Small Business and Your Employees Health

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIH), more than 90 Americans die daily due to an overdose on Opioids. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this tragic epidemic is costing the American people  $78.5 billion a year which includes addiction treatment, health care, and the lost productivity these employees are costing the businesses in the United States.   For a small business owner, are you worried or experiencing difficulty with these situations? How are you coping? To read more about how small businesses in the United States are tackling these issues, follow the links below.


Small businesses forced to deal with drug epidemic

After a troubled youth himself, Phillip Cohen made it a practice to hire people at his woodworking business who have also struggled with addiction and mental health issues. But when an employee died from a drug overdose, he adopted a zero-tolerance policy.

“I think I have saved lives,” says the owner of Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, Missouri — an area hit very hard by the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. Opioids range from prescription pain medicine like oxycodone to illegal drugs like heroin.

Cohen still hires former drug addicts, felons and people who have been traumatized in life. One person, now a top employee, was hired right after he finished drug rehabilitation. Another used to sell illegal drugs. Still, Cohen says, if a worker fails a periodic random drug or alcohol test, “we’ll fire them on the spot.”

The epidemic of drug use — a report from the surgeon general last year said that 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder — is forcing many small business owners to think about what they would do if they suspect an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol.


Health benefits vanish at small businesses

Only half of America’s smallest businesses now offer health coverage to their workers because many say steady cost hikes have made it too expensive to afford a benefit that nearly all large employers still provide.

The Kaiser Family Foundation said Tuesday only 50 percent of companies with three to 49 employees offered coverage this year. That’s down from 59 percent in 2012 and 66 percent more than a decade ago.

“There’s just not as much money around for compensation, including benefits,” said Gary Claxton, a Kaiser vice president and lead author of the nonprofit health policy organization’s annual health benefits study.

Employer-sponsored coverage is the most common form of health insurance in the U.S., covering an estimated 151 million people under age 65, according to Kaiser. The federal Affordable Care Act requires all companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer it.


Quitter Talk: 5 Things That Are Stopping You and Your Small Business

Perseverance isn’t always a good thing. There are some situations where quitting is entirely appropriate, especially when you’re running a small business. Not everything needs to be a figurative fight to the death. Here are a few things that you should stop doing if you want to succeed:

  1. Procrastinating: Procrastination is the silent killer. Taking a few minutes out of your work day every now and then to take a look posts from your friends on social media seems harmless, but it could be costing you and your small business hours of productivity each week. Putting things off means delaying things that could be pushing your agenda. The sooner you stop procrastinating, the sooner you get important things done. I remember focusing on work for a little while and immediately getting distracted watching a YouTube video. This is a productivity killer — be careful.

 

Customer Service and Your Business

Customer service has been an important part in the success of any business in the United States and around the world.  An increase in technological advances has made it possible for companies  to do business not only across states , but across the globe as well.

Unless you are a local mom and pop shop servicing a small town or city, globalization for you doesn’t mean much, but for many businesses, expansion seems like an obtainable goal they are trying to achieve.

Doctors, dentists, optometrists and other types of small business rely very much on customer service.  They are facilities that are specialized and serviced their communities, and rely on giving excellent customer service. But are they?

The front of your practice or the front of your retail store are the first welcoming sights customers see as soon as they enter the premises.  Great customer service begins there and then.  Many small businesses forget how important those first moments are when customers enter the store or  their private business. 

In the retail industry, research has shown how important customer service is for the prevention of shoplifting.  For many other industries where services are provided, great customer service means keeping your current customers and adding some more.  As a doctor, optometrist, dentist or other health care provider, the front office is as important as the service the health care professional is providing.

Do you have a private practice? Have you checked lately how the people in the front office greet and interact with your customers? Is that something that as the owner you find acceptable?

The front office of your private practice is a small window into the care customers might be expecting when they visit your practice.  Loud, obnoxious, and tactless front office personnel cannot be an acceptable choice for your practice even if they are great at paperwork.  If you find yourself questioning whether the way the front office employees behave while doing their job is appropriate, it might be time to relegate them to the behind the scenes office.  You might find that even though,  you as a doctor are providing excellent care, customers are unwilling to come back to your practice.

Adding new customers to your current list means good business.  Are you adding them or loosing them?  Do you know the reason why you are losing them?

Providing excellent customer care every single day, and not only providing good service but making sure you go beyond what is expected, is one of the ways some businesses across the globe are thriving while the competition is shrinking.


   

Employee happiness and Business Success

Regardless of what you hear from Congress or any other politician in Washington, American workers are not the best in the world.  As a nation, we are lacking in skills ranging from math, and problem-solving to literacy. The study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, shows the American labor force is not only not comparable to other equal nations, but we are falling behind.  The skilled workforce needed to fill basic job positions is not longer there, and hasn’t been there for many years now.

Finding and keeping talented employees has become a struggle for many businesses, and the perks these businesses are willing to offer to entice talented people are a sign of the shortage of skilled employees.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Keeping employees happy a key to business success

Business owners may want to pay attention to more than how many widgets their employees are making.

They also should consider how happy those workers are while making them.

Experts – and a boatload of research – agree that satisfied employees tend to work harder and smarter, which in turn can boost a company’s bottom line.

“An engaged employee who feels valued and fulfilled is more likely to go all in and be far more productive,” said Evren Esen, director of workplace analytics for the Society for Human Resource Management.

“They also are more likely to stay with an organization longer, which reduces turnover costs,” she said.

That might sound like common sense. But finding out what makes an employee happy and then doing things to engage them is not an exact science.

Most workplace studies and surveys concentrate on two main areas: tangible gains, such as salary and health care benefits, and intangible bonuses, such as respect and job security.


Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

If higher education truly wishes to help solve the world’s complex problems, it is essential that all voices get a seat at the table, including those of graduate student workers. At Washington University, we need to do more to ensure graduate student workers don’t have to choose between academic success and personal well-being.

We are “privileged to be here,” we graduate student workers are so often told, and we shouldn’t question issues of compensation if we are truly passionate about the work we do. But as long as Washington University insists that we are students only, graduate student workers receive none of the protections afforded to employees under the law, even while we are compelled to remain in this tenuous position in order to complete our degrees.

While Washington U. is ostensibly committed to its role as a beacon of higher learning in the St. Louis community, it is in fact run as a business — and an incredibly lucrative one, at that. But good businesses invest in their employees. By promoting the well-being of the whole employee, Washington U. stands to benefit from higher graduation rates, better job placement, better academic and teaching work, and a healthier spirit of collaboration between students and their faculty advisers.


Family philosophy behind Marlex Pharmaceuticals’ success

Savar Patel, president of Marlex Pharmaceuticals, believes employees go the extra mile for him and his brother Samir because of loyalty.

That mindset stems from Samir and Savar’s father Amrish, Marlex’s founder, who the brothers say was an employee-centric boss who never wanted to treat people badly.

“We’ve just continued on with that philosophy,” Savar Patel said.

That philosophy has landed the New Castle-area-based packaging and distribution company on The News Journal’s list of Top Workplaces four years in a row.

Marlex Pharmaceuticals was ranked first among small businesses in The News Journal’s annual Top Workplaces survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics of Exton, Pennsylvania.

The company engages in the distribution and packaging of pharmaceuticals. All products are made in the United States and distributed nationally, with access to every hospital, pharmacy and nursing home across the country.


 

Happiness and Company Culture

Small businesses have many positive things going on for them.  The owners have total control of what’s going on in their business and take care of things personally and quickly.  Many of them do not look for ways to pass the blame onto others, they are the owners after all. The business succeeds or fails because of them.  If they plan carefully and consider the advantages of having a team around them, then the chances of success increases.

The beginning of any business is hard.  Lots of hard work, and maybe loss of income can become quite a strain for many small owners.  That is some of the reasons a third of the small businesses that start do not make it past the first two years according to the Small business administration.  And half of those businesses do not make it past the 5th. year.

A business plan before starting a business, and a financial plan to weather the first years should be a necessity for many small owners.  The difficulties that you will encounter the first years of the business are always unexpected. You know you will have difficulties but don’t know what they are.  Later on, the good and bad experiences you encounter will give you the experience and the forbearance to weather the storms.

There are millions of small businesses across the United States.  Some grow to become great, powerful companies, and a lot of them do not.  What is it then that makes some companies thrived while others go under?  For many people great companies show a handful of characteristics that makes them great, but as always great or good means something entirely different for people.

But for  companies to succeed, the first thing to remember is that employees play a crucial part in the success of any business.  Employees that understand that they are working for a company , and that they are supposed to be a team, not sole individuals with different purposes, make a better company.  They as a team, have a more happy, positive company culture, and research has shown time and again that employee’s happiness plays an important role in the success of the company.  Happy individuals that know the company’s philosophy, and are on board, will make the company a better place all around.


Small Business and The Market Place

Depending on what news outlet you read or watch, you are going to learn how the economy is booming or businesses are disappearing. The fact is that small business owners in the United States face many challenges through out the lives of their business.  The many challenges they face spring from government legislation or economic changes they have to face every year. This week many small business owners that sell through Amazon learned that the items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.  Unlike big companies that can offset this return policy change, many small business owners are thinking differently.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


Amazon’s new refunds policy will ‘crush’ small businesses, outraged sellers say

Amazon sellers are up in arms over a new returns policy that will make it easier for consumers to send back items at the merchant’s expense.

Marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse — rather than using Amazon’s facilities — were told this week by email that starting Oct. 2, items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.

That means a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back, and the merchant won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. If a consumer is returning an electronic device because it’s difficult to use, for example, the seller won’t be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund.


Ransomware attacks hit small businesses the hardest

It’s just one of the grim findings in Malwarebytes’ new ransomware report.

If it seems like reports of ransomware attacks — malicious software that holds data hostage unless a ransom is paid to the person or organization behind it — are increasing, Malwarebytes agrees with you. The company released its Second Annual State of Ransomware Report recently. Among the findings is that 22 percent of small business that were hit with ransomware attacks were crippled to the point they had to cease operations immediately.

It’s a somewhat staggering figure, but it makes sense once you think about it; large corporations often have the resources to work around (or, let’s be real, pay off) these types of attacks. Small businesses, especially ones that rely on day-to-day operations to function, can’t cope in the same way. “To make matters worse, most of them lack the confidence in their ability to stop an attack, despite significant investments in defensive technologies,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, in the press release. The survey also found that small business owners and operators are less likely to pay a ransomware demand.


Survey: Small business optimism reaches highest point in a decade

Small business optimism continues to climb in the third quarter as business owners said they are the most optimistic in more than a decade, according to findings from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted July 10–14.

In the quarterly survey, which measures the optimism of small business owners, the overall Index score jumped to 106 in July – an 11-point increase from 95 in April and the highest since 113 in April 2007. The increase in optimism was driven by several factors, including:

  • Strong financial situation – Seventy-six percent said their current financial situation is very good or somewhat good, up from 73 percent in April.
  • Healthy revenues – For the second quarter in a row, almost half (46 percent) said their business’s revenue increased over the past 12 months, up from 41 percent a year ago.
  • Ease of obtaining credit – Nearly half of small business owners (48 percent) said credit will be somewhat easy or very easy to obtain over the next 12 months.
  • More hiring – Twenty-one percent said the number of jobs at their company increased over the past 12 months, up from 19 percent in April.

 

Taking Your Business To A Better Place

After a holiday break or vacation break, we do come back to our business ready and inspired to do better.  We look for ways to improve, and we try to make less mistakes.  Not always, but a break from any business is a good motivator to come back stronger.  As you look into your business, can you see what things to improve and what things to let go? Are you inspired to try something new? 

Read more business news by following the links below.


U.S. factory orders fall; core capital goods orders revised up

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods fell more than expected in May, but orders for capital equipment were a bit stronger than previously reported, suggesting the manufacturing sector remained on a moderate growth path.

Factory goods orders dropped 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday after a revised 0.3 percent decline in April. It was the second straight monthly decrease in orders.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders falling 0.5 percent in May after a previously reported 0.2 percent drop in April.

Factory orders were up 4.8 percent from a year ago.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is losing momentum after gaining steam since mid-2016 amid a recovery in the energy sector that led to demand for oil and gas drilling equipment.


How to take your business from small to big

Q:  I have owned two small businesses and am ready tostart another. I am wondering about growth. My businesses have always stayed fairly small. This time, I want to create something that can scale big. But how? So far, it’s not in my wheelhouse. — Manuel

A: In my book The Big Idea, I looked at people who had unique ideas for businesses and examined how they took that nugget and turned it into a brand  —  things like the Xerox machine, Velcro, Kitty Litter,the cell phone.

While that book looked at breakthrough, innovative products, the idea here is the same, namely, how do you create growth?

Let’s note up front that luck plays a factor, just as it does in life.

When George de Mestral went for a walk one day, he never expected that he would end up with burrs in his sock. But as luck would have it, he did, and decided to look at them under the new microscope he (luckily) had recently purchased.


Ask Doug & Polly: What causes most small businesses to fail?

QUESTION:  What most often causes small businesses to fail?

ANSWER: We’ve heard a lot of people say that the inability to get funding is the thing that causes small businesses to fail.

On the one hand, this may be true. If small businesses had access to an unlimited source of funds, they would never fail.

These businesses also might never make a profit, but as long as they could continue to go back to the well for more funding, they could stay afloat.

We would argue that failure to obtain funding is usually a symptom of a more fundamental problem, but not in and of itself the cause of business failure.

The more fundamental problem is that the business owner has not adequately answered the first question that every business must answer: Why should a prospective customer buy my product or service rather than a competitor’s?


 

Ohio Business Tax Cut and Medicaid Freeze

If you haven’t heard the latest news about Ohio’s Business Tax cut, then here we have them for you. How about the Repeal of Obamacare? We have an article for you as well.  But if you are a small business owner, and make more than $250,000, then the business tax cut may benefit you and you would like to continue like that.  But, if you are dealing with other issues, like when to open a second location for your shop, we have those articles for you too. Read more about these issues by clicking the links below.


Ohio budget panel votes for Medicaid freeze

House, Senate still must approve

COLUMBUS — Republicans generally were not happy when Gov. John Kasich did a run around them four years ago to use a budgetary panel to draw down billions in federal funds to partner with Obamacare to expand Medicaid.

While they quietly appropriated the money to keep the program running in the current two-year budget that will expire Friday, they’re not being quiet anymore.

A House-Senate budget conference committee on Tuesday voted 4-2 along party lines to keep a Senate-passed provision requiring the state to ask for federal approval to freeze enrollment in the program beginning on July 1, 2018.

That provision might force Mr. Kasich to again thwart his fellow Republicans by exercising his line-item veto authority.

Those already in the program would continue to receive coverage. But after that date, the program could not accept new enrollees and would not allow those who were previously on the program but dropped off because of a short-term change in their eligibility status to re-enroll.


New analysis says much of Ohio’s business tax cut goes to the rich

When talking about Ohio’s controversial business tax deduction, Republicans often paint the picture of hard-working, small-business, mom-and-pop-type operations.

“The people I see benefiting from this in my hometown own small restaurants downtown, coffee shops, florists, dry cleaners, folks like that,” Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told his colleagues Wednesday night.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager, R-Canton, added: “They go to work every day, turn on a light in their stores, factories and farms and hope somebody comes in and buys their product. We have lifted the spirits of these people.”

But a new analysis by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission indicates that as much as $450 million a year of those business tax cuts are benefiting a wealthy slice of wage earners who represent only 0.5 percent of the state workforce and just 5 percent of those claiming the deduction.


When To Open A Second Location To Grow Your Small Business

“When you are completely booked solid, you have only two options: raise your rates or expand (or both!)” says Rachel Beider, licensed massage therapist and owner of Massage Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, NY. Beider’s solution to growing a small business was to add a second location in Brooklyn, named Massage Greenpoint.

“After raising our prices, we still had long waitlists of clients,” she explains, “and I knew that many were coming from the neighborhood just north of ours.” So Beider found real estate a little farther north from her original studio and opened her doors. Massage Greenpoint has been open now for six months and is continuing to grow. “It is the best investment that I’ve made,” she says.

Many business owners question whether it’s time to open another location, wondering if they’re creating new opportunities or spreading themselves too thin. While you can never know for certain before taking the leap, these entrepreneurs found that certain conditions were signs that the timing could be right.


 

Ohio Small Business News

According to The Ohio Department of Taxation, Small Business tax breaks introduced back in 2013 by Gov. John Kasich is costing the state close to a billion dollars in 2015, and is expected to be much higher for 2016.  Talks to repeal the tax break are underway, with Governor Kasich pushing back against repealing it.

For more bout this and other news, follow the links below.


Ohio Democrats: State should end small business tax break to generate $1.1 billion a year

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senate Democrats on Thursday pitched their idea to patch the $1 billion state budget hole — eliminate Ohio’s small business tax break.

Repealing the business income tax deduction, phased in since 2013, would generate $2.2 billion over the next two years, according to analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission.

Democrats said the money would cover the expected revenue shortfall without making cuts and leave another $1 billion to spend on education, health care, local governments, libraries and Ohio’s opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

“Some people will tell you there’s not enough money to go around, but our real problem right now is irresponsible tax policy,” Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights said at a news conference.

Specifically, Democrats would spend the additional $1 billion on the following over two years:


Kasich Pushes Back Against Repealing Small Business Tax Cut

An income tax break for Ohio’s small businesses in recent years is under fire from Democrats and some Republicans. They say the current budget situation shows it’s time to end that tax cut.

Governor John Kasich is firmly rejecting those suggestions.

Recently, state lawmakers in Kansas ended that state’s tax break for small businesses, saying it didn’t create jobs and cost the state too much money. A similar tax break is costing Ohio more than a billion dollars, but Kasich says he’s not for ending it.

“To raise taxes? Nah, we don’t raise taxes in this state,” Kasich said.

Kasich says the case in Kansas is different because that state didn’t cut spending at the same time the tax breaks were enacted, and he says Ohio did.

Ohio’s revenues $841 million short of projections for this fiscal year.


Small businesses in clean energy sector still hope for best

NEW YORK: Small-business owners who install solar panels or help customers use clean energy don’t seem fazed by President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, saying they expect demand for their services will still keep growing.

They’re confident in two trends they see: A growing awareness and concern about the environment, and a desire by consumers and businesses to lower their energy costs.

“It’s an economic decision people are making, although it also makes environmental sense,” says Suvi Sharma, CEO of Solaria, a Fremont, Calif.-based company that designs and sells solar energy panel systems.

Trump said he was putting U.S. interests ahead of international priorities in leaving the agreement that would, among other things, require the United States and other countries to report greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is the world’s second-biggest emitter of carbon after China, and carbon is one of the gases that scientists cite as a key factor in global warming.


 

Small Business And Millennials

Many people have said Millennials are an entitled generation.  They are lazy, lack focus, and believe they should be paid more for the work they actually do.  But, many people believe Millennials are a generation where they embrace change and failure, where they believe in possibilities, and the high certainty of accomplishing those possibilities.  The old rules and habits of Generation X and baby boomers are not something Millennials embrace. So, when we see articles about Millennials and small business ownership, the fact is nobody should be very surprised.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Millennials and small business go well together, study says

Millennials — Americans born between 1980 and 2000 — may be the most entrepreneurial generation ever. A new study shows Millennials have more experience with small business and greater desire to start businesses than previous generations. But the study also demonstrates a continuing need for help for entrepreneurs if they’ll create the jobs America needs.

The study, released Wednesday by America’s SBDC, the association of the country’s small business development centers, shows that people in their 20s and 30s are eager to launch new companies and be their own boss and that they trust themselves to provide their own financial security more than they trust others.

This entrepreneurial yearning isn’t idle dreaming. Even though they’re younger, Millennials are already more likely to have started a business than Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and mid-60s) or Gen Xers (mid-60s to 1980). They’re in a hurry, wanting to start businesses soon. But they know they need help.

“We are very encouraged that millennials are strongly inclined to begin the entrepreneurial journey,” said C.E. “Tee” Rowe, CEO of America’s SBDC, a network of nearly 1,000 SBDCs providing free consulting and low cost training.


9 Trends That Explain Why Small Businesses Are Thriving Now More Than Ever

70 percent of businesses are going to change hands in the first five years.

According to a recent Gallup Surveyoptimism among small business owners is the highest it’s been in eight years. In fact, “the percentage of small-business owners expecting company revenues to increase over the next 12 months rose from 48% to 58%.”

What’s causing this optimism? It probably has something to do with the following nine trends that are explaining why small businesses are thriving now more than ever.

1. Small business owners are motivated for the right reasons.

After surveying more than 1,000 of its small business customers from all 50 states, Guidant Financial found that “dissatisfaction with Corporate America” ranked as the main reason why respondents pursued business ownership in 2016. However, that motivation doesn’t exactly explain why small businesses are becoming successful.


Workers wanted: Skilled-labor shortage hinders business boom

If economic trends continue as expected, Friday’s all-important jobs report will show further strengthening of the labor market and a declining jobless rate across the nation. 

With national unemployment at a 10-year low, the U.S. economy has arrived at a pivotal moment. In conversations with small business owners in my role as executive vice president and head of business banking at U.S. Bank, I hear a renewed sense of economic optimism. While many are still recovering from challenging times, small business owners in the 25 states where we operate feel more positive about the U.S. economy than they have in years and, importantly, are making plans to expand, invest and hire.

Every year, U.S. Bank surveys small business owners, and this year’s findings confirm the optimism is real: Nearly 80 percent say their own business is stronger than ever. Forty percent say they plan to make a capital expenditure to expand their business in the next year and about one-fourth expect to increase the number of people working for them, both eight-year highs in the survey.


 

Do You Know How Your Small Business Is Doing?

Some of the least enjoyable tasks a small business owner must do is managing their books or creating financial reports.  These chores can also be detrimental to the health of any business if they are not done properly or not done frequently enough.  With all the other tasks small business owners do on a daily basis, accounting should probably not be one of them.  There are too many pitfalls for a small business owner to perform their own accounting, and can prove to be financially irresponsible not to have an accountant  do them for them.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Survey: small business owners remain optimistic about growth

Small business owners are largely optimistic about their ability to grow business and raise revenue in the year ahead, mirroring Wall Street’s sanguine outlook, according to a new index survey released Wednesday.

The MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index produced a score of 60.6. That means 60.6% of small business owners currently have “a positive outlook for their company and the environment in which they operate,” according to a statement from the insurance company and the business advocacy group, which plan to update the index every quarter. The survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 small business owners and operators.

A similar percentage of respondents, 60%, expect revenue to rise in the year ahead, compared to 9% who forecast a revenue decline. But they weren’t as eager about boosting their payrolls. About a third of them said they plan to hire more employees, while a majority said they’ll retain their current staffing levels.


Small business owner: Here’s how not to be a starving artist

You live for your art. Every day, you paint or compose music or write short stories or make beautiful hand-crafted objects. But every day, you also need to eat.

If you aren’t  engaging in your art just for pleasure, you’re not only an artist, you’re a small business owner. And if so, it’s all the more important that you realize that starving artists don’t actually last very long.

Here’s a dirty little secret of successful artists: You have to plan on how to make money. Many creative types believe (wrongfully) that if they just pursue their art, the world will discover them, and they’ll become rich, or at least they won’t starve. If only that were true.

Whether you work for yourself or are hired by other companies, especially as a freelancer, here are five tricks to be smart about your art.


Voices 3 key small business questions CPAs must be able to answer

Probably the number one question most clients want to know from their tax professional is, “How much do I owe?” But that’s just the beginning for many small business clients who want their accounting professional’s advice on a variety of business-related questions.

Being able to answer these key questions can help you build a richer relationship that can lead to higher client satisfaction, retention and referrals.

1. How is my business really doing?

Owning a small business can be a lonely proposition; entrepreneurs often feel that nobody really understands their business and the challenges it faces. Their accounting professional often comes the closest, and is someone who can provide real insights.

“I love asking my accounting firm what their thoughts are on my financials,” said Allen Walton, founder of SpyGuySecurity.com. He’s built a multi-million-dollar company in just three years, and worked with a bookkeeper from the beginning, but just hired a CPA last year. With such fast growth, he wants to know whether his business looks healthy and whether there are any areas of concern.