There is a big difference between a Micro Business, defined as less than five employees and a Small Business, typically defined as a business with less than 500 employees.
Micro businesses face numerous challenges, capital typically being number one! I am still amazed at the number of websites that insinuate that there are “government grants” to help fund small businesses. While the SBA website has a tab for Loans & Grants, you will soon discover that the SBA programs consist of low-interest loans and venture capital. These are difficult to get and include a lot of red tape.
So, that said, let’s talk venture capital. What is it? Venture capital is a type of financing that helps fund entrepreneurs and is typically provided from high net worth individuals, sometimes referred to as Angel Investors or Venture capital firms. These investors usually require a high rate of return, board representation and more. Beware...you can’t simply pick up the phone and make an appointment with a Venture Capitalist or an Angel Investor. These investors seem to be part of an exclusive, hidden club and most likely, you will need a direct connection to even be considered for this type of funding.
Be aware that there are a number of organizations (government and private) that promote themselves as advocates for “small business” and, most have membership fees associated with them. While they are advocates for Small Businesses, they may or may not be advocates for Micro-Businesses.
It is important to recognize that starting a business is tough. You must understand that you will, most likely, be funding your own start-up, your hours will be long, and your nerves will be strained. There is a reason that statistics state that 50% of all new businesses survive five years (that means 50% fail); and only 1/3 survive for 10 years or more.
Why am I saying all of this? Because it is easy to make mistakes and yes, I made mistakes! The mistakes I made taught me valuable lessons and my hope is that this information will serve to empower you with ways to avoid some of the pitfalls.
Starting any business, particularly a micro-business, isn't a decision that should be made lightly. Be aware that there are very real risks and few guarantees.
By now, unless you’re living under a rock, you are somewhat familiar with social media.
A social media presence for businesses is no longer an option, but a necessity. Consumers, employers and yes, even competitors view social media pages for a variety of reasons.
Some of these reasons include specials, updates, information, credibility, business interactions and referrals.
While many business professionals actually loathe social media; the fact remains, participation is pretty much required. Managing social media posts can require a great deal of time and yes, time equals money.
Social Media can be a great way to spread a message or broadcast an announcement, a sale or information. However, Social Media can also destroy a business when used incorrectly or sometimes, even with a simple mistake. The list below may help you avoid some of the most common Social Media mistakes.
Social Media Mistakes to Avoid
Starting a business can be a risky adventure, a sound investment or a mix of the two.
Success depends upon a number of factors, such as: Type of product or service, demand, economy and YOU!
Starting a business may initially sound exciting. Your mind swirls with thoughts of setting your own hours, being your own “boss” and reaping huge profits.
Unfortunately, the desire and vision of Entrepreneurship often fails to match reality.
Whether you’re considering starting a business or have already taken a leap of faith and jumped right in, the fact remains that starting and running a business can be intimidating and frightening.
Budgets for new business ventures are usually limited and first time business owners, in an effort to save on expenses, often attempt to tackle every aspect of the business from sales to management. While this may seem to be the best way to move forward, the end result can be overwhelming, detrimental and very costly.
Starting a business is a big decision, one that requires planning, research and dedication. Seeking expert advice, BEFORE hanging the proverbial “open for business” sign, can help prevent many critical and costly mistakes.
Hire a Professional TeamBusiness Attorney
A Business Attorney provides guidance, ensures that you and your business interests and transactions are protected, creates company specific contracts, obtains all necessary licenses and serves as legal representation.
A Certified Public Accountant can provide a variety of services such as: Business Plan Development, Business Structure Determination (i.e. sole proprietorship, LLC, Corporation, or Partnership), Tax Planning, Detailed Financial and Cash Flow Analysis, End of Year Reporting, Employee Tax Classification, W-2’s, 1099’s, Bookkeeping, Payroll, Accounts Payable, Business and Financial Consulting and Management Services.
Human Resource Consultant
An Independent Human Resource Consultant serves as a Human Resource Department for businesses who do not have an HR professional on staff. Independent Human Resource Consultants provide a variety of services including: Comprehensive HR Assessment, Development of HR Policy Handbooks, Employment Forms, Job Descriptions, Applications, Offer Letters, Performance Review Programs, Employee and Employer Training and Development Programs, Conduct Interviews and Employment Dismissal.
An Advertising/Marketing Specialist can help develop a marketing strategy that incorporates a variety of methods based on the products and/or services offered, target audience and geographic area.
Start-Up Expenses are very Real
Dear Big Business:
First let me preface this to say that my boldness should not be viewed as a lack of gratitude for the benefits you bring to our community. Our community needs the jobs your company provides and yes, we are grateful. However, please recognize that you benefit greatly from the hard working, labor weary human hands that endeavor to make you a success, not to mention a consumer base that continues to purchase your products.
Mr. Corporation, while you reap the benefits of tax incentives, government funding, and private, city and state perks, this community is filled with aspiring entrepreneurs just trying to catch a break.
Each year, Mr. Corporation, you pay obligatory membership dues to ensure that your political interests are represented. At the same time, the small business owner struggles to pay those same dues; not with the hope that their political interests will be represented, but simply a desire to establish credibility and prove their worth. Yet, sadly, every day, somewhere, a small business owner gives up and closes the door. With every small business that closes, the American dream seems more like a slogan from yesterday, rather than a possibility for the future.
Mr. Corporation, we are asking you to do business with companies who live and work in your community because we offer a quality, valuable service or product, not because you are "supposed" to pick a “local” or “small” business to support out of some self imposed civic duty or charity mindset. Success breeds success! As overall business budgets grow, in-turn, more products and services will be purchased.
Mr. Corporation, I really don’t think that you are really cold-hearted. I believe that you are just unaware of the many great businesses that exist in your area. The fact that you are unaware of these fine businesses is not your fault, but rather an enormous communication failure of the very organizations whose mission it is to bring small business and big business together.
As business owners, managers, co-workers, and yes, CEO’s, it is imperative that we make 2016 the year of business! Together, Big Business and Small Business must recognize their need for each other and work toward one common goal….creating a thriving economy within each respective community.
How do we accomplish a goal of this magnitude?
Mr. Corporation, please understand that we know who you are, what products or services you provide and even where you’re located; but you need to know us! Corporations succeed when they are part of a prosperous community comprised of successful small businesses.
Sadly, some of the organizations and “powers that be” refuse to be part of bridging this gap and that is why I am calling on you, Mr. Corporation, to be the catalyst of change. Together, combined efforts between Big Business and Small Business will make our community economies stronger. With this growth, economies will expand and from the inside out, we can reform our city, state and possibly our nation, one community at a time.
Hasty Decisions are rarely ProductiveDuring a depressed economic climate, many business owners panic and often react by eliminating positions, merging job duties, decreasing wages or reducing hours. Often, these decisions are made in haste and the long lasting effect of those decisions can be detrimental. While, in certain circumstances, this strategy may be necessary, it should be a last resort rather than a defensive maneuver.
Merging Job Responsibilities and multi-tasking can cost your business $$$$In a misguided attempt to cut costs, merging job responsibilities has become common practice. It is imperative that businesses recognize and analyze the benefits of certain skill sets, experience and productivity before implementing such drastic cost cutting measures.
Outwardly, multi-tasking may appear to be the most cost effective solution; yet, the reality of which, may negatively and sometimes, irrevocably affect the fiscal health of the business. Many times business owners review revenues and compare costs, but fail to acknowledge and understand job description roles. Employees bring with them distinct and respective talents that may or may not be listed under a computer generated “job description” list. Suffice it to say that all jobs are not interchangeable!
Your Employees are your Best Resource for IdeasBusiness Owners should be visible, approachable and open to suggestions. The value of dedicated employees cannot be underestimated; they are your best, in-house resource for ideas and improvements. In today’s business environment, a successful business owner must invest valuable time cultivating and maintaining business relationships with peers, staff and clients.
Before you cut jobs to cut costs...THINK!
While it’s true that many businesses are reeling from the negative impact of a depressed economy, it is important to be mindful of long term ramifications that can result from a hasty decision. Yes, businesses must review cost versus revenue; however, eliminating staff or merging job responsibilities may not be the best answer.
A Proactive Approach is Always Best
It is imperative that all factors and options be carefully weighed.
Finally, ask yourself this question, “Will the solution I am proposing address this situation from a proactive approach or a reactive state”? If the response is the latter, more evaluation time is required.
"What is the key to success?" This is a question most have contemplated at one time or another. Bookstore shelves are lined with inspirational writings by various authors, who gladly impart their wisdom, experience and suggestions to a willing, paying public; yet the answer remains subjective and elusive.
Many “how to” guides imply that success and financial reward are synonymous. Although the word success, is often used to describe a person’s monetary gain, I believe success encompasses so much more and can best be defined as achievement or accomplishment.
A person can have monetary gain, yet lack happiness and fulfillment, two key components that identify success. Monetary wealth can evoke the perception that financial gain is the true epitome of success. Unfortunately, while this assessment is readily accepted by many, it is nothing more than an optical illusion, masquerading as authenticity.
So again, the question emerges; "What is the key to Success?" Success is passion driven and subject to personal interpretation. Passion is an intense inward devotion that drives one to pursue that which others may see as a glitch in common sense or logic. Such examples may include: Starting your own business, pursuing a career in the arts, world exploration and so-forth.
So....does one throw reality to the wind and become a vagabond pursuing a dream? Obviously, the answer is a resounding NO! Not every dream is a passion and vice-versa. Your passion may be the desire to assist others, teach children, climb a mountain or write a cookbook. The list is as complex as your own goals.
Gifts and talents are as unique as the individuals to which they are bestowed. Disappointment surfaces when one fails to explore the potential of their abilities and in the process, miss the truest sense of success!
Sometimes, we become so emerged in the day to day operations of business, that we lose sight of everything else. When the quest for "perceived" success inadvertently overshadows the "passion", consider taking a step back and you may just find that you are able to move forward.
If the words, “I should write a book” or “I could write a book” have ever crossed your mind, then rest assured that you are not alone. According to Wikipedia, 304,912 new titles and re-prints were published in the United States in 2013. While this number sounds high, the reality is that more than 150 million people say they would like to publish a book each year; yet, statistics prove that very few pursue the adventure.
The publishing industry has experienced dramatic changes over the past twenty years. The most prevalent changes have included the advancement, acceptance and surge of self-publishing houses and e-books. Bowker reports that more than 458,000 titles were self-published in 2013. Regardless of the method of publishing, people love to read and books are still in demand.
As you consider entering the wonderful world of writing, you may be wondering what genre, Fiction or Non-Fiction, promotes the most book sales. Fiction still holds the top spot for interest; however, non-fiction sales can reap a higher profit return with the most popular categories being history, biographies and religious.
The publishing industry estimates that more than 50% of all books are ghostwritten; however, this figure is difficult to confirm for several reasons:
BUT wait……….not so fast! Before you race to the computer to impart powerful words of wisdom, write the great American novel or search the internet to find a ghostwriter, it is imperative to understand that the publishing process involves much more than placing words on a page. The goal is to sell your writing and avoid having hundreds of book copies stored away in a closet. Listed below are a just a few things to consider before writing that first word.
IDENTIFY YOUR BOOK PROJECT:
Sources: copyright.gov; bowker.com; wikipedia.org