The Equinox ceremony is over and fall is upon us. All businesses have cycles and being clear about the cycles of your business is important in how you plan and deal with said cycles. All industries have cycles and I would be surprised if you found that your business in not affected by these ever changing cycles.

So the ups and downs of cash flow can often be related to industry cycles even if remotely. So step back and look at your cash flow and see if some cycle is at play as part of your challenge. If you find some indications that indeed a cycle is at play then what can you do about it? I recommend some planning as absolutely necessary.

Nature in her wisdom created Seasons, the cycles of life if you will, for a purpose. These seasons are of course, natural occurrences, and as such are something we can get ready for and prepare accordingly. Fall is here; we pack up the summer clothes and get out the fall and winter clothes. No big deal, unless, you don’t have fall or winter clothes.

So planning for business cycles, whether seasonal or not, becomes one of your jobs as an owner of your business. In the retail setting these cycles are partially what drive business: holidays are where the money is made. But for most service businesses these holiday cycles are a nuisance rather than a gift. A business must put some cash aside from the good times to deal with the lean times. I know, too obvious, and yet often not done by the small business venture.

Does your business even have a reserve account for emergencies? Many a sleepless night can be avoided by following some fiscal discipline when times are ‘good’. Bigger small businesses have banking relationships or funding sources that may be helpful through tough times once or twice. But eventually even they have to plan better for cycles. To be successful the old adage still rings true: “It’s not how much money you make, but rather, how much money you keep that makes the difference.”

Keep on keeping on…

Business Principles…some suggestions

Greetings from the Mt Shasta. I’m reviewing some issues for upcoming blogs. Does your company (do you?) have a list of principles by which you stand for in the running of your business?

Try these on for size and or create your own is you don’t already have some.

Business Principles 

1 We operate our business with integrity and that being of service will be profitable.

2. We accumulate cash reserves; we pay ourselves and our workers and vendors on time.

3. We take responsibility for our business commitments and obligations and remember that we are in charge of the professionals that work for us.

4. We maintain clear and orderly financial records.

5. We have clear knowledge of our overhead, operating expenses, pricing and profit, accounts receivable, accounts payable and all of our assets and liabilities.

6. We have a business plan, and goals and visions for ourselves and our business.

7. We place all agreements in writing.

8. We budget our time realistically and focus our work time on generating revenues.

9.  We value our goods and services and price them accordingly.

10. We are willing and able to ask for help when we need it. And we are at peace with ourselves and allow our business to grow and expand harmoniously.

The Trouble with Money

The Trouble with money

What are you worth?

What will people pay?

The Trouble with money

My Dad said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Most parents have ways of saying no to the requests of children by giving them one a liner that may in some way make sense but are more a like Zen koan to the inquisitive young mind.

Of course money doesn’t grow on trees, so far, but the Fed makes it like as if it does. But you and I have to earn it in some way. So either you work for someone else or you work for yourself.

The trouble with money is that we as a society have become more than attached to it. But I’m not going to preach on that subject today but rather take it at face value…we need money to live in this world. On a higher level money is a symbol of energy being exchanged for something else: a service or product. Money is only valuable because we as a society have declared it so.

So if you are not producing enough income/money then perhaps what you are offering is not considered valuable or valuable enough by others, OR you have not figured out how to price your product or services, AND/OR you are not selling to the correct market OR you are being screwed by a system that is taking advantage of you.

What are you worth?

Could be all those options are true to some extent but let’s take the higher road. You have talent or a great idea, or a new or better product to offer the world and you need to figure out what its worth. So go ask people what they would pay and see what you learn. This is basic but essential market research. Most people starting out in business skip this for one reason or another and find out too late that there was never a “there there”.

Your time is worth more than anyone can afford if you consider this life is short and the time you have to make money is short. So take time to be realistic about how you will spend your precious time doing something that will produce income and hopefully even make a difference.

What will people pay?

Unless you have a truly unique product or service you may already have a good idea what the buying public is paying by researching your competitors.  Maybe you can do it cheaper than the next person but that tends to be problematic if you are a small business person. It’s a much better plan to find the right niche or clientele who can afford and will pay for your time or product. But it is generally true that everyone loves a bargain so there is a balance you need to consider. Perception is often considered reality. What we perceive to be “true” is what we think is true. Of course, this is not the actual truth we are talking about but rather what we feel is true in the moment. Advertising has trained us to perceive value and benefits in such a way to completely side step what is in fact true. But the point here is you must help your potential customers perceive your value and convince them that the benefits are both real and worth their hard earned money. This is a universal business ‘truth’ which you cannot ignore.

Researching the value of something will help you know if or how you will succeed in your specific business. Take this point seriously and your chances of success will rise accordingly.

Keep on keeping on…

Jane Applegate’s Management, Money & Time Quiz

Self-Help Quizzes and Do-It-Yourself diagnostics are popular features in women’s magazines, but rarely appear in business books.  Yet it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about how you are coping with the toughest job in America—running a small business.

Being an entrepreneur is incredibly stressful.  Despite computers, cellular phones, pagers, scanners, and e-mail, an entrepreneur’s life is not simple.  For most of us, it’s a chaotic juggling act.

So spend a few minutes with this quiz.  There are no right or wrong answers.  It’s meant to provoke thought—and action.

There are three sections: Management and Personnel, Money, and Time.

Management and Personnel

  1. Do you dread it when someone walks into your office to speak to you privately?
  2. When was the last time you had breakfast or lunch with your key employees?
  3. When was the last time you hosted an offsite staff meeting?
  4. Have you implemented any new ideas proposed by your staff since the beginning of the year?
  5. If you had a magic wand and could vaporize aggravating employees, who would be on your list?
  6. Do you spend an inordinate amount of time each day handling personnel conflicts?
  7. When was the last time you hired someone?
  8. Fired someone?
  9. Do you offer onsite training or tuition reimbursement?
  10. Do you have a mentor or colleague to call when things aren’t going well?

Based on your answers, you might want to make some personnel changes.  Life is too short to work with anyone who gives you a headache or a stomachache.  In a small business, every person counts.  And, since you’re the boss, you can choose who you work with every day.  If there is a “storm cloud” on your staff, think seriously about replacing that person.  Why pay someone money to make your life miserable?  On the positive side, take advantage of your staff’s bright ideas.  You are paying them to be smart and creative. Let them do their job.


  1. When was the last time you spoke with your banker?
  2. Have you thought about next year’s tax return?
  3. Without opening your business checkbook, how much money is in your account?
  4. How many of your accounts are past due?
  5. How much money do you owe to vendors?
  6. Are sales higher or lower than last year’s at this point?
  7. Do you have enough money to buy the new equipment you need to boost productivity?
  8. Is your accountant doing everything legally possible to minimize your taxes?
  9. Is he or she up-to-date on the new tax laws and provisions?
  10. How many new clients or customers have you gained since January?  How many have you lost?

Too many business owners play ostrich when it comes to facing financial issues.  You need to monitor your cash flow every day, every week, and every month.  Slow-paying or no-paying customers are not worth having, and it may be time to fire them.  Be sure to communicate openly with your banker—bankers hate surprises.


  1. How much time do you take for yourself every day?
  2. Do you feel exhausted before going to work?
  3. Are you working longer hours, but not accomplishing much?
  4. Is your to-do list longer than your shopping list?
  5. Do you have trouble keeping track of phone numbers and important notes and papers?
  6. Is your desk a mess and your to-read pile sky-high?
  7. Do your family and friends say you look tired?
  8. When was the last time you took two weeks off?
  9. How many times a day do you laugh? (It’s important!)
  10. Is your Palm Pilot or Visor overloaded with data?

No one is busier than a business owner.  But being busy does not necessarily mean being productive.  If you find you have little or no time for yourself every day, make some.  Try taking a short walk or afternoon nap rather than gulping coffee.  Ask a staffer to clip interesting newspaper and magazine articles and put them in a file.  Then tote them along to read while you are waiting in line for appointments.  Bring your calendar home at the beginning of the month and ask your family to book some time with you.  Put those dates in ink and don’t change them.  Taking care of yourself should be your first priority, because so many people depend on you.