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Starting A Business

6 Tips for Starting Your Own Independent Business

July 4, 2019


The independent workforce is composed of more than 41 million people working as contractors, consultants, freelancers, side-giggers and more. These independent workers provide specialized expertise to companies that are looking to bring staffing flexibility and in-demand skills to their business. Nearly two-thirds of senior executives today say their external workforce is essential for operating at full capacity and meeting demand.

While there are many benefits for companies who engage independents, there are equally as many advantages to starting your own independent business. You get to be your own boss, decide when and where you work, and effectively have limitless ability to earn and pursue a career you are truly passionate about. If you’re thinking of joining the independent movement, use these six simple tips to build a successful business.

1. Identify skills you can build a business around.

The first important step you’ll want to take is defining the services your business will offer. If you don’t already have an idea of what you want to focus on, think about what you like and don’t like to do at work and in your free time. This will help you narrow down your niche and find your individual, sellable talent.

Next, take some time to research the industry you want to focus on. What skills are in demand? How can your unique services be configured to meet the unmet needs of potential clients? Keep in mind that as a newcomer to this market you may need to build out your education. As you grow your business, consider looking at online courses, professional certifications, or classes at a local college that can lend credibility to your expertise. 

2. Write a detailed business plan.

Creating a business plan is a valuable exercise for anyone starting their own business because it requires you to …

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How to Use Retargeting Pixels for Rapid Business Growth

July 1, 2019


 

  • Retargeting pixels, also known as cookies, is a way to market your products to customers who visit your website and leave.

  • Social media is a common platform for targeting customers. 

     

What are retargeting pixels?

Retargeting is a way to market your products and services to customers who visit your website, then decide to leave before completing their purchase. Think about the last time you visited an eCommerce storefront and added something to your cart, but didn’t check out. Chances are, not long after your potential purchase, you started spotting ads for the product and brand you were looking at all over social media and on other websites.

This process is possible when business owners or marketers add a retargeting pixel to their website. These pixels are more commonly known as tracking cookies. When a consumer visits a website with a retargeting pixel, the site drops the cookie on the user’s browser and only removes it when a purchase is made. The result of this technique is that customers will see your ads across various platforms and decide to come back and place their order.

Picking a platform

There are various platforms where you can use retargeting pixels to reach potential customers. The most common platform for getting generating leads and converting customers is social media. Research shows that 87% of businesses that use social media see increased exposure by putting themselves on various platforms. Your retargeting ads could lead the customer to check out your social media page before making a purchase, thus improving your odds of converting them on-site.

Social media retargeting usually appears throughout the user’s newsfeed naturally, but the type of content you use in your ad may determine whether or not they complete their purchase. For instance, many businesses offer a 10 to 20% discount …

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Is My Business Idea Good Enough?

June 27, 2019


Maybe it’s a passion project or something that can fill a void in the market. Whatever it is, before you start pursuing your new great idea, it’s important to make sure it’s strong enough to withstand the trials and tribulations that come with starting a new business. [Related article: How to Take the First Step Starting a New Business]

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly personal and all-consuming in that you are pouring significant amounts of time, money and energy into one idea. Naturally, you want to do all that you can to ensure that idea is worth your while before you start a business.

Business.com spoke to business experts and experienced entrepreneurs to see what you can do to make sure your business idea is worth executing, and how to know when it’s time to let it go.

Validate your idea

The first, and most important, step – once you have a business idea – is to go through the validation process. The exact process differs depending on what your business idea is, but, generally, you’ll want to start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a real need? Does my idea solve a real problem?
  • Will people buy it?
  • Will I be profitable?
  • How many people will want my product/service?

You need to make sure that you have a product or service that people want and are willing to pay a reasonable amount for. If neither of these is true, it will be disastrous for your business.

This step is where you conduct the bulk of your market research, comparing your product or service to existing ones in the market and sending surveys to your target audience to see where they feel the market is lacking.

You should also investigate the competition and make sure that …

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Going Remote: How a Small Business Can Make the Transition

June 20, 2019


Research shows that the number of remote employees has jumped 115 percent since 2005. While allowing remote work can be a bit more tricky for larger organizations, it can be a smooth transition for many small businesses. With smaller team sizes, it is easier to create, implement, and manage this transformation. The key to making this type of transition is to create a strategic plan of action.

The benefits of going remote

Before making the move to having a remote team, it is important to understand the benefits that come from it. One of the biggest reasons for making the transition is a financial one. With all employees working from home, small business owners can lower operating costs associated with rent, an on-site IT team, and utility expenses. Office-related spending, including office supplies, furnishing, and food and beverage costs, will also be eliminated. In fact, full-time remote workers can help entrepreneurs save an average of $10,000 per employee per year. Consequently, these lowered overhead costs can help boost profitability.

Going remote also has numerous positive effects on employee satisfaction. In 2017, American companies that allowed their employees to work from home experienced a 25 percent decrease in employee turnover. In addition, going remote gives employers access to a broader pool of talent. Businesses won’t be restricted by proximity to the office when searching for qualified and skilled candidates. And, offering this work arrangement may attract more job seekers. Almost 70 percent of millennials agreed that the option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in a job offer.

Transitioning to a remote team

This transformation won’t happen overnight. A thorough plan of action has to be created to streamline the process. Here are three steps that will help build your game plan.

  • Step 1: Make a company-wide assessment.
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8 Traits You Need to Become a Successful Freelancer

June 17, 2019


In fact, freelancers are predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50 percent of millennial workers already freelancing.

Freelancing attracts people who want more work-life balance, the ability to choose their own schedule, and the opportunity to take their income and futures into their own hands. It’s no wonder so many people are dreaming of leaving their 9 to 5 jobs to start working for themselves.

But freelancing isn’t as easy as it may seem. It takes a lot of work to run a successful freelance business. Of course, you need to be skilled in what you do but you also need to possess certain characteristics in order to make it. Here are the 8 traits you need to become a successful freelancer.

1. Self-discipline

Freelancers can’t afford to have days where they just slack off.  You can’t rely on a boss or a manager to keep you going on the days you don’t feel like working. Additionally, there’s no one else around to push you to work harder. It’s all on you to control and motivate yourself.

If something needs to get done, you need to possess self-discipline in order to make sure you stay on top of your important tasks. Without self-discipline, you won’t be able to make progress or accomplish the goals you’ve set.

2. Professionalism  

If you want a successful freelance career, you need to make a website that looks professional, get business cards made, create a LinkedIn profile, and so on in order to appear competent and experienced. But it’s not all about how your freelance business looks. You also need to handle clients with professionalism if you want to keep them around and get repeat business. Because, after all, businesses want to work with professionals.

For instance, while you …

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How to Sell Your Company With Grace

June 14, 2019


It’s not exactly easy to build a company that sells for eight figures. That’s why I learned pretty early on to get help when I need it. It took us 10 years to get to the point that companies had any interest in acquiring us, and it was an emotional roller coaster filled with highs and lows alike. 

I ran an artificial intelligence company in the manufacturing space – our software could predict breakdowns and maintenance issues for large machinery. We bootstrapped it for the first eight years, funding ourselves by charging for consulting services. We survived the financial meltdown in 2008. And we even overcame the naysayers who said the market didn’t need our product. 

After all that grinding, a major public company approached us for acquisition in 2016. Six gut-wrenching months of due diligence and negotiation followed before we got our deal across the line.  Suffice it to say, I learned a lot. 

Now I’m on the other side of the table, investing in startups building the next generation of AI products. I see a lot of these founders repeating the mistakes I’ve already learned from. 

Here’s what I wish they knew: 

Ignore what the competition is doing.

When you’re a small startup with limited resources, even a competitor’s press release can be intimidating. 

It happened to us more times than I can count. We’d see news of a new competing product and immediately enter panic mode. But we learned over time that there was often little substance to these releases.  The only threat that mattered didn’t come from the competition; instead,  it came from getting sidelined and distracted. 

Your competitors will always make noise. Ignore them and focus on what you can control. It’s critical to make sure their noise doesn’t influence your focus and decision-making. Years …

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Why Joining A Franchise Helps You Be A Better Business Owner

June 13, 2019


Many people may think that franchises are just a new way to make money. They believe you take an existing business model, drop it in a new location, and watch the profits roll in. But franchise owners walk away with more than profits. They gain a greater understanding of how business works through hands-on experiences.

There’s a lot to being a franchisee. You have to follow company processes. You’re accountable for spreading the company name into new areas. You have to hire the right people to make it happen. And you’re not even an employee yourself.

While these responsibilities may seem like a lot to take on, they’re actually fantastic learning opportunities. In fact, learning from first-hand experience is one of the most valuable things about being a franchisee.

Here are some of the ways that stepping into the role of franchisee turns you into a better business owner.

You understand what a successful business model looks like

You aren’t thrown into the ring to fend for yourself as a franchisee. The franchisor is there as your partner and number one supporter. He or she provides you with a plan of action so you know how to execute. This “secret sauce” is the business playbook, the new bible for running all operations. Franchisors distribute this model to all franchisees to ensure a systematic approach to business.

As you follow these tried-and-true processes, you’ll learn more about what makes a great business model tick. You find out what type of support you need and the questions you should ask. You’ll also realize which tools you need for success, like marketing materials or advertising packages.

It also teaches you the importance of established processes. From training to marketing to customer service, a robust business model offers many processes for how to navigate …

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Business Insurance: How to Safeguard Your Livelihood

June 12, 2019


These business owners say they can’t afford the coverage they need. If you’re among those who have no insurance or are underinsured, you’re playing Russian roulette with your assets, because not having insurance can cost much more than the annual premiums if adversity strikes.

Whether you have some insurance or no insurance, it’s time to talk with a trusted insurance broker about your current business needs. They may be able to design a plan you can afford. Of course, your needs depend on the type of business you run. However, for general-purpose insurance, we talked with James Nevers, CFP and senior advisor at Soundmark Wealth Management, to find out what the different types of business insurance are and what they can do to cast a safety net around your business.

Home-based businesses

You may think you’re protected against claims with your personal home and auto policies. Nevers said this is a common misconception. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most homeowners policies specifically exclude business liabilities. The same holds true for your personal auto coverage.

Your business and personal life must be separate, Nevers said. “If a customer visits your home office and slips and falls on your driveway, your personal homeowners might not pay the claim. If you use your car for work and while you’re driving to a supplier’s warehouse to pick up parts, you get into an accident, your personal auto policy might not cover you either. It’s best practice to have separate business, auto, property and liability policies as well as your personal home and auto coverages.”

Coverage essential for all businesses

Whether you sell goods or services, consider investing in the following types of insurance to shield your enterprise from disaster:

  • Professional liability, also known as errors and omissions, protects
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Talking Shop: How to Compete Against Amazon

June 9, 2019


While Amazon has nearly 200 million visitors to its website each year, small businesses can avoid being sunk by the giant retailer by focusing their efforts on specific products and not trying to be everything to everyone, according to Dan Breeden, head of marketing partnerships for Yahoo Small Business.

Dan Breeden

Breeden is a 12-year e-commerce veteran and has been advising small businesses on how to start off on the right foot for more than a decade. Part of his advice to small businesses concerns how to stay afloat when competing against large marketplaces.

Breeden has been at Yahoo since 2006 and has led partner and marketing programs for a number of B2B and consumer initiatives. He’s been with Yahoo Small Business for the past eight years, focusing on building a community of strategic partners, developers, and agencies that provide the tools and expertise small businesses need to start, build, and grow successful companies.

We recently had a chance to speak with Breeden about how small businesses can build an online business while facing competition from Amazon and other large marketplaces.

Becoming an authority in your niche

Q: What is the first thing you should do when trying to compete against Amazon?

A: Be the world’s best authority on the products you want to sell. Amazon’s business model is selling lots of products without offering great depth of detail. Your competitive edge is providing your customers with richness and breadth of detail, thereby becoming the trusted source of information on a product.

By creating conversations with your customers, you’ll build engagement faster. Think of yourself as the store in town with the best fishing tackle or the best cooking tools. Nurture customers who really enjoy these types of purchases and how the items make their life better.

Q: How

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When a Law Firm Isn't the Right Fit for Your Legal Practice: Starting Your Own Solo Practice

June 5, 2019


Life has a way of changing our priorities, and you may have begun asking yourself if your “classic” career-path is too old-school for your current interests and priorities. If you’re feeling this way, know that you’re not alone. In fact, a survey conducted in 2008 by the American Bar Association revealed that almost half of the lawyers surveyed were not satisfied with their careers.

Why do so many lawyers stay in their practices if they feel so uncomfortable? I asked this question to many attorneys, and the answer is almost always that they’re settling because they at least feel safe. But just how important is it that you feel “safe,” if that safety leaves you feeling disappointed on a regular basis?

Sometimes the reality doesn’t match the dream

Many attorneys find themselves spending way too much time at the office, altogether losing any semblance of a work-life balance. An article published by The Atlantic states that attorneys are often working 60 to 70 hours per week. That sizeable of a workload can lead to burnout, fast.

An emerging problem is that most legal firms enforce hourly billing requirements. These imbalanced economic incentives make it increasingly difficult for attorneys to maintain genuine relationships with their clients, while still maintaining their lives outside of work. I’ve spoken with many lawyers who left their law firm because they despised this particular aspect thought of their role. This traditional model also means that your success is related to your time instead of your real value and capabilities, which severely diminishes customer-oriented practices.

Another problem that I frequently hear about is that when you work in a law firm, your time, the nature of your cases, and the type of clients you take on are usually chosen for you. Another complication is the high overhead …

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