Category Archives: Starting a Small Business

Quick Guide to Starting Your Own Business

So you want to start your own business? Congratulations! But be warned; it’s easy to get overwhelmed getting started. Breathe. Take it slow. And use this quick guide to starting your own business to get you on your way to owning a real business.

Quick Guide to Starting Your Own Business Continue reading

10 Tips For Making Your First Sale

So you’ve started a new business. Or maybe you’ve taken a job as a new salesperson. Congratulations! Now the work begins to make your first sale and start a pattern of success. So here are ten tips to help you make your first sale.

#1. Sell It Top Down

When selling something available at different price points, start with the most expensive option and why it’s the best at alleviating key pain points. If you sense hesitation, make your way to the next best option and so on. This educates customers so they feel better about laying down their money, but it also anchors them to a more expensive choice. Just don’t overwhelm them with options.

10 Tips For Making Your First Sale Continue reading

5 Frightening Signs That You’re Going Out of Business

Every business goes through hard times. Sometimes the business recovers and is better for the struggle. But other times, the business fails, leaving employees without a job, and owners with debt and doubt about their future. Oftentimes however, there are signs that you’re going out of business, so let’s look at five of them so if they look familiar, you can take immediate corrective action and keep the doors open for business.

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  1. You see “out of stock” everywhere

If you go through your inventory and see many of your items “Out Of Stock,” it may be a sign that you’re going out of business. As an owner, you may not work with the financials every day, so when your CFO says you need more revenue to stock inventory to sell, you may not realize the extent of the problem until “Out of Stock”  turns into “Out of Business.”

  1. You drastically slash your prices

In a last-ditch effort to gain new customers, many businesses will slash their prices. But bills are paid with margins so reducing prices on goods and services, which are already low enough to warrant such drastic action, will only exacerbate the problem and expedite your path to bankruptcy. Continue reading

3 Tips to Buying the Right Small Business Insurance

By Hunter Hoffmann, Guest Contributor

Starting a small business is an exciting time.  You have the pride that comes with seeing your vision come to life when you officially open the doors, or launch your website, mixed with the nervousness of the unknown.  You’re putting yourself out there and it’s a risk – but you’re doing it, and only with great risk can you reap great rewards.

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You have your company registered, your shop and/or website is up and running and maybe you’ve even hired some new staff.  But, don’t forget to protect yourself, and your company, with the right insurance.  Here are 3 simple tips to getting the insurance you need for your small business without breaking the bank.

 

  1. First, make sure you’re protected. The lists of things that seem more pressing than insurance for a new small business owner is nearly endless.  I won’t even try to make it exciting – but it is necessary.  All it takes is one unhappy customer or partner and you could be facing a potential lawsuit – even if you didn’t do anything wrong.  Unless you’re willing to stake the future of  your business on what you’ve learned from watching Law & Order repeats, you’re going to need a lawyer and those are expensive if you don’t have insurance to provide you the legal representation you need.

 

  1. Get the insurance that’s right for you. Each business has very specific risks and should have insurance policies tailored to their needs.  Your wedding photography business is probably much lower risk than a company that offers skydiving on motorcycles or something else that’s inherently dangerous.  You should get protected, but only for the risks your company actually faces. Each small business is different and you can keep costs down by working with an insurer that understands that.

 

  1. You’re looking for a relationship. Hopefully you won’t need to file an insurance claim anytime soon, but when you do it’s important that you know who to reach out to and that they’re responsive.  Like with any relationship, this takes a bit of intuition.  Did you get the feeling that the company cared about you and really understood your business and the pressures you’re facing.  Did they respond to your questions quickly?  If the purchasing process didn’t leave you with the best feeling, imagine what it will be like if you have to file a claim.

 

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and it’s only from people taking risks that the economy continues to develop and grow. These tips will help you get the right insurance for your business so you can worry about everything else and keep growing.

 

Hunter Hoffmann is Head of U.S. Communications at Hiscox Small Business Insurance and is responsible for media relations, social media, internal communications and executive messaging. Hunter lives in New York City with his wife and two sons – Walker and Otis. In his spare time, he moonlights as Chief Marketing Officer and deliveryman for Junior’s Fresh, a fresh baby and toddler food delivery service and pre-school meal provider in New York City founded by his wife, Michelle.

 

What Type of Business Should I Start?

Thinking of starting a business? You’ve got lots of decisions to make before you open your doors. Will you cater to businesses or consumers? What type of products or services will you sell? And then…what type of business is best for you?

Gabriel Cordero

Essentially, you have 3 options when it comes to business types. Let’s dive into each.

Buy an Existing Business
Every day, someone is selling an established business, maybe because they’re retiring or ready for a change. The biggest advantage of buying an existing business is that you have less risk. After all, an existing business has already established its reputation, hired and trained its employees, and begun to turn a profit. Continue reading

Equity Crowdfunding 101

Crowdfunding in general—and equity crowdfunding in particular—is set to become the primary way in which small businesses will finance their launch and growth in the twenty first century. Last week we gave a brief overview of the different types of crowdfunding on offer, but today, we’re going to delve deeper into the concept of equity crowdfunding.

In a nutshell, equity crowdfunding is a new method of seeking financing that allows companies of all sizes, including startups, to raise funds through secured online platforms, giving them access to large numbers of qualified investors. Equity crowdfunding gives companies (otherwise known as issuers) an attractive option for raising funds, and provides investors with the possibility of a handsome return on their investment.

What exactly is equity crowdfunding?

With equity crowdfunding, the investors become a shareholder in the company. An investor owns shares in a company that may provide the investor with benefits such as the right to vote at shareholder meetings, entitlement to dividends out of the company’s profits (if declared), and the investors get to share in the value in the company when shares are sold. Of course this means that they run the same risks that any investor faces when owning shares in a company, in that the company may fail or its value may decline.

Equity crowdfunding offers investors and companies great new options for buying into and funding new business ventures, as up until now there has really been no precedent for non-professional investors to invest in innovative ideas and potentially yield good returns. This makes the growing popularity of equity crowdfunding particularly exciting for busuness owners and investors alike.

Who can invest?

There can be two types of investors in equity crowdfunding—accredited investors and non-accredited investors.

  • Accredited investors are those investors deemed by the securities commissions to be high net worth individuals who would not be catastrophically impacted financially if an investment in a company seeking funds through equity crowdfunding fails. Each country has its own parameters, but roughly the top 3 to 5 percent of a country’s population would qualify as accredited investors. Typically both the issuers and the equity crowdfunding portal used must confirm the investors’ qualification with the local securities rules.

  • Non-Accredited investors are the “rest of us”—the rest of the country’s population that do not meet the requirements to be registered as an accredited investor.

What is an equity crowdfunding portal?

Equity crowdfunding portals bring companies and investors together in a secure cloud-computing platform. There are portals providing investment opportunities for accredited investors and non-accredited investors. Equity portals will also vary on size of offerings and vertical industry sectors. Issuers exchanges shares (or securities) for investors’ money via a selected equity crowdfunding portal. Currently in most North American jurisdictions only accredited investors can invest in equity crowdfunding—although there are a handful of exceptions to that rule.

Don’t miss the next instalment to our Introduction to Crowdfunding series, “How to Prepare for Equity Crowdfunding”.

 

Crowdfunding: An Introduction

By Stefanie Neyland with research by Oscar Jofre

You may have heard a lot about crowdfunding recently, and you may be wondering what it’s all about. If you’re not quite sure exactly what it is, have no fear—you’re not alone. The truth is that crowdfunding is a relatively new concept, and many entrepreneurs are only just beginning to learn about it and how it can be leveraged to start or grow their business venture.

So what is crowdfunding? On its most basic level, it’s the aggregation of small amounts of capital from a large group of people, usually via the Internet, in order to fund a business, project or organization. There are four main types of crowdfunding:

Equity-based crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding is considered by most to be the holy grail of the crowdfunding phenomenon that’s sweeping the globe. For the past 24 months there has been a frenzy of tweets, blogs, articles, and news reports about how entrepreneurs and small businesses can access capital via equity crowdfunding. Investors receive a stake (usually common or preferred shares or units) in the company (the issuer), with the idea being that the investor is either looking to make a return from dividends or capital gains on the growth in value of their stake in the company. In a nutshell, it’s a method of seeking financing that allows companies of all sizes (including startups) to raise funds through secured online platforms, giving them access to large numbers of qualified investors.

Donation-based crowdfunding

With donation-based crowdfunding, contributions go towards a charitable cause. For example, you may pay for a charity in a poverty stricken area to receive much-needed medication for its inhabitants. In donation-based crowdfunding, funds are collected from a community for a publicly disclosed initiative but there is no financial return to the people putting money in. The return for contributors is usually the satisfaction that comes with helping others in need.

Lending-based crowdfunding

With this type of crowdfunding, investors are repaid for their investment in a business over a period of time and receives a stipulated return (interest) for the use of their money.

Reward-based crowdfunding

With reward-based crowdfunding, contributors receive a predefined product or service in return for their funds provided to the company or individual. A contributor advances funds with the promise of receiving a prescribed reward at a later date (i.e., paying now for the development of a new smartphone and receiving the phone after it is developed, manufactured, tested and shipped).

Whether it’s in Canada, Brazil, Chile, China, Italy, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Russia, Sweden the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands or the United States, Equity Crowdfunding is changing the global landscape to give everyone—the ‘crowd’—an opportunity to invest and contribute in a variety of initiatives.

To learn more about how crowdfunding—and more specifically, equity crowdfunding—could help you start or grow your business, download our free eBook, ‘Equity Crowdfunding 101’ via the Free Tools section of the BizLaunch website.