5 questions for small businesses at mid-year


By Caroline McMillan

The Charlotte Observer

Whether the summer means tourism slam, business as usual or slow goings, every entrepreneur should make time for a midyear checkup on their small business, experts say.

“Running a business is a day-to-day process,” said Gregg Thompson, North Carolina director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “But it’s much more than (that). It’s a longer-term planning process.”

Here are five questions to ask about your business:

1. Am I networking enough?

Joe Garen, senior operations manager of Vine American Kitchen, a restaurant that opened late last year in Ballantyne, N.C., said the hours he recently spent passing out free jambalaya, chocolate-chip cookies and menus at the annual Ballantyne Business Bash were fruitful. “You don’t let your guard down,” he said. “You’ve got to stay up on your business. … Stay sharp.”

2. Am I playing off the news?

David Tobin, one of the founders of Tobin Starr and Partners, a Charlotte, N.C.-based architectural and design firm, said he starts every meeting with a discussion of local and national news. Those few minutes help them stay apprised of the marketplace, which, in turn, has generated a lot of business, Tobin said.

3. How are my financials?

At the midyear mark, it’s important to take a look at profits and losses over the first six months — and consider an outside opinion, said Carol Daly, a consultant with the Rock Hill, S.C.-based Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center.

For a quick, budget-conscious tune-up, consider free resources through local nonprofits and publicly funded business incubators.

4. What is my competition doing?

It doesn’t cost any money, but a few simple Internet searches can go a long way toward helping your business better compete in the marketplace, said Dawn Newsome, founder and owner of Moonlight Creative Group, a Charlotte marketing agency that predominantly works with nonprofits.

Visit their websites, blogs and social media pages. See what they’re touting, and the medium they used to do it.

5. How do I get ready for fall?

It may be the last thing on your mind as you consider the office policy on flip-flops, but it’s crucial to look ahead at upcoming events and holidays in the next six months, especially if you want to save money.

Consider what you want your staffing to look like and how many people you’ll need to hire, Daly said.


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