Why It Is Not Advisable to Not Have a Business Plan

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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A Successful Online Business – How to Start One

Online Business

When it comes to the topic of starting a new online business, most entrepreneurs think that trial and error is the way to go but this isn’t so.  A number of experienced business people can give you details as to what went right during their venture into the world of startups, and what went horribly wrong. Based on these assessments, there are certain combinations of practices that, if done right, can result in starting a successful business. Here’s what most online business owners swear by.

Analyzing the Market

Nowadays, the market is somewhat similar across the world so it doesn’t take much time for a certain need to go global. That’s why you’ll need to look into your market for shortages before you can think of a product and assess whether it has an unfulfilled demand in the market. Scour the internet to find answers to your questions.

Have a look at common online forums like Quora and Reddit for people’s questions about the availability of a certain service and product to solve a particular problem. Look for keywords that have a high number of queries but much fewer valuable results. This will be an indication of a market that doesn’t have enough solutions.

Of course, you will have a few competitors in the field so it’s best to examine their marketing strategies and products before you start working on your own versions. This will help you create something innovative that adds more value for the consumer.

Post Good Content

Are you worried about how you’ll convince customers through an online sales call? Here’s what you need to explain so they go through with the entire process, up until the final purchase.

  • Give headings that pique consumer interest
  • Address the problem that your brand can solve
  • Ensure your reliability by giving details of your experience and the people on your team
  • Provide testimonials of happy customers
  • Make a good offer
  • Provide them with a guarantee so they feel reassured
  • Make it a matter of urgency so they can’t refuse
  • Make the sale

While walking your customer through the website, make sure that you’re focusing on their need and how you’re helping them.

Deliver a Proper Website

For a business that operates solely online, a website serves as a headquarters and you sure as heck can’t compromise on the quality of yours. Take it from online selling pros, most retail brands keep their websites fairly simple; they know that they have less than 15 seconds to capture consumer attention, which means a smaller business like your has less than 10. So remember:

  • No funky colors or fonts; clear, dark fonts on white works well enough
  • Make it simple to navigate to and from pages
  • Grasp consumer attention on every page with interesting images and videos
  • Collect e-mail addresses from visiting traffic to give updates on sales
  • Shorten the number of clicks it takes to confirm a transaction; one to add card details and one to confirm
  • Optimize it for mobile devices

Search Engine Help

Operating a business online requires that you be on good terms with the search engines, especially reigning power, Google. Using a PPC (pay per click) scheme to advertise your new business is effective at drawing more traffic towards your website. This will work much quicker than waiting for organic traffic to trickle in.

Advertising through Google AdWords’ Network Display strategies gives the benefit of your brand’s banners being up within a matter of hours. Moreover, utilizing such a system offers the benefit of letting you test how effective other keywords are for driving more traffic.

Once you’ve determined which keywords work best, you can then incorporate them into your advertisements, social media posts and most importantly, your website. This will boost your rankings on SERPs.

Be a Leading Authority in Your Niche

Aside from being your source of income, the internet serves as the population’s largest source of authentic information in a hundred different forms. If you appeal to the people looking for information, and not just those who set out to make a purchase, you end up building traction among a larger group of people.

Hence, lure in information-seekers by giving your expertise-based articles on different websites. You can create other forms of content, such as videos, info graphics, and images that are sure to make an impact on readers who might end up making a purchase later on. On every informative piece, add the option for them to share it with their friends.

Be active on the very platforms where your target audience asks questions relating to your field, and answer them. After all, what’s more, appealing than a CEO who actively answers questions on the internet?

Leverage Email Marketing

When you give visiting traffic the option to submit their email addresses, you get a valuable list of potential customers who have opened the doors to their inboxes for you. Essentially, it indicates that they have developed an interest in your brand, are willing to form a long-term relationship with your brand.

Individuals who visit your website and leave their email address are basically giving you permission to contact them. They are potential customers and email marketing is the best way to follow up with leads.

Enhance Customer Loyalty

Customers look for value wherever they go and that’s what you need to offer. It’s quite possible that over a quarter of people who made a purchase from your website would be willing to do it again if you contact them again with a good deal.

The first sale you make is the most crucial but it’s also expensive. Hence, you’ll need to offer them related items that go well with their purchase and send redeemable coupons to ensure that they return. If you reward them with incentives to buy again, your customers are sure to be loyal to your brand.

Even though the online-world is faced paced and dynamic, it isn’t the case for markets and businesses that are operating through the internet. The basic aspects of starting a profitable online business are still the same as before.

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The Growing Cyber Security Risks for Small Businesses and How to Counter Them

CyberInteractivity and interdependence of devices are increasing with time as the concept of IoT (internet of things) strengthens with time. While IoT pursues maximum convenience for individuals and businesses, it has its associated challenges too. The more intertwined the modern devices become, the higher the risk of cyber security threats will be. Small, medium or large, your exposure to serious internet threats does not depend on the size of your business. If you are a small business, you are exposed to just as many dangers as large enterprises. In fact, the downside for small businesses is that they are not as prepared as large businesses against cyber threats.

So, how are cybersecurity risks are increasing with time and what kind of risks facing small businesses today? Take a look at the many ways cyber threats pose a danger to small businesses.

The Ever-increasing Count of Cyber Security Risks

The BYOD Issue

BYOD (bring your device) is an attribute of IT consumerization. To stay productive and efficient at the same time, more and more companies are allowing their employees to use their own devices to access and use corporate data. An example of this would be a worker using his tablet to open company’s employee-related document repository or an employee accessing work emails from his smartphone. Unless you have strict policies and standards set for your BYOD implementation, your business could be at risk of being infected by malware coming from users’ devices.

Software Update Delays

Do you ever wonder why companies are so adamant at making their users update to the newest software version? This is because of the older versions of the same software, application, plugin, etc. are open to risks of cyber attacks. With small businesses relying on various applications, web applications and plugins for smooth website operations, database works, on-premise security, etc. they have to be extra careful at updating them all. Any non-updated software or application is an open window for internet thieves to jump into your system.

Internal Threats

You have to be extra careful when authorizing access to any of your employees to your network and database. Many of the attacks on big companies in the past have been allegedly perpetrated by “inside men.” Sometimes the threats from your employees are not intentional but rather innocent. The authorized person might have access their account and forgot to log out while leaving the station. Some third person can then take advantage of the situation and cause damage to the system.

Sophisticated Phishing Scams

This is a common issue with small businesses as they don’t have strict protocols for employees to follow before opening emails or social media links. While phishing scam has been around for a time, the new form of this scam is called spear phishing. In this type of attack, the scammer sends email from an address that appears to the receiver as known and acquainted. This fools the person into clicking on the link and letting a dangerous malware (a ransomware at worst) enter the system.

Lack of Cyber Security Knowledge

Sometimes, the problem is not being prepared to face a problem. This is a common case with many small businesses where owners and caretakers are under the impressions that cybercriminals won’t attack them—why would they? They don’t realize the top aspect of cybercriminals, i.e., they don’t believe in discrimination. One of the common indicators of lack of cybersecurity knowledge at a workplace is when employees choose common, easy and predictable passwords for their entry points to the company’s system.

What Small Businesses Have to Do to Counter These Threats

Set Policies with a BYOD Approach

If you want to follow a BYOD approach at your workplace, you better document policies and regulations about it. Make your employees read these manuals carefully, so they know what standards and requirements they have to meet before they bring their own devices into the office. For employees that have to access your system from remote locations, set up a secure VPN.

Gives Employees Cyber Security Training

They won’t know unless you tell them, so make cybersecurity-related training a part of your hiring process. In fact, make internet security related questions a part of your interviews. Tell your employees to log out of their accounts and computers while leaving stations. Ask them to have strong passwords. Facilitate them with applications to not only remember those passwords but also generate random and difficult passwords. Explain to them why such measures matter and what the consequences of not complying with the regulations can be.

Take Professional IT Help

Go for outsourced managed services or hire your own IT professionals to take care of the security-related issues. An outsourced service or the internal IT team will set up a complete system consisting of policies, hardware and software technologies to not only protect your database from cyber threats but also respond in time if you get attacked nonetheless.

Give Authorized Accesses Wisely and Monitor Them

You can give access to sensitive company information and the system to only a select few employees. When you give them access to the system, grant them only the permissions according to their roles. Secondly, have a monitoring system to keep an eye on the activities of these employees. Furthermore, delete the accounts or change the passwords of accounts that are no longer in use because the employees they were created for have left the company.

Choose Third Party Services Wisely

Have proper meetings and consultations before you subscribe to any third party services. To run a business in today’s digital age, you have to subscribe to many platforms or applications as services, e.g., cloud CRM. You want to be sure that you are picking an industry-recognized and reliable partner. They must have the right security measures taken to protect not only their system but every bit of information that goes on their cloud platform from your databases.

Do not forget the security of your website among all this. In addition to your databases, internal software, applications used by employees, etc. you want to update your website plugins and applications in time too.

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Debt Is Not the Death of Your Business

Business Debt

“Debt” and “business” are two words you don’t want to see in the same sentence. Unfortunately, it is not always a smooth ride for every business owner. High hopes can often make business owners get carried away. That’s why experts want you to be realistic with your expectations as a business owner. It does not matter how unique your product is or how differently you have planned to serve your target audience. You cannot expect too much unless you have tested the waters beforehand. Perhaps, you set your hopes too high at some point and dug your way into the debt trap.

Good news is that debt is not the death of your business – at least not always. Some proper planning, persevere attitude, and calculated strategies can help you dig your way out of debt too.

Free up the Money That belongs to You

The first thing you ever want to do is free up the money that belongs to you. Perhaps, you are in a business where credit transactions are common. The problem with this format is that customers can delay your payments more than the specified period quite often. They have received the product, and they have consumed it too. Not clearing your invoices does not really hurt them as much as it hurts you. Consequently, you will have to get in touch with these customers and remind them of the pending invoices.

You can ask these customers to pay you sooner. Set a deadline and ask every customer to pay by that time. It won’t be easy but do not forget that you are fighting for the survival of your business. You can boost your cash flow significantly even if half of the customers agree to pay you on your set deadline.

Boost Your Revenue

This is an area where business owners have an advantage over people who do nine to five jobs. Salaried individuals don’t have any control over their salaries. It is a fixed amount that they will receive at the end of the month. On the other hand, you as a business owner have your revenues under your control. You can decide what your business earns at the end of the month. You can change prices, launch promotions, and cut your costs significantly to increase your revenue and profit.

One of the ways to get your customers’ attention is to launch promotions. However, you have to design your promotions carefully. You don’t want to shrink your profit margins until you know your promotion will increase your customer count considerably. If you have a loyal and repeating customer base, take advantage of that. Increase the prices a little to generate more revenue.

Slash Your Costs

Cost-cutting can be a huge step for a business. You have a hundred different costs that you can cut down. First, talk to the vendors that supply you the materials for your products. Quit the marketing campaigns that are not generating any returns. Reduce your operational costs as well. If possible, ask your workers to work from home to save yourself some money on office space. In fact, you can cut down your computer, internet connection, utility, etc. costs if you can make your employees work from home. Reduce office hours if your calculation tells you that certain hours are not as productive as much as they cost you.

Pay Your Debts First

A common mistake that business owners often make is treating debts as a secondary concern. You might feel tempted to buy more inventory, fulfill some orders, and pay the overhead expenses first, and then worry about your debts. However, this strategy can go against you. You will never be able to pay your debts if you make other business expenses first. The thought of repaying the debt is stressful. You can’t make great decisions when you are stressed. You will see a huge improvement in how you tackle your business related matters once you have paid off your debt.

Consider Consolidation

You can consolidate your loans to make things easier for you. What makes debts scary and stressful for business owners is that there can be many of them. Even if you pay one debt, you then have another to worry about. This format can be mentally devastating for the business. Moreover, you might be paying different interest rates on different debts. Consolidation helps you simplify your debt repayments.

First, it combines all the debts that you have to pay into one. As a result, you have to make just one payment every month that serves as the repayment of all your debts. Secondly, it helps you take advantage of a more affordable interest rate. The fact that you don’t have a bunch of different credits knocking on your door every day can be quite relieving too.

Find a New Partner

You want to take this step only as a last resort. Of course, the sight of seeing your business shut down is more painful than anything else. That’s why you can make a new partner in business by offering some equity rather than letting your business sink to the bottom. You can ask your new partner to finance your business for the chunk of equity you are offering him/her. A crucial consideration here is not to offer too much equity. You don’t want to lose control of your business as a result of this deal. Offer only enough equity that keeps the new partner interested but does not make you lose your control over your company.

Concluding Thoughts

You must not forget that these are only the extreme measures to dig out of debt. The first cure for avoiding debt is care. Make sure you start with a solid business plan wherein you have sorted out your expenses and loans already. Sometimes, venture capitalists are not the best option to fund a business. In that case, you have crowdfunding options available. Using the latter option, you can fund your business amply without necessarily giving up equity too much equity, if any at all.

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Here Is What Small Business Owners Should Know about Angel Investors

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.

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How to Increase Your Work Productivity

Productivity

Have you been complaining about how your day seems spiral out of control? You start your workday feeling a 100 with a goal, plan, and list, but at the end of the day, you are unable to accomplish most of the items on your list. There are days when completing our To-Do list seems beyond reach, and you keep scrambling to achieve deadlines.

Being productive at work can be a difficult task, and the temptation of mobile games, social media, the Internet and the bustle of co-workers doesn’t make things easier.

So, how do we go about becoming more productive at work?

With only so many hours in a day, maximizing this time is critical to productivity. There are two ways you can increase your success output in a day – you either increase the number of hours you work for or you work smart. The second one is the better option.

Being more productive at work shouldn’t be confused with busyness. Productivity means getting effective results in a short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more free time.

Imagine ending your workday with a contented sigh, knowing that you productively achieved everything on your list. In this post, we will walk you through practical and easily applicable strategies for increasing your work productivity.

Stop Multitasking

Taking on a few tasks at once can be quite tempting, especially if some seem easy or small. But it doesn’t work. According to Earl K. Miller, a neuroscience professor, “multitasking is not humanly possible.”

Research also shows that trying to do several things at the same time reduces productivity, and shuffling tasks can cost up to 40% of one’s time. When you have to switch between tasks, your concentration and focus are continuously affected.

Need for reasons to stop multitasking? A study conducted in the University of Sussex in the UK reports that multitasking may be harming your brain physically.

So, stop trying to juggle eating lunch, presentation, and making phone calls. If you focus on completing one task, you will end it faster, giving you more to move on to the next. So, dramatically increase your productivity by prioritizing the tasks you have on your plate and allocating time for each.

Take Regular Breaks

This might sound counter-intuitive. However, taking scheduled breaks will help improve your concentration.

Some research also shows that taking short breaks in between long tasks will ensure that you maintain a constant level of performance. You might have noticed that when you are burned out, you never work as well.

Learn to spend that 15 minutes grabbing coffee mid-afternoon or taking a 5-minute walk around the office. Besides improving your concentration, this will also boost your mood.

Set Small Goals

Have you ever experienced an overwhelming feeling while looking at the big projects you have on your calendar? This happens to even the best of us and isn’t a cause for alarm. If the goals you set for a day are looking complex, you can break them down into smaller tasks.

This will make you feel more in control, keep you on track with your day-to-day activities, and increase your productivity. So, rather than write a project on your to-do list and allocate a deadline, you can try breaking down the project into all the tasks that will go into completing it.

Do the Biggest Tasks When You’re at Your Best

Several people do mental sludge tasks such as reading emails and other routine chores in the morning. Sometimes, we unconsciously push our big goals to the end of the day because we are not confident in our ability to accomplish them.

And by the time we finally get to them, we are too burned out from the day to give them the attention they deserve.

This is wrong; several work productivity experts recommend that you start your day with tasks that are the most creatively demanding, especially if you are a morning person.

However, if you work better at night, this doesn’t apply to you. Tony Wong, a productivity expert, advises that we do our most demanding tasks at times when we feel most productive.

Understand that there is no perfect schedule that is ideal for everyone. Understand how and when you work best to get your big projects done in no time.

Prepare a To-Do List

Each night, create a to-do list for the next day. To-do lists are invaluable aids for productivity. They help you get organized, provide you with pivotal focus, and reward you with feelings of satisfaction when you check things off your list.

What’s more, making a to-do list and updating it each night before going to bed means that you won’t waste time looking for your next tasks at the start of the workday. You can also try to talk through your list with someone else.

The co-founder of Buffer, Leo Wildrich, talks about this technique in “What Multitasking Does to Our Brains,” saying:

“The to-do list I jotted down didn’t change, but it felt as if I had done half the work of it all in my head already. The next day, all I had to do is look at the task and get it done.”

The next question is: how many items are on your ideal to-do list? To become a productivity superstar, you have to stay focused.

And getting that focus involves narrowing down your options (the items on your to-do list). So, as you review your to-do list each night, you have to ask yourself some critical questions:

  1. What are the crucial tasks on this list?
  2. How many of these highlighted (important) tasks can I achieve realistically or make significant progress on tomorrow?

Be Proactive

You need to put yourself on a realistic deadline for your tasks and work towards achieving them. This will help you eliminate distractions.

However, it is also essential that we take note of certain unavoidable disruptions such as a colleague asking for quick assistance or your manager requesting a quick meet. To handle these, you have to know how to deal with interruptions.

Inform your colleagues of your need to focus. On your work chat app, turn your status on as “unavailable/busy.” Let them know of your deadline and need to concentrate. This will significantly minimize your chances of being interrupted.

Bottomline

These strategies discussed above should serve as a solid foundation for you to most out of your time in a short time.

But you should also keep in mind that change does not happen overnight. Start with small steps and be consistent. Consistency is the key. Even if you slip up on any, dust yourself up and try it again.

Cheers to more productive days!

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Business Credit Card vs. Business Loan for Funds

funds

If you have long been looking for business funds, the multiple business financing options must have overwhelmed you. Many entrepreneurs don’t want to involve outside investors to raise capital for their lean startups to avoid entailing risks such as misaligned structure and timeline.

If you are one of them, business credit cards and business loans are some of the readily available options for you. Plus, these financing options are widely accessible for the entrepreneurs who want to self-finance their business.

Regardless of what options you choose, understanding their pros and cons is essential. But before we plunge into the details, let’s quickly split the difference between business credit cards and business loan to help you choose the most appropriate option for your business.

What Is the Difference between Business Credit Card and Business Loans

No doubt, it is one of the common questions that come to mind when it is about funding your startup. Typically, a business loan refers to a lump sum amount you are paid out that you need to pay back in the form of monthly installment over a specified period. A business credit card, on the other hand, is a credit line that allows you access to money or funds to a certain limit on a recurring basis. This credit line, like another credit amount, can be paid off through monthly payments or over any period of your choice unless you meet the credit limit of each month.

Business loans are generally installment debts; however, business credit cards are revolving debts. Although neither of these options hurt your personal credit scores in the long term if you pay them on time, it is worth noting that business credit card has more potential to affect your credit card scores.  If not paid on time, revolving debt may decrease debt to credit ratio.

Moreover, business loans undeniably offer large sums of funds and may have a lower interest rate as compared to business credit cards. However, qualifying for them is nerve-wrecking since the lending process is unnecessarily long and can take months.

Alternatively, business credit cards can offer you immediate access to funds or cash you need to invest in yours.  While their interest rate tends to be higher, you have an option to pay off your full bill each month. Besides this, the best business credit cards provide a slew of other reimbursements such as credit rewards, purchase protections, and perks that can particularly benefit business owners.

Business Credit Card or Business Loan- Which Can You Get Easily?

Having good credit card scores are necessary to qualify for both business credit cards and business loans.   In addition to that, to initiate the funding process, you will be asked to apply, along with the documentation showing your revenues. However, documentation for business loans tends to be more extensive and hectic. Not only this, you may find requirements for business loans stricter in terms of business profitability and length of time.

Overall, qualifying for business loans is more difficult than getting funds through business credit cards. The requirements become even more challenging to meet if your credit scores are low or you are a startup.

Luckily, Small Business Administration offers loans for startups. Although traditional lenders invest in these government-backed loans, guarantees up to 50% percent of the loan to make the process easier.

Business Credit Card or Business Loan- Which Can You Get Easily?

There is no easy answer to the question of whether one should opt for a business credit card or business loans. As mentioned earlier, to choose the best funding option, you need to compare the best features of each alternative.

Features Business Credit
Cards
Business Loans  
Loan amount Up to $50,000 Up to $5million
Loan type Revolving credit line Installment loan
Repayment Monthly payments to the minimum credit limit to pay off a debt to avoid high interest Set payments to be paid monthly over a specified time that can go up to 25 years
Average APR 13 to 20 percent 8 to 10 percent
Eligibility Steady income and personal credit history Good  business revenue model and credit
Approval Time Seven days Weeks or a minimum of six months
Benefits Sign up bonuses, reward programs,  purchase protection, trip insurance Government-backed loans

Business Credit Card or Business Loan: What is the best Option for You?

You have compared the features of both options; it is the right time to decide which works best for you.

Business loans are Ideal for your business if you;

  • Need large sums of funds
  • Want investment for profit-generating projects that include purchasing equipment hiring staff or renting new locations
  • Want to expand an established business that generates revenues up to 100,000

Business Credit Cards are ideal for your business if you

  • are looking for options to separate finances  or sole proprietor
  • Want to use the payment option that comes with big rewards
  • Need to access cash immediately
  • Do not want to borrow money and need a payment option that allows you to pay in a month
  • Want to invest in a project that has 0 percent introductory APR and plans to make payments before its promotional period deadline

Factors to consider while Choosing Business Credit Cards and Business Loans

Your job is not done after you decide which option you want to choose and why.  There are certain factors you need to consider to make a safe choice.

  • Interest Rate–   it is important to choose the option that has a low-interest rate. The interest rate in loans and credit cards are compounding, and you will end up wasting a lot of money if you are not diligent.
  • Other fees–   choosing a business credit card means you will have to pay annual fees, foreign transaction charges, and late payment charges
  • Eligibility– applying for consecutive loans or credit cards may ding your personal credit scores by resulting in the new inquiry.  

Final Thoughts

Overall, both financing options come with their perks and downsides. Given that, it is up to you when it comes to making the decision that meets the requirement of your small business.

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

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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What the Right Team Means for a Business

Business

Just because you have a small business today does not mean it is going to remain small forever. Of course, you have to work to expand your business and turn it into a company that serves a worldwide audience. Whenever it comes to the expansion of a project, the first few things that you mostly think about are costs, taxes, cash flow, etc. What many small business owners often ignore is the right team that is crucial not only during the process of expansion but to keep the business afloat for many years to come.

The Need for a Team

The first thing that one wants to understand is why they need a team in the first place. If you have a small business and you never want to grow it, you might never need a team. However, for any businessman who has the mission of expanding with the passage of time, they need a team. First of all, you cannot act as the one-man-army. As you expand your operations, add more branches to your business and get more clients to work with, you will have to distribute those responsibilities. You can manage some of them with great efficiency, but if you think you can manage them all perfectly, you might be wrong.

You might not have paid attention to this particular piece of detail but when you try to manage everything on your own, you turn your own employees against you. They feel as though you do not trust them with the responsibilities of your business. Furthermore, they don’t see any chances of growth and this is why they do not plan to stay with you for a long time. This reduces the retention rate at your company to a low level.

Not just that, your core team is even more important when you are in a startup stage. When you present your business idea to the potential investors, they will consider several metrics to find out how successful their investments will be with you. One of the indicators for them to identify a successful startup is its core team. If your idea is unique, you have everything else in place, but your team seems to lack confidence or is missing important persons, there is a big chance you will not get any investments.

What to Consider When Building a Team

There are quite a few things that you have to consider when building your core team. Here are some of the most important ones.

  • Be Personally Involved

The first and foremost requirement of building the right team is for you to involve yourself in the process personally. No one knows your business better than you, and the many requirements to run it successfully. You can talk to an individual and know if he/she is the right person for your team. You will have to talk to everyone in person to know how they will fit or not fit. Convince yourself that this is an important process and manage enough time from your schedule to interview the potential candidates.

  • Consider Vision Alignment

When it comes to adding people to your core business team, it will be wrong to focus solely on their qualification and experience. The most important factor to look at is their vision. Do you think they are comfortable with your vision of your business? Do you think they are not just comfortable but also passionate about the same vision? It did not matter how talented, qualified and experienced they are because if their thoughts do not align with yours, they will always remain a misfit. Hiring the person who does not agree with your scope of the business is a huge mistake. Your and their position in the company will be like two people pushing a vehicle from the opposite sides.

  • Look for Leaders

You must realize that you are building a core team for your business; not hiring employees to fill certain positions at the company. Do not think of your team members as tires in a vehicle which you can replace when one goes flat. Every individual you make a part of your team should have leadership qualities—the qualities to lead the team in your absence or the absence of the appointed leader. What’s even more important is that these are the individuals who will act as your right hand. You cannot expect your business to keep on elevating and not experience any hiccups.

It is the people with leadership qualities that help you pull the business out of hard times with their will to lead and the undying attitude.

  • Involve Other Team Members

If you already have a small team, but you are looking for more people, you will have to make the existing members a part of the hiring process. When you do this, it will make them feel like a valuable part of the company. Secondly, it will also show you whether you and your existing partners are on the same page or not. They should also know what type of talent is lacking in the team just like you do. On the flip side, it will also show the potential candidates how unified your approach is. They will know they are becoming a part of a strong team and prepare mentally to fit in.

  • Consider All the Options

You have to wait before you can make the hiring decision just like consumer surveys the market before making a purchase. Some candidate might seem like a perfect fit, but you can’t reach a final decision unless you have talked to all the remaining candidates.

Creating the perfect team is only one step in the right direction. The more important part is to keep the team united and in unison. Do not forget that a melody only sounds good when all the instruments are playing in harmony. So, if you are a startup or a small business, be sure to start delegating responsibilities to the right people and hiring the ones that are missing.

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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.

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