Ask SCORE

SCORE, "Counselors to America's Small Business," is a nonprofit organization of more than 13,000 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Call 610.327.2673 for the Pottstown SCORE chapter, or find a counselor online at www.pottstownscore.org

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Record Keeping 101: Information Your Small Business Needs to Maintain

One of the most important administrative responsibilities small business owners face is keeping accurate and current records. Not only is it critical for assessing opportunities and risks that can affect your company’s profitability and potential for growth, it’s also necessary for ensuring legal and regulatory compliance.

Regardless of the type of business you are running, record keeping comes with the territory. Some types of documentation and information are required for all businesses and others may or may not be necessary depending on your industry.

Get Ahead of Your Personal Paper Chase

Forget everything you’ve read about the “paperless” office. Though our computers, PDAs, and smart phones have digitized many aspects of daily life, paper is still very much with us.

Good Habits Can Translate Into Great Sales

The longer you’re in business, the more you realize that the only constant is change.  You may be enjoying strong sales across a broad customer base, but those conditions could be far different in just a matter of months.  A competitor’s offer may tempt your customers to try something different.  Organizational and operational changes may require you to build relationships with new people from scratch.

Opportunities Abound for Sharpening Your Small Business Skills

Very few people begin the process of building a small business with a full knowledge of all the skills required for success.  Even those who extensive experience or education in business management still need to bring themselves up to speed on the added responsibilities of entrepreneurship—tax issues, employee management, business development, accounting, etc.

Redefine Your Management “Quality Time”

Time is a precious commodity for every entrepreneur. With all the responsibilities of managing and growing a small business, the hours and the days can easily slip by, sometimes leaving one to wonder just how much got accomplished.

For many, the go-to time management tool is the to-do list. Marking off completed items may provide a sense of satisfaction—at least until you remember what else has to get done— but it may not be as productive as you think, according to professional organizer and productivity expert Julie Morgenstern

Accuracy is Essential in Small Business Valuations

When you first contemplated becoming an entrepreneur, you probably spent some time calculating how much your time was worth. Now, you may be wondering how much this business that you’ve built is worth.

There are many reasons for determining the value of your small business. You may be ready to raise capital by issuing stock or selling a portion of the business to a prospective partner. An appraisal may also be needed in order to spin off a portion of your business, settle a dispute or divorce, liquidate some assets, or sell the business entirely.

Pottstown SCORE Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Client Expo

On October 22nd, the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) Pottstown Chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary with a first of its kind Client EXPO. The event was open all of the tri-county area business community and their supporters. SCORE is a national organization of volunteer advisors offering free, confidential business advice to small businesses, entrepreneurs and local communities. All of the exhibitors at the EXPO were SCORE Clients or sponsors.

Understanding the What’s and Why’s of Advertising

Have you ever seen an advertisement and thought that something similar might well benefit your small business? Well, it just could. Or, it could backfire and be a complete waste of money.

That’s because advertising is but one element of a business’s overall marketing strategy. True, it has many facets—print, billboard, online, broadcast, direct mail, etc.—but each element and the message it conveys has been carefully developed with a specific purpose in mind. In other words, image is not always everything.

How To Find The Right Accountant For Your Small Business

Your business success depends on many factors. Managing your money well and understanding your finances are two of the most critical. Unless you are an accountant by trade, it is likely you will need some outside guidance and insight as you start and grow your company.

Getting help from an accountant can benefit your business in a number of ways:

Press Release Basics for Small Business Owners

Press releases remain among the most effective ways to generate awareness of your small business and its products and services. Media outlets may reproduce a press release as is (or with some editing), or follow up about creating a longer story. A press release that gets picked up by reporters, bloggers, and others who share information with potential customers can result in media attention that facilitates interest in your company, builds credibility, and ultimately leads to more revenue.

Closing Sales Starts With Building Trust

Making the sale, especially when your small business offers products and services to other businesses, demands more than being good at what you do. It also requires building professional relationships. To do that, you must earn your customers’ trust.

There’s no scientific formula for earning trust. It requires time, patience, and honest effort.

Here are some suggestions to help you lay a foundation of trust with your potential customers:

Bringing On Contractors Vs. Hiring Staff: Which Will Benefit Your Small Business The Most?

As your small business grows, you will find you cannot do everything on your own. To obtain the help you need, you can choose to outsource tasks to independent contractors or hire employees to whom you can delegate work.

To decide which will make the most sense for your company, it is important first to understand some of the key differences between working with independent contractors versus having employees on staff.

Employees vs. Independent Contractors: Four Points Of Comparison

Key Considerations When Firing an Employee

While carefully selecting employees can help prevent human resources issues, your small business might still find it has hired a staff member who is not a good fit.

A number of issues may justify termination of an employee:

How Creating Buyer Personas Can Help Small Businesses in Their Marketing Efforts

Compiling demographic information about your buyers will only take you so far in understanding how to reach and what to say to your target customers. By creating a “buyer persona” (a profile of a customer to represent a particular group of buyers) for each group of customers to whom you wish to sell your products and services, you will gain greater insight. Buyer personas help you drill down to the specifics of what motivates individual customers to buy and identify what communications channels will give you an opportunity to connect with more of your prospects and customers. 

“Success Thinking”—It’s All About Attitude

As a small business owner, you’re not just “the boss.” You’re also the leader, the person employees, vendors, customers, and prospects look to for guidance, support, and confidence. And being a leader is easier than you think. It begins with a positive, “can-do” attitude that your business delivers what it promises, and can achieve any goal.

Self-Employment Tax Basics

Going from “employee” to being your own boss brings some significant changes, professionally and personally. One of the most significant to become accustomed to is no longer having certain taxes neatly taken from your paycheck by your employer.

As a self-employed individual, not only are you responsible for directly submitting the income tax you owe to the federal, state, and local governments, you are also responsible for paying self-employment tax.

Eight Ways to Manage Your Time and Multiple Projects

As a small business owner, you must have fallen into the trap of having to juggle many tasks in a limited time. While there is no magic formula to hitting the right balance and managing your time seamlessly, you can improve your time-handling skills to accomplish more tasks on your to-do list. Here are some ways to help you keep everything in check when working on multiple projects at the same time.

1. Make a to-do list before you start your day

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