3 Misconceptions About Starting Your Own Business

Many people see successful businesses and think “what a simple idea, why didn’t I think of that?” But what they often don’t realize is the sheer amount of planning and work that went into making that business a success – not to mention the money spent. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions that people have about starting a business. Here are three of the most common.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

1. It is All About the Product

When it comes down to it, if your business starts with a bad product, it cannot succeed. However, just because your business starts with a good product, it does not necessarily mean that it is guaranteed to succeed. One of the biggest assumptions that people make when starting a business is that people will actually buy their product. Whether it is because of bad marketing, unaffordable prices, or just a bad product, there are many reasons why certain ideas do not take off with consumers. Extensive research is needed to prevent this sort of a problem. Things such as surveys, market research, and focus groups will help you to know what people want, as well as where there is space in the market. Again, you could have the best idea in the world, but if it will be entering an already saturated market, it will struggle to take off.

2. Money is All the Motivation That I Need

Obviously you are going into this business wanting to make some money, but if you sole motivation is that you want to make a million dollars, you might just want to rethink it all. It is incredibly hard for a startup business to even break even, let alone start making money, and this will take a lot of hard work and time. When not much else is going for you, passion and sheer enjoyment of the work that you do will be the only things that carry you through. Your business is also much more likely to succeed if you are creating it because of an interest and talent for business, and passion about your product or service.

3. A Business Plan is Ironclad

The most common piece of entrepreneur advice is to have a solid business plan. Firstly, it is important to have a business plan. Not only will it help you organize your ideas and prepare for what comes next, but you will need it to present to potential investors who will help you to fund your venture. But one mistake that people make is over planning, as well as taking a plan too far. As you start your business, you will soon realize that it is full of hurdles to overcome, and pits to climb out of. The business world is notoriously fickle and constantly changing. This makes it almost impossible to have an ironclad business plan, because within a few months, it is likely that you will just have to throw it out of the window. Good businesses quickly learn to adapt to the changing needs of the market, and those are the ones that survive.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finances. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching and small business consultation.

Does Your Company Need a PEO?

Owning a business requires time, patience and a great deal of effort to ensure its success and longevity. A professional employer organization (PEO) will spend time researching your business needs and deliver a cost-effective plan to meet them. Instead of endless piles of paperwork, staying current with employee regulations and interviewing, you can focus your attention on running your company.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7214600922/
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7214600922/

PEO FAQ

1. What is a PEO?

Professional Employer Organization may be an unfamiliar term, but they are extremely valuable. A PEO provides a variety of services that includes human resources functions, payroll assistance, safety and employment resolutions, regulatory compliance, professional orientation and much more.

2. How can a PEO Benefit Your Business?

  • Improve the safety of the workplace environment through seminars and training workshops.
  • Oversee worker’s compensation issues and follow-up on injuries or claims.
  • Control spending by focusing on their primary duties instead of tedious work.
  • Reduce payroll and wasteful accounting expenses.
  • Implement and structure human resource services such as company policies, employee handbooks and vacation scheduling.
  • Refocus the attention on revenue generating tasks such as sales and marketing strategies to help the company grow and flourish.
  • Manage employee health and dental benefits.
  • Stay on top of current regulations and compliance in regard to end of the year reports, state laws and filing any necessary documentation pertaining to the guidelines.

3. How will a PEO Improve my Workplace Environment?

In addition to the many benefits a PEO can provide for your business, the remainder of the employees in your workplace will reap just as many rewards through their outsourcing.

  • Efficient and timely payroll services – No longer will you have to worry about payroll and getting paychecks out to your employees in a timely fashion. This is part of a PEO’s job and can take the headache out of tallying up regular, overtime and salaried hours for the employees and making sure everyone gets their check when they are supposed to. Managing the correct deductions is just as important when it pertains to insurance, expense and tax related issues.
  • Improved employee/employer communication – Proper communication is necessary for any successful business and a PEO can ensure that a company stays on top of important dates such as employee reviews, insurance deadlines and other relatable items.
  • Maintain a peaceful environment – A professional and knowledgeable PEO can take all of the worry out of managing a proper business by providing guidance on legal compliance, safety and risk management services for your company.

If you’re company is having trouble staying on task with their benefits, unable to set a budget for monetary compensation to your employees or having issues with human resource maintenance and employee hiring, it may be time to hire a professional employer organization. A PEO can get your business on the road to effective planning and help the company stay focused on growth.

About the Author: Researcher Shelby Warden writes articles to help small business owners reach their goals. Since 1997 Midwest HR has been identifying new, cutting-edge ways to positively affect the bottom line and overall growth of businesses of all sizes. Read their extensive PEO FAQ for more details on how a PEO can help with payroll, tax administration, risk management, worker’s compensation and legal compliance.

Quick Tips For Reducing The Cost Of Doing Business

No business can afford to pass up on any form of cost saving tips in this tough economy. There are always ways that you can cut back on your business’ expenses without sacrificing quality, but you need to look for them. If you are not actively searching for lower prices, how do you know that you are not paying too much?

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License: Creative Commons href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/meshal/40297406/sizes/z/in/photostream/” rel=”nofollow”>image source

Here are a few quick tips for reducing the cost of doing business:

Audit business expenses

Every company needs to analysis and justify each business expense a few times each year. Make it a part of your quarterly strategy or at least annually and always start by re-quoting your supplies. If you don’t find a better deal out there, you can always negotiate lower prices or better terms with your existing suppliers.

Increase staff productivity

In today’s modern world, the first step to improving productivity is searching for technological advancements. Manual entry is a thing of the past and there are now automated systems for nearly anything you need to accomplish in a typical business day. There are automated marketing systems, invoice generators, and automatic order processing, including payment. The less time your staff is spending on entering paperwork means more time they can be spending on innovation and growth.

Cut staff if needed

You may also discuss some positions are not as necessary as you think. For example, if you only need to process less than fifty invoices per week (which is typical for a small business), then you probably don’t need to hire a full-time bookkeeper. You could enter the transactions yourself in less than an hour and save a considerable amount on labor expenses.

Use video-conferencing instead of meeting in person

To save the expense of commuting between locations, try using video-conferencing whenever possible. If you also use file sharing program like Google Drive, you can both even work on the same document without having to email it back and forth.

Use less expensive forms of marketing

Social media marketing is being used by more big business as a way to connect on a more person level with potential consumers. It is relatively inexpensive, especially when you compare it to all other mediums for global advertising. Create an engaging website, an interactive blog, a fun Facebook page, and an intriguing Twitter feed.

 Reduce your paper costs

You can save time and money by switching to paper saving online solutions. Use email, online calendars, and online billing software to reduce the amount of paper you use. If you email invoices directly to your customers, you will save on both paper and stamps!

Take action and start saving money today by auditing your business expenses, increase productivity, take advantage of video-conferencing, use inexpensive marketing methods, and reduce your paper cost. These little things can add up to an incredible savings for your company.

About the Author: The article is posted by Gerwyn Wallto. You can find other related articles here.

Top Tips to Ensure You Never Miss another Deadline at Work

Whether you run an online or an offline business there are certain targets that you need to meet. If you want people to buy your products then you need to ensure that they get their orders delivered on time and in good condition. If you have a boss that you have to keep happy then you need up to date reports on sales figures and future forecasts.

Those busy people who recognise that they cannot keep track of everything by themselves have now cottoned onto the fact that if you let an efulfilment (also known as web fulfilment) company take on some of your tasks; you won’t upset your boss with a missed deadline.

Tip 1: Getting Stock Delivered

You can spend a lot of time chasing up various members of staff to ensure that a customer’s order is actually booked and is due to be delivered on a certain day. One way to avoid all the hassle of chasing other people when it comes to response and delivery is to engage the services of an efulfilment company. A reputable and experienced company will be able to receive your goods and have orders packed and mailed out to customers within a given time frame. When you use the right service, you won’t have to worry about packing and delivery again, you can rest assured that customers will receive their orders in good time. Whether you need simple mailing of goods or a full picking, packing and delivery service the right company will make all the difference to your customers and thereby to your business.

Tip 2: Keeping Track of the Data

If you are not detail minded then accounts and sales reports may go untended, making it difficult when the boss calls a meeting to ask about the current state of the business.

When you engage the services of an efulfilment company they will run an audit trail on both the accounts and the sales figures, allowing you to have the details at your fingertips when you need them. A good company will do their best to identify and prevent potential delays and hold ups in securing an exact picture of the data. If you have a company website it’s a good idea to get some professional advice on the best way to handle it. A good professional outfit can manage many of the day to day tasks, such as processing payments for you, leaving you free to get on with the rest of your job.

Tip 3: Taking Care of the Little Things

One of the problems for those whose job it is to manage a successful business is that there is not always time to take care of all the little things that please customers and make your company unique. It’s all too easy not to check on how customers’ goods are packed and to miss the fact that you should be using bespoke packaging. A good company can handle all the little details that bog you down, including sending out goods in bespoke packaging.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Hallmark Consumer Services.

Working at Home – Know Your Stuff and Avoid the Scams

Having the opportunity to work from home is a dream for many people. Some people choose remote working as a way to earn a little extra money while looking after their kids, while others opt to work from home so that they can avoid the daily commute, or just structure their work day a little differently to the average 9-5 job.

Because remote working is so popular, this has led to a lot of scams job advertisements cropping up. Job sites do their best to try to remove the scams, but it can be difficult for them to stay on top of the sheer number of job postings that are submitted. If you want to avoid dodgy work-at-home advertisements, try the following tips.

work at home

Remember That Real Jobs Don’t Cost Money

If a job posting asks you to pay money up front, steer clear of it. A real employer would not charge money for training materials or equipment. Never hand over cash when you apply for a work-at-home job. You won’t see that money again.

Don’t Expect to Get Rich

Avoid listings that promise good incomes for part-time hours. Those listings are almost always pyramid schemes, MLM, or something similar. Work at home jobs are still jobs, and you’ll have to put in real work to earn real money.

Read the Advertisement Carefully

Before you apply for any remote working job, make sure you understand exactly how it will work. Many jobs work on a commission basis, or a revenue sharing basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a scam, but it does mean that your income isn’t guaranteed. If you need a fixed income to pay the bills, be careful applying for commission related jobs.

Common Scams to Avoid

Until recently, assembly related jobs were a common work-from-home offering. These jobs tend to require fiddly, difficult assembly work. You can expect to work long hours to meet your targets, and will then have a sample of your work quality tested. If any of your work fails the test, you won’t get paid for that batch.  Home assembly jobs might sound nice, but you’ll probably do a lot of work for very little money.

Another common remote working scam is data entry. While fast typists can do very well financially from real data entry jobs, in the work-at-home world, data entry is a euphemism for posting spam advertisements on forums and job boards. Your income (if you get any) will probably come from scamming other people into paying to buy the “data entry” start-up kit that you just purchased yourself.

Finding Real Work-at-Home Jobs

The best way to approach the work from home job hunt is not to look for jobs that advertise themselves as “Work from Home”. Instead, treat it like a normal job hunt. Figure out what your marketable skills are, and look for jobs in those areas. Jobs such as tech support, public relations, accounting, and software development all support working from home these days. Look for jobs with well known, reputable employers, and negotiate remote working with them if you want to avoid scammers.

About the Author: This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Maintel the remote working experts.

Image: Eric__I_E / Flickr

Get Ready For The Trade Show Season

Trade show season is almost upon us!  In fact, for some industries, it’s already begun.  Toy Fair took place last month, Auto Shows are already taking place, and next month will see the Gadget Show Live along with the first of Europe’s major Games Festivals.  If you want to make an impact this year, you’d better start planning your booth, and contacting trailer producers and poster printers now!

trade show tips
Are you ready for 2012 trade show season?

Trade Shows or Festivals?

The state of the economy right now means that many business owners can’t afford to attend several events per year, so they have to plan their events strategy carefully, taking their display trailers only to the events with the biggest impact.  The trick is figuring out what kind of impact you want, and who you’re trying to reach.

Sponsoring festivals and sporting events is a good way to raise brand awareness and generate goodwill.  If your message is a simple one, such as “Come buy your guitars from our music shop”, or “We sell football kits”, then generating awareness in this way is a good start.

If your message is more complicated, or you want to reach a wider range of people than you would at a local event, then you should consider attending a trade show.  Some trade events are industry only – such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.  This event is attended by international press, investors, video game publishers, and buyers for stores from all over the world.  If you’re preparing to launch a product, and want to generate a lot of buzz, this is the place to do it.

Other events are open to the public.  At public events, there are a lot of companies competing for the attention of the visitors, and in many industries there’s an ever-increasing battle to produce the flashiest display trailers, offer the best swag, and pull the biggest publicity stunts.  If you’re on a tight budget, getting into this kind of battle is a bad idea, unless you’re sure that you can create a lasting impression.  People who visit your booth for a free inflatable sword and shield or other crazy gift set won’t buy your product – but people who visit your booth to demo your product and pick up a catalogue might well turn into customers later.

Keeping Costs Down

Trade shows are great for networking.  Ideally, you should try to attend any shows that are local to you, and also try to find room in your budget for a major, highly respected show elsewhere.  The power of being able to say “As seen at the Frankfurt Auto Show” should not be underestimated.

To keep costs down, start negotiating with trailer producers early, and show space as soon as you can to take advantage of early bird discounts.  Try to get bulk discounts for posters, business cards, and other essentials.  While you’re at the show, take advantage of any networking opportunities – get out there and hand out cards to people at other stands, and take the time to see what other people are doing.  Trade shows aren’t just good ways to spread the word about what you’re doing – they’re good ways to find out what’s happening in the rest of your industry too.

Image: Yodel Anecdotal / Flickr

Reasons Why People Don’t Buy From a Website

Even if you have a lot of traffic coming to your site, these visitors might not be doing what you want them to on your site. Whether that’s buying a product or filling in an enquiry form, these visitors aren’t converting. Often, website owners will look at this problem and decide what they need is more visitors coming to the site, rather than making the most of the potential customers that are leaving. This can be expensive, especially when you’ve got the potential customers visiting already – you just have to appeal to them a bit more.

This is all about conversion rate optimisation, which can help you get the most out of the potential customers already coming your way. Below are some tips to consider when looking to optimise your site.

Can you find items easily?

If you look at your site as a customer would, can you find things easily? Finding a certain page should be easy and straightforward. Easy to read sign posts that direct people are necessary. If people can’t find exactly what they’re looking for straight away, they’ll look somewhere else.

However, trying to get every link on every page may make the site look a mess and cause more problems than it solves. As long as the directions are there, it should make sense.

Is the information there?

When potential customers have found the page they’re looking on, they’re going to need some information on what they’re looking at. Whether it’s a product or service, the attached description could decide whether they buy from you or someone else.

The description should contain enough information so that a potential customer can decide if it’s right for them, as well as being written in high quality, detailed enough to cover everything and completely unique.

Online, you don’t have the ability to hold an item like you do in a store. The description needs to replace and recreate that feeling, or you won’t give your customers the confidence to buy from you. High resolution images that customers can zoom on to see the items in detail and technical specifications are really good things that should be included on the page too.

Customers need confidence

When it comes to conversion rate optimisation the first thing you need to assess is if customers have enough confidence in your site. Customers will not part with their credit card details on to a site they can’t completely trust, and they’re quite right too as well. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure that you and your site are doing everything you can to gain the customers trust.

Making your website look professional is the first step. The more professional the site looks, the more trustworthy it’ll come across as. It’s also a good idea to make your contact details as open as possible and to not hide them away or refuse to put them on the site at all. Customers will gain confidence if they know you’re approachable and they’re able to contact you should anything not go according to plan.

This post was written on behalf of Boom Online Marketing the conversion rate optimisation experts

Business Survival Secrets for Restaurants

The restaurant business was a challenge before the global economic downturn. These days it is a real struggle to make a restaurant a success and keep the business bringing in diners. However, owning and running a restaurant can be both personally and commercially rewarding and anyone with the finances, drive, commitment and passion should not be dissuaded from striving to realize their restaurant dream. Here are some business survival secrets for your restaurant. Continue reading Business Survival Secrets for Restaurants

How Impulse Merchandising Can Boost Company Profits In The Retail Sector

While the recession is undoubtedly affecting almost every one of us, the retail sector is generally being hit much harder than many other business divisions. This is largely due to the need for consumers to reduce their spending on unnecessary goods such as expensive clothing and entertainment products. Continue reading How Impulse Merchandising Can Boost Company Profits In The Retail Sector