Start Online Business Easily

The internet has brought about great improvement in the way business is done nowadays. Earlier traditional methods used to stay in touch with clients has changed. With the advance in technology, it has become easier to conduct business online and get more profits in return. An online web presence not only makes a huge difference to your business but it also helps in promoting it on a global level.

Social media has opened new opportunities to business owners. You can target your audience and get in touch with them faster and more direct. Starting an online business is definitely a wise decision. There are no requirements to start online business, apart from the fact that you have to make your business visible for people to see and find you. There are lots of ways to do that. You can either create a website for your business, which is simple and effective, or you can also make the use of Facebook to target your audience. Facebook allows you to create fan pages as well as ads that will redirect the visitors back to your site thus boosting the traffic towards your business. It depends entirely on how you market your services online, which offers multiple ways of making fast money.

So if you are interested to start online business, here are a few benefits from doing so:

Freedom – In an online business, you are the boss. There is no one to direct or control you. You are free to make your own decisions and decide your working hours. In an online business, you are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year therefore increasing your earning potential from anywhere. You can sit and do whatever you wish. You can devote as many hours you want. There is no need to spend a fixed number of hours, by creating a simple yet effective marketing plan, you can choose the amount of hours you want, based on your schedule.

Personal growth – With an online business, you can learn a lot. Every day you will come across something new that you will want to try. A tool that may be beneficial to the growth of your business. Unless you try, you won’t understand how it can be incorporated in your business and what the outcome may be. There are plenty of opportunities to grow and expand your business. By researching online promotion techniques, or even taking an SEO class, you will benefit greatly personally, and in your business.

No to low start-up cost – To start online business, there are no specific requirements. All you need is a laptop or desktop computer and an internet connection. As compared to the offline business or brick and mortar, you need a proper place to conduct the business, insurance and benefits for the employees and staff to handle the customers. This can increase the overall cost which is greatly reduced in an online business. You can hire freelancers and pay them according to the work they do. This is quite inexpensive, but is rewarding.

Get connected to social media – Social media brings countless benefits to your business. It has become a popular platform for people to connect and is worldwide. The top networking sites like Facebook and Twitter help you to connect to your customers on a daily basis and let them know about newly launched products or services and specials. There is no need to individually connect to every person but a group message is often effective. Creating fan pages and tweeting are the best way to spread information and people come to you.

To start online business is simple but you have to put in effort to create a product or service that is marketable. You can’t just do whatever you like but, you will need to plan as well as use of excellent marketing strategies. That is why it is beneficial to gather information from books, or other successful online business to start an online business. Without the direction or good information you will just waste your time. Perhaps talk to an expert to establish and start your business. Their expertise can be very helpful in making the right decision for the business. Once you get familiar, you will be able to manage it well.

5 Steps to Financing a Business Purchase

Business financing options are important whether you’re ready to buy a business you’ve been part of for years or want to acquire a competitor to expand your market share. Buying an existing company is often a smart move. You’re able to build on the branding, products, and customer base that the company has established, while improving operations through your own ideas and efforts. Financing the purchase of an existing business may be more complex than starting a new company, but a number of options are available to you. Here are five steps to help you navigate the world of business financing options.

Work with a business broker

Start your process by establishing a relationship with a business broker. According to Inc. Magazine, the best brokers will be members of the International Business Brokers Association and hold the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation, or be members of the M&A Source with the M&AMI designation. Experienced brokers can help you manage the buying process from identifying the right business to securing funding. Brokers have wide networks within the financial world, and the experience to help you find the option that’s right for you. If the broker you’re working with represents the business seller, it’s important to consider that and make sure you have adequate representation.

Know your valuation and do your due diligence

Your broker will help you manage the valuation process. Plan to get second opinions from your attorney and CPA. Ensure that you understand how the business is being valued. For example, the Cash Flow Method looks at future cash flow to see what kind of loan the business can support. The Tangible Assets Method values a business based on its assets on the balance sheet. Different methods are acceptable and appropriate for diverse business models, but should be supported by your own due diligence. Most businesses are valued as a multiple of earnings (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA). Review at least three years of financial records, tax returns, contracts and leases, customer data, marketing materials, HR information, and any other facts you can gather.

Consider owner-financed purchases

According to the International Business Brokers Association, seller financing is becoming more common than other methods. Seller financing is an alternative to commercial bank or small business loans. Typically, the seller holds a note on the sale of a business for a period of up to ten years. Smaller monthly payments are generally arranged and one or more balloon payments pay off the majority of the debt. Seller financing demonstrates that a seller is invested in helping the new owner succeed. This can be very persuasive to banks when a buyer needs multiple funding sources to complete a deal. A business broker can help negotiate and structure an owner financed deal.

Evaluate loan options, especially Small Business Administration (SBA) programs

Regular bank loans may not be available to finance a small business purchase. Instead, buyers work with an SBA lender using an SBA 7(a) business acquisition loan. The SBA works with approved lenders (such as qualified banks) to offer SBA loans. The government backs these loans, lowering the risk for participating banks. Programs under this umbrella range from microloan initiatives offering under $50,000 to the Certified Development Company 504 Loan Program which helps businesses buy land and buildings.

Connect with angel investors and other high net worth people

Depending on the type of business you’re purchasing and its financial potential, an angel investor or venture capital firm might be the option to consider. Angel investors are high net worth individuals that offer money in exchange for equity in the company. High net worth people (and some private equity groups) sometimes offer private, unsecured loans called mezzanine financing. These loans often have higher interest rates. For individuals with a leaner credit history that don’t qualify for other options, angel investors are worth exploring. Business brokers often have a network of individuals in the market for specific deals; if your history and company meet their requirements, they can facilitate an introduction and structure a transaction.

A Prescription for Starting a Healthy Business

Starting a new business is an exciting time. With so much information available today, how is a person to know what will work for them? Everyone should know that having a plan is key to business success. Developing a plan is the part that scares, confuses and eludes many emerging business owners. We recommend that business owners treat their plan like a Prescription; Think of each step forward as a dose of medicine designed to give you a healthy business.

Before you start a business there some key decisions that must be answered;

1. Who are my customers?
2. Where are my customers?
3. How will I attract my customers?
4. How will I delivery my product/service to my customers?
5. How will I manage my finances?
6. Can I afford this?

Within each of these questions are the building blocks of a healthy business. To many, these questions seem out of order, or are not all inclusive of what is needed to start and maintain a healthy business. We could not disagree more as these questions are the Prescription for a Healthy Business.

Who and where are my customers?

No business can be successful without customers. To not know your customers is one of the biggest mistakes small business people make. The consumer is becoming more educated and has more buying opportunities today than ever in the past. Additionally, the consumer has become more cost conscientious and uses a more thoughtful buying strategy today than ever before. Knowing what your product or service does for your customers is the easy part, understanding that customer and how to attract them to your product or service is the harder part.

Most of the time, new business owners come from a business where they dealt with customers using the particular product or service that will be the breadwinner for their new business. Profiling who these customers are will help the business owner gain the insight needed to knowing who the customers are. It’s important to understand your company’s position on competition. Make sure you are not bound by a non-compete or some other non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement prior to profiling customers.

If you’re moving into a new area or are under some sort of confidentiality or non-compete clause, subscribe to a data mining service that can help you understand who your customers are. Services such as Sales Genie, Hudson or Dun & Bradstreet offer cost effective mining tools that can put customer information in front of you so you know all you need to know about your potential new customers.

How will I attract my customers?

Once you know who your customers are and where they are doing business and what they may need of your product or service, a plan can be made to attract them to your company. Understanding what customers look for when making buying decisions can be difficult for some and seemingly easy for other. Many items or services that are commodities may be chosen for price or ease of delivery. Other things may be chosen by necessity, region or rarity. Finally, there is a relationship purchase, where you have an established relationship with someone in your customer’s company that can influence the buying decision; each of these different buying parameters must be understood for your particular area of expertise or product line.

Commodity items will be the most difficult area for a new business to get into, if you don’t have an advantage with location or relationship. Competition is made tougher due to more businesses competing for the same customer base. There are ways to differentiate you from others by having a better company image, customer services or delivery model that might better define your company from the others. Keeping your image can be as simple as a professional clean look, easy to understand ordering guidelines and quick response to questions, concerns or issues.

Using your regional advantages or the availability to get rare or hard to find items should be incorporated into your image or presentation so that companies know intuitively that you’re different from your competitors. Using a professional branding company to help you define your image and understand how to reach them in different ways will be an investment that will have a good return on investment if you have a good understanding of your message and customers.

Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be good avenues for some businesses, but all of them are still new to the marketing game and their impact on buying decisions is still hard to measure. However, all offer free accounts and should be implemented to support your brand and give your company one added access point to the markets.

Having a website is important as is a good email address. Websites do not need to be complex or overly flamboyant to be successful. People appreciate the ability to quickly access a webpage and efficiently understand a company and their product or service offering. Having an email address that is easy to remember and use will help people to communicate with your company and give you an opportunity to begin to capture communication history with potential customers.

How will I delivery my product/service to my customers?

Product or service delivery is a very important aspect of your business. The delivery of products or services is synergistic with Customer Service, and at the same time it is wholly separate. Product delivery failures can meet or exceed customer expectations and still be inefficient and costly and hamper a growing business.

Understanding how the market expects delivery of your company’s product or service is only the first part. Products and services can be reliant on the supply chain. The procurement of vendors and contractors that will aid in the development or delivery of end products or services must be understood and in place at all times; Failure in your supply chain is a failure of your company.

Make sure you hold vendors and contractors to the same standards you expect from employees, or even better, to the standards you want to be held to by your customers. Create vendor performance policy and procedures that are bullet pointed and simple. Only use complex contracts and vendors terms if your particular industry requires special legal treatment or you have proprietary or special contractual obligations. Using complex legal documents when simple business processes suffice can lead to inefficiency, poor relationships and difficult issue resolutions.

Develop a customer feedback program that is simple and easy to give to customers and to track. Make the customer’s review part of regular employee meetings so that your staff understands what the customer is saying about you, your products and your staff. Use criticism as a development tool, not a disciplinary tool, and keep looking forward as you refine your business and the delivery of your products and services.

How will I manage my Finances?

Finance management is not something that you just know. Getting help from a professional in setting up your company will establish a solid legal foundation to build your business. To be a Sole Proprietor, Limited Liability Company or Corporation are all important decisions that set your financial future on a solid foundation.

There are a multitude of companies that can help you decide which legal formation is right for you; LegalZoom is one company that specialize in helping people understand and choose the right corporate structure.

Choosing an Accountant is another important choice. Understanding your taxing requirements and having guidance is crucial to long term financial success. The penalty for ignorance in the tax law is expensive, as most government entities have stiff penalties for delinquent filings and tardy payments of Sales Taxes, Franchise Taxes, Payroll Taxes and more.

Having an organized system to keep track of your money is also very important. There are a multitude of choices for financial tracking systems. Retail environments may get by with a simple cash drawer and ledger, or require a cash register or point of sale system. Other companies may need to track inventory, customer and vendor ledgers along with accounts receivable, payable and payroll. All of these financial issues can be tracked with simple ledgers or fully functional accounting systems such as QuickBooks, Peachtree or something even more complex. There are sites like FindAccountingSoftware.com that can help to understand the choices and how they apply to your particular business.

The key issue to remember most of all is that you should never commingle your personal money with your business money. Keep written records to make life easier on you and your support people. When it comes to your money, your chances for success will be increased immeasurably when your money is counted in an organized and structured way.

Can I Afford This?

Often times a person starts a business and quickly runs out of money. The cause of this is almost always a complete lack of planning. We have traced the reasons for running out of money to:

1. Not knowing the customer.
2. Not knowing where the customers are.
3. Not having a plan to attract customers.
4. Not having a plan to delivery products or services.
5. Not understanding the financial needs or implications of business decisions.

Creating a Business Plan that addresses the six major areas outlined in this article will set a foundation that any business owner can build on and be successful. The Business Plan will identify anticipated revenue, expenditures and market issues that will affect both in the near and short term. Also understanding your personal financial needs and what you can expect to take from the company while you build it, will help to establish a financial plan that the business should adhere to with no exceptions. Often people see cash coming into their business and spend that money before executing a planned policy or procedure required for continued growth.

If during the plan development process, your financial projections don’t provide you with a clear path to financial success, talk with a professional about how you can resolve the shortages you may anticipate during growth and understand the cost of borrowing or using credit cards or other financial options available. SBA and SCORE have programs to help small business people understand the costs of doing business. They are generally free and should be considered if paying for help is not an option.

Finally, if you find the financial risk causes personal, professional or family stress, consider options like taking on a partner or finding a company in the industry to learn more about what you want to do. Sacrificing one’s personal well being or that of his friends and family should not be an option to admitting that a plan is too aggressive or risky.