Business Brainstorming: Creative Ways to Finance Your Startup

You’ve got the idea; you’ve got the drive. Now all you need is the money to get started on your new business. Unless you are one of a very small group, you are going to have to raise it somehow. You can approach the bank for a loan, or you can explore some different options.

Loan or Equity

There are two main ways to raise cash to start your business, and you need to decide which works best for you.

A loan can be straightforward. You receive a sum of money to invest in your business, and you pay it back later. You remain in control of your business, but your overheads now include the interest and your cash flow is affected by repayments.

Equity is effectively the sale of part of your business to an investor. You do not have the burden of repayments, but you will share the profits and lose some control.

Do It Yourself

You may not have cash to hand, but you probably have assets that you could use to raise a loan—your house, perhaps. You are borrowing money against your own property to invest in your business. If the business fails, you could lose your home—but the fact that you have put your money where your mouth is will encourage other investors.

Family and Friends

Many entrepreneurs start off by borrowing from close contacts, or by offering them a share in the business in return for a startup investment. If you go this way, have your agreement drawn up professionally—informal arrangements are a recipe for disaster. Remember that if things go wrong, you could lose your friends as well as your business.

Line of Credit

A flexible way to borrow money is through a line of credit, where you negotiate a maximum amount that you can borrow (rather like a credit card) and then borrow and repay in a way that is convenient to you. http://businesslineof.credit/ is a good source of information about the loans that are available.

Crowdfunding

This online way to find investors has become very popular in recent years. Using one of the many platforms, you can put out your business vision to a very large number of individuals, who can either lend money or invest in the equity of your business.

Angels

Rather than seek a large number of small investments through crowdfunding, you could try to reach a smaller number of individuals with significant funds to invest. They often operate through groups, and your local chamber of commerce may be able to put you in touch.

Small Business Administration 

The government is committed to creating a good environment for small businesses, so you may qualify for an SBA loan. These are targeted at particular areas, and it is well worth researching whether you are eligible.

Explore the Ground

There are many avenues to raise cash to get a new business off the ground. By getting to the stage of needing startup money, you have already demonstrated resolution and commitment. You need to draw on that same resolution to nail the deal that is right for you.

Continue Reading

Mastering management skills to help your business succeed

There’s no getting around it: one of the key contributors to failure in small and medium-sized businesses (and sometimes even big ones) is poor management. Altogether too many people think that because they can build a business they can run one, and try to learn on the job. Others get out of their depth at a departmental level, inadvertently undermining the rest of the enterprise. However, it doesn’t need to be like this. What makes the difference is recognizing that a manager isn’t just there to tell people what to do – good management requires specific skills. If you want to make a success of it, these are some of the things you have to learn.

Strategic thinking

The first thing you need to understand is that management isn’t just internal – it’s about understanding the position of each department within the company as a whole, understanding how that company fits into its sector, and understanding how that sector fits into the wider economy. This makes it possible to make effective decisions about actions that are needed and how finances should be managed. A manager has to be able to see the big picture, and should aim to plan about three years ahead while remaining flexible enough to account for changing circumstances.

Networking

Part of a manager’s job is to network, both within the company and outside it. Good networking brings in opportunities for improving the mechanics of the supply chain. It provides the chance to keep on learning new techniques for internal use, and it helps you to keep your finger on the pulse as far as developments within your sector are concerned. Networking doesn’t just take place at formal events, so you should be ready to get out and about and build up useful social connections.

Time management

In order for a business to run smoothly, everybody needs to be coordinated. This means that sticking to deadlines is really important. Managers not only need to get their own work done on time but also need to make sure that everybody in their teams do. This isn’t just about pushing people. You’ll also need to be aware of their individual capacities and make sure that work is portioned out in a manner that is practical, even if that doesn’t always seem fair.

Setting objectives

In order to facilitate work getting done on time and employees being able to engage with it enthusiastically, managers need to be able to set clear objectives and persuade their teams of their importance. At the most basic level, employees know that their livelihood depends on the company’s success, but they need to understand why particular actions are important to that success, and they need to have a clear picture of what’s required of them. As a rule, they will be more efficient when they can see how what they have been asked to do will contribute to the whole.

Communication

Communicating successfully with employees, board members, and others requires real flexibility on a manager’s part. This is one of the most important aspects of the job, and the reason why, for instance, Washington State’s online MBA program offers specialist courses in communications. First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that individuals vary and that information can’t always be delivered in a one-size-fits-all way. To be successful, you will need to be able to identify and adapt to the needs of your team. You’ll also need to be strong on formal communication techniques, especially for external use.

Investing in people

Ultimately, a manager can achieve nothing without a good team, but it’s the manager’s job to refine and develop that team. This means that you’ll need to be able to identify talents that should be brought to the fore, deal with clashes between team members, and identify weaknesses that suggest the need for additional training. All this will be more successful if your team members feel valued as individuals and are able to develop real trust in you, so you will need to work hard to be seen as supportive, attentive, and fair.

Good management enables a business to optimize its assets – including human ones – and punch above its weight in the marketplace. Management skills can be learned, but this is only possible when managers accept that they don’t know everything already and are willing to see themselves not only as bosses but also as functional parts of a larger business organism. If you’re ready for this, sharpening up your skills could enable you to take your business to the next level.

Continue Reading

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball: How to Stay on Top of Your Business Overheads and Taxes

Being self-employed is challenging enough for most people, but trying to keep up with business records while focusing on keeping everything running can be downright difficult. Yet keeping accurate business records is a legal requirement.

Besides, if you can manage to keep track of your bookkeeping, you might also save money. Organized business records make it easier and faster to prepare your end-of-year accounts, so you save money on accounting costs.

Related: Last minute tax tips

When your book-keeping is accurately documented, you also have the advantage of being able to monitor your business’s cash flow at a glance.

Related:

The problem many self-employed people face is knowing exactly what to record. Here are some tips for staying on top of your business records.

  • Invoices: All the invoices you receive need to be tracked accurately. Include information about the amount, the date the amount was paid, the name of the company or customer and what the invoice was for.
  • Receipts: Staying on top of your expenses is the easiest way for your business to remain tax-efficient. Keep track of any receipts that relate to your work in any way.  Your accountant can offer some advice about which expenses you can claim as a self-employed person.
  • Business Expenses: There are some business expenses that may not receive receipts. For example, if you have a credit card for your business, you might use your bank statements to keep track of some expenses instead of recording receipts.
  • Keep Personal Finances Separate: Many self-employed people combine their business and personal finances in the same accounts. However, no matter what size your business might be, it’s important to keep business and personal finances separated. Open a separate bank account to for your business funds and use this account to cover your expenses. You’ll find it much easier to keep track of what’s been spent on business. You also won’t be wasting time trying to break down which expenses related to what entity at tax reporting time. There are plenty of tools to help you with your taxes if you need them, and a lot of them are free too!
  • Use the Right Apps: Self-employed people can make their lives much easier by using the right apps to record and track their accounts on the go. If you enter in one or two items every couple of days, you’re staying on top of your records as you go. You’re also saving plenty of time, as you won’t need to spend long hours at the end of the reporting period trying to catch up with all those entries.
  • Back-up Regularly: No matter how busy you are, make the time to back up your records on a regular basis. There’s nothing worse than suffering a hard-drive failure or technical disaster and losing your business records in the process.

Staying on top of your business records doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. The key is to take financial control and be sure your records are up to date on a regular basis. You’ll end up saving a lot of time and hassle in the long run.

Related: How to be a great landlord

 

Continue Reading

7 Steps to Healthy Time-Management

Who among us couldn’t use a little more organization in our lives? Whether you are just discovering the wonders of  planners or you are hyper-organized already, there are a few ways you can work smarter, not harder toward accomplishing this goal. We’ve gathered seven simple tasks that can set you on the path to perfect planning

1. Create Categories

Just about everyone has some basic categories under which all their tasks fall. These are things such as:

  • Home
  • Work
  • Family
  • Personal
  • Money
  • Long-term

Keeping your to-do list and appointments organized based on these headings can make a huge list seem more manageable. Plus, tasks in some categories, such as “home” may only be possible to accomplish on the weekends, which helps you prioritize your weekdays. The opposite could be true for “money,” which mostly must happen between Mondays and Fridays.

Related: Increase productivity with standing desks

2. Consider Color

Once you’ve created your categories, you might want to assign a color to each one. Get yourself a rainbow pack of highlighters or writing pens and then color-code all of the entries in your planner. If you are a visuals-oriented person, this method can help you see what you need to be working on with just a glance. As an added bonus, having a little color on your list makes it seem a bit less intimidating – and all the more rewarding when you cross a task off the list.

3. Brain Dump

When putting together your planner, try to think of every possible thing you want to get done. Be specific, and don’t feel you have to leave things out because they are too big as projects. Include birthdays, appointments, phone calls to make, household chores and goals you want to accomplish. After you’ve written down everything you can think of, then it is time to organize the list according to category and priority.

4. To-Don’t List

Many people struggle to stay organized because they spend time on tasks that are more pleasurable than the harder chores in the planner. But these distractions usually work against you. It is OK to create a to-don’t list, which will include things you want to accomplish someday but not in the immediate future. When you start to feel yourself go on a tangent, remember to stick to the to-do list and not the productivity-sapping to-don’t list.

5. Consolidate Calendars

If you have a anniversary/birthday/holiday calendar, a medical appointment calendar and a work deadline calendar, you are juggling too much. Find one planner format that will accommodate all the different scheduling types that you maintain and fit the important stuff into that. That way, you will have a wide overview in front of you at all times, and you can even color code each type of task (see No. 2, above).

6. Planner Pamper

The only thing that competes with the satisfaction level of crossing something off a to-do list is the handfeel and aesthetic nature of an attractive, well-organized planner. The smell of the pages, the geometric designs of the calendar pages and the heft of the book all add to the appeal. Even if you are more drawn to electronic planning apps or your cell phone calendar, there’s something appealing about choosing the system and look that’s just right for you.

7. Make It a Habit

Finally, take the time to update your chore lists and appointments every day. Not only will you keep on top of your time management, you’ll also be creating a healthy habit after a stretch of time. It doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes to cross things off or add them, and you’ll be glad you made the time.

Getting organized isn’t difficult when you get a planner, make your list and keep it updated. These seven tips should keep you on track.

You might also enjoy: Mini-guide for home business

Continue Reading

Building Productivity in Your Business, Five Steps to Success

If you had to ask people what contributed most to the success of a business, what do you think they would say? People would probably list things like reputation, quality of service, workplace culture, advertising spend and word of mouth referrals as key indicators of a business’ success. If we had to list any one thing that contributes to the success of a business we would say one thing: productivity.

maxresdefault

After all, if you look at traits such as reputation or quality, they all rely on people being productive in order for them to happen.

You don’t get anywhere when you don’t do anything, and so we believe that a huge part of your success comes down to how productive you are. In order to get your business thriving we have outlined three key tips to get your business to a state of higher productivity.

Step One – Get the most important (or nasty) tasks done first

We all know what it feels like when you get to work in the morning, and staring you in the face is that task that you put off yesterday because you really didn’t feel like doing it. Don’t you wish you had just gotten it out of the way?

A key thing to know about getting work done is that if it’s unpleasant or important (or unpleasant AND important) you need to get it done, pronto. That way you will have attacked the task when you’re fresh and ready to go in the morning and you’ll have more time to spend on other tasks during the day. Plus, you won’t have the weight of an important task hanging over you like a guillotine.

Win win, really.

Step Two – Manage time like a boss

When you are a business owner you need to manage your time well, which includes managing the time of your employees as well, so make sure you can prioritise it. Strong time management will trickle down into other areas of your business, which will be sure to help your business and employees to be more productive.

Step Three – Don’t multitask

While you might think you’re working like a pro checking your emails and balancing out a couple of editing documents, all the while chatting online to a prospective client, the fact is that you’re not spending enough time on any of these tasks. An unwavering focus on one task at a time (with proper time management) will be the best way to manage your workload, and make sure that each task is getting the attention it needs..

Step Four – Get it done

Sometimes you won’t want to do certain things, and this is just part of being employed. While procrastination is an easy pitfall and it can be difficult to stay focussed on an unpleasant project, allowing things to build up will be much worse in the long term.

Step Five – Keep your eye on the prize 

Make sure you always having something to work towards. If you are a Melbourne business with the aim to expand into other states or territories, then you need to be looking ahead and investigating your options. Take a look at http://www.servcorp.com.au/en/virtual-offices/prices-locations/brisbane/ to see the various virtual offices on offer. If you become overwhelmed, hiring a business coach who can help you to grow can pay for itself in the long term, so don’t be scared to look for help in boosting your business potential.

Don’t forget to work on building a strong work culture and focus on developing a plan that you can adjust and change to suit your business as it grows. A company’s strength is in the productivity of its employees, and making sure they have the structure and ease to work effectively will quickly boost your business’ potential.

Continue Reading

Tips on How to Make Your Own Business a Reality

Many people throughout their lives will have that light-bulb moment, you know the one, when an idea hits you for an innovation or an enterprise that you think could work. The sad truth is that far too many people don’t follow through with their ideas which can lead to regrets later in life or the possibility that someone else will come along with your idea and make it a success. There are many reasons why people won’t indulge their ideas and turn their dream into reality, whether it is fear, a lack of confidence or simply a defeatist attitude that stops them from doing this. If you fall into the bracket of having a fantastic idea and you’re not sure how to follow it through, then here are some tips on how to make your own business a reality.

Don’t Fear Failure

Almost every business or product that has been taken to the market has suffered setbacks along the way, these set backs are not failures, far from it. In fact, set backs are exactly what you need in order to perfect your craft, business or product and in a way, they should be welcomed. The notion of not trying something out in case you fail is one that should be dispelled from your mind, just go for it.

Research and Plan

maxresdefault-1

65% of start-up business’ fail in their first year, the reasons for this are usually a failure to understand the market and the competition and an overly optimistic financial forecast. Before you even consider heading into the marketplace, it is imperative that you understand your target customers and the competition that you may face. Spending time on this in the beginning is the difference between failure and success. From a financial standpoint, you should always have a full and realistic plan for income and expenditure in the first year, the best approach in year 1 is to be frugal and sensible with how and where you spend your money. Small business loans are a great idea when you are starting out but make sure that you borrow within your means as if you fail to do so then this will bring added pressure to your business.

Make Friends

Creating a community of support around you is one of the most important things you can do for your business, regardless of what field you are entering in to. Whether it be making contacts within advertising or people higher up the food chain than you, if you create these contacts in then beginning then they will pay you dividends in the future. Remember to offer help and support to others if you wish to receive the same thing in return.

Take Advice

You may well think that your idea is the best thing since sliced bread, while this may be true it is important that you never become arrogant in your decision-making. Always seek help and advice from others who either know you well or know the marketplace well. The wisest businessmen and entrepreneurs out there make the best decisions because they seek counsel and you should be no different, even if you are convinced of a certain path or strategy, you should always bounce it off someone first to see if they can see any cracks or holes in your plan.

Continue Reading