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.

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How to Personalize the Customer Experience [Infographic]

From our friends at Valpak…

Customers. They are one of, if not the most, important factors for any business’ success. As a business owner, you should be on the pulse of ways to improve your customer experience. A positive customer experience will turn a happy customer into a loyal brand ambassador who will be happy to leave a positive review or refer your company to friends and family. This, in turn, helps to grow your customer base and improve your overall success.

Building a consistent and positive customer experience doesn’t come without time and effort, however. One way to do so is through personalization. Customers seek a personalized and custom experience that is tailored to their pain points or interests. For seven ways to personalize your business and improve the customer experience, check out the infographic by Valpak below. It includes specific tips and examples of each method from the big guys, like Nike or Costco.

ways-to-personalize-your-business

Scents for Productivity

From our friends at FragranceX…

When thinking about productivity hacks, scent is not something that automatically comes to mind. However, it can actually be an effective concentration and memory booster. In fact, there are all sorts of benefits of having strategic aromatherapy in the workplace.

For example, the tangy scent of lemon has been shown to improve cognitive function. One study even found that participants made 54 percent fewer typing errors when in a room scented with lemon.

Another surprising example is lavender. It is known to have a sedative effect, but studies have shown that those who administer the scent of lavender during rest time have greater concentration and output after the rest. This is because it helps recharge the brain.

To explore the subject further, FragranceX lists the scents most proven to help increase productivity. All you need to do is identify your need and enjoy an accessible, natural solution!

The Anatomy of the Perfect Small Business Instagram Profile (Infographic)

With the number of social media users around the world approaching 3 billion, it’s now more important than ever to execute a solid social media strategy as a small business. If you want to stand out against your competitors and make noise in your space, digitally connecting with your customers is no longer an option — it’s a necessity.

Each social media platform offers unique benefits, but which one will tell your business’s story best? When it comes to brand-building, Instagram may seem like the obvious choice — just make sure you’re going deeper than posting beautiful content if you want to see meaningful results and significant ROI.

Fundera created this infographic to break the process down into actionable steps from creating the perfect bio and sharing the right mix of content to perfecting your engagement strategy.

The Anatomy of the Perfect Small Business Instagram Profile

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. 

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