Starting and building a business
Want to find a cool office environment?
Especially the next generation of entrepreneurs wants to work in a cool office space environment. The way we do business nowadays has changed tremendously with the advances of computer and communications technology. Take Google's offices for example, the relative young company is not only innovative when it comes to their products and services, but also in the creation of work space. Modern companies understand that productivity in an office increases if the creativity of the employees is enhanced by particular designed areas for recreation. Additionally, features like stairs and elevators can be replaced with slides and ropes. This unusual design does not only create a cool office space, but also a more happy place for people to work. As a business owner it is important that you surround yourself with likeminded people to network with, trying to make everything happen from home can be challenging, particularly if you run into the dead ends we all know to well. Getting out of the home office can help you with a variety of benefits. Meet other company owners and expand your companies reach Participate in meetings of networking organizations Receive referrals from companies in the same office Meet new clients Brainstorm for new ideas to be more productive Discuss new ideas and possibilities for your product or services Find potential partners and funding opportunities Have a more professional support system on hand ( Phone answering service, virtual assistant, VPN, servers, etc.) Plug into the resources and technology of the office platform These are just an example of the many more benefits of working and meeting in a cool office space. People want to be entertained today and they will do business with you if they see and believe in your creativity. If you can differentiate yourself from your competition with innovative ideas and a hip way to capture their attention, you will most likely earn their business.
Are you choosing the right business environment?
Are you in the right business environment in order for your company to flourish? Experienced entrepreneurs know that next to being passionate and dedicated to their businesses, they need to surround themselves with the right people. When you are just starting out, chances are you work from home, just because it seems that is the cheapest alternative. Saving money and avoiding unnecessary expenses is a smart decision to make; however, you also do not want to socially isolate yourself. Nobody knows about your dreams and plans, if you do not share what you do. While this is mostly a marketing plans purpose, you also need to be in the right business environment in order to connect to the people who can help you stay focused and benefit you the most. There is a reason why tech-companies move to Silicon Valley, because that is where they find like-minded peers, mentors and investors for their start-ups. What business are you in? Are you networking with potential clients or companies who can refer business to you? Are you easy to find for people who are looking for the product or service you offer? Do you have a professional office setup where customers can find you or your representative? These are just some questions you need to consider in order to determine your company’s outreach. Being in the right business environment can help you to not only brainstorm with compatible businesses, but also gives you an instant exposure to potential costumers and other companies who can become strong referral partners for you. Trying to save money while at the same time you have zero marketing and exposure going, can be the reason why your business is not taking off. Being surrounded by people, who can motivate you in a more professional setting than a home office, will benefit your business in the long term. Making an investment, which is minimal, but gives you maximum results, definitely makes sense. Consider a few thoughts when it comes to the decision of where you want to be located and what you want to be recognized for. Who and where are your potential customers? Do your customers have multiple ways to find and contact you? Is your corporate headquarters situated in a business environment appropriate to your companies industry? Where can you surround yourself with companies beneficial to your business
How does it influence your business
The economy today is oftentimes made responsible for once own financial situation, when in fact each cycle of the economy has the potential to earn a significant amount of money. Business people and investors know that, they study and anticipate how the market will develop and than act in accordance with their findings. Unfortunately the average employee most likely wont know about a change in the economic cycle and is faced with the facts when it is already to late to act. Having one hand on the pulse of the market can help you making the right decisions before you are faced with the inevitable. You can not necessarily believe what the media or the government will tell you about the economy today, according to them the economy is never bad. Fortunately there are many very good independent sources to find out about the state of an economy. First you have to understand that there are economic seasons. Similar to the four seasons of an annual cycle, the economic cycle also has a Summer - This is when the economy is booming, sales are up, house prices are through the roof, it is easy to get a loan and everyone feels that they are missing out on something, when they are not investing in the stock market right now. Everybody is talking about it, get on board, otherwise you will regret it later. Here is the problem, in summertime it is already to late to invest, because everything is overpriced and over valuated. If you know that, you better get prepared to liquidate your assets take the capital gain and reinvest it at a better time. If you sell in summer, you will get most of the money for your assets. Autumn - This is where the shift happens, sales are slowing down, the supply exceeds the demand, prices start to stagnate and eventually begin to fall. If you have not sold your assets yet, this would be a good time to still try, otherwise you will have to sit it out throughout the winter. Look at the economy today in a critical way, make decisions based on facts, not hearsay. For a business autumn is a great time to work on and improve marketing strategies, the business now goes mainly to the brands which are recognized and have a strong marketing plan. Top corporations are experts in forecasting the economy today, they have too, in order to make the right decisions at the right moment. Companies who believe they can just wait it out until the market picks up again are sometimes disappearing overnight. An example of that could be seen in 2008 when the economy basically collapsed due to the housing bubble. The recovery is still holding on until today. Winter - In the economic winter time, we are actually in a depression, the prices for housing and goods fall. This is the time where the few people who have liquidated their assets in summertime now make a killing. Properties are bought at rock bottom prices, very often for pennies on the dollar. This is how you create the economy today for a richer tomorrow. Cash is king and many are looking to invest slightly before the market goes into spring time. For businesses, winter time is great to get prepared for the next upswing, train your people, work on your marketing and sales strategy. Look for new markets with a more stable economy. Expand and invest into your business, so you can benefit the most once the recovery phase has started. Spring - In the economic spring time, we are entering the recovery curve, meaning the economy is starting to improve. This can be seen by lower unemployment rates, increased returns and profits. Don't forget it is the people who decide when they are ready to start spending again. The smart entrepreneur now starts through to explode into the improved economy, prepared with a great marketing plan and motivated staff, you know work on increasing your market share, gain more customers and invest smartly to expand your enterprise. The economy today and its seasons described above run in cycles of about 10 years. That is the reason why many successful people say that overnight success will take you ten years to accomplish. If you are starting or building your business, it is best not to participate in the opinion of the mob. You will learn quickly that you cannot get discouraged by bad news or a fluctuating economy. You rather must develop the skills to find the right information and act on your intuition. After all you know your business best and anticipation of economic development is key for your business to become successful.
Use your common sense
To keep it simple, business ethics is nothing else but being honest and truthful with your customers and other businesses. Conducting yourself and your company in a truthful manner, avoiding trick and scheme to gain profits. Sounds pretty much like common sense does it? Yet still everyday we hear about corrupt business practices for capital gain, some industries are more susceptible than others. While we can expect that every company makes it sound like their products or services are the best or do not disclose any weaknesses, we need to find the fine line of effective marketing and unethical business practices. If the perceived value of the advertising is fulfilled by the expectation of the customer or the company has a return policy, than no harm is being done. On the other hand, if the direct opposite is the case and you make promises which you knowingly cannot fulfill, than you act unethical and fraudulent. To maintain proper business ethics just align yourself with some basic rules of conduct. Tell the truth and disclose what you know Don't do to others what you don't want others to do to you. Be honest and admit mistakes you will gain your customers trust and respect Don't try to make yourself or your company look better than you actually are. Always tell the truth over popularity. Before selling, build a relationship with your customers Exceed your customers expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver. Create a true value for your customers. Use your common sense in difficult situations and have a strong customer service policy. If there is a doubt, than the customer is right. Educate your staff to present your company in an ethical manner. Build a strong reputation by maintaining high standards of business ethics. It is hard to believe that companies have difficulties to align themselves with these simple, most logical steps. Lawsuits and costly litigation procedures are happening all the time just because of misconception or non-dislosure. This can simply be avoided by creating strong policies and uphold of a honest business approach. Think long term success and not temporary gain.
Home Office verses Virtual Office
A home office tax deduction quickly comes to mind when starting your business from home. Likely you want to save the money for the office expenses and associated commute. These are probably your first thoughts, cutting expenses where ever possible, until your start-up becomes profitable. While this occurs to be a good initial solution there are a few things you have to know in order to qualify for the home office tax deduction 1. Your place of business has to be registered at your home address 2. Your home office is a separate room which is solely used for your business, it needs to be clearly identified as an office. 3. The exact square footage of your home office needs to be measured and disclosed. Only under the above circumstances are you allowed to claim your tax deduction for your home office, but it probably comes to a bit of a surprise that you wont save a lot of money. Lets assume you have a house which has a total living area of 2000 sqft, your mortgage interest payment and related cost for utilities is $1500 per month. Your allocated home office is 120 sqft, so your tax deduction for the home office is $90 per month. The annual total amount cant be used against any business losses, but must be carried over. In many cases the home office tax deduction only comes out to a few dollars. Remember you can only claim the cost associated with the exact size of your home office. Having a virtual office or an executive office suite on the other hand is a business expense that can be deducted in full. The cost are very marginal, at the same time you have a more professional office appearance with administrative staff on site, representing your company. Even if you do not really need an office all the time, having a real commercial business address has its benefits. Many banks require you to have a real business address and do not accept the home address as the primary place of business. This is particularly applicable if you have incorporated your company. If you chose a business center as your main address for your company, do not claim your home office tax deduction, the IRS likes to check on the home office status quite often.
Get work done for you, without the hassle of employment related cost and management
Your Virtual Administrative Assistant (VA) can handle many of the everyday administrative task for you. Businesses are very well aware that expenses for office space and personal are the highest of their overhead cost. Would it not be great to have someone representing your company and answering your phone, but without having to hire a full time receptionist? Your phone might ring twenty times a day, half of these calls are from telemarketers, trying to sell their services and keep you away from being productive. No need to have a full time employee to answer your phone, if you can just have our receptionist take your calls for you. Get a local or toll free number, specifically for your business, routed to our phone system and answered in your companies name. The pricing is very marginal, you can even have our auto-attended answer and forward calls for you, if that is sufficient for your needs. An eFax service is included and all your voice messages and faxes are automatically forwarded to your email. An administrative assistant also comes in handy, when you need the occasional letter drafted, have data to be entered or mail to be opened and organized. This can easily be outsourced to your VA without having to pay for it full time. The great thing is that you will only be charged for the exact amount you utilize the VA's services. Let us handle all the management and payroll related task's. The cost for your VA vary by the specific assignment to be handled and can include but are not limited to Phone Answering, forwarding and message taking Simple administrative task and data entry Preparation of presentations Paralegal work Real Estate related work Accounting and book keeping Incorporation Services Notary Services In any event your personal administrative assistant is professionally trained for a variety of secretarial undertakings and can be further educated to your specific requirements.
How does this actually work exactly?
What is a Virtual Office and how does the concept actually work? When I was looking for office space to open up my first business about 16 years ago, there were not that many options. I wanted a "cheap office" to begin with to keep my overhead down. When you were searching for the term online, only very few matches came up. I visited a few offices in my neighborhood and was introduced to a virtual office concept. What is a virtual office I wondered? A virtual office plan is like a membership in a corporate office environment, a real large and appealing office space, at least one floor, sometimes even two. However; instead of entering into a long term lease agreement were you would pay a monthly rent, whether you use it or not, you are just paying for the virtual office membership. The monthly fee is significantly lower and the terms are short with only a subscription agreement. After three month the agreement will turn into a month to month contract, which can be canceled any time. Your company is represented by the shared receptionist, in case you have a client stopping by. You can also have a business phone number, local or toll free and have it answered by the receptionist. The modern phone technology makes it possible that we can see which number is being called, so your calls are always answered in your companies name. After business hours an automated receptionist will capture your calls and forward them in accordance to your specifications. What is a virtual office? It is a great concept, which makes it possible for new and existing businesses to either start or expand their business in a very cost effective and flexible way. Whenever you are in need to occupy physical office space, you can just book a few hours in a private office or meeting room. Depending on your circumstances, you will always make the right impression on your clients. The great thing is that you only pay for what you are actually using. So if you utilize the office for 1-2 hours, you are only charged for the exact time. This allows you to afford a much more exclusive location and office. At the same time it remains flexible, if you get more busy you can even lease an executive office suite for monthly occupancy. Another great advantage is that the offices are already fully furnished and serviced. You just have to bring your Laptop and can start working right away. Nowadays the concept is widely spread all over the world. More and more entrepreneurs and even larger companies have recognized the value of co-working space. Overhead cost are always an issue and flexibility with variable expenses is very important for businesses to stay competitive. If you still have open questions about "what is a virtual office", feel free to contact us and one of our account representatives will be happy to assist you.
Make your dream reality!
The American Dream, closer today than ever before. Millions of people around the world are still seeing the United States as the land of the unlimited possibilities. And it is true, entrepreneurship is encouraged, it is extremely simple to engage into business activity and potentially make it big in the US. Nowhere else in the world is sales and marketing bigger than here, the market is huge and you can be whoever you can dream off. But where and how to start? People are seeking anything for two reasons, they are either inspired by an idea and dream they want to realize, or they are desperate. Inspiration and desperation are the driving forces of achieving the american dream for you personally. The difference between the talkers and the doers is that the doers find a way to overcome there inner fears. They find a way to get out of their comfort zone and understand that in order for them to get what they want, they need to act upon it. The american dream will become a reality for you, when your desire becomes bigger than your excuses. Your technical and academic knowhow will not determine your level of success. Intelligence wont guarantee riches, the world belongs to the people who understand to act on their dreams and make them a reality. Change will happen, not through knowledge, but through the ability to act upon what you know. To start your own business nowadays, is easier and more affordable than any other time before. The concepts available today are tailored to the needs of businesses. The start up cost can be very small, without having to lack a professional image. The marketing possibilities brought through us by the ability to connect worldwide are endless. The only unavoidable task for you, is the willingness to work on your dream consistently and never to give up. Get started today, do the first step toward a brighter future. Begin your path, redirect as many times as you have to in order for you to reach your goals. Make the american dream a reality for you, it is so easy to have your own business up and running in less than 24 hours.
Incorporating your business and what to watch out for
When you are starting your company, you may have many questions in reference to incorporate a business. It is in general advisable to consult with your attorney and CPA to find out which is the best form to incorporate for you. Incorporating basically means that you will make your company an independent legal entity, by registering your business with the division of corporation for your specific state. The registration includes the name of the business, the proposed business activities, as well as the names of all officers the corporation will have. You can chose from multiple ways how to structure your company, all of them will have slightly different tax implications and liabilities. In order to understand how to incorporate a business, following a summary of the the most recognized forms to operate your business. Sole Proprietorship As the name describes it, you are operating your business on your own. You do not have to register with the state, but need to watch out for certain forms you will have to file with the Internal Revenue Service. The business is operated under your personal name, not under a separate company name. For your tax related responsibilities you need to use your SSN. If you chose this form, make sure you separate your business income and expenses. Keep good record, it will help you and your CPA to file your taxes properly and allow to deduct business expenses. Partnerships A Partnership is an arrangement between two or more parties, which equally invest and share gains and losses. The partnership has to be registered under a separate name with the division of corporation. If you incorporate a business as a partnership, the company wont pay taxes, but rather pass the tax responsibility through to the partners. This can be done in the form of dividends, each partner is responsibility to file their own taxes. C-Corporation Incorporate a business by forming a C-Corporation. This will allow potential shareholders to receive the companies stock in exchange for capital or property. The separate business name is registered with the state including all required information. The corporation itself is allowed to take certain federal tax deductions. Both the corporation and the individual tax payer are required to file taxes separately. The C-Corporation is taxed on its profits and the individual business owners on their dividends. In reality, this leads to a double taxation. S-Corporation Many smaller corporations chose to incorporate a business as a S-Corporation, this has similar benefits to a Limited Liability Corporation, but is not taxed individually. The S-Corporation is required to report income, but passes the profits through, in form of dividends to the shareholders. There are certain conditions you need to fulfill in order to be able to qualify as a S-Corporation. A separate form needs to be filed with the IRS after you incorporated with the state. Limited Liability Corporation This is a form to incorporate a business which is regulated by state statutes and might differ from state to state. The owners or owner of the LLC are called members. Each may own a certain percentage of the company, rather than shares. A person, company or foreign entity can be a member of a LLC. Depending on the amount of members the IRS can determine if you are taxed as a person, corporation or partnership. One of the main advantages of creating a LLC is that the company itself is treated as a legal entity and the members only have limited liability, depending on their active position in the company. The typical operating agreement to be executed regulates all particular details. To incorporate a business, contact your states division of incorporation, it will be slightly different in each state and can be done in multiple ways. Attorneys, CPA's, Business Consultants and incorporating services can assist you to create your entity. Depending on your specific needs, this may cost you between $750 to $2500 USD. The draft of an operating agreement is an additional cost and can be significantly higher. First Step - Chose a name for your business and the form of incorporation. Once you have decided, your consultant can check on the availability of the name and start preparing the specific documents. Second Step - Your companies name, including the name(s) of the owner(s), officer(s), the registered agent and the initially issued shares, will be registered with the state. Third Step - After you incorporate a business with the state, you now need to register your new entity with the IRS. You have to apply for your TIN (Tax Identification Number) and if chosen to be a S-Corporation, file an additional form. Fourth Step - You may order your book of incorporation along with your articles, stock certificates, minutes of meetings and corporate seal. Make sure that you keep all information up to date and obey to the required meetings of the corporation. One additional remark is important to know, the filling of your annual report. You are required to renew your business status each year by the end of April and submit all applicable changes and fees. To incorporate a business simply follow this guide, it is probably much easier than you initially imagined.
Learn about starting up your business
When it comes to how to start a startup, many things come to mind, which can be somewhat overwhelming. Questions like "Where do I get the money from"?, "Do I have what it takes"?, "What will my family say"?, "Where do I start"? and many more will cross your mind. This can be intimidating, especially if this is the first time you are trying to start a business. Don't let these things discourage you, everybody was once in your shoes. This is the first big step, overcoming your doubts and being aware that people around you will try to convince you away from your ideas. The most important advice I can give for how to start a startup, is preparation and planning. Instead of just wildly become involved in business activities, take some time and prepare. Does your product or service have a demand? Its great to have an idea which is unique, but is what you have to offer in demand? True business people have learned to anticipate the next big trend. This is steered many times by certain generations. Lets take the baby boomers for example. The generation born between 1946 and 1964, after world war II, family values became top priority and literally 76 Million babies were born. These people were growing up with high values on ethical work and family, saving for bad times and security. This means they have likely accumulated wealth and therefore their particular buying power is very strong. Think about it, if you could have anticipated that in this 20 year window so many people would have been born, what would have come to mind? Imagine diapers and baby strollers, toys and baby food, day care. What when they grew up? Children clothing, school supplies. Their early adulthood. Cars, bars, nightclubs, gas, jewelry, fashion etc. As they grew older, they bought their first home, bigger cars, tv's and on and on. How to start a startup? That's how, anticipating what is the next big trend, steered by certain generations. Is there a demand and how long will that demand be there? You must evaluate your market, see if you have competitors and if its worth to get a share of that market. Do you need capital? And how much? Today it is easier than ever to get access to money. Investors are constantly looking for ideas to invest in. Don't be shy, your idea is worth money and the investors will get a big share of it in return. It is even a great idea to outlay your plan and they can help you to determine the amount of funds and time you really need. These are expert business people who are operating on a whole different level. Personal loans from family and friends, as well as crowd funding is a good source for smaller amounts Bank loans Private investors Hedge funds Angel investors Established corporations are just an example of the multitude of money sources out there. Keep in mind, in order to "sell" your idea you need to put it into a formal structure, people can easily understand. This is called the business and marketing plan. For large amounts of money, this is essential and a big part on how to start a startup. Location, location, location You hear this all the time, selling an ice machine to an Eskimo probably wont cut it, but doing the same in an area with tropical climate will be a killer business. You got to be in the right location, regardless if your business is small and local or if you market to multiple markets at the same time. Determine your market and chose a ideal area to start your business, do you need an office or can your start from home? Will you meet clients and if so where? These are all questions you have to identify. Success leaves clues One of the most important components in how to start a startup, is that many people have built successful businesses before and that you can too. Why not following someone who already has a flourishing enterprise? Surround yourself with people who have answers to your questions. Identify the authorities in your field and gather information based upon actual outcomes and not hearsay. Everybody has an opinion, only a few can actually back it up with proven results. Get a coach and mentor, this is the best way to learn while you are building your business. Someone you can rely on to identify potential mistakes before you make them and can guide you in the right direction. There are great sources nowadays to find coaches online, small business consulting has become a great business by itself. Get the right legal and tax advice This might not seem that important at the beginning, but you will have to incorporate your business sooner or later. Knowing about the benefits of the different corporate setups will help you protect your business and save taxes. How to start a startup is a lot about learning before doing. You can spear yourself a lot of disappointments and frustrations if you are willing to learn from an expert. Keep a positive attitude You will face a lot of adversity along your journey. Like everything in life, building a business has to be learned, it will take time. How long solely depends on your individual talent and willingness to work and learn. The hours you spent on productive activities and to a large extend your attitude. How many times can you navigate yourself through the ups and downs of your business? What if things are not working out, once, twice ten times? Can you hold it together? You must find a way to stay motivated. One great way to do that is to find a very strong reason why you must succeed. This reason must be more painful for you than to admit defeat. Everybody can stay down and give up, getting up and finding a way to try one more time will make the difference of your success or ultimate failure. Make failure your friend and learn from it. You will only fail if you do not try again, there is always another day to correct, redirect and succeed eventually. How to start a startup is about finding a way for you individually to make your dream come true. Keep that attitude the one of a winner and never give up.