charge for their services, and most tend to bid too low.

Here are nine expenses that need to be covered in your hourly rate, if you’re going to survive the transition from employee to contractor.

  1. Employer Payroll Burden. This amalgamation of costs is often referred to as Mandatory Employee Related Costs (MERC’s). It includes the employer’s portion of employment insurance, pension, holiday pay and any other employee benefits.
  2. Insurance. You’ll need liability insurance and, as a contractor, you’ll be responsible for paying premiums for your own Worker’s Compensation coverage, as well as providing mandatory insurance for all workers under your employ. To learn about WCB costs, go to www.worksafebc.com and lookup rates and classifications.
  3. Rent and Utilities. Your business will have to have a home, and for many budding contractors that will be somewhere at your personal residence.
  4. Bookkeeping and Accounting. As a small business owner you’ll need to keep accurate records and complete year-end financials for tax purposes. Equally important, you’ll need to know, as owner, where you’re at financially at all times throughout the year.
  5. Legal. You’ll want a lawyer’s help in developing your agreement with your former employer, and there will be other legal purchases, such as licenses and permits.
  6. Marketing, Advertising, Sales. Even though your first contract fell into your lap through the good relations you’ve built with a current employer, you’ll soon be buying business cards and learning how to get the word out about your services.
  7. Tools and Equipment. As a contractor, you may need to supply tools and equipment that previously were provided by your employer. You’ll need to factor in the purchase cost, as well as the cost of repairing, maintaining and replacing equipment.
  8. Office Expenses. In today’s work environment, it’s difficult to imagine a business without a telephone, internet access, some sort of mobile, and a computer-fax-printer. There will also be a desk, chairs and something to store files and documents in.
  9. Bank Charges and Interest. A business needs its own bank account, independent of your personal account. If you borrow funds for business purposes, you’ll be paying interest on those funds until they’re repaid.

The Canada Revenue Agency is the final authority when it comes to deciding whether you’re an employee or a contractor. To locate tests that help to determine whether or not you’re an employee or a contractor, do an internet search using the keywords “employee vs. employer.”

As a contractor, if you’re charging anything less than double what the employer paid you as an employee, you’re probably not charging enough to cover your costs. Your appetite for contracting is more likely to grow if you start out with a healthy pricing strategy.

Related Articles:

Are You in Business or Enslaved to Self-Employment?

Business Needs More Than Passion

Business Owners Go the Extra Mile

Nine Tips for Preparing Your Business Plan to Put Before a Money Lender

By Dan Boudreau

There are many reasons to prepare a business plan, but the most popular is to get money to advance your business goals. At some point, most businesses will need to borrow money in order to grow. When that time comes, you’ll want to arm yourself with a bulletproof business plan.

Here are nine things you won’t want to miss as you ready your business plan to romance your lender.

  1. Describe Your Business. State your business vision and mission, and clarify how the business is structured, what you sell, and how it works. Weave these things together to create a snapshot of your current situation and be sure to tell why you need money and how much you need.
  2. Write Your Business Goals. Set goals for the term of the loan, including: sales targets, net profits, the number of units to be sold, new products or services, how you’ll diversify your business, and how many new clients you’ll add.
  3. List Your Customers. Describe your customers and the problem your business solves for them. Clarify who they are, what they want, and their main buying motives. A lender will want to know that you understand who you’re selling to.
  4. Describe Your Competitors. List your competitors and compare them according to the products or services they sell, how their facilities are arranged, how many workers they employ, and how long they have been in business. Explain how your business differs from the competition, and clarify why customers buy from you.
  5. Beef Up Your Biography. Provide a summary of your credentials and experience, including relevant academic, work, and business achievements. Feel free to toot your own horn by listing your strengths and successes—highlight your history of following through on your business plans and commitments.
  6. Plan Your Cash Flow. Cash flow is most easily created using a spreadsheet program. Determine the flow of cash into and out of your business—monthly for the term of the loan you hope to borrow, at a minimum for the first year. Key to your business plan, a cash flow forecast will clarify how much money you need to operate each month, as well as showing how you will pay back the borrowed funds.
  7. Project Your Income. While a cash flow projection shows how much money will be in the bank at the end of each month, pro forma income statements show whether or not your business is expected to be profitable in the future.
  8. Explain What You Need The Money For. In your business plan, show how you will use the borrowed funds. If you’re buying equipment, list the items and support your request with quotes. If you need an operating loan, your cash flow should show how much you need and when.
  9. Offer Security. Most small business owners will only be able to borrow against what they already own or can offer as security for the loan. Most often this means providing a personal guarantee and offering equity as security in the event you fail to make loan payments.

Finally, be prepared to invest a minimum of 20 to 50% of your own funds or equity into any venture or project for which you wish to borrow money. Lenders will want you to have enough skin in the game to ensure that you’re motivated to make payments and follow through on the promises made in your business plan.

Ready to get started on your business plan? We have free business planning and tools and resources for you. Visit our Tools page

Writing a Business Plan: The Dark Art of Predicting The Future

By Dan Boudreau

The strongest resistance to business planning typically comes from diehard pessimists, who ask, “What good are my 3-year financial projections if I step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus?”

That’s a great question that will stop anyone from ever doing a business plan. And it seems logical enough, until you consider that everything great that happens in the world comes about because somebody decided to make an impact on the future.

Truthfully, you might be the most unpredictable element of your business plan. Here are a few of the ways in which you can become the real wildcard in your business plan.

  1. You might not believe you can succeed, which is the kiss of death for any business. Your lack of belief in your business assures its failure.
  2. You might hate managing people, which is impossible to know until you try. Business owners need to be skilled at managing several groups of people; employees, customers, suppliers, and creative teams.
  3. After going through all the effort of getting your business started, you might discover that you really want to work for someone else and not carry the responsibility of owning and running a business.
  4. You might discover that you can’t turn the business off, that you simply worry about it until you burnout.
  5. You might learn that you’re not a salesperson. Not everyone is, but successful business owners are.
  6. As the owner of a business, you might find that the activities that fill your hours and days—marketing, selling, logistics—are things you really don’t enjoy. This leads to artists who insist on doing all art while ignoring the business. It happens to the technician who gets immersed in his profession and refuses to get out and market his business.
  7. You might learn that you’re hopeless with finances, and that you’re missing some of the necessary knowledge and skills to manage your business—how to prepare a cash flow forecast, how to read an income statement, how to keep records.
  8. You might discover that you’re disorganized, and that you dread having to plan your days, weeks and months. Does freedom unleash your creative spirit, or do you self-destruct when faced with an open road?
  9. After getting immersed in your business, you might discover that you work too long and too hard for the amount of money you earn. It’s true that many small and micro businesses never get fine tuned to the point of earning a profit; too many evolve into a twisted form of enslavement.

Any business worth its salt will present its owner with many learning opportunities. Each speed bump can be taken as an opportunity to learn and grow; or it can be the roadblock that motivates you to change direction and get a job.

It seems insane to attempt to predict the future, but it seems even more so to accept a life of drudgery in a dead end job. For those who aspire to improve their work life by working at something they enjoy, business planning is a great place to start, even if it seems a bit crazy at first.

Related Articles:

Entrepreneurs View Business Through Different Lenses

Myths About Owning Your Own Business

Article Archive: Entrepreneurship