Today, let’s reach for some small business tips you should be taking away from this past season.
As Inland Empire business owners, we always need to be ready to adapt to changing times — this time around change just happened to come … faster.
So, what should we do about this? That’s my subject today.
Some Small Business Tips Your Inland Empire Business Should Learn…
“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you’re willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz
For Inland Empire businesses, there really are a few small business tips that you MUST come away with after this past season’s disruptions.
So, let’s dive right into these lessons for any business…
Small Business Tips #1 – Establish and maintain a reserve of operating capital.
Just like every family needs an emergency fund of at least 3 months of living expenses, so too should every business have a working capital reserve. In my years of working with small businesses, it’s rare to see such reserves. When you operate on tight margins, it can be difficult to establish such a reserve, but as we saw at the start of the pandemic, it can make the difference between staying in business in trying times versus closing the doors forever.
Small Business Tips #2 – Critically evaluate your need for physical office space.
While the work from home trend has been slowly growing for over 20 years, the pandemic accelerated the trend by at least a decade, overnight. This means an incredible opportunity to reduce your office space costs, even if you’re in a type of business that requires physical space. Since lease expenses commonly account for 5 to 15 percent of a business’ expenses, saving on this cost can be substantial to surviving economic downturns. This means you could be an operating business, but instead of being tied to a physical location, you would have the freedom (and reduced cost) that a virtual business affords. Sounds nice, right?
For service businesses, think about how much office space you actually need. If your whole team can work remotely, maybe you don’t even need a dedicated space. Maybe you can get by just fine with a virtual office or coworking membership that gives access to conference rooms as needed.
If you run a store selling physical merchandise, you obviously need some square footage. But do you need back-office space for administrative staff, or can they work from home? What about inventory storage? Can you find a cheaper off-site storage space?
If your lease is up for renewal, think about getting into a more affordable location. And even if your lease isn’t up for renewal, why not ask your landlord for a rent rate reduction? A lot of commercial landlords would rather give you a discount than lose you as a tenant entirely, which means lowering your expenses, which means better things ahead.
Small Business Tips #3 – Embrace the digital.
2020 was a gut-punch to any Luddites that are still in business. Small businesses with tech-centric processes were clearly able to pivot to the “COVID economy” way faster and more seamlessly than other businesses.
For service businesses, the bulk of interaction can go totally digital. Even Inland Empire retail businesses can do most of their sales and customer service virtually.
People have really started to appreciate things going digital because now they don’t have to take the time to physically go to the store for small things. Depending on the nature of your business, offering value-added services like pick-up and delivery can not only boost business but also help in reducing the need for square footage.
The change train is a way of life, and this train is chugging faster than ever right now. Making sure your business doesn’t miss that train is no easy task, but we’re here to make sure you get on it.
Whether you need help with securing working capital, reducing expenses, or evaluating digital solutions, we’re here for you.
Let’s talk about how we can help.
Ursula D Garrett
Garrett & Associates, CPA