Small Business Success Tips – Finances

Starting with fifty dollars or starting with five hundred thousand, a small business owner must, must, must have a handle on his finances if his business is going to survive. You don’t need a degree in accounting to apply common sense or to take good advice. You do need a little self-discipline, but that comes fairly easily if you understand the reasons behind keeping track of your finances. After all, you have no problem doing what you consider the important parts of your business.

Accounting, bookkeeping, financial management, call it what you will, is more than a necessary but boring task. Money is a resource that you are using to help create your future — your many futures: next week, next month, next year, ten years from now. To the degree that you do not have control over your money, you are not controlling those futures.

Most people would say, “Here is where I want my business to be in a year; how much money do I need?” That is not controlling your future. The future starts now, today. So the correct approach is, “Here is how much money I have. How do I use it to get where I want to be in a year?”

See? Two necessary conditions: knowing how much money you have, and knowing where you want to get to. These conditions lead to the following necessary, basic rules of business finances.

1) Keep business money separate from personal money. If you put personal money into the business, it becomes business money.

2) Keep track of every penny every day, both the ones coming into and those going out of the business. This may seem obsessive, like keeping track of every nail in your tool bin, but it is not, for several reasons. For one thing, it will save you a lot on taxes to have accurate records. But even more important, you will be able to accurately evaluate your progress toward the goals you have set, and adjust your current actions accordingly.

3) You do not necessarily have to have a full accounting program on your computer to keep track of your income and expenses, but at the very least, you do need a single, specific place where everything is written down. A notebook will do. Stationery stores carry well-organized books designed for that very purpose.

4) Set some money aside each week. No matter how tight things are, or how much you owe, keep a steadily growing fund, and never touch it. Some regular percentage of your income is ideal, but if all you can set aside is a dollar, do that. This fund is not a reserve, to be used for emergencies. This fund is never used, except maybe, someday, as a down payment on a building.

Step Four is where almost all small business owners fall down. They don’t have the complete idea of using the money they have to get where they want to be. So get this straight, right now. Part of where any small business owner wants to be is solvent, and you don’t become solvent by spending everything you make. Always set some aside.

5) Spend only what is absolutely needed, even if you have more cash than usual. It is very easy to splurge on new equipment or extra advertising or whatever, when the money is there. Don’t do it. Spend what you need to, and set the rest aside. This fund is a reserve, a temporary surplus, completely separate from your other don’t-touch fund.

6) Finally, plan your expenses at least a week ahead. By Sunday night, you should know how much you are going to spend and on what during the coming week. Then only spend that much. If it’s not on the list, put it off until you can put it into next week’s planned expenditures. Ideally, you will be spending the previous week’s income, so you know how much you have to start with when you make the plan on Sunday night.

If borrowing is necessary for some major equipment, fine, so long as the payments can be covered by the income like any other regular expense.

These six rules will keep any small business on the path to becoming a big one. No one can reasonably be expected to follow them all perfectly, all the time, but come as close as you can. You will find that by focusing on future income and future expenses, you will have much more control over that future, so you can make it better.

Oh yes, one last note on finances: never, ever, ever spend money you have set aside for taxes. You would do better to go out of business and start over than to fall behind on taxes. If you haven’t experienced it, you can’t imagine the weight of the iron chains around your legs that unpaid taxes can weld in place for years.

Home Improvements – Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Summer is a great time to take care of some of those home maintenance items that can sneak up on you when you’re not looking. Here’s a handy list of things to add to your job jar:

Maintain your lawn and garden tools:

Sharpen the blades, change the oil, and replace the filters on your lawn mower. Make sure your weed trimmers are in good condition. Oil garden tools and sharpen blades.

Inspect the locks on your doors and windows:

Make sure your home is safe and secure. Oil any sticky locks and consider a home security system. Outdoor lighting adds appeal to your home and can increase security.

Inspect Exposed Plumbing:

Check under your sinks and anywhere you can get access to exposed plumbing. Make sure there isn’t any dampness that could indicate a small leak in the plumbing.

Inspect for termites and other pests:

Inspect the basement or crawl space, eaves, and attic for termites, carpenter ants, and other wood pests. If you see signs of wood damage, call a professional exterminator. Look under the eaves for wasp or hornet nests. Handle wasp or hornet nests with care and call in a professional if necessary.

Patios and porches:

Clean the barbecue and hose down brick or concrete patio surfaces. Replace any broken bricks and patch concrete cracks. Wash outdoor or screened-in porch floors. Plant annuals in pots, or replant existing planters. Lubricate patio doors. Bring out and clean up your patio or porch furniture.

Complete painting projects:

If you’re painting your house yourself, wash your house first using a home cleaning formula. Scrape off crumbling paint, smooth rough areas with sandpaper, and fill in damaged areas with a best-quality filler. Choose the best paint you can afford. Prime any bare patches with a quality exterior alkyd primer before completing the job with an acrylic latex paint.

You might consider schedule interior painting projects too because warm temperatures allow for better ventilation and quick drying times.

Build or repair fences:

Repair any damaged areas of existing fencing and refinish as necessary. If you’re building a new fence, look carefully at the increasing variety of fencing materials. Make sure your fence complies with local codes and doesn’t encroach on city or neighbouring properties. Be sure to call your local natural gas utility or Call before You Dig agency to make sure you don’t have an accident and hit an underground gas line or other buried utility.

Inspect siding:

Check siding and trim around windows and doors for holes, dents, and gaps. Repair with wood filler or according to manufacturer’s instructions. If your home’s siding needs to be replaced entirely, summer is the best time for this one- to two-week project. Make sure you are aware of all the new choices in siding materials.

Garage Doors:

Now’s a great time to lubricate the tracks on your garage doors.

Replace your roof:

If you need a new roof, have it installed during summer’s warm, dry weather. Consider fire-resistant roof material if you live in an area prone to wildfire and if your current roof is not fireproof. Look for a reputable company that offers a good warranty.

Repair and seal driveways:

Renew the surface of asphalt driveways with sealer. Repair damage to concrete driveways as soon as possible (this project may require a professional).

Plasterboard Fixing For Your Home – What You Need To Know

Plasterboard is a gypsum inner layer usually sandwiched between layers of lining paper and other additives depending on the desired weight and strength of the lining paper. This means that the plasterboards come with different properties. The standard plasterboard can be used in most environments, but it is not that suitable to use in areas that are constantly wet such as the bathrooms and kitchens. If you want to use plasterboard in such areas, then you will need to go for those that are moisture resistant.

Common plasterboards are usually offered in square edge or tapered edge. The tapered edged boards are great for skimming or joining while the square edged boards are best for textured finishes. The sheets are generally in 1200mm to suit 600mm stud spacing that is common with houses today. You can however find other widths to match with your individual specifications. The standard ones have brown face and an ivory face. The ivory face is for plastering and plaster should therefore be kept off the brown reverse side or face. Plasterboards are very popular with new homes and even old homes. It is probably because of the benefits and advantages they come with.

The Advantages

· The boards help in preventing fire from spreading rapidly. This is because the gypsum is made of crystals that contain small water amounts also referred to as water of crystallization. In case of a fire, the water is pushed off greatly helping in keeping the temperatures down. It means that the boards can be used for fire protection. In special multi layered system applications, the boards can offer fire protection for several hours.

· The plasterboards are also great at cutting down the noise. They deter the transmission of airborne sounds like music and speech. You will actually find boards that have cores designed to offer better sound insulation.

· Wallpaper can be applied directly onto the boards to create a beautiful interior hence you are not limited to the natural look of the boards. It is, however advisable to seal the boards first so it is easy to strip down the wallpaper whenever the need arises. The boards also give you the liberty to paint to achieve your desired look.

· The boards are easy to cut and are readily available. It makes it possible for you to handle your DIY projects with ease when you know what you want.

· They are sagging resistant, but flexible at the same time, so you can have an excellent finish for a long time.

· These boards are easier to put up compared to plaster and they can be recycled.

It is possible for you to handle the plasterboards in DIY projects. However, if you are not very sure, it is always better to call in the experts. Plasterers know exactly how to work with the boards to fetch you excellent results within the shortest time possible. They can also advise you on what boards are best for your home as well as plastering techniques that will make your home stand out.

Getting An Oil Tank Removed

Are you a property owner and worried about oil tanks? Well, as undesirable as they are, they are not something to worry about, as the removal process is actually quite simple and not as inconvenient as you might have previously thought.

First things first, is to know the background of underground storage tanks (USTs). Some properties have USTs buried on their grounds due to the fact that oil as a fuel was overtaken by natural gas in the 1950s. This meant that there was no longer a need for these tanks so many of them were buried underground and thought to be out of harms way. This method, in fact, was harmful, as even though the oil was drained from the tank, there was some residue left over in many that could leak into the soil and damage the environment around it. Since then, to avoid, or stop what has already happened in terms of contamination, it has become the law in British Columbia for property owners to have the USTs removed from their land. There are very few exceptions to this rule, so if you know you have an oil tank, you should starting planning to have it removed as soon as possible.

One problem that many people imagine is, if the fuel tank is buried, then how do I know if I have one on my property? There is actually a very simple way to find out. If you call an oil tank removal firm that operates in the region, they will be able to inspect the premises and let you know. There are many companies that use special scanning equipment that utilizes radar technology and this can tell you whether or not there is a UST buried on the property without invading the land at all. Then, if a tank is found, arrangements can be made for its removal.

To start the process, a small area or land around the tank site will be cordoned off. If you go with a well reviewed and professional oil tank removal service, you will be amazed at how little disruption is caused and how not very much space is taken up while removing the oil tank. The team will operate as quickly as possible by digging up the tank and cutting it down into smaller pieces. By doing this, it will be easier to remove the oil tank through smaller spaces away from the property, for example, through the back garden gate.

Kick Out Flashing – What It Is and Where It Should Be Installed

Several factors can lead to water intrusion, but a missing kick out flashing, often results in concentrated areas of water accumulation and can lead to severe damage to exterior walls. Home Inspectors should make sure that kick outs are present where they are needed and that they are installed correctly. Water damage in the cladding or siding can occasionally be observed on the exterior wall in the form of vertical stains, Home Inspectors should not completely rely on visual identification.

The following problems may be observed associated with kick out flashing:

Kick out Not Installed

The need for kick out flashing has developed fairly recently. The increased amount of insulation and building wrap used in modern construction makes buildings less breathable and more prone to sustain water damage. As a Home Inspector we see Kick Out Flashing not installed quite frequently. We hope that by the time we get to inspect the property there has not been excessive damage done to the siding, roofing or the structure of the home.

The following are locations where kick out flashing is needed:

Anywhere a roof and exterior wall intersect, where the wall continues past the lower roof-edge and gutter
Where gutters terminate at the side of the chimney

Kick out not properly installed:

The bottom seam of the flashing must be watertight
The angle of the diverter should never be less than 110 degrees
Another sign that Kick out flashing is not installed or installed improperly is that many home owners will opt for the DIY type of installation. This is when they simply install a flat piece of flashing at the eaves or the bottom area of the rooftop. As a Home Inspector we see this quite often. Homeowners install this and use a silicone based sealant around the area. Silicone is a “band-aid”. Also, they do not protect the entire area where the siding meets the roofing material. Thus making the rest of the area very susceptible for water or moisture damage.

Kick out has been modified by the Homeowner:

Many homeowners do not understand the importance of kick outs. For this reason, many choose to alter them due to cosmetic concerns. A common modification is to shorten their height to less than the standard six inches, which will greatly reduce their effectiveness.

Home owners may also make kick out flashings less conspicuous by cutting them flush with the wall