10 Extremely Important Tips for a Successful Business Launch

What’s Your Passion? If you are thinking about starting a business, it should be something you enjoy. Since a lot of time and energy goes into running a business, it is smart to look at your hobby or professional experience as a potential business idea. For example, if you are good at sewing, consider a tailoring shop; or an accountant could look at bookkeeping or tax service. Now, imagine what your life would be like if you spent the majority of your day actually doing what you love. Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? To improve your chances, here are 10 Extremely Important Tips for a Successful Business Launch.Tip 1: The Name GameNow that you’ve narrowed it down to ONE ‘business idea,’ you’ve got to figure out a name. A major challenge in starting a business is the process of searching and choosing the right business name. Choosing the right business name can mean success while a poorly thought out name could doom your business from the start. Three smart business name tips:A smart business name must be unforgettable. It is imperative that potential clients be able to remember your business name. I’m sure most people have heard of Nike, Walmart, Target, Home Depot and McDonalds. Like these household names, your name should be easy to pronounce and memorable.
A smart business name must describe what your business does. When you create your business name, potential clients should be able to understand what products or services your company offers. For example in ‘ Browder Consulting Group,’ the word “Consulting’ is a clue that I provide specialized advice; or as in Lynn’s Styles & Cuts,’ the words ‘Styles & Cuts is a clue that this is a beauty salon.
A smart business name should be as short and sweet as possible. As you advertise your business, it is important that your name display well on your marketing material, such as business cards, ad campaigns, domain name and email. As potential clients search for you on the internet, you want it to be an easy spelled and searchable name.Tip 2: On a MissionA mission statement is an important tool that tells others who you are, what you do, how you do it and why you are superior than your competition.It identifies and clarifies the business’ vision, purpose and direction.
It provides the path and focus needed for making and implementing decisions.
It helps define to your future employees what they are doing, why they are doing it and where they are going.Tip 3: Make it LegalBe diligent in choosing the best Legal Form for your business. This is one of the first important decisions that you will have to make. This decision can have long-term implications, so here are a few things to consider when deciding which business structure is best for your business:Scope of business you plan to attain
Size of your business
Business’s vulnerability to lawsuits
Tax implications based on the different ownership structures
Level of control do you wish to have
Expected profit/loss of the businessTip 4: Surround yourself with a Progressive TeamWho do you need to know or collaborate with as a part of your external team? Having the right people on your team will allow you to focus on your business and help you to avoid costly mistakes. For example, you might need the following:Certified Public Accountant: best form of ownership, establish bookkeeping, record keeping procedures and tax planning, etc.
Business Attorney: reviewing lease contracts, determining the right business structure, etc.
Computer Information Technician: set up systems, repair issues, etc.
Human Resource Management Consultant: assess your current HR processes for compliance, navigate through delicate labor issues, set up hiring processes, compensation and benefits and create employee manuals, job description and Standard Operation Procedural manuals.Tip 5: Research Licenses & Permits Needed for Your Industry As you can see, there are many steps involved in starting a business. With the daunting task of figuring it all out, it’s easy to overlook the important legal requirements associated with permits, licenses and registrations. Here’s a list that your business might need:State Requirements: Business licensing requirements may vary from state to state.
Business Licenses: Depending on your state, county and city, a business license may be required for tax purposes and to conduct other basic business functions.
Occupations and Professions: Depending on your profession, state licenses may be required for occupations such as, appraisers, accountants, barbers, building contractors, cosmetologists, funeral directors, physicians, private investigators, private security guards and real estate agents.
Tax Registration: Some states carry a state income tax. If you establish your business in a state that does, you’ll have to register and obtain an employer identification number. If your business engages in retail sales, you will need to obtain a sales tax license.
Trade Name Registration: If you plan to run your business in your local community only, registering with the state may be adequate.
Employer Registrations: Are you planning to hire employees? If so, you’ll probably be required to make unemployment insurance contributions.Tip 6: Know Your ClientsA common mistake that I encounter with new business owners is that they don’t know who their customer is… possessing a poorly defined target market. Most want to sell their products or services to ‘everybody’ instead of narrowing their targeted customer base to a manageable size. You must do your homework… i.e., market research. I’ve created a business resource guide to assist you, Resource Guide for Women.Tip 7: Got Marketing? In business, marketing plays a key role in getting the word out to your prospective clients. You must create an image and be consistent! It’s important to mold and hone your business image to successfully appeal to your prospects and customers. By choosing a relevant company name, answering your phone professionally, creating a professional and clear elevator pitch, investing in professional business cards, logos and brochures, etc… all are key in marketing your business.Tip 8: Don’t forget Uncle SamUnderstanding tax obligations is one of the most important issues facing small businesses. The local, county, state and federal agencies does not care that you didn’t know or you forgot to pay your taxes. You will be subject to penalties for not paying on time. Here are some resources to assist you:For a list of state agencies: business.gov/states/
For a SBA resource guide by state: smallbusiness3.com/magazine
For IRS business information: irs.gov/businesses/index.htmlTip 9: Don’t forget the ‘B’ Word… Budget! Create a start up budget. Because businesses are different, each will have its own specific cash needs at various stages of development, so estimating your start-up costs may vary. Some businesses can be started on a shoestring budget, while others may require considerable investment in inventory or equipment. It is imperative to know that you will have enough money to launch your business venture.A few ways to prepare:Create a list of anticipated expenses for your first three years
Projections are fine, be realisticHave a tracking systemQuickBooks, Quicken, Ledger, Excel spreadsheets, I don’t care which you use…. It’s important to put a system in place that works for you. Personally, I use QuickBooks. I can send files to my CPA, easy to work with. In addition, as the treasurer on the board of a non-profit organization, I also use Quick books to reconcile the organization’s bank statements and to bill our member’s annual dues.Open a business checking account. The worst thing you can do is run your business from your personal account… it is an accountants nightmare. Open up a business account so that you can separate the two… plus it tells others that you are serious and professional.Tip 10: Put it all together… in a plan! Last but not least, you must write your business plan. By failing to plan, you are planning to fail. If you can’t take the time needed to plan for the success of your business, then don’t waste your time starting one. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first three years. This is staggering but true! Invest your time in researching and writing a business plan. Many prospective entrepreneurs think that a business plan is very hard and tedious. The truth is it’s a powerful tool that can help you plan and achieve business success.So, what is this thing called a business plan? Well, a business plan is your blue print or what I tell many of my clients, it’s your bible! A business plan defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your company’s resume. It will help you arrange strategic alliances, obtain financing and attract key personnel. By planning for success, you will be able to overcome many hurdles that may arise.A closer look at why a business plan is important: To secure funding, your lender will request your business plan with completed financials. DO NOT approach a lender without having a completed business plan. In his/her eyes, you will look unprepared and too risky. By being prepared, you will have a better chance at securing funding for operations or expansion of your business.
It is a great way to test the feasibility of your business idea. By the time you complete your market or competitive analysis, you will have a clear picture of the viability of your idea.As you can see, there is a lot of work involved before starting a business. To ensure success, it is important to research thoroughly, take advantage of the resources available to you and learn as much as you can. Preparation is key to a successful start!Sylvia Browder is Founder of National Association Women on the Rise, a virtual membership community for aspiring and established women entrepreneurs. For more about NAWR or resources and information for women entrepreneurs, visit us at http://www.nawomenrise.com.

Top Tips On How to Start Your Own Home Based Internet Business and Work From Home

In the capitalist society we are today, nobody is comfortable being a mere employee who grabs only a percentage of what his/her employer earns. Everyone craves to start a lucrative business of their own. More and more management degree holders, and even novices, are raring to venture into the domain of independent business as the returns promise to be much higher. Today there are so many businesses which you can manage from the comforts of your home itself. Making money from home online is not difficult anymore. So, how to go about starting an easy work as a home business? Let us have a look on how this can be successfully accomplished.First and foremost, we need to pen down a profound business plan as a blueprint to make things go around. Without that the very foundation of the business will not be proper as it involves the sensitive handling of money. If the monetary part goes wrong then nothing is going to be fruitful in the long run. Creating a proper legal structure and registering your organization with the respective authorities should be the next step. This aspect is very significant as it may land your company in shackles if not dealt with maturity. The next best thing is to launch an informative and engaging website for your business. In today’s socially networked world, everything goes around through the Internet. Without proper marketing and awareness creation strategies through the Internet, today’s businesses (especially legitimate work at home businesses) will not prosper at all. Therefore, as a business owner you need to hire a professional web developer to get it done for you as it requires the website to look professional, sassy, and attractive to the prospective clients.In the initial stages of a business, the biggest challenge is to find investors. Who would be interested to fund a new business? Why should the potential investors consider you worth shelling money on, especially when you have your eyes set on work at home business opportunities? Obtaining a good amount of capital to kick-start the venture depends heavily on how clear you are about your business prospects. Try to pitch in your business plan in the edgiest way possible and this will essentially help you in impressing prospective investors. Hiring employees would be yet another concern. Which well-educated or experienced person would risk working with a company which is just starting up? Fresh graduates would not prefer that as they would not want to risk their career with something uncertain right in its beginning. As for experienced persons, they always look for better prospects, salaries, avenues, and stress-free work environments. A new company may not be able to ensure any of these as the capital would be less and work load might be concentrated on the small number of staff they must be having. Hence, it is quite an effort to convince potential employees to join your newly set up organization. One needs to put forward an impressive and alluring offer before the target individuals, in such a way that it tempts them to accept and take the ‘risk’. The offer should be couched in such a way that the employees should feel that there is something in it for them. Perhaps, impressive offers such as ‘work from home’ might attract them towards your online business.One aspect of business which most of the newbie business men get wrong is the pricing. The right strategy needs to be chalked out for pricing the products accurately in such a way that your business does not end up in failure in the start-up stage itself. Choosing and appointing a skilled accountant to handle your finances is the best thing to do. As the owner, you may get involved with various other aspects of the business. This is when an accountant’s services would come into play. Conducting a market research prior to your plunge into the business is yet another thing that you must do. It will help you understand the market situation and what exactly the consumers desire.Experts are of the opinion that marketing in today’s business environment is even more important than the business itself. Considering the returns that it brings about through the Internet in particular, one needs to set apart a lump sum amount for the marketing purpose in particular. Also, designing a precise marketing strategy with the help of experts will be beneficial for your company. An important aspect of promotions, publicity campaigns, etc. is to find a catchphrase or jingle that would catch the attention of customers. Slowly and steadily, the product will zoom itself to become a formidable brand in its own right, provided that the quality of the product is commendable. The catchphrase should sum up what exactly the product is all about; in a precise yet profound way.Calculating a gross margin is significant in case of legitimate work at home businesses, or for that matter, any business. You should always make it a point to maintain a relatively high gross margin. Filing a patent should also be a consideration in case of a new business, be it home business through the internet or the conventional ones. It will reduce the chances of any possible accusations, allegations, and disputes in future. Also, introducing a new idea to the market is always a way to boom or find a place for your business in this busy world. Working from home policy is also an attractive factor for many of the new business as it can reduce considerable amount of costs in transportation. Setting up a formal office can create a big hole in your wallet. The best way to fetch easy work from home businesses is by setting up a home office. Also, the right insurance policy is essential for your company.In today’s times, there are millions of ways to make money online. But, it is up to the budding entrepreneurs amongst us to capitalize on the right market, invest on the correct product and services, focus of the specific target customers and cajole investors who dare enough to shell out money on us. If you play the ‘getting it right’ game well, then it is certain that you and your business are going to be epic successes!

Why Businesses Do Not Sell

It would be nice to live in a world where every business-for-sale was sold at top dollar. While there is no such thing as a perfect business free from all defects, there are a number of problems that can hinder a sale that could be remedied, if given enough time. This article lists ten of the reasons which are often cited as contributing factors in an unsuccessful sale or a completed deal for less than potential value.Business intermediaries need to be up-front with their seller clients, educating them on the challenges faced, and the likely impact that one or more of these issues will have on completing a successful transaction.1. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONSa. Valuation/Listing Price:Arguably, the price a business is listed at is one of the critical elements to a successful sale. An owner’s emotional attachment to their business, coupled with an inexperienced business intermediary’s desire to obtain the listing and please the seller, can be a recipe for disaster. Overpricing a business will deter knowledgeable buyers from establishing communications. Additionally, it will be extremely difficult to defend the valuation when a business has been priced unrealistically. The typical outcome is that the listing will languish in the marketplace and recovery becomes more difficult. Once on the market for months on end at the wrong price, the process in re-pricing and re-listing creates a whole new set of challenges, the least of which is maintaining credibility.b. Unrealistic Terms and/or StructureDeal structure, asset allocation and tax management must be addressed proactively and early in the process. Often the Buyer and Seller place all of the focus on the sale price at the expense of the ‘net after-tax results’ of a business transaction. In most cases, a seller could achieve a deal that provides a greater economic benefit when an experienced Tax Attorney/CPA assists with structuring the transaction. In addition to structure there are a number of other issues that could be problematic, including:

Seller insists on all cash at closing and is inflexible in negotiating other terms.

The buyer’s unwillingness to sign a personal guarantee

The lack of consensus on the Asset Allocation

Seller insisting on only selling stock (typically with a C-Corp)

Inability to negotiate equitable seller financing, an earn-out, or terms for the non-compete

2. PROFESSIONAL ADVISORSFor a successful sale to occur, a business owner must have the right team of advisors in place. An experienced mergers & acquisitions intermediary will play the most critical role – from the business valuation to negotiating the terms, conditions, and price of the sale as well as everything in between (confidential marketing, buyer qualification, etc). Aside from the M&A advisor, a business attorney who specializes in business transactions is critical. Once again, “who specializes in business transactions”. Any professional who has been in the industry for more than a year will be able to point to a transaction that has failed because the lawyer that was chosen did not have the specialized expertise in handling business transactions. Additionally, a competent CPA who is knowledgeable about structuring business transactions will be the third key role. While a business owner’s current legal and tax advisors may have the best of intentions in assisting their client with the business sale, if they are not experienced with mergers and acquisitions it would be highly recommended to evaluate alternatives. In some cases, there is one shot when an offer has been received and it is therefore imperative not to attempt to make a deal that is out of reach and impossible to complete.3. DECREASING REVENUES/PROFITSThe majority of buyers are seeking profitable businesses with year-over-year increasing revenue and profits. When a business has a less stellar track record with varied results or possibly declining revenue and/or profits, complications with the business sale are likely to occur. Not only will decreasing profits and revenue impact the availability of third party funding but it will have a material impact on the business valuation. While buyers traditionally purchase businesses based on anticipated future performance, they will value the business on its historical earnings with the major focus on the prior 12-36 months. For those businesses which have deteriorating financials, the seller should be able to articulate accurate reasons for the decline. Both the lender and the buyer will need to obtain a realistic understanding of the underperformance to assess the impact it is likely to have on future results. In cases where the seller is confident that the decline was an anomaly and is not likely to repeat itself, structuring a component of the purchase price in the form of an earn-out would probably be necessary. In other circumstances, when there are two or more years of declines, the buyer and lender will question “where is the bottom?” and what is the new normal. In this situation, a decrease in valuation will be inevitable. Cash flow is the driver behind business valuations and business acquisitions. The consistency and quality of revenue and income will be one of the key focal points when assessing an acquisition. It all relates to risk. Those businesses with dependable recurring revenue generated from contractual arrangements will generally be in greater demand than businesses who produce income based on a project based model.4. INACCURATE OR INCOMPLETE BOOKSOne of the most critical components to a successful business sale is for the business to maintain accurate, detailed, and clean financial statements that match the filed tax returns. Not only will these financial statements be the basis for the business valuation but they will also be the criteria for whether the business will qualify for bank transaction funding. Too often the business is managed as purely a lifestyle business that is focused only on short term owner compensation, without regard to building long term value. In these cases, the owner has taken very liberal personal expenses that may not be able to be added back when deriving the adjusted earnings. Given the importance these documents represent, a business owner should ensure that the books are professionally managed and up to date. Records that are messy, incomplete, out-of-date or containing too many personal expenses will only give prospective buyers and lenders reasons to question the accuracy of the books. Last but not least, businesses that have a ‘cash component’ will need to report 100% of this income for it to be incorporated in the valuation.5. CUSTOMER CONCENTRATIONBusinesses that have a handful of customers that produce a large percentage of the company’s revenues, will probably have customer concentration issues, especially if one client represents greater than 10% of sales. It is important for a business owner to recognize that a business which lacks a broad and diverse base of customers possesses a higher degree of risk for a buyer as the loss of any one of these large clients could have a material impact on the future earnings. As a result, customer concentration will have an effect on the valuation, deal structure, and salability of the business. Vendor and industry concentration can also pose complications when selling a business. Specialization can be a competitive advantage for a business and assist in winning contracts. However, this same narrow industry focus could be a detriment if it is perceived that the business does possess a broad supply chain and ample options to source products and materials.6. THE OWNER IS THE BUSINESSIt is not uncommon for the owner to play a significant role in the operation and management of the business. This is particularly true with smaller enterprises. Where this situation can present a problem is when the owner is not only the face of the business but also deeply involved with all facets of the company – sales, marketing, operations, management, marketing, and financial. If there are no key employees and there are few written processes and procedures, the business lacks a dependable and repeatable work flow. When it becomes evident that the business cannot operate effectively without the owner’s hands on involvement and personal know-how, it becomes problematic. Of equal concern is the relationship the owner may have with the customers of the business. If the customer does business with the firm largely in part of the relationship with the owner, this situation will create customer retention concerns and possible transition problems when the business is being sold. In summary, buyers want a business that can operate independently from the current business owner.7. THE OWNER(S) IS AGING AND HAS SLOWED-DOWNIt is not uncommon for a business owner to become complacent after running the company for an extended period of time. Becoming tired and lacking the previous ‘fire in the belly’ has a way of spilling over into the business fundamentals. The number of trade shows that the business participates in decreases, the travel and new customer sales calls that routinely took place on a daily basis in the early years, have been paired down. The investment spending on equipment upgrades, vehicle replacement or marketing programs have been cut back. Innovation has come to a grinding halt and the business is on auto pilot. The financials have luckily held steady but for how long? An owner who has become burnt out almost unavoidably transmits their lack of zeal and drive to their staff and clients in a number of subtle ways. The net result is the company’s performance slowly begins to deteriorate. Unfortunately, this situation can become even more pronounced when the owner finally makes the decision to sell the business and mentally checks out at the worst possible time. Transferring ownership can be viewed by some as a highly emotional process, and the decision to sell at the right time is often ignored until the issue is forced upon the owner (failing health, divorce, disability, etc.) and usually at a fraction of the former valuation.8. INDUSTRY IS DIMINISHING OR THREATENED Over the last two centuries there have been a number of industries that have developed and grown significantly. In this same time frame, many new industries have been created while others have become extinct. The future outlook for a given industry will have a direct impact on the valuation and marketability of the business during a sale. Businesses facing obsolescence or mired in a shrinking industry will face an uphill battle when it comes time to transitioning or selling the company. Maintaining a diverse offering of products and services that are relevant to the market, not just today, but also with an eye to the future, will enable a business owner to avoid this situation. Not only will this assist in mitigating the impact from declining sales but also demonstrate to a prospective buyer that the business has a clear path to grow in the future.9. CHOOSING THE WRONG LENDERFrom loan application approval to transaction funding is a process in business transactions that can take six weeks or more, that is with an ‘experienced’ business acquisition financier. Many deals have fallen apart during this time frame because the buyer became aligned with the wrong financial institution. There is nothing worse, for all parties involved, to find out four weeks into the process that either the loan terms previously promised were not correct or worse, that the bank underwriter declined the loan.In the field of business acquisitions, not all banks/lenders are the same. There are conventional loans, SBA backed loans, and there are lenders that provide cash-flow based financing and others that only provide asset based funding. One bank may turn down a borrower for an SBA 7a loan while another institution will readily accept it. Every lender has its own unique and frequently modified lending criteria. Therefore, buyers need to ensure they are working with the right lender from day one, or valuable time is wasted causing the deal to be compromised, or lost to another, better prepared candidate. Buyers should consult with the business intermediary representing the sale to determine which lenders have reviewed and/or pre-approved the transaction for funding. Obviously, buyers who are prequalified from the start and verify that the bank’s lending criteria conforms to the type of businesses they are evaluating, will be the best positioned for a successful acquisition.10. COMMERCIAL PROPERTY ISSUESFor some businesses the saying “location, location, location” cannot be more important to the value of the company. Typically, this will pertain to retail businesses. If the physical location is of major importance, the business buyer will seek assurances that they can either purchase the real estate or be able to sign a long term lease. On the flip side, the business could be located in a part of town that has fallen on hard times or could be located on the owner’s personal property, both situations necessitating that the business be relocated. Also, some businesses are not easily relocatable without affecting the current customer base. All of these circumstances add another layer of complexity to the transaction.Additionally, the type and size of facility can also have a material impact on the sale. If the facility is not large enough to provide the enterprise a sustained growth path, a buyer could become disinterested. Another situation could be the value of the property. If the current owner purchased the land/building a decade or two earlier and the financials or recast do not reflect a current FMV rent/lease payment, valuation problems will occur.Business transactions involving the sale of commercial real estate can be hampered by the Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s) – Phase 1 and Phase 2. Property that is contaminated can be very costly to clean up and will have an impact on the closing. When this situation arises, it will be important for the buyer and seller to have a clear understanding of the costs to resolve the issue, which party is responsible, and whether a price offset will be warranted.Other complicating factors involving commercial real estate include zoning changes that require a property to be brought up to new codes, and clear definition of who bears responsibility and the cost of this process. Last but not least, the agreement by the landlord with either a lease assignment or offering a new lease at comparable rates.SUMMARYMost small business owners have spent the majority of their life building their business. It is not uncommon for a business seller to become so emotionally attached to the company that they look past some rather glaring problems that a business intermediary, a lender, or prospective buyer will immediately recognize. It is natural for a seller to want to obtain the highest price possible for their business. There is so much bad information on the web related to multiples and business valuations that this should not come as a surprise. M&A Advisors need to be honest and direct in educating a business seller on the challenges faced in a potential sale, the range for a realistic transaction price, as well as creative terms and structuring options that might be utilized. Being a people pleaser and ignoring any potential problems will only provide the seller with unrealistic expectations. In the arena of business negotiations there are few if any “pleasant surprises”. Dealing with issues up front rather than late in the sales cycle process should be the golden rule.