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Asking For Help For Your Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Business Advice|Asking For Help For Your BusinessUnless you’ve gone into business with a partner, friend or relative, then you’re going to be feeling like you’re a little bit alone in your new business. Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, you must ask for help whenever you need it, whether that’s hiring the right people for the work that you need to do within your business. Or whether that’s asking a relative to pick up the kids from school once or twice a week while you can get your work done. You do not want to burn out in your first year of business, so here are some ways in which you can get help, stay ahead of the game, and ensure the best results for you and your business.

Advice

This is likely going to be something that you would’ve thought of before you even start your business, you have no doubt completed your market research, spoken to people in your field, and maybe also completed courses and online training. But once you’ve started the business and you’ve begun to realise where your weaknesses, and strengths are. You can then begin to speak to people to find out about specific help that you can receive for yourself and your business. Don’t forget many people before you would have started businesses and come across all sorts of obstacles. So it makes sense to be able to draw from their advice and their experiences. Not everybody is going to want to help of course, but if you ask around speak to people in Facebook groups, go to networking events, and find people that are happy to help you along the way. You will find you’re in a much better position. No matter where you are in the world, there will always be somebody, either a friend or relative or an organisation that has been set up purely to help new businesses.

Home

You really don’t want to get the balance wrong between your home and work life when you set up your business. It can be easy to become submerged in everything that you need to do to reach your goals. But if you’re working too late or you’re not keeping up with the basic how’s work, then you may need to reassess what you’re doing and when. It doesn’t hurt to hire people to do certain things for you, such as cleaning, or making sure that your shopping is delivered on time. If you’re keeping everything running smoothly, how are you doing that is entirely up to you. There is no shame in asking for help from friends or family on occasion either.

Finance

Asking for a bank loan isn’t just about not having enough money or bad management. Having a cash injection at a certain point in building your business will ensure that you’re able to reach your goals quicker. If you talk to the bank and they give you a low-interest rate then as long as you aren’t paying a tremendous amount of interest, this can be an excellent business decision. It can feel like you’re asking for “help“ however, it is a business transaction like any other. It isn’t difficult, and you can even use websites that compare business loans, and give you all of the information that you need to make the best decision for you and your business. Marketing can cost a lot of money, especially at first, so people do put a large budget towards this, especially when hiring professional services such as a marketing consultant. Depending on your business type, you may even need to hire a consultant for the business side of things such as cannabis consulting nationwide, of course, this goes into your budget as anything else. And you must consider your finances carefully when making such decisions.

Staff

Various different businesses have different needs, but essentially most need a team of people, some companies only need one or two people, and some businesses need a large team even to get the necessary work done. This would have all been in your business plan to start with, but it is essential to make sure that you have the correct people in the correct places. Hiring staff isn’t necessarily asking for help but making sure you have the right people that can help you; it’s going to make your life a lot easier. Training the staff and making sure that they are comfortable and happy in their role will undoubtedly help you in the short and long term. A lot of staff members who feel appreciated and cared for will go over and above and also go out of their way to help you.

Outsourcing

Certain aspects of running a business, will be time-consuming and not always easy for you to get your head around it first, that’s not to say you can’t get them done however it’s still good to outsource certain aspects of the admin. To free you up to do more important things within the role. An accountant is usually the first thing that people choose to outsource, finding a great accountant can be a lifesaver, ask around and find out who people recommend in your local area, and see if they can provide you with excellent bespoke service too!
Other things people tend to outsource our social media management, web design, graphic design, marketing and unless your business is created based then most of the creative side of the company is headed up by someone else.

Once you overcome the initial fear of asking for help and realise it isn’t actually feeling it’s just making sure that you’re able to keep on top of everything, then you will find the help and support comes from various places. Do you want to help people yourself in the past and being able to return the favour is something that most people are keen to do, so let them have the chance to repay you, and don’t see accepting help as any sort of failure. The best business people have a great team of support and are thriving because of it.

A Guide: Taking Your Startup to the Next Level

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Startup|A Guide: Taking Your Startup to the Next LevelYour startup is up and running and performing well in its market — congratulations! Your celebrations must be short-lived, however, as you cannot afford to rest on your laurels in the world of business. You need to resolve to take your company to the next level because, if you don’t, you’ll soon find yourself falling behind your competition.

The world of business moves forward quickly, and you need to move with it. Read on to find out what you need to do to take your startup to the next level.

Save money where you can

You might be good at sealing deals and making money, but are you as good at consolidating the profit that you manage to turnover? Keeping a hold of the cash that you make is just as important as making it in the first place, as more money in the bank equals more security. With this security, you can then set about building a platform that will allow you to take your business to the next level.

Quite simply, you need to become a better saver at all costs. More to the point, you need to constantly be looking for ways to cut your business expenditure. One way to do this is to barter for goods and services whenever it is possible for you to do so. Before cash became the world’s go-to form of currency, bartering was what people did to get the goods and services that they needed. In exchange for whatever it was that they required, they would provide something in return. There’s nothing stopping you from embracing this form of payment, as bartering is not illegal.

By exchanging goods and services for other goods and services, you will find yourself paying out a lot less money. It may mean a bit of extra hard work on your workforce’s part, but that’s what you pay them for!

Make use of the latest technology

You aren’t going to be able to provide a service befitting of today if you aren’t using today’s top tech to provide it. It’s really quite simple: you need to be making full use of all the latest pieces of technology… because you can be sure that your competitors are.

Investing in the right tech is only half the battle won, though. To make sure you get as much out of it as you possibly can, you need to resolve to keep it in good working order. This can be achieved by:

  • Having risk assessments carried out by a corrective maintenance service such as MAControls
  • Putting a repair schedule in place
  • Keeping your records up-to-date
  • Training your workforce with regards to what is expected of them
  • Checking for signs of wear and tear regularly
  • Never overworking your machines
  • Cleaning your equipment and, if necessary, lubricating it

By saving money where you can, you’ll build for yourself a strong platform from which you can grow your startup; by making use of the latest technology, you will be able to provide a service truly befitting of today. Taking the above advice is, then, essential if you wish to see your startup claw itself to the next level.

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.