Common Spending Mistakes in Small Businesses

easy way

There is no denying that running a business is not always easy. There are plenty of challenges that reverse growth or halt progress. Precisely, if these challenges have a direct impact on business finances, it may cause several other risks that your business needs to face. In other words, managing finances is pivotal to stay on top. And if you’re a startup, finance management becomes as important as serving existing customers or finding new leads.

But, if you are like business owners who find managing money or bookkeeping a daunting task, you must know your common spending mistakes to stay ahead in the business domain. This is one way you can mitigate not only financial risks but also monitor the cash flow of your business. In other words, by controlling your spending and cash flows, you improve success chances and your profitability also.

We have enumerated a few common spending mistakes to help you steer clear of the financial management of your business.

Common Spending Mistakes in Small Business

1.     Failure in Keeping Personal and Business Expenses Separate

This might sound trivial to you, but many business owners when entering the business world make this mistake. Remember that you are in the early phases of your business, it is vital to keep the expenses separate. Although sometimes you need to rely on the personal finances to support business expenditures, you need to ensure that you h have a separate budget for your business.  Also, relying on the personal expense to fund business may cause problems in the long-term.

Once your business is operational and starts serving the customers, separate finances by making a separate business credit card. Make sure you have a separate bank account for your business. Doing so can be extremely helpful in managing tax problems and avoiding bookkeeping confusion subsequently.   It will also empower you to evaluate potential or existing cash flow issues and overall business finances before they turn into a major problem.

2.     Not Creating a Budget

You might find easy budgeting, but you cannot deny its long-term value that outweighs all initial stress and effort.

Creating a budget means analyzing how much have you earned and how much you can invest. An organized budget helps you make informed decisions about all business matters that include everything from supplies purchasing, staffing, and training to inventory. Conversely, when you work without a budget, all these tasks become challenging and may cause you significant cash flow problems. This particularly affects your business if it works with seasonal shifts, and you need this cash flow to maintain business operations during the slow months.

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of apps such as Scoro, Centage, and Adaptive insights that can help entrepreneurs not only create but also maintain a budget. Not to mention how these budgeting apps keep track of your business expenses and send you a handy report at the end of the month or year. This allows you to do preparations for tax seasons and review performance.

3.     Failure to do Financing at the Right Time

All business owners know that working capital is an essential thing to operate the business and increase its growth. If working capital runs low, your business might face a lot of issues that not easy to resolve it right away, and that may vary from unpaid bills, mounting fees to lower credit scores.  Not only that but making payrolls also become a challenge while tackling such issues. The situation may create problems when it comes to retaining your potential employees. The problems like staff shortage, inventory, and supply management lead to decreased revenues and unsatisfactory customer services.

Ultimately, the failure to meet your business financial obligations can impact different areas of business. That is why it is important not only to identify but also address the cash flow issues and to prevent poor working capital in a easy way. It is better if you seek assistance about taking control of financial matters before they become problematic for your business.

4.     Ignoring Poor Credit Scores

Recognizing the right time to consider alternative financing options like a line of credit or loan is important. However, your due diligence will not benefit you if you fail to qualify as a borrower. That means, it is essential to be vigilant about both your personal and business credit scores.

It is also important because your credit scores impact your ability to use financing solutions with suppliers or vendors. The arrangements often help business owners easy fill the gaps in their cash flow.  Moreover, with a good business score, you can reduce the insurance premium and interest rate on your loan.

Sometimes, your credit scores contribute to secure many affordable financing terms; particularly when you opt for loans, credit cards, and line of credit.  The phenomenon is confusing for many people since they are advised to keep their personal and business financing separate as an ideal practice.  

However, it is important to understand that when you sign a lending agreement as a primary applicant,  banks use your credits to determine your eligibility, repayment terms, and interest rates.  Customers are sent an annual credit report, and it is good to use it for your advantage.  Although the business credit report is hard to obtain, you can get them through various platforms.

5.     Overspending on Startup

When starting a startup, you are naturally optimistic that your business will produce good revenues if you invest a large amount in it. This optimism sometimes leads to overspending, which is another common spending mistake. To avoid overspending, research carefully about how much inventory or staff you need to take a good start.

Final Thoughts

When running a business, you may face many financial issues, and to plan for all potential scenarios is not easy. However, when it comes to cash flow, various things can be done to avoid cash flow issues. The most important thing is to be proactive in whatever approach you use to manage your business finance.  Besides this, budgeting and healthy credit scores play an important role in keeping business finance issues at bay.

Thus, the given spending mistakes are very common when a business is in establishing phase. However, you can avoid them by planning and evaluating everything in advance.

Access our network of Investors, get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

Unique Ways to Fund Your Small Business

Small business

If you’re a startup, there is nothing surprising in facing teething troubles.  But none of these challenges or troubles is as big or critical as funding your business. That means finding investment to get your business off the ground is, without a doubt a daunting task.  From production space, buying goods to renting office, and hiring staff, turning a simple idea into a business practically requires funds and money.

Unless you are wealthy enough to finance your business or your benevolent relative has left you a lot of money, you probably have to find ways to fund your business.  Luckily, there are some smart ways you can resolve this problem. Here are some of those unique ways to help you fund your business.

How Can You Fund Your Small Business?

1.     Crowdfunding

One of the easiest way to find your business enough funds is crowdfunding- which is a practice of raising funds from different forums or people.  It is an alternative finance and a kind of crowd sourcing.   Luckily, there are plenty of crowdfunding options available for you right on the internet.

When asking for investment funds for your businesses from a variety of investors, it is highly recommended to come up with an impressive pitch. The success of your crowdfunding campaign depends more on how you pitch the idea than it does on the idea itself. Of course, you need a team with you to plan out your crowdfunding campaign.

A common reason why startups choose this method of funding is because of the flexibility of options. Venture capitals are known for being strict with their investments. They will demand more equity in your business than you will ever have to offer through a crowdfunding model. They usually focus more on their returns than the success of the startup. The situation is quite the opposite when you go with the crowdfunding option.

2.     Angel Investors

Angel Investors is no doubt one of the unique funding options among all as they are always looking for innovative ideas to invest in the business. Originally business giants like Yahoo and Google were also used this funding option. It is worth noting that taking funds from Angel Investors requires entrepreneurs to give them some equity share in the company.

3.     Small Business Loans (SBA)

This funding option is a result of the U.S government’s interest in rampant growth of the small business industry.  The s Small Business Administration, in this regard, offers a wide range of loan types and business investments to help business owners get started.  Exploring the SBA loan options is a great way to kick start your business, if intend to run an educational institute or non-profits set-up.   For easy funding, you might want to request for SBA grants.

4.      Venture Capitalists

Much like angel investors, the funding option invest money in up-and-coming- businesses that have high potential to not only grow but also monetary returns.  In addition to that, Venture Capitalist looks for equity share in the business it invests money in. The investors are also interested in getting a right in company’s directorial decisions.  In short, VCs make money through their investments and consider having some control or authority in the business is the best way to do that.  It is always better to investigate this funding option thoroughly before opting it.

5.     Microloans

 Reserved specifically for small non-profit businesses, finance institutions grant microloans to entrepreneurs who don’t qualify for a bank loans. Microloan organizations, instead of giving donations to the non-profit companies allow entrepreneurs to invest in various economic opportunities.  Microloans are also a popular financing option in developing nations.

6.     Personal Financing

There is no denying that investing in a startup entails a lot of risks and these risks are what prevent traditional lenders from giving loans to business owners. This becomes even more skeptical if business owner doesn’t invest his/her own money in the startup.

7.     Purchase Order Financing         

 There is an array of factors that affect the cash flows of any business. These factors may include supply and demand and seasonality.  For examples, sometimes a company is unable to complete the orders due to fewer funds to buys inventory and material to make the products.

In situations like these, purchase order financing can be the panacea to the problems. It helps companies extend advance to purchase material they need to make products. Purchase order financing collect back money when products are sold.  If your business deals in manufactured goods, it stands a chance to makes 20% more on its sales by opting purchase order financing.

8.     Vendor Financing

If your bill payment record is contingent on your product selling record, you may take the benefits by negotiating longer payment terms with the vendors.  Vendors, typically require payments on invoices within thirty days before imposing penalties and late fees.  Negotiating longer payment terms will allow you work with more cash in the interim.

This is even more important if your business has a longer sales cycle than thirty days. That means if sales cycle takes  forty to forty-five days from  purchasing to selling goods, you will not be able to make invoices payment within a  month.  In that case, you need negotiations to avail vendor financing to benefit your sales cycle.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, investments and business funding are of paramount importance no matter what industry you want to get into. If you lack sufficient finances, it is important to weigh all options you can choose to give a kick start your business.  Given that, the mentioned funding options are great to consider if they suit your requirements.

Access our network of Investors, get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

What Sets a Small Business Apart from a Large Business?

You probably hear terms like ‘small business’ and ‘large business’ quite commonly whether you are looking for software solutions, investment opportunities or something else. Sometimes, it can be difficult for business owners to figure out if what they own is a small business or a large one. The confusion is valid because you don’t often find clear definitions to help you distinguish one from the other. However, it is essential to know the difference so you can pick the right services. This is because most service providers design their service packages differently for small and large companies. There are also other reasons why you would want to know their differences.

Why Know the Difference

You need to know the size of your company because of the laws that apply to these entities. Large businesses have to follow a different set of rules and regulations than small businesses. In addition to that, several federal programs are available that are different for small businesses and large businesses. As an example, you won’t qualify for certain programs unless you are officially a small business and are entitled to the program. You can get into trouble if you think your business is small but the government deems it otherwise.

Also, keep in mind that when you operate as a small business, but spend like a big one, you can put your venture in trouble. So, what sets the two apart from each other?

The Differences between Small and Large Businesses

The Size

How do you determine the size? How do you know that the size of your business is small or large? The federal government has its ways of determining the size of a business. They will look at either the number of employees you have or your yearly receipts. However, the standards are not uniform across industries.

What this means is that a small business in one industry might not be small in some other industry. In most cases, your average yearly receipts have to be over $7 million for the federal government to treat your business as a large one. The number of your employees should be more than 500 for your business to be considered large.

However, this standard of 500 employees is more applicable to the manufacturing and mining industry. However, keep in mind the varying standards across industries. For instance, in some service industries, your yearly receipts could amount to over $21 million, but the federal government will still not consider your entity as a small business. The agriculture industry’s standards can be quite the opposite of that with the government treating businesses with average yearly receipts of more than $500,000 as large businesses.

The same rule applies to the number of employees as well. For example, if you are a part of the wholesale industry, and you have more than 100 employees, your business could be termed as a large business. On the other hand, if you are in the manufacturing industry, the government will write you down in its books as a small business even if you have 1,500 employees.

Internal Structure and Hierarchy

A large business will often have a more clearly defined structure and hierarchy. Almost every case in question will go through various departments before the company comes to a final decision. On the other hand, the structure is not fully defined or is not as detailed. The employees and the owner are not too far from each other. A complaint from a customer can reach from an agent to the owner pretty conveniently. On the other hand, there are several roles beneath the manager that can handle numerous tasks and take decisions.

Due to the hierarchy that normally exists in large businesses, they often delay their decisions. Contrary to that, small businesses take their decisions very quickly. The hierarchical structure also gives rise to a culture of workers performing their respective tasks only. In a small business, the same person could have multiple roles.

Financing Options

There is a stark difference between the financing options that small business and large business owners choose. Large business owners have good PR, a name in the market and some level of dominance in the industry. Such a position allows them to go for options like investment banks. They can naturally attract well-known investors of the country as well when they are in need of finance.

On the other hand, small business owners try to avoid bank loans because of the hardships they face when it comes to paying back debt. In most cases, small business owners rely more on their savings or funding from someone in their family.

Salaries and Perks

Since large businesses are financially more independent, they can offer their employees attractive packages and benefits. Health insurance, dental insurance, yearly bonuses, provident funds, etc. are just some incentives that employees at large companies enjoy.

On the other hand, people working at a small company do not get such benefits in most cases. They can have attractive salaries, but a small business owner cannot afford medical insurance and comprehensive benefits for employees. It is one of the reasons why most of the people working at a small company often look for opportunities at large companies.

Nowhere does it say that small businesses have less potential for growth and expansion than large businesses. For this reason, small business owners should be confident in their efforts to grow. While large businesses have access to big bank loans and broad markets, even a small mistake in their predictions and estimates can result in huge losses.

On the other hand, small business owners face smaller risks when you consider the volume of their loss. Be sure to identify your business size and take advantage of all the benefits that the federal government has made available for small businesses.

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

Get Matched with a Credit Card!

What Normally Causes Banks to Reject Small Business Loans?

Whether you are a small or a large one, you will need a loan at the start to finance your marketing efforts and operations. It is not that difficult for large businesses to get loans from banks because most lending institutions are more than willing to invest in large corporations due to their dominant position in their market and industry. On the other hand, small businesses do not occupy a key position in the industry, and that’s why banks and other lending entities aren’t intrinsically interested in financing them. However, there can be several different reasons why banks rejecting small business loans. Here are the most common ones.

Reasons for Banks to Refuse Loans to Small Businesses

Short History of Operations

The period a business has been in operation is the number one factor banks consider when deciding on approving a loan or not. Small business owners have to finance their ventures right from the beginning. They might not have even completed six months before they start looking for loan options.

Bank want to see how well or poorly a business has been performing, and it can judge the performance based on the tax filing record for your business or maybe even the record of your sales. What if the loan amount you are asking for is much larger than what the bank deems is easily repayable for you?

The lenders will look at your cash flow reports and decide how much your business is capable of returning based on the amount you have asked for. The bank would often refuse to approve a loan after realizing that your demand is much bigger than your strength to repay the loan.

Loan Size

The bank is a business, and it has to find ways to maximize its profits. Bankers make most of their money from loans they approve for large corporations. Small businesses, on the other hand, are at a disadvantage in this area. They don’t require huge loans, and thus they are not the best prospects for a bank.

The underwriting process is quite costly for a bank, and it only makes sense for them to approve loans from which they can cover that cost. Most small business loans do not go above the $500,000 mark, and that amount is not what the banks will call “big.”

Personal Credit Score

Several online sources will tell you that your credit score will not have any impact when you ask a bank for a business loan. It makes sense from one perspective that the bank should not look into a person’s personal life while giving them a business loan. However, your credit score can affect your business loan application negatively. Yes, it is true that not all lenders will give the same weight to your credit score, but there are many that will.

For lenders that look into your credit score, they are doing this to know how good you are when it comes to managing money. If you can’t manage your finances, the chances of you mismanaging your business finances will be pretty high too.

Missing Collateral

Again, you have to remember that banks are businesses—giving money to people and getting it back with a profit is their business. Banks require collateral to motivate (or compel) a business owner to return the loan amount. In most cases, collateral is not a problem for large businesses.

The collateral serves as a security for the bank and a way to ensure that they get the loan amount back should the business owner default. On the other hand, small businesses don’t have enough assets to put down as collateral to secure a loan from a bank. The missing collateral is often the reason why banks reject loan applications for small businesses.

Reason for the Loan

The bank won’t approve your loan just because you need it. Lending institutions want you to give them solid reasons for why you need the loan. You would want to show them that your loan amount is going to be an investment in your business and not just an expense.

If you are going to buy new furniture for your office with the loan amount, the chances are that the bank will refuse to give you the loan. However, if you have a strong business plan and a pre-planned marketing campaign that you want to support the loan, a bank will be more than willing to help you out.

But Banks Aren’t the Only Option

The detail that’s crucial for small business owners here is that banks are not the only institutions that can lend to small businesses. You have other lending entities from which you can seek help. For instance, there are online platforms where small business and startup owners can get in touch with investors to get the investment they need.

Small business owners can use such a platform to showcase their idea, business plan, the marketing strategies and the team behind the project to get the attention of the investors. They can get the type of loan that best suits their needs.

If an investor likes your idea and is passionate about it, they might even forward the loan at extremely flexible terms. Keep in mind that such a network gives you access to angel investors—the type of investors that can help a startup turn into an established business without demanding too much equity share in the company. However, you have to be sure that you create a powerful business plan, have a strong team and a compelling pitch to win their trust.

Yes, there can be a variety of reasons why banks reject loan applications from small businesses, but that should not mean the end of everything. With online platforms helping business owners connect with investors, obtaining the right loan is not such a challenging task after all. If your business is in its starting phase, be sure to make obtaining the right loan a priority. Last but not least, it is how you manage your funds that decide the fate of your business, not just the loan itself.

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

Here Is What Small Business Owners Should Know about Angel Investors

When you have a small business, and you are serious about its growth and expansion, you have to use every option available to you to get the funds you need. In some cases, venture capitalists are not really a good fit for funding the startup or small businesses. They focus a lot on the returns they get from their investments, and somewhere in that attempt, they forget to pay enough attention to the needs and limitations of small businesses. One of the best solutions for small businesses to get the required funds is angel investors.

What Is an Angel Investor?

The name angel investor should give away why the industry calls them that. Other names for angel investors include angel funders, informal investors, business angels, etc. An angel investor is mostly one person, but may also be a very small group of investors. They invest in startups and small businesses that most venture capitalists would consider too risky for investment. They try to be extra helpful for startup and small business owners by providing the required funding and also helping with advice on matters.

In many cases, the angel investor will put his/her own money on the line to help your business. The reason for their investment in the risky business is that they are independent in their decisions. They might find your product interesting even when others don’t see any scope in it. You would not expect them to invest huge funds compared to those from venture capitalists but with their popularity increasing with time on the internet, angel investors can also invest huge amounts now.

A Detailed View of Angel Investors for Small Business Owners

Types of Investments

The first thing to know about angel investors is the type of investments they are leaning towards usually. The interest and motivational factors are different for angel investors compared to those of venture capitalists.

An angel investor is willing to invest in startups. It is easier to convince an angel investor to invest in a startup than it is to convince a VC. However, even a VC will show interest in a small business in its early stages if they are 100% sure of its potential and future success.

One of the most important things to point out here is that angel investors are highly interested in local businesses. If you run a business in New York, you would want to find investors in New York. Angel investors like to support their local communities and economy. Furthermore, local businesses are easy for them to test for their validity. As for the market type, angels prefer to invest in businesses that are playing against small competitors. If your business is about to become a part of a contemporary market with several giants already monopolizing it, the angel might not show interest.

Their Favorite Places

When looking for investment for your business, you must know where you can possibly find angel investor. There is no specific place that you can say has the best angel investors. However, you can try fundraising advisors to help you find the investors that would be interested in investing in your business. You can search for angel investment groups in your area or on the internet. The good thing about such a group is that you have a higher chance of persuading someone to invest in your idea.

You will be glad to know that angel investors love to be a part of events where they get to see various business owners from around the country pitching their ideas. Their events are more common than VC events. In fact, it is much easy to attend their events because the entry is not expensive and you can find them even in small cities. You can also find angel investors online. There are websites that specifically put small business owners in touch with angel investors. All you have to do is create a compelling pitch, so investors can see how serious you are with your investment needs.

The Way to Compel and Persuade Them

It would be wrong to say that angel investors are interested in ideas alone. In fact, that’s where the angel investors differ entirely from venture capitalists. They don’t focus solely on the business idea and its scope in future. An important part of their decision-making process is to know the entrepreneur and his/her team. It does not matter how unique your business idea is because if you and your team are not convincing enough, they will not invest in you. They love people who like to get to the point, and that comes off as your strength.

For example, you would want your presentation to be not more than five or six slides. Don’t waste too much time trying to convince them that your idea is different. Get to the point, tell them what you want and how you are going to achieve the targets you have set, and that should be enough. When you sit down with angel investors, be sure to value your company reasonably and offer them a sensible share. A crucial thing to remember is that it takes you much more time to find the right angel investors than it takes to convince them. Miss one opportunity and you could end up spending months and years looking for another investor to listen to you. Don’t blow your opportunities away once you get them.

From the information above, it might sound angel investors are much more flexible than VCs, and that’s true to some extent. However, this should not give you the impression that angel investors are non-professional. They expect due diligence from you before finalizing a deal.

Make sure you have protected your unique ideas with patents and proper technology before you present them with your idea. Secondly, have the right permissions, certificates and other documentation on hand to show that you have everything in place. In the end, be on top of your security game, i.e., you must know how new security-related regulations around the world are going to affect your business and how you will tackle them.

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

The Importance of Disaster Preparedness for a Small Business

Any business, whether small or big, faces many challenges and some of the biggest challenges are in the shape of disasters, especially the natural ones. It does not matter which part of the world your business operates in; natural disasters are possible in every part of the planet. Floods, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. are among the most common types of natural disasters. This is why it is highly recommended that you have the right preparation for a natural disaster. According to Red Cross, major natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods are so damaging for small businesses that 40% of those that get hit by one of these shut down forever.

So, what is the importance of preparing for disasters for small businesses?

A Professional Impression

Disaster preparedness and disaster recovery plans are often associated with large enterprises and organizations. But are small businesses protected from disasters? Your small business needs a disaster plan just as much as any big business out there. Having a disaster plan integrated into your system and documented gives off a very professional impression of your business. When you become a big business, you can get audited for a hundred different things. Furthermore, your employees will also be happy that they are working with a company that thinks long-term.

Prevention of Various Disasters

While there is nothing much that can be done about natural disasters, you can do something about disasters caused by humans and their errors. A human can cause damage to your property on purpose as a result of jealousy, reaction to some unfair treatment or as a bad business tactic. When you have the right equipment and system in place, it is difficult to cause such damage to the business. In most cases, human-made disasters are in the form of a fire that can burn all the important documents for a company and any systems that store valuable customer information.

Safety of Employees

Preparing for a disaster does not always mean you have to maintain business continuity. In fact, another important part of disaster preparedness is the safety of your employees. At times, you can’t instantly tell what might go wrong. A storm or hurricane can cause damage to electric poles and wires. If not protected properly, this damage can result in the deaths of your employees. Furthermore, when you are not prepared to face a flood, you might end up calling your employees to work and getting their vehicles damaged.

Business Continuity

One of the reasons to be prepared for disasters is to maintain business continuity. If you reside in a region where certain types of natural disasters are common, you have to prepare for these first and then for other types of disasters. For example, a business in Japan will have to prepare for an earthquake and the Tsunami. In some parts of America, there are more tornadoes every year than there are storms in the entire country. When you have a plan for such disasters, you can ensure the continuity of your business even when the disaster strikes.

Continuing business operations can be as easy as asking your employees to work from home. To make this possible, you might want to have all your data and important business applications moved to cloud, so when your company servers are down, you can ask your employees to work. Another important aspect of continuing your business despite great disasters is backing up your data. When it comes to backup, you can’t back up the data in one location only. The idea is to back up your business data every day and move the backup to another location. If your budget allows, you can back up the data in even more locations than two.

Quick Response

An important aspect of disaster preparedness is to share this knowledge with your employees. You also have to update them with any changes you make to your disaster preparedness and recovery plan. For example, if a sudden fire breaks out inside your business premises, your employees must know what the first course of action has to be. You should also ask your employees to have all the important business applications, software tools, etc. installed on their devices if your response to a disaster is asking them to work from home. When your employees know exactly what to do in the case of a disaster, they can get a response to a bad situation instantly, so you face virtually no downtime.

Cost-efficiency

Disaster preparedness and recovery are not just about being ready to handle a disastrous situation. In fact, it is also about being able to operate the business and recover business operations after a disaster hits with as minimum resources as possible. A business without a disaster plan can also recover from a disaster. However, the huge difference here is that the unprepared business will have to spend a lot of money and resources to get back on its feet whereas a business with a plan will continue its operations with minimum efforts.

Improved B2B Relations

It is not just your customers but also your business partners that get affected when your business shuts down temporarily due to a disaster. They might be relying on you for their mission-critical processes, and your absence can cause them to either stop their operations or find another partner to make things work instantly. On the other hand, if your business is still running despite getting hit by a disaster, your business partners will take a very positive impression of you. This is going to help you retain your business partners as they can now trust your professionalism and seriousness with business.

Conclusion :

To prepare for disasters, the first thing you have to do is change your mind about the whole situation. Many small business owners think that things like disaster plans are better suited for large enterprises or when a business has grown big enough to have multiple branches. What they don’t realize is that it is much easier to recover from a disaster when you have multiple locations than it is when you have only one location. So, start assessing your risks today, create a sound communication plan and document your disaster preparation plan today.

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

Do you have enough reserve money for your business?

It is common for entrepreneurs and new business persons to have very high expectations of their businesses in the beginning. They are often excited about how they will uniquely market the business and provide customers with something they have not tried before. A practical entrepreneur will look at both sides, the positive and negative. While there is nothing wrong with keeping your expectations high, it’s the “hope for the best and prepares for the worst” that seems to work more in life, both professional and personal.

So, it does not matter how unique your product is or how perfectly you have designed a plan to approach your target audience; you will always need some cash in reserve for the hard times. The more important question is “how much money should you have in reserve for a small business?”

How Do You Calculate the Size of Your Reserve?

The first thing you need to know here is that there are different types of businesses and thus they need to do their calculations differently.  Your first decision has to be whether you want your reserve to be enough to cover three months of costs or six months of costs. Finance experts have varying opinions, but it is up to you to decide whether it is going to be three or six months. Once you have made that decision, it is time you calculate the size of the reserve you will need. The information coming ahead is based on a six month’s reserve strategy.

As mentioned earlier, different businesses have to make calculations differently. If you are a business with running that remains pretty much the same throughout the year, you just have to look at your cash flow rate from the cash flow statement. Reviewing at least six months of statements is a good idea. If your expenses vary only slightly month after month, all you have to do is come up with an average of those six months of expenses. This will be the monthly expense of your business. Now, just multiply this average by six because you want to keep a reserve of six months.

However, you have to calculate differently for a seasonal business. Again, you will look at the cash flow statement of the past six months, but this time you will not find the average of all the six months. You will separate the month with the highest costs (expenses) and the months with low expenses. Take the five regular months and calculate the average monthly cost based on the data you have. Now, to calculate your six month’s reserve, multiply the average you have just calculated with five, and then add the cost of the highest month to that product.

What if you are a new business and you don’t have cash flow or burn rate reports for past six months. In this scenario, you will have to do the math even more strictly. You will have to work on projections and estimates. Calculate what your monthly expenses will be and base the size of your reserve on that projection. Of course, you should make adjustments as soon as you realize that your expenses or more or less than what you had projected once your business starts running.

What about Keeping a Bigger Cash Reserve?

The cash reserve is a cushion for your business and why wouldn’t you want the cushion to be bigger? Here is the thing; keeping a reserve that attempts to cover more than six months of expenses is going to be harmful to your business. What you will end up doing is putting the money that you can use in your business for its progress in the cash reserve where it will wait for the hard times to come before you can use it.

What you might not realize is that you could use the same money for business development, better marketing, and further expansion. Experts say you should not touch your cash reserves unless there is no other way out. With that in mind, you might never touch your cash reserves and use them to expand your business even when you have the opportunity.

Building a Cash Reserve

The biggest challenge is building a cash reserve because it is more like an expense for your business. You have to put some money from your profits into a separate account that serves as your business’ cash reserve account. What this means is that you will have to live with shrunken profits for some time. However, planning these things can help you. For example, fund your business wisely right from day one.

Unless your business explodes and becomes a big thing right from day one, you have to rely on proper financing to grow your cash reserves. One thing you want to keep in mind here is that your cash reserve is not just for the hard times, but it can help you on other occasions as well. Let’s say your company makes napkins, and a worldwide fast food chain places an order that goes way beyond your capacity. How do you arrange the materials to fulfill that order? While financing is an option, it is much better and safer to rely on your own cash reserves like many big companies do.

Final Words

It is a mistake that many new small business owners make when they think they won’t need any reserves in the back. Things can go wrong in a thousand different ways and you cannot predict all of them. You don’t want to be scrambling for cash or loan right from the second month of starting your business. It is best to have a financial advisor with you right from the start who will tell you how you can build your cash reserve without affecting the ongoing progress of your business and completely eating away your profits.

 

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender, or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

Expansion Pitfalls All Small Businesses Must Avoid

A great number of small business owners have a constant urge to expand. Of course, the mere idea of expanding and becoming a “big” business known to thousands and millions of people is fascinating. However, expansion is not all about finding a new office space and hiring new employees to fill the vacant seats.

There is much more to expansion than most small business owners realize. It is unfortunate that a larger population of these business owners is only focused on the benefits of expanding while completely omitting the challenges that entail business expansion. Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges, concerns and considerations before you expand your small business.

Major Pitfalls to Avoid before Expanding a Small Business

 

  • Outdated Information of Market Conditions

Too often, the decision to expand taken by most small business owners is based on information that is many months old. The important thing to consider here is continuous market research. An idea that seemed like it will lead the market a few months ago might be an average offering today.

For example, you might have landed in the market with a unique product, and its sudden popularity might make you think you should expand as soon as possible. What you don’t realize is that the acceptance and popularity rate of your product can diminish with time. The big reason behind that is the competitors who can imitate anything that you have created.

It does not matter if you have patented the technology, method or the product itself before launching it. Your competitors will always find some way to imitate and emulate your products. A great example of this is Apple, the tech giant that patented the touchscreen technology. You can see there are more non-Apple touchscreen smartphones in the world today than Apple’s own iPhone.

  • Regional Limitations

When you are expanding your business into new territories, you must know them well. You cannot expect people to react to your offerings, marketing methods, advertising tactics in the same way everywhere. In fact, cultural considerations are an extremely important consideration when businesses are expanding.

You don’t have to be expanding to a completely new country to consider culture. There are many things that people in one state might love and people in another state completely hate.

These considerations have to be made based on the type of business you have. If your business has some cultural dependencies, you have to be very careful with where you are thinking of expanding your business operations.

  • Cash Flow Challenges

You need to be on top of your cash flow before you expand. Cash flow is important for any business, but it is essential when it comes time for expansion. It does not matter how much money you are expecting to come into the business after making the expansion move; it is going to require a lot of money upfront too.

This is the time when you have to stop thinking about the revenue and start focusing on your income. Your revenue does not tell you how feasible it is for you to expand your business. It is the money that you can use without affecting your current operations that matter in the expansion.

Look at your profits and see how big they are. If your profits are small, don’t just assume that things will be fine and you should just make a move. You don’t want to create a situation where not only you fail with expansion but affect your existing operations as well.

  • Technological Issues

The way modern businesses operate, technology goes wherever your business goes. Many small business owners think of expansion only regarding new office space, furniture, and new employees, but that’s not the case. Today’s businesses rely heavily on technologies, both hardware, and software. When your business expands, you have to support it with better hardware but what’s more important is the software side.

Unless you are using a cloud solution for your database and other internal tasks and activities, you will have to spend a lot of time in arranging the right system. Syncing information across multiple locations and managing bigger databases with more accounts and information can be a challenge in the beginning.

  • Overestimating Business Popularity

Some businesses that start with a unique idea and get attention from media fast are able to reap great benefits from sudden demand spikes. This situation often makes business owners feel that they should expand as soon as possible. What they don’t realize is that this is only the “trial” period for customers in their minds.

Even if they like your product, in the beginning, it does not mean they have put full trust in your offerings. A onetime purchase does not translate to loyal customers and repetitive purchases. You might have received a great response from customers when you started the business but wait for some time to know if your customers have started to repeat.

It is only the number of repeat customers that can tell you if your product/service has been a success. It could be a nightmare for you if you start getting negative reviews from your first customers as soon as you expand into new markets and locations. You could end up creating too much inventory that no one is willing to buy.

  • Underestimating Growth of Employees

While a lot of things get overestimated by new business owners before expansion, there are some things that they underestimate. Sometimes, business owners are not able to fully foresee their growth regarding employees.

They arrange new space to continue business operations in a new location without realizing that the growing number of employees will force them to expand their office space again. Not only is it inefficient but it could lead to a lot of hassle for the working employees if the expansion of office space takes place while they are working there.

Final Words

The most important thing to keep in mind when you have your own business, and you are considering expansion regarding business operations or product/service offerings, is patience. Always take your time before making a move because when you are a small business, you don’t have a lot of support to recover from huge financial losses like large enterprises do.

 

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender. Create a crowd funding campaign or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

The Challenges You Must Overcome to Turn Your Small Business into a Big Business

You might have a small business today, but you don’t want that label for the life of your business. When entrepreneurs make endeavors, they are looking to create a business that will rule the world one day. However, every business has to face some struggles in the beginning that it must overcome to become a big business. The way you handle these challenges decides the fate of your small business. Today, you will read about these challenges and the solutions to them, so if you are a small business, you can set the foundation for its success.

Knowing the Target Market

One of the biggest issues with most small businesses is that they don’t know their exact target market. Sometimes, they don’t know how to narrow down to the target market. This is a huge issue because you could have a perfect product, but you might pitch it to the people who don’t need it. Keep in mind that people who don’t need your product won’t buy it even if you try to give it to them for free. On the other hand, people who need your product will be willing to buy it even if it is priced high. For your business to survive, it needs to start selling as quickly as possible, and that’s why it is important to find your target market before launching your product.

Solution

The first step of identifying your target market is to know your product well enough. You have to ask yourself some important questions about the product and write the answers down. For example, you have to ask yourself “what existing problem does my product solve?” You also have to know if there are any other solutions available in the market for the same problem. If yes then you have to see how your product is better than them or how you can make it better. Conduct surveys on the street and social media to know the personas of the best buyers of your product.

The Right Type of Marketing

Businesses, small and big, have huge parts of their budgets allocated only for marketing purposes. However, the modern technological advancements have proven that a big marketing budget does not translate to successful marketing. So, you might have done a great job in identifying your target market, but if you approach them in the wrong way or through the wrong channel, you will not be able to reap any benefits from even the most potential market for your product or service.

Solution

Identifying your target market should help you identify your marketing methods and channels too. For example, if your product is for people aged over 50, you would not want to make Instagram the prioritized marketing channel because only 18% of the users on Instagram are aged above 50. Similarly, any product that targets executives, marketing officers and professional people should be promoted on LinkedIn before any other platform. After knowing the buyer personas, you should also select the type of marketing that best suits your potential audience. If you are creating a hip-hop music video for marketing to retired individuals or an opera video for 18-year olds, you are doing it wrong. Use website analytical tools to know what appeals or does not appeal to your website, visitors. Base your digital marketing campaigns on data—this is the era of data-driven marketing.

The Funding Problem

If there were no funding problem, every person who thinks of a unique idea would have a business. In the real world, funding is always a problem, and it is exactly the point where the journey ends for many aspiring people in business. However, it is not always the lack of funds that kill many small businesses before they even start. In fact, the important part is how much dedication you show in arranging those funds. Sometimes, people have the options available, but they do not knock on all the doors.

Solution

First, you have to know all the options you have available for arranging the funds. If you are not okay with arranging funds through the bank or in the form of a loan, take a look around at your family and relatives. You will be surprised to know how many of the people in your circle will be ready not only to give you the investment you need but become a part of the endeavor. The crowdfunding options are also there. You don’t even have to go to the investors personally today as you can visit a platform like funded.com and arrange funds online.

The Right Leadership

You can’t make a business successful unless you have the right leader in place. It is not completely untrue that the attitude of the leader sets the attitude of the rest of the employees at a company. If you lack confidence in your leadership, you will end up hiring people who lack confidence in themselves. One of the biggest problems with most small business owners is that they can’t convince themselves to delegate responsibilities. They believe in their skill so much that their mind never accepts that someone else can handle the responsibilities too. They end up taking the responsibility of everything on their shoulders and mismanaging things at the end of the day.

Solution

The first thing that needs to be fixed here is how you think. If you find it hard to delegate responsibilities, get rid of this habit as soon as possible. You can’t handle everything as the business grows and so you have to create a team right from day one. Do not hire people just because they can do the job—hire people who share the same vision as you. Do not settle for good employees because finding the best ones is taking time. Do not try to take matters into your hands all the times. Listen to everyone that’s part of the team and the decision making process. Have a great relationship with your employees.

Setting the Price

One of the most difficult decisions for a small business owner is to set the price of its service or product. When you are a small business, you can’t afford to have a full-fledged marketing department. Of course, when you have a marketing department, they can set the price of your products, but when there is no marketing department, you are the one to take this decision. Price your solutions too low, and you might not make any profit at all. Price your solution too high, and customers might never buy your product.

Solution

It will be tremendously helpful in this scenario to take a look at your competitors and how they have priced their products. Secondly, you have to know a simple rule to set the prices of your products and services. You first set the price to cover your costs. Once you have started covering your costs, you set the price to cover the costs and make a profit. Once you have done that successfully, you start adding your “value” to the price. You should also know the buying power of your target market so you can keep the price within their comfort zone.

These points cover pretty much every big challenge that a small business comes across. Keep in mind that some of the challenges might be exclusive to your business and industry too, but if you can overcome these common challenges, you can cover the industry-specific difficulties as well.

 

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender. Create a crowd funding campaign or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com

How to Identify Your Small Business Differentiator and Why

When you are the owner of a small business, there are times when the scale of bigger companies can overwhelm you. At these times, you may wonder what you have that will make potential customers pick your brand over another. This particular factor is a business differentiator, and it helps consumers in the market identify you and set you apart from other brands.

Differentiating your company from the rest is an integral part in developing a brand, and it’s become even more difficult in recent years since it’s not merely enough to be just better than others; you need to be different. You may not have realized it yet, but being a small business is a differentiator on its own, you need to leverage it and market it enough. Here’s how you can identify your small business’ differentiators.

Analyze Your Competition

Finding your differentiators starts by learning what makes your competitors different. You need to maintain a neutral position and evaluate your competitor to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. What do they offer? What do they do better than you? How do they treat their customers?

Once you answer these questions, you discover their weak and strong points, as well as your own. At this point, you can decide whether you want to change the direction of your business to make it better than your competitors or market an aspect of your brand that’s already there.

Be Familiar with the Customer Experience

A benefit of being a small business owner is personally having experienced the life of an average consumer. By knowing the shortcomings of a large-scale company customer experience, you know what to develop in your own company. However, when working on differentiators, it’s time to start by scratch so you should map the various aspects of being a customer. What do they value? What dissuades them from buying?

You need to work on ways to build a consumer’s awareness of a need that your company can fulfill. It’s only after a consumer realizes that they need something that they will look towards brands that can provide them with a solution. You need to assess how your target demographic makes buying decisions, and whether your brand aligns with that thought process or not.

Another factor you should consider is how your customer will use your product and whether they will require any help with it after their purchase. Look towards your competitors and see what they offer, and see what you can provide when compared to them.

Assess Whether You Meet Customer Expectations

Once you’ve mapped out different points in a customer’s overall experience with your brand, you need to assess whether you meet expectations at each point. For instance, the first time a customer interacts with your brand, they expect a friendly approach that tries to understand their problem. Now you need to know if you come for your customer’s wallet at every encounter, or if there’s an empathetic side to you.

If you step into their shoes and see things from their point of view, you can ask yourself ‘do I want to be sold a product this way?’, ‘does this item have everything I need?’ and ‘has the brand tried to understand me and my problem?’ You need to learn whether your product motivates them to buy it.

The wrong approach is to focus solely on your product because that’s not what customers emphasize on when buying a product. The best way is to address different aspects of the customer experience and develop all of them.

Know Your Strengths

The first and foremost strength of being a small business is giving customers the attention they need. Since you’re not managing branches everywhere, you can afford to look after a minimal customer base.

Other than that, each business has its strengths when compared to other brands. It could be your amazing marketing, your customer loyalty programs, or your approach to customer service. Also, a small business operates on values, so they understand the needs and requirements of the average person.

Get Involved in the Community

The community you operate in should be your focus when expanding your reach. By making an impact on your community, your brand automatically earns a reputation among the other brands in the area. The people in your district will be in favor of supporting your brand since it will have a positive influence on their community.

The Importance of Having Differentiators

It’s true that ever brand needs differentiators that give them a competitive edge for business rivals, but your brand needs it more as a small business. That’s because large companies can already offer better prices due to cheaper manufacturing practices and access to raw materials at lower costs.

Hence, having a fixed market differentiator will help consumers pick your brand despite the difference between what you and larger brands can offer. However, having a differentiator isn’t only necessary for setting your brand apart from the rest. By knowing what you can do better than other companies can, you’ll have a clear view of what you should focus on when planning a marketing campaign.

A well-planned and targeted marketing effort will help you retain customers and increase your rates of promotion among people outside your community. Without a strong differentiator, you won’t be able to compete with others head-on.

At the same time, you need to uphold the values of honesty and transparency by refraining from overloading your brand profile. By attesting to being better than competitors at ‘everything,’ you risk losing precious customers. That’s why; you need to test all of your differentiators to see if they’re true, provable and relevant.

Only market things about your brands that you believe to be true, and to gain the audience’s trust, you have to prove it; whether through ‘look inside our workshop’ schemes or quality tests. Lastly, your differentiators need to be relevant. Customers won’t consider an aspect of your brand that they don’t care about or if it doesn’t benefit them. To conclude, you need to reflect upon your band’s personality and find something about your small business that differentiates it from the rest.

 

Access our network of Angel Investors, Venture Capital or get instantly matched with a Lender. Create a crowd funding campaign or get a business plan by visiting us Funded.com