Category Archives: Small Business

The Fashion Industry: Turning Your Passion Into A Business

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Many people dream of having a career in an industry that they’re passionate about, but there are a lot of steps between having a dream and making it a reality. And in an industry as cut-throat and competitive as the fashion industry, that passion must be paired with some

Research the Market

It’s easy to think that just because you’re knowledgeable about fashion, that you know everything about the industry. This is a dangerous misconception.

Learn everything you can about the clothing industry before entering it. Look at comparable clothing businesses. Are they doing okay? Who are they targeting? What are their numbers? Which time of the year is it busiest and which time is the least active? Continue reading

Fighting Fraud: Eight Tips To Keep Your Small Business Safe

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Scammers hurt small businesses in the United States every year. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the median loss is a whopping $98,000.

The prevention of fraud requires monitoring the workplace, continuously updated controls, data systems, and special procedures related to preventing fraud and scams. Fraud happens when there is opportunity.

The individual may believe the company owes him or her additional compensation. Perhaps the perpetrator knows precisely how weak the company’s controls and systems are and believes he or she will not be caught. Continue reading

Does My Business Need To File Quarterly Reports?

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The financial aspect of a business is arguably the most essential for every entity. This is not only required for the perusal of the different stakeholders in the company, but it is also the core indicator of whether the business is making profits or losses, and what measures can be taken based on these indicators.

Normally, businesses that have gone public require having their financial records filed for a number of reasons. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires these documents in order to properly propose the securities laws and in order to effectively regulate the securities market industry. Continue reading

Why Your Business Should Be Getting Ready For The Holidays Right Now

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When it comes to business, the holidays are your best time of year. When people are getting ready to relax, you should be getting ready for the busiest time of the year. The fact is that relaxing means consumption, and consumption is how your company gets rich!

In order to maximize your take in this holiday season, you should take some things into consideration. Here are some of the top reasons that your business should start getting ready for the holidays right now.

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The Ins and Outs of Outsourcing

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By MJ Plaster

Before you leap into outsourcing, consider how it could affect established relationships with current employees and customers? It’s one thing to save money, but you don’t want to lose key employees or have customers run for the exit.

What Is Outsourcing?

The term “outsource” has two meanings:

  • To contract with a person or business to provide talent that doesn’t reside within your workforce. The talent you hire is “work for hire” or sometimes hired on retainer and must fall within IRS guidelines for contractors.
  • To offshore work to a country with cheaper labor.

Both forms of outsourcing provide a service that’s cheaper than hiring an employee when you consider employee overhead.

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Six Tips For Creating An Innovative Business Card

Are you a new graduate on the job hunt? Are you in an established career and you’re looking for a new challenge?

If you’re getting ready to venture into the world of job searching, you need a great business card that will be memorable, is clear and will get you noticed.

Don’t know where to start? Follow our guide of creative ideas for business cards and get started on making an impression with your future employers.

The key to remember in deciding on a business card is to avoid cards that are too gimmicky or cute that they leave an impression that you shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s a fine line to walk, but we’ll help you right now:

Increase the Weight of Your Card

There is something that happens in the psyche when you have a weightier card. It feels like more a library card or a credit card. It feels more serious.

Consider increasing the weight of your business card’s paper stock, and you’ll have an instant payoff in the minds of whomever is holding your card next.

Invest in Letter-pressing or Embossing

If you’ve got the budget for it, consider adding an element of letter-pressing or embossing to your card. It’s going to be a little pricey, as this is a craft, niche operation, but your card will look beautiful.

This is something for designers especially to consider. Your business card needs to match your profession or the field you hope to enter.

Try Out a Smaller Card

One trend in business cards today is to try an alternate shape from the traditional rectangle. A square card or even a smaller rectangle add interest and set your card apart from the pile of others.

Consider Wood

Are you going into a field involving sustainability or the environment? Are you a craft woodworker? Consider a wood business card.

These cards are made of layers of thin wood, but they are sturdy, creative and are much different than any other card your future employer may receive.

Die-Cut Cards

Add some creativity and professionalism to your card by adding a die-cut element to your business card. This could just be in the form of your business logo or the initial of your last name.

It may be a little pricey to get a die-cut because it is a custom design element. However, it will add some style and interest to your card and make it memorable to future employers.

Digital Cards

A new trend in business cards is to forego paper altogether and make your business card digital. You can do this by making a digital card on your iPad.

Take the iPad with you to visits with employers. The card needs to have a QR code on it so that the person can scan your card with his or her smart phone and record the information about you.

An alternative is to keep the traditional business card but to include a QR code directly on the card. You’ll not only make it easy for a future employer to keep up with you, but you’ll score major cool points for being tech savvy.

Are you inspired yet? Use our guide of handy tips for finding an innovative business card that is professional and memorable. You’re on your way to finding a great job — or least leaving a really great impression by investing in a great card. Good luck in your search!

Three Hurdles Every New Business Must Face

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90% of new businesses fail within the first five years. Contrary to what you may believe, most of the failures are not because of faulty products.

The reasons that many businesses fail have to do with a host of other issues, hurdles that every new business must face. Here are a few of those issues spelled out and how your company can face those challenges successfully.

Budgeting properly for the initial advertising campaigns

Your initial ad campaigns may not bring in the money to make your company solvent. This is not something to be afraid of; on Silicon Valley, this is par for the course.

It is expected that successful companies will require many rounds of funding in order to get into the black. Amazon has yet to turn a profit!

The initial ad campaigns are to raise awareness and create buzz for the brand. The challenge is to keep the business afloat while there is no money coming in. This requires a good relationship with your banker or other investors. It also requires proper budgeting that lowers your cost per conversion.

Keep budgets low, but let your financial partners know exactly what you need. Planning is more important than being cheap for no reason.

Finding the right partnerships

Unless you are doing all of your manufacturing, post-production, marketing and distribution in house, you will need other partnerships in order to make your business successful.

Finding the right partners can be just as challenging as coming up with the initial idea for your business. You may have to go through a few bad eggs before you find the people whom you can really trust.

You will need to do a great deal of research into the backgrounds of businesses that you need. You also need to ignore the solicitations of businesses that you do not need.

As soon as word hits the street that you have a line of credit with a reputable financial institution, there will be a line of businesses who will be trying to take that money from you. Say no three times as much as you say yes – this is the general rule of creating partnerships for yourself.

Creating the proper infrastructure

Perhaps the most important aspect of your business in its initial stages is finding the right team. You will need a management team that sticks through the tough times.

You will need a technical team that can handle being overloaded with work. You will need an administrative team that can organize files and financial records. For most small business startups, these three aspects of business will all fall on the same heads.

In short, you need people who are willing to give up outside activities and lots of sleep in order to handle all of the monotonous aspects of a new business. These people will also need to work incredibly well together, as they will be spending a great deal of time in the same room if the business is to work.

There will need to be decisions made on financing, taxes, hardware, health insurance, marketing, promotion and everything else that a business needs in order to operate.

Three Small Changes That Can Make A Big Difference For Your Business

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If you are running a small business, then you are always looking for ways to save a bit of money. There are many small habits that can help you to create more leverage for your business if you look hard enough.

Here are some small business spending habits that you can take advantage of to save money for your company.

Any spending that is in the short term is potentially harmful.

If you are not investing in the long term aspects of your business, then you are harming your bottom line. There are many different ways that you can take advantage of the notion of investing to give yourself a leg up in the marketplace.

Start by investing in the niceties of your office. You can save yourself and your employees thousands of dollars per year as well as plenty of manhours if you simply buy a espresso machine.

This will keep your employees in the office during break time, creating more inter-office bonds and raising productivity – no one has to go anywhere for their next cup of coffee. They can stay, continue to discuss business strategy, and keep their ideas coming in continuance.

Make sure that your interior design is conducive to productive team based thinking and synergy.

As the business owner, you have the ability and the responsibility to create an environment that is geared towards group thought and camaraderie.

One of the easiest ways that you can do this is to arrange the furniture so that people can easily find and speak to each other about ideas that they have come up with. You can also create a group room that will allow ideas to grow as they are created by individuals that are in your company.

If you are not the boss, then you should ask for an environment like this. The best companies in the world create environments like this for their employees. Tell your bosses to look up companies such as Google and Apple to see the things that they do for their employees that are done in literally no other companies around the entire world.

These changes are not expensive; they simply require remodeling for the benefit of the employees. They can also save the average business a great deal of money in solutions that do not work when it comes to bringing people together inside the company.

Consider virtual solutions rather than hardware solutions in order to save money.

Many of the most competitive companies around the globe have based their cost curve on having a virtual office rather than an office that is full of hardware that breaks down and is always in need of protection. The virtual office spreads the responsibility of security and maintenance around to larger companies who are much better equipped to handle the burden.

Putting your information in the cloud is a good start. Instead of having to rely on hardware options that can break down at any time, you gain the cutting edge solutions of the cloud that will give you more leverage to invest in true research and development rather than in safety and maintenance of your ideas.

Photo: Mick Baker / CC 2.0

Without These Five Products, Your Startup is Doomed

 

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Deciding to start your own business is exciting and scary. You may have dreams of becoming the next big thing in your niche, but if you go into it unprepared you will crash and burn quickly.

Most start-ups fail due to lack of funding, but without a solid foundation and clear understanding of your customer base, a start-up can never get off the ground.

An often overlooked part of a solid foundation are essential business products that help with preparedness. Without these five products, your start-up is doomed from the get-go.

A Business Plan Kit

When I started my own business a few years back, I had no idea business plan kits existed.  I also had no idea why I would need one. Because I never put a clear vision for my business on paper, I restarted and changed direction three times, costing me valuable time and money.

A business plan kit helps you define company values, set forth a funding plan, marketing plan, launching plan, and more. All start-ups and established companies need a business plan regardless of business type.

Accounting Software

I remember taking my receipts and putting them into a pile thinking it would be easy to figure out my income and expenses once tax time came. It only took one time of sifting through mounds of unorganized receipts for me to understand what a mistake I had made.

You do not need to be an expert in accounting, but you do need to understand the basics. Luckily basic accounting software can teach you those basics and keep your finances organized. Choose a program that is accessible on both your computer and a mobile device. That way you can enter expenses on the go. When first starting out, there are several excellent free products out there. You can always upgrade to a paid version down the road.

All-In-One-Printer

Printers that can do it all are not expensive, and they are a necessity for any new business. You want to be able to print, scan, copy, and fax when needed. You also want to be able to choose black and white or color.

When a new business is just starting out, money is tight. Being able to print your own business cards and letterhead can provide professional quality business essentials while saving lots of money.

Social Media Products

Part of launching a successful new business is creating buzz around the business. Many new entrepreneurs have a great idea that could make them a lot of money, but once they launch, all they hear is crickets. Why? They didn’t market their business properly through social media.

Free products like Hootsuite can help you identify the people with the most influence in your niche. Once you know who they are you can begin to build a relationship through social media. You can also schedule your own tweets and posts to go out regularly through the day. A shout-out by someone with influence in your niche can sometimes bring more business than paid advertising ever could.

Email Marketing Products

Without an email marketing plan, it is difficult to be successful. Basic plans are inexpensive and bring a lot of value for the cost. Not only do they give you a database for communication with potential customers, but also they give you an avenue for marketing funnels and more advanced methods as you grow.

There are free products out there but beware. If you do not have a program with a double opt-in and auto responder, you could easily violate anti-spam laws. You usually need a paid version to add these features.

There are many other products you can utilize to prepare for a successful start-up, but these five are essential. As you grow, you will learn more successful ways to market your business while keeping accurate records.

In the end, all that matters is delivering what the customer wants. Learn as much as you can about their desires and fears, and then utilize social media and other means of marketing to get the word out that you have what they need. Most importantly, deliver on your promise, and you will be a success story among the many start-ups doomed from the start.

Four Companies That Should Be Role Models For Your Startup

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All the famous companies that we are all very proud of today and those that every unemployed person wants to work for were once start-ups.Today in the stock markets some of them are considered as blue chip companies while others are rated among Fortune 500 companies.

Some of the companies that have now grown to become global brands had to start somewhere. A number of them some of which are now worth billions are said to have been launched from makeshift headquarters, coffee shops, and relatives’ garages as well university living rooms.

Some of the incredible examples of companies that start-ups should look at include;

Apple

Steve Jobs and Steven Wozniak were good friends in high school. They both happened to have a strong interest in electronics. Jobs and Wozniak had this desire to come up with personal computers that they would sell to their friends and close relatives.

It all started in the year 1976 when Woz designed what would come to be referred to as Apple 1. Jobs was excited by the idea and being the marketing genius that he was he took Apple 1 to the marketplace. The reception was incredible.

The story of Apple is an interesting one especially the fact that it had to deal with already established names in the industry like BIG Blue.

The age of Jobs and Wozniak too should offer motivation to start-ups and show them that they should not wait until it’s too late to try and make an idea a reality.

Google

Google is the leading search engine globally. It was founded by Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergei Brin in the year 1998.

It was while they were at Stanford in 1996 that Page and Brin began the process of developing a search engine called BackRub. In the year 1998, they set up their first data center in Page’s room.

Page and Brin were motivated by the fact that their fellow Stanford alum David Filo had founded Yahoo years earlier, they made a decision to start a company as well as looking for investors.

Today Google is used by almost every internet user globally and is rated as one of the most successful companies globally.

Starbucks

It started small in Seattle in the early 70’s. Howard Schultz while on a trip to Milan Italy visited the espresso bars and was greatly impressed. He decided to implement the model in Seattle, and immediately everybody become coffee crazy.

Starbucks has since expanded from a single coffee shop and has now opened thousands of its retails all over the world.

Nokia

It was founded in the year 1865. Gradually is has grown to become one of the biggest communication and information technology companies in the globe.

However, Nokia started small producing leather footwear called Galoshes. It’s in the year 1987 that they introduced Mobira Cityman 900 their first handheld phone.

There are other compelling stories of companies like Facebook that was started by Mark Zuckerberg while he was still in the university. Some of the other companies that startups should look at include; Alibaba, Yahoo, and even Toyota.

In general, the challenges that faced entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, who was a co-founder having to leave Apple and go and try out other start-ups like Next and Pixar, demonstrates to start-ups the need to forge forward even when they experience failure.

The prosperity of such companies has been associated with the fact that they make products that are well thought, superior quality, and designed to be simple to use, which should be the guiding principles for any start-up out there.

Photo: Marco Pakoeningrat / CC 2.0