start-up http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6105/all en-US 5 Ways Etsy Can Help Start Your Small Business http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-etsy-can-help-start-your-small-business <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-etsy-can-help-start-your-small-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000013596000Small_0.jpg" alt="Woman knitting" title="Woman knitting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love <a href="http://www.etsy.com/">Etsy</a>. I first began shopping there just a few weeks ago, although I had followed its popularity for the past few years and have marveled at the showcase of talent featured across many genres of online shops featured there. Surprisingly, my interest in Etsy has had nothing to do with hand-stitched crafts, luxury bath items, or the random brick-a-brac that many people associate with the site.&nbsp;I go to Etsy to get staples for my small business. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-and-trading-on-etsy">Buying (and Trading) on Etsy</a>)</p> <p>Because Etsy is a growing market, adding new stores every day, it has the potential to be a huge marketplace for some lesser-known startup necessities. In the meantime, you can find a limited, yet high-quality offering in the following areas.</p> <h2>Company Logos</h2> <p>While the prices run the gamut, I was able to buy a OOAK (one of a kind) <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/ErinBradleyDesigns">business logo</a> for my website, business cards, blog, and social media avatars. The talent displayed on Etsy was amazing, and my finished product was delivered within 24 hours. You can find several options to have a logo completely customized to your specifications, or you might find that a premade design fits better into your budget.</p> <h2>Web Design</h2> <p>In addition to getting a savvy-looking logo for your business, you might as well invest in a <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/todoTADA">professional website</a> to help sell your wares or services. Many of the same people who sell logos on Etsy are also well-versed in getting a site set up. If you are looking for something highly-customized, you&rsquo;ll pay more. Buy a pre-made site with only slight modifications (color and logo, for example), and you could see a big discount over hiring someone from an agency. (Hint: If you have an Etsy shop yourself, hiring a fellow crafter to do your shop design is a worthwhile investment.)</p> <h2>Office Decor</h2> <p>While not essential to having a well-run small business, putting a little personality into your office space can be useful in getting productivity at its peak. Some of the nice items I&rsquo;ve found on Etsy include <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/JavaJaneDesigns">framed photo artwork</a>, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/timelessNchic">up-cycled vintage end tables</a>, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/LAKEWAYCANDLES">custom drawer pulls</a>, and <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/pinknbluebaby?section_id=7800967">chalkboard wall decals</a>. If you need something whimsical, yet practical, you&rsquo;ll likely find it here.</p> <h2>Paper Supplies</h2> <p>Stationary, business cards, and envelopes can be ordered from a cheap site like VistaPrint, or you could give your business a classy, original look with the offerings found on Etsy. Whether you&rsquo;re needing something completely handmade (like <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/pasteandpaper">these collage notecards</a>) or are looking for a <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/mauguste">more balanced look</a>, you will likely find paper goods that communicate the feel of your company on Etsy.</p> <h2>Client Gifts</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve used up all the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-free-gifts-for-business-colleagues">free client gifts</a> I&rsquo;ve recommended in past articles, consider something beautiful and classy that your customers can hold in their hands.&nbsp;Contrary to common opinion, Etsy is not just for girls.&nbsp;You can find some really nice masculine designs, including this <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/OldNewAgain">rustic organizer</a> and <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/orangefuzz">organic shave kit made from beer</a>. Regardless of the gender of your client (or the size of the organization), I&rsquo;ve found handmade sweets to be a hit among all of the companies I work with. This <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/KettleConfections">tasty nougat</a> speaks for itself!</p> <p><em>Note: I linked to several Etsy shops in this article that I found to be interesting. Product offerings change often, so to keep the article relevant, I&rsquo;ve linked to each shop homepage rather than individual items. I have not purchased from or have a personal interest in any of them, with the exception of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/ErinBradleyDesigns">Erin</a> (who did my logo), and I cannot speak to the quality of each shop&rsquo;s finished product.</em></p> <p>How has Etsy helped your small business or blog?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-etsy-can-help-start-your-small-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-office-supply-purchases">Best Credit Cards for Office Supply Purchases</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pens">The 5 Best Pens</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-mechanical-pencils">The 5 Best Mechanical Pencils</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-plan-basics">Business Plan Basics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mr-cheap-stuff-who-do-you-think-you-are">Mr. Cheap Stuff: Who do you think you are?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Shopping buy handmade etsy office supplies start-up Tue, 01 Mar 2011 13:24:14 +0000 Linsey Knerl 497559 at http://www.wisebread.com The Dropping Cost of Entrepreneurship http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-dropping-cost-of-entrepreneurship <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-dropping-cost-of-entrepreneurship-thursday-bram" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-dropping-cost-of-entr...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-dropping-cost-of-entrepreneurship" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000671058XSmall.jpg" alt="dollar" title="dollar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Starting a new business sounds like an expensive proposition &mdash; creating a new product, printing up business cards, and all the other nuts and bolts that go along with setting up a company &mdash; but the cost of entrepreneurship is dropping. It's not uncommon for a new business owner to pay for a website and little more; if the business offers services rather than products, there may be nothing else necessary. Depending on where you're based, you may need a business license, but you can skip renting office space, printing business cards, and many other steps in the short term. You may need all of those things down the line, but technology has made it possible to start a business without them.</p> <h3>Not Just for Service Businesses</h3> <p>The renaissance in entrepreneurship is caused by the sheer number of alternatives to starting with a big investment to manufacture your inventory before you start selling. Four years ago, Shai Atanelov started <a href="http://www.bigtimewireless.com/">Bigtime Wireless</a> with less than $1,000. He had an idea for targeting a niche within the cell phone market &mdash; unlocked phones &mdash; and launched a home business to pursue it. Now Bigtime Wireless has eight employees and has provided a base for Atanelov to launch two more businesses. &quot;My initial investment was around $900. It included the fees to open up a business in New York and depositing $100 into a business bank account. The rest of the money was used to hire a website designer and to use for Volusion's shopping cart fees, a SSL certificate fee, and a merchant account setup fee. I did not have to buy any inventory, as I made contacts in the cell phone industry in the USA and abroad that agreed to dropship cell phones for me.&quot;</p> <p>Dropshipping &mdash; arranging for a manufacturer or wholesaler to ship your product directly to buyers &mdash; is one of the simplest ways to quickly start a business focused on selling products. There are others, of course, including selling affiliate products, arranging for a limited manufacturing run, or creating and manufacturing your product yourself (most common among businesses selling information-based products). With these methods, starting your business is often reduced to building a website and putting a marketing plan into action.</p> <h3>Keeping Costs to a Minimum</h3> <p>For many entrepreneurs, there's one simple way to reduce costs: Do everything yourself. Atanelov said, &quot;I did all the product listings for about 500 cell phone models manually. It took me about two weeks to complete. That probably saved me well over $1,000, since the cell phone listings were quite technical, and a freelancer or company would have charged me at least $2 per listing.&quot;</p> <p>It's worth considering what your business will need to run and seeing where you can invest time if you're looking to cut costs. Marc Anderson, the owner of <a href="http://talktocanada.com/">Talk to Canada</a>, kept his initial investment under $200. &quot;Before I built my first website for TalktoCanada.com, I bought a book at the local book store about Macromedia Dreamweaver (now Adobe). It wasn't a book on theory but based on creating a sample website from start to finish. So I spent the next three months, when I had time, trying my best to follow the sample instructions from start to finish in order to build a website. After mastering the basics, I used this knowledge to create a very simple website for our business which has now been updated four times. The fourth time, we had enough cash flow to finally hire a professional company to make it,&quot; says Anderson.</p> <p>It was a large investment of time for Anderson, but beyond his website, he needed little else: &quot;I spent $60 for a business license here in Ontario, Canada, and another $100 or so on setting up my domain name and hosting account.&quot; As his business has grown, Anderson has also reinvested profits in the company, paying for not only ordinary operating expenses but investing money in search engine optimization, advertising, and other marketing opportunities.</p> <h3>The True Cost of Entrepreneurship</h3> <p>It's worth noting that while the cost to start a business is less than it might have once been, the costs associated with actually running a business remain. No matter how little you started your new venture with, you'll still be expected to pay taxes. Management costs, such as those associated with keeping your books or running payroll, will still be present, especially as a new business grows. The real dropping cost of entrepreneurship is what it takes to get in the game and start earning income to offset those expenses. Since Atanelov launched, he has put more than $20,000 into the business, taking a portion of his profits and investing them back into the business.</p> <p>The odds of being able to keep startup costs to a minimum while growing a business fast enough that you can afford to reinvest part of your profits and still support yourself are also improved if you have a good working knowledge of business. Anderson took on a few odd jobs after completing a business degree, then jumped into running Talk to Canada. While Atanelov was a teacher prior to starting his business, he had already been selling cell phones through eBay in 2003, which allowed him to study the market before diving to running a full business.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-dropping-cost-of-entrepreneurship">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-tips-to-good-business-management">Six Tips to Good Business Management</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center frugal websites small business start-up starting a business Thu, 09 Dec 2010 18:21:17 +0000 Thursday Bram 299048 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Business Lessons from the Heart http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/11-business-lessons-from-the-heart <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/11-business-lessons-from-the-heart-tom-harnish" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/11-business-lessons-from-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/11-business-lessons-from-the-heart" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002578990XSmall.jpg" alt="Business heart" title="Business heart" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="157" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Here are some lessons I learned while attending the Business School of Experience. Keep in mind, &quot;experience&quot; is really just another word for mistakes. Learn from my experience, so you don't have to learn from yours.</p> <h3>Do Your Homework</h3> <p>Bright ideas are common; people who can turn them into a business are not. Don't let your enthusiasm keep you from doing your homework.</p> <p>When starting a business, ask yourself:</p> <ul> <li>Is there a real market? Can I really create this product/service?</li> <li>Can I win? Can my company and product be competitive?</li> <li>Will it be worth it? Will it be profitable? Will it support my philosophy, strategy, goals, and objectives?</li> </ul> <p>Build a low, likely, and high model in your spreadsheets, and do some sensitivity analysis. If start-up or roll-out takes longer and costs more than estimated (it always does), what effect will it have?</p> <p>A clear view of reality, more than anything else, will determine your future. Business is no place for wishful thinking. Dreams, yes. Fantasies, no.</p> <h3>Dig Deeper</h3> <p>Google is your friend. If you think what you have is unique, think again. Dig around and find out what else is out there that's similar to what you're contemplating. Learn what works (or doesn't) from others who have tried it. Indirect competitors can be as fierce as direct ones, and they don't even do it on purpose.</p> <p>Find an association that covers what you do, join it, and wring out their reports and statistics. Order a franchise package for a company or product similar to what you have in mind. They're required by law to tell you the downsides and upsides of the business. Ask for advice; you'll be surprised how willing people are to help.</p> <h3>Think It Through</h3> <p>Play a movie in your head about how this all will work, and write the script to make it happen. The written document isn't the point, the thought process is. If you can't envision success, how can you achieve it?</p> <p>It's very easy to become enamored with an idea and focus on the product, not the market. Spend a lot more time thinking about the market than you do on developing intricate details for your product/service. Who are you going to sell to? What do they look like? Where are they? How will you reach them? Will they buy? What will they be willing to spend? You probably will improve your concept because of this thought process.</p> <p>Keep in mind that you are a bad market sample; if you like it or your family likes it, it doesn't matter. Will other people be willing to spend real money to buy it? That's different than someone saying they like the idea if you ask them on a street corner or in a meeting. Hold out your hand and see if they put money it. If they do, you're on the right track.</p> <h3>Do the Numbers</h3> <p>Figure out what your budget needs to be. Be realistic; if you don't have a lot of money, you can't just spend less on development, production, promotion, or staff. If you don't spend enough, quality, market awareness, or distribution will suffer.</p> <p>Ignore what you have in the bank, define an accurate budget, and <em>then</em> compare what you think you need with how much you have to spend. If you don't have enough, don't just do it anyway and hope for the best. And remember, when (if) you move forward, you have to stick to these numbers! If you spend twice as much on ads, production, or rent than what's in your plan, you're headed for trouble.</p> <p><a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/dont-let-your-cash-flow-go-down-the-drain-tom-harnish">Plan your cash flow</a>, not your profits. You can't spend profit. You can grow so fast, you go broke. If you don't understand how that can happen, visit <a href="http://findingmoneyadvice.com/">FindingMoneyAdvice.com</a>.</p> <h3>Make a List</h3> <p>Create an action plan. List the things that need to get done, and then make sublists for all the big things. Keep doing that until you can't break the tasks down any finer. Then put them on a time line. Some things have to be done long before others. There is no point in rushing off to market when your product won't be done for another six months, for example. This mental process is almost like a business simulator. It allows you to think through what it would really be like to run the business. Who's going to answer the phone? What if you need more cash for supplies or raw materials? Who will be the company spokesperson for TV interviews? Involve other people who will be working with you so they can help think it through too.</p> <h3>Prototype</h3> <p>Test, refine, test some more, and <em>then</em> build. Remember, when you test, a &quot;no&quot; answer is as useful as &quot;yes.&quot; Few ideas are perfect right out of the box. And many successes are discovered by accident. If your idea works and the market likes it...go! If people don't, make some changes, big ones if you need to. If you can't or won't...WALK AWAY. Don't be pig-headed and press on because you can't accept that the whole thing is a bad idea. You'll be tired, broke, and angry when you fail.</p> <p>Entrepreneurs are notorious for not taking no for answer. But two thirds of businesses fail within 10 years.</p> <h3>Promote It</h3> <p>Success isn't just about products and markets, it's about making sure people know you have a product that will solve a problem for them, it's worth the money, and you can be trusted to deliver it. Publicity is cheaper than advertising, so do something (tastefully) outrageous. Attract some attention.</p> <h3>Be Involved</h3> <p>You're a key member of the team. If you've convinced your spouse, a bank, or a VC that you have a good idea and you've created a company or launched a new product, your job has just begun. Sitting in your office pouring over spreadsheets won't build a success. Your enthusiasm, dedication, and knowledge will. Share it. It will rub off on employees, advisors, investors, and even customers. Then hire people who are smarter than you are.</p> <p>If you don't like the people you're working with, or if you don't trust them, something's wrong. Start by taking a careful look at yourself. Are <em>you</em> trustworthy? Are <em>you</em> a hard worker? Are <em>you</em> fun to be around? Life's too short; have fun and encourage the people you work with to have fun too.</p> <p>Measure performance based on results, not attendance. It doesn't matter where, when, or how people work as long as they get the job done. If you can't define what acceptable results are, how can your people possibly be successful? Remember, if they aren't, you aren't.</p> <h3>Look Both Ways</h3> <p>After implementation, look back at where you've come from and ask yourself what you might have done differently. Learn from mistakes and successes. And look ahead; the road may have changed while you were busy starting up. Make changes if you need to, be agile, and adjust. Managing change is the hardest job you'll have.</p> <h3>Celebrate</h3> <p>You only have one life to live, so enjoy it. When you have a little success, celebrate! Make sure the people who contributed have a chance to enjoy your success too. You couldn't have done it without them.</p> <h3>Share It</h3> <p>&ldquo;All who would win joy, must&nbsp;share&nbsp;it; happiness was born a twin.&rdquo; &mdash; Lord Byron</p> <p>&quot;Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.&quot; &mdash; Siddhartha</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tom-harnish">Tom Harnish</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/11-business-lessons-from-the-heart">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-business-lessons-i-learned-the-hard-way">7 Business Lessons I Learned the Hard Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center business lessons small business start-up starting a business Thu, 25 Nov 2010 18:16:00 +0000 Tom Harnish 315711 at http://www.wisebread.com To Start or Not: The Entrepreneurial Debate http://www.wisebread.com/to-start-or-not-the-entrepreneurial-debate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/to-start-or-not-the-entrepreneurial-debate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/561310701_a35d89ab27_m.jpg" alt="Hardworking Ant" title="Hardworking Ant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="180" height="240" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let's face it: most of us have ideas that we think might sell. And most of us think we'd love to work for ourselves. But is that really a good idea? Here are 10 things to consider if you're thinking of starting your own business.</p> <p>1. Do you care?</p> <p>Ok, so you have a good idea that might make some money, and you envision yourself conducting business by cell phone while watching the waves roll by in Fiji, but do you actually care? Do you want to make people's lives better, easier, more fulfilling, whatever, though your new business? If you don't care, you'll run out of steam before the long haul of starting a business even gets started.</p> <p>2. Do you have what it takes?</p> <p>The reality of the entrepreneur's life is, well...craziness. Long hours. Disappointments. Patience even when the bills are piling up. Basically, investing all of yourself and much of your future in the public's response to a product. If you don't have the persistence, the blasted stick-with-it-ness to keep going no matter what, you might sink when the first hard time comes.</p> <p>3. Do you have the social support?</p> <p>What do your family and friends think of this new idea of yours, and your dedication to it? Do they see you as haring off on a wild goose chase, or are they chomping at the bit to buy what you're offering? More importantly, are they willing to put up with your long hours, cash flow difficulties, moodiness, exhaustion, etc.? If they are, you have a much better chance of succeeding.</p> <p>4. Do you have a financial plan?</p> <p>Booor-iiing! And I agree. But absolutely necessary. How much do you need to start your business? When do you envision yourself turning a profit? What will you do if it doesn't happen? Who are you going to approach for the capital to get going (if you don't have it yourself)? The more of these questions you can answer, the better off you'll be.</p> <p>5. Do you have a backup plan?</p> <p>What happens if no one wants what you have to offer? Or if your baby gets sick and needs serious medical care before you have health insurance again? We hope these won't happen, but they're realistic possibilities. You have a better chance of making it as a startup if you've thought these through. Most likely, everything you think of won't happen. But something will, and you're more likely to survive if you've thought it through.</p> <p>6. Do you have the time?</p> <p>Are you willing to pour most of the time that you're not asleep (and some of the time that you should be) into getting this thing going? If you aren't, maybe you want to work for someone else for a few more years, or until you get an idea that inspires you to pour yourself, and your time, into it.</p> <p>7. Are you willing to tell the truth, no matter what?</p> <p>Are you willing to tell the people you're wanting to hire that most likely your business will fail. Most new businesses do, you know. Are you willing to tell possibly buyers that you don't know how your product sells? Because you don't. If you don't have an ironclad integrity, you may want to reconsider starting your own business.</p> <p>8. Do you have enough experience?</p> <p>Do you have any idea what it take to produce your product or facilitate your service? To run a business? To hire the people who will write good code and actually make your product do what you want it to? While experiences in everything isn't necessary, the more you (and your business partners) have, the better.</p> <p>9. Do you have a niche?</p> <p>Who will buy your product or service? Who are you marketing to? Where do they meet, and when, and how? What does your product offer that others don't? Why should people even look at what you're doing? The more defined (not narrow, but sharp!) answers you can give to these questions, the better chance you have for success. You will aim and fire where you want to, and not waste time and energy on a scatter technique.</p> <p>10. Do you care what others think of you?</p> <p>Ok, you have to care some because you want people to pay your for something. But do you care when people look at you and think you're crazy to give up your security for something that doesn't have a great chance of success? Does it bother you when people get a blank look after you tell them what you do? The more independent and sure of yourself you are in this regard, the better your chances for success.</p> <p>And a bonus: Are you a lover or a fighter?</p> <p>Both can succeed as entrepreneurs, but they'll do it very differently. A lover might value forming lasting relationships with her investors where a fighter would try to convince them, overwhelmingly, that their product is going to win over millions. If you don't know which you are, you can spend a lot of time and energy trying to do things in a way that is counterintuitive for you. While both are good strategies to know, it's better to go with your gut the first time out. There will be time to learn more later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It's hard to be an entrepreneur. It's a demanding, difficult life. But it's also highly rewarding. Here are some of the best insights I've found to give you a realistic perspective that won't destroy your hope.</p> <p><a title="The Flip Side" href="http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/08/on-the-other-ha.html">The Flip Side</a></p> <p><a title="The Lazy Way" href="http://lazyway.blogs.com/lazy_way/2006/06/top_10_signs_yo.html">The Lazy Way</a></p> <p><a title="Kill the Bargain Hunter" href="http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/765/kill-the-bargain-hunter-and-change-your-attitudes-toward-money-and-time/">Kill the Bargain Hunter</a></p> <p><a title="Weekend Entrepreneur" href="http://www.queercents.com/2007/08/02/weekend-entrepreneur-if-you-really-want-something-done-find-a-busy-person-to-do-it/">Weekend Entrepreneur</a></p> <p>There are a million more! Search and enjoy.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-start-or-not-the-entrepreneurial-debate">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-ways-to-get-money-for-your-business">16 Ways To Get Money For Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-plan-basics">Business Plan Basics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-freelance-the-top-10-tips">Going Freelance: The Top 10 Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-i-learned-about-money-after-i-went-freelance">7 Things I Learned About Money After I Went Freelance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-life-skills-every-freelancer-needs">8 Life Skills Every Freelancer Needs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Entrepreneurship entrepreneur start-up Thu, 02 Aug 2007 17:51:59 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 941 at http://www.wisebread.com Business Plan Basics http://www.wisebread.com/business-plan-basics <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/business-plan-basics" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/failedbusinessmodel.jpg" alt="failed business model t-shirt" title="failed business model t-shirt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="205" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have a business and offer writing services so, on occasion, I have been asked to write business plans. Those making such requests are generally very eager, convinced of their no-fail ideas, and are being held back only by a lack of funding. Their bank accounts are typically not filled with the cash needed to support their soon-to-be highly profitable, cash-producing enterprises so they go to where they think the money is for them: the bank. Bankers do want to make loans but they also want to avoid loan defaults, so the would-be lenders ask for a business plan.</p> <p>Apparently, the business-plan request surprises the otherwise hopeful entrepreneurs who then knock on my door. Although I am a writer and can create a financial statement, I am not an inventor, marketing researcher, mind-reader, or a magician. I quickly advise these clients to learn just a bit about business perhaps through business start-up classes offered through the community college or chamber of commerce. Such a process, which would take perhaps a month or two, would certainly delay the start of the business and result in not capturing the sure, hot market that is available today. So, again, the clients look to me, though, honestly, I have never requested or received a business loan.</p> <p>I have learned, over the years, that it is best to give the start-up clients a list of items <em>they need to give me</em> in order to prepare a business plan. To date, I have never actually prepared said business plans (promises of giving me the information in a few days have never been fulfilled) but it has saved me quite a bit of time that I would have otherwise spent trying to convince clients that they are unprepared.</p> <p>I developed the list based on <a title="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764554816/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20" href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764554816/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20">Small Business for Dummies</a> (by Eric Tyson and Jim Schell), which is available through amazon.com or the public library. My list is not comprehensive but is enough to get them started...</p> <p><strong>Business Description</strong></p> <ul> <li>Mission statement (business purpose, values, and/or motto)</li> <li>Summary (brief description)</li> <li>Legal/tax structure (a sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, S Corporation, or Limited Liability Corporation-LLC)</li> <li>Niche (how you will differentiate your company from the competition)</li> </ul> <p><strong>Management</strong></p> <ul> <li>education, experience, and accomplishments</li> </ul> <p><strong>Marketing Plan</strong></p> <ul> <li>Industry (overview, market conditions, industry leaders, and opportunities)</li> <li>Potential customers (who they are and why they will choose your product or service)</li> <li>Benefits of the product or service</li> <li>Geography and distribution (where your customers are and how you will deliver products or services to them)</li> <li>Marketing (how you will reach your target audience, how you will retain customers, and how you will build referrals)</li> <li>Pricing (pricing structure, how your prices compare with competitors' prices)</li> <li>Payment terms (how will customers pay you and if/how you will extend credit)</li> </ul> <p><strong>Operations</strong></p> <ul> <li>Employees (positions needed, job descriptions and skill sets, human resources policies, and compensation plans)</li> <li>Vendors (products or services you will need and vendors you will use)</li> </ul> <p><strong>Financial Management Plan</strong></p> <ul> <li>Budget / profit and loss statement (expected income less expected expenses)</li> <li>Balance sheet projections (assets such as equipment and liabilities such as loans)</li> <li>Cash-flow projections (timing of income and expenses to determine if you will have cash in your account to cover your bank loan, payroll, etc.)</li> </ul> <p>...or scare them away.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-plan-basics">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/to-start-or-not-the-entrepreneurial-debate">To Start or Not: The Entrepreneurial Debate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-ways-to-get-money-for-your-business">16 Ways To Get Money For Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed">6 Reasons Your Great Startup Business Is Doomed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-etsy-can-help-start-your-small-business">5 Ways Etsy Can Help Start Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-freelance-the-top-10-tips">Going Freelance: The Top 10 Tips</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship business banker business plan entrepreneur loan start-up Thu, 14 Jun 2007 21:48:59 +0000 Julie Rains 735 at http://www.wisebread.com