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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 Starting a Charity.jpga book with 15 other people).


More importantly, I discovered the many ways entrepreneurs act on their inherent idealism.


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? 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 charity. 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 BplansThey 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.


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: 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.



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About Ebong Eka



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: 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

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