Identify A Good Business Match For You

When asked which of them liked to cook, they replied that neither liked to cook and neither understood much about the food industry. So what do you think will happen to their dream?

Sadly for Doug and Teresa, their dream of starting up a business will remain just that – a dream.

Why? Because the gap between where they are now and what they need to learn to start up this particular business is more than two degrees of separation.

Two Degrees of Separation for Small Business Start-Ups

If you’re thinking about starting up a business in today’s post-recession economy, it’s more important than ever before to focus on getting up and running as quickly as possible.

For that reason, the one thing I caution against is starting up a new business that is more than two degrees different from anything else you’ve done before in your life or career. That’s because, if you extend beyond two degrees, it’s likely that you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed with all that you’ll need to learn and do just to get up-to-speed.

For example, if you have always enjoyed owning pets, then starting up a business as a pet sitter would represent one degree of separation between your present interests and skills and your new business. Starting up an animal shelter might require you to get additional training or certification and might, therefore, represent two degrees. But having a love of and experience with animals wouldn’t help you realize your dream of starting a bakery. That would be way beyond two degrees of separation.

Real Cost of a Free Email Address

One way of doing this is to make sure that every public aspect of your business shows total professionalism. Sure you can run your business from your living room – as long as you don’t advertise that fact by inviting any potential clients over for business meetings. But some things can’t, and shouldn’t be hidden – your phone number and email address (unless you don’t want to give your customers the option to contact you in this manner.)

Your phone number is a relatively simple thing to deal with. As long as you make sure that your phone is answered in a professional manner during business hours, nobody will know if you’re sitting in a prestigious corner office or at your kitchen table as you talk to them. Just keep any children or pets out of range.

Your email address, however, is a different matter. It’s astonishing to see how many small businesses try to save money by going with a free email account with aol, hotmail or similar. To me, nothing shouts ‘unprofessional’ more than such an email address, and considering how cheap it is to register a domain name with a registrar that also gives you an email account, going with a freebie is taking thrift too far. Even a single lost client will cost you far more that you need to pay for a domain name – and I promise you that an unprofessional email address will lose you far more than just one client.

So, if you’re taking the running of your own business seriously, and want others to see you as a professional, get yourself a professional email address. It’ll be a lot cheaper than a free one.

Profile of a New Business

There are few things as heart wrenching to a new mother as the choice between staying at home with the baby, and losing income, social input, the esteem of a career and contact with the world at large, and going back to work, being well off, but coping with the guilt of separation and the fear of missing so many important developments in your child’s life. This is the choice I faced two years ago when pregnant with my first child. My choice may have been easier as I was disillusioned with my career and wanted a change of direction, but the fear of going it alone and severing the ties to financial security just when you need it most was no less real.

At the time, I had a hobby. I liked making jewellery from beads. The beads in my home town were poor quality and expensive. Initially, I didn’t set out to start a business, I just thought I’d buy a few extra on the web, and sell the excess on EBay to fund my own purchases. I had pondered selling my jewellery, but not having a business selling beads.

In the last year of business, I have heard many people sneer at EBay sellers. The assumption is that selling on EBay does not constitute a “real business”. What the business snobs fail to mention is that people make money on EBay. Real money. I was very surprised at how much money I made. So, I bought a few more beads, and sold a few more beads. Very quickly I realised that the money was in selling beads, not jewellery made from beads. At this point I had a nice paying hobby, and contemplated turning it into a full time business.

My first important realisation was that in order to make money doing business professionally I couldn’t rely on wholesalers on this country. There’s nothing wrong with wholesalers, they are a good source of products. But when you purchase from a wholesaler you are paying the manufacturer, an importing agent, customs fees, and the wholesaler’s mark up, then adding your own mark up before selling on. You will either not make much money, or you’ll be too expensive to compete. I started to research manufacturers on the internet, and managed to find some who would be willing to deal in low quantities directly with me. Finding suppliers gets easier as your business ages, as they start to come to you, rather than you looking for them.

The next step is negotiation. Ask the right questions and prices can drop by as much as a third. This is especially useful when your competitors are paying standard prices. You can sell at the same price and make more, or undercut if you wish. Be careful not to sell too cheaply however, as if something is too cheap it’s perceived to be either poor quality or a con.

In selling your product, you need to ensure you have factored in all your costs before setting a price. This seems obvious, but in the early days I forgot to add the overheads of my sales outlets, and as a result made a fraction of what I should have made. You should also set some sort of pricing structure up, as a guide rather than a specific margin.

Now I had a product to sell, and a source to get it from, I needed an outlet. Or two. I decided to stick with EBay, the home of my early successes. EBay is a worldwide community, a global car boot sale. If you have something to sell, there will be someone there who wants to buy it. If there isn’t, don’t bother. However, EBay does have its drawbacks. It’s not cheap for the bulk seller. My fees range between £200 and £400 per month just for EBay, with PayPal (their payment processing facility) on the top of that. There are steps you can take to minimise fees, such as opening an EBay store which has cheaper listing fees. But it’s still an expensive outlet. It was the expense of EBay which made me consider another outlet.

Coming Up With a Good Business Idea

The place is “The Entrepreneurial World”.

No matter what route led us there, most of us reading this article are either wannabe or true entrepreneurs. Now comes the all-important question for those looking to start a business of their own-What Do I sell or provide. Without wasting your time, let me walk you quickly through steps you can take to help you generate business ideas.

What Do You Know?

Starting a business based on what he knows is one of the best assets and advantages a to-be entrepreneur can have when thinking of starting a business. The truth is, “The more you know, the more you can know”. Starting a business you know a lot about will save you costs in form of consultation fees and it can also help you reduce losses and failure of the business.

What Do You Love?

Search yourself. What things do you enjoy doing and how viable are they business-wise? Starting a business based on a hobby could be a good thing. You would have vigour and passion with which to push the business on.

A potential setback is that hobbies that are converted to businesses might end up being what they weren’t intended to be-chores. So think over it very well so that you don’t have both a ruined hobby as well as a ruined business.

It’s Not Compulsory To Go For The Hypey Trend

The business everyone is talking about is probably not one to delve into. Chances are the market is saturated and unless you have a deep pocket at your disposal you will face a very stiff competition to survive in such a market. This takes me to the next point where I would stop.

Love Competition

One of the very few cases where competition can be helpful is in researching a successful niche. If businesses in that niche are still afloat, then such a business could be profitable.

Conclusion

Starting a real world business is not as easy as people perceive it to be. It requires a lot of thoughtful planning, man management, cashflow management, tax payments and many other things. Businesses also require as much time as money. Therefore, research and plan your business very well before you set out.

Market Research

Let’s take a deeper look to determine the market research process that needs to be in place to execute success. There are two solid categories of research data – primary and secondary. Primary research is important because it is the research you will work tirelessly to obtain or the research you will spend lots of money on to hire someone to obtain for you. Primary research involves surveys, interviews, observations, and geographical research. This research all comes with a price. It’s up to the entrepreneur to decide the best methods to use to obtain the primary research. For example, my potential company will be international (located outside of the US). Because my husband is from Bulgaria, we travel to Europe quite often. It is more efficient and cost-effective for us to conduct our primary research in the form of personal and group interviews, phone surveys, and surveying via direct mail or email. Most of my costs for primary research comes from postage, print services, media usage (recording using tapes and film), and incentives for the use of people’s time. Again, the entrepreneur should choose the method that best fits their lifestyle.

Secondary research is one of my favorites because it is information that has been examined and studied by state and government agencies, universities, labor unions, media sources and several other entities. Public, commercial, and educational sources are among the top class of secondary research. If you wish to continue to be cost-efficient, like me, public or educational sources are the way to go. Public sources are usually free and offer reliable information from public libraries and government agencies. An educational source is the statistical research conducted by universities. Though educational sources are often overlooked, the information is typically obtained by professors of the highest honor. In most cases, educational sources can serve as substantial evidence for an entrepreneur. Commercial sources, which include banks and other financial institutions, are great and highly recommended, but they do involve a fee. As a state employee in the art world, I rely heavily on public and educational sources to keep me updated on the status of the arts across North Carolina. I also enjoy reading sources from people in the academia world – it gives me the sense of a more interpersonal source.

Any company’s business plan will be impossible to develop without the market research process. With the above scientific discovery methods in place, an entrepreneur should feel confident in the market research produced for their business. So, to answer the question above – if the market research is accurate and consistent (along with other business strategies) you and your business will be successful.

Schree Chavdarov uses her background in social justice to connect communities to their most valuable resources. Her experience brought her from grant-writing for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade in New Orleans to serving as community arts coordinator for LEAF Community Arts in Asheville, NC. Schree is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author’s information, and any links remain intact.

Choosing Knowledge Management Workshop

I strongly feel that organizational knowledge must be captured and communicated in a structured way because much of it is transmitted through the social media platform and will be lost of a sea of posts, visuals, and multimedia. The social media also is a large magnet of fake news and may create a diluted form of knowledge spread in the midst of random development. This is further exacerbated by labour mobility and future challenge of robotics and AI knowledge gathering.

With all this in mind, here are my thoughts on choosing the best knowledge management workshop.

  • The lead trainer’s credential. When you attend this workshop, your lead trainer should have had experience in academia because he will have had developed the maturity to have done rigorous research and communicated this information in a university of very inquisitive undergraduates.
  • The model. Every workshop must be structured around a specific model that has been practiced in relevant industries and with MNCs. It should not be a model that was created by merely reading up of popular business journals or magazines.
  • Past participants. Another measure of a potentially successful workshop will be the feedback from past participants. Confident organizers of knowledge management workshops will be forthcoming in providing a detailed list of past corporate participants, with a selection of feedback.
  • The fees. It is illogical to expect basement level workshop fees because the cost of running a 2-day workshop is not just the trainer’s fees. The participant’s fee includes the cost of venue rental, refreshments, and materials.
  • Case-studies. It is a given that participants will be provided with enough case-studies for analysis and reflection. These case-studies will enable the participants to apply what they have learned and to enable the participants to relate back to their respective companies about the application.
  • Training Partners. The workshop will be more acceptable if there are globally-recognized organizations or associations that also endorse this knowledge management workshop. This will provide the further reassurance that the workshop content meets the expected high standards.

Identify Small Business Advantage

The business is managing the owner/operator

When there are 117 different things to do in the business every day but there is only a few people (or one person) to do the tasks, some things are not done very well or not done at all. As a result the owner/operator is working like a firefighter – putting out the fires as they appear, rather than prevent the fires to start in the first place. This becomes a viscous circle, which leads to the next point

The strategic perspective is lost

During the working hours the owner/operator is focusing on the operational tasks, and it is hard to take a few steps back and look at the business from an objective perspective
As a result the, the business owner does the same thing day after day, week after week and so on. Unless the owner/operator has an active supporting network to step in and provide guidance, the owner will keep making the same mistakes and end up the same place that many before has ended.

Get an advisory board

The solution is to establish a formal or informal advisor board. An advisory board should consist of a group of experts of their chosen field. It can be private friends (though this can include some complications and as such is not advised). An alternative to an advisory board is finding a business coach or even better – a business mentor. They all have in common the fact they do not work directly within the business and can see what is going on and help managing the business. Once an advisor has been identified, it is important to identify the core business functions and analyse if certain activities can be fulfilled more effectively, and maybe even outsource some of these activities.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a great tool to manage the business with, in particularly if the owner keeps attending fires. Outsourcing simply means that someone else is a called in as a “hired gun” to do some of business activities, in particularly the activities that does not contribute to the business profit. One such thing is bookkeeping and accounts, which is very time consuming, but is not a core business function (unless you are a bookkeeper). When outsourcing the bookkeeping function to someone else, it is very important that the bookkeeper not only does the simple bookkeeping tasks, but also provides the owner with the proper reporting tools that the owner need to manage the business.

Virtual Assistant Can Help Business Grow

In today’s tough economical times it’s hard to think of hiring someone else to assist you, but it may be more cost effective than you think. You are probably spending more time on projects, sending out correspondence, bookkeeping and many other tasks that an assistant could do. Don’t have the space in your office or want to deal with payroll taxes? Then hire a “Virtual Assistant”.

A Virtual Assistant only works when it is necessary. In other words, you only pay when there is work to be done. You might need someone to send out your monthly newsletter, do some research for the book you’re writing, keep your schedule/calendar, bill your clients or maybe it’s all of the above. With today’s technology she or he can live anywhere, so you do not need to provide office space or equipment. Taxes, social security, and benefits won’t be a worry for you because your VA is working for herself.

Finding and hiring a VA is also an easy process. Many assistants are leaving the workplace and starting their own businesses from home and bringing all of their corporate experience with them. You can get their resume and references or just hire them for a small job to start. There are many resources out there to find VA’s. You can do an Internet search and there will be hundreds of names at your fingertips. There are also many sites that have VA directories, so if you prefer your VA to be in the same state then that will narrow your search results. There are all sorts of VA’s, some are certified or have been trained as Virtual Assistants and others, like myself, have taken our corporate knowledge and translated it into a VA business.

Hiring a VA may be the best thing for your business whether it is small, large or just starting out. Try one out; you may be pleasantly surprised at what a VA can bring to you and your growing business.

Advantages to Incorporating

While many business owners give a lot of thought to location, store décor, customer service, hiring employees and management issues (and rightly so); choosing the proper business structure (such as sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability company) doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize this, but the business form they choose can often times be the difference between success and failure, especially in today’s competitive and litigious marketplace. If you want to succeed, you need all the advantages you can get. High on the list of safe bets is the corporate form of business.

Incorporating, while definitely not for everybody, offers several distinct and money-saving advantages over the other types of entities. Here are some of those advantages:

  • Asset Protection – If you operate as a sole proprietor or partnership, there is virtually unlimited personal liability for business debts or lawsuits. In other words should you go out of business or be a defendant in a lawsuit, your personal assets such as homes, jewelry, vehicles, savings, etc. are up for grabs. This is generally NOT the case when you incorporate. When you incorporate you are only responsible for your investment in the corporation. The limited liability feature of a corporation, while not a guarantee, is DEFINITELY one of the most attractive reasons for incorporating.
  • Easier To Sell – Corporations are generally much easier to sell and are usually more attractive to buyers than either a sole proprietorship or partnership. The reason for this is because a new buyer will not be personally liable for any wrongdoings on the part of the previous owners. If someone buys a sole proprietorship, for example, the new owner can be held personally liable for any mistakes or illegalities on the part of the prior owner…even if the new owner had NOTHING to do with the situation! This is usually NOT the case with a corporation.
  • Tax Savings – When you incorporate there are numerous tax advantages at your disposal that are virtually impossible to accomplish with other business entities. When you incorporate you create a separate and distinct legal entity. Because of this, there are many transactions that you can structure between you and your corporation to save big money on taxes. For instance, if you own a building you can rent office facilities to your corporation and claim depreciation and other deductions for it. Your corporation can then claim the rental expense. You are prohibited from doing this if you are a sole proprietor or a partner in a partnership.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality – The corporate form of business is a great way to keep your identity and business affairs private and confidential. If you want to start a business, but would like to remain anonymous, a corporation is the best way to accomplish this. States such as Nevada offer even more privacy protection for corporations and their shareholders.
  • Easier to Raise Capital – When you’re looking to raise money through investment or borrowing, a corporation can actually make finding and getting the money you need easier. If you want to take on investors you simply sell shares of stock. If you want to borrow, a corporation can add clout when dealing with banks or other lending institutions.
  • Perpetuity – As I mentioned in #3, when you incorporate you create a separate and distinct legal entity. This separate and distinct entity (the corporation) can endure almost forever irrespective of what happens to the shareholders, directors, or officers. This is NOT the case with sole proprietorships, partnerships or even limited liability companies. For example, if an owner, partner, or member dies the business AUTOMATICALLY ends or gets wrapped up in legal red tape. Corporations, on the other hand, have unlimited life.

Sail to Success With a Good Business Plan

A business plan is the framework of your business (your ship). The success of your business is ultimately determined by how detailed, well built, efficient and leak-proof your vessel is. If you are facing setbacks in spite of having a business plan, make a list of all the functions of your business, and examine them one by one to see where the holes are. Do you have a crew of individuals on board who know their functions and perform them well, or do you (the captain) also find yourself swabbing the deck?

Do you know how to hoist your sails to catch the best breeze to send you on your way? If your business is sagging due to lack of income in one area, can you figure out which way the wind is blowing and make adjustments (like adding new packages, developing a niche, marketing e-books) to keep you moving forward? Your business plan should have all these potential problems covered, so your business can move along at full sail.

Your business plan is also the map upon which you will chart your path to your desired destination. The process of developing your business plan will require you to focus on exactly what you are trying to achieve, pinpoint where you want to be going, and figure out exactly how you plan to get there. A solid business strategy will help you avoid rough waters, stay the course, and make level-headed decisions when you discover new and exciting opportunities to pursue. Have you embarked on a journey, only to discover half-way that it is not what you expected when you set out? A well defined business plan gives you a standard by which you can measure your progress; it will either keep you self-assured in your chosen direction, or provide a clear indication that you need to change tack.

Finally, a well-designed and well-executed business plan is your calling card. It shows third parties – potential investors, loan officers, or buyers – that your business concept is solid and successful, and worthy of their interest and investment in you, when you go for that loan to expand, or seek to sell your company.

Many entrepreneurs jump into the day-to-day of starting a business before really taking the time to map out a detailed business plan, and find they are floundering later when unforeseen problems, or opportunities arise. Investing the time and effort it takes to create a plan before setting sail will ensure a rewarding journey in the long run.