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Are You Short On Cash? Learn How to Start a Business Cash-Free

Business minded people are always at their wits end in a bid to find that one business move that will break the lock to their door of fortunes. But quite so often, many people with excellent business strategies are unable to implement these strategies due to the huge financial cost involved in starting a business. Every business opportunity requires money in one way or the other for it to grow. You may find yourself in a position where you have a great idea for a business and yet do not have the money to initiate such a plan. You may either choose to forget about the idea in its entirety or to keep reading this article for business tips that can turn a dream into reality even when you are a shoe string away from having totally no money in your account. Moreover, you can seek help of any of the small business consultant firms for valuable insights.

The internet has grown to become one of the most powerful resources available to mankind at the moment. One can use the internet as a valuable resource base for finding information and useful business tips or as a means of reaching out to a large number of people either for social interaction or as a means of fostering business partnership. As an entrepreneur who is looking to start a business using the most cost effective or free resources available, the internet should be an indispensable partner in your endeavor.

The foremost advice given by every small business consultant to anyone starting a business is to find ways by which you can market the business or the ideas you have. Giant companies across the world have huge budget for advertising and marketing. It is very obvious that as an entrepreneur with little or no money, you would not be in a position to compete with these companies when it comes to marketing. However, using the internet, you can take advantage of resources that cost nothing to use but can be devastatingly effective. The first of these business tips is to create a website on which you would be able to sell your products or services.

There are free resources like;

Google Sites
Yola.com
Freewebsites.com
Webs.com
Wix.com

And many others that make it possible for people to create and host websites on their platform for free. One can also take control of how much traffic he or she is able to direct to the site by outsourcing the task of providing content for the site to high quality freelancers using well known platforms such as Elance, Guru.com, Odesk and Freelancer.com. When it comes to outsourcing tasks, the outsourcing market in India is well known for its affordability, although one has to be careful when it comes to dealing with such contractors. Small business consultant even tell entrepreneurs to take advantage of free email systems offered by Yahoo, MSN, Google and others as a means of staying in contact with their clients and potential partners.

You may also want to market your business directly to the client using a business card. Well, thanks to the huge resource inherent in the world of internet connectivity, it is easy to find companies that print and deliver business cards for free. The only condition is that, they get to print their own details on the card as well.

One of the best business tips offered by any small business consultant for successfully starting a business is to use cost effective measures. The following provides you with a list of some of the things you can do;

Get yourself a Skype address to facilitate easier and cheaper form of video and video communication

Use Social Networking Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter to improve marketing
Create a free website
Outsource Tasks to Freelancers; do not employee permanent workers
Use SEO marketing skills to improve traffic to your website
Use the internet as an effective way of advertising to save cost
Create an online store
Join Online Groups or discussion boards; these offer you and your product/service free exposure
Work from home; do not rent or buy an office you do not have the money for that
Score.org offers free legal services so you can do away with the cost of legal representation for now.
Take care of the finances and do most of the task by yourself
Do not think of incorporating your business at the initial stages
Get free public opinion on your ideas by blogging
Sites like LogoYes can help you create a free logo for your business.
Facilitate your payment option using cheaper but effective options like Google Checkout or Paypal.
Use the services of free business card printing companies
Use Craiglist to market your products.
Sign up with Directory Submitter to receive free links to clients and partners

Small Business Project Management: Six Pros and Cons

Growth hungry small businesses today in the UK and indeed throughout the world face the challenge of balancing two competing objectives. Firstly, businesses must maintain and standardise current business processes in order to give your business the chance to get really good at what it does through experience curve effects. Greater business efficiency normally translates into a better customer experience and higher profits. Secondly, businesses must transform business operations in order to survive and compete in the future. How well we are able to achieve the right balance for our business will ultimately determine if we survive and go on to thrive or go the way of so many small businesses into market irrelevancy and insolvency.

You may well be thinking right now what has this got to do with project management? To understand that we first need to understand the fundamental differences between projects and day to day business operations. Whilst many of the skills required to manage your “business as usual” activities are the same as those needed to manage projects, there are some crucial differences. Amongst the most significant differences are that project work tends to be at least cross functional and often cross organisational and every project will be unique in some way rather than following the predictable pattern of business as usual. These characteristics of projects introduce opportunities and risks over and above those encountered in business as usual. In short, projects are riskier than day to day business, and therefore need a different management approach.

Projects are the means by which we introduce change in organisations. All businesses that are making any attempt to adapt to face future challenges have projects. Common examples of projects in small businesses may include setting up a company website, establishing the office in a new location, or implementing a new product but it can be any temporary activity or set of activities that have a specific output associated with it. Businesses increase their productive capacity one project at a time. Indeed, for ambitious small companies looking to grow and expand, the need to initiate the right projects and achieve the desired results is even more vital l than it is for huge national and multi-national businesses

Despite the obvious need for a project management (PM) approach, most small businesses don’t bother. This constitutes a huge missed opportunity as effective project management impacts the bottom line. For example, research by the CBP shows that project management improvement initiatives improve project performance by up to 50% for the first project and can continue for each new project if the business offers ongoing project management tools and support. We could emphasise this point further by citing the Standish Group, who in their CHAOS Report conservatively estimates that 20% of money spent on projects is wasted because companies don’t have a consistent approach to project management.

Let’s take a look at six reasons I often hear from small business owners that choose not to bother with project management and then critically address the misconceptions behind these reasons.

1. Project management practices take more time

Having a process to follow may add time to the duration of an activity. Doing something properly will almost always take a little bit more time than adopting a slapdash approach. However, if you where building a house, would you rather have a quality end result that took a little longer, or would you prefer to have it done quickly but with lots of problems? Given that poorly executed projects can be completely de-rail a small business if they go badly, doing it well is essential, and PM processes help ensure things are done well.

2. Project management eats into the cash that I need to grow my business

A common misconception is that it is hugely expensive to implement PM process. The reality is that there are many free or low-cost sources of advice, techniques, tools, templates and project management services readily available and accessible through the Internet. If done correctly, any small business can implement PM processes, techniques and tools with very little cost. The likelihood is that small business owners are already using software and other tools that can be used for project management. For example, certain email software, spreadsheets, and other common software applications offer good templates for project management, especially if used in collaboration with some of the low cost project management services available for small businesses

3. Project management requires skills that I don’t have and cannot afford to hire

Although it does require specialised skills and experience to be an accomplished project manager, these are skills that can be learned over time. To move further up the learning curve faster, it is possible to take a PM course in as little as four or five days. Most small business owners tend to possess the knowledge needed for project management, and courses such as the Prince 2 Practitioner course would build on these skills while introducing the specific theories, tools, and processes essential for project management. Whilst business owners might not emerge from a course as a project expert, they would certainly learn valuable skills to apply to their small business.

4. I don’t need the hassle or paperwork of project management.

Every entrepreneur that starts their own business will, at some point, need to do a risk assessment, a marketing campaign or apply for finance. Being knowledgeable in project management and applying associated tools such as stakeholder analysis, communication planning and risk management will not only assist in many of these tasks, but will provide your small business with a competitive edge over competitors who do not approach.

5. Project management will slow me down and I need to stay agile.

Modern PM methodologies all acknowledge the importance of a tailored approach to project management. If your project requires speed, the right methodology can enable you to move quickly. Just as important, however, it will provide you with techniques to understand whether some proposed projects are worth pursuing at all. Rushing into situations without thoroughly understanding your environment is hazardous to the health of any project and potentially to the health of the business as a whole

6. I am an expert in my industry, I don’t need project management.

Most small businesses are started by a person who already has some expertise in their industry. This is unquestionably an advantage; however, project management should still be used to convert plans into reality. The main reasons for project failure tends to be poor planning, lack of capital, and lack of management. Project management, while not a cast-iron guarantee of success, will assist the small business in mitigating some of the common risks that so often cause project failure amongst small businesses.

Even a brief look at the reasons often posited by small business owners for failing to approach projects in a systematic and different way that recognises their inherent riskiness and addresses some of the more challenging aspects of project work shows them to be of dubious merit. Without question, the quality of project outputs would be greatly enhanced and the cost of and time taken in delivering project benefits using a project methodology appropriate to the scale of the project.

Small Business Success Myths Debunked

Many new entrepreneurs a opening small businesses every day. They are many reasons people become small business owners: creative freedom, being their own boss, doing what they love, and succeeding financially.

Unfortunately, many newbies and some seasoned entrepreneurs fall pray to the business success myths, that at best can derail their success, and at worst lead to bankruptcy and other problems. In this article I describe the two such myths, and what you can do instead, to succeed as a small business owner.

Myth I – Success Means Making “6 Figures”

My e-mail inbox is overflowing daily with sales offers for “How to Make 6 Figures” as a coach, consultant, or other professional service provider. These offers are, most likely, in email box as well.

No matter what the pitch is: teaching to do tele-seminars, write a book, use social media, design a website, create marketing copy, develop information products, become an affiliate – it has the promise of the magic “6 Figures.” Sometimes to make the offer even more “appetizing” it is combined with the promise of ” 6 Figures in 30 days”, or 90 days or some other off the wall number.

What is left out is the exact meaning of the “6 figures” promise. Having looked at hundreds of these offers, I believe “6 figures” means $100,000 revenue.

These offers are so widely promoted, it seems that the “six figures” is the magic key to the desires of coaches, consultants, and other service providers.

You may be wondering: “What’s wrong with six figures revenues”? There is nothing wrong with making $100,000 or more, as long as you understand that six or even seven figure revenue does not mean you have a successful business.

You can be earning six figure revenue, but your business may:

  • Not be profitable,
  • Have losses
  • Not be paying you salary
  • Not be set up for further growth
  • Not be a business, but a self-employment job
  • You may be sacrificing your relationships and/or your health

This type of “6 figures” becomes very unappetizing.

What can you do, to avoid the trap of the “Six Figure” Myth? Here are the four things you can immediately:

Take Action Now Plan

1. Make Your Accountant Your Best Friend

Every entrepreneur must understand the critical number and their implications for the business. Accounting may not get you excited but in your role as the CEO, it’s your responsibility to understand the financial picture and health of your business.Get help from your accountant if you need to and review your financials on a consistent basis.

2. Focus on profitability, not just revenues

Profitability is an important measure of business health. Understand your gross and net profits, by tracking your costs of services sold and your variable and fixed expenses.Understand your profit margins, if possible by the type of product, service you offer. This allows you to select create the mix of products that is optimal for your business.

3. Consider business growth plans

When growing your business, you need to consider whether you want to grow your revenues and/or your profits.When you plan for revenue growth you need to consider the associated increase in expenses to ensure that the business stays profitable.

4. Understand if you have a sustainable business

You may be making six or even seven figures in revenue, but you may have not a business, but a self-employed job.

Business is an asset that can eventually function without you in it. Consider this fact from the very beginning and create the business model that can be not only scaled up, but eventually transitioned to operate with little or no involvement from you as an owner.

Myths II. Businesses Growth By Borrowing

Just when we thought we learned from the mortgage crisis that borrowing without the ability to pay back is a really bad idea, the marketing gurus continue to promote the concept of personal borrowing.

I witnessed coaches tell their clients that borrowing as a good way to pay for their program. They present this as a way to grow the business, suggesting that without paying for their program you will not be able to grow your business.

Honestly, this one makes me want to cry. I have clients and speak to many coaches, consultants and holistic providers who charged $10,000 to $25,000 programs on their credit cards, without any ability to pay it back.

These programs, instead of generating return on investment, put them into deep financial hole. Some had to take another job to pay off the debt. Unfortunately, many couldn’t pay back, leading to financial hardships and even bankruptcy.

The promoters of taking on debt say that borrowing is how big businesses grow. This can work, if several conditions are met:

  • Present the idea you are looking to finance in a written plan to the lender, such as a bank. These lenders understand the potential risks involved and will make sure they have collateral to secure your loan. If they see the idea as too risky, good lenders will not finance it.
  • Structure your loan in a way, that if the idea does not pan out, you as the business owner is not personally responsible for the debt repayment.

Compare the above scenario to a way a coach or a consultant operates. Instead of borrowing on your business card, imagine a coach, or a holistic provider approaching the lender for credit, like I described above.

What will be the collateral a coach can offer, except for her personal assets. What confidence will the lender have that the loan will be repaid, and therefore what are the chances of the lender approving such loan? Chances of getting a commercial loan for coaches are slim to none.

Getting into personal debt to start or expand your business is one of the most serious mistakes you can make.

Take Action Now Plan

1. Do Not Borrow On Personal Credit Cards

If paying for something in your business requires taking on personal high interest loan, shift your thinking and make other choices. Borrow from a lender only if you have a proven method of getting 2-3 times the return on your investment.

2. Plan for Start -Up and Growth

Most businesses require investment to start up. Make sure you have this money allocated from your personal savings. Understand how much you can invest and how long your business can last with this investment before it starts generating revenues, profits and return on your original investment.

3. Understand The Risks

Realize that when you invest in a business, you are incurring a significant risk and that you may lose part or all of your investment. Stay away from anyone who tells you otherwise.

Start with a plan that is ambitious and leads to profits, but be prepared for all potential risks. Make sure these risks will not create financial and emotional devastation for you and your family.