So you’re thinking of launching a new business?
You’re not alone – entrepreneurialism is the backbone of our nation, and while it is never easy, success is within reach for anyone with grit and integrity. No matter the industry or type of business, there are proven ways that the majority of current successes have reached their goals.
Victoria Treyger, Chief Marketing Officer of Kabbage, Inc. offers the following eight steps to starting a business, in her own words below:
Step 1: Choose Your Product
What will you sell or offer? Is it a product or is it a service? How will you differentiate yourself and your business from your competitors? How is what you offer different or better than what’s already out there? What is your expertise? What is your passion? If you’re not sure, take a moment to think back to past performance reviews you’ve received in the corporate world. What characteristics and traits stand out as your strengths? Build on these and see how they can translate into starting your own business.
Step 2: Identify Your Perfect Customer
This is crucial for anyone starting your own business. Knowing who your target audience is and then catering your product to fulfill a need is the perfect formula for success. So how do you define your target market? Is it men, women, teens? Are they older? Married? Single? Veterans? Moms?
Know Your Target Market: Knowing your target market and what appeals most to them will help you refine your product offerings. It will also help you develop strategic marketing plans. A printed flyer mailed to young millennials will miss the mark, since these folks get the majority of their news and information online. And vice versa, a targeted banner ad campaign on specific websites may be lost on a demographic that does not spend a lot of time online.
Do Your Research: There are ways to do research – some is free and some comes with a price tag. You can start with your local Better Business Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce, and your library for some demographic information. The local convention and visitor bureau also has residential demographic information that can be helpful when starting your own business. Also, go online and check out your city or town’s website as well as your county offices
Step 3: Know the Market.
Do you know what your competition is doing? How are they winning customers – and more important – how are they keeping customers loyal? What differentiates their product or services from those that your business offers? Businesses with similar products and services can co-exist in the same markets. But it’s up to you to know exactly how your product is different. Make yourself stand out.
Know what your market responds to by doing some simple focus group research. It can be as simple as having cookies and hot cocoa on a cold day and inviting people to chat with you about their needs. Or, a quick email survey through providers like SurveyMonkey can be a quick and easy (and free!) way to gather critical market research to grow your business.
Step 4: Know Your Worth
It’s important to not underestimate yourself or the price you charge for your products or services. Owning your own business does not mean you give away your services cheaply.
That said, when you’re first starting out as a business owner, you also do not want to overestimate your pricing structure. Do some research and see what your others in a similar business charge for their products or services. As a new business owner just starting your own business, you may want to consider starting out low with your pricing. This gives you a chance to build your reputation and credibility as a quality provider. Once your business is a bit more established and your income is more steady and regular, you can consider raising your prices. At that point, you’ve probably earned a loyal and steady customer base as well.
There are many resources online that can give you estimates of salaries for your industry. These may not always be possible when you start your own business. You will have other expenses as a startup that people working for corporations simply won’t have. Take these into consideration when planning your expenses in the short and long term.
Step 5: Get your finances together
Do you know what kind of startup capital you will need? Do you need to get a business loan? Will you borrow from friends or family or have investors or partners? Will you need to borrow against your home or your 401k? Use this time to gather your projected income as well – it often takes time for a new start up business to turn a profit.
Do you have additional sources of income to get you through the leaner times until you begin to make a steady income? You will need to make sure your credit is in good standing – excellent, in fact – if you plan to get a business loan. If your finances are not quite where they should be, consider going in with a business partner. Perhaps your expertise and their financial strength will help make starting your own business a less stressful venture.
You will also need a Tax ID number. But first you must decide what kind of business you will have. In general, you most businesses are one of the following: a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability corporation. Do your research and find out which one makes the most sense for you. Then, make sure you are following all tax guidelines for the type of business you’ve selected. Again, there are many resources online – one of the best is the sba.gov, which is the Small Business Administration website.
Step 6: Get a nest egg
Many experts recommend having about six months of savings in the bank. This isn’t just for emergency use; this will be your go-to money while you build and grow your business to turn a regular profit. Put some money aside while you continue to work at your corporate job. This way, when you do leave your steady job and are ready to start your own business, you’ll have a bit of a nest egg to lean on while you get up and running.
Tip: If you are married or have a partner with whom you share living expenses, make sure they can carry a bit of the financial burden while your new business gets off the ground. Emotional as well as financial support is key for an entrepreneur when you start your own business.
Step 7: Write a business plan
There are many resources online to teach you how to write a business plan. Basically, a business plan is a detailed roadmap of where you expect to take your business. It is a clear picture of who you are, what your business is, how you will reach your target customers, and your plan for revenue and profits. Your business plan is a critical factor when applying for business loans. In fact, it is the very first thing – in addition to your credit reports – that a bank loan officer or other nontraditional lender, such as Kabbage, will look at. Lenders review your business plan to make sure you are a good risk. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your business plan needs to be long and lengthy.
Step 8: Seek out free counseling and assistance
The Small Business Administration has local offices in every state. They offer free counseling and training for small business owners. Their services are invaluable to any start up. They can help you develop a business plan, a marketing plan, as well as help you navigate what you need to know about filing and paying taxes as a small business owner. Many of their services and training programs can be found online. Others require that you attend training classes or one on one meetings with small business advisors. These resources are there for your benefit – take full advantage of all they have to offer. And attend as many of their networking events as possible – it’s a great way to meet other small business owners and promote your products and services.
Starting your own business is an exciting adventure! It is possible to take your passion and drive and turn it into a profit-making business where you are your own boss. Follow these steps and do your research and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful business owner.
Is gifting an entrepreneur a website like gifting motivation, or anxiety?
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Is a website really the only thing stopping someone from starting their own business? Are there entrepreneurs who simply need a push to start their own thriving empire? Let’s find out.
Being an entrepreneur is arguably the highest form of self motivation someone could have – the drive to build out your own business, deliver a product or service that you know is in demand, and ultimately secure profits. It’s something that is discussed over and over and over.
It’s the holiday season, and Exchange Marketplace is making the rather surprising argument that you could gift someone a business. Their pitch states that they provide some ebooks, Shopfy credit, and some other starter materials, and promises that you could pay as little as $50 to jumpstart a brand new career.
Looking around at their site, it’s essentially a list of companies that their respective owners are willing to sell. They provide some data (someone who is more familiar with this stuff could parse it better than I can) such as revenue, profits, average number of hours worked, and so on. I’m going to assume the legal side of things are all in place, and other considerations are handled.
But my question here is – who is this truly for? And what message are you sending when you surprise someone with a website and start telling them it’s time to get to work, better learn fast before your entrepreneur business fails?
The logistics alone are mind boggling – where is the base of operations, knowledge of an industry, obtaining inventory, knowing which suppliers are involved, will language barriers be a problem, contacts, the quality of the product or service, etc. I’m not a business person by any means, so maybe I’m overstating the difficulty here, but it just seems like you’re opening the door to a literal galaxy of unknowns on the part of the entrepreneur that would require immediate understanding and action.
Look, gift certificates are sort of a bad gift – you restrict where money can be used, and it’s usually not enough to cover a full purchase, and that requires you (the receiver) to cover the remaining cost. Giving someone a car (despite all the slick commercials with celebrities) is even worse; setting aside the tiny chance someone pays off the vehicle entirely, you’re still leaving someone with increased insurance rates, future maintenance, and other costs. Even a new pet – while adorable – might arguably be the worst possible gift, as someone shovels responsibility for life itself onto an unsuspecting person.
(Before I continue, please feel free to buy me a car and fill it with puppies wearing Amazon gift card suits.)
I’m being a little unfair in the above scenarios, because there is definitely an audience for each. The problem is that each option requires some amount of work and thought by the receiver, and putting the onus on them to fully realize the gift can be daunting.
So maybe the better way to describe this is that these situations are a bit niche in their efficacy – that there’s a smaller number of people who are actively able to accept a gift that requires additional work.
Gifting a business, then, could be seen as something negative – “I think you need to work harder.” And that carries a rather heavy payload of consequences, thoughts, and considerations. Maybe you aren’t outright calling someone out as lazy, but that implication is easily arrived at if someone is blindsided. At the least, you are saying I need you to do something.
Surely, there are people who represent the targeted audience, and it would suggest that they already have business training/education, considerable free time, access to investment, and enough drive and motivation to eagerly begin an entirely new chapter in life as an entrepreneur. But that has to be a small group of people, and even fewer so when you consider those who would be successful at it, and would actually want to undertake such a massive task.
Beyond all of this, I have to question a number of things, and they are all centered around how trustworthy all of this might be. My only interaction with anything remotely close to this subject is watching episodes of Shark Tank, and I know that the panel there would meticulously go over a LOT of things before even offering to buy a percentage of a business. Purchasing the entire thing seems volatile and full of risk; who wants to negotiate all of that?
Maybe it is simply that I am not the type of person who would deal with that amount of uncertainty willingly. I am very much a look-before-I-leap type person, and the thought of being handed a potential money making an entrepreneur enterprise when I have no insight into it beforehand is completely terrifying.
I’d need to prove to the gift giver that their faith in me was valid, to say nothing of whatever audience already exists. But I’d have literally no idea where to start on all of this; the numbers on businesses failing is scary enough.
In a way, I applaud the idea of businesses being fluid enough to become commodities themselves. I just question how easily this sort of marketplace could mask true costs, exaggerate profits, and seemingly hide all sorts of disturbing, unpleasant details. And then taking all of that and gifting it to someone? What a wild ride.
Working remotely even after COVID? This startup has your news covered
(BUSINESS NEWS) Wrkforce targets the crowd of people working remotely during the pandemic, and those who may stay working remote after it’s safe to return.
As the world wrestles with another wave of COVID-19, one startup is banking on continued interest in working remotely.
Wrkfrce, who launched this November, will offer content, job postings, and consulting services to help workers how to adapt to a work-from-home situation. The website published an initial 60 articles during its launch, with topics ranging from being a remote-work parent to how to ease managerial issues remotely. Wrkfrce will publish new written content daily, while also adding in documentary-style video content covering certain subjects. In addition to the content library, the company will also dedicate a portion of its website to posting remote job opportunities across various industries.
“At wrkfrce, we know that the future is already here,” CEO Jesse Chambers, says in the firm’s about us section, “we know that commuting in a car is as bad for the soul as it is for the environment; and we know that remote work is as good for a company’s bottom line as it is for its employees.”
Chambers is certainly familiar with this type of platform. He was vice president of monetization for AOL for over a decade. After Verizon acquired Yahoo and merged with AOL, Chambers opted to forge a new path focused on working remotely. While the company is coming to prominence during the coronavirus pandemic, the platform has been in the works since 2019.
Whether or not wrkfrce’s target audience will stick around when the worst of COVID-19 has passed is unknown. The company’s strategy relies on revenue through affiliate links on its job board, advertising, and consultancy fees on how to scale remote teams. There are no plans to put content behind a paywall, meaning a healthy and sustainable audience will be a major driver of growth for the company.
Although Chambers views the pandemic as something that has accelerated his vision for the wrkfrce, he doesn’t believe it was necessary to make the company successful.
“The digital evolution has brought us to this point where distributed work is totally possible,” Chambers said. “If the pandemic had happened five to seven years ago, this would be a completely different situation.”
Is COVID encouraging teachers to join edtech startups?
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Teachers have struggled for years in the learning space, and remote learning hasn’t made it easier, leading many into edtech startups.
Being a teacher is hard. If the ridged hours and low page haven’t discouraged you, maybe the stress of COVID-era schooling – whether that be dangerous and in-person or tedious and remote – will.
Some of my best friends are teachers and I consistently hear them express how underappreciated and underpaid they are. Some babysitters even make more than the average teacher, though they only have to care for 1 or 2 children.
It’s no surprise then that thousands of teachers have flocked to the budding education startup scene, better known as edtech. While some of the more popular companies – such as OutSchool and Varsity Tutor – provide varying educational services to students and families, they consistently provide better pay and better hours to teachers across the board.
So, what’s the catch?
Well, to start, most tutoring software startups cost more than public schooling. This means that low-income students might be left behind as their wealthier classmates are able to access a better education online – taught by happier, better paid teachers. This digital divide will almost certainly exacerbate the preexisting inequalities between low- and high-income students.
While it might be the broken education system (and subsequent edtech boom) that are to blame here, there is still a large-scale villainization of public school teachers who “give up” on their students.
As most teachers are women, many understand this view as an expression of ingrained sexism – why is it seen as ambitious when a man leaves their profession as they know it in search of something better? Why are female educators expected to settle?
Regardless of where you stand on these issues, the fact of the matter is that education is slowly creeping into the online tech sector. Will this boom be sustained after there is a vaccine and students can safely return to schools at full capacity? Will there be no more teachers left to teach in-person classes? It seems like only time will tell.
In the meantime, if you or your child is interested in taking an online course in anything from pottery to Italian (and can afford it), there is a whole new world available to you – and taught by teachers who finally are finally being paid what they deserve.
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