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Common Mistakes of New Business Leaders

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.

 

Business Plan Elements

Being an entrepreneur of a small or medium sized business means that you need to have a broad range of skills and the right people on your team to make a successful run at starting your own company. Part of the success in the first few years of any new business can be tied back to the details and pre-planning of the main elements of a business plan.  Here are the critical main elements that every business plan should have as well as some tips to get you started on the right foot.

According to Entrepreneur Online, there are seven key parts to any business plan. Each part is fairly complex and needs to be planned and executed carefully.

  • Executive Summary – In the words of the entrepreneur, what is this business all about and what is the main product/service that will be offered? Where does this business fit in to the industry? This should be short and to the point in very professional language. Within this summary should be: a description of the business concept and an overview of the financials that relate to the company. Include an outlook of major achievements and goals for the first year(s).
  • Company Description – Start by describing the industry that you are joining and how your company will fit into or make its mark on that industry. Be sure to include in the description the structure of the company as well as the legal form that it will take. Give specifics of how your company will have the edge over its competitors.
  • Products/Services– In this section, describe in detail your service or product. Emphasize how your product or service is unique. Show how your company will do or sell things in its own way and differentiate from competitors.
  • Market Analysis-This section should illustrate your knowledge about the particular industry your business is in. Explain your target audience and how pricing, distribution and marketing strategies will make your company profitable within a competitive environment.
  • Strategy and Implementation – Explain your marketing strategy from traditional print and store front strategies to the complex strategies that come with your website, social media and paid advertising.
  • Organization and Management Team – Describe in detail how your company will be structured. Who are the key members of the team and who will be responsible for what?  Allow for evolution of this section as things may change throughout the growth and success of the company.
  • Financial Plan and Projections – Develop financial projections that look one year, three years and five years into the future.  This section will probably need the most revision as the industry and market fluctuates.

Patents Basics

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It has led to inventions and progress in so many fields. Do you have an idea for your business and want to get the idea or innovation patented? The process for filing for a patent can get a bit tedious so, do your homework and understand what issues may lie ahead of you. We also suggest discussing your case with a patent attorney.

According to Entreprenuership.org a patent grants inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling (or offering to sell) or importing their inventions throughout the United States for a limited period of time. To obtain a patent, the inventor submits his or her application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (known as the “USPTO”).

There are three main types of patents:

  1. Utility Patents –  Almost any product, process, or ornamental design that is new, useful, and non-obvious is patentable. What we normally think of as a patent is known as a “utility” patent, because it covers the usefulness of a product—the way it operates, what it produces, what it does, etc.

  2. Design Patents- Design patents protect the ornamental design or appearance of an article (i.e., they do not protect aspects of a product that are functional). A few examples of designs that may be protected by design patents include the ornamental aspects of furniture, packaging, shoes, game boards, and fonts.

  3. Plant Patents (used less frequently) are for certain new varieties of plants that have been asexually reproduced, for a term of 17 years.

As a business owner, you will most likely be filing for a utility or design patent. The registration process includes: a clear and concise description of the company’s declaration that it is the original and sole inventor, written drawings (where necessary) of the invention, filing fees; and, one or more of the company’s “claims” of exclusivity. Be sure to be very specific in your documentation as you must prove that you are the first to do something or make something like this. The United States Patent Office has a complete list of patent laws and resources. Please,  follow the link above. 

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

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Kickstart your Start Up

Starting a new business can be exhausting with the intricate planning, making financial decisions, and filling out the appropriate legal paperwork and licenses. But, embarking on a new business venture can be exhilarating as well. How do young entrepreneurs walk that fine line between being exhilarated and exhausted? Experts say that they kick off their start up with some common strategies that will take them on the path to success. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • Plan on Doing a lot of Planning – Create a simple business plan that includes your vision, mission, goals (both short and long term), strategies and an action plan. Break down your goals into smaller goals before you take on too much. The U.S. Small Business Administration has template and strategies to making the most of your planning stage and Business Plan stage.
  • Assess Your Finances – How are you going to afford to run your business? What sort of financing have you secured? Startups requiring a lot more funding up front may want to consider an investor.
  • Define your Legal Structure – What kind of entity is your business? If you own the business entirely by yourself and plan to be responsible for all debts and obligations, you can register for a sole proprietorship. Alternatively, a partnership, as its name implies, means that two or more people are held personally liable as business owners. If you want to separate your personal liability from your company’s liability, you may want to consider forming one of several different types of corporations.
  • Register Your Business Name – Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.
  • Obtain Permits and Licenses – Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business. Read More 
  • Register for Tax Identification Purposes – Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.
  • Build Your Team – Define what positions you will need to kick start your company and then find the best and the brightest.
  • Grow Your Business – In order to make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. Reinvesting and making connections are a great way to get started on this. Stay active on social media platforms, take part in networking groups and keep your brand in the forefront in your community.

How to Grow Your Small Business

So you started your own business? Each sale, each new client and each business connection you make grows your small business just as you dreamed right? But maybe you want to continue to broaden your client base.  There are many options to consider when thinking about expanding and growing your small business no matter what field you are in.

What are some of the most effective small business expansion tips to grow a business beyond its current status? Let’s take a closer look at steps you may want to initiate to grow your small business. 

  • Social Media – If you are looking for a fairly cost effective and easy way to reach more of your targeted audience try a social media campaign. Do some research on which social media platform attracts your  demographic and start posting in that medium. The more your name is seen the better.  Social media can be an invaluable tool for engaging with consumers and expanding your brand recognition.
  • Open Another Location – This is often the first way business owners approach growth. If you feel confident that your current business location is under control, consider expanding by opening a new location.

  • Merge With or Acquire Other Businesses in Your Market – There are bound to be other companies in your field who may have similar goals. Explore merging, partnering or possibly even acquiring those companies as a way to expand. 

  • Stay Competitive – Technology changes so rapidly these days that it would be easy to be left behind if your new company does not keep up with the latest and greatest technology. This is especially true if your company is in anyway related to the tech world or relies on technology to provide a product or service.
  • Target Other Markets –  Your current market is serving you well. Are there others? Probably. Use your imagination to determine what other markets could use your product.
  • License Your Product –  This can be an effective, low-cost growth medium, particularly if you have a service product or branded product

  • Diversify –  Small-business consultant McGuckin offers several ideas for diversifying your product or service line:

    • Sell complementary products or services
    • Teach adult education or other types of classes
    • Import or export yours or others’ products
    • Become a paid speaker or columnist

Keys to Developing a Successful Business Plan

 

Every successful business needs a solid foundation. That foundation usually comes in the form of clearly set and articulated goals to guide the business. A business plan articulates those goals and serves as a compass for most businesses. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues. How, then,  do business leaders create a successful business plan that will guide the company from its fledgling days into years of prosperity? Here are some suggestions and tips from those that have come before you on this journey.

 

  • Before drafting your business plan decide on your goals both short and long term.
  • Put your goals to the S.M.A.R.T. test. ISMART is an acronym that asks if your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. It’s a simple tool used by businesses to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results. If you have not heard of this method of analysis Google SMART planning and get started.
  • Find a guide that can help you draft your business plan. For example the US Small Business Association has comprised a step-by-step process to write your business plan. Entrepreneur Magazine has written a comprehensive site that helps young business leaders get started in the right path.
  • Consider all the major categories that you will need to cover in your business plan.  Some of the following aspects may need the assistance of experts or professionals who have experience in starting up a small or medium sized business.

 

Executive Summary – A snapshot of your business plan as a whole.

Company Description – A brief description of what you do and how you differentiate your company from others in your field. You may want to include a thorough description of what you sell or what your specific services will be.

Financial Aspects – This section should include how the company will be financed and projections into the future.

Marketing Analysis – Include the research that you have conducted on your field and where your company would fit into to the overall picture.

Business Organization – Discuss how your company will be organized with management and leadership.

 

Business planning should never be done in a vacuum so plan who you want to include in your pre-launch discussions. These choices can help set your company off in the right direction.

Steps to Starting a Successful Business

Did you know that approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month? According to the Washington Post nearly half of those will fail within the first five years. This is a staggering number. Are you considering starting a new business venture and are frightened at the possibility of failure? One of the best things you can do is research what others have done to be successful in launching a new business. Here are just a few ideas compiled from the professionals at the U.S. Small Business Association, Forbes Magazine and Entrepreneur.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan – “Planning carefully before launching a new business is not limited to preparing a business plan”, says Bruce Bachenheimer, clinical professor of management and director of the Entrepreneurship Lab at Pace University in New York City. While writing a business plan is certainly helpful, the real value is not in having the finished product in hand, but rather in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way.
  • Know the Market – This goes hand-in-hand with creating a comprehensive business plan. Ask questions, conduct research or gain experience to help you learn your market inside and out, including the key suppliers, distributors, competitors and customers.
  • Make the Right Contacts – Get in touch with people who can assist you all along the way. The U.S. Small Business Association has helped many business people launch successful businesses. They even have a step-by-step program to follow and experts to guide you. Read More.
  • Cash Flow and Financing – While there is not enough room in this blog to get into the nuances of financing your new venture, be sure to have all your ducks in a row including understanding your cash flow, how to keep costs low and where to turn if you need financial help in a bind. Entrepreneur online offers that they have, “Never seen a startup business where expenses were at least 30 percent more than initially planned or anticipated, and revenues are at least that much less.”
  • Have your Marketing Plan Ready to Fly – Too many new businesses are focused on the plan, financial issues or other issues to get the marketing plan set to roll the moment they are on the ground. Be prepared with a website, social media marketing, digital marketing  and traditional marketing methods to kick off your new business.

 

Researching your Competition

We have all contemplated what it would be like to be the proverbial “fly-on-the-wall” at some point in our lives. This is no more true than when trying to outpace your business competition. How can this be done short of actually becoming a fly? Don’t let your imagination run wild on this one. There is no need to hire a hacker, go all ”James Bond,” or don a cape and mask.  While it is not possible to gain access to the conference room or data files of your greatest rivals, it is possible to legally gather intelligence on competitors in your business field. Following the trends of your competitors can be done in legal and ethical manners.  Let’s look at some of these methods of researching your competitors.  

 

  • Professional Conferences – Conferences and professional trade shows give several opportunities to finding out more about your competition.  For example, visiting competitors booths is highly suggested and gathering information through interacting with consumers who visit this booth. Ask questions and find out as much as you can about the rival company.
  • Industry Reports – Companies that are publicly held will need to file reports with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. These reports can give you quite a bit of information about your competitors like their new products and building expansions. Do your homework and read up.
  • Research Online – Do some simple searches online.  Check out the competitors web pages, online reviews, and Google Alerts that will help keep an eye on keywords and searches done in your business field.
  • Get Social – While you are doing your online homework, don’t forget to check out the competitors social media campaigns.  What platforms they are on will tell you quite a bit about the demographics they are targeting.  It will also tell you about upcoming sales, products and news from the company directly.  If you can get on an email newsletter list, even better!
  • Talk to Consumers and Suppliers – Seek out consumers as well as suppliers who will “give it to you straight” about what other companies (and yours) are doing right and wrong.  Conduct surveys to find out how you can differentiate yourselves from other companies in your field.  
  • AdWord Comparisons – Use some of Google’s tools to find out what AdWords your competitors are using.  Here are some great sites that can help you. SpyFu, Google Trends and Google Alerts.



Key Steps to Starting your Own Business

So you have decided to take the leap take the idea that has been milling in your head for months or possibly years and put it into action by starting your own business?  This is thrilling and at the same time frightening.  Where do you start?  How do you make your idea a reality?  Is this even possible?  You probably have a million questions, so let’s start with some basic steps from the United States Small Business Association to get your business started off in the right direction.

  • Plan – Write a Business Plan that includes all of your ideas, questions, and concerns. This plan should include: market analysis, management organization, financial projections, company description, and a service or product outline.
  • Educate and Network – The Small Business Association has many free courses and trainings to help you get started on financing, marketing and physical location of your business.  Start talking to as many people in the field as possible to learn what you are up against and how to avoid mistakes that others have made as they began their business.
  • Secure Financing – This task may seem insurmountable but is critical to having a strong foundation to build your idea into a success business. Do your homework when looking for loans: whether private or government back one, investors, or any number of financing methods.  See the following link for more resources on this topic.  (Financing- Small Business Association)
  • Make it Legal – Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative. Consult with a qualified attorney to complete the proper paperwork, get a tax ID, fill out the right tax forms and business licenses. An expert attorney in this field can help you find resources to understand your legal requirements with the state and federal government as well as what requirements you must live up to with employees.