Posts Tagged ‘small business profitability’


Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy

In mid 2015 Google announced that mobile-friendly websites will be rewarded with higher rankings on searches done using mobile devices. Ranking higher definitely means more exposure for your small business.

The latest consumer statistics show that Smartphones and emerging mobile devices e.g. Smartwatches are increasingly becoming more popular for purposes of searching the internet. Clearly, more mobile visitors are what entrepreneurs need in order to boost sales volumes. Accordingly, it’s well worth knowing just how to go about doing this…the infographic below will help you do exactly that.

How to Get More Sales From Your Mobile Visitors
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

While it’s good to know that having a mobile-friendly website will help to enhance the success of your small business, it’s definitely worth appreciating the fact that you also need to work smart. You see, spending more of your time working doesn’t always mean you’ll be successful.

The key to being a successful person is not working more, but working less and working smarter. If you want to be successful, get more done, and work less, take some time to learn from these 7 practices of successful people.

How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done



It’s just not worth calling yourself an entrepreneur if you can’t think through the relationship between revenues and profits. Willful ignorance on the part of lots of small business owners might just be the reason why they are caught up in this quandary. Entrepreneurs should ideally be concerned about how healthy their profit margins are because this will…(Read the entire post here)


Your customers and prospects should never have to wear this expression…

Consider the following facts and stats about customer service:

  • 80% of people who do not receive good service do not complain
  • 73% complain when things go badly wrong
  • A person who does complain tells nine people
  • 12-16% leave without registering a complaint after receiving poor service
  • 10-30% of customers leave after one complaint
  • >80% leave if they have experienced three or more mistakes
  • 5% increase in retention increases profits by 25-125%
  • Acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers.

Looking at these pointers it is clear that whether you are running an online store or a brick-and-mortar outfit, customer satisfaction is at the heart of your business’ success.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so. ~ Kenneth B. Elliot

Providing stellar customer service is really not that hard. Once you get started you just need to maintain the habit. Knowing how necessary this is for your business’ success is definitely sufficient motivation to keep you on course.

Good service is good business. ~ Siebel Ad

The following customer service practices need to become synonymous with your business:

1. Easy accessibility

How easy is it for customers to contact you?

Being easily accessible is one of the small joys you should never deny your customers.

There’s really no joy in being the proverbial needle in a haystack, or do you have something to hide?

And who says that all calls are trouble? You could be ignoring a huge order.

Customers and prospects should easily be able to reach you via several channels of communication...

Customers and prospects should easily be able to reach you via several channels of communication…

Accordingly, ensure that your contact information is readily available.

Also, whatever the channel of communication is, don’t make customers wait too long to get a response from you; having to run after them after they become disgruntled won’t be much fun.

A 24 hour response time should be fine with most of your customers provided that you meet a 2-4 hours window.

You are serving a customer, not a life sentence. Learn how to enjoy your work. ~ Laurie McIntosh

2. Taking responsibility

As a small business owner you need to realize that you are your product or service.

Your employees, if any, need to realize that when dealing with customers they are the voice of the business. It should be clear that they need to stand behind the business’ products and services.

This applies regardless of whether the product/service you are offering has been created in-house or if you are distributing/wholesaling/retailing a product.

Fighting customers over faulty products you sold to them is a quick way to ruin your business' reputation

Fighting customers over faulty products you sold to them is a quick way to ruin your business’ reputation

Should anything be the matter with what you are selling, customers will expect you to take responsibility for the fault. After all, it is you that received their money. You obviously don’t expect them to take up the matter with the product’s manufacturer.

Shirking responsibility in such situations reeks of blatant disregard for customers and you will lose them in droves.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. ~ Bill Gates

3. Empowering your employees

This is absolutely vital.

You can be sure that customers will notice and appreciate this because of the practical benefits that accrue to them from you doing so. In fact, employees may prove to be inefficient backers of the business’ products/services if you haven’t empowered them to deal with customers’ problems.

A team that speaks with one voice gives customers and prospects the confidence to do business...

A team that speaks with one voice gives customers and prospects the confidence to do business…

You should therefore refrain from stifling your employees’ freedom of judgment and voice. This way you will spare customers the agony of having to hear excuses like “I’m not allowed to do that” or “Let me call the boss”. What happens if you are not around for the day?

You should understand that customers tend to be loyal to businesses where they are assured of good service come rain or shine. And who knows? Perhaps your employees are better at public relations than you are.

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong. ~ Donald Porter

4. Customer appreciation

It’s true that “Cash is king”. Nevertheless, it is customers who bring in the cash.

Your business therefore needs to show customers that their business is truly appreciated and there are many ways of doing this.

With time, as the relationship grows, appreciatory habits will become second nature.

An appreciated customer is a happy and loyal customer...

An appreciated customer is a happy and loyal customer…

Your business should treat its customers as individuals. Learn your customers’ names and refer to them as such. Gradually you will notice things about them that will feel okay to compliment. Remember that they are people too and they’ll be able to tell whether or not you are faking it.

Every great business is built on friendship. ~ JC Penney

A sincere relationship can be very rewarding – the possibilities are endless.

Perhaps your customer is the nurse you’ll need to take care of you in hospital or indeed the sleuth who’ll help to apprehend a “customer” who vanished without a trace after you trusted him with some merchandise.

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers. ~Ross Perot

5. Anticipating customers requirements

When customers purchase a product or service from your business you are basically helping them to solve a problem. Understanding this is crucial because if you can no longer solve that problem then your relevance to the customer will start to diminish.

Knowing what your customers need it's quite easy to think of alternative ways to keep them satisfied...

Knowing what your customers need it’s quite easy to think of alternative ways to keep them satisfied…

Accordingly, you should make efforts to know your customers much better.

In case what they usually buy from you isn’t available you should try to find suitable substitutes and convince them to give them a try. Perhaps they will like them.

Good customer service in this case will require you to be proactive.

Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet. ~ Kevin Stirtz

6. Selling at the right price

Issues of price will always be a source of concern for customers everywhere. Your customers will always be keen to know whether the prices you are charging them are fair or not.

Do your prices feel like extortion? Very soon no one will want to buy...

Do your prices feel like extortion? Very soon no one will want to buy…

You cannot afford to overcharge a product/service that customers can easily buy elsewhere. Even where you have the privilege of setting your own price, e.g. for freelance copywriting services, you need some sort of pricing strategy to help you decide what rates will be appropriate for different clients.

Try not to make customers feel that you are pushing them to spend more than they are prepared to pay. Of course, you don’t have to do business if the price isn’t right.

Make a customer, not a sale. ~ Katherine Barchetti

7. Maintaining high standards of quality

Your product/service should meet and exceed your customers’ expectations.

Customers’ assessment of your product’s quality based on its performance, conformance to standards, features, reliability and durability. You can expect that they will be a discontent lot if your product/service fails to live up to their expectations as set by you.


This is how it should be. Period.

Errors do happen though and your customers will certainly understand the reason why you let them down if you are immediately forthright about the matter and you offer logical explanations and remedial measures.

On the other hand, ignoring their hue and cry is business suicide. You really don’t want customers to start treating your business with some sort of suspicion. Trying to correct this perception later down the line is most likely going to be an exercise in futility; too little too late.

Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you. ~ Mark Cuban

8. Making the customer experience as convenient as possible

Perhaps the best way to address this concern is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Imagine which of your business’ practices make customers feel like they are being forced to jump through hoops despite being the people bringing in the money.

Your aim should be to eliminate such; you need to make customers want to do business with you over and over.

The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary. ~ Sam Walton

Don't make customers and prospects do this - they'll very soon take their business elsewhere

Don’t make customers and prospects do this – they’ll very soon take their business elsewhere

Now imagine the new measures you can adopt to become more convenient.

Would you feel happier as a customer?

You would?

Implement these ideas immediately.

Most of your loyal customers will immediately commend you and spread the word.

Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you. ~ Chip Bell

9. Offering sound information and advice

While customers know that they need to purchase a certain product/service, they are sometimes not too knowledgeable about their options, prices, terms, warranties, etc.

Sharing your product knowledge in this case will be a solid opportunity to tilt your customers’ willingness to bring you return business in your favor.

As a business owner you should realize that taking advantage of an uninformed customer can only benefit you once – and perhaps never if the customer is the suspicious type. No one appreciates being taken advantage of.

Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. ~ Damon Richards

Don't be stingy with information and advice - share it with your customers.

Don’t be stingy with information and advice – share it with your customers.

As such, take time to find out what your customers want. See to it that they get the very best you can offer and let them know why you think this is so. In case much better options are available then don’t hesitate to make suggestions.

The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing. ~ John Russell

10. As for online business owners…

A good number of online businesses have managed to set the customer satisfaction bar quite high. The onus is on you to do the same if you rely on e-commerce for your bread and butter. You don’t have to match what big players like Amazon are doing but you can certainly learn a few things from them.

The customer experience is the next competitive battleground. ~ Jerry Gregoire


Ensure that customers and prospects need just a few clicks to find what they need in your online store

For your website to provide excellent customer service the following issues should be addressed:

  • Content – Always ensure that your site’s content is fresh and enticing, both for actual customers and prospects.
  • Search – Customers and prospects should have an easy time when trying to find a product/service they need on your website. You should therefore ensure that on-site searches return relevant results.
  • Navigation – If customers and prospects find it difficult and cumbersome to access various locations on your website then you risk losing them. Accordingly, ensure that your site’s menus are handy and that the entire shopping experience is well streamlined.
  • Mobile – Today most people are going online via the mobile platform. Your site can’t afford to ignore this fact. Ensure that it is soundly optimized for mobile devices.
  • Language – Basically, an online store is designed for international business. This being the case, your site’s contents should be translatable into at least one other major language. Your site should also offer global support.
  • Integration – Although this may be quite tricky, you should ensure that customers enjoy the same sort of top-notch experience whether they are buying online or offline.

In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away. ~ Doug Warner

Do millennials make up most of your customer base? Here’s an interesting infographic with lots of ideas about how you can deliver top-notch customer service for this generation of consumers:

customer service

Making the sales process enjoyable will most likely draw even more prospects and customers to your business...

Making the sales process enjoyable will most likely draw even more prospects and customers to your business…

Just about everyone who has started a business is initially quite upbeat about finding customers, making sales and getting profits.

This early gusto soon dwindles though when it becomes apparent that making substantial sales takes more than just being open for business.

Established businesses on the other hand are always looking to increase their sales volumes and therefore earn more profits.

As a business owner who is stuck with insufficient and/or mediocre sales volumes, it is perhaps time to take a step back and reflect about your approach to making sales.

Are you really doing things right?

How about approaching salesmanship as an art form?

This way you can perhaps start enjoying the process instead of merely thinking about it as something that needs to be done.

This shouldn’t be too hard.

In fact, all the suggestions here are nothing new.

Implementing them with a new mindset, however, may be just what your business requires. Start enjoying the sales part of your business and let the enthusiasm rub off onto your customers and prospects.

1. Implement an effective pricing strategy

For most people, price comparison shopping, online or otherwise, is the only way to shop; it’s all about making smart purchases.

If you are therefore selling your wares at astronomical prices as compared to your competitors, making decent sales is bound to be quite difficult.

Your price should make sense to prospects and make them willing to buy...

Your price should make sense to prospects and make them willing to buy…

You, in this regard, need to adopt an appropriate pricing strategy for your products and/or services. These two guidelines should be helpful:

If the quality of their products is similar to yours you may consider lowering your              price slightly.

If the pricing is influenced by product features, you can consider adding several                  more features to yours and then set your price slightly higher.

  • If you are convinced of your product/service’s superiority and that your high price is therefore justified, then by all means let customers and prospects know of the extra value they’ll get by using the same. Breathe life into your message!

2. Making the most of business upsells

Think about it.

You’ve most likely gone out to shop for something you really needed and ended up spending more than you had budgeted for simply because the sales guy convinced you that you needed one or two more things related to the original purchase.

The ease with which you agreed to buy these extra things surprised you – especially because you consider yourself a responsible buyer!

Get your customers into the mood, give them hints, and make more sales...

Get your customers into the mood, give them hints, and make more sales…

This is the power of upselling.

The sales guy simply got you into a buying mood, made the necessary suggestions, and you obliged.

How about you try this in your business?

Hint: First try it on regular customers; practice makes perfect.

3. Name your product/service appropriately

With effective branding you can make your product a household name...expect mega sales volumes once you get there!

With effective branding you can make your product a household name…expect mega sales volumes once you get there!

Effective naming of products or services typically takes into account several considerations:

  • Easy pronunciation
  • Ease of remembering
  • Simple association between the name and the product/service features and benefits

Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with going for a unique product/service name. If this is how you opt to proceed just ensure that the name is easy to pronounce and write down. Coupled with effective branding, your product/service will very soon no longer be associated with outer space.

4. Embrace targeted content marketing

Dispatching your marketing contents all over the place simply because you have the budget for it is a haphazard and cost-ineffective tactic to gain more sales.

Away with these hit and miss marketing tactics!

Targeted content marketing is about knowing your product and your ideal customers

Targeted content marketing is about knowing your product and your ideal customers

A statement I came across recently made me smile: “Wonder why there are no Lamborghini and Porsche ads on TV? Rich guys don’t watch TV!”

This is what targeted content marketing is all about. Don’t demean your product/service by marketing it to everyone; direct your messages to your customers and prospects.

This approach will deliver the following benefits (in addition to increased sales):

5. Offering free samples

Giving out free samples is an effective way to increase prospective customers’ confidence in your product/service. After all, seeing is believing.

Offering free samples typically encourages prospects to buy...

Offering free samples typically encourages prospects to buy…

If you have a food catering business, for example, you can offer to treat some prospects to free delicious lunch. Practically convincing them of your culinary expertise will most likely see them hire your services.

6. Advertise your product/service effectively

Ads help to spread the word about products and/or services 24/7 and they’ll therefore greatly augment your marketing effort.

Well designed ads easily attract prospects and encourage repeat customers leading to increased sales

Well designed ads easily attract prospects and encourage repeat customers leading to increased sales

Effective advertising has everything to do with attracting prospects attention and describing what the benefits of using a product/service are.

In designing your ads therefore, ensure that they are so well designed that it’s impossible to ignore them. A creative graphic designer’s services will come in handy here.

Secondly, spell out your product/service benefits honestly – no hyping; nevertheless, under-promise and over-deliver is not what you want to do.

Thirdly, choose appropriate advertising mediums. Think about where the ad will be more effective – your target market’s behaviors and preferences will help you in this regard.

7. Introduce rewards programs

There are plenty of rewards programs ideas to choose from for this increased sales strategy.

You can go for basic ones like “buy 2 get 1 free” and more complex ones e.g. the token economy style whereby shoppers earn points which can be redeemed for certain products once they accumulate to a certain number.

"Buy 2 get 1 free" is a really effective way to attract customers and increase sales

“Buy 2 get 1 free” is a really effective way to attract customers and increase sales

In addition to marketing your products/services, these initiatives will actually help to increase sales, and additionally help to create customer loyalty.

8. Make the purchasing experience more convenient

How much effort do prospects have to put in before they can use your product/service?

If transacting business with you borders on the laborious then you can be sure that your sales volumes will be proportionally low.

Whether you have a physical or online store, you have to do all you can to reduce customer effort.

Go to your customers - most of the effort should be yours, not theirs.

Go to your customers – most of the effort should be yours, not theirs.

Get practical about it.

A brick-and-mortar store has to be conveniently located. Purchasing should be just as simple; customers shouldn’t have to shuffle from one office to the next to get clearance – a one-stop desk will make all the difference.

For an online store the concepts are really quite similar.

All the links should be functional. Filling out forms should be easy. The shopping and shipping processes should be easily understood and doable. Any potentially troublesome processes should be made easy for customers e.g. through the use of screen shares on Google Hangouts.

9. Practice superb telephone etiquette and offer quality customer support

Placing your business’ telephone number on your product or ad implies that customers and prospects can reach you over the phone.

It therefore makes no sense why no one at your end bothers to pick up the phone.

You don’t pick up = Lost business.

Answering the phone promptly and correctly is good for business...

Answering the phone promptly and correctly is good for business…

Telephone etiquette is really a no-brainer; handle prospects poorly over the phone and say goodbye to a potential sale. It’s that simple.

You and the team should therefore style up with regards to telephone conversations, and more so when handling regular customers. Answer the phone graciously, strike up a brief conversation just to ease the tension, and then handle the business.

Creating a cordial business relationship will go a long way in helping to foster customer loyalty, a win-win situation.

10. Tier your customers

It’s true that regular and new customers both bring revenue to the business by purchasing products and services.

There is however need to show and treat regular customers in a manner that portrays your appreciation for them. It is really their continued support for your business that has enabled you to reach your present success.

Make esteemed clients feel appreciated; show them that you value their business

Make esteemed clients feel appreciated; show them that you value their business

Appreciation can be shown in a variety of ways, starting with the most basic e.g. greeting them by name and even ushering them into your office while other customers are served at the storefront.

Appreciation can also extend to tangible benefits e.g. discounts, extended credit, free delivery, etc.

Why would such an esteemed client want to take his/her business elsewhere?

"You need to take your business' accounting issues very seriously!"

“You need to take your business’ accounting issues very seriously!”

For many small business owners, the sight or mention of anything to do with accounting is enough to instantly turn a smiling face into a contemplative one.

Is accounting one of the duller aspects of business ownership that you’d rather do without?

It is!?

I’m sorry, that won’t happen; can’t do, won’t do…perhaps in the next life.

Your small business just can’t do without accounting.

This is the only way to keep your records accurate and complete; there are just too many numbers to memorize.

Effective accounting will help you to make considerable tax savings.

Sound bookkeeping is the simplest way to assess and confirm your business’ cashflow, profitability and growth.

Additionally, why risk being yanked into a lawsuit for possible funds commingling?


Here are 11 accounting practices that will do a whole lot of good for your business:

1. Getting familiar with and using the three tools of measuring business financial health

Successful accounting is more or less pegged on understanding how the following financial documents work:

  1. The balance sheet – it’s used to tell the worth of a business
  2. The profit and loss statement – it’s used to confirm whether or not a business is profitable
  3. The cash flow statement – it’s used to anticipate a business’ future cash balances
A business' financial health is ordinarily confirmed by referring to three basic accounting documents...

Easily confirm your business’ financial health by maintaining accurate balance sheets, P&L statements and cash flow statements

With the help of these three documents you can make informed decisions about how best to use business credit and how best to commit funds to business operations. Understanding how these three financial documents work will also help you to make sense of other financial documents.

These three tools are indeed the basis of creating sound business plans. Many potential lenders scarcely have time for anything else; a quick glance at your financial statements is enough to make or break your attempts to secure funding.

Again, if you are considering the acquisition of a business, or to have yours acquired, it’s worth appreciating the fact that sound decision-making cannot be possible without a thorough evaluation of financial reports.

2. Hiring a reputable accountant and bookkeeper

You have three choices in selecting an accountant.

First, you can opt for an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) professional.

Second, you can consider hiring an accounting firm; the scope of services will be wider but the fees much higher.

Third, is hiring an EA i.e. Enrolled Agent. Your choice of EA must have passed an IRS-administered taxation test.

Reputable accountants and bookkeepers are typically well trained, experienced and competent

Reputable accountants and bookkeepers are typically well trained, experienced and competent

For lack of national certification standards like there are for accountants, using referrals is perhaps the best way to hire a competent bookkeeper.

There are different categories of bookkeepers. Basic ones handle tasks like receipts processing and bill payments. Full-service ones can make a summary of all your business’ bookkeeping activity which you then submit to your accountant to facilitate tax returns preparations.

NB: Accountants are well placed to recommend a good bookkeeper based on the quality of work submitted to them by various bookkeepers.

3. Identifying a good accounting software program  

Find and use accounting software that's appropriate for your business

Find and use accounting software that’s appropriate for your business

This is another consideration where your accountant’s advice will come in handy.

Of course it’s very advisable to know what different accounting software business owners in your industry niche use and how effective each is.

Nevertheless, it’s quite impossible to overlook off-the-shelf solutions like Sage 50 Accounting and QuickBooks. Ultimately, though, whatever you settle on must correspond to your business’ accounting requirements and budget.

4. Identifying a suitable accounting method 

You have two choices in as far as accounting methods are concerned:

a. Cash basis method – This is the simplest option. Basically, income is acknowledged upon receiving cash, while an expense is acknowledged after the bill is paid.

Your type of business will determine what accounting technique is most suitable

Your type of business will determine what accounting technique is most suitable

b. Accrual method – Here revenue is matched with expense without concern to when the cash may or may not be collected.

Simply put, if you on day X sell a product whose payment is due after 30 days, you will record that sale on day X – not 30 days afterwards when the cash is collected. Similarly, if your business incurs an expense on day X with payment due after 30 days, you will record the expense on day X – not 30 days afterwards when you make payment.

This is the method of accounting the IRS requires for businesses that deal with inventory and manufacturing.

5. Keeping business and personal accounts separate

Without exception, your personal and business records should be separately maintained. This is essentially done to ensure that only relevant records are used for the compilation of income tax.

6. Issues of tax liability

There are two issues that you and your accountant must sort out:

a. Income taxes – Sole proprietorship businesses report business activity on Schedule C of IRS form 1040. You, as a sole proprietor, are required to pay income tax on business income, as well as the social security tax levied on this income, and which is separately reported on the income tax return.

Evidently, considering that the social security tax is approximately 15% of net income, and that this is paid in addition to income tax, small business owners have no choice but to be hawkeyed about their financials.

This should be enough motivation to find a competent accountant capable of setting up estimated tax payments. These payments will help to make your final tax bills lighter as well as to avoid penalties for defaulting on tax payments.

You need an accountant who understands the intricacies of income and payroll taxes

You need an accountant who understands the intricacies of income and payroll taxes

b. Payroll taxes – If you have employees, you need to apply for the state and federal payroll numbers required for filing payroll tax returns. Your accountant will be better placed to handle this. The federal payroll number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) is obtained using form SS-4.

For every state, different local and state tax payments are required. Paying these taxes requires you to apply for a State Identification Number.

7. Consulting reputable sources of financial and technical assistance

Quite often pro-small business agencies and organizations provide financial and technical assistance to startup businesses. It’s worth finding an accountant who is quite conversant about some of these organizations. Examples include:

8. Implementing effective internal controls for your business operations

Internal controls” describes the objective required in the handling of funds, where money, be it cash, credit cards, or checks, is exchanged for goods and services.

The purpose of this objective is to ensure that your business will receive all the income due to it without losing any of it through wastage, carelessness, employees’ dishonesty, fraud, etc.

With effective internal controls in place you won't have to worry about losing business revenue

With effective internal controls in place you won’t have to worry about losing business revenue

Effective internal controls must therefore be initiated and your accountant should identify appropriate controls suitable for your business.

Some of the most common of these measures include damage control planning and inventory policies & controls. You also need appropriate controls for the procurement of goods and services, as well as controls to oversee the release of processed goods and services into the market.

Considering these requirements, it is clear that hiring an accountant who is conversant with your industry’s operations and procedures is well advised.

9. Prompt submission of quarterly returns

Quarterly returns must be promptly submitted to avoid penalties

Quarterly returns must be promptly submitted to avoid penalties

Basically, quarterly returns are payroll tax and sales tax returns. It is mandatory for small businesses to:

  • file quarterly payroll tax returns
  • send money withheld from employees’ checks to the federal government
  • send the employer’s share of social security taxes to the federal government
  • account for withheld state income taxes
  • account for state unemployment tax that employers pay to the state
  • pay sales tax (in states where this is applicable) depending on your sales volumes

Your accountant should from the start ensure that systems are in place to facilitate prompt payment of these taxes therefore avoiding penalization for late payment or non-payment.

While your business may routinely have to deal with being cash-strapped, holding off your obligation to pay some of these taxes is ill-advised considering the backlash that ensues when government agencies act to counter taxpayer delinquency.

10. Accurate bank account reconciliation 

Your bank account must be reconciled at least monthly upon receiving your bank statement. Reconciliation involves mathematically comparing your checkbook’s balance to your bank balance.

Ensure that your checkbook and bank balances are reconciled monthly

Ensure that your checkbook and bank balances are reconciled monthly

A difference in these two balances may result when checks you’ve written are yet to be cleared at the bank. In this case the checkbook balance will be lower than the bank balance since the bank is yet to make payments from the checks.

In reconciling therefore, you will need to subtract the outstanding checks from your bank balance. If the two balances are now corresponding, you will have successfully reconciled your account.

Have your accountant explain this to you; you can save money by doing it personally.

11. Adopting a cost-effective employee benefits policy  

Seek professional accounting advice with regards to employees and payroll issues

Seek professional accounting advice with regards to employees and payroll issues

As your business hires more employees you will need to figure out the following:

  • The number of hours they will work
  • The holidays they are entitled to
  • The vacation policy you will adopt
  • The types of policies you will provide in case you choose to cover employee medical costs or medical insurance
  • The type of sick leave policy you’ll offer

These are certainly very weighty considerations and you need solid advice to make proper decisions. Your accountant and lawyer should get you started on the right track.

In conclusion:

Adopting effective accounting practices is guaranteed to buoy your business’ chances of becoming successful.

Considering the various financial requirements and engagements you must enter with the state and federal government, suppliers, clients and your employees, having a competent accountant by your side is imperative.

Do you have an accountant?

If so, have the services you have received proven to be beneficial for your business?


If you can do this for family and friends then why not start a food catering business?

If you can prepare this for family and friends then why not start a catering business?

You are perhaps the go-to person when family and friends need help with cooking for events such as parties, anniversaries and weddings.

You know as much, and that’s why you’ve recently started charging a small fee for the service – you now get paid whenever your excellent culinary skills are hired.

So, have you thought about starting your own food catering business?


Why not?

After all, it’s virtually impossible that people will stop eating at get-togethers, events and corporate functions.

And, this is one of those businesses where talent really counts.

Nothing quite lingers in the memory like the taste of a delicious meal; all it takes is one opportunity to delight attendees’ taste buds. Do this well and everyone, from the kids to the adults, will make comments about your delicious food part of their conversations for a long time.

If it's tasty they'll definitely talk about it!

If it’s tasty they’ll definitely talk about it!

The National Association of Catering Executives estimates that this industry generates an estimated $7.1 billion annually. Events – including corporate functions, weddings, holiday parties and funerals are responsible for most of this revenue.

While demand for the service typically dips during economic slumps, the necessity of the service makes this a recession-proof business.

The country has an estimated 10000 catering businesses, each hiring an average of 11 persons. Given that the industry is highly fragmented i.e. most of these are small local businesses which don’t control large portions of the market share, being unique can really work to your advantage.

You want to be based in a densely populated location, e.g. a large city, where demand is typically higher.

Who knows? Perhaps your business will be doing this in the future...

Who knows? Perhaps your business will be doing this in the future…

1. Catering service prerequisites

Your core operation as the owner of a catering small business will be to provide food service at events.

You will typically prepare this food at your premises and then deliver it to the event location. In addition to the food you may also be required to provide drinks, cutlery, crockery, glassware, decorations and staff.

Will you cater to private clients...

Will you cater to private clients…

You will need to decide what sector of the business you will engage in; will your service target social event clients (mostly consisting of social occasions e.g. parties, weddings and funerals) or corporate events? There are some caterers who cover both.

...or corporate clients...

…or corporate clients…

The ability to prepare an extensive range of dishes or multiple types of food service is a crucial prerequisite considering the scope of people who may wish to hire your service. While some may have conventional preferences, others may have more sophisticated requirements.

Versatility and creativity with regards to your offerings will therefore enable you to appropriately cater to a varied description of clients.

...or perhaps specialize in weddings?

…or perhaps specialize in weddings?

Being successful as a caterer will require you to combine your passion for food with some business acumen.

Running a profitable venture will need you to be knowledgeable about effective pricing strategies, controlling costs, sourcing and business marketing. Having organizational and event management skills will also be crucial for the success of your operations.

Last but not least, you will need to be a self-motivated entrepreneurial individual, and especially good at inspiring teamwork in your employees. Remember, you’ll be working when everyone else is having a good time.

2. Deciding on an appropriate business structure

In choosing an appropriate business structure for your food catering business there are basically two considerations:

Industry experts agree on the need to prioritize liability, and consequently advise business owners to opt for incorporation.


Corporations and liability companies insulate business owners from business liabilities, unlike sole proprietorships and partnerships. Simply, a corporate structure will provide limited liability for your business.

This certainly makes a lot of sense seeing as the catering business is quite risk-prone. There are quite a number of things that can go wrong; employees can suffer injury, people may fall ill after eating your food, etc. In case you are sued, the incorporated structure will ensure that your personal assets won’t be attached to the lawsuit.

You should at this juncture also find a reputable accountant who’ll demystify the tax implications of running your catering business.

3. Selecting the best form of insurance coverage

The food catering business is typically hazard-prone. For this reason you’ll need a suitable insurance cover, one that will cover every potential eventuality.

A suitable insurance package will ensure that your business is well covered when disaster strikes...

A suitable insurance package will ensure that your business is well covered when disaster strikes…

Get in touch with insurance brokers who are well reputed amongst commercial food production business owners; they should be able to advice you on the best coverage.

You can also consult with other food catering business owners to find out what coverage they have. Going for a general $1 million liability policy is quite advisable.

4. You must have the required licenses

Your business will need to be licensed by the state; make sure you select the right license. You may also require a city business license.

Additionally, find out about the various food-serving and liquor licenses you will require depending on each event venue’s location.

5. You will need an appropriate kitchen

It is unlikely that state authorities will allow you to use your home kitchen for your food catering business

It is unlikely that state authorities will allow you to use your home kitchen for your catering business

In many states your food catering business will need to operate from a commercial kitchen that has been inspected and approved by the local health department.

Building such a kitchen is typically quite expensive though.

Some of the options you may therefore resort to include:

  • renting a local commercial kitchen that has subleasing arrangements for freelance caterers
  • renting out a bar’s commercial kitchen, and
  • retrofitting your home kitchen to commercial standards

6. Some of the equipment you will require

Starting a food catering business will require an investment in various kitchen appliances and equipment

Starting a catering business will require an investment in various kitchen appliances and equipment

Depending on the type of your operation you are most probable going to need the following equipment

  • Commercial refrigeration
  • Kitchen work tables
  • Commercial dishwashers
  • Basic kitchen supplies
  • Steam table pans
  • Disposable catering supplies
  • Food carriers
  • A fryer
  • Convection oven
  • Range
  • Chafing dishes
  • Catering display
  • Event tents

When setting up it is advisable to adhere to the Golden Triangle of kitchen design.

7. Commercial kitchen health and building codes

Given that your catering business is liable for food consumption you will need to comply with a host of food handling, inspection and commercial kitchen rules and regulations.

Seasoned caterers therefore recommend that startups hire consultants who’ll advise them about:

  • the appropriate premises and equipment,
  • employee training, and
  • structuring code-compliant business operations

8. Basic requirements for your commercial kitchen and premises

The following requirements must be adhered to at your catering business’ premises:

  • Hand-washing facilities and toilets – An adequate number of washbasins must be available for hand-washing, complete with hot and cold running water, cleaning accessories, and hygienic drying facilities. (Food and utensils should be washed in separate sinks). The number of toilets should also be adequate and they must not directly lead into food preparation areas.
  • Changing facilities must be provided for the staff
  • Adequate ventilation, drainage and lighting is required at the premises
Base your operations in an inspected, compliant and approved commercial kitchen

Base your operations in an inspected, compliant and approved commercial kitchen

For the food preparation area the following requirements must be complied with:

  • The floors and walls must be smooth and hard-wearing, well maintained, and easy to clean and disinfect
  • Ceilings should be in good condition, smooth, easy to clean, with no flaking paint or plaster
  • Windows and doors should open to the outside, and be easy to clean and disinfect. Where necessary the windows should be fitted with insect-proof screens that can easily be removed to allow for cleaning
  • All surfaces, especially those that are touched by food, must be easy to clean and disinfect
  • Facilities for cleaning, disinfecting and storing utensils and equipment must be provided, and these facilities should have an adequate supply of hot and cold water
  • Facilities for washing food must be available, and must have an adequate supply of hot and/or cold drinking-quality water. The facilities must always be kept clean and should be disinfected whenever necessary
  • Waste (including food waste and other rubbish) must be promptly disposed of
  • Employee health and safety, and fire safety precautions must be adhered to

9. Food production and food safety regulations

There are various food preparation, food safety, product packaging and labeling regulations that you’ll need to comply with. To know about these you’ll need to consult with your local Public Health Department.

You must comply with all the food preparation and safety guidelines - don't ignore any!

You must comply with all the food preparation and safety guidelines – don’t ignore any!

In case you’ll be producing a food product that will be shipped across state boundaries then you’ll be well advised to find out what the Department of Agriculture and FDA compliance guidelines require.

More about the catering industry’s federal regulations can be reviewed at You can also learn more about food safety management here.

10. Marketing the business and finding clients

Your new business will need clients; finding them is going to cost you money. Marketing costs will perhaps take the lion’s share of your initial budget – until you build a solid reputation.

The "homemade cooking" theme may actually suit your catering business' marketing efforts

The “homemade cooking” theme may actually suit your catering business’ marketing efforts

Some of the promotional activities you can invest in include:

  • Creating a social media presence. Note that online marketing needs to adhere to several legal requirements which you can learn about here.
  • Printing business cards and promotional brochures
  • Joining the NFIB, your local chamber of commerce, and other relevant organizations
  • Charging discounted rates for several of your initial gigs can also be helpful
  • Making the most of your home-based profile – marketing your business as one that delivers “homemade” food can really work. Some of the slogans you can use are “good ole’ home cooking” and “homemade food – just like mom used to make”. Indeed some new clients may be won over by your homey appeal rather than the conventionality of a corporate caterer.
  • Offering tastings – Taking food samples to potential clients is an even more practical. After describing your offerings over the phone or via email, you can take samples of the food to them and cater to them just as you would have done for an actual event. If your hot and delicious food impresses them you just may land a contract.

11. Drafting a customer’s contract

A written contract won’t be necessary if you’ll be providing your catering service within a year from the date of your agreement with the client. Nevertheless, it’s prudent to draft a catering contract with each customer of your service.

Draft each contract carefully, ensuring that all potential legal issues that may arise in the event that something goes wrong are covered.

Your contracts should feature the following:

  • Details of the services to be offered
  • How payment for the services will be made, and when this will be done
  • Actual figures – explicitly mention the exact amount the customer will be required to pay
  • A description of the venue. Indicate who will be contracting the venue (your business or the customer) and who’ll be responsible for any damages. Also, find out any rules about the venue that the customer has consented to and which may affect your business
  • It is also prudent to confirm whether the state laws allow food catering business customers additional damages

12. Staffing issues

You are most likely going to need extra hands – mostly servers and preparers. An administrative assistant may also be required.

Staffing is the most significant expense for a food catering business

Staffing is the most significant expense for a catering business

Industry experts advise business owners to hire independent contractors.

To determine your labor cost you should consider a specific event’s requirements (i.e. the amount of food, type of food, transportation costs, number of guests, etc). This cost must then be factored into the customer’s price.

Given that staffing will be one of your most significant expenses, it is (wherever possible) advisable to start as a family business or husband-and-wife team.

13. Qualities of a good caterer

Why would people want to hire your catering service and not the next one?

Why would people want to hire your catering service and not the next one?

These are some of the qualities that customers and potential clients will be looking for in your catering service:

  • Your cooking skills – The food must taste good. You must also display lots of cooking versatility and awareness with regards to recipe substitutions, menu planning, and the logistics of preparing, transporting and reheating food.
  • Attention to detail – As concerns every aspect of an event including table arrangements, décor, food presentation, serving, and clearing the venue
  • Adherence to food safety rules and regulations
  • Exemplary customer service – Including good communication and people skills, courtesy, tact, diplomacy, all which help to achieve customer satisfaction
  • Flexibility and creativity – You must show imagination and adaptability, say if recipes need to be altered to suit various religious, health and personal preferences
  • Leadership – This applies to how well you manage your team
  • Self-motivation, enthusiasm, positivity and stamina
  • Business management acumen – How well you handle various crucial aspects of your business including pricing, employee management, accounting, taxes, sourcing and ordering food, budgeting, scheduling, etc
  • Marketing skills – How well you promote your business, and how well connected you are e.g. with venue organizers, event planners, florists, etc.


People's love for pork makes pig farming a very viable business idea

People’s love for pork makes pig farming a very viable business idea

Pork has for many years been a vital part of the American diet.

This is also the most widely consumed meat in the world.

Source: FAO

Pork is eaten in the form of bacon, ham, gammon, pork chops and sausage.

Berkshire pork is known to be particularly tasty

Berkshire pork is known to be particularly tasty

The modern pig farming industry is a vibrant one.

Statistics from June 2017 show that the total number of pigs and hogs around the country was 71.7 million.

This is a slight increase from the 2016 total of 70.921 million. In that year a total of 114 million pigs were slaughtered while 6 million were retained for breeding. Total value of pigs and hogs in the U.S. was $6.6 billion. 24.517 billion pounds of pork was produced with a value of $19.3 billion.

Pigs are raised in 50 states but the three biggest pork producers are Iowa, North Carolina and Minnesota.

It is therefore not in doubt that pig raising makes good business sense, despite the dynamics and complexities that characterize this venture.

As a potential pork producer it is worth appreciating the fact that you will be dealing with very intelligent animals which have often proven to be capable of learning faster than dogs.

Pigs, cats and dogs do share a common trait; their tails movements signal their moods. A curly tail often means that a pig is happy but if it is tucked between the legs it means the pig is unhappy or stressed.

Smile when you see curly tails; this shows that all is well...

Smile when you see curly tails; this shows that all is well…

Contrary to popular belief, pigs are essentially very clean animals. Pigs love for rolling in the mud isn’t about a love for dirt but rather an effort to keep cool in hot weather – and which is a necessity because they don’t have sweat glands.

PS: Male pigs are known as boars, females are known as gilts, and a group of pigs is referred to as a drift.

Read on to learn about what it takes to raise hogs.

1. Buying pigs and starting a herd

The foremost thing you want to be sure of is that you are buying pigs from a breeder who has purebred registered stock. Doing this will give you the much required credibility needed for later on when you start marketing your pigs.

During this initial purchase it is recommended that you buy at least one boar (male) and three gilts (females). Once you’ve gotten a small herd a desirable ratio can be 15-18 sows per boar.

Selecting a suitable boar is of the essence considering how influential a boar is within a herd. You therefore want to go for a physically sound boar that has excellent genetic potential. The selection criterion for desirable gilts is provided here.

If you’ll be buying all the animals from the same breeder insist that the male and females are from separate bloodlines; it’s vital to keep the bloodline pure.

Invest in robust and healthy piglets supplied by a reputable breeder

Invest in robust and healthy piglets supplied by a reputable breeder

There are four ways to breed pigs as follows:

  • Pure breeding – This involves mating purebreds of the same breed
  • Out breeding – It involves mating members of the same breed but who are somewhat distantly related than the average of the breed
  • In breeding – The members are of the same breed but more closely related than the average of the breed
  • Cross breeding – The boar and gilt are from different breeds; the progeny will therefore have a gene combination different from either parent or from the breed of either parent

Read more about these breeding strategies here.

It is best to purchase a castrated boar (referred to as a barrow) because intact boars will most probably produce a “boar taint” which may affect the taste of the pork.

It is also advisable to buy pigs with a minimum weight of 50 lbs, more so if you intend to raise them outdoors. Pigs of a lighter weight won’t thrive as well in cooler weather.

Moderate temperatures, in the 60-70°F range, are best for optimal pig growth. As such, it’s recommended to start this business in early spring, mid-April, or in late summer.

It is unwise to purchase pigs at a livestock auction as your animals may have been exposed to sickly pigs and may subsequently fall sick. You’ll be better off buying them from a farm that’s reputable for good quality pigs.

Raising a single animal is ill-advised; just like humans, pigs grow better if they have friends around.

2. Go for suitable breeds

There are several modern commercial breeds that you can choose from and which will all do well for your business.

Generally, as compared to purebreds, crossbreds tend to grow faster and are also more efficient thanks to a genetic phenomenon referred to as heterosis aka hybrid vigor.

Some of the breeds you can go for include Hampshire, Berkshire, Duroc, Poland, Gloucestershire Old Spots, and China.

The Gloucestershire Old Spots breed is one of those that you can rear successfully

The Gloucestershire Old Spots breed is one of those that you can rear successfully

Avoid the Landrace breed which is shunned for being light-muscled, and the exotic Pot Bellied Pig which is generally considered to be unsuitable.

3. Considerations for housing the drift in an outdoor pig pen

It is advisable to provide each pig with adequate roaming space; a minimum of 50 sq. ft. for each will be quite appropriate.

You can expect good results if you house your pigs in an outdoor pen and provide plenty of roaming space

You can expect good results if you house your pigs in an outdoor pen and provide plenty of roaming space

Bear the following in mind when constructing an outdoor pig pen:

  • The water supply should be at the far end of the pen, as far as possible from the feed and shelter. This is because pigs tend to manure near their water supply.
  • A barn can also be converted into a pen. Nevertheless, raising your pigs here will be more laborious considering that you’ll regularly need to remove the manure. An outdoor pen is more appropriate in this regard because the manure is absorbed into the ground.
  • The roof should provide adequate shade during warm weather. Eaves will do for the openings.
  • Ensure that the pen is dry and that the younger pigs have adequate bedding during the cooler months. You can use wood shavings (natural and chemical-free if possible) for bedding because pigs love to be scratchedHay is another option but it is known to cause itching and hair loss for young pigs. Read this for more pig pen bedding options.
Hay is pretty okay for bedding material but watch out for hair loss and itching on piglets

Hay is pretty okay for bedding material but watch out for hair loss and itching on piglets

  • Set the pen’s roof at a height of about four feet
  • The pen’s length should be twice as long as the width
  • A three-sided pen, with the fourth side open, will be quite ideal.
  • Pen size depends on the number of pigs being raised
  • Since pigs will try to dig their way under the fence and out of the pen, you can consider installing a single strand of electric wire at ground level. Don’t let this wire go across the pen’s entrance though. The pigs will remember it and refuse to exit the pen when it’s time to go to the market.
  • fence will become necessary in the first 4-6 weeks. There are various options you can explore including perimeter fencing with hotwire, hog wire roll fencing with metal T and wood posts, and hog panels with metal T posts for support.

NB: A revolutionary approach to pig housing is the “wean to finish” barn. Pigs are brought here immediately after they have been weaned and stay until they are ready for the market.

There are two main advantages of using these structures.

First, because your pigs will only move once during their lifetime their stress-risk will be greatly reduced.

Second, these structures need not be cleaned until after the pigs have been sold off. This translates into reduced labor costs.

4. Feeding your pigs

Generally, provided that your pigs can constantly access their food, it should take approximately 100 days for a 50 lbs pig to grow to a market weight of 250 lbs.

Pigs and humans have a similar digestive system, which is unlike that for ruminants which can eat grasses and forage.

In terms of nutritional requirements a pig’s diet primarily needs to supply adequate amounts of energy and protein; ground corn and soybean meal respectively supply these requirements.

In addition, pigs need minerals and vitamins.

Feed rations are tailored to suit pigs’ optimal growth and health requirements at each stage of their growth, as well as by gender especially at the grow-finish stage.

Having an ample supply of ground corn and soybean meal will ensure that your drift will be well fed

Having an ample supply of ground corn and soybean meal will ensure that your drift will be well fed

Raising a 50 lbs hog to a market weight of 250 lbs requires an estimated 650-750 lbs of commercial feed.

The following feeding guidelines should be helpful:

  • The commercial feed for 50 lbs pigs should contain around 16% protein. Once the pigs get to 125 lbs you can start giving them a 14% protein feed. Nevertheless, it’s quite okay to stick with the 16% protein feed all the way.
  • Table scraps are no substitute for commercial feed. Solely relying on table scraps (an unbalanced diet) will result in slow growth.
  • Piglets’ feed should not supply more than 20% protein as this can cause potentially-lethal scours. A free-choice diet is much better at this stage.
  • Once the piglets reach 125 lbs (at about 16 weeks of age) begin feeding them 10 lbs of feed daily until they attain a weight of 175-200 lbs. This is a temporary measure done to prepare them for the breeding season. Learn more about feeding breeding boars here; for feeding breeding gilts go here.
  • After breeding reduce the ration to 5 lbs per day. A boar’s feed should stay at this weight for the rest of its life lest it become too heavy for the gilts and sows. A gilt’s feed should remain at the 5 lbs per day level until a month to the time she’ll deliver her babies.
Ensure that the feed troughs are sturdily set in the ground

Ensure that the feed troughs are sturdily set in the ground

5. Supplying water for the pigs

A pig needs lots of fresh clean water, approximately 1.5-2 gallons of water daily over 6 months.

This water must be in constant supply, and for good reason: pigs don’t sweat.

Daily water consumption of swine on full rations

Weight of pig in Pounds Water consumed in Gallons
25 0.4
50 0.6
75 0.9
100 1.0
150 1.2
200 1.2
250 2.0
300 2.1
350 2.2
400 2.3
During winter gestation 1.0
During lactation 3.7 to 5.0 (varies with temperature, season, etc.)
Pigs require lots of fresh, cool water

Pigs require lots of fresh, cool water

Pigs have three options with regards to dealing with heat; rapid breathing, drinking lots of water, and building wallows to lie in.

They resort to wallowing in the mud in a bid to lose heat and cool down

They resort to wallowing in the mud in a bid to lose heat and cool down

You need to get creative about supplying your drift with water though. Simply placing a bucket in the pen won’t do; it will soon be converted into a plaything.

Don't supply water in basins or buckets...they'll immediately be converted into toys

Don’t supply water in basins or buckets…they’ll immediately be converted into toys

You’ll need to install an automatic waterer that the pigs will learn to use. This can be the screw-in nipple style that you’ll then affix to a 55 gallon drum.

In case you opt to direct a hose into the pen, ensure that it’s buried 1-2 inches under the soil. This will ensure that the water will constantly be cool even during warm weather; pigs typically refuse to drink heated water.

6. Worming the drift  

To rid your pigs of internal parasites, especially intestinal roundworms and tapeworms, give them worming shots every six months. For this purpose you can use Fenbendazole, Ivermectin, and Levamisole.

If you however wish to combat these parasites organically you can use Diatomaceous Earth, Garlic, Rosemary and Moringa.

Your pigs will also be under threat from a host of external parasites including mange, lice and flies. Read more about how to take care of this here.

7. Pig breeding and what you need to look out for

Your pigs will typically attain the 200-250 lbs weight range after six months. They will also be ready to breed at this time.

Gilts first go into heat after 3-5 months, and then after every 21 days until they are successfully bred.

When a gilt tries to mount another gilt you should immediately realize that she's ready for breeding

When a gilt tries to mount another gilt you should immediately realize that she’s ready for breeding

You’ll have two options at this time; to bring the gilt to the boar OR to build a separate breeding pen and bring the pair there.

To know whether your gilt is ready for breeding, check for the following:

  • Some swelling, followed by redness and wetness (this means the time is close)
  • Signs of “standing heat” which should tell you that it’s definitely time. There are two ways to confirm First, you may see the gilt trying to mount other females in the drift. Second, you can confirm this by applying pressure on her back with your hands. If she stands still this is a sure confirmation that she’s ready.

A new boar may require your help to breed; you’ll just need to hold the pouch, guide him into the penetrating position, and then step back to allow for successful breeding.

Read more about pig breeding here.

8. Gestation stage

After breeding the gilt will gestate for 113-116 days (approximately 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days) after which the pigs will be born or farrowed.

A pig's gestation period is typically 113-116 days

A pig’s gestation period is typically 113-116 days

One month to the farrowing day you will need to transfer the gilt to a separate area, ideally one that has some fresh grass on which she’ll have her babies. You will also need to alter her feed ration to an 18% protein 12-15 lbs per day diet.

In addition, you’ll need to supply some hay to the gilt’s hut which she’ll use to build a nest. This should tell you that the babies aren’t too far off.

Two weeks to the farrowing date you should give her a suitable worming shot to ensure that her babies will be healthy at birth. During the last week you’ll notice that the gilt will eat less food and drink more water. Constantly monitor her until she finally gives birth.

Here are successful farrowing tips to remember.

9. Farrowing stage

When farrowing time finally arrives you will notice that the gilt will lie down and start breathing very heavily, in addition to showing signs of discomfort.

Her position may also change several times during the farrowing process. This process may take several hours and you can almost always expect that some of the babies will be born dead.

Newly-born piglets typically start nursing immediately

Newly-born piglets typically start nursing immediately

Typically, newly-born piglets, i.e. a litter, are 8-12 in number. They are born with 8 sharp teeth which you’ll need to clip to prevent the piglets from injuring the gilt’s udder and themselves as well.

You’ll also need to shorten the piglets’ tails to prevent tail biting.

The piglets will start nursing as soon as they are born. You’ll need to supply the gilt with the 12-15 lbs diet in order to ensure that she can sustainably nurse the litter for 6-8 weeks.

10. Weaning the piglets

Soon after the nursing period is over the piglets will try to start leaving the farrowing enclosure.

This should tell you that it’s time to wean the litter. It will also be the right time for you to castrate the young boars.

Weaning will involve separating the litter from the gilt, and it may require you to get creative. Distracting the gilt with feed while you move the piglets one at a time to their new quarters should work. It is in this new location that you’ll raise the piglets to market weight.

After the piglets have sufficiently been nursed you should separate them from the gilt i.e. weaning

After the piglets have sufficiently been nursed you should separate them from the gilt i.e. weaning

At this time you should also give the gilt and piglets Ivermectin worming shots or Diatomaceous Earth. Worm infestation represents the greatest threat to the health of young piglets.

Your young piglets’ diet will now be similar to the one you provided for the pigs you purchased i.e. a free-choice diet with no more than 20% protein for the first three months, followed by the 16% protein regimen for 6 months until a market weight of 250 lbs is attained.

11. Taking the pigs to the market

After the pigs reach the required market weight you’ll need to transport them to a USDA-inspected or State-inspected processing facility. You’ll need a pickup truck or horse trailer to take them there.

First though, you’ll need to get the pigs out of the pen and into the truck or trailer. For this you’ll need a loading ramp with solid sides to prevent escape, and a pig “hurdle” to ensure that a pig won’t be able to turn back once on the ramp.

Well fed pigs will eventually give profitable returns with regards to pork weight

Well fed pigs will eventually give profitable returns with regards to pork weight

A 250 lbs market hog should yield a 184 lbs carcass. After this is sliced up into retail cuts you should get 140 lbs of pork, depending on how much fat will be removed.