Problems & Solutions: Your First Year In Business

Problems & Solutions: Your First Year In Business

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The first twelve months are arguably the most exciting part of running any business. The whole task of finding your feet, the veritable rollercoaster ride of getting everything up and running, the many issues, the exhilarating ups, and the very low downs, but it’s all grist to the mill. And once the honeymoon period is over, and every single teething issue appears to have been resolved it’s time to get down to the real work, but this is where things can really cause hassle and leave you in the lurch. So, what can crop up?
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Problem: your employees leaving

Yes, after working your fingers to the bone and constant reassurance to your colleagues that the business is in ascendance, they may jump ship at the worst possible moment. They could leave for various reasons, better pay, a stable work/life balance, and there is nothing you can do about it. It can leave you in a precarious position.

Solution: provide more “security” for them

The real reason anybody leaves their job is because they don’t feel secure enough in the position, either emotionally or financially. If you can provide that metaphorical blanket in one way or another, either by providing more detailed contracts or by appealing to them in a more personal way, it is likely to keep their minds at ease. It’s all about give and take, and you will need to find the right balance, but they need to feel that they are being given enough by you.

Problem: your finances

Finding ways of cutting back on your overheads will always pose a significant problem, and during that first difficult year, it will consume your thoughts. You could throw money at a situation and end up spending too much on that one problem when your finances could have been better suited to solving another problem. You can easily end up firefighting certain problems by throwing money at it, which can leave you in a quandary.

Solution: hire an accountant

Organization is key to getting your finances in check, and you won’t be able to look after your finances properly while you’re busy looking after the business, so you’re going to have to bite the bullet and get an accountant. It’s an expense, but an essential one for peace of mind. A dishonest tax return, regardless of how little the mistake, can result in severe penalties. And if it’s too late and you’re in the middle of trying to sort the issues yourself before a tax deadline, you can speak to a lawyer for taxes for some additional advice. With something like finances, it’s not advisable to try and muddle through. Get professional help.

Problem: the business is not taking off “fast enough”

The first year will always be tough, but you can get frustrated by the lack of impact on your sales and funds and the feeling that you’re not where you want to be can loom large in your mind.

Solution: have more grassroots promotion

Never underestimate the importance of what word of mouth can bring. Have more events, make a bigger splash with one-offs, or actually have a proper business launch. You’ve done the graft, now it’s time to spread the word.


 

The True Cost Of Health?

The True Cost Of Health?

Health matters to us all. We want to live as long and prosperous lives as possible. And, we like to think our governments are behind us. It may seem strange to link politics and health, but it’s not as far out as you might think. In some ways, our health falls to us. We have to eat right, and exercise. But, our environments, and the world around us, also determine health levels. And, who controls those? Our governments of course.

No one can deny that, in the past, the government hasn’t made the best decisions. In some ways, we have to cut them some slack. Most of the things they’ve done which have damaged health have been down to misinformation. The main incidence is use of asbestos. Many homes built before 1980 contain these minerals, known to cause cancer. Even now, people have to turn to an asbestos exposure attorney to gain compensation for long-term effects. And, who ordered this material to be used? The government of course. You could argue that they didn’t realize the effects, but they should’ve done more rigorous testing.

Smoking is another thing backed by the government, and indeed some doctors. These are people whose opinions we should trust, and they were well behind the idea of smoking. Again, the main issue here was that the effects weren’t known. Even so, the fact that tobacco products are still legal is a worrying sign. While the government takes steps, such as unbranded packaging, to sway us, they won’t stop sales. Why? Because of the money!

Money plays a common factor in many of the damaging steps government take to harm health. While past mistakes can be chalked up to inexperience, the same can’t be said of errors in the modern age.  We may not live in asbestos lined houses, but the government still damage our health in subtle ways. The recent Grenfell Tower building fire in London is a horrific example of this. Investigations have revealed that sub-standard, more flammable cladding was used in the building. Why? Because it was cheaper.
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And, that’s not the only money-saving act of inhumanity we’ve seen from officials this year. In the US, Trump’s recent pull from the Paris climate agreement is worrying news for us all. While the most visible impact is on the environment, the decision could also affect health. If there’s less regulation on pollution, there’s less control of the air we’re breathing. You don’t need us to tell you the damage that could cause. The motivations for such a move seem unclear to most of us, but Trump was honest about his reasoning – climate change was costing too much money.

Looking at the facts, there’s no way to deny that our health may not be a priority for the people in charge. It’s worrying whatever way you look at it. But, instead of panicking, take this as all the more reason to take charge and do what you can to live a healthy life.






Also see her contributions at disruptive business and political site zenruption

Demystifying the Investment Visa

Demystifying the Investment Visa

If you’re a non-US citizen with a view to building business interests in the US then the visa options open to you can be perplexingly various. Hopefully we can shed some light on the best options open to you and where you can get help in pursuing them.

Foreign investment has been a vital part of economic infrastructure that has been actively encouraged to stimulate economic activity in the US for decades and therefore the US has a vested interest in protecting foreign investors.
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This is usually controlled by two types of visa, the E-2 and the EB-5. While both have their benefits, only the EB-5 can result in a Green Card.

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The best type of visa for you will likely depend on a number of factors including:

  • Your country of origin.
  • The amount of capital you have to invest.
  • The type of business you want to invest in.
  • A number of jobs you expect to create.
  • The amount of time you expect to stay in the US.

The E-2 visa

The E-2 visa is intended for a temporary stay (usually issued for 2-5 years) in the US and is dependent on a reciprocal treaty between your country of origin and the US, so the implication is clear here… No treaty, no E-2 visa.

It also requires a ‘substantial’ capital investment, in most cases of at least $100,000 in a company that is majority owned by citizens of your country of origin.

You must be a business owner, manager, executive or contribute an ‘essential skill’ to apply for the E-2 visa.

Is it right for me?

The E-2 visa is most beneficial to:

  • Those investing in US property.
  • Those who want to purchase a franchise or small business in the US.
  • Those who want to retire to the US.

The EB-5 visa

EB-5 visas are more flexible, as they are available to investors of all nationalities, and unlike the E-2 can result in receipt of a Green Card. The EB-5 visa was intended to stimulate economic growth through job creation and to encourage foreign investors to create new commercial enterprises or aid in the recovery of troubled businesses. They are, however, finite with only 10,000 being awarded annually. The application process is stringent and applicants are recommended to consult an EB-5 immigration lawyer to aid in the application process.

While the EB-5 is more flexible than the E-2, it still specific criteria that need to be met. Applicants must create at least 10 US based jobs and present an investment of $500,000-$1,000,000 depending on whether the investment is direct or regional center based.

Direct investment is for those who wish to create a new enterprise or purchase an existing business. These investors are typically expected to invest a million of $1,000,000 unless the business is located in an area of severe unemployment. Regional center investment pertains to investments in areas of business deemed to have an especially high need for economic stimulation. The minimum investment, in this case, is $500,000.

Therefore, an EB-5 visa is best suited to those who not only wish to make a sizeable investment in a US-based enterprise but who also wish to live and work in the US. It affords you and your family (provided they qualify) unlimited residency in the US without the need to re-apply or renew.




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It’s Time To Limber Up Your Business

It’s Time To Limber Up Your Business

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If your business is spending too much monthly or annually, there’s only one fix worth considering. You have to make your business more flexible. Flexible businesses can adapt to different situations. So, let’s say that suddenly, you face a cheaper competitor on the market, and unfortunately, they’re selling the exact same product as you. In that type of situation, you have to drop your prices to meet the new competitor. You can only do this if your business model is flexible enough to withstand this type of change. There are various ways you can make your business more flexible.

Are You On The Cloud?

You should be and we’re not going to explain cloud servers here. All you need to know is that they are data servers which, used the right way, mean you can run your company from anywhere. You could be in London, your office could be in New York and with the right server system in place, you could still see exactly what’s happening in your company. But that’s not the only benefit of the cloud server because they also make your business very efficient. There’s no delay between the order and the service or connecting to a client. It can all be instant which is crucial in a business world where every industry is completely globalized.
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If you’re interested in setting up a cloud server for your company, make sure you start by talking to an IT support specialist. Once you have a cloud server setup, you’ll be opening various new possibilities on how you can run your company.

No Office Needed?

There are very few businesses these days that need an actual office. You really only need an office if customers are going to demand face to face meetings. Even then, it’s possible to complete these over video calls, as long as you have strong connections. And you will, running your company on the cloud. So instead of an office, you can use a virtual po box address instead. The important thing here is that you’ll have a street address for your company. So, to your customers, it will still look as though you’re running your business in a traditional way. That means you’ll be able to avoid the stigma attached to the home company. At the same time though, your bills will be slashed to that of a home company. It’s a win-win.

Hey, How About Those Workers?

Do yourself a favor and take a look at your business accounts. One of the highest will almost certainly be the workforce. The other interesting factor to consider is that it’s probably not the wages costing a fortune but the incentives you had to offer to get them to sign on the dotted line. Holiday pay, health insurance, company cars and goodness knows what else are all offered to full-time employees. Do you know who doesn’t get these perks? Freelancers and these are the people you should be hiring for your company. By doing this, you cut the costs and simplify the responsibilities you have as a business owner.

As you can see then, there are various ways to make your business model more flexible. But you should certainly start by getting that cloud server set up.

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Learning New Skills While You Work

Learning New Skills While You Work

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One of the biggest problems with sticking to a single job is that you eventually get tired of doing the same repetitive tasks. Unless you’re blessed with a job and an employer that allow you to continually grow your skills, it becomes a hassle to try and find a new calling in life. Some people submit themselves to this feeling, giving in to the idea that they will forever be stuck at their job. Even when they lose their job, they’re going to find another similar to that allows them to continue utilising their skills. Sadly, when their skills no longer become relevant or they’re replaced by machines or technology, they become redundant and start to find it difficult to adapt.

 

In order to ensure your job security and continue getting paid, it’s important to learn new skills and adapt to whatever change the industry is going through. For instance, the future might require web designers to branch off into programming so that they can add things such as eCommerce modules and social media widgets to their websites. Similarly, accountants might need to learn a little about the law to further their understanding of things such as taxes.

 

To help you out, here is a couple of ways to learn new skills while you work. Doing both at the same time is difficult, but after reading this brief guide, you’ll be a lot more confident in giving it a try and furthering your career.

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Group Study at Work

One of the first things to consider is a group study course at work. Perhaps you hire a teacher or professor to attend your workplace and teach you and your colleagues how to use a new piece of technology or how to expand their skill set. The other option is to hire a mentor to teach you as you work. This is important for when you want to learn something new as you go along.

Studying Online

Studying online is much cheaper and far more convenient than visiting a university, attending a college or hiring a tutor. You can do it in your own time, you don’t need to worry about being late to classes or commuting far away, and you can ultimately pay for it with your work salary. Many of the online study courses are related to business as well. For example, Maryville offers courses on subjects such as business data analysis, which can be useful to further your career. Most of the study material is free, and you can even learn at work during breaks if you have a smartphone or laptop.

Afternoon Classes

Afternoon classes are the next best option if you want a more traditional approach to studying. If you get off work at a regular time, then you can easily attend afternoon classes assuming you have the drive and energy to do so. This is helpful for people who prefer group study or speaking with a professor teacher instead of independent study, but it can be more expensive.

Speaking With Your Employer

Remember to speak with your employer if you want to learn new skills. Some companies offer policies that allow you to get money off your study assuming it’s for the sake of work, and some employers may even suggest you study a specific subject to further your ability to work.




Also co-founder of the disruptive business and politics site zenruption

Creative Ways to Make your Business More Frugal

Creative Ways to Make your Business More Frugal

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We all want to make our businesses as cost-effective as possible; it just makes it easier and faster to prosper. Although we’re all working towards the same goal, some businesses seems to be in the green almost naturally - without struggling and cutting costs. Nobody can make your business grow but you, so take some time to figure out the reasons behind some of these success stories.

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By Sharon Jones

We’re not going to give you all the obvious tips, like cutting unnecessary costs your business can do without and keeping track of your finances; you know all of this. If you’re already tried the old tips and tricks to a frugal business, give some of these creative tips a try to keep your business ahead.

Sharing is caring: Split the ad costs

A controversial choice but nonetheless cost-effective, so you should give it a try. Splitting the costs of the advertisement for an event or a sale is a good way to save money; you don’t have to have a formal partnership to work together or split the costs – it’s going to benefit both businesses and you don’t have to feed the advertisement monsters too much. Think about it as being a good neighbor rather than committing to a partnership; it doesn’t seem too odd to carpool with your neighbor, does it? Hopefully, it will improve the relationship and you can keep helping each other out in the future.

Slicing the costs: The office

Undoubtedly one of your biggest expenses, the amount you save by choosing a smaller office is too good to miss out on. Small offices can look spacious, too, if you know how to decorate them, and especially if you manage to do a lot of meetings standing up – it’s healthy, in anyway, so why not? If you have a lot of employees and need that extra office space, see if you can’t move office to a cheaper area – it could even be just ten minutes away to make a difference and the money you save can be spent on bringing in a bit more business instead.

Even better, consider using a virtual office. London is an expensive city, so spend some time on looking into what kind of options you have – yourvirtualofficelondon.co.uk is a good place to start, for example. It’s so much money to save on this, which any business today should welcome.

Happy customers: Make the most of them

Yes, it’s an old advice but the psychology behind it matters – and it really works. A happy customer will usually not mind giving a testimonial, which you should take full advantage of. It’s called social proof, and everyone falls for it every time. Put the testimonials on your website – actually, put them everywhere, and make sure they focus on exactly what the happy customer achieved by using your services. It will encourage more sales and give you more testimonials, which again encourage even more sales – like a snowball effect, in other words. Seems too good to be true? Take a look at this article for some proof.

Technology: Get the free tools

Today, you can get a lot of good business tools for next to nothing. Even though you don’t need all of them, and you certainly shouldn’t get them all as it will just create chaos, it’s important to look at which ones would suit your business the best. Comprehensive accounting tools helps to keep you up to date on your finances, a cloud system will ensure the safety of all your documents – and help you with going paperless too, which is good for both business and environment. You don’t need to invest in expensive tools unless you know you’re going to use them every day – some of them are all-inclusive, which saves you from downloading a lot of different tools that you’ll never use in any way.

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Read more in this article for a more detailed guide on how your business can take advantage of modern technology. Everyone else is doing it, so why not you? By the way, take a look at Download.com and you get to see all the free tools that are available out there – you’re welcome.

Get online

Setting up an online store will help you save money the same way a virtual office can. You’ll save on the actual space you would have used to sell your products – and you don’t have to spend a lot on setting it up online, either. Look into selling through ebay.co.uk or other auction sites – you’ll make money selling and save money on renting a physical place at the same time – what’s not to like?

While you’re online, do a bit of marketing there, too. Not the costly type – even though you’re splitting the costs with your neighbor business by now, but rather by getting social. I’m sure your business has its own Facebook site, but you should communicate in other groups, too. Look at where your customers might be hiding and simply jin the groups they’re in; that way, you get to communicate with your existing customers and keep a good relationship with them, and you also get to connect with prospective customers.

Social media is a great way to market your business and make more money, as it’s cheap and informal. People like talking in a casual way, they love to feel that they’re being heard and that your services could help them – connect with them over social media, and you get to do all of this.

Times are tough lately, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your business a success story. You just need to be a bit more frugal, know which free tools you can take advantage of, and commit to cutting costs wherever you can. The fun part is that a lot of these tips will not only save you money; they’ll make sure you’re a part of the modern world on social media, being a greener business, and even connecting with neighboring businesses.




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