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pull up a seat and grab a cup of tea as our bloghers dish on the latest in marketing, business, and social media.
Welcome back y'all! When I say we're just one step away from launching your business, I mean it! One step and you will have officially launched your own business. You, an entrepreneur!! I love the way that sounds. So let's check to ensure we have everything already lined up and ready to go.
By this time you should have already secured or completed:
Now, that you've done all that it's time to present yourself as a business owner. Time to check out industry/niche network events, workshops, and mixers to attend to establish connections. Dress in your business best, bring plenty of business cards and breath mints (yes, those are necessary), have at least 3 opener questions ready, and refine your elevator pitch. Opener questions? Elevator pitch? When networking, it is important that you make those you meet feel as if the conversation is about them. Start with questions such as, "how long have you been in the industry", "how long have you attended this event", "what do you think about (use topic relating to topic of event or industry happenings-stay away from religion and politics). Rule of thumb here is to listen more than you speak. While you're listening, try to remember at least three things about them as you will use them later in your follow-up email within 24 hours. The elevator pitch is important as people will want to know about you and your brand. Have the important pieces about your brand and who you are, how long you've been in business, what you do and why you do it sewn together in a nice 30 second speech. Remember to speak clearly and not to fast so they won't lose interest.
In addition to attending network events, join professional organizations that are designed to increase your awareness, networking and add to the possibility of forming strategic partnerships. Create a LinkedIn profile with your best professional head shot and fill in the pertinent information to establish yourself as your brand's authority. Sign up for online platforms such as Alignable in your area to network online with other business owners in your neighborhood.
Whew, today we're going to dive into our favorite topic (for obvious reasons)! Marketing is the practice of promoting and selling a product of service. marketer's job is essentially making your target audience aware of who you are what you offer of value, where you are, and why they should patron your brand. Marketing includes target market research and advertising and is vital to the survival of business. One cannot simply expect to go into business and not spread the word about what they have to offer and expect customers in droves. Look beyond your immediate circle when marketing your business as oftentimes, they aren't your target audience anyway.
Good day all, welcome back! We hope this blog post finds you doing well and ready to take one step closer to launch your business. Don't you like the sound of that? Your Business...Any-who, let's discuss branding and why it is essential in business.
According to Entrepreneur.com, branding is defined as the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. Your logo, colors, identity, values, and mission all play a part in your branding strategy. When thinking about your favorite restaurant, what comes to mind. Is it their logo, decor, other identifying traits, signature dish, or customer service.?
Make no mistake, branding differs from marketing. Marketers' soul job is to bring awareness to your brand by letting them know who you are, how to access you, why they should patron your business, what they should feel when using your products or services. When designing your brand strategy, include the following elements:
Think of companies such as Apple, Coca Cola, Tiffany's, McDonald's, Acura when crafting your brand strategy. Mull over what stands out to you about each brand, how do you perceive them, what do you immediately identify with, how do you feel when using these brands? If you keep these questions at the forefront when planning with your team, you will be sure to create a noteworthy brand. We assist business owners with building their brands from the ground up and it is by far, one of the best parts of our jobs. When you're around town and see them on billboards, commercials, on the radio, or hear someone talk about them by their identifying traits, how they feel, etc--you know you've done your job.
We're almost to our launch point with three more posts to go and we can't be more excited! Catch us here Friday afternoon as we discuss our favorite topic of marketing. Should you need assistance or have questions before then, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you soon.
Hey Y'all! Good day and welcome back! We're back at it today discussing insurance necessary to protect both yourself and your brand. Whether you operate your business from home or have a store front, are a freelance photographer, or event planner being proactive and insuring your business, products and services, ensures you are protected from instances that may arise. It's better to be proactive and protected, than sued and sorry later.
Types of Business Insurance:
You made it back! We're excited for each and every one of you who has decided to stick with it and see the journey through. Entrepreneurship is definitely not for the faint at heart. This week we will focus on accounting and ensuring you have your financial ducks in order. Forget about throwing the receipts in a shoe box and keeping record in your head. You need a serious and convenient system that will allow you to track your expenses, invoices, and earnings in order to be organized come tax time. There are several apps that allow record keeping to include Shoeboxed, Evernote, Mint, Quickbooks, and Wave.
Our favorite of the list, would have to be Wave. Having moved from a previous accounting system we opted to give Wave a try and have used it every sense. Here are a few features that wave offers that we absolutely love:
Wave has made it so much easier for us to stop scanning each receipt, logging them manually into Google Sheets and printing them out for our CPA every April. All we do now is download the information and email it to her for quick and painless accounting and tax preparation. Oh and did we mention it's FREE? We would have to say out of all the features, we especially like the invoicing option. With the option to schedule invoices whether current or recurring, we can set it and forget it once a month to ensure we are being paid. There's a cool option that allows you to send automatic reminders to clients that an invoice is due or past due. It is also convenient with sending our clients their payment statements so they can keep up with their accounting as well.
Accounting is definitely something that you want to keep track of. We schedule one day out of the month to review our books, receipts, invoices, and accounts to ensure everything has been entered and is above board. There's nothing worse than not being on top of your business finances. If you keep organized books, archive your receipts, and find an account software that works best for your business, you will alleviate most of the headache during tax time.
What accounting apps or software have you used or plan to use for your business? See you here next week as we discuss Business Credit-why it's important and how to build it. For questions, please email email@example.com
Hey y'all, welcome back! You are one week closer to opening your business and I am excited to walk with you on this journey. Today we'll discuss a topic that plagues many of us: employees. Should you hire them? Full or part time? How many? Outsource? Temp? What benefits to offer? Compensation? The list goes on and on. We'll touch briefly on each topic just to get your mind going about which direction you should take. Take it from me, you cannot be all and everything in your business. You cannot handle it all. You will need help, I encourage you to build a team that helps to elevate the stress and strain of opening a business.
When starting out, funds can be very limited and employees may not be high on your list of things to do or consider, but you should consider it early on. Before looking to hire your first employee look into your state's employment laws, programs available for first time business owners, tax credits, and workshops available to help sort through it all.
Look to your local college and universities for eager students looking to get their feet wet in their desired industries, not to mention earn college credit. Contact the department chair of your industry with your requirements and internship program specifications for distribution.
Before accepting your first intern, it is important to interview them and lay out the particulars of the program.
Outsourcing has become a way of businesses to share the load of the grunt work. Accounting, social media, copy writing, web design, marketing, visuals and other design work, collateral, and so much more can be outsourced. Websites such as Fiverr, Guru, Outsource, and even certain Facebook groups are available to assist with your daily tasks. My philosophy is, if it's outside of your wheelhouse, hire out.
Full vs. Part-Time
Here's where things get hairy and you much research your options. Start by visiting your state's employment commission or labor department to see what laws are governed in your state to ensure you are not in violation. Because of budget, most businesses opt to hire at least one part-time employee, averaging 20 or so hours a week helping in various tasks. Full-time employees are mostly added after the business becomes more stable and has the means to provide benefits, a competitive compensation package. The Department of Labor is a great source for information that covers benefits, sick leave, reporting, leave, schedules, family and medical leave.
Temp agencies can be a great option to turn towards when considering employees. If you're looking to hire help on contract or temporarily check with reputable agencies that will screen their candidates and take care of all the particulars. Also look at programs that offer jobs to veterans, single mothers, rehabilitated ex-convicts, adults with special needs, etc for assistance.
Here are some resources to consult:
Department of Labor: www.dol.gov
Interrnal Revenue Servce: www.irs.gov
Affordable Care Act: www.healthcare.gov
Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov
Meet us here again next week as we move further into Opening Your Business. If you have any questions, please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome back! My apologies for missing last week as I was out with a back injury and failed to schedule last week's post. (We'll discuss automation in your business during a later blog post, because it will help make things easier.) Let's get right to it. Business plans are used as a road map to reference when navigating between the stages in your business. When seeking financing from financial institutions and investors, a business plan with a solid financial study is required. A simple search of , "How to write a business plan?" will product hundreds if not thousands of listings for companies that produce templates or write plans for you. My suggestion is to write the plan yourself and do your own research. This way the plan is more personal and you're just as invested with the plan as with the rest of your business. Each plan needs to have:
Executive Summary- This I recommend writing last as it will be include key points from each section of the plan and should be no more than four pages.
Business Overview- This section includes a description about your business to include legal and business structure, type of business, how you'll operate in business in terms of if brick and mortar or online, and location.
Operational Plan- Explains how to the business will function, business responsibilities and who would carry them out.
Market Analysis- One of the most important sections of your business plan. Here you'll define your target market and how you plan to cater to them and the community. Statistics, charts, and graphs are necessary. WIll include a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat) Analysis.
Products & Services- Include brief description of each product or service you plan to offer or manufacture.
Marketing & Sales- Describe how and why your clients will purchase your products and how you plan to reach your target audience through marketing and advertising.
Competitive Analysis- Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your direct and indirect competition and how you will set yourself apart from them.
Management Team- Your management team could make or break your business. Detail each member of your team, their strengths and brief description of their related background.
Financial Plan- Detail a realistic view into your start up costs, where you plan to be financially over the next five years, how the funds will be used, if there is a need for additional financial support and how much, and list recurring expenses.
Projections- This will include at least three years of projected income and balance statements.
Great, you're back! Let's dive right into today's topic of location, location, location. The location of your business is the key to the success of your business. With the Internet, some businesses can run virtually from anywhere. Whether a restaurant, insurance agency, marketing firm, apparel or shoe store, school, fitness center or museum, entrepreneurs must decide where their business will benefit from the most traffic. As we all know traffic and visibility is vital to the success of one's business and bottom line. While some businesses can be operated from multiple locations, keep budget, efficiency, and the impact on your customers in mind when determining your location.
Brick and Mortar
Brick and mortar businesses are those run from a physical location and interacts with their customer base face to face. This option is best chosen by restauranteurs, boutique owners, spas or salons, and the like. Operating costs include insurance, staff, advertising, equipment, inventory, utilities, maintenance, and rent.
Cloud based businesses are those that can be run as long as there is a computer and a data connection are the most popular amongst today's entrepreneur. Whether retail or service based, having an online business is associated with the lowest overhead and biggest customer base. Operating costs include insurance, data plans, equipment, advertising, and inventory.
Mobile businesses or pop-ups have emerged and are faster becoming the choice for trendy entrepreneurs who wish to still have that face to face interaction with their customers, but don't want to limit themselves because of rent or smaller demographic in their home areas. Food trucks or carts, mobile boutiques and salons, photography booths, juice bars, cobblers, massage therapists, hair salons, and fashion designers are just a few entrepreneurs that benefit most from mobile businesses.
Hey y'all, c'mon in! Today we'll discuss the elephant in the room and bane of just about every entrepreneur's existence: FUNDING. How do you plan to fund or finance your dreams of entrepreneurship? There's crowdfunding, microloans, government loans and grants, bootstrapping, bank financing, credit cards, line of credit, personal loans, retirement accounts, investments, stocks and bonds, angel investors, venture capitalists, and that piggy bank you've had since kindergarten. Yes, the possibilities are endless, but not always easily attainable. One important thing you must consider when choosing funding is your personal credit. Yes, initially your personal credit will be the determining factor when trying to obtain bank financing, new credit cards, lines of credit, and sometimes government loans. If you find that you do not qualify for bank financing, we suggest getting creative and practice the art of bootstrapping. With bootstrapping, you can utilize crowdfunding and peer to peer lending sites, loans and donations from friends and family, investors, your savings or retirement accounts, personal credit cards, and so forth. I personally have used both options and will say, ensuring that your personal credit is intact and you have at least a FICO score of 680 and you have a solid business plan with your projected profit and loss statement that is attainable and realistic before attempting to obtain any financing backed by the bank. Other options include government grant and loan options. These are very attractive options as they have grants and loan programs for specialty products, minorities, veterans, Click the links below to see which programs would benefit your business.
If we could give one bit of advice about funding, it would be to not let this deter you from becoming an entrepreneur. You may have to launch in smaller stages, a smaller catalog, less products, etc. Just launch! You don't want to be one of those people who regrets not chasing after their dream. It's best to be one that can say they attempted than one who didn't.
Resources: (you will be linked to their respective websites)
*PLEASE NOTE: the aforementioned are examples of available resources. Linking to their websites and products, does not constitute an endorsement from Reese Salley & Associates, Ltd. Co. or their partners. The ideas expressed in this article are of the writer and are not paid endorsements. Thoroughly research your options and make the best decision for you and your business.
Oh, so I didn't scare you off last week-good! Let's get to laying the foundation for your business. You hear that? (In slow motion) Your business! Feels good doesn't it? Okay, no more messing around because it moves pretty quickly from here. Let's start with what you want to do. A good rule of thumb is to provide a product or service that will resolve a problem, this thing should also be something that you are passionate about. This is important as there are stages, that we'll explore later of entrepreneurship, that you may not see a dime for your hard earned work and question if it's all worth it. Listen, as long as you are passionate about your craft and not focus on the check, you'll be successful. After you've decided on what your business will focus on, move on to your name. Make sure you choose one that is catchy, unique even, but not too busy. Before finalizing your name it's best to do an online search to ensure no one has already used or trademarked it as well as see if the domain is available. I don't know how many times we've had to tell clients that they couldn't get their desired url because it was already taken. BRANDING IS IMPORTANT
After that's settled, move on to licensing and structure. Told you we were going to move fast...Here is where you definitely want to focus to ensure you've chosen the correct legal structure to avoid a headache later. Will you be going at it alone or with a partner? Terms you'll see are partnerships, LLPs and LLC's, Corporations, different tax classes codes, NAICS codes, insurance, business licenses (city, county, and state). Start by registering your business with the Internal Revenue Service by obtaining an EIN (Employee Identification Number or Federal Tax ID). Visit your local business office (in person or online) to inquire what licenses and permits are required for your business type and location. I should also warn you that you would save major bucks if you were to do this yourself instead of going through one of the popular online websites to have your business formed.
Okay, so you've decided on what type and where you'll conduct business, your name has been determined, you've acquired the applicable licensing and permits...NOW WHAT?! Now's the time to get your notebook and pen together because you will be in deep thought for the next few weeks trying to narrow down what products and services you'd like to offer. Research what your competitors and business inspirations are offering and decide how you can make a name for yourself doing it differently, all the while implementing what's been successful. Learn from their successes and failures and really study your industry. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions. You never know, you may end up finding a mentor or valuable information that can further set you up for success.
Well, why are you still sitting here? Get busy with researching and making decisions. (LOL) Meet us back here next week for the next installment of Open for Business by Reese Salley.
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