Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
(BPT) - Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
In the U.S. alone, women entrepreneurs generate $1.1 million in revenue on average across retail, professional and personal service businesses that have operated for 11 years. This stat comes from Visa’s new ‘State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, which informed their recently announced program, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a global initiative to support and champion women in their efforts to grow their small businesses.
That’s powerful stuff, highlighting the important role women entrepreneurs play in the prosperity and economic development of local communities. The typical entrepreneur is 42 years old and earns nearly $110,000 in household income a year, making a profound difference in building and supporting families in the community.
Clearly, female founders are coming into their own. In fact, the Visa study found that 79 percent of American women entrepreneurs feel more empowered now than they did five years ago.
Still, key challenges exist: 73 percent say funding does not come easily, and nearly 2/3 use their own funds to get started. Assembling a good team, finding the right tools and dealing with competitors are among the biggest challenges keeping women entrepreneurs up at night.
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like there’s never enough time or resources to grow a business. To help other entrepreneurs and based on insights from the ’State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, Visa polled four areas women entrepreneurs focus on to turbocharge success:
Find mentors: More than two-thirds said they wanted advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Relatable role models and mentors are invaluable when you’re making the leap to starting or building your own business.
Find your feet: Strategy development is critical for women starting up their own company. Assembling a good team was a challenge encountered by 37 percent of women founders. Other challenges include: finding the tools to grow and manage their business (36 percent), competition (36 percent) and growing as quickly as they need to (33 percent). Have a plan and pursue your vision.
Gather capital to invest in your business: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. Respondents cited profits and revenue growth as the top two priorities for improvement. Thirty-two percent of women would direct additional funding toward newer technology.
Put in overtime: When building a business, time is precious. Given the investment and high stakes that come with the territory, it comes as little surprise that a majority of women entrepreneurs (56 percent) are putting in more work hours than before they started their business.
If you’ve joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs, find support and resources by signing up for the Female Founder Collective, and visit She’s Next, Empowered by Visa where you can download and print a toolkit with tips and advice to help build and sustain your company.
Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
A Breath of Fresh Air: 7 ways to refresh your small business
7 ways to refresh your small business
(Family Features) Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
Reset short-term goals. Get to the root of the reasons you’re looking to refresh in the first place. Focus on what you’d like to change in the not-so-distant future and how you can accomplish it. Also make sure your short-term goals keep you on track for the long-term goals already established for your business.
Refresh online materials. In today’s digital world, consumers have high expectations. Maybe your website is outdated, can’t keep up with traffic or, worse, is nonexistent. Freshen things up with a redesign or even just slight tweaks to make it easier for customers to navigate. For a simple solution, consider adding a blog section where new content can be posted weekly or monthly to give customers a reason to return and to help build your search engine ranking for specific keywords.
Rethink storefronts. To help consumers make the most of their time, small business owners are partnering with other businesses to include their services under the same roof. For example, The UPS Store has a re-engineered model that exists within other retailers, such as pharmacies, hardware stores or grocery stores, that still provides all the services consumers would find at a traditional store.
“Our store-in-store model offers a smaller footprint store that still provides all of the services people need,” said Chris Adkins, vice president of franchise and business development with The UPS Store. “This is an opportunity for an existing business to set itself apart from the competition and offer added value to customers as a one-stop shop, where customers can conveniently take care of multiple tasks at once.”
With customer convenience also in mind, the model also includes updates in traditional stores to incorporate technology and other contemporary elements, including features like smart lockers, digital signage, print consultation workstations and self-service options available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Replace outdated strategies. If your business has been in operation for a while, there’s a chance your previously successful marketing strategies may be a bit out of touch. Consider your target audience and the ways you’re most likely to reach those consumers. For example, social media is a must to keep up with competition and there are ways you can amp up your strategy in the ever-evolving social space. Whether it’s posting short factoids, long-form information, links to online content or simple images of your products, it can be a productive way to reach your audience.
Reconnect with consumers. If overhauling marketing strategies or diving headfirst into social media seems like a stretch for your small business, start small. Simply reconnecting with loyal customers may be just what’s needed to rejuvenate the buzz surrounding your company. Try holding a contest for the best customer-submitted content to use online, or create a giveaway for a randomly chosen commenter on your latest social posts. These types of online conversations can attract consumers who may have been previously unaware of your goods or services.
Revive printed materials. Business cards, flyers, banners, posters, newsletters and any other type of printed materials may be the first impression potential customers have of your company. Using professional, well-designed printed items to let customers know what you do, like those available through The UPS Store, can convey the correct message to consumers that your products or services can meet their needs. Whether you think slight tweaks to your current materials will suffice or a more drastic redesign is necessary, it can help to ask friends, neighbors and even current clients and customers how they feel about the materials you’re using. Pay attention to layout, headlines, colors, white space and even font choices.
Rebrand your business. It may sound like a lot of work, and it certainly can be, but rebranding your business doesn’t have to mean changing the company name or rethinking product lines. Simply updating logos to appear more modern or rethinking an overused slogan can give your business a fresh vibe. Remember that enhancing the look of something seemingly as small as your logo can make a big difference, especially considering that image is likely the first thing a consumer sees when visiting your social pages or website.
Even companies experiencing success should often weigh the pros and cons of refreshing certain business elements to keep things impactful for current and potential customers. Find more tips and ways to improve your small business at theupsstore.com.
How Retailers Can Put Convenience First
In the race to nab consumers’ attention (and dollars), retailers need to be increasingly creative. Some of the more successful efforts show that retailers must recognize the value shoppers place on convenience. Look for ways to boost convenience for your consumers, such as:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The UPS Store
Take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
(BPT) - Small businesses are far more influential than most people may realize.
That influence is felt well beyond Main Street. Small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., and these firms employ nearly half (48 percent) the workforce, according to the 2018 Small Business Profile compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In addition, take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
Big companies have big opportunities for small firms
Back in the 20th century, a large company would get things done in this very straightforward way. Wherever there was a need, they hired someone directly to perform that task, whether it was a driver or an accountant.
Under today’s leaner models, these big companies are finding it’s much more efficient to partner with other firms to fulfill certain needs. According to Deloitte, 31 percent of IT services have been outsourced, as well as 32 percent of human resources. This increasing acceptance of outsourcing is a huge growth opportunity for small businesses owners.
For example, Amazon recently announced it is actively seeking and helping entrepreneurs who are willing to deliver packages as their contractors. The mega retailer will even go as far as helping with startup costs so long as these smaller firms deliver their packages. Landing a contract with a big corporation is a significant milestone for any company, but starting out with that lucrative contract is sure to let these startups hit the ground running.
Better connections for greater flexibility
When today’s entrepreneur has a new role to fill, they’re not confined to the talent pool in their immediate community. Because we now have the tools and connectivity to work from anywhere, a business owner can expand the search across multiple states!
What’s more, these flexible, work from anywhere options can give business owners the inspiration to do things differently. Having greater collaboration means having access to more options to fit specific needs.
For example, what is the very nature of being a small business owner? It’s dealing with a fluctuating volume of work. Tapping into the talent pool of freelancers to work on these specific, short-term tasks and projects is easier than ever, because for a segment of workers, freelancing is increasingly becoming a way of life. Freelancers currently make up 36 percent of the workforce, according to a study from Upwork. And, if trends maintain, most Americans will be freelancers by 2027.
Thanks to remote options with easy access to talent, small businesses can easily set up temporary or ongoing as-needed work arrangements. When you partner with Dell for your computing needs, you’ll get the expert help and support so you can set up the perfect flexible workspace system.
More automation brings better efficiencies
Without a doubt, new technology works in favor of small businesses and entrepreneurs because they have many tools at their disposal to automate labor intensive processes, be more productive and cut costs. For example, entrepreneurs can use software to process client payments and even set up automated payments, saving hours and costs associated with collecting, processing and reconciling under the traditional paper check payment system. That translates into a more efficient billing department that can spend more time focused on complex issues.
Let Dell equip your small business with the right tech tools, tailor made for your venture and backed with support, so you can focus on running your business.
How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business. Where can entrepreneurs turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
(BPT) - How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business.
Growth is one of the biggest indicators of small business success. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than 500,000 businesses have between 20 and 99 employees as of 2014. These established businesses are in the upper end of growth but have not yet met the threshold of being a medium business. In fact, 39 percent of growing companies — between three to five years old and seeking more than $100,000 — consider accessibility to capital their greatest concern. It’s during this stage businesses typically are faced with growth challenges.
Where can they turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
1. Lines of credit
Lines of credit, provided by online lending platforms like Kabbage, offer established businesses in all industries the flexibility and convenience of accessible capital.
With Kabbage there are no fees to apply for a line of credit or annual costs to access funding. Small businesses don’t pay a thing to see for how much their business can qualify. Kabbage offers access to lines of credit up to $250,000, helping small to mid-market businesses access funding for operational costs and strategic investments like cash flow needs, purchasing specialized equipment, business expansions and launching high-growth marketing projects. There are also no obligations in how much a business is required to take. Businesses can take the amount they need from the line of credit when they need it, with no hidden fees or pre-payment penalties.
Lines of credit are faster and more flexible than traditional loans. In fact, Kabbage offers a loan application that can be finished in minutes — even through a mobile app — eliminating the time usually spent waiting in lines or filling out numerous forms.
2. Merchant cash advances
Some established businesses turn to a merchant cash advance (MCA) due to lower credit ratings, not having enough assets to provide as collateral, short-term financing needs or the flexible repayment terms.
Essentially, an MCA is an advance on future credit card payments. The cash advance is decided upon by the funding company, with the specific amount being paid back in full plus fees and interest.
With merchant cash advances, borrowers pay a set percentage of their credit card sales and make payments every time they receive credit card payments from clients.
3. Invoice factoring
Invoice factoring is another funding option established businesses use in lieu of bank loans. Factoring is the process of selling accounts receivables to a financing company for immediate cash.
Factoring helps businesses receive cash much faster than waiting for clients to pay their invoices. The financing company, known as the “factor,” pays the business the majority of the invoice upfront. Once the business receives payment from the client, they send those funds to the factor. The factor then pays the remaining percentage to the business.
Factors are more concerned with the financial health of the business’s clients rather than the business itself. These companies collect directly from a company’s clients and customers, sometimes requiring payment history validation from the business. A benefit of factoring is not assuming debt for money received; however, if clients are not creditworthy, you may not receive funding.
To maximize this growth, consider looking online at www.kabbage.com/yes to learn about and find new options that fit your business. Merchant cash advances, invoice factoring, and lines of credit are three alternative solutions that help growing businesses go beyond traditional financing methods.
Entrepreneurship is alive and well, even if the face of small business is evolving with the times. Autonomy in management and making dreams a reality are the reasons most cited by entrepreneurs looking to open a small business. This action plan can help you get you on your way to launching a successful start-up.
Be Your Own Boss
7 tips to help you launch a successful business
(Family Features) Entrepreneurship is alive and well, even if the face of small business is evolving with the times. Autonomy in management and making dreams a reality are the reasons most cited by entrepreneurs looking to open a small business.
However, how Americans are choosing to open small businesses is where there may be a shift.
“Consumer habits are changing,” Pittaway said. “That’s forcing Americans to consider how they open small businesses, whether it’s focusing more on e-commerce than actual store fronts or focusing on selling to a local community or region instead of a broader national audience.”
Starting Your Own Start-Up
“We understand the challenges of small business owners and offer products and services designed specifically to help and support small businesses,” said Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, Inc. “Small business owners are unparalleled in their passion for their businesses, and understanding that aspiration is critical to running a successful small business.”
This action plan from the experts at The UPS Store can help you get you on your way to launching a successful start-up:
1. Analyze your target audience.
2. Determine a legal structure.
3. Establish your premises.
4. Determine your budget and expenses.
5. Develop a business plan.
6. Set up a marketing plan.
7. Be competitive.
With a carefully structured action plan, you can turn your start-up idea into a successful business. Find more tips for your small business at TheUPSStore.com.
Pitch your small business like a Pro
When you’re launching a small business, there could be any number of reasons you may need to pitch your idea. You may be courting an investor, recruiting talent or even starting to market your product or service. Brevity is often essential, so learn how to concisely pitch your business like a pro with these tips:
Draw out the essentials. Reduce your pitch to a few digestible bites. Make sure you have an intro that is brief enough to get someone’s undivided attention then elaborate on your points, such as your top competitive advantages, and provide more detail about your business as a whole.
Come to entertain. Add an entertainment factor to make your pitch engaging and memorable. Of course, you need substance to go along with style, but keeping your audience focused and doing something to stand out is essential.
Anticipate questions. Prepare yourself to reassure concerned investors and flesh out subjects you may have kept brief for your presentation. Make sure to practice your answers so you sound confident. Grabbing attention is important, but you need to be able to back up your spiel.
Know your audience. This is the cardinal rule of communication. Make sure you do your homework and know who you are addressing. This shows you value your listener’s time and feedback. Furthermore, insight about his or her philosophy in doing business can be extremely valuable during a pitch.
Practice until it hurts. Take the time to practice your entire pitch, including answers to likely questions, until you know it inside and out. The more comfortable you are, the more likely you are to win someone over in a meeting.
Have the materials to back it up. A written document is your chance to leave a lasting impression and elaborate on your major selling points. It’s also a chance to show your professionalism, so be sure to proofread carefully and package the information for a polished presentation.
Find more resources to help get your small business off the ground at theupsstore.com/smallbiz.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The UPS Store
(BPT) - What drives someone to take the risk and start their own business?
In many cases, it’s the knowledge that they can offer a great product or introduce new solutions to old problems. Passion and determination put entrepreneurs at the forefront of innovation.
What’s remarkable about so many small and medium-sized businesses today is that it’s not just the bottom line they’re after. Businesses are more focused than ever on socially and environmentally conscious causes.
Take, for example, small business Bayou with Love, who partnered with Dell to create a jewelry line using recycled gold from old computer motherboards. The jewelry line is just one example of a small business prioritizing doing good for the planet.
Cuvee Coffee practices direct trade, a model that considers environmental, financial and social sustainability as well as personal relationships. It builds partnerships with farmers who are good stewards of the land, pay fair wages to their workers and are often leaders in their communities. Cuvee then pays well above market prices for their coffee and in return, the company gets the very best coffee and the farmers make substantial profits.
By using ethical and altruistic principles to guide business practices, these entrepreneurs practice what many call “conscious capitalism,” and investors are taking notice.
Investments from angel investors and venture capitalists have helped these businesses play their part in a national and global trend toward social betterment in business.
Here are a few ways small businesses can benefit from conscious capitalism.
It opens the door to more capital from investors
When a company launches a humanitarian initiative or implements an ethical program, people pay attention.
According to Fundivo, angel investments in altruistic businesses have been steadily growing since 2002 and roughly four jobs are created per investment. Moreover, a recent study from The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing reported that under sustainable and responsible investing guidelines, a total of $8.72 trillion was made in 2016, showing a 33 percent increase since 2014.
Increased networking opportunities through crowdsourcing
By helping businesses reach like-minded changemakers, the tech industry has made it easier for small businesses to maintain a conscious mission statement along with a profitable bottom line.
In particular, funding for socially-conscious businesses has become more easily achievable through crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Even Kickstarter owners Yancey Strickler and Perry Chen insisted that their crowdfunding platform become a Benefit Corporation, ensuring they remain focused on their mission to bring creative projects to life rather than simply increasing the size of their own profits.
These crowdsourcing platforms are an efficient way for companies to find investors, but also to network and get their message out to a broader public.
A boost from tech
At the center of many altruistic businesses is the robust use of technology, which has allowed many highly successful small businesses to support social and environmental causes.
It’s not only that having dependable and easy-to-use technology is critical for these businesses, but many tech giants have implemented programs to support conscious capitalism in small businesses.
For instance, as one of the world’s leading IT suppliers, Dell has been particularly passionate about helping businesses with an eye for social change and environmental consciousness. Through its 2020 Legacy of Good plan, which outlines its own sustainability goals, it has helped small businesses use technology in a way that drives progress and social change.
Dependable and affordable technology is essential to promoting social change, and that’s why so many entrepreneurs and investors are realizing that when paired with technology, ethical business practices can do a lot of good and turn a profit.
(BPT) - A challenge for any entrepreneur is getting access to capital. If you’re like many, you’re constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses and free up cash flow so you can be ready for anything, whether it’s a slow season or an opportunity to expand.
When tax season rolls around, you’re already taking a deep dive into your expenses and income for the past year. Don’t stop when you file. With all that information at your fingertips (and fresh in your mind), it’s a great opportunity to take a big-picture look at the health of your business and make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible.
Use the following tips to take your tax preparation efforts a step further and boost your cash flow in the upcoming year.
Dust off your business plan: No doubt when you started out in business, you were eager to put your vision to paper. Most entrepreneurs get busy with the day-to-day pressures of deadlines, and that vision can recede into the background. Schedule some time with your board members or business partners to revisit and update the business plan. Now that you understand the realities of your market, you should have plenty of ideas on creating the 2.0 version of your enterprise. When finished, it’s important to not allow it to gather dust again. Set goals and schedule check-in meetings with your team to make sure everything’s on track.
Update your budget: The nature of entrepreneurship is being agile in the face of change. Market trends, price changes from vendors and suppliers, effects of new laws and ordinances, even road construction are variable forces that can send anyone’s budget into a new direction. That’s why your budget isn’t ever going to be a spot-on prediction. Think of it as a plan. If you stay on top of it, you can spot the trends early and make adjustments right away so you can reap the full advantage — or head off problems before they become unmanageable.
Check your credit score: If you’re planning to raise capital to expand or make improvements in the next year, checking in on your credit score is an important first step you can take several months before you apply for the loan. Even if you have a business credit score, certain business loans still require a look at your personal credit score, especially if you’re a sole proprietorship. Visit Your.VantageScore.com to find free resources to learn your credit score. There’s also helpful information on what factors influence your score and things you can do that can help increase it over the coming months to help you get the best rate possible.
Create a tax strategy: The tax break Congress passed in December will save small business owners 20 percent on their tax bill this year. In the coming year, small business owners have many opportunities to capture more tax savings with the right plan and strategy. For example, if you’re planning a large equipment purchase, you may find yourself in a better tax bracket in 2019 if you time it before Dec. 31, rather than waiting until the following year as planned. Have a meeting with your accountant to discover more ideas.
Pay down debt: One way to use the windfall of your 20 percent tax savings is to pay down revolving loan debt. Doing so is a great way to raise access to working capital should you need it down the line. Depending on the source of credit, reducing your credit-to-balance ratio is one factor that could raise your credit score. Before you do so, make sure you have enough cash flow to meet your expenses.
Improve accounts receivable: If your business extends lines of credit to your customers, it may be worthwhile to implement a credit check policy on all new customers. Knowing they’re creditworthy before the fact can help you create the appropriate plan for them and protect your business. Credit reporting is also an effective way for even a small business owner to let customers know they are serious about collecting what’s owed. In the end, you’ll get paid faster and increase cash flow.
The life of an entrepreneur means things can change drastically on a dime. A thorough check-in with your finances can put you in the best position for success. To learn more about the tools and solutions offered by VantageScore, visit Your.VantageScore.com.
Creating a business from the ground up is no small endeavor. From planning to financing to putting standard business services in place, there’s a lot to tackle. To overcome these obstacles, franchising is an ideal solution for many aspiring business owners. While it provides the advantages of business ownership, franchising also offers numerous benefits, such as these.
Build a Business Your Way
(Family Features) Creating a business from the ground up is no small endeavor. From planning to financing to putting standard business services in place, there’s a lot to tackle. All of that is in addition to operating the day-to-day business.
To overcome these obstacles, franchising is an ideal solution for many aspiring business owners. It provides the advantages of business ownership, but with the added support of a recognized brand and an established method of doing business. Partnering with a franchise like The UPS Store offers numerous benefits.
Flexibility. Opening a franchise allows you to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of making your own business decisions and being your own boss, while working toward your goals of personal and financial independence at your own pace.
Start-up resources. Getting a new business off the ground requires a wide range of activity, from site selection and lease negotiation to hiring and training staff. A franchise can help you navigate these early decisions and needs with a deep pool of experience and knowledge to help overcome the hurdles you may encounter.
Training. Even a well-educated business owner has room to learn. With a franchise, you have the opportunity to receive in-depth training in areas such as business operations, technical systems, human resources, marketing and financial management.
Networking opportunities. Connecting with other franchisees at area meetings, regional conferences and national conventions helps you stay informed of industry trends, discover new tools and resources, and develop lasting relationships with fellow franchisees. The result is a peer group that has intimate knowledge of your business model that can serve as a valuable resource as your business grows.
Product development. Part of developing your business is understanding your customers’ needs and introducing new products and solutions. As a franchise owner, you can contribute insight to the process but focus on running your business while development experts dedicate themselves to researching and innovating new products and services that can help you better serve your customers.
Marketing support. Many franchises conduct national advertising campaigns to build brand awareness, while regional efforts and local store marketing can build excitement in your market. A layered marketing plan extends the reach of your marketing budget and lends credibility to your business.
Financing assistance. Funding your franchise according to your unique goals and background can help eliminate many of the financial pitfalls that those without experience or industry expertise may encounter.
Learn more about franchising and the options available to aspiring small business owners at TheUPSStoreFranchise.com.
A Milestone Accomplishment
A focus on small business is driving big results for one national retailer. The nation’s largest franchise system of retail shipping, print and business service centers, The UPS Store, Inc., is now 5,000 locations strong.
“The UPS Store network is made up of dedicated individuals and families who are committed to serving small business owners, customers and their communities,” said Chris Adkins, vice president of franchise development for The UPS Store. “We look forward to welcoming more franchisees into our network as we continue to challenge ourselves to find new ways we can bring convenience and value to our customers.”
Over the years, the retail concept has expanded to include a range of solutions for small business owners, creating a one-stop shop for small-business support. Small business owners can find resources such as notary services, shredding, mailbox and locker rental, and, in some cases, even inventory management solutions, as well as the packing and shipping services that business and non-business customers alike can utilize.
5 Tips for Creating a Business Plan
Once you’ve settled on a business model that meets your needs, developing a business plan is an essential next step. These five tips can help you get started:
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (women with clipboard, man with open sign)SOURCE:
The UPS Store
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