Idea To Execution: Avoiding Four Main Pitfalls Common To Side-Hustlers And Small Businesses - Forbes

Idea To Execution: Avoiding Four Main Pitfalls Common To Side-Hustlers And Small Businesses - Forbes


Idea To Execution: Avoiding Four Main Pitfalls Common To Side-Hustlers And Small Businesses - Forbes

Posted: 05 Jun 2020 04:40 AM PDT

Getty

Entrepreneurship is the dream of many, but often it can be overwhelming. Where do you start, or how do you execute an idea? In today's business environment, which is currently heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, it may even seem impossible. However, regardless of when you launch your business, there are four core pitfalls I'd recommend avoiding based on my experience as a small business owner.

Setting Goals And Building Support Networks

Starting a business or side hustle should not be an afterthought. Rather, you should create a business plan that looks at where you want to be in one — or, preferably, five — years. It helps if you are passionate about your business, but passion only takes you so far. Setting specific goals over time is essential. Remember, you don't have to be a jack of all trades. Expand your circle and build a network that you can leverage for ad hoc needs.

A support network of other business leaders and experts who you can tap into when a problem rises and lean on when you need guidance is a vital tool for budding entrepreneurs. When I look at my father's success, I realize it came from his relentless dedication, the way he built relationships, and how he took care of his community. When you create that "circle of knowledge," you are building a network that will be there through good and bad times. The more you give, the more it should come back.

The best advice I have is to find your niche that makes sense for your mission. If you are better at marketing or sales, then focus on that. Surround yourself with a support system that can fill the other key positions in your company — and if your business is starting as a side hustle, remember you don't have to quit your paying job before it is time. As much as starting a business shouldn't be an afterthought, it shouldn't be rushed, either.

Controlling Expenses

When you first start your business or side hustle, you'll probably have lots of ideas and want to make a big splash so everyone knows who you are and how to do business with you. However, this could also be a significant pitfall. Rather than starting big, focus on the practical steps. At this stage, there isn't a need for a fancy office, costly leases or signage. Can you operate out of your home or perhaps a shared office space? The important part is to build momentum and your revenue streams before you grow too quickly.

And in today's economy, calculating your cost of doing business (CODB) is essential. Review your pricing list for products or services. Match it to your target audience. Are you reaching out to the right customers? Are you wasting efforts on marketing to those who would have little interest or extra funding to purchase your solution? Look at your branding, too. Is it attracting the right customers? By answering these questions, you can keep the CODB lower while continuing to target the right customers to keep your side hustle or business operating.

Harnessing The Web

You can be a successful entrepreneur or side hustler with just word of mouth advertising and connections, but if you seriously want to grow to be the next household name, you should harness the power of the web and online marketing. As the SVP and general manager of a company that offers web hosting, domain names and SEO services, I believe the internet is a powerful tool, and building a clean, professional website is essential for success. It is often the first place potential customers visit to learn more. A website should help educate your customer through blogs and content; share basic information on your company; and maybe serve as the prime e-commerce platform to drive sales.

SEO and social media are other methods you can use to harness the power of the web, interact with your community and build an online presence. Create loyal followings by engaging on social platforms or creating an email newsletter. Ensure any content on your website ranks well for SEO in your industry to ensure you are reaching the right audience.

During crises like COVID-19, it is more important than ever to have an online presence. With more people opting to stay at home, online e-commerce platforms and websites are how many small businesses and side hustlers are staying afloat. This time also allows many entrepreneurs to refine their website, build out content and engage with customers digitally to build a community.

Keeping Data Secure

It is vital to implement security practices along with your online presence. Almost daily, reports of a new data breach or new cybersecurity threat emerge, and small businesses are not exempt from these bad actors. As you collect customer information from blog or newsletter sign-ups and purchases, you should protect this information. One way to ensure that is to create an HTTPS site, for instance. When you're choosing a domain name for your site, it should be short and catchy but should also include domain privacy and protection.

Each small business or side hustle has its own unique challenges, and your business may face other obstacles in going to market that are specific to your business plan or industry. However, ensuring these primary table stakes are established should greatly facilitate its longevity and success.

How to Start a Business Using Your Unemployment Money - Small Business Trends

Posted: 23 May 2020 06:44 AM PDT

Many Americans are, unfortunately, receiving unemployment compensation right now. But that could be an opportunity for would-be entrepreneurs. Have you considered starting a business with that unemployment money?

And there's a real need for innovation.Unemployment rose in the U.S. in April with the biggest monthly spike since 1948.  Small Business Trends contacted Mike Nunez, Chief Communications Officer at Incfile, to find out how to get your business up and running this way.



How to Start a Business with Unemployment Money

"With unemployment on the rise, more and more Americans are applying for government assistance," he writes. "The job market has significantly contracted, and the chances of finding new opportunities for employment are few and far between."

Drop The Job Search?

He says that's forced some Americans to drop the job search and start an LLC. These are also known as a limited liability company.

Nunez supplies a little extra information to sweeten the pot.

"Lucky for them, collecting unemployment and starting an LLC is a viable option supported by the Department of Labor and a number of states."

Nunez has 21-years of experience on the Internet. His resume includes four years at Google. He spent time on the Shopping and DoubleClick Search teams there. He's well qualified to supply practical advice to folks who want to be entrepreneurs.

Millions of People

Like suggesting starting out in the same place you draw your UI from.

"Are you one of the millions of people applying for unemployment insurance (UI) each week? A visit to your state's labor department website is the first place to start."

Look to see if the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP) is offered. Then look over the criteria for applying to see if you are eligible.

Establishing Your Business

"SEAP will allow you to work on establishing your business while collecting weekly unemployment checks," Nunez says. "You do not need to actively look for work while on the program."

If your state's labor department website doesn't offer it, there's no need to give up. Unemployment insurance payments can still be used to start your LLC. There's one important difference though. Any money earned from the business needs to be reported and deducted when you make weekly UI claims.

"This same rule would apply if you accepted a part-time job, so working on your business and getting paid would be considered part-time work."

There's more budding entrepreneurs need to know about. Like the fact that if you start earning some money for your new enterprise, that cash will not be deducted from unemployment payments while you're on SEAP. Nunez also says there are online instructional videos for support and training. You can also get more training with a business counselor.

Your Own Boss

He stresses the bonuses to being your own boss.

"The great part about starting your own business is creating your own ideal job! Whether your passion is marketing, food, retail, consulting or a myriad of other choices, use your passion to create your business."

It's also a great way to direct your energy in a positive way when you're quarantined.

"Besides," Nunez says, "You have the opportunity to create something from nothing and reap the fruits of your labors."

Business Waters

Still, you'll need to tread into these business waters carefully. Protecting yourself legally is a good idea.

"Entrepreneurs need to create an LLC. These can  provide you with limited liability coverage and help protect your personal assets if a lawsuit gets filed against your company. And although an LLC does offer liability coverage, it is important to remember that the first "L" in LLC stands for limited. So having additional business insurance may come in handy."

He also suggests avoiding big purchases in the beginning. If you don't need it right away you should start slow and evaluate everything you want to buy early on.

There are some other considerations.

"Before you start a new business, you want to make sure it's going to be right for you and for the market, " he says.  "Don't blindly dive headfirst in—research everything you need to do before your doors open. Look into key areas for your industry—from market data and customer needs to taxes and setting up your business. Understand rules, regulations and laws and choose the correct business entity."

Final Words

Nunez offered up some final words of encouragement.

"Starting and running a business is hard work. It will require risk, a positive attitude, networking, people skills, commitment and a plan. But if there is ever a time to get started and pursue the dream of becoming your own boss, then it is now."

READ MORE:

Image: Depositphotos.com


4 Ways to Determine If Now Is the Right Time to Launch Your Business - Entrepreneur

Posted: 19 May 2020 12:26 PM PDT

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ideas for startups are often clouded in uncertainty during the best of times. In the midst of unprecedented global uncertainty, you might think it's best to shelve any such plans for the time being. 

In reality, it could actually be the best time ever to launch. With the growing for new ways to work and sell in light of health concerns and desire for new ways to access in-demand products, your startup idea could be just what's needed. Here's how to decide.

Ask whether your business idea is in demand

Over the course of the last two months, it has quickly become clear what type of gaps exist between what's needed during right now and what's actually available. Quick searches uncover where there are supply chain issues and a lack of domestic manufacturing for much-needed products and for services to expedite those products. 

Now's the time to create the type of change that could help solve such issues. This might not be the only time we face a crisis of this magnitude. The question is whether your business idea fills the right role or not. If it does, then move quickly and find ways to accelerate its launch. If it doesn't, then it may be better to wait until the environment is more conducive to your offer. 

Related: The First Question to Ask Yourself If You Want to Be an Entrepreneur but Don't Know Where to Start

If your idea is in demand, contact the organizations that need what you plan to provide. Reach out to government and private funding sources to get a financial boost and identify a strategy that will bring your offering to market more quickly. 

Determine whether you can pivot or change the idea slightly to meet the new demand

If your small business idea isn't quite ready for primetime just yet, consider whether it meets the new demand with some slight modifications or a pivot. If you are willing to redirect your business vision, it might be well worth putting in the necessary extra research rather than wait for the next good economic cycle to return. 

Related: 4 Ideas for Actually Pivoting Your Business Right Now

Business owners will need to explore ways to alter their current business plan and evaluate the costs, resources, skills and timing necessary to do so. Evaluate the and funding availability to make the pivot possible. You might even be able to return to your original idea later on. For now, though, consider the type of response you get from investors and your target audience in order to determine the viability of your pivoted idea. 

If that evaluation proves viability, then you can proceed. Otherwise, you'll need to put your plans on hold.  

Seek grants and funding to help launch the new business idea

One of the biggest deciding factors will be your ability to obtain funding. The challenge here is the lack of funding now available, thanks to the ongoing crisis. Investing in general is down, but a Crunchbase analysis of company funding statistics since the Great Recession shows there are certain sectors and business types that may be worthy of investment, even now. These include both early stage companies and later stage ventures. Slack, for example, held its seed round in 2009, while Coupa and Box did their C and B-1 rounds respectively that same year.

Related: Five Ways To Raise Money To Launch Your Own Startup

Some of the largest companies around were actually founded during deep recessions. From and to , ,  and , some of today's biggest successes launched before or during economic downturns like the Great Depression and the dot-com bust. These companies either operated on bootstrapped budgets or received funding from investors desperate to put the back on track. 

If you can make the case that your business model helps to solve a problem and can put people to work, then you might be able to attract investors looking to help reignite the success of small businesses worldwide. Also, explore programs like The New Business Preservation Act. Policymakers' focus on these programs, along with an historical perspective, should provide a positive framework for doing the same with today's startups. 

Search for talent to help get the business idea off the ground

Another critical factor is whether you can find the talent willing to join your startup and take a chance on it during such uncertain times. We're talking about graphic designers, coders, virtual assistants, bookkeepers, copywriters and the like. Depending on the financial position of available talent, they may or may not be able to work on an equity basis. Ask potential talent about whether they would consider working for a startup and under what conditions.

Related: 8 Reasons You're Losing the Best Talent to Your Competition

Alternatively, you might be able to recruit freelancers who are currently dividing their talent and time among many startups. For now, this approach can get you the required skills to launch. Later on, if the situation improves and your startup develops, you might be able to convince them to leave their other freelance roles and join you full-time. 

Start your talent search on online job board sites and through tech recruitment agencies to gauge interest and availability. Be prepared to provide a detailed description of the role and opportunity. 

Pressing the pause button is an acceptable choice

If you decide that this is not the for your startup idea, don't feel bad about pressing the pause button. These uncertain times will pass and you'll have another opportunity to launch. This moment to reflect may even give you more time to research, plan and develop your business idea to improve its odds for success down the road.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Window for Small Businesses to Apply for PPP Funding Closes Saturday - Bay News 9

List of Easy Approval Net 30 Accounts for 2020 - Nav

This new business index offers a more accurate way to forecast recessions - MIT Sloan News