• Impact of the Stimulus Package on Small Businesses


    Click to Listen
  • How to Survive an Economic Downturn

  • Social Media Links

    Follow Us
    34x34_fb.gif 34x34_twitter.gif 34x34_linkedin.gif

Step-by-Step Entrepreneurial Learning

Step-by-Step Entrepreneurial Learning

The Right Lesson for The Right Business Need

Thanks to continued economic uncertainty and sustained high unemployment, many individuals are turning to self-employment and launching a small business venture as the preferred career choice. The good news is that there are proven approaches to both of these pursuits. The key to success is to follow a process of venture development that has worked for decades. Depending on your interest and personal situation, below are four options to venture development. Each includes step-by-step learning techniques, customizable worksheets and real-world references to support your immediately incorporating what you learn into your real life situation.

8-Tips to Successful Business Launch

8-Tips to Successful Business Launch

When You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Starting and running a profitable business is not rocket science. The #1 reason many people fail is they fail to follow a well-established business development process. Below are 8 tips to business development that, when followed with purpose, will significantly advance your chances for success:

  • Test the Waters: Close a sale. While this is not possible for all venture offerings, making a sale validates your business idea on multiple levels, such as who will buy, why they buy, what they’ll pay, how much it costs and how much you’ll make.
  • Research, Research, Research: Surf the Web or shop the competition to learn how similar businesses define, price, market and sell their offerings. LIttle is new. Take advantage of what works.
  • Connect With a Mentor: There are over 33,000 “volunteer” business mentors in the U.S. offering no-cost experience on-call. Make one of them your trusted advisor.
  • Write Your Own Business Plan: While a mentor can help, your ideas, time, hard work, learning and focus are the keys to success.
  • Fund Innovatively: Banks are rarely lending these days. Get creative. Will customers invest or prepay? Is joining forces an option where you have “x,” they have “y” and together you’re better off? Is contracting for a service versus buying equipment an option?
  • Recordkeeping: Secure reliable expertise and easy-to-use templates to understand and maintain breakeven, forecasting, cash flow and bookkeeping records. Business success lies in the details of managing the numbers.
  • Defeat Fear Through Knowledge: Asking for the sale is scary. Maintaining financial records can be intimidating. Investing in your future is risky. Yet millions of people just like you are doing this every day with success. Tap no-cost business assistance networks to learn how you can do it too.
  • Focus, Focus, Focus. Profitability is the first objective in business. Focus on a sales cycle where revenues exceed expenses. Refine and repeat this process before starting something new.

Like most things in life, the more purposefully you engage, the more likely you’ll get the results you seek. Good luck!

Title: 21st Century Funding for Small Business

21st Century Funding for Small Business

Thinking Out of the Box and Into the Clouds

Over two years of cancelled credit lines, called business loans and little to no new business funding has people getting creative about funding new and growing ventures! If you think they have their heads in clouds, you are correct!

Cloud Funding, also referred to as social funding or crowd source capital, is a new and fast-growing practice that involves leveraging social media to fund business initiatives. Unlike traditional funding approaches, money raised through Cloud Funding is not paid back, does not require collateral/guarantees, and there’s no giving up equity or control. Sources include Spot.Us, IndieGoGo, RocketHub, Funding4Learning, Invested.In, Kickstarter, Pledge Music and SellaBand. There are terms and conditions, however, and different sources focus on different industries. Learn more about the pros and cons.

5-Steps to Self-Employment

5-Steps to Self-Employment
A No-Cost Learning Platform for Going Into Business for Yourself

While the U.S. economy continues to bump and grind keeping unemployment high, many individuals are turning to self-employment as a way to make ends meet. This can be a scary and somewhat risky undertaking, yet it doesn’t have to be.

The 5-Steps to Self-Employment is a no-cost, on-line platform that helps anyone considering self-employment, to assess their entrepreneurial strengths, test their business ideas, play around with financial projections using plug-and-play Excel worksheets, and complete a checklist for actually launching a new business. It also permits selecting a no-cost virtual business counselor to work with you along the way to further support your progress.

Whether you choose to work on your own or with a counselor, each step is interactive and the results of your work are emailed to you (and your counselor, if selected) immediately upon completion. This feature allows you to track progress as well as assemble all of the components you will need to launch your new venture!

If you prefer learning by using a physical workbook, the 5-Steps to Self Employment Guide is also an option. For many individuals, using a combination of both on- and off-line learning is ideal.

Regardless of which method is preferred, a further value to the 5-Step Program is its introduction to related no- and low-cost business assistance programs and resources along the way, as well as plug and play worksheets for calculating profit margins and revenue projections.

Visit the BUZGate.org Entrepreneur’s Resource Community to learn more. For additional assistance with venture start-up and growth in the U.S. and globally, visit the SMEToolkit.

Connect with No-Cost Business Support Networks

Connect with No-Cost Business Support Networks

 

Leverage no- and low-cost government and nonprofit technical assistance programs to start, grow and succeed in self-employment or small business pursuits. Depending on what stage your business concept is at, consider the following:
Thinking about starting a business…

 

Started but struggling…

 

Help by Business Location

 

Business Tool Kit

  • Navigate available assistance by multiple interests, needs and global target markets at the SMEToolkit

 

The important point to note is that there are other people out there who can assist you with your self-employment or small business development progress. Learn about them, connect with them and begin reaping the rewards.

 

Working Smarter in a Down Economy

While the current economic downturn has its challenges, it is also a great motivator for looking for ways to work smarter. Here are five easy tips for increasing productivity and efficiency.

  1. Get Organized: Too often, small business owners fly by the seat of their pants. Not having a time management tool to track objectives against actual results can be a costly mistake. While there are many automated systems for managing such objectives, a simple and tangible approach can be useful, such as a Time Planning Schedule.
  2. Leverage Free Help: There are thousands of government and public programs funded by our tax dollars that exist to specifically drive small business creation and growth. Visit BUZGate.org, a nonprofit online community, to select the state that your business operates in and then FREE HELP in the menu to navigate such programs by type of need including funding, marketing, counseling, import/export and more. There are also no-cost consultants available to discuss exploring business ownership options if you’re looking to get into business. Also, don’t underestimate quality blogs. For example, IsUtility Blog offers great tips in leveraging information technology, and IBM and The World Bank offer a Blog to support women and minority entrepreneurs.
  3. Leverage SaaS Applications: Save time, money and hassle by using robust online solutions for such core operational systems as sales, marketing and accounting. A program like my.Brainshark.com is free and allows a small business to incorporate PowerPoint slides, images, audio and documents to create compelling online, on-demand messages that can be used to influence prospects, suppliers, investors, staff, sales personnel and others. An application like MySalesHero.com offers cost-effective lead generation to support sales and customer retention.
  4. Minimize Overhead Costs: If you don’t need brick and mortar to do business, consider taking advantage of virtual office solutions on-demand. A company like Regus, leaders in office solutions, offer business owners a professional office address, meeting space, staff and access to technology when they need it, where they need it. This can be an incredibly cost-effective way to have a professional presence and access to peer-to-peer networking without taking on large overhead costs.
  5. Focus on Revenues First: It’s easy to update a web site, improve a customer database or hold a staff meeting to exchange ideas, but none of these things are directly associated with closing a sale. Each and every day, a small business owner must establish and follow through on a specific number of activities that directly support closing a sale before doing any administrative or operational support tasks. Without revenues, there is no need for operational efficiency.

Lessons Learned

Kate and Dad

Kate and Dad

(A guest post by Kate Osgood)

It has been way too long. I can’t believe how crazy September was for me! I made one of the classic mistakes in business. Too much commitment, no organization.

For the first three years in business, I was so thankful for whatever work came my way because I was actively building up my client base. Other than a couple of hectic weeks here and there, however, I did not have enough work to fill my days – until recently.

Thanks to my clients giving out my name because they like my work and like me, I’m now swamped! This is awesome!

However, upon reaching saturation, I forgot two very important things. Organize and prioritize. I was so busy running around trying to do everything that a lot of things, and clients, fell through the cracks. Grrrr, and so sorry.

Around this same time, I traveled to New Hampshire to see my family and had a fantastic conversation with my father who is a business consultant, and an author of over 40 books on the subject. He’s also the co-creator of a really fabulous website for small businesses (buzgate.org – check it out!).

He has often told me that it does not matter how well you do your craft if you can’t manage the business part of it. That is why, he adds, 90% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years?!?!?

Well, my business is just getting to the 4-year mark here in LA and I refuse to go down!

With this in mind, my Dad and I had a wonderful consultation session and I am ready to put our plan into action. Because, really, I love what I do! I love making people’s homes beautiful and I am so lucky to be able to make a living do this.

Thank you to everyone who has given my name out. Thank you and know that I am committed to making my business smart, organized and inspiring!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.