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3 Ways to Become an Industry Leader

Building a brand is best achieved by developing a good reputation in the your community for being an expert within your industry niche. It’s important to keep in mind that becoming a leader within an industry takes time and determination. To establish your brand as a leader in the public eye, you need to be consistent when promoting your brand image. Here are three tips you can use when seeking to build your brand as an industry leader:     Host Workshops   When a company takes on the challenge of hosting a workshop, it shows that their brand has expert knowledge on the subject that it can share with the community. When planning your workshop, be sure to brainstorm ways in which your brand’s image can be used to share your knowledge or products. Once you have that figured out, be sure to invite other industry leaders and media to ensure that your workshop increases gains public awareness.     Be active on Social Media   One of the best ways to build a brand image these days is through social media. By creating a brand profile, you can send up regular updates re: your brand’s activity and achievements to a wide audience with ease. When promoting your brand image on social media, be sure that every post represents your brand, is targeted to your desired audience, and (most importantly) include relevant information.     Participate in Speaking Engagements   Becoming an industry leader will require getting in front of the public and sharing what makes your brand unique. This is often done at public events (workshops) and...

3 Tips on Managing Conflict in the Workplace

It’s very common that smaller organizations and family enterprises aren’t prepared to handle conflict in the workplace when it arises – and it inevitably does. It takes policies, as well as genuine conflict resolution to get people back on track. Here are 3 tips that will help you in managing workplace conflict:   Consider the viewpoint of all parties involved The las thing people want to be told is that they’re wrong. In fact, it can do more harm than good. When someone is made to be wrong, if often brings dialogue to a standstill, which does nothing to resolve the conflict. That’s why it’s extremely important to always consider each involved party’s point of view when managing conflict in the workplace.   Get to the root of the issue Sometimes an instance of conflict is a manifestation of a larger issue. Always be sure that you’re getting to the root of the issue and that you’re properly identifying the source of conflict. You’ll have a much better chance at effectively solving the issue, rather than potentially creating another one.   Provide regular feedback meetings   You should consider implementing weekly sessions for the sole purpose of sitting down and looking at what is working and what isn’t. This will allow you to address any issues when they’re small before they escalate into a bigger...

3 Management Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

Entrepreneurship appeals to a lot of people because it allows them to be their own boss. You make all the business decisions, from business strategy to the management of your team. On paper, its extremely appealing. In practice, managing a business is far more challenging than most aspiring entrepreneurs realize. Here are three common management mistakes entrepreneurs often make.   Creating an imbalanced culture   When a lot of entrepreneurs start out, they’re often tempted to create this amazing, stress-free work culture; they may even create a work environment with no set hours, or they may even make sure every person they hire becomes friends with everyone else. These approaches to work culture are effective in improving job satisfaction, but only if they’re balanced with profession expectations and structured rules. Remember, balance is the key.   Not letting people do what they do best   You hire team members because you trust that they can carry out the work they know how to do best, whether that’s writing code, or managing your books. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you’re going to need to learn to let people do things their own way. This means you can’t step in and do their work for them, or big them down work unrelated work.   Hiring too quickly   A large business with a lot of employees can afford to make bad hiring decisions, but initial startups with a small team can’t afford the same luxury. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get excited about moving fast, but you can’t rush your hiring. Take your time, hire professional and...

3 Tips For Pitching Your Business

If you’re looking to find someone to invest a large sum of money into a business of yours that’s still pre-revenue, you’re going to need to know how to effectively sell that idea to potential investors. Here are three tips to remember when trying to pitch your business to prospective investors. Keep it short and sweet An elevator pitch is vital. Lengthy presentations and long-winded explanations aren’t going to impress investors. They’ll most likely turn them off from your business. You need to present your business in a way that’s short, sweet, and to the point. Investors need to know that your business will attract customers. If they can’t grasp your concept in a short amount of time, they’re going to assume that customers won’t either. Be realistic You need to excite investors about your big picture, while still keeping things reasonable. Avoid nonsensical financial projections that claim your company’s revenues will grow from $100,000 to $30 million in two years. You need to show investors that you have a grasp on reality with a best case, moderate case, and worst case financial projections. These should be based on fact, past/present performance data, industry analysis, etc. Don’t be the smartest person in the room It’s okay not to know everything, but you need to know what you don’t know and find the people who know what you don’t know. Essentially you’re looking to build a team of experts, and surround yourself with smarter people than yourself. Investors are looking to fund a management team as much as they’re investing in a great business...

3 Tips for Successfully Financing your Small Business

The proper financing for small businesses can often be very difficult to find, due to the fact that small and medium sized businesses have one of the lowest loan approval rates. The reason for this is that these businesses typically have less of a performance history and limited resources to grow, which makes them a riskier venture for lenders. We’ve put together a list of five tips for help you obtain financing for your small business:   Make sure that your personal credit is in order Because of the risky nature of new business ventures, a lot of consideration is put into whether or not the person running the small business can stand behind a loan if the business doesn’t succeed. This is why when looking to finance your small business, it’s important to make sure that your personal credit is in order. Typically, a personal credit score over 600 is a good base for negotiations with financers.   Maximize your personal investment Any serious financing partner will want to ensure that you have personally invested a significant amount into your business before they’ll offer any additional financing. Being personally invested in your business shows investors and financers that you’re confident that your business is going to succeed. Why would anyone want to invest in your new business if you aren’t willing to do the same?   Be clear about the type of financing you require There are many difference financing models available, which is why it’s so important to be clear and specify what type you require. Is it working capital? How about equipment financing? Whatever it is,...

3 Benefits of Crowdfunding

Although still fairly new, crowdfunding has successfully helped thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs raise an enormous amount of funds. Although simpler and often times more accessible than traditional methods of raising money, crowdfunding still requires a lot of effort and dedication in order to be a viable financing option. Here are three benefits to using a crowdfunding platform to raise funds for your small business.   Raising capital without giving up your company Entrepreneurs often think that they can only raise capital from accredit investors, banks, and VCs. But this isn’t true. Crowdfunding is a great alternative to fund a venture, and it can be done without giving up shares in your company or accumulating any debt. Rewards-based crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to raise capital from the community in exchange for nothing but their product. If it interests contributors, and enough of them are willing to fund you, you can fund your venture and still retain 100% ownership of your company.   It provides viable marketing An active and popular crowdfunding campaign is a great way to introduce a company’s overall vision to the market, and it’s a simple and free way to advertise to numerous channels. Most crowdfunding platforms incorporate some sort of social media integration, which drives traffic from your campaign to your website or other social media pages.   It’s easier than traditional funding The application process for crowdfunding is a breeze in comparison to the traditional method of applying for a loan or pursuing other capital investments (especially for early stage companies). In order to begin, you only need to contact your chosen crowdfunding platform...

3 Early Signs of a Failing Business

If you’re gearing up to enter the world of entrepreneurship, make sure you properly assess the current state of your business so you aren’t unintentionally sabotaging your goals. Here are three early signs of a failing business and how you can avoid them.   Inexperienced Management One of the biggest reasons that a business might fail is its management. Good management is the backbone of a strong business, and the decisions and strategies implemented by management can determine the fate of the business. The problem is that many decision makers (CEO’s/upper management) often focus on the end game, and fail to stress the importance in creating achievable short-term goals. It’s easy and common for businesses lose sight of what it’s trying to achieve, which is why it’s important to create working business strategies to help achieve these short-term goals, in order to work your way along and achieve your long-term objective. Many early-stage businesses choose their management team because their pleasant to work with or they have a close relationship with them. But in order for your business to succeed, make sure you’re choosing a management team with the right skills and merit for the task at hand.   Operating in a declining market It’s important to keep pace with today’s times. If the product or service you’re providing has a dying customer base then it’s pretty clear your business is heading down the chute, however most businesses do nothing about this until its too late (think record shops, newspapers, book stores). If you see the trend moving away from what you’re doing, you need to adopt the changes...

How to Value your Business

If you’re looking to sell all or part of your business, you need to have some idea on the value of your business. It’s important that the valuation of your business is a faithful representation of your business’ worth. Valuation is not an exact science, and there are many different ways of reaching a value on a company. Here are some things to factor in when putting a price on your business:   Your discounted cash flow: From an investor’s perspective, this is the single most accurate and effective way to estimate a business’ value because it’s based on future cash flows. These figures estimate the amount of money that is expected to come into the business, which will ultimately help the investor determine their return on investment.   Book Value: This is simply your assets less your liabilities, and reflects the net worth of your business as shown in its financial statements. Your book value will show investors the economic value of your business net of any accumulated depreciation.   Going-Concern: Investors are interested in the going-concern value of your business – essentially, whether or not your business has the capacity to generate a stream of cash flow in future operations. The more cash your business generates in the future, the higher your business we be valued at...

How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

Having a strong social media presence can really help your business flourish, however you first need to amass a large following and learn how appeal to them. Here are a few ways to increase your social media presence to help grow your business: 1. Include social media icons in your email signature. Your company could be sending out thousand of emails each day, and it’s likely that people will get curious and eventually visit one of your social media pages. 2. Be human. Let your audience know that there’s a person behind your social media accounts who will respond to them if they have any questions or concerns. If you’re actually engaging with your audience, you’re able to show them who you are and they will in turn feel more connected to you. 3. Make sure to post consistently. People tend to lose interest if your social media accounts haven’t been updated in a while – they become stale and irrelevant. They’re more likely to want to read your material if you’re providing fresh and updated content on a regular basis. 4. Provide links to your website in your social media posts. This is a great way to drive traffic to your website so that people can easily learn more about your company. Your social media platforms are more likely to grab their attention, but your websites content is more likely to grab their business. 5. Optimize your accounts by using keywords that go with your business. Try and think of what your customers are looking up on their search engines, and regularly include those keywords in your content....

Tips for Obtaining Financing for your Business

While you may have an abundance of ideas for your growing business, finding the proper funding to make those ideas a reality can be very difficult. Small to medium sized businesses have less of a performance history and limited resources to grow their business, which makes them a riskier investment for lenders. Here are three tips to obtaining financing for your small to medium sized business:   1. Choose the right investor The right investor should add more to the deal than just money. It’s much more significant to work with an investor who can provide not only funding, but also valuable business guidance and experience. You may be working alongside these investors for several years, so choose someone who has your interests at heart and who truly believes in what your business is trying to do.   2. Start thinking long-term Look for longer term financing options that keep your short-term repayment costs as low as possible, while still giving you the time and money needed to invest in your business in the long term.   3. Be clear in your financing needs: Be sure to be clear when specifying the type of financing that your business requires. With so many different options in financing, you must specify the purpose this financing, the amount you require, and how much time you have to get the financing you...

Tips and Tricks: Personal Finance

Keeping on top of your personal finances can be a tough job if you don’t make a point to be organized right from the start. Once you stop paying attention to the numbers flying around, things can get messy – fast. If you’re looking for some advice on how to manage your personal finances day to day, here are a few tips and tricks to help you out: 1. Weekly check-in When money is coming and going it’s important to track it frequently to make sure you know exactly where you stand. Healthy financial habits will get you on the right track early and less likely to lose sight of your funds and/or over spend. a weekly money date to update your budget. Tracking your income and expenses weekly instead of monthly creates a healthy habit of knowing where you stand with your money. This bite-sized process makes it easier to stick with long-term. 2. Face Your Debt Debt is big and scary, we all know that. But the sooner we see the exact numbers in front of us the sooner it becomes much less daunting. Having a checklist of all debt amounts, interest rates, minimum payments, etc will allow you to begin the process of managing your reduction strategy. 3. Check Your Credit Score When was the last time you checked your credit score? If you plan on making large purchases such as a car or new house at any point, you’re going to want to make sure your credit history is up to par so that you appeal to companies as a reliable borrower, deserving of low...

With Interest Rates So Low are Alternative Investments Even More Attractive?

Alternative investments have garnered greater attention as interest rates continue to remain at historic lows. But with investors looking to earn greater returns, alternative investments like private equity are viewed as an encouraging option to invest their money. Alternative investments are defined against the three traditional asset type-cash, stocks and bonds-and include an array of investment opportunities: Venture capital, hedge funds, derivatives, real estate, commodities, etc. High net worth individuals and institutions usually hold these investments, as they tend to be more illiquid than stock and bonds. With that said, returns on alternative investments have a low correlation with the performance of traditional asset classes, making them a potentially desirable investment for those who want to seek financial diversification. The shifting attitude and perception of alternative investments-especially given the precarious state of the economy-is driven by a few factors. On the one hand, alternative investments are being used for portfolio diversification to the traditional asset classes. This sort of diversification is necessary to hedge against not only market volatility but decreasing consumer confidence, high personal debt, and of course, low interest rates. The other issue affecting investments is high inflation. Individuals and institutions have traditionally invested in bonds-especially government bonds-to keep pace with inflation. Bonds were a safe way to grow your wealth while adopting a low risk financial profile. With higher interest rates, and backing from the government, bonds were an efficient way for entities like pension funds and insurance companies to grow the money they held. However, with low interest rates and high inflation-emerging globally-most bonds aren’t delivering the returns like they once had. And with consumer...

Tips for Finding a Good Company in Which to Invest

Research the company’s management Find out about the people running the business. Does the CEO sound like he sits on his butt all day and do nothing but collect the interest? Is management in it to make a quick buck for themselves at your expense? Make sure the people at the top actually care about investors’ needs, not just their own. Make sure the company is unique The business should be hard to replicate. If it’s easy to copy and ends up making a lot of money, pretty soon there will be thousands of businesses just like it! This is where the branding of the company and quality of the product become of paramount importance. If people trust the company and the product is working just fine for them, it’ll be very difficult to get them to switch. Evaluate if the product/service is under-priced You want to make money, not just spend it, so look for something inexpensive. This doesn’t mean ripping the other people off; it’s inexpensive for a reason. If it’s a private business, the owner may need money to expand. If it’s public, people might perceive the company to be very risky or unsuccessful for whatever reason. In this case, by putting your money in you’re actually giving the company your vote of confidence, and making it slightly more...

Ten Tips to a Successful Business Financing

Before approaching any investors, go over these pointers to ensure that you make as many right moves as possible in securing your financing: 1. You should create a business plan that emphasizes your particular competitive advantage and how it is sustainable. 2. Be flexible with your deal terms to try to maximize both your interest as well as your investor’s. Rather than trying to get a bigger piece of the same pie, try to make the whole pie bigger for both parties. 3. Emphasize your industry experience to potential investors. This will alleviate many of their concerns and build a comfort and understanding of your leadership capabilities. 4. Be patient when raising money. Typically it takes anywhere from three to nine months for a successful raise. 5. Make sure you approach investors who have an investment criteria which matches with your business. 6. A good idea is not enough. You need to prove that your idea can become a viable and profitable business. 7. You should identify and contact investors who have a geographic proximity to you. Rightly or wrongly, investors like to be close to businesses they are investing in. 8. Often in order to raise money, you need to first spend considerable time and money. It may be ironic to have to spend money to get money but it will position you far better in front of investors to have a professional and well thought out presentation. 9. Find investors who can bring more than just money to the table. Find investors who you can leverage off of their experience and guidance. 10. Find long-term investors. Investors...

Smart Ways To Use Your Company Blog To Get Funding

One of the biggest and most successful methods to attractive VC or PE or Angel Investors, (believe it or not) is your company blog. By incorporating several of the ideas outlined below into the writing of your company blog, you can present the strengths of your business in a way that can outline leadership, innovation, and what you might expect from the future. In doing so, you can communicate in a very effective way with potential investors no matter whom they are or where they may be located. This is big. And because so many businesses do not fully employ blog writing, it’s to your advantage to stand out among the weaker old school competition. Build a great pitch Venture capitalists are busy people. If you want to sell them on your idea, you won’t have long to convince them: That’s why a blog identifying attributes of management and product innovation can be so important to you. Find a good blog writer and allow your business to have a voice through the blog. Most VC pitches take less than an hour, and some meetings last just five minutes. In the short time allotted, you’ll need to show why your team is worthy, what your product or service is, the market you’re servicing and how your product varies from others in your field, and how much money you need and how you’ll use it. Create a very smart introduction Work your connections! If you know a high-level lawyer or a startup CEO, press them for introductions to the venture capital firms they’ve worked with so you can request a short...