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Let’s just get the first obvious question out of the way. Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Since you’re reading this article, it is assumed your answer is a resounding YES! Don’t panic if you don’t know what your first or next business will do yet. That’s okay. Raising capital for a new business isn’t something that happens overnight. So, you have some time to make some of those early decisions still.
If you don’t want to put any of your funds at risk, you can probably kiss the possibility of someone else doing so. Unless you have very wealthy family members who are willing to indulge your whims. Most investors want to know how much of your assets you are willing to invest.
Even your family and friends don’t want to just throw money at you to dream away. They want to know you will work hard to get and stay profitable.
For all other options, you’ll need a business plan. Besides, your business plan needs information on your target market, future expansion plans, and more. Do your homework and pull a plan together. Even if you have the funds to start now. It’s a good idea to build your business plan early because it helps solidify what you need to know and do to become profitable. Or, it will show you that you need to work a little harder with your ideas so they can provide sufficient income.
There are three big options after you’ve tapped your own account. For all of them, you’ll need a professional and thought-out business plan.
Small business loans through banks and other lending institutions offer lower interest rates. Sometimes it’s subsidized by government funding. If you fall into a special interest or minority category, it’ll be easier to get the funding. However, the government isn’t looking to invest in something that has no possibility of ROI.
Another possibility is getting money from a joint venture capital fund. Unless you have amazing connections or a product that can’t lose. The chance is not as good and the cost of bringing these investors might be high. However, if you do snag money in this way, you’ll be dealing with people who have skills and knowledge well beyond your own.
The third one is crowdfunding. Take some time to see how much they charge if they are reputable. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in crowdfunding sites. You’ll find a lot of them. Crowdfunding is a new approach to an old problem.
Unless you haven’t joined the internet age, you must know about crowdfunding. But if you are like many people, hearing about it and knowing more than something you heard somebody say once about it are vastly different things. So let’s break it down.
There are several hundred websites where you can start a crowdfunding campaign. However, it’s not as simple as just signing up and then waiting for the money to come rolling into the account. It’s essentially a bartering system. In the same way as people working for someone else trade their time and efforts for a paycheck, crowdfunding works best when you have something to trade for the funds raised.
You aren’t receiving a loan, but you will have to provide something of value to the person or people investing. So, what can you offer? Remembering that this is different than approaching a capital venture firm or angel investor. Those transactions are about a loan or a share of your profits or company. But crowdfunding is different.
Let’s say you are a screenwriter and already have gotten a nod from a producer in Hollywood. You need to spend the next several months writing the screenplay. Any advance received will not get you through even the first month. What do you do? You might set up a crowdfunding account and offer to name characters in the story. After someone’s newborn grandchild, or mention a company’s products in the script. In turn, they pay for that privilege at a rate you’ve set in advance.
Getting a loan or investors need a professional plan and presentation. Crowdfunding is more about appealing to people’s creative or humorous side. If a moviemaker were filming a scene and the menu board is in the immediate background of the actors’ menu board might mean money in the bank. Instead of a Reuben sandwich, it could say an individual’s name or the name of a product as part of the sandwich name. Apparently, those could be for one amount added to the crowdfunding account, the actors ordering something with their name might be for another amount.
Since crowdfunding is used for all kinds of efforts and projects, it’s not just about a name. If your company is developing a product that will make a huge difference, then you can prepare a special offer for your investors. If you’re working on a new type of kitchen gadget or office product, then offering investors 25 % bring in enough funds to finish developing the product.
Bartering is not the only way to make this work. Gathering money has become very competitive, and you need to have things set up to move quickly. That means a website for your business to show the possibilities and to refer people to the crowdfunding account you’ve established.
Exchanging goods or services may allow you to do all of that without spending any of the money for other purposes. If you have a separate skill or knowledge base, you can trade your efforts for someone else’s work. If you know all about accounting and you need a website, trade your accounting skills for website development. If you need effective web content written to draw people to your website and you are an artist, trade your artistic efforts for their writing ones.
The more you save your funds the better you will be. But just because you usually pay for something doesn’t mean you can’t try to bargain for those things too. Need fresh produce? Check to see if there is a farm nearby that you can trade for their dairy and veggies with your expertise as a tutor or pianist for one of their children. Get creative, have fun, and move your business forward all at the same time.
Leadership means many different things to many different people, and there are just as many paths to achieving it. The number of women in leadership positions grows rapidly in today’s business world.
There are many different answers as to why women succeed. We all have good bosses and bad ones. Most women have learned to listen to not only get ahead in business but in everyday life. It is important to “deep listen” to what is being said as well as what is not.
Katie Rae, managing director of TechStars, feels that by knowing your people you can understand what may be the best approach or direction to go. Most successful businesswomen will tell you that building a team that supports you is a vital aspect of success in the business world.
Many women in leadership roles started out doing several different jobs in a company. Climbing their way up the corporate ladder rung by rung, starting at or near the bottom. That affords them a better understanding of what it takes to do jobs and how things are done from a broader perspective. That helps them see what needs to be improved as well as ways to move forward.
Brooke Moreland, who was head of marketing at Gett and cofounder of Fashism, feels it is important to remain humble and give credit to your employees. This helps build a supportive team of people who stand behind you and understand the goals and efforts needed to help gain success.
Both verbal and nonverbal communication is paramount in a team situation. Though each team member communicates in different ways, great leaders are respectful and listen. Leaders who can speak with their team members in a way each person understands takes work at first getting to know all the members individually, and then learning how they work together as a team But those in charge also understand the ultimate decision when it comes to the course and direction a team or company takes, is with the leader.
Ever have that coworker or supervisor that took credit for your work? Nothing destroys morale faster than someone who succeeds by claiming someone else’s ideas. When someone presents an idea that builds you or your company, give the team or coworker credit. Go beyond that even. Share credit with everyone involved in the process. Get specific as you mention people and what they contributed to the project. According to Brooke Moreland, a lack of ego in leadership is appreciated and respected.
Be the leader you wanted to have as you came up through the ranks. Loyalty and appreciation are always a great thing in leadership.
A strategic business plan has five primary elements:
All of that to be established and then completed over a one-year period.
So what’s the problem? Any serious business needs a strategic business plan. The problem which often happens is that once the plan is put together you simply forget about it. Check it thoroughly before setting up your business. Quite likely, when you put it all together, you could put it all behind. If that’s the case, you might just have well spent the time doing nothing at all.
What is your realistic vision of where you want your company in one year, in five years, and in ten years? Do you know? The farther out the time for completion, the vaguer your vision is likely to be. However, that shouldn’t stop you from developing it anyway. Especially for the first year. Look at all areas of business. Where will you be financial? What about a place of business – will it be brick and mortar or all on the internet? How many employees will you have and how much do you expect your personal income? Having developed a strong idea of these issues allow you to create a plan of what goals and tasks you have to complete.
Don’t just look at what a similar business did to create their plan. That’s where your mission statement begins to set you apart. Decide what it is that will set your business apart from your competitors. Say it in a way that you and your people can look at the mission statement and know how they should be filling their role, how to behave within the company as well as with vendors, customers, and investors.
Once you have a clear vision of where you want your organization to be, learn what you need to get there. Do you need a physical office or storefront location? How much will that cost? Where do you want it? If everything will be done through a website, you need to decide how that will look and find people to help set it up and get it running. Along with all of that, never forget the primary goal of any business – make money.
Identify which goals you have to tackle first and then establish the various steps to get to those goals. Every week go over those goals and steps to make certain things. Moving forward in a reasonable timeframe. If not, it’s time to light some fires or make adjustments to the schedule, but never forget your one-year goals. If the plan takes 13 or 14 months to complete, not a problem. If it takes five years, then it’s a big problem.
Make your plan and then make it work for you. That’s the reason you create a strategic business plan in the first place, not just to impress investors, but to get your wheels in motion.
Before looking at the types of entities, there is more to consider when making this decision than just the corporate code in your state. You also need to consider filing and ongoing maintenance costs, tax code for your state, and the goals you want to accomplish with the entity you will use.
When forming a legal entity, which includes partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, not-for-profit organizations check with your state filing agency for costs and file each as well as annual charges. In most states that will be done in the corporate division of the Secretary of State’s office. While there, find out what paperwork you need to feel out. Most states require updated information to be filed annually.
You also need to know what private paperwork to maintain receiving the full benefits offered. Corporations usually include protection for shareholders. However, if annual minutes are not maintained that can make shareholders more susceptible to personal liability. If that’s the primary purpose of choosing a particular type of entity, then it is important to maintain the standard necessary after the entity is formed.
Sole proprietorships and LPs do not generally provide protection from personal liability. An LLC can operate the same way, but that depends on how the LLC is organized. If the new entity is likely to lose money, start it out as a sole proprietorship. If you are the sole owner and still mainly doing all of it yourself, a sole proprietorship will work well for you. In most states, you don’t have to file any paperwork unless you are doing business under a different name. The paperwork would usually be a county filing for a fictitious business name as well as reserving the business name with your state’s Secretary of State.
The rules for federal taxes won’t change. So, you need to know which will be most beneficial to your situation according to IRS regulations. Find out about state taxes as well. Some states are very friendly to business. Some are more friendly to small businesses and others more generous to large entities. Make sure you know what advantages there are for businesses and their owners in your state. It’ll help you to benefit from them as soon as you can.
If you are just starting out, make some calls to local corporate or transactional attorneys. See if they offer a free consultation. Many do. They can offer you a better understanding of what would be best for your situation in your state. You can also call the state or county bar association and ask if they have a legal aid division offering free or very low-cost legal help.
Once you know all of the above information, forming an entity is usually a matter of filling out a few one-page forms. You can download those forms for free or buy them at a local office supply store.
If you don’t have a lot of extra time and can afford it, hire the attorney and let them take care of it on your behalf. It’s up to you.