Becoming an Entrepreneur – Toolkit for Your Start-Up Home Business

This Toolkit for your Start-up Home Business outlines all the basic guidelines you will need to get your home business up and running. The goal is to ensure that you have all the relevant information and a structured approach in getting your business off the ground as soon as possible.

Step #1 – Determine what type of business you want to get into.

Business ideas and suggestions may come from many sources. You may have some ideas of your own based on your passion or you may recognize that there is a need based of discussions you have with others. A case in point, I recall when my children were younger we needed transport to pick them up from school (there was no school bus service). After discussing with a friend, he assisted us with picking up the children, and soon realized that there was a demand for such a service. There and then his new business was born.

Step #2 – Research the business idea

In the school transportation service example given above, my friend conducted an informal survey by speaking with other parents, he was quickly able to determine the demand for such a service and the potential revenue to be generated. Depending on your business idea you may be required to do a combination of both informal and formal research, but the goal is to gather as much information as possible that will help you to make an informed decision on the business idea.

You may have several business ideas in your head and would have to make a choice on which one to implement. In making your choices consider the following:

The size of the market – in terms of customers, revenue and growth potential

Competitiveness of the market -how many businesses are already operating in that space?

Who is your target audience? If a market is very competitive, as a new entrant, you may want to probably look to see if there is a particular niche that has needs that are not being met by the existing suppliers and get into it.

What are customers looking for? (demand)

Where are the customers located?

How do you plan to reach them and serve them? (Your marketing strategy). More on this will be discussed in a subsequent article.

If you are not producing your own product or service, who will be you supplier? I will suggest that you identify at least three suppliers to give yourself more room to negotiate and get the best deals.

If you plan to import or export then you would have to enquire about licences with the relevant authorities within your jurisdiction.
Tip – Focus on the business idea that you are most passionate about. Because when things get challenging, it is your passionate that will give you the strength to stay in the business.

Step #3 – Decide on your Business Structure

Since the focus of this article is on home based businesses, the assumption is that your business structure will be one of either a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Notwithstanding that, I will still provide a brief description of the three typical business structures for setting up and registering a business.

Sole proprietor- this a business where there is a single owner. It is sometimes referred as a “one-man” business. You are the business and the business is you. As the owner of this type of business you have the responsibility for making all decisions. You receive all the profits and accept all losses.

Partnership – this is an association between two or more persons who joint themselves together to form a business. You can partner with relatives or friends or whoever. You and your partners contribute to the business equally and share equally in the profits and losses. A limited partnership may have some different arrangements in terms of contributions and profits and losses.

Corporation – a business structure, where the business has a legal identity that is separate and distinct from its owners. The owners of a corporation are referred to as shareholders. In some countries a corporation can be started by a single person. A key distinction between a corporation and the other types of business structures is that the owners (shareholders) have limited liability, in that they are not personally liable for the debts of the corporation. They share in the profit of the company through the receipt of dividends and stock appreciation.
Step #4 – Register your Business

Having decided on your business structure you will need to register your business name with the relevant authorities in your country. If you are a sole proprietor and you are using your name as the business name you do not have to register yourself, since you and the business are one. However, apart from that all business names must be registered.

When you have a name in mind, you will be required to do a search of the data base of registered companies to ascertain that the name is not being used by anyone or company. Once your chosen name is available then you can go ahead and register it with the relevant government authority.

Step #5 – Calculate your start-up cost

The guidelines used here are focused on a home based business that may not have some of the typical expenses of a business operated outside the home. Calculating your start-up cost will certainly assist you in deciding how you will finance your business.

Start-up expenses- examples- business cards, flyers, promotional expenses etc.

Assets to be purchased- examples could include- desk, chair, filing cabinet, computer, software licences, printer, inventory etc.

Ongoing monthly expenses- example website hosting fees, other online fees and charges, subscription services fees, business telephone, advertising expenses, distribution cost etc.
Tip – multiply the monthly expenses by six (6 months), since it may take approximately six months to breakeven or realize a profit.

Add the figures in 1+2+3 to get your total start-up cost
Step #6 – Forecast your Revenue

To calculate your breakeven revenue – divide your ongoing monthly expenses by the number of business days to get your daily revenue. Anything in access of that is your profit.

Step #7 – Prepare your Business Plan

It is good to prepare your business plan before seeking financing, even if you are self-financing. Your business plan is your road map showing your business vision and how you will get there. The key elements you want to cover in your business plan are as follows:

Business Concept- Description, vision and mission, goals and objectives

Operations and Management- Owner background, location, staffing, inventory, suppliers, delivery and distribution etc.

Marketing – products and services, customers, competition, pricing, promotion and advertising etc.

Financing- assumptions, operating expenses, asset requirements, operating expenses, sales and revenue forecast etc.
Step #8 – Get Financing for your Business

Just to re-state the focus here is on the sole proprietorship and partnership business structures. Depending on your business structure and the size of your business, there are many ways that you can secure financing:

Personal Savings- you may have adequate personal savings set aside to start your business. In a partnership, partners would contribute to the financing of the business based on the partnership agreement.
Line of Credit- you may have a decent line of credit from you bank which you can use to finance your business.

Credit Card- depending on your credit limit, your credit card could be a good source of short term financing. The interest rate on this could be very high.

Borrowing from friends- to supplement your personal savings you may borrow from relatives or friends

Institutional Borrowing- you may approach a financial institution (bank or credit union) for business financing, and this is where your business plan will come in handy. Your financial institution would only lend you money based on a solid business plan.
The above are the basic tools required to get your home business started. Have fun utilizing you toolkit and best of luck with your business venture.

Additional note for those who are getting into Import and Export

Get familiar with these shipping terminologies

Free on Board (FOB) – The quote reflects the cost of the goods plus the cost of loading them on the ship or plane. The supplier handles all customs export formalities at the loading port. No insurance or freight is included.

Free Along Ship (FAS) – The seller is responsible for delivering the goods alongside the vessel at the agreed port of shipment. It is the buyer’s obligation to clear the goods for export and must also absorb all costs and risks of loss or damage from that point on.

Cost and Freight (C&F or CFR) – The price quoted include the cost of the goods and the cost of the ocean freight to transport the goods to the agreed port.

Carriage Paid To (CPT) – Seller absorbs cost of freight for the carriage of the goods to the destination. The seller clears the goods for export.

Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) – The seller pays for the insurance coverage of the goods up to the time they reach the designated port of entry.

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) – The seller is obligated to deliver goods to the named place in the country of import. The seller absorbs costs involved with bringing the goods to that point (excluding duties, taxes and other charges)

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) – The sell absorbs all the DDU costs in addition to the duties, taxes and other charges of delivering the goods to the destination.

Free Ads for Small Businesses During COVID-19

Amidst this pandemic many people got the opportunity to help out and do what they need for their community. A lot of us got to connect with our communities in new ways. In Boston small businesses have lost a significant amount of foot traffic.

“There’s people DoorDashing and post-mating half the stuff they usually buy” – owner of Symphony Mart on Boylston St. in Fenway.

Convenience stores are losing foot traffic at the rates they’ve never seen.

“Who’s buying diamonds during the pandemic? Not a lot of people” – owner of Boston jewels, Maury and his wife (have been operating over 20 years).
This is another brick and mortar store that was advertised by this small marketing agency in Downtown Boston.

When I was reaching out to the founder of Oakland Trust Marketing Company, I told him I was an aspiring journalist interested in their methods. He responded to me with a phrase that I may not be allowed to re write on here. I explained to him that I’m not here to complain about anything, just to learn. Finally he agreed to give a statement although he asked not to be named, he wanted the world to take away one thing;
“Connecting customers with quality products is all I know how to do, I was doing it before the pandemic and We’re doing it even more now. This is the time when people need you to shop, we spent our money like crazy before the pandemic and now all of a sudden we know how to budget. Buy your candy bar you deserve it! Have been looking for a sign from god to pull the trigger on a Beautiful argument solving necklace for your significant other, now you have it.” – Founder of Oakland Trust Marketing Company.

I get the sense that maybe he was trying a bit too hard on the sell there in our conversation, but at the same time I sort of appreciate the effort just because I know that’s what this young kid is doing while running around Boston promoting these stores. He’s always on the sell and always making sure you know where to go. I wouldn’t want to have a long nice relaxing dinner with the guy but I’d definitely want him pushing whatever I think of in the future. If I was going to make a start up I’d definitely consider their designs and slogans. After looking into them I was fascinated by the way they incorporated actual features unique to these stores within the ad. The ads didn’t look tacky, they were tacky don’t get me wrong, because they are ads and almost all ads are tacky when you know they are trying to sell. This was a different style of tacky, I hadn’t seen it before. I didn’t know how to rate it, how to judge it, I didn’t even know what to say about it, but here I am 73 hours later writing about it.

How to Manage Your Business While Traveling

Whether it’s following up on work, assigning tasks, checking on your business mail, or just replying to customers, it can all be done from your phone. As a matter of fact, almost anything can get done online, through your phone today.

Yes, it’s that simple. But don’t go running home or rushing off to your next vacation destination just yet! We need to establish how you can get all this done and more without being at the office. Keep reading to find out the key factors you need to consider when managing your business while traveling or being away.

Key Factors to remotely managing your business:

Conduct Regular Meetings:

Everyone doesn’t need to be huddled up in the conference room to conduct a good meeting; you can get remote employees, freelancers, and employees at the office all in the same meeting with just an internet connection.

Now meeting on a daily or even weekly basis can be difficult while you’re traveling because you’re mostly busy and have other things to address. However, meeting with the managers weekly or bi-weekly will reassure your presence in the office and confirm your supervision on all business matters.

You can easily conduct meetings through Skype or Google Hangouts where everyone can see each other and even share files if needed. You can also use Google Slides for presentations or Team Viewer to share your computer screen with everyone for demonstration.

Be sure to regularly interact with your employees no matter where you are and build close relations with them that can evolve into trust. If this is accomplished, you’ll never need to worry about business when you’re away.

Follow-up on Work Progress & Hours:

You being away from the office should never mean work doesn’t get done or is on pause. Technology created a solution for slacking or lazy employees, time tracking software. This type of software allows you to track employees working hours so you will always be updated with who came late or who worked overtime.

Employees will be able to track their shifts, breaks, and leave notes on their work progress.

There are many types of time tracking software, some are essentially focused on tracking working hours like ClockIn Portal that generate timesheets and can be integrated with payroll systems.

Others include a project management feature like Zoho Projects where you can share projects, assign tasks, and follow-up on tasks.

You can also use essential project management software like Basecamp or Asana that mainly focus on getting work done efficiently. Project management software allows you to assign tasks, update them with comments, set deadlines, add attachments, and eventually mark them as complete. With a straightforward tracking method of working hours and work progress, employees will feel obligated to stay focused and get things done faster.

Handle Business Mail Instantly:

While traveling, your mail is something you mustn’t forget about. Neglecting your mail for even a few days can lead to problems. Unattended mail can be important contracts from clients, documents from partners or investors, or feedback from your customers.

With a virtual mailbox, you can take your mail with you wherever you go.

A virtual mailbox is a mailbox that you can access online and handle your mail. The options vary from shredding any document or forwarding packages to opening, archiving, or downloading mail in just a few minutes. Your mail is delivered to secure mail facilities where the envelope is scanned and uploaded to your cloud-based mailbox for you to control.

So not only is it remote access to your important mail, but it eliminates the need for a mailroom! This means lesser paper storage, no mail operators, and faster mail operations, a win-win for you and your pocket.

Coworking Spaces for Business Travelers

Travelling is a very basic component of every business institution. Meeting with the partners and remote coworkers every now and then is crucial to intensify the growth of the business. Generally, the business executives prefer meetings in person. For countless reasons you may have to travel to different cities or countries and host business meetings.

However, the work ethics has changed significantly in the world, making things more digitalized but there are not enough ideas in the world that can put an end to business travelling. While hotel conference rooms are always a pick for the business travellers, the meetings can also be held in the coworking spaces.

Hotel conference rooms charge immensely to arrange meetings. And since these meetings are quite frequent, you always look for an outlet that can save you some money. So today, we will be discussing some of the choices that you have to hold meetings or presentation for your business-

Business Centers- To begin with, we would like to introduce Business Centers as your initial choice of holding business meetings. This alternative does not require any former investment. The presentation rooms and business meeting rooms are rented on hourly basis or for days. You can rent the room as per your needs. Most of these places are equipped with internet, printers, workstations, meeting tables in different sitting capacities, projectors, etc. The Business Centers are designed to give you real-life office experience on a remote location.

Business Hotels- As we were discussing earlier, Business Hotels is the common-most choice of every business traveller to host business meetings. These hotels usually have meeting rooms, classrooms, private office, individual desks etc. The ambience is amazing and you can also quickly arrange lunch for the clients. The Business Hotels are usually equipped with all the major amenities that you may need to hold meetings. The rent however is a troublesome element. You will find business hotels to charge massively for the services delivered. You can rent it for hours or days, as per your needs. Of course, you can also stay at the same hotel and make arrangements for the meeting.

Coworking Spaces- One of the most pragmatic option that is available on an affordable rate are the coworking spaces. Coworking spaces are still creating their market as not many business people know about it. These offices are available at low prices and can be rented for hours or days. They have fine suitable for different kinds of professionals. The amenities that you get at coworking spaces are internet, projectors, meeting rooms, etc. You can also conduct meetings in the dedicated coworking places and meet new people. This will also help you to connect with professionals that may help you with your business as well. It is a perfect choice for the professionals with budget constraint.

How To Show Your Business Authenticity In Your Content

To get started creating authentic content, you’ll want to define your ideal customer and know what is important to share with them to lead them through your funnels – in a way that matches their intent based on where they are in their buying cycle.

Share Your Stories

But you need to know what stories to share. When you really understand who your audience is, and what they need to know based on where they are in their buying cycle, it’s easy to choose which stories to share. And the more you can share with your audience, the better. When you share and relate with them, they’re going to see your authenticity shining through as it relates to them.

Be Transparent

Okay, you want to be transparent. But first you need to decide how transparent, then stick to that. Makes sure the transparency you’re using matches the need of the customer. For example, if you are claiming to make $100K a year, why don’t you show them? If you’re just saying you can make money, that’s different. But if you state a number, it’s important to also be willing to show the proof.

Engage More

A great way to create content is through engagement. For example, if you have Facebook groups that you like to go to, are you using them in a manner that is authentic with what you want to achieve? Do you answer questions openly or do you ask them to PM you? It’s probably better to talk about some things openly even if they are a problem or complaint. This is going to make you even more transparent and authentic to your followers.

Tell Customer Stories

One way to use content to show authenticity is to collect and share your customers’ success stories. This is a great way to show what is working to the rest of your audience. They love to read stories and connect with people who are already your customers. You can do this in a blog post, on social media, or via live interviews using Facebook Live or Zoom.us.

Be Consistent on All Channels

Today, marketing in a multichannel environment is expected. You’re going to need to market online and offline and in various channels in both environments. Then you need to be consistent. Consistency is much easier if you’re already being authentic to your brand and yourself.

Use Different Formats

Content marketing requires that you use a lot of different formats of content, much of which you can repurpose. For example, if you interview a satisfied customer via Facebook Live or Zoom, you can turn that interview into a blog post as well. Then you can even use that interview in a book as an example. Plus, you can pull quotes from the interview to make memes.

When you learn to match the content to your customer’s buying cycle, using authentic forms of content from yourself, users, and others who contribute content to your industry or niche, you’re going to find that it’s easier to create content for your audience. This is because you know that you’re being true to your brand and yourself.

Defining Marketing Objectives and How They Relate to the Business

Various types of products and services have various marketing objectives due to the nature of their trade. Objectives are best defined in a marketing plan which details exactly how the company can benefit if it takes on projected sales and marketing activities. The plan highlights the marketing mix, its budget, and how the business will expand in a specific period.

Marketing communication has channels that deliver your business message to the large masses. These days, companies use both print media and electronic media in their marketing mix. They like to take part in events and put up kiosks in various busy spots of the city for product testing as well. If the objective is to reach large masses you can create TV ads. To engage users online companies create websites and use questionnaires for new product development, learn more about consumer behavior, their likes and dislikes.

Reinforcement is the main element of integrated marketing communication as it ensures all elements of a result-driven campaign work cohesively to achieve objectives. For brand awareness five elements are most important as follows:

Personal Selling
Advertising
Sales Promotion
Direct Marketing
Publicity

A promotional mix works like a combination of options and the options that suit the trade best are always part of a marketing mix. If you are a local restaurant there is no need to advertise on TV. All you need is sales promotions, websites, and direct marketing through food delivery companies. For an FMCG TV ads are essential when you have a lot of competitors. FMCGs try to make sales using all types of channels. So objectives of the marketing communications (MC) depend on the type of business you are in.

The importance of integration

Integration is important for consistency. For example, if the brand logo appears different on the packaging than what is displayed on the website it gives off a very bad impression. Uniformity gives you a clean brand image that is more trustworthy. The corporate identity has to be maintained at all times. The look and style of your brand need not change across the various channels. Your brand message has to be consistent for corporate reasons. The target audience will take actions you want them to if you have a consistent message across many platforms. For this reason, the brand, the agencies, media, channel members, and the MC support services all need to work together to ensure they are on the same page. This prevents clutter which is damaging for the company image.

Role of marketing communications in promoting and developing brands

Promoting and developing brands requires work on graphics. When you have attractive graphics the brand name will be well recalled as the mind likes to retain eye-catchy graphics. When you have the effectual graphics for your advertising and publicity you are ready to promote a brand. The logo is a vital element of the brand as it distinguishes you from others. It can be revamped when the market trends change. Brands are best developed using the right IMC strategy so they can find consumers in the large target market and this requires research. After that, we can build a brand using a marketing mix for IMC. It helps with customer retention and getting new customers. By building brand equity brands can survive n the market. Product information that consumers get leads to making informed decisions about making purchases.

A business message gives the target market awareness about who you are and the benefits you have to offer. By using events at expositions or interacting with consumers online at websites or social media sites we can build associations with the consumers. When we have a large following the perception of the brand in the market will be positive. More prospects will trust us and try it. From the experience they get online and from the product use, they will be loyal.

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