Tag Archive | "growth"

10 Tips to Start a Small Business from Nothing

Hiscox, the small business insurer, recently released a new digital docu-series, Courageous Leaders, in partnership with Vox Media.

The series features video interviews with successful entrepreneurs who provide insight into how they found the courage to succeed in business.

The series features entrepreneurs like Foursquare’s Co-founder/CEO Dennis Crowley, Thrillist Co-founder/CEO Ben Lerer and Interior Designer/TV personality Ross Cassidy.

A common denominator of many of these entrepreneurs was that they started their small business, quite literally, from nothing but a dream. Hunter Hoffmann, head of communications for Hiscox, recently spoke with Small Business Trends to outline tips on how to start a small business with limited resources, reports Small Business Trends.

Dont Quit Your Day Job … Yet

One way to start a small business and get it off the ground while minimizing financial risks is to keep your day job until your business is large and steady enough.

While there’s certainly a romance to the story of the daring entrepreneur who goes it alone, there’s also much to be said for continuing to receive a paycheck, especially if you are married and have children. This means you will be burning the candle at both ends, but it can be done with good time management.

For example, if you work at the office from 9 to 5, you will need to block out time each day. Maybe 8-10 p.m. every night is the best time for you. Or, if you are a morning person, getting up at dawn and working for a few years is the way to go. It is all about managing time and keeping your stress level low.

Spend Less

Find ways to cut costs wherever you can. Many small business founders mix their fledgling business effort into their daily life, so they often seek to cut corners in terms of both household and business expenses. But a lot of entrepreneurs save a lot of money using new online DIY solutions, such as Wix.com, as well as by using sites such as Crowdsource and Elance to find supplementary talent you can virtually hire at competitive rates.

One way to help you determine where you should find outsourced support is by following this maxim: Focus on doing what you know how to do and let others handle the other stuff.

Also, don’t forget to attend the right networking events, ones somehow related to your business. You should attend as many of these events as you possibly can. You will meet people who may turn out to be instrumental to your success, all while enjoying the free food and drink offered at these occasions.

Find Angels

Praying and a belief in a higher power certainly won’t hurt your efforts to debut your business. However, here we refer not to winged seraphs, but rather investors looking for projects to fund. Utilize your connections to help get funding from angel investors, affluent individuals who seek to provide capital specifically for business start-ups. Many times you will find investors who were once in your shoes and can also offer advice in addition to funding.

As with so much else in life, to realize success here is like playing a numbers game: The more people you talk to the better your chances of finding someone who can help or introduce you to someone who can help.

In preparing for meetings with these potential investors, it’s important to know your business inside and out. One good method of doing this is to have a friend poke holes in your business plan. This will help you to better weather the storm, meaning you’ll be able to better handle difficult questions under pressure, an ability true leaders need to have.

Look to the Masses

Crowdfunding has grown increasingly popular. It’s also a great solution for entrepreneurs who need to fund their dream.

The rule of thumb here tends to be: the quirkier ideas perform the best. (Remember, one successful Kickstarter project had to do with the perfect egg salad sandwich recipe.)

If your business involves a novel product or an online service, you should definitely look into this.

The main caveat to keep in mind regarding crowdfunding when you start a small business is: always remember, there’s the potential for you to commit faux pas that make you obligated to return the money.

Go to the Bank When You Don’t Need To

Going to the bank when you are penniless puts you in a vulnerable position; it’s better to get the paperwork done early so you can commence building important relationships well in advance of when you’ll need to leverage them.

Also, don’t climb out on a financial limb until you have to. Monthly payments will always be due and they won’t change based on how much revenue your business earns, or fails to earn, for that month.

Make Your Business Your Baby

You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for making sure everything about your business is taken care of. No one else can do it. Just as new parents quickly realize that their newborn baby is in charge of the household, so too should new business owners realize the same about their business.

You wouldn’t trust someone else to care and feed your baby — consider your business in the same light. If there’s a problem, don’t complain because no one else cares. Just focus on figuring out how to fix the problem.

Schedule Some Off Time to Avoid Burning Out 

When you start a small business, it usually proves to be an all-encompassing endeavor. You won’t punch out at 5 p.m. as do those holding corporate positions. Instead, you will find yourself working all hours in the day and night. You certainly won’t have a wealth of spare time anymore.

That is why it is so important that you schedule some off time — to avoid burning yourself out. Whether it’s an afternoon at the beach or a whole weekend away, you need to have breaks in your work cycle. Time away will let you recharge and often gives you a renewed perspective on the big picture that you won’t get while stuck in the weeds and grinding away.

Dot Your Is and Cross Your Ts

Watching your concept come to life is one of the most exciting things about starting a new business. But you need to take care of some basics, too.

For example, make sure you’re withholding the correct taxes for your business and your employees, and always sign on for the necessary insurance. Small businesses should look into both professional liability and general liability insurance and, if you have employees, workers comp is required everywhere but Texas.

Make Your Startup Official 

When you start a small business, you must make sure you protect yourself by making your business a registered legal entity.

Creating a separation between yourself and your business helps limit your liability in case anything goes wrong. You may want to seek out your accountant’s or lawyer’s advice regarding what type of entity would be best for your situation.

Follow the Money 

Every business starts out with what is considered to be a great concept, either of a product or a service that, the small business owner believes, people will die to purchase.

But the market quickly tells you what works and what doesn’t, and you need to be able to pivot quickly to follow the money, not wait at a place where you think it is going to show up. Remember, many of the world’s biggest companies evolved in quite radical ways — with some no longer even slightly resembling what they originally debuted as. Twitter, for example, started out as a podcasting service.

The lesson here is: Focus on what works and don’t be too proud to shelve ideas that fall flat.

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5 Keys to Running a Successful Business

There are a handful of principles that work in virtually every situation when you’re trying to establish and grow a business, reported FoxBusiness. They work if you’re trying to build an email list or close a sale. If you ignore them, you are almost certain to fail. If you do them halfway, you will soon be standing there watching your business as it is eclipsed by someone who is following all the principles, all the time.

So let’s not waste any more of our time. Here they are:

1. Use Few Words

From an elevator pitch to a killer headline, the overriding principle is to use as few words as possible. If you can’t tell someone what you’re doing in a few sentences, your only hope is to eventually work for the government. If you can’t explain the benefit of your product or service in an extremely short sentence or phrase, give up. Look at these examples:

  • 1,000 songs in your pocket.
  • Lose 5 pounds in 1 week.
  • How to avoid lawyers.
  • Increase conversions 132%.

You can probably think of several short phrases that got you to go to a web page, or push “add to cart” or fill out a contact form. Putting a well-crafted, short, descriptive phrase in front of your ideal customer is very powerful.

2. Make Things Easy and Obvious

Humans are by their very nature:

  1. Lazy
  2. Busy
  3. Both A and B

I don’t care how you answer that, because the implications for what you do are the same: You have to make things as easy—and obvious—as possible. This is true whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or a website, but it’s doubly true if you’re trying to accomplish something on the Internet, where patience is as scarce as hens’ teeth.

I am still constantly amazed how small Internet conventions that cause me no navigational problems are major stumbling blocks for others. Because you’re reading this on a sophisticated website frequented almost exclusively by people who live on the bleeding edge of new technologies, you are light years ahead of most Internet users.

Dumb down everything. Make your webpage logic simple and obvious.

3. Sell the Benefit

Look at those sales phrases under the first point I made about keeping things short and sweet. Each one expresses a tangible benefit in six words or less. For many in business, it becomes difficult to separate the features from the benefits. Further, we tend to become so deeply in love with the features we have developed, we think that everyone should love them just as much.

Janet Jackson had a hit with the song What have you done for me lately? That’s what you should always be asking yourself in regards to your customers, and the important word is “done.” How will the action you want your prospects to perform benefit them?

4. Repeat Everything

If you’ve watched a Little League game, you’ve heard the guys on the field yell, “Hey, batter batter! Hey, batter batter! Hey, batter batter!” They repeat everything! Things that work and are important should be repeated.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to share or credit something in the social media, but the page I was on didn’t have sharing icons or links to the social media accounts. They were on the front page, but not on inside pages. And because I might just be a little bit lazy sometimes (see #2 above) it’s possible I’ll just drop the idea of sharing or crediting the source.

Landing pages also fall in this category. You should have a great landing page for all the different attributes or “hooks” that will pull someone into your website. They are almost free and it’s impossible to have too many.

5. Always Distill

You need to have good analytics that show you what is working and what isn’t. With that information you are able to do more of the good stuff and stop doing the bad stuff. Pretty soon you have a business or website whose performance has significantly improved.

A business is never “finished.” If you aren’t always involved in an improvement project, the competition will eventually pass you.

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Tesla Having Its Best Day in Five Months, Here’s Why…

Tesla Motors Inc. shares have shifted into high gear Monday, reported The WSJ.

The stock is having its best day in five months, up as much as 8.8%, after the electric-car company reported Friday that first-quarter vehicle deliveries came in stronger than expected. Stock markets were closed Friday in observance of Good Friday, so shares are getting their first chance to react in Monday trade.

In a filing made Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla said 10,030 units were delivered in the first three months of the year, exceeding CEO Elon Musk’s initial forecast by 500 units and representing a 55% increase in deliveries from the same period a year ago.

The move by Tesla to begin announcing quarterly deliveries several days after the fiscal period ends is the first of its kind for the car company. Before the latest quarter, it had waited until well after a quarter ended to disclose figures, which put it out of step with the auto industry trend of reporting sales on a monthly basis. Tesla’s faster disclosure of sales figures ushers in a new era of transparency for the business, says Pacific Crest analyst Brad Erickson.

“Disclosing end-of-quarter deliveries from now on shows management’s confidence in the sustainability of demand, in our view,” he added.

Tesla’s first quarter deliveries surpassed Mr. Erickson’s 9,500 estimate, and they eclipsed expectations of 9,500 at Global Equities Research too. Both firms have outperform, or overweight, ratings on the stock with price targets of $293 and $385, respectively. Wall Street, in general, is bullish on Tesla shares with an average price target of roughly $250 among 22 analysts.

After earlier rising as high as $207.75 on Monday morning, Tesla shares were recently up 7.8% to $205.91.

Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, is particularly upbeat on Tesla’s outlook, forecasting a steady improvement in second-quarter deliveries with an acceleration in the third quarter and onward. “If Tesla is able to execute well, and continues to push the innovation envelope; we will not be surprised if Tesla emerges to be the most valuable company of the Century,” he wrote.

After a visit to Tesla’s factory Saturday, Mr. Chowdhry says production activity seems to have ramped up in March and is anticipated to continue into April, probably reflecting an end to the West Coast port strikes and easing of parts supply issues. That gives him confidence the car company can deliver at least 12,000 vehicles in the second quarter to reach Tesla’s first half target of 22,000 deliveries.

The company will unveil a brand new product line at the end of April, which is speculated to be a stationary battery storage system for residences. As Mr. Musk looks to grow the company, batteries could add a larger revenue stream to the business that currently gets roughly 95% of its sales from cars.

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Nissan CEO Says He Needs More North America Capacity

Nissan Motor Co Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Thursday the automaker needs more capacity in North America to fuel its growth, reported Reuters.

Demand for Nissan Rogue sport utility vehicles can be supplied in the short term from plants in Korea and Japan, but longer term “we obviously need more capacity in North America,” Ghosn told reporters at the New York auto show.

Nissan is driving to boost its market share in the United States to a “sustainable 10 percent” by 2017, he said. Nissan, including its Infiniti luxury brand, had a 9.3 percent share of the U.S. market as of the end of March and Ghosn said it aims to keep growing from there.

He did not lay out a timetable for further expansion of North American production, or say whether Nissan would build new plants or increase production within the factories it has.

Ghosn’s signal of further investment in North America comes at a time when several rival automakers have also spoken of plans to add factories or assembly capacity in Mexico, the United States or Canada.

Volvo Cars, the Swedish luxury brand owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holdings, said earlier this week it planned to invest $500 million in a U.S. factory and Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co is considering an expansion of North American production capacity. German automakers Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG have also expanded their U.S. or Mexican production in recent years.

The United States and China are the two largest and most profitable auto markets in the world. As automakers have encountered obstacles in emerging markets such as Russia, India and Southeast Asia, they are turning again toward the United States for growth.

On a separate matter, Ghosn said reworking the capital structure of the Renault-Nissan alliance will “take a back seat” to hitting the targets for operating performance he has laid out for the companies. Nissan, for example, is aiming for 8 percent operating profit margins and 8 percent global market share by the end of its 2016 fiscal year in early 2017.

Some shareholders have pressed for Renault to free up capital now held in its 43.4 percent holding in Nissan. The French and Japanese automakers forged their alliance in 1999, when Nissan was near collapse. Now, Nissan’s market capitalization of about $46 billion is larger than Renault’s, which stands at about $27 billion.

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Hyundai Motor Targets 5 Percent U.S. Sales Growth This Year

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor aims to boost its U.S. sales by 4.7 percent this year, ahead of the industry’s projected growth rate, despite a consumer shift to SUVs and pick-up trucks, reported Reuters.

Sales of Hyundai’s mainstay sedans, the Elantra and Sonata, have slowed in the United States as consumers take advantage of lower fuel prices to switch to less fuel-efficient larger vehicles, strongholds of U.S. and Japanese firms.

Hyundai said on Tuesday it aims to increase its U.S. sales to 760,000 vehicles this year, from 726,000 last year, and will launch its revamped Tucson SUV in the U.S. market in the second quarter.

Its planned growth rate would be more than double the expected industry growth rate of 2 percent.

“The 5 percent target looks challenging. There are not many Hyundai SUVs to sell in the U.S.,” said Ko Tae-bong, auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities.

He said supply is tight for Hyundai’s SUVs, as it does not produce the Tucson in the United States, and relies on Kia’s U.S. factory for production of Santa Fe SUVs. Hyundai also does not sell pick-up trucks.

Reuters reported last week that Hyundai is in talks with the state of Alabama to build a new assembly line next to its current line in Alabama.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday that the new Hyundai production facilities, which plan to start production in April 2017, will make Santa Fe SUVs, although that is subject to change.

Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo left for the United States and Mexico on Tuesday for a five-day trip to visit factories and design centers for both Hyundai and Kia, and the site of Kia’s new production plant in Monterey, Mexico.

Ko said Hyundai should make Tucson SUVs and pick-up trucks in the United States to increase market share and reduce reliance on sedan sales.

A Hyundai executive said last week the carmaker was considering producing pick-up trucks, but added that there were “many hurdles.”

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BMW Finance Chief Sees Further Growth in 2015

BMW expects sales to rise further next year as new models boost demand, the German carmaker’s finance chief told a newspaper on Saturday, without giving a detailed forecast, reported Reuters.

“Of course we expect further growth in 2015 as we will see the full effect from new models coming to the market on production and sales as early as next year,” Friedrich Eichiner was quoted as saying by Boersen Zeitung.

“We will also introduce more new models next year. At the moment it is difficult say how that will impact our growth.”

The finance chief confirmed the company’s 2014 forecast for group profit to rise by up to 10 percent and operating margin of 8-10 percent in its car segment.

Eichiner also said he saw no reason for BMW to consider a merger with another carmaker.

“I cannot think of a positive example in the car industry,” he said. “Given our broad portfolio and our clear positioning in the premium car segment, I don’t see any need for BMW to think of a merger.”

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