How to Find a Good Business Partner

If you have an idea for a business but feel as though you’ll need help in launching it and managing it, collaborating with a partner can be an ideal solution. In choosing your partner, you might find that a friend or family member is the right person. Alternatively, you can choose someone with whom you have been networking, or you might choose someone you met through a business course. Wherever you find your potential business partner, there are a few things to consider before making your final decision.

Develop Some Trust

You should feel as though you can trust your new business partner to a certain degree. This can be a little easier when you chose a loved one or close friend to become your partner. However, you should be able to feel some trust in anyone you choose to bring into your partnership. If you’re considering a professional you don’t know very well, spend some time with them. If there’s any uncertainty about their integrity or honesty, look for someone else.

Set Some Boundaries

Managing your business can get very awkward if you engage in a personal relationship with your business partner. For this reason, you should set the ground rules from the beginning and be firm about them. Even if you choose to take on a spouse as your partner, you should create a system for keeping personal feelings separate from your business dealings. Since you’ll be spending long hours together, having an established policy in place can help you avoid complications.

Look For Passion

You should also consider passion and ambition when choosing a partner. If you want to see your business rise above your competition and potentially expand into an international corporation, it won’t help you to take on a partner who is content to run a small family-owned business. Make sure your potential partner’s goals and ambition match your own.

While you will want a partner who also shares your goals for the business, you won’t want to choose someone who is identical to yourself. If you can choose a partner with a different background or diverse experiences, you’ll be injecting your startup with innovative concepts and imaginative solutions. This type of diversity can help drive your business towards greater success.

How to Make Your Business Stand Out

The evolution of the internet and rise of social media has helped businesses everywhere access a global marketplace, allowing them to sell their products all over the world. Unfortunately, that also means your small business is competing with thousands of similar businesses. If you don’t take action to help your business stand out, it can get buried by all of those competitors.

Focus on Customer Service

Regardless of the great quality of your product, you’ll lose about 33% of your customers if they feel slighted by your brand’s customer service. Although you do want to sell a good quality product, you’ll also need to look for ways to enhance the quality of customer service. Read feedback and reviews left by past customers to find out what they loved and what they disliked about their experiences with your company. This will tell you how to improve the quality of service you provide to your customers.

Create a Strong Brand Image

The basics of creating a positive brand image for your company start with designing a logo for your brand. A colorful logo that uses a unique image will give your customers a symbol they can recognize anywhere in the world. As you share your company’s philosophy and values, consumers will begin to associate those traits with your brand’s logo. After awhile, consumers will look for your brand logo when they want products they can trust.

Maintain a Consistent Social Media Presence

You should be posting on your social media accounts regularly to help build and maintain brand recognition with your followers. If you’re not posting on a consistent basis, your followers are going to forget about your brand. They may even stop following your accounts. Conversely, posting regularly will keep your brand fresh in the minds of those same followers. You’ll also grow your following as consumers who are interested in your posts follow you to see more.

You must also make an effort to continually pursue these recommendations or they won’t work well for you. Repetition is a necessary aspect of marketing, and it will help you keep your brand’s name fresh in the minds of consumers. Making an effort to help your business consistently stand out will ensure your brand name won’t get lost in the shuffle.

The Advantages & Disadvantages Of Franchising

Starting a business is a complex process that involves marketing and upfront expenses. For many individuals, starting a franchise seems like a straight-forward path to a successful business. Franchise opportunities have been available for decades and can be highly recognizable companies.

Franchise vs. Independent Business

Starting an independent company and starting a franchise are similar ways of conducting business. In both scenarios, the business owner is their own boss with their own schedule. Owners can employ their own team and work in a physical location.

For new business owners, franchises are recommended because of their built-in blue print. This helps owners with marketing decisions and brand awareness. Independent businesses allow owners maximum control over their business, but do not provide working strategies that benefit the company.

Advantages of Franchising

One of the main advantages of owning a franchise is the assistance provided by the franchisor. Depending on the contract, a franchise comes with its own brand, equipment, advertising or marketing plan and additional supplies. Some franchisors are available by phone and will work closely with a new owner.

Brand recognition is key to building a reputation and steady clientele. Franchises are well-known businesses that have a built-in customer base. With less focus on marketing, franchise owners can concentrate their efforts on other aspects of the business.

Franchises are known to reach higher profit margins than independent businesses. This is due to their built-in customer base as well as existing structure.

Disadvantages of Franchising

There are a few disadvantages to owning a franchise. Business owners that run a franchise do not have as much control as independent businesses. This means the franchisor must be factored into decisions about business location, pricing, signage, products and decor.

Even smaller franchises require an initial cost. A typical low-cost franchise will still require a buyer to pay a few thousand dollars before ownership. For individuals who do not have the upfront fee, franchise financing options are available.

Owning a franchise does not provide full privacy. Financial decisions and accounts can be viewed by the franchisor. Before starting a franchise, talking with the franchisor and reviewing the overall business plan can help.

Profitable Franchises

Profitable franchises are run all over the United States and abroad. With financing available, individuals are able to run a successful business with a built-in customer base. Franchises can help minimize risk to secure a steady income.

3 Time Management Tips For Entrepreneurs

Time management is something that traditional schooling doesn’t teach but is a skill that’s absolutely crucial to succeed in business. On an average day, entrepreneurs are confronted with a myriad of menial tasks and pressing matters that require their attention.

With limited time and energy, being able to sift through these responsibilities and direct your resources towards the important tasks can be the key differentiator you need to succeed as an entrepreneur. Here’s three tips to do just that.

Plan Ahead

It’s overused advice but definitely worth repeating. Going about your day without a plan can work if it’s a weekend and you just want to let your hair down. But there isn’t a thing as a normal day or week for an entrepreneur. Things can go south in a moment’s notice, be it a problem with one of your manufacturers or distributors or a personal emergency. Develop a plan that lists your most important and urgent priorities, appointments you are scheduled for or have to schedule, and events that you’ve agreed to attend.

Avoid Multitasking

Time management fanatics used to advocate the benefits of multitasking. But as several recent studies show, multitasking does not work and oftentimes yields the exact opposite results. Trying to divide your attention and mental capacity between multiple things at once can produce lower quality output for all tasks across the board. Instead, use blocks to complete the necessary work. The Pomodoro Technique, for instance, involves working in blocks of 25 minutes, taking a five minute break after, and then starting another block. Working in blocks helps you stay laser focused.

Learn to Delegate

Delegating tasks is an important skill for every entrepreneur. No one is skilled at all things. At some point, you’ll face a technical problem that you’ll have no idea how to do, whether it’s accounting or rocket science. Delegating it to a more competent individual frees you up to focus on your strengths while still getting all tasks done. Successful delegation requires being able to trust others and knowing enough about a subject to know whom to delegate it to.

Learning how to better manage your time not only improves your results as an entrepreneur but also your personal relationships and overall satisfaction and happiness in life. 

Social Media Networks for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, networking with other like-minded professionals can benefit you in many ways. You’ll develop friendships with people who understand you, gain insights from people with practical entrepreneurial experience, and learn about social events and conferences that will get you away from your business for a brief period. While traditional social media sites are a great place to start, new sites are cropping up that are designed specifically for those with the entrepreneurial spirit.

Entrepreneur Connect

This is a site that focuses on helping entrepreneurs connect with one another, so there’s an emphasis on community building. For that reason, too much self-promotion is discouraged. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can create their own profiles to allow them to network and join online communities.

PartnerUp

If you want more than just to connect with other entrepreneurs, this may be the site for you. While this site still offers the features of other social networking sites, it’s especially intended for entrepreneurs who are looking for business partners. Here, you can find people interested in joining new business ventures.

StartupNation

This is for people who are looking for a social networking site with the content sharing of Facebook, yet geared specifically to appeal to entrepreneurs. Members of the site can post links to blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and other types of content. They can also upload their content directly onto the site. As a result of the focus on content sharing, entrepreneurs can stay up to date on the latest trends and insights.

Biznik

Here is a social media site that welcomes entrepreneurs from all walks of life. The site attracts CEOs, small business owners, self-employed individuals, and freelancers. This isn’t the site for job seeking. Rather, this site focuses on the social aspect of bringing entrepreneurs together and sharing interesting content.

Finally, it’s important to consider that every social networking site must start someplace. Just like your own business, newer sites are relying on customers who are courageous enough to give them a try. You never know when you’ll come across the next Facebook or Twitter, so don’t be afraid to give lesser known sites a try. You never know what new friendships you’ll find through a smaller yet growing site.

Tools to Evaluate the Success of a Business

Countless people are continuously looking for ways to improve their businesses. There are numerous software tools, accounting reports and research strategies that they use to determine how well their business is doing. The following include the most common tools that are used in nearly every industry.

Analytics

Analytics is a display of data that shows business trends and changes over time. The data is interpreted, analyzed and used to predict future business results. The main areas include predictive, prescriptive analytics, cognitive and descriptive analytics. Web analytics is a popular form of analysis that website owners use to analyze the effectiveness of their websites.

Financial Reports

In accounting, financial reports are made to review the savings, expenditures and investments that are put into a business. Cash flow statements indicates the amount of cash that is saved and spent, and balance sheets show the company’s assets, liabilities and equity. Reviewing financial statements is necessary to evaluate the current success of a company and predict its potential for one, five or 10 years in the future.

Customer Surveys

Satisfying the customers is a top priority for every company. Surveying is the only effective method to understand the customers’ needs. A customer survey has questions and answers that make it easier to evaluate a persons’ true feelings and opinions about a certain product or service.

Performance Evaluations

Every employee should undergo regular evaluations of his or her work performances. It’s the employer’s responsibility to remain vigilant about every employee who is doing a good or bad job and create a written outline of any improvements that need to be made. The feedback should be positive and constructive to help the employee improve.

Competitors

Analyzing nearby competitors is necessary to compare their levels of success with one’s own. Website owners can learn how high their pages rank on search engine results pages. Small business owners should review the strengths and weaknesses of every competitor in the neighborhood. Hiring an industry-specific expert, such as a business consultant, is recommended to gain deeper insights into how businesses succeed or fail.

In today’s business world, success is never determined by guessing. It includes an accurate and timely overview of data and information about a business’s sales, expenses, profits and all other activities. Just as importantly are tools to collect, analyze and manage this information with the highest level of accuracy.

Lessons that Every Leader Should Learn

As a leader, you should try to maintain an open mind and possess a willingness to grow and adapt. This requires understanding a few basics of leadership that aren’t always taught in classrooms or in job training seminars. These are the unspoken lessons you will have to learn through experience. By knowing these lessons in advance, you can keep yourself open to the experiences that will help you apply these lessons to your situation.

Understand Your Place as a Leader

Many new leaders assume that stepping into a leadership position puts them above everyone else. While that’s true in a sense, your success as a leader will be determined by how well you can inspire your team. For that reason, your objective should be to help your team perform their tasks as efficiently as possible. This means giving them the freedom to work and the tools they need to do their jobs correctly.

You Are Your Own Leader

As you step into your first leadership role, you may think of leaders you’ve had in the past. While you can use those experiences to inspire you, it’s important to understand you won’t be successful by trying to mimic everything your own favorite leaders did in the past. Use them as examples, but you must develop your own leadership style. While this means you will make mistakes, it also means you’ll own your victories.

Active Listening is Essential

Good communication skills are important in becoming an effective leader, but that goes beyond honing the ability to express your ideas concisely. It also involves knowing how to listen when a team member is talking to you. Learn how to read their body language and pay attention to the tone in their voice. This will help you interpret what they are saying and evaluate their emotions. When you know how to listen better, you will be open to new ideas, and you’ll gain a better understanding of what it takes to motivate your team.

A good leader also knows that they have to do more than just delegate responsibilities. Your team will perform better when you set a good example for them. Don’t be afraid to dive in and help your team tackle a problem or special project. In getting involved, you’ll help the team work more efficiently, and you’ll gain a more thorough understanding of the project or task.

Cultivating a growth mindset as a Leader

A fixed mindset leads to a toxic workplace culture for everyone beneath that leader, which is why a growth mindset is promoted by most progressive organizations. Rather than looking for somewhere to place the blame when things go wrong, a leader with a growth mindset will be more eager to learn something from the experience. This type of mindset will help the leader and their team to evolve and become more efficient in achieving their goals over time.

Welcome Change

As a leader, you must be eager for change rather than just accepting it as it comes along. By looking for positive change, you can take an initiative in helping your team become more efficient and successful. Look for change in how your team works together, uses equipment to perform their tasks, and in how the infrastructure in your organization helps you reach long-term goals.

Look Inward

To be a leader with a growth mindset, you have to be willing to take an honest look inward. In particular, try to identify your weaknesses and determine how those weaknesses affect your ability to lead your team. Once you possess this level of self awareness, you’ll be able to determine how you can improve your leadership style to promote more growth with your team. This will prepare you for exploring new opportunities.

Sidestep Obstacles of Change

If you wait for change to come to you, there will be an adverse experience as those changing forces disrupt your team’s progress. Rather than viewing a changing force as a negative impact on your operation, you should be looking for ways to adapt the change to suit your business’ needs. This will help you get in front of the problem by turning it into an advantage. As a result, you’ll be at the forefront of change, and you’ll succeed as your competitors are struggling to catch up.

A leader with a growth mindset will also be more determined in pursuing long-term goals. Rather than looking for immediate successes at all costs, try to be more focused on the big picture. When mistakes or setbacks occur, look for ways to learn something new and continue striving towards the next goal. This perseverance will help you adapt to any situation.

Developing yourself as a Leader

There is a great deal of debate over whether leadership can be taught or whether it is just something you are born with. In many ways, however, it is something of a moot point. Michael Jordan may have been born with certain skills and abilities that had the potential to turn him into a great basketball player but it was only thousands of hours of practice that turned that raw ability into greatness.

While there may be some people that were never going to be a Michael Jordan no matter how many hours of practice they put in; almost anyone with even the most modest athletic ability could have probably been as great as Jordan if they had just put the time and effort he did into developing that modest ability. The same is most likely true of leadership. While there may be some traits or characteristics that help facilitate leadership, no one is ever going to become a great leader without developing those traits or characteristics. The way you become a great leader is by doing the same things it takes to become great at anything, you practice.

Michael Jordan probably spent hundreds of hours just shooting certain shots over and over. He set up drills and probably ran stairs and laps around numerous tracks and probably even lifted weights. In other words, he did dozens of things that would seem like they have little to do with playing basketball and everything to do with being in the best physical condition possible. He probably ate a healthy diet and experimented with different supplements, anything to help him be a better ball player.

Almost everyone is going to find themselves suddenly thrust into a position of leadership they might not ever have expected. Whether you sink or swim will probably depend largely on how much you practiced in advance. There are hundreds of leadership practice opportunities available if only you look for them. These can include things like coaching a little league team or running a charity event or simply taking a class on leadership. One great way to prepare is to simply make a list of some great leadership skills and then simply find ways of practicing those skills.

The Ins and Outs of Starting a Business

The number of people starting businesses burgeoned to a 13-year high in 2020, according to Business Insider. Although many of these businesses are in different industries than the one you want to start, there’s still a lot of competition out there. That’s why it’s imperative that you take certain measures in advance to increase your chances for success. With that said, following are some steps you should take before launching your new business venture.

Select the Right Product or Service

You’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time getting your business off the ground. That’s why it’s essential that you enjoy what you do or at least have some expertise in the matter. Launching a marketing consulting business after spending years in corporate marketing, for example, would make a sound premise for a business. Similarly, you could improve your chances of success by selling a product in which you have expertise.

Assess Your Financial Situation

You’ll need to have a grasp on the amount of capital you’ll need to launch your business. One of the best ways to derive this figure is by conducting a break-even analysis, according to Business News Daily, where the actual formula is Fixed Costs/(Average Price – Variable Costs)= Break-Even Point.

Identify Your Target Audience

A target audience or market consists of people who are most likely to buy your product or service. If you’re selling premium products, for example, your target audience may include people with incomes over $100,000. Target audiences can also possess certain behaviors or characteristics, like fitness enthusiasts. Aligning your product offering with the right target audience enables you to better reach them through your promotions. It can also help you better gauge your potential in a market.

Listen to Your Customers

One of the most important steps to succeeding in business is always knowing what your customers want. Customers’ needs and wants change over time. They may also have certain issues with your products or services and expect them to be resolved. The best way to stay in constant contact with your customers is through market research. Whether you conduct occasional surveys or simply ask for feedback, market research enables you to make timely changes or improvements to keep your customers highly satisfied.

If you take these essential steps before and while you’re running your business, you’ll dramatically improve your chances for success. Just make sure you keep records of all your sales and expenses and pay your taxes.

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