Archives for June 2013

Mistakes that every entrepreneur should avoid

While one of the best ways to learn is from making mistakes, it sometimes is much more convenient, and much less costly, to get things right the first time. With that in mind, we put together a blog about some of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they first start out.  Knowing these mistakes will allow you to avoid them in your own startup, saving you time  and bringing you success that much faster. If that sounds like a great plan to you, let’s get started. Enjoy.

Don’t distract you. Many entrepreneurs, when they first start their new business, are overflowing with ideas about how they want things to look, how they want to portray their business, what their uniforms should look like and so forth. While that’s all good and well, if you get distracted by all of these small things and lose focus on the big picture, you may find yourself way off target before you know it. Better to focus your time and energy on the 3 most important priorities that will get you from startup to success.  Once those priorities are met, focus on 3 new ones. Focus equals success.

Protect but don’t scare off. In this day and age it’s very important that you protect your intellectual property. That being said, what you don’t want to do is  make it uncomfortable for the people that you wish to help to be able to see, test and give you feedback. The ability to discuss your start up with unbiased people who can give you insight and possibly point out future problems is vital for any entrepreneur.  The feedback alone is  invaluable and can help you focus on the product traits or service sectors that you need to improve.

Real human interaction is not dead. While social media, mobile and other technologies have certainly allowed businesses to communicate and interact with customers, all of this technology is not nearly as valuable as simply picking up the phone and talking to a customer or talking face-to-face. Today, in our rush to stay ‘connected’ with as many people as possible, many businesses don’t truly connect with anyone. The key to long-term success is a solid customer base, something that can only be built over years and through excellent customer service, including real human interaction.

Hey hey, you you, get into the cloud.  If you are an entrepreneur, cloud technology should be your very best friend. With cloud technology there is no need to spend hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on servers, networking, storage and other software. Using the cloud is easy and very budget friendly and offers practically every  IT  infrastructure service, and the accompanying business applications, that your startup could possibly need. Better still, upgrades, maintenance and security are all put together into one monthly subscription fee, making payment easy.

No resting of laurels.  This last bit of advice as for the business owner and successful entrepreneur that has gotten their business to the point where everything is running as planned and money is actually flowing freely into your reserves, and not just out of them. While it certainly is tempting to sit back, relax and bask a little bit in your glory, doing it for too long can definitely have repercussions. Fact is, if you want to stay in business for the long run, you should always be striving to do better, provide better service, make better products and keep your customers tickled pink.

Going into business on your own takes guts, perseverance and just a little bit of crazy. It means long hours, sleepless nights and the occasional anxiety attack.  In the end however, the feeling of pride that you have when you’re not an entrepreneur but rather a  successful entrepreneur, is a feeling that can’t be matched. Owning your own business can be extremely rewarding both mentally and financially, but like any great reward it must be earned.  We hope that the advice above will help you to earn it quicker and with less headaches.

Top Tasks for Testing a Business Idea

One of the hardest things for many retirees to get used to is not collecting a regular paycheck. For that matter, raises, bonuses, promotions and other perks are also gone. This can be disconcerting to say the least. Add to that the fact that most financial experts are recommending to have at least $1 million in retirement savings (a number that’s quite unrealistic for many) and it’s no wonder that many  people approaching retirement are stressed out because of their financial situation. They don’t think they have enough money and, in comparison to what the experts believe, most are correct.

While retirement may look a bit scary to you (and believe us you’re not alone), the good news is that there are going to be quite a few things that you’ll start saving money on after you retire.  In fact, we’re not so sure that the experts are right on this one and it’s possible that, because of the savings that were going to tell you about, you may be able to retire comfortably on much less income. Let’s take a look.

Depending on the type of work that you do, it’s possible that you’ll be saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on clothing. There won’t be a need for those three-piece suits, a closet full of shoes or a new outfit every week.  White color and blue-collar workers alike can save quite a bit of money just from this one factor as the uniforms needed for many different occupations can be quite expensive.

Most people will definitely be saving on their commuting costs,  including the cost to drive your car to work, take a train, use a bus or even take a taxi. For example, if you drive 40 miles to and from work every day you’ll save almost 20,000 miles a year. At 56.5 cents a mile, that’s a savings of  almost $10,000.

Speaking of commuting costs, you may even be able to get rid of one of your automobiles. Most households today have at least two cars but, if you and your spouse will be spending much more time together, there might not be a need to have more than one. The savings here can be substantial  when you factor in the cost of the car itself, insurance, gasoline and maintenance.

If you live in one of the more expensive states like New Jersey or California you always have the option to move  from that state to another where the cost of living is much more economical. Now we won’t try and say that this is an easy option but, depending on your financial situation and also where your family resides, moving to a state with a lower cost of living may be an excellent option. It actually kills two birds with one stone as, if you’re living in a big house but you don’t have need for it, you can move to a new state and a smaller house.

While some financial advisors will tout this next factor, the reality is that it depends on the family and the type of household that you have. In any case, many retirees are able to save thousands of dollars simply for the fact that they don’t have any children living at home.  This cuts down on several expenses including groceries and energy for electricity and hot water, or even the additional burden of finding an affordable home security system.

The reality today however is that many adult children are moving back in with their parents and, in some cases, this is actually beneficial for both. The adult child gets an economical place to live and possibly built in babysitters while the parents have the security of a younger person around in case of any type of emergency.

If you’re lucky enough to have saved sufficient money to do some traveling, the  even better news is that, since you don’t have a time clock stopping you, you can travel midweek, out of season and any other time when rates for airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars are lower. Indeed, the freedom to travel during off-peak hours, days and seasons can literally save you thousands of dollars.

Although the savings here are minimal, everything counts in retirement. With that in mind, don’t be shy about using your age to get senior discounts wherever and whenever you can. Practically every retail store, every restaurant and every tourist attraction in the United States has some type of senior discount and, while it may mean visiting during certain hours and following specific rules, the savings are real. In some cases there are events that are completely free for seniors including lectures, exercise classes and so forth.

Finally, there’s the fact that youdon’t have to pay  Social Security anymore since you’re actually on the receivingend now. Not only that but the 10 to 20% that you were putting aside for retirement is no longer necessary. All in all, the savings potential due to all of these changes when you retire can easily equal thousands of dollars a year.

We hope this blog gave you some helpful and valuable advice and also called your fears a little bit. Retirement can be a little scary but, if you plan ahead and prepare, you should do just fine. Remember to come back and visit us often for more financial information on many different topics. See you then.

Starting a business while you’re still fully employed

If you’re a small business owner you know that managing your small business is definitely a full-time job. If you are running your own business and working full-time at the same time you basically have given yourself a Herculean task that some people might call crazy to attempt. The fact is however that many people start a new business while they are still fully employed and, according to some estimates, nearly 2/3 of all small business owners work at either full or part-time jobs while their company is developing, gaining traction and creeping into the black.

The fact is that there were only so many hours in a day and many people can quickly become overwhelmed by the responsibility of running their own business and taking care of their regular job at the same time. It’s for those people that we put this blog together today, with tips and advice and should help you to survive while you’re working both. Enjoy.

One of the most important things that you need to do is separate your regular job from your small business job. Simply put, unless your boss is extremely nice (or extremely gullible) it probably would not be a good idea to take care of your small business tasks while you’re sitting at your desk at your day job. It’s also not a good idea to use company resources to get your business off the ground. Instead you should set clear boundaries so that your regular job and your new small business never overlap, setting yourself strict hours and keeping them as best as you can.

Of course one of the most important things to keep in mind is that, if you stretch yourself too thin, your performance at work may suffer and your small business may suffer as well. Think about getting tools like software for financial management to help run your business more efficiently and preventing yourself from getting stretched thin. While many people believe that the extra time to focus on their business would be great, getting fired from any job and losing that steady paycheck can be more than just an annoyance, it can financially ruin you.

If you’re not keen on losing your job but you also don’t want to miss an opportunity to help someone or further advance your new small business, the best thing to do is find someone to help you. Hiring an employee to work part-time or even finding a partner would both be a better option than ticking off your boss, losing your job or losing a new customer. If you choose to go with a partner you’d do well to find someone who has expertise in the area or with a product that you’re going to be selling.

Since it’s a bit difficult to market your business when you’re still fully employed it can also be difficult to generate leads or turn a profit. With that in mind the best thing that you can do is start networking like your life depended on it. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce, having cards made and handing them out wherever you go and participating in local business fairs is a great way to get your name out there at a very low cost. Sponsoring a local charity or athlete is also a great way to endear yourself to the community and get your new business going while you’re still at your old job.

Depending on the type of business that you are starting and the type of business that you are currently working in, you may be tempted to exploit your personal relationships or contacts. While there is nothing wrong with talking about your new business in some cases it can be illegal. If you’ve signed a non-compete clause with your employer and you start poaching clients you could very well find yourself in some very hot legal water. On the other hand, if you are moving into a new sector that could possibly work well with your current clients at work it might not be a bad idea to seek their support.

One of the most vital bits of information that we can give you today is the need to start small and consult with a start-up expert like SunDoc Filings. Finding out if there is a demand for your product or services is vital as well, and working nights and weekends to see if that demand is there should be on the top of your ‘to do’ list before you fully commit to any new project or business. If you’re going to be opening up a brick and mortar retail store you may want to first try your hand at a local marketplace and see what type of results you get. This type of due diligence and market research should not be underestimated as it will give you a much clearer idea of what type of potential your new small business actually will have.

Starting small will also give you a much better idea if you are personally able to handle a full-time job and a small business at the same time.  One thing is for sure, your time management skills are going to get a thorough workout.

The final step, transitioning from a full-time job with a small business to just running your small business, is something that will be different for every entrepreneur. Knowing exactly when the best time is to quit your job for good can be a bit difficult, to say the least. In the end, it would probably be best if the money that you were making with your new business was equal to the amount that you are making at your full-time job. If that’s not the case you will definitely want to know exactly how much money you need to make in order to cover all of your basic bills and not have to dip into your retirement or savings accounts too deeply.

Whatever the case and whatever your situation, we wish you the best of luck with your new small business. Please be sure to come back and visit us here regularly as we’ve always got great information on all sorts of financial, small business and energy topics. See you then.