Archive | September, 2011

Strategies for Securing a Business Loan

16 Sep

From “How to Grow a Great Business and Power Network,” by Melissa Giovagnoli and David Stover.

Strategies for Securing a Business Loan

For those who think their business would be successful if only they had an infusion of capital, here are the strategies that can boost your chances for success:

Create an Excellent Business Plan

All funding sources will want to see a comprehensive, concise, and realistic business plan. Your plan will be the primary key for getting funding and, if used as a basis for daily business decisions, will help you reach your goals and give you continued opportunities for funding.

Create a File on Contacts

Whether you have a computerized data base or keep a notebook of the many contacts you make with potential investors, it’s important to keep track. Once you’ve completed your business plan, mail it with a cover letter to the investors you have prescreened. Prescreening is important because you shouldn’t waste money copying or mailing to unscreened individuals. Take the time to make the phone calls, and see if at this time (because things change constantly with every business), the bank, angel network, venture capital firm, etc., is accepting applications for your type of investment request. Time taken to target market is the best time you can spend.

Continue to Periodically Follow Up on Your Contacts

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” is an excellent motto when applying for funding. Just as you must constantly sell your product or service, you must also sell the opportunity to others to invest in your company. Make regular phone follow-ups (monthly or every other month) even to contacts who were noncommittal or negative.

Your initial negative contact with a representative of a bank or investment firm might have involved just a bad day for the person with whom you had spoken. As long as there was an initial interest in your company, keep trying. Ask for suggestions on how to improve your plan. The advice you get could mean the difference between wishing for an opportunity and making one happen.

For more strategies, visit melissagwilson.com and download the free e-book!

Buying a Franchise

16 Sep

Following is an excerpt about buying a franchise, from “How to Grow a Great Business and Power Network,” by Melissa Giovagnoli and David Stover.

Buying a Franchise

Buying a franchise is a popular, and potentially a relatively safe way to become a business owner. Instead of reinventing the wheel, adopt a business model that has been proven to be successful. In theory, the answer to nearly every operational question is either in your franchisee manual or at the other end of the phone line.

Franchises are available for many kinds of businesses, ranging from sandwich shops to automobile dealerships, from quick printers to hotels. When you buy a franchise, you become a franchisee and pay the franchisor (the company that grants the franchise) an initial fee plus a royalty, typically a percentage of revenues. If the franchisor also owns the property in which your business is located, you’ll also pay rent to the franchisor, and this too may be a percentage of revenues. In return, you get the right use the name of the business, typically on an exclusive basis in a specific geographic area, and sell its standardized service or products.

The franchisor usually will provide market research, site selection, construction supervision or lease negotiation as appropriate, and equipment and furnishings. In addition, the franchisor may be obligated to conduct regional or national advertising (paid for by contributions from you and other franchisees), furnish sales promotional material, and provide the actual products for resale to customers.

Visit melissagwilson.com to learn more about the pros and cons of buying a franchise.

 

Minimize the Risk of Being an Entrepreneur

14 Sep

A quick excerpt from Melissa Giovagnoli and David Stover’s “How to Grow a Great Business and Power Network.”  Enjoy!

Entrepreneurs are known to be risk takers—but they aren’t reckless. Some of the techniques they use to minimize their risks include:

Asking the right questions: Starting with, “What if…” and “If I take this risk, what is the worst that can happen?” Pre-planning and groundwork are essential to taking calculated risks that help entrepreneurs address the issues and avoid worst case scenarios.

Researching the market: Entrepreneurs realize that customers, competitors and suppliers are integral to their success. They evaluate choices by identifying the range of outcomes from worst-case to best-case scenarios. Entrepreneurs may use a schematic number line from -5 to +5, the Ben Franklin model; listing pros and cons for each choice, case histories, gut feelings or some other method of comparison and evaluation to keep them on track.

Looking beyond costs: Examining how easy or difficult a startup would be; understanding user perceptions, timing and other crucial factors, entrepreneurs realize that numbers aren’t the whole picture.

Evaluate all risks in terms of overall goals and objectives: Since many entrepreneurs start their business with personal savings or angel round capital, and function on the financial edge, risk-taking skills are critical. Even those who start with solid financial backing will be confronted with risks—and calculated risks can offer the opportunity to grow and move forward. Whether starting a new business or growing an existing one, an entrepreneur needs to be armed with every available resource in order to overcome the challenges ahead.

Visit melissagwilson.com  to read more!

Time Management

12 Sep

Below is an informative piece about time management when opening a business from Melissa Giovagnoli and David R. Stover’s “How to Grow a Great Business and Power Network.”

An important thing to remember about time management or self- management is that priorities can change often, even daily. You must be flexible, allowing change when new opportunities arise. Many business owners feel as though they are always busy, working long hours but not necessarily accomplishing what they wanted to do. Poulos refers to this experience as the “barrenness of business taking over.”

Being “gold-minded” together with “time-minded” is the key to getting out of this time trap. There are many scheduling and organizing tools on the market, some of them quite expensive. There is no way to recommend one over another because every business and every person has particular needs and styles. Be sure that the system you choose is easy to maintain and does what you want it to do.

The fine art of delegation is an extremely important skill for you to learn regardless of whether you manage a business with several employees or just manage yourself. No one can function effectively alone; those who attempt to do so fall prey to burnout. Although delegation can be a difficult process for anyone accustomed to keeping tight controls over their business operations, it can greatly improve efficiency.

The best way to strengthen a small business is to delegate to outside experts. Consider asking a banker, an accountant, a management consultant, an attorney or another local business owner to serve on an informal board of directors. A monthly meeting of such a board can yield good advice and become an ongoing source of business development. The group can also be used as a sounding board for future business decisions.

To read more visit melissagwilson.com and download the free e-book!

Networking Through Associations

9 Sep

Another awesome excerpt about networking from “How to Grow a Great Business and Power Network,” by Melissa Giovagnoli and David R. Stover.

One of the best ways to meet people in business is through associations. In these organizations, industry professionals meet, share information and develop new business opportunities. Regular meetings present the opportunity to learn while establishing contacts. For a comprehensive listing of associations, check the Encyclopedia of Associations at your local library. There are literally thousands of organizations around the country most of you can join, especially those of you living in larger cities. And we believe there will be no end to the start up of more organizations, even online organizations that will connect people to other people and opportunities all over the world.

Many associations publish newsletters and magazines that will help you stay abreast of the current state of your industry. There are many national associations than can be of benefit to your business. Those lacking local chapters can still provide you with opportunities to network with professionals in other parts of the United States. Contacting other business owners long distance can be an invaluable networking tool. These professionals are often invaluable sources of information about successful marketing strategies and sales techniques. Another benefit is that these long-distance telephone conversations tend to be short and concise.

The individual on the other end of the line is usually flattered that you took the time to call long distance and therefore answers your questions as quickly and precisely as possible. You should also utilize email to keep in touch with these long-distance contacts.

We recommend regularly keeping in touch with your long distance business network. These professionals can become great sources for new information, as well as new business in the future. Long-distance networking can be extremely advantageous for business owners who have a national or international market potential.

Read more about how to join associations by downloading the free e-book at melissagwilson.com

Tips for Marketing a New Business

7 Sep

Interesting excerpt regarding the importance of marketing and a business website from “How to Grow a Great Business and Power Network,” by Melissa Giovagnoli and David R. Stover.

One of the primary problems that many business owners have is a lack of understanding of the difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is getting people to know you exist. Sales is having people buy something from you. Further, networking is a process that weaves the two profitably together. It’s amazing how often, in the flurry of activities that surround us day to day when running our businesses, that even seasoned veterans of business mistakenly mix the two concepts and waste precious capital, not obtaining their objectives and not understanding the third and perhaps most important strategy of networking in this ongoing Age of the Network.

It’s imperative that you establish a web presence for your business, starting with your website and migrating into social media, which is discussed more in Chapter 9. Every business needs a website—it’s the best way for many people to find you these days. You have several options when it comes to setting up a website. If you’re not comfortable striking out on your own, then by all means hire a website designer to help you. But if you have some degree of technical literacy and want to save money, there are plenty of companies online that offer easy to set up templates and instructions. The following steps can make this process easier:

1. Register your domain – this is your website address, which should align closely with your business name. 2. Find a reputable host for your site. Look at some online review sites, such as PC World or Cnet for recommendations. 3. Many hosts offer templates, or you can use WordPress, which is a free service with many different designs. You can download the WordPress software and then upload to your selected host’s server. 4. SEO – Search Engine Optimization, the process of getting your site into the annals of the search engines. You may want to outsource at least this portion of the site; otherwise, there is a great deal of information available to help you do it yourself.

Learn more about marketing and download the free e-book at melissagwilson.com