Author Archives: Dean Burgess

About Dean Burgess

Dean is fascinated by business-minded people, especially entrepreneurs. He loves to learn about the start of their business journey and where they hope to end up.

What You Can Do to Give Your Startup Solid Foundations

Owning a successful business is a goal that many people have. Yet, a lot goes into being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to think about the end product, but the process of making the transition from dream to reality takes a lot of planning and preparation.

Maintain Contingencies
Starting a business consists of many challenges and rewards. One worry is money and how to go about staying afloat in the beginning. Depending on the type of startup you pursue, you may be able to launch a venture with little cash. However, to truly grow a business, you need to give your enterprise all that it needs. For example, if you decide to work from home, you still need to pay utility bills and potentially upgrade office equipment to give your business impetus. Having a cash buffer is prudent, not only to support yourself financially but to ensure you can be adaptable to future emergencies. Do you intend to work a day job initially? You can build up cash flow to put into your business through freelancing. There are plenty of options available, from graphic design to tutoring. Rates will vary, but it offers important flexibility to let you focus on developing your business plans while accruing essential capital.

Adapt Your Home
One of the best ways to cut startup costs is using your home in lieu of renting an office. Setting up a home workspace still requires structure to create a productive work environment. Give yourself a daily schedule, with specific times just as you would at a conventional office, and make sure that your family knows you are off limits during work hours. Distractions may happen regardless, so look for a room with its own door to better separate work and personal spaces.

Once you have a structure in place, your next step should be to assess what additional equipment you need. A decent computer will be essential, along with a fast internet connection. But you should also think about what might aid your productivity. For example, a standing desk as a refreshing alternative to sitting throughout the day. Of course, when you do need to sit, purchase an ergonomic chair to give another boost to a constructive day at the home office.

Build Your Vision
Knowing exactly what you want from a business, in the form of a long-term plan, doesn’t just imbue stability — it also gives you a footing that allows you to better budget your business. Overextending financial capacity is something that can quickly leave a business unviable. Flesh out a budget that keeps expenses under control by detailing incomings and outgoings. Identify where efficiencies might be made or shifted toward goal fulfillment. Your plan needs to be realistic, one that takes into account potential hurdles during the first couple of years. Give your plan a vision that defines the scope of your goals and ambitions. Perhaps you want a certain number of clients by a given date. By embracing attainable objectives, you can give yourself the momentum to keep moving toward success.

Identify Your Market
Finding your niche is another crucial aspect of giving your business strong foundations. It’s tempting to do everything, but finding a specific niche can provide your startup with a tantalizing advantage and keep things focused. Support your efforts with plentiful research. There may well be a gap in the market that your skills and know-how could fill. Determine who you want your customer base to be and how you intend to reach them. Use social media to assist with this, as feedback can be an excellent gauge in assessing your idea’s place in the market. Further your efforts by networking to build connections with fellow entrepreneurs, and potentially attract investors. Even if attending events and seminars does not yield financial backing, you may well acquire valuable insights that you can apply to your venture.

Give your efforts a solid footing. Ensure you have a steady flow of cash to support yourself, know what you want your enterprise to be, and consider turning your home into a business hub. There may be bumps along the road, but you can drive your venture to success.

Image Courtesy of Pexels

Vision and Self-Discipline: How to Start a Home-Based Business

It’s the dream of countless people who sit in a cubicle or office every day wondering what it would be like not to worry about getting to the office by 8 am and not having to feign enthusiasm during company meetings. According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, plenty of Americans have decided to find out for themselves what it’s like; today, home-based businesses account for 50 percent of all companies in the United States.

Some find out the hard way that it’s a serious personal challenge requiring lots of hard work and determination, as opposed to a way to sleep in late every day. What’s more, it’s not for everyone. A home-based business requires tremendous self-discipline and concentration. Consider the following points and whether this sounds like something you’d like to pursue.

Getting Off the Ground

Maintain your perspective if you’re determined to give it a try. Would-be home-business owners often get too caught up in the trappings of owning a business and focus solely on coming up with a clever name, a jazzy URL, fancy logo, business cards, and so on. Always bear in mind that drive, passion, and a strong work ethic are what see you through.

Others focus on a business niche they have little experience in because it sounds cool.

As you consider where to focus your efforts, keep a firm grip on common sense. If your background is in accounting, quitting your eight-to-five gig and becoming a public relations professional probably isn’t going to be your best bet. Instead, concentrate on your personal competencies, as well as strengths you can leverage and build on.

You’ll also need to determine what business niche makes the most sense for you. This is a decision that requires plenty of homework so you know what potential customers are looking for and what makes other businesses in this niche successful. Bear in mind that in the beginning, most of your customers will probably be people you’ve known, worked with and represented in the past, individuals who know what you can do. This is especially important if your intention is to become a consultant, so focus in an area with which you’re very familiar.

Your Target Market

Determining your target market will confirm whether there’s demand for what you’re offering and help you fine-tune a business model. Figure out who’s most likely to want/need your service or product and begin narrowing it down from there and determine your demographics (i.e. age range, income level, gender, etc.). Once you’ve worked out a target market, you can focus your marketing efforts and figure out what differentiates you from the competition.

Start Planning

A well-conceived business plan will help you secure the funding needed to start your business. It should address operational and financial matters as well as plans for outreach and growing your business. When you have these aspects hammered out, a professional, easy-to-navigate, informative, and responsive website should be the next order of business. However, unless you’re very computer savvy or have design experience, seek a professional web designer who can put together an attention-grabbing site that makes an indelible impression on prospective customers. This is your digital storefront, primary marketing tool and a chronicle of your business, so it needs to be very well thought out and beautifully executed.

Being Productive

Working at home takes some getting used to. Focus and discipline are important, so set up a home office that’s free of distractions. Keep TV screens, gaming consoles, and wall clocks out of view, and establish specific work hours each day.

Persistence can carry you a long way as a home-based business owner. It can take a little time to get any business off the ground, so don’t get discouraged in the early stages. Stick to your game plan and believe in your idea. And if you begin to lose motivation, think back to that cubicle, office politics, and the eight-to-five grind. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Five Steps to Turn Your Great Idea Into a Profitable Business

Image via Unsplash

Is entrepreneurship calling your name? Starting your own business is a rewarding way to earn a living, but it’s not as simple as hitting the market with a great idea. If you have a brilliant idea you want to turn into a profitable business, take these five steps before you launch.

Know Yourself

A business may be a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you. Explore your interests to discover the type of business you’d like to run. Then, explore your strengths to decide how you’d like to run it.

For first-time entrepreneurs looking to save on overhead, gig economy businesses are a good choice because you don’t need a brick-and-mortar presence. For example, a dog walker can set their own prices and schedule and be selective about the animals they work with. That said, it still takes great organizational skills to operate an on-the-go business.

Complete Market Research

You have a great idea, but who is going to buy it? If your problem doesn’t meet an identifiable need, you’ll have a hard time finding paying customers. This is where market research comes in. Market research shows you what unmet need exists in your target market, how you can meet it, and how much people are willing to pay. For a step-by-step guide to completing your own market research, read the guide from Envato Tuts+.

Write a Business Plan

The business plan is where you synthesize everything you’ve learned about your business idea and market into an actionable plan. The business plan details:

  • What you’ll sell (description of products or services).
  • How you’ll produce it (funding, suppliers, manufacturing, and staffing).
  • How you’ll sell it (pricing, sales strategy, and marketing plan).

A business plan should also outline your mission, values, business structure, and financial projections, among other components. Basically, anything you need to know to run your business should go in the business plan.

Craft a Brand

This is the fun stuff — picking a name, designing a logo, and choosing a color scheme for your brand. However, it’s serious business too. Your brand has a huge influence on how customers perceive your business. Your brand’s image and voice should be consistent across all platforms, including website copy, social media messaging, images, and in-person communication. Learn more about developing your brand at HubSpot.

Register Your Business

Before you launch your business, there are a few legal steps to attend to:

  • Choose a business structure and register your business with the state.
  • Apply for sales tax permits.
  • Apply for a federal tax ID number.
  • Apply for licenses and permits if your industry requires them.
  • Apply for a zoning variance for home-based businesses.

In addition to these legally required steps, knock these administrative tasks off your list before starting up:

  • Purchase a domain name and create a website.
  • Create social media profiles and content calendars.
  • Establish record-keeping systems.
  • Order business cards.

Once you’ve finished all these steps, you’re ready to launch your business! As you operate your first small business, remember to stay disciplined so you don’t fall behind and take time for self-care so you don’t burn out. There’s a lot to do when running a business, but with focus and dedication, you can get the job done.

Sharing for Dollars: The “Sharing Economy” Business Model

Perhaps one of the most important lessons you learned in kindergarten was to share. And now, that life lesson takes on even more meaning if you’re an aspiring business owner. The sharing economy has made it possible to leap in the world of entrepreneurship using assets you may already possess.

What is a sharing economy?
There is no specific definition that accurately illustrates what, exactly, a sharing economy is. As Money Crashers points out, it’s been called many things including a peer economy, collaborative economy and gig economy. Whatever moniker you choose, a sharing economy is simply one that allows members to lend their assets to others for a predetermined sum.

Investopedia explains that the sharing economy has quickly evolved and is now an all-inclusive term that refers to any sort of online transaction initiated and completed by two individuals, or in some cases, two businesses, outside of a traditional goods and services relationship. A few examples of shared economy businesses include Uber, VRBO and ThreadUp. Freelancing platforms including UpWork and Fiverr operate as networks for people to come together and share their talents and skills. These connections are vital in a sharing economy.

Pros and cons
There are multiple pros and cons to this new type of economy. For one, freelance work allows an individual the opportunities and freedoms to work on their own terms. They can charge what they want for their services. It’s an attractive situation for people who like to travel and those with children still at home. On the downside, work is never guaranteed and there is always someone else with a bigger, brighter room for rent, vehicle to ride in, or more stylish outfit up for grabs.

Getting started
It’s not just enough to simply want to make money. If you want to be successful, you must be willing to take risks and adapt to your environment without notice. There are certain personality traits you can look for, including tenacity and problem-solving abilities that can give you a better idea of whether or not you’re suited for self-employment. Being an entrepreneur requires self-discipline and the ability to get up when you get knocked down. Always be prepared for success and failure. You’ll need to be a skilled multi-tasker and have the ability to understand the fundamentals of running your own business.

Once you have decided that you’re ready, you’ll need to decide what service you will provide and how much to charge. When determining your rates, keep in mind that you will be responsible for approximately 15 percent in employment taxes paid directly to the IRS. As an employee, your boss paid this; as an entrepreneur, you arethe boss. Start slowly and avoid the temptation to take on more than you can chew. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to deliver your best to your first few clients. They won’t come back, and it may be more difficult to convince others that you’ve gotten your act together. When it’s time to grow your business, hold onto this mindset and go at a steady pace. Remember, you are a one-man (or woman) show and you can only stretch so far without flexing your abilities first.

Sharing economy gigs
There are no rules when it comes to what products or services you can sell. But a few ideas to get you started include:

  • Rent a spare room in your home
  • Rent your vehicle when not in use
  • Sell space on your car windows for companies to advertise
  • Rent your boat
  • Delivery groceries
  • Use your muscles to help people move
  • Walk dogs
  • Post social media updates for other small business
  • Utilize Skype to teach music

With nearly 50 percent of all Americans now working as freelancers or contractors, the sharing economy is only going to grow. If you’re not satisfied as an employee, there has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur.

Image via Pixabay