Success in Business (Start Ups)

 

Keys to Business Entrepreneurship - program explores business ownership and is primarily intended for those new to starting a business. Participants learn about the many facets to starting a business; identifying business opportunities, selecting a business, core competencies, elements of a business plan, planning, marketing, finance, franchising, law, human resource and technology. Fees: Individual $75 / Workshop (Group) $50 each. Although fees are associated with our programs, email KACEF for possible sponsorships that will make our services free of charge to you and your family(income and other restrictions may apply).

Unlock the hidden potential of business ownership!

Keys to Business Program Description (Startup/Early Stage)

1. Business Startup - This element covers how to choose a business, core competencies, franchising, or starting a business from the ground up.

2. Business Planning – This element will cover how to prepare a business plan such as the executive summary, products and services etc.

3. Marketing – This element will cover the details and preparation of a marketing plan.

4. Financing – This element will cover raising equity and debt financing.

5. Human Resources – This element covers recruiting, hiring, training employees and employees vs. independent contractors.

6. Business Law – This element covers contracts, state & federal laws important business owners and the various business structures.

7. Technology – This element covers the use of technology in business.

 

Keys to Developing a Business Plan – Participants learn how to develop their very own business plan. Topics include planning process, executive summary, products & services, target market, competition, marketing, finance, inventory, law and customers. Fees: Individual $250 / Workshop (Group-minimum 5 participants) $50 each.

Your Plan is the key to $Loans, $Credit and $Investors

Keys to Developing a Business Plan Description

1. Executive Summary – This element will cover how to prepare an executive summary.

2. Product & Services - This element will cover inventory, manufacturing, retailing, pricing and protecting your product or services.

3. Marketing – This element will cover the details and preparation of a marketing plan.

4. Financing – This element will cover the source of your funds, friends, family, investors, banks etc.

5. Customers – This element cover who are your customers and the pros and cons of attracting and retaining them.

6. Management Team / Board of Directors – This element covers the various must have positions and roles of your organization.

7. Competition- This element will cover competitors and the threats you face to making your business a success.

 

Summary of Business Services

 

Starting a Business

Starting a business is exciting. It is similar to riding a bicycle for the first time, or falling in love with your significant other or the birth of a child, obviously not in this order. We will address life priorities elsewhere but for now let's discover the possibilities of starting a business.

If you are like many would be entrepreneurs you would like fame and/or fortune to knock on your door. The next time you verify the dollar amount in your checking account, you want to see zeros, several of them in fact. You just know you are going to make millions of dollars selling some product or service. But did you do your homework yet? What business can I start you ask? What does starting a business entail?

In the planning stages of starting your business it is important to be focused on what exactly you want to do. You know your skills and limitations, if you don't, a careful assessment of who your are and an assessment of your particular skills is in order. I recommend that before you quit your full-time secure job that you truly evaluate if you have the fortitude for being self-employed. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. This is a big step that requires the courage of a lion, the stamina of a thoroughbred, and the gracefulness of a gazelle. The most important characteristic is arguably the "will". Yes, the will to continue through the good times and the challenging times.

I'll say it again in a different way. "How bad do you want it?” Do you want it bad? or very baaaad?

So you decided to go through with it.  Well okay if this is for you don't let me stop you. Let's proceed on with your journey.

Money, do you have any to invest in a new enterprise? How is your credit, impeccable or disastrous? Are you a Leader or do you like following better? Are you a people person or are you an isolationist or xenophobe? Are you organized or a pack rat, clutter hog? Yes, I know I'm being tough and rough with you but it is important that you identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to proceed honestly and effectively when you answer the above questions.

What things will you need to start your business from scratch?

As indicated in other sections of this book, we'll assume you have a business plan, if not get going if you're serious. On a side, write your short, mid-range and long term goals down, refine them to you get at the heart of what you plan on doing. You will need to develop a strategy to realize your goals. This will require all the discipline you can muster up to see this endeavor to the end.

In the planning stages you might want to consider partnering with someone else. Partners may be of great benefit to you, especially if you just hate doing an activity like bookkeeping or marketing. Certain tasks must be done competently if you are to be successful.

Identifying your legal entity is a must. Your choices include proprietorship, partnership, corporation, Limited Liability Company and others.
Oh forgot something? Businesses sell products or services or both. This must be absolutely clear in your mind if success is to be the result. In so many instance, people have started a business and became unfocused which resulted in one big painful lesson. Diversification is important but it has its place. Therefore, if you want to sell baskets, sell baskets don't try to be everything to everyone by selling biscuits unless you are selling a biscuit in a basket.

 

What is a franchise? A franchise is a business that is already setup in terms of the infrastructure. That is, the planning of what to manufacture or sell and the market for that product has been established by someone else. You are buying into someone else's dream so to speak with the hope of making it your own. There is nothing wrong with this. Is it for everyone, of course not. But at the same time, why reinvent the wheel if you don not have to? Franchising is not for everyone because since you are buying into someone else's dream, that dream comes with a price.

The price of purchasing a franchise is called a royalty. A royalty is a payment that you, the franchisee, makes to the franchisor (the originating seller). Usually, a royalty is paid on every dollar of product/service sold. For example, you generate $100,000 is sales, perhaps you pay a 2% franchise royalty fee on gross sales. You say that is not fair, it is my business. In many respects a franchise is a partnership. No, not legally speaking but it makes you accountable to someone else.

Another factor to consider when buying a franchise is the legal or contractual arrangement between the franchisee and the franchisor. Most likely, you will have to purchase raw products from or through the franchisor. You have just joined an exclusive club. Remember Amway, a multi-level organization, where each distributor purchases from their up line? Again, franchising comes with a price. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it just is how this type of system is set up.

Just like any other business, you will have to provide seed and working capital. Sometimes, the franchisor can help finance your business and secure additional outlets for future franchises if certain sales targets are realized. The franchisor probably has an operating manual/business plan already made for you. However, you are still encouraged to include your own specific marketing and business plan because only you are you. No one else can dictate what your dream is in terms of business elements, such as, revenue, profit, advertising and etc. Therefore, do not abdicate or assume anything when considering a franchise.

Get legal advice prior to signing any documents or contracts. Locate a competent attorney familiar with franchise agreements. You do not want to be surprised that you have to purchase two-thousand pounds of potato chips per month. You have to do your homework as if you are starting from scratch, which you are in so many respects. Do not short change the investigation of any business enterprise. If you do your research you will in the end be fine.

How Many Times Have You Failed?

So how many? Have you made an attempt to start your business before this current occasion? Even if you merely seriously thought about it but changed your mind of the stress you were in just contemplating it. You may have abandoned the idea because the thought of failure was too much to handle. Okay, you had valid concerns but, that's right there's but ... but for some reason you cannot let it go.

You are experiencing feelings of emptiness; you have been living with a Grand Canyon size whole in the pit of your stomach because you have been living a lie. The lie was living outside your purpose, your true calling. The problem is you have failed with this giant before in one form or another. It might not have been a business venture; it could have been a relationship or a job. You failed and may have failed big time.

Let me get the record straight and hopefully this will be of benefit to you. Failure, what is it? You'll find a standard definition at your fingertips. But for my pleasure, accept my definition. "Failure is a positive step toward meeting my goals". Repeat it several time if you wish. Are you crazy? How can you say that? Good questions indeed. Remember, when you were a young child and your father or mother bought you that first bike without the training wheels? Starting to see where I am headed?

Well, what happened when you peddled your way down the straight, free from the bondage of those training wheels that served as a safety net. You fell and fell hard on your bottom. Didn't you? Did you give up at that point, swearing to never ride any bicycle ever again? I think not. Your parent encouraged you to get up and try again, I am sure of it. You did get up perhaps after a crying for a moment but you got up despite any reservations you may have had in the process.

Bam! You fell again, this time even harder. What happened when you did? You thought about giving up but you did not give up. You got back on that bike and took off down the street riding as if your very life depended on it. You felt happy or very scared, maybe terrified but you peddled your little heart out to complete the ride. Your parent was very proud of you. Most important, you were very proud of you.

In this example, or more accurately, this reflection, was indicative of failing, then failing again and perhaps beyond measure prior to a successful conclusion.  The positive outcome was eventually riding a bike. Why shouldn't this apply to other areas of your life? What if you failed before? So what? Of course, being gun shy about it may be overwhelming at first, but who’s said you will fail? Assuming you did your homework and you were thorough and have the financial wherewithal to bring this dream to fruition, why not leap in with both eyes open and start your business.

Being a failure is not representative of being a loser. It is a trophy of someone that is on there way to becoming a successful winner. As long as you give it your best, you are a winner. A loser is not necessarily a failure but is someone that never tried at all. The point is to avoid being a loser because a loser will never forgive himself for never trying but a failure can reflect on the courage and strength it took to at least climb the wall to prosperity.

So whether or not you failed one tome or fifty times, do not give up if your heart is saying to continue, continue the race until you have crossed the finish line. Remember, the story about the race between the Hare and the Tortoise? The fastest doesn't always win the race. Sometimes slow and consistent is better than fast, clumsy and burning down bridges wherever you go.


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Evaluating Your Business Idea

You may have several ideas for a new business or only one. Before you start pouring your effort and money into an idea you need to see if it will stand up to some analysis. Try a SWOT analysis. This requires you to think about the Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities your business will have, and the Threats it may face.

A high level of skill with a range of equipment, or a friend that is prepared to loan you some money would be strengths. If you have never run a business before that could be a weakness. A ready, enthusiastic market would be an opportunity, while several businesses almost identical to the one you are thinking of starting or a weakening economy would be threats. This type of analysis can show you if your business idea is viable and should encourage you to exploit opportunities and help you decide how to tackle threats.

Decide on your Unique Selling Proposition...

Why should a potential customer come to you and not a rival? Will you specialize in a certain area? You should be able to identify where and how you can contact your potential customers and have an idea of the demand for your type of service or product.

Write a Business Plan...

There are many versions and it seems every bank and business advisor has slightly different requirements. However every version should keep you focused on what you want to do with your business and the strategies to achieve this in a certain time frame. It should identify the services or products you intend to offer initially, and those you hope to expand into later. Remember the plan is a working document. If you miss deadlines you should be able to modify the plan to get your business back on course.

Once you have decided on the type of business you want to start do some research to see if there are any gaps in the local market. Find out your competitor's pricing. You could get friends to ask for quotes from the competition, or use a more direct approach and have discussions with a local expert. Remember, a company could be a potential competitor or a potential joint venture partner. Perhaps you could approach them with an idea for a product or service that would complement theirs.

When setting prices do not immediately assume undercutting is the only solution. You need enough income to cover your overheads and a low price may give the impression that your skills and work have little value.

Cash flow is another important element in starting and running a business. Make sure you do not have to make too big an investment before you get paid. You should know how much you have to earn to at least break even.

After working through your business plan and giving cash flow a good deal of thought you should know whether your proposed business is viable.

Six Reasons Why Many Home-Based Businesses Fail

Any given day, thousands of people look to get out of the rat race and work from home. In addition, many people want to get a home-based business started so badly that they do not always make wise choices in choosing a work from home opportunity. As a result, many fail miserably. This, of course, does not need to happen. It is possible to pick a viable business opportunity. As discussed in a previous article, there are five top reasons many home-based businesses will never work. Let's discover six additional reasons why, if people are not careful, their home business could fail.

Reason#1: Most new opportunities have no way to help people make large amounts of money. Many opportunities will give great ideas for making money, but then leave people out in the cold by having them do everything on their own. There simply is not a good support system. Nobody should be a part of a business opportunity such as this.

Reason #2: Unfortunately, some home business opportunity promoters will take people's money and run. There are too many fly-by-night companies out there that will not hesitate to scam people. The problem is their promotions sound just as good as everybody else's. To avoid this, home-based business opportunity seekers need to be very skeptical about each business opportunity they are presented, examine them carefully, and then make an informed decision.

Reason #3: Some home-based business opportunities have people work long hours for little pay. People end up getting burned out, tired, frustrated, and eventually quit. Why become part of a work at home opportunity that is like a regular job?

Reason #4: Many business opportunities offer products nobody wants. Never, ever try to market anything people could care less about. Everyone who tries to do this is doomed to fail. Always remember that the market for your products or services comes first, and the product or service must offer something exciting that people want. In addition, it is best that the company that offers the product or service has a proven marketing system that automatically sells to people the exciting product or service.

Reason #5: Many home-based business opportunities force people to become salespeople. Because things are not set up right, people are forced to face rejection constantly. Avoid this type of business since most people hate to sell!

Reason #6: Most work at home opportunities pay small sums of money and no residual income. This is a recipe for disaster! If people sell low-ticket items that don't sell for very much money, it's going to be almost impossible for them to obtain financial freedom and to become rich. Never become part of any home-based business opportunity that forces one to sell tons of items just to make a decent profit.

So, there you have it-six additional reasons why many home-based businesses will fail. Carefully look for potential problems with any home-based business opportunity, make sure it does not meet the criteria for any of these six problems outlined, and then make an informed choice.

Advertising - Does it Matter?

When advertising, you need to sell your opportunity, your products and yourself. What sets you apart from everyone else? Maybe you produce a newsletter with a specific content where there is a demand from a particular group of people, or you promote your own special product that no one have not yet seen. That’s a huge benefit! That’s what you need to sell in your ad campaign, and those are the things you need to do in order to become successful.

You don’t have to be worried that network marketing prosperity is difficult. It isn’t. In fact, it has never been so easy to make a decent second income or even a full time. But it takes time, persistence and uniqueness.

The people looking at your ads and reading your follow up letters are going to judge you and your whole business not only by what the materials have to say, but also by their appearance.

Be sure you send a powerful, positive and convincing message. Invest some time and money on your marketing materials, the payoff will be well worth it. Look at others ads on the Internet, see what’s attracting you, this will most likely attract others too.

Do you see what I have in mind? Your advertising campaign will be the propel to your business success. By now you think "How do I create one of those successful ads" After all, it’s the words that sell your opportunity. Write a good ad and Its taking you to the top. Read others ads, get some good ideas from it, don’t copy it, that’s theft. Just get some inspiration from it. .Let your friends take a look at your new written ad and say what they think about it, honestly.

Now where to put your ad? If you place your ad in a pets publication and the ad is promoting toys for children you might not get a single response. But placed in the right publication it will be a winner. It’s very important that you from the beginning know exactly where to put your ad. Just think about you having spent hours on that ad and then you put it in the wrong publication and get no response at all, that’s a big waste of time and effort.

My best advice is that you always work on your ads. Write them down, leave them for some time, go back to look at them again, let others look at them and after a while you will see the picture of your ad and you will see if it’s working or not. If not then you have to start from the beginning and write a new one and follow the same procedure again. But now it’s easier because you are deeply involved in the process.

The Internet are full of ads, start clicking around and read others ads, this is the best way to learn what is working or not. You probably can tell instantly when an ad is good or not at least after a while.

 How Important Is Strategy In Your Business?

On a scale of one to ten, having a good business strategy rates about a fifteen!

No matter what kind of business you have -- whether you sell products or a service, as the saying goes, "if you fail to plan, then you're really planning to fail."

Creating a strategy can mean the difference between you working 60 to 80 hours a week all year long -- and then breaking even, or worse, losing money.

On the other hand, many successful entrepreneurs who have a strategy work fewer hours and make piles of money -- and they usually attribute their success to having a strategic plan and following it.

So what is strategic business management? Very simply, it's the process of defining the goals and objectives for your business, creating an action plan so you can reach them and then following the plan.

How do you create a strategic plan for you business?

1. First, know what your vision for your company is. If there were no barriers, nothing stopping you from taking your company as far as you could -- what would that look like?

2. Next, what are your company's core operating values? What are its guiding principles? In other words, why are you in business and how do you do business?

3. Now create a 3 to 5 year plan. Your long-term plan is based on the broad objectives that will help you get from where you are now, to where you want to be.

4. Develop a plan for this year. These are the specific objectives you plan to accomplish this year that will lead you closer to your long-term goals. Remember to be "SMART" when setting your annual goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-oriented). Include a list of the barriers that are stopping you from getting where you want to go. Figure out what resources you've already got, and what resources you need to get you past those barriers. And then create an action plan that clearly lays out how you will achieve your goals. Involve key employees with this part of the planning process.

5. Create a set of milestones or benchmarks. This is very important, so that you can measure your progress.

6. Share the plan with your employees, and anyone else who will be involved in the process. Your annual strategy is the roadmap that will make sure everyone ends up at the same destination -- but to be effective, everyone needs the same map!

7. Put the plan into action. Now that you have the roadmap, it's time to begin the journey.

8. Check your progress. Just like any trip, you need to check the map every now and then; to be sure you're still on the right road. If something isn't working, the sooner you figure it out and make the necessary adjustments, the sooner you'll be back on track.

9. Follow the same cycle next year. (Dream, Plan, Act, Check).

Creating a business strategy and following it will ensure that you enjoy the journey as much as getting to your final destination.

 


Is it raining on you?

Home Business Primer

Starting a home business has been one of the biggest growth industries in the last decade. There are thousands of new business owners entering the online arena everyday.

No matter what type of business product or service you choose to participate in, there is one and only one starting point.

The only place to be starting your new home business is, in your mind, more importantly your mindset.

It is imperative for you to know the Who, What, Where, When and Why's when considering starting up a home based business. No matter what type of venture you may choose, if you cannot answer the five W's you will greatly hinder your chances of success dramatically.

Let's take a look at the five W's individually.

WHO. Who are you doing this for? Is it for personal gain and notoriety, family obligations or maybe to help a friend in need. If you do not clearly know and understand who you are doing this for, you will have a very difficult time maintaining the motivation to achieve the level of success you desire.

WHAT. Do you clearly know what is you that want to achieve? Is it to attain financial independence? Contributing to your retirement plans? Is it to put a down payment on a new house? Do you want to be able to quit your job, or do you just want to be able to purchase those big ticket items you have always yearned for?

It is crucial to know exactly what it is you wish to achieve. You have to be able to close your eyes and picture in your mind, down to the finest detail, what your life would be like once you achieve success. If you don't truly know what it is that you want, it is almost guaranteed that you are not going to get it.

Achieving success comes from knowing precisely what it is you want. Then next step is to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based, better known as S.M.A.R.T. goals. To learn more about goal setting just do a quick search on your favorite search engine, there is a great deal of information available.

WHERE. Research is the key here. There are countless ways and places to set up a home business on the internet. What is most important here is to keep a level head and an open mind while doing your research to determine your chosen field.

Sales pages are finely tuned to trigger impulses and emotions to get you to buy now, this very second. Fight those urges to click that order button, step away from your computer for a moment if you have to.

Take the time to actually study what is being offered. How much is it going to cost you? Is it a one off, monthly or yearly cost? What is the actual product or service that you are receiving, and is there something else out there that may better serve your needs?

It is highly recommended that you never hit the order button on your first visit. Take a look around and do some comparison shopping, or window shopping if you will. If the original offer was the best you can always return and purchase at a later time.

A quick example. Let's say you find that perfect ebook with resale rights and you just have to have it, and the cost is $97.00. Try this out first. Type the e-book’s title into your favorite search engine. You may be pleasantly surprised to find the exact same title for as little as $5.00 maybe even less with the same resale rights. Remember that the first offer you see may not always be the best in value for your dollar. The internet is extremely competitive.

WHEN. Knowing when to launch your business is where many marketers fall short. Ensure that your business is completely ready to go. Test everything before your launch. Check your web pages for loading time, grammar and spelling. Do all the pages and links work properly? Test your newsletter. Does your autoresponder send the messages when they are supposed to go out? Are the messages formatted correctly? Do those links work? Is the payment and delivery system perfect?

When setting up your business try to keep your mindset as if you were the customer. Would you purchase this product or service? Would you subscribe to this newsletter? Is there value being offered? What makes this product or service stand out from the rest? Until you can answer these questions with conclusive statements, you are not ready to launch.

Always keep in your mind, your name and reputation are always at stake. Online purchasers have very little tolerance when things go wrong.

Studies have shown that you usually have thirty seconds or less to grab your visitors attention. If there is nothing of great value, your potential customer will simply move on and probably never come back. Be completely ready when launch time comes. On the internet first impressions are paramount.

WHY. One of the most important questions to ask. Why am I building this business? Why will my customers buy from me? Why is this the best product? Why did I choose this web hosting company? Being able to answer any and every possible question about your business will give you the knowledge and the tools to build your website as well as your compelling sales pages to perfection.

Asking yourself why will clearly give you the right answers to provide your future subscribers and customers before they need to ask.

Keeping the five W's in your mind throughout the planning, preparation, testing and launch phases of your business will provide you with the greatest chances for success. You owe it to yourself and to your potential subscribers and customers.

Your mindset is what is going to make or break your business, after all everything starts with an idea.


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Actualizing Your Vision

So you had that fantastic business idea, the one that's going to be wildly successful and make you a fortune - and even better, you actually did something about it and started your own business. Good for you! Not everyone gets even that far. Most people sit and day dream about what they might do if only ....

"The world is full of dreamers, there aren't enough who will move ahead and begin to take concrete steps to actualize their vision" - W. Clement Stone

But you got over the biggest hurdle, you took that first step and you actually created something.

Well done - you already did more than most. But once you've got started and you've maybe lost that first flush of enthusiasm with the day to day details of running your business how do you keep going?

There are several things to look at here:

1. What are you really good at and what do you enjoy doing? Make two lists - one of all the jobs you like and/or are good at, and one of all the jobs you hate and/or really don't do very well. Take the second list and have a look at what you might outsource or automate. Do you really love doing those accounts or would your time be better spent in forward planning while your accountant does the sums? Must you personally reply to every last enquiry or could you create a FAQ which you can post on your website and refer people to by autoresponder? Obviously in the early stages of your business you might find you don't have the money to pay someone to do the jobs you hate but you've got to think about what is best for you and your business long term. Be creative - could you swap skills to get the help you need? The more routine jobs you can outsource or automate the more time you have to plan and to market your business, and to think about even more ways to bring in all that lovely cash - not to mention you get to spend more of your time doing the things you really enjoy doing.

2. Why are you doing this? You really need to be motivated to start a business and keep it going and the best way to do this is to know what all that effort is for. What really moves you to get up in the morning and do what you need to do even when you don't really feel like it? Write your reasons down and stick them on your wall. Even better find pictures of that house in the country, the Lamborghini or that 'must have' holiday and put them where you can see them every day.

3. How do you deal with those inevitable bumps in the road? Not everything you do will be perfect - sometimes things you've tried will be a total disaster - but it's the way you react to problems that matters. If you curl up in a ball and give up at the first sign of failure you'd better not be in business. "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." - John Quincy Adams. It's all about attitude.

4. Have a plan and stick to it as far as possible but always be prepared to be flexible and open minded. Sometimes the most unexpected opportunities come up and you need to be ready to seize them with both hands - as Joe Vitale says 'Money likes speed'.

5. Get yourself a mentor - learn from someone who has done it before. Having someone to bounce ideas off and someone who can encourage you when things get tough is invaluable.

And most importantly, never let anyone put you down and never be afraid of failure:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat" - Theodore Roosevelt.

Don't ever forget that!

5 Sources of Equity Capital for Your Business

If you're thinking about getting outside or equity capital to help fund your business, there are some things you need to do first, that can make your business more attractive to investors. Follow these simple ideas, and you'll be well on your way to raising the money you need.

First, always talk to a qualified business attorney (not your family lawyer). There are a lot of laws pertaining to how equity capital can be raised from the public, and the laws change often. You need someone who understands not only these laws, but also how to make sure that any business contracts are written to protect you and your business, especially the fine print.

1. Getting money from relatives. Yes, it can seem like begging, and it's a difficult thing to have to swallow your pride. Surprisingly, in a recent survey, almost 30% of entrepreneurs said that they raised all or part of the capital they needed through family members. If this is your choice, make sure that you have your attorney draw up a regular business contract. When approaching family members, talk to them about their investment the same way you would any other outside investor. Tell them about how much money they can make, not about how much you need their help. And make sure that you keep to your end of the agreement.

2. Using your savings or credit cards. This is the most common way for entrepreneurs to raise needed business capital. Before choosing this method however, talk with your financial advisor. You want to look at the long-term consequences of using your savings, life insurance or credit cards, especially in the event that your business venture fails, or does not bring in the projected return on investment (ROI). If you do end up financing your project using credit cards, make sure that you shop around first, and find the card that will offer you the best rate and gives you the most "bang" for your buck.

3. Venture Capital and Angel Investors. Before even looking for venture capital, look at your company from an outsider's point of view. Ask yourself these questions: Does your company have a solid track record? (Most venture capitalists don't invest in start up companies). Does your company have the potential of becoming very large in the next five to seven years? (People don't invest in your company out of the goodness of their hearts. They're looking for a return on their investment -- the larger the better.) Does your company own a good percentage of its market, or does it stand to gain a large percentage in the next 12 to 18 months? (Contrary to popular belief, your company doesn't have to be involved in high tech to attract venture capital). If you can answer yes to the above questions, your next step is to find a venture capital firm whose ideals and goals are in line with yours. Your next step should be to look at your "circle of influence" and see if you know someone who can give you a personal introduction to someone at the venture capital firm. (People invest in people, not just companies.)

4. Potential or Current Employees. Surprisingly, one of the most common ways (especially for new companies) to raise equity capital, is by inviting your potential or current employees the opportunity to become investors. With this method, not only do you get a really committed workforce, but many equity employees are also willing to accept a below-market wage in the beginning (especially if you do the same). There are other benefits, but this choice is not without its pitfalls as well. Again, before going this route, talk to your business attorney, and put policies into place that plan for potential problems. For example, what do you do if an employee's work becomes substandard? Or an employee quits and goes into competition with you after learning all of the company secrets? Putting a risk management plan into place and considering all contingencies is your best bet for this option.

5. Taking your company public. Although security laws in the U.S. have made it easier for companies to go public, and offer stock as a way to raise needed funds, this is still probably the most risky choice. It is usually not a recommended option for very new or very small companies. Because of the number of legal issues involved, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney beforehand is vital. There is also a lot of stress involved in running a public company, and a considerable loss of autonomy and control. Before making this choice, be absolutely sure that this is the wisest course of action for your business.

No matter which choice you make in looking for equity capital, by planning ahead, doing your homework and following the advice of your attorney, you'll increase the probability of raising the money you need and making the relationship between you and your investors a profitable one.

 

What Qualities Do You Need to Start-Up Your Own Small Business?

Statistics tell us that over 45% of small businesses fail within the first two years of starting up – on the other hand, millions of self-made business owners have gone on to become millionaires. So what do you need to become one of the successful ones? Don’t worry if you don’t have everything it takes. Training can develop many of the so-called essentials. All you really need to know are which ones are your strengths and which are your weaknesses. Here are some traits you’ll need. It’s up to you to decide if you’ve got them, or if you’ll work on getting them.

•Common sense. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got it, ask your family. It’s the ability to make sound judgments about all manner of life issues. It can be a combination of past experience and knowledge and will help you get to the core of a problem by simplifying it.

•Specialized knowledge of your field. It’s no use jumping into something about which you know nothing. Most successful businessmen have gained much valuable experience in their trade well before they went into business for themselves.

•Self Confidence. When you start out in small business, the buck will usually stop with you. You are the one who has to make difficult decisions and wear the consequences. This is not always something you either have or don’t have. You may have it in one area or situation and lack it in another. Training will help you to get it.

•The ability to get things done. This is actually self-discipline. It’s no use deciding to take the day off because it’s sunny and the surf’s up. There are things requiring your attention and if you leave them they won’t get done. On the other hand, it’s no use being on the job if you fritter the time away on menial talks that should be delegated.

•Creativity. Sure it’s been done that way since Adam, but there could be a better way to do it - one that will save you time and money.

•Ability to lead. Do you get along with others or is there a long line of dissatisfied staff, customers, clients, friends and relatives behind you? Your ability to lead and get people to do great work is paramount to your success in business.

•Self reliance. If you can’t rely on yourself, whom can you rely on? You need to be able to set goals and do whatever it takes to reach them. Sure you’ll have others under you – eventually, but many small business owners need first to rely on themselves.
If you want to start a small business, the best thing to do is get in there and have a go. You can learn as you go, but make sure you listen to others advice, even if you don’t always follow it. Being open to new ideas and advice is important too.

Finding the Right Business for You

If you think that starting your own business is the answer to your problems; whether it's money, child care, illness or a desire for more free time, then you must choose wisely.

Too many individuals eagerly leave their paying jobs in order to pursue their own business only to return to the unemployment arena looking for work and carrying a massive debt from their ventures.

How can you find the answer to your quest for self-employment without failing?

DESIRE
DISCRETION
DISCIPLINE

DESIRE ----

If you think that running your own business is merely a matter of using your brains then you are sure to be disappointed. Successful entrepreneurs have a common thread no matter if they run the run a country gas station or a Fortune 500 company - DESIRE. If you don't have the drive and determination to work for yourself - if you can't give up the security of a regular pay check - you will have great difficulty working for yourself.

DISCRETION ----

Expect to fail. There are many opportunities available. Some are good, some are frauds and several are absolutely perfect - for YOU. Each individual's strengths and talents will impact which business model will suit them best. If you are very shy or hate to talk to people than it would be wise to stay away from businesses that require a lot of face-to-face selling. If the product is not something you would personally use it is not something you will want to promote and that will show in your efforts.

Take stock of your abilities and interests and try several businesses that are related. Not all will suit you, but trying things will ultimately improve your business skills overall. If you do fall for what turns out to be a fraud, consider it education and move on - you will not likely make the same mistake again.

Consider talking to business owners who do what you want to do or to people who may use your product or service. Research the business and read the fine print!

DISCIPLINE ----

You don't have a boss or a time clock, but if you expect to make a living then you will have to discipline yourself. Have a schedule that you follow every day. Plan your time wisely. Although many procrastinators actually do well working for themselves it is still vitally important to know what needs to be done and to have the discipline to follow through. A few bad jobs or unhappy customers can have lasting impact on your business.

Many have found great happiness and success working for themselves. Enjoy the search and find YOUR perfect business!

7 Tips for Starting Your Home Based Business

So, you've decided to start a home based business. Congratulations! and welcome to the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship. While there is a lot to learn, your effort will be worth it. The thrill of growing your business, the freedom and flexibility to set your own hours, and the possibilities of ever-increasing financial rewards are all wonderful reasons to start your home based business.

Now that you've decided to start your business, you might be wondering "How can I get it off to the strongest possible start?" These seven tips will help:

1) Set up a separate working space in your home. It doesn't matter if this is a small bedroom, one part of the garage, or a corner of the living room. The important thing is to have some space that you can designate as your working area. This will give you the space and room you need to craft your dream.

2) Stock your working space with materials. This sounds basic, perhaps, but one underlying element of success is that you have easy access to the tools, materials, and other resources you need. Gathering everything close by also keeps you from wasting time searching for it, so this step can be considered a time management strategy, too.

3) Speaking of time management, your third step is to define the parameters of your business. What days and hours will you work? When will you market? When will you provide services or products to clients? How will you keep all of this straight?

4) Balance action with planning. One of the most common pitfalls to successful entrepreneurship is getting too caught up in action without enough planning. Stated another way, this means that you confuse "being busy" with "working on important projects." The best approach is to plan your next couple of goals and then work backwards to create step by step action plans to reach them. Once you have the plan, then it's time to take the action.

5) Network like crazy. One of the fastest ways to grow any business is to make connections with other people. Be sure to share your passion and enthusiasm with others at every opportunity. Let people know who you are and what you offer. Remember, people can't buy if they don't know you're selling.

6) Present a professional image. If you want to be treated professionally, present a professional image. Set up a separate bank account for your business. Install a separate phone and fax line. Create professional marketing materials. Be courteous and pleasant in all your customer facing interactions. Basically, be someone people want to do business with.

7) Automate your business as much as possible. Granted, you are just one person (right now) and might have a lot of extra time to take care of all the details. This might work for now, but won't work into the future as you get busier and busier. It's best to set up automatic systems and processes right from the start to free up your time to concentrate on the most profitable activities.

These seven tips will get your home business started (and growing) in the right direction.

Do You Know What Your Visitors Are Worth?

The success of any store that sells products or services relies heavily on traffic. Whether walk-in, telephone, or web site visitors, each person that in some way contacts you has a value to your business. Yes, even the problem people, the random visitors, and the tag-along husbands have a value.

Being aware of how much each person is worth in dollars is extremely important. This will help you maximize your income while minimizing your marketing expenses.

Most business owners do not take the time to determine the value of each visitor. Why? Because business owners may be experts in furniture, hardware, plumbing, or teeth, but they hate the paperwork side of business ownership.

Let us take a look at a quick and easy way to assign a dollar value to each person who calls or visits your business. And how it can increase your income this year, as it has for so many others.

Very simply, take the total sales each week. Divide it by the number of people that visited and called you. This assigned value will become more accurate and more important each week. You add this week's visitors to all previous visitors, and this week's sales to all previous sales.

If you have a walk-in business, such as a furniture store, put a traffic counter on the door. If your door is used for both entry and exit, divide results by two to avoid counting the same people twice.

Keep track of the phone calls too. Have a pad by the phone to record the name and phone number of each caller. This is just good business sense. You, no doubt, are doing this already.

Now, for example, let us say that for the month of May you had 3000 walk-ins and 500 phone calls. Add these together for a total of 3500 visitors. Your sales for the month was $33,000. Divide $33,000 by 3500. You have now established that each visitor is worth $9.43 in gross sales.

Now you have an accurate way to measure your in-store marketing strategies. You can quickly see the results in the rise or fall of the "per person" value in sales. These tactics might include how you arrange your merchandise. Also, suggesting additional items that will complement the visitor's purchase. Also, setting up specific displays with colorful signs or banners tied in with special or seasonal themes.

Be creative. Scout out your competition and similar stores in other towns. Here are a couple proven strategies that are very effective.
Hamburger stores have found that offering a "super-size" package dramatically increases the per person value. They have found that it is much easier to get additional money out of people who are already committed to spending money with you than to sell a new customer.

One grocery store, when setting up an Italian dinner display, will include all the accessories in the display. Wine from the liquor department, French bread from their bakery, and Parmesan cheese from the dairy department. The customers love it and it dramatically increases sales.

Ok - you have optimized your in-store marketing. Now you can look at buying more traffic with external marketing - such as media advertising.

But, before you spend a penny, you need to take the "per person" value one step further. You need to establish the per person gross profit.

The average percentage of profit needed to stay alive may vary from 200% for a jewelry store to 2% for a grocery store. Most stores and service businesses average around a 40% margin. We will use 40% for this scenario.

Let us say you have increased the per person value to $14.90 gross sales by fine-tuning your in-store marketing. Your margin of profit is 40%, so each person is worth $5.96 in gross profit. Now you know for sure you cannot spend more than $5.96 per person to profitably bring them into your store.

For example, you spend $1000 on a TV advertising campaign. It increases traffic by 200 people. You have spent $5.00 per visitor. The advertising paid for itself, but barely shows a profit. Your next marketing effort may be a $1000 newspaper program. It brings in additional 300 visitors. You paid only $3.33 per visitor. This would be quite profitable. Obviously, this is one marketing plan that you will want to repeat over and over again.

Additionally, knowing the value of each person in gross profit will help you eliminate expensive junk marketing. Junk marketing includes advertising on phone book covers, posters, maps, and the like. In fact, yellow pages are quickly becoming a poor investment.

For example, a salesperson asks you to put an ad on a fishing contest poster. Quite likely, it may only bring in one or two visitors, if any. You wisely determine that the most you can spend on this would then be about $12. Anything more should be considered a donation, not a marketing investment.

Numbers not your cup of tea? Follow the example of Henry Ford. Do only what you do best, and wisely hire out the rest. Train and empower a family member or fellow employee to become essentially involved in the success of your business. They can take care of tracking the numbers and you can do the brain work.
Establishing a value for each visitor is simple. It is essential. It is powerful. It puts you in total control, no matter what the economic cycles throw your way. It gives you a way to measure the value in dollars of every new marketing idea you implement.

Tips For Designing Your Home Office

Setting up a home office is one of the most important tasks you will face when you make the decision to work from your own home. Your home office can be a corner of your kitchen or living room or, if space permits, a former spare bedroom.

Size is less important that functionality. When deciding on where to set up the nerve center of your business, there are some factors you need to consider.

Is the area well lit?

Proper lighting is extremely important. Spending hours at a time in a dimly lit work space can create eyestrain which, after long periods of time, could lead to more serious problems with your vision.

Are there plenty of electrical outlets?

Take into consideration what appliances you will have in your work space. Your computer system will require an outlet for your cpu, monitor, scanner, printer, speakers (sometimes) and other ancillary equipment you may have.

Is the area well ventilated and dust free?

All of that computer equipment needs to “breath” to remain cool and functioning properly. If you have ever “fried” a computer you know how important it is to keep the fan clean and dust free.

Do you have telephone access?

In addition to having a telephone handy for business purposes, you will also require telephone access for your modem. You may also consider a separate telephone line for your business. It is much easier to track telephone business expenses for tax purposes if you have a separate phone line. It’s also important that your clients can reach you. If your clients have to compete with your teenagers telephone habits, chances are they will call someone else. Make certain that this separate line is set up to receive phone calls while you are online. Most major telephone companies now offer that service. You may pay a few extra dollars a month for it, but it will pay for itself over the long haul.

How much ‘foot traffic” is there liable to be?

You want your office to be as isolated as possible. Can you imagine trying to speak with a client or figure out html code with kids screaming in the background? Not a very professional picture. If you have no choice but to have your office in a high traffic area, adjust your work schedule to coincide with family activities. Sit your family down and explain the importance of your work and why you need their cooperation. It won’t always work out that way but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

It goes without saying that you need to have normal office supplies. Even if your work is online you still need the pens, pencils, note pads and so on.

One of the stickiest challenges you may encounter comes from your friends. People who do not work from home seem to think that if you do, you have all the time in the world to visit. This can become a major problem if you do not set the parameters. Setting out the ground rules is important to the overall health and well being of your business. Let your friends and extended family know your business hours and explain to them that you are not available during those periods of time. The sooner you do this the better.

Conduct your business in a professional manner. Just because you work at home does not mean that you should throw out the rule book. Maybe you have read the humorous comment about “working in your pajamas. It sounds good in sales messages, but the truth is you are much better off if you awaken in the morning and prepare yourself for your work day as if you were still trekking off to the office, because you are.

You will be much better prepared to focus and get down to business if you dress the part. That doesn’t mean that you need to squeeze into the normal “office” attire. It does mean that you set the standards for your business and much of that has to do with “mindset” and self-image. Dressing comfortably is a one of the serendipities of working at home, but you will be much better prepared for business if you dress the part.

I have one final word of advice for the new work at home entrepreneur. Having your office right down the hall can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. Remember to take time out for yourself. Most people believe that working at home comes with certain privileges, and it does. However, it can also become all-consuming and take total control of your life.

Don’t allow that to happen. Create your schedule and live by it. Make sure you turn off the lights, shut down the computer and “go home” at the end of your work day.

 

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