The Tunnels of Information

20131120-193108.jpg

I went on a tour of the NY Times last week. During our walk through, our guide mentioned that annually he unsubscribes to everything he’s subscribed to and starts fresh. I thought this was a truly interesting concept. It’s a great way to empty your brain, dust off the cob webs and start new. Typically, we tend to get stuck in our routines. We gather information from the same sources which can act as a creative roadblock. This is something that happens in the business world as well. Maybe we’ve been advertising the same way for years or trying to establish our business through the same avenues. Perhaps we can flush out our business routine and try something we’ve never tried before. Social media is a great way to get your product out there. The web is always changing and people flock to new sites regularly. I found a great site DAILYTEKK that has a post on the top 100 websites and blogs of 2014. The idea is that of a billboard top 100. The site creator never puts a website on the list twice. Sites like DAILYTEKK show you what’s new in the web world. Trying new methods can help you extend your clientele. If you search through the tunnels of information on the web you’ll discover fresh and creative ways to promote your business.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

If You Build It They Will Come

20131119-161222.jpg

If you build it they will come. People perceive you off of how you perceive yourself first. The same goes for business. If you invest the time to make what you have for your business look as professional as possible people will be more likely to invest in it. Take the time to create professional labels for your products or business cards for your services. If you are a designer put together a nice portfolio. There are great tools out there that can take your portfolio to another level. You can take images of your designs and create an online portfolio. There are apps that can help you make amazing portfolios. If you would like to do it yourself and not rely on an app you can do that as well. I’ve attached a video below that shows you how to create a website or portfolio of your designs. It uses photoshop. Choosing that route will give you creative control over all the details.

photo credit: dixieroadrash via photopin cc

The Wise Willow

20131105-233924.jpg Pocahontas talked to a wise old willow tree for advice. Should she choose the smoothest course or the one with twists and turns? She didn’t know so she sought the advice of someone more experienced. Wisdom is priceless. It’s always a great opportunity when we can listen to the advice of those who have succeeded down the road we’re traveling on. This blog post is an add on to my previous one. I found a great video on Stanford University’s website. They have a section called ECorner, Stanford University’s Entrepreneur Corner @ http://ecorner.stanford.edu. It’s an hour long video but it’s filled with great information on angel investors. In the video, experienced angel investors, Ron Conway and Mike Maples talk about the ins and outs of angel investors. Ron Conway is the founder of Angel Investors LP. Mike Maples is the founder of Maples Investments. The two discuss how angel investors determine which opportunities they’ll take. They talk about how they provide assistance to entrepreneurs and turn new businesses into bigger ones. A great topic they look into to is how to manage your money after you have it. The video is about an hour long. It’s priceless information from real investors. Hope it helps. Video Link: http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=1902 photo credit: Stephh922 via photopin cc

Bibbidi-Bobbidi… Investor?

image

Wouldn’t it be grand if we all had fairy godmothers?  All our worries would be wiped away with a flick of her wrist.  Cinderella was a girl down on her luck.  She ‘d lost everything.  She had no income to invest in the business of “herself”.  She worked odd jobs scrubbing floors here and there but found herself in a one bedroom apartment with a view of everything she wished she had. Then one day an opportunity presented itself and she thought, “If I could just get there, I could network with the right people.” Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned and she found herself back on the inside looking out of her rodent (albeit helpful as they were) infested abode. Not everyone has the means to invest in their own business or wants to risk taking out a business loan. Sometimes it seems that we continue to meet dead ends. However, like Cinderella there’s hope for those who continue to dream on a tin can budget. Angel investors are individuals who have the start up capital to help new businesses. They do so typically in exchange for some level of ownership or convertible debt. There are several sites on the internet that cater to these types of investors. You can upload your business plan and hopefully link up with an investor. Uploading your plan to multiple sites will help increase your chances and you may instead have a few offers to choose from. Below is a link for a sample angel investor site located in New York. Cinderella found luck with a fairy godmother. Angel investor sites are worth looking into because you may just find yourself cashing in at the bibbidi-bobbidi-bank.

Link: http://newyorkangels.com/index.html

photo credit: suttonhoo via photopin cc

Rumpelstiltskin Needed a Trademark

medium_5764245241 (2)

Rumpelstiltskin was a man who knew the importance of a name.  He had many talents.  He could spin straw into gold and one day he offered to help a poor millers daughter being held in captivity.  However, he had a few strings attached.   She could use his services just not his name.  As long as he controlled the use of his name he retained his power.  You should always protect your identity in your personal and business life.  In business, you do so by having a trademark.  You can get a trademark for around $300.  Trademarks protect names, symbols, words and logos that distinguish your business from other businesses.  You’ll have to first do your research to make sure that the name isn’t already taken.  I’m in the process of applying for a trademark.  Once I finish the application process,  I will blog about the wait time and response I receive.  There are several sites on-line that offer you trademarks but in my opinion it is safer to go to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  As for Rumpelstiltskin, his empire crumbled with one word from the millers daughter, “Rumpelstiltskin!” I guess he should have had a trademark.

photo credit: sofi01 via photopin cc

Jack and the Giant Scam

medium_5764245237 (1)

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack.  Jack ran a small business with his mother selling milk from their cow.  However, they weren’t reaping enough profits.  They could barely make enough to meet their daily needs.  After a while, the business collapsed because their cash cow dried up.  Jack and his mother decided to cut their losses and sell their business.  On the way to the market, Jack met a man who offered him “the answer to all his problems” in exchange for his cow.  Jack thought it over and decided that magical beans were the way to go.  These beans are what I like to call “myths”.  This is information we hear through the grapevine that has no real backing.  I have heard several times that when you start a small business you can apply for a grant from the Small Business Administration/SBA or other funding organizations to cover the cost.  I did some research over the past few days and discovered that this information is simply incorrect.  The SBA does not offer “free money” for people looking to start a new business.  The grants that are available are for specific groups, activities or organizations.  On the other hand, they do offer guidance on how to start a business. They offer information on writing a business plan and training on how to start a business.  However, there is a tiny ray of hope for those hoping to receive a grant.  If you are dead set on a grant you can look into what your state offers.  You can check with the local economic development agency.  I’ve posted a link below that contains the websites for the local economic development agency in each state.  I’ve also posted a link that lists the different federal grants that are offered in the event you wanted to check for yourself.  To go back to Jack, I can tell you that after several phone calls and online searches I’ve learned that you should be leery of sites offering you access to federal grants for you to start your small business.  Some of these sites even ask you for money in exchange for a list of grants you can use.  Don’t let them scam you.  In the end, Jack made it up the beanstalk only to find a Giant that chased him back to where he started and he frantically tried to cut his ties with his investment (magic beans) by chopping the tree down.

Links:

Federal Grants – http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html

Local Economic Development Agencies http://www.sba.gov/content/economic-development-agencies

photo credit: sofi01 via photopin cc

The Table of Contents

Image

Good Morning! I call this blog entry ” The Table of Contents” because it just lists some of the components you need to start a business.  These are things I’ll be working on and sharing throughout my blog.  I’ll add links to the sites you would need for these items as well.  I hope you find this list of components useful and have a great day! :O)

1) Create Your Business Idea

a)  Decide what type of business best suits you.

b)  Use analysis to determine if your idea will create profit.

c)  Write a business plan.

d)  Research sources for start-up financing.

e)  Develop a marketing plan.

2) Create Your Business Structure

a)  Who owns this business?

b) What kind of business are you in terms of structure?

c)  Would your business benefit from selling stock?

d) What type and level of legal protection do you need?

e)  How will your business be taxed?

f)  Don’t be afraid to go out there and speak to people in each business structure for advice.

3) Develop A Name

a)  Create a name for your business.

b)  Research the availability of that name to include its availability as a domain name online.

c)  Check with your county clerk if you’re creating a local store.

d)  Do a federal and state trademark search if you want to have your business operate regionally or nationally.

e)  Depending on which level you choose you’ll need to register your business name to protect it.

4) Determine Your Business Location

a)  Annotate the type of features your business would need at its location.

b)  Determine what you can afford in rent and then analyze various neighborhoods for rent cost.

c)  Check the zoning restrictions.

5) Permits and Licenses

a)  Obtain a federal employment identification number.

b)  Obtain a sellers permit to sell legally in your state.

c)  Obtain a state license.

d)  Obtain a local tax registration certificate and any local permits.

6) Insurance

a)  Look at the property you will be working from and what it requires in insurance.

b)  Obtain insurance for any vehicles used for your business.

c)   Obtain insurance for the location your costumers/clients will be coming.

d)   Obtain insurance for your product.

7) The Books

a)   Set up an accounting system.

b)  Decide what your fiscal year looks like.

8) Taxes

a)  Learn the tax system for your business.

b)  Learn what deductions you can use.

c)  Look at the IRS’s tax guide for small businesses,  starting a business and their tax calendar for small businesses.

photo credit: creativelenna via photopin cc

(I derived this list from: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/start-own-business-50-things-30077.html.  If you have more to add to this list please share.)