/Rieva Lesonsky

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. She’s a nationally- known speaker, best-selling author, and authority on entrepreneurship, and for more than 30 years, she was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur magazine. Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Lesonsky has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart show and Oprah, and can regularly be seen on MSNBC’s Your Business. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, and was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate. In 2009, she was honored as one of publishing’s top innovators. The Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization honored her for helping drive “the entrepreneurial revolution in secondary education.” The ASBDC awarded her a “Champion of Small Business” award and in 2012 she received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She’s been named one of the nation’s top 100 Small Business Influencers and is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

10 Steps to Starting an Email Newsletter to Market Your Business

If you are looking for an effective way to increase sales and keep your business in the forefront of customers’ minds, email is the perfect solution. With an ROI of $38 to every one dollar spent, according to a survey last year, email marketing can pay off big for a small business. After all, we all get email, and most of us check it multiple times a day.

Inundating prospective customers with daily emails about sales or discounts isn’t the way to get their attention, however. Instead, try offering them something useful: an email newsletter. Here are 10 steps to starting your own.

  1. Clarify your goals. As with every other type of marketing you do, it’s important to set specific, measurable goals for your email newsletter. Do you want it to get customers to visit your website, call your business or actually walk in the door? What numbers constitute success? How will the newsletter integrate with the rest of your marketing efforts to reach those goals?
  2. Decide on content. A newsletter must be more than just a marketing message — it should also offer some valuable, useful information to readers. For example, if you own a garden supply store, you could share 10 tips to prepare your garden for winter, a list of 5 essential garden tools, or the 3 biggest mistakes new gardeners make. Think of questions your prospective customers have or problems they need solutions to, then develop content that answers them. You can also announce new products or services, upcoming events at your business, and sales or other promotions.
  3. Be consistent. How often to send out your email newsletter depends on your available time, type of business and desired goals. However, once a month is a good starting point for most businesses. If you send your newsletter less frequently than that, you won’t achieve your goal of building brand awareness. Consistency is key, so send your newsletter out regularly at the same time of the month and the same time of day—such as 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month.
  4. Collect email addresses. The FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act strictly regulates email marketing. You can’t send your newsletter to people unless they sign up for it. Put a sign-up box near the top of your business website (all you have to ask for is the customer’s email address) or use a popup message. Collect email subscribers offline, too, by asking customers to sign up during the sales process. Offering an incentive for signing up, such as a code good for 20 percent off the first purchase, will help build your email list.
  5. Choose an email marketing service. Email marketing services provide email newsletter templates that make creating your newsletter easy. They also handle the grunt work of sending out the emails and gathering data about how customers interact with them. Constant Contact, Campaigner and MailChimp are popular email marketing services; ask other business owners for their recommendations, too.
  6. Select a template. Choose a template design that fits the type of content you plan to include and harmonizes with the design elements of your business brand. Make sure the template is mobile-friendly, since the majority of emails are now viewed on mobile devices.
  7. Create a welcome message. When someone signs up to receive your email newsletter, send a confirmation or welcome email thanking them for subscribing and letting them know what to expect. For example, tell them how often they will receive the newsletter and how to change their newsletter preferences or unsubscribe. Your email marketing service can set up this welcome email to send automatically.
  8. Include calls to action. Remember your newsletter goals? Include clear calls to action to achieve those goals. For instance, if you sell clothing online, news about your new fall fashions could include a link to “Shop Now.” Links should always go to specific landing pages—not just to your website’s homepage. Make sure the landing pages are mobile friendly in case users click through on a mobile device.
  9. Encourage pass-along readership. Grow your email newsletter audience by asking readers to forward the newsletter to a friend or colleague who might be interested. (Be sure to include a link at the bottom of the newsletter that tells recipients how to subscribe.)
  10. Track results. Email marketing services gather lots of data about how recipients interact with your emails, and provide analytics tools you can use to slice and dice that information. How many recipients open your newsletter? How many actually click on a link? Of those, how many actually take the desired action (such as making a purchase from your website)? Slice and dice this data to see what email newsletter topics, times of day and subject lines work best. Use what you learn to continually improve your email newsletter.

9 Ways to Show Your Employees You’re Thankful for Them

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our thoughts naturally turn to what we’re grateful for in life. As a small business owner, I know you’re thankful for your employees. After all, how would you run your business without them? In honor of Thanksgiving, here are 9 ways to say “thank you” to your employees.

  1. Give out bonuses. Let’s face it: Most people are highly motivated by money. There are a couple of ways to handle bonuses. You can set performance goals and give employees bonuses for meeting them—for example, giving a bonus to salespeople who surpass their quotas for the quarter. Or you can give out smaller, “surprise” bonuses, like handing a $25 gift card to a customer service person who goes above and beyond to make a customer happy.
  2. Show some PDA. (That’s “public display of appreciation.”) A thank-you means more when it’s shared in front of the whole team. Whenever you praise employees, take a moment to call everyone’s attention to what you’re doing. It not only makes the employee you’re praising feel great, but also shows the rest of the staff what type of behavior you want to see at work.
  3. Spread the word. Go beyond spotlighting your employees’ achievements in the workplace: Highlight your high-performing staffers on social media, on your website or in your marketing materials. Choose an “Employee of the Month” and profile him or her on your website or in your email marketing newsletter.
  4. Have a food fest. In my experience, one of the best ways to show employees appreciation is through their stomachs. Offer bagels or doughnuts every Friday morning or order pizza every Friday for lunch. Have a potluck where employees bring in their all-time favorite family recipes or dishes from their ethnic heritage. Holiday season? Hold a bake-off with different departments competing for a prize.
  5. Make it personal. Who wants to get an engraved plaque with their name on it? Yawn. Make employee rewards more meaningful by tailoring them to the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Get passes to a big game for a sports fan, or a gift card to a spa for a busy mom.
  6. Write a note. It’s easy to say “Thank you” in passing or send a nice email, but a thank-you note is something a recipient can save and savor. Take time to make your notes concrete and specific; this shows you’re really paying attention to what your employees are doing.
  7. Upgrade them. Having the latest equipment helps employees be more productive and do their jobs better—but, it also shows them how much you value their hard work. Update computers, provide mobile devices for work, spring for better-quality headsets or buy ergonomic office chairs.
  8. It’s about time. Comp time off is always a great way to thank employees for a job well done. Flexible work hours can also show employees how much you value them. Try offering different shifts, such as 8 AM to 4 PM or 10 AM to 6 PM, instead of the standard 9-to-5.
  9. Offer employee benefits. Beyond health insurance, there are tons of other benefits you can provide for your staff. For example, even the smallest business can set up a 401(k) plan to help workers plan for retirement. Life insurance, disability insurance, financial services and even pet insurance are other benefits that can show your employees you care.

 

                               

9 Customer Appreciation Tactics

Ah, it’s Thanksgiving season—time to stuff yourself with turkey, watch football, start your holiday shopping and argue with your crazy uncle at the dinner table. For small business owners, it’s also the perfect time to show your customers and clients how much you appreciate their business all year long. Here are nine customer appreciation ideas that will help build customer loyalty.

  1. Throw a party. Host a thank-you dinner or lunch event for your top customers. November is a great time to get festive, before all the holiday parties start and people’s calendars fill up. Make it special with a creative Evite or even a fancy printed invitation. Hold an awards ceremony to spotlight customers with awards like Customer of the Year.
  2. Make your customer a star. Put your top customers in the spotlight—literally. Film a video interviewing them about their area of expertise. Post it on your site and share it on social media. You’ll make them look good, and that makes you look good.
  3. Give a shout-out. Highlight top customers with posts on social media. Thank them for their business and explain why they’re such great customers. For example, you could feature a “Customer of the Week” every Wednesday. Be sure to include a link to their website to drive customers there.
  4. Tap some VIPs. Look at your data to find out which customers spend the most in your store, salon, restaurant, etc. Make them VIPs and invite them to special events such as invitation-only sales, after-hours shopping events, or tasting menu dinners. You can even create a VIP version of your website with limited-edition products or special VIP swag.
  5. Remember their special days. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) app to track data about your customers. Then set up reminders to send a thank-you card or email on special dates. The anniversary of their first purchase, their birthday, their wedding anniversary, the day they started their business—all are possibilities. Include an offer good for a free gift or significant discount to spark a new purchase.
  6. Give a gift. For top customers, go beyond standard promotional products like imprinted T-shirts or coffee mugs. Take some time to think of gifts that are tailored to each recipient’s interests, industry or personality. For example, you could send a copy of a business book you know a customer’s curious about, but hasn’t read yet. How about tickets to a favorite sports team’s upcoming game? Be sure to enclose a handwritten note along with the gift thanking the customer for his or her business.
  7. Refer people to clients’ businesses. There’s no better way to thank a good customer than to refer others you know to their business. Be sure to get an OK from your referral, and then send both parties an email introducing the two.
  8. Listen. Ask some of your best customers if they’d like to be on an “advisory board.” You can pick their brains for feedback about new products you’re considering or ways to improve your customer service. Who wouldn’t feel flattered to be asked for their opinion—especially if it’s because they’re such important customers?
  9. Practice random acts of kindness. Not all thank-yous have to be thought out in advance. Once a week, pick a random client to reward with a freebie, discount, call, lunch invitation or thank-you note—just because.

 

                               

By | November 10th, 2016|Running A Small Business|2 Comments

Is Fear of Failure Holding Your Business Back?

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins—oh my! While children clad in Halloween costumes may fear witches and zombies, many entrepreneurs are equally terrified of failure. But since failure is an inevitable part of launching and growing a small business, fear of failure could be holding you and your business back from success. Whether your business is already underway or just getting started, here are six ways to overcome your fear of failure:

  1. Go step by step. When we’re scared, it’s easy for fear of failure to paralyze us and we end up doing nothing. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, break down what scares you into small, manageable parts. For example, if you’re afraid to approach potential investors for financing because they might say no, break it down into smaller tasks: researching potential investors, making a list of the most promising possibilities, finding connections on social media to introduce you, developing your pitch and so on. Going step-by-step, you’re more likely to succeed, and each success will build your confidence.
  2. Do things right. Failure often occurs when we’re in a hurry and take shortcuts. In your excitement to launch your business or your next big idea, it’s tempting to skip the boring stuff and jump straight to the fun part. However, paying attention to foundational elements such as writing a business plan, choosing the right legal structure for your business, trademarking your business name and getting a business license can greatly increase your odds for success.
  3. Get help. You’re less likely to fail if you get advice from more experienced business people, professionals and mentors who have “been there, done that.” They can help you foresee possible problems and figure out how to surmount potential hurdles. Perhaps even more importantly, they can build your confidence by providing encouragement and support. SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are two great, free sources of business advice and expertise.
  4. Celebrate your successes. It’s human nature to be critical of ourselves and focus on everything we’ve done wrong. Unfortunately, this can lead to a crippling fear of failure. Instead, focus on all the things you do right. Take some time to write down risks that you’ve taken—not just in business, but also in your personal life—and the successes you’ve enjoyed as a result. Giving yourself credit for all the good things you’ve done will build your ability to take on challenges with less fear.
  5. Do what scares you. Did you notice I said “less fear” in the prior paragraph, rather than “fearlessly”? No one is fearless, no matter how they may look on the outside. True courage means doing what scares us in spite of our fear. Really, the only way to overcome fear of failure is to try new things, knowing full well that you might fail—and that’s OK.
  6. Learn from your failures. No matter how hard we try, we’re bound to experience failure, especially when undertaking something as challenging as starting and growing a business. Make failure your friend by learning from it. Step back and assess exactly what happened, why it happened, and what you can do differently next time to prevent it from happening again. The more you learn from your failures, the less likely you are to repeat them.

 

                               

Why You Need to Incorporate Your Business

When you think about incorporating your business, do you scoff, “Not me. I’m just a one-person/home-based/part-time business—incorporation is for the big guys”? If so, it’s time to rethink your attitude. You see, every small business—no matter how small or informal—needs to be incorporated.

That’s because no matter how small or informal your business is, you could be sued. Suppose your business isn’t doing well, you can’t pay a business debt and the creditor takes you to court to get their money back. Perhaps you are a children’s party planner, a child is injured during a birthday party you organize at a local park, and the parents decide to sue you. Or maybe you own a one-person accounting firm and, after you make a mistake on a client’s taxes that costs them a lot of money, they sue you for the damages.

In any of these cases, unless your business is incorporated, all of your personal assets could be at risk—including your savings, possessions and even your family home. And even if the lawsuit is baseless, you still have the legal costs involved in defending yourself in court.

If you haven’t done anything to determine a legal form for your business, and you are the only person in your business, by default you’re considered a sole proprietor. Even if you have a partner and the two of you have formed a general partnership, your personal assets still are not protected.

Why does incorporating provide so much protection? When you incorporate your business, you are creating a new legal entity that’s separate from its owners. If your corporation owes a debt or if it is sued, the business—not you personally—is liable.

Incorporating has several other advantages:
• It makes it easier to separate your business and personal finances, which has tax advantages.
• It helps you establish a credit score for your business so you don’t have to rely on your personal credit score.
• If you think you might ever need to get a business loan or look for investors to help finance your business, being incorporated will help there, too.
• Being able to put “Inc.” or “LLC” after your business name just looks more professional, which can make customers and clients feel more confident doing business with you.

There are several different forms your business can take when incorporating: a C corporation, an S corporation, or an LLC (limited liability company). Here’s a quick overview of the differences:
• C corporation: A C corporation pays federal income taxes. However, any dividends paid to the owner (or other shareholders) are also taxed. This is sometimes called “double taxation,” and the S corporation form was created to help avoid it.
• S corporation: An S corporation doesn’t pay federal income taxes. Any income or financial losses pass through to the owner and get reported on his or her personal tax returns.
• LLC: Limited Liability Companies have a more flexible management structure than C or S corporations, while still protecting your personal assets. Any profits or losses from the business will be reported on your personal tax return.

There are some costs associated with incorporation, as well as some paperwork you’ll need to complete every year. However, when you consider the risk to your personal finances that could arise from not incorporating, the cost is well worth it.

Find out more about corporation business structures.

To take advantage of all these perks, incorporate your business with CorpNet today! Call us for a

                               

6 Ways to Get Better Results From Your Facebook Marketing

Have your Facebook marketing efforts stopped getting the results you want? Facebook is constantly changing, and that means your Facebook marketing strategy has to change, too. Try these six tips to get better results from your Facebook marketing.

  1. Be consistent. Have you ever visited a company’s Facebook page, only to find they haven’t posted in months? It’s important to post regularly on Facebook to maintain your business’s presence. Consistency is more important than quantity: One study found the 100 most successful companies worldwide post, on average, just five to 10 times each week. To maximize your post results, use Page Insights, a free Facebook analytics tool, to see exactly when people engage with your posts the most; then post at those times.
  2. Post photos and videos. Images attract attention. In addition to posting photos or videos from your business, such as pictures of your restaurant’s latest specials or a video demonstrating a new product, share relevant photos or videos from elsewhere around the web. Add brief text to image posts. Shorter text gets more attention—plus, if you keep your text under 140 characters, you can re-use it on Twitter.
  3. Include a call-to-action. The point of Facebook isn’t just to get likes, comments and shares. You want people who see your posts to take an action that leads to a sale—such as visiting your business website, coming into your store or calling your business. In addition to putting a call-to-action in your posts, you can also put a Facebook Call to Action button at the top of your Business Page. There are seven options, including Sign Up, Book Now, Contact Us and Shop Now. Just make sure the hyperlinks in your calls-to-action go to the correct landing page on your website. For example, if your call-to-action is “Book Now,” users should go to a page where they can book an appointment online.
  4. Piggyback on trending topics. Posts related to hot topics of the moment, such as The Olympics or the Academy Awards, generate buzz. Check out the trending topics on the right side of Facebook to get ideas. You can create your own posts about these topics or share others’ posts. Keep them non-controversial to avoid offending potential customers.
  5. Use tags and hashtags. Tag other people or businesses in your posts, and the post will show up in their news feeds so their friends see it. You can also ask customers to tag or check in to your business in their posts—for example, if they post pictures of a meal at your restaurant. Finally, use one or two relevant hashtags to make your post stand out to people interested in that hashtag.
  6. Advertise. If you really want to improve your Facebook results significantly, try advertising. Facebook advertising is extremely affordable for small businesses and allows you to target your audience very narrowly.

One Facebook advertising option is to boost your posts, which puts them higher in your audiences News Feed. Just click the Boost Post button to see your options, schedule your Boost and set a budget.

You can also create Facebook ads to do everything from getting viewers to your website to promoting special offers. Use Ad Targeting to target specific demographics based on age, gender, location, special interests and more. Custom Audiences lets you deliver Facebook ads to your existing customers, while Lookalike Audiences allows you to target Facebook users with demographic profiles similar to your existing customers. You can also add call-to-action buttons to ads to really drive sales.

By trying these six tactics and monitoring your Facebook results, you’re sure to improve your engagement and ROI on this important social media channel.

Is your Facebook marketing strategy now back on target? It may be time to consider taking your business to the next level and incorporate or form an LLC. Call CorpNet.com for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Image: Adobe Stock

 

                               

Should You Hire Temporary Employees for Your Business?

30s young hipster man style working at office with ambient lightDoes this sound like you? You need help handling all the duties of your business, but you don’t want to hire additional permanent employees. Whether you’re looking ahead to holiday shopping season or suddenly need summer staff, temporary workers might be able to fill the bill.

Temporary workers can help a small business in many situations:

  • You are faced with sudden, unexpected demand for your product or service, but aren’t sure how long it will last.
  • You need workers to help with seasonal tasks, such as employees to help your accounting firm get through tax season or retail employees to handle the holiday shopping rush.
  • One of your permanent employees is on an extended leave, such as maternity or medical leave, and you need someone to handle their position.

The rise of the “freelance economy” has made temporary work more appealing for many people. Last year, the number of temporary workers in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 2.9 million, according to the Commerce Department. But temporary workers are also appealing to small business owners for several reasons:

  • Hourly temporary workers typically are paid less than hourly permanent workers in the same roles, the Commerce Department reports.
  • You don’t pay the workers directly, which saves you time and headaches dealing with payroll, withholding, insurance and benefits. Instead, the temporary agency handles payments to the workers. (However, keep in mind that the total, or “bill rate,” you’ll pay to the agency includes a fee for this service and any benefits the workers receive.)
  • If business slows down, you can let temporary workers go immediately, without having to provide any type of severance and without the emotional strain of laying off a permanent employee.
  • If a temporary employee doesn’t work out as expected, you can generally just request a replacement. No need for the time-consuming and costly process of advertising a job, conducting interviews and hiring a new employee.
  • If the temp does work out spectacularly, and your short-term need becomes ongoing, you can offer the temp a permanent job.

Most temporary workers are in industrial (37 percent) or office/administrative/clerical roles (28 percent), according to the American Staffing Association. But 13 percent work in professional/managerial roles; 13 percent work in engineering, IT or science fields; and 9 percent work in healthcare jobs. This growing specialization in the temp industry means it’s easier to find the exact type of temp you need.

Nor are temps just entry-level workers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Many skilled employees prefer temporary work for its flexibility and as a way to try out potential employers in hopes of getting a permanent job offer. (More than one-third of temps have received a permanent job offer from an employer according to the American Staffing Association.)

If you think temporary employees might be right for you, here are some steps to ensure a successful temporary hire:

  • Be clear with the temporary agency about your needs and expectations. The more specific you can be, the better fit they will be able to find for you.
  • Be sure you understand all the terms of the temporary agreement, including the fees the agency receives, whether you can make a job offer to a temporary employee and whether there are additional fees for doing so.
  • If you know going in that you want to hire temporaries with the potential to become permanent employees, ask about “temp-to-perm” arrangements. Not all temporary workers want permanent jobs, and you don’t want to find the perfect worker only to discover that he or she prefers being a temp.
  • Once temps come on board, treat them as you would any new employee — provide a work space, training and appropriate tools to do the job, and make sure they’re made to feel at home.

Is your business growing and you still need to Incorporate or form an LLC?  Call CorpNet anytime for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638. We would love to help you incorporate a businessform an LLCfile a DBA and more across all 50 United States!

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Image: Adobe Stock

                               

Don’t Sign a Commercial Lease Until You Answer These Questions

Retro vintage style image of a businessman signing a contractWhether you’re preparing to lease your first commercial location or your 10th, it’s critical to ask lots of questions before you sign on the dotted line. Asking key questions at each stage of finding your space will prevent unpleasant surprises such as getting locked into a lease and finding out the building lacks something essential (like air conditioning!).

Before you ever talk to a commercial realtor, ask yourself some questions to determine your needs.

  • How much square footage do you need?
  • Do you want a turnkey space or are you willing to build out the space yourself?
  • Do you need lots of walk-in traffic or proximity to major highways?
  • How much access will you need? Will you be working 9 to 5, or will you and your staff need to get into the building at odd times or on weekends?
  • How much parking will you need for customers and employees?
  • What types of businesses do you want to be near? (If you’re a retailer or restaurant, for instance, complementary businesses can drive traffic.)
  • What amenities do you need? These might include windowed offices, conference rooms, air conditioning/heating, private restrooms, a kitchen/break room or a lobby with security.

When you share these specifics with a realtor, he or she will have a much better chance of finding that perfect location.

You should also do your due diligence when choosing the commercial realtor you want to work with. Before you hire a commercial realtor, ask him or her these questions:

  • How much experience do you have with small businesses? With my industry?
  • Do you specialize in a certain geographic area or a specific type of commercial space?
  • How many clients do you work with at one time?
  • What resources do you use to research the market?

You’ve got your realtor and found what you think is the perfect space. Not so fast! Before you commit, get answers to these questions:

  • What are the traffic numbers? Your real estate agent should be able to share community demographics and car counts for the location.
  • Is the building’s infrastructure (heating and cooling system, electrical, Wi-Fi) adequate for your needs?
  • What is included in the lease payment? Most do not include utilities. You may also have to pay a portion of Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges, building insurance, trash collection and property taxes. Be sure to know exactly what you’ll be responsible for.
  • What is the minimum lease term? Most commercial landlords require a one-year lease, but some require two or three years.
  • Can you expand into adjacent space if needed, or move to a bigger space in the same building or center if one opens up?
  • Can you get a non-compete clause to ensure no direct competitors can open in the same building or center?
  • Will the landlord pay for improvements? These include things like changing the layout, painting or putting down new flooring, or special electrical needs. Most landlords will not pay for this, but some will amortize the costs over the lease term.

Never be shy about asking too many questions. Getting the answers now will save you some big headaches later.

If you’ve signed your lease and you’re ready to start a business, call CorpNet anytime for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638. We would love to help you incorporate a business, form an LLC, file a DBA and more across all 50 United States!

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Image: Adobe Stock

6 Ways to Save Money on Your Startup

saving moneyAre you worried about the high cost of launching your new business? Calm down: Starting a business doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Here are six ways to save big on your startup.

  1. Buy used. From restaurant equipment to retail fixtures and construction tools, just about every type of business equipment and furnishings can be purchased used. You can find used business equipment and furniture at resellers or auctions near you, going-out-of-business sales or searching for used equipment on eBay. You can even buy used computers—just make sure they’ve been reconditioned and come with some type of warranty.
  2. Start your business from home. Depending on the industry you’re getting into, you may be able to save big on rent, utilities and commuting by running your business from home. Before deciding on this option, be sure to check with local zoning ordinances—some neighborhoods still forbid home-based businesses. Even if yours doesn’t, you may be prohibited from activities such as receiving shipments to your home, manufacturing products in your home or having customers visit your home, because these can negatively affect other residents’ quality of life.
  3. Get creative with your location. Even if you can’t start your business from home, there are many ways to save on space. Do an online search for “co-working space,” and you’ll likely find several places where you can rent space on an as-needed basis. These shared facilities offer business services such as copiers, printers and conference rooms, as well as the camaraderie of working next to other entrepreneurs. If co-working isn’t right for you, look into subletting space from another business that has room to spare (my company did this in our early years).
  4. Tap into free startup help. Just about every community has resources to help people start businesses and get advice from experts. Check out SCORE, your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and local economic development organizations. Nearby colleges and universities can also be a source of free help: Contact the right professors, and you might be able to get business students to work on your startup as part of a class project.
  5. Think digital. These days, marketing your business without spending a bundle is easier than ever thanks to the internet. You can set up a business website for practically nothing, create social media accounts to spread the word about your business for free, and use search engine optimization (SEO) to boost your business’s online search results so customers can find you.
  6. Get your paperwork in order. Choosing the proper form of business for your new company, obtaining permits and business licenses, and trademarking your business name and logo might seem like unnecessary expenses. In the long run, however, taking these essential startup steps ensures your business and personal assets are protected, which can save you lots of money if someone sues your business or another company tries to use your business name.

Ready to start saving? Call CorpNet.com for a free business consultation to help incorporate your business or form an LLC! 888.449.2638

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Image: Adobe Stock

8 Tips for Starting a Business After 50

Blonde elderly business woman, coffee break, outdoorIf you are over age 50 and thinking about starting a business, you’re not alone. In fact, entrepreneurs age 50 and up are one of the fastest-growing categories of small business owners, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). At 50-plus, you’ve got a lifetime of work experience to draw on — not to mention the wisdom that comes with age — in launching your new business. To help ensure your startup success, follow these tips:

  1. Tap into your experience. If you’re not sure what type of business to start, think back to your past work and life experiences, skills and interests. What do you like doing that could potentially become a business? Could your current job be the basis for a startup, or is there a hobby or passion that could make money? Think beyond work experience to life experience. For example, if you’ve always loved making gourmet meals for friends and family and they rave about your food, perhaps you could start a catering company or personal chef business.
  2. Look for a low-cost startup idea. Unless you have investors ready to finance your business, it’s smart to select a startup that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to launch. Getting startup loans for a new business is difficult, and lenders generally expect you to tap into your personal assets first before they will give you a loan. At age 50-plus, you don’t want to drain your retirement savings or put your home on the line to fund your business idea.
  3. Get smart about space. One way to keep startup costs down is by launching your business from home or working from a shared co-working space instead of renting a full-on office space. Bonus: Co-working spaces provide lots of feedback and stimulus thanks to the presence of other energetic entrepreneurs.
  4. Write a business plan. Even if you’re starting a consulting business in an industry where you’ve worked for 30 years, running your own business is different — much different — than being an employee. Writing a business plan will help you think through all the necessary steps to startup and plan for how to deal with any problems that might arise. If you’re in need of funds, a business plan will also help convince potential investors and partners that you have a well-thought-out game plan.
  5. Work your network. One of the advantages of being over 50 is that you have a lot of connections to help you get your business off the ground. In addition to previous workplace connections, people you know through friends and family, community organizations or religious affiliations can be valuable sources of ideas, resources, referrals and new business.
  6. Make the most of technology. If you want to succeed in business today, you’ve got to be comfortable with technology. A business website, social media presence and knowledge of online marketing tools such as search engine optimization and online advertising are essential to attracting customers, no matter what your business. If you don’t have the necessary tech know-how, find someone who does to help you. Organizations such as SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offer resources and free consulting that can get you up to speed.
  7. Choose the right business structure.  At this age, you don’t want to put your personal assets at risk if someone sues your business or if your business ends up with unpaid debts. Do your homework to choose a business structure that will protect your assets, minimize your taxes and maximize your options.
  8. Don’t forget about licenses and permits. Even if you’re starting a business from home, you generally need to get a business license or you could get hit with fines. Contact your state, county and local government offices to see what types of business licenses and permits you need for your industry.

Follow these 8 steps, and your startup will be on the road to success.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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