Small-business owners offer tips

Here are some tips from small-business owners that can be found on the Jan Norman on Small Business blog at

Check Out MySpace
As a small-business owner and participant in society, at least check out MySpace, Facebook or other social media Web sites that an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and video.

Why? Consider this about MySpace, created in 2003:

  • About 60 million people have visited this year
  • 230,000 new users sign up every day
  • If MySpace were a country, (200 million accounts) it would be the eighth largest in the world

Learning to participate in this worldwide network or at least understanding what’s going on there could have important business applications.

IRS Mileage Rate
This tip is from Raphael Tulino of the Internal Revenue Service’s San Diego office.

Beginning Jan. 1, the standard mileage rates for use of a car (including vans, pickups, or panel trucks) will be:

  • 50.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The new rate for business miles compares to a rate of 48.5 cents per mile for 2007. The new rate for medical and moving purposes compares to 20 cents in 2007. The rate for miles driven in service of charitable organizations has remained the same.

Business Intelligence Strategy
This tip comes from the Economist Intelligence Unit, part of The Economist Group.

Eighty percent of respondents to an online survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit say a business intelligence strategy would signifiantly improve their company’s ability to react quickly to market changes and improve customer service.

But just 15 percent can claim their company has adopted best practices in this area.

In contrast, 41 percent of respondents say their companies “aim to adopt best practices,” and 36 percent more report that “business intelligence remains a challenge.”

The survey polled 114 senior executives of various industries and company sizes from around the globe on their experiences and opinions relating to their business intelligence strategies.

When asked what they consider their company’s biggest challenge with regard to business intelligence, 48 percent of respondents cited that “data resides in disparate systems.”

“Clearly data silos are still a significant stumbling block to making business intelligence work for most companies,” says Debra D’Agostino, senior technology editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “As a result, data cannot be effectively shared across the organization so that action can be taken in a timely manner.”

Survive a Cash Crunch
This tip is from Dan O’Connor, tax partner at Haskell & White, certified public accounting firm in Irvine.

For optimal cash management, business owners must forecast cash requirements of their business plan and contemplate possible adverse scenarios. Anticipating threats can help businesses prioritize expenses and survive more volatile economic times.

Below are a few strategies to improve cash flow or survive a cash crunch:

  • Be very transparent in your communications with vendors. If you will be paying vendors more slowly, let them know when they can expect paymentand how much to expect.
  • Don’t put off paying your taxes, including your payroll taxes. You can slow down some payments, but your must pay your employees and your tax obligations on time as well as your rent and utilities.
  • Use your accountant as an intermediary who can help negotiate or renegotiate more favorable lending terms or larger loan amounts. Your accountant can speak to the financial strength of your business and your balance sheet and can speak in terms that will both allay lenders’ concerns and highlight your business’s potential.