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Side hustles are a great way to start a business, while keeping your day job or a smart way to start or test an additional business. One increasingly common side hustle is selling products online. But what’s the best way to do it? Here’s a closer look at the best platforms for starting an e-commerce side hustle.

 

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There are two basic options for selling online if you don’t want to build your own e-commerce site:

 

  1. Online marketplacesare like digital shopping malls. You rent a “space” in a larger marketplace.
  2. Hosted e-commerce platforms are like freestanding stores with landlords. You customize your online store using their software; they handle the behind-the-scenes stuff like site hosting and software maintenance.

 

Online marketplaces

 

Amazon

Almost half of all U.S. online spending takes place on Amazon, where 83 percent of U.S. consumers have bought something in the past six months. The third-party sellers who account for over 50 percent of Amazon’s total unit sales are benefiting from that exposure.

 

Amazon’s Individual plans (starting at $0.99/sale) are an affordable way to test the waters but limit the number and type of products you can sell. For unlimited items and product categories, choose a Professional plan (starting at $39.99/month). Simplify your life and use Fulfillment by Amazon to handle packing and shipping for you.

 

Etsy

You can sell handmade goods, craft supplies or vintage products (at least 20-years old) on Etsy. The Standard plan is free to join. Just create an Etsy account, select a shop name, create a listing ($0.20 per item, plus fees when it sells), and choose how you want to be paid and pay your fees. Accept payments via credit and debit cards, PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay and more.

 

Etsy offers tools to promote your products, customize your store and design a website powered by Etsy; it also providesshipping labels and discounts. Upgrade to a Plus plan ($10/month) for additional marketing tools; a Premium plan will launch later this year.

 

eBay

eBay isn’t just an auction site anymore. You can sell both used and new items and choose from auction-style or fixed-price listings. You can start with a Personal account, but for those looking to scale, a Business account offers more functionality. Listing up to 50 items per month is free; you pay $10 of the Final Value after an item sells. eBay provides shipping labels and postage discounts.

 

For additional selling tools, bigger shipping discounts, and lower Final Value fees, set up an eBay Store. This lets you designa custom homepageand access a wide range oflisting tools to help you manage your business better.

 

Hosted e-commerce platforms

 

BigCommerce

If you have big plans for your side hustle, BigCommerce could be for you. Big businesses and small startups alike use BigCommerce to create e-commerce sites using responsive design templates with best-in-class SEO built in.

 

BigCommerce also features built-in selling on Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook and Pinterest—with no transaction fees. The Standard plan ($29.99/month) is ideal for startups and offers a free trial.

 

Shopify

Basic Shopify ($29/month) is also great for side hustles. Design your e-commerce website and blog using one of Shopify’s theme templates with drag-and-drop ease. You get 24/7 support and can sell via online marketplaces and social media.

 

Want to start reallysmall? Use Shopify Lite ($9/month) to sell on Facebook and communicate with your customers via Facebook Messenger. Want to do more? Shopify offers tools to help you do everything from choosing your domain name to marketing your business and accepting payments.

 

Volusion

Use Volusion’s responsive website themes to create an e-commerce site with features including inventory management, unlimited storage and product listings, and secure checkout and payment collection. It accepts payments via Stripe, PayPal or Apple Pay.

 

Volusion has built-in SEO tools and a comprehensive management hub that lets you see customer details, create discounts, and enable flat, free or special shipping rates. The personal account ($29/month) has everything you need and offers a free trial.

 

Take some time to explore all the options. By choosing the solution that best fits your budget, product mix, and target customers, you’ll put your side hustle on the road to success.

 

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About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. 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, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

In the past, employees of large enterprises had careers lasting 20-30 years with the same company that would in return come with a company retirement or pension benefit.Times are different. In the U.S. today, there are 42 million formally identified freelancers which makes up more than 40% of the workforce.

 

75% of employees employed as freelancers/contractors/gig workers plan to start their own business at some point in the future.

 

When working as an Independent Contractor/Sole Proprietorship, the key word is flexibility. You can work as a freelancer or even run a physical, on the ground business. Depending on your career/businesses evolution, the lines of personal vs. business transactions/expenses can be blurred. That being said, it is always a good idea to keep at least a separate credit card designated for business expenses so that when the time comes to write off business expenses it isn’t overwhelming. As a sole proprietor, you can even write off a home office as long as certain IRS guidelines are met. Whether the business has achieved sustainability in revenue or the day to day operations have simply become too complex, these are typically good signs to start looking into the type of business to incorporate. Another good reason to consider incorporating is the potential for limited liability.

 

The difference between someone who is self-employed and a small business owner is that those who are self-employed typically do not have employees and do not hire contractors. Small business owners tend to hire employees and contractors.

 

There are many factors that come into play when deciding what type of business entity to create. It would be prudent to make this decision while incorporating the contractor’s long term intentions. Factors to consider are the type of professional practice, if you are simply an independent contractor, if you will be creating a product/hiring employees, or if you’re acting as a freelancer providing a service. Once this important decision is defined, the logical next steps would be to solidify routines of how your business will be tracking expenses, type of benefits to offer (retirement/health), how you plan on keeping track of/paying taxes (state/federal/self-employment tax), and to leverage the advice from an attorney/tax advisor.

 

Simplified steps to consider in creating and operating a small business

 

1)    Determine, with the assistance of your attorney/tax advisor, an appropriate business type (LLC / S corp / partnership / C corp / single member LLC)

2)    Apply for a Tax ID Number and other Tax Registrations

3)    Register your Business Name

4)    Open a business checking account

5)    Establish a Business Record Keeping System (business credit card etc.)

6)    Determine what type of benefits to offer yourself/employees (retirement/health, etc.)

7)    Decide on what type of business expenses you can deduct (travel expenses/home office, etc.)

 

Consulting with a Small Business Banker can help you review account types for the business and the different services to consider to run your business.

 

As pension plans become a thing of the past, there is increased uncertainty surrounding retirement for contractors/small businesses. In addition to the phase out of pensions, many individuals that participate in the gig economy are not offered an employer 401(k) plan either. The end result of this is for the contractor/business owner to determine what type of Small Business Retirement Plan may best suit their needs.

 

Small Business Retirement Plan offerings

 

1)    Small Business 401(k)

2)    SEP IRA

3)    SIMPLE IRA

 

Consulting with a Financial Solutions Advisor can help you identify appropriate retirement account types (when the time is right) and considerations in the decision. If working with Bank of America and Merrill Edge, a joint meeting can be set up with both a Small Business Banker and a Financial Solutions Advisor in order to address your needs.

 

 

 

Neither Bank of America, Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

 

The external links provided above will take you to a third party's website that is not sponsored or endorsed by Bank of America Small Business Retirement.

 

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Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. Banking products are offered by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

 

Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading materials for your discussion and review purposes only. Please consult your tax advisor, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

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Merrill Edge® is available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S) and consists of the Merrill Edge Advisory Center (investment guidance) and self-directed online investing.

 

Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.

Investment products:

 

Are Not FDIC InsuredAre Not Bank GuaranteedMay Lose Value

 

MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. © 2018 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

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A few years ago, I wrote a book with 15 co-authors from around the world called Planet Entrepreneur. I learned many lessons from that experience (including not to try and write a book with 15 other people.) More importantly, I discovered the many ways entrepreneurs act on their inherent idealism.

 

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Globally, this is often called “social entrepreneurship,” meaning, using entrepreneurial skills and tactics to accomplish societal goals. For instance, one of my co-authors was using his MBA to bring electrical lighting to rural India; not something you usually associate with entrepreneurship.

 

Here at home, social entrepreneurship often takes the form of starting a non-profit or a charity. Is it difficult to do? Well, how is this for an answer: It is no more or less difficult than starting a business.

 

Here are the steps to take if this is your goal:

 

1. Have a specific vision and goal: There is a local sportscaster where I live who started a non-profit intended to help disadvantaged kids get into youth sports. He raises money to give them footballs, basketballs, soccer uniforms, and so on. It is a specific goal that fits his passion and brand. That’s the ticket.

 

The point is, if you want to start a charity, you should have a specific goal or purpose in mind. Make it narrow enough that it is easy to understand, and important enough that people will want to help you accomplish it.

 

That last point is vital. As the creator of the charity, you will necessarily be in front. You must get  people excited with your vision. So, make sure you choose a focus that revs your motor and people can get behind.

 

As with a business, you will know what is unique and different about your intended non-profit. The National Center for Charitable Statistics states there are 1.5 million non-profits in the U.S. That is a lot of competition – for eyeballs, buzz, funding, and so on. To stand out, you must do something different, special.

 

2. Draft a business plan: Just as with a for-profit business, a charity or non-profit needs a business plan. You will use it to define your vision, raise money, and give specific action steps to your lofty goals.

 

In it, you should discuss:

 

  • What the charity will be
  • How it is unique
  • Why it is needed
  • Who it will serve
  • Strategies for funding
  • Likely donors

 

And so on. My favorite tool for business planning is bplans. They have a good article on the subject here.

 

3. Make it legal: First, you will need a name. Choose wisely. Make it memorable.

 

Next, you will need to create a 501(c)(3). This is the section of the tax code that deals with charities and non-profits. A 501(c)(3) is the legal structure your charity needs to take. It is akin to incorporating. You can create it yourself using a site like LegalZoom, or work with an attorney.

 

After, you will file the non-profit’s Articles of Incorporation with your state, and then you will need to apply for tax-exempt status from both the IRS as well as your particular state.

 

4. Choose a board of directors: Your board helps set policy and direction and should be a major help with fundraising.

 

 

5. Get funded: Funding is the challenging part for most non-profits. It is an ongoing process. You will need funding to launch, and continued funding for operations. There are all sorts of models out there that you will need to learn about, including foundations, grants, individual giving, legacy giving, and so on.

 

The good news is that people want to help. If you have a strong and unique vision, a lean operation (meaning, most money goes to those you are trying to help and not your overhead), and a solid plan, you should find plenty of people and organizations who will want to assist you.

 

  • Ready to find grants and sponsorships?  Review the community grants and sponsorships offered from Bank of America to help benefit your nonprofit organization. Our grants can be used as general operating support as well.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

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Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

If you work in the technology industry, you’re familiar with the concept of a pivot. Pivoting reflects the need to change or adjust your products or services to better meet market demands, and it is quite common for tech startups to change course as business needs evolve. Yet one tech company in New Jersey pivoted in a different way: its startup art-close-up-ecology-886521.jpgsuccess led them to evolve their offerings to mentor other startups, creating an incubator for entrepreneurs and young businesses to learn and build. I spoke with Ritika Singh, the CEO of InnCreTechin Princeton, N.J., about how her firm focuses on growing small businesses in innovation and technology.

 

Ebong Eka: What does InnCreTech mean/stand for?

 

Ritika Singh: InnCreTech is an acronym for Innovation, Creativity and Technology.

 

Eka: Tell us about InnCreTech and what your company does?

 

Singh: We are a software engineering firm and wework with many startups in the field of Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, Healthcare and the emerging Blockchain     space. We give startups access to our core tech team and product management team in-house and help with decision making. For example, we mentor startups on how to scope the initial product requirement and deciding between “must have” and “good to have” features in the product.

 

Eka: What opportunity or opportunities did you see in the marketplace that led to starting InnCreTech?

 

Singh: InnCreTech was launched like a traditional tech startup. It transformed into a tech incubator after being approached by several startups for tech advice and development. We also help small businesses that cannot afford an engineering arm or in-house tech services.

 

Technology is always an expensive investment and a wrong tech partnership or development can be very costly in terms of time and money for any company. Large companies also utilize our services in data science and blockchain field when they want to do a research or a prototype in a fixed span of time.

 

Eka: Who are your ideal clients?

 

Singh: Our ideal clients are early-stage startups and enterprises seeking access to advanced technology and the utilization of innovative processes to better their business models. We want clients who are working on bleeding-edge technologies, looking to innovate and move at a fast pace in today’s competitive landscape.

 

Eka: How does InnCreTech help these small businesses achieve better results?

 

Singh: We help our customers elevate their business by harnessing the power of advanced technology. We are constantly innovating and re-engineering our approach to find optimal tech solutions for them. We make sure the technology component for our small business clients is not risky. We are also experts in advanced and emerging tech fields, so we can help more traditional business models embrace innovative technologies.

 

Eka: For tech startups, what do you believe are the two most important steps for building a  successful startup?

 

Apart from “be agile in approach,”, my two pieces of advice would be:

 

1.     Market research.This is a very important step for any startup, so please do your homework. There should always be a need for your product in the market.

 

2.     Listen and be ready to pivot. Listening is the key. Customers should guide what you want to build - and if that means making some changes to your product or service, a pivot, then go for it.

 

Eka: What are the qualities of the ideal startup for InnCreTech to invest in?

 

Singh: The startups that work with us have one thing in common: they are trying to solve a problem. We equip all our startups with cutting-edge technologies so they are not left behind. Our goal is to help promising entrepreneurs achieve their vision based on sound engineering and best practices.

 

 

Read More:

 

 

About Ebong Eka

 

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Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

One of the universal truths about entrepreneurship is that it is difficult. Creating a business involves a lot of time, capital, connections, pivoting and a bit of luck. For some people who want to do something on their own but don’t necessarily want to start from “Square One,” franchising can be a great option.

 

While it is less creative, the benefits of franchise ownership include a proven market concept, assistance on site locations, marketing, purchasing, build-out (if a physical unit) and much more. Getting to start at “Square Three” can improve the odds of success, although it does curtail part of the upside. That tradeoff can be well worth it, depending on your objectives.

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But, as with any entrepreneurial endeavor, you must research and evaluate before rushing into starting a franchise. To help you know what you need to know, I reached out to

“The Franchise King,” Joel Libava, who teaches individuals how to make smart, fact-based decisions on buying a franchise and is the author of Become A Franchise Owner. Here are his top recommendations of what you need to know and do before going into the franchise evaluation process.

 

1. Know Yourself. Not everyone was cut out for entrepreneurship and the same can be said for franchising. Libava says that you need to make sure you are the right type of person to own a franchise.

 

For example,” says Libava, “ask yourself, ‘Am I a rule follower?’ If so, franchise business ownership is worth a look. But, if you’d rather be the person who makes the rules, and/or likes to break them, owning a franchise will turn out to be a miserable experience for you, as the franchise business model is very rigid. If you become a franchisee, you’ll be expected to follow everything to the letter. Remember, when you buy a franchise you’re buying a business system. One that needs to be followed for it to work.”

 

Libava also created a free quiz to help you assess if you are a good fit for franchise ownership, which you can take here.

 

2. Educate Yourself on the Business Model. Libava says that is easy to think that because it’s a franchise, all you need to do is follow a plan and then the money will come pouring in. It is never that easy. Libava recommends you gain a complete understanding of how the franchise business you’re interested in works.

 

“Some of that information will come from the conversations you’ll have with the franchise development representative,” says Libava. “But, to get to the heart of the matter, you’ll need to talk with franchisees. After all, they’re the ones who are living and breathing the business you’re interested in buying. Here are a few questions to ask them:

 

     1. Can you describe your typical day for me, from beginning to end?

     2. What does the franchisor provide to help you operate your business efficiently and profitably?

     3. Can you name a few things you feel the franchisor could be doing a better job with?

     4. What is your favorite part of the business and what do you dislike the most?

     5. What do I need to know- that you wish you knew before you became a franchisee?”

 

This approach will make sure that you are fully educated about the responsibility you are going to take on.

 

3. Understand Your Finances. The reality is that it takes money to make money. Before you can be considered to purchase a franchise, and in order for it to be successful, you need to be acquainted with your personal financials. You need to set up a budget for your franchise business investment. You also need to determine how much liquid capital you have to work with, as you’ll be using a portion for the total franchise investment. You can calculate your net worth using this free tool.

 

4. Onboard Your Loved Ones. This is often an area that is underestimated by entrepreneurs, but Libava emphasizes that “your family needs to know your plans, including how much money you’re thinking of investing, how fast you think you’ll be able to make it back, how many hours you’ll have to put in and other key items that can affect those close to you. The bottom line is you need them to be fully on board. Because if they’re not, your chance of success will be severely diminished.”  

 

5. Be Willing to Spend Money. Even evaluating a franchise opportunity is not for the stingy. “If you find what you feel is a good franchise opportunity, you’ll need to invest in, at a minimum: travel to franchise headquarters for an in-person visit, (ii) an accountant who’s familiar with small businesses, preferably franchise businesses and (iii) the services of a franchise attorney,” Libava counsels. This money is spent to make sure your ultimate investment is properly allocated and you understand what you are getting into.

 

6. Have the Courage to Pull the Trigger. “Looking at franchise opportunities is one thing. Determining which one to buy, and then actually making the purchase, is a different story,” Libava says. “And, it takes time.” The process can be a grueling one. He notes the process of finding and researching franchise opportunities usually takes three to four months. Make sure you’re ready to invest the time needed and can make the commitment at the end of the process, so that you don’t waste time and money. 

 

7. Understand That Franchise Ownership isn’t Bulletproof. As with any entrepreneurial endeavor, there are no guarantees. You should have a positive outlook, but be realistic that life and luck sometimes get in the way. “While you can’t guarantee your success, you can improve your odds by doing your homework and having enough money to invest and give the business a chance to succeed” Libava says. “It’s often worth it, because being your own boss is a wonderful thing.”

 

To make your franchise hunt and execution successful, make a commitment up-front that if you find a franchise you feel you can be successful owning, you’ll invest in the research, take professional advice and ultimately, buy the business. Then, the fun of franchise ownership truly begins.

 

Read next:

 

 

About Carol Roth

 

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Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Do you dream of being your own boss but don’t think you have enough startup capital? Starting a business is more affordable than ever.

Don’t believe me? Read on to discover 21 businesses you can start for $25,000 or less—and find out how you can win $25,000 to grow your small business*. (see note below)

 

First, the secrets to low-cost business success

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  • Start as a one-person business and hire freelancers/independent contractors as you grow.
  • Run your business from home and meet with clients at their office or a neutral location.
  • Instead of buying new equipment, buy used or lease what you need
  • Focus on basics: a computer, smartphone and a website, plus any licenses, permits or certifications you need.
  • Consider incorporating to protect your personal assets from liability.

 

Best business startup ideas under $25,000

 

  1. Tutoring service: Tutor students in their homes or offer services at schools.  (National Tutoring Association)
  2. Photography business: Specialize in weddings, sports teams, class photos or pets; or market your services to businesses. (American Photographic Artists)
  3. Graphic design company: Create logos, marketing materials and more for business clients. (Graphic Artists Guild)
  4. Website design company: Help other small business owners create an online presence. Offer additional services, like SEO and marketing assistance, to boost your sales. (Association of Web Design Professionals)
  5. Event/Party/Wedding planner: Plan parties or weddings for individuals, or meetings and conventions for businesses. (PCMA, Meeting Professionals International)
  6. Personal trainer: Get basic workout equipment and certification from a professional organization and start helping clients shape up. (ACE, National Strength and Conditioning Association)
  7. Handyman services: Market your services to homeowners, property managers and landlords. (Association of Certified Handyman Professionals)
  8. In-home childcare service: Get licensed and insured, then start marketing your childcare services through word-of-mouth. (National Association for Family Child Care)
  9. Virtual assistant business: Help other small business owners with administrative tasks. (International Virtual Assistants Association)
  10. Consulting business: From IT and management to marketing and sales, just about any professional expertise can become a consulting business. (Institute of Management Consultants)
  11. Pool cleaning business: A used truck and equipment will get you started; network with other home services businesses to find customers. (Association of Pool & Spa Professionals)
  12. House painting service: Invest in equipment and promote your business via word-of-mouth and networking. (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America)
  13. Personal chef/Caterer: Cook up success preparing meals for private clients as a personal chef or cater bigger events for individuals and organizations. (National Association for Catering & Events, United States Personal Chef Association)
  14. Maid service: Busy Americans need someone to keep their homes clean. Also target the senior living-at-home market. (ISSA The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association)
  15. Dog walking/Pet sitting service: Profit from Americans’ love of pets by watching and exercising their dogs. (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters)
  16. Crafts business: Sell your wares at Amazon, Etsy or local crafts fairs. (Craft Industry Alliance)
  17. E-commerce business: Find a niche and use drop shipping to keep your costs down. Also sell via a marketplace like Amazon or eBay. (Internet Merchants Association)
  18. Bookkeeping service: Put your skills to work helping other businesses get their finances in order. (National Association of Professional Bookkeepers)
  19. Mobile auto detailing service: A used truck or van and some equipment will get you started on the road to success. (International Detailing Association)
  20. College admissions/financial aid consulting: Getting into college is harder and more expensive than ever; help students and their parents prepare for success. (Independent Educational Consultants Association)
  21. Buy a franchise: Find low-investment franchises at the International Franchise Association (IFA) website.

 

Are You a Small Business Owner Interested in Winning $25,000?

 

Entrepreneurs who want to win $25,000 have the opportunity to do so by entering Mastercard’s Grow Your Biz Contest. To enter the Grow Your Biz Contest, small business owners must answer the simple question, “How will you grow your small business?” by submitting a video up to 1 minute long online explaining how they could use $25,000 to improve an existing business. Four finalists will pitch their business to the Grow Your Biz Panel in New York City on 11/8/18 for the opportunity to win $25,000, in addition to industry-expert consultation.  Learn more at www.growyourbizcontest.com.

 

*No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to small business owners in the 50 US and DC, 18+. Ends 9/30/18. Restrictions apply. Click here for Official Rules and complete details.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. 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, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Are you in debt? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is a resounding yes. According to recent Federal Reserve statistics, the average American household has about $182,000 in mortgage debt, $50,000 in student loan debt, over $29,000 in auto loans and nearly $17,000 in credit card debt.

But should you let debt hold you back from starting your own business?

 

More than half (52 percent) of millennials have student loan debt, according to an EIG study, and 43 percent believe it limits their career options. If you manage your new business wisely, however, there’s no reason debt should put a damper on your entrepreneurial dreams.

 

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Key questions about personal debt

 

How much debt do you have, and what kind of debt is it? There’s a difference between a $180,000, 30-year mortgage and $180,000 worth of student loans. There’s also a difference between carrying a credit card balance at 16.73 percent APR (the current average) and mortgage debt at 3.5 percent interest.

 

If your debt is manageable, making payments on time can actually make it easier for your startup to access capital by improving your personal credit rating. But if your debt-to-income ratio (your monthly debt payments divided by your monthly gross income) is too high, your loan options will be limited. A debt-to-income ratio of 35 percent or less is good; over 50 percent spells trouble, according to Bankrate.com.

 

Financing your business when you're already in debt

 

If your current debt makes getting a business loan unrealistic, you still have plenty of options:

  • Reduce your monthly debt load. Refinance or consolidate outstanding loans to lower interest rates and reduce monthly payments. If you’re racking up interest on your credit card balances, find a low or zero balance transfer offer.
  • Start a low-cost business. A service business using equipment you already own (like your laptop) is ideal. If you do need equipment, consider leasing, equipment loans, or buying used equipment. Working from home will save you money, too.
  • Be frugal. If you’re a recent college graduate with student loan debt, now is the time to live in your parents’ basement—0r childhood bedroom. If you're not willing to live with your parents, forgo spending on a social life, or subsist on ramen, you may not be ready to be an entrepreneur.
  • Is your heart set on a product-based business? Try a crowdfunding website like Kickstarter to solicit donations from consumers who believe in your product idea. Essentially, they give you the money to make your product by purchasing it in advance.
  • Tap into friends and family. Will friends and family invest in your business in return for a share of ownership, or lend you startup capital? If you do accept a loan from a loved one, be sure to draw up loan documents and treat the loan seriously.
  • Start a part-time business. If you need income from your job to handle your debt load, look for a business you can launch part-time, working at nights or on weekends. Some entrepreneurs get part-time jobs to pay the bills and devote the rest of their time to their startups.

 

Rules to live by

 

Once your business is off the ground, getting a business credit card for necessary purchases is a good idea. Just be sure to keep the balance manageable and make payments on time to build your business’s credit rating.

 

     Related Content: What's a Business Credit Score

 

Make your personal debt payments on time, too. As a startup business owner, your personal credit rating affects that of your fledgling business. Since your business doesn’t have a track record yet, lenders use your personal credit rating as an indicator of your company’s creditworthiness.

 

     Related Content: How Your Personal Credit Impacts Your Business Credit

 

As your business begins generating income, resist the temptation to use it to pay down personal debt. Instead, put the profit back into building your business. The more you bootstrap your business growth, the faster your business will become profitable—and the sooner you can pay off all your debt.

 

     Related Content: Check out the Small Business Community Credit and Lending Resource Center

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. 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, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Choosing your business structure is a key step when starting any for-profit business. You’ll need a business structure to open a business bank account, get a business credit card or apply for a small business loan.

 

Your business structure also affects your tax and legal liability, so it’s important to consider your choice carefully. Here’s an overview of the different types of business structures and the pros and cons of each one.

 

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Sole Proprietorship: When you start a business by yourself and don’t select a business structure, you’re a sole proprietorship by default. As the name implies, sole proprietorships are owned and run by one person. You pay taxes on your business’s income as part of your personal income tax return.

 

Pros: This is the easiest form of business to start. Generally there is no paperwork to file and no special regulation applies.

Cons: You are responsible for all the company’s debts and liabilities, which puts your personal assets, such as your home, at risk. When you die, the business becomes part of your estate.

 

Partnership: If you start a business with one or several people and all the partners have personal liability for the debts of the partnership, that is considered a general partnership. If someone invests a chunk of money in your business but doesn’t want personal liability beyond that investment, you can form a limited partnership. The investor would be the limited partner.  Both types of partnerships feature pass-through taxation which means that the partnership itself is not subject to tax, but each partner must include its share of partnership income, gain, loss, deductions, etc. on its own tax return.

 

Pros: No paperwork filing is required, and the partnership can continue if one of the partners retires or dies.

Cons: The general partners are personally liable for the company’s debts and liabilities. (However, the limited partner’s responsibility is limited to the amount of money they put in to the business.)

 

C Corporation: A C Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, which generally protects the owners from personal liability. Instead of pass-through taxation, the business pays its own taxes.

 

Pros: In some ways, a C Corp enjoys the greatest flexibility of any business structure. You can transfer shares of the C Corp to your heirs, there is no pass-through taxation to worry about, and there’s no limit on the number of owners. If you have big plans for your business, a C Corp is probably the way to go, since it can sell shares to investors (in fact, if you want to go public someday, you may have to form a C Corp).

Cons: You’ll pay for that flexibility with bureaucracy and fees. C Corps file state paperwork and pay fees at incorporation and every year thereafter. You’ll also need to choose a Board of Directors, hold annual meetings of shareholders, and file annual reports with the state.

 

S Corporation: An S Corporation is a form of corporation that meets specific Internal Revenue Code requirements. The requirements give a corporation with 100 shareholders, or less, the benefits of incorporation while being taxed on a pass-through basis.

 

Pros: An S Corporation offers the same protection from personal liability of a C Corp.

Cons: It requires state filing and fees, and has greater limitations than a C Corp. For example, there are limits on the number and type of owners an S Corp can have, the kind of business it can be engaged in, and the transferability of the business. Additionally, an S Corporation has pass-through taxation.

 

Limited Liability Company (LLC): A limited liability company (LLC) is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. Limited liability companies are essentially hybrid entities that combine the asset protection characteristics of a corporation with the tax characteristics of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

 

An LLC offers some benefits of the corporate structure, such as protecting your personal assets. This form of business offers more flexibility in how you distribute profits compared to S and C Corps.

 

Clearly, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your form of business. You’ll need to think ahead and choose a corporate structure that can grow with your business. Because this is a big decision that can greatly affect your business, you should consult with an attorney as well as a tax advisor to choose the best business structure for your needs and goals.

 

Neither Bank of America nor any of its affiliates provide legal, tax or accounting advice.  You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

 

Related Content:

Business Income from Pass-Through Entities: The new 20% deduction

Changing to the Type of Entity That's Right for You

Choose a business structure – from U.S. Small Business Administration

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. 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, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

What Every Woman Should Know Before Starting a Business Introducing a helpful ebook designed for women entrepreneurs: What Every Woman Should Know Before Starting a Business.

 

This ebook features a collection of content from the Small Business Community designed to help you build a business, sustain growth and succeed in your entrepreneurial journey.

 

Click here to download the ebook (PDF).

Mentoring young women is something I am passionate about. I jump at every chance to speak at high schools and colleges, encouraging young women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

 

Being a woman entrepreneur has its unique challenges, but it also comes with unique rewards. It’s just a matter of finding the right path to success. To help young women find that path, I offer the following three pieces of advice every woman entrepreneur should know before starting their own business.

 

1. Don’t go it alone.

“Networking” often gets a bad rap among small business owners. It can conjure up images of awkward breakfast meetings, or of being pushy and salesy with everyone from friends to strangers. That kind of networking, as everyone knows, just isn’t effective.

 

Every small business owner needs a supportive network in order to succeed, but there are several different forms that network can take. Reaching out to successful leaders in your field for advice and mentorship can be an invaluable resource. Asking friends, family and even online connections for the help or advice they are uniquely qualified to give can also be a lifesaver. And sometimes, hiring someone is the answer, whether that’s an experienced freelancer who can take on some of the work or a consultant to give you a fresh perspective. You can even create your own network from scratch online by starting a Facebook Group or building an audience on another social media platform. Don’t ever feel that you have to go it alone – you’ll find success much more quickly and easily with a network to support you. 

 

     Networking on Bank of America Small Business Community page: Introduce Yourself

 

2. Treat your business like a business from the beginning.

 

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Sometimes it can be tempting to start your business as more of a hobby than an actual business venture. You can test the waters, the thinking goes, see how it does, without wasting too much time or money on it, or disrupting the status quo, if it’s not a home run.

 

The problem is when you’re not investing your all into a business, it will almost never do as well as you hope. You’re actually shortchanging yourself and your business by not giving it the attention it deserves. The only way to reach success is to give it 110% - no risk, no reward. Of course, this doesn’t mean instantly quitting your day job and selling your house in order to invest in your business idea – but it does mean approaching your business as a business from the very start, in every aspect, from finances to marketing to the amount of time you spend on it.

 

                    CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT SHAMA HYDER

 

3. Don’t be afraid to be authentic.

Women entrepreneurs have a unique set of skills and abilities to bring to the business world, but they sometimes feel they need to hide their true selves in order to succeed. Whether they think they have to act like “one of the boys” to make it big, or suffer from imposter syndrome -  feeling that they’re not qualified enough to be successful -  women can often be reluctant to let their authentic selves shine through in their businesses.

 

In truth, nothing could be worse for their businesses! Allowing your true personality to show, and even guide your business, is one of the most effective ways to differentiate yourself, make real connections with your audience and achieve success. Today more than ever, consumers want to hear your story, know why your business is different and develop a meaningful relationship with the companies they do business with. Letting your personality shine is the best way to help them do just that.

 

Through strategic networking, approaching their business as a business and showcasing their authentic self rather than hiding it, women entrepreneurs can achieve success. And don’t forget – once you hit that level of success you’ve been striving for, pay it forward, and help another woman entrepreneur up the ladder, too.

 

 

About Shama Hyder

Shama Hyder Headshot.png

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group–a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015.LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.

 

Web: www.shamahyder.com or Twitter: @Shama.

 

You can read more articles from Shama Hyder by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Shama Hyder to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Shama Hyder is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Shama Hyder. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

It’s easy to think, when you examine successful companies like Apple or Starbucks, that they were Apple and Starbucks from the start.

 

They weren’t.

 

Apple started in a garage. The original owners of Starbucks were content owning four stores until Howard Schultz showed up. What’s important to remember about these types of businesses and entrepreneurs is that they started off small…very small! It took time, patience and energy for those businesses to become big.

 

Take Richard Branson of Virgin, for example. Nowadays, the Virgin Group is huge – comprised of over 200 companies in more than 30 countries, specializing in air travel, mobile technology and much more. What you may not realize is that Virgin began as a tiny record company above a shoe shop in London and Branson had to barter his rent.

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Originally, Branson started Virgin Records as a means of funding his culture magazine, Student. Virgin Records only found mild success, but it was enough for Branson to take the next steps toward expansion when he started an actual record studio. Branson took things slowly, step-by-step, but eventually bands like the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols signed with Virgin Music.

 

One of the keys to Branson’s success is that he created multiple profit centers. That is, he paid attention to what the world needed and made a point to fill niches. That is how Virgin Records also became Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Megastores and Virgin Radio; similarly, it is why Virgin didn’t go under when digital music took over. Branson has even added space travel onto the Virgin empire, with Virgin Galactic.

 

Talk about one small step for man.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Bill Gates has a similar story. Nowadays, we automatically associate the name “Bill Gates” with massive wealth and success, but what many people don’t know is that Gates’ first company, started with his friend Paul Allen, was a dud. “Traf-o-Data” was supposed to analyze traffic patterns. It stalled.

 

After dropping out of Harvard and moving to New Mexico, Gates and Allen tried again, this time starting “Micro-Soft.” The first several years of Microsoft weren’t easy. Gates and Allen struggled to make a profit, and found themselves in a couple legal battles as well. With only 25 employees, Microsoft relocated outside of Seattle in 1979 – this is where they would eventually become successful. Gates’ mother, Mary, connected Bill to her IBM colleagues, to whom Gates would eventually sell a product called MS-DOS. It was those IBM connections that catalyzed Microsoft’s first success.

 

Before Microsoft got big, Bill Gates had to rely on family connections.

 

Or what about Martha Stewart? She is another one of the great small-to-big entrepreneurial tales. Stewart grew up in New Jersey and came from modest beginnings. As a teenager, she did some modeling to make some extra money, but eventually went to Barnard and graduated in 1962. Stewart finished her degree in European and Architectural History.

 

Martha worked on Wall Street for several years until she realized her true love was gourmet cooking. She decided to put her lucrative career aside to pursue her calling. She trained herself with Julia Child’s cookbook and started her own small catering company. It took about ten years before Martha Stewart became Martha Stewart, and notably, like Richard Branson and Bill Gates, Martha Stewart created many profit centers for her business – books, a magazine, hosting her own TV show, radio, and so on.

 

All of these anecdotes should be great inspiration to any entrepreneurial-minded folk with a big vision. As long as you’re OK with starting small, and only becoming bigger after time and hard work, then you have every reason to think that you can go out there and make your dream a reality.

 

READ GREAT ENTREPRENEURS WHO STARTED SMALL PART I

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.                                        

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You can count me as one of those experts who paints a fairly rosy picture of entrepreneurship. I do so because I truly believe entrepreneurship can be a fulfilling, happy and lucrative endeavor.

 

But, as is the case with any positive enterprise, there are also pieces of the puzzle that one doesn’t often see. Here are my top five things that you need to know, but may not be told, before starting your own business.

 

Tips.png1. You will need more money than you think: One of the main issues entrepreneurs face when starting a new business is that it does indeed take money to make money. And the first question, of course, is where does that money come from? The usual suspects are yourself (savings, cashing out), friends and family, credit cards, SBA loans or a loan from your bank. The good news is that banks want to lend— it is their business, after all. It’s therefore your job to make your venture as solid as possible.

 

But another issue that often crops up for the new entrepreneur, as far as financing goes, is figuring out the amount of money that will actually be needed to launch the venture. This amount will likely be more than you suspect. You will need enough to open the doors, buy product, get inventory, market the business and pay yourself for at least 6 months, which is the minimum amount of time it takes to start, get the word out, get business and start the money cycle.

 

And as is the case with anything that requires a worthwhile investment— things will go wrong, mistakes will be made, unforeseen problems will arise. That is why you need to be prepared financially.

 

2. Make sure your e-presence is robust from the start: You must have a good website and a strong social media presence when you launch your business— this is not something that can wait for later, nor can it be done poorly. Nab the Twitter and Facebook domain names for your business as soon as you know what that name is. Get a good-looking website up and running before you have your grand opening party. You may even want to have some videos to post on the site and an e-newsletter ready to go for day one.

 

These days, your customers will find your company online as much as they will offline, maybe more so, so your online offering has to be top-notch.

 

3. You’ll need to use all your skills: Whatever your specialty at work is and whatever skills you’ve learned along the way, you’ll need to use those in business right from the very beginning. When you start, your resources and help will be limited, and you’ll wear a lot of hats. Whether you’ve always been good at accounting or have a knack for marketing, don’t discount your tried and true abilities even while you learn new ones.

 

4. You will need to get customers, pronto: Before you launch, no one knows about your new business, and you don’t have a built-in base of customers. You need to let everyone know that you exist. One way to start is by contacting everyone you know. Online platforms such as your website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can help spread the word as well. Marketing and PR are another way, as is Pay-Per-Click. I suggest you come up with a multi-pronged approach to bring in customers before you launch.

 

5. Don’t forget to be patient: As you can see, it takes time, faith and perseverance— you must keep at it every day and stay true to your plan. It almost always pays off, especially if you were ready right from the start. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your new business won’t be either.

 

 


 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Many startups and companies in the early stages of their growth benefit from the management training, office environment, marketing and other resources provided by business incubators. But what is a business incubator? In our new article, you’ll get a quick overview of what incubators are and what they can do for your small business.

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Click here to download a PDF of this infographic.

What makes someone start a small business?

 

There are plenty of traits that go into being an entrepreneur, that’s for sure. For starters, if you want to start a business, you better have a lot of initiative. The fact of the matter is no one is going to tell you what to do, or what you should do, once you start your own business. You need to be able to come up with ideas and follow through on those ideas, all on your own.

 

Which leads to the next two required traits:

 

  • Creativity: When you read about entrepreneurship, this is an often overlooked trait, but in my experience, an essential one. It takes creativity to come up with a viable business idea, marketing plans, employee retention strategies, and all the rest.

 

  • Work ethic: Yes, we are all working very hard these days, but small business owners work that much harder. The willingness to put in the time necessary and to do whatever it is that is needed is one thing that distinguishes the successful small business owner.

 

Other things that go into the small business equation include willingness to live with uncertainty, risk-taking, and fortitude.

 

But I would suggest that the No. 1 requirement is confidence.

 

To leave your job that has the comfort of a regular paycheck and benefits, to use your money to come up with a vision and then move mountains to bring it to fruition requires one thing: Confidence. Confidence in yourself, confidence in those around you, and confidence in the economy as a whole are necessary to take the risks needed to create a startup.

 

That sort of entrepreneurial bullish confidence is one of the things that make this country great.

 

And it is just that sort of confidence that we see in the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. The SBOR is a fascinating survey. Twice a year since 2012, Bank of America has taken the pulse of 1,000 small business owners and come away with some really interesting results.

 

In the latest edition of the SBOR, we see small business confidence on display in spades. Consider these impressive stats:

 

  • Nearly eight in 10 (78%) of small business owners are reporting plans to grow their business over the next five years

 

  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of small business owners say they expect their revenues to increase in the upcoming year

 

  • Millennials are the most optimistic generation, with 80% expecting an increase in revenues and 88% saying they planned on growing their businesses over the next five years. And Baby Boomers are the generation “least likely” to say they plan on growing their business. But still, the majority (56%) of them say they planned on doing so. What about Gen-Xers? They are a very confident lot too – 86% plan on growing their business in the next few years

 

Consider too this amazing statistic from the latest SBOR: “Small business owners’ confidence in the national economy rose 11% year-over-year, from 45% in 2014 to 56% in 2015, representing the highest increase since the inception of our survey in 2012.” (Emphasis added.)Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

Talk about confidence.

 

To me, the one thing that indicates whether a small business owner is truly confident relates to, not surprisingly, money. The willingness to take out a loan is the surest sign I know of that someone is confident in both themself as well as the economy as a whole. Entrepreneurship, after all, requires the willingness to take a risk with money to make money. If someone is truly willing to do that, he or she is truly an entrepreneur.

 

And once again, that is precisely what this edition of the SBOR indicates. “More small business owners intend to apply for a loan in 2016 than in previous years, with one in three (35%) indicating intent to apply for a loan in 2016, a considerable (11%) jump year over year. In addition, the number of small business owners who report they have applied for a loan in the past two years has increased by more than 50%in the last 12 months, rising from 29 to 44%.”

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

With loan applications expected to jump by a whopping 11% this year alone, and one in three small business owners intending to take on debt to grow their business, we are seeing this natural confidence of small business owners heading to new heights, and that’s good news for all of us.

 

Indeed, it’s great that small business owners tend to be a very confident group, but it’s even better that there’s a lot to be confident about these days.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

This is the time of year for making a list – and checking it twice!

 

Whether it is a list of gifts for the family or things you need to get done before festivities and vacations begin, making lists seems to be part and parcel of the holiday season. Yet, of all the lists you make this time of year, getting the digital side of your business in order should be at the top.

 

Why? Because with the holiday season, especially this e-holiday season, it’s shaping up to be the busiest ever. Cyber Monday is only a decade old, yet last year sales topped almost $3 billion, with the average order hitting $124 (source, Investopedia.)

 

According to the Fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, small businesses are poised to benefit from the holiday shopping season this year. The SBOR found that 31% of entrepreneurs surveyed are expecting Black Friday to provide a bump in sales (compared with only 17% last year), and 43% are expecting Cyber Monday to follow that up with a positive impact on their bottom line (compared to only 29% last year).

 

So the question is not whether this holiday season is going to be a super busy one, rather the question is, are you prepared to take advantage of this unique moment?

 

Let me suggest that if you want to really be ready for the holidays, it would behoove you to make one more list, and get these things checked off in the next few weeks:

 

  1. 1. Make cybersecurity a priority: The Fall 2015 SBOR contained some fascinating results, including this digital nugget: More than one in 10 small business owners report having been the victim of a cybersecurity breach. Even more alarmingly, 59% expressed concern over protecting their proprietary data.

 

That is real cause for concern as we head into the holiday season because the online threat to your business is very real, too real. According to the National Cybersecurity Institute, “Cybercrimes [in 2015] are not decreasing. Rather, more crimes will be committed. Recovery [for the small business] will be painful and disruptive.”

 

What can you do? The easiest and best thing is to purchase a cybersecurity software suite. An online search will reveal numerous excellent, respected online cloud services that can protect your vital business info 24/7/365.

 

Get one today.

 

  1. 2. Give your website an audit: As the SBOR finds, with people increasingly shopping online, more and more are going to be visiting your website. Even if you don’t engage in e-commerce, folks will be finding you online. As such, it is incumbent upon you to make a great first impression when they get there.

 

What can you do?

 

  • Add some fresh content
  • Make and post a video or two
  • Update your About page – make it current, friendly
  • Take down and post some new pictures

 

Aside from simply making your site more attractive to customers, doing the above will have the added benefit of upgrading your site in the eyes of search engines.

 

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  1. 3. Hire a techie: In terms of technology and computers, too many small business owners plod along, getting by with computers that almost work right, cords that look too messy, websites that are a tad clumsy, spotty wireless connections, and all the rest. Especially during the busy holiday shopping season, you don’t want that.

 

And it is just so easy these days to get the tech help you need. For example, Craigslist in your area has a list of very affordable techies who can help you sort through your issues.

 

  1. 4. Try out a different social media platform: If you use Facebook, consider giving Twitter a try. If you use Twitter, check out Instagram. Potential new customers are out there on these different platforms.

 

You don’t have time or the ability to do that right now? That’s OK, that’s what interns and outsourcing are for. Again, a lot of people have mastered social media and they stand ready to help you.

 

The last bit of good news is that if you check just these few things off of your digital holiday to-do list, you will also be sure to be better prepared for managing the digital side of your business.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

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