Taking a step back from the day-to-day to look at the big picture is one of the hardest but best
business owner can do. Digital solutions like automating payments may help you find extra time. The
steps may help you find the solutions that can help your business.
1Track the time you’re spending on financial tasks
For one month, keep a log of the hours you spend on these tasks:
(like reconciling your
What’s the total time you’re spending on financial tasks?
2Investigate whether automation and online banking can help
You may be able to free up
time to focus on the most important parts of your business by taking
advantage of automation and online banking. Start by figuring out how you’re actually spending your time,
and then seeing if you can free up time to plan for the future. Contact
your Wells Fargo banker.
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5 professional relationships that can help boost your business
As a small business owner, you wear many hats: strategist, salesperson, manager … plus running your business day to day. As you grow, third-party consultants can help you in the areas where you’re less comfortable, without the commitment of a full-time hire. You might even work with them on a seasonal basis, such as bringing on a tax advisor at the beginning of the year. Here are five consultants many small business owners use to boost business, plus ideas for how to maximize those relationships.
What they help with
Filing your tax returns.
Sending tax forms to employees, contractors, or vendors you work alongside.
Check in during the year to avoid surprises in the spring.
Next steps: A general accountant may be able to help with tax paperwork, but if your business is complex, or to explore new credits and deductions, consider a tax specialist.
What they help with
Keeping your books accurate and up to date.
Helping you find ways to save money or spend better.
Building sales forecasts and projections to help you understand how different factors affect profit.
Maximize the relationship
Keep good records, ideally using accounting software that an accountant can access, like QuickBooks® Online2 or Xero® 3.
Remember, accountants can’t help if you don’t share accurate information.
Next steps: Some accountants can perform the role of chief financial officer, or CFO, until your firm is big enough to hire one, so be transparent about your financials as well as your goals.
What they help with
Your business’s technology infrastructure (both hardware, like computers and printers, and software).
Assessing when you need to upgrade those systems.
Troubleshooting tech issues as they come up.
Maximize the relationship
Make a list of all your technology and providers.
Run regular software updates.
Back up your information on a schedule, plus learn how those backups are stored (e.g., the cloud) and protected.
Next steps: You may be able to save money and time by working directly with providers; for instance, Wells Fargo can help you set up the technology for a point-of-sale system.
What they help with
Recruiting, hiring, training, and even firing employees.
Managing the paperwork to facilitate your employee relationships.
Building benefits packages and vacation policies.
Maximize the relationship
Think about the type of company culture you want to build.
Strategize staffing: It’s easier for HR consultants to fill clearly defined roles.
Next steps: Working with a trusted banker can help you provide your employees competitive benefits while also protecting your business’s bottom line.
What they help with
Getting the word out about your business.
Generating ideas for social media, digital ads, email, and your website to attract clients.
Building marketing into your business process.
Maximize the relationship
Document your process for how you develop your products and services.
Write down your sales pitch.
Ask about key performance metrics so you can evaluate whether your plans are working.
Next steps: Marketing includes raising awareness about your business, as well as selling your products and services. Research the “funnel” and ask your consultant to help you generate and nurture leads.
1. Online Statements require Adobe® Acrobat® PDF reader. The length of time Online Statements are available to view and download varies depending on the product: up to 12 months for auto loans; up to 2 years for credit cards, student loans, home equity lines of credit, and personal loans and lines of credit; and up to 7 years for deposit accounts, home mortgage accounts, and trust and managed investment accounts. The length of time the specific product statements are available online can befound in Wells Fargo Online® in Statements & Documents. Availability may be affected by your mobile carrier’s coverage area. Your mobile carrier’s message and data rates may apply.
QuickBooks and Quicken are trademarks of Intuit Inc. registered in the United States and other countries. Xero is a trademark of Xero Limited.
5 tips to set your business up for success in 2021
2020 was full of big challenges, and the new year is a great time to take a moment to reset. We looked at the big picture, and found five opportunities to help you take this year’s lessons and turn them into next year’s winning strategy.
Get a website
All types of businesses can benefit from a strong website, not just those that are consumer-facing.
A well-rounded digital strategy, including a website and social media, can help you take advantage of
how people are searching for information online.
In 2021, consider whether your site offers the best user experience and whether it’s setting you up for
sales and growth.
of small businesses said 2020 was the year they’d get a website.1
This year, we saw how important websites can be to generating business, and that won’t change in
Is my website mobile friendly?
Can customers place orders or make payments online?
*Deposit limits and other restrictions apply. Some accounts are not eligible for mobile deposit. Availability may
be affected by your mobile carrier’s coverage area. Your mobile carrier’s message and data rates may apply. See Wells Fargo’s Online Access
Agreement for other terms, conditions, and limitations.
**Xero accounting software is offered by Xero Limited. Wells Fargo doesn’t own or operate the Xero website. Xero
is solely responsible for its content, product offerings, privacy, and security. Please refer to Xero’s terms of
***QuickBooks is offered by Intuit, Inc. Wells Fargo doesn’t own or operate QuickBooks. Intuit is solely
trademark of Intuit, Inc.
Information and views provided are general in nature and are not legal, tax, or investment advice. Wells Fargo
makes no warranties as to accuracy or completeness of information, including but not limited to information
provided by third parties; does not endorse any non-Wells Fargo companies, products, or services described here;
and takes no liability for your use of this information. Information and suggestions regarding business risk
management and safeguards do not necessarily represent Wells Fargo’s business practices or experience. Please
contact your own legal, tax, or financial advisors regarding your specific business needs before taking any action
based upon this information.
Managing the long-term effects of the COVID crisis
Build a new reality that works for your employees, your customers, and your business.
Social distancing, temperature checks, and working from home: the effects of the COVID crisis may be here for quite some time. Thinking ahead to how these long-term changes may impact you, your employees, and your customers can help your business thrive as we work toward finding a new normal.
How to succeed at remote work setups
According to a survey done before COVID-19, remote employees worked almost a day and a half more each month than their in-office peers. While getting more work done is a positive, pay attention to how new work arrangements might affect work-life balance for you and any of your employees.
the amount of extra work time remote employees log each month1
Create clear boundaries between work and life.
Communicate those boundaries. For example, an email signature saying you won’t be responding after 6pm.
Create clear “breaks” that are set in your calendars and honor them.
How to cultivate business relationships
Nearly half of people say work friendships make them happier, so it’s good business to nurture these relationships during social distancing. This is particularly important if you have a close-knit team or have a strong support system through your work.
of people are happier thanks to coworker friendships2
Express camaraderie in small ways: implement virtual coffee chats with employees or lunches with vendors.
Engage customers with handwritten notes: “We appreciate your business” on a takeout food order, for example.
Make in-person meetings more fun (and create a conversation starter) with custom masks for your team.
How to plan for the future
Just over half of Americans expect changes to the way we work, socialize, and travel to stick around even after COVID-19. So you may need to find more permanent ways to connect with your customers from a distance.
of people think COVID-response habits are here to stay3
Help customers experience your “in-store” environment at home via custom playlists or other thoughtful additions.
If you’ve implemented contact tracing, health questionnaires, or temperature checks, automate them so they feel routine.
Design a permanent socially distant offering; customers may engage more comfortably if they know the service isn’t temporary.
The effects of social distancing may vary depending on the size and type of your business. Look for ways to use distance to your advantage and build a business designed to thrive in the new reality.
The COVID-19 crisis is creating unprecedented challenges to cash flow. Whether you struggle with fluctuating revenue, find yourself having to delay projects, or need to get a handle on costs, these 4 steps can help.
Step 1: Recognize you’re not alone
Cash flow struggles can be frustrating. Even though most small businesses were growing before COVID-19,1 very few had significant savings.
of small businesses said, pre-COVID, that they couldn’t survive a 2-month revenue gap without supplemental cash flow.2
Unfortunately, that situation is now a reality for many small businesses.
Step 2: Analyze the disruption
Ask your accountant, or use your accounting software, to pull together your income statements for the last year, as well as an up-to-date balance sheet.
• Current and future sales • Accounts receivable • Existing financing
Compare your inflows and outflows in 2020 to the same periods in 2019, and note how COVID-19 has affected your business. Studying the disruption to date can help you plan for any future uncertainty.
Action: Create cash flow forecasts for the next 3, 6 and 12 months. You may want to create multiple forecasts to reflect different recovery scenarios.
Step 3: Make cash flow adjustments
How could you generate more income?
Pivot Think about how you can change your products or services to be better suited to today’s customer.
Adapt Think beyond products and services to how you do business. Could changes, like doing more digitally, help you win more customers?
How could you cut your costs?
Press pause Delay unnecessary projects, such as testing new products that aren’t immediately relevant.
Negotiate See if you can defer payment on big expenses, like rent, and ask your vendors about updated terms. Consider creative solutions like discounts for on-time payments.
Raise prices Evaluate a potential price increase by weighing lost revenue against your customers’ ability to pay.
Sell assets Selling an asset can generate cash. If you didn’t own the asset outright, this could also eliminate an expense.
Action: Research the potential consequences of any cost-cutting efforts to help you avoid surprises. For example, skipping payroll may violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, and skipping payroll taxes may lead to a penalty from the IRS.
Step 4: Seek help if you need it
The federal government, along with many corporations and nonprofits, wants to help small businesses. These resources can get you started.
1Main Street Lending Program
Run by the Federal Reserve to help small businesses access credit.
Find community development financial institutions (CDFIs), small business development centers and more.
3Small Business Administration
The SBA offers various programs meant to help businesses through COVID-19.
of small businesses applied for funding via the CARES Act.3
Action: If you received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, keep tabs on how you spent the funds. This can make it easier to sort out potential loan forgiveness or repayment terms when the time comes.
Keeping track of cash flow can help you apply for and keep track of outside funding.
The current crisis is changing how companies market themselves, which creates an opportunity for small businesses to stand out. Coming up with a strong marketing plan now can set you up for success well into the future.
This isn’t marketing as usual
Before you build your marketing plan, take stock of the way businesses — large and small — changed their advertising at the start of the COVID crisis.
More people reading emails means it’s more important than ever to say the right thing.
Actions to take…
Offer basic information to keep customers up-to-date on how your business is changing.
Build goodwill via customer-centric products and services, as well as through relevant content.
Acknowledge customer concerns, especially if your customers might be facing health or financial issues.
… and to avoid
Don’t go too far off brand; it can come across fake. Make sure any mention of COVID-19 feels natural, and not like you’re using the crisis to generate sales.
Adjust your tactics
How you distribute your message should account for the fact that people are spending more time at home checking email, social media and even postal mail.
more likely to research products ahead of time during COVID-19.5
This creates new opportunities for people to discover your business.
Actions to take…
Widen your target: With more people researching products, you don’t want to miss an opportunity by casting a narrow net.
Play nice: Americans want to help small businesses rebuild; that may mean supporting both you and your competitors.
Go to them: Choose the placement of ads (e.g., TV, social media, or print) based on your clients’ changing lifestyles.
… and to avoid
Don’t push a purchase which can feel aggressive — especially when people are already stressed. Instead, focus on brand awareness.
Think twice before you slash your marketing budget completely. Spend smarter by using metrics to track the success of your efforts.
Uptick in most online retail sales, from May 2019 to May 2020.6
Marketing can help you discover new customers to help carry you through recovery and beyond.
Actions to take…
Establish a baseline by looking at your marketing pre-COVID. How much did you spend, and what were your results?
Set a marketing budget that makes sense by looking at cash flow and current ad rates.
Be flexible about what success looks like. Try to value “soft” success, too, like more people learning about your company.
… and to avoid
Don’t ignore the future. It can be hard to picture life after a vaccine, but eventually this crisis will end. Savvy marketing now can help you find customers and grow beyond COVID-19.
People need products and services as much as ever, but your marketing needs to feel different than it did pre-crisis. Look for opportunities by thinking about how marketing can help you find and engage customers.
The COVID-19 crisis can make real connections challenging — we’ve spent much of 2020 six feet away from other people. These four steps can help you stay connected and build new relationships when face-to-face contact is limited.
Step 1: Go digital
People are logging on more frequently during the crisis:
Action: Make sure your business’s social media accounts are up to date, and don’t just post about products and services. Comment, send personalized messages, and engage informally, too.
Step 2: Build a network
To get the most out of your connections, choose a platform best suited to the relationship.
Your macro network of suppliers, partners, employees, and clients LinkedIn or other professionally focused sites
Your neighbors and local connections Nextdoor, Front Porch, or local groups and pages on LinkedIn and Facebook
Your acquaintances including casual friends and your word-of-mouth network Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or generalized sites with broad audiences
One-on-one connections like friends, employees, or anyone you work with closely Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, or other video chat software, even phone calls
Action: Make a list of the people you deal with regularly, using the categories above. Then search for them online and reach out.
Step 3: What to say
Be strategic with your first message, particularly if you are connecting with someone for the first time. Think about the best way to build trust, since people may have their guard up during a crisis.4
To start the conversation…
With new customers, include a personalized note to welcome them.
With vendors, distributors, and partners, call just to check in throughout the crisis.
With existing clients, email them to say thank you and consider loyalty rewards.
For the first time, make it clear why you’re reaching out and why you picked them specifically.
Action: Lead with empathy. Before reaching out, ask yourself: “What is this person going through, and will they appreciate this message?”
Step 4: Build the connection
As communities rebuild, meet your digital connections in person and make sure to connect digitally with new people. To help transition between online and face-to-face, consider arranging digital events that translate to real-life events, and vice versa.
Host a digital cheese tasting
Host a happy hour
If you like to network over food, simulate the setting online, then invite the same people to an in-person event.
Create a how-to video
Organize a workshop
Consider pairing a tutorial video series with in-person classes (it may even develop into a revenue stream).
Start a social media group
Create a local club
If you connected with peers during the crisis, consider formalizing the group. Likewise, create a digital version of any in-person groups to stay connected.
It can feel challenging to build connections in a socially distanced world. But if anyone can do it, small business owners can. As leaders who bring people together every day, owners can use digital tools to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones.
We’re facing unprecedented challenges, but there’s reason to believe we’ll recover and emerge stronger. To gain perspective, let’s look at how we’ve bounced back financially from previous crises.
COVID-19 is unique
In the past, it’s taken years for the stock market to bottom, and job loss has been gradual. With COVID-19, the effects were immediate and severe, as you can see in these charts depicting the first few months of the crisis.
Dow Jones Industrial Average Stocks fell 34% in just a month and a half.1
Initial Jobless Claims Millions filed for unemployment each week, the most in recorded history.2
Action: Pay attention to the data affecting your industry and geographic region, and use national numbers to create overall context.
Policy makes a big impact
Historically, the government has been quick to respond to crisis. Consider these extensive responses to previous economic challenges.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Protects consumer deposits in member banks
Securities and Exchange Commission
Social Security Administration
Provides supplemental income for the elderly
Makes education possible for millions of veterans
Action: Stay on top of new regulations, policies and aid packages. They can provide opportunities for growth and affect how your business operates.
Perspective is powerful
How long did it take to recover from the last recession? It depends on your perspective.
Gross Domestic Product According to the GDP, the downturn lasted 1.5 years, but…3
Dow Jones Industrial Average Stocks took about 6 years to recover…
Consumer Sentiment …it took a full 8 years for consumers to feel confident about the economy again.4
Jobs …and roughly the same amount of time for employment to rebound.5
Action: Prioritize day-to-day observations and customer feedback ahead of big-picture data.
Recessions can provide opportunity
Downturns change our habits drastically, but some industries survive and potentially even grow during recessions. Deloitte looked at the outlook for a variety of industries.6
Action: Consider which industries and products are doing well, and use those insights to brainstorm how you might pivot, and potentially grow, your business.
How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting your customers
Americans are reacting to COVID-19 in a variety of ways, which can make it challenging for business owners to respond and plan ahead. We’ve compiled research and data to help you start thinking about whether you need to adapt your business, and how.
What they’re thinking:
Your customers are focusing on COVID-19. A lot.
9 in 10
Americans are following COVID-19 news coverage, but…1
7 in 10
…say they need to take breaks. Many say it’s emotionally draining.2
COVID-19 is disrupting nearly every aspect of American life, including how customers interact with your business. The road from discovery to purchase is filled with nuances that didn’t exist a year ago. Let’s walk through the main stops on the customer journey and look at the potential impact of COVID-19.
Opportunityis the point when your potential customer has a need you could help with.
Since COVID-19 is causing lifestyle changes, these wants and needs may be different.