Tough Times in the Home Office & Small Business Take a Tight Belt

Lamentable Truths
January 20th, 2009 No Comments »

In tight times, smart small businesses adopt a survival attitude. We hunker down, look to trim fat, and plan for tomorrow.

Jim Blasingame, host of the Small Business Advocate site and syndicated radio show, says trimming the sails and tightening the belt are key to success.

He offers 10 things to do right now to execute on this attitude.

1. Profit is the Queen of business, but cash is King. Ask employees to help cut waste and expenses, plus review operational steps and eliminate or tighten up inefficient ones. What’s their motivation? How about job security? Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves. Read More »

Unemployed vs. UnderEmployed: Five Steps to Mastering a Slow Economy

January 3rd, 2009 2 Comments »

Some economists believe the U.S. unemployment rate will peak near nine percent in the first half of 2009 (Happy New Year – here’s your pink slip…).

Millions of Americans – without jobs.

But what about millions more who will be “under-employed” – like those who work in a home office?

As a long-time freelancer, I’ve seen the cycles. During the dotcom-phenom of the late 1990s, I had ample work and raked in healthy Form-1099s at year’s end.

Then the dot-bubble dot-burst. While I still was employed by Jeffery D. Zbar Inc., the more appropriate word was “under-employed.” As venture capital-drenched tech firms fell off, so, too, did their roster of independent contractors. Many still had other gigs, but they were fewer in number and most paid less. Hence, under-employment. Read More »

‘Pest’ Defined: The CFO in the Home Office

Legal & Accounting
June 3rd, 2008 No Comments »

Scanning Quickbooks this morning (what else do I do at 5 am in the home office?) I made a rather disturbing discovery: A monthly column I’d written for a national magazine had gone uninvoiced. For more than a month.


There it was — a gaping void where a date of invoice should be. I immediately pulled up an old invoice,? typed in the correct information, saved it, resaved it as a PDF, and emailed it out. I even included a little humor about my tardiness — and asked that my editor expedite the payment as “beer’s running low” in the home office.

Daniel’ll get the humor, though I’m sure he’s a vodka guy.

But the exercise proved a few key points about F&A (finance and accounting) in the home office:

– Invoice. Fast. As my friend Jim Blasingame always says, as entrepreneurs, we eat what we kill. But if we don’t bring our kill to the kitchen, no one’s going to do it for us. In other words, a project’s undone until it’s been invoiced — and payment has been received.

– Watch those receivables. At least weekly, I try to remember to review my receivables to make sure they’re still current. That’s how I found this one.

– Don’t be shy. Use Read Receipts to receive notices that your invoice was read by your recipient. If you don’t receive a receipt in the next day or two, the recipient might have declined. Send an email asking if he or she received it. You’re not being a pest. It’s just good business housekeeping.

Since Daniel edits a magazine, and most magazines pay upon publication (as opposed to submission of the article), it might still be a few weeks before the invoice is paid. But my invoice is in the pipeline. I’m awaiting his Read Receipt. I won’t get it quite yet. It is 5 am after all…

Insurance, Telecom & Telework: Saving Coin in the Home Office…

Telework & Virtual Officing, The Responsible Home Office
May 27th, 2008 No Comments »

Gas has blown through the $4-a-gallon threshold, leaving consumers scratching their heads and scouring their piggy banks wondering how they’ll boost cashflow to stretch those ends to meet in the middle. Think three concepts here: Insurance, Telecom & Telework.

Setting aside the causes, lack of a concerted response by our leaders and populace, and what all this portends for tomorrow, there are things we can do today to nip rising fuel costs — and the associated outcomes — in the bud. The folks at WorkHomeYou Magazine had some general costing-saving suggestions (book airline tix early, cluster driving errands, use reward cards, cancel superfluous subscriptions, and – my personal fav – use Gmail).

I’ve written on money saving concepts of late, including Be Senor Frugal with the consumables.? How about brewing your own Joe before going to meetings (hey, $3 for a cup of coffee or tea is $3 that could be in your pocket). Launder instead of dry clean.?? Ride your bike (or take public transportation) to meetings or on errands. Put a new spin on being the road warrior. Think Frugal.

Some others ideas… Read More »

Home Office & Small Business Finances: It’s the $$ You Get

Legal & Accounting
May 26th, 2008 No Comments »

Ask any accountant or tax planner about business or personal finances, and they have a mantra they seem to follow: It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.

In the home office, I have a different code of financial wisdom: Before what you make becomes what you keep, it’s what converts from receivable to collection that’s important. In other words, it’s what you get that’s critical.

It’s been a solid first five months of the year. Billings are high, and my client load has been fairly agreeable in turning their AP (accounts payable) into my positive cash flow. But there always are those few who lapse, who get a bit behind, who “misplace” my invoice or are simply slow to pay.

In the home-based business, where corporate collections become the home officer’s salary, the two are inextricably linked. And the tardy are the ones who turn cash flow into a train wreck.

A few tips to keeping collections on track: Read More »

Home Office Gatekeeper: Keeping Consumable Costs in Check

Productivity & Efficiency
May 20th, 2008 2 Comments »

My son recently wanted to print a color document for school. I knew because it arrived as an email attachment in my inbox. My wife wanted to print invitations — in color — for a school program. Again, I knew because I got an email from her on my BlackBerry.

Who am I, Kinkos?

No, I’m a thrifty home officer. Call me the Master of the Canon, the Gatekeeper of the Color Printer.

We used to have a color printer on the family PC in the kitchen. And we used to have a lot more money, too. Color printers are a bane to any business. How many times do you get what should be a draft-grade doc printed in glorious color on high-grade stock? B-E-A-utiful. And E-X-Pensive… Read More »

Home Office & Telework: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

SOHO Workstyles, Telework & Virtual Officing, The Responsible Home Office
March 16th, 2008 No Comments »

So you work from home. Time to bank some serious scratch. You’ve eliminated the dry cleaning and the commute, the tolls, the wear and tear on your vehicle, your family and your soul. No pricey downtown lunches, $4-a-gallon gas, or other drains on the wallet.

What’s it all worth?

EcoSmartStyle ran a piece?from?The Simple Dollar on how home officing can save $8,000 a year (just remember that going independent or Form-1099?most likely means you’ll be hit with the “self-employment tax,” wherein independent contractors pay both halves of the 15.3% social security tax hit — as opposed to splitting it with your employer. Actually, you are splitting it with your employer — only your employer is YOU).

Another read: 拉菲娱乐注册网址 游戏对战平台排行榜 by The Discovery Channel.

The net-net: The savings can start with home officing, but they are a work in progress. Using power strips to power down all your peripherals, setting the PC to sleep after short stints of non-use, installing window shades to insulate the space, and working in lighter or heavier clothing (depending on the season) to avoid adjusting the thermostat, are just some ways to improve cash flow in the home office.

After all, it’s not what you make that’s important. It’s what you keep. Keep more of what’s yours…

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