Tag Archives: Pre-Launch Actions

Overcoming the Fear of Starting a Business

Overcoming the Fear of Starting a Business from The Startup Garage

Overcoming the Fear of Starting a Business

There are thousands of startup articles that offer advice on the methods, processes and mechanics for starting a business. However, the inner, personal workings of starting a business are just as important as your business plan and capitalization strategy. If you are not mentally prepared to start your business, you will be stopped dead in your tracks.

Perhaps one of the largest personal inhibitors to starting a business is the fear of doing just that. There are numerous fears that most entrepreneurs face, including the feat of quitting one’s job, the fear of losing one’s hard-earned savings, the fear of failing, the fear of not being there for one’s family…the list goes on and on.

While these fears are completely natural and can actually help motivate you to be successful, there are a few techniques that you can use to ensure that your fears do not debilitate you.

  • Say yes to your inner voice that’s been elbowing you to start this venture. In fact, write down your reasons for starting your business and remind yourself of these reasons and of your commitment on a continual basis. Believe in yourself and your business.
  • Create a journal or idea board where you constantly write down new goals, ideas, emotions, commitments, etc. This will keep you motivated and excited about your venture.
  • Visualize your success. Determine what success looks like for you, make it tangible and specific: “In 3 years, I will know that I am successful because I am working less than 30 hours a week, taking over $75k/year in salary, attending all of my kids soccer games and going on a date twice a month with my significant other.”
  • Similarly, create affirmation statements and repeat them to yourself. “I am going to sign 3 new deals this month.” Keep a constant list of affirmation statement on hand and read them daily, sometimes multiple times per day.
  • Become concretely aware of your beliefs. Prioritize yourself, your business, your family, your money, etc. Be aware of your beliefs and do not allow yourself to stray too far from what is important to you.
  • Empower yourself with knowledge. The more you know about your business, your finances, your competitors, your customers, various business strategies, etc, the better and more informed you will feel about the decisions you make.
  • Take baby steps. Start your business part-time while maintaining your full-time job. This will allow you to determine if entrepreneurship is right for you and if your business is truly a good idea while mitigating the risk of failure.
  • Be realistic with your expectations. If your expectations are too low, then you likely are not suffering from the debilitation of fear. On the contrary, if your expectations are too high, than your fear of not meeting them is likely valid. Be sure to align your expectations with your resources, be that time, money, support, knowledge, relationships, etc.
  • Continually build your non-financial capital. Your business relationships and advisors as well as your personal support systems can often be the most effective way of getting through the tough times that you will certainly face.
  • On a practical note, be sure to continually shake up your routine so that you do not fall in a rut. Refuse to make excuses, accomplish unfinished tasks and check them off your list.
  • Lastly, accept your fear and face it head on. Know that it is better to have tried and failed than to live with regret of what you could have done. The latter will be far more disappointing.
     

    Whether you have a question about starting a business or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

11 Steps to Building Your Startup Business

11 Steps to Building Your Startup Business from The Startup Garage

11 Steps to Building Your Startup Business

Step 1: Determine what kind of business you should start:

– A part-time business, a unique business idea (i.e. a complete new product or service that you can obtain idea protection for), a franchise, purchase an existing business, or buy a license to sell an existing product or service.

Step 2: Write a business plan

Research your industry, market and competitors

– Create a sales and marketing plan

– Create a financial model and financial plan

Step 3: Get business assistance and training

– First and foremost, find an attorney who specializes in small businesses.

Step 4: Choose a business location

– Determine what kind of physical location and equipment is needed for your business (be sure to consider zoning, tax laws, noise factors, client/visitor accessibility, technological needs, ergonomically correct work spaces, safety and security, etc.)

Step 5: Finance your business and get the financial aspects of your business squared away

– After writing your business plan, you should have a better idea of how much money you will need to start the business and to float the business until you turn a profit. You should also consider how much money you personally will need to survive until you can begin taking money out of the profit. Through these assessments, you will have a better idea of whether you will need startup funding to launch your business or not.

– Get a business bank account

– Buy business accounting software

– Hire an accountant

Step 6: Determine the legal structure of your business

Decide which business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited
liability partnership, limited liability company) you (and your investors) desire for your business.

Step 7: Register a business name (“Doing Business As”)

– First and foremost, make sure your business name is easily understood and pronounced. (Try a simple spelling test with your family and friends).

– Make sure that the name is available and not currently in use.

– Register your trademark and file your DBA.

Step 8: Get a Tax Identification Number

– Determine which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS.

– Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

Step 9: Obtain business licenses and permits

– Obtain local, state and federal business permits. Determine if you need any professional licensing from your state. Inquire about any other permits you may need such as fire inspection or sign permitting. Lastly, determine the proper amount of sales tax you need to collect and obtain a seller’s permit.

Step 10: Understand employer responsibilities

– If you plan to hire employees, obtain an employer ID from the IRS and any forms you and your employees need to fill out.

Step 11: Marketing

– Create a logo and print identity for your marketing materials.

– Bolster your business plans marketing plan.

– Build your website.

– Join networking organizations.

Take a look at our Sample Business Plans and Products.

 

Whether you have a question about Starting Your Business or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Build an All-Star Startup Team

Build An All-Star Startup-Team from The Startup Garage

Build an All-Star Startup Team

You have a great new business idea. As it forms into a plan, decisions will be made around how to support business functions necessary to succeed and if you should plan to assemble a team.

Create a clear outline of how the company will develop as an organization. Understand your goals and format them to support a strong mission and vision. What skill sets and abilities are necessary for your business to succeed? Of these, which will you not be able to fulfill? Gain a clear understanding of yourself, your competencies and shortcomings. As resources will most likely be initially limited, understanding which functions and abilities are the most critical will allow you to target and bring on a team member that will bring the most value to the business.

Once you have defined the position, it is time to look for the best candidate. At the startup level, traits including inventiveness, ambition, and autonomy should be heavily weighted. Look for people with experience in relevant fields, interest in startups, and an ability to perform across functions of the business. The ideal candidate will be driven to achieve the goals you have set and share passion for the success of the company.

Networking and becoming involved in the community – online or offline – are good places to start when looking for the right people to create your team. Your own social network is a valuable tool. Communicating an enthusiasm for your new business will often attract people with entrepreneurial drive.

It is important to build a team with personalities that complement each other. However, your first few additions should have skills different from your own with backgrounds crossing business functions. Your goal is to create a solid foundation for your business to grow.

 

Whether you have a question about Building a Startup Team, or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

4 Marketing Strategies for A Successful Launch

Marketing Strategies for Successful Launch from The Startup Garage

4 Marketing Strategies for A Successful Launch

Many entrepreneurs pay major attention to their pre-launch stage and dont have solid plans for promoting the launch of their business. Launching a business is a quick process. But the impact of the launch can last. Therefore, entrepreneurs need to have solid marketing plans for a successful launch. The following 5 marketing strategies will create some buzz about your launch and even be a quick source of new customers.

Tap Your Network. You want to make an announcement that you are launching a business. And the most cost-effective way to convey your messages is through your social network. Your email contact list, facebook friends, and twitter followers are your free media sources. They are very powerful because they alone receive your messages and know you are launching a business, but their friends know also, if they forward your messages. Also, these people likely want to help you succeed.

Have A Launch Party or Event. A launch party or event can draw potential new customers and increase public exposure for your businesss brand name. At the party or event, you may provide attendants with food and entertainment – creating a relaxed environment where you can introduce your product/service and create buzz. You can also take pictures of your launch party and post them on social media sites to get more attention.

Alert the Press about Your Launch. Traditional press is still a very strong channel to send out information and this method is taught in online marketing degree programs all the time. You can make a public appearanceto a very large group of people through the press, and attract new customers. Besides paper press, you can also choose electronic press releases. Any media coverage about your launch can be advantageous.

Have a Giveaway or Introductory Offer. One of the best ways to let your customers know about your product/service is to give them an extra incentive to use it. Thus, a good giveaway trial or introductory offer will give your potential customers positive experience. If they like your product, they will continue using the product/service and tell others about your business.

A successful launch can have a positive effect on a business because it can quickly bring in enough customers, which generates cash flow right away. These launching marketing strategies enable you to maximize your business exposure to the right persons, and set up an initial customer base that has large growth potential. After your initial launch, dont forget to keep the buzz going with the marketing strategy you created in your business plan.

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*scienceblogs.com

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Choosing Investors Carefully

Selecting Investors Capital Raising from The Startup Garage

Choosing Investors Carefully

So often in the business of writing business plans we meet first time entrepreneurs that believe that getting their hands on some startup capital from an investor is all they need. In many cases, novice entrepreneurs have solely that short goal in mind launching and finally starting to turn the wheels. However, it is important to realize that investment money comes with some responsibilities. So, here are a few pieces of advice on why not to accept outside funding without careful deliberation on issues that come hand in hand with the much needed capital. After all, picking an investor for your business might turn out to be more permanent than marriage. Therefore, understanding of the matter is essential.

Bootstrapping VS Accepting Debt Investment Capital If your business bootstrapped to get started, there is a chance that you will make a profit for yourself closing on your first sale. On the opposite side, when you have accepted a loan to get started in the moment you make that first dollar, at least some of it will go towards your debt and you are still a long way from making money for yourself.

Investment Capital Comes at a Cost and it is not necessarily only the cost that you are expected to pay back in dollar amount. Often investors believe that they have the right to guide and advice your business as a way to manage their money. They might have their own idea of how to improve on the business, who should be in the managing team, and what business direction to take. If your angel investor knows nothing about your personal values, the building blocks of your own business, the daily choices and goals that are unique to you and your business it is likely that he/she will not be well equipped to take important decisions concerning the future of your business. The outside guidance might turn out to be more of conventional wisdom of an observer, could have no real connection to the realities of your business and could turn out to be destructive in the long run. If you believe in your vision and you want to execute it unaltered you might prefer not to rely on outside investment.

Investors as Your Business Coaches Most investors actually have experience in the industry that they invest in. As a first time entrepreneur most likely you dont. Your investor might in fact be a useful business coach that could guide you steadily around the pitfalls and could lead you toward the milestones. As they say Good judgment comes from experience but experience comes from bad judgment. So, it might be beneficial for you to consider learning from your investor.

In conclusion, neither the bootstrapping nor the raising capital strategy is fundamentally wrong or right. They both have pros and cons. Considering and weighing in on those can make all the difference for the future development of your business.

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*stocksonwallstreet.net

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Benchmarking for Startups

Entrepreneurship Benchmarks from The Startup Garage

Benchmarking for Startups

In the business world there are a million different ways to measure success. In essence, what makes your business a success depends on your goals. So how do you measure your success? Its actually much simpler than you may think, using a process called benchmarking. Benchmarking is the process of comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. In fact, you should first be introduced to benchmarking in the earliest stages of your business, the business plan writing process, and more specifically the competitive analysis section of your plan. It is incredible how much you can learn from studying and analyzing your competitors, and a significant amount of research should be dedicated to doing just that.

In order to complete the competitive analysis section of your business plan you will need to gather as much information about your competitors as possible. The more information you are able to gather, the better the conclusions you will be able to draw from your research. The tricky part of benchmarking is deciding which factors actually apply to your specific market and your specific point in time. You will want to analyze not only the similarities between yourself and the competitors but your fundamental differences as well. This is a great opportunity for you to analyze your strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition. If you do this honestly and accurately, you will give yourself a better chance to improve.

Benchmarking is an effective tool to measure success if your business is already operating. Your goals should be clearly laid out in your business plan, and you should have a clear set of key metrics that you use to gauge success. Compare your list of key metrics such as gross revenue, net profits, profit margins, revenue growth, accounts receivable time, market share, liquidity, and turnover ratios to other industry participants and see how you are doing. This will give you a good idea of where you stand as compared to the industry average, and let you know where you need to improve as well as where you are already excelling.

Many business owners and people writing business plans do not thoroughly execute a benchmarking study because they think that they do not have access to their competitors numbers. This is probably because they havent looked for this data. Here are a few ways to track down some of the data that will be beneficial for benchmarking.

  1. Ask other business owners- Form alliances with similar businesses to yours, but located in other cities, so that you don’t compete directly. If you can agree to share financials with one another then you have a legitimate source for really good information.
  2. Ask an industry association- Industry groups often conduct polls of their membership in which business owners anonymously disclose information about their financials. While these won’t tell you how individual competitors are faring, industry statistics often give you good general comparison figures on how a typical business in your industry is doing.
  3. Buy or find market research- If you’re willing to spend, there is market research available on almost every industry segment.

Benchmarking is a very important process when comparing yourself to the rest of your industry. Do as much research as you can and dig as deeply as possible in order to find out the most information that you can about your competitors. Often times the answers to your problems are out there, you just have to spend the time and energy to find them.

 

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Workspace Design as it Relates to Employee Productivity

Workspace Design as it Relates to Employee Productivity from the Startup Garage

Workspace Design as it Relates to Employee Productivity

When starting a small business in todays incredibly complex business world, there are numerous factors that give firms an improved chance of success. One such factor is Employee Productivity. Leaders in the business community have known for years that if your employees are more productive, then generally speaking, your business is more successful. One way to have a positive effect on employee productivity is to design your workspace to promote and nurture creativity and productivity.

If there is one thing in the workplace that can cause a significant decrease in employee productivity, it isstress. U.S. industries lose nearly $300 billion a year, or $7,500 per worker, in employee absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, and direct medical, legal, and insurance fees related to workplace stress, according to the American Institute of Stress* . Todays employees are suffering from the increasing complexity of the workplace, rapidly changing work environments, increased information and responsibility load, increases in intrusions on employee privacy, and the pressure to be productive, which is especially stressful considering the global competition that reduces job security.

Although there are many ways in which employees are subjected to stress, there are also many things that one can do to mitigate the stresses caused directly by the workplace. Good workplace design can make a big difference in staff satisfaction, attraction, motivation, and retention. It can also affect the level of knowledge and skills of workers, how innovative and creative they are, and how they respond to business and technological change. Poor workplace design, by contrast, is linked to lower business performance and higher level of stress experienced by employees*.

An effective work environment should provide positive sensory stimulation through the proper use of color, lighting, aroma, space, and furnishings. These elements can be critical to effective work activities and workplaces, and they generally lead to increased productivity of employees. Some ways to increase your employee productivity through workspace design are:

  1. Use higher quality lighting
  2. Position fixtures to avoid glare and reflection
  3. Integrate higher levels of daylight
  4. Increase individual control of the workplace in matters of heating and cooling
  5. Improve acoustics
  6. Improved air quality
  7. Integrate views of nature.

If you are a startup company with just a small space or just a few employees, just consider these elements where applicable. If you start thinking about how to design your workspace from the beginning then you will only have to update it as time goes on, not completely overhaul you current system. There is no evidence suggesting that these elements alone will make your business grow, however they will increase your ability to get the most out of your workforce, which should be at the top of any managers list.

*http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar06/employees.aspx

*http://www.management-issues.com/2006/8/24/research/poor-workplacedesign-damages-productivity.asp

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*BiNA Office Furniture

 

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Business Partnerships: Good, Bad, or Both?

Partnership: Good, Bad, or Both? from the Startup Garage

Business Partnerships: Good, Bad, or Both?

Partnerships are commonplace in business, however many people do not have a complete understanding of what a partnership truly is, how it should function, and what to expect once they have entered into one. In the most frequent instance, a partnership is formed between one or more businesses or partners (owners) that will work together to achieve success, to share profits or losses. Partnerships have widely varying results and can present partners with special challenges. Levels of give-and-take, areas of responsibility, lines of authority, and overarching goals of the partnership must all be negotiated.

Partnerships can be very beneficial to startups and existing companies alike. In general, a partnership is formed between two or more people (or companies) that have differing skill sets. For example, someone who is very technically inclined will partner with someone who has strengths in management. This provides the opportunity for each partner to focus on the area of the business that they are most knowledgeable, which will let the business grow faster and more efficiently. That being said, there is a lot that can be gained from a business partnership, however it is extremely important to understand how the partnership will work prior to committing to the partnership.

One of the most overlooked facets of entering into a partnership is the exit strategy. Most people are so excited to start their venture that they forget to plan for the future, or what will happen when individual goals and visions change over time. Most partnerships will not last forever, and this should be taken into consideration ahead of time. This is particularly true in a lifestyle business. Each partner has his/her own ideas about what they ultimately want to get out of the business. This can refer to anything from the amount of hours each person is willing to put into the business in the future, or what the target returns should be, regardless of how much time and resources are poured into the business. In time, people change, and with this change comes shifts in ideals and lifestyles. What will you do if your partner wants to raise new capital and grow the business but you are happy where it currently is and do not want to invest anymore capital into the venture? These are all things to think about before entering into a partnership, as you will be prepared to go different directions, or make a compromise to continue the partnership.

Partnerships have always been, and will continue to be beneficial to many companies. It is very important to know that in all likelihood, the partnership will not last forever. As long as the partnership is well thought out and planned out thoroughly from the very beginning, then nobody will be caught off guard when it is time to go in different directions.

 

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Your Personal Foundation Is Your Backbone (Part 1)

Your Personal Foundation is Your Backbone from the Startup Garage

Your Personal Foundation Is Your Backbone (Part 1)

Starting a business requires one to compose a variety of different elements, and combine them all into a business plan, and then execute the plan according to the strategy laid out in the plan. At the very core of all of this information is YOU, the business owner. An often overlooked part of starting a business is properly setting up your Personal Foundation. After all, your business will be an extension of you, so taking a look in the mirror and deciding exactly what you want from your business is a great idea.

The Personal Foundation is for you to learn more about yourself, your goals and what you want out of your company. This is a place for you to be honest and realize if your goals, strengths, resources, and desired lifestyle all fit together. In order to do this effectively, give yourself at least a solid one hour time slot in which you are completely free from distraction and have the ability to get introspective. During this time you will ask yourself a series of questions that will outline your personal foundation. We will go into these questions in part 2 of this blog.

After you have answered the questions and completed that part of the exercise, you need to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as come up with a commitment statement that you write to yourself that outlines what you want out of your business in relation to what you are willing to put in.

Once you have completed this you will be able to accurately identify whether or not your business idea aligns with your goals both personally and professionally. If they clearly do not align, then you do not need to waste any more time on that idea. If they do align, then you have just given yourself the green light to get your entrepreneurial gloves on and get to work. Great success!
For Part 2 of this blog post, click here.

 

Whether you have a question about your personal foundation or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Building the Support Team

Building the Support Team from the Startup Garage

Building the Support Team

Although it is your idea, your intellectual property, and your business plan, success is not achieved alone. Even the greatest entrepreneurs in history had help, and they needed it to get to the top, trust me. The quality of the people involved in your business also determines the success of your business. Many ventures ultimately fail because the proper talent has not been assembled. Individuals with strong technical backgrounds might ignore the importance of including management team people with the appropriate business background, and vice versa.

Outside of your management team (CEO, CFO, COO), which handles business operations on a daily basis, every business needs a support team. There are three main elements that will comprise your support team. These elements are a Board of Advisors, the Board of Directors, and Professional Service Providers. We will go into who makes up each group and what to look for when assembling your support team.

Board of Advisors

A board of advisors is normally a group of well trusted, respected and knowledgeable individuals. They may or may not be stake-holders in the business. A board of advisors usually includes an accountant, a legal representative, a retired professional or any other individual whose input is considered valuable and relevant to your industry.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors plays a significant role in a business. They are typically responsible for determining the overall direction and goals of an organization. Their job is to focus on long term planning and strategy rather than tactical operations and day-to-day management control. Depending on the size of the proposed business, the Board of Directors may consist of a single individual or an entire group of stakeholders.

Professional Service Providers

Few business owners hold all of the skills and abilities needed to run a successful operation. For that reason, a solid collection of pre-selected, outside consultants will reassure potential investors of a proposed business ability to achieve its goals. Examples of these include but are not limited to a law firm, from which you will seek all of your legal advice, as well as an accounting firm that will make sure your books are properly kept and up to date.

One of the most important parts of the business plan, and certainly the most important part of the personnel plan and organization section, is a presentation of the backgrounds of those individuals expected to play key roles in the initiation and operation of the venture. This will go a long way in establishing credibility in the eyes of investors.
Assembling a good team of experienced individuals is paramount to the success of your business, so choose your team wisely. If you can put together the right mix then you will greatly improve your chances for success.

Whether you have a question about building your team or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!