Starting a new business is difficult, regardless of how much financial backing you have. When you’ve only got a shoestring budget, it’s imperative that you take extra precautions to ensure you don’t bleed yourself dry. Related: 5 Things You Need To Do Before Opening A New Business With today’s technology, you don’t have to rent a conventional office space or shop floor. Most businesses nowadays are progressing in a digital direction and relying less and less on “standard conventions.” So, if you don’t think you have the capital to get started, these tips could help.
According to Barlow Andrews starting your own business is very exciting and will be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Being your own boss, deciding on your company strategy and growth, can be an exciting time for you and potentially bring endless possibilities. However, there are many firms out there that sadly don’t make it. There are heaps of struggles and hoops to jump through first and many come in the first 12 months, which see lots of small businesses struggle to make it past the first hurdle.
7 Tips To Prevent Your Business From Flat LiningTo help keep you on track to being a success, here are some top tips to prevent your business from flat lining:
1. Be RealisticMost business case studies have shown that a small business doesn’t really start to make profit until it has been up and running for at least two years. This estimate isn’t one that many small businesses would think about (or even want to consider as the truth) since the whole point of starting up your own business is to make profit that will improve the business owner’s annual income. It’s a good idea to have a good understanding of your set up costs so you can budget how much you can afford and where you can cut back within the first two years. Having an office base can be essential for many but if you can work from home for a while, it might be worth considering that until you can afford to purchase an office.
2. Putting Together A Business PlanWriting a business plan is an important step and should be taken seriously from the start. Research your market, competitors, and your target demographic, all to help you start to make business decisions that will help you understand what you are working with and against and how you can target your potential clients best. Looking at your competitors will allow you to look at pricing models for your services and how much you can afford to spend.
3. Keep Borrowing To A Minimum When Possible...Ideally, you will have your own investment put away for the business so that you have a money pot to dip into when you need to spend. Sometimes, business start-ups need additional income that they can’t afford to produce at the outset so will speak to their bank or a loan lender to get the additional cash for their business venture. Be realistic in what you can afford to pay back each month if you need to get a loan. There will be monthly interest on top of this and so look at how long it will take you to pay back. Get a true understanding of what the loan is when you work out the interest and how this will impact you in making any profit. Is the loan essential for the business or can you scrape the money together without it? Research all options.
4. ...But At The Same Time, Don’t Borrow Too LittleDon’t scrimp on everything. If a business loan is needed for when you start up, then take it - so long as you can afford to pay it back. A loan can really help you kick start your business (provided it is spent on what you actually need and results in bringing potential profit to the business long term). Look at creating a budget for the company on what you have and then see how the loan will help.
5. Don’t Be Shy And Charge What You Are WorthMany people who start out rely on their current contacts to be their first clients. This reliance is great if you know they will be a regular customer, but make sure that you outline your costs from the outset, and charge exactly what you are worth and want to charge other new clients that come your way. So many people try to offer deals at the beginning to their friends that result in the price sticking at that forever. It’s good to consider deals but make it fair to all so that you don’t disgruntle new customers who find out that other people are paying less. Look at how much time things take you and ensure that it is profitable to you and that you aren’t selling yourself short. Ensure that if you are contracted to a certain amount of hours that you work those hours. Be realistic with how long things will take you. If you don’t, then you may find yourself working all the hours the day sends on a project that you are only charging half the amount of time for.
6. Make Sure You Get PaidDiscussing money can be a touchy subject, but something that business owners need to get savvy with and fast. If you are collecting payments, make sure that you keep on top of your invoices and chase the money that you are rightfully owed. Sometimes, it is worthwhile spending a little extra and getting a professional involved in the process. This can take the payment chasing off your hands and put in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing (and can do it well).
7. Keep Personal And Business Spend SeparateSo, the business is starting to bring money in and you can see a little bit of profit starting to form. Great, but make sure that this money keeps being invested back into the business. Using the business card for personal expenses can get messy and rather confusing. Not to mention, it's easy to overspend the money that should be being used for your business. On top of the usual budgeting and research, it is important that a small business owner stays optimistic, realistic, and positive, even though some of the most difficult times. Starting a business can be a huge challenge that can often see many people struggle to keep positive about when the money isn’t flowing in. Keep revisiting the business plan and keep on top of the money and stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. Good luck!
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Engaging Your AudienceTo get your promotional video onto the screens of potential customers or employers is difficult; to keep them watching once they are there is even harder. Like other promotional efforts, your videos must engage viewers. Some key things to keep in mind are:
- Your videos must be interesting enough to hold your viewer’s attention, right from the start. Like web surfers, video watchers have a very short attention span.
- Your videos must be more than an animated “Buy Here” sign. They should always provide value.
- Your videos must hook the viewers quickly. Audiences have a very short attention-span and, if they are not immediately grabbed by the content within the first few seconds, will move onto the next video. Therefore, keep your message clear and concise.
- Your video must deliver a clear purpose and immediately answer the unspoken question of “Why should I watch this?” Is your snippet funny? Instructive? Not only should watchers be clear about what to expect within the first five seconds of viewing, but the title should make it obvious as well. For example,“Hilarious Commercial About Diapers” or “Quick Tips to Changing a Diaper.”
Video Creation TipsThere are some important things to remember that will make your videos more appealing to watchers. Keep these tips in mind during production to improve your chances of attracting a following and promote through social networks. The Human Touch – Your brand is more than a logo, a product, or a tag line. Video allows you to incorporate personality and a human element to your promotional efforts. This is a medium that empowers you to add a level of trustworthiness, transparency and friendliness to your brand. One company that demonstrates this is Auto Credit Express; as a provider of bad credit auto loans, they’re able to relate to the consumers by providing videos like these that use everyday individuals to answer everyday questions. There’s no denying that this is much more effective than a traditional FAQ page. Dialogue – Don’t read from a script. When you do, it will always look like you’re reading form a script. Instead, structure your message into bullet points that will keep you on track while recording. Speak naturally as you address each point. It’s not necessary to record the entire video in one take. If you make a mistake, leave the camera rolling, take a breath, and restart that section. Once you’re done, you can remove the unwanted footage during editing. Tell a story – To the degree possible, try to frame your solution amid an interesting story. There’s a reason that good storytellers captivate audiences. Give your viewers a good story and your offerings will be more memorable. Address a need – Very rarely do people go to YouTube and think to themselves “I’m in the mood to learn more about a men’s accessory company.” Center the content around a subject that will genuinely appeal to the public, so at least you’re meeting them halfway. For example, Tuxedos Online produced a video entitled “How to Put on Cufflinks and Studs from Tuxedosonline.com." Instead of talking simply about how stylish their products are, they were able to draw in over 195,000 watchers by simply providing the solution to a common problem. Call-to-action –You’re creating your video because you want viewers to do something. You want them to contact you or you want them to make a purchase. Make sure that you explicitly state the next step to your viewers. Introductions – When creating a video, it’s easy to become enamored of the snazzy introduction that you’ve created. Resist the impulse. Video introductions shouldn’t last more than five-seconds. They should be used to identify yourself or your business and nothing more. Video Quality – Choppy, blurry, and poorly lit videos are what one expects when watching security camera footage, but that low quality is no way to represent yourself. Record at a high resolution (720p or 1080p) with proper lighting for best results. Graphics – Today’s video editing software provides users with a lot of options for having words or images that zoom and twirl across the screen. You don’t have to use them all! Some movement is good, as it allows you to emphasis a point, but using too many of these features will divert the focus away from your message. Don’t Stop at One – Similar to building a blog following, one of the most important things that a person or business can do to increase brand awareness is to continually provide new content. This accomplishes three things: 1) builds a repository of your offerings, 2) increases the opportunities for return visits and sharing, and 3) depicts your or your company as an expert in the field. Allow Embedding – A video that is embedded in a tweet, a Facebook update, or a blog post is more likely to be viewed and re-shared than an ordinary link back to your personal or business website. The goal is to have your videos viewed by as many people as possible, so allowing video embedding is a smart choice. Duration – If your video is longer than 3-minutes, it’s too long. Make your points as efficiently as possible.
Make A Connection With ViewersThrough video, your small business or personal brand can make a connection with potential customers in a manner that surpasses what can be accomplished with text. Take advantage of this opportunity to reach out to your viewers and you will soon wonder why you hadn’t taken this step sooner. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles:
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Start-up costs are the expenditures required to get a business up and running, and even see it through the first few months of operation when things might be a bit rough and unpredictable. One reason many new businesses fail is because they did a poor job of estimating start-up costs. As a result they end up cutting corners that negatively impact the launch, or they run out of operating funds and simply can’t keep the doors open. Even if you’re buying into a low cost franchise, properly estimating start-up costs can be the different between success and failure. Perhaps even more so if you are trying to get a business off-the-ground with limited financial resources.
Get Real With Your Start-Up ExpensesOf course, every situation is different, so it’s impossible to provide an exact itemized list of start-up costs. However, we can note the areas you need to consider while putting together you start-up cost estimate. Brainstorm each category and try to come up with a comprehensive list that applies to your situation. When finalizing your list, be sure to use realistic, real world numbers that estimate the cost to have proper, professional work done. Do some research if needed. Resist the urge to use “blue sky” numbers to keep the total low. There is a real danger in drastically underestimating the needed start up funds. Better a realistic high number than an unrealistic low one. And don’t assume you can get all the legal work for free because your girlfriend’s uncle is a lawyer (or whatever). Get your business off to a solid start by doing things the right way. Legal and Administrative: Opening a business almost always requires both time and money to get all the right paper work. If you are buying a franchise, then the franchise fee could also go under this heading. Other typical costs would include: lawyer fees for incorporating or partnership agreements; state/local license fees and incorporation/LLC fees, inspection fees, and insurance. Property: Almost every business needs a space to operate - whether it’s a brick and mortar storefront or a virtual place on the web. Both cost money. What will it take to get your space set up? Even if you are leasing there might be improvements or changes needed to accommodate your business that you will be responsible for providing, and you might have to put down a substantial deposit. If you are buying a property, then be prepared to come up with a 20% down payment as part of your start up costs, plus any needed improvements to the property. Be sure to think about everything related to your business space that is needed to open, like utility connections, signage, and so on. Remember, be realistic! Equipment: What you need will depend on what your business does. Some business can launch by just buying a few phones and computers. Other businesses will need expensive capital equipment like a fleet of vehicles or industrial tools. List everything you need to buy to start your business. Remember to include things like Point of Sale equipment, business management/accounting software or software licenses, and furniture. Starting Inventory: Businesses like retailers, restaurants, and distributors rely on moving inventory to make a profit. Generally, that inventory has to be in place on day one. What will it take to fully stock your business with what you need? Don’t forget consumables like paper goods and cleaning equipment. Advertising: While advertising will probably be an on-going cost after start-up, launching a business successfully is something to take very seriously. How do you plan to get the word out and how much will it cost? Labor: Businesses often hire employees and put them on the payroll before the doors open to help set-up the business and stock inventory as well as for training. How will staff be brought on during the start-up?
Start-Up Costs Include Early OperationIf you carefully review these categories you will probably come up with a pretty good list of your startup expense. Be sure to consider any miscellaneous expenses that do not fall into these categories like freight or travel costs. Finally, most experts recommend that operating funds for the first three to six months are included in the start up costs. At a minimum, this would include enough to cover rent/loan payments, labor costs, and utilities. Businesses need some time to get rolling. You don’t want to fail before you even get started. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles:
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