Tag : Your

Write Your Way to a Win: Business Proposal 101 #business #invoices


#business proposal examples

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Write Your Way to a Win: Business Proposal 101

It’s a tough world these days, especially for entrepreneurs who have stiff competition in their business niches. Keeping current clients and adding to your client portfolio is the only way you both stay afloat and grow, and no matter how good your products and/or services may be, there are always competitors who want your current business and will go after the same potential clients you do.

Many calls for business proposals are pretty impersonal – governments and public agencies may advertise for bids on projects, products, or other services, give a bid deadline date, and publish the details of their needs. They do this because, by law, they are required to.

For example, a public school district looking to build a new school will publish a “call for bids” for the project. Local and regional contract management firms will then put their proverbial “hats” in the ring and present their proposals. The local school board will receive the bids and make a decision on the contract award, and they are accountable to the public for this decision.

Not so in the private sector. A company is free to make contract decisions as it wishes, having only minimal accountability to their Boards for poor performance and/or cost overrides. Still, business owners seeking new clients and customers must perform well if they intend to keep those clients.

Before You Put Pencil to Paper

Writing business proposals involves a lot of initial legwork. Once you become aware that a potential client is looking for proposals in your business niche, you know you will want to develop a sound, clear, and precise business proposal, and there are many pre-panning activities you will want to conduct.

  • Do Your Research: If you don’t know much about the potential client, you need to study up! Go to the website and read everything! You will get names of decision-makers, get an idea of its business model, how long it been in business, its goals, and it financial picture – all good information to have!
  • Arrange a Meeting with Management: You may not get into see the CEO, but you should make an appointment with as high level a manager as possible. During this meeting you want the client to clarify goals and needs, so be a good listener and take notes! You really want to get clear budget parameters too, so you have a financial framework for your proposal. While the focus of this meeting must be on the client, try to tout yourself a bit – talk about your successes with similar organizations/industries.
  • Develop Your Solutions: Once understand the goals and needs, you are prepared to brainstorm and to develop the most effective and cost-effective ways to serve the client’s needs. For example, if you are in the property management business, and you have become aware that a large apartment complex owner is looking for a new outside property management firm, you meet with that owner or his rep. You ask about his issues and problems and what made him unhappy with the previous management. These will be critical points in your solution proposal.

Writing the Proposal

Writing a business proposal is a lengthy and time-consuming process, so plan enough time to do it right! And if you don’t know how to write a business proposal, you need to be a quick learner. There are templates and samples online that you can study; visit a fellow entrepreneur who has experience and ask for his/her help. Generally, though, your sections will be as follows:

  1. Describe the client’s current situation: In the case of the apartment owner, repair and maintenance have not been acceptable; perhaps screenings of tenants has not be thorough enough; perhaps the management company has not been responsive to tenant issues. These make up the current situation.
  2. State your goals, objectives, and methodologies for meeting the needs of the client and remedying the current situation. Perhaps more resident maintenance staff are required; perhaps the office is under staffed; perhaps there are not clear and consistent policies and practices to respond to repair calls and to conduct those tenant screenings – systems and accountability need to be put into place!
  3. Time and cost: Here is where you get to the heart of the matter. How long, and along what timeline, will you implement the changes, install the equipment, etc. And, critically important, the costs must be carefully and clearly broken down, so that each facet of your solution methodology has a specific cost. In this way, if the client has to cut back on something, he can make informed decisions.
  4. Your conclusion: Do not be afraid to praise yourself. What are the benefits of choosing your company? Point out your successes with similar projects and provide references.
  5. Binding: Make certain that your proposal is bound in a professional manner and submit several copies so that decision-makers can all have their own.

A Word About the Prose

If you are not a good writer, get someone who is. You never know who will be reading your proposal, so make sure there are no grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors. And above all, keep it simple. No one wants to struggle through long and complex sentences with academic-level vocabulary.

How to Write a Business Proposal Letter

A business proposal letter is really a formal and much more dignified “cold call.” You are trying to drum up business by introducing yourself to potential clients who may or may not have heard of you before. The format of the letter should, of course, be business formal and should be impeccable in grammar and style. Here are some pointers:

  1. Find out who the decision-maker is before you write the letter. It should be addressed to that individual.
  2. Your opening paragraph should catch their attention quickly. Using saving money will do the trick, so tell them that you can save them money and/or make their operations more cost-efficient.
  3. The next paragraph should provide more detail about your product or service and describe how it saves money or is more efficient.
  4. The third paragraph should speak to your qualifications. How long have you been doing this? Name past and current clients who have experienced cost savings and greater efficiency with your help. Be certain that you have the approval of these clients to use their names, for they may be contacted.
  5. Closing paragraph should be short and give some call to action. Either ask them to call you or tell them you will call in a few days for an appointment.

Happy proposal writing!

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Andy Preisler is a blogger at Grabmyessay where he came just after he finished his second bachelor. He is very passionate about helping those that are new to the professional aspects of writing, whether it is business related or academic. He is very experienced writer as his field of interests includes education content marketing and business etiquette. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Andy via social profiles.

Posts by Andy Preisler



How to Become a Dog Walker – Wacky Hounds, brightening up your

#dog walking business

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How to start a dog walking business.

Become a professional Dog Walker – The ultimate dog walking job – Dog walker opportunity

This short guide has been written with a view to explaining what is required to start up a professional dog walking business. It should give you a good idea about what you need to consider in your pursuit of becoming a full time Dog Walker. This guide is designed to give you an idea as to what is involved in starting up a professional dog walking business to run on a commercial full time basis. There are many adverts out there offering “dog walking jobs” but there is no need to look for employment as a dog walker or indeed to apply for dog walking jobs, when you can run your very own successful dog walking business.

There are many people, many dog loving people, who are in jobs that they dislike and would give their right arm for an opportunity to make a successful career in some form of dog care. Imagine keeping fit whilst being out in the fresh air and countryside. Could you think of a better way to make a living than keeping fit in the fresh air, whilst working with loads of different dogs every day? The list below will give you a good idea about how to become a self employed dog walker, so that you don’t have to apply for so called “dog walking jobs” or “dog walking opportunities”.

When starting a dog walking/pet sitting business, there is a lot of things to take into consideration:

Business Insurance – You will need quality business insurance which should include the likes of Public Liability, Care Custody & Control/Animal Liability, Professional Indemnity, Equipment Insurance, Personal Accident Cover, Vet Fees Extension, Loss of Key Cover, Glass Cover & Holiday Emergency Cover.

A professionally equipped van – For the transportation of dogs, your van should be professionally kitted out in the inside, be fitted with a moisture extraction system and your livery should be undertaken by professional Sign Writers.

Van Insurance – Suitable cover for a self-employed Dog Walker.

Relevant Local Council Licences – Depending on your local authority, there may be a variety of licences which you must hold, if you wish to operate as a Dog Walker in your local parks or you plan to offer dog home boarding services.

DBS/Disclosure Scotland – Undertake relevant police checks to inspire confidence in your future clients and to demonstrate trustworthiness.

Website – A modern, vibrant website is a must to convey professionalism and to allow prospective clients to find you easily.

Dog Walking/Boarding/Sitting – There is a variety of services that you can offer.

Branding/Trademark – In order to distinguish yourself from your peers, a great deal of thought should go into your brand and the protection of it.

Stationery – Your stationery should be consistent with your brand, and cover the likes of business cards, letterheads & envelopes.

Marketing – It is important to keep your advertising costs to a minimum when starting up any business, yet vital to find clients. Keeping your overheads as low as possible yet effective is advised.

Registration Forms – You will need an easily managed system to sign up new clients and will need well designed forms to cover the likes of Information Form, Terms and Conditions, Veterinary Authorisation, Walking Off the Lead and Customer Satisfaction Surveys.

Cover Letters – Easily edited to cover a wide range of scenarios, to save on administration time.

Charging Structure – The importance of this cannot be understated as there is a fine line between competitiveness and profitability.

Uniform – In accordance with your brand, you must be seen to be smart and professional at all times.

Key Management – It is extremely important that your key management systems are infallible.

Rota Management – In order to run an efficient operation, good time-management is essential.

Accounts – Not only is there a legal requirement for tax purposes, but tidy book keeping will save you a lot of time and expense.

Filing – You should have a tidy and appropriate system in place that complies with all relevant data protection rules and regulations.

Equipment – The types of equipment that you will need on a day to day business will include; Leads, Couplers, nail clippers, tick-removers, waterproof camera and phone, good boots and waterproof trousers and jacket.

Branded Dog I.D tags – Essential that all of your dogs wear these on every walk.

Training – It is not easy to take out a group of dogs for an hour’s walk. The practicalities of being a Dog Walker are far reaching, and you need to consider things like: basic group formation, collection of dogs, positioning of dogs in van, safe release of dogs from van, your walks, photo and video taking, using a dog whistle, potential hazards, safely getting your dogs back in the van and a suitable procedure for returning your dogs. With all of this in mind, you should undertake suitable before commencing with commercial dog walking.

Clients – Last but not least, you need to build and look after your client bank.

As you can see with this brief guide to becoming a dog walker, there is a lot of things to give consideration to. It may seem like a lot, but starting up a professional dog walking service requires a lot of planning.If, however, you would like the backing and help from an already successful and established dog walking company, then please take a look at our franchise page and download a free copy of our prospectus. Also, why not pop in to say hello to us on our facebook page, we won’t bite!

Have a Wacky day!

Join us at Wacky Hounds



24 Free Online Directories to List Your Local Business #business #name #ideas


#free business listings

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As part of a comprehensive local marketing plan, creating at least basic listings in free local online directories is a must-do, even though it will eat up some of your valuable time. Free business listing sites increase your company s online exposure and help improve your local search ranking results in major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Depending on your business, some may be more relevant than others, but you should at least work your way through the top ten, as a minimum.

1. Google This is the site where you can add your business listing to Google+ Local. Business owners can claim or add business listings, add photos and coupons, respond to customer reviews, and see statistics and analytics. As Google receives nearly 6 billion searches daily, this should be at the top of your list.

2. Yelp Yelp is arguably the Internet s most popular review site, offering consumers a chance to post longer, more in-depth reviews than many other sites. Business owners can claim or add their listings, and upload photos, coupons, and more. Yelp also powers certain content on other directories in this list. Because it s so popular as a review site, it s important that business owners respond to reviews, both positive and negative. A five-star rating on Yelp is a golden ticket.

3. Facebook America s favorite social media site, Facebook is used by over a billion people to connect with friends and family. It s important to have a business listing on Facebook so that users can refer others directly to your site. More than half of Facebook users visit every day, and the mobile app is on three out of every four smartphones.

4. Bing The Bing Business Portal allows business owners to manage local listings on Bing. Upload your logo, photos, deals, menus, and any other important information. As the second most visited search engine on the internet, it s important for your business to be present correctly.

5. Yahoo Local Yahoo! Local provides listings and reviews of local businesses. Business owners can claim or add their professional listing to ensure they get found on the Internet s third most popular search engine, with millions of searches conducted daily.

6. Yellow Pages Now found at YP.com, Yellow Pages is the online answer to what used to be America s standard for looking up businesses. Business owners can claim or add listings and add any important information. While not as relevant with the younger generations, Baby Boomers and older still have strong ties to yellow pages.

7. MapQuest A popular web mapping service, MapQuest helps bring local customers right to your doorstep. Claim or list your business listing at the MapQuest local business center, add photos, parking directions, and even relocate your map marker if it s inaccurate.

8. Superpages Powered by Dex Media, Superpages is an online business directory offering local business listings, reviews, and advertising solutions. Business owners can claim or add listings and include important information, offer deals, and respond to customer reviews.

9. Foursquare Another popular social media site, Foursquare helps users keep track of where friends “check-in” and find nearby businesses. Business owners can claim or create listings and receive real-time data around customer activity, and even offer coupons to customers who check in. Foursquare also feeds their information into other websites and mobile apps.

10. MerchantCircle Designed exclusively around small businesses, MerchantCircle is an online local business directory offering free marketing tools along with free listings. Business owners can claim or add their listings, add coupons and/or newsletters, respond to reviews, and more.

11. LinkedIn LinkedIn is a great site to create a public company page for your business, linking your employees LinkedIn profiles to your business whenever they list you as their employer. Primarily used as a professional networking site, it s a great place to display information about your business enterprise.

12. Citysearch An excellent network for restaurants, bars, hotels, and spas, among others, Citysearch is a city-based online guide to business and entertainment. Business owners can claim or add listings, include important information, and add special offers. Citysearch offers city guides for the most popular cities in the United States, so you ll want to be sure you re included.

13. White Pages The online equivalent of the white pages found in a traditional phone book, White Pages is a quick and easy listing service, and makes your business contact information available to over 200 million people.

14. Yellowbook A subsidiary of Hibu Business, Yellowbook.com allows business owners to create an easily searchable listing, including business information, a link to the business website, product descriptions, and more.

15. Manta With over 30 million visitors per month, Manta offers business listings for companies worldwide. Local business owners can claim or add listings, upload company logo, photos, and important information. Inc. rates Manta as one of the fastest growing business sites on the Internet.

16. The Business Journal Originally created to offer business news and advice, The Business Journal has recently created a local business directory for most major U.S. cities. With four levels of listing options free, bronze, silver, and gold local business owners can claim their free listing, or choose to pay to receive even more targeted traffic to their website.

17. Angie s List With two million paying members who read and post reviews, Angie’s List is one of the most well respected online directories for services. Business owners can claim or add a listing for free as long as it falls within a specified category, centered around home improvement, auto, health, pets, or various miscellaneous services. Business owners seeking to establish a strong online reputation through positive reviews should use Angie s List.

18. DexKnows Another popular online directory, DexKnows provides business owners an opportunity to engage with customers and track their online reputation through their business listing.

19. Yellowbot Similar to Yellow Pages, YellowBot provides basic contact and location information about local businesses, and permits customers to post reviews.

20. Kudzu Geared towards homeowners interested in renovating, Kudzu offers reviews, advice, and deals for local businesses. For businesses providing home improvement services, Kudzu is a must.

21. Hotfrog With around 1.5 million visitors per month, Hotfrog is a business search engine designed to help businesses improve their Google search results. Business owners can claim or add a listing, upload photos, and create deals, as well as use reporting tools to see which keywords are driving traffic.

22. Magic Yellow Similar to Yellow Pages and YellowBot, Magic Yellow is a business directory offering local business listings and reviews. Business owners can claim or add a business listing and include any important information.

23. Express Update Express Update allows business owners to add a public profile page to help their business get found. They also provide a variety of resources to help businesses ensure that their listing gets distributed throughout the web.

24. City Slick A local business network designed to help local businesses get more customers, CitySlick.net offers both paid and free local advertising opportunities along with business listings. Business listings are search engine friendly and provide a unique way to advertise locally.



Incorporating Your Business #business #checking #account


#incorporating a business

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Incorporating Your Business

p
When you rsquo;re starting a business, one of the first decisions you have to make is the type of business you want to create. A sole proprietorship? A corporation? A limited liability company? This decision is important, because the type of business you create determines the types of applications you rsquo;ll need to submit. You should also research liability implications for personal investments you make into your business, as well as the taxes you will need to pay. It rsquo;s important to understand each business type and select the one that is best suited for your situation and objectives. Keep in mind that you may need to contact several federal agencies, as well as your state business entity registration office. /p
p
Here is a list of the most common ways to structure a business. /p

An S corporation (sometimes referred to as an S Corp) is a special type of corporation created through an IRS tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the corporation and again to the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation.

A partnership is a single business where two or more people share ownership.

Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, including money, property, labor or skill. In return, each partner shares in the profits and losses of the business.

A limited liability company is a hybrid type of legal structure that provides the limited liability features of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership.

The “owners” of an LLC are referred to as “members.” Depending on the state, the members can consist of a single individual (one owner), two or more individuals, corporations or other LLCs.

Corporation (C Corporation)

A corporation (sometimes referred to as a C corporation) is an independent legal entity owned by shareholders. This means that the corporation itself, not the shareholders that own it, is held legally liable for the actions and debts the business incurs.

Corporations are more complex than other business structures because they tend to have costly administrative fees and complex tax and legal requirements. Because of these issues, corporations are generally suggested for established, larger companies with multiple employees.

A cooperative is a business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Profits and earnings generated by the cooperative are distributed among the members, also known as user-owners.

Typically, an elected board of directors and officers run the cooperative while regular members have voting power to control the direction of the cooperative. Members can become part of the cooperative by purchasing shares, though the amount of shares they hold does not affect the weight of their vote.



Keeping Your Business Plan Simple #ideas #for #business


#simple business plan

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A Simple Business Plan

Entrepreneur, Business Planner and Angel Investor

When I first started working with business plans back in the late 1970s, the average plan was much longer and more complex than what I see today. That might be because business plans are more common than they used to be–they re used more and more often and by more people. It might also be a matter of trends among bankers and investors who read business plans. Or it could be because people have less time to waste wading through documents!

For whatever reason, the trend in business plans these days is to go back to the fundamentals, with good projections and solid analysis. An easy to read quickly format is more important than ever. If you want people to read the business plan you develop–and most people do–then my best advice to you is keep it simple. Don t confuse your business plan with a doctoral thesis or a lifetime task. Keep the wording and formatting straightforward, and keep the plan short.

But don t confuse simple wording and formats with simple thinking. The reason you re keeping it simple isn t because you haven t developed your idea fully. You re keeping it simple so you can get your point across quickly and easily to whoever s reading it.

With that in mind, let s get down to some specifics when it comes to simplifying your plan.

Rein in your prose. Effective business writing is easy to read. People will skim your plan-they ll try to read it while talking on the phone or going through their e-mail. Save the deep prose for the great American novel you ll write later. When you re crafting your plan, remember these tips:

  • Don t use long complicated sentences, unless you have to for meaning. Short sentences are fine, and they re easier to read.
  • Avoid buzzwords, jargon and acronyms. You may know that NIH means not invented here and KISS stands for keep it simple, stupid, but don t assume anybody else does.
  • Use simple, straightforward language, like use instead of utilize and then instead of at that point in time.
  • Bullet points are good for lists. They help readers digest information more easily.
  • Avoid naked bullet points. Flesh them out with brief explanations where explanations are needed. Unexplained bullet points can be frustrating.

Keep it short. The average length of most business plans is shorter now than it used to be. You can probably cover everything you need to convey in 20 to 30 pages of text plus another 10 pages of appendices for monthly projections, management resumes and other details. If you ve got a plan that s more than 40 pages long, you re probably not summarizing very well.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. I recently saw a plan for a chain of coffee shops, for example, that included photos of the proposed location, mock-ups of menus and maps of other proposed locations. The graphics made the plan longer, but they added real value. Product shots, location shots, menus, blueprints, floor plans, logos and signage photos are useful.

Use business charts. Make your important numbers easy to find and easy to understand. Use summary tables and simple business charts to highlight the main numbers. Make the related details easy to find in the appendices. Also.

  • Use bar charts to show, at a minimum, sales, gross margin, net profits, cash flow and net worth by year.
  • Three-dimensional bars look slicker, but two-dimensional bars are usually easier to read. Make sure the numbers are obvious.
  • Stacked bars make totals easier to visualize. If your sales divide into segments, stack the bars to show the total.
  • Use pie charts for market share and market segments.
  • Show tasks and milestones as horizontal bars with labels on the left and dates along the top or bottom. Most people call this a Gantt chart. Show only the major tasks and milestones, because too many details make these charts hard to read.
  • Always put the source numbers close to the charts in a summary table so readers can reference them quickly and recognize the numbers in the charts. And never leave a business plan reader unable to find the source numbers of a chart. That s frustrating.
  • Don t use a chart without referencing it in the text. If source numbers aren t completely obvious in the summary tables, make sure you specify which appendices contain the detailed numbers.

Polish the overall look and feel. Aside from the wording, you also want the physical look of your text to be simple and inviting. So take my advice:

  • Stick to two fonts for your text. The font you use for headings should be a simple sans-serif font, such as Arial, Tahoma or Verdana. For the body text, you should probably use a standard text font, like Century, Times Roman or Book Antigua.
  • Avoid small fonts. Only a few of the more readable fonts are fine at 10 points; most of them are better at an 11 or 12 point size.
  • Use page breaks to separate sections and to separate charts from text and to highlight tables. When in doubt, go to the next page. Nobody worries about having to turn to the next page.
  • Use white space liberally. Words crammed together into small spaces are uncomfortable to read.
  • Always use your spell-checker. Then proofread your text carefully to be sure you re not using a properly spelled incorrect word! Double check that your text numbers match those in your tables.

Copyright 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.



Music Business Degree – Start Your Music Career #business #insights


#music business degree

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Music Business

With special emphasis on entrepreneurship, innovation, modern media economics and strategy, the Music Business program is designed to help you take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that exist in all aspects of music, media and entertainment. Whether you want to work behind the scenes or advance your career as an artist, you’ll learn to leverage your creativity and the latest digital tools to build your enterprise and expand your independent reach.

You’ll master core music business competencies like management, accounting and booking, and you’ll hone vital interpersonal and communication skills through marketing, promotions and media relations coursework. You’ll also explore a wide range of traditional and emerging revenue sources, become versed in legal essentials, and develop the skills in digital production and social media strategy that will give you the knowledge to thrive as an independent artist and entrepreneur.

By combining a solid business foundation with creative problem-solving skills, digital fluency and an understanding of the industry, you’ll be prepared to succeed in a variety of career paths.

Ready For The Real World

As a Music Business major at McNally Smith, you’ll receive a hands-on education that prepares you for the real world. Our campus is a microcosm of the music industry, a collaborative environment where you’ll team up with performers, producers, songwriters and composers to bring real projects to market while studying key issues taken from the day’s latest news and information. You’ll also have the opportunity to make your mark at key conferences and festivals like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Pitchfork, where you’ll have insider access to up-and-coming artists and cutting-edge trends. During your time in the program, you’ll build a portfolio of work that showcases your talent and highlights your abilities. And through our Career Center and job board, you can even arrange an internship in another major music city like New York, Los Angeles or Nashville.

You’ll get a head start on your career by building your professional network while you’re still in school. And with access to guest artists and the thriving Twin Cities music and arts scene, you’ll be connected to the industry before you graduate.

Teaching For Tomorrow ℠

To succeed as a music business professional, you need a well-rounded education that prepares you for the dynamic future of music, media and commerce. That’s why our Music Business program focuses on developing your creativity while giving you the necessary technology skills to adapt and compete in the industry. You’ll also graduate equipped with the entrepreneurial concepts and business savvy you’ll need to reach your goals and establish your career.

With a comprehensive education that blends creativity, technology and entrepreneurship, you’ll be ready to make and sustain a life in music.

Your Career Path

Graduates of the Music Business program are prepared for a variety of career options, including:

  • Public Relations
  • Promotion and Marketing
  • Tour Manager
  • Sales and Distribution Representative
  • Artist Manager
  • Music Journalist
  • Booking/Talent Agent
  • Social Media Marketer

Studios Facilities

Our campus features 3 performance venues, 6 technology labs, and 11 recording studios where students learn to record, edit and mix music and audio.

Student Life

There’s a lot to explore outside of class, including student organizations, free concerts, music ensembles, and the diverse music and art scene of Minneapolis-St. Paul.



The Benefits of Owning Your Own Business #business #broker


#owning your own business

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The Benefits of Owning Your Own Business

There are many benefits to owning your own business:

  • Your years of hard work can result in wealth not unemployment
  • For the self employed, just about everything is a tax write off
  • You will eventually have the ability, money and time to help others
  • You will eventually have more time to spend with your family
  • You will eventually have more self-esteem
  • You will eventually have much more freedom

Here is my personal perspective. When I look around at the friends and colleagues I have known and worked with, the happiest and most satisfied people are those that own their own businesses. They have the most freedom, and the most control over their lives, even more than most CEO’s I know.

And that’s because CEO’s can be fired. Even if they are really good. Being in top management does not necessarily give you more control over your future.

I’m not saying that being an employee is bad, but if you have an opportunity to be self employed you should consider it carefully.

Yes, I know some CEO’s who are on top of the world, and I am very happy for them, They worked hard and smart. They took very good care of their people. They made some unbelievably brilliant strategic decisions. They made a lot of small decisions that added up to something big. They truly deserve their success.

On the other hand I know many high level executives, including CEO’s, who are currently unemployed because someone fired them. Whether they deserved it or not, even at a high level, they were not in control of their destiny.

As an employee you can dedicate many years of your life to a company, only to find yourself out of a job due to situations totally out of your control. Management changes, mergers, acquisitions, downsizing and outsourcing all have a tendency to force sudden and unexpected change.

On the other hand, if you own your own business, you will still face competition, change, legal battles etc. But in every case you will have time and an opportunity to fight and win. Big difference.

However, the risks in starting your own business are far greater than if you were an employee who worked for someone else.

According to Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth. in the US, there are over 1,000,000 new businesses started every year. 40% of these fail in the first year. Another 40% fail before year five. So the odds are against you.

There are ways to beat the odds. The success rate for franchises is much higher. Something like 50% or more of the franchises make it past five years.

The key according to Michael Gerber is that franchises offer you a proven Turn Key business.

However, franchises are still very risky. We know people who lost a lot of money on franchises and are still not self employed.

If you are planning your future, and you eventually want to be able to slow down and have some money to retire on, you have three main long term career choices:

What are your choices for ensuring you can someday retire:

  1. Try your hand at building your own business i.e. being self employed. Build it big enough that it not only pays for your retirement but that you could sell if you wanted.
  2. Be an employee and make sure you earn enough and save enough for when you retire, or when you get laid off or fired. Remember, high level executives are not immune from being fired.
  3. Get a government job, because most government jobs have retirement plans and pensions. Military folks and city employees usually get to retire with a full retirement plan paid for by our tax dollars. I’ve seen some folks who have two retirement plans, one from the military and one from a city, state or federal job.


How to Sell Your Business #business #intelligence


#selling a business

#

The New York Times

Small-Business Guide: How to Sell Your Business

By BARBARA TAYLOR

January 6, 2010

You only sell your business once.

That thought alone may be enough to keep you up at night when you decide it’s time to cash in on your years of hard work — as if there isn’t enough pressure associated with every step of the sale of a business. But there’s much you can do to prepare for the sale, and it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about it long before the day arrives.

While every transfer of business ownership is unique, there are some important questions that sellers should ask themselves and there is a common process that is used for the sale of most small businesses. The more you prepare, the more successful the outcome is likely to be. What follows is a brief outline of the process for small, closely held companies. Many of these principles apply to larger transactions as well. (You may also be interested in this blog post: Has the Economy Closed Your Exit Door? )

First, ask yourself three questions:

Can Your Business Be Sold?

Many elements of a business make it attractive to buyers. For example, does it have a solid history of profitability, a large and loyal base of customers, a competitive advantage (intellectual property rights, long-term contracts with clients, exclusive distributorships), opportunities for growth, a desirable location and a skilled work force?

Are You Ready to Sell?

Make sure you are ready, both financially and emotionally. Think about what life will be like after the sale. What will you do — not just for money but also with your time? Many business owners suffer real remorse after handing over their business to a new owner.

Here are a few indicators that it may be time to move on:

¶It’s not fun anymore. Burnout is a very real issue for business owners, and an entirely legitimate reason to sell.

¶You’re not inclined to invest in growth. You may be comfortable with the current size and profitability of your business and have no desire to make the capital expenditures necessary to take it to the next level.

¶You feel your management skills are overmatched. It is not uncommon for business owners to build their business to a certain point and then realize they lack the skill set required to go further.

What’s Your Business Worth?

Many owners have no idea. On one end of the spectrum, for example, was a client who owned a professional services firm. She felt the firm was worth more than $1 million. After a lengthy search, a buyer paid her less than half that amount. Then there was a client who was about to sell his I.T. company to an employee for $200,000. After advertising the business for sale nationwide, he sold it for one dollar shy of $1 million.

Selling a business is both art and science, and in no other area is this more evident than the valuation. While every seller wants to achieve maximum value, setting an asking price that is too high signals to buyers that you may not be serious about selling.

While there are a number of methods used to value a business, the most common formula for smaller transactions is a multiple of seller’s discretionary earnings (S.D.E.). This type of market-based valuation involves recasting profit-and-loss statements — adding back owner’s salary, perks and nonrecurring expenses — to find the S.D.E. of the business and then using comparable data for similar businesses to arrive at an appropriate multiple.

Prepare Your Business for Sale (Now!)

Another client owned a popular sports bar and grill. He’d made repairs to some of his kitchen equipment, brought his books current and determined a reasonable asking price. He got an inquiry from a serious buyer — an industry veteran on a nationwide buying spree with his partner. The buyer liked everything about the business, and asked for data from his point-of-sale system, which my client was unable to produce quickly. By the time he assembled the information, the buyer had made an offer on a similar business in another state.

There is no way to overstate the intensity with which buyers will scrutinize your business. But here are things you can do to put your best foot forward.

First, get your books in order. Not being able to provide accurate financial statements in a timely manner can cause a deal to unravel in short order. Be sure to have the following on hand before you go to market:

¶Last three years’ profit-and-loss statements.

¶Last three years’ balance sheets.

¶Year-to-date profit-and-loss statement.

¶Current balance sheet.

¶Last three years’ full tax returns.

¶List of furniture, fixtures end equipment.

¶List of inventories.

¶Commercial property appraisal or lease agreement.

Be ready to furnish other documentation — particularly during the due diligence phase — when you will probably be asked to produce insurance policies, employment agreements, customer contracts, lists of patents issued, equipment leases and bank statements.

You will also want to spruce up your business to make it attractive to buyers. Make any needed cosmetic improvements to the premises, get rid of outdated inventory and make sure that equipment is in good working order.

Not surprisingly, most savvy buyers use the Internet to research available businesses for sale. The two largest Web sites are BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com. Some sites specialize in selling certain kinds of businesses like franchises, Internet properties or restaurants. Most of these sites charge a monthly subscription fee to advertise your business for sale.

There are two primary marketing materials that are typically used to describe your business to potential buyers. The first is a one-page document that offers highlights of the business without revealing its identity and is sometimes referred to as a “blind profile.” The second is a comprehensive selling memorandum or prospectus to be sent to serious buyers who have signed a confidentiality agreement.

Make Sure Potential Buyers Are Qualified

There’s no bigger waste of time than working with a buyer who will not be able to complete a transaction. Ideally, you will want all interested buyers to sign a confidentiality agreement before sending out anything other than the “blind profile” for your business. In addition, you should require buyers to submit some basic information:

¶Name and all contact information.

¶Previous employment and business ownership.

¶Funds available to invest and sources of financing.

¶Minimum monthly income requirement.

¶Intended timeframe for completing a transaction.

¶Reason for interest in your business.

Negotiating the Deal

After you’ve found a qualified buyer, provided a selling memorandum and had an initial meeting, it will be time to stop the flow of information and ask that an offer be presented. This can take the form of a nonbinding letter of intent or a term sheet. It should spell out the primary terms of a deal so that all parties can move forward in good faith.

My client ended up receiving three offers on her professional services firm. One was from a competitor, one was from an industry expert residing out of the country and one was from a regional firm looking to extend its geographic footprint. While that last offer was the weakest from a financial standpoint, we knew that this buyer would be able to complete a seamless transition and build her business. We decided to negotiate with the regional firm.

The asking price was $500,000. The regional firm offered a disappointing $400,000, with $50,000 down and the balance financed by the seller over five years at 6 percent interest. My client planned to stay with the firm under new ownership and was relatively certain that gross sales would increase substantially when her company became part of a regional brand. She offered a counter proposal: In lieu of financing the balance of $350,000, she asked to receive 10 percent of gross monthly sales for five years. She conservatively estimated that she would realize an additional $108,000 — over and above the selling price of $400,000 — at the end of the five-year period using this deal structure. Both parties accepted.

All sellers hope to get a full-price cash offer for their business. But in the real world this rarely happens. More often buyers will make a down payment and then pay some or all of the remainder in installments to either you or a lender. Don’t be dismayed by an offer that doesn’t meet your original expectations. As this case illustrates, a willingness to be creative with the terms of a transaction can go a long way toward a successful sale. Be sure to enlist an accountant and a lawyer to help you assess the tax consequences of the terms you suggest or accept.

Selling a business is largely about setting realistic expectations, avoiding surprises and just plain hanging in there. It can be an arduous journey, but one with a very tangible (and rewarding) light at the end of the tunnel. Once you’ve successfully sold your business, savor an accomplishment that not every entrepreneur gets to enjoy. Whether you’re lying on the beach, retiring by the lake or starting your next venture, you did it!

Barbara Taylor is co-owner of a business brokerage, Synergy Business Services, in Bentonville, Ark.



20 Cheap Businesses You Can Start in Your Spare Time #starting #a

#low cost business ideas

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20 Cheap Businesses You Can Start in Your Spare Time

If you’re thinking of starting up your own business, but don’t want to make a huge investment, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of 20 cheap startup business ideas that won’t break the bank, and you can work on in your spare time.

1. Sales Consultant

Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and Tupperware all enlist the help of local sales representatives to get the word out to shoppers about their products. If you’re comfortable talking to people about a product, this business idea could be for you. To start, Avon costs just $5 to register, Pampered Chef is $80; both Tupperware and Mary Kay cost $100 to start with each company.

Beverly Kemner of Pottstown, Pa. sees being an Avon representative as a way to earn money to supplement her income and has been running her part-time business for about four years. To get started, she paid $5 to register with Avon.

“I could do it out of my own home on my own time,” she says. “They give you everything you need to start the first campaign. I think it’s perfect for this economy.”

Kemner says the harder you work at building your customer base, the more sales you make, and that flexibility appealed to Kemner, who suffers from a chronic illness. “You do the best when you can put the time in to it,” she says. “You need to give it a little bit of time, but it’s not as time-demanding as some other (businesses).”

2. Lawn care

This is a seasonal job that can be lucrative if marketed to time-crunched homeowners who have better things to do on their days off than mow their lawns. It is a good job for someone who likes to be outdoors, and can be started inexpensively with fliers, business cards and a lawnmower. Also, it’s a business that you can easily scale into a bigger operation.

3. Homemade gourmet foods

A love of cooking turned into a full-time business for Nancy Neal of Melbourne, Fla. She makes jams, jellies and spreads right in her home kitchen, now has about 50 products including soup mixes at her Nancy’s Pantry Corner in a variety of markets.

If you’re just getting started, the cost is cooking supplies, packaging, and basic marketing materials, and depending on where you’re going to sell your goods, either the cost to set up a website or rent a retail store.

4. Babysitting

Babysitting isn’t a teenager’s job anymore. If you like children, then this could be a side business for you. Network in your community and be prepared to be available for work at night and on the weekends.

5. Cleaning services

Where there are people, there will be a need to clean. Whether you focus on cleaning houses or go after business from companies, this cheap startup business idea will cost as much as supplies and the fliers needed to get your name out in the community. The hours for the cleaning service could dovetail nicely with a standard Monday through Friday job—businesses usually want their buildings cleaned at night and on weekends.

6. Catering

If you like to cook and can plan out a meal from beginning to end, this could be a side business for you. Offer party catering as well as business lunches as a way to keep business opportunities available. Build a customer base by creating relationships in your community and ask for client testimonials as a way to show potential new customers what you have done at past events. Costs would include making fliers and possibly having samples of your cooking available for tasting by future clients.

7. Errands

If you like helping people, you may like running errands for people in your community. Market to those in your community who don’t have a lot of time for chores or may be housebound.

8. Handyman

If you can fix a rain gutter, do simple electrical repairs or know how to spackel, turn those home-improvement skills into a side business. Make sure to check with your state about any possible permits or licenses needed to work.

9. Virtual assistant

If you like organizing things, weeding through e-mails, posting to social media and keeping people on a schedule, market those skills to small-business owners who are too busy growing their own businesses to take care of those things themselves. The costs of starting this business could include a computer and stable Internet connection to maintain contact with your clients.

10. Consultant

Maybe you’ve changed careers during your working life. Offer your skills to that former industry as a paid consultant. Since you worked in the industry, you already have contacts you could market to as being available for hire.

11. Snow removal

This seasonal business can be lucrative, but is dependent upon the weather. When looking for potential customers, think houses as well as small businesses. The costs for starting this business can be as little as the price of fliers, business cards and a shovel—or higher with more equipment.

12. Online content production

If you have a knack for grammar and love to write, content production for websites could be a cheap business startup for you. Cost to kick off this business includes a computer and an Internet connection. Market your skills on sites including elance.com, where potential employers look for contract workers.

13. Pet groomer

With the American Pet Products Association predicting Americans spent $4.11 billion in 2012 on their pets for grooming and boarding, it just goes to show people are willing to spend on their furry friends.

You must like animals to start this business. Cost to get into this business includes permits, insurance and equipment.

14. Pet sitting and walking

Combine a love for animals and a love of the outdoors. Many people leave their pets at home alone most of the day while they are at work, but are willing to pay people to check on their pets and walk them during the day. Cost to start this business would be marketing materials and a reliable car to get from client to client.

15. Delivery service

Do you like going to different locations through the day? A courier business may be a good fit for you. Market your services to businesses.

16. Calligrapher

If you have good penmanship, a business addressing envelopes—like wedding invitations—could be a nostalgic business startup idea. You’ll need samples, as well as a business cards.

17. Tutoring

If you excel at a certain subject, you could use that skill as a private tutor for students of all ages. Adult learners also need help sometimes with their school subjects. Cost to get started would be marketing materials.

18. Home day care

Parents look for alternatives to big day care centers where their children are grouped with many other children. Fill that need by offering home day care. Check with your state on regulations for these start-up businesses—licensing may be required depending on the number of children you hope to have at your home.

19. Translator

Speak another language? That valuable skill can be turned in to a business by offering your services to businesses and government offices.

20. Elder caregiver

With a growing older population, this service-based business is filling an important need.

Market to senior citizens who may not want to live in assisted-living communities, but could still benefit from help with minor day-to-day activities including light house work. Cost includes marketing materials and a reliable car.

Looking for more business startup ideas? Check out our Startup of the Week series.

Linda is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 22 years’ experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. Linda blogs via Contently.com .



Your business website may be hurting your company #business #cards #design


#business website

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The Best Webite Design Company in Nigeria

With today’s mad rush by every company to get a business website, it is wise to advise companies about the fact that creating a website for your business may be essentially damaging your company’s reputation.

Why? How? You may ask

Did you know that if your business website is dormant, visitors (that is if you even have any visitors at all) may erroneously believe that your company must have become dormant as well. Maybe that is why the last update on your business’ official website is 1 and half years old. Trust me nothing could present you as being unserious with your business as this. Especially if your company is the type that requires frequent update like schools, hotels, religious organizations (like churches), etc.

For example, if you retail clothing and accessories, how do you explain to your potential customers online that the exact products displayed in your online business website 1 year ago are still the same products that are still in your store today. Don’t you think it would be safe to assume that you are no longer in business?

Or how would you expect me to believe you are still in business when I send you an email via the address on your business website and I get no response from your company after 1 month. This is very common with Nigerian company websites.

What most companies do not understand is that the internet is a very dynamic world and it is either you change and adapt or you die and get forgotten.

In conclusion, I would like to advise companies that if they must own a website for business, they must be willing to establish a department for managing their online presence or simply outsource that service to a professional web and social media management consultant.