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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

 

All small business owners have attempted to take a vacation that is inevitably interrupted with yet another crisis at work. You are currently on vacation and you are supposed to be relaxing and having a good time. Your phone won’t stop, your emails keep flowing in and instead of relaxing, you are furiously typing and scrolling away on your laptop.

 

It is easy to fall into the trap of working while on vacation. Most business owners never fully unplug from the office while supposedly vacationing. While this sounds like a good plan, you are unfortunately setting yourself up for more stress, anxiety, and total burnout.  Additionally, people who do not take at least one 1-week vacation a year are 30% more likely to have a heart attack and this number increases dramatically for women. So do yourself and your overall health a favor, and take a real vacation!

 

So, how do you truly let work handle itself for a while as you get some much needed R&R?

 

Setup a vacation plan:

Once you have selected your getaway, make sure that you work wit your team to be able to handle business while you are away.

  • Delegate tasks
  • Create backup plans
  • Make your communication boundaries clear
  • Make your availability clear
  • Make sure each employee knows what is expected of them
  • Empower your staff to handle problems should they arise

 

Setup a return plan:

You know that your first day back into the office will be a nightmare game of catching up. Your inbox will be full and your to-do list will be long. Take the time to pre-organize and prioritize what you will need to do once you return to work.

 

Use the three Ds – Delete, Delegate, and Deal.

  • Delete everything your team is already managing.
  • Delegate what you can have someone else handle.
  • Deal with what you need to take care of.

 

Setup a schedule:

If you absolutely must check in with your business, establish a daily and timed routine for checking in and stick to it. Deviating from your schedule, can lead you down the rabbit hole of emails, calls, and other work issues.

 

Only respond to real emergencies:

Not every situation requires your response. Make sure that you only engage if you absolutely have to.

 

Taking a true vacation can seem impossible for a small business owner.  With some careful planning and a bit of letting go, you can finally get the rest and relaxation that you desperately need. Now Unwind, relax and enjoy!

 

Loan Mistakes That Can Harm Your Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

At some point most businesses need to borrow money. Choosing the wrong type of loan can do irreparable damage to your business’s bottom line. There are countless financing options out there and the key is to choose the right one that fits your business needs and your ability to pay back the loan.

 

Choosing the wrong option can translate into less short-term on-hand cash for your business to spend.  It can also mean smaller overall profits as you pay down the loan, and a longer and more stressful search for your loan in the first place.

 

In order to select the correct option for your needs, you should make sure you avoid these mistakes:

 

1.) Not knowing your credit score:

Your personal credit is always a factor when applying for a business loan. It shows your creditworthiness and your ability to pay the loan off to the lender. A score of 700 or higher is considered good for a personal score.

 

These are credit reporting services where you can check your personal credit score:

 

These are credit reporting services where you can check your business credit score:

 

2.) Not doing your research:

It always pays to be prepared for the worst. Do not until you and your business is in dire need of cash to start the process of researching lenders and applying for loans. Do your research well in advance and keep a list of credible lenders on hand just in case you find that you need one.

 

3.) Not knowing your options:

Rates, fees, and terms for financing can vary greatly depending on where you go to obtain a loan and even the time of year you do it in. Make sure to do your due diligence and thoroughly research the options you are presented with.

 

4.) Not applying for enough money:

You never want to take out a loan only to find that you need another loan a few months later. Running a business comes with some uncertainty and unforeseen expenses that can pop up.   These may include new competition, equipment breakag, or employees quitting. Make sure that you are borrowing enough money to cover your immediate needs as well as anything unexpected that may come up.

 

5.) Not knowing your payment options:

Getting cash fast when your business is in a slump is very important, but you need to make sure that you will be able to pay the loan off once you are back on your feet. The payment schedule needs to fit with you and your business. If you cannot keep up with the payments, it can damage your credit and potentially lead to your business’s failure.

 

Getting the loan that you need shouldn’t be a stressful or scary experience. With proper planning and in-depth research you can be prepared for any possible disasters or downturn in your business. Taking out a loan is never something a business owner does lightly but done correctly it can add up to one result, a thriving business.

How To Reduce Small Business Lawsuits & Some Advice

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Small business owners will face the threat of a lawsuit at least once over the lifetime of their business. The financial impact of such a lawsuit can be devastating and can even put the company totally out of business. The lawsuit can also damage the company’s reputation, place stress on you and your employees and take valuable time away from other important parts of your business.

 

Small businesses are sued for a variety of reasons which are usually dependent on their industry.  Some reasons for lawsuits include but are not limited to product defects, noncompliance with regulations, breach of contract, and more.

 

Unfortunately, most lawsuits against small businesses are from unhappy employees. Employees that feel they have been treated unfairly, terminated unjustly, or disciplined in a way they felt was too harsh are more likely to sue if they feel they can gain financial compensation for their perceived mistreatment.

 

The most common employee-led lawsuits include:

  • Discrimination (age, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc)
  • Harassment
  • Injury due to negligence
  • Wrongful termination
  • Salary and/or compensation violations

 

Occasionally the lawsuits will come from an unhappy customer. Most are legitimate claims against the business but of course occasionally you may run into a frivolous lawsuit.   There are some people who make a living out of filing lawsuits.  Regardless,  the negative impact to your business will be the same.

 

The most common customer-led lawsuits include:

  • Discrimination
  • Personal injury
  • Refusal of service
  • Unlawful activities (such as a hidden camera in the bathroom)

 

How can you reduce the threat of a lawsuit?

  1. Protect your assets with the proper insurance coverage. Business liability insurance can protect your personal finances as well as the business finances. Seek the advice of an insurance professional to find the right coverage for your business.
  2. Make sure you have good legal help ready and waiting just in case. It is always best to get to know a good lawyer that you can turn to for advice or representation when needed.
  3. Be careful with what you do and say. Never over promise, don’t make ludicrous claims, try to avoid saying anything that may harm you in the future, and never make overly specific claims about your products or services. This includes what is said and done with employees. Make sure all of your policies are clearly written out, easily accessible, consistent with federal, state and local laws and are followed.

 

If you do happen to get sued, or are threatened with a lawsuit, stay as calm as possible. Your first step will be to contact your lawyer and let them know the situation. Your legal counsel may be able to help mitigate the matter before it goes to court. After speaking with them, if necessary, your second call will be to your insurer to make certain you know the process to file a claim should you need to do so.

 

Facing any sort of legal matter can be incredibly difficult and highly stressful.  Try to keep a cool and level head about the situation. Keeping calm and optimistic can help you focus on the task as well as help you continue to run your business while the matter is handled.

 

Being prepared is always the best route to go. Make sure your assets and company are protected well before there is a problem and you will be in a better place to either curb a potential lawsuit or tackle it quickly.

The Importance of Social Capital

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social capital

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Social capital refers to the connections and shared values between people that enable more cooperation and growth than one person can do alone. When you have taken the time to develop a wealth of social capital you will easily obtain any other resource that you need.

 

1.)  It Should be Natural Networking

Networking can be unpleasant for most people, but it is truly important to be successful. The best is to start small and be patient. Let the relationship grow naturally by being honest and authentic and show the people that you value them. Start with your own friends, family, and coworkers. Find others in your field that you look up to and connect with them. Just remember to be authentic – don’t put on a fake persona, eventually they will see through it and be less than pleased.

 

2.) It Establishes You As A Leader

Offering advice or resources to other people without expecting something in return builds trust and establishes your reputation as an upstanding person in your field. If the assistance is helpful, you place yourself as an honorable and knowledgeable person in your field.

 

3.) It Creates Strong Teams

Social capital is not limited to those who you know personally, who work with you, or those in your company. You can, and should, extend your network as far as you can. Nurturing a wide ranging network will provide you more resources to look to for solving a greater variety of issues.

 

4.) It Makes People Want to Help You

Once you have provided helpful support and advice to others in your network, they will want to give it back when you need the assistance. Most people genuinely like helping others – especially if they have been helped at some point by that person. Never be afraid to ask for assistance when needed from the network you are carefully creating. It you don’t ask, you don’t get.

 

Other tips to build social capital:

  • Be honest and do not shy away from hard truths. People value honesty.
  • Help connect others together.
  • Contribute to debates.
  • Actively contribute in your chosen field.
  • Support other people when they need it.
  • Help others in your network with their work.

 

As the saying goes – every entrepreneur needs three kinds of capital: financial, human, and social. The financial is easy – the other two take a lot of work. Take the time to build your social capital and both you and your Veteran or Military owned business will reap the rewards.

Small Business Ideas for Veterans – Part 3

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA invites you to enjoy Part 3 of this series of Small Business Ideas for Veterans.

 

Security Dogs

If you love canines, breeding and training security dogs can be a very lucrative business.  This is an excellent idea for those who handled dogs in the military.  Law Enforcement Agencies are potential clients as well as private individuals.

 

Security Gadgets Installation

Installation of many security gadgets can be user friendly, a lot of people prefer to have someone else do the installation for them. Outdoor security lights, video door bells and home security system installations are on the rise.

 

Self-Defense Training

In real life, victims do not get to pick the bad guy or the time, place and/or method of attack. You can offer group training or individual training to those who want to take responsibility for their personal security.

 

Senior Care Business

Aging at home is often the first choice for the elderly population. Services you offer can include meal preparation, light cleaning, medication reminder, client escort, companionship, helping with bills etc.  With the aging of America, this is a huge market.

 

Special Event Security

Many venues that host special events, including musical concerts, award shows, film festivals, carnivals, require a security staff.  Many venues need reliable security and will award contracts.

 

Tax Services

People usually prefer having a tax expert handle the filing of their income taxes. If you have a talent for accounting, this may be a good business to pursue.

 

Temporary Staffing Agency

There will always be employers looking for temporary staff, and people looking for employment,  This can be a lucrative business as your agency will make money for every hour that each temporary employee earns and you can obtain contracts.

 

Tire Shop

Every car on the road will eventually need new tires. Make sure that you can secure a good location and be competitive.

 

Tow Truck Business

Your business can be called upon for everything from towing an illegally parked vehicle to helping those with a broken-down vehicle including accident victims. Keep in mind the hours can be long and you will have to work in all types of weather.

 

Tutor

As a professional tutor, you will need to be constantly updated and have relevant knowledge of the subjects you are tutoring.  You may want to specialize in a specific subject or preparing students for specific tests such as SAT, ACT and moe.

 

Vehicle Wrap and Graphics Business

You can produce your own graphics and wraps, or order wraps from a dealer. This is a growing industry.

 

Wilderness Survival School

There has been an increase in wilderness survival schools due to the demand. If you’re resourceful and the outdoors type, consider sharing your knowledge with others.

 

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA.

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