Leverage: 4 Ways To Get More With Less Effort

In simple terms, leverage means using resources to maximum advantage. In business, these resources include your time, effort, money, knowledge and people. With leverage, you increase your ability to do more with less – building profit along the way.

You work smarter, not harder. You get more sales at lower costs. And increase profit through efficiency. Your people work together and enjoy the relationships that come from teamwork. You deliver what you promise so customers keep coming back.

It's a win-win for you, your people and your customers. Here are 4 ways to leverage your business.

Time Focus on What Matters

How much time do you spend on activities that create value? By value, I mean tasks that directly produce sales, grow profit, improve service and delivery or help others do these things.

Take some time to analyze how you spend your time. Then focus on the critical tasks while eliminating, delegating or outsourcing others.

Here are a few things that will help you do this:

  • Have goals and an action plan. Without goals, everything seems important.
  • Tap into technology. Your calendar and to-do list are as close as your phone.
  • Schedule time beyond meetings. Important tasks should be scheduled too.
  • Turn off distractions. Your phone, email and people. Interruptions are time killers.

Sales More Customers With Less Effort

When it comes to maximizing revenue, your marketing and sales channels can go a long way toward improving this area.

Good marketing with clear messages and targets can help you attract quality prospects. Why chase after the wrong people and waste a lot of time trying to convert them? Combine this with a great sales management system – and you get more customers with a lot less effort.

Next, think about sales channels. You can personally sell to individual prospects in a traditional one-to-one manner. You can grow exponentially faster by selling online, but this model does not work for all businesses. So why not build a network of people who sell to the same people you do. Then let them do the work and pay them a fee for the sales they generate. You both win. Again, you get a lot more sales with a lot less effort.

People | Help Them Be the Best They Can Be

Your people may be your most valuable asset, but only if you leverage their skills and abilities.

It starts when you hire and bring them on board. Invest the time to find the right people to join your company – even when you feel rashed to get someone in there. But even the most skilled individuals need time to learn and understand your business. Orientation and training are critical to getting them off the ground running and contributing. Especially today, new hires want to feel that they are making a difference or they will not stick around.

If you have low employee turnover and long-tenured team members, hiring may not be a priority. But you should still look for ways to leverage your people. Are you maximizing their skills and providing new challenges and opportunities?

As your business grows and technology changes, job responsibilities will also change. When was the last time you looked at your organization structure, positions, and job descriptions? Are they still relevant? Do your people have the skills and knowledge to take on additional or different work? This is an area often overlooked. But it can improve workflow processes and keep your team engaged and challenged.

Effort It's All About Systems

Regardless of industry, every business has key processes to develop products and services, build demand, satisfy demand and manage the business. These include common functions such as marketing, sales, customer service, manufacturing, shipping, service delivery, technology, human resources, finance and strategic planning.

A lot of tasks! But the more efficiently you operate, the more profitable you become. You can leverage all areas of the business when you ask the right questions, focus on continuous improvement and take advantage of technology and people. You can take it a step further when you look for others / partners to help you grow without doing the work!

When you master the leaseage game, you get more of what you want with a lot less effort. Pick one of the areas above to focus on and get started.

Leverage Your Business With Systems

If you are serious about creating leakage with systems, visit my website and check out my Ultimate Systems and Procedures Guide. Designed specifically for small business owners, my step-by-step guide with templates and examples makes it easy to do it yourself.

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Small Business: It’s All About Relationships

As the world of business becomes more complex, a small-business owner can no longer be an expert in all of the specialized discriminations a small business needs. Despite the fact that small-business owners must necessarily focus on producing and managing enough cash flow and on getting customers in the door, it is also critically important for them to cultivate and nurture relationships with a support team. This group includes:

Employees
A banker
An accountant / tax specialist
A lawyer
An insurance broker
A sales and marketing professional

Employees

Although thinking in terms of a “relationship” with employees may seem a little odd for a business owner, that relationship could be the most important of all of the relationships for the owner to cultivate. Because good employees represent a major resource in a small business, the time and effort the owner invests in nurturing that relationship has a huge return on investment. Employees who feel seen, respected and appreciated almost always produce more than anticipated.

Employees represent – in fact they are – the company to the customers. The business relationship with customers largely depends upon their experience and interaction with the employees. Happy employees tend to want to satisfy the customers, want to do a good job and want to stay in the job. This is important to the continuity of high-quality customer service and avoids the significant expense of employee turnover, employee retraining and the expensive but inevitable “rookie mistakes” of new, inexperienced employees. In addition, having trusted, long-term employees can free up the owner to handle off-site duties as needed. Establishing a retirement plan can benefit you and your employees.

A Banker

A banking relationship is an obvious need, not only for routine business banking, but particularly when capital is needed to grow, increase inventory, buy a building, bridge a short-term gap between payable and receivables or to address the seasonalality of the cash flow in the business. The banker that an owner goes to for a loan should know the business owner, understand the history of the business and have an understanding of the owner's judgment and credibility regarding the use and payback prospects for a loan. If the long-term relationship is there, or it is at least in the process of being built, the loan request has a much better chance of being approved. If the business has borrowed and repaid loans in the past, the established track record and relationship greatly enhance the approval prospects. (Loan protection insurance can help in the event of financial difficulty.

Accountant or Tax Specialist

A relationship with an accountant is equally important if the business owner is to be confident in the quality, clarity, timeliness and understanding of the financial reporting provided. A relationship with an accountant can also enhance the business's credibility with a banker when the business is seeking additional capital.

Many small businesses combine the accountant and tax-specialist functions in one outside entity for convenience, time-saving and cost reasons. This is fine if the accountant has the requisite tax experience for the industry and the tax expertise for the specific business it serves.

Lawyer

Every business owner should have a relationship with a business lawyer, liability attorney or legal firm. When an owner invests money and effort in building a business, it must be saved from loss as a result of a lawsuit.

Insurance Broker

As part of business risk management, the business also should have a relationship with and the trusted advice of an insurance broker who will provide the optimal coverage in the relevant areas within the constraints of the business budget.

Marketing Professional

Depending on the owner's sales and marketing expertise, a relationship with a marketing professional is highly advised. Most small businesses start with an entrepreneur who has a specific technical skill, a trade certification or has built up a following of customers for good work done.

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Four Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail to Grow

Running a small business requires superior problem- solving and an ability to look at the bigger picture. Aside from ensuring that your business turns a profit on a regular basis, you also need to be concerned with your own financial health over the long-term. That includes having a strategy in place for building wealth, so you can enjoy a comfortable retirement once the time comes to hand over the reins of your business to someone else. As an entrepreneur, there are certain hurdles you should be prepared for that can hinder your ability to create wealth. (For a detailed rundown, see? Investigator's tutorial Starting a Small Business.) Here are four important challenges small business owners face.

1. Too Much Business Debt

Getting a small business off the ground typically requires a certain amount of cash. Taking out a term loan from a bank or a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan may be the answer, if you do not have sizable savings you can tap into. With a 7 SBA loan, for example, it's possible to borrow up to $ 5 million to establish a new business.

Even if you do not need a loan to get started, that does not mean your business will – or should remain debt-free. For instance, you may decide to open a business credit card to earn rewards on day-to-day expenses or take a merchant cash advance to help cover your cash flow during slow periods. Or you may want to borrow to expand, especially if the business is doing well. While credit cards, advances and loans can be invaluable to keeping the business running, their convenience comes at a cost.

If a substantial part of your business' revenue is going toward repaying its debts, that leaves less income to devote to growth. It also leaves you, as the business owner, less money to funnel into a solo 401 (k), SEP IRA or similar qualified retirement plan to ensure your own future. While the interest on a small business loan, the payments themselves are not. Paying down your business debts allows you to redirect funds towards your retirement or a taxable brokerage account instead.

2. An Inefficient Tax Strategy

As a small business owner, filing and paying taxes may be one of the most unpleasant tasks on your to-do list, but it's a necessity. If you're not taking advantage of every available tax break, your wealth without even realizing it. There are a number of tax credits discounts that you can claim on your business or personal tax return? An expenditure must be deemed both ordinary and necessary. This means the expense must be something that's commonly associated with the type of business you own and directly connected to its operation.

When you do not take the time to maximize each possible tax advantage, the result is an overly large tax payment. Hiring an accountant to manage your filing may increase your business expenses slightly, but it can also help to minimize your tax liability. In terms of building wealth, the long-term benefit can easily outweigh the cost.

3. Lack of Diversification

Being a business owner requires a certain amount of jogging, and you simply may not have time to pay as much attention to your investments as you'd like. The size of your assets affects your overall financial standing, including how banks see you, especially if you're a sole proprietor. Investing in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds, eliminates the hassle of trying to put together a well-rounded portfolio, but it can be problematic if the funds you're purchasing hold the same underlying securities.

Business owners can also run into issues if they're not rebalancing periodically. This is vital to ensure that you're maintaining the right asset allocation, based on your investment goals and risk tolerance. If you do not rebalance regularly, you could end up with a portfolio that's either too aggressive or too conservative. At one end of the scale, you run the risk of losing money by gambling too heavily on stocks. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you risk limiting your earnings potential if you¡¯re playing it safe with an abundance of bonds. Either way you're putting your future returns in jeopardy by not paying attention to the level of diversification in your portfolio.

4. External Risks

Aside from managing market risk, you also need to be cautious about insulating yourself and your business from threats that may arise in other areas. For instance, what would happen to the business if you were to become ill and could no longer exceed its operation? How would your business and personal assets be protected if your business became the target of a lawsuit? What would you do if your business was damaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster?

These are the kinds of questions small business owners must consider, because although such scenarios may seem unbelievably, they can have a fundamental impact on how you grow wealth. Choosing the appropriate business structure is an important step in minimizing liability, but you should also be proactive in reviewing your business and personal insurance coverage to ensure that you're protected against every possibility.

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5 Reasons Why You Need An Executive Coach

Many of the top CEOs in major global brands have an executive coach on retainer, but small businesses leaders can also benefit from this type of expertise. On average, one of the primary reasons many small businesses do not hire a coach is because of the expense, even though it would make sense for their group. Granted, executive coaches can be a significant expense, charging rates from $ 300, $ 1,000 or even $ 3,000 or more for one session.

Because the business world is now moving at an incredible pace with minimal margin for staying ahead on the competition as new ways of doing business and disruption are now baked into our collective DNA, an executive coach can be a great benefit to your company.

  1. Exploring Ideas: Business coaches have experience across a broad swath of clients, and they bring that experience to their work with you. One of the top benefits of a business coach is the chance to have someone that is unbiased and outside of your organization help you think through new ideas and strategies. In the process of your speaking to a coach about thoughts that you're thinking, a good coach will ask you questions that will test your thinking and in the process give you more insight.
  2. Leadership Effectiveness: An executive coach can do something that probably no one on your small business team will do – give you feedback. Sometimes business owners have a trusted executive that works with them that will challenge their skills and effectiveness. But, more often than not, that is not the case. A small business owner can easily be in an environment where few people, if any, will inform the leader about how he's doing. An executive coach is someone that will not have any doubts helping you understand the “why” of decisions and courses of action you've taken. In the process, this will help you understand and gain insight into your own management and leadership.
  3. Accountability: The reality is that a small business owner has his or her little fiefdom. Larger corporations have their boards to hold them accountable, but who does a small marketing or retail shop have to hold them accountable? The answer is usually no one. If you've meant to update your operating bylaws, launch a new marketing campaign, or figure out how to develop team members, a coach will hold you accountable. It will be this person's job to check in with you on the goals you're putting forward for your company.
  4. Measurement: Typically, when you sit for your initial conversations with an executive coach, this professional will ask you about your goals for the process. Out of those goals will come ways to ensure that the goals are accomplished, and usually these goals are tied to making your business performance and leadership better. An executive coach will help you get better at measuring the success of your business because he will be working with you on core issues related to your company, which will come from the goals you prioritize.
  5. Improving Decision Making: One of the significant benefits of executive coaching is that with the live sounding board, in the form of a coach, you'll have an opportunity to test out ideas and thinking. A good coach will always push you by asking you questions that will help draw out and clarify your thinking. In turn, this process will help you improve your decision-making process because the decisions you will be making will have been thought through with much more rigor. Your choices will become better, and the process of how you get to decisions will become even more thoughtful and rigorous.

Sometimes executive coaches are brought on board for a specific laser reason, but lots of times they are hired because business leaders can benefit from working anywhere from three months to a year with someone helping them develop and improve. If you have not thought about an executive coach, it might be something to consider. If you think the price is a factor, it's only a matter of priorities.

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Need Advice About Business Expense Management Software? Ask The Coffee Machine

Knowledge is power, they say, and it always has been. But these days it's to be found in the unlikeliest of places. It's in your coffee machine, your central heating system, and even your home lighting.

It's the Internet of Things; the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items with electronics, software, sensors, and actuators embedded into them, along the power to communicate with each other and exchange data.

Working together they can adapt automatically and change their behavior to match changing circumstances; analyze and draw conclusions from data they're gleaning for themselves, and use it to decide what they should do next.

But if they're talking to each other and exchanging data, should not you be part of the conversation? After all, in a world where the coffee machine can prepare itself to make coffee when the home central heating come on – because you've told it to during your commute, why should they cut you out?

Cut waste wasting

But back to the 'knowledge is power' thought. If this information is being upgraded it has the power to impact your business expenses. Lights that do not need to be on do not have to be, and the heating will not be warm a space when no-one's there. Make no mistake; a warm office block with all its light blazing is making your electricity bill larger than it needs to be. And who wants to pay more than they should because of waste that could so easily be eliminated? Quite apart from the pain in your pocket, it's also bad for the environment.

Remember that you, as a business owner, probably take a different view of wasting your money than your employees. I recall one employee who did not turn his work computer off for a little over four years – even when he went on two week's annual leave. That meant the computer was in standby mode for longer than he was actually using it, but he did not care; His money was not paying the bill.

Manage energy

So what can you do with smart energy management? You can use electricity from the solar panels on the roof (you do have those, do not you?) To run appliances. At night, when everyone's gone home, devices on standby can automatically be switched off to reduce power consumption – and the size of your bill. Your heating and air con systems can learn the temperatures needed in any given room and maintain them at that level; and can turn them down when the rooms are not in use. It can even protect your assets by incorporating intruder alarms, or tolling you about water leak, for example, so you can react promptly and minimize any potential damage – and the disruption and cost that invariably go with it.

Do not take my word for it; the coffee machine will probably back up up, with his chum the water cooler …

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Why Umbrellas Are The Perfect Tool For Promoting Small Businesses

Small business owners often find themselves struggling to keep their business because of the competition and fund to keep them. While millions of businesses around the world try to get over each other with advertisements or promotions, smart business owners have found the right tool to use. Some small business owners have discovered that the umbrella factory can change their fortunes overnight. Despite the fact that the internet has taken over the world, advertisements online can be expensive and last a period of time.

Any promotional item or gift that bears your product or brand will always talk about your business even while you are sleep. Thanks to umbrellas that have become another affordable promotional material for small businesses around the world. The cost of advertising a brand can be out of reach to some businesses that are struggling with money.

When you want to reach a larger audience without spending a lot of money, you can go for umbrellas. It is easier to use umbrella as a promotional product because they are very affordable compared to TV advertising than is expensive. Umbrellas have become the perfect option for marketing your business for years at low cost.

These are some of the reasons why small businesses make use of umbrellas as a promotional tool:

The Golf Umbrella

When you want to add message, logo or a brand to your promotional material without missing out on anything, you can go for the golf umbrella. The spacious area on the canopy will give your designer that opportunity to create the right message for your business. The massive area of ​​the umbrella makes it visible for a lot of people to see when it is placed outside.

The Mini Umbrella

Small business owners can take advantage of the mini umbrellas as their promotional materials. The size makes it easier to move around without stress and also ensures that the user is able to display the message where they go. Even the protective case of the umbrella can still serve as an advertising platform to add logo or business name.

The Beach Umbrella

When your business is boldly displayed on a beach umbrella, you are assured that your business will be known by many people. The beach is one of the few places on earth where business is mixed with entertainment and tourism. You can boast your business for people from all walks of life to see when you use a beach umbrella.

The Antiwind Umbrella

There is one way to maintain a lead when it comes to projecting your small business to the world, making use of the antiwind umbrellas. These umbrellas are very strong and have become a choice promotional material to people.

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Setting Up A Network Cabling Service For A Small Business Entity

In a typical enterprise organization, the network is the central theme which becomes an essential component to run the small office network efficiently well.

The alignment of the network system for small office network works well and could possibly accommodate the digital transmissions in the days to come.

In this particular trend, when aligning a small office network, the cabling service plays a vital role in terms of connecting to the various network devices such as the switches and routers which in turn connects the devices for their specific IP addresses and other related devices.

The network devices have identified as the integral components

Switches typically connect the multiple devices:

• The switches have been instrumental in connecting the workstations, servers, and printers to mention a few.

• In the recent times, since organizations have provisionally authorized the BYOD devices; the switches have scaled up to even provide the network connectivity to certain smart mobile devices

• Since the entire world has changed into complete digitization, the switches have evolved and have been connecting the devices which generally transmit higher bandwidths and also accommodate the voice and data transmissions at faster levels.

Routers the gadgets to vehemently connect the IP address series:

• Routers are those devices which connects the IP address series in an office network,

• The router has been the devices which ardently connotes the networked computers or the device which signifies the IP address to the Internet, while connecting to the Internet or the Internet service provider (ISP) the routers are responsible to share the resources as one single internet connection.

• In simpler terms, the routers have been connecting the small office to the internet world and also become a barrier for the ongoing security threats.

The network cabling benefits:

• The modern day the data center management to efficiently function well has to be well planned which brings about the less down time? The cabling subsystems play a major role in the digital connectivity for the data center and the connected servers.

• A failed cable infrastructure often brings about the more breaks in the digital connectivity and translates into millions of dollars of lost revenue and reduced productivity.

• The structured cabling has been able to bring about the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and has been engaging the organizations with integrated messaging and wireless applications.

• If convenience is the primary reason to implement a wireless network, the wireless network has been the reason to bring about both the speed and the reliability.

• The wireless routers have in the recent past become very powerful entities that they are able to connect the BYOD devices for a greater efficiency in carrying out the different business integration.

The attributes of both the wired and wireless networks

In the recent times, most of the business enterprises have been bringing about the hybrid systems of network alignment. They opt for both the wired and wireless networks, as they use Ethernet devices to attach the printers which are there on the local area network (LAN) and the access to certain critical information onto the storage mediums through wireless ways.

In both the formats, the wired and wireless networks, the transmission bandwidths are well maintained.

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Why Should A Small Business Contemplate Using An ERP Software?

This is an undeniable fact that a successful implementation of a potential ERP solution can result in an exponential growth of your business prospects. Are you wondering how is this possible? Well, a robust and dynamic ERP software is capable of streamlining and integrating all the business related processes and managing all the data into a single powerful system. This results in better business efficiency as well as improved business productivity. Here is a list of a few persuasive reasons why a small and medium-sized business should think of using an effective ERP solution.

Customizable Solution

Not every business needs and requirements are same. Here, based on the continuing business processes and needs, the modules associated with an ERP solution might differ. Typically, customisable ERP solutions are preferred for a small and medium-sized business. It consist of multiple modules. The most interesting part is you would not have to pay for the modules that you will not use which is very beneficial for a small-sized business.

Improved Collaboration and Better Productivity

Integrating an effective ERP solution would benefit a small business by providing with opportunity for managing all the data into a single powerful system. This results in better communication between the employees of different departments along with better collaboration between diverse departments associated with that particular business. As this is a very time-efficient method, employees can solemnly concentrate on their work which in return, increases the business productivity.

Wiser Decision-Making

An effective ERP solution makes sure that each time you want to access any data, it is up-to-date. More importantly, it would give management with the detailed and more accurate report and in-depth business insights that would help the management to take wiser decisions resulting in a fruitful business income. Moreover, as the communication and the collaboration between different department enhancement, discussing over any issue becomes easier along with finding a workable solution.

Streamlined Data Flow

Most of the businesses, face several problems and issues as the different departments save all the historically compartmentalized data in a scattered way. Using a powerful ERP system, you can easily diminish this issue. A potential ERP solution is best for streamlining all the complicated business processes along with managing all the critical data and information in an utmost professional way. It makes the process of accessing data smoother and instant.

Other than all the above-mentioned benefits, what goes beyond mentioning is that a successful implementation of an effective ERP system in a business makes sure to diminish the total working cost associated with the business. However, while integrating your business with an ERP solution, it is advisable to analyze your requirements first and then to opt for the most viable solution that is satisfying your business needs.

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The Challenges You Must Overcome to Turn Your Small Business Into a Big Business

You might have a small business today, but you do not want that label for the life of your business. When entrepreneurs make endeavors, they are looking to create a business that will rule the world one day. However, every business has to face some struggles in the beginning that it must get to become a big business. The way you handle these challenges decides the fate of your small business. Today, you will read about these challenges and the solutions to them, so if you are a small business, you can set the foundation for its success.

Knowing the Target Market

One of the largest issues with most small businesses is that they do not know their exact target market. Sometimes, they do not know how to narrow down to the target market. This is a huge issue because you could have a perfect product, but you might pitch it to the people who do not need it. Keep in mind that people who do not need your product will not buy it even if you try to give it to them for free. On the other hand, people who need your product will be willing to buy it even if it is priced high. For your business to survive, it needs to start selling as quickly as possible, and that's why it is important to find your target market before launching your product.

Solution

The first step of identifying your target market is to know your product well enough. You have to ask yourself some important questions about the product and write the answers down. For example, you have to ask yourself “what existing problem does my product solve?” You also have to know if there are any other solutions available in the market for the same problem. If yes then you have to see how your product is better than them or how you can make it better. Conduct surveys on the street and social media to know the personas of the best buyers of your product.

The Right Type of Marketing

Businesses, small and big, have huge portions of their budgets allocated only for marketing purposes. However, the modern technological advances have proven that a big marketing budget does not translate to successful marketing. So, you might have done a great job in identifying your target market, but if you approach them in the wrong way or through the wrong channel, you will not be able to reap any benefits from even the most potential market for your product or service .

Solution

Identifying your target market should help you identify your marketing methods and channels too. For example, if your product is for people aged over 50, you would not want to make Instagram the prioritized marketing channel because only 18% of the users on Instagram are aged above 50. Similarly, any product that targets executives, marketing officers and professional people should be promoted on LinkedIn before any other platform. After knowing the buyer personas, you should also select the type of marketing that best suits your potential audience. If you are creating a hip-hop music video for marketing to retired individuals or an opera video for 18-year olds, you are doing it wrong. Use website analytical tools to know what appeals or does not appeal to your website, visitors. Base your digital marketing campaigns on data-this is the era of data-driven marketing.

The Funding Problem

If there were no funding problem, every person who thinks of a unique idea would have a business. In the real world, funding is always a problem, and it is exactly the point where the journey ends for many aspiring people in business. However, it is not always the lack of funds that kill many small businesses before they even start. In fact, the important part is how much dedication you show in arranging those funds. Sometimes, people have the options available, but they do not knock on all the doors.

Solution

First, you have to know all the options you have available for arranging the funds. If you are not okay with arranging funds through the bank or in the form of a loan, take a look around at your family and relatives. You will be surprised to know how many of the people in your circle will be ready not only to give you the investment you need but become a part of the endeavor. The crowdfunding options are also there. You do not even have to go to the investors personally today as you can visit a platform like funded.com and arrange funds online.

The Right Leadership

You can not make a business successful unless you have the right leader in place. It is not completely untrue that the attitude of the leader sets the attitude of the rest of the employees at a company. If you lack confidence in your leadership, you will end up hiring people who lack confidence in themselves. One of the biggest problems with most small business owners is that they can not convince themselves to delegate responsibilities. They believe in their skill so much that their mind never accepts that someone else can handle the responsibilities too. They end up taking the responsibility of everything on their shoulders and mismanaging things at the end of the day.

Solution

The first thing that needs to be fixed here is how you think. If you find it hard to delegate responsibilities, get rid of this habit as soon as possible. You can not handle everything as the business grows and so you have to create a team right from day one. Do not hire people just because they can do the job-hire people who share the same vision as you. Do not settle for good employees because finding the best ones is taking time. Do not try to take matters into your hands all the times. Listen to everyone that's part of the team and the decision making process. Have a great relationship with your employees.

Setting the Price

One of the most difficult decisions for a small business owner is to set the price of its service or product. When you are a small business, you can not afford to have a full-fledged marketing department. Of course, when you have a marketing department, they can set the price of your products, but when there is no marketing department, you are the one to take this decision. Price your solutions too low, and you might not make any profit at all. Price your solution too high, and customers may never buy your product.

Solution

It will be tremendously helpful in this scenario to take a look at your competitors and how they have priced their products. Secondly, you have to know a simple rule to set the prices of your products and services. You first set the price to cover your costs. Once you have started covering your costs, you set the price to cover the costs and make a profit. Once you have done that successfully, you start adding your “value” to the price. You should also know the buying power of your target market so you can keep the price within their comfort zone.

These points cover pretty much every big challenge that a small business comes across. Keep in mind that some of the challenges might be exclusive to your business and industry too, but if you can overcome these common challenges, you can cover the industry-specific difficulties as well.

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Pawn Shop – What to Know

This type of shop is one that will offer a person money for an item, generally a fraction of the value of the item. A pawn shop will buy many different things from movies, televisions, computers, musical instruments, jewelry, and more. When this transaction talks place it is called “pawning” or “pawning an item.” Depending on the pawn shop the person who pawned the item will have thirty to ninety days to redeem, or get the item they pawned, by paying back the money they were given for the item plus interest or other fee. A pawn shop can not sell the item that was pawned before the specified date that the customer has to buy it back. The owner may contact the one that pawned the item if someone wants to buy it to see if they want to sell it.

Some pawn shops will take some items on consignment, which offering the one putting the items in on consignment if the item is only sold. The profits that are earned on the item are generally split between the owner of the item and the store. There are also some pawn shops that will offer the one wanting to pawn things the opportunity to sell their items so the shop can sell it right away. If the person decides to sell the item instead of pawning it may get more money for the item.

For anything that is pawned the shop does offer below market rates because many times people have an urgent need for money and can not wait until the items are sold. The customer may be desperate for money to pay a bill, buy groceries or medicine, or just want money to spend so they take it for less than market value. Even when the pawn shop keeps the item because of non-payment or the person Decides not to get it back the pawn shop may be stuck with because it can not sell it or it will not sell at the price that they want for it so the pawn shop is out the money they let the person pawn it for and have an item that is not selling. When they pay less than the market value price it can sometimes help to offset any money that may have lost on items that they can not sell.

There are strict rules in the United States that regard the running of a pawn shop and vary from state to state. Two of the rules they must follow is the percentage of the market value for which the item can be pawned and how long the pawnbroker has to wait before they can sell an item that was pawned. The laws are to protect the pawn broker and the one pawning the item.

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7 Tech Trends To Add To Your Small Business Startup To Attract An Angel Investor

Angel investment is on the rise, and your small business startup needs to capitalize on all the opportunities at hand. Venture capitalists are on the hunt for business startups to invest in that are currently at the cutting edge of technology and taking risks with these advances trends. You find that investors are eager to sink their investment dollars in these technologies so that they can reap the future returns. While the payoff may be big for an angel investor, these tech trends will also help your business startup to attract those funding dollars.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is not new to the scene, but for 2018, it is making a significant headway. By allowing companies to do more with less, AI will turn out to be a fundamental change in the way a company does business today and tomorrow. Startups that integrate AI into the fold will experience a shift in how they are able to perform routine tasks, freeing them up to focus on their customers. Angel investors see this as a win-win as they are able to invest in an advancing technology as well as a startup that is leading the way with its use. Your business startup will do well by having AI as a part of your repertoire and see more funding interest come your way in 2018.

Social Media

The uses of social media to enhance your consumer game is a boon for investors looking to find business startups that are succeeding in their customer engagement. While social media is not a newcomer technology, those that have a strong endgame will win big in terms of revenue sales. Social media is proving to be the technology platform that links us all together and gives business startups the recognition they need early on. Venture capitalists are enamored with its use by business startup as they see the power it offers and the benefits a business startup can take advantage of. Using social media to boost your business in 2018 will be key to earning funding from an investor as they recognize the strengths it offers to your consumers.

Blockchain

Blockchain is another technology on the fringe waiting to bust on to the scene in a fury in 2018. It's ability to provide a real-time ledger of transactions can give your business startup the transparency it needs to garner the nod of a venture capitalist waiting in the wings. Your business startup will benefit from Blockchain's ability provide stable and error-free operations while angel investors gain by investing in a technology that has proven its worth. You'll see funding offers from a series of investors if your business startup utilizes Blockchain to its full advantage within your organization.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is advancing at a steady clip for the New Year, and you'll see IoT automatically everywhere you look. With consumers becoming more connected than ever, IoT offers an opportunity for new products and services that enhance IoT's capabilities in the home, business, and community. Angel investors are savvy to the draw of IoT and how it is changing the way consumers interact and live their lives. They want to get in with business startups that are using this technology to move their business forward, engage with consumers, and improve their business operations. Count on IoT as a way to entice venture capitalists and secure funding in 2018.

Big Data

Data is everywhere these days, and it will only get bigger this coming year. Business startups such as yours will be able to use big data to understand every aspect, detail, and nuance of your customers, so you can create products and services they desire. With big data changing the way that business startups engage with their clients and provide unique customer experiences, it means plenty of evolution is on the horizon. Angel investors are keen on the possibilities all this available data can provide and know that companies that take advantage of the information can lead their industry in leaps and bounds. Use big data to enhance your business startup operations and stay tuned for venture capitalists to come calling with much interest and fanfare about your company this year.

Cyber-Security

While 2017 was a year that many will remember for its security breaches, this year provides a turn of events as business startup integration or offer cybersecurity services to better protect their customer data. This cybersecurity will change how companies in all sectors operate and provide the level of security that is needed to protect that confidential information from getting into the wrong hands. Business startups that use cyber-security to protect their company or create products and services for others that help them secure their information will do well in the following year. Angel investors will show interest in these endeavors as the need for secure data protocol is growing without hesitation.

Virtual Reality

Also, on the fringe in 2018 is VR. This technology gives you the ability to engage with your customers in a new and exciting way. Through a more desirable customer experience, VR can help your business to increase its customer numbers as well as its revenue as VR improvements workflow and access to customers all over your niche. Angel investors want in on AR as an investment opportunity, and your business startup will attract their attention now and into future with this technology at your helm.

Integrating any of these technologies in your business startup shows a strong sense of understanding and initiative to increase your customer base and profits this year and the coming year. Angel investors want to be able to get their hands wet with these new technologies so that they can be where the growth is with these trends. Think about how these technologies can help your business startup succeed in 2018 and secure the funding you need to get off the ground. You'll be surprised at how much attention you receive by taking the first step with any of these technology trends and reap the rewards of investment into your company by an investor.

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Funding Your Life Science Startup With SBIR Phase I Funds From the NIH

My friend during psychiatry maintenance said, “Should you consider pursuing SBIR funding?” I asked him, “What is SBIR?” With this article, I hope to succinctly answer that question and more importantly to explain why Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is an excellent way for someone interested in the life sciences to fund an entrepreneurial interest. Once a life scientist establishes a small for-profit business, SBIR funds can support the creation of a technological solution to meet an unmet need in the life sciences.

What is SBIR?

SBIR is a component of all the primary funding initiatives of the US federal government. The SBIR funding solution is not the same as a loan from the Small Business Administration. You do not owe the government anything for its granting of money to you. There is no obligation to pay it back. Still, keep in mind that this is a government-run grant program. You must spend the funds wisely and carefully, following government standards, and in some cases complete an audit following government standards.

NIH and other branches of government are obliged to dedicate a percentage of their R & D funds to SBIR efforts. SBIR funds are only available to a commercial enterprise, in other words, a for-profit company. This funding mechanism is not designed to complete basic science research or produce a product with no apparent applicability. Funds must yield a viable commercial product sold in the marketplace.

SBIR at NIH

This article focuses exclusively on the NIH's SBIR program and specifically Phase I of SBIR funding which is the most rudimentary and simple way to achieve funding. There are similar mechanisms such as STTR as well as more complicated means of obtaining additional SBIR / STTR funds though those are less likely to be the optimal choice and are not the focus of this article.

The NIH SBIR program is particularly well suited to the life scientist-entrepreneur. NIH provides investigator-driven research through its academic scholarships as well as SBIR. That means that the NIH program is unique in that it will consider your idea versus charging investigators what ideas they will fund. SBIR programs in other branches of the government will often specify a need and purpose of the research. Your project must fit within that specified need. To sum, the NIH SBIR program can be an excellent solution for an entrepreneur interested in creating a product that will add value in the life sciences. But you must assess if the limitations and conditions are acceptable to your goals.

SBIR Limitations and Focus

Phase I focuses only on demonstrating feasibility. You are not expected to complete the entire product, nor fully assess it in all logical ways. Your goal is to use Phase I to demonstrate that the idea is sound, the team is capable and with further funding, it is likely that you will produce something of value. Some ideas can not be easily demonstrated in a short time frame and with a limited budget. To fit within SBIR Phase I, you must then roll back your plan and goal to a project that is feasible. Reviewers will reject a project that over promises as quickly as one that under deliveries.

The budget and time frame for an SBIR Phase I are constrained. SBIR recommends completion of Phase I in six months. With justification, you can request a one-year period for funding. A Phase I SBIR budget is typically limited to $ 150,000 including any overhead or indirect costs as well as a fee that the government allows, which is a maximum of 7% of the other expenses. This amount can be raised to $ 225,000 if the author can justify the higher amount due to the complexity of the project. If your needs fit within time and dollar SBIR limits, it can be an excellent source of capital to start your company while retaining full ownership of the enterprise and limiting debt.

More funds are available to support your project. If you obtain Phase I funds and complete the project successfully, you can apply for Phase II, which is two years in length and up to $ 1 million in funding. Phase II has a greater chance of success if you have had a productive Phase I that demonstrated the feasibility of the project to create a valuable product.

Preparing a Phase I SBIR Application to the NIH

Obtaining SBIR funding is complicated and challenging. As with any funding request, you must have a novel idea with potential and clear value. Alongside that idea, you need a team and an organization with the skills to convert that idea into a product that provides health-related value to a potential customer. You must carefully outline the strategy to create the product and describe the underlining theoretical basis that will guide the development.

It's helpful to consider an SBIR application as a standard pitch to a business audience, except you are pitching using paper to an academic appeal that demands that the process and assertions are backed up with quality references.

The decision-makers regarding funding are not business investors looking for a return on investment over time. In fact, those decision-makers are a collection of individuals ranging from university-based academies to practicing clinicians to small business personnel who kindly have submitted SBIR applications and or received awards in the past. Due to the likely academic orientation of reviewers, the emphasis will be more on the scientific basis of concept and rigor of the theoretical underpinnings. It is not just a question, “Is this idea good?” but, “Is this idea based on sound theory?”

All SBIR efforts include research and development to determine the effectiveness of the product. Rigor also applies to the assessment strategy and process as well. The application must provide detail regarding how value will be measured by various metrics and using established methods. For an individual with experience in research, this is reliably straightforward. For an SBIR applicant with no science or research background, the academic component will require guidance from someone with assessment research expertise.

As mentioned earlier, a Phase I application only focuses on demonstrating the feasibility of the concept. In Phase I, you are expected to show that it is feasible to produce the product and that it potentially has value. The typical commercial emphasis on commercial liability is not an essential component of this phase of the application although the potential business value should be reliably clear. In other words, there's no need for complicated calculations of cash flow, or anticipated pricing, or ongoing production costs. The author of an SBIR application focuses more on the customer need, the basis for that need, as well as a discussion of why the intended product will successfully address that need.

NIH provides complete information online as well as through conferences and other means to assist the individual interested in preparing an SBIR application. Contacts in the government can answer questions about the NIH SBIR program in general or the SBIR program for a particular Institute of the NIH. A local Small Business Technology Center probably has the expertise to assist with a pre-review of the application as well as general guidance. The NIH will not help you write your application or tell you if it's a good application or not. That feedback will come from the review committee after you apply.

Applications are submitted approximately every four months on the following deadlines January 5, April 5, and September 5. Feedback from the review committee comes roughly three months after you submit and will include the overall committee of consensus about the application as well as individual observations from three reviewers. These comments are an excellent guide to the problems which may have interfereed with obtaining a score worthy of funding by the government. You can respond to the comments and resubmit the application at the next available deadline.

Is SBIR For You?

If you are new to SBIR, consider the first few applications to be a series of attempts to understand the process and opportunities to learn how to sculpt a quality application that fits the structure and limitations of the SBIR program and reviewers' expectations. That is, achieving success the first few submissions is unlicly. As with most other pursuits, success requires diligence as well as perseverance. If you intend to submit one application for SBIR funding and not to resubmit, then in all likelihood you are wasting your time.

I hope this article can get you started on your investigation of the potential of the SBIR program to fund your life science company. Good luck!

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I Have A Dream – And It’s Killing Me!

Imagine rocket firecrackers going off around a cartoon head. Now imagine that is my head. That's my reality at the moment- and it's been my reality for over 6 months. No wonder I'm fraying at the seams (and hitting the dark chocolate much too often). Sweat? Check! Determination? Check! Hard work? Check! Aspirin? Check!

I'm starting a new business with a partner. You may ask what is so difficult about that. Well, let me elaborate on the different learning levels this has launched, all of which have very steep learning curves.

Program development: We have spent months developing the program and the materials, piloting it, and obtaining revision and testimonial responses from the pilot participants. That's just the days. During the nights, we've had long convoluted conversations about pricing and pricing structures.

Marketing materials: We've had to decide on a title we both like, a tag line we both like, what the brochure should say and look like, what should go on business cards, and do we want some interesting giveaways?

Website development: What is the best format for a website? How do you make it engaging enough so that it both visits visitors and encourages them to stay long enough to visit some of its pages? Who is your target audience (and no, it appears that you have to be a lot more specific than simply saying: “Everyone.”)) What sections should be on the website- and what should their titles be? What should the content cover? How do we make the content sufficient but but interesting and useful?

White paper: Should there be a white paper as a free give away? What should it include? How long should it be? Where should it be located on the website? How should interested people access it?

Blog: Should there be a blog and, if so, what should it be named and what topics should it cover. And where should it be on the website and how can people subscribe and what is the best way to add blogs?

Video: Should we have a video on the website? What should it say? Who should say it? How do we film it? What software do we need? How do we get the video uploaded? How do we find it once it's been uploaded? Why do not the YouTube links work for more than one person? Why is everything so bloody hard!

Social marketing: Where does social marketing come in? Should we be on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, or some other social media site we do not know anything about? What constituents “being” on those sites? What should we post, when should we post, how often should we post?

Marketing: How do we market our program? Just beginning to answer this question has required hours of online videos and webinars, plus in-person marketing seminars, some free, some definitely not free. Everyone seems to have their own idea about how best to market a product or service. A lot of it focuses on marketing to the person who will use the product or service. Unfortunately, we need to market to the person who will purchase the service for others to use, so a lot of translation is necessary to make the incoming information relevant for our needs.

Webinar: What about a webinar? What's a tantalizing title? (And now that we know about a headline analysis site, not many titles are very tantalizing, let me tell you!) What format works best? Can you both educate and sell at the same time? (Appropriately, yes, but it's not easy to do).

What should the content be? Can you do a downward spiral? Again, can you both educate and sell simultaneously?

Clipart / Photos: Should we use clipart or photos of real people on our website and in our webinar materials? How long will it take to find free copies? (The answer: hours and hours and hours of searching online). As a matter of fact, nothing happens quickly. It all takes hours.

Pop ups: Should we market with pop ups on our website and, if so, what should the pop ups say and how would people sign up for a white paper or for a webinar?

Webmaster: While all of these decisions are happening, then being second guessed, then being made again, every new pieces of content, format desires, and logistical requirements need to be communicated to a webmaster. The poor webmaster. We bombard her with ideas, each broached in a stream of emails, some of which cancel out each other. Photos, links, headings, documents and ideas are on a continuous loop, with some jumping on as others jump off.

It's beyond feeling like herding cats. It's overwhelming. I will not mention the meltdowns that occur daily- and that's just me before breakfast.

Will it all be worth it? Only time will tell. I sure hope all of this hard work will have desirable results. I'll try to keep that in mind as I jump back into the fray.

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Provide Office Services From Your Home As a Freelancer

Freelancers, or virtual assistants, provide the services which many firms, particularly small or medium enterprises (SMEs) and businesses in the early stages of their development, need but can not always afford on a full-time salaried basis. By paying for those services as and when they need them, they are effectively sharing the wage bill with the freelancer's other customers. It is an arrangement which suits everyone involved, and from which everyone benefits.

Some of the services which can be asserted by a contracted freelancer are ones which may otherwise have been beyond the means of a small business owner. Not every entrepreneur can afford to hire a personal assistant, for example, but by outsourcing the work of a PA it is sometimes possible to have such services provided on demand, saving both on the wage bill and on the expense of unproductive employee retention during periods of relative inactivity. By using resources such as People Per Hour, where freelancers can offer their services and businesses can look for help, a match can quickly be made.

The International Virtual Assistants' Association even operates its own members directory as a useful tool for companies who are looking for some help.

Concentrate on Building Your Business

Other functions which can simply be delegated to an outside service provider include accountancy, web design, search engine optimization, graphics and images, market research to gather information of customer trends and content design and management. In fact whole swathes of the operational side of the business can be placed into the hands of the virtual assistant, leaving the entrepreneur free to concentrate on the task of growing the company.

In terms of setting yourself up in business as a virtual assistant or freelancer, the first step would be to identify an area, or areas, in which you specialize, or for which there is a demand which would appear as yet to be unsatisfied. The next, and of just as much importance, is to establish a presence and build a high profile on the web which will enable potential customers to find you and to see what it is you have to offer them. One good way of achieving this would be to set up a blog and to keep it updated with fresh and interesting content. It is worthwhile adding to your portfolio by building a Facebook page associated with the service you offer.

Working as a freelancer offers the freedom to work as you please, and without being committed or beholden to one specific employer. It works for both parties which is why it is increasing in popularity through the US and elsewhere.

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