Starting a small business involves many challenges and risks. It entails careful planning, research and commitment to sustain the business for years. Currently, small businesses contribute significantly to a country’s economy. In the U.S., for example, they have a huge employment share (56.8 million people or 48 percent of the private workforce in various industries based on the 2013 data of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Companies with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment while employment in the private sector went up in 2015.
Launching a business in the U.S. should not be too difficult as there are lots of resources are available free of charge. The United States Small Business Administration offers assistance and trainings to prepare business owners and eventually help them succeed with their small business.
The primary consideration entrepreneurs should always keep in mind is to create a business plan. This needs to be detailed outlining the objectives, vision, products or services to offer, budget consideration, marketing strategies and forecast of the enterprise. While this may not guarantee success in the initial year, it will serve as a guide on how to proceed with your business moving onward. A Forbes study has noted that an estimated 80 percent of small businesses fail in their first year due to various factors such as not engaging with potential customers or lack of organization.
Financing the business is the next important step to take. You may have prepared a certain amount from your own personal funds but it would also be a good to find other financial resources. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to entrepreneurs these days. These include government-backed loans, venture capital and research grants. You may also consider utilizing the crowdfunding platform to get the word out about your ideas to prospective investors.
The legal aspect of the business also needs to be fully considered. Make sure that you decide which type of business you want to open whether it’s a sole proprietorship, partnership, non-profit and cooperative. The other types but usually meant for large companies are the Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation and S corporation.
Keep in mind that the type of structure you choose will determine your taxes. The sole proprietorship type is the most common as it allows only one person to start a business. It also allows the owner to use his personal taxes to report his business income or losses. After deciding on the business structure, it is a must to register your business with the United States government. This should enable you to secure a legal business name and license for you to operate your business. If you’re hiring one or more staff, educate yourself about the responsibilities to them such as paying them the right wages and social security contribution as well as obtaining their work permits and other requirements.
Planning your marketing strategies must also be prioritized. This will help raise awareness on the existence of your business and what you’re offering to your target market. Utilize both the traditional and digital media if possible and ensure that you are consistent in this aspect. Online, you can promote your products or services through a website or blog and social media. If you need writing help such as for your website or blog’s content, you can always outsource it to freelancers to ensure that your site gets more traffic. Do keep in mind that your marketing efforts also need to be consistent. Social media updates and blog posts should be posted regularly to attract more followers looking for fresh and valuable content.
Being well-researched and prepared for your business and the many requirements involved are sure ways to success. By starting on the right foot, you can rest assured that your business is operating in accordance with the law.
Tips For Starting Your Own T-shirt Printing Business While At University
When student Ben Francis started selling screen printed clothing from his garage 6 years ago, he would never have thought his startup would grow into one of the biggest brands in fitness. Today, Gymshark is supported by millions of social media followers and boasts customers from over 130 different countries.
Success stories like Gymshark’s demonstrate that setting up your own business at University is definitely possible and may lead to massive success. Being at University is a great time to set up your own business- University students have more free time, fewer commitments and there are a wealth of resources and organisations designed solely to support young entrepreneurs.
Selling t-shirts online has become a popular business model and offering a customisable aspect by printing personalised designs is a great USP. For University students, starting a t-shirt printing business is an inexpensive way to start a business while studying.
Here are 5 tips for starting a t-shirt printing business while at University:
Don’t worry if you’re not currently taking a business or marketing course, as there may be optional entrepreneurship classes you can take at University to train you for the world of business and give you startup advice.
There are many resources on the web to learn how to run a t-shirt printing business and more pointedly how to create customised prints, including this insightful blog post on how to embroider logos on workwear.
For setting up a t-shirt printing business it is important to do research into the industry and competitors as well as into the potential market. When it comes to the t-shirt printing industry, there are a wide range of potential customers so be sure to think about who exactly you want to be selling to.
Create a business plan
Creating a business plan is an important part of setting up a new business as it is a good way to explore the feasibility of your new business and is essential if you will be seeking out external financing.
As part of planning for the business make sure to:
- Establish the mission of your company
- Know where you will obtain your raw materials from
- Analyse the competition and know how will you make your brand stand out from other t-shirt companies
- Think about how you will market the business
- Identify your target market
- Do some financial projections, for example a sales forecast
Secure start-up funding
There are many ways to raise startup funding including business incubators and accelerators, angel investors and venture capital firms, and investment from friends or relatives.
Consider researching into small business grants as there are thousands of grant schemes in action across the UK and many will be eligible for University entrepreneurs.
The main sources of grants are from the UK government, the European Union and your local authority but they are also offered by Universities, charities and corporates. It is worth researching into all of these before making a decision.
Another great source of funding is the Prince’s Trust which is the country’s leading youth charity programme, who offer financial help and business support for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Another financing option is The Start Up Loans Company which is a government-backed scheme helping individuals start or grow a business in the UK. The Start Up Loans Company allows you to borrow up to £25,000 to start a business for a low fixed interest rate of 6% per annum.
Create a support network
Search out support channels such as your University’s business resources and alumni network. You could also reach out to other entrepreneurs and local businesses to gain advice on entrepreneurship and useful contacts. Research into any meetup groups and network/ startup events in your area to widen your network.
Use free resources
To save you money be sure to make use of any free resources, including those provided by your University. Your University may have databases, contacts, workshops, and more that you can use while still studying.
Another great asset is the people around you- fellow students, lecturers, tutors etc. Reaching out to others for advice or opinions can be of great use when setting up a business and you may even find a business partner.
There are also a few charitable organisations which you can use such as the The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE). The NACUE is an organisation for students in enterprise and has a UK network of over 260 students and enterprises. They support and connect student entrepreneurs through student-led enterprise societies, practical programmes and events.
5 Reasons Content Is Essential to Digital Marketing
Content is an umbrella term for all written and visual elements on websites. It gives value to your site and business, and developing the right content strategy is essential in digital marketing.
You need to have a solid plan based specifically around your niche. Too many companies produce generic content that just isn’t right for their customer. If you can provide value and connect with your audience content will become a key driving force in your business. Take these business marketing resources for example, which pull together relevant resources and allowing businesses to create content that resonates with their target audience.
In this post we will look at five reasons why you need to focus more on content when it comes to your online marketing strategy.
Five Reasons To Focus On Content
1. To inform your audience
Your content shows your audience that you know what you’re talking about. Blogs, for example, can position your business as an expert in the industry. The less confused an audience is, the more they stay engaged. People will see that you can provide value and help them make the right decisions, making them more likely to want to work with you.
2. To rank in Google
Creating great content is one of the best ways to reach your audience, but how does anyone find your content to begin with? Ranking in Google can help you achieve this. Utilize SEO best practices and keywords in your content to help Google find your pages faster. You can also submit URLs individually to Google to speed up the process.
3. To earn links from other sites
When you create excellent content, others will want to link back to you. The best case scenario is when sites of authority link to one of your blog posts or articles from their own website. This is one extra way that your potential audience can find you, and also helps a lot with SEO.
4. To share on social media
In a time where social media rules our daily lives, shareable content is key to getting noticed. This is a main reason why interesting content should be a part of your digital marketing strategy. There’s no excuse for businesses not to have social media accounts, but you don’t need to be using all of them at once.
Instagram and Pinterest are the best for visual marketing and particularly useful for retailers and creative businesses. Through the re-pin function on Pinterest, for example, your product images can really take off. On LinkedIn, you can post full blogs and grow your connections in your industry. On Twitter and Facebook, you can be found through hashtags and tags from others in your existing audience.
5. To gain conversions
Once you’ve created the best content you can, how can it lead to conversions and new customers? Always end your content with a relevant call to action. What is the next move you want people to make after reading or watching your content? This psychological nudge focuses on the individual and encourages them to act. Incorporate conversion rate optimization even further through in-depth analyses, which can be done by a digital marketing agency.
5 Things To Consider When Starting a New Business
The New Year is now almost here, and it’s this time of year that many people make a resolution to commit to changing their life for the better. Now, if you’ve been sitting on a business idea for some time but have let the fear of failure hold you back – chances are you will be one of the many nascent entrepreneurs cracking out your shell in the New Year.
This time of year has a wonderful energy that you can ride, like a wave, in terms of getting things done. We all know that come New Years day there will be an abundance of people jogging in the park, and similarly, behind closed doors, there will be an abundance of people working on their business plans – getting ready to launch into the new year.
In this article we’re going to look at 10 things to consider when starting a new business, some of which are about your goals and other are about the business process itself, such as the need to carry out due diligence uk and adequate market research.
As the New Year approaches, many people are starting to reflect on their dreams and consider taking action on things they have been putting off for many years. Whilst starting a business isn’t a New Year’s resolution in the conventional sense, it is certainly in the spirit of the energy and optimism the new year brings.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the most important factors to consider if you are starting a business in the new year.
WHAT’S YOUR “WHY”?
The first question to consider is: what is your “why” in terms of what is the reason you are wanting to start a business? What feeling will this give you that you crave? How will this improve your life?
For many people, the idea of setting up a business represents the opportunity to make a lot of money, feel more independent, be their own boss, live life on their terms, and feel more alive as a result of being more in control of the outcomes they produce.
We all have basic emotional needs… for instance, the need for “certainty and stability”, “love and connection”, “variety” and “contribution”.
A business is a great way to meet these emotional needs – yet, you need to get really clear on what is your prime driver and motivation, as sometimes there is a better vehicle to get you to where you want to be.
It’s all about finding the best vehicle to get you from where you are to where you want to be – and it’s imperative you consider what vehicle is best for your particular goals.
For instance, let’s say that you want a life of “freedom” where you get to travel the world for six months each year, during winter.
You therefore, think about setting up a guest house that is seasonal, so you live and breathe the guesthouse, for the summer months, and then travel the world the rest of the time.
This doesn’t sound like a bad idea. However, if you were planning to open a retail shop or restaurant – it might not be such a good vehicle to meet your true desire of having the time and money freedom to travel the world.
You therefore want to ensure you are choosing the most optimal vehicle to get you where you want to be, and think outside the box on this one, for instance, if you wanted to travel the world – what you really need is “passive income”, which is income generated from activities that don’t require you to trade your time for money.
A good vehicle for this would be to own a number of properties and rent them out. In fact, going down the property development route might be a better vehicle to have the freedom to travel six month a year than the hassle and risk associated with running a guest house.
In summary, you want to get really clear on WHY you are wanting to start a business, and make sure it’s the right vehicle to take you where you want to be.
2. WHAT’S THE REALITY?
We often make assumptions that setting up a business is going to offer a particular lifestyle, and there’s a tendency to look at this through rose tinted glasses. This means that our expectations are often unrealistic, and what we expect to get as a result of setting up a business is often not aligned with the reality.
For instance, many people assume they will make a lot more money in owning a business rather than being an employee, yet, if we take the example of a small business owner such as a makeup artist, accountant, or consultant – we can see that the sole trader has gone from having the certainty and security of a monthly wage, which is consistent and secure, where all they have to do is perform their particular role.
In contrast, the makeup artist, accountant or consultant not only have to practice their trade, but they have to wear several different hats, and work MANY more hours on different aspects of the business in order to “get by” let alone thrive.
The stress, anxiety and financial strain put on your life, and the lives of your family, can take a toll on you. The notion of a “weekend” often goes out the window, as even though you might physically take the time off, it can be hard to switch your brain off – as you are often thinking about your business.
There are huge benefits to starting a business, however, on the basis that you will have the freedom and independence, as well as the wealth, you crave if you stick with it and turn your business into a success.
3. IS IT GOING TO FLY?
Perhaps, the most important question of all, is whether your business idea will fly – in the sense of, will your business idea work out or not.
This highlights the importance of market research and carrying out due diligence in terms of the business decisions you make. There’s an absolute need to prove the market, before investing heaps of cash into an idea, as imagine how painful it would be to spend tons of cash on a project that you “think” people want only to find out nobody actually wants to buy it.
4. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LEARN?
The next factor comes down to what you need to learn in order to set up this business. A lot of people make mistakes when starting a business, and there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes – indeed, it’s how we all learn, yet, in business, mistakes can be expensive to the point you could lose a lot of money.
You therefore want to consider all the things you need to learn, before taking the plunge, as it’s better to avoid mistakes and “be prepared”, as the Scouts say, than blindly move forward.
The challenge many investors cite to new entrepreneurs is that they don’t know what they don’t know – and as a result, they aren’t always prepared for the challenges ahead. They are naive in their thinking and this naivety can cause huge problems, and huge problems can cause such significant financial loss that people find themselves close to bankruptcy.
You therefore want to write a list of all the things you need to learn and find ways to close those skill gaps.
5. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LAUNCH?
The next question comes down to what you need to launch. In this sense, you want to consider what is the minimum you need to launch your business – as you don’t want to overspend on unnecessary items, such as fancy business cards, when a basic business card might do.
Today, for most businesses, a website is critical to their success.
It is the new “shop window” that positions the value proposition behind your idea so that people understand what it is you do and why you exist. It also provides a platform to contact you and do business with you. A website, in addition to a social media profile are at the core of most basic start-up strategies.
You then need to consider what you need in terms of space, for instance, can you work from home or do you need to hire premises. Will you need to hire staff? What tools, machinery or systems do you need in place?
When it comes to starting a business, many people start by working from home which is a great choice as the cost of premises can be very burdensome to start-ups and the last thing you want is a high fixed overhead that you are committed to. You want to remain as agile and flexible as possible in the early days.
The same is true of staff, some people feel the need to go out and employ staff in order to have a “proper business”, yet this often causes unnecessary financial and administrative burden… a better option is to outsource tasks to freelance contractors, as this way, you can retain control of your budget – and only pay for the work you actually need.
Paying for things on a task-by-task basis is a much more streamlined and efficient approach for the majority of start-ups, than paying a fixed monthly salary.
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