Archive for May, 2013

  • Survival of the Fittest – Best Business Practices for Startup Companies

    A large majority of small businesses fail within their first few years. With such intimidating failure rates, just how can you breathe life back into an under performing small business?

    According to statistics compiled by the US Small Business Administration, 70 per cent of small businesses will survive at least two years, yet only half of those will still be operating after five. While not as calamitous as some sources would have you believe, the numbers remain confronting, especially for those planning on starting a new business or struggling to keep theirs afloat.

    Common downfalls of new businesses

    When tackling the topic of businesses that fail, perhaps a good place to start is to understand why most businesses fail in the first place. Here are three of the most commonly cited reasons:

    1.    Lack of start-up capital

    Ensuring you have the funds necessary to stay viable past the first few months, when business will be at its toughest, is extremely important. Secure the funding you think you’ll need and then double it. The basic idea here is that you will likely need more money than your initial calculations advised.

    2.    Lack of research

    Too often businesses are founded on a seemingly great idea, but only in theory. No amount of hard work or business acumen can save you if there is no market for your product or service. The fundamental question you need to ask is whether there’s a place for you and your product – in terms of customers and competitors.

    Founding a business on solid knowledge is therefore advisable. Business studies have found that business owners with previous work experience in the same industry as their new business will have higher success rates. It’s simple logic.

    3.    Lack of planning

    Every business, no matter the size, will benefit from a proper business plan. A business plan will act as a compass and guide, something you can always refer back to. It should detail your business goals and needs. It should also lay out a thoughtful financial budget. From there you can plan out financial controls. A marketing strategy should also be considered.

    How to save your business from going under

    While prevention is always better than the cure, what happens if your business is slowly sinking as we speak? Here are a few tips to stop the rot:

    •  Stop and review – When you’ve come to this realization it’s time to fix the problem, not ignore it. A good place to start is to review your business plan. Essentially, you want to get back to basics and remember why you started the business to begin with. From here you can tinker with your offering to make it more appealing, or even look into other potential revenue streams.
    • Secure funding – If the only problem you have is a momentary lack of funds, and you have a decent credit rating, speak to your bank about a business loan. This is where your business plan comes in handy, as they will certainly require a solid one. But before borrowing any money, make sure you’re not just prolonging what is the inevitable demise of your business. You may also consider finding a business partner to share the costs and secure more funds.
    • Cut expenses, reduce debt – This may seem obvious, but there are always ways to cut costs – you just have to make sure you’ve checked every possibility. Consider moving to smaller premises, renting out equipment or canceling the cleaning services. There is also the option to lay off staff whose roles have become redundant.
    • Know when to call it quits – Most successful businesses are formed off the back of a number of previous failures. If you find your business on its last legs, sometimes walking away is the best move. According to a Harvard Business School Working Paper titled Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship, first-time entrepreneurs have an 18% chance of succeeding, while entrepreneurs who previously failed have a 20% chance. The numbers aren’t earth-shattering, but it does give hope to those who have failed.
    • Seek help – The best move for an underperforming company is to seek professional business advice. If you can’t afford a financial consultant there are always other options. For example, your local chamber of commerce should offer advice or even mentorships.

    Starting a new business can be a difficult process for the first few years. However, by familiarizing yourself with the common mistakes small businesses make, and tips on how to prevent your company from going under in its formative years, you could be well on your way to entrepreneurial success.

  • Virtual Offices FAQ

    If you have an urgent need to come up with a prime location for an all-important meeting, then all you need to do is to contact a virtual office and have your meeting space set up in no time. When choosing which meeting space to rent or lease, you need to consider the following factors.

    Rates
    Some companies offer a higher rate for the first one to three hours and then a lower rate for subsequent hours. You need to find out what these rates are and compare them with what other companies are charging you for the same range of services. It goes without saying that choosing the cheapest virtual office won’t always help you in impressing your clients or prospective business partners. It’s better if you focus on the quality of services being offered and determine whether they offer great value for your money or not.

    Space
    More specifically, how large is the meeting space being offered? While a meeting space doesn’t have to be exceptionally roomy or spacious, a good meeting space is always large enough for its occupants not to constantly bump into each other when working or moving around.

    Seating
    The type of seating that a virtual office company offers with its meeting spaces is very important.

    Since most meetings are the sit-down type, it would be better for everyone concerned if your meeting space comes with seats designed to offer the greatest ease and comfort when its occupants are working.

    Facilities
    In most cases, a virtual office company offers customizable facilities – one that is dependent on what you – the client – require. Ideally speaking, it would be good if your meeting space can offer the following:

    * Wi-Fi access
    * Video conferencing equipment and speakerphone
    * Use of marker board or white board and related supplies
    * Easels with related supplies
    * Projector screen and projection equipment available

    Reception
    Last but not the least – a virtual office should also be able to provide a meeting space that’s fully staffed with front desk personnel trained to act as if they are your long-time employees. They should know how to greet your guests properly and provide any additional information when requested.