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  • Three tips for small-business owners

    In order to survive in the current economic state, small-business owners need to be like a SwisscArmy knife: sharp, to the point and diverse enough to take on many tasks.

    More than a quarter of small business owners lose sleep over cash flow, according to one study.Small-business owners must also be adroit managers, which is something a recent study states they often lack.

    According to a survey from Staples, the world's largest office supply company, 40 percent of small-business owners said they wished they had known more about management before starting their company. Staples conducted the survey of small-business owners to investigate some of the troubles and concerns pertaining to smaller companies and business performance.

    The survey revealed some interesting statistics.

    Nearly 19 of 20 respondents stated they were confident when managing their finances, but less than half of those, 45 percent, were able to define basic accounting principles such as accounts payable and accounts receivable. Meanwhile, 23 percent of respondents admitted to bouncing a check in the past 12 months.

    "A firm understanding of finances and business performance is crucial for a small business to be successful," said Steve Strauss, a leading small business expert and president of TheSelfEmployed.com.

    But the study from Staples discovered nearly one-third of all respondents have a feeling of "drowning in receipts." Another 28 percent admitted to financial and cash flow problems, which postponed hiring.

    "Managing finances is a challenging process and many business owners are often unaware of the tools and resources available that can help them make smart decisions and, ultimately, improve their bottom line," Strauss added.

    Here are a three tips for small-business owners to consider:

    1. Don't shy away from tax credits.
      If you run a business that employs 25 or fewer full-time employees with annual wages of less than $50,000, your business could be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, as long as you're offering employees health insurance.

      According to Small Business Trends, healthcare tax credits for small businesses can be worth up to 50 percent of your company's premium costs.

      If you're worried about changes to your company's healthcare due to "Obamacare," don't fret yet. According to YNN Rochester, a Time Warner Cable affiliate, small-business owners are not required to make any changes to plans this year. "The small employer can stay right where they are today in terms of how they buy health insurance," Todd Muscatello, the vice president of sales at Excellus BCBS, told YNN. "If they want to try something different, they can certainly go to the New York State marketplace, the New York State of Health, and they can look into buying a product that way. But they can do it exactly as they do it today."

    2. Communicate with your employees.
      That might sound simple enough, but according to Small Business Trends, only 26 percent of workers declared they understand everything that is covered by their benefits policy.

      And if you can communicate more effectively about your benefits, you'll have a more satisfied employment base. According to Small Business Trends, more than 40 percent of workers said that a well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave their job and look for work elsewhere.

    3. Give options to your employees.
      Communication is not a one-way street. Find out what your employees want or need from their benefits package.

      By giving your employees a few different options or letting them create an overall benefits package distinct to their needs, you help create a positive work environment where employees feel wanted. Not only that, Small Business Trends said that 59 percent of employees would likely buy voluntary insurance benefits if offered at their workplace.