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Five Things to Think About for New Businesses

If you are starting up a new business then often your to do list can just keep on growing. This can mount up to a whole heap of pressure leading to decision making that is forced rather than thought through. But making bad decisions now could potentially affect things for a long time into the future so it is a wise entrepreneur who recognises this, seeks support and slows down on the hasty decisions. But if you’re not sure what you need to make decisions about at this early stage then how can you get started?

Simply read on for five things to sort out to get your budding business up and running.

Business Bank Account

It is vitally important to pick a business account that suits your businesses needs. Some companies only trade online others only in cheques and as such they have totally different banking needs. To be sure that you are getting what your business needs, meet with a few business managers in different branches and compare the packages before making a final decision.

Branding

Creating a clear and easily recognisable brand is key to getting repeat business from existing customers and attracting new ones through your professional and industry appropriate imagery. Consider how your brand will be presented and what any branding or logos will be used for before making final decisions.

Marketing Tools

Bad marketing decisions are the number one reason a business fails, so plan some time in your schedule to consider both digital and traditional methods of marketing before making any crucial decisions. Perhaps even consider seeking professional advice from a marketing strategist if you deem it necessary.

Client Communication

Do you want traditional letterheads designing and printing or is this an additional cost that you simply won’t need as all communication will be done through email and/or social media? It is important to be clear about how you are going to communicate with clients to ensure they aren’t confused by multiple, mis-matched communication channels.

Shipping/Postage Supplier

If you are going to be sending a lot of traditional postal mail it is a good move to hook up with a particular supplier such as TNT Express who can provide all of your business needs. This will mean you develop a relationship with one company and may be in line for future discounts, loyalty cards or special promotions.



 
  


HomeOffice-deduction1

Many smaller companies are run from the home address of one of the business principals. Approximately six million companies in the United Kingdom are home-based. This can be a successful strategy, but other companies are more suited to having a dedicated office. Here we look at the pros and cons of running a business from home.

Reasons to run the business from home 

Time and Cost 

Perhaps the simplest idea of all. If your office is in your home, you don’t waste time getting to and from the office. Obviously if you have office premises, you will need to either buy, or more likely, rent them. The cost of commuting also seems to be increasing rapidly.

Be your own boss to a greater extent

If you rent an office, or operate from premises shared with other companies, you may need to comply with your landlord’s rules. You may have responsibilities, with your fellow tenants, for maintenance of communal areas such as kitchens and meeting rooms that eat into time which could be better spent building your business. Later we will look at how there may still be distractions when working from home, but there are certainly ways you can become sidetracked in an office. Your office might, for example, be on a business park, next to a noisy industrial site, or on a busy road. Even a noisy colleague can end up hampering productivity.

Allocate expenses to the business

Provided your home is your main place of business, you may be able to save money by allocating a portion of your council tax and utility bills as business expenses. 

Flexibility

Access to a home office at any time does have its advantages. Everything you need is accessible, whether there are some files that you urgently want to check or you want to work longer hours such as over the weekend. If your office is in your home that isn’t a problem, even if the urge hits you at 11pm.

Reasons to run the business from an office 

Professionalism

In certain business sectors, it is beneficial to ‘look’ professional. Operating from a recognised office could make this much easier to achieve and give off an impression of credibility.

Seeing clients

If you need to have regular meetings at your company premises with clients, suppliers or anyone else, it can pay to have proper office premises. Potential clients may be much more impressed if they turn up at a smart office complex rather than at your home address. Some may feel uncomfortable about coming to your home, and you may feel uncomfortable about letting them into your living space.

Availability of other facilities and services

In an office complex, a wide range of additional facilities and services may be available. For example, if you need the use of another room, or a meeting room, these are very likely to be available in your office building, and use of these may even be included in your rental payment. If you work from home and something is happening which requires use of a training room or similar, you would have to pay to hire somewhere for the day. A serviced office may also offer all manner of services, from postal and fax services to provision of lunches.

Maintenance

If something goes wrong in your home, you need to either fix it yourself or pay someone to sort it out. In an office, your landlord will probably undertake all necessary repairs as part of your contract, from technical wi-fi problems even down to fitting new lightbulbs.

Family life

It’s easy for a home office to impact on your family life; the temptation to spend a ‘quick’ five minutes checking emails can invariably lead to an hour-long session and cause upset with family members who are losing out on quality time. It’s often far more difficult to ‘switch off’.    

Employees

If you employ anyone, even if it is just one person, running the business from home becomes much more difficult. They may feel uncomfortable about working in your home and likewise, having your personal documents and living arrangements exposed could create awkwardness. For these reasons, many business owners operate from home if they are the only person involved in the company, but then move to an office when they grow sufficiently to take on their first employee.

Distractions at home

Distractions at home can be a major issue. Cold calls can be frequent, and you may feel compelled to answer all of your telephone calls just in case they turn out to be important. You may also find yourself doing household chores or watching daytime TV, almost without thinking, when you should be working. Another problem might be that friends and neighbours who know you are likely to be in all day try and use your home as a place to have their parcels delivered; not appreciating that you might actually be busy!

Other business services

Your company may well make use of other companies to provide services such as web design, printing, IT, marketing or accountancy. If you are in an office complex, you may find that there are a number of companies within the same building whose services you can use in these areas. You can thus establish genuine personal relationships with these companies more easily, and may be able to get hold of them much quicker – for example, if your computer fails, instead of ringing someone to come out and fix  it, you can perhaps just walk down the corridor to find your IT services provider.

Insurance 

Your home insurance policy may not cover business items, so check this out. If necessary you would need to buy additional insurance in order to work from home.

Mortgage restrictions

You may have been granted a mortgage on the basis that your home will only be used for residential purposes, or there may be historic covenants relating to the property prohibiting its use for commercial purposes.

Keith Tully

About Our GE Network Expert - KeithTully

Keith Tully, managing director of Real Business Rescue, understands how quickly a company can go downhill if operating capital is not available. He has been rescuing distressed businesses for the better part of two decades and is happy to see young businesses survive and grow.


business-model

This used to mean, show me a prototype; something that runs, works, or I can touch. I can remember being shown plans of an innovative hovercraft many years ago, and sending the inventor away with, “show me a working model”

Today, this means “show me a business model that works”.

The key to having a business model that works is paying customers, who pay to buy or use your product or service. And these customers need to pay enough so you can make a profit. I’ve been called in to help companies with lots of customers who are losing money! So it’s important to discover up front what your customers are willing to pay for your product or service.

Also, there are business models today where it’s not obvious who the paying customers are, as different from those that actually use the product; think about those who pay for data, based on those that use the product for free!

I can hear you saying…. this is so obvious…… yet proofing your business model before launching your business (or even writing a business plan) is still the number one thing I see “not” being done when I am called into to help a small biz or early stage company.

Before we build that first hovercraft, let’s find out if anyone will even use it; and of those who are interested, how much will they pay to use it? Are we solving a problem, like ‘how do we get to the other side of the river’? Is there a need to cross the river in the first place, and would a hovercraft be good for that, especially in winter? Will this be repeatable….in other words will people want to cross the river often; are we dealing with regular commuters or seasonal tourists? Will we be the entity that owns the craft and runs the business (with multiple users who are the paying customers), or will we just build it and sell or lease the craft to someone who has a transportation business model? You see where this is going already….

The best resource I have found which clearly illustrates “searching for your business model”, is the free Udacity online course “How To Build A Startup” by Steve Blank.

If you only have limited time, I recommend Lesson 1.A. and 1.B. Disclosure: everyone I have suggested watch these lessons has taken the entire course! It’s that good, and it shows the difference between the old way we did things, and how we do them today; searching for the business model before we even create the business plan, and most assuredly before we open for business (put our money or yours on the line).

Investors want to know you have gone through the process of customer development, and created a working business model (admittedly one that might change to meet customers needs). But way before you call in an investor you should consider doing this for yourself, your own small business or startup, or any company you are helping to increase business and become profitable!

Even though the inventor might actually have come back with a working hovercraft as I asked years ago, that still would not have answered the question whether it solved a pain or need, or that customers would actually have paid good money to use it!

This post appeared first on The LinkedIn Publisher (https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140405231743-4012778-show-me-a-working-model?trk=prof-post)

CASUDI

About Our GE Network Expert - CASUDI Caroline Di Diego

Caroline Di Diego is a social media whisperer inspiring brands and communities to find their social voice via new media. Casudi has 25+ years of experience helping grow companies from concept/chaos to fundable and profitable. She is the creator of the successful Entrepreneurs Questions EQlist.


I recently saw a post on the Which Test Won blog that caught my attention. The email announcing the test results had a subject line that read:

How Much Content Does Your Page Need to Convert

The content of the email said this:

Finding the perfect balance of content is hard; sometimes too much content is overwhelming and too little content leaves the prospect confused.

This week we have a radical clean vs. clutter test, where one variation stripped out all of the content except the form. Can you guess which version won?

When you click to the blog, you’re presented with two screenshots (as seen below): version A with copy and version B without.

image-1

image-2

The results from those who guessed which test won were equally split. However, the winner of this particular test was version B: without copy.

Before you run out and delete the copy from all your demo/contact/download pages, you need to understand why this test got the results it did.

According to the Which Test Won (WTW) blog, “The visitors mainly came from internal site pages which had information on the offered software.” That’s a major factor that could completely reverse the test results if this had been a landing page. It was because people did not land on this page when first arriving at the site that allowed them to gather the information they needed prior to asking for a demo. Likewise, because they didn’t need/want to read additional information at this point the added copy on the demo page, under these particular circumstances, wasn’t necessary. But that’s not an end-all/be-all conclusion.

In fact, WTW goes on to state that there was yet another page variation in the test. “The third option (click here to see it) also beat Version A, the control, by 48.57% but it wasn’t a clean test.” As you can see, this page had copy as well as some other elements.

What if we repurposed the winning page of this test as a landing page and sent traffic directly to it as opposed to the home page of this site? Do you think the test results would still ring true? I’d be willing to bet not and here’s why.

With no information to explain what the product is/does there would be no way for prospects to determine whether a demo would be worth their time.  You see, copy doesn’t only sell, it also educates and informs. Without some sort of copy (written, verbal via a video or audio, etc.) visitors have no way of finding out the vital decision-making information they need.

In fact, the folks at WTW agreed, “We’ve seen time and time again that ‘less is more’ on your key conversion pages. That said we thought this page was a little too lean and were a little surprised that the bare-boned version ended up winning. Specifically the page is too reliant on the visitor to understand the product by the time they land on this page. If this were a PPC campaign landing page, it would likely not have had have seen such a dramatic increase.”

They get a thumbs up from me on this test and their conclusions.

My point? Don’t blindly follow test results that others publish. Test every element of your site with your target customers. Even better, ask yourself why others got the results they did before making a decision about your own site.

Need additional help with online marketing? Join my Intentional Marketing Revolution and create a marketing plan for your business designed to increase revenue and accomplish other goals. It’s a FREE 3-part video series. Learn More

Karon Thackston

About Our GE Network Expert - Karon Thackston

Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words (http://marketingwords.com), a full-service copywriting agency specializing in web and search engine copywriting. She has over 25 years combined experience in marketing, advertising, copywriting and SEO copywriting. Karon has a strong understanding of the processes involved with creating successful advertising strategies.


springcleaning-

Spring is here!

Warmer weather, flowers everywhere and a fresh feeling in the air.

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover or any other seasonal festival, the chances are you’ve been doing some cleaning and sorting, organizing and maybe disposing.

I love that it’s the perfect opportunity to think about what we really need; what we don’t have space for and what we can let go of.

It seems to me that this is so important when it comes to running a business.

It’s also what happens in a good coaching session.

I want to explore this on a few levels.  Will you join me?

So let’s take your physical space.

How do you feel when you go into your office and sit down to work?

Is the space comfortable and clutter free?

Do you feel stressed about the filing you need to do or the drawers filled with papers that you haven’t yet sorted?

Does your office become a storage place for toys, bags or junk belonging to other members of the family?  I can really relate to this one!

And let’s consider your mental and emotional space.

Are you living in stories of stress and overwhelm?

Do you have a scarcity mindset – are you worried about having enough income or the rising costs of your business and life?

Do you work too hard and support your clients, family and friends without considering your own needs?

Well, spring is here.

It’s time to clean up your life!

Here are 3 simple ideas – no excuses, do it today!

  1. Take a morning to sort out your physical space. Clean out the drawers, tidy your table and get rid of the items that should not be there. You’ve been avoiding this forever, but it’ll only take a few hours to sort out.
  2. Acknowledge that we are living in an abundant universe. We don’t have to create abundance, we simply have to recognize and open up to what is already there. Once you truly accept this, you’re life and business will change.
  3. Create a practice of daily gratitude, and I mean a practice, not just a thought. One way is to take a moment during your daily family meal to simple say thanks for something great that happened that day. Another is to keep a notebook beside your bed and write down 3 reasons your grateful when you wake in the morning and when you go to sleep at night.

Even if you take me up on one of these simple ideas, it will change your life. I’m not kidding; it will literally change your life!

What will you commit to today? What are you cleaning up in your life? Share it below!

Lisa Bloom

About Our GE Network Expert - Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is a highly professional and accomplished Storyteller, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Training & Development Expert with more than 20 years experience working in public and private sectors, high-tech and financial services environments. Lisa helps entrepreneurs de-stress the marketing, build their business with confidence by finding their success story at http://story-coach.com.



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About GetEntrepreneurial.com

GetEntrepreneurial.com is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of GetEntrepreneurial.com Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.