What’s Standing In The Way Of Your Startup?

What’s Standing In The Way Of Your Startup?

Many challenges that pop up along the way to getting a startup off the ground can be avoided, or the impacts lessened, with due preparation. Not having set plans in place for all areas of your business is just begging for trouble. True, you certainly don’t need all of your ducks in a row to take the plunge and start a company, but you need a good picture of the ducks you want and where you want them to go. With a sense of direction and an understanding of your support structure, you’ll be better positioned to glide smoothly around unexpected obstacles and let would-be problems slide off your back.

What to plan for? If you’re already in business then maybe it’s time to revisit your original business plan. Look at the aspects you have adhered to and the ones that have evolved, additionally, if any initial goals have changed. As a fundamental, products and services should be working as intended. If not, this is where to find the first holes to plug. 

Improvements might be made administratively, perhaps by making updates to human resources, or consider shopping different automating platforms. There may also be lags due to lack of employees or equipment, then it’s time to scale.

Money is the most obvious hurtle that the majority of small businesses face. Before day one, an entrepreneur will have hopefully researched and compared financial options, along with worst and best-case scenarios. The SBA is an invaluable resource for low-budget startups. Traditional lenders, business lines of credit, or credit cards with generous rewards programs are a straightforward way to secure the capital needed to expand, or invest for growth. Private investors will provide freedom to move forward, but can also hamper the amount of control an entrepreneur has over business decisions.

After reviewing fundamentals and basic health of operations, it’s then time to ask how well defined is your brand? Does your company have a clear purpose and a coherent, memorable image? Embrace the factors that set you apart from your competition and echo them. Marketing strategies will be a constant conversation to be refreshed regularly. There’s always an opportunity for a new promo campaign to engage new and existing customers. If the well of ideas is running low, ask your following what they would be excited to be offered. Consumers always appreciate having a choice and a voice in creating options for themselves. 

Everyday efficiency could be hindering acceleration to the next level. Bookkeeping software can help not only automate a massive amount of otherwise tedious tasking, but it can also run analytics. This will render an overview of possible leakages of time or money, as well as show you the areas working for you and where you can capitalize or invest more. 

If you know something is holding you back but are unsure where, it’s best to take a magnifying glass and go back to basics. Look to your team for feedback on what their pain points are and how to optimize workflow, or what might boost the company overall. Make sure you’re delegating the right jobs to the right people, and that everyone is in the role that best suits their talents – without being micromanaged. 

If you do know what needs to be improved then the solution may be just to get out of your comfort zone and get out of your own way. We all fear failure and success, but in the long run the only thing worth fearing is regret. For some it’s from inaction, for others unwise impulsivity. A well-thought plan can give motivation or restraint as needed, while keeping a business on track and in sight of the goals it set out to reach.

How To Pick A Name For Your Startup

How To Pick A Name For Your Startup

It’s less than ironic when entrepreneurs go through all the complexities of starting a business, and find themselves still stuck for a name. A basic requirement for a title might be to pick something that will reflect your intention or inspiration behind your business. One thing is certain; you need a name you love.

Your title should be catchy and memorable, yet symbolic of what you do. Something too ambiguous will leave people confused. A dose of mystery can be an excellent marketing strategy to create intrigue, but when trying to attract your first customers, you’ll have better success if your messaging is self-explanatory. No matter how cool, a vague title will be extra challenging to brand. If your name represents what your company does, you already have a foundation to build your voice around, without having to define a fundamental identity. The goal is to connect with potential clients, not make them guess, because chances are they won’t. You also want to consider SEO, and traffic brought in from searches of the type of product or service you provide.

A name tells who you are, but be careful that it’s not so specific it gives no room to grow. In case your business expands its menu of offerings, be mindful, so that you won’t need to change your name later.

You want an original title. Run thorough web searches for your choices. Check for available domain names, trying to secure a .com if you can. If the domain you prefer is taken, there’s a chance the owner is willing to sell. 

See who else using the name you want. If your business is entirely different from other companies, than there should be no interference or conflict. If you plan to register as a corporation or LLC, check with the Secretary of State that there’s no one else with a name so similar that you may not be able to register. To determine if you can trademark it, search USPTO.gov.

If you really are suffering a block and cannot seem to come up with a name that sings to you, try a site to help brainstorm. VisualThesaurus.com let’s you visually play with keywords. Naminum.com produces theme-based titles. Shopify Business Name Generator also lets you check for domain availability.

Once you have a handful of options, say them aloud to make sure they still sound good. Then ask friends and family on how the names translate to them. They may have insights and perspectives unseen to you. There may be negative cultural or linguistic implications you may not know, or you may find that your message doesn’t hit as clearly as you expected. They may also see potential in something you’re overlooking or downplaying.

Sometimes just stepping away and coming back to an idea with a clean slate and fresh eyes is all that is needed. Inspired moments tend to occur just at the right time, and it’s better to skip contenders that don’t quite fit. Your business is your baby; it’s what you produce in the world. The name you choose should be iconic of the mark you leave and worn with confidence.

How Can Startups Set Up Bookkeeping

How Can Startups Set Up Bookkeeping

Even if you have superior accounting skills, the idea of setting up a bookkeeping system for your startup can still feel like a monstrous undertaking. But with a proper approach, the thought doesn’t have to loom like a mountain’s path. 

With good organization and the right software, the process of getting started can flow more like rolling hills than impassable terrain. Like many other initial systems you set in place, they need to function efficiently down the line, carefully avoiding any potential accidents or obstacles in operations. The extra energy put into researching and implementing the best accounting framework from day one, can save untold time, money, and frustration in the future. With some great options in bookkeeping applications, it’s just a matter of being prepared with your current records and clear in your financial goals moving forward.

If you plan to stay small and don’t intend on expanding, then cash accounting is probably the best method. It allows you to record cash flow as it comes in and goes out, making your books simple and straightforward with minimal adjustments. For those companies seeking to launch themselves to higher realms, accrual accounting is the logical method as it allows for more flexibility to reflect what your bottom line actually is and then present more holistic data to potential investors. With accrual accounting income and expenses are recorded at the time of delivery rather than time of payment.

You’ll need to determine which bank to open a business account, as it’s much easier to track spending and profit if you have a separate account outside of your personal funds. When shopping for the right bank, consider fees charged, services offered, transaction limits, online and mobile capacity, physical locations, security, customer support, rewards, interest rates, and possible credit or lending options.

Now it’s time to see which software is appropriate. It is possible to do manual record keeping, but even a simple spreadsheet program like Excel will save endless hours of input and enable at-a-glance information that’s easy to see and read. 

For more complex capabilities, Quickbooks is the most universally popular way to optimize your record keeping. Automatically integrate between accounts, track income and expenses, even generate invoices and reports to help project revenue or analyze the overall financial outlook of your company at any moment. 

Be ready to receive your first buyers by having a payment system in place. Even a tool as simple as PayPal or Stripe will open you to digitally accept transfers for a small fee. For advanced processes like invoicing and receipts or international payments, then Recurly or Chargebee are designed for those services.

If you have employees, you’ll need a dependable payroll system. There are PEO’s and HR solutions that specialize in this, but for small startups, just be sure to cover your legal responsibilities. Ensure working status of staff, calculate payroll tax to be withheld, register for payroll tax in your state(s), and file employment tax forms. 

Now you’re up, running, and keeping track. Remember to be consistent reconciling your bank statements with your company ledgers regularly, and avoid getting backlogged. Establish a habit of generating reports to maintain a clear vision of where you are fiscally in the present and how far you can expect to excel in the coming quarters.

When Is It Time To Scale Up Your Startup?

When Is It Time To Scale Up Your Startup?

As any business owner can tell you, few things involved in running a company will be fully predictable or predetermined. Gauging when it’s time to go bigger, or maybe trim down, can almost be a sixth sense. Just like knowing when to start a business, timing is never perfect but if the right factors align, and the risks are not too heavy, we jump. 

The most apparent tell-tale sign it’s time to scale up is if you find yourself unable to fulfill orders because you are too busy, understaffed, or lack inventory, and not because of debt. If you have more business than you can handle, it’s definitely time to run the numbers and consider expanding.

How strong is your returning customer base, is it consistent enough to project a portion of future revenue? What is your rate and consistency of customer acquisition? Is the rate of growing demand surpassing operating costs? How large is the margin between your best and worst days? If you decide to explore financing options, can you show potential investors a stable and profitable performance record?

Have you hit prime goals and positioned your team to set the bar higher? How high were your initial targets and are your next aims realistically within reach, without being too simplistic? Is your staff excited for the next level? When a business is apt for launching to new heights, the energy is reflected by the employees who are flourishing in an environment of creativity and new possibilities. They can see they’re work is paying off and leading somewhere valuable.

With half of all small businesses unable to survive into their fifth year, adapting your capacity in a timely and flowing manner is critical. If too much doubt lingers, with too much uncertainty of income versus overhead, then patience might be your ally until you have the justified confidence for bold moves. But if the iron is hot and the wheels are in spin, then sitting on your momentum could trip your progress and halt success. If you know you’re ready to take on more, and have the need to evaluate growth options, take time for an objective assessment of your overall progress. When the fire is there, and enough factors come together to outweigh the risks, leap forward fueled to reach unknown realms of opportunity and wealth.

Summer Time Startup Challenges

Summer Time Startup Challenges

“Summertime, and the living is easy,” they say. For some industries like hospitality and tourism, business is in prime gear, but for some sectors and regions the summer is a time to slow down and assess previous quarters then plan for the back to school and the holiday rush. 

The summer is time for brainstorming and detailing the next direction for your brand. If there’s a new product, collection, or service you’ve considered featuring, now is when you can map out your launch. Maybe there’s a way to refresh existing offerings by adding new options and varieties. Bundles can be popular if you have several similar products that can be sold together at a discount. Or creating sampler packages containing, as example, four – four ounce jars for the same price as a sixteen ounce jar can generate excitement for your entire line.

This is also a chance to formulate your marketing strategy for the coming months. What special deals do you plan to run and how do you plan to promote this? Are you planning any big events either online or in person? If you have a new product to unveil, then a launch party is probably in order. Or perhaps you pride yourself for being an authority in your field and enjoy sharing insights, then perhaps educational workshops can be held live or recorded for purchase. Maybe your focus for boosting sales is amplifying what’s already working for you, and giving your customers an opportunity to get a little more for their money. This could mean generous sales or free trials with the purchase which allows customers to try items they don’t yet know they love.

The slower business months are also an ideal time to refresh connections with both buyers and sellers. Have an efficient CRM system in place to keep track of client information including contact info and history. Make sure your email list is current and consistently providing useful and engaging content, and not letting that powerful marketing tool sit idle. It’s also a good time to meet with suppliers and potentially negotiate better pricing, or even shop for new vendors.

If the mid-year months are a downtime for you, take it easy on yourself and definitely catch up on the rest everyone needs, but also use this as a chance to reflect and formulate. Look at the evolution of your brand and how the face of your company is growing, while still maintaining its core values and integrity. Is your mission the same or has it changed and adapted as the whole world has? Visualize the path you desire your business to go and set the intentions, using this as a guide for a flourishing season ahead.

Don’t Let Your Startup Fall Apart

Don’t Let Your Startup Fall Apart

With springtime blooming and summer just around the bend, it’s far too easy to become caught up with everyone around you winding down. But for a small business owner, especially one who might work from home, distractions can be detrimental and leave you scrambling to catch up when the next season starts.

Be aware of what your biggest derailments are and be honest about what temptations might lure you away from your important projects. If there are recreational activities you promised yourself or your family that you would not miss again this year, then make a plan and schedule the work you’ve committed to around it. Likewise, make sure the goals you have for your business and obligations to clients are met before detaching completely to have fun.

Rest is part of the work. Taking off a week or two, even just to staycation, can be like medicine for a weary soul after a year of long hours and stressful deadlines. What is the point of working all the time if you don’t take a chance to relax and revel in what you’ve built for yourself. Your family will appreciate your presence without having to look at or through a computer screen. 

Once you’ve found a balance to scheduling work and play, stick to it. When others in your life have more time on their hands it’s less likely for them to understand that you may not have the same luxury. Communication is necessary to explain your need for focus and healthy boundaries may have to be set on the days your phone keeps buzzing. If you have small children, this is obviously not an appropriate approach and your schedule may need to flex according to naps, snacks, and cartoons. If you have older kids they might be drafted to help with chores, cooking, and babysitting in order for you to have the extended periods of quiet you need to produce quality work by deadline.

Just because you’ve disciplined yourself to smash your goals, and not let business slide, while life around you seems like a party, does not mean you can’t enjoy the work you do, or enjoy yourself while you’re doing it. If you can take your laptop to a park and sit in beautiful weather surrounded by nature, then plan to regularly. Extra long hours of sun can easily extend our workdays, so take extended breaks on your own watch whenever possible. Working hard does not mean overworking. If you work smart, and find a good balance between accomplishing and rejuvenating, you’ll be on track for accelerated success the entire year, and still be able to say you had a great summer.

When Is The Right Time To Start Your Business

 When Is The Right Time To Start Your Business

No matter how fated some things seem, when it comes to executing our dreams, there is no preset plan for when and where it will happen. If you have the ideas, the clear plans, and life seems to align so that your goals could possibly come to fruition, then it’s time to jump in and start your business.

You’re motivated and inspired; you have an awesome product and a vision for how your brand will look. You’ve done the research. For example, you understand the logistics of packaging, transport, accounting, and how to structure as a corporation. You’ve checked out the competitors, their pricing, and realized which key advantages set you apart. You know your niche. You’re figuring out how to start, but before making it official, you stop at the idea.

If you’ve been able to successfully test your product several times, then it could be time to get out of your comfort zone and hit the ground running. Host a pre-launch, or soft open to create a buzz and gauge audience response. When sales begin you’re ready to launch. As soon as customers have their wallets out you’re in business. Capitalize on that energy to create even more momentum; strike while the iron is hot.

You don’t need to know exactly where the road will lead; figure it out as you go. Start by generating word of mouth advertising, and keeping a consistent social media presence. Gather feedback from your followers to help determine potential directions. Learn from others and seek mentors who have been successful in your field or in their own. Save yourself the mistakes they’ve made and try to acquire any hacks that only come through experience. Soon you’ll build a stable foundation, develop a fluid brand, and look toward marketing strategies and future financing options. One step at a time, as the most important step is the first one.

Timing will never be perfect for any of our big moves in life. It’s difficult not to suffer analysis paralysis overwhelmed by factors, choices, and “what if’s.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of blind faith, confidence, and intuition to open new doors of opportunity. Don’t fret over getting all of your ducks lined up, once you have a few in a row the rest will follow, as long as the leader stays on track. So as long as you have the discipline, the commitment, and the drive, all that’s left is the decision to take the plunge.

Human resources For Your Startup

Human resources For Your Startup

One of the easiest ways to increase office efficiency and improve employee experience is to make your human resources virtual. The latest software platforms allow you to automate tedious management systems so you can focus on doing the work, rather than how it will be done.

Zenefits is absolutely free, which is ideal for any young startup. From this one platform you can manage scheduling, payroll, PTO, administer benefits, and onboard new hires. They also have a feature to cover any governmental compliance needs, with a built-in calendar to ensure your important deadlines won’t be missed. Zenefits wants you to, “spend less time on low priority tasks.”

For a low-cost, no-contract option, Kin is an application that makes filing employee paperwork a breeze. Kin will centralize all your files, manage PTO and leave requests, and track time off. Kin has systems for onboarding and handling employee data within a team directory. It also provides space for employee feedback and objectives.

TSheets is a revolutionary tool for time management as it integrates Quickbooks and boasts GPS time-tracker. With a mobile app, its features are available across devices. Geotracking lets employees clock in and out from anywhere, even for breaks and lunch. Interactive capabilities allow entire teams to follow a project’s status at a glance, and remotely edit, publish, and share with ease. Predictive planning helps determine probable timetables necessary for future tasks and goals, as well as estimated payroll.

Workable is world-class recruiting software made to simplify the hiring process. In a single click, post your positions on hundreds of top sites and streamline the vetting process. Create employee profiles, collaborate with hiring teams, schedule interviews, and get approvals automatically on a security-enhanced platform. Workable has renowned global support, and connects with major partners like LinkedIn and Google.

With as much effort that goes into starting a business and keeping it running, converting to automating software for the mundane jobs involved with HR, might be an obvious choice. Whether your company is in its first stages and manpower is spread thin, or you’re a larger operation with a full-scale workforce, these platforms are designed to make operations cohesive, while keeping employees satisfied, so business stays moving at full-speed.