Creating A Positive Reputation For Your Business Startup

ReputationThe reputation of your business startup is an important factor to the success of your company. For most businesses that are starting out, it is the lack of a reputation that is troublesome. Creating a positive reputation from the get-go is the first step in being a recognizable brand that connects with customers. By focusing on your reputation early on, you can ensure your business startup resonates with consumers as well as with angel investors as you look to get off the ground.

Create A Strong First Impression

Start with creating a good first impression. While this goes without saying when you meet with anyone you do business with, it also extends to the appearance of your company. From your product packaging to your office location, everything needs to be pristine and show customers and clients that you are a serious business owner that cares about your company. Your reputation starts from within, and you need to make sure you look the part before you can expect customers to identify with your brand. Give your business startup the recognition it deserves and tidy up its appearance inside and out. When you look good, you feel good, and others will take notice.

Rely On Word-Of-Mouth

One of the single biggest ways that your business startup can expand and grow its reputation is through word-of-mouth. Uber is a prime example of using this strategy as the come used this technique to increase its recognition with customers. In the very beginning of its startup,it appealed to Silicon Valley techs that it knew would recommend them to others. The strategy paid off, and the company grew in monumental proportions.

Using word-of-mouth to spread the reputation of your business can be advantageous as you look to build your brand. Positive remarks about your company can ensure you reach the masses and help your business startup grow in popularity among consumers.

Empower Your Employees

Your employees are your biggest assets, and they can go a long way in supporting the reputation of your company. Encourage your employees to sing the praises of your business and the products and services you offer. If they like what they sell, they are more likely to tell a friend, family member or neighbor. This adds to your overall reputation as most consumers rely on others to help them with their buying decisions.

Also, be sure your employees are symbols of your business startup and a reflection of your values. As your staff interacts with customers, they can portray the brand of the company and help to bolster your business reputation. Good customer service is a mark of a solid reputation that can help you be a favorite brand of consumers far and wide.

Use Your Website As A Weapon

You literally have a few seconds to garner the attention of a customer on your website. Use this time wisely and be sure to make your message effective. Make your site as appealing as possible and ensure it is a reflection of your values and vision. Your customers should easily be able to tell what type of business you are and what you stand for in the mere seconds they are on your site. If you can grab their attention early, they will stay on your site and come back often to see what’s new and buy from you in the process.

Keep in mind that your customers are savvy and they use mobile devices daily. Your website should be optimized to work with these devices so that a client can purchase from you immediately on the go. Being known as a business startup that is easy to buy from will give you a strong reputation and increase the potential customers that purchase from you on a regular basis.

Realize The Power Of Networking

There is a power factor to networking, and you need to take advantage of it. The more influential people you can associate and align yourself with, the higher your brand will soar. Having power figures support your business startup, and the products and services you carry can help you become more recognizable with consumers as their opinion matters to consumers and gives value to your brand.

You can easily accomplish this by introducing yourself to professionals wherever you go. Try attending networking events and reach out to executives at likeminded companies to strategize. Take advantage of the opportunities before you and be proactive in your approach to learning and meeting someone new.

Make Your Presence Count

You are the ultimate ambassador for your business. You need to ensure that you represent your business startup in a positive light and tout its existence to everyone and anyone. Your brand needs to become recognizable to consumers, and the only way to do that is through promotion. You need to sing the praises of your business startup and not be afraid to share the secret that your company holds. Reach out and grab the spotlight. Take the mic and let your voice be heard.

There is no fear in showing value in your business startup early on if you have a strong vision and values to back it up. You need to show your company appeal and build your positive reputation early on using every tool available to you, which means you are the speaker box for that message. Don’t be afraid to boast about your products and services, you never know who is listening, and you just might gain a loyal customer in the process.

By focusing on your business reputation at the very beginning of the formation of your company, you can easily create a brand that consumers relate to and want to buy from. Your products will become recognizable on the shelves, and your services will be sought after by the masses. Concentrate on using the variety of approaches that are available to you to build your brand and create that positive reputation that your business startup will be known for now and into the future.

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Why the End of the Year Is the Perfect Time to Review Your Finances

Review

Whether you have a startup, a small business, or a large enterprise, chances are the year has passed at the speed of light for you. You were review and designing your marketing campaigns, availing growth opportunities, and looking through reports when the year-end arrived. While people dedicate this time of the year to holiday delights and festivities, this also happens to be the perfect time to do a review of your finances, whether you are just an individual with a 9 to 5 job or a small business.

Why should you spend your end of the year for a financial review? Here are the top reasons.

A Strong Visual of Your Financial Standing

The most important thing about a year-end financial review is that it gives you a complete visual of where your business is standing at the moment. Everything that has happened throughout the year is now on the reports before your eyes. You can look at the information and see what has performed and what has not performed. You must have put a lot of money into marketing your products, services, and the brand as a whole. You can now see which of those campaigns have yielded promising results and which of them have proved to be futile.

The same goes for your account receivables. Compare your account receivables with those from the previous years and see if there has been an increase or decrease. If there is an abnormal increase, it is a telltale sign that you might need to change your payment plan or push more to receive your pending payments faster. Every activity you have done in the past year has painted a picture now in front of you. Whether you grew as a business, stagnated, or receded is evident at the end of the year.

The Best Time to Set New Goals

Based on how you performed in the preceding year and whether you have achieved your set targets and goals, you can set goals for the coming year. Your previous year’s performance should clarify how you have to put your marks for the coming year. Keep them realistic yet motivating and challenging enough to leave room for hard work, struggle, and progress. Not only should you be looking at how successful you were in achieving the previous year’s goals, but you should also pay attention to your current financial standing.

Best Time to Apply for Loans and Credit Processing Services

Regardless of how long you have been in business, when you apply for certain services, the service providers look at your previous year’s performance. For example, let’s say that you want to apply for a merchant account (maybe a high-risk one), so you can start processing credit card requests for your customers. When you approach a merchant account provider, they will ask for some history of your business activities—at least three months. By the end of the year, you have enough data to show to lenders and credit processing services to convince them to do business with you.

Of course, a financial review will give you a good look at whether you have done enough to impress these service providers or not. You can apply for these services with a quarterly credit history, but it will not be considered sufficient in most cases.

Best Time to Get Your Tax Files in Sync

Yes, you have been extra careful about your tax filing and preparation the whole year, but the overall integrity of your records still has a question mark on it. You need to prepare your tax files at the end of the year and calculate your liability with utmost accuracy. While tax preparation software has made the job much more manageable, complex tax files still need your accountants’ attention to get everything in sync. The important thing here is that a review not only helps you escape penalties that you might attract by putting wrong information on your file. You want to update your information at the end of the year because you want to calculate your benefits too accurately, e.g., tax credits, exemptions, standard deductions, itemized deductions, etc.

Time to Start Afresh

Your business might not have been a very successful venture. Many companies don’t make the best start, and it seems in the beginning that it would be difficult for the business to survive. However, small changes in strategies and cuts in costs can prove to be incredibly beneficial for companies. The best time to start afresh and renew all your reports and files is the end of the year. While you can change your strategies and plans midway, too, it is natural for most humans to feel the need for a new start at the start of a new year. For example, people can decide to lose weight at any time of the year, but it seems it makes the most sense to them when they do it at the start of a new year.

If you think your business has not performed well, but you still want to give it a shot, the end of year financial review can clear the path for you by telling you if you can afford to give it another try or not.

Bottom Line

There is no restriction on when you want to make changes to your business plans and strategies. However, people find it natural and more motivating to set new goals, learn from past mistakes, and make new moves when a new year starts. Throughout the year, your main goal is to keep the ball rolling.

However, at the end of the year, you have enough data collected from all your business operations and activities to know how fruitful your efforts were, which actions you should consider in the future, and the expenses that have kept you from progressing. In short, a financial review at the end of the year helps you make new and important decisions for your business.

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Cutting Costs without Reducing Your Team Is Indeed Possible

One of the things that many businesses around the world are notorious for is layoffs of their workers when they have to cut costs. It appears as though the least required asset for these companies is their workers. As brutal as it may sound, many businesses reduce their team sizes to reduce their costs every day. It is quite surprising because there are in fact dozens of different ways for businesses, especially small ones, to cut their costs without sending their employees home. Not to mention, small businesses aren’t in the best position to terminate their employees when they are already struggling with growth and expansion.

Let us first look at the circumstances and reasons why small businesses resort to firing their employees and terminating their contracts.

Reasons Why Businesses Terminate Their Employees

·         Your Employee’s Performance is below Requirements

The biggest and probably the most valid reason for firing an employee is when they are not able to perform according to the set targets. Despite this being a valid reason, you should always follow the complete procedure and let go of your employee most ethically and professionally possible. Tell them that they also have the right to quit a company when a company does not pay them as promised and vice versa.

·         Your Employee Isn’t Honest

You have noticed that your employee is not honest. They try to spend time doing nothing behind your back and are interested in things that they should not be concerned with. It is a risk to have such a worker working at the company.

·         Your Employee Is Having a Hard Time Assimilating

One of the reasons why many employees are not able to give their best is because they can’t fit in the culture of your workplace. It’s either their religious, personal or moral beliefs that don’t let them feel being a part of the team.

·         Your Employee Doesn’t Care

Believe it or not, some employees don’t care about the rules and regulations of your workplace and being at a professional place. They bully people around them, try to act pretentious, are not punctual and do not pay any attention to the dress code policy.

·         Your Employees Cost You Too Much

This is quite an oxymoronic situation where the people who bring you business are the ones costing you money. Sometimes, companies become financially weak, and the only way they have to reduce their costs is firing employees. This helps them save money on employee compensation, bonuses, and incentives.

Is Employee Termination the Only Way to Cut Costs?

Not at all! There are many other ways for companies to reduce their costs without letting go of their employees. Here are some.

·         Negotiations with Vendors and Suppliers

You can look into your current list of suppliers and vendors and look for opportunities to reduce costs. You have to realize that there are group purchasing organizations developed specifically for this purpose. Furthermore, there are online search engines designed specifically for businesses where you can find other businesses that can help you reduce your costs.

·         Buy in Bulk

One simple way to reduce your costs is to purchase in bulk. Whether you are buying products or subscribing to software or online platform services, bulk purchases will always help you reduce your costs. As a business, you are subscribed to dozens of different online services and buy various items on a monthly or weekly basis. Buy them for several months or a complete year to save your costs.

·         Reduce Lavish Expenses for Now

It is amazing that businesses offer their employees with refreshments, coffee, and teas for free, but there is a time when you can do this with ease. Until and unless you have reached a point where affording such luxuries do not bother you at all, do not introduce them.

·         Invest in the Right Technology

Whether you are buying an electric generator for your office, bulbs and lights, ceiling fans, air conditioning units or machinery, you must invest in latest and energy-efficient technology.

·         Market Wisely

Marketing can suck a lot of your capital out of business depending on the type of marketing you are doing. However, it will be rewarding for you if you use analytical data to narrow down only the marketing campaigns that are lucrative for your business. Spend on them and keep away from spending on marketing efforts that have not yielded any good results.

Similarly, you can find many other ways to reduce your costs without sending your employees home.

Risks Associated with Firing Your Employees

While firing your employees should be the last thing on your list of methods to cut costs, you must also know the many risks that come with employee termination. Here are a few.

·         Sharing of Company Secrets with Competitors

When employees are not happy with your decision of firing them, they may not care about what action you can take against them. They may go for interviews with your competitors and share your trade secrets. This can be a big set-back for you if your competitor decides to take advantage of the situation.

·         Lawsuits

When employees believe they have been fired based on unreasonable grounds, they may try to take you to court. If any wrongful termination is proved, it can be expensive for your company. Always be sure to complete the procedure of termination or make sure the termination is justified.

·         Attack on Brand Image through Social Media

Today, people have a voice, and some people are ready to listen to their voice. Social networking platforms are great places for employees to discredit your brand and slander your image if they believe they were terminated by you wrongfully.

·         Bad Performance of Existing Employees

It does not matter how much you care about your employees. They may have a stronger connection among themselves than they have with you. Therefore, when you terminate an employee and cause some dissention among the ranks.

So, it is highly recommended that you consider the many other ways of cutting costs for your small business before choosing to terminate your employees.

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What’s ERP Software and Why Do You Need One?

ERP

With the rapid growth in technologies, the ERP software market may cross $41.69 billion in profit by 2020. The statistics are enough to demonstrate the impact of this technology on businesses. This figure is undeniably impressive and reflects how important it is for companies in the future. Incorporating ERP software is one-way marketers can give their brand a competitive edge.

If your startup is in the initial phases and you are looking for a technology to help you manage business functions, ERP software is ideal, and if you don’t, this article is worth reading.

What is ERP?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning system. Many organizations use this software package to manage business activities, including project management, procurement, accounting, distribution operations, and manufacturing. It helps in day-to-day business functions while centralizing them within an integrated system.

The software is more useful when managing supply chain activities or keeping a track record of the moving parts of distribution and manufacturing. The use of ERP software is not confined to these business domains. It is utilized by many different domains that include nonprofit groups, construction, healthcare, and hospitality. Companies requiring inventory, staff, and customer management can rely on this advanced software.

In addition, ERP software stores data in a single database that allows different sections to collaborate by using the same information. ERP can organize and analyze data in the form of reports. In short, ERP software is great for bringing together the following functions into a single system:

  • Human resources
  • Financial management
  • Customer management
  • Business intelligence
  • Inventory
  • Supply chain functions

Here are some more reasons why your business needs ERP software.

Why Your Business Needs ERP Software

You might be wondering how ERP software is different from other software that performs similar functions. Although ERP software has the same goals of managing business functions, it has several unique features that make it extremely distinctive from other software.

Saves Money

You may find it a surprising fact, but ERP software is a good investment in terms of flexible pricing and saving money. For small companies, the initial price may seem heavy, but once they start using it, the software can save a lot of money.

This means ERP software can significantly increase ROI. It is merely because the system unifies multiple systems that businesses often use in fragments. From accounts payable to product development, the staff can access the necessary tools using a single centralized system. The software efficiently helps save time by keeping employees from hunting down information across different systems.

Improves Collaboration

This ERP feature generally varies as it depends upon the program business is using, but it does have a substantial impact on collaboration in one way or another. As mentioned earlier, ERP works with a unique centralized database that provides the business a source to work in collaboration. Not only does it reduces the risk of errors caused by incorrect data, but it also minimizes costs.

Moreover, ERP software reduces during projects as team members can access whatever data they need. The information doesn’t require merging within sources or systems because data is carefully collected, stored, and shared through one system. To put it simply, employees do not have to worry about the accuracy, completion, and security of data files.

Helps in Better Analytics

Businesses need ERP software if they want to improve data analytics and statistical reporting. In this regard, ERP software is ideal as its store’s data as input and makes for an unparalleled business intelligence tool. If vendors provide good functionality, ERP can be a great help in generating fast and accurate reports. The efficient software makes report compilation (that used to take days) a matter of minutes.

Besides this, the option of a customizable dashboard enables executives to see the reports when they are uploaded onto the system. The reports include information related to expense statements and custom KPIs that has essential insights for specific functions. Report access is also beneficial when a company has to make a quick and better decision.

Improves Productivity

There is no comparison of software and traditional methods that make tedious tasks even more difficult. Employees used to invest hours for monitoring inventory, generating reports, processing orders, and timesheet tracking. These tasks were time-consuming and lowered the morale of employees, increasing the risk of errors.

ERP software solves all these problems as it can conveniently automate even the most tedious task. With its integrated database, ERP eliminates all the redundant and time taking tasks, like data entry. It improves productivity by allowing the system to do advanced calculations quickly. The automatic features free up employees and allow them to focus on other essential tasks to improve ROI. That means ERP software can increase business productivity, profitability, and efficiency.

Simplified Risk Management

ERP is must-have software if your business expands internationally to keep track of imposed regulations on the business. Even if the business is local, there is a plethora of human resources, information security, and environmental rules you need to consider.

The good news is that ERP considers these regulations so that businesses can maintain compliance. The software incorporates built-in auditing features to assist businesses with documenting tax provision and chemical use. This makes everything incredibly easy, from formulating reports to sending them to the pertinent governing authority. This feature makes ERP software a great tool to manage risk.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, ERP software is a panacea of all the hectic, tedious, and manual business functions. The advanced software is multifunctional and helps businesses improve functions, accuracy, reliability, and financial management. The integrated system can manage a wide range of business activities, from supply chain management and procurement to accounting and operations.

In other words, businesses cannot deny this all-in-one software’s functional significance to enhance their overall productivity.

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How to Get Your Startup Off the Ground

Launching Business

Do you have a great idea? Is it your desire to become the next renowned business tycoon? Plans are good, but everyone has them. There’s a big difference between having a great idea and starting/running a successful startup company?

If you firmly believe that you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, then you need to know how to turn your great idea into a startup company. Within the first ten years of their existence, 71% of businesses fail. While starting a business shouldn’t be an intimidating task, it still isn’t a walk through the park. It requires a lot of commitment, dedication, sleepless, and failures.

If you’re still reading this, it shows you’re ready to go all the way with your idea. Just because there are lots of challenges and obstacles in entrepreneurship does not mean your business is bound for failure.

Fortunately, there are proven methods to ensure that you launch a successful startup and keep it running for a long time after launch. Let’s discuss some actionable steps towards this.

Conduct Extensive Research

When you have a great idea, and you are thinking of going the entrepreneurial way with it, your first step should be researched. Consider your options, research the market segment, and the niche you’re going to be operating in. Do people need the products/services you are going to be offering?

Getting in-depth knowledge will also help you understand how things work in the business world. When it comes to launching a startup, awareness indeed begets power. A lot of startup businesses fail because they skipped this step – they lack market knowledge.

The more research you conduct, the more you’ll make strategic decisions that will help keep b your launch and keep your startup running for many years.

Competitive analysis should also be a part of your research. Knowing who would be competing against is also essential for success. This is not mainly to spy on competitors but to arm you with insights into the best ways to get your startup running.

Strongly Believe in your Idea

As we discussed in the intro of this post, you have to genuinely believe in your business idea for it to be a success. Strong belief in your idea is crucial as it will reinforce your confidence in times when the market will reject what you are offering when things won’t go as you have planned. In times like this, your belief that a market segment needs the services you are offering is crucial. It is going to help you persevere through it all.

Develop a Business Plan

So many people are under the misconception that a business plan is established companies. This can’t be farther from the truth. Having an idea is one thing, but you won’t be taken seriously and legitimately without a solid business plan.

Statistics show that of startups who launched with one: 64% grew their business, 36% obtained investment capital, and 36% received a loan. These statistics are way lower for startups who launched without a business plan

A business plan is like the captain steering a boat; without it, the boat cannot arrive at its destination as the water will take it wherever the current flows. With one, you have a significant edge, and your chances of success are doubled.

Now, how do you write one? Simply put, a business plan is a description of your company’s future in writing. It should not only outline what you plan to do, but it should also give details on how you plan to do it. Your business plan should outline the business strategy you have for the next 3 to 5 years after launch.

Get Appropriate Funding

Check all the successful startups around you; you’d see that most, if not all, have received funding. Theirs is no magic to launching a business – you need adequate capital to get your startup off the ground. While your company might require more or less funding depending on the industry, you would still need money.

Most early-stage entrepreneurs soon realize that the cost of doing business is much higher than they initially thought. Let’s go back to our business plan. Typically, this document should contain your

  • Balance Sheet
  • Profit and Loss Statement
  • Sales Forecast
  • Cash Flow statemen

Cash flow problems are the reason 82% of businesses fail. With these financial statements, you can determine the amount of funding you need to raise to get started.

You must have heard someone say, “I want to start an e-commerce business, I want to be the next Jeff Bezos. Let me start by building a website and mobile application” Your first question to such a person should be, “Do you know how much it costs to be a quality website and mobile application for an e-commerce site?

The point is you need funding, but you can’t get appropriate financing if you don’t know how much money you’d need to raise.

To get funding, you have several options. But you must weigh them all to avoid getting into the drain of massive interest rates. There are less chances of banks giving out loans to new businesses with no assets or income to serve as collateral. So, if you can’t get money from a bank or you’ve found one that’s offering a loan with crazy interest rates, what are your other options?

Well, investors can be:

  • Family and Friends
  • Venture Capitalists
  • Angel Investors

Just proceed with caution to avoid giving away considerable equity in your business before you even get started.

Surround Yourself with Only the Right People

You need people capital when launching your business. The industry you’re delving into determines the number of people you’d need. Before you start hiring, register your business name, get a federal tax ID number from the IRS. Submitting this information online would enable you to get your employer identification number (EIM)

Most likely, you would need to consult with a lawyer, financial advisor, and accountant moving forward. Get your business insured, and then start the process of hiring the right people into your company.

Bottomline

After you’ve gone through all these steps, also remember that finding a physical and online (website) location for your business is crucial to getting customers. As you build your business, invest in quality marketing to get people to know about the top-notch products/services you are offering.

If possible, read through this post again. Systematically walk through each of the steps, implementing one after the other. Remember, no one said launching a startup is going to be easy, but it isn’t impossible. Good Luck!

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Why It Is Not Advisable to Not Have a Business Plan

When you start a business, different people will advise you differently on how to turn your venture into a success. While it looks natural to have a business plan beforehand, do not be surprised if you find some people telling you to not have one. According to some, having a business plan limits you in your exploration and prevents you from taking risks. That might hold true in some cases, but that’s not how it is for everyone. Having a business plan is a sensible step, but if you are on the fence about whether to have one or not, here are some disadvantages of not having a business plan to help you make a well-informed decision.

Why Not Having a Business Plan Is Not Advisable

1.      There Is Nothing to Achieve

Milestones have to be an integral part of any venture. When you don’t have any milestones and targets, there is nothing for you to achieve. Having no business plan is the first sign of your non-seriousness with your business. If you could not take out time to create a detailed plan, how can one expect you to manage your business – an activity that could require even up to 16 hours of continuous working at times? The problem with having nothing to achieve means you will have no strategies for your expenses, profits, revenues, etc.

How would you ever know how much you should spend or not spend? Why would you invest in marketing when you don’t have any goals?

2.      There Is Nothing to Interest Investors

There might be some proponents of the idea that a business does not require a business plan, but there are still more people who believe in having a business plan. Investors always need indicators from entrepreneurs to judge their personalities and potentials. Business plan is one of the strongest indicators of a person’s potential of doing a business. When you ask investors for a certain amount of money, the first question they ask is why you need that money or what you need that money for. Your answer to this question can make it or break it for you.

In fact, that is not the only question. They will follow up this first question with a lineup of crucial follow-up questions. For example, if you tell them you will invest the money in marketing, they will ask you about the type of marketing you are aiming for, the return you expect and the costs of customer acquisition. How can you answer all those questions if you do not have a business plan?

3.      Your Marketing Will Go Awry

One of the damages of not having a business plan is your marketing plans going awry. Entrepreneurs have more power to them today than they ever had before. These days, startup owners have internet where they can collect information about their customers in the startup stages. Collecting customer information helps them create buyer personas and target their audience with appropriate marketing. Here are some pieces of information you will have to collect.

  • What age group and gender my product appeals best to?
  • What interests my target age group and gender?
  • What platforms is my target audience most active on?
  • What is the average buying power of my target audience?
  • What type of content best attracts my target audience?
  • What expectations do my potential customers have with my product?
  • How can I personalize my marketing to my audience?

That’s just few of the many questions that you have to get the answers for to make your marketing endeavors profitable. However, all of this homework is a part of your business plan.

4.      Your Team Won’t Share Your Vision

It is crucial for a business’ success to have a team that shares the same vision and endeavors to achieve it. Several studies and researches have proven that employees do not perform at their best when they don’t understand the vision well. You must define clear and vivid targets to your employees for them to know exactly what they have to do to be of value for the company. What you have to realize is that telling your team the vision of the business is not enough. It is a broad concept and does not define the action plan to your employees.

What you have to do is break the process of achieving your vision into small parts. These small parts are the milestones and within each milestone the role of your team is clearly defined. In short, break the entire pursuit of vision into small missions, and explain the role of every team member to achieve a milestone.

5.      You Won’t Know When to Exit

One of the biggest mistakes most startup owners and entrepreneurs make is that they don’t know when to exit. If you can close down your business before it starts hurting you financially, that’s a form of success. The true failure is when you cannot realize that your business is hurting you and you keep burning dollars for its success. An integral part of a business plan is defining favorable and unfavorable conditions for the business to exist.

In a business, you have to define a deadline before which you must see positive results. You have to define a time frame within which you can continue to invest in your business. However, you have to draw a line to make it clear when you cannot continue anymore. If you have been running your business for six months and the money has been going out of your pocket, it might be an indicator that it won’t work for you.

Conclusion

A business plan should be considered a part and parcel of a venture. It is not an optional component because your success rests on it. If you are looking forward to starting your business, it is advisable that you sit down and take time to write and review your business plan. If that is too much for you, hire a professional to write it for you.

 

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The Right Way to Arrange and Manage Small Business Funds

Managing funds

The sustenance and growth of a business depends on how well it manages the funds available to it. The first step is to arrange the right funding based on a proper business plan. As a business owner, you don’t want to end up getting more funds than you need because you will then overly spend the money and end up with debt that’s hard to pay off.

The second step is to manage the funds properly and invest them for short-term and long-term benefits both. The biggest challenge for most new businessmen and entrepreneurs is capital. They either don’t know how to raise the money and fund their business, or mismanage the funds they have available.

Raising Funds for a Small Business

Looking at how easy it has become to arrange funds for businesses today, there aren’t many excuses left for entrepreneurs as to why they were not able to start their business. The first thing you want to keep in mind when raising funds for your business is to avoid accumulating too much debt. Avoid any kind of debt if it is possible. If you have saved some money from the jobs you have been doing, use that money to fund your business. If your parents or someone in your family is willing to fund your business, do not be hesitant to accept their help.

Among many good options to arrange funds for your small or starting business you have microloans. Microloans, as the name clarifies, are small loans. Since the amount is not that big, it is easy for the borrower to return this money. In most cases, microloans will not be more than $50,000. The good thing about such loans is that they are easy to obtain even if you don’t have the best of credit score. In many cases, you will get the loan amount credited into your bank account within two weeks after applying. However, the biggest drawback of microloans is that they have a huge interest rate associated with them.

Another way you can avoid burying your business under debt and still receive enough capital to fund the business is by having a partner on board. Rather than starting a sole proprietorship, you should consider making a partner. Making partners is easier when you already have a running business, even if it is a small one. The partner will come with their personal investment and help you fund your business. In fact, you could have a partner on board without offering any investment yourself. You can agree to be the service provider and allocate the partner to fund the business monetarily.

Managing Funds of a Small Business

Once you have arranged the funds for your business, it is time you get a grip on how you will spend that money. The most sensible thing to do here is to ask for investments only after you have created a business plan which clearly states how you will be spending the investment money. You don’t want to spend the invested funds randomly. Here is how you should manage your funds.

  • Separate Business and Personal Account

The first sign of your seriousness with your business is you separating your personal account from your business account. If you have use your personal account for your business as well, you will never know how much money you made from the business, how much you spent back on the business and how much you spent on your personal needs.

  • Be Cost Cutting

You don’t make a business successful by just increasing its revenue. The true art is to reduce the costs of running your business. Work on your B2B connections to partner with entities that can help you reduce the costs of manufacturing and production. Pinpoint the marketing campaigns that produce converting customers and stop spending money on campaigns that only bring in traffic but contribute nothing to conversions. Investors think the money you spend on your operations is money wasted. You want to spend money on productive processes. On the cost cutting side, you should use energy-efficient appliances, all-in-one office equipment, virtual office space, etc.

  • Hire Professionals

Sometimes, you have to spend more to save more. In some areas, it is the professionals who can help you the most. For example, when it comes to tax filing and the calculation of your tax deductions you want to have a professional on your side. Professional accountants can help you reduce your taxable income by working on your business expenses and figuring out any deductions and exemptions that your business qualifies for.

  • Create Cash Reserve

While you are managing your funds and running your business successfully, you want to put some money in cash reserves as well. It will be hard for you to manage a cash reserve amount if you are already making thin profits but the long term benefits of this sacrifice are huge. Your cash reserve saves you from obtaining loans and hence getting buried underneath debt.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that having a lot of money in your bank account does not guarantee a successful business. It does not matter how much money you have, a business owner who does not manage his/her finances properly will end up burning even millions of dollars without making a dime in profits. Use the options you have available today for funding the business. Do not think they will not work for you before you even try them.

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

What Makes up a Perfect Business Plan

Doing business plan

Whether you have a small business or a large one, you have to have a business plan in order to set a path for it. A business plan is more like a manual or guide that lists your goals in an order, and how and when you will achieve them. It is even better to have a plan B if things do not work out the way you expect them to. But an important question you should ask yourself is “what makes up a perfect business plan?” What are the important factors that you have to take into consideration to create the perfect business plan?

Of course, you can’t make a plan randomly because business matters are a game of numbers—you have to be precise and accurate.

Describing Business and Writing a Summary

The first and foremost part of any business plan is the executive summary. It is a summary of what’s included in your business plan. You have to keep in mind the word “summary” i.e. you are supposed to summarize everything. You will face two challenges when you do that. First, you will have to find the most selling and appealing parts of your reports to grab the attention of the readers of your business plan instantly. Secondly, you have to find a way to shorten all the descriptions. Bear in mind that the details are in the plan itself, so you have to efficiently summarize all the points.

Furthermore, you have to explain the industry and your business. At this point, you want to talk about what industry your business serves, what the industry looks like and how much potential of growth your business (and the industry) has in the future.

Market and Competitor Analysis

At this point, you will have to put in some work to gather the details that will fill this section of your business plan. You have to know the market that you are about to target. For this, you will have to analyze the market and the sub-markets within it. By doing this, you are trying to paint a clear picture of your target audience. Without this type of analysis, you could end up selling the right product to the wrong people, which means your business will not survive. As you are describing your target audience and how you will approach them in the most effective way possible, you will have to do some analysis of your competitors.

It is just another level of market analysis. You want to get a good idea of what your competitors are doing to run their similar businesses and how much they are succeeding with their strategies. You should also pinpoint their weaknesses and why certain strategies are not working. When you have a business with many competitors, your investors will always ask you several questions about your competitors. They do this not only to know how knowledgeable you are about your target market but also to figure out if what you are about to do is going to work at all.

Development and Design

This is the section where you will define not only the design of the product but how the development takes place. Are you creating the product in your garage or do you have manufacturing plant working for you? How do you get the materials for creating the product? Are you producing your product within the country or outsourcing the production? In case of either of the options, you will have to explain why you have chosen that path. Investors will also ask you how much it costs you to design your product and make it available on the shelf.

What they don’t want you to do is pay more for the production and design of your product than you should. If there are other options available but you are sticking to the expensive ones, it will show them either the stubborn side of your personality or the less knowledgeable.

Costs of Operation and Management Planning

The ongoing processes of the business are the most important ones to pay attention to. How have you planned to take care of the daily matters? How have you assigned the roles and why have you assigned them to certain individuals? At this stage, you also have to talk about the costs of operations. You have to keep your costs realistic and justify that what you intend to spend is not an excessive by any means. In the costs of operations, you will also have to have an estimate of how much you will be spending in salaries. You can include this particular piece of information under the financial planning section as well.

Financial Planning

In this section you have to describe how you intend to finance the business. Are you using your own money to start the business or have you borrowed it from a family member? What kind of debts are there on your business. Debt is deadly for a business, so you want to have a very strong plan on how you will handle the initial debt when starting the business. You also have to show your management of the financial resources and knowledge to prove that any loans that you are taking for the business will be paid off in time and with ease.

If you have given a detail of various loans that you intend to use for your business, you will also have to state how you will use the money. Your usage of the money should be precise. At no point should the investors get a hint that you are going to use the money for something personal or something that will not benefit your business in any way.

Conclusion

Last but not least, make projections a part of your business plan as well. You will need to ready balance sheets and income statements for the coming years. It is imperative to know here that business plans are just assumptions, not facts. You should always expect things to go a bit away from how you planned them. However, such minor setbacks should not stop you from going forward and turning your small business into a large one.

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

Setting Up A Small Business in 2018 – It’s Not all About How Much Money You Have

When you think of starting a business, the first thing that comes to mind is money/capital. Of course, you need money to start a business, even if it is very little considering the fact how easy it is to start a business in the digital age. However, there could be many other factors that affect a business in today’s digital economy—some you show serious concern to and some you don’t really pay attention to much.

Blockchain Is Affecting All Types of Businesses

One of the biggest concerns for today’s entrepreneurs before they start business is probably blockchain or crypto technology. The world is seeing the rise of crypto technology and how it is being integrated into the existing business ideas. A little more than a couple of years ago, you must have heard the term “bitcoin”. From bitcoin, people still believe that blockchain is all about digital currency i.e. money in the digital world. However, this is far from truth. Blockchain is expected to affect all types of businesses and industries in the world in the coming days.

It is a technology that redefines the security aspect of many businesses in 2018, introduced decentralization in modern business technologies and benefits the end consumers in multiple ways. For example, you could launch a gaming platform where no one needs the existing currencies. You could launch your own platform with your own money today. You don’t really have to start everything from the scratch; instead you could base your currency on the existing blockchain platforms like Ethereum. Through ICOs, you could have investors from around the world invest in your idea. So, blockchain is definitely a consideration for all businesses starting in 2018 and the coming years.

Physical Warehouses Are Not Necessary

A few years ago, only a certain types of business could be called truly online businesses. For businesses where products have to be stored for some time, a complete online presence was not the solution. Entrepreneurs who had such business ideas in mind had to have enough money to have their own warehouses. However, this has also changed quite a bit in the past couple of years. With the idea of drop shipping becoming common with time, it is becoming easier for businessmen to start their own businesses without much investment.

In a drop shipping model, all you have to do is collect orders from customers, forward those orders to the manufacturers or suppliers and have the goods shipped. You only act as a liaison in this particular model because it is the supplier that sends the products directly at the customers’ doorsteps. You will still need an online store with all the products listed for customers to see. However, you don’t need any warehouses because you don’t have to own, buy or store any products. The good thing is that this model now allows drop shippers to offer much more competitive rates so penetrating into the market is easier for them.

Big Data Is the Big Difference

Another technology that has been influencing business decisions and the way businesses operate is big data. While the term “big data” seems that you are referring to just large amounts of data but in reality, you are also referring to the methodologies and technologies that are in use to handle big data. You will be completely wrong to think that traditional software and hardware solutions can deal with big data in any way. Let’s take the example of a bank. A bank could have hundreds of branches located all around the country. In these hundreds of branches, the bank will have hundreds of thousands of customers.

The bank has account information of hundreds of thousands of these customers. In addition to that, the bank is constantly investing in stock and foreign markets, storing and utilizing that information. The same bank handles the data of all micro and macro loans it is forwarding to its customers. It is also storing information about customers through its mobile application to know what customers expect from the mobile website. On all of those hundreds of branches, the bank also has CCTV cameras collecting terabytes of footage on a daily basis.

Do you think all this data goes to waste? No, the data bank collected from banks is utilized in making bank branches securer. Data from mobile devices helps bank refine their mobile application. Data collected through financial softwares helps a bank improve its insurance, loan, mortgage, etc. offerings. It may seem on the surface that big data is a headache for big businesses only, but big data is just as important for small businesses as well. What this mean is that businesses starting in 2018 will have to have a big data approach right from day one.

Internet Security Is the Biggest Threat Now

It is unfortunate that rather than making the world a safer place, the new technology has led to greater internet threats. Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent with time, and much more sophisticated too. In the past few years, cyber attacks on some of the biggest companies of the world, including tech companies have proved that security has to be the major concern for every business—small, mid-scale or large. If you think starting a new business or having a small business gives you any advantage over large ones, here is something you would want to take a look at.

 

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at Funded.com If you need to access our network of angel investors or a business plan for start-up funding visit Funded.com

All the Reasons Why Mixing Small Business with Personal Banking Isn’t a Great Idea

When starting a new business, you face hundreds of new challenges – many of which you have already assessed and many that you couldn’t have imagined. Once you have made up your mind to start your business, you need to set some rules. While there are many, today’s topic is mixing personal banking with business finances. A great number of new and small business owners make the mistake of mixing their finances with business finances. Here are the reasons why you should not do this when you start your business.

Reasons Why You Should Not Mix Personal Banking and Business

 

  •       To Make Loans Easier

If you want to make it easier for you to obtain loans, you would want to keep your bank account separate from your business account. The first rule one has to learn as a business owner is “business has its own identity.” Keeping that in mind, you have to open a separate account for your business. With time, your business will create its credit history making it much easier for you to obtain loans in future.

  •     To Know Business Expenses

When you have your personal and business account all mixed up, you don’t know which expenses are which. If you need to buy a new wristwatch for yourself, the money comes out of that account. If you have to buy new furniture for your business, the money still comes out of the same account. As the time passes, it will become nearly impossible for you to sift and sort through your expenses and business expenses. To know your business’ profit, you need to know its expenses.

  •       To Make Tax Filing Easy

Tax filing can become a nightmare for you with your personal and business income and expenses are intertwined. By mixing the two accounts, you are making the job difficult for yourself. As for the sole owners of a small business, it is best to put some percentage of your income in a separate account, so you don’t have to pay the taxes from your pocket at the end of the year.

  •      To Keep It Professional

So, you want your business to turn into a brand. You have had your visiting cards, letterheads, brochures, etc. printed. You want people to know the name of your business. Having done that, how does it feel when your customers and clients have to write a check in your name and your business’? People might think that you are not serious about your business and that you might change your mind at any time, which is a lost opportunity for long-term B2B relations.

  •       To Keep It Transparent

When the money from your earnings and business go on the same account, you will not distinguish between both when it comes to spending. At times, you might be making up for business losses from your pocket, and at other times, you will be buying your stuff from business money.

Bottom Line

For the reasons above and many others, it is in your best interest that you open a separate account for your business and keep your savings personal. You could also close doors for future incoming investments due to this basic non-professional move.

 

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at Funded.com. If you need to access our network of angel investors or a business plan for start-up funding visit  Funded.com