A Guide to Starting Your Own Small Business

More and more people have looked into starting their own business over recent years. Many have taken the plunge and enjoyed high levels of success with their venture. This has inspired others to try and improve their own futures in the same way, and there is plenty of help available for those that are keen to start their own business.

If you are fed up of the 9-5 routine and you want to be your own boss, starting your own business could be the ideal solution. Of course, you first need to determine what sort of business you want to develop and how you can make your mark.

Tips to help you on your way

Those that are keen to start their own business will have a lot to think about before they can get things moving. Some of the areas you need to consider include:

  • The type of business you want to start: In order to determine this, you need to look for gaps in the market. There is little point starting a business in a very competitive area unless you have a high level of expertise and resources to tap into. If you are starting from scratch, try to be unique so that you have an added advantage from the word go.
  • Hiring staff: Depending on the type and size of business you want to start, you may need to hire employees. You also need to ensure that the people you choose are fit for the job. For instance, if the job will involve using heavy machinery you need to ensure you do not take on people that are likely to abuse drugs and pose a danger. This means that drug testing may be necessary – you can use a hair drug test kit for your workers if you have one.
  • Funding: Another important area you need to consider is how you will find your business. You could approach the bank for a business loan or look at borrowing against the equity in your home. You may want to get private investment or seek help from family members. You may even have savings that you can invest. You will need to consider all the options in order to reach a decision.
  • Your location: You need to decide where your business will be located. Do you need to rent or buy premises to run your business? Could you run it from home to cut costs and inconvenience? This is something that you need to work out as early as possible, as it will affect everything from the amount of money you need through to the number of people you can take on.
  • Business name: While there are more important things to sort out first, you will need to decide upon a name for your business. You can pool ideas with others to help you along or even run a competition amongst friends and family members to see what they come up with. Make it something catchy that rolls off the tongue, as this is more likely to promote successful branding.

All of these are aspects that you need to consider if you are looking to set up your own business.

5 Requirements for a Successful Startup

The key to success is by taking as much control as you can over your future. We can all agree that there’s no better way to take control than by becoming your own boss, especially in a world with so many business opportunities.
If you’re thinking about starting a company, then you are about to make the first step towards gaining more control over your future. However, you must ensure that you fulfill all the crucial requirements for a successful startup so you can make your dream a reality.

Here are five essential things you need in order to get your company off the ground.

  1. An unique and Innovative: Product Or Service If you plan to start a company, make sure that you base it on a product that will bring value to your targeted customers. While it may be ok to enter a market and compete with products similar to yours, you will be better off entering with a unique product that caters to the unmet desires or needs or your targeted customers. As you come up with a product, stay focused on satisfying the need you have in mind. A good product is one that is simple affordable and can be easily integrated in to consumers’ lives.
    Keep your product as simple as possible and do not add too many features or messages that may dilute its objective. As you design the product, always have your current and future competitors in mind. You must give your targeted customers a reason to choose your product

    2. Intellectual Property Rights: While there may be no urgent need to hold the rights to intellectual property in a startup, it is still advisable to do so. Having the rights to intellectual property will come in handy when you are looking for more funding for your company at a later stage. Protecting your company’s technology will make it easier for you to win over investors and grow your market share.

Many investors protect their investment by requiring companies to protect their intellectual property. This assures them of protection in case rival companies want to replicate their technology. In addition, a business plan that has a section listing all the company’s major intellectual property will be more appealing to investors.

3. Funding:  All startups need money. Before you start sourcing for funds, work out how much money it will take to get your company off the ground. Then work out how much upfront investment capital your company will need to develop your product. Find out whether you will need a large capital float or not. This will let you know how much funding to source for.
Having a working capital large enough to sustain you in between your accounts payable and accounts receivable may well be the difference between success and failure for your startup.
When you deal with the financial side of your startup, it is advisable to simplify things as early as you can to avoid snags later on. All investors will require access to your company’s financial information before they put in any money. To make this information easily available to potential investors you will need to set up a virtual data room for your company. Among many other things, a VDR will ensure that you deal with speed when sourcing for funds while keeping your data secure and under better control.

4. A good team:  Starting a company in today’s market can be similar to engaging in warfare. You will need a good team of professionals behind you all the way, so that you can get your company to where you’ve envisioned. Pick a team that shares your vision and enthusiasm. Every member of your team should have a specialty or a special set of skills that adds value to your company. Someone needs to know the technical side of the product so that you can keep improving on it. Someone else needs to know the workings of the market and the changing needs of your customer. You also need people who can help you source for funding and keep your accounts balanced, among many other tasks.

5. Good timing:  All markets have a lifecycle. Every opportunity to introduce something new has a rather small window before it expires. Your startup will need to consider the time you introduce your product into the market. Introducing a product too early or too late into the market will usually result into a number of problems that you can otherwise avoid with good timing.
It is easy to enter a market in the early stages of an innovation. However, entering too early can also mean that you will be taking a risk with a market that has not yet been proven. This could lead to a dead end. Entering a market too early could also mean that your investment could take years to bring any returns.
To ensure that you get you timing right as a startup, adopt a fast-follower strategy. This means that you will need to be early enough in the market to cater to a new demand but not early enough to be the pioneering provider for that product in the market.

The Ultimate Guide to Business Lines of Credit

A line of credit allows you to withdraw against a specified credit limit whenever you need cash instead of getting the whole amount at once. The advantage of this funding is that you will only pay interest on the amount you have used. This means that you will not pay interest on funds that you are not using.

A commercial line of credit is a revolving account. For this reason, whenever you pay a balance on the line, you will be increasing the amount of money for future use.

What are small business lines of credit?

This funding option allows you to withdraw funds when the need arises. Once you establish your line of credit, drawing is the quickest way of accessing your funds. Since this is a convenient and affordable source of capital, it is a very common tool for many business owners.

Where to get a business line of credit

Small business lines of credit can be obtained from traditional lenders such as regional credit unions and banks. When looking for the right provider, you need to ask yourself these questions:

How much capital do you need? – This funding option tends to have a smaller borrowing limit than a term loan, making it perfect for unexpected expenses but not large investments.

Do you meet minimum requirements? – Most lending institutions have minimum qualifications and require you to have specific collateral.

How much are you willing to pay? – Banks offer cheaper lines of credit than online lenders.

However, if you want to use yours for high-ROI opportunities, borrowing from online providers would be a great option.

How soon do you need it? – Although short-term loans are easy to obtain, a LOC is even faster.

Online lenders vs. banks

Although most lenders usually base their decision on several factors, the qualifications that you must meet vary greatly. Banks have more minimum qualifications but tend to be more affordable than their online counterparts. On the other hand, online lenders provide faster capital access and tend to approve even those businesses that banks will not.

Even if your small business meets the high bank qualifications, you might have a hard time getting a LOC unless you bring other accounts with you. Applying for a bank LOC can be a lengthy process, which involves many trips to the bank and takes weeks. Moreover, establishing an LOC with a bank could limit you from working with other financial partners in future.

Online lenders usually meet the LOC demands of small businesses. Although this line of credit might seem costlier, it could be a good fit if you cannot meet bank requirements. Online providers have come up with a way to provide lines of credit faster with as little paperwork as possible.

If you have bad credit, you can get an online LOC. However, you should consider repairing your credit if you want to get the best line of credit. Consider looking into software reviews for credit repair solutions to find out the best way of repairing your credit.

How to use a business line of credit

Ideally, your business line of credit should be used in the same way that you would use a family credit card: in case of emergencies and to pay for unexpected expenses. An LOC should not be used for big purchases such as machinery or real estate.

In short, you can use them in the following situations:

  • Short-term working capital – they can be used to pay for expenses when business is slow or make payroll;
  • As safety net for emergency costs;   
  • To take advantage of unique purchasing opportunities;
  • To offer customers trade credit more confidently.

 

Top 3 Ways to Make Passive Income on the Internet

The Internet has fast become the best means of earning passive income due to online, software and content services that can drive revenue and traffic for years. In short, you only build once and earn indefinitely! On the flip side, many other people are on the Internet since they have also realized its huge potential to make them money.

The growing number of people on the Web means that you have to contend with lots of competition. However, one thing is for sure; if you are not willing to put in some hard work in the beginning, then forget about making any passive income over the Internet.

With that in mind, here are the best 3 strategies to making money online in a way that gives you a sustained income stream without much sustained effort.

Blogging

In all honesty, the blogging industry is saturated as people have been putting up blogs for years, but most fail. However, there is a world of difference between blogging for money and blogging about something you do every day and love. When you focus on something you consider yourself a pro in and enjoy, you stand a better chance of sticking with it long enough to get a sizable following.

Whatever the niche or topic of your blog – may be gardening, gaming, baking, weddings or entrepreneurship – you do not have to put in lots of hard work since you already enjoy it. To excel in blogging, you need to start a blog on something useful or interesting and regularly post engaging and compelling posts.

Once you have gained a following, you can start making money off your blog by earning commissions as an affiliate. This means you push other people’s services and products on your platform; but make sure that the products have a direct connection to your blog. For example, an accounting blog can become an affiliate for a firm offering zero interest credit cards for balance transfers. You can also sell advertising space to advertisers. The other option is to find sponsorship for your blog. However, sponsorships are usually one-off deals in exchange for content or a permanent logo placed on your site’s footer.

Offer Online Services

You can create an online business model related to a particular service like web design. Automate the entire process by hiring designers to work under you and have a manager to deal with the clients and every day running of the business.

Once you automate the processes, you are now free to travel or do whatever you want, while making passive income from the enterprise. However, automating a service that is people-dependent can be a challenge since you have to manage people and other things. It is also harder to set up, but this is still a viable way of making some online money passively.

Purchase Penalized Websites

There are many high quality websites and blogs out there with no traffic. In most of these cases, the owners have simply given up and moved on to something else, leaving their resources doing nothing. Some of the websites are decent, but have been ruined by Google penalties.

When the webmasters give up hope, fire their staff and decide to move on, these sites can be bought for almost next to nothing since the owner finds no value in them. The beautiful thing is that Google changes its mind on a daily basis, meaning unpredictable Web traffic.

To succeed in this strategy, you need to identify sites with good quality content but low traffic levels. Once you negotiate to purchase the website at low prices, you can then go about repairing any SEO problems to improve its chances of making a recovery. Then, sit back and wait for if and when the site bounces back, effectively developing a sales funnel that converts organic search traffic from Google.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Many Business’s find it beneficial when they take their business “to the cloud” for improved functionality. It is not just large companies that are benefiting. Businesses from dance studio accounting software to gym billing software and everything in-between can benefit. Here are some of the more compelling and common reasons for an accounting firm.

Saving on Costs Cost Savings

Many companies don’t realize exactly how much they spend in IT each year. Cloud computing can help reduce operating costs with traditional IT. Common savings can occur but are not limited to network setup, maintenance, updates and services to equipment, software, licenses for the operating system, the backups, anti-virus protection, and security protocols, etc.

Your security On-Line

It is very common to believe that a traditional client-server setup is more secure then the Cloud, however this is simply not true. In reality, the Cloud service providers have created a secure environment with enterprise solutions and physical security that no company could replicate without spending thousands of dollars.

More Convenient

The Cloud provides anytime, anywhere access. One only needs to have internet connectivity to access their applications and they no longer have the necessity to store it as data files on the PC. This can be beneficial for so many reasons and with a VPN, you can access this information anywhere in the world completely securely.

More Scalability

With the scalability of Cloud Computing you only pay for what you use. No need to purchase and maintain a huge server. This process has created a new environment that is more economical than a formally managed infrastructure.

Focus shift

Companies want to spend their time doing what they do best, not managing a server or updating software. Moving to the Cloud allows more productivity on what they do best and shift their focus from IT to billable work hours.

More Collaboration

The Clouds multi-user environment lets you work well with others. This allows real-time numbers and financial data to collaborate on in making important decisions for their business.

More Services

Cloud services offer some businesses new revenue streams by creating new service offerings for their clients. They can charge their clients for “e-services” like an online portal, document management and storage, disaster recovery plan and much more.

Final Word

Some cloud companies offer better rates than others. The difficulty lies within relating to your customers’ requirements and providing them with a specialized product that brands their company and gives them the virtual office solutions they want. It is important to research your options when selecting a vendor and choose one that is secure, adaptable, and has exactly what you are looking for. Although the benefits of the Cloud are easy to see, the timing and selection of who to provide those services may take a little research.

Most businesses buy a Cloud to replace an in-house server or to provide an online edition of a product which is available at all times and in all places. The cloud hosts the users, data, and the applications. Once established on the Cloud any problems are reduced and more easily fixed. If one is unsure, look for a free demonstration of how simple the Cloud is to use, as well as its performance, speed, security and overall feel to it.

 

Sharing And Creating Files In PDF Format Has Never Been Easier

Portable Document Format files, commonly referred to as PDF are one of the easiest way to share and store information. Every person has used a PDF file at least once in their lives and can vouch for their convenience and usability.

The PDF format is widely used and accepts a lot of formats despite not being that ideal for scanned images as they can prove to be fairly large in size thus making it harder for downloading as well as sharing.  In order to open a PDF file, one must have Adobe Reader installed on their devices.

PDF files can contain a lot of pages smartly stored into a single file and are extremely popular for documents which include the likes of articles, brochures or flyers as the quality of images and texts remains the same by not being altered in any way.

No matter how convenient they might sound, they are also very hard to work it as editing a PDF file can prove to be extremely difficult even for those who have some knowledge in this field. The process can however be simplified with software like Soda PDF Anywhere. Not only can PDF files be created from over 300 file formats but they also prove to be a hardship when it comes to editing.

Modifying content and tinkering around with the file’s structure in order to offer it more readability or make it look sharper is a necessary knowledge to have in order to be efficient. Before you embark on the editing process make sure that the PDF file is not secured by its respective creator.

When it comes to security levels they can come with fluctuating levels of difficulty, ranging from restrictive reading all the way to password protection. A lot can be done to bypass security and the easiest one is to take a snap of a PDF file and further edit it in other software.

Editing wise, PDF files are often modified by downloading third party desktop software, be it with costs or not. Professionals usually work with Adobe Acrobat which will set you back about $450 if a one-time purchase is opted for or via a subscription system of $50 per month. Acrobat is beginner friendly as it comes with a lot of instructions and if you are not convinced, a free 30 day trial is also offered for those who want to take a sneak peak before downloading the software.

Another popular method of editing is done via Microsoft Word 2013 by clicking the File option. Afterwards, one needs to locate the PDF file they wish to edit and open it. Original formatting might be lost if the conversion is made but it should cause no problems as it can be quickly rearranged back to shape.

5 Reasons Your Online Shop is Failing

If your sales aren’t where they should be, there’s probably a reason for your lack of success. The good news is that most online business mistakes are easy to fix once you’ve identified the problem. If you’re looking to turn your brand around, here are just five reasons why your ecommerce site might be failing.
1. Your graphics are low-quality.

Seeing is believing, and if your product images are grainy, blurry or pixellated, your customers are going to assume that your products are low-quality as well. Make sure that all of your graphics are sharp and clear. Offer multiple lights, angles and zooms for customers who want to digitally examine the product. Let them feel confident about their purchase before they finalize it.
2. Your site navigation is confusing.

There are many ways to design a website, and if you aren’t receiving positive feedback about your current layout, it might be time to make a change. For example, if customers aren’t liking your vertical sidebars, you might switch to horizontal drop-down menus instead. You might also be making common design mistakes like “walls of text” or badly-contrasting colors that are hurting your site’s aesthetic. Talk to professional web developers and see what they have to say about your design.
3. You make your customers sign up, log in or complete surveys.

No one likes being forced, and making your customers sign up for your website is the digital equivalent of twisting their arms behind their backs. While it’s expected and even encouraged that you’ll advertise your rewards card or loyalty program, there’s a big difference between “Sign up for exclusive offers!” and “We need all of your personal information before you can continue shopping.” Your brand should be welcoming, comforting and familiar. It shouldn’t be annoying or intrusive.
4. Your checkout process is long and complicated.

Speaking of annoying, there’s a reason why “one-click checkouts” have become a hot commodity in the ecommerce world. Customers don’t want to jump through a thousand hoops to complete their orders, and with extra time on their hands, impulse shoppers might decide that they don’t need their basket at all. If you want better sales, your online shopping cart software needs to be streamlined for speed and convenience. Aim for a checkout process that takes three minutes or less.
5. You haven’t integrated social media with your site.

Gone are the days when social media was a passing fancy. With millions of users, platforms and features, it’s proven itself to be a driving force that’s here to stay, so you’ll need to hop on the bandwagon if you’re serious about your digital marketing campaign. Create your own social media accounts; put social media buttons on the bottom of your site; start re-tweeting and re-blogging your customers.
These are just a few of the most common mistakes of ecommerce shops. If you’re serious about improving your sales, attracting more customers and establishing yourself as a brand, use these tips to create an online shop that thrives.