Archives for August 2012

Using Grants and Charities to Bolster Small Businesses

People that want to own their own small business are out there; most of them simply do not have the funding in order to purchase all that is required to own and operate a business.  These people are the ones that will make a great business, because they want to open a store that sells or provides a service that they are passionate about.  Passion and motivation are the two main ingredients when it comes to a successful business.  Unfortunately, the other ingredient is startup capital.

The first place most people turn to is their bank.  Looking for a loan is a great place to start, because there a lot of banks to ask and a lot of information can be gained from being turned down.  By asking each bank why the bank does not want to invest in the project, a prospective owner can identify flaws and issues with his or her business plan.  Taking the time to improve will the business plan will increase the possibility of being accepted for a business loan.  The best part is that once a business plan is good enough for a bank to hand out money it is time to turn to places that will donate money to help out a new business.

The first place to look is the government.  There are countless programs that offer different grants to small businesses; these grants are offered due to a wide variety of reasons.  Perspective business owners can take their business plan and apply for what is basically free money.  The grants may not be a lot of money, but at this point in the business anything can help.  It will mean borrowing less money from a bank and this will lead to smaller monthly payments, less interest accrued each month, and more options on what the small business can buy.

The other place to look is in the private sector.  Many large foundations need to give away money; this sounds like an odd concept.  A place that is forced to give away money does not seem to make sense.  The truth is that these large foundations have to give away money for tax purposes; it helps them by lowering the amount they owe the government and it helps the small business owner by providing opportunities to build that small business.  The foundation is going to be similar to a bank in that they want to see a smart business plan; some of them will even provide guidance to a small business owner on how to make his or her business better.

The availability of money is high, but it goes to the most passionate and motivated people; this is because those people put in the work to show that the business will succeed and that it will be profitable.  There is a lot of time and effort that has to go into the design of a business long before it ever becomes a reality; this gives a prospective small business owner the chance to ensure that he or she really wants to chase this dream.

Deciding Factors for Starting a New Business


The fact is that many people dislike having to work for someone else; this leads them to want to go into business for themselves.  Many do not realize the potential hazards and everything that goes into starting an actual business.  People that think it is a great money making opportunity will often find that they have gone into the wrong business; this is because it will often be based off location and not something the person is actually passionate about.

The first step in deciding to go into business for oneself is to consider what sort of business it should be.  Some people might think that a new coffee shop would be perfect on the corner; this is great, unless a person hates coffee, because he or she will end up running a business that he or she hates.  The hatred will bleed into his or her daily routine and the customers will sense it, which will cause the business to slowly fail.  Picking something a person is passionate about is a great way to ensure the business will be a success.  A happy owner will be more motivated to work harder and the efforts will turn into profits.

Startup capital is a major issue for some people.  Bank loans are available, but there are a lot of questions that have to be answered that deal with finance.  The first thing to consider is how much the store will cost to rent; this is followed by the cost of equipment, display cases, and initial product.  The cost of hiring employees, paying utility bills, and extra for emergencies all have to be accounted for.  The fact that many new businesses do not turn major profits in the first few years means that additional income is going to be needed to handle the times the business is not making enough money.

Education is another major step.  Most people feel that being a manager or running a store is a fairly simple process.  Just need good customer service and a good plan.  The truth is that quite a lot goes into business management.  While getting a bachelor’s degree in business management would help, many people do not have the time to deal with four years of education.  The advantage is that online and night classes from a local community college are a great way to get a basic understanding on how to run a business.

Saving up money to start a business is really the key.  Having a well laid out plan that takes into consideration all the financial requirements is a big step towards owning a business.  The educational value of a few classes can help avoid many pitfalls that new owners run into when first starting a business.  The fact is that being the owner a successful business is a great feeling, because there is no one else giving the orders.  Of course with the pride and power of ownership comes all the responsibility, such as taking care of employees, making enough profits, and not stressing out too much.

The Roles of a Strategy Consultant

Business leaders face tough questions about business strategy on a daily basis. Strategy questions can range from those about a company’s fiscal wellbeing to those about its overall advertising strategy. Even the most experienced of business leaders can find themselves bogged down by difficult strategy decisions. When executives find themselves at a loss as to strategy development, they often turn to <em>strategy consultants</em>, who provide a wide range of valuable services to businesses.

What Do Strategy Consultants Do?

In the broadest terms, strategy consultants are responsible for evaluating business practices and suggesting strategies that will increase business or brand strength. One of the most famous strategy consultants in the world is Canadian advertising executive Jacques Bouchard. In his role as an advertising consultant, Bouchard helped many Canadian businesses raise their profits and improve their public images.

Strategy consultants are able to focus on the overall business picture. They bring insights from their professional experience to bear on the varied situations that their client businesses face. Most strategy consultants specialize in a given area such as finance, advertising or product development. They are responsible for evaluating a business’s operations in their area of expertise and for recommending strategies to boost business success.

Some strategy consultants oversee the implementation of strategic plans at client businesses. In this capacity, they may be responsible for providing education to employees about new business systems or protocols. Strategy consultants are also able to track the long-term success of their strategies and total business return on investment (ROI).

Why Do Businesses Hire Strategy Consultants?

Many business leaders struggle with the decision to hire a strategy consultant. Hiring such consultants can be pricey, especially for small business owners who are already suffering in a tough economy. However, the benefits gained from hiring a strategy consultant almost always outweigh the costs incurred from hiring the consultant.

First and foremost, a strategy consultant can help executives streamline business processes and improve the overall efficiency of their enterprises. Strategy consultants can also focus on business problems that distract overburdened employees. By doing so, consultants free up employees to concentrate on their jobs.

Whether a business needs marketing, financial or product development advice, hiring a strategy consultant is a wise choice. Such consultants possess a breadth of experience in their field of expertise. They are able to provide businesses with solutions and strategies that can lead to significant economic gains.





Personal Finance Pointers

Basic personal finance management doesn’t require advanced expertise. With common sense and a thorough knowledge of money management, not only will you lead a comfortable financial life, you can also increase your wealth.

If you find that you spend 100% of your paycheck, go over your expenses line by line and see if you can reduce your spending on any non-essentials. If you just cut eating out from your budget, you are very likely to miss it and not keep up the change. Alternatively, you can eat out only half as often and have a much better chance of keeping it up.

Look at all of the costs in detail when deciding if it makes sense to rent or buy. Although your mortgage or other home expenses can be expensive, you will eventually pay off your home loan and own your house directly. By renting, you are just going to be putting money into something that will never really be yours.

When it comes to building your personal financial situation, small steps can make a big difference. Rather than buying coffee every day, brew your own. If you take your own coffee you can save a lot of money. Instead of driving your car to work, which will reduce wear on your car and prices on fuel, take the bus. The savings here could easily be several hundred dollars every month. The money you need for major investments or retirement planning is already in your budget, waiting for you to pull it together from such minor cutbacks. Next time you consider picking up a latte, remember this advice and consider the merits of delayed gratification.

One good Forex trading tactic is letting your profits run. However, using this technique shouldn’t be overused. Even if you’re making a profit, there comes a point where you need to get your money out.

Set up monthly bill payments via your bank to make sure your pay your credit cards on time. Paying a credit card bill on time is a boost to your credit score, even if you can’t pay the full amount. Setting up automatic payments is an easy way to ensure that you make every payment on time.

Always destroy documents securely before throwing them out. Investing in a shredder is a great way to do this. You identity could be stolen if you are not correctly disposing of your old documents. Make sure you are thorough about protecting your interests.

Re-evaluate your checking account options. Make sure that you do not stick with a checking account that charges fees. Figure out what kinds of fees you are paying and try to get an account that has less fees!

If you want to buy a big-ticket item on credit in the near future, raise your credit score before doing so. There are many different options that you have to pay off your vehicle, whether you choose loans or credit cards. Also, be sure that you’re paying more than the required minimum every time you can on your bills.

People like to spend money on gambling and the lottery, but saving that money in the bank is a better way to use it. You will then know the money will be there and grow instead of flushing your money away!

Write down each cent you spend for an extended amount of time. When you fully understand where your money is going, you have a better idea of where you can cut costs so that your finances are better overall.

No matter who you are, you can save money, develop a budget, and achieve financial stability. Common sense combined with this helpful advice can allow you to create a budget, lower your debt, put money aside and control your finances

10 Important Steps When Starting a Small Business

Starting any small business, no matter what you plan to do or where you plan to do it, requires a good bit of planning, research and due diligence. It’s great to be an expert in something but being an expert anything doesn’t always mean you qualify instantly to be a small business owner. For those that wish to be their own boss, here are 10 Tasks you must accomplish to make it a reality.

1) Write a Business Plan.  Sound simple?  It’s not, but it’s vitally important to plotting out what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and how long it will take. Imagine this; you’re going on a world trip and your Business Plan is your map. Without it you’ll be lost, so make sure it’s a good one.

2) Need help with the Business Plan? Look for an expert and hire them to help you.

3) Get your financial ducks in a row.  Wherever you can, secure the financing you’re going to need to stay afloat until the revenue starts coming in.

4) Register your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

5) Choose a location. This is vital to the success of your business but it also needs to be in your budget. Remember you can always move the business later if need be.

6) Register your business with your State and give it a name.  Don’t try to make it too catchy or silly unless the type of business calls for it.

7) Make Uncle Sam happy and get your Tax ID number from the IRS.

8) Register with your State to pay State Taxes and with your local government also. They will help you with the paperwork for worker’s compensation, disability insurance and unemployment.

9) Get your Business License. You may need to check with the Federal government, your State and your community to see exactly what you need, and you may need more than 1. Also make sure you read and understand the legal steps you need to take to hire employees and employee rights.

10) Prepare to work harder than you ever have in your life. Make it and the rewards could help you achieve the life of your dreams.

This is a very brief overview of what you need to accomplish to start a new business. The fact is, the better prepared you are the better chance you will have of success.  Good luck.

Make the most of graduates in your business

Every year, businesses get their pick of a new batch of freshly-qualified graduates – people who have just completed their degrees and are eager to begin their careers. For many graduates, this will be their first full-time job, and for businesses, it’s the perfect opportunity to start sifting through the next generation of talent.
Some companies have a comprehensive graduate programme in place. Normally, this means that graduates spend a few months working in a number of different departments and roles, as a way of assessing their skills and helping them to choose the position that’s best for them. Successful completion of the scheme usually leads to a permanent role in the business.
Small enterprises are too often overlooked by graduates, many of whom want to work for the big names from the start. However, competition even to get on the graduate scheme in these companies is extremely fierce, and a smaller firm operating in a similar field can really distinguish itself – as well as snapping away top talent from its rivals – by offering a high-quality graduate programme of its own.
What new graduates lack in experience, they often make up for in bringing fresh ideas and perspectives – and smaller firms often appreciate the benefits of having recruits whose views haven’t been shaped by years in the industry. Attracting new graduates is one of the best ways to bring new blood into your workforce and ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve.
If you’re reading this as a graduate, you might be worried about balancing the benefits of graduate-scheme experience with the earnings of a permanent position. However there are many ways of making your finances go further, by following simple guidelines and using products such as jamjar accounts from Secure Trust Bank that make it easier to control your spending.

How to Make Technology Work for Your Business

Several decades ago, before the advent of the internet, businesses were tightly constrained by budgets and cash flow. There were limits to the scalability of the business because advertising and marketing simply cost too much and the overheads of operating on a large scale were beyond the reach of the small business. Factors such as equipment and technology also came at a high price.

Today, however, advances in technology have provided small companies with the opportunity to operate on smaller budgets and utilise different forms of marketing and advertising, and offer a whole host of new avenues for small businesses to reach global markets just as effectively as large corporations. Here are several ways in which you can make technology work for you. 

Keep operations lean and cost effective

A growing number of entrepreneurs are working from home or taking premises in the more affordable parts of town, to keep costs down. Increasingly much less business is being done in person so pricey office suites are, for many businesses, becoming a thing of the past. A functional office space is all that you really need. So, work can really be carried out anywhere just as long as you have access to a chair, desk, the internet, a phone line and a fast connection. When it comes to the latter, you can source the most affordable solution at a broadband comparison site.

Making technology work for your business means that you can operate your business from just about anywhere in the world. And with the availability of smartphones and tablets it now means that you neither need to be in an office nor at a computer to catch up on responding to emails. You can simply turn up early to your meetings and work from the palm of your hand.

Use the virtual environment to employ staff 

Hiring new staff is always a huge step for most small businesses because, especially during the quieter months, it can put pressure on cash flow. Thanks to technology, there is now a wealth of highly qualified and skilled expertise available online. This means that you can contract the services of professional marketers, salespeople, writers and administrators to work part-time or on a short-term basis.

Keep telecommunications costs to a minimum

Nowadays it’s only necessary to have one telephone line, whereas several years ago you may have needed several. Technology now offers a way to operate wirelessly to process credit card payments, faxes are more or less obsolete, and VOIP allows phone calls to be conducted over the internet, cutting phone bills drastically.

Personal Finance Advice From People In The Know

If you don’t properly manage your finances, it is easy to let them get out of control. If your finances are out of control, it’s important to gather the proper information and take control. The ideas in this article will help you get your finances back in order.

If you’re planning to buy a vehicle or a home, you need to initially improve your score when it comes to credit. Apply for a small loan that you can pay off quickly, or get a couple of credit cards so that you could make some on time payments. It is also important to exceed monthly minimum payments on all accounts.

Keeping track of your expenses and income is a key component of getting your personal finances in order. In order to make a budget for yourself, you first need to figure out your expenses for the month. The best time to do this is during the first portion of the month. You should include all of your monthly expenditures, including utilities, insurance, food and gas for your vehicle. Remember all anticipated expenditures. Write down how much you need to pay, and be sure that your expenses do not exceed your income.

Your car and house are very likely going to be your biggest expenses. The principal and interest amounts for your home and car will comprise the largest lines in your budget. Pay them off quicker by adding an extra payment each year or using your tax refunds to pay down the balance.

If you want to erase debts quickly, focus first on credit cards with high interest rates. Paying off the highest interest rates first is the most cost efficient way to get out of debt. Credit card interest rates are only going to go up in the future, so whatever financial problems you may have, avoid accumulating credit card debt!

Bring either a debit card or 10 dollars in cash with you so that you can buy small items. Many stores now use one of these credit “laws” to their advantage, which requires that anyone using a credit card make a minimum purchase. It can be an understandable policy at times, but it clearly needs more definition.

Have you thought about a credit card that offers rewards? If you are a “convenience user,” that is, someone who pays 100% of your outstanding balance each month, you can really benefit from these programs. Rewards cards are a great way to earn cash back, air miles, and save on other expenses as well. Make sure you select a card that will allow you to easily get rewards you will actually need.

It is possible to live without using credit cards. Take the time to learn how. Find ways to avoid interest fees on loans. Living within your means means that you don’t waste your money on interest.

The key to being successful is learning how to manage your money. You must invest your capital and protect your profits. You can reinvest profit back into your company to build a greater foundation but make sure you clearly manage this money and keep clear records. You need to see what you can afford to put into capital and what you should keep as profits.

It could be a smart strategy to put some money into an emergency savings fund before paying down your credit cards, especially if your card balance is high because of a financial emergency. When thinking about the amount you should put aside, consider common things that require very large sums, including car repairs, problems with your home, or medical expenses.

Don’t let your personal finances get to you, clear your head, and realize it is time for you to tackle the issues. The article has provided you with the information you need to get on the right track, so apply this information to your personal finances and you will make a difference.