Build Your Startup Business Infrastructure on a Budget

There are quite a few steps to take when building a business from the ground up. This article assumes you have already gained a basic knowledge of these steps and are at a point where you have some funding and you are ready to put the building blocks of your business in place. If you are not familiar with the basic steps to build a business, I encourage you to go check out the multitude of publications you can find on the web and then come back and revisit this article.

In most cases, it is paramount to build your business in steps, being very careful how you spend the precious funds that are available to you, regardless of the source of your capital. By now you should have a list of components that need to be put in place, such as the IT infrastructure, including but not limited to email accounts, a website, internal software systems (both “canned” packages as well as custom software) and more. On the creative side, you will need to decide on your branding (logo and color theme). Then most likely you will need business cards, brochures, letterhead, fliers, signage and the like.

Building a business in steps (or increments) can be done, but you need to look for the right talent. At the beginning, you will be much better off finding individuals that are competent in several different areas. The less resources you have to employ, in most cases, the lower your spending outlay will be. If one individual can perform the duties of six or eight people, your budgetary savings should be significant. Later on, when things are taking off, you can replace these multi-talented individuals with dedicated resources, as each duty will likely become a full-time job. Over-staffing too soon can put you out of business in a hurry or put undue pressure on your business to perform sooner than it is capable of.

Let’s turn the clock forward and assume your business is gaining traction. Let’s say your multi-talented individuals just helped you get your business off the ground and now you are going to replace them with employees dedicated to specific business segments, or departments. It will be painless to replace them because they will be expecting it. Why? Because you brought them in as contractors. You have a lot of flexibility with contractors. If it’s in your interest, and the contractor’s interest, you can propose a contract to hire arrangement. Then if things work out well, you could bring them in as part of your senior staff since they will have such a good understanding of your business. Or, they could simply move on. There are many advantages to using contractors in a case like this. If things are not moving as fast as you hoped, you can reduce the contractor’s hours to stay within your budget. You can cut them loose if they are not performing as expected. You will also save money because you will not be providing benefits, and in many cases, not providing a work-space for them.

Another smart move may be to secure certain essential services on an outsourced basis. These days, you can even outsource your human resource department. Outside services are becoming more popular these days. Such services take the worry out of keeping up with ever-changing legal requirements, minimizing the exposure to your brand new, fragile business. The cost is normally a lot less than in-house staffing for comparable services. A good service company will come with a guarantee (they will have an insurance policy) that protects your company should the service company fail to keep up with current legal requirements, unintentionally creating a liability for your company. It is not practical for in-house personnel to make such a guarantee. In that case your business is assuming the risks for your hired employees.

Starting a Home-Based Internet Business

Whatever your background, your education, your previous employment, your gender or your life experience everyone starting a home-based internet business is beginning on a level playing field. Perhaps someone whose background is in some form of offline marketing has certain advantages because of their understanding of the marketing process but they will still have many new skills to acquire especially in respect of the technical side of the business.

There will be newcomers to the business whose background is in computer technology. They will have certain advantages with regard to the technical aspects of the business but will still have to learn about the marketing and copywriting side of things. There will be others who come from the retail trade. They will have useful experience when it comes to the actual selling but will find many new things that they need to learn to acquire a comprehensive picture of the whole business. Almost everyone will have some attributes which will help in the development of their business; experience or knowledge that they can bring to the table.

There are skills required to be successful in starting an online business; none of them is particularly difficult and all can be learnt. If you are prepared to put in the time and the effort to learn these skills then there is nothing to stop you being a successful online entrepreneur whatever your background. Many people attracted to the idea of starting a home-based online business back off when they come to realise how many new things they need to take on board. There is no need to fear! With internet marketing, if you follow the plan you will succeed.

If you can seek out a mentor, someone who has the knowledge and experience to guide you, someone who can show you how to start an online business, this will be of great benefit. If you can find someone who both’ talks the talk’ and ‘walks the walk’ you will find their support and advice immensely helpful. In the absence of such a person, the next best option is to subscribe to a quality online course, of which there are many. If you go down this particular route, however, choose the course with care. Before signing up to anything and making a financial commitment, do an internet search of the company or individual to whom you are thinking of subscribing. If there is anything shady about them or their course, a simple Google search will reveal this.

How long it takes to get your business up and running really doesn’t matter. We are all different, coming from different walks of life with different skill-sets and with different perspectives of exactly what we want to get from the business. When it comes to starting a home-based internet business, it takes as long as it takes! Some people set off like a railway train whilst others begin more slowly and tentatively. Work at your own pace and get it right. This is far preferable to rushing things and making costly mistakes in the process thus proving the old adage of “more haste, less speed”. I’m sure you all know the fable of “The Hare and the Tortoise”. Also remember the lyrics of the 1970s song by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields which says “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish”. See you at the finishing line!

Ways Startups Can Fund Their Businesses

It is one thing to come up with a viable business idea and quite another story to work on it and start a real business. Putting a business from down up can be quite a challenge, especially when you have limited funds. Youths particularly have financial issues when trying out their pilot projects and some boost is always welcomed. But even with the shortage of capital to start you off, you do not have to let your business idea to wash down the drain because there are a number of options through which you can get the funding that you need to get you on your feet.

Self-funding – It may seem impossible, but it is actually very possible for entrepreneurs to fund their startups. This can be through using personal debt or savings. If you have any assets to your name, you can also consider selling those to generate the cash you need for the business.

Cloud funding – Pitching business ideas via the internet have become very popular among entrepreneurs to get the funding they need. There are numerous groups that offer such opportunities where multiple investors interested in the business idea contribute the needed funds towards the business. Such groups, of course, have restrictions and you should be aware of such before pitching.

Small business lenders – There are lots of organizations that are always interested in lending to small businesses and through such loans you can get the financing you need to get your business off the ground. You may need to secure such a loan with some asset type and pay interest in a specified time frame.

Banks – Banks make business loans for small businesses available. This may also require some kind of security and a track record that gives the lender confidence in you. The terms will vary from one provider to another, so you can compare options to select the most suitable for your business.

Partners – You may not want to partner so soon into the business, but it is one of the easiest ways of getting funding for the business. Strategic partners add value to the business by aligning the needed resources and in some cases, they could prove to be good business advisers too. Your partner may choose to become part of the business team or not; just ensure the terms do favor you as well.

Angel investors – They are affluent individuals with the will to invest in businesses. The investors are now turning into investment groups so as to spread risk and to also pool research. You can use your local chamber of commerce to find out who is interested in funding new ideas and ventures or you can also conduct online searches to find out the same.

Family and friends – They are the people closest to you and may be willing to provide you with debt or equity funding that you need to get started. It may not be a good idea to sell part of the business to them and you must be careful how you go about it because if the idea fails it could be the beginning of ruined relationships and hurt feelings. Let them know of the risks so they are prepared for any kind of outcome.

Home-Based Internet Marketing Business

Why are so many people turning to their computers these days to create their own home-based internet marketing business? There are a variety of different incentives which motivate people to go down this particular route. Some will initially be looking to enhance their income from their existing employment. Some, on the other hand, are looking to replace their current employment with their own home business. For those in the latter category it is possible to begin building their own home-based business alongside existing work. Just a few hours each week can be all that it takes. When the time is right they can then fire their boss and go solo with their new business.

For most the keyword for their move isn’t money but Freedom That’s Freedom from a boss; Freedom from the daily commute; Freedom to spend more quality time with family and friends; Freedom to give more time and energy to hobbies and interests; Freedom from money worries; Freedom to make their own choices and live their lives the way they want to live them. There is a saying that: “Money is a means to an end and not an end in itself”. The value of money is in the freedom and quality of life which it can bring. This is what is motivating many people to explore how to start a home-based business.

Obviously money is an essential. We like to feel that we are earning enough to give ourselves and our families the lifestyle we wish for. We love the idea of being in control of our own destiny, but the world of employment denies us that. A home-based internet marketing business has the power to give us both the freedom and the control that we crave.

Internet marketing is a business; – it is work! That work needs to be done, but with a home-based business you can do that work when and where you wish. This is one of the big pluses with such a business but it is, oddly, also one of its problems. Working for yourself requires great discipline and perseverance. You have no boss to direct your work so you must direct yourself. Some people find this difficult, especially when working at home.

It is important to be able to separate working time and leisure/family time. This can be achieved by ‘geographical’ means; – by that I mean that you will have a work station within your home. When you enter that space you put on your business hat. Alternatively, it can be achieved by ‘temporal’ means; certain times of day are ‘working times’ and must be inviolate. You will need to acquire that kind of discipline or working from home could be difficult.

At this point I would like to dispel a few myths about a home-based internet marketing business. First of all it not a get-rich-quick scheme, and ignore anyone who tries to tell you that it is. The potential for high earnings is certainly there, but this will not come overnight and whether or not you achieve such income will depend on your willingness to learn the business and put in the time and effort required. Many newcomers to the business fall by the wayside because they are just not prepared to do what it takes to succeed.

Do it Yourself Branding For Newbies

One of the most important things for someone new to Internet Marketing to understand is you must develop your brand. Whether we realize it or not, our personal brand is being projected everyday through all our interactions and online communications. We are use to using this term about large businesses but we can fail to understand its importance to us on a personal level.

Your branding determines what people think of you and how they see you. My mother use to tell me that people see you before you ever speak. The prinicple is the same online. People see who you are by your brand before they ever hear you speak.

As you are thinking about branding you don’t have to look to someone else to do your branding. No outside company, no fees, no problems…just do it yourself branding for newbies.

So, let’s look at do it yourself branding for newbies. It’s not hard so don’t get nervous.

First thing you need to remember is be yourself. Do you remember the last time you were around a fake? You just wanted to get away from that person. Well, people can spot a fake coming. Don’t be someone you’re not. Just be you. This is the most comfortable way to live life. People are looking for that which is authentic.

Second thing to remember in do it yourself branding for the newbie is you have to determine what your brand is. You need to ask the following questions. What makes you different from everyone else? What do you want to be known for? Now don’t just read over these. Take some time thinking about them and working this out.

The third thing we need to look at is you must make yourself visible. I know that you may be saying I already have a website or a blog. But let’s take it a little farther with do it yourself branding for newbies. One mistake that we can make is the field of dreams mentality – build it and they will come. They will not. You have so much competition for people’s attention now.

Key Secrets to Personal Branding

Everybody wants to get involved in personal branding. I’m sure, each one of us dreams to be the centre of attraction of our industry. The trend is in brand.

Personal Branding has amazing power that can turn impossible into possible. It is a great way to gain exposure and popularity. But personal branding is much more than name and fame.

So, what exactly branding is and how it can benefit you? It is to understand your own skills and passion. It welcomes opportunity to work with renowned personalities and be a name among them. It develops confidence, makes you more proficient.

Let’s take a quick look at what branding can do for you:

o You can build emotional and intellectual bond with your prospects.
o It increases your recognition in your industry/ niche.
o Assurance to deliver quality and satisfaction to your customers.
o Distinct yourself from your competitors.
o You got to learn, improve, and shape up your skills.
o Your message is clearly conveyed to the world.

Branding can connect you with your prospects; it gives them a reason for trusting you. When you brand yourself, many eager people can get their answer to the questions like:

o Who are you?
o What are your skills?
o Why to connect with you?
o How do you help others?
o How can they reach you?

Branding is the backbone of any industry. Personal branding brings out ‘your unique you’. It has the capability to let your prospects recognize you and believe that only you have the solution to their problems.

Branding As an Image and a Potential Market For Bands

So, what does branding have to do with your success as a band? I think the answer is everything. Branding can be looked at from two different perspectives. First, branding is a way to build a fan base. In this regard, branding is about you, the artist. Branding is representative of your image and marketability. Who are you and what do you have that people want?

Second, branding is a market. That is, smaller companies are now looking for ways to promote themselves with new technology that was previously unavailable. This is good news for the independent artists who have the advantage of making decisions for themselves. Independent artists can quickly work with a company to help develop a brand that has the potential to benefit both the artist and the company.

Let’s start with you. Most people understand the value of branding. We learn this very early in life if you think about it. That is, most everyone experiences a certain level of satisfaction from their uniqueness. We like to be known for our particular traits and sometimes our eccentricities. I recall how much fun it was to laugh at my friends and to laugh with my friends regarding our individual characteristics. Of course, I was frequently at the brunt of the jokes as I had more than my share of unusual habits and characteristics, but this is not about me.

For a band, brand can be the sound of the singers voice or the abilities of certain musicians. It is also a logo or an attitude or a cause or a look. We understand these things implicitly. The Beatles understood this very well with their unusual haircuts, Nairu jackets, Beatle boots and humor. Success is not guaranteed, however. Success only comes when these branding elements resonate with a large number of people. We also understand popularity on a small scale. That is, we know what works within small groups of people with whom we come into contact. What most of us do not understand is popularity on a large scale. That is, how do we get a lot of people to notice our wonderful gifts? Fortunately, if you are reading this, you live in a new era in which reaching large numbers of people is possible. Unfortunately, every other band (and millions of aspiring kids as well as adults with newly found hobbies) around the world also realize this potential, so we are back to square one, in many ways. That is, how do we get through to our potential fans through so much competition and noise?

Marketing professionals have studied this for many years. Your connection with your market is called reach and your success due to exposure is analogous to market penetration for a product.

Ok, let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about branding as a market for you as a band. Yes, I believe there is a potential market for your music associated with branding for small companies. Corporate branding was once available only to those who could afford it. It is a lot of work and it does require a great deal of knowledge and skill. There is also a potential down side when branding does not go well for the artist or the company. This is where knowledge and skill can help to find a good match between a particular artist and company. There is also a multivariable system that can sometimes be unforgiving, unresponsive, indifferent and sometimes hostile. This system is the market that we are hoping to attract. It can be disturbing when a lot of money and time are devoted and the result is the sound of crickets or even worse, the sound of an angry mob outside your door. This is why it is a good idea to develop a strategy and understand the markets that you are trying to penetrate.

Four Easy Ways to Brand Your Business to Survive the Competition

In these days where every product that you sell or service that you offer has a thousand other competitors providing the same products and services, what will you do to survive in the market jungle and still make money?

The strategy is to create your identity and image that sets you apart from the competitors. How will you do it? The answer is simple -by branding your business.

A brand is a collection of experiences and association connected with a business, a product or a service. Buyers make their choices and buy a product or service according to brand identity, relying on the perception, impression, or qualities of that product or service that your business or the competitors provide.

Branding your business offers a form of guarantee, a set of ready-made values attached to a product or service that the buyers can adopt upon purchase. Once the buyers like your products and services, they will continue to patronize it and become your loyal customers, no matter how many your competitors are. This is because they have already developed a loyalty to your business.

How do you create a brand to make your business different and distinct from your competitors? This can be accomplished by taking the following four easy ways:

1. Be close to the customers by providing them quality products and services. It is only by doing these that you can meet and satisfy their needs, tastes and preferences. In branding your business, your objective is to create a beneficial relationship with the customers, including your target and potential market so that both parties, you and the customers, are helping each other. Brand loyalty is the result of serving the customers effectively and well, and of communicating to them an image, impression, or characteristics of your business.

2. Differentiate your product or service. This is a technique to make your products and services stand out in the marketplace, and will complement the brand or image of your business. Differentiate your products and services by pointing to the customers the attributes, such as the quality, packaging, fast service, reliable after-sales service, that will make them choose to purchase from you rather than the competitors. These differentiation factors are what the customers will remember the most when they are through with the transactions, resulting to their coming back and becoming your loyal buyers.

Patent FAQ: How Can Technology Entrepreneurs Avoid USPTO Backlog Using Accelerated Examination?

Sadly, inventors and entrepreneurs are faced with a big hurdle when it comes to forming intellectual property rights needed to support technology based startup businesses. According to data from the US Patent Office (USPTO), the current backlog of patent applications is over 1,200,000 with more than 700,000 not having received a first Office Action, meaning your application is still in the pile. The total time to get a patent is reported by USPTO to average 34 months (i.e. pendency). However, this number is an average that does not reflect the longer pendency typically experienced by emerging technologies where the number of applications is rapidly increasing. If you’re CEO of a company in a high-growth tech sector and plan to introduce new products based on the invention within 1 to 2 years, the prospect of a patent being issued 4 or 5 years after filing is almost irrelevant; unless you are trying to raise capital.

The 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey, a national study of patents and entrepreneurship, reported that 75% of the executives at venture capital-backed startups consider patents to be an essential factor in their financing decisions. Investors are very aware that less than half of the applications filed result in an issued patent. An indeterminate outcome for 4 or 5 years can represent a big road block to venture funding. In rapidly emerging technology sectors having a patent in hand may make the difference in getting funded or not.

What to do. Accelerated patent examination, available through the US Patent and Trademark Office, can be an excellent solution if prosecuted correctly. It provides an opportunity to secure patent protection, usually in much less time as the normal process. Until now, there was significant uncertainty regarding meeting rather stringent requirements to qualify. You would not know going in if accelerated examination would be approved, even though significant expense had been incurred attempting to comply with USPTO requirements.

Smart Eating for the Busy Entrepreneur

It’s hard to always be an energetic entrepreneur. It’s often round after round of networking, check writing, employee management, and bookkeeping. Weight gain and low energy often follow, with multiple cups of coffee, fast food, and erratic snacking. Popping a handful of supplements first thing in the morning is not the answer. This scenario really can be better. Just a few small changes, such as looking at good nutrition through the lens of overall health, can lead to big results. Here are seven pillars that support your well being and get you through your busy day with energy to spare.

1. Digestion: does yours functioning properly? This means after you eat, you don’t have heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, gas, etc. If you suffer from any of these painful, uncomfortable, often embarrassing problems, it could be a sign of hypochlorhydria. That means lack of sufficient stomach acid, produced at the right time, to digest your food. It’s the opposite of what the pharmaceutical companies would have us believe. They’d like us to think we’ve got too much stomach acid, and we need acid blockers to control it. Usually, we don’t have enough! The weak cardiac sphincter at the end of the esophagus allows incompletely digested food to come back up when it is only partially broken down by stomach acid. Sipping warm lemon water can help. So can apple-cider vinegar, diluted or used as a salad dressing. Hydrochloric acid tablets are available, usually labeled HCL, in natural food stores. Good digestion is the first step toward good health.

2. Blood sugar regulation: need a sweet snack at 10:00am and 3:00pm? If that mocha, soda, candy bar, or other sugar hit is the only thing getting you through to the next meal, then you have a blood sugar regulation problem. Fueling and then refueling your body in less than three to four hours is an indication that you need fewer simple carbohydrates. More complex carbs, adequate protein and healthy fats slow down digestion and allow your body to absorb blood sugar at a more moderate rate. Grabbing for a sweet energy boost is what many of us do every day, driving the Type II diabetes epidemic sweeping this country. Don’t become a statistic. Instead of a candy bar, try an apple with some nut butter. Instead of a mocha, a small container of yogurt with a few almonds, or some carrot sticks with a small piece of cheese. Perhaps a hard boiled egg is more your style, with a celery stick or two? Is soda your thing? Try some San Pellagrino mineral water with a twist instead.

3. Essential fatty acid balance: We need fat. It’s a component of every cell membrane in our body. Fat protects our organs, it allows us to utilize many vitamins, and it keeps our skin healthy. What we don’t need are trans fats, fake fats, and fats made from non-foods, such as cotton seeds. Our ancestors did not eat cotton, and we shouldn’t be eating it either. Eat more wild salmon, sardines, and small tuna, like tongol tuna. Eat less canola oil based products, found in salad dressings and mayonnaise, for example.

4. Vitamins and minerals: Soil depletion has taken its toll on the nutrient density of our food supply. Lack of trace minerals are often at the root of our health problems. Buy salt that has trace minerals intact. Try Celtic sea salt, Real Salt from Utah, and other unprocessed salts. When you eat chicken, save the bones in the freezer until you have enough to make a good amount of broth. Bone broths are high in minerals. They are an inexpensive and tasty way to re-supply your body with the minerals needed for nerve conduction, bone health, and many other processes. If you take vitamin supplements, ask questions first. You want to know that the brands you buy contain what’s on their labels. Make sure they are not on shelves that allow direct sunlight to brighten their day! Many vitamins are depleted by exposure to sunlight.