Free Business Help

Free Business Help


When you want to start a home business, it can be easy to feel alone, confused, and scared. The chances are that you don’t know anyone else who’s ever started a business, and you don’t even know who to ask if you get stuck. Here are a few things you ought to be looking at.

The Internet is a great resource for people who are thinking of setting up a home business – as well as all the articles you can find with practical help, there are also many forums, where you can read about others’ experiences, and ask questions.

Scary as it might seem to be getting help on anything from the government, most governments go really out of their way to produce all sorts of easy-to-understand material on starting your own business. Encouraging you in business is a great way for them to both strengthen the economy and increase tax revenues.

Depending on your area, you might find that local government agencies are also keen to give you help and advice, and might even have some kind of ‘small business centre’ that you can visit.

Mentors are usually volunteers who think it would be nice to offer local businesses help and advice. They often have years of business experience, and can be really useful – if you find one, hang on to them.

Always willing to help and sadly neglected in our ‘wired’ age, you really should talk to a librarian. Libraries generally contain all sorts of business books and resources that they’ll be able to point you towards, and they’ll be more than happy to do research into obscure areas for you.

Pricey as they might be, lawyers know all about starting businesses – they’ve almost certainly done it thousands of times over. It can be well worth paying for an hour of a lawyer’s time and just asking them every question you can think of.

A less expensive alternative to lawyers, accountants also know their stuff, especially (obviously) on the financial side. If you want your business to be profitable, you should take on board what your accountant tells you – and if you don’t have one, you should get one. By the time they’ve helped you navigate through all the tax mazes, they’ll almost certainly have made their fee back for you anyway.

If you think your business would be an attractive proposal to people who back businesses for a living, then you can try going to a ‘business incubator’ or some other kind of investor with your idea. If they like it, they’ll often have a quick process set up to get your company up and running as soon as possible.

Here’s an interesting one: universities are full of business students. They’ve all spent ages learning about nothing but business, and many of them would just love to help get a real one off the ground – it’d look great on their CV, after all. Business students can be a great source of free help and advice, and they’ll probably even be thankful to you for letting them help out!

If you do a course to get a formal qualification in what you want to do before starting the business, you’ll probably find that your teacher is also a good resource on the business side of things. They’ll have had plenty of students starting businesses who’ve asked them similar questions, and they might even have prepared some material to give to anyone who asks for it.

Traditionally, your bank would have been the first place you went if you were thinking of starting a business, but many people seem to ignore them nowadays. While they’re no replacement for accountants, most banks will offer you a ‘business advisor’ when you open a business account, and they can be especially helpful with the technical and financial elements of starting up.

Whatever industry you’re thinking of entering probably has some kind of trade association, society or union. You should join as soon as you can, and take advantage of all the resources that they will almost certainly offer to people wanting to get started in their industry. After all, the more people who are in their industry, the more members they can get.

Most people get stressed over the idea of starting a business. With so many federal, state, and, local laws governing any business, it becomes crucial to make an informed decision about the venture. Here are a few steps worth considering before your business takes off in full swing

Most of us get paranoid over the idea of starting a business. With so many federal, state, and, local laws governing any business, it becomes crucial to make an informed decision about the venture. Gathering all the necessary information for a business setup could be a time-consuming, and an exhaustive process. Here are a few steps worth considering before your business takes off in full swing.

Initial capital investment

The very foundation of your business rests on the initial capital amount you invest in it. Dearth of funds initially could spell serious trouble for you in future. So, whether it's an online or an offline business venture, make sure that you're not low on the initial capital to be invested.

These days, local banks have opened their doors for you to get loans for low budget business ventures. As long as you have a healthy credit score, getting a small loan is really simple. Just keep in mind that you don't go overboard on your initial business expenses. Watch your financial moves carefully. Once your business takes off well and gets you a huge profit, you could consider taking another loan to expand your business

Experience in managing the business

Lack of experience is a major put off for most people contemplating a business venture. This major deterrent as far as starting a business is concerned.

Business plan

It is imperative to have concrete business guidelines. Most often, it's observed that, home-based and other small-scale businesses fair badly due to a lack of a business "blue-print". Such businesses suffer heavy monetary losses. Without a concrete business proposal, almost 70% of the businesses wind up within a year of being established. Therefore, a rough draft of the business plan taking into account all the minute details are necessary for any business venture. The business plan should explicitly define the target audience for your products. It should also present a detailed description of the average cost per product and your expected profit on each product. Besides, it should also portray the desired break-even point and your expected income from the business. Thus, for a smooth sailing business, it's extremely important that your business plan defines the ways of converting your business into a cash generating system.

For new ventures a lack of resources makes growth difficult to come by - just ask those nine out of ten fledgling businesses that fail. The key is in acquiring intangible resources such as legitimacy, status, and reputation.

The track record is well known and sobering for any entrepreneur: 90 percent of all new ventures fail. It’s not hard to see why. Start-ups often lack vital resources, must compete against established companies, and have little or no track record with which to woo customers and investors. So how do those one-out-of-ten businesses grow into successful, sustained enterprises?

Small businesses can grow by developing intangible social resources such as legitimacy, status, and reputation. Research shows that these intangible resources may be best acquired by following a road of conformity in how your business is organized and presented to the outside world.

Only one out of every ten newly founded businesses ever grows to a size of more than ten employees. Growth is therefore a critical issue for all young businesses. Most businesses start out small, and small size makes them vulnerable to failure. Large businesses almost always possess sufficient slack resources that buffer them from the vagaries of their environment and have political advantages due to their size. Hence, it is in the interest of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses to a size that sufficiently improves their chances of survival and success. Moreover, large businesses are a source of employment, and hence new venture growth is important to society as well.

It is in the interest of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses to a size that sufficiently improves their chances of survival and success.

The issue of growth in young businesses is also interesting from an academic perspective. There is less research on growth of young businesses, compared to survival of young businesses. Moreover, a majority of studies focus on issues of well-established businesses rather than young ones.

Entrepreneurs and managers should almost never shy away from stepping out of their comfort zone.

Management by objectives has been used by all kinds of organizations, but not every business has had the same degree of success. From examining MBO programs that have worked, it is clear that all met the following minimum requirements:

  • Goals were expressed in specific and measurable terms.
  • Each employee proposed 5 to 10 goals to cover those aspects of his or her job crucial to successful performance.
  • A final written statement of each goal was prepared, including a statement of the goal, method of evaluating the goal, work steps needed to complete the goal and an estimated time needed to complete the steps.
  • Progress was evaluated at regular intervals (at least quarterly) and compared with the original goals.
  • Problems that hindered progress were identified and corrected.
  • Goals were related to each level of management, both those above and those below.

Defining Your Business

  • What business am I in?
  • Is my definition right for today's market?
  • Do I need to change my business to meet emerging customer needs?

A clear vision of your business is crucial for planning your marketing, product development, buildings and equipment, and financial and staff needs. For example, a drop in sales caused a small business manufacturer to reexamine its product. To regain lost sales, the owner decided to redefine the product and to develop a new marketing plan.

The word 'vision' often puts people off. It can conjure up the image of sitting in a cave and waiting for inspiration to descend, thereby suggesting that visions are something special that only a few people can develop.

That's nonsense. Visions are simply images of the future. Everyone has them all the time, both for themselves and for their businesses and organisations.

So the key question is not whether people can have visions but how they can make their visions most effective.

Before answering this, it's important to ask what the point of having a vision is. I believe that a vision has two main purposes.

  • Firstly, a good vision provides direction. Without a direction, businesses can go round and round in circles, making little progress. In addition, having a direction provides a foundation for making important decisions about the future.
  • Secondly, a good vision provides energy and motivation. All leaders know that people work better if they have a purpose for their work that is attractive and that they believe in.

Make your vision concrete and specific. Everyone's come across those meaningless and anodyne visions about delighting customers or being the best. The problem with them is that they don't motivate and they don't help you to make decisions.

So, if you do want to delight customers or be the best, be much more specific about what you mean. One of the best ways of doing this is to paint a detailed word picture so that someone else reading it will know exactly what you are talking about.

It's really up to you what areas you include in your vision. There are standard business areas often included in visions such as the level of sales or profits, the business's position in the market, the development of new products and returns to shareholders.

You could also include other areas such as what sort of staff you will be employing, how staff will feel about working for the business, what your office will look like and what customers and competitors will be saying about the business.

An important question to ask is: how does your business need to evolve in order to remain competitive in its market in the coming years?

Visions should something to aim for and to take a business out of its comfort zone. However they don't need to be impossible.

Make it a working vision. It's all too easy to develop a vision and then forget about it. That's a complete waste of time. Effective visions are cascaded downwards so that your strategic objectives evolve out of your vision and initiatives are developed to achieve your strategic objectives. And so on.

It's important also to communicate your vision to your staff. How can they be working towards the business's vision if they don't know what it is?

Make it flexible. Visions shouldn't be set in stone. As both internal and external circumstances change, your vision is going to need to change as well. Therefore it's important to revisit it at least every 6 or 12 months just so that you can check that it's still relevant.

Setting Goals

Long-range business goals will be the cornerstone of your business. To achieve these goals, you must have a

method to communicate them. All goals should relate to and support the long-range objectives for your business. In this way, you can ensure that the goals are consistent. If goals are incompatible, you may find that employees feel like the middle manager of a research and development company who exclaimed in a seminar "How can I set my goals when I don't know where the owner wants to go?"

Many business start-up kits or consultants will tell you one of the first steps to starting a business is to define your business goals. Your goals may differ from the goals of another individual, for example; some people want freedom to do what they want to do, whenever they want, and without having to report to someone else. For others, the goal might be financial security. For another, flexibility or creativity might be their goal.

Regardless, setting goals is an important part of choosing a business that is right for you. Logically, if your business does not meet your personal goals, you probably will not be happy or get any sort of satisfaction from trying to make your business a success. Sooner or later you would stop putting forth effort needed to make the business concept successful. Here are a few qualities to keep in mind when you are setting your goals and searching for the business that is right for you.

  • Be specific. You have a much better chance of achieving a goal if it is specific. For example, “getting rich” is not a specific goal. “Earn $8,000 per month” is a specific goal.
  • Be optimistic. Keep your goals positive and optimistic. This will help to fire up your energy and enthusiasm to work towards and maintain the goal. For example, “pay the bills” is not an inspiring goal. However, “be debt-free within 18 months” is much more positive and achievable.
  • Be realistic. Look at your current income and where you want to be. If you have never earned $100,000 a month or year, then that may not be a realistic goal for you to set as you start your business. Begin with small steps and then, perhaps, increase your monthly income goal by 25 percent. Once your first goal is met, set a new goal until you gradually reach your larger, long-term goal.
  • Think short- and long-term. Whether you are looking at income, or in terms of growth, marketing or product development, you should have both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals are those that may be attainable in a period of weeks to a year. Long-term goals can be those that you want to reach in three, five, ten, or even twenty years. Long-term goals should be substantially greater than short-term goals, but still realistic.

Writing your goals down will serve you well and be a constant reminder for you as you focus on your new business. Periodically review your goals and make adjustments where necessary so that you are always working towards something that is attainable. If you discover that a goal is too broad, or too difficult to reach, try breaking it down into smaller pieces.

These qualities are very simple concepts that you can apply. By defining specific, optimistic and realistic goals for both the short- and long-term focus you will be able to be energized and to develop a “go for it” attitude that will help you to achieve the goals in a timeframe that is best suited to your needs and business.

A Great Business did not happen by chance.

It was planned that way

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