Business Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

Having a great idea and the motivation to strike-out on your own is a good first step in pursing the feasibility of a business. However, it takes more than motivation and a great idea to get things started. This article will reveal some of the simplest considerations that most would-be business-owners overlook.

The very first thing that should not fall under consideration is venturing out on your own without the proper tools beyond the scope of a great idea. According to statistics provided by the Small Business Administration, over 90% of small businesses fail due to a lack of planning. How many times have you heard or witnessed individuals that sat up over a weekend and wrote a stellar business plan then headed out on Monday morning to seek funding or investors? Impatience is the second thing that needs management. So often “I am tired of working for someone else” is the premise for people to start a business. This frame of mind will almost ensure failure because this approach to business involves looking backwards at getting out of a bad situation.

There is a prevailing philosophy that has to evolve, “Not all people are cut-out to become business-owners”. This is a harsh reality to face in a country such as the United States that prides itself on autonomy and ownership. Starting a business requires a commitment that may or may not pay dividends quickly. The key threat to small businesses is the initial funding or start-up cost and therefore many under-capitalized ventures hit the markets and get that rude awakening.

Before spending your first dollar a best practice is to do your “free research” on the Internet and in public libraries. Read recently published academic studies on the industry in which you plan to pursue. It takes more than just knowing a certain aspect of the business being that your competition may be more well-versed about the industry as a whole. You may want to ask questions such as “What are the regulatory requirements to do business within that particular industry?” You may want to research about “systemic exposure” or how the rest of the economy could or would impact that industry during troubled financial times. It is also a good practice to review some of the strategies of other potential competitors during The Great Recession of 2008. How did the industry leaders survive jn respect to operational changes and sacrifices. It is understandable that this may take several days or even weeks to accomplish, but by applying the best practices initially you will have a clear understanding of what to expect during certain economic times.

It is essential to understand who are the industry leaders within your business channel and what makes them unique. There should be an emphasis on this because your branding and marketing could benefit from such a consideration. A distinguishing characteristic may be customer service, quality assurance, product branding, or even presentation. These may sound trivial, but think about if you were a retailer for mens apparel and you specifically wanted to appeal to young urban males under the age of thirty. Labels equals status in many of these communities so a nice logo on the item that is visible may assist in the popularity and purchase of your garments. Even though this may have more to do with marketing and brand positioning, this is a must have against the competition.

However, before we get to marketing and branding there are other things needing consideration such as your mind-set, ego, time-line, available start-up capital, and feasibility. After you have trolled through the data and information from your research, the next step is the feasibility study. It is suggested that you do this prior to writing a business plan. In this way you can quickly determine whether or not you can enter the particular market or not and if so, at what level. A common mistake for new business people is to envision competing with the industry leaders. This is an ideal way to go broke quickly. In stead, set more realistic goals for yourself and get the notion out of your head that the Internet is going to make your business global. Facebook and the other social networks became popular because they were free to the end-user first and while trying to figure out a way to capitalize or convert those users into revenue. This would be a bad business-model to follow. Think about your region and the local competition first to see how much it would cost for you company to operate for the first 3 to 5 years without constant revenue.

Again this will require more local research this time on your specific region and take not of the deviations between your first broader macro research and the more localized micro research. The deviation between those two areas may actually become the niche that needs filling. In this way you can actually have a specialized niche within the region and a hybrid on a larger scale. Now, you may ask yourself “Why?” Simply put, the goal is to avoid what others are already doing in the sense that giving a “Thankyou” to a customer in a better way that the competitor is not enough. Another temptation to avoid is the centric mind-set that the business and industry has to behave according to your own belief or philosophy. This strategy rarely works out in a positive way. You have seen these business owners that rarely listens to their customers and as a result they have a revolving door of both customers and employees and the business stagnates and does not grow.

Growth must have a major role in the definition of your business because that is the incentive to attract customers, employees, and even investors. As a potential business-owner you will have to cleanse your mind of working for a company and view your company as your tangible boss. This may sound counter intuitive, but the cascade is like this, the economy drives the consumer or businesses that drive behavior which drives your company which eventually drives you to make the right decisions to meet the demand.

So far you have done your research, and you know how much it will cost you to compete in your local market. The next thing is to consider your liabilities as it relates to the company. You may use this also to determine what form of business ownership will work for you. It is a good business practice to incorporate whenever possible and in some states there are differences in levels according to projected revenues. Incorporating also gives you more protection than a DBA or partnerships. At this point you will learn another strategy that many successful business-owners do, delegate tasks that require professional expertise to professionals with their fields. A good business attorney, accountant, and business consultant are essential for start-ups. This is a gap that many would-be business people fall through the cracks. Another benefits is that these professionals may also assist in giving information that may be crucial in developing a comprehensive business proposal. They can help with the work you have done to reflect the requirements needed.

In review, you have your research, feasibility study, chosen your business ownership type, adjusted your expectations, hired professionals that know the laws and regulations better than yourself and you are ready to get started on the business proposal. Not so fast, “Where are your customers?” You guessed it, marketing research needs to take place for the particular individuals or companies that will use your products and or services within your area or online. One question to ask yourself, “How much will it cost me to contact a potential customer before a sale is completed?” And secondly, you need to discover the best way to contact these people or businesses. The prevailing statistics are that radio advertising a person is a passive-listener and only hears about every fourth word, direct mail only about 9% responds. Signs and other ad-hoc methods vary and television may be expensive depending on stations and providers. This means that a considerable budget may need to exist in order to solicit business. Again, this is another area where many would-be business people fall off the wagon and failure is waiting to catch them.

There is not an exact science to forecasting revenues so the goal is to have a very plausible theory and approach to this process. Avoid the temptation of raising expectations too high as some did in the dot com era for instance and went broke. The increases in expected revenue should be modest and function on the Standard Rule of 10, meaning that expenses should never go over 10% of revenue. Now, there are some businesses with a lower profit margin at 50%, but that is akin to paying US$10 for every US$20 received in revenue. As you can see pricing strategies for your products and or services are important and trying to make profits off of volume only works for those entities with high capacity transactions. This is the reason why 99 Cent Stores do so well low inventory cost and high turn-over of products. As a foot-note the difficulty with starting a business with very low prices is that it usually attracts the cost-conscious customer who is rarely brand-loyal and will use a comparable competitor. You see this behavior in customer that may shop at Wal-Mart, but purchase other specific items at the 99 Cent Stores. The danger in depending on these cost-conscious customers is that when prices rise they usually leave. Therefore, your pricing model needs to be established as feasible to sustain the business based on the value-added customer that you can possibly up-sell items or services. This is essential to your company’s growth and expansion.

Three Points to Consider Before Launching Your Home Based Service Business

When I began my home-based resume writing business three years ago, I had an idea of what was involved. Some years back I ran a small boutique: I sold beads, tiny little glass and metal, plastic and wooden, beads. I worked in my store six days a week, and then spent at least an hour every Sunday placing orders to replenish stock. That experience did away with foolish notions of “more time to myself,” and I knew that I had the wherewithal to commit to self-employment when I began my home-based resume service.

If you are tossing this idea around, here are some of the aspects of running a home-based business that you should take into account.

1. Get ready for bad hair days: you must wear many hats. I am the decision maker and receptionist, and am accountable for landing sales and for tracking accounts payable and receivable. I develop new handouts, reports, samples, articles, and update these regularly with new information; cold call prospective industry contacts and “schmooze” even though I am a dedicated introvert; deal with customer concerns, and their joy and thanks! The only task I don’t handle is computer glitches (I leave those for my I.T. guy, my husband!).

2. Forget about goofing off just ’cause you need a break. A micro business is highly dependent on reputation for quality and service. For the first few years, you will be spending time augmenting your skills with on-line courses and self-study to ensure that your reputation for quality grows, and you will spend lots of time researching, developing and implementing customer service measures and strategies that help you stand out from the crowd. You will get the odd half-day here and there, and grab it while you can, but don’t count on quarterly trips to warmer climes as you’ll have neither the time nor the revenues.

3. Hold off on that new pair of shoes: all your funds go into the business. Guys, I’ve no idea what you spend your money on, but girls tend to love new shoes! As your business earns a few extra dollars, you will need to reinvest in courses, reference books, technologies (Creating a website, video, teleconferencing…), memberships, conference attendance and so on. Those business pundits who say you won’t turn much of a profit for the first few years are absolutely right.

One of my outreach initiatives is to speak to local private college students, and I recall one fellow sharing that he decided to take the I.T. Network course so that he could enjoy better working hours. I had to hold onto my words of wisdom. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are smarter than the rest.

Some may think “I will organize my time better and will make sure that I can take time off.” And although I encourage all to take those gifts of time when no client has called for days and you’ve no one booked, to go to the farmers’ market, take a drive in the country, and go visit dear old mom. But I know from experience that the discomfort (fear and panic!) you feel when the phone isn’t ringing will have you scrambling to create new alliances, research and implement new marketing ideas, and build your business.

It is time-consuming to play every role, perplexing to figure out how to reach new clients, difficult to absorb unknown skills like marketing and sales, and every working minute demands your focused attention… so why do we become entrepreneurs? Because there is something about holding the power to evaluate the alternatives, make each decision, change it mid-stream if you so wish, and mold and direct your own business that is intoxicatingly, breathtakingly exhilarating!

If you have self-discipline and talent, are passionate for the work you will be doing, and have a vision to deliver your services from a home-base, by all means, join the ranks of the service-industry entrepreneur!

Grow Your Window Cleaning Business by Knocking Down Some Doors

We all know that window cleaning businesses are growing in number as the small-business/ service industry is booming in America. However, with the growing number of small businesses, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find clients who will remain loyal to your service as you may need to raise prices or reschedule because of a busy week, etc. This article will explain how you can grow your customer loyalty. The best way to get and keep customers who will remain loyal to your window cleaning service is by developing one keyword: trust!

Trust is the name of the window cleaning game, and it starts with the first impression. By first impression, I mean the very first time the consumer hears word of or even sees any marketing propaganda from your company. Consumers are becoming wiser and more instinctive in the “Information Age,” which is why it is pertinent to make every effort to create a lasting first impression.

There are several ways improve, what I call, your “hook” (your lasting first impression). One of the ways is to spend a ton of money on newly designed marketing material; i.e. business cards, flyers, brochures, truck signs, websites, etc. These are great steps steps that should be taken when your window cleaning operations grow large enough to afford them. However, the best way to create a good “hook” is to knock on people’s doors, which is called canvassing. There are several reasons why this method is still the best method to obtain loyal clients, but I will discuss that after I discuss how canvassing should be done. First of all, it is important to observe all “no soliciting” signs, as this is common courtesy. Secondly, you need to put on a company shirt (preferably a polo-shirt with nice work shorts or slacks) and look well-groomed. A clean-shave never hurt anybody! Lastly, be prepared with what you are going to say. This helps improve confidence and credibility (remember that consumers are becoming increasing smarter and instinctive). By putting yourself together nicely and looking respectable, you give the potential customer a reason to listen to your message for a few short seconds.

The reason that canvassing (going door-to-door) is still the best method to obtain clients is very simple. People are creatures of habit, and we all grow up with the habit of using our five senses before we make a purchase. When you go and knock on somebody’s door with a well-rehearsed and sincere message of why you can enhance their life with your service, you have engaged more of their basic senses. Now the potential customer has the chance to 1) see their service 2) hear their service 3) touch their service (if you have a piece of marketing material for them) 4) smell their service (hopefully it is favorable) and 5) taste their service (which does not apply). This greatly enhances the “hook” effect because the brain is impacted by more senses than if they just saw your business card that says, “Jack’s Window Cleaning” on their porch. These cards usually end up right in the trash because there is no reason to keep it. It all comes back to the issue of trust. If they can get to know you in a positive way for a short 15-30 seconds, then they can gain some trust because they can put a “face with the business card,” and this gives them a reason to keep your card when they are ready to order a service. Mastering the art of canvassing, which only comes through practice and active thinking, is one of the first keys in starting and growing a window cleaning, or small-service-business.

Top Five Pros of Hiring a Waste Management Service in New Zealand

Waste management encompasses the collection and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes from all areas of our society. It’s no secret that New Zealand is struggling with an increase of waste related issues, from rubbish polluting our sea-life to public health warnings dominating our news. Therefore, it is paramount that we buck up and get serious about dealing with our growing amount of waste safely and efficiently.*

For businesses generating industrial waste, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to pairing with a specialist waste management crew to collect and dispose of hazardous waste and chemical substances properly. Here we will look in detail at the benefits of hiring an expert kiwi waste management service.

1. You are helping to keep New Zealand’s environment clean and fresh.

This should be your top priority as a business; to take care of our beautiful environment and safeguard the well-being of your employees, family and future generations. By employing a professional team of waste disposers, you are reducing the risk of disease amongst workers, making a pleasant atmosphere to work in and ensuring that your waste is taken care of fully following legal requirements as well as assuring you that your waste has been removed in an environmentally friendly manner.

Not only will this give you great satisfaction knowing that you and your business are doing your part to protect the environment, it will also give your business an excellent reputation. Kiwi businesses that use a professional waste management company are highly regarded by customers, clients and competition alike.

2. You are encouraging eco-friendly growth.

By engaging with a quality waste management team, you are saying yes to recycling and reducing. A superior New Zealand waste company will endeavour to re-use, reduce and recycle wherever possible, guaranteeing you that as little waste as possible will ever see a landfill.

Much of our industrial waste can be re-used or recycled so it’s important that we acknowledge this and allow a trusted kiwi waste management service to collect our waste and assess the most energy conserving and eco-friendly way to deal with it.

3. You are reducing pollution.

As already stated, if waste is dealt with correctly it not only eradicates the physicality of the waste, but it significantly lessens the amount of greenhouse gases being produced. Carbon dioxide and methane are common gases secreted by industrial waste and can be deadly. Allow a qualified waste management professional to take care of your hazardous waste.

Further to removing toxic waste pollution, by using a waste management service, the use of landfills and incinerators will fall which will in turn further decrease harmful vapours polluting our environment. By reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use, we will ultimately gain a cleaner, greener New Zealand.

4. You will increase your profits.

Hiring a waste management company can not only save you money, it can also make you money. By allowing a special New Zealand company to handle your waste for you, you are actual saving valuable time, resources and ultimately – money. A good waste management business will also offer you training programs and tips on how to reduce, re-use and recycle your waste; saving you money. Some companies will even pay you for your waste!

The more waste-savvy you and your business become, the more rewards you will reap. Take the time to familiarise yourself with waste matters and encourage your workers to do the same.

5. You are creating employment opportunities.

In the current job climate, this is music to many kiwis’ ears. The waste industry requires a massive amount of workers, and New Zealand is no different. From collection to disposal, admin to advertising, there are countless opportunities for people to climb the job ladder.

When you make an agreement with your waste management service, you are providing new jobs and new opportunities for the people of New Zealand whilst making a great environmentally friendly statement.

*Don’t forget to do your research and check whether or not you are supporting a REAL kiwi owned and operated waste management business. With so many overseas business’s flooding the market, it’s important to support local companies.

The pros of employing a professional waste management service are plenty. Which company will you hire?