5 Ingredient Recipe to Make a Profit

It is useful to simplify and de-mystify processes that are prone to confuse or intimidate, frustrate or overwhelm.  Stripping complex processes down to their basic ingredients allows a clear picture to emerge and reveals how the gears and levers really work.  It is then easier to understand how to build out, alter, or sustain as needed.  A recipe (or formula, if you will) can de developed and codified.

Just like your favorite cookie or potato salad recipes, there are recipes that can be used to develop a profitable business enterprise. Let’s look this profit-making ingredient list:

LEADS

That is, prospects. Those individuals who consider doing business with you.  You may meet them in person anywhere and if they pose serious questions about your business that seem to make follow-up discussion appropriate, then consider that person a prospect.  If someone visits your website and pages through in search of information about your products and services, those visitors are also prospects.

CONVERSION RATE

Prospects who do business, whether they purchase a product or sign a contract for your company to provide a service.

AVERAGE DOLLAR SALE

You can calculate the average sale on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.  Divide the accounts receivable amount by the number of hours invoiced.

AVERAGE NUMBER SALES

Depending on your business, you may have only two or three projects in house at a given time.  Intangible service providers often have bigger ticket sales (projects) that are fewer in number than tangible service or product providers.

PROFIT MARGIN

This metric will be much easier to determine in a retail business, where wholesale acquisition costs or product production costs are readily verified.  Service providers must estimate their wholesale cost to produce that which is sold to clients.  If you provide graphics services or shoot videos, what does it cost you to provide the service? That estimated amount will be deducted from the hourly or project rate that you bill the client and that will reveal the profit margin.

  1. Leads X Conversion rate = Clients
  2. Clients X Average Dollar Sale = Revenue
  3. Revenue X Profit margin = Profit

Consider this example.  In your business, you, your newsletter or blog, social media accounts and your website make contact with an average 20 leads a month and you manage, on average, to convert one in every five of those prospects into a paying client, giving your organization a 20% conversion rate.

Leads (20) x Conversion rate (20%) = Clients (4/month) 

A reasonable estimate of the wholesale value of your time —-considered your production expense—to provide one of your services is $40.00/hour.  You typically bill at $65.00/hour, meaning that your hourly net income is $25.00/hour.

To calculate your profit margin, determine the amount of revenue (before deducting expenses) that your business earned during the calculation period.  For this example, we’ll have you bill those four clients a total of 100 hours/month, as 25 hours each per month, invoiced at your usual $65.00/hour for a total of $6500.00 gross revenue (sales) earned monthly. You invoice each client $1625.00 a month. Your $25.00/hour net income amounts to $2500.00 in a typical month.

Clients (4) x Avg. Dollar Sale ($1625)  =  Revenue $6500.00

The profit margin is calculated by dividing the monthly net income of $2500.00 by the gross monthly revenue (sales) of $6500.00 to reveal a monthly profit margin of 38.46%.  The profit (in contrast to either gross or net revenue) is calculated by multiplying the profit margin of 38.46% X  the gross revenue (sales) of $6500.00, that equals $2500.00/ month profit. You may recognize that figure as your monthly net income!

Revenue ($6500.00) x Profit margin (38.46%) = $2500.00

So there you have it.  As you can deduce, proprietors of service businesses that see few clients each month can, after doing research that helps determine a reasonable wholesale cost of your labor when providing services, can really impact profit by appropriately pricing services offered.  An increase of just $5.00/hour will add $500.00/month to the four client, 25 hours/month per client, total of 100 hours/month scenario presented here.

You’d invoice each client at $1750.00 per month, rather than $1625.00, and your monthly gross revenue (sales) would be $7000.00, a nice improvement over $6500.00/ month. To account for the inevitable fluctuations in Freelancer earnings, I estimate that for 10 months/ year one can reasonably expect to earn at the projected level shown here.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph:  © Girl Scouts of America, circa 1960

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Launch 2017 With Strategic Planning For Your Business

Happy New Year! My wish for all my readers is that 2017 will be filled with good health, good choices and prosperity and a year where you recognize opportunities and successfully move forward to attain what will benefit you.

Part of the process of realizing your goals may involve strategic planning. The process of strategic planning encourages business leadership teams to ask (the right) questions about the value that the business creates and sells at a profit, which is a reflection of its vision and mission.  The goals, objectives, business model and guiding principles (that is, culture and values) are likewise impacted by the organization’s vision and mission. Below are six strategic planning and positioning principles to enhance your planning.

Principle 1:  Sustained profitability

Economic value and the conditions for generating profits are created when clients value your product or service enough to pay more than it costs the business (you) to produce and provide it.  Strategic planning is all about Defining  business goals and objectives and devising strategies and action plans with the thought of ROI, in particular long-term ROI, in mind.  Assuming that profits will be inevitable when sales volume and/or market share are the most accurate measurements of success is not the best way to approach the matter.

Principle 2: Value proposition

First, be certain that what you consider to be the value proposition—that is, the most desirable benefits—matches what clients consider to be the value proposition. Be aware that strategy is not about offering services or products that will be all things to all prospective clients.  Businesses are in need of strategies that allow the venture to compete in a way that allows it to effectively and efficiently deliver what clients consider the value proposition.

Principle 3: Competitive advantage

The unique and desirable benefits that sustain the value proposition must be reflected in and supported by strategy that shapes them into a sustainable competitive advantage.  The successful enterprise will differentiate itself from competitors through the products or services offered, how those are packaged and/or delivered, customer service practices, branding, pricing and so on; those unique features and practices will matter to current and prospective clients.  Still, the company’s business model will likely resemble that of its rivals.

Principle 4: Choices and priorities

Resources are inevitably finite and choices about your products and/or services must be made, in order to define what is necessary and possible and therefore, a priority.  Some  product or service features will not be offered, so that the benefits (priorities) that clients have chosen as highly desirable can be optimized.  These priorities are what sets the business apart from competitors and define the brand.

Principle 5: Flow

Choices and priorities must be baked into the strategies that you and the leadership team devise, to enhance and enable the consistent  delivery of the value proposition. These strategies will be both stand-alone and interdependent, like dominoes.  Choices made to define the target customers that the business will pursue also impact product design and by necessity will impact choices that determine the manufacturing process and its cost.  Choices that determine what will be included in a service will be influenced by the expected target customers and will impact how that service is delivered and priced.  Choices about product positioning and branding will impact where the product is sold and the marketing strategy.

Principle 6: Direction

The late style icon Diana Vreeland, who served as editor-in-chief at both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Magazines, once said that “elegance is refusal.” A company must define its unique value proposition and that will eventually cause certain potential choices to be declined, because they are contrary to the brand.  The product or service lines can be altered to satisfy customer demands over time and business models can be adjusted to reflect current or anticipated market conditions.  Nevertheless, the vision and mission must be upheld to maintain brand awareness and trust. Strategic direction will guide that process.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

 

The Most Profitable Small Businesses

What was your Fiscal Year 2015 net pofit margin? Did you reach your projection? Are you solvent and able to manage your accounts payable, business and household? Were you able to buy useful and comprehensive medical and dental insurance?  Were you able to deposit $10 K  or more into your retirement account? Did you travel to some nice location during the year and reward yourself with a vacation?

If the answer to two or more of those questions is no,  I respectfully suggest that you think about your Freelance consulting venture.  If you were able to put $7500 into your retirement account but you’ve not taken a real vacation in 5 years,  it does not raise a red flag in my estimation.  But if you have trouble paying bills, you have only the cheapest health insurance available and you infrequently or never pay into your retirement fund,  then you need to devise a way to make more money.  One of your options may be not just to tweak your business model and engineer a pivot. You may need to go into another type of venture altogether, one with greater profit-making potential.

Take heed– Sageworks, a financial data service located in Raleigh, NC, analyzed the net profit margins of 16,000 small businesses that earned less than $10 million between September 2014 and August 2015.  The average net profit across all industries in that time period was  7.2%.

Note that this list of top performers consists almost entirely of Freelancer-friendly service industries.  Despite the challenges of selling services, especially intangible services,  to either B2B or B2C clients,  Sagework’s list demonstrates that it is possible  to make money as a self-employed service provider.

Some industries are more soloprenuer-Freelancer friendly than others.  Accountants/bookkeepers, real estate sellers, lawyers,  landlords,  health  practitioners (physical therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, etc.), graphics/industrial designers and architects/(structural) engineers are all able to operate a one-person shop quite well, perhaps with a single employee to provide administrative help.  Physicians, I’m sorry to say,  can no longer maintain a solo practice in big cities.

Educational requirements and professional credentials pose a formidable barrier to entry for several of these high-yield business opportunities, with medicine, dentistry, law, architecture, engineering, chiropractic and accounting (CPA or certified financial analyst) leading the list.  In contrast, real estate sales requires only the right relationships,  a license to do business and no real selling skills if you are in a hot market.  If someone with a real estate broker’s license brings you into the business,  you can work under the umbrella of that person’s credential.

I confess that I look askance at the stated prospects for attorneys.  There have been many mergers between big law firms and as a result, many lay-offs. I’ve personally known a couple of lawyers who had a hard time finding employment and when it was obtained, the job was an assistant district attorney that pays maybe $50 K a year.

I’ve read about lawyers with degrees from Ivy League schools (UPenn and Columbia) saddled with six figure debt and no job.  I recently read about a young lady who sued her (accredited but undistinguished) law school,  claiming that the advertised post-grad job statistics are false and also charging that the career services department was useless. She lost her case,  but I suspect that her argument is valid nevertheless.

From a former employee of a very prestigious law firm who was let go four or five years ago (and started her own profitable boutique firm),  recent law school grads who were hired by prestigious firms over the past couple of years have been subjected to a shocking bait & switch game—from a law firm, no less!  An offer letter is sent, in which the new hire learns that s/he will not start the dream job for two years.  Oh, and the salary will be $20K less than was originally negotiated.

While some attorneys do quite well, like my friend, many  self-employed lawyers in solo or small enterprises struggle as the big firms shed employees. Welcome to the new normal. Below are the small businesses that in the U.S. that on average have the healthiest profit margins.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Business                                                                                   Net profit margin

Accounting / Bookkeeping                                                             18.4%a

Real estate sales                                                                                15.2%

Lawyer’s office                                                                                   14.5%

Dentist’s office                                                                                  14.4%

Landlords                                                                                             14%

Health practioners (chiropractors, etc)                                      13.3%

Physican’s office                                                                                13%

Business or technical consulting                                                   12%

Graphic and industrial design                                                         11.4%

Administrative services (billing, etc.)                                           11.3%

Architectural / structural engineering services                          11%

Real estate oproperty services (landscaping,cleaning, etc.).  10.1%

 

 

Pricing Primer for Freelance Service Providers

“The business world is driven by the desire to increase three elements: market shares, sales revenues and of course, profitability. Pricing is the key player in any strategy concerning the growth of these three goals.”   Mohammed Nosseir, Senior Marketing Adviser, Simon-Kucher & Partners, Middle East

Determining the pricing structure for intangible services provided is a real challenge for Freelance consultants. What is the value of our time and expertise in the open market? What if we promote our services, set the price and no one hires us? Should we lower our project fees? Can we ever raise prices?

Clients are motivated to spend as little as possible for the products and services that they require. However, they are known to pay premium prices when they “feel” that a particular product or service delivers exceptional value. That value can mean an expert solution to a business challenge; a long-lasting product that performs very well with little maintenance; the ability to meet a deadline; or other factors that have meaning to the decision-makers.

Often as not, different clients will have different priorities that define what is valued. It is the Freelancer’s job in the initial face-to-face client meeting to figure out what the client feels is important. That knowledge will achieve two objectives:

  • You will know the expectations that must be met (or preferably, exceeded) to justify a premium price.
  • You will know how to price, based on the time or other resources that will be devoted to meeting and exceeding client expectations and you will grasp the urgency of client needs, which impact your price.

Most likely, there are standard benchmarks and signifiers of high-value service in your industry and they should be incorporated into your marketing and operations, along with other value-addeds layered on as necessary. Knowledge of what competitors do would be most helpful as well, but it is very difficult to learn how competitors deliver their services or price them. Nevertheless, it is advisable to choose three or four to research. Visit websites to learn what services your competitors offer and how those services are described and packaged. Then, you can better identify potential competitive advantages for what you have and find a way to describe your goods.

It may sound like an obvious no-brainer, but part of your premium value-added that will be reflected in your pricing strategy should be your positive attitude and willingness to help prospective clients find the best solution to their business needs. Friendliness and the aim to genuinely want to offer good service go a long way in life and in business. Showing a good work ethic is likewise important.

For example when on an assignment, pay attention to emails. While I don’t recommend that one should be obligated to answer emails that a client dashes off at 3:00 AM (unless this is an urgent and high-revenue project), check emails through 10:00 PM and resume at 7:00 AM. If you can anticipate client needs, so much the better, They’ll think you’re a hero and will be happy to pay for the pleasure of doing business with you.

Step by step, client by client, focus on exceeding expectations on every project, building the trust and confidence that lead to a respected brand (reputation) as you do. You will receive referrals from satisfied clients (and you can also make referrals to your clients, enhancing your brand each time you do). Good brands create good word of mouth and that supports and justifies premium pricing.

As Mohammed Nosseir concludes, “Pricing has been, and will continue to be, the most complicated element in the marketing mix family…A proactive pricing structure will help companies…to maximize their profitability.”

Thanks for reading,

Kim

High Impact Brand Appeal

Business researcher, businesswoman and author Wendy Lipton-Dibner is a highly successful woman who has led highly successful enterprises and has made lots of money by not focusing on money. Yes, that is correct. This brave iconoclast says that the right product or service and a business model that is not quite like what they teach in business school, is the blueprint for building a long-lasting and lucrative business venture and she has the data to prove her claim.

Lipton-Dibner studied 1000+ organizations that covered a wide spectrum: global, small business, for-profit and not-for-profit. She has also operated several business enterprises herself. What her research revealed runs counter to the holy grail of business management, which is 100% focus on generating profit. From product development to customer service, it is taken as gospel that minimizing costs and maximizing sales are the things to do and every aspect of a business must be aligned around the singular goal of making money.

Yet Lipton-Dibner discovered that the most successful and long-lived companies are those that “make a difference” in the lives of their customers. Think of the distinctive, sometimes revolutionary experiences created by Disney, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, Hermes and Whole Foods Markets. Each of those companies offers products or services designed to help their customers lead more fulfilling, efficient, productive, healthier and/or enjoyable lives. She asserts that there are two types of business enterprises: those that focus on making money and those that focus on making a measurable impact on people’s lives and it is the latter approach that makes the most money.

Ethical growth strategies that position the company to make a positive impact on the lives of customers reap the most success, especially over the long-term. So how can a Freelancer or small business owner integrate this philosophy into his/her operation? As always, everything begins with the customer.

Ask current and prospective customers how your product or service and its delivery mechanism might be adjusted in ways that would make it more user-friendly. Can you design and deliver the ideal customer experience from start to finish and make those who do business with you so happy that they’ll tell co-workers and colleagues, who may eventually become your customers as well? That is the power of your brand appeal and impact.

As you make the changes that will give your customers The Best Experience Ever, you may find that certain adjustments in your business model, operations processes, quality control, or service offerings may need updating and that is to be expected. You’ll also learn how to refine your marketing messages and sales strategy along the way, because you will be much more tuned-in to what resonates with your customers, promoting trust in what you do and making customers happy to do business with you.

Wise fiscal management of your enterprise will continue to be a requirement, but centering your strategies and actions on  the pursuit of the biggest profit margin and net profit often does not pay off in the end. Finding the balance between what it takes to gain and keep customer loyalty and the necessity of sustaining a money-making enterprise is the road to success.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

The Break-Even Analysis: Find the Pricing Sweet Spot

To continue the topic of pricing,  in this case pricing a new product or service,  it is a must to know when fixed costs will be covered by unit sales at a given price and determine when in time the item or service breaks into profitability.  Performing a break-even analysis will reveal how many units must be sold,  or how many times the workshop must be delivered,  at a given price,  before production costs are behind you.  Integral to that question is unit selling price.  Costs are recouped faster when selling at $100.00 rather than $50.00.  Also related to pricing is what customers expect and agree to pay.  Appropriate pricing can increase profits faster than increasing sales volume.  One can sell fewer items and make more money per item.  Conducting a break-even analysis is Step 1 in locating your ideal price range.  Here’s the Break Even Volume (BEV) formula:

Fixed costs                                                      Fixed costs

BEV     = ______________________________        =         __________

Revenue per unit – Variable cost per unit                         Unit margin

Let’s add some numbers to the formula and assume that the fixed costs associated with delivery of your service is $5, 500.00: $1,700.00 went to the graphic artist for Power Point slides; $1,300.00 paid to the wordsmithing wizard for marketing collaterals used for promoting the service; and $2,500.00 for the wholesale value of your labor,  the time you spent crafting the intangible service.  These costs are fixed because they will not change,  no matter how many times the service will be delivered.  Variable costs associated with service delivery would be printing hand-outs for participants ($50.00) and the advertisement placed in an industry newsletter read by the target audience ($400.00),  meaning that the unit variable cost =$450.00.  If the service is priced at $750.00,  the profit,  or unit margin,  is $300.00 each time the service is delivered at that price.

$5,500.00

BEV     =        _________     =   18.33

$300.00/unit

At a per unit price of $750.00,  the service must be delivered 18+ times before a profit will be made.  From there,  a series of  “what if”  scenarios can be floated.  Chiefly,  what are competitors charging or is there a spike in demand that makes the product more valuable and can you increase the price?  Also,  can you lower fixed costs and obtain graphics services for a couple of hundred dollars less?  What if the marketing collaterals text was produced in-house by you and not outsourced?  How much will that increase the price of the time you spent developing the service,  another fixed cost?

Let’s say that you find graphics services for $1,500.00 and ask a marketing communications wizard to edit text that you write yourself for $800.00 (your personal labor increases: 6 hours writing at $50.00/hour = $300.00 + $2,500.00 = $2, 800.00).  Now,  the fixed cost is $5,100.00 and you think that $950.00 is a price that clients just might accept.  The variable costs will remain unchanged at $450.00,  because your printer is good,  his price is right and you’ll definitely need to advertise since you may want to charge more for the service.  At a unit price of $950.00,  the unit margin would be $500.00.   As shown,  by raising the price of the service by $200.00,  fixed costs are covered by delivering the goods 10+ times,  rather than 18+ times.

$5,100.00

BEV=             ________      =   10.2

$500.00/unit

As you can see,  the impact of other values such as increased advertising or higher quality materials or labor,  can also be assessed for impact on the pricing sweet spot and timeline for reaching BEV.  When bringing a new product or service to market,  take steps to identify the ideal pricing structure.

It is also useful to calculate the profit margin,  that is the percentage of sales revenues retained after all expenses are paid,  for each product and for the total line.  From the P & L Statement,  divide net profits by total sales revenues  (bottom line divided by top line).

 

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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Business Model Tune-up

You’ve written a business plan—now what?  Kim is the midwife who helps you take your business from the drawing board to reality in  “Business Plans:  The Next Steps”.   Bring your completed business plan and join Kim and a group of hopeful entrepreneurs in round robin discussions where you’ll get a critique of your business model;  smart marketing/PR/social media advice;  insights into sales channels that make sense for you and your customers;  and advice on financing options in today’s economy.  Wednesdays March 13,  20  &  27  5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at Boston Center for Adult Education  122 Arlington Street  Boston.  Register at  http://bit.ly/Zd9dqR  or call 617.267.4430 class ID 9074.

A cloud of worry and paranoia envelopes business leaders and other decision-makers and in their role as B2B clients,  they become more fickle and gun-shy every day.  They brag about postponing projects and declining to spend money.

To survive and thrive,  it is therefore  essential for Freelance consultants and other business owners  to make an annual assessment of the company’s business model and evaluate how the organization can deliver the right services in the right way and demonstrate to clients that the value you bring improves the bottom line and makes clients look smart to the higher-ups.

The business model is the blueprint for the process your organization follows to connect with clients,  deliver services and make and sustain a profit.  The business model reflects what you believe about what clients need and value,  the way in which those needs ought be addressed and solutions delivered and what clients will pay to obtain those solutions.   Additionally,  the business model shows the business leader how to make his/her organization function efficiently for leader and clients. Perfecting it is the cornerstone to success  (along with a healthy dose of good fortune!).

The most direct way to check up on your business model is to take a good client to a restaurant for some combination of libation and/or meal at the conclusion of a project,  when the client’s trust in you is high because you’ve delivered the goods and exceeded expectations.  You will likely be able to persuade your client to open up and tell you what’s going on in the organization as regards challenges and opportunities,  plans for the future,  services that are valued and the preferred method of delivery for those services.

You are certain to learn all sorts of useful information that will tell you how you might refine,  adjust,  package or price your services.  Knowledge of your client’s priorities and concerns is the first step to winning the project that does the work to address them,  says Alexander Osterwalder,  co-author of  “Business Model Generation” (2010)  and founder of The Business Model Foundry  http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com

Knowing how your clients can get the job done without you is also useful (although painful!).  As I mentioned at the beginning,  your real competition may not be another Freelance consultant but the client,  who decides to table the project indefinitely or do it in-house.  That’s not easy to counteract.  Your only defense is a solid business model that helps you position and promote your solution as preferable in some vital way.

Flexibility in your business model is a necessary feature if you expect your business to make a profit.  The need to adapt to shifting client preferences may require you to selectively experiment and reconfigure the services you offer,  or how you package and promote them.

Updating the keywords you use in marketing campaigns and online and print collateral will help clients and prospects to visualize where your services might have a place within their organization,  so stay up-to-date with industry concerns and buzzwords.  Keeping abreast of client needs allows you to successfully adapt your business model and promotional message,  keeping your organization competitive and able to stay profitable.

Thanks for reading,

KIm

Corporation Subchapter S–Should Your Business Be an S Corp?

You may operate your business as a Sole Proprietor,  like 70%  of US businesses do,  or maybe as an LLC.  However,  if business should become fabulous and you begin to rake in some serious cash,  then it could make sense to incorporate,  as a method to lower your taxes and protect profits.

You may be implementing a growth strategy that requires you to take on additional investors,  or maybe implementing your exit strategy,  with a plan to sell your business,  perhaps to employees through an Employee Stock Option Plan  (ESOP).  Either scenario may prompt your accountant or business attorney to recommend that you establish a separate legal entity for your venture and the preferred strategy could be to incorporate.

What does that mean in practical terms?  For a Freelance consultant or small business owner,  incorporating usually means setting up an S Corporation.  Last week’s post discussed Limited Liability Companies  (LLCs)  and there are similarities between the S Corporation and LLC.

The first similarity is that both LLC and S Corporation provide owners with a degree of protection from lawsuits and creditors.  However if negligence is involved,  the  “corporate veil”  will be pierced and the owner(s) will be liable for any damages.

Second,  there are certain similarities in how taxes are handled.  As with the LLC,  S Corporations  (unlike the more common C Corps)  allow a  “pass through”  of business profits or losses to the owner’s  (i.e., S Corp shareholders)  personal tax form 1040 in accordance with the share of business ownership.  There is no separate  (double)  taxation,  as occurs with C  Corporationss.  Both S Corp and LLC owners can deduct pre-tax business expenses such as advertising,  professional services,  travel, etc.  S Corporation owners will file form 1040 schedule E and form 1120S in addition to your usual tax forms.

Yet,  there are a couple of differences that impact the treatment of taxes.  Unlike the LLC and like the C Corporation,  S Corporation owners pay themselves a salary  (that must be deemed reasonable based on industry standards and business revenue)  and they receive dividends  (distributions)  from any additional profits earned.  Dividends are taxed at a lower rate than the salary pay-out and that is one reason that S Corporation tax rates may be lower.

Another difference involves self-employment taxes.  Says Diane Kennedy,  Phoenix, AZ based CPA and author of  “Loopholes of the Rich: How the Rich Legally Make More Money and Pay Less Tax”  (2001),  “If you have a Subchapter S Corporation and you put yourself on the payroll as a W-2 employee,  withholding taxes from each paycheck as you take money out of the corporation,  you can often save a significant amount of money in self-employment taxes”.  Sole proprietors and LLC owners must pay self-employment taxes.

Owners may sell,  transfer,  or gift their shares,  something that cannot be done by LLC owners.  There cannot be more than 100 S Corp shareholder/owners,  but family members who own shares are treated as one shareholder when counting.  Corporations,  regardless of the form,  continue on in perpetuity unless formally dissolved.  Death does not automatically dissolve a corporation,  while LLCs terminate if one owner retires,  resigns,  dies or goes bankrupt, but can be reformed if desired.

On the downside,  S Corporations have more stringent guidelines than do LLCs.  Owners must be US citizens or reside in the US.  There can be only one class of stock and depending on the state in which you’ve incorporated,  there may be additional state taxes.  Businesses that receive 25%  or more gross income from passive income  (think rental income)  and those that receive 95%  or more gross income from exports are prevented from forming an S Corporation.

S Corporation owners must also hold annual board of directors and shareholder meetings and take minutes.  Further,  the owners must strictly separate their personal and corporate bank accounts.  Failure to adhere to all requirements may result in forfeiture of S Corp status and the IRS is looking.

So which business organization strategy is best for your business?  Like I said in the beginning,  it depends on the circumstances.  Throughout the life of you and your consultancy,  it is wise to assess where you are presently and your plans for the future in terms of income,  growth,  exit strategy and taxes and institute the legal structure that will enhance your position.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Business Model Guideposts

I will teach “Become Your Own Boss:  Effective Business Plan Writing” , a three part workshop (total 6 hours) held at Boston Center for Adult Education 122 Arlington Street Boston MA on three consecutive Thursdays 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM February 17 – March 3.  Register at http://bcae.org, course #420174 or use the direct link:

http://bcae.org/index.cfm?method=ClassInfo.ClassInformation_class_id=4967&int_category_id=48&int_sub_category_id=13&int_catalog_id=0

The business model defines the method by which an organization creates and delivers value through products and services offered and the way in which it persuades customers to pay for that value.  The business model encompasses the manufacture and marketplace delivery of products/services,  how best to access prospective customers,  where and how business transactions take place and customer service.  The business model is the blueprint for how the venture operates in real time and makes a profit.

The business model reflects what the business owner/management team believe about what customers value,  the way in which customers want that value delivered and what they will pay to obtain it.  The business model can also function as an analytical tool. 

 Its examination can help the business owner effectively address challenges such as client retention problems,  insufficient new business development,  or persistent customer service snafus.  It can urge the management team to find a way to lower the cost of goods sold,  add or delete services, or  rethink sales distribution channels.

How’s your business engine running these days?  Might a tune-up be in order? Here are some questions to ask yourself and guideposts to follow as you build or refresh your business model:

  • Who are the target customers?
  • How can your organization best attract,  acquire and retain the target customers?
  • What need does your product/service fulfill or what problem does it solve?
  • What perceived value does your product/service provide?
  • How can you differentiate your product/service in ways that resonate with the target customers?
  • How will you generate revenue?
  • Where will business take place,  how and when will customers pay?
  • Identify and locate customers with sufficient money and motive to do business with you,  preferably on a regular basis.
  • Verify that there will be enough paying customers to allow the business to make a profit.
  • Identify which product/service features and benefits that target customers value most highly.
  • Identify the least costly source location and manufacturing process for your products/services.
  • Use the most cost-effective product/service delivery system that customers will accept.
  • Identify product/service add-ons and upgrades that are easy and inexpensive to provide and for which customers will pay a premium to obtain.

Thanks for reading,

Kim