A survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the first months of 2013 reveals a lot about what’s in the hearts and mind of the country’s small-business owners. One of the most notable findings is that, while only five percent of small firms are interested in receiving help from the government, a whopping 87 percent long for more certainty.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who owns a business: when everything from customer flow to weather conditions to supplier availability is subject to fluctuation, it’s nice to have at least one component you can depend on.
Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is still not stable enough for most small-business owners. And with sequestration cuts starting to take effect and Congress still deadlocking on a regular basis, the uncertainty is likely to continue.
How to Minimize Uncertainty in Your Business
Plenty of forces that you can’t control affect your business. Minimize the uncertainty you face by controlling what you can:
- Offer long-term incentives to clients. If you’d rather have an income stream locked down for the long term, establish pricing plans that incentivize long-term relationships. This helps give you a more accurate idea of what cash-flow will be down the road and can minimize the feast-and-famine revenue cycles so many small-business owners experience.
- Plan your taxes ahead. Keeping a dedicated accountant on staff (or on your payroll as a contractor) helps ensure that you don’t face any expensive surprises at tax time. Maintain open lines of communication between you and your accountant open so you can keep him or her abreast of any changes in your business that might affect your filing status.
- Buy insurance. Liability insurance is a tool that helps you manage risk: you trade a small payment (the premium) in the present for the guarantee that you won’t have to make a devastatingly big payment down the road. An insurance agent with experience working with small-business owners in your industry can help you determine which types of business liability insurance make the most sense for your firm.
- Stay posted on industry and economic trends. You’re less likely to be caught off-guard by a major change if you’ve been following the news from your industry and the larger economy.
- Review your books. Sure, you’ve got an accountant. But to make sure you’ve got a sense of how your business is doing at any given point in time, make a habit of reviewing your books. This helps ensure that you make major spending decisions wisely.