Starting your own company can be time consuming, stressful, and costly. On the other hand it can also be exhilarating! The idea of being your own boss and launching your own business can be the experience of a lifetime especially if it is something your feel passionately about. For many young entrepreneurs, starting a business is a mix of emotions. There will be hurdles to conquer and also successes to celebrate. Here are some of the more common issues that you should be aware of before you crack open the champagne for your newest business adventure.
- Financing – Whether new businesses have done their research or not sometimes financing becomes the biggest problem. The market can fluctuate and lenders and/or investors can change the terms of agreements. Financing is one of the biggest issues most startups encounter so be sure to have your homework done about what things will cost and when you hope to turn a profit.
- Marketing – If selling a product or service is your business be sure to have a solid marketing plan set before day one. This will take lots of research on the competition and what consumers really needs. Look at digital marketing and well as traditional print media.
- Doing It All – As a new business owner there is a temptation to do it all from crunching the numbers as your own accountant to being the man who replaces the ink in the printer. Rely on people who can do things for you, which means hire the right people who can take on some of the responsibilities.
- Location – Believe it or not the old adage of, “Location, Location, Location” applies to companies as well. Choose a location where your company can profit the most whether it is in a cost-effective, low rent building or on a main street where your name will be out there. Think before you chose a location.
It is the age-old “Catch 22”: you need experience to get a job but can’t get experience without having a job! This is a problem for many recent graduates who are out on the job hunt and finding that their resume just doesn’t have what it takes to land the job they want. Graduates often find that unless they had an internship or valuable experience while taking classes that their resume needs to be beefed up . . . (that is without lying). Here are a few ways to beef up your resume that may help you get the interview that you are shooting for.
- Focus on Skills – While new graduates may not have a wide array of work experience they do have skills. Even workers who only have part time work experience or internship experience have started honing skills whether it is in customer service or a specialty in the field.
- Focus on Academic Success – If you are a newly minted grad then you may find your resume thin on experience, so focus on what you have learned including the skills that were required to get through college. Many of your courses probably stressed project management, communication skills, independent working, gathering information from a variety of sources, distilling complex concepts into an accessible argument, clear writing skills and so on.
- Show Your Motivation – Sure you may be “green”, but if you can show that you are a self starter you may be ahead of the pack. Show that you are gaining knowledge through interning, volunteering or shadowing someone in the field you hope to enter. This shows motivation and drive!
- Highlight Technical Skills – Again, you may not have coveted experience but if you have technical skills that can help you land a job them list them on your resume. In fact, present links or examples that can show what you know.
The ink is still drying on many college student’s diplomas and they are hard at work trying to land their first “real” job. They have completed their classwork, filled out numerous applications and have written a resume to impress the leaders of their chosen field. That resume is the first impression a company will get of the hopeful applicant. Make sure to cross your “T”s and dot all your “I”s before pressing submit or mailing in that resume. Here are just a few common resume mistakes you should avoid made when applying for your dream job.
- Grammatical and Spelling Mistakes – Nothing says inexperience and lack of effort more than a resume that has not been edited and edited and checked and checked. Be sure to proofread the resume for all spelling and grammatical errors. In fact, you may want a job coach who has years of experience to look at your resume before you apply.
- Using the Same Resume for Each Application – A resume should match the position you are trying to attain. Make a resume specific to the field and even the company that you are applying to. By using a generic resume you are not taking advantage of details from your skills and education that should be put front and center on each job application.
- Being Too Wordy or Saying Too Much – Employers have limited time to get through the pile of resumes for each position. Get to the point and make it easy for the Human Resources Department to see what you excel at in a glance.
- Not Being Yourself – While your resume should highlight your education, skills and strengths should also show your personality such as your volunteering. Interests, passions and drive. Discuss how you can do this with a job coach or professional resume writer.
- Submitting Incorrect Information – We have all done it at some point or other. Make sure you check and double check that all dates, phone numbers and position titles are accurate. You really don’t want an HR representative questioning your accuracy. That would make for a not so good first impression and may take you out of the running all together.
How your clients and customers perceive your brand can mean a lot for your bottom line. If your color palette. logo, tagline and perception of your product or services is rebranded sloppily you may encounter trouble. While rebranding may be a fresh start it also have several perils that entrepreneurs need to be aware of and avoid at all costs.
- Know Why – Knowing why you are setting out to rebrand your service or product is important. You need valid reasons of why you are changing your logo, tagline or color palette in order to do it successfully. Having valid reasons for scrapping your old brand awareness and building a new one will keep you focused.
- Consult the Public and Employees – If your employees are not on board and your customers are confused, you may encounter some resistance on your quest to rebrand your image. Be sure to consult both groups before you start a rebranding campaign.
- Backlash – Avoid alienating your loyal customers if you are trying to rebrand. Backlash can mean customers miss the old way of doing things and how your company was perceived. Think about how customers revolted when Coca Cola reworked its slogan and cola formula to reach new customers. Epic failure.
Check out these companies that failed at rebranding their products from Coca Cola, tropicana orange juice or The Gap.
Starting a business can be a huge undertaking that involves planning, money and exceptional leadership skills. Even rookies with deep pockets and amazing entrepreneur skills can make some common mistakes that can put a wrinkle in any well-laid plans. Learn from other entrepreneurs and their first-timer mistakes. Here is a quick guide of common mistakes to avoid as you set out on your new business adventure.
- Keep an Eye on Finances – Watching the bank balance can be nerve wracking but is in your best interest. Always have your finances updated and keep a regular check on your money owed and money earned. Cataloguing each can save you lots of heartache later. Knowing your cash flow will help you keep your mind on the ultimate goal of your company.
- Making Poor Hiring Decisions – Your team is one of your more important assets at your company. One bad hire can mean your business downfall. Hire for skill, talent and intelligence rather than convenience or pay scale.
- Poor Management – There is a balancing act between laissez-faire managing and micromanaging your company. Learn to balance by delegating and relying on experienced managers.
- Failing to do Research – New business leaders need to be aware of the changing market, sales, and the ins and outs of your competitors by researching completely. A dedicated development team can keep you up-to-date if you have the wallet for a team member who can keep you informed.
- Failing to Create a Business Plan – A great plans need to be changed and adjusted but failing to start with a goal and steps in the process can be deadly for a new business leader. Always have your eye on the goia whether it is long term or short term.
For many of us in the business world, we understand what branding means and how it works to help consumers recognize and understand a product or service. Rebranding is something that many marketing agents are weary of and may be nervous to start fresh, so let’s look at what rebranding is and what the common steps are to do this.
Rebranding is the creation of a new look and feel for an established product or company. The usual goal of rebranding is to influence a customer’s perception about a product or service or the company overall by revitalizing the brand and making it seem more modern and relevant to the customer’s needs.
If your company is getting lost in the busy internet world of marketing, you may want to consider rebranding your company name or product. To do this you will want to consider the following suggestions.
- Obtain Customer Feedback – Talk to your customers through questionnaires either online or in person, and ask what they would like to see from your company. Find out what your clients feel, think and want from your company. These suggestions can help you set a course to branding success. Be sure to find out what is NOT working for your customers as well.
- Gather Employee Feedback – Your employees are a vital part of your company. They will have important feedback about how to improve your company and your overall brand name.
- Start promoting your New Brand – Use any new channels whether social media or traditional methods to start getting the new branding out there. If you want to transition from an older branding strategy you may want to spend a little bit more on your advertising for a month or two.
- Be Consistent – Keep branding your service or product consistently. According to Open Forum, “Once you have established who and what you want to be, do not change it except for tweaks and slight adjustments. It takes 10 to 12 ‘touches’ for a customer to even notice you.”
At some point or other, all businesses have disputes whether it is about contracts or employee benefits or any other number of issues. While most disputes can be resolved fairly quickly and quietly, occasionally disputes escalate into something that needs intervention. In these cases, mediation can be helpful to resolve the issue.
This arbitration between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise. This increasingly popular form of alternative dispute resolution serves as a viable option for business owners who choose to resolve conflicts through a forum other than arbitration or a conventional jury or bench trial. Mediation tends to try to accommodate the needs of each party and helping the parties formulate a workable solution. Here are some of the benefits of using mediation to solve business issues.
- Input and Control on the Outcome – In a court case to resolve dispute the judge casts the final decision. In mediation, the two parties come to a mutual resolution that hopefully makes both parties happy. Mediation enables parties in a dispute, be it during or before a lawsuit, to have control over the final settlement.
- Cost Savings – Hiring a lawyer can be costly and means an investment for the entire case. Mediator’s fees are usually divided between the various parties involved in the dispute. This cost savings can really add up.
- Preservation of Relationships – Business disputes often involve friends, employees and long time clients. Mediation can help to develop solutions based upon mutual interests rather than adversarial positions.
- Time Savings – Court cases, whether done by a judge or a jury, can be lengthy and drawn out. This method can be completely efficiently as opposed to a trial or hearing.
- Confidential – Mediation stays between the parties and the solution to the dispute is private and confidential.
Do you have a sick family member, just had a baby, have a medical condition or need to fulfill military service? If so, you may be looking to take some time off from work. A Leave of absence is approved time off work from the management or leadership of our business. It can be granted for many reasons including: active duty call-ups for reserve military personnel, or to attend to the health needs of the employee or of a family member of the employee.
Depending upon the type of business you are in, you may be able to informally request time off or you may need to use the FMLA Family Medical Leave Act to have your request approved. Requests for unpaid personal leave are normally made in writing to the employee’s department manager with a copy to the Director, Human Resources, and should indicate the reason and the length of leave requested. If the workplace is more casual, a verbal request may suffice.
Here are some common questions about Leave of Absence that you will want to discuss with your employer.
- Will I get paid while I am on a leave of absence? Leaves of absence are without compensation with the exception of Long-Term Disability Leave.
- What if I have to care for a seriously ill family member? Employees can request a Family Care Leave to care for a seriously ill family member.
- I have been ill and have exhausted all of my sick time or PTO time and my extended sick time. What do I do now? Employees can request a Medical Leave of Absence if paid-time has been exhausted and the employee is still medically unable to work.
- What laws are there about Leaves of Absence? Federal and/or state laws govern a mandatory leave of absence. These leaves include medical absences governed by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), military leave, jury duty and other state-mandated leaves. Whether the laws surrounding these leaves of absence apply to you is often based on the number of employees working for your company and where an employee is working. Your business must grant job-protected leave to eligible employees in these situations.
- How does an employee qualify for FMLA? An employee qualifies for FMLA leave by working 1250 hours.Here are some reasons an employee might take FMLA leave: Childbirth, adoption and foster care, serious health condition, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or certain military reasons (including care of a service member).
Whether you use Powerpoint, Google Slides or another presentation software, having captivating and informative presentations for your clients can mean the difference between making the sale and losing a client. Add some creativity that will captivate your viewers with a clever presentation, images and content that will keep them listening from beginning to end.
- Be Well Versed – One thing that completely turns off an audience is having the presenter read directly from the slides. Know your topic well enough that you do not need to read every word but rather can talk freely and interact with the audience.
- Use Quality Photography – Sharp and custom photography can really make your presentation pop. Use images of your business when possible instead of stock photography. Make the images unique and interesting to look at.
- Choosing Slide Backgrounds – Many presenters go for flashy or eye catching backgrounds but others rely on solid backgrounds that make the content stand out. Either way you choose, make sure your colors are eye pleasing and that bullet points are easily readable in a font that matches the tone of the presentation.
- Be Clear – Make each slide clear and to the point. Use bullets but do not overwhelm your audience with too many points to consider on each slide. Instead break up major topics into smaller ones so that your audience can follow your train of thought.
- Use Humor – Your presentation has an ultimate goal for your company. Using humor to maintain the attention of the audience can help you get to that goal. If your audience is bored they may stop listening. Keep them laughing with personal anecdotes or common situations that your listeners can relate to will keep them on task.
Tick, Tick, Tick. . .
Does your work day slip between your fingers and make you wonder where the time went by the time you reach closing time? If so, you may need to re-think your time management skills. Learning how to manage your time can be difficult and take some time to learn but here are some expert tips that can get you started.
- Maintain a Calendar – Carry your schedule with you at all times. This may mean using an online scheduler and project management tool. Be sure to refer to the calendar regularly throughout the day and keep track of how long regular activities take. This may seem tedious but will give you a better idea of how long certain activities will regularly take. You will then be able to plan your time better in the future.
- Plan Every Morning – Many business leaders emphasize that what keeps them on track all day is a 30 minute review every morning of what the goals are for the day and week, maybe even the month. Having those goals in mind before you start meetings or rushing from activities to activity can keep you focused.
- Know How to Delegate – Having a trusted employee who can handle some of your daily duties can mean you can attend to more important duties. Someone who can field your email and phone calls as well as prioritizing them can help you stay on task all day long.
- Eliminate Distractions – Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Eliminate those distractions by closing your door or doing work in a separate area. Or set aside a certain time of day when you are free.
- Start Early – While it might be nice to sleep in or have a lazy coffee, getting an early start is the hallmark of leaders who have time management mastered.