Recap: New Business Owner Tips

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

–Guy Kawasaki

Small businesses are the key to making a neighborhood special and unique. As a Boston small business owner, you know both the rewards and struggles inherent in running your own business. If you’re looking for some motivation and advice for running your business (and let’s face it – you should always be looking for advice!) then look no further than the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog from last week. There, we highlighted several tips for new business owners, such as:

  • When it comes time to bring in additional people to work in your business, make sure to look for quality employees.
  • Show others how great your business is, and then let them spread the word! Good marketing is infectious, so get the word out and let it spread – your network is a key part to bringing in new clients.
  • Focus on your business, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to stay healthy.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is always here to help you with your Massachusetts small business. We also happen to provide the best small business insurance in the area! Want a free quote, or some insurance advice? Just call 617-298-0655 and speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable commercial insurance agents about your business’s unique needs.

Tips for First-Time Business Owners in Massachusetts

Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we love our neighborhood, and one of our favorite things about the local area is the diversity of the businesses. Instead of shopping at huge national chains, we love to make our purchases at the local ‘mom and pop’ shops that make the area unique.

As a business owner, you are no doubt always looking for ways to make your business better (and make yourself a better business owner). In service of that, we want to share with you some of the tips that we have found useful in our journey of becoming one of the businesses that ‘makes it’ and even, dare we say it, thrives!

Build a Great Team

The vast majority of small businesses start off as a one-person operation. At some point, though, you will need (or you already have) brought on another (or several extra) sets of hands. The quality of the people that you bring in to business is a critical factor in determining your business’s success or failure. You have to realize that experienced workers will cost more, but the extra quality that they will bring to their work will help your business stand apart. So, before you hire your neighbor’s college-age kid that’s home and looking for a summer job, do a cost-benefit analysis of whether they are the right person for the job.

Networking is Critical

You can have the perfect product, but you won’t sell anything unless you have help getting the word out about it. Instead of being a lone wolf when it comes to marketing your business, use the power of networking to spread the word. Think of it like this – if you can recruit 10 raving fans, and they each recruit 10 more fans, etc., the results are exponential! It’s much more effective than one-on-one marketing.

One of the best ways to network is to meet new people and give them your ‘elevator pitch’ – it may sound like business school 101, but it really is that important. You need to know how to explain who you are and what your business does succinctly. And remember that you will need several different versions depending on your industry. You may need one for potential clients and another for referral sources, for example.

Prioritize Your Customers and Clients

As a business, you want to keep old clients while also recruiting new ones into your fold. Remember, though, that when looking for a place to shop for a product or service, many potential customers will look at reviews for the businesses that they are considering shopping at. This means that in order to bring in new customers, you need to make sure that your current customer experience is excellent, and that your satisfied clients are leaving you great reviews online to promote your business.

Carefully Evaluate Opportunities

Small businesses are given a lot of opportunities. As the new owner of your small business, it is your job to evaluate potential opportunities and to decide whether they are worth it. Remember – small businesses only have a limited amount of resources (including funds) so you need to pick and choose wisely. It is inadvisable to try and take advantage of every offer that comes along, since you could easily stretch yourself too thin and end up suffering.

Learn to Adapt to Circumstances

For a new business, things can change on a dime. You need to be prepared to roll with the punches. As famed businessman Michael Scott would say, “Adapt, react, readapt, act.” When your business is still small, you have the flexibility to make things work – unlike your bigger counterparts that are plagued with regulations and red tape. Take advantage of this to figure out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure to account for the fact that you will hopefully need to scale up your processes in the future!

Take Care of Yourself

When you’re running a fledgling business, it’s easy to get caught up in doing everything you can to make your business perfect. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, though! Make time to sleep, eat right, and exercise – that will keep you in shape so that you can continue to shape and grow your business for years to come.

Take Care of Your Employees

You can’t make your employees take care of themselves, but you can give them the tools that they need to do exactly that. Ask your Boston insurance agent about adding employee coverage to your business insurance policy – it’s a great way to show your employees how important they are to you and your business.

If you’re looking for business insurance for your new Boston business, talk to the local agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. There’s no better small business to use for your commercial insurance policy – we are an independent agency, so we can compare quotes from several insurance providers to find the one that’s right for you and your new business.

And if you need help with getting your new business on track, call the agency and ask to speak with Carlos Vargas about his business coaching! He is available to help you get your business running and will help you take it to the next level.

Recap: Before Buying Business Insurance

“Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deepgoals and protecting the fruits of our labor. It’s about stewardship and,therefore, about achieving the good society.” – Robert J. Shiller

Protecting your business is something that you must take seriously. That’s why you need a great business insurance policy. If you’re getting ready to start a new business and purchase your first policy or get a quote for a new policy, read our full blog post about how you should consider some of the following factors:

  • There is a minimum amount of insurance you must carry based on Massachusetts laws.
  • Your business has unique risks that need to be accounted for.
  • You should make sure that you get a great deal on your policy without sacrificing great coverage.
  • When in doubt, get a little extra coverage – the peace of mind is well worth the cost.
  • Once you have a policy, review it with your agent and update as needed – at least once a year.
  • If you need help with your business insurance, ask a Massachusetts insurance expert from our agency.

Want a helping hand in building and choosing your next business insurance policy? Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. One of our agents will get to know your needs and will find the perfect commercial insurance coverage for you. The process doesn’t have to keep you up at night – just get some help from your neighbors here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance!

Steps to Take Before Buying Business Insurance

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we help Boston residents with many types of insurance needs. We handle home and auto insurance, as well as renters and condo insurance. You should also know that we handle many different types of commercial insurance policies for local businesses! If you’re a business owner and you’re in search of the perfect business insurance policy (and let’s face it; who isn’t?) stop and consider the following seven factors:

Determine your insurance requirements

When purchasing insurance for your business, you should first know what types of coverage you are required to have. Every state is different,so you will need someone in your corner that is familiar with the Massachusetts requirements. In addition, there may be requirements based on your industry, or certain obligations that you have if you rent your business space. Also find out about your workers compensation requirements and stay on top of those as your business grows if you hire new workers.

Thankfully, you don’t have to sift through all the legalese on your own. A qualified Massachusetts business insurance agent can help you navigate the often-murky waters of insurance requirements.

Know the risks in your area of business

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know that every business is different. We want to offer you complete protection, so we will help identify your unique risks to ensure that you get full coverage. For example, a restaurant may need coverage for food spoilage and liquor liability, where a tech-based business could require cyber liability coverage and errors and omissions insurance.

No matter what type of business you own, we’ve got you covered.We insure many types of businesses here in the Greater Boston area, and we are confident that we can craft a policy that is tailored to the special needs and risks of your business.

Focus on your amount of coverage…

Business owners know – bottom line is important, but it’snot the only thing that you should focus on when you make decisions for your business. As you talk to your business insurance agent, don’t fall into the trap of asking for only the bare minimum insurance coverage in order to save money.Your insurance coverage is critical in making sure that you are protected in all kinds of scenarios, so your coverage is not the place to skimp. Just remember – your insurance is what will protect you if there is a lawsuit or a fire or another type of huge disaster, so ask your insurance agent how much coverage they recommend. They will be able to find a coverage amount that suits your needs.

…As well as your deductible

So, we firmly stand by everything we said in the last paragraph…but we know that your bottom line is still important to your business. We want you to have the best of both worlds – a great insurance policy at a price that won’t overburden your budget. That’s why you should use an independent insurance agency when purchasing your policy. We can shop several insurance providers to find you one that will offer the best deal. We will be on the look out for discounts that you qualify for and other savings that you could use.

Err on the side of caution

If you’re faced with a decision of how much coverage to purchase for your business, we recommend that you err on the side of caution.Just remember – you never know when or why your business might be affected by something devastating, so purchase a little bit more coverage, or buy that extra bit of umbrella insurance. You’ll be glad that you did if for some reason you ever need to use it.

Become familiar with your policy

Once you have a commercial insurance policy in place, it is your responsibility to become familiar with it. If you’re brave, you can read over it yourself… if, however, that makes your eyes glaze over (and don’t worry, it happens to everyone) ask your insurance agent to go over the basics of your coverage with you. It is also important to make sure that you review your business insurance coverage at least every year so that you can refresh yourself on the protection that you have, as well as update your policy based on any changes that are happening in your business.

Ask an insurance expert for help

Owning a business is tough, but if you know the right people it doesn’t have to be. Thankfully you have Massachusetts insurance experts in your corner and ready to help with all your insurance questions, concerns, and needs.

Want to talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about getting a commercial insurance quote for your business? Don’t put it off any longer – the process is simple. Just call 617-298-0655 to get started and we will have a free quote for you in no time.

Ready to Shop? After Thanksgiving Sales are Coming!

Thanksgiving is next week, and that can only mean one thing – stores are getting ready for the after-Thanksgiving sale season! Bargain hunters will be ready to hit the road to take advantage of the savings opportunities at stores across the greater Boston area… will you be one of them?

As you plan out your Thanksgiving dinner, you can also start to plan your upcoming holiday shopping excursions. Make a list of who you’re shopping for, as well as some ideas for things that they might want or need. Then, you can figure out the perfect day to get them the right gift. You have three main options when it comes to getting a great deal:

Black Friday

Arguably the most well known of the Thanksgiving shopping holidays, Black Friday is when many big box retailers will offer significant savings on both small and big-ticket items. This makes it a perfect time for anyone looking for, for example, a new television to do some personal shopping. Many people also take the opportunity to make their gifting budget for the year stretch further with the significant savings. However, if you want to reap the benefits, you will have to put up with the drawbacks of shopping on Black Friday – namely, the massive crowds.

To get the most out of Black Friday, it is critical that you have a plan. Browse store advertisements to figure out which stores you want to visit, and plan your outing based on when they open – be careful, though, since some will start their sales on Thanksgiving afternoon and others will wait until the more traditional pre-dawn on Friday.

Small Business Saturday

A more recent addition to the post-Thanksgiving shopping lineup is Small Business Saturday. Only officially observed since 2010, this holiday of sorts is a celebration of the community-based businesses that we love here in the Boston area. In fact, it was here in Boston that the celebration started thanks to a partnership between American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Roslindale Village Main Street.

If you want to patronize your favorite small business on Small Business Saturday, snap a picture while you’re out and use the hashtag #shopsmall to tell your friends that you are choosing to support our local community as you make your holiday purchases. Spending your money at small local businesses is a great way to make sure that our community thrives, and that you are getting high quality products and great customer service from local business owners. At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency we are dedicated to showing our support to the small businesses here in Dorchester – that’s why we pride ourselves on offering top of the line business insurance policies!

2018 Lower Mills Holiday Stroll

One of the best ways that you can celebrate Small Business Saturday here in Dorchester is by attending the Lower Mills Holiday Stroll. It is a favorite of the Vargas and Vargas Insurance staff every year. Local businesses that participate will offer hot cocoa, host giveaways, and much more!

So, if you’re free on November 24th from 4:30 until 7:30, consider dropping by. The trolley will be running up and down Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street all afternoon, and you might even be able to catch a glimpse of Santa Clause!

Cyber Monday

Quickly becoming one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday has been celebrated on the Monday after Thanksgiving since 2005. Last year (2017) people shopped online in record numbers on Cyber Monday, bringing in $3,364,000,000 – yes, that’s over 3 billion dollars – in sales.

Cyber Monday is a great time to cozy up at home in your pajamas and do lots of comparison shopping right from the comfort of your own home. If you want to take advantage of this year’s Cyber Monday sales, first make sure that you subscribe to the newsletter and follow on Social Media the retailers that you might buy from on Monday. You never know when they might offer extra savings or put a spotlight on a great deal that you could have otherwise missed.

Whether you choose to participate in one or all of these post-Thanksgiving shopping days, we hope that you get a great deal on what you purchase, and make sure that you stay tuned to our blog for more great winter and holiday tips, as well as advice on how to get 2019 off to a great start!

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, you don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to get a great deal on your insurance policies. Call 617-298-0655 to speak to a great Massachusetts insurance agent about your home insurance, auto insurance, and business insurance needs. No matter what type of insurance you need, we can get you a free quote at Thanksgiving and all year round.

Recap: Small Business Winter Tips

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ” – John Steinbeck

Is your Massachusetts small business prepared for the upcoming winter months? As colder weather arrives, look at our blog post with tips on how to keep your business running strong this winter and beyond. Here are just a few of the tips that we offered:

  • Stay on top of snow removal and take precautions to avoid slip and fall accidents in areas where customers and employees walk.
  • Prepare for flu season by stocking up on hand soap, sanitizer, and disinfectant. Encourage sick employees to stay home.
  • Be available for your customers when they need holiday gifts. Offer gift wrapping, gift cards, and other incentives.
  • Introduce your business to new customers by showing off your product at holiday fairs, trade shows, and other local winter events. Look for anything your customers might find interesting.
  • When the weather outside is frightful, stay home and focus on your business’s Social Media presence! Create an account or schedule posts for the accounts that already exist. You could also take the opportunity to get ahead on writing blogs!

And remember, at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency we want to help Boston business owners to work more on their business rather than in their business. If you need help with this, or if you need a business insurance quote, call our office at 617-298-0655.

Wintertime Tips for Your Small Business

Time for “Fun in the Sun” may be over, but that doesn’t mean that you can relax when it comes to your desire to make your business as great as it can be. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we always say one thing: business owners should always be on (rather than just in) their business. Thankfully, now is the perfect time to cozy up with a blanket and a warm drink and figure out your business’s path to success for the coming winter months.

Here are just a few winter small business tips that you can consider enacting:

Safety First for Employees and Customers

Winter brings its challenges, mostly in the forms of cold weather and snow and ice. When these are present in Massachusetts, make sure that your business does what it can to prevent employees and customers from feeling their effects.

In addition to turning on your heat to take the edge off the chill that could come in from outside, you should be proactive about snow and ice removal. This includes your parking area and walkways to and from the entrances of your building. In addition, place floor mats and wet floor signs in your entry ways to prevent slips and falls due to wet floors.

Avoid Flu Like the Plague

Winter weather is a sign of the emergence of flu season. Help your customers and employees stay healthy with the following tips:

  • Bathrooms should be filled with antibacterial soap and lots of paper towels.
  • Place hand sanitizer around the business, especially in break rooms and any place where money is handled.
  • Have the business cleaned (by employees or professionals) regularly. Make sure that disinfectant is being applied liberally.
  • If an employee does contract the flu, encourage them to stay home and get better, at least until they are no longer contagious – otherwise you will be dealing with an epidemic!

Take Advantage of the Holiday Gift Rush

Very soon, there will be lots of people in the area looking for gifts. If your business offers something worthy of gifting, make sure that you offer it. Stand out from the crowd by offering other perks like gift cards or free giftwrapping. Some businesses even go above and beyond in offering a gift to the customer with purchase. Ask yourself what you can do to stand apart from your competition. After all, people are going to be making purchases – why shouldn’t they be from your business?

Counterbalance Off-Season Slowdowns

Often, businesses see a slowdown in the winter. This is totally normal, especially for restaurants and retail locations where people are less likely to visit because of the cold weather and hazardous conditions. You can offset these slower periods in a variety of ways.

First and foremost, you should be setting aside some of your summer cashflows for wintertime slumps. In addition, you can lower your winter expenses by reducing the number of employees working at once (if possible). You can also call us at Vargas and Vargas Insurance to see if you could save money on your business insurance policy.

Bring Your Business to New Customers

Do you ever wonder what you can do to get your business new customers? The number one reason that people aren’t shopping at your business is because they haven’t heard of you! Combat this problem by getting your business ‘out there.’ This time of year, there are plenty of events that you could be attending to spread the word about who you are and what you do.

Depending on your business’s products, check out local Holiday fairs, wedding expos, trade shows, conferences, and more. There is bound to be some sort of event where you could set up a booth and increase the exposure for your business.

Enhance Your Social Media Presence

Winter blues got you in the mood to cuddle up on the couch with a hot beverage? Don’t worry, you can still help your business from the comfort of your own home. Winter is the perfect season to start up a Social Media presence for your business. Depending on what you do and your customer base, you should consider Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Once you get one (or more) of these Social Media pages up and running, set up an advertisement to people in your neighborhood. It’s a very cost-effective way to spread the word about your business to local customers.

Another thing that you can do is start a blog on your business’s website. This will work wonders in getting your business higher priority in Google searches – which is a key part of attracting younger clients to your business.

For more help as you work on your business, contact the small business insurance experts at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We can get your business a great Massachusetts commercial insurance policy that won’t overburden your bottom line. Call 617-298-0655 to talk to one of our business insurance agents today.

Recap: Virtual Assistants

“I asked for help, which is the hardest thing in the world.” – Marcia Wallace

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we pride ourselves in helping Massachusetts small business owners. In addition to getting them the best possible small business insurance, we want to make sure that their businesses can grow.

If you are a small business owner here in Boston, you should consider hiring a virtual assistant. Here are explanations of just a few of the benefits of having help with your business:

  • Running a business by yourself can be daunting. Getting a helping hand may propel your business to the next level.
  • What are your weaknesses when it comes to running your business? The right virtual assistant can offer strength in the places where you are weak to improve your business.
  • A virtual assistant offers benefits to your business that a traditional employee doesn’t. As a contractor, you won’t have to offer benefits (or even a place for them to work!)
  • Finding a virtual assistant is easy! There are plenty of people available to help your business from all over the world.

For more information about how hiring a virtual assistant can help your Massachusetts small business grow, read our full blog post from last week. And for the best small business insurance in Boston, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance at 617-298-0655.

The Benefits of Having a Virtual Assistant

As a small business owner, it probably seems like your plate is always full. When you’re starting out, it’s easy to try to do everything yourself to both keep control in your own hands and to save money rather than paying others. However, doing things this way will only ensure that you are stretched too thin to make any real progress in growing your business. Instead, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you keep the more mundane tasks of your business running smoothly while you work on tasks that will help it grow.

Here are just a few of the benefits that you will get by adding a virtual assistant to your business:

Having a Helping Hand

Owning a small business can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just getting one assistant to help you with your business can take a huge weight off your shoulders. If you find the right assistant, seeing them do everything that they can to improve your business could help give you the motivation to make your business as great as it can be.

When searching for an assistant, look for someone who is flexible and friendly. You may need them to turn around tasks as quickly as possible, and with a smile. You may need them to attempt a task that is a little out of their wheelhouse. Having an assistant that is a “Yes” person will be very valuable to you and your business.

Strengthen Your Weaknesses

No one person is good at everything. Your strength may be marketing, or making a great product, or something else. With strengths, though, come weaknesses. What is your weakness? Is it affecting your business? Would having a virtual employee to balance your strengths and weaknesses help you to be a better overall business?

Often, virtual assistants are hired to help with technical things, like building and maintaining a website. They can also be very useful to help with maintaining a business’s social media and other customer-facing communication. Bookkeeping and scheduling are also often outsourced to an assistant. If you could take these types of tasks off your plate, what would you spend that time doing for your business? How much more could you focus on making your business grow?

A Different Kind of Employee

Often, when businesses are small, the thought of hiring a full time (or even a part time) employee is daunting. A virtual assistant is a great way to get extra help without making a commitment to a potential local employee. Virtual assistants often have work through many businesses, so they are used to not having a long-term contract. In addition, because these workers are contractors, you don’t need to think about offering them any kinds of benefits that a traditional employee might expect. You also don’t have to worry about finding them a place to work, since they will have an office of their own to work remotely! Remember – you could have a helper just an email away. Wouldn’t that be nice?

How to Find a Virtual Assistant

Depending on the needs of your business, there are many types of places where you can locate the perfect virtual assistant. As always, it’s worth asking the people in your network if they have any recommendations. You never know if they will be able to provide you with a contact!

Otherwise, there are many websites that can aid you in your search. You will need to determine if you want a worker from the US or overseas, and the area of expertise in which you are looking. From there, you will have plenty of options. One of the best parts is that there is almost never a long-term commitment – try someone out, and if the relationship doesn’t work out you can move on without repercussions.

Leveraging Your New Virtual Assistant

When you hire a virtual assistant, don’t expect them to be 100% proficient right off the bat – they will need some guidance and training first. As a rule of thumb, take the time necessary to do a task and multiply it by 30. That is the time that should be allotted to train someone to do the task well. It may take more or less, but that number will be a good place to start. Also make sure to give your employee enough time on the job to get used to the way that you like things done. Depending on the job, this ‘grace period’ could be a few weeks to a month or more.

Want more help with your Massachusetts small business? Talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance representative about the best way to insure your small business. After all, just because your business is ‘small’ doesn’t mean it’s not worth protecting! Our agents can get you a quote on Boston business insurance that will fit the needs of your business without breaking the bank, so call us at 617-298-0655 today.

Recap: Tips for Tipping

“If you fear change, leave it in the tip jar.” – Unknown

Does your business have employees that receive tips? Tips can cause confusion for employers when running a business. Read our full article from last week, where we covered many of the frequently asked questions about running a business where employees receive tips, including:

  • What conditions must be met in order for money given to be considered a ‘tip’
  • How much an employee must receive in order to be considered a ‘tipped employee’
  • The ways you can collect and report tips
  • Details on the way that tips work when issued from a customer’s credit card
  • How tips will affect your taxes

This information will be useful for any new small business owner looking for information about how to deal with tipped employees, and for more established business owners it never hurts to brush up on these types of issues. And business owners new and old can always count on Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for their Massachusetts small business insurance. For a free business insurance quote, call 617-298-0655. One of our agents can create a policy that is tailored to the needs of your business, so don’t delay – call now to see if we can improve your coverage or lower your premiums!