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Your Essential Guide to Starting a Small Business

Your Essential Guide to Starting a Small Business
Here’s to New Beginnings: Your Essential Guide to Starting a Small Business   When you have a great business idea and strive to achieve financial independence, you might be thinking about launching a small business. Every huge corporation started with a small business, so why not? While you can definitely achieve success in the business world, keeping your small business successful for at least 2 to 5 years is a huge work. This game is worth the candle, though. So, if you’re trying to start a small business, here’s your handy guide to help you out:   Start your journey with research Perhaps, you’ve already come up with a unique – or any – business idea, but is it going to bring you success? Does your business idea have many competitors? Before you take any step, do your own research. Consider running your idea through a simple validation process that will help you to figure out the future of that idea. First of all, your business idea should offer something – be it a service or a product – that the modern market needs these days.   There are many ways to find out if a business idea will be successful, such as focus groups, deep research, and in most cases, trial and error. But before you go through trial and error ask yourself:   Does the market need your product/service? Who are the people who will want to use your product/service? What are the companies that offer similar or the same product/service? Will you be able to compete with them? It’s important to ask confidently without any fear or disappointment.   Create a business plan Any business idea requires a powerful business plan, which will become your guide during the process of establishment and business growth. There are many types of business plans, so choose the one that will suit your idea.   If you’re looking for financial support from a financial institution or an investor, creating a basic business plan is essential. This business plan is usually thorough and long, and contains a set of sections that banks and investors check out when they’re validating a business idea. In case, you’re not looking for any financial support and you’re going to invest in your startup yourself, it may be enough to create a simple and short business plan just to give you the initial steps you should take. You can also come up with a working business plan on a piece of paper and change it as you start working on it.   Consider your finances Generally, a startup doesn’t need too many investments, yet you’ll need some money to cover a number of expenses during the first months or even a year before your business will earn a profit. Calculate the one-time startup expenses like property leases, permits and licenses, legal fees, equipment, branding, insurance, inventory, market research, opening events, trademarking, etc. Then, calculate how much money you will need to keep your startup running for a year (your own paycheck, employee paychecks, utilities, rent, advertising, marketing, travel expenses, supplies, etc.)   As soon as you find out an approximate amount of money, think about the ways to find them. You can either save money or borrow from family or friends. Many new entrepreneurs also apply for an SBA loan. Filling out an SBA personal financial statement may be tricky, but here’s a guide to help you out.   Select a business structure Whether it is a limited liability company (LLC), a partnership, a sole proprietorship, or even a corporation, your next step is to select a business structure. Your business structure will affect a lot...
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How do I Become an Independent Contractor

How do I Become an Independent Contractor
Rolling Up Your Sleeves: 8 Steps to Registering as an Independent Contractor Are you ready to be your own boss?  There are many advantages to becoming an independent contractor, some of which we’ll cover today. But it’s also a big responsibility – one that you and you alone must handle. Here are some general steps you can take to make your dreams of striking out on your own as an independent contractor a reality.   Learn what an independent contractor is.  First, learn more about what being an independent contractor means. To be an independent contractor, you must have multiple clients (companies) annually. You own your business at least in part, work with your own materials, tools, and expertise, and each job you take on is considered ‘temporary’, as you will leave when your task is complete.  Pick your business name.  Now, pick a name for your business. Make it something other than just your first and last name, as you can get some good marketing in with a clever or memorable name.  Get licensed.  Next, head down to your local city or county clerk’s office and figure out whether or not you’ll require a license to operate where you live. This is especially important if you work in any type of labor/contractor field. Often, you are required to be licensed in your trade as well.  Get insured.  Whatever you do, don’t skip this step! Your career as an independent contractor could be over as soon as it begins if you get entangled in a lawsuit with a client. Check out various professional liability insurance companies to find a policy that suits your industry and individual needs.  Take care of the accounting end of things.  Decide whether or not you’ll hire an accountant. In many cases, this isn’t necessary; many independent contractors get by fine on their own with accounting software.  Make estimated tax payments.  This can be a little tricky, but do your best to come up with a ballpark figure on what you’ll make in a year. Now, you must make four estimated tax payments throughout the year. Trust us, you do not want to end up owing all at once, or end up attracting the attention of the IRS in any way.  Stay motivated.  We all lose steam, and we all find ourselves stuck in a rut from time to time. But as an independent contractor, you need to maintain the will to work and consistently formulate ways to draw in new clients. Create a routine and schedule for yourself, even when work is thin.  Enjoy the benefits.  While it can have its tough moments, being an independent contractor is incredibly freeing. You make your own hours, you dictate what you’ll be paid, and most of all, it’s your chance to do what you love for a living. Appreciate it!   Finding the right work-life balance can be difficult, but when you’re an independent contractor, you make the rules. Start off on the right foot by taking care of licensing, insurance, and accounting, and from there, the sky’s the limit....
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What Small Businesses Need to Know About Developing a Brand

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Developing a Brand
What Small Businesses Need to Know About Developing a Brand? If I asked you the name of your business, you could probably respond without a second thought. But what if I were to ask you about your brand? What is the story you would tell, the mission you want to achieve, and the unique characteristics that set your business apart from your competitors? You’d probably need a bit more time, but it would be time well spent. Branding is a powerful tool. It can turn first-time customers into loyal followers and long-time customers into word-of-mouth marketers. Branding, when done masterfully, is the reason we apply “Chapstick” to soothe dry lips, eat “Popsicles” to cool down on a hot day, and “Google” the answer to life’s most pressing questions. Needless to say, brand identity is an important component to your business.     Picture Courtesy : 4 Compelling Brand Stories You Should Be Telling   How Can You Grow Your Brand? Its clear brand development is important, but how do you build it into your marketing efforts? There are numerous answers to that question, but the following often represent the most common and impactful way to increase brand awareness: Content Marketing: In many circles, content is considered the leading way to do everything from improving organic search results to, as you guessed it, increase brand awareness. Through this method, well-curated articles, blog posts, videos, white papers, etc. are used to increase brand credibility. Content is then distributed through various channels, including email, social media, and on the brand’s website or blog.     Picture Courtesy: 18 Types of Content Marketing You Can Use To Grow Your Business Ultimately content works to show your brand as a source of knowledge, whether it pertains to industry trends or customer needs.   Social Media Advertising: Social media allows business owners to leverage posts, shares, stories, and comments to engage directly with existing and potential customers. While much of that interaction is free, there are additional paid advertising options that can help small business owners take advantage of social media advertising to increase reach.   Picture Courtesy: Best Social Media Management Tools – No More Social Media Babysitting Many social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat offer paid advertising opportunities that base ad placement on user data. This can place your brand in front of a specific audience base or target user.   Charitable Initiatives: Companies like PetSmart, TOMs, and REI have long attracted customers through their dedication to philanthropic initiatives. By doing so, they’ve associated their brands with a specific mission – helping pets, clothing children, or saving the environment. When “giving” initiatives are leveraged correctly, they highlight your brand’s mission and show your commitment to goodwill. As such, your brand gains notoriety among audiences that share similar interests or philanthropic goals.     Picture Courtesy: Top 10 Best Free SEO Tools To instantly Improve Your Google Ranking in 2019   Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Today, SEM refers to any type of paid search efforts and has become an umbrella term used to refer to pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-click (CPC) marketing strategies. Through this method, you purchase ad space on search engine result pages (SERPS) on Google, Bing, etc. Instead of ranking organically for specific keywords, SEM allows your brand to show up at the top of a SERP, presenting your brand to highly targeted audiences. You Know How to Grow It, But How Do You Pay for It? While each of these methods can help you increase brand awareness, they often come at a price. Social media and SEM ads are often paid promotions that are based on the number of clicks. Content...
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Which Digital Channels Deliver the Best ROI

Which Digital Channels Deliver the Best ROI
Which Digital Channels Deliver the Best ROI ? Are you in the process of finalizing your digital marketing strategy for 2019? Are you contemplating on the budget to be invested across digital marketing channels? Then read on… Before you decide which digital marketing channels you should focus on, it is but imperative that you completely understand how each one has performed for the past recent years. Just as you wanted to utilize the channels that will get you the most out of your time, you also want to make sure that you will only be investing in channels that will deliver the maximum  ROI for your money as possible.   Selecting the right combination of channels is crucial for ensuring the success of your overall digital marketing campaign. Disruptive Shift In Digital Strategy – A Study by Ignite Visibility San Diego-based Ignite Visibility recently released a new study which highlights a growing shift in digital marketing. The study surveyed businesses in six revenue brackets – under 1 million, 1 to 5 million, 5 to 10 million, 10 to 20 million, 20 to 50 million and over 50 million – in order to gain insight into how they would be investing in digital marketing over the next two years. Additionally, the study analyzed which digital marketing channels would be most popular. “It’s incredibly important to be forecasting ahead and making sure you have the right digital strategy,” says Ignite Visibility CEO John Lincoln. “ We’re dedicated to bringing best-in-class insights to the industry so marketers can have the most effective strategy in place.”     The findings reveal an overall shift toward online marketing channels across all business categories. They also reveal that many smaller businesses still struggle to effectively measure ROI and conversion rates. Furthermore, social media is by far the hardest channel for businesses to manage. “We’re seeing a large shift from offline to online because digital channels are more trackable and generally produce a higher ROI,” continued Lincoln. In the study, we also say clear divisions in the business size and type of digital marketing channel they liked the most. But overall, social media marketing seemed to be a big pain point for all marketers.” To view the full study visit Ignite Visibility (New Study) 300 Marketers Reveal Disruptive Shift In Digital Strategy – Ignite Visibility Study reveals key findings in how marketers will shift marketing dollars through 2021. Key analysts: Karen Schwartzman, Content Manager Ignite Visibility John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility In this study, Ignite Visibility interviewed 300 marketers categorized by business sizes of under 1 million, 1 to 5 million, 5 to 10 million, 10 to 20 million,…   Blogging remains as the top content marketing strategy 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority. The most successful marketers spend 40% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. The average for all respondents is 26%. Content marketing revenue will exceed $300 billion by 2019. Here are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to content and email marketing. Limited internal resources 28%, lack of strategy 28% and lack of content 23%.     Paid Search and Mobile Marketing As of July 2018, 90.46% of people use Google as a search engine. Bing is 3.13% and Yahoo is 2.21%. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. 18% of local searches done on mobile devices lead to a sale within a day. In 2017, 48% of 1,200 global digital marketers say on-page SEO is still considered to be the most effective SEO tactic.     Facebook Advertising There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook...
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How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems as a Small Business

How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems as a Small Business
If you own a small business, then you’re probably no stranger to cash flow issues. In fact, 21% of businesses claim that cash flow problems were significant issues, potentially leading to closing down. One of the best ways business owners can ensure success is by carefully managing cash flow. Because no matter how great your business plan is, your business won’t survive if you run out of money. What Causes Cash Flow Problems? Before you can get a handle of your cash flow issues, you have to understand why they occur. Here are three common reasons why cash flow problems may arise: Unnecessary Spending Many business owners have head the old adage that you have to spend money to make money. Unfortunately, this belief has caused many ambitious business owners to overspend. Not all business expenses equally as important to your operations. Consider the cost-benefit of each expense. Overestimating Future Earnings Optimism is a great trait but it needs to be paired with a healthy dose of objectivity. It’s important to forecast your sales based on previous earnings and data. By not counting on future earnings that may never show up, you can prevent overspending. Inconsistent Sales Some businesses have occasional spikes in sales followed by months where they sell next to nothing. Trends like these cause problems with budgeting and makes it difficult for business owners to make operational decisions, often choosing to survive off of their “good” months. Get started with Flexible Funding today! Flexible Funding provides payroll-funding solutions in addition to back and front office support services as well. Flexible Funding works with staffing companies to implement the right staffing-industry software solutions for each client’s unique needs to create the best solutions and to save you time and money -from off-the-shelf accounting packages like QuickBooks and Sage 50 Accounting to in-house custom-built financial accounting software tools. Whether you are a start-up or an established staffing agency looking for best business practices, Flexible Funding will find the right solution for you– from payroll and invoice processing to W-2 preparation and filing, background checks, custom reporting, and so much more.   Tips for Avoiding Cash Flow Problems Cash flow problems are a reality for nearly all business owners but there are ways to manage them. Here are five ways to mitigate your cash flow issues: 1) Take Out a Short-Term or P2P Business Loan A short-term business loan can provide the capital you need to run your business and pay for any expense, from inventory to office furniture. Short-term business loans have a high rate of approval even for businesses with limited credit history. You’ll receive the money faster than you would if you took out a traditional bank loan, which can be extremely helpful if you have immediate needs. Sometimes the application process can take as little as 24 hours. One of the first places to check for business loans as a business owner would be Small Business Administration. Or, if you prefer to bypass the government, you can try a peer-to-peer business loan. These loans are funded by individual investors through a lending platform. However, these loans usually require more frequent payments, and you will likely end up with a higher interest rate. 2) Use a Working Capital Loan Working capital loans can give you the cash flow to cover crucial operational costs like rent and payroll. This gives you the flexibility to invest in your company’s growth and still cover day-to-day expenses. Unlike other business loans, working capital loans don’t require that you state your reasons for taking out the loan. However, you will have to repay this loan quickly and your loan may have a...
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