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Advice For Launching Your First Business

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Launching a Business|Advice For Launching Your First BusinessPlanning on launching your first business? This is an exciting time, and you will be keen to get started, but running a company is no easy task, and there are a lot of areas that need careful consideration. You hear of many businesses going belly up before they’ve even had a chance to succeed, so it is understandable if you have some anxiety about launching your company. Read on for a few tips which should help you to avoid common mistakes, hit the ground running, and build a platform for you to go on and find success with your first business venture.

Carry Out Thorough Market Research

Before you get the ball rolling, you need to make sure that it is a viable business option. It might be an idea that you are interested in, but it needs to be something that is in-demand which you can find out with market research. Look at the current state of the market, who your competitors are, who your target customer is, if there are any gaps in the market, and if there is the potential for success.

Create A Plan & Get Sufficient Funding

You can then use your market research to create a detailed business plan which will detail your understanding of the market, your USP, a business model, and financial projections. The business plan can act as a guideline for your company, but it can also be used to secure funding. You need to make sure that you acquire sufficient funding so that you can get the operation running up to a high standard. There are many options for acquiring funds, including venture capitalists, loans, angel investors, and crowdfunding.

Build A Brand

Your brand is how you differentiate yourself from the competition, and it should always be eye-catching, stylish, and relevant to your industry and target customer. It should also be a reflection of your brand personality and values. This will include a company name, logo, and slogan but also your approach to business. You will then need to register the business and secure a domain name for the website.

Online Presence

Leading on from this, you then need to create a strong online presence as this is vital in today’s day and age. This will include an attractive, functional, and valuable company website and being active across social media channels.

Legal Support

It can be daunting when you start a company for the first time as you will want to make sure that everything is legal and above board. It is a good idea to find a lawyer that specializes in business law, such as charlestonlaw.net. In addition to helping you to get up and running from a legal standpoint, they will also be able to help with any legal difficulties that you encounter at any time.

Starting your first company is an exhilarating experience, and you are sure to enjoy many aspects of the process, but it can also be stressful, and many new entrepreneurs make the same mistakes. The above tips should help you to avoid common pitfalls and provide you with a solid foundation to go on and find success.

5 Challenges of Starting a New Business From a First Time Business Owner

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article | Entrepreneurship | 5 Challenges of Starting a  New Business From a First Time Business OwnerYou might have heard the stereotype that millennials don’t know how to work hard, how to pound the pavement, how to put in the blood, sweat and tears it takes to build a business from the ground up but, I am here to smash that stereotype into smithereens.

I’m 23 years old and started my business when I was just 21. Usit (www.usit.care) was an idea that I had that babysitting could be done better. It could be done wiser. It could be done with more benefit to the worker bee and the worker bee hirer. Still in college with a full load of classes, I certainly made my share of embarrassing mistakes, but I lived to tell about them and I think the mistakes made me stronger and even more determined. I am going to use the word “Challenge” instead of “Mistake” as a necessary euphemism because mistakes conjure up negative emotions while “challenges” are something to overcome and persevere through- which I did and I still do as I work to expand my business into a small empire!

Here are 5 challenges I faced and some essential ways to mitigate those challenges so you don’t become discouraged while on your path to building your own business.

1. Find the right team

You’ve heard it said you are the company you keep – and it’s true. Aim high here. Finding the right Co-Founder or partner(s) in your startup journey is a difficult one, especially in the beginning, but even if it delays your launch, don’t settle here. Don’t go straight to your friend, family member, or roommate. Go to someone who has a complementary skill set (it doesn’t help if you are both good at the exact same things,) someone who is as passionate as you about the business, and someone who loses as much sleep about the business as you do. Find someone reliable, someone with a similar work ethic, someone with the same ‘failure is not an option’ mantra.

2. Finding advisors and mentors

Again, you are the company you keep. Seek out smart, successful people with proven track record. I wouldn’t be where I am now without a supportive startup community, mentors and advisors, and other founders. Get advisors who understand the startup world because they’ve lived it already. You don’t have take everything they say as a blueprint for what you must do – each business is different, but let their ideas be springboard for your own.

No one knows your business better than you do. I go to my advisors when I’m conflicted with business decisions, fundraising questions, pitch help, or general advice. They are important nutrition to the over health health of your business so find the right ones who have different skill sets and experience. You’ve heard it said “Diversify” in your financial investments. The same is true when assembling your team. “Diversify.” Find people with different superpowers. Find a person who excels at sales, find a whiz marketer, find a tough-as-nails lawyer to advise you on all things legal. You get the idea.

3. Keeping your team motivated during tough times

To hit the peaks, you’ll be in your fair share of valleys. What goes up, must come down. You can’t defy the laws of gravity so know there will be tough times. Staff can smell fear a mile away. Never give off that sense of concern even if you feel it on the inside. It’s up to the Founder to rally the troops and keep the team motivated and positive. If you’re freaked out, the team will be freaked out and success never flourishes in fear.

4. Working with limited resources

It pretty much goes without saying that when starting a new business, you are working with limited resources. “Money does not grow on trees.” But there are big decisions to make about when to fundraise, how to fundraise, the how and when of green lighting big expenditures that require an investment. Talking to mentors and advisors to decide when the right time is to tackle those big questions is essential in maintaining a healthy bottom line.

5. Rejection

Take a “No” or a closed door in your face as a personal challenge. No great companies were built without rejection. No actor gets every part he/she auditions for. No singer got a record deal without hearing some naysasyer along the way. You’ll face a lot of “No thanks, Not Nows, Not Evers,” but rest in the knowledge that it’s just part of the process. That said, don’t discount every bit of criticism you receive. Constructive criticism may well be your best asset. Follow your gut, and dust yourself off every time you’re thrown onto the ground from the bucking horse that is the startup world.

Good luck! I am rooting for you!


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Ifrah KhanIfrah Khan is the Founder and CEO of Usit, the last minute babysitting app that connects busy parents to vetted college student babysitters in their community. Ifrah was named one of Atlanta Inno’s 25 under 25 entrepreneurs in 2018 and has a passion for how technology can help create new communities and opportunities in dual sided marketplaces. She just completed Atlanta Tech Village’s Pre-Accelerator and is focusing on disrupting the babysitting industry by turning what used to be a huge pain in the butt for both parents and sitters into an easy and exciting process. Ifrah supports and brings together other young entrepreneurs with her position as a Kairos Society Executive with a mission of focusing the next generation on problems worth solving. She graduated from Emory University’s undergraduate business school in 2017 and previously worked in Finance at Accenture. Although she’s not a mom, she is passionate about helping mothers and children in need which is why she serves on the board of Helping Mamas, a fast growing local Atlanta non-profit aimed to help moms and children in need.   https://www.usit.care/

Is Taking a Small Business Loan Worth It?

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Small Business Financing| Is Taking a Small Business Loan Worth ItThe word ‘loan’ doesn’t have a nice ring to it in any sense. Whenever we talk and hear about loans, it usually points towards difficult times and thorny situations. However, business loans can’t be seen through a singular point of view. One has to apply context to commercial loans because oftentimes they are actually tied with business opportunities.

Whenever any entrepreneur starts mulling over the idea of taking a small business loan, he/she has to deal with a wide range of different opinions and suggestions. Some people strongly advocate against loans. By sharing gloomy and sometimes scary anecdotes, they try their best to deter a person from taking business loans.

Then there are people who act as the cheerleaders of loan companies. They only know the benefits of business loans and how they have turned around the fate of many ventures. Lastly, there is a group that takes a cautionary approach. They give an objective overview of taking business loans.

We will recommend you to listen to the last group. It is important to get a precautious take when you are thinking about getting a small business loan i.e. factor in all the upsides and downsides before making the final decision.
Here, we are going to discuss the instances when business loans can be beneficial or detrimental. Go through them and make a decision that suits best your unique business needs.

Instances When It’s Profitable to Take a Business Loan

There are certainly many valid reasons where getting a loan actually helps in growing the business further. Let’s look at all such instances.

Physical Expansion Becomes Imminent

When you don’t have any further space to set up any new cubicle or when you have don’t enough area to accommodate all your customers— these instances actually indicate two things:

  • Your business is booming
  • You need more physical space

However, experiencing business growth doesn’t mean you have enough capital to take on physical expansion. We all know that the commercial real estate market always remains bullish and it’s not easy to get the required space at the desired location with your existing purchasing power.

In such cases, where a business is growing and requires more physical space for streamlined commercials operations, it is better to go for business loans. Persisting with the same congested business premises amid continuous business growth can prove to be counterproductive. You will certainly pay back the loaned money in a few months or years. However, the business growth that you are going to accommodate through physical expansion will pay you dividends for decades.

For Better Credit Prospects

If you have the vision to turn your SME into a large-scale commercial operation, then you are definitely aware of the line of credits and how important they are for the sustenance of big companies. However, it should be kept in mind that financial institutions don’t just dole out lines of credit to everyone.

A business with no lending and credit history can’t apply for a line of credit. There should be an impressive credit record to your business’s name. This can be built by taking smaller business loans and then making on-time regular payments. Besides building a good credit profile, taking small business loans on a regular basis also ensures that you don’t find yourself in a capital drought at any given moment.

Lastly, constantly working through smaller loans also results in building a good affiliation with any specific lender or lending company. This again helps when you apply for bigger loans and line of credits.

For Buying Equipment and Inventory

It’s a no brainer to file for a small business loan when you have to get any equipment or any other business inventory. These tangible items run your business and you can’t ignore them just because you don’t have the required capital at the moment. Let’s try to understand the profitability of a business loan in this context through an example.

Let’s suppose that you need two workstations worth $2,000 for a project that can bring in $3,000 in profits. But at the moment, you don’t have enough money to allocate $2,000 for this purchase. So, what you should do? Pass on the opportunity or take a small business loan to get the required equipment? We would recommend you to go to the latter option.

In the above-mentioned example, even securing a loan on a high interest rate (e.g. 25%) will generate a profit of $500. Moreover, the addition of two workstations to your business assets is a permanent gain that you are going to get. In short, it’s a win-win situation. This is the reason why taking loans for primary equipment and inventory rarely go wrong.

Instances When It’s Risky to Take a Business Loan

There are some instances where you should give a second thought on taking business loans.

If Cash Inflow Is Already Really Thin

Going in debt when your cash inflow is already flickering might not be a good option. Making debt repayments is not easy when you have very limited cash to play with. Any aggravated scenario can also lead to collateral, which is the worst possible thing that can happen to your business. In any tricky situation, it is better to first consult business loan experts. The advice of experts working at this company can come in really handy when you are in two minds regarding applying for a loan amid receding cash inflow.

With a Low Credit Score

For whatever reason, if your business now stands with low credit score, this it might not be a good idea to make things by acquiring a high-interest loan. Low credit score makes it less lucrative for lenders to offer loan offers. So, they compensate for it by increasing the interest rate. Before applying for a small business loan, it would be better if you first work on your business reputation and credit score.

The above discussion makes it clear that applying for small business loans for the right reasons pay dividends. Moreover, it is important to have good business reputations if you are going to incorporate borrowing in your business model.

Working Out Your New Business on a Shoestring Budget

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Starting a New Business| Working Out Your New Business on a Shoestring BudgetThe internet has streamlined everything in our life—this is a clichéd statement that gets repeated in what we read, hear and see. We often quote this statement ourselves. However, is it absolutely true? For instance, many people believe that starting out a new business is as difficult as it was, say, 20 years ago. They maintain that working out on a shoestring budget is still a tricky rope to tread no matter if you are online or offline.

We can’t deny that steering through the formative phase of a business with limited monetary resources is no mean feat irrespective of the day and age. However, it is also true that the internet helps in any such endeavor. Even if doesn’t ease it out completely, it surely reduces the difficulty level of starting out a business from scratch and on a shoestring budget.

In this article, we are going to discuss how one can work out their business dream with limited resources and how the internet can come in handy in this regard.

Making and Pitching Business Plan Online

If you are on to capital collection for your startup, then you definitely need to create a business plan to reach out to investors. Taking a conventional route with the creation and pitching a business plan is itself a costly affair. You might have to hire a specialist to make you a business plan. After that, you have to bring that plan to the tables of people that matter. It’s obvious that this approach needs both your time and money.

You can do both planning and pitching online without spending a buck. And if you don’t sure about the free business templates, you can get fully professional business plan services at a minimal cost. Similarly, you can pitch your idea through the internet. The business plans you will find on the internet are so self-explanatory that the investors will know if they need to call you to have a one-on-one meeting.

In short, you can save a considerable amount of resources on making and proposing your business plan if you are using the internet rightly.

Start out as an LLC

There are different business categories in the legal framework that are assigned to every new business. We would recommend you to choose the LLC (Limited Liability Company) categorization for your business. To begin with, being LLC is the most advantageous option for any new and small business from many legal and operational aspects.

Moreover, you don’t need to allocate a big chunk of money to complete the registration of your business as an LLC. You can do it yourself online without spending more than $100 dollars for registering anywhere in the US. Lastly, you don’t need any legal aid while filing the online LLC forms, which means you are saving yet another cost.

Even if you have the dream to make your business a C-corporation, we would suggest you start out as LLC. You can shift to your preferred classification anytime you want. Forming LLC will not just save you cost, but it also involves fewer risks.

Secure Intellectual Property

Today, when startups are mushrooming at a very quick rate, it has become really important for any new entrepreneur to secure its intellectual property at the earliest. Amidst all the informational proliferation all the time, you can’t keep your business plan and trademark under the cover for long. It’s also possible that someone else will come up with the same plan as you and have it formally patented while you are still mulling over it.

In short, the better business sense suggests that one should register their intellectual property at the onset. If you don’t have enough money at the start to hire costly experts to do this on your behalf, don’t just sleep on it for any other time. The US Patent and Trademark Office now offers its services online. From trademarks to patents and copyrights, you can register every piece of intellectual property online for a few hundred bucks.

Arrangement of Office Space

No matter how virtualized our lifestyle gets, we still need to operate through physical spaces. Even if you are planning on to start out an online business, you will need to have some physical space to operate from. Getting a full-fledged office in commercial zones seems like an insurmountable task when you don’t have enough money to work with.

One way to steer out of this tricky spot is to go for virtual office space services where you and your team can remotely work without needing any physical space or desk. However, this idea can’t work for all business plans, particularly not for the ones where you have to meet clients in person and call meetings. In such cases, the need for physical office spaces becomes inevitable. The internet can also come in handy to find physical office spaces.

There are entrepreneur outreach programs and incubators that offer physical office spaces, conference rooms and other business amenities at the fraction of the price of the main real estate market. You can start your journey to find office space from here.

Make the Most of Cloud Computing and Pay-as-you-go Software Subscriptions

This is where the internet helps budding businesses like a guardian. With Google providing so much free online storage and Amazon providing web services at exceedingly marked down prices, you don’t need to invest heavily on you digital and software infrastructure initially.

Make the Most of Social Media

This is another domain where the internet provides some unmatched benefits. For instance, you can save the entire cost of your marketing if you are using social media the way it should be. With search engine optimized curation of content for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can reach out to your target market without spending a single cent.
Obviously, not every business plan can execute in the same manner. It has its own peculiarities. Nevertheless, the points that we have discussed here will surely help in working on any business idea with strained budgets.

4 Tips Every New Business Owner Needs To Know

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Starting a Business| 4 Tips Every New Business Owner Needs To KnowStarting a new business is an exciting yet challenging experience. You may be an expert in your chosen field, but there are so many other aspects that require attention to detail. These aspects often take up a lot of time and can feel overwhelming for new business owners. It’s not just providing a product or service that matters, but also the everyday running of the business to keep a steady and consistent cash flow coming in.

To help you steer clear of the small mistakes entrepreneurs often make, check out some of these top tips that should take on board for a successful first year.

Be prepared for hard graft

Unless you’ve been extremely lucky, every new business will take time and hard graft to get it going. Getting your name out there and attracting the right customers can be challenging so it’s helpful to remember that unless you put the hours in, you won’t be moving very fast. In the first stages of business, a lot of your time may be taken up with mundane things such as administration, but as you build your team, it will start to get easier. However, that doesn’t mean you can totally let go of the reigns, as you need to spearhead the charge to ensure a fluid and successful first year trading.

Surround yourself with honest and hardworking people

Employing people can be one of the most challenging aspects of a business. Plus, it is often the most costly. That’s why it’s crucial to get it right. Create an excellent package for potential employees and start screening people that fit the bill. You may be unlucky, and some bad eggs may slip through the net. But if you focus on obtaining people with the right qualities and work ethic, you will reap the rewards of a strong and focused team to help you drive the business forward.

Be patient

They say patience is a virtue. However, it can be one of the top things new business owners forget to have. Nothing good ever comes easy so be prepared to play the long game. If you have a solid business plan and have set your business up with effective processes, you will soon start to reap the rewards.

Hire qualified professionals

Many new business owners think they can take on anything. But when it comes to the legal stuff, it is always advisable to seek the assistance of professionals. Everything from tax, finances, and regulations should be left to people in the know. Plus, there are tons of experts including professionals such as Geoffrey C. Dietrich who handle a number of complex transactions for companies. Search for recommendations in your local area or in the broader field, and you can get a host of trusted services that will take your business from strength to strength.

By thinking about these simple yet useful tips when beginning your journey, you will ensure your business starts off on the right foot and continues to flourish in your chosen niche.