Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame says that the “biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when they’re first starting out is they think they have to raise money, and that raising money is an accomplishment.” He continues, “Raising money isn’t an accomplishment, it’s an obligation.” He contends that “the best equity is sweat equity,” and “the more you can do without raising money, the further you’ll go and the more of your company you’ll own.” His advice is to focus on sales: “Sales cures all. There’s never been a company that succeeded without sales. It’s not about raising money, it’s not about the idea. It’s about finding customers that you can really create value for and making them happy.” The author of the article states that venture capital investors tend to seek out big ideas with perceived potential for world domination as opposed to solid startups with common sense business models and dependable customer bases, and so a business that achieves profitability early on then chugs along isn’t of much use for them: “They’re only interested in the next unicorn.”
In her upcoming conference Network Like A Boss, leading gender equality global expert, author, writer and international speaker Darine BenAmara will be sharing tools, conversational techniques, and the mindset needed for professional women and entrepreneurs to network effectively to meet their aspirations. The CEO of The Smart Woman, she has led women’s empowerment initiatives in North America, Africa, and the Caribbean for the past seven years. She says that “women’s lack of access to good quality networks is a main obstacle to their professional advancement…this is why effective networking, an important component of any professional’s career, is even more essential when it comes to women – whether they want to climb the ladder to the C-suite or start/grow their own business.” The conference is scheduled for Wednesday, September 19th at Toronto’s SPACES – Queen West from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets are on sale online through Eventbrite.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’ve had a conversation with your team about building or creating something and thought you’d arrived at a consensus about the project. But a few weeks later, they present something that doesn’t resemble anything you’d discussed. While your first thought might be that they weren’t listening, chances are they were, but they were envisioning something different in their minds. This “illusion of agreement” is common, and the author describes his own experience with his team’s disjointed efforts in building a small-business CRM. The solution he found, as evidenced by the success of their first product Basecamp, was sketching out everything first so people have something visual when they’re working together on something. Even a rough sketch will do, as long as it’s something “everyone can see, understand, and internalize.”
In this article about the best payroll tools for small business owners, the author walks through the four things you need to think about when choosing your online payroll tools; the four tasks your payroll tools need to handle; and a simple stack that creates an efficient HR workflow, no matter the number of your employees.
In a nutshell, here are her main points:
- The four criteria for selecting tools are: they’re easy to learn and use; they seamlessly integrate; they automate much of your work; and they can scale as your business grows.
- An effective payroll workflow for SME businesses involves just four steps: schedule your employees’ time; track hours worked and time off; do payroll; and add the financial information to your books.
- For building a simple, yet efficient payroll workflow “that almost runs itself,” you only need three payroll tools: TSheets, Wagepoint, and QuickBooks Online.
While entrepreneurs are well aware that they face a high likelihood of failure, they’re too often unprepared for being taken out by a catastrophic event – whether by natural disasters, financial meltdowns, or most recently, cyberattacks. The co-authors of the new book, Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies Are Coping with Disruption, content that it is a mistake for small businesses to ignore their vulnerability to major disruptions, as “disruptive events are not only here to stay but their intensity is growing.” Consequences can be dire, as the “vast majority of small businesses are either un-or under-insured,” and “few possess the resources required to build redundant supply chains or the clout to require vendors to bolster their own resilience.”
What then, should the small business owner do? One of the co-authors suggests that you “approach risk-mitigation as a value creator…for example, it may make financial sense to reduce inventory levels, a step that also limits your exposure if a tornado flattens your warehouse.” The same co-author states that he’d “like to see financial institutions – particularly lenders and insurers – incentivize small business leaders to invest in risk mitigation,” and suggests you start with protecting against cyberattacks.
This article offers guidelines for startups deciding upon their business structure based on the relationship they want to have with other key people — business partners, employees, investors, and vendors – as well as how they want to deal with, and be perceived by, their customers/clients. There are essentially four options, grading from the “I want to be solely in charge of all business decisions” (recommendation: a sole proprietorship or single-member limited liability company, or LLC) to “I want to be part of a larger group of people united in business” (recommendation: structuring the business as a C corporation or S corporation). Each option is accompanied by examples of who may likely choose it, as well as how it will impact relationships with customers or clients.
It seems that times have changed for what is trending in office space design. While it may seem a superficial thing to consider, the design of office space does have a bottom-line impact on employee productivity and morale. Here are six design elements that are “in” and the correlating ones that are “out,” from open-office plans giving way to private desks and separate team areas to low-tech conference rooms conceding to “tricked-out” conference rooms.
With the sophistication of office technology escalating quickly and employee expectations rising – let alone the bigger issues of security and privacy that impact offices both large and small – entrepreneurs have to make the transition from ad hoc “seat-of-the-pants” tech to high-performing tech that is central to their business. Here, the author shares five ways to ensure your office tech not only suits your needs but can scale as your business grows, from syncing your office tech plan with business growth milestones to pursuing efficient options for acquiring advanced office tech:
- Make a plan and map your milestones, knowing that every good business plan needs a tech plan. Syncing your office tech plan with business milestones will help you project your future tech infrastructure needs.
- Recognize the strategic value of cutting-edge tech beyond investors, customers and cash flow. In today’s hiring environment, more than half of millennials cite office tech as key to their employment decisions, and office tech is increasingly becoming a reflection of your brand’s character and estimations of being a “future-facing” business.
- Benchmark against your physical space by making a precise, in-depth inventory of your real estate/office space needs, so you’ll have the right office space layout and the tech tools that give employees what they actually need and use.
- Set some rules and follow them when it comes to IT standards for office tech – this will also help with scaling down the road.
- Consider options other than buying, such as Device as a Service (DaaS) and leasing, which frees up your time and offers expense predictability and flexibility.
You can’t be great at everything that is required to run a successful business, and those who excel at invention and creativity are no exception. The author and self-described mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs describes the frustration of those who “often don’t have strong interpersonal skills or interests” in sharing strategies for improving professional relationship results. Citing the “concise business-oriented guidance” from the newly published book Born to Build, in which two Gallup executives offer their data-driven insights from business professionals worldwide, he outlines six specific strategies ranging from diversifying your networks to keeping your focus on the local social and business landscape. He also shares some words of caution about relationship building, including “more relationships are not always better.”
Researchers from leading U.S. business universities have found that “profits aren’t the only – or even the best – measure of success.” Their study shows the higher profits traditionally earned by businesses that bear the owner’s name (think Henry Ford, James C. Penney and Walt Disney) are offset by slower growth and less access to outside investment. The author quotes one of the author economists as saying: “In today’s start-up environment, many venture capitalists are looking for rapid growth over steady but small profits…No venture capitalist would tell somebody to name a firm after themselves. It just doesn’t happen.”
Why? Because naming your business after yourself sends the message that you’ve created “a high-quality product that probably won’t scale well.” In this trade-off between glory and growth, investors are looking for growth – and naming the company after yourself is a sign of limited aspirations for it. Furthermore, from the investors’ perspective, “an owner with their name on the building brings an extra layer of risk,” and by assigning their name to the business, “[they] may also indicate [they’re] ego-driven and controlling, which are unattractive qualities in a business partner.”