Unforeseen Problems With Your Startup: How To Manage Them

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The world of startup is fast moving and can be extremely profitable for those who are the most productive. Problems occur in every business but it is those problems that weren’t seen coming that can do the most damage. Kneejerk reactions to problems rarely are the correct response to an issue. Taking the time to think out a variety of circumstances or problems you can have while preparing for others is the wisest strategy. Proactivity can help quell many problems with a startup so it is important not to procrastinate when it comes to preparation. The following are unforeseen problems that can hurt or possibly put a startup out of business.

Employee Hurt and Suing

An employee being hurt at your place of business can be devastating if you do not have insurance to cover this. A personal injury lawsuit can cost thousands in legal fees with a settlement drying out the rest of the cash flow of the startup. With lawyers like those at the Barnes Firm it is wise to invest in some business insurance. Employee paperwork that has to do with injury on the job should be written up to protect both the employee as well as the company. Wrongful termination lawsuits can be common in startups as many startups do not have the firing process completely figured out. Allow an outsourced HR firm to handle these things as it will keep your startup safe at a fraction of the cost that it would to staff an entire HR department.

Leaked Employee or Customer Data

A data breach can spell the beginning of the end for many startups. Losing the trust of valued clients by having some kind of breach can cripple startups even if the business relationships were strong. Leaked employee information can lead to a huge drop in productivity as many employees will be checking to see if their identity has been stolen. Information can also be leaked by former employees with a vendetta against the company. This information could be sold to competitors or simply be used to ruin relationships the startup has worked hard to garner. Having employees sign NDA agreements can help decrease these happenings as nobody wants to be taken to court for leaking valued information.

Problems Getting a Client To Pay

You delivered the work at the highest quality possible and now your client has ghosted you. Even though everything went according to plan there are some clients that it will take quite a bit of negotiating or threatening with lawsuits to get them to pay. This is not a great way to do business but it is the way certain companies operate as they simply think a company will drop the issue if the sum of money is low enough. Client payment terms can help eliminate these problems as upfront payment can solve most of these problems. Clients that have had issues paying on time in the past should be required to pay upfront. A large client delaying payment can put a startup out of business as they might need to take out a loan to simply pay the staff. Favorable payment terms for smaller startups working with larger corporations are imperative in today’s startup world.

A Juggernaut Has Entered Your Niche

Having a huge corporation enter your niche of business can end a startup. The advantage that a smaller company has over a large corporation is flexibility in decision making. Larger corporations often times have to go through a variety of channels to get approval on one simple decision. A startup can often times deliver faster and for industries where turnaround time is paramount this can be the answer. The startup can also market in a much more creative way in order to get the most out of their marketing budget. Many clients would rather work with a smaller company as a personal touch can make all of the difference. One client manager instead of a revolving door of client managers is much more comforting to many people making business decisions.

The startup world will continue to thrive with billions upon billions of dollars to be made. Getting your business going will not always guarantee success but it is an accomplishment nonetheless. Take the above into account and react accordingly if your startup encounters these situations.

3 Common Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Need To Stop Making

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If you are serious about making a success of your business, it’s vital that you understand what steps you need to take to do so. A crucial part of launching a venture is having a plan in place and having the discipline to follow the plan through.

There’s a common misconception that startup success is a result of luck, or simply family ties – as often it seems that people with links to the business industry tend to do the best within it. However, that isn’t the case, when it comes to how successful a brand is, it’s all down to the steps that are taken.

There are a lot of commonly made mistakes that business owner after business owner makes. These mistakes can lead to your business failing to take off in the way that you hoped it would, which is why making sure that you don’t make them is so important.

With that in mind, below is a guide to three mistakes that you should avoid making when starting a business.

  1. Failing to invest in expert help

When it comes to running a startup, money is always tight, that’s part of being an entrepreneur. However, just because you only have a small budget to work with, that doesn’t have to mean that you can’t invest in help from the experts, should you need it. A key area of running a business is marketing, which is why it’s so important to get help for this area, should you require it. Say, for instance, you aren’t sure how to utilize social media marketing effectively, you may find it helpful to use a social media marketing agency. The fact is that it’s not about not spending money, it’s about being mindful of how you use the funds that you have.

  1. Not taking competitors seriously

Another common mistake that a large number of startups make is failing to take competitors seriously. A lot of business owners make the mistake of thinking that they have no direct competitors, when actually that isn’t the case at all. Almost every business has competitors, that’s just part of being in the industry. Having competitors isn’t the issue, the issue is not being aware of them. If you are going to make a success of your business, then you need to know what it takes to do so, and your competitors can be helpful for showing you the steps that you should take.

  1. Not setting achievable goals

Something that far too many new entrepreneurs do is fail to set achievable goals. The fact is that when you’re new to running a business, you can be so excited about the concept of wowing the world with your idea and making it big, that you can be a little too optimistic. When it comes to the goals that you set as a business owner, it’s vital that they are achievable. If you set goals that aren’t achievable, you’ll fail to meet them and may end up feeling like you’re failing, when this isn’t the case at all.

There you have it, a guide to three of the most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs need to stop making.

Common Startup Mistakes: What Not to Do When Starting a Business

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It’s not at all uncommon that a brilliantly imagined startup gets ruined only months after its launch. The number of new businesses that end up bankrupt before they even start functioning is seriously high.

The reason behind this is that new, inexperienced leaders simply fail to think things through. So, they act on impulse, and make rash decisions that aren’t based on knowledge or data.

Starting a business has its protocol; it’s simple to gather all the documents you need. However, due to a lack of experience, chances are that you’re unfamiliar with beginner mistakes that quite often drive a business into the ground.

Failing to Do Marketing Research First

You can’t just start sailing without preparation, set off to unknown horizons, without a compass or any sense of direction. That’s how you get stranded.

Before launching your startup, you need to get closely familiar with your market. For your startup to have a chance of survival, you need to research the demand, and learn about the wants and needs of your target audience.

Having No Interest in Your Business

If you’re starting a business just because someone gave you an idea that sounds plausibly profitable, chances are you won’t give your best to make it work.

Your startup needs to be based on a passion of yours, something that drives you. That will keep you pushing even in the hardest, most desperate moments.

Not Being Ready to Sacrifice Your Social Life

A startup demands as much attention as a newborn. So that it can grow, you need to nurture it and provide it with a means for proper development. You will have to give up on weekends for a while if you want this to work out.

Not Knowing How to Treat Customers

Considering the market saturation, the only way your business to stand a chance is if you know how to build strong relationships with your customers. If you’ve never been in direct contact with customers, and if your previous jobs kept in you the back office, you should know that you have a lot to learn.

Being Cheap

Startups count a small number of employees; for it to be highly functional, each of those employees needs to be equipped with a narrow expertise – they need to be true professionals in their fields. However, that doesn’t come cheap.

Have in mind that valuable workers and talents deserve a fair price for their services. Otherwise, they won’t be properly motivated to contribute to your business.

Ignoring Results of Analytics

Taking risks is one thing; every accomplished business leader faced risky challenges in their career. However, you first need to develop an intuition so that you can later allow it to guide you.

Until that time comes, you need to lean on numbers. Every move you make needs to be a result of fine calculation. Pay close attention to tools for analytics and the data they show.

Trying to Take Care of Everything by Yourself

If you’re lead by that old “If you want something done, do it yourself” saying, you won’t be able to accomplish much with your startup.

You need to place trust in your team. Naturally, that implies that you need to wisely choose your employees beforehand. The key to your success is delegation of responsibilities. For your startup to flourish, every employee needs to pull their weight.

Forgetting about Insurance

Although you shouldn’t have a fear from failure – negative thoughts can cloud your judgement – you still need to think about your safety net.

Business leaders who got irreversibly bankrupt forgot about this matter – insurance. It might be another expense the moment you’re counting every dime, but it will allow you to bounce back in case of an unfortunate event. Therefore, check out a startup insurance agency, and explore your options.

A business consists out of many different aspects, and for it to actually develop and become functional, you need to have all of them in mind. The truth is that, with careful planning, through research, and precise data, you’ll be able to recognize and make the right moves. Just make sure you steer clear from the mistakes we listed above, and your chances for success will significantly increase.

Profiting from Your Passion

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Many people hate their jobs. They get up each morning and dread going to work. Their days are filled with the same boring tasks, surrounded by people they’ve got absolutely no interest in, or worse, people they don’t get on with and make their working day difficult. They spend the whole day looking forward to leaving, and then their whole evening worried about going back. This is an all too familiar situation that many of us find ourselves in at some time in our lives.

Then, there are other people. Those that love going to work. That tell people what they do filled with pride and passion. These people get excited about doing their jobs, and go home happy, to enjoy a fulfilling, unworried home life.

The first set of people long to be in that second group. But, they can’t see how. They’d love to make money doing something that they feel passionately about. But, they are trapped. They need to work to earn money, so can’t quit. They find that depression about their jobs is affecting their home life and their relationships. They are horribly unhappy, jealous of those that enjoy their work but with no idea of how they could do the same.

If you fall into that first group of people, you need to learn how you too can profit from your passion.

Figure Out What Your Passion is

Sometimes it can be tough just figuring out what your passion is. We all have stuff we love doing or enjoy occasionally, but that’s not the same as being genuinely passionate about something. For this, you may need to go further back. Think about your hobbies and interests, but also things you’ve liked over the years and even the subjects you enjoyed at school. You don’t necessarily have to have been amazingly talented. For this part, just find your passion.

Write them down in a list. Everything you’ve ever loved doing. Then, try to imagine them as a career. Some things you can love doing, but still, hate the idea of having to do every day until you retire. You’re looking for that one thing you’d give everything else up for. That you’d be willing to put all of your time, effort and maybe even money into. That’s your passion.

Become an Expert

Now you’ve figured out what you want to do; you need to become an expert in the field.  Learn as much as you can. Look online, where you’ll find some great resources and advice. For example, if you decide you want to go into brewing, you could learn a lot about modern systems from drink-it.com/brewery. Visit the library, and spend some time with other businesses in the industry. Learn everything that you can.

Find a Way to Turn it into a Business

Sometimes, this is easy. If you want to be a writer, you write. If you’ve got a product you want to sell, you start a store. Other times, it won’t be quite so simple. Say you feel passionate about writing and love doing it. But, you know you’re not good enough to earn big money. Then, you need to explore other options. Would your writing style suit journalism or web content instead of fiction? Could you be good at technical writing or even teaching? There are always more options.

Make a Plan

When you know what you want to do in detail, it’s time to figure out how. If you plan to get a job, you need to tidy up your CV to include relevant key skills and start applying for work. If you are starting out on your own, you need to sit down and carefully draw up a detailed business plan.

Branding and Design

If you are starting your own business, branding can be the key to your success. Creating an instantly recognisable brand gets you both noticed and taken seriously. Spend some time trying out some designs and getting advice and feedback before you settle.

Start Networking

Whether you are starting a business or trying to find work within a specific industry, the internet can be a huge help. Start building a digital presence by following and engaging with the right people on social media. Whether these turn into clients or essential connections, they could be beneficial in the future.

Just Do It

One reason many people never fully follow their passion is that they never want to take the risk. The truth is, you’ll never be completely ready to make big changes. But, you’ll never live your dream if you don’t. Stop making excuses and just do it!

Making money from your passion is something many of us dream of. Don’t just dream, get out there and make it happen today!

The Pros and Cons Of ‘Doing Something Different’ In Business

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Business is all about innovation; finding a new idea; doing something unique and different with what you can offer to the public. Over and over again, the importance of the ability to do something different with your business is emphasized.

However, “doing something different” can actually be more of a gamble than it sounds. There may even be times, and certain industries, where doing something different is an outright bad thing; your startup could be doomed to failure before you even really begin.

Confused? Us too, so that’s why it’s worth drilling down into the realities of “doing something different” and examining the pros and cons…

PRO: You’re Offering Something New

The most obvious pro to the idea of novel innovation is that you are going to be able to offer something truly unique to your customers. Many businesses have been able to turn over billions because they offered something truly different.

Take Apple, for example. They did something different with the first ever iPhone. They took a basic idea — that we all carry a phone with us — and transformed it, asking: “why can that phone not function like a small computer?”. They added a great camera, working internet, and functionality that surpassed basic laptops– and changed the way we interact with the internet forever.

If you have something truly innovative to offer — be it your methods of approaching a service, or a new product you want to manufacture — then you have the potential to capitalize on being the first, the innovator, the great creator. The scope in this area is huge; that’s why you will so often see business guides insisting you should “do something different”– because it’s lucrative, because it works, because it’s the very essence of business ingenuity.

CON: What If You’re Offering Something “Different” That No One Wants?

Many products and services are designed to solve problems, usually problems that the entrepreneur has experienced themselves.

For example, an entrepreneur who lives beneath a flight path. This irritated them, so they got to work on a way to combat it. They decided to create a device that automatically creates white noise when it detects an aircraft overhead.  They do everything right; they design a product, use the likes of WayKen Rapid to produce a prototype; and have tested that the concept is sound. To that person, that product makes a huge amount of sense; it’s inherently useful, and it fixes a problem they are experiencing.

However… the number of people who live beneath flight paths is relatively small. The product is never going to be able to take off (if you’ll excuse the pun) because the market just isn’t there.

There’s a chance that the product or service you are innovating will suffer from the same fate. Sure, it may be useful, and it may fix an issue you have experienced, but that doesn’t mean that it has a global appeal. There might be a reason that no one has offered a service in a way you are planning to, or manufactured the same product you are designing– because other people have seen there is absolutely no call for it.

PRO: Easier Marketing and Promotion

Let’s say you’re opening a digital marketing agency. There are plenty of digital marketing agencies in the world, which means that your marketing and promotion is going to be difficult. You’re going to have to find a way to distinguish yourself from the huge amount of competition, something that draws customers to your company above all others.

However, if you are offering something new and innovative that has never been done before, then your marketing will largely do itself. You can emphasize how you have hit upon a method that no other firm has managed; how it is going to benefit your customers; and why your business is special. This makes the entire campaign easier, and also guarantees you will be more easily noticed by your target customers.

CON: The Risk Of Being Copied

If you are looking to manufacture a new and exciting product, then you don’t need to worry too much about this issue. With products, you can file for a patent and ensure that no one can reproduce anything similar to your own design. This is expensive, but at least it protects you against copycats.

However, if you are just offering a new and interesting service, you could be vulnerable to copying. There is no way of patenting a service, unfortunately. You may find yourself investing a lot of time and energy into offering a service that is genuinely innovative, only to see your competitors do exactly the same a few years later. There have been a few famous examples of this exact scenario happening in recent years, such as Instagram outright copying Snapchat on numerous occasions.

What Tools Do You Need to Expand Your Startup?

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For a while, it was just you and your computer. Then it was you, your computer, and a few other folks. Now, you are thinking your startup is ready for a full-fledged expansion.

Congratulations! Not many startup entrepreneurs make it to this stage, so you should consider yourself fortunate and fantastic as a business leader. However, a larger business has many more moving parts, which means you will need to be well-equipped with the right tools to steer your growing business to success. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the tools you’ll need as your startup expands, these will help you maintain order (and sanity) while you build a bigger business.

Strategy Organization

Growth shouldn’t happen spontaneously or chaotically. Whenever your startup expands, you should have planned it months in advance. To help you organize your strategic growth, you can turn to the Small Business Administration, which has compiled a helpful list of tips and tricks for gaining funding for your expansion, planning new markets and locations, merging, and more. Additionally, you should employ a few simple tools and techniques to assist in directing your growth, such as:

SWOT: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. This assessment tool should provide you with an honest picture of the state of your startup.

Boston Matrix: a product and service portfolio analysis tool. This will help you understand your offerings to determine how you should alter your strategy.

Affinity and interrelationship diagrams: Charts that organize growth information visually. These tools group like concepts and objects, helping you to prioritize projects and resolve issues.

Communications

The reason behind this tool should be relatively obvious: Without internal and external communication capabilities, your startup will disintegrate. However, prior to your initial expansion, you might have relied on less formal communication systems to build your business. For example, many startup entrepreneurs use their personal phone numbers and email addresses. As your startup grows, you will need more extensive and powerful communication tools, which means you need to contact a Cisco distribution partner.

Cisco is easily the biggest and best industry communications services provider in the world, capable of providing all sorts of solutions to your growing business. Thanks to Cisco OIP, you can rely on regional resellers to obtain the communications tools you need — phones, networks, etc. — to expand efficiently and effectively.

Recruitment Networks

In the beginning, you might have been everything for your businesses, from the CEO to the grunt. As your startup grows, you must come to rely on others to accomplish essential tasks, which is a difficult transition for many entrepreneurs. However, it makes all the difference if you have a strong, trustworthy team, which means you must have foolproof recruitment networks.

Long before you initiate the hiring process, you will probably engage with freelancers and contract workers. For this, you can use services like Toptal, which efficiently matches clients and vetted developers and designers. When you are ready to take on long-term hires, you can continue to use Toptal, and your experience with the network will improve your likelihood of finding the talent you need and want. Then, you can delegate confidently while you focus on more important responsibilities, like further expansion.

HR Services

Human resources — now more often known by the flashier title “people operations” — is exceedingly complex, encompasses a vast swath of business administration, and can be terribly expensive. For startups intending to grow, HR is a worrying prospect because it is indispensable; you can’t have employees without valuable services like payroll administration, training and development, and conflict resolution. However, you probably can’t afford an entire HR department at this stage of your startup.

Fortunately, there is a compromise: software and outsourcing. For the inhuman aspects of HR, you can rely on digital tools like Gusto, which manages payroll and benefits. For everything else, you can use a third-party HR services provider, like an ASO, HRO, or PEO.

Social Media Marketing

There is an unfortunate misconception that social media marketing is easy and cheap. In truth, effective social media management is time-consuming and tricky to master. Unless you want to hire a team of experienced (read: expensive) social media gurus, you can make the tedious task of social media management easier by relying on these essential tools:

  • Buffer: scheduling and management tool. Rather than monitoring and posting in real-time, you can upload your posts for dozens of social sites and tell this program when to publish them.
  • MeetEdgar: evergreen content tool. This service recognizes your most popular posts and shares them again at strategic intervals.
  • Sprout Social: engagement tool. If you are struggling to monitor social media mentions, brand advocacy campaigns, and content strategies, this tool is invaluable.

 

Startup Ideas: How to Generate Them

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It’s pretty basic, but you can’t start a startup unless you have an idea to work with. Of course, having an idea in itself doesn’t necessarily mean you can set up business either – you need a good idea; an idea that people will like and pay money for – but nevertheless, the process of becoming a business owner starts with the humble idea.

That means you need to know how to generate ideas. We all think we know how to do that – I mean you literally just think about things, right? Well, yes and no. When you’re looking for a startup idea, you can’t just idly sit around and daydream (although that can occasionally work out pretty well) – you need to think in the right way; you need to think in ways that will generate ideas. Here are a few ways you can do that, which might just work:

Watch TED Talks

Visit Ted.com and start watching videos, any videos you like. Pretty soon you’ll be inspired by some of the most interesting and innovative minds on the planet, and with their inspiration and your own unique way of thinking, you might just hit upon that big idea that will change it all for you.

Look at Existing Products

Spend some time looking at the products you own. Think about what they do, what makes them good and particularly, what could make them better. Taking an existing product and adding a feature or making a change so that ti performs better and gives more value is one of the best ways to set up a successful startup. Good examples of this would include clik clik magnets, which make it possible to renovate ceilings without the need for ladders and other tools and astroturf which makes keeping a clean, tidy, well-mowed lawn practically effortless. There are hundreds more examples of companies who have taken an existing idea and improved it to make their fortune, too, so it is a great way to get ideas!

Keep a List of Your Pet Peeves

On a similar vein, it might be a good idea to keep a notebook in which you write down your pet peeves. Writing down the things you’re grateful for might be more in-vogue, but if you want to generate new startup ideas, nothing will help you faster than identifying the things that annoy you and then coming up with ways to solve them! Unconventional?Maybe. Effective? Definitely!

Read Reviews

Again, in a similar vein, reading the bad reviews that companies and products get can help you to come up with ideas to do what they’re doing, but better. They might not be totally original ideas, but if you implement them well, you will get business!

Think of the Future

By this, I mean think about how future generations will view us. How will they consider us backwards in the ways we think, act and work? Those are the areas where innovation is most likely needed and by thinking carefully about them, and how you would rather we’re viewed, the ideas will just flow.

Now, all you need is a little extra help from the startup muse, and you’re good to go!

4 Processes Every Startup Should Automate

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The Small Business Association (SBA) estimates that more than 627,000 new businesses are created every single year. While this is great news for consumers as this gives them more opportunities to find the exact products and services they’re looking for, this also means that there are hundreds of thousands of new entrepreneurs trying to figure out just how to make their business ideas a success.

Part of achieving this success involves automating as many processes as possible, ultimately saving you and your growing company time as you work extremely hard to create a name for yourself. But which processes should you focus on automating first? There are four.

Your Data Backup

Though you may have the best of intentions with regard to manually backing up your data, starting a business can be chaotic at times. This means that it can be extremely easy to forget this incredibly important task, putting all of your hard work, client data, and proprietary information at risk.

Instead of leaving this process to fate, set up or create a system that will back up all of your files automatically. How often should you be backing up? Best business practice recommends daily backups, but, at a minimum, never go more than a week without saving your data.

Timesheets, Attendance & Payroll

Even if you only have a few employees in the beginning, tallying up their hours worked and how much pay is due to each one can take a decent amount of time—time that could be better spent handling other tasks that require more of your brain power. One way to automate these particular processes is to put some online tools into use; such as an attendance software that will keep tally for you.

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Not only does this save you time when figuring out the numbers by hand, but it also makes it easier to work with employees that may be travelling or stationed around the globe because they can enter their hours worked right on their mobile devices. Plus, you’ll likely have fewer mistakes because everything is computer generated.

Incoming Email Responses

As a new startup, you spend a lot of time reaching out to potential clients, trying to get them interested in your products and services. However, all of your efforts can instantly go out the window if they contact you and get a delayed response (or, worse yet, no response at all). That’s why you should always set up automatic responses to all of your incoming emails.

Even if all it says is, “Hey! Thanks for the communication. We’re working hard today, so we’ll get back with you as soon as we can!” at least the person knows that their email has been received. Also, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to type up a similar response, especially if their correspondence is one that is going to take some time to check out, such as if they’re questioning the progress of their order.

Your Schedule

Before becoming a business owner, the only one who likely cared about your schedule was you. But once you enter the world of startups, giving others access to your daily calendar can help them schedule meetings with you during your open times or see when you’re not available to handle any issues that arise. It also enables you to set reoccurring meetings automatically.

Though a number of different scheduling options exist, some of the best scheduler apps and tools on the market right now include Assistant.to, Boomerang Calendar, Calendly, and FreeBusy. All of these options are absolutely free, with some offering the ability to create a premium account for less than $20 per month.

Speed Up the Launch of Your Startup

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The startup world is packed with people who want to get their business off the ground, and they want to do this as quickly as possible, Unfortunately, business doesn’t work like that – you have to put in a lot of time and effort to move from point A to point B, and this will only happen if you’re lucky (80 percent of startups fail in the first year). That being said, there are numerous things you can do to speed up the launch of your startup…

Just Make a Start

One of the biggest causes of a slow start is procrastination. Entrepreneurs are so worried about getting their launch exactly right that they never get started at all! This is one of those cases where it’s better to get started imperfectly than it is to wait until everything is just right if you want to get ahead quickly.

Don’t be Fussy About What You Sell

Sort of related to the above, waiting around until you come up with the perfect product to sell when you could be organizing bank loans, hiring staff, and you know launching your business, might not be the best idea. Most businesses aren’t built on amazing new innovations – they sell the same kind of stuff you can find in a million other places. You should do the same, but better! That way, you’ll get to launch quicker, and you can always add new products and make changes as time goes by.

Buy an Existing Business

If you’re a contractor and you want to start your own business, look up contracting companies for sale, or if you’re a dentist, enquire about general dental practice for sale, get a loan and then buy one! Why? Because it’s a lot faster than building up a business from scratch. In fact, you’ll be able to skip the launch part altogether. Sure, this won’t exactly be a` startup in the true sense, but if you have the cash, it could be the best option for you to get into business.

Hire Freelancers

There’s a lot of work that goes behind a successful launch. You need to create a website (and fill it with content), design your brand, market your services and a whole host of other things. If you were to do this all yourself, then it could be years before your launch! No, what you need to do is hire a good team of freelancers and remote workers to get the work done for you. Choose people with excellent feedback, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Consider a Co-founder

A problem shared is a problem halved, so if you’re struggling to get things off the ground, despite your entrepreneurial ambitions, it might be worth looking for a co-founder who’s interested in doing the same. That way, you can split the work, double the creativity and bring your business to launch much sooner with a better product to offer. What’s not to like?

Ready, Steady, Go….launch your business on the world.

Choosing the Right Startup Team for Success

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Did you know that roughly 80 percent of startups crash and burn, vanishing without a trace in their first year of trading? I say this not to put you off starting your own business, but to highlight just how difficult it is to build a successful company from nothing, and you know what one of the biggest startup killer, other than a lack of cash flow, is? It’s choosing the wrong staff!

Hiring decisions might not seem like the most important thing when you’re setting up a new operation, but think about it your employees will be doing everything from marketing your company to coming up with new product and service ideas, and handling customers – if they’re not great at their jobs, your business will struggle to make any traction at all.

If you want to ensure that you hiring the right team to push your startup towards success, here’s what you need to do:

Be Aware of Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses

As the startup owner, you are the head of the team, and you are going to be taking a lot of responsibilities on for yourself. That means, there is little point in hiring employees who have the same strengths you have; what you want is a team that will compliment you and their peers. So, first know what you can do well and then branch out from there.

Network. A Lot

If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of putting together a crack team who are everything you need them to be to build a successful startup, you are going to want to leverage your network. In order to do that as effectively as possible, you may want to build stronger networks than you have right now. Go to events in your field, join social networks and forums and start talking to people; chances are you’ll get lots of leads on great marketers, content writers, PAs and accountants.

Qualifications Count

A lot of startup companies tend to hire based on whether they have a good feel for the person and whether they can demonstrate an ability to do the job well – this is a good way to go about building a team, but qualifications do still count. If a candidate has completed one of the many online mba hr programs or holds a marketing degree from Georgetown University, for example, it’s a good sign that they at least know their stuff. So, what you really want to be confident that you’ve chosen the right people, assess qualifications, ability and even passion for the role; if they have all three, you can be relatively confident that they’ll be a real asset to your business.

Choose Team Players

If there’s one thing that can make a small business implode like no one’s business, it’s employees who backstab, infight and generally don’t want to work together for the greater good. So, when you’re hiring, you should look for people who have a record of collaborating on projects, who know that having team spirit is important, even when they are working individually, and who appear to be well-liked by ex-bosses and a colleagues alike. It might take a bit of digging to find this information out, but social media has made it a bit easier, and it’s certainly worth the effort to try.

Diversity Pays

Choosing a diverse team isn’t just about being politically correct or looking good in the eyes of your customers – it is a great way of ensuring that your business has a diversity of ideas and opinions too. If everyone you hire has broadly the same background, then their outlooks are likely to be pretty similar, and that limits your company more than you might expect. So, choose the best people for each role, but try to account for a wide range of background and personality types too.

Choose Resilient People

It’s also a good idea to choose people whose resumes demonstrate an ability to work under tough conditions and thrive. If they have a  history of working on complicated projects, then chances are they’ll be able to keep their head should something go wrong or should your business go through a rough patch. This matters because, if your employees get stressed out and start to lose their heads at the first signs of trouble, you’ll have a very hard time weathering the storm and getting through the other side.

Choosing a startup team that spell success isn’t easy, but using these tips, your own judgement and taking the time to get to know people before you hire them, chances are you’ll build a brilliant team that works for you and your company.

6 Reasons Why Startups Fail

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So you accept that you might not become a billionaire, but how can you prevent your startup from failing like so many others? To begin with it’s important to understand why startups fail and build your strategy to avoid the same mistakes.

Let’s take a closer look at these reasons …

1) The Wrong Team and/or Leader

A startup is only as good as the people behind it, so if any part of the team or even its leader isn’t suited to the project it will most likely fail. A good team needs to have all the skills required to research, launch and build the startup, and they need to be able to fulfill their individual roles without too much oversight. At the same time the founder needs to be able to set the vision and inspire the team. If you can’t convey your idea and needs to others, they can’t help you bring it to fruition. An icon like Steve Jobs was a master at setting the company vision and inspiring it within the team. Smart people also need to be on hand to handle unforeseen hurdles (changes in the market, funding issues, poor feedback etc).

Take a look at your own team, if something unexpected happens will they be ready?

2) Not Market Driven

The majority of successful business ideas solve a new problem or solve an existing problem better than anything else on the market, but they must do so with sound data to back them up. For example, solving a problem that only a few hundred people have is not going to sustain a business for the long-term or improving on an existing concept but spending millions in the process might make it impossible to break even. The market has to be there and it needs to be accessible with mind to all of the constraints a startup faces. You might also have the right idea but are targeting the wrong market, or just the wrong idea altogether.

Just because you think you have a great idea doesn’t mean other people do or will spend money on it.

Note: One common mistake in the tech industry is putting new technology before the needs of the market.

3) Too Many Competitors

But what if you have the right idea? Startups also commonly fail because there are too many competitors or the little competition that does exist is just too strong. Even if your product or business is objectively better than the competition, they may have more funds, experience, better marketing or other advantages that squeeze you out of the market. The market itself might also be saturated, with several businesses carving up consumers without much room for anyone else. Unless you can do what they do better (see: Not Market Driven), then it’s time to come up with a new idea altogether.

4) Inadequate Funding

An idea can’t go anywhere without the required funding, this means you must have a realistic expectation of how much your project is going to cost, whether you can raise such capital and if not, how things can be tweaked accordingly. Most entrepreneurs will go the traditional route of pitching to relevant investors, but smaller projects and tried and true businesses (a new restaurant) can also rely on loans.Funding failures are often down to a poor pitch or not foreseeing and handling funding gaps at different stages of the startup’s development. Small funding gaps that need to be filled while you wait on other agreements might even be covered by reputable online services like WhoNeeds500.com, who can deposit money in 24 hours for a term of up to 30 days.

Longer funding gaps and other needs might be covered by regular business loans.

5) Overpriced Product

Products obviously need to be priced to cover costs, but when those are so high that consumers aren’t biting (overpricing), it quickly leads to under-performance and failure if changes can’t be made. Many startups fail not because the product itself is bad or there’s no market, but other factors have made the product too costly in this manner. 

6) Poor Business Model

Giving away lemonade for free but monetizing it with ads is not a very realistic business model, and while most startups aren’t usually this clueless, a bad business model is one of the primary reasons for failure. An efficient business model needs to be scalable (i.e. has the mechanism to grow and acquire customers) and can be monetized to a level where costs can be met and eventually profits can be made. A good business plan might even work out an accurate cost of acquiring new customers and therefore what this means for the viability of the business as it grows.

Keeping these points in mind will stand you in a good position for formulating your business plan. If you found the information valuable feel free to comment below and share the article.

5 Ways To Get Funding For Your Startup

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Have you ever wanted to start your own business? Becoming an entrepreneur can be both a challenging and rewarding experience. Having a great idea for a startup is only part of the equation. Whether you’re creating a small business, or tomorrow’s Fortune 500, properly funding your venture is key to a successful startup.

Here are five ways to get funding for your startup:

1. Self-funding your startup

Make yourself the first investor in your new business. Self-funding allows you to retain full control over your business. You may be asking yourself, can I really start my business with my own finances?

The short answer is yes.

Here are some tips to self-fund your business successfully:

Keep your hiring costs low. When you’re just starting the business, you’ll have to take on many roles of the business yourself. There’s many tools available to help you with accounting, web design, advertising, and other aspects of your business. There may be some tasks you can’t do on your own; for these you can work with freelancers as needed.

Borrow from your 401(k)-retirement plan. Many entrepreneurs start their business while still working full time at their current job. Most retirement plans allow you to borrow up to 50% of the value of your vested balance. The interest rate is lower compared to a traditional bank loan as well. One downside is that if you leave your job, you have up to 60 days to repay the loan. Otherwise there could be taxes and penalties.

For additional tips on self-funding your new startup, take a look at this article from Entrepreneur.

2. Crowdfunding Campaign

A popular fundraising option for a startup in recent years, crowdfunding allows you to raise small amounts of money from multiple donors.

Equity-based crowdfunding makes contributors part owners in your business and can be a good option for raising large sums of money to start your business.

Reward based crowdfunding is another alternative (think Kickstarter) for businesses that will be selling a product. These contributors usually get the product at a discount and/or bonus rewards based on contribution levels.

Here are some tips that will help you manage a crowdfunding campaign:

Calculate the cost of your startup. Research the cost of equipment, location, and other necessities to start up the business.

Be active on social media. Contributors like to receive regular updates on the progress of the startup/project.

Have a clear goal. Be transparent with your contributors on what your business plan is. Make sure that you’re raising enough funds so that you don’t have to repeat this process a year down the line.

3. Venture Capital

Most venture capital investors finance startups while they’re still taking off of the ground. There are two types of Venture capital funding, equity provides stock to the investor so that they can share in the profits. Convertible debt allows investors to loan funds in exchange for equity within the company. Here are some tips for having a venture capital source the funds.

Create a strong business plan. Potential VC investors want to make sure that they’re making a wise investment that has a strong potential for growth. Do a SWOT analysis of your startup. This is broken down into internal factors: Strengths, weaknesses and external factors: potential opportunities and threats.

Utilize online networking to connect with other entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Not only can you get advice from others that have been in your position, they can introduce you to firms that deal with VC funding

For additional tips on acquiring Venture Capital, take a look at this article by Ryan Fuhrmann.

4. Startup Incubator/Accelerator Organizations

Do you like collaborating with other entrepreneurs? Startup incubators aren’t limited to the tech industry. If you’re getting started as an entrepreneur, an incubator can be a great option to get seed funding, mentors, and networking opportunities. Here are some tips for finding the right incubator/accelerator to get your business off of the ground:

Research the right incubator program for your business idea. If you find an incubator that has goals that align with your ideas, reach out to people who’ve previously gone through the program. They can share information on their experience to give you a better idea on if it’s a fit.

Be passionate about your business idea. Most incubators require you to dedicate a lot of time. When creating your business pitch, you need to convince the incubator that your business idea will be successful with or without them- they want to see that you have something to bring to the table.

Take a look at the article from the Young Entrepreneur Council for other tips on getting the most out of an incubator.

5. Angel Funding

Angel investors. So, what are they all about? These investors focus on investing in startups and entrepreneurs using their own money to fund the capital needed for the business. In exchange for funds, angel investors gain ownership equity in your business. Here are some tips for attracting angel investors to your startup.

Invest your own money. While this can sound counterproductive, many angel investors want to see that your business venture has potential.

Build a plan. Think about these questions. What will these funds allow your business to do that you can’t do on your own? How many similar businesses are there? How profitable is this venture?

Conclusion

If you’re just starting your business, or you’ve been thinking about it, I hope that you found these tips helpful.

Lack of funding is one of the driving factors that cause business failures in their first couple of years. As a last resort, take a look at getting a cash loan till payday. Used responsibly it can get you out of a bind.

Let me know if you’ve been able to use any of these tips to fund your startup and if you have any advice on your own, feel free to share them with me.

 

Business Success Needn’t Be Sexy

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Most entrepreneurs want to achieve success in the most attractive fashion. We all take those first steps into the fierce world of business with a vision of doing things with a ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’ approach. In truth, though, the method of reaching those goals isn’t important. As long as you secure the desired outcomes, you’re doing just fine.

 Modern business is perhaps more accommodating to the ‘ugly’ or ‘alternative’ approach than ever before. Here are some of the key areas where you can veer away from the preconceived route to success for greater success in even faster time.

#1. Finding A Business Premises

Every business needs a workspace. However, depending on the nature of your business, it may now be possible to operate from home. This isn’t an option for everyone, especially when you need staff members and equipment. Still, Adaptive Steel Buildings offer a Quonset hut building which is virtually indestructible. This can serve many functions. This can be a far better solution than the traditional and expensive office rentals.

If the brand image is a worry, you can always hire a virtual office address. Aside from protecting your details, it creates the image that your venture is already well established and successful. Ultimately, the workspace needs to give your business the strongest foundations. If abandoning the traditional method allows you to this, then so be it.

#2. Growing An Audience

Marketing can be very fun, and we all remember our favorite campaigns fondly. However, you don’t have to do something out of this world to win over an audience. The most important thing is to gain visibility. It may not seem glamorous, but focusing on a strong SEO strategy will achieve far more than most advertising campaigns.   

One of the other great resources at your disposal is the power of your existing clients. A referral scheme may limit your ability to interact directly with new clients. Still, potential customers are far more likely to respond positively to the words of friends and relatives. Finally, regular interactions on social media can build your reputation greatly. Use those platforms to provide winning customer care, and new people will see that your company can be trusted.

#3. Handling Money

Everyone wants to be the big business owner that spends a lot but gains even more. In reality, though, you don’t need to head into the bank and bowl them over for a huge business loan. Crowdfunding may seem like begging, but it can be the best way to generate interest and funds at once. Again, you don’t need to think sexy with the campaigns. Honesty, transparency, and passion should more than suffice.

You don’t need to access millions either. Learn to cut spending by removing needless bills and negotiating with service providers. Perhaps the best way to save money is to team up with another local business. The thought of sharing materials may be a far cry from your former image of perfection. Nonetheless, it could be a sacrifice that opens the door to sustained profit.

#4. Running A Team

Employees are the greatest asset at your disposal, and the modern approach to hiring makes recruitment drives easy. Then again, it’s the ongoing management that truly separates the good from the great. Outsourcing certain tasks can certainly aid the situation. While some people see it as an ugly approach, there’s no doubt that it generates great results.

Communication is at the heart of all business. Many entrepreneurs foolishly think that there is a need for elaborate meetings. Cut them to 20 minutes for increased efficiency and vision. Meanwhile, video conferencing can save the need for travel. OK, you might miss out on the luxury business trip. But if it helps you save time and money, it simply has to be the best option available. Wasting resources when you don’t need to would be a nightmare.

#5. Choosing A Niche / Idea

Perhaps you’ve yet to launch the business yet, and you’re currently weighing up the different options. It might be tempting to start a company in the fields of sport, fashion, or online technology. In many cases, though, it’s the simple things that are in the highest demand. Some people might look down on the prospect of having a cleaning firm. However, the rewards can be plentiful from a financial sense as well as an emotional one.

 If you have a passion in life and can make money from it, that’s perfect. But if you’re just looking to take charge of your future, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a ‘boring’ or unglamorous product or service. As long as the final outcome is success, nothing else matters.

Knowing The Startup Gaps In The Market

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There’s quite a few gaps in the market these days it seems. With so much attention put upon the new and technology viable, there’s a lot to do elsewhere. Here’s a bit of an insight into the areas that need the most work when it comes to building your own business into a booming success.

Do Your Research

Having a target market is one thing, but knowing where to find your market is another. If you have an idea, then marketing it is going to take a bit of practice and preparation. Actually, a lot of it.

Do a content analysis of the products or services similar to yours. Follow the trends where you can in your social media research, as this is where people are the most truthful about what they think. Surf business pages and review sites for the common themes in

The Technology Market

Of course, the big gap there is in all markets across the world is that of technology. Whilst it may be an already heavily emphasised market, there’s a good reason for it. There’s an awful lot a person can invent or come up with, and they all have their own purposes or act as add on products. That’s how the bigger companies keep us investing in their product lines.

Going along a similar vein, follow the technology trends that people have when it comes to using mobile or drone technology, and try to fill the customer complaint gaps with your own business. Do your market research properly and don’t copy business models; notice that the Amazon Echo and Google Home are practically indistinguishable from each other. Create what people need and you’ll have them flocking to review your product.

Of course, that also means you can offer services in terms of these mass marketed products. Each brand of new technology are going to need their own maintenance centers due to the amount of variance in software these days. You can bridge this gap with your startup!

Vehicle Rental

We see ads on the television a lot from companies that offer out their use of a fleet, but notice how they’re only made by 2 or 3 companies. Often with the most popular or well known brands, they only offer select types of vehicles; usually commercial cars and vans that can be given back the same day and have no extra risk to them.

This is where you can come in. Take businesses like that of Flex Fleet Rental, who offer out heavy goods vehicles for simple renting times. With newer businesses like this on the block, a lot of money can be made from advertising to light engineering companies, like those working in plumbing, electrical, or construction.

When you have an idea, you want to be able to take it straight to the top immediately. However, there’s always something extra to do in terms of planning and researching. Keep up with every new niche and corner that appears to take your business up.