ABC Solutions

18 Small Business Opportunities in 2020

Deciding on the kind of business you want to start is a very big decision. Some require specialized skills that either the owner or employees will need. Others require a substantial initial capital outlay. In any case, it’s always a good idea to consider the health of the industry you’ll be entering in.
While we are not giving any kind of investment advice in this article, we thought it’d be fun to list the business ideas that will be recession-proof in 2020, many of which were also fast-growing in 2019. They are not in any particular order.
1. Bicycle shops
Demand for bikes ramped up this year when people started staying at home due to shelter-in-place orders. They saw the need to exercise close to home, and a bike is the perfect accessory to get people out of the house safely.
2. Building services
This group includes businesses that provide services like office and home cleaning, landscaping, and pest control. New demands in cleaning will continue for some time.
3. Software development
Businesses with skilled developers are in demand as other businesses look to automate more and more of their processes. Workers with skills in artificial intelligence and virtual reality are in very high demand. In 2020, we added a huge demand for video conferencing tools, and other tech tools we need to work from home.
4. Online publishers
While the traditional print media such as book publishers and newspapers are declining in growth, online publishers are thriving. This category includes bloggers as well as the internet stars on YouTube that are making great money through online ads and product endorsements. The fast pace of the news in 2020 has simply accelerated this trend.
5. Building finishers
This category includes construction companies that provide drywall, painting, and flooring to finish out a building or house. Th need will continue in 2020 as offices, shops, and other businesses remodel to meet social distancing and other safety rules.
6. Outpatient care
An alternative to going to the hospital emergency room, these care facilities are growing fast. For patients, they are less hassle than making an appointment with a doctor and far less expensive than ER bills. Once tests and treatments for COVID-19 become universal, these places will become good alternative for people with mild symptoms.
7. Administrative services
There’s a growing need for businesses that need additional administrative support beyond what employees can provide. Virtual assistants are included in this category as well as staffing companies that provide temporary clerical workers onsite.
8. Physicians
If you’ve ever been in a doctor’s office waiting room full of people, you know that this area is in demand. This include offices of physicians of all specialties.
9. Professional drivers
Professional drivers fall into two categories: truck drivers and delivery/taxi services. The demand for truck drivers is always increasing as online orders and ecommerce steadily grows. Many of these drivers are independent and own their own rigs as well as their own businesses.
Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, and DoorDash, to name a few, have increased the demand for professional drivers who can deliver food, medicine, or people to where they need to go.
10. Data processing
The demand for data hosting, server farms, and data processing continues to grow as our appetite for technology increases.
11. Warehousing and storage
Places like self-storage facilities will be in demand for a couple of reasons. Families have more stuff than they have room for. And as families continue to be mobile, they will need temporary storage space. All you have to do is look on your street at all the cars that don’t fit in their garages to see the demand in this type of business.
On the commercial side, increased ecommerce demand and the need for pickup and delivery services has increased the need for warehouses for businesses in the distribution space.
12. Construction
In most places, construction is booming, so there is a demand for general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and businesses that support construction.
Architects should be busy re-designing spaces, such as offices, restaurants, nursing homes, day care centers, and jails, to name a few, to keep people safer.
13. Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Even before COVID-19 came on the scene, this type of business was growing fast for several reasons beyond standard medical test ordered by doctors. People are getting DNA tests on their own, and nutritionists are doing more testing as people realize diet is a huge factor in health and personal energy.
Now that COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment require a variety of tests, these labs will be busy for a long time in the future.
14. Ecommerce wholesalers
There is a growing number of people who sell items on ecommerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon. While a few source these items through agreements with manufacturers, many visit flea markets, donation centers, and resell shops to make their purchases and repurpose the items.
Smart wholesalers that have their systems set up can help brick-and-mortar shops without an ecommerce presence sell their items while they are shuttered.
15. Professional services
Fields that are fastest-growing include technology and marketing consultants. An interesting new type of security consultant is one that trains groups on how to deal with violence in the workplace and schools.
Attorneys are busy helping individuals update their estate plans and will likely be busy with divorce filings after COVID-19 has let up some. Accountants have new laws to communicate to their clients, and many small businesses want their books caught up now.
16. Educational services
This broad group include elementary and secondary schools and junior colleges. It also includes adult career education, including businesses that teach trades skills, computer skills, and business skills.
Companies that provide an online component to learning will be in demand for quite a while.
17. Real estate agents
Competitive, yes. But the average home sells twice as fast as it did eight years ago, so the number of transactions have doubled, increasing demand.
18. Personal services
While a broad category, the areas seeing growth include personal trainers, personal nutritionists, and wedding planners, to name a few.
If your business falls into one of these categories, congratulations. If you’re considering starting a business and you have the skills needed to start one of the businesses above, what are you waiting for?

Three Essential Business Roles for Success and Balance

In his book, The Rebel Rules: Daring to Be Yourself in Business, author Chip Conley describes what investors look for in a management team when considering providing startup money to new businesses. He says your management team should consist of a “brain trust that includes a passionate visionary, a ‘get-your-hands-dirty’ operator, and a responsible, finance-minded executive.”

Even if you’re never going to seek venture capital money to fund your business, this tidbit of advice makes a great strategy question to consider for your business, especially if you are an entrepreneur. Do you have these three roles in your company?

Passionate Visionary

The passionate visionary is a creative idea person. She has the technical knowledge that supports the service or product that will be created and offered. She sees the market need and just how to sell and position the product so that clients or consumers will want the offering.

The visionary often has more ideas than budget. The finance role can evaluate the profitability of the visionary’s ideas and prioritize the projects. The operator can execute the visionary’s ideas.

The visionary provides strategic direction for the company and keeps the market offerings fresh.

If your business is missing a visionary, you might also struggle to keep your practice full as often (but not always); the sales function could fall to the visionary. You might also find yourself getting stagnant with your service offerings and falling behind the marketplace.

The fix for a missing visionary is to develop a sales and marketing team and/or a research and development team that can serve these functions.

“Roll-up-your-sleeves” Operator

The operator is an action person who can execute. She gets things done. She can find and hire the right team. She is a systems builder who can develop the systems, job descriptions, procedures, and processes that makes the company unique.

The operator takes the visionary’s ideas and makes them happen. She needs the visionary’s ideas because she would rather take someone else’s ideas and work with them than create her own. She also needs the support of the finance executive to stay on budget and to focus on one project at a time or avoid hiring too many people.

A business without a good operator never gets the product to market and may also constantly be short of team members.

Responsible, Finance-minded Executive

The finance expert helps to make the dollars work for the company. She can tell us how much we need to sell and how much we can spend. She can also provide capital sources for the company via investors or loans.

The finance executive loves numbers and can help to make sure the company’s operations are profitable. She’ll work closely with the operator to make sure that the right number of people are hired at the right salary levels. She’ll work with the visionary to plan and budget for new sources of revenue and new product lines.

Without a finance executive, a company often spends more than they bring in and may not have a viable profit plan. They may also run out of cash which can cause problems with creditors and investors.

This is the role we can not only help you fill, but also help you build your financial literacy to the level that you need for the stage your company is in now and for the future.

Your Business Success Trinity

As you were reading, which role are you? Which role jumped out at you that might need shoring up in your business? You might be strong in one area and need to outsource another while keeping a strategic eye on things overall.

Take a look at each of these roles and objectively assess your business. How are all three roles being served in your company? Which ones need more development in order for your business to grow?

Getting clear on your company’s roles can very well take you to the next level of success.

Which trends impact your business the most? Which ones speak to you? Feel free to reach out to discuss any of these ideas with us.

Setting Up Products and Services

The products and services your business sells make it unique. The same thing is true of how these items are set up in your accounting software.  Whether you’re using QuickBooks Online or something else, getting your products and services set up right can impact the quality of the information you can get out of your accounting system. 

Here are the types of items you can set up in most systems.

Inventory item

Inventory items are used in retail and wholesale businesses. They are physical items that the system can keep count of for you.  You can purchase or make the items, and the associated cost is usually tracked when a shipping receipt or bill is entered.  They are sold when a sale is made and an invoice or sales receipt is entered. 

Transactions using inventory items impact a lot of accounts on both the balance sheet (cash, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and inventory) as well as the income statement (cost of goods sold, sales, and returns).  The inventory item can be tied to default sales and purchase accounts in most systems. 

Non-inventory item

QuickBooks offers a type of item called a non-inventory item. There’s a big difference in that non-inventory items do not have quantities associated with them. They don’t increase or decrease the inventory account. But they are able to be tied to default sales and purchase accounts like inventory items above. 

Examples of non-inventory items include items purchased for a specific jobs, such as a contractor purchasing appliances for a custom home, items you sell but do not buy, such as an ebook or other digital product, and items you purchase but do not sell, such as shopping bags. 

Service item

A service item is a special type of non-inventory item. There are no quantities, which makes sense because services are not physical items. They also are only connected to a sales account and not a purchase account. 

With service items, you could set up service packages or hourly rates. 

Bundle

A bundled item is a group of items that were designed to be sold together. For example, if you sell a gift basket of coffee products, you would bundle the items used to create the basket.   

Assembly Item

An assembly item is a special type of inventory item where the quantity is tracked, but it differs from an inventory item in that it can’t be sold separately because it is a component and not a whole item.  Assembly items are available in larger accounting and inventory apps, such as QuickBooks Enterprise, and are used in conjunction with a Bill of Materials or other build feature.

An example is a set of shelves. The assembly components are the individual shelves and the frame pieces that you may want to keep counts of. An inventory item that contains the shelves, the frames, and other parts is “built” from the assembly items.  The nuts and bolts could be non-inventory items or assembly items, depending on whether you wan to keep count of them or not. 

Sales Tax

Sales tax is a very special type of item used on an invoice or sales receipt to calculate sales tax due on the order. In many accounting systems, it’s usually kept in a separate list from the other product and service items. Rates can be entered for each sales tax jurisdiction.

Other

Some systems have an “other” category to capture items such as freight, shipping, handling, and other add-ons to the sale. 

Tracking Profitability

Setting up the right type of products and services is critical to matching costs and revenue for accurate insights into gross margin. This section of your accounting system is also the one that’s most different from industry to industry and company to company. Be sure you get professional help from experts who know both the software and your industry for best results. 

How to Evaluate Your Marketing Spend

One of the most important success factors of small businesses is the ability to generate revenue, and to do that, most businesses need to market their services and products to bring in new customers and sales. The challenge for small business is how to make their marketing dollars work the hardest, and this requires careful tracking and measurement. Here’s one way to get started tracking your marketing spending so that you can find out what’s paying back the most.

List your sources of revenue

First, determine where your sales are coming from by making a list of all the ways you are currently attracting customers. Here are a few:

  • Website via search
  • Social media
  • Google ads
  • Referrals from existing customers
  • Ad in local magazine
  • Article on Huffington Post
  • Board membership on local nonprofit
  • Chamber of Commerce membership and participation

Track your expenses by source or method

Once you have your list, it’s time to look to your accounting system. Create accounts or other types of tracking codes in your system to track expenses for each of these marketing methods. If you need our help, please feel free to reach out.

The goal of this step is to be able to get all costs associated with each of these marketing methods so that you have a total cost over time by method. Don’t forget labor: if an employee spends three hours a week updating your social media accounts, this should be included in your costs.

Determine the source of your sales

To the extent you can, match the sales that come in with the marketing source or method. In other words, if a customer knows you from the Chamber and spends $500 with you, match the $500 revenue with the Chamber marketing source. Do this for every sale you can. If you don’t know or can’t attribute the sale to any one method, then code it to an Unknown tracking code or account.

This step can be difficult, depending on your business type, especially if your customers are anonymous, as in retail or restaurant sales. However, every business can do better by asking “how did you find out about us?” to each new client that comes in and recording that answer.

For online sales, you can use tracking apps such as Google Analytics to help you measure digital marketing methods.

Do the best you can on this step, and implement procedures to capture this information as accurately as possible for future sales.

Analyze and adjust

This is the fun part. Once you’ve done all the hard work, you should be able to match sales to costs and determine the volume of sales that are coming in for each marketing method. Let’s say you found out that you are getting no sales from your nonprofit board membership, the Huffington Post article, and social media. You now have some decisions to make.

If you are doing these things solely for the purpose of marketing, you could cut them out and focus on the remaining methods. It could also mean that you need to redo your social media strategy; it’s not working now, but another strategy might. Or just one article in HuffPost is not enough, but three articles could start paying off.

At any rate, you have far more information than you did before you started, and now you can make smarter decisions about your marketing. If we can help you code and crunch all of these numbers, please reach out any time.

Making Deadlines Can Save You Big Bucks in Your Business

There are a lot of deadlines that come with running a business. Missing some deadlines can have serious financial implications to the health of your business. Let’s take a look at how much you’ll save by being on time with the following deadlines.

Payroll

One of the toughest deadlines of all, making payroll, is essential to keeping employees happy. Making payroll tax deposits on time is even more crucial. You’ll save the following in penalties by staying on time with payroll deadlines:

  • If you’re 1-5 days late with payroll tax deposits, the penalty is two percent of the payroll.
  • If you’re 6-15 days late, you’ll pay five percent in penalties.
  • If you’re more than 15 days late, the penalty goes up to 10 percent.

And that’s just the federal penalties, not your state penalties.

Income Taxes

Everyone knows about the April 15th deadline to file your taxes. Some people file an extension and have until October 15th. However, we need to remember that the best estimate of your tax liability needs to be paid by April 15th even if an extension is granted. Failure to correctly estimate and pay income taxes leads to a penalty that is calculated by multiplying the number of days the tax is late by the effective interest rate.

Paying Vendors

If we’re slow to make our accounts payable payments, our vendors may tack on a penalty, but the larger consequence is the effect on our credit score.

Business Goals

It’s so easy to let internal deadlines slide, but they may be the most important of them all. To move your business forward, set goals with deadlines so that you can measure your results.

Mastering Deadlines

Here are a couple of tips to master your deadlines so you can avoid the above consequences:

  1. Keep a list of deadlines, or hire someone to help you with them.
  2. Make a mental commitment to yourself that the deadline is important to your business.
  3. Set aside the time you need to prepare for the deadline.  Block time on your calendar and stick to it.
  4. Remind yourself of the consequences of missing the deadline.
  5. Try not to overcommit. Delegate other tasks when possible.
  6. If possible, automate or systematize the processes around the deadline so that it’s met automatically.
  7. Stay up late if you have to in order to meet your deadline.
  8. Celebrate when you meet your deadline!