3 Indispensable Things to Know When Starting a Business

I’ve been speaking to people, and I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the first quarter of a new year or if there’s more confidence in the economy, but I’ve realized that many more people are looking to start their own businesses. As a business owner and social entrepreneur, I think that’s a great thing.

I’m often asked about my thoughts about starting a new venture, and candidly, I love the adrenaline rush, vision driving and strategy development of a new business opportunity. If you’ve been thinking about beginning a new company, there’s no time like the present to start to get yourself into the entrepreneurial mindset to consider if it makes sense for you.

If I were speaking to someone right now starting off as a new business owner for the first time, there are three essential things I would suggest they keep in mind:

Do You Really Want to Be an Entrepreneur?

The first question is the toughest, but you’ve got to sit with it for a while. I’ve spoken to many people along the way who have started a business, and then have fallen flat on their face and returned to the safe embrace of a 9 to 5 job. Being a business owner is not as “glamorous” as it may appear.

Sure, you’ll have a flexible schedule (on occasion) and are the final decision maker on large and small decisions, but being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. The truth is you will never work as hard as you do than when you’re a business owner, particularly in the early years. Twelve hour plus days, including weekends, is not uncommon.

Being a business owner means it’s all on you. You may have other people working with you. You may be one of those leaders who allows his team of professionals to be the professionals they are, but as an entrepreneur, your responsibility is to understand every area of your business: sales, marketing, legal, finance and accounting, administrative, marketing, research and development, product development, etc. It takes a great deal of time to know all areas of your business and make sure they are working correctly. It’s an endless process.

Do You Really Want to go into Business with Your Friends and Family?

Many times, particularly with small businesses, you’ll have friends or family members decide to go into business together. It makes sense to want to go into business with people you know and trust, but do you want to do that? If there is anything that comes up your relationships can be affected.

A great scenario is this one: you’re working 12 hour days and doing great in your areas of responsibility. Your business partner, and good buddy, perhaps is not as hard working and as disciplined as you are and so resentment begins to build. That’s a recipe for conflict and the likelihood that your business will survive with internal friction exponentially decreases with the increase in tension.

Another possibility is that you don’t go into business with any friend or family as your partner, but perhaps you decide to hire that same good buddy to be one of your first employees because you trust him. Again, what happens if he’s not putting in the hours or work that you think is essential for business success? There have been countless examples of business owners who partnered or hired friends or family only to be in a situation where the business has suffered (as well as the relationship) because of anything from work styles to fraud. It’s very tough to separate your business from your relationships without potentially ruining them.

Decide if You’re the Cupcake Baker or the Business Owner

Many people have a passion for something in their lives, and that’s great. Perhaps they love making cupcakes, or they love music and want to sell instruments. Whatever is your passion or interest, if you have one, you will not be only doing that work. As the business owner, the most crucial part of your business is a vision, sales, etc. and the path the company as laid out in your business plan.

If you love painting and you decide to open up a paint shop, you will not be spending your day painting. You will spend your day selling paint, dealing with customers and managing the books. Same goes for cupcakes or even widgets. The business owner that wants to grow his or her company is not going to be baking cupcakes exclusively but also running the business.

If you’re looking to grow, you’ve got to focus on the total “business.” As a business owner, the cupcake making, painting, music or widget making will be only one element, but it’s certainly not the “business.” The business is the promotion of your product, the price point, finances, customers, cash register, accounts receivables and payables, and payroll, etc.

In conclusion, don’t get me wrong. For me, I wouldn’t change anything in the world for my life as an entrepreneur. I love being a business owner and digging into all elements of my companies and brands. It’s invigorating, exciting and no day is the same. Any business owner will tell you, however, that the points mentioned earlier are essential for seeing if the entrepreneurial path is genuinely what you want.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Developing A Business Startup Success Strategies That Work

It can be easy to lose sight of the very reasons why you wanted to open your business startup. You can get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations, leaving little time to focus on what makes your business startup standout in the market. Having a strategy in place that allows you to keep you motivated can ensure your business stays on a path of success.

Fall In Love With Your Business

Any business that you invest your heart in soul in should be the great love of your life. You need to nurture it and watch it grow. Having a real passion for what you are doing and the products and services you sell can make your business startup a real labor of love. You should have a real hunger that drives you to do well. Making your business startup idea one that you can stand behind and love to eternity is the first step in achieving success.

If it seems that you are losing that connection with your company and not really feeling the love, take a step back and allow yourself to remember how it all started. This can spark your emotions for your business and allow you to fall back in love with what you are doing. Your passion for your business is often times enough to get you through the challenging times.

Surround Yourself With Good People

From your employees to your professional network, the people that you surround yourself with can have a strong influence on your business startup. These very people can give you new ideas and help educate you on your business’ operations.

Having positive people to lift you up can be a strong motivator and allow you to have someone to bounce thoughts off of when you feel uncertain about a decision. Use your network to gain valuable information and learn from your peers on what mistakes to avoid. They can prove to be a big part of helping you run your business and ensuring it is successful in its endeavors.

Don’t forget your employees; they can be a big part of keeping your focused on your business startup on a daily basis. Good employees will drive your customer service and in turn your revenue. When your employees believe in your business and the vision you have set for it, it makes it that much more important that you deliver now and into the future.

Create A Marketing Strategy

Having a marketing strategy in place to promote your business is necessary to help achieve strong revenues. You should have prepped and planned a strategy that you want to adhere to market your business startup to your customers. It doesn’t have to be a large portion of your budget, but it should include some effort on your part.

Think about where your customers go for their information. Be visible to them and make sure you use every opportunity that is available to you to market your business with both new and existing customers. Try social media, check into local advertising, hold and an event, and use what is available to you to reach your customers and introduce your business’ products and services to the masses.

If you stay aggressive with your marketing plan, you are sure to garner the attention of your current customer base as well as a new group of potential clients. This can bring in more revenue and keep your business startup on a path of success.

Get To Know Your Customers

It is your responsibility as a business startup owner to know everything there is to know about your customers. You should have a strong idea of who they are, what their likes are, and where they are located. When you truly understand your customers, the more effectively you can serve them with your products and services.

While your attention may be turned toward gaining new customers, don’t lose sight of your current clients. They are the bread and butter of your business, and you want to make sure you are not replacing existing customers with new customers at a losing pace. Show your loyal customers how much you appreciate their business. Without them, your business will only see marginal success, and you want to make sure to grow your business startup rather than be stagnate in its approach.

Take Time For You

It may be difficult to imagine, but you need time away from your business startup. You may think that you can’t take time away or that your momentum will crumple without you, but taking a vacation every now and then is one of the best things you can do for your company. When you step away for a moment, you allow yourself the opportunity to recharge and refresh. You’ll be able to see your business in a new light and be surging with motivation when you return.

You’ll be surprised at how much a vacation from your business startup can do for you. You’ll be filled with new ideas and solutions to problems that you previously thought unsolvable. Being able to see your business from a new angle can be just what you need to take it in a new direction, move it forward, or reach to new heights. Your business startup will appreciate the time you took, and you will be ready to take on new challenges with a fury as your drive will be restored and you will feel anew.

Plus, you have good people surrounding you that you can trust to steer the ship when you are away. Rely on your employees and allow them to do what you hired them to do. You’ll be pleasantly pleased with how quick they are to pick up the slack when you are away and the positive results you’ll see upon your return.

Having a strategy in place can ensure your business stays on track and experiences great success now and into the future. It is important to stay focused, think about your customers, and take a break when you need it. By embracing your business startup and trusting in yourself, your business will reach the success that you deserve and have always envisioned.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

How to Get Your Business Funded in 2018

Contrary to popular belief, business plans do not generate business financing. True, there are many kinds of financing options that require a business plan, but nobody invests in a business plan.

Investors need a business plan as a document that communicates ideas and information, but they invest in a company, in a product, and in people.

Small business financing myths:
Venture capital is a growing opportunity for funding businesses. Actually, venture capital financing is very rare. I’ll explain more later, but assume that only a very few high-growth plans with high-power management teams are venture opportunities.

Bank loans are the most likely option for funding a new business. Actually, banks don’t finance business start-ups. I’ll have more on that later, too. Banks aren’t supposed to invest depositors’ money in new businesses.

Business plans sell investors. Actually, they don’t well-written and convincing business plan (and pitch) can sell investors on your business idea, but you’re also going to have convince those investors that you are worth investing in. When it comes to investment, it’s as much about whether you’re the right person to run your business as it is about the viability of your business idea.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a business plan. You should. Your business plan is an essential piece of the funding puzzle, explaining exactly how much money you need, and where it’s going to go, and how long it will take you to earn it back. Everyone you talk to is going to expect to see your business plan.

But, depending on what kind of business you have and what your market opportunities are, you should tailor your funding search and your approach. Don’t waste your time looking for the wrong kind of financing.

Where to look for money
The process of looking for money must match the needs of the company. Where you look for money, and how you look for money, depends on your company and the kind of money you need. There is an enormous difference, for example, between a high-growth internet-related company looking for second-round venture funding and a local retail store looking to finance a second location.

In the following sections of this article, I’ll talk more specifically about different types of investment and lending available, to help you get your business funded.

1. Venture capital

The business of venture capital is frequently misunderstood. Many start-up companies resent venture capital companies for failing to invest in new ventures or risky ventures. People talk about venture capitalists as sharks-because of their supposedly predatory business practices, or sheep-because they supposedly think like a flock, all wanting the same kinds of deals.

This is not the case. The venture capital business is just that-a business. The people we call venture capitalists are business people who are charged with investing other people’s money. They have a professional responsibility to reduce risk as much as possible. They should not take more risk than is absolutely necessary to produce the risk/return ratios that the sources of their capital ask of them.

Venture capital shouldn’t be thought of as a source of funding for any but a very few exceptional startup businesses. Venture capital can’t afford to invest in startups unless there is a rare combination of product opportunity, market opportunity, and proven management. A venture capital investment has to have a reasonable chance of producing a tenfold increase in business value within three years. It needs to focus on newer products and markets that can reasonably project increasing sales by huge multiples over a short period of time. It needs to work with proven managers who have dealt with successful start-ups in the past.

If you are a potential venture capital investment, you probably know it already. You have management team members who have been through that already. You can convince yourself and a room full of intelligent people, that your company can grow ten times over in three years.

If you have to ask whether your new company is a possible venture capital opportunity, it probably isn’t. People in new growth industries, multimedia communications, biotechnology, or the far reaches of high-technology products, generally know about venture capital and venture capital opportunities.

If you are looking for names and addresses of venture capitalists, start with the internet.

The names and addresses of venture capitalists are also available in a couple of annual directories:

The Western Association of Venture Capitalists publishes an annual directory. This organization includes most of the California venture capitalists based in Menlo Park, CA, which is the headquarters of an amazing percentage of the nation’s venture capital companies.
Pratt’s Guide to Venture Capital Sources is an annual directory available online or in print format.

2. Sort of venture capital: Angels and others

Venture capital is not the only source of investment for start-up businesses or small businesses. Many companies are financed by smaller investors in what is called “private placement.” For example, in some areas there are groups of potential investors who meet occasionally to hear proposals. There are also wealthy individuals who occasionally invest in new companies. In the lore of business start-ups, groups of investors are often referred to as “doctors and dentists,” and individual investors are often called “angels.” Many entrepreneurs turn to friends and family for investment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off