Starting a Small Business In These Difficult Times

Ever since the government urged businesses to close down because of COVID-19, the unemployment rate has gone up. But did you know now is the perfect time to start a business? People need supplies and retailers are feeling overwhelmed. If you can meet the needs of those customers, they’ll become loyal to you even after the pandemic ends.

Use the following strategies to get your startup and running:

  1.   Find Capital

The first thing you need to start your business is financing. Create a sound business plan and take it to potential investors. Some banks may still give you loans if they think your business idea is good. Do your research so that you know everything about the market and how your product will satisfy your customers. Consider the competition and make accurate financial projections. Make your business plan as detailed and as clear as possible so that investors can trust you with their money.

  1.   Take Advantage of Government Incentives

The Federal government created a stimulus package to help small businesses that are struggling during these tough times. Find out what incentives the government has put in place to help startups. Such services can help you save money when getting your business off the ground.

  1.   Get Insurance

Since you’re not sure when the difficult times will end, you need to shield your business from risk. Having business insurance for your startup is as important as malpractice liability insurance to a practicing physician. Protect your workers with worker’s compensation and your business from risks such as fires and theft.

  1.   Market

Marketing helps your business reach the intended target. However, the marketing mistake that startups make is advertising to a general audience. If you want your efforts to be successful, you have to be very specific. Narrow down your target market and make it as small as possible. You’re more likely to make sales if you personalize the message for a small target market.

  1.   Start Small

Instead of going big from the get-go, start small and build your way up. Even if you understand the market, customers are unpredictable. You may not reach your sales target during the first three months due to low traffic. To shield your business from huge expenses, you can start by operating from your garage or home office. Then, when the orders become too much to handle in such a small space, you can move to a bigger office.

  1. Leverage on Technology

Thanks to technology, information is everywhere. Take advantage of the resources around you to gain a competitive edge. Install software that will help you manage the business accounts and orders. Use technology to make your business more efficient – machines are better at calculations. Use online analytics to check on the effectiveness of your website. Take advantage of digital marketing platforms to reach more people.

  1.   Have a Backup Plan

Create a backup plan of what you’ll do if you don’t meet your sales target during the first year. Make sure that you have saved enough money to keep your business running for at least half a year. Keep an eye on cash flows and consider negotiating for the best deals with suppliers. Since things are bad, try to make them understand that you may need more time to repay debts. That way, you’ll have more money to deal with more urgent businessAlthough it’s risky for you to start a business during these difficult times, it’s not impossible. Right now, people need essential supplies. Use the above tips to take advantage of opportunities in the market.

Starting Your Own Business on a Budget: Tips & Tricks

starting your own business on a budget

Starting your own business can seem unattainable, especially when you have limited funds to work with. When thinking about launching, you might feel as though you need a large sum of money in order to even begin. But, I have good news; this is not always the case. In fact, I was able to start my own business for roughly $650, including the paperwork to register as a limited liability company (LLC). I still have yet to take out a business loan. So, fret not; starting your own business on a budget (and without a loan) is possible, and the following are some tricks and tips to help you launch:

Starting Your Own Business On a Budget

Don’t quit your day job:

Normally, “don’t quit your day job” implies you should not pursue anything more than what you are currently doing for money. But, when I say this, I mean maintain your full-time job as you develop your dream. Spend a few hours every night after work (or at your leisure, depending on your level of motivation to start) developing your business plan. Know that you want to start a business but unsure where to begin? Pick something you are passionate about or very knowledgeable in.

As you start the process, plug away some money from your full-time job each month for your business. Even if it is just $20 a month, every little bit helps and will make launching more of a reality.

Reach out to friends:

Assuming you have already done your market research and developed a business plan, you can reach out to supportive friends who may be willing to help you with certain services you may need to move forward.

For example, if you are a copywriter needing a logo, see if one of your friends in graphic design would be willing to do a trade for service and/or a discounted rate to create your identity. Most of the time, you will most likely find someone willing to help. Even your friends with a background in law may be available to provide some tips on getting started with paperwork or offer a lower rate to help. You can also use the money you’ve been saying from your full-time job to pay for these services up front. Never assume your friends will do it for free; they are, after all, also in business and need to make money too. Also, don’t forget to refer them and spread the love! They will appreciate your word of mouth referral more than you know.

Start online:

The internet is full of amazing opportunities. You can easily start your business online through the creation of a website. Sites like Weebly, Wix, and even WordPress.com all are great platforms to begin on a budget as they all offer templates you can work off of with zero web design skills. With these, you’ll also need to purchase a domain name (AKA your business web address), a process they each walk you through when you sign up. When using WordPress, you will also need a hosting site, which is basically a home for your domain name. Weebly and Wix have theirs built into their platforms, but their customization is not as advanced as WordPress. Bluehost or GoDaddy.com are both examples of where you can find hosting sites. Again, you may want to reach out to a friend or use a consultation with a marketing company to help you get started with this particular process, as it can sometimes be complicated.

In addition to a website, you can now sell items on Facebook. If you do not want to upgrade your site to be secure enough to sell items (all websites need to have what is known as an SSL certificate when selling items or even collecting emails, which protects private information of site visitors), you can create an account at Shopify.com and connect it to your Facebook page or use Facebook as your store. You will need, however, a PayPal or Square account in order to move forward.

Starting online allows you to save on initial overhead costs (other than your website) on a brick-and-mortar. But, you can surely invest in a physical location after getting your feet wet. This all depends on whether your business would benefit on a physical address or if you can survive solely online.

Make it a side hustle and have supplementary income:

Starting your own business on a budget does not mean you have to wait until you are no longer at your full-time job to begin. You can start with it as a side hustle and continue to grow it until you are ready to be full-time. By all means, you can also make it your primary focus and help your financial situation with a supplementary income until you start seeing a profit in your business. House sitting, dog walking, and freelancing are all examples of easy ways to get this going. You could also use the money from your supplementary income to invest into your business if you needed the extra funding for a special project.

Grow through networking:

Networking is an especially cost-effective way to grow your business. No matter what industry you are in, everyone can benefit from networking. Check your local events calendar to see where opportunities may be for you to meet prospects. You can also utilize your existing connections or memberships to grow. For instance, if you have a gym membership, and you are starting a catering business, you can reach out to the gym manager or members who work at local businesses to see if they would be interested in your services.

All in all, know that starting your own business on a budget can be done. No matter what, though, it always takes consistency and a lot of work in order to make it happen.

Have you been dreaming of starting your own business or have you already? What tips would you add to the list? 

Tips for Businesses to Increase Workflow Efficiency

The goal of every business owner, whether their company is small or large, is to increase revenue. Without it, your business will become stagnant and possibly fail. The good news is that with the right tools, resources, and a staff that’s motivated, you can achieve this easier than you may expect.

Take a Step Back

Time is something that’s necessary to keep the focus on bringing in new business. Unfortunately, many business owners feel the need to either handle all aspects of the business or micromanage those they entrust with various components. Taking a step back and allowing your qualified employees to perform their duties will allow you to stay on track. Another time-saver is outsourcing. It’s a common practice these days, and for very good reason: it works. For example, managed IT services provided by another company will keep your employees working by reducing downtime for unforeseen problems with software and programs.

Goals for the Company

Monthly meetings are essential. They provide a venue for you, as the business owner, to show in black and white the direction you want the business to go. They also let employees have a voice that they can use to offer suggestions. Since your employees deal directly with the customers, they bring something incredibly valuable to the table. Keeping an open mind and allowing your staff to participate in company meetings will make them feel that they are an important part of the business.

Energized

Working at a desk and sitting in front of a computer for 8 or more hours each day can sap the energy from your employees. This is true for many companies who know that productivity is at the highest level early in the day. Once mid-afternoon comes around, your staff is more likely to be less energized. Thankfully, there’s a solution. Implementing 15 minute breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon will allow them to get up and move around and get their blood pumping. They will return with a clear head and renewed energy.

Prioritize and Complete Tasks

Trying to run your business with a singular focus or by spending all of your time on just one thing isn’t going to produce the results you want to achieve. Most often, there are several tasks to perform in a single day. Learning how to prioritize them is a great way to make the best use of your time. Not everyone is good at multitasking. In fact, having too many tasks to perform often causes everything to take longer to complete. Instead, delegate duties to qualified individuals. This way, all of the work is done on schedule.

The Employee Role

As a small business owner, you rely on every person under your employment. However, if an employee is unhappy with you they may not work as hard and start looking for new employment without notice. If you only have a staff of 5 or 6 people this can mean a reduction of 15 or 20 percent of the workforce. By assigning certain tasks to employees with an imposed deadline, you can identify the individual quickly and take steps to uncover the problem.

Upgrades

As a small business owner, money is always something that you must spend wisely. Older office equipment such as a printer without double-sided copy or color capabilities and outdated software programs will cost you in wasted time. However, acquiring new tools is often something not in your budget. Thankfully, you don’t have to replace everything at once. For example, you can upgrade the inefficient copier with a new high-tech model from a leasing company. This will allow you to save time and, if any repairs are needed, the company will service the machine at no additional cost.

Increasing workflow efficiency will help you stay the course and focus on bringing in new business