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60+ Small Business Statistics That You Can’t Afford to Ignore & Top 10 Website Hosting

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99.9% of the business population in the U.K. This totals around 5.9 million businesses.

Transforming your dream into reality by starting up a new small business can be both exciting and challenging. However, it’s entirely possible to do but requires some knowledge about what and how small businesses succeed.

Familiarising yourself with recent trends is a great starting point. We’ve put together these small business statistics, including the latest trends in 2019 just for you.

Facts & Statistics

  • Small and medium enterprises represent more than 90% of the business population
  • It is estimated that there are up to 445 million micro and small and medium enterprises in emerging markets around the world
  • 99% of all businesses in the European Union are classified as SMEs
  • 96.4% of manufacturing exporters in the US are SMEs
  • There are currently 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S.
  • 75.3% of private-sector employers are micro-businesses or those with less than ten employees
  • 69% of American entrepreneurs start their businesses at home, and 59% of businesses continue to be home-based even after three years of operation
  • The fastest-growing small business industries in 2018 (with the most number of startups) were business services and food/restaurant tied at 11%
  • The majority of small business owners are over the age of 50, a fourth is in the 40-49 age range, and the rest are between 18 to 39 years old

U.K. Small Businesses

  • There were 5.8 million small businesses at the start of 2019
  • SMEs account for 60% of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector
  • In 2019, there were estimated to be 5.9 million UK private sector businesses
  • 1.4 million of these had employees and 4.5 million had no employees
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade and Repair accounted for 14% of all SME employment
  • London (1.1 million) and the South East (940,000) had the most private sector businesses, accounting for 35% of the UK business population
  • Nearly 1/5 of all SMEs were operating in Construction
  • Between 2018 and 2019, the total business population grew by 3.5%
  • Turnover in 2018 was estimated at £2.2 trillion for SMEs
  • It takes roughly 13 days to start a small business in UK and Ireland

U.S. Small Businesses

  • On average, it takes 6 days to start a small business in the U.S.
  • 56% of small businesses think finding great talent is their biggest challenge
  • 37% of business owners offer higher salaries to make their business more appealing
  • 26% of people say their biggest motivation to start a small business is to be their own boss
  • In 2018, there was a 34% increase in health, beauty, and fitness industries
  • 73% of small business owners are male
  • Only 26% of small business owners have a college degree

Small Business Growth

  • Each month an average of 543,000 new businesses are started
  • As of 2018, 99.9% of US businesses are small businesses
  • Small businesses employ more than 47.5% of the private workforce in the US
  • Businesses with less than ten employees are the most common, accounting for 75.3% of all private-sector employers
  • 50% of small businesses survive five years or more
  • The Small Business Association has stated that only 30% of newly founded businesses are likely to fail within the first two years
  • 66% of small businesses will survive throughout the first ten years
  • Every year 1 in 12 businesses closes
  • 4 out of 100 businesses survive past the 10-year mark
  • 82% of companies fail because of cash flow problems
  • 50% of small businesses are home-based
  • 60.1% of firms are without paid employees
  • 81% of small business owners work nights
  • 70% of small business owners said they work more than 40 hours a week with 19% working over 60 hours
  • 86.3% of small business owners take less than $100,000 a year
  • Technology, health, and energy are the most popular industries to start a small business in
  • Real estate, retail, and hospitality are also among the industries that are set to have the most substantial growth in jobs in the future

Small Business Financials

  • In 2018, the average SBA loan was $417,314
  • 26.9% of small business loans get approved
  • 12% of employer firms and one-third of non-employer firms use no startup capital whatsoever.
  • The average amount of small business starting capital is $80,000 a year
  • 1/3 of small businesses are founded with up to $5,000 of startup capital

Women-owned Small Businesses

  • In the U.S., 12.3 million businesses are owned by women
  • In 2018, 207,900 of women-led businesses (1.7%) generated more than $1 million
  • 17% of all women-led businesses are Latinas
  • 48% of women business owners are between the 45-65 age range
  • 31% are age 25-44

Small Business Marketing

  • 70-80% of people research a small business before visiting or making a purchase from them
  • 64% of small businesses have a website
  • 61% of small businesses invest in social media marketing
  • 39% of small businesses use email marketing
  • Nearly 50% of small businesses spend $10,000 or less on digital marketing each year
  • 80% of small businesses don’t use content marketing
  • 89% of small business owners believe that using SEO helps drive business
  • 92% of small business owners think that having a website is the most effective digital marketing strategy
  • 10% of small businesses engage in AR and VR technology for digital marketing

References

https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/smefinance

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/16-surprising-small-business-statistics-infographic-190434232.html

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-definition_en

https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/2018-Small-Business-Profiles-US.pdf

https://sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/

https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/2018-Small-Business-Profiles-US.pdf

https://smallbiztrends.com/2013/07/home-based-businesses-startup.html

https://www.guidantfinancial.com/small-business-trends/

https://www.bluecorona.com/blog/29-small-business-digital-marketing-statistics

https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-small-business-loan-amount

https://www.biz2credit.com/small-business-lending-index/november-2018

https://www.wbenc.org/blog-posts/2018/10/10/behind-the-numbers-the-state-of-women-owned-businesses-in-2018

https://about.americanexpress.com/files/doc_library/file/2018-state-of-women-owned-businesses-report.pdf

https://www.merchantsavvy.co.uk/uk-sme-data-stats-charts/

By: Anna Foster

Source: 60+ Small Business Statistics (That you Can’t Afford to Ignore) – Top 10 Website Hosting

44.5K subscribers
►Bluehost – https://tinyurl.com/y4gqmko9 ►SiteGround – https://tinyurl.com/y2pgzajn ►Flywheel – https://share.getf.ly/d26a9l ►DreamHost – https://tinyurl.com/y5cd3ock ►HostGator – https://tinyurl.com/yxakdnbo We have just laid out the six best web hosting services available right now. BlueHost is first on our list and offers a very respectable uptime record as well as a variety of hosting plans. It also gives you cPanel to make managing your site easier. Next up we have SiteGround, which has servers all over the world and a 99.9% uptime record. It is a great choice if you are an online merchant in need of hosting services. Flywheel is another great hosting service. They have an outstanding reputation and offer customizable plan configurations, so you get exactly what you need. DreamHost is another excellent hosting choice. You can easily build a new website with their proprietary site builder tool, and you definitely get your money’s worth overall. GreenGeeks is the best choice for those who want an eco-friendly hosting solution. They only use renewable energy, and their customer support is top rate. HostGator is last on our list, but it’s definitely not least. This hosting company is highly reliable and offers an impressive 45-day money back guarantee. It is a great choice if you are looking for a dependable web host with scalable options that will grow with your website. ============================================= → Disclaimer Portions of footage found in this video is not original content produced by Too Much Tech. Portions of stock footage of products was gathered from multiple sources including, manufactures, fellow creators and various other sources.

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This Scientist and Entrepreneur Proves You Don’t Need to Study Business to Succeed in It

Owning and running a company is no small task. It’s a difficult, stressful, never-ending process that actually gets more complex as you find success. It’s hard enough for people who specifically studied business in school. And for those who didn’t study business, the challenge is even more daunting. When so many former business students fail, it must frequently feel overwhelming for students of other disciplines.

YPO member Yi Li isn’t afraid of a challenge. A lifelong lover of science, she braved a new country and different culture when she left China to pursue her PhD in physics on a full scholarship at Louisiana State University. As she studied energy storage, battery technology and management, and charge control, she realized she had the makings of a great alternative energy company.

Li wasn’t hindered by her lack of business experience–in fact, she started her solar power company in her apartment while she was still a student. Today, Li is the president and CEO of Renogy Solar, which manufactures and sells a wide range of solar-powered products. Renogy was certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. The company has also won several bronze- and gold-level awards from the Golden Bridge Awards, and was included on the Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Company list released by the Women Presidents’ Organization.

On an episode of my podcast 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Li shared her advice to non-business people starting a company:

1. Don’t be intimidated

Li didn’t have a business background, but she didn’t let that stop her from founding her own company. “I didn’t have any background or experience or education about running a business, or even financial experience or knowledge. I’d never thought about those difficulties,” she recalls. When she began, it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. “I definitely went through a lot of difficulties and challenges, but every time I saw challenges, I thought about my passion. I thought about my purpose.

If that’s my goal, forget about how I feel how difficult it is. Just try to find a solution,” she asserts. Li is also not afraid to admit what she doesn’t know. “If I see I lack knowledge [in a particular area], I’ll get a book or take online classes. I’m really a self-learner, so I learned all that stuff by myself,” she explains. Don’t let your own self-doubt get in the way of pursuing something great.

2. Don’t feel compelled to follow all the rules

While she acknowledges the difficulties inherent in starting a company without a business background, Li also believes there may be some benefit in not being tied to one philosophy. “You need to think outside the box,” she argues. “Don’t follow too many old-school type, book, education principles. Even if it’s a lot of good experience, it may not apply to you.” She encourages entrepreneurs to find their own path. “You can learn, but try to develop something that is unique to you,” she says.

Li believes she has a good example in Jack Ma of Alibaba. “He didn’t have all the necessary professional skills when he started the business–he was a teacher,” Li explains. “When he started the business, not everybody believed his dream. But he ignored all of the voices. If he decided to do something, he was very, very determined.” Ma and Li aren’t afraid to follow their instincts.

3. Be frugal

Li is very blunt about this: “You need to run a business frugally,” she emphasizes. The challenge, of course, is that talent can be expensive. Thankfully, she’s found a way to compensate for that. “My employees truly believe in what we’re doing,” she beams. “We’re still a startup, and we’re not paying as high compared to a lot of Fortune 500 companies,” she admits, but her company is about more than dollars and cents.

“I look for people who truly want to develop themselves, because they’re not here just for the paycheck. We instill a passion and a dream into our employees’ minds. That’s how I recruit people.”

4. Believe in it

Do what you love! It’s exactly what led Li down the path from science to entrepreneurship. “I truly want to be a scientist. I really love physics. What I studied was superconductivity and semiconductor materials. And one of my projects was related to alternative energy studies. So there I saw my passion taking form,” she fondly recalls. Whatever your calling, follow what brings you joy. “I truly believe you have to be a passionate person and do what you truly want to do,” Li states.

It doesn’t mean it will be easy. She explains, “You cannot just do this for money. You have to do this for love. Otherwise, you cannot deal with all of the obstacles you’ll face.” For Li, her mission is clear: “I really think a sustainable future is something we should all work for and fight for,” she says. Wherever your passion lies, pursue happiness.

On Fridays, Kevin explores industry trends, professional development, best practices, and other leadership topics with CEOs from around the world.

By Kevin DaumInc. 500 entrepreneur and best-selling author

Source: This Scientist and Entrepreneur Proves You Don’t Need to Study Business to Succeed in It

558K subscribers
Start Your Own Business by Writing Business Plan. How to write a successful business plan for successful startups. Step By Step – How to write a business plan an effectively for starting your own business. Watch 11 Elements of Sample Business Plan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1b0_… TOP 10 TIPS Before Starting Your OWN BUSINESS : https://youtu.be/wxyGeUkPYFM Join our Young Entrepreneurs Forum – http://www.youngentrepreneursforum.com/ #youngentrepreneursforum Do you need a business plan for successful startups in India, USA, UK & Canada. Starting an own business needs working plan which compiles some important details about product & company. Problem Solving Skills To Start a Small Business – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9Ho3… #startsmallbusiness 9 Steps For Writing a Business Plan – Required Steps to Write a Business Plan for your company or service. Step 1 – Define your vision 1:16 Step 2 – Set your goals and objectives for the business 1:50 Step 3 – Define your Unique Selling Proposition 2:29 Step 4 – Know your market 3:02 Step 5 – Know your customer 3:57 Step 6 – Research the demand for your business 4:47 Step 7 – Set your marketing goals 5:52 Step 8 – Define your marketing strategy 6:38 Step 9 – Take Action! 7:20 These all Steps are very important while you are writing a business plan for starting your own business. Life of Riley by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…) Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Artist: http://incompetech.com/ You must have to focus on Idea, Product,Strategy,Team, Marketing and Profit while you are writing business plan for your successful stratups.

How Your Small Business Can Maximize Profit & Minimize Loss With a Financial Plan

As one of the most essential aspects of a business proposal, the financial plan utilizes current financial data to project long-term profits and losses for your company. As a business owner, having a strong financial plan helps you identify potential issues and discrepancies while it’s still early enough to make changes. Having a good financial plan handy also improves your odds of securing funding from banks and other investors by showing you’ve done your due diligence.

Still, first-time entrepreneurs often struggle to create these all-important documents.

Below are five components every financial plan should have, along with suggestions for collecting the necessary data to plan your business’ future.

1. Income statements

Income statements reveal revenue, expenses and profits over a given period of time. Start by making a list of all the costs and expenses associated with running your business. This may include raw materials, suppliers, employee salaries and rent costs. Then record your revenue, which is the money you receive in exchange for providing goods and services. By subtracting your expenses from total revenue, you can determine whether your company can expect to make a profit or suffer a loss.

This information is crucial not only for planning purposes, but it can also help draw potential investors to your business.

While income statements for existing businesses convey data from the past one or two years, startups must instead forecast this information based on their research. When drafting your company’s first income statements, you may need to project profits and losses using information from similar businesses in the area. The goal is to determine if your company can support itself moving forward and make budgetary changes as needed.

2. Cash flow

Cash flow projections estimate the amount of money that will be entering and exiting the business on a regular basis. Determining net cash flow requires simply subtracting cash outflow from cash inflow, which reveals only those funds that are actually available at a given time.

Just as with your income statement projections, you’ll have to create a plan of how you expect your cash to flow based on rational observations, predictions and your own research. Again, while it seems frustrating, compiling a schedule of when cash comes in and out can give you (and investors) insight into how much cash you’ll actually have available to operate your business.

By keeping accurate cash flow statements as your business matures, you can identify problem areas before they grow too large to contain. For instance, if your projections suggest you need more immediate cash, you can try strategies to help bring it in, such as turning over inventory more quickly or reducing the length of your billing cycle. However you use it, a cash flow’s primary functions are to assess your company’s financial health and help you make business-development decisions moving forward.

Another thing to keep in mind: When calculating your cash flow projection, you won’t be able to use any revenue amounts from unpaid invoices. The reason? That revenue hasn’t been collected yet and thus isn’t available to go in or out. Yes, you may be able to declare the money from unpaid invoices in your revenue projections, but not as cash on hand.

3. Balance sheet

balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company’s assetsliabilities and equity at a given time. As its name implies, a balance is struck between a company’s assets, which equal its liability added to the value of its equity.

First, take time to list all assets, including accounts receivable, savings, inventory and equipment. Next, you should detail all liabilities, such as accounts payable, loan payments and credit card balances. Lastly, you can add up the company’s equity, which may take the form of owner equity, investor shares and earnings from stocks. When you’re finished, check to make sure that the total value of assets equals that of your liabilities plus your equity.

As you may expect, your balance sheet can have a significant effect on your business’ ability to secure the funding it needs to get off the ground. Learn more about how to create a detailed balance sheet to track your startup’s liabilities and equity.

4. Break-even analysis

It’s no secret that startups rarely turn a profit at the onset. If and when your business does cross the threshold from red to black, it will have crossed the break-even point. The break-even point occurs when the expenses of running your business equal the revenue from your products and services. To increase your odds of reaching that crucial turning point, take the time to create a break-even analysis as part of your financial plan.

Along with your company’s fixed and variable costs, the document should include projected prices and account for the value of inflation. Not only does a break-even analysis show potential investors that your company has the potential to succeed, but it also enables you to make better decisions regarding resource allocation. If your break-even point is too high, you may want to consider ways to reduce your cost of business. This might include shopping for new suppliers, increasing prices or even temporarily working out of your home.

5. Financing schedule

Most of us can’t launch a new business entirely on our own. Because loans are an unfortunate fact of life in the startup world, every business plan should include a loan summary and financing schedule. Take note of the types of loans incurred, including interest rates and expected terms as well as securities information. After all, potential lenders want to know that you have a solid plan to pay off existing debts before investing more money in your business venture.

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, then you’ve probably heard the bleak statistics. According to one report, as many as eight in 10 startups fail in the first 18 months. To give your business a fighting chance, you need to have a strong financial plan in place before you launch.

By: April Maguire

Source: How your small business can maximize profit & minimize loss with a financial plan

1.37K subscribers
In this video, Kelly discusses how to maximize profits in business in just three simple steps. By taking advantage of what resources you already have within your company, you can maximize profits and grow your business. Your company can figure out how to improve sales by analyzing what your business is doing so already…and what your business is not doing. By putting these steps into action, you can figure out how to attract customers and increase profits Ask yourself: • When was the last time you last raised profits within your business? Are you getting what you want? • Is your business selling the right kinds of stock including individual packages, group packages, etc. for your services? If not, these kinds of products would bring in money that your company is not seeing already. • Are you engaging with previous customers? If not, these customers are just as important to figure out how to attract customers to your business. Want a quick overview of topics? Check out the time stamps below: 00:49 – Charge what you’re worth to grow your business 1:42 – When was the last time you raised your rates? 2:08 – Consider having reoccurring revenue to maximize profits 2:40 – Fortune is in the follow up! Make it your business growth strategy Learn how to improve your outlook on money but also create more income within your business. Not only will you learn to improve your vision of money but rethink your ideas so you can create new ones. ======================================================== THANK YOU for taking the time to watch these videos!! If you like what you’re watching, comment below to start a conversation! =================================================== To learn more about our program that teaches you how to build and scale your business to create more freedom go to: http://www.KellyRoachCoaching.com/yes ======================================================== Visit the Kelly Roach Coaching online store for products and programs to help you grow your business! http://www.kellyroachcoaching.com/shop ======================================================== **Click Below to SUBSCRIBE for More Videos** https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwyA… ======================================================== Kelly Roach Business Growth Strategist, Rapid Business Growth Coach, Author, Host of Unstoppable Success Radio http://www.KellyRoachCoaching.com ======================================================== Join the conversation: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kellyroachint… Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kellyroachint YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/kellyroach ====================================================== To learn more about how to grow your business and how to increase sales, watch Kelly’s “How to improve your Money Mindset” video at https://youtu.be/1mo_Fvrgpw4

 

Business Have Been Practicing Social Responsibility For Decades, But Is That Really A Good Thing?

The jury is out on whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs will one day make the world a better place. But this much is pretty clear: They’re already benefiting the companies that have implemented them. And in some unexpected ways.

Specifically, CSR has become the weapon of choice for what is known as, in corporate speak, the three R’s: Investor Relations, Human Resources, and Public Relations.

But before we dive into details, a CSR mini-lesson is in order. First off, CSR isn’t an overnight sensation. Over the past couple of decades, companies have been embracing the idea that they need to do more than just make a profit for shareholders. Do-good efforts slowly evolved from passive and limited corporate philanthropy programs—giving to the United Way, for example—to broader and more active CSR programs. Those would take on major social issues like Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women program, which in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) has delivered $1.45 billion in loans to women-owned businesses in developing countries.

Now, they have evolved even more. Many companies are now incorporating impact-on-society considerations into core business activities. For example, Starbucks only uses “ethically-sourced coffee.” Programs like these are often focused on “sustainability.” In August, 181 CEOs of the country’s largest corporations signed a Business Roundtable statement committing to managing their companies not just for shareholders, but also for customers, employees, suppliers, and communities.

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Photo Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh for Newsweek; Getty 9; Buzz Courtesy of General Mills, Cesars Courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

The idea behind all of these efforts is the well-worn slogan “doing well by doing good,” which means that being a positive force in the community will enhance a company’s reputation, which in theory will pay off in more sales, lower costs and over the long term, more money for shareholders.

Can you even measure something like this? Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer of the Reputation Institute in Boston, says you can. He reels off a string of statistics, like “40% of the reputation of a company is related to corporate responsibility” and says his organization’s research proves that reputation is a leading indicator of stock market capitalization, or the total value of a company’s shares. In other words, he adds, “CSR has a multiplier effect” when it comes to a company’s value. But CSR can be risky. And take a little guts.

According to analysts, CVS’s 2014 decision to stop selling tobacco products cost it $2 billion a year in sales and caused the stock price to drop. (Investors took a $1.43 billion hit that year according to Martin Anderson of UNC Greensboro.) In 2010, Campbell Soup announced it was reducing the salt levels in many of its soups, a decision they reversed the following year when sales fell by 32%.

Meanwhile, in 2018, Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault rifles. On a panel at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, CEO Ed Stack said that decision cost them customers and employees. He notes that many of the customers who applauded the decision at the time seem to have forgotten, but those who were in opposition have not. “Love is fleeting,” he says. “But hate is forever.”

But many companies feel the do-gooder dividend outweighs the risks, both in relations with consumers and in day-to-day operations.

Brad McLane, who recruits high-level positions at RSR Partners, says, “Companies aren’t doing it just to say they have it. My clients are incorporating it into how they do business—what ingredients they use, where they source, how they design products.” Megan Kashner, clinical professor at the Kellogg School of Management’s Public-Private Interface agrees. She’s says that we’ve moved from “greenwashing programs that mimic CSR” to an era of “authentic CSR.” Greenwashing is the practice of making misleading claims that make a company appear more environmentally or socially conscious than it is, for example, when BP began touting itself as being environmentally conscious through a $200 million public relations campaign, only to have a string of environmental disasters—some of which, according to a government report, were caused by corporate cost-cutting to boost profits.

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BP is the subject of protests by Greenpeace activists over oil drilling in the North Sea. Christian Charisius/picture alliance/Getty

Simon Lowden, Pepsico chief sustainability officer, says, “It’s woven into how we operate as a business. For instance, we need to maintain our license to operate in water-stressed regions, so we’d better focus on being responsible stewards of water. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s important to our business.”

CSR is particularly useful in human resources. Rebecca M. Henderson, holds the John and Natty McArthur Chair at Harvard and is finishing a book on this topic, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire. She says: “CSR has a tremendous impact on the morale of employees. Authentic purpose, which may mean occasionally sacrificing profits, accesses a whole range of emotions difficult to get at otherwise, like trust and engagement.”

In other words, it gets through. And that is a good thing. It leads to higher levels of productivity and employee retention.

CSR can also be a big factor in recruiting, particularly for younger employees, says Eric Johnson, executive director of graduate career services at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He says, “Social impact is a big piece of the recruiting process. Probably 50 percent of that initial conversation is about what the company is doing to make the world better.”

“Beer companies used to talk about fun and sports. Now they talk about their programs to save water in the world. Social impact can tip the scales. Is a student going to choose an $85,000-a-year job over a $125,000 job because of social impact? I doubt it. But my observation is that jobs heavy in social impact often pay up to 10 percent less than comparable jobs that don’t.”

Professor Kashner adds, “These newly minted MBAs care and they care about the type of work they’re going to be doing. Maybe previous generations drew a line between work and personal life and values, but those boundaries no longer exist.” Korn Ferry, the giant executive recruiting firm, recently surveyed the professionals in its network. “Company mission and values” was the No. 1 reason (33 percent ) they’d choose to work for one company over another.

CSR is increasingly part of the conversation with individual shareholders and investors, like the world’s largest investment firm, BlackRock, which manages $6.5 trillion dollars for its clients. In his last two annual letters, CEO Larry Fink has called on companies to do more and said that BlackRock will evaluate companies on more than just financial numbers. His 2018 letter said, “As divisions continue to deepen, companies must demonstrate their commitment to the countries, regions, and communities where they operate, particularly on issues central to the world’s future prosperity.” Many investment firms now have someone in charge of building portfolios around companies based on their performance on Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG. (Measuring which companies are woke is an industry in and of itself.)

One aggregator of ESG ratings, CSRhub.com, lists 634 data sources. They range from the very broad (for example, Alex’s Guide to Compassionate Shopping) to the very specific (for example, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety).

For public relations, CSR is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. CSR can be used to pre-empt the conversation in areas where companies have been criticized. Procter & Gamble’s “Ambition 2030 program is heavy on recycling and biodegradability.

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A 50-foot cigarette is “snuffed out” by CVS in New York City. Andrew Burton/Getty

But CSR can also be a useful defense. It not only builds up a stock of goodwill with the media and the public, but it generates good news that crowds out the bad. Large corporations are going to get a certain amount of press and awkward questions each day—better that press and those questions be about CSR than, say, worker safety or GMOs. For example, in 2018 when Johnson & Johnson was accused of knowingly selling baby powder with harmful levels of asbestos, Harvard professor Bill George wrote a stirring defense of the company, focusing not on the merits of the claim, but on J&J’s “Our Credo,” a commitment to integrity and customers written in 1943 (and likely the first CSR document ever produced.)

Still, not everyone is convinced. There are many who adhere to the late economist Milton Friedman’s argument that the sole purpose of the corporation is to make more money for shareholders, who can then choose for themselves whether or not they want to save the world.

Judith Samuelson, vice president of Aspen Institute and founder of their Business and Society Program, who’s worked with many of the companies currently leading the way in CSR, says, “The shareholder primacy viewpoint hasn’t gone away. And even if attitudes have changed, measures haven’t. Many executives, including CEO’s, are still paid in stock, and those who manage portfolios for institutional investors are still bonused on the value of those portfolios.”

Samuelson worries that “Companies may think these (current) programs are enough and not make fundamental change.” Kashner is more optimistic. She cites work that says large public companies are increasingly incorporating CSR metrics into executive compensation contracts.

Those who oppose CSR programs argue that trying to do two things at once, like making a profit and serving society, will destroy the effectiveness of companies.

Samuelson scoffs at this. “Of course companies can do more than one thing. Public companies have to manage multiple objectives all the time. No public company in the world would last a week if the only people they cared about were shareholders. What about customers? Employees?”

She believes that CSR really boils down to responsible decision making, doing what it takes for companies to succeed in the long term. Whatever, CSR is here to stay. It’s become part of the fabric of investing, company operations, and business school curricula.

It’s now being tracked and measured, and in business, what gets measured gets done.

By

Source: Business Have Been Practicing Social Responsibility For Decades, But Is That Really A Good Thing?

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Alex Edmans talks about the long-term impacts of social responsibility and challenges the idea that caring for society is at the expense of profit. Alex is a Professor of Finance at London Business School. Alex graduated top of his class from Oxford University and then worked for Morgan Stanley in investment banking (London) and fixed income sales and trading (NYC). After a PhD in Finance from MIT Sloan as a Fulbright Scholar, he joined Wharton, where he was granted tenure and won 14 teaching awards in six years. Alex’s research interests are in corporate finance, behavioural finance, CSR, and practical investment strategies. He has been awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Socially Responsible Investing and the FIR-PRI prize for Finance and Sustainability, and was named a Rising Star of Corporate Governance by Yale University. Alex co-led a session at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, and runs a blog, “Access to Finance” (www.alexedmans.blogspot.com), that aims to make complex finance topics accessible to a general audience. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

Pivoting is expensive, but so is making smaller changes to your business plan to address the present-day realities of your market, your customers and your company. Revising your plan and implementing those changes can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can result in considerable operational upheaval.

But sometimes that’s exactly what your small business must do to ensure future success. How will you know it’s time to re-write your small business’s playbook? Here, three key signs:

1. Your growth is stagnant.

In a startup, momentum is everything. Growth provides the resources to continue to expand, beat the competition, improve quality and service, and increase efficiency through economies of scale.

Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t afford to simply plow additional funds into advertising in order to grow. Keeping customer acquisition costs down — and churn rate down as well — is key in the early stages for any bootstrapped startup.

In that case, growth might require jettisoning — or at the very least de-emphasizing — some products to focus on more profitable products. (See Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997.) That may require you to shift employees into new seats: sales, service, operations, etc.

Do this and the result might be a ripple effect of positives: Shifting employees provides opportunities for them to learn new skills, demonstrate new talents and learn about other functional areas. Moving a few employees into different roles can help re-energize and re-engage a number of other people.

Growth could also require introducing new products or services, especially when they complement existing offerings. Complementary offerings are a great way to re-engage existing customers as well as to bring in new customers who may then purchase other products or services.

In short: If your growth has stalled, what you planned to offer may not be sufficient. So how will you know what changes to make?

Ask your customers. They’ll tell you.

2. The needs of your “ideal” customer have changed.

Every business plan includes information on the target market: Demographics, interests, needs, pain points, etc. Over time, those needs can change (or maybe they never actually existed, at least on a sufficiently broad scale).

If you’re a tech company, evolving technologies can change the way customers interact with your service. If you’re in the restaurant business, today’s hot trend can be tomorrow’s outdated fad.

More likely, as your business has grown, so too has your infrastructure — meaning the level of one-on-one service you planned to provide is no longer necessary. (Or even desired.)

A great business plan lays out a blueprint for meeting customer needs and solving customer pain points. A great business constantly evolves to ensure those needs are met and those pains are eliminated.

Stay on top of metrics like return, service calls, churn rate, etc. to keep up with changing customer needs. Talk to your customers to find out how their needs may have changed.

Then revise your plan to make sure you provide not just what your plan says, but what customers really want and will pay to get.

3. You need full-time people in freelancer seats

Early on you may not have needed — or maybe couldn’t afford — to hire full-time people to perform certain functions. Wisely, you turned to freelancers. Freelancers are great for completing specific tasks, especially when sufficient expertise or specialized knowledge is a necessity.

The problem with freelancers is that they can only perform specific tasks. They can’t step into other roles. They can’t step into other functions. Because they aren’t a part of your company, they can’t learn and grow and develop with your company.

At some point it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. While they might not currently possess every drop of skill and experience they need to succeed in the role, when you hire people who are adaptable and eager to learn, they soon will.

And then they will help create an outstanding foundation upon which your company can grow.

By: Craig Bloem Founder and CEO, FreeLogoServices.com

Source: 3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

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Tutorial starts at 1:20 Whether you’re starting a new business or just trying to get your existing business a bit more organized, writing a business plan is the perfect way to clearly outline how your business operates, declare goals, and set out a strategy to reach those goals. In this video you’ll learn about the six essential pages every business plan should have, what to record on each of those pages, and also how to write your business plan as quickly and easily as possible — even if you’re a complete beginner! 🔹 Download the FREE Six-Step Business Success Plan: https://www.gillianperkins.com/downlo… // WHAT TO WATCH NEXT Six Ways to Earn Six Figures Working from Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1i8x… How I (actually) Got My First Client Online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AST3P… How I Created Multiple Streams of Income for Myself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfaH_… How to Decide What Business to Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mid_A… // LINKS Learn more about Gillian and find resources to build your online business: https://www.gillianperkins.com Join our private Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/start… Follow Gillian on Instagram to get a BTS look at what it’s like to be a digital entrepreneur: https://www.instagram.com/gillianzper… // MAIL Gillian Perkins International P.O. Box 13573 Salem, OR 97309 NOTE: This description may contains affiliate links to products we enjoy using ourselves. Should you choose to use these links, this channel may earn affiliate commissions at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support! KEYWORDS how to write a business plan, free business plan, do i need a business plan, #entrepreneurship, #gillianperkins, business plan how-to guide, business plan step by step, business plan tips ,gillian perkins, gillianperkins, do you need a business plan, How To Write a Business Plan To Start Your Own Business, how to write a business plan step by step, business plan for beginners, simple business plan, business 101, business plan template, business plan example, how to write a business plan for beginners

The Formula You Are Using To Determine How Much To Save For Retirement Is Broken

If you are trying to figure out how much money you need to save for retirement, there’s an easy rule of thumb that you can use: simply multiply your expected annual expenses in retirement by twenty-five.

For example, if you expect to spend $100,000 annually once you’re retired, you’ll want to have a $2.5 million portfolio saved up. If you’d like to play around with the numbers to estimate your own retirement needs, you can use this simple retirement calculator.

This retirement savings rule of thumb is based on the 1998 landmark study conducted by Carl Hubbard, Philip Cooley and Daniel Walz, in their seminal study known as the Trinity Study. They built on the 1994 work of William Bengen, who originally coined the ‘4% Rule’.

Today In: Money

The Trinity Study evaluated safe retirement withdrawal rates, and found that 4% was sufficient for the majority of retirees. A safe withdrawal rate simply refers to the amount of money that can be taken out of an account and allow you to reasonably expect the portfolio to not fail, or run out of money. In this case, the 4% withdrawal rate refers to the amount of money that will be withdrawn from the balance of the retirement portfolio in the first year of retirement. In subsequent years, the balance withdrawn will simply be an inflation adjusted number based on the total dollar amount withdrawn the year prior.

The Trinity Study has become so well-known, that it has been adopted by hopeful retirees from all walks of life, including those hoping to retire early. The FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is a lifestyle movement with the goal of allowing individuals to retire as early and quickly as possible.

However, one detail that the movement is getting wrong and completely missing, is the fact that the Trinity Study’s 4% rule of thumb was based on a 30 year retirement period. This time horizon was determined to be on the conservative end of retirements by the authors of the study. If you work until you’re 65, having a 30 year retirement seems pretty reasonable. I don’t think many would argue that living until the age of 95 is a short life by any means.

The problem arises due to the FIRE movement seeking a much longer retirement period. If you retire at 45 years old, you may need a portfolio that will survive another 45 to 50 years in order to avoid running out of money. In this case, making a judgement error could end up meaning re-entering the workforce at an advanced age. For this reason, relying on a 4% withdrawal rate is an extremely risky decision if you plan to retire early.

This begs the question of what a more appropriate withdrawal rate is if you plan to retire early. The answer is that it depends. In general, the study found that as the balance between stocks and bonds shifts towards equities, a portfolio is more likely to withstand the test of time. So inherently, your risk tolerance will need to be factored into the equation. If you are comfortable with 75%+ of your portfolio being in stocks (and stomaching the increased risk), you might be safe with a 3% withdrawal rate. If you prefer less volatile investments, a lower rate is more conservative.

This is bad news for a lot of you hoping to retire early.

For one, it would mean having to save an additional $833,000 if you hope to spend $100,000 annually like in the example above. Unless you are an exceptionally high earner, it’ll likely mean having to work for several additional years or having to continue to earn additional income even after retirement.

With the buzz surrounding the gig economy and the seemingly endless ‘side-hustle’ opportunities available, this seems like a surmountable hurdle. The deficit in retirement savings required also highlights the impact of having to save for retirement as efficiently as possible.

This means fully taking advantage of your 401(k), IRA, and other tax-advantaged accounts. It also means evaluating whether it makes sense to refinance your student loans or not. Avoiding credit card interest fees and other forms of high interest debt are a must. In addition, maximizing your earning potential will also help safeguard your nest egg from market turbulence and economic uncertainty.

Just as important, you’ll also want to avoid making costly investment mistakes. One that comes to mind is erroneously viewing your vehicle as a sound investment. Another pitfall is picking individual stocks in lieu of index funds or ETFs. To set yourself up for success, minimizing fees and diversifying your investments is the name of the game.

Does all of this mean that the 4% rule is futile and should be completely ignored? Absolutely not. The authors of the Trinity Study ran simulations to find what the safe withdrawal rate would be for varying time horizons. But at the end of the day, they were just that: simulations. Even if you only had an expected 15 year retirement and used a conservative withdrawal rate, there is always the chance that your portfolio could fail. The same is true in the opposite direction: there’s always the chance that a 4% withdrawal could be sufficient for a 50 year retirement.

The question you have to answer is whether you are comfortable taking that risk. I know I’m not.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Camilo Maldonado is Co-Founder of The Finance Twins, a personal finance site showing you how to budgetinvestbanksave & refinance your student loans. He also runs Contacts Compare.

Source: The Formula You Are Using To Determine How Much To Save For Retirement Is Broken

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There are many financial gurus out there that tell you how much to save for retirement, but how did they come up with that number? Honestly they are all just using each others guesses, but as financial advisors we need to do better. While others guess that you should save 10, 12,15% for retirement we can actually figure out how much you should save…to the penny! The first thing we want to know is how much income are you looking for in retirement? Typically we say that you should aim to have 75% of your current income replaced for retirement. The reason is that social security and other savings may make up the difference. Today we will calculate how much a 30 year old couple should save for retirement given that they each have income of $50,ooo per year. We will adjust this to account for inflation and make some assumptions about their retirement age and life expectancy. After calculating this along with expected returns we can see that they need to save 11.9% of their income yearly to have 75% of their income in retirement. We love doing this for our clients and if you are considering a place for your retirement investments then we hope you will consider jazzWealth.com We’re an investing service that also helps you keep your dough straight. We’ll manage your retirement investments and, using NestEgg we can help you with every penny! —Ready to subscribe— https://www.youtube.com/jazzwealth?su… For more information visit: www.JazzWealth.com — Instagram @jazzWealth — Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JazzWealth/ — Twitter @jazzWealth Investment related questions 📧 Dustin@JazzWealth.com Business Affairs 📧Carolyn@JazzWealth.com

IRS Announces New Per Diem Rates For Taxpayers Who Travel For Business

Are you wondering about those updated per diem rates? The new per-diem numbers are now out, effective October 1, 2019. These numbers are to be used for per-diem allowances paid to any employee on or after October 1, 2019, for travel away from home. The new rates include those for the transportation industry; the rate for the incidental expenses; and the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method.

I know, that sounds complicated. But it’s intended to keep things simple. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows the use of per diem (that’s Latin meaning “for each day” – remember, lawyers love Latin) rates to make reimbursements easier for employers and employees. Per diem rates are a fixed amount paid to employees to compensate for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses incurred when traveling on business rather than using actual expenses.

Here’s how it typically works: A per diem rate can be used by an employer to reimburse employees for combined lodging and meal costs, or meal costs alone. Per diem payments are not considered part of the employee’s wages for tax purposes so long as the payments are equal to, or less than the federal per diem rate, and the employee provides an expense report. If the employee doesn’t provide a complete expense report, the payments will be taxable to the employee. Similarly, any payments which are more than the per diem rate will also be taxable.

Today In: Money

The reimbursement piece is essential. Remember that for the 2019 tax year, unreimbursed job expenses are not deductible. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated unreimbursed job expenses and miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor for the tax years 2018 through 2025. Those expenses include unreimbursed travel and mileage.

That also means that the business standard mileage rate (you’ll find the 2019 rate here) cannot be used to deduct unreimbursed employee travel expenses for the 2018 through 2025 tax years. The IRS has clarified, however, that members of a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States, state or local government officials paid on a fee basis, and certain performing artists may still deduct unreimbursed employee travel expenses as an adjustment to income on the front page of the 1040; in other words, those folks can continue to use the business standard mileage rate. For details, you can check out Notice 2018-42 (downloads as a PDF).

What about self-employed taxpayers? The good news is that they can still deduct business-related expenses. However, the per diem rates aren’t as useful for self-employed taxpayers because they can only use the per diem rates for meal costs. Realistically, that means that self-employed taxpayers must continue to keep excellent records and use exact numbers.

As of October 1, 2019, the special meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) per diem rates for taxpayers in the transportation industry are $66 for any locality of travel in the continental United States and $71 for any locality of travel outside the continental United States; those rates are slightly more than they were last year. The per diem rate for meals & incidental expenses (M&IE) includes all meals, room service, laundry, dry cleaning, and pressing of clothing, and fees and tips for persons who provide services, such as food servers and luggage handlers.

The rate for incidental expenses only is $5 per day, no matter the location. Incidental expenses include fees and tips paid at lodging, including porters and hotel staff. It’s worth noting that transportation between where you sleep or work and where you eat, as well as the mailing cost of filing travel vouchers and paying employer-sponsored charge card billings, are no longer included in incidental expenses. If you want to snag a break for those, and you use the per diem rates, you may request that your employer reimburse you.

That’s good advice across the board: If you previously deducted those unreimbursed job expenses and can no longer do so under the TCJA, ask your employer about potential reimbursements. Companies might not have considered the need for specific reimbursement policies before the new tax law, but would likely not want to lose a good employee over a few dollars – especially when those dollars are important to the employee.

Of course, since the cost of travel can vary depending on where – and when – you’re going, there are special rates for certain destinations. For purposes of the high-low substantiation method, the per diem rates are $297 for travel to any high-cost locality and $200 for travel to any other locality within the continental United States. The meals & incidental expenses only per diem for travel to those destinations is $71 for travel to a high-cost locality and $60 for travel to any other locality within the continental United States.

You can find the list of high-cost localities for all or part of the calendar year – including the applicable rates – in the most recent IRS notice. As you can imagine, high cost of living areas like San Francisco, Boston, New York City, and the District of Columbia continue to make the list. There are, however, a few noteworthy changes, including:

  • The following localities have been added to the list of high-cost localities: Mill Valley/San Rafael/Novato, California; Crested Butte/Gunnison, Colorado; Petoskey, Michigan; Big Sky/West Yellowstone/Gardiner, Montana; Carlsbad, New Mexico; Nashville, Tennessee; and Midland/Odessa, Texas.
  • The following localities have been removed from the list of high-cost localities: Los Angeles, California; San Diego, California; Duluth, Minnesota; Moab, Utah; and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • The following localities have changed the portion of the year in which they are high-cost localities (meaning that seasonal rates apply): Napa, California; Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado; Vail, Colorado; Washington D.C., District of Columbia; Key West, Florida; Jekyll Island/Brunswick, Georgia; New York City, New York; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pecos, Texas; Vancouver, Washington; and Jackson/Pinedale, Wyoming.

You can find the entire high-cost localities list, together with other per diem information, in Notice 2019-55 (downloads as a PDF). To find the federal government per diem rates by locality name or zip code, head over to the General Services Administration (GSA) website.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Years ago, I found myself sitting in law school in Moot Court wearing an oversized itchy blue suit. It was a horrible experience. In a desperate attempt to avoid anything like that in the future, I enrolled in a tax course. I loved it. I signed up for another. Before I knew it, in addition to my JD, I earned an LL.M Taxation. While at law school, I interned at the estates attorney division of the IRS. At IRS, I participated in the review and audit of federal estate tax returns. At one such audit, opposing counsel read my report, looked at his file and said, “Gentlemen, she’s exactly right.” I nearly fainted. It was a short jump from there to practicing, teaching, writing and breathing tax. Just like that, Taxgirl® was born.

Source: IRS Announces New Per Diem Rates For Taxpayers Who Travel For Business

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Per Diem is one of the largest tax deductions available to owner-operator truck drivers. Effective October 1, 2018, the daily rate was increased. In this video, we discuss Per Diem and how it will affect owner-operators.

Societal Impact: Moving From “Nice-To-Consider” To “Business Imperative”

Over the past few years, societal impact has been growing as an area of interest for businesses. Business leaders, myself included, have voiced the belief that businesses should have a purpose beyond profits, and uphold a responsibility to society and the environment.

Although this school of thought is sometimes met with skepticism from those who doubt the commitment of businesses to do good, there is new research suggesting that businesses are actually taking significant action to improve their impact on society and the environment.

According to a new report from Deloitte Global, societal impact has become the most important factor organizations use to evaluate their annual performances, outranking financial performance and employee satisfaction. These findings are based on a survey of more than 2,000 C-suite executives across 19 countries. This shows a shift, even just from last year’s survey report, in which executives expressed uncertainty about how they could influence the direction of Industry 4.0 and its impact on society.

What is driving this change? There is no one answer. Almost half of executives surveyed (46 percent) reported that their efforts have been motivated by the quest to create new revenue streams, and a similar percentage said that initiatives that have a positive societal impact are necessary for sustaining or growing their businesses. An organization’s cultures and policies were also cited as motivation (43 percent).

External pressure continues to be a major driver as well. According to Deloitte Global’s series of inclusive growth surveys, some of this drive comes more from public sentiment, which is increasingly influencing business leaders’ decisions related to societal impact by encouraging them to reevaluate their strategies.

Purpose in action

When it comes to societal impact, businesses are beginning to put actions behind their words. Seventy-three percent of surveyed CXOs report having changed or developed products or services in the past year to generate positive societal impact. What’s more, 53 percent say they successfully generated new revenue streams from these socially conscious offerings.

While some leaders have started to see profits from positive societal goods and services, there is disagreement over the question of whether initiatives meant to benefit society also benefit bottom lines. Fifty-two percent see societal initiatives as generally reducing profitability; 48 percent said that such initiatives boost the bottom line.

Despite these concerns, leaders report a commitment to initiatives that benefit society.  There’s probably a short term vs longer term element in this regarding the sustainability of business which may have influenced the answers.

Strategically integrated

Beyond products, services, and new revenue streams, leaders are integrating societal impact into their core strategies. Executives say they have been particularly effective preparing for the impact that Industry 4.0 solutions will have on society. They’re also building external partnerships and joint ventures, and strengthening ecosystem relationships to make a greater impact.

Whether driven by finding new sources of revenue, or the need to respond to external pressures, businesses across all industries seem to be moving towards improving their societal impact. It is heartening to see that leaders are incorporating these considerations into their strategies, as well as operations. When societal impact is seen to be an integral part of a business’s makeup, the most meaningful results can be achieved.

To learn more read, “Success Personified in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Four Leadership Personas for an Era of Change and Uncertainty.”

David Cruickshank was elected into the role of Chairman of Deloitte’s global organization, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, in June 2015 having served on its Global Board for eight years from 2007. Prior to this, he was Chairman of the UK member firm from 2007-2015. He is a Chartered Accountant and a graduate in business and economics from the University of Edinburgh. David is co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and a Board Member of the Social Progress Imperative.

Source: Societal Impact: Moving From “Nice-To-Consider” To “Business Imperative”

Today, many firms are active on social media, but not all of them are experiencing transformational change and return on investment. Why do some businesses succeed, while others fail? Join us for a fireside chat on why Social Business has become too important to delegate completely to a junior social marketing team and why going forward, CEOs, CMOs, management teams, and boards must personally own and drive Social Business strategy and re-architect traditional business models and client engagement models.

Fireside chat with Clara Shih, CEO and Co-Founder, Hearsay Social and Kristin Lemkau, CMO, JPMorgan Chase.

 

How to Start a Business in 10 Steps

A little less than two-thirds of Americans want to start their own business. Perhaps surprisingly, this is true among both younger and older workers. Like the drive to write a book ( 81% of Americans) or work as a full time freelancer (soon to be half of all workers), starting your own business is a widely shared dream.

For good reason. People who work for themselves tend to love it. Although it comes with the complexity of having to manage every piece of an operation, as well as the stress of knowing that success rides completely on your own shoulders, there’s nothing quite like being your own boss.

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It’s also very possible. Here’s how.

1. Research Your Market

This guide will assume that you already know what your business will do. If not, we have an excellent guide to coming up with your small business idea here.

Once you have your idea set, you need to do your research.

Starting your business will inevitably be a learning experience, but you want to get as much information as you can beforehand. So take some time to study your planned market. Ask questions like:

• What kind of competition will you face?

• Who is your target consumer?

• Where will you locate your business?

• What are the logistical and practical concerns about that location?

• What do consumers like and dislike about the existing market for your product?

• What do consumers say they want right now?

• What kind of spending power does your target consumer have?

Your market will be different depending on the nature of your business venture. A corner store has entirely different demographics and challenges than a web-based service vendor. In both cases, though, it pays to know your audience. Literally.

2. Write a Business Plan

The business plan is the blueprint for your company. It’s where you’ll apply your research and planning into one document that describes in detail the who, what, when, where, how and why of your new business. In it you will address issues such as:

• Who you will market to;

• What you plan to sell;

• When you anticipate hitting certain benchmarks, your timeline for development;

• Where you will locate this business, whether online or brick and mortar;

• How you will operate this business day-to-day;

• Why this business, what opportunity did you see in the market.

Your business plan should also address critical issues such as:

• Monetization and cash flow. How do you anticipate making your money and turning a profit?

• How much will it cost to run this business? Don’t miss the details.

• When do you expect to become profitable?

• Specific challenges you anticipate and how you will overcome them.

• What will it take, step by step, to operate this business and create this product?

The business plan article linked above goes into more detail, and the Small Business Association has a template here. Both are worth reading in further detail, because starting a business without a business plan is like setting off on a road trip without a map or GPS.

And, of course, don’t forget to pick a terrific name.

3. Get Feedback

Now stop.

Writing your business plan should be exhausting. This should be a detail-oriented document that takes a hard look at your planned venture and how, precisely, it will work. If you’ve done it right, by now you should be ready to tear into the building phase of your new business.

Instead, take a step back and solicit feedback. Call friends, family and colleagues who might have some knowledge of the industry you’d like to enter. Seek out mentors or professional guidance if possible. Get their opinion of your business plan. They might have questions you didn’t think of or notice something that slipped by you.

Hopefully this business will be around for years to come. You can afford a small delay while you get a few more eyes on your proposal.

4. Find the Money

Cards on the table, this is the hardest part for most entrepreneurs.

Not every business needs a lot of startup capital, but you will almost certainly need some. How much will depend a lot on what you want to do. A web-based services firm might require very little in the way of funding, while a retail store can require a substantial amount of cash to pay for rent, inventory and staff.

Regardless of how much, now is when you need to find this money.

This is something every entrepreneur faces, and small business owners turn to a variety of sources for startup capital. No matter where you get funding, expect to invest at least some of your own money. Lenders and investors will want to see that you have “skin in the game,” to use industry speak. Beyond your personal accounts, called self-funding, small business owners also rely on:

Bank Loans

Many businesses start with a small business loan from local banks.

You will need to have all of your paperwork in order to pursue a loan. Expect the institution to ask for details from your business plan, including monetization strategy and financial projections. If you have trouble securing a loan, you can turn to the Small Business Association which runs a loan guarantee program to help make this type of financing more accessible.

Personal Loans

While not an option for every entrepreneur, many people do rely on loans from family and friends.

If possible this is typically better than securing a loan through the bank. You’ll likely pay little interest and will have more generous terms in case of default. However, it also depends on knowing people who have that kind of cash lying around.

Grants

While not lavishly funded, programs such as Grants.gov operate small business grants for entrepreneurs.

Investment

Professional investors typically look for potentially large-growth business opportunities. Depending on the nature of your intended company, this could be a good fit for you.

A venture capital firm is unlikely to sink money into a small legal practice or restaurant. These tend to be low-growth relative to the returns that they seek. However, someone looking to launch a new product or web-enabled service, something with high potential scalability, might be a good fit for the private investment model.

Local angel investors, such as those found through AngelList, are more likely to invest in a regionally focused business. While beyond the scope of this article, you can learn more about finding private investors here.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has become an increasingly common source of startup capital for small businesses. This model tends to reward retail style projects (someone looking to create a specific thing that catches the public’s eye). It can also be an excellent way to hone your sales pitch to a general audience.

For more information on financing, the SBA has a comprehensive information sheet on common sources of funding here.

5. Choose a Location

Where you locate may determine some of your legal obligations and paperwork, so it’s best to get that done at this step.

As much as possible you should try and do this with specificity. While you’re not ready to sign a lease just yet, the closer you can come to a specific address the better. Meanwhile, if you’ll be starting this company online, now’s the time to pick up your domain if you haven’t already.

Pay attention to local laws! We cannot overemphasize this. The best location can be killed off by a zoning ordinance that makes your business illegal on that particular street corner. Municipal laws can be petty and confusing, so make absolutely sure your business is street legal.

6. Establish Legal and Tax Structures

If at all possible, at this step you should retain the services of a lawyer and/or accountant. You will absolutely want professional advice. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing details that come back to bite you down the road. We also must note that nothing here constitutes legal advice. This is just a general primer on what you need to know.

Now is when you’ll actually begin forming your business and filling out the necessary paperwork with federal, state and local governments. This can involve (but is not limited to):

Choosing Your Corporate Structure

There are many types of businesses you can form, including LLCs, S-Corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships and more. Those listed here are the most common corporate forms for a small business. The right one for you will depend on issues like cash flow, number of participants and how you want to structure potential liability. You can read more about this issue here and here.

Register Your Business

How you have to register, and with who, will depend on your specific corporate form. However, if you have formed a corporation of some sort you will have to file articles of incorporation to create this legal structure. For more information on registering your business, see this resource.

Register With State and Federal Tax Agencies

You will need a tax number and may need an employer ID number. The SBA has a guide to finding and filling out your appropriate tax forms here.

Determine Any Licenses and Permits That You Need

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need a license to operate. The SBA has a database of federal and state licensing requirements here.

Be certain to also look up zoning and location-based regulations. You may need additional permits based on where you’ve chosen to operate your business. These are typically a city-level concern.

7. Open Bank Accounts and Sign Leases

Once your business has been properly formed you can begin to act in its name. Now is when you can start actually executing on many of the opportunities you’ve already lined up.

Open bank accounts in your new business’ name. Take out a corporate credit card and, if your bank offers it, work to pre-establish a line of credit. You will find this easier to do now that your company exists and has established funding, although it may not become an option until you have operated for some time.

Go out and actually get the funding you secured earlier, because now you have someplace to put it. You should have already gotten the “yes” by now from someone, but you don’t want to deposit corporate seed money into your personal checking account. This may technically constitute a felony that rhymes with “schmembezzlement,” and is poor form either way.

With the money in hand and a functional checkbook, now is when you sign the necessary leases on real estate.

8. Take Care of Little Details

Once again step back and take stock, because the best ideas can be broken by the smallest details.

Make sure your business has comprehensive insurance for issues ranging from fire to property damage and legal liability. Many business owners overlook that last issue, and it can be a career killer if someone slips and falls or even just decides they don’t like you.

If you will hire employees put a documented process in place for hiring and firing. Have your workers compensation and unemployment insurance paperwork filed and in order.

If you haven’t already, talk to both a lawyer and an accountant. This is especially critical if you will employ people. Even if you don’t formally retain an attorney, buy a few hours of an employment lawyer’s time to make sure you have your bases covered. Figure out how your business will do its accounting and have that system set up and operational, whether you’ll do it yourself or have hired a professional.

9. Start Making Things

Now, at long, exhaustive last, we get to the fun part. It’s time to start actually making things.

You have the money, you have the location. You have all of your paperwork filed and are legally bulletproof. Now begin making your product.

How you do this will, obviously, depend entirely on what you specifically do. A manufacturing company will need to source suppliers for raw materials and the necessary machinery. (Because you took our advice and checked out all the local laws you won’t need to worry about any noise complaints from the neighbors.) A retailer will source vendors and set up an inviting, fun storefront. A consultant will finish making her office look tasteful and professional.

A restaurateur should stock the kitchen, buy appliances and write out a menu.

The details of getting to work depend entirely on your industry and profession. Fortunately, you’ve got a well written business plan for figuring out what those details are. Whatever you do, though, now’s the time to start actually doing it.

10. Scale and Hire

Your business is operational. Now’s the time to think about how to keep the lights on.

Some businesses will require employees from the very beginning. A cafe, for example, is almost impossible to run alone. Those employees are part of your startup costs and will be with you from the very beginning. As your business grows you may have the luxury of hiring more people to take some of the work off your plate.

Now is also the time to begin marketing.

To be fair, this is something you should be considering all along. You should always think about how to get your business’ name out into the community. Don’t let up once the doors open. Look to social media, advertising, foot traffic and local networking to get people in. Talk with other businesses in the area about collaboration efforts.

This is where you get to be creative. This is the fun part of being an entrepreneur. If you’re at step 10 you’ve earned it. So enjoy, because this is your business.

Source: How to Start a Business in 10 Steps – TheStreet

Coping In A Toxic Work Environment

Recently, I had the occasion to observe a group of employees who were working in a toxic work environment. I witnessed the decline of self-esteem in each one of them as they endured month after month of poor leadership and dysfunction in their workplace. I was truly amazed at the change to the countenance of each of these employees as their situation continually grew worse.

If one could have taken a before photo of these employees prior to their being in a toxic environment and then an after photo when they were months into it, the physical manifestations of the negativity they endured would be staggering. Slowly, I observed each of these employees reach their breaking point and one by one resign from the company. Each of them had good paying jobs with fabulous benefits, but the toxicity they dealt with each day was so unbearable that no amount of money would have made it worth the cost to their own self-worth.

They left their jobs without having new jobs lined up because they recognized that the toll the toxic environment was taking had become far too great to stay another day.

Many of you may not be in such an extreme toxic work environment that you are willing to quit your job before having secured a new one, but most will have the occasion to deal with some level of toxicity in the workplace and could benefit from a few tips on how to cope with it when it occurs.

I believe the most important thing is to recognize when working in a toxic environment is that it is NOT a reflection of who you truly are.  Often times in a toxic workplace there is an abundance of tearing others down, passive aggressive leadership, destructive gossip, conniving politics, and abundant negativity.  When you are surrounded by this daily it can really start to affect your own self-worth.  It is imperative that you learn to separate the negativity you are swimming in daily from the reality of who you truly are.  I personally think this demoralizing effect is the biggest danger to staying long-term in any toxic environment, and to combat this you will have to find ways to daily remind yourself that you are not a reflection of your current surroundings.  Placing positive and uplifting quotes on the wall of your office or cubicle that will help keep your spirits lifted can be very helpful in these circumstances.  Also, taking time out each workday to take a short walk by yourself is a great way to detach and allow for positive self-talk to remind yourself of the qualities you possess that make you amazing.  Find ways to remind yourself of who you truly are.

Another important coping step is to realize that you cannot control what other people say and do, you can only control your own actions and reactions.  The sooner you accept that the better for your own mental well-being.  This realization allows you to let go of owning other people’s negative behavior and it empowers you to focus on improving yourself.  The more you can focus on improving yourself in a negative environment the better, because when you finally get the opportunity to escape the situation you are in, you will get to take all the personal growth you have made along with you.  No doubt that growth will help you to be even more successful as you move forward.

Finally, try to focus on turning your bad situation into a good learning experience.  Most often our strongest personal growth comes from living through our most difficult situations.  When you are working in a toxic environment, try to pay close attention to the lessons you can take away from the experience.  Perhaps you can learn the qualities in a leader that you never want to emulate.  Perhaps you can learn the management mistakes that you would not want to repeat if the opportunity for management ever comes your way.   In every bad situation there is something you can learn that will help you become a better person, so focus on each lesson you are learning.

As difficult as a toxic work environment may be, never allow yourself to become less than who you are meant to be out of anger or spite for your current employer.  Always conduct yourself with integrity and always put in your very best effort toward the job you were hired to do.  It is easy to fall into the trap of giving up on the job, but the bottom line is that as long as you are taking a paycheck you have an obligation to give an honest day’s work.

Don’t allow yourself to justify personal bad behavior on the failures that exist your company’s leadership.  I realize that at times it feels like the only way is to fight back in a toxic situation, but the reality is that doing so only hurts your own integrity.  Know that your reputation will continue far beyond the company you are with today, and nothing is worth trading your integrity over.

Do your absolute best every day at your job and the word will get out to other companies of your incredible character and work ethic.  People talk far more in the business world than you may realize, and the word of your positive or negative behavior will spread farther and wider than you may think, so never do anything that you need to be ashamed of.

Continue to search diligently for a better work environment to switch to, and be sure to let others know that you are interested in new opportunities for work.  Then give your very best at work up to the very day when you can joyfully hand in your resignation letter and move on to bigger, better, and happier things.

~Amy Rees Anderson  I share my insights as an entrepreneur turned mentor & angel investor (twitter:  @amyreesanderson)

Source: Coping In A Toxic Work Environment

 

 

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