Why Building a Business Feels Like Pushing a Boulder Uphill

Building your business is like pushing a boulder up hill. You start off at the bottom with bags of energy and the vision of reaching the lofty heights. Yes, you acknowledge it’s going to take time and effort, but you’re up for the challenge and raring to go.

With all that energy, it’s usually quite easy at the start, plus the foothills are never that challenging, just a bit of a gentle rise to get you started. It’s only when you’re a couple of hours in that you start to feel the pinch. The slope’s getting steeper, the temperature’s rising and you’re starting to feel tired.

Half way up is usually the place you stop to rest and what do you do? You look up at the path ahead and wince at the challenge still to come. It’s steeper and rockier than before and the summit still seems a very long way off. It’s often tempting to give in at this stage, particularly if the path you were following suddenly seems to end and you have to look for an alternative route to the top.

This is the time to look in the other direction. Instead of looking at how far you’re still got to go, turn around. Take a look at how far you’ve come. Look at the distance you’ve already travelled and how distant the bottom of the hill seems. Basically, take a moment to admire the view. Have a drink, a bite to eat. Take a breather and congratulate yourself for how far you’ve already come and, thus refreshed, continue with the task of getting that boulder to the top.

The last few feet are always the hardest; that very last push to get to the summit. You’re all hot and bothered, you’re tired, hungry and thirsty and most of you are probably muttering obscenities under your breath along the lines of “whose stupid idea was it to start this whole charade anyway?”

This is when most people give up. They just don’t have the strength of mind or body to give it that one last push. They forget all the time and effort they’ve invested to get this far and just say “Oh sod it” and give up.

This is when you have to draw on all your strength to put your back behind the boulder when you don’t really feel like you’ve got anything left to give and make that one last giant effort. It’s the ideal time to involve the efforts of others, to ask them to just give you a little helping hand to cover the last bit, to finally reach your goal and get where you want to be. And suddenly your there, at the top of the hill and trust me, the view is tremendous! It really does look like you’ve got the whole world at your feet and there’s no other feeling like it. You suddenly remember why you started the whole journey in the first place and usually realise that the view is far better than you ever could have imagined.

So, what do you do now? Well, after the rise and the summit comes the plateau and, although pushing that boulder is easier than it was, it’s still not a walk in the park and, as the view doesn’t change very much, you start to lose heart again. The plateau is always tough – all that pushing and not really going anywhere. But it’s important not to give up.

After the plateau comes the return and that’s by far the best bit. Because after all that pushing and heaving, it only takes the tiniest of nudges to send that boulder over the edge. And boy, does it go, rolling faster and faster and gathering its own momentum and all you have to do is watch it whizz off into the distance.

Now, if you don’t want the boulder to wipe out everything in its path, it’s always a good idea to run after it, try to keep up and, if you can, keep it on track, because when it finally comes to rest, you need to be right there with it. And the journey is complete… Or so you’d think! But what else is there to do with the boulder but push it all the way up the hill again?

OK, so at this point in time, it’s not top of your list, but after a bit of rest and reflection you feel up to the task. You’ve done it before, after all, and now you know that there’s an easier path than the one you took before – you saw it on the first way up, but couldn’t get to it. This time you can start from a different place and try that other path. It might not work, but who knows, it might be the best thing you ever did.

You know the lie of the land, you know where it gets tough, you know where you’re going to have to ask for help, you know roughly where the boulder will land when it gets back to the bottom. So what’s to stop you giving it another go, just for the hell of it? Why? Because you can!

And, after you’ve climbed this hill a dozen times, learnt the best way to the top and found it’s not challenging enough anymore, go off and find a mountain and start all over again.

Are Small Business Plans Really Needed?

Writing a business plan or even thinking about doing it drums up feelings of dread. It is a bit tedious and takes some dedicated time. You may even think it isn’t really needed for your small business. But, you are wrong!

Your business will not reach its full potential if you don’t know where you are headed. You need to have your business goals written down so you can see how far you have come. It is so satisfying to look at your business plan (or goals) one year later and say, “WOW, I surpassed all of my goals!” If that is the case, it’s time to write a new business plan with bigger goals. It is an evolving thing.

Most of the time, the only reason small businesses prepare a business plan is out of necessity. They need to show it to their banker or investor to raise funds for their small business. That is fine, but this report should be a priority when starting your business. You have to AIM for something and make a plan on how to make it happen. That is what all successful entrepreneurs do.

This applies to all small businesses. You can be a blogger, an independent home consultant for one of the many companies out there selling essential oils or beauty products, an auto repair shop, or a professional attorney or accountant. It doesn’t matter which business you create, you need to have a plan in place for your growth.

What is a business plan? It is simply a list of answers to questions that people might have about your small business. It is also a forecast of where you hope to be financially within the next year, two years, and five years from now. Your business plan should include a description of your service or what products you will offer. Once you know what your business will do, the next thing you need to know is whom you are going to be doing it for. What makes your business different? You need to explain what makes your business different from other businesses in your market. How do you plan to make the business succeed? You will need to forecast expected income and expenses. This will be a bit easier if you have solid financial numbers and have been in business for a while already. It is a lot harder if your business is brand new.

Big Banks Shun Small Business

Any small business owner who recently tried to secure a loan will tell you it isn’t easy. Now data clearly shows the broader effects of this struggle.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the 10 biggest banks in the country that issue small loans to businesses lent $27.8 billion less in 2014 than the industry’s 2006 peak, according to the Journal’s analysis of federal regulatory filings. (1) This decline has forced many small business owners to turn to higher-cost funding sources.

The response is similar to that of individuals who are turned away by banks and then resort to expensive and risky alternatives. For businesses, these may be nonbank lenders, often in the form of online companies that require little or no collateral but that charge much higher interest rates than banks. While not all of these lenders are predatory, the space is still largely unregulated. For small amounts, some business owners are turning to nonprofit microlenders or crowdfunding to try to fill gaps, though both have serious limitations.

But many businesses are simply turning to credit cards when they cannot secure traditional small business loans. According to the Journal, small business spending on credit and charge cards will total an estimated $445 billion in 2015, compared to $230 billion back in 2006, when conventional lending was readily available. (1)

It may be more profitable for banks, but this solution is bad, and probably unsustainable, for business owners. As Robb Hilson, a small business executive with Bank of America, told The Wall Street Journal, “If someone wants to buy a forklift, it doesn’t make sense to put it on a credit card.” (1) Yet many small businesses have little other choice for now.

This result is not surprising. Large banks generally find small loans unattractive, partly because of their relatively high costs and partly because of tighter regulatory requirements. A Goldman Sachs analysis earlier this year cited the reduced availability of credit as one of the principal reasons small businesses have faltered in the wake of the financial crisis while large enterprises have largely recovered. (2) As regulators cracked down, it became uneconomical for banks to serve clients other than the most creditworthy. Startups seldom make the cut.

My own experience mirrors others. Even with a 23-year-old business that operates across the country, banks want hard collateral before they will make substantial loans. And when the chief assets of a business consist of loyal customers and really smart employees, the only available collateral is personal real estate. And even real estate was not enough at the first bank I approached; geography came into play too. If banks find our established firm too risky to make unsecured loans, many smaller or newer enterprises do not stand a chance.

With big banks out of reach, small community banks should have been ready to step into the gap, eagerly courting new customers. But that has not happened, largely because the number of such banks continues to decline. This trend predates the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, but the regulations sharply accelerated the community banks’ loss of market share.

This is not to say that all community banks are in immediate danger of going under. To the contrary, recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. suggests that those that have held on have expanded their lending and narrowed the profitability gap with larger banks.

While this is good news, it’s not enough to fill the gap in small business lending. And it seems unlikely to do so soon, since new bank establishments have dropped nearly to zero, thus cutting off a supply of lenders who are eager for new customers. According to an FDIC report from April 2014, there were only seven new bank charters total from 2009 to 2013, compared with over 100 annually prior to 2008.

The small banks that have survived have largely done so by being just as risk-averse as the big banks with which they compete. Regulation has simply made it foolish to act otherwise. But this leaves all small businesses except those with established history, sterling credit and substantial collateral without the means to secure the capital they need to make their enterprises grow.

Small businesses are crucial drivers of new jobs and new products for our economy; their credit struggles are probably a significant reason this economic expansion has been sluggish by historical standards. We have made it unattractive for big banks to serve small businesses, and small banks are not ready to fill the gap. We all pay the price.

6 Small Business Ideas to Success

1. Small business ideas for your passion

What do you love the most? Is it clothes, food, hair, beauty products, or simply just selling? Prior to starting a business, you have to know the things that you generally enjoy. If you do not have the necessary funds needed to create a physical store, you can try delving into an online business idea. You just have to create a page for your product and do plenty of research to learn as much as you can.

2. Research to be searched

The second step to starting a business is to do your own research. First, you have to learn more about the products you are going to sell. You should be able to quiz yourself and find out if you know a lot about your small business ideas. Second, you also have to see the rates of supply and demand of your product and where you can source it. Lastly, look at your budget and see where to put portions of it for your online business idea.

3. Target your market

Planning to have a small business would surely give you a lot of ideas. However, one of the most important is knowing who and where your market is. This is also vital if you are looking for an online business idea. You have to know if your products will be patronized by a certain age range or maybe specific nationalities, especially with the onset of the age of social media.

4. Lay-out the blueprint

If you are done with your feasibility study for your small business, it’s time for you to lay it out to others. You can do a soft opening as you may try selling to your friends and family first, and use it as a method to double-check if your marketing system is good to go. Utilizing different social media platforms is very important when it comes to online business ideas because it builds up your network.

5. Network is power

Gear up your friendly face and tone of voice as you start marketing your products to the public. This is also included in the important steps to starting a business. With this, you can be sure that the people who are patronizing you products will spread the fire and ignite your success which only started from a few small business ideas.

6. Keep on moving

Once you have established your business – DON’T STOP! Keep learning more and creating a bigger network. Get more and newer products to sell, and always remind yourself of your hard work’s rewards.

Importance of Small Business Startups

“You know that if you can make a business get off the ground, then you are absolutely capable of accomplishing anything in this world”
– Kristen Prescott

Why start your own business?

Well, it is the question that arises in our minds when we think about committing to start our own business. There are a number of reasons why you should start your own business. Who doesn’t like being their own boss? Although you don’t technically have to “report” into a superior manager, you need to have the proper business and management skills to be able to work as your own boss and run a successful business. You are responsible for your own business; long-term and short-term goals. This may be the reason why 600,000 new businesses are started each year. Below you will see some items that will help you decide if you should start your own business.

Checklist of reasons why to start own business:

1. You are the principal

When you are running your own business then you don’t have to get instructions from anyone else. Here, you are in the driver’s seat for your business. And you have to choose the best direction to steer you small business. This can be a very tall task for many individuals, so make sure you have what it takes before you make the jump!

2. You choose the working conditions and rules and regulations

When you consider working for yourself, then you don’t necessarily need to follow any rules and regulations that sometimes impede on your productivity. It is extremely important that you put proper rules and regulations in place in order for your business to operate successfully. It is also very important that you revisit these rules and regulations on a regular basis to make any necessary changes.

3. You are the risk-taker, innovator, etc…

No doubt that the future is uncertain and every uncertain event might carry risk. But sometimes without risk, there may not be any profits. You have to consider the various aspects before implementing contractual policies and you need to be aware of the upcoming business opportunities and riskier events. If you do so, then you reap the award. Keep in mind that is very important that you are also able to mitigate any necessary risk.

4. You have control of policies and procedures

When you work for or under some business entities as an employee, then you sometimes are unable to participate in any business planning and management processes. Sometimes you have no idea the direction the company is going even if there is proper communication from management. When you run your own business, you can implement all necessary planning and management processes that will enable you to run a successful business.

5. Your success directly impacts your business

There is nothing better than being recognized for your own hard work and effort. This is a state of mind that is extremely difficult to put into words. It’s the time for feeling proud. It feels great when people appreciate your business and you for making it successful.

Concentration Is One Of The Biggest Risks To Your Business

You may be focusing on the wrong indicators in your company. Your revenue may be growing, your profit margins good, and your net profit plentiful, yet you may be close to impending problems. Concentration is one of the biggest risks to your business so you must make it an important part of your key performance indicators. You can measure concentration both in terms of market and customer, and both areas need to be monitored for the reasons in this article.

Why Should You Care About Concentration?

Issues relating to concentration come in many forms. While I want to address both market and customer concentration separately, there are some broad implications you need to consider.
Market Cycles – Every market has a cycle. If you are overly exposed to a cycle this will cause wild swings in your revenue stream.
Pricing – In many industries, the larger the order size the more control the customers have over pricing.
Customer Acquisition – The more happy customers you have, the easier it is to acquire new customers.
Capital – It is easier to attract and lower your cost of capital when you have less concentration risk.
Margins – There is a better chance of earning larger profit margins when you lower your concentration risk.
Operations – Predictable revenue allows you to generate cash and makes it easier to plan and invest properly in your support structure. Thus you can serve your customers in the right way.
Valuation – Buyers pay more for businesses that have lower concentration risk.

Customer Concentration Is A Sign Of Poor Health!

Customer concentration has caused many companies to stall and many to go out of business. In small businesses this can be a challenging issue because first customers make up sizable portions of total revenue, and many times there is no net profit in the business. It is important to work your way out of this situation as quickly as possible. A critical goal for every business is to have no customer make up more than 10% of revenue or profit. Eventually you want that number to drop to 2%. I cannot tell you how many of my clients with total revenue over $10 million violate the 10% rule when we first meet.

Violating the 10% rule is critical for several reasons, but really there is one issue. This one issue becomes fully apparent when a large customer goes away. Your business model becomes meaningless. In many cases, the operating structure you’ve built up can no longer be supported by the current client base. Firing people leaves the business lacking enough structure to support growth. The company struggles to grow, and net profit margin still appears unacceptable. However, what is now obvious is that your business was struggling to grow to begin with, and the business model was flawed.

If your business does not have a regular flow of new customers coming through the front door while it keeps customers from going out the back door, you have a business model problem.

Market Share Concentration Is An Important Leading Indicator!

Securing a threshold market share is important in order for your company to be recognized as a leader or key participant in any given market. However, having excessive market share can create risk to the company in the event that something happens to adversely affect that market. Being diversified and not overly dominant in a single market is important (with a few notable exceptions: e.g. Google dominates in some markets but is focused on being well-diversified).

As management, it is important for you to decide what is a realistic expectation in terms of how much market share you can reasonably garner for your company. Each incremental share can become expensive to acquire. Many times the only way to gain a larger share is acquisition after you have absorbed a certain amount. When that is done, organic growth becomes difficult without new products and services to bring to that market. Once you have fully served that market, it will become important to find new markets, or continued growth will become elusive or too expensive.

Business Travel Tips!

When you travel the world around you, it changes the world within you. That was one of my quotes a few years ago from my travel blog when I was blogging the World Tour. It holds true to this day, in my opinion.

I have traveled a lot these past 3 months, in particular, and am often asked how I do it. How do I maintain my energy, my focus, my connections, my health. So here are my best travel tips – try them, you’ll like them.

TIP #1 – MAINTAIN REGULAR SLEEP HABITS. This is normal for me, anyway, whether I am travelling or not. But when I am on the road, it is critical for me to get my sleep. I adjust to the time zone I am in and go with it. I ensure the room is dark, cool, quiet and normally, when at conferences, for example, I always room alone. I know that many people find great joy sharing a room when attending events. That doesn’t work for me because I get enough stimulation during the business days and meetings – I don’t need the additional stimulation of someone in my room wanting to de-brief for the next few hours. It’s my down time so that I can get mentally ready for a restful sleep. That also means limited electronics or TV.

TIP #2 – GET REGULAR EXERCISE. These days, that can mean just counting your steps in the airports – they are so HUGE! It takes a lot of time and a lot of steps to get around. I hired a personal trainer this year and, when I am at home, it makes a huge difference. When I am on the road, I stay accountable, get my exercise and post photos for my trainer so I show evidence of my commitment. At a minimum, I do some Yoga moves which helps with stretching after long plane rides. I bring my exercise DVD with me, too – me and Jillian Roberts – look out world!

TIP #3 – I MAKE GOOD FOOD CHOICES. There’s not really any reason to look at a menu when I travel. I know what I regularly eat for breakfast, lunch and supper – now, remember my 80/20 rule. When I am somewhere special (like in Africa – I WILL have the chocolate croissants… just sayin’!) – I will try different foods. But for normal travel – I stick with my regular food choices – and rarely will I have a drink when I am on the road. It ruins my sleep. I know it. So why do it?

TIP #4: I KEEP MY GRATITUDE JOURNAL. Next to my exercise clothes, my Gratitude Journal is the one thing that goes in the suitcase. It IS when I travel, that I realize and recognize what a blessed life I live and I want to keep my attitude of gratitude.

TIP #5: KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR. Travel these days can be frustrating, challenging and difficult. There are many things beyond my control. It is so important to keep a sense of humor – and I do that by people watching. I love it! Most people have their face glued to their electronic devices – I just sit, with my latte, and watch. It’s great for keeping stress levels low. (good quality chocolate and a Starbucks latte makes me a happy traveler! – find your happy place, too!)

I have travelled a lot and will continue to do so. My travels tips are not rocket science – they are pretty basic and yet they work. Try them – you’ll like them too.

Helping Your Company do better Business! (VOIP)

VoIP is replacing conventional telephone services; there are 30 million or more users by now. To penetrate the market there are few hindrances which are to be overdone, since VoIP is a hot industry in current days, the market is saturated and hindrances do come across. The question here is how you can help your Company do better business? And what setup should be there in order to capture the market chunk? Breezecom is among all the big exiting players and fulfills all the benchmarks and is heading to success.

The world has witnessed many revolutionary changes in the current century with information technology sector leading from the front. Many ground breaking methods of communication evolved due to this advancement. People started to use these new found ways of keeping in touch with their friends and family enabling more users for a specific product or service. VoIP is one such technology commonly used nowadays.

The primary two things which anyone in the VOIP industry seeks are the Price and Quality. The lowest price is not always the best service but it shouldn�t be too high with respect to market at the same time. And when you buy keep in mind to choose a provider that has a price that is reasonable with the competition, but not a low cost provider. Price change should be there in accordance with the market. When you buy VOIP, Price is only one of many factors that should be evaluated.

When buying or selling, get the idea of the second party as it�s very important in terms that it�s a long term relationship and not few days. Get the idea of business counterpart with the outlay they have in the Website, the domains they have, the legal system, the payment mode diversity. Like a car, a test drive gives clear idea what the car is like! Likewise these factors help evaluate the counterpart well.

Setting up a place for customers to call and allow important clients access both to your business and your employees is also important and holds vital position. Meeting customers enhances the trust and confidence level in the long run.

Your VOIP network should be strong, and make sure that it does not have problem. Even simple networks can have problems that will affect the quality of VoIP calls.� Make sure that your switches are in good shape and that your computers are running efficiently.

Provision of user friendly CRM is another factor which holds quite a big importance. It should give access to the customer if he wants to see CDRs and many other options for the customers. Breezecom provides provision of real time CDRs in the Customer Relationship Panel. Also 24/7 efficient customer support and technical service should be available.

VOIP is spreading day by day and the competition is getting tougher day by day. It has been proven that consumers will save a bundle of money by transitioning away from the traditional telephone companies and switching to a VoIP provider.

Business Loans – Spruce up Your Business

Is your business suffering and you are seeking instant monetary support for your business then you can either opt for the route that many other business organizations in the United Kingdom opt or sell off your inventory. The choice is yours. Business loan is what a large number of companies look forward to when seeking immediate cash. These loans can be availed as per your wish and requirement. You can start a business or expand the new one. Funds availed through this loan can be acquired by anyone who is a citizen of United Kingdom and wants to create a niche in the market. Many young business entrepreneurs have been applying for it to realize their business dreams.

With this kind of loan facility, you can buy raw material, equipments or office furniture to stay ahead in this highly competitive business world where various businesses of the same nature crop-up every other day. These loans are a sure-shot way to survive here and emerge as winners. In addition to this, you can hire more employees to offer quality customer service to all clients and promote your business like you always desired for. Whether it is cash that a borrower need desperately or you simply wish to spruce up your current business, these loans can do it for you without delay.

More often than not, a young business entrepreneur approaches either money-lending firms or banks for a loan needed to start a business. However, in this day and age, you can apply for it from the comfort of your home. It is the online mode of application that has enabled a large number of people to fetch instant funds. Internet is just the right destination to search for such loans. Ever mounting competition amidst online money-lenders has proved beneficial for borrowers for they have a range of options to choose from. You can choose the one that fits your existing business needs and is available at reasonable interest rates.

Even those having faltering credit background can finance their new business with this amazing loan facility. Obtaining this financial assistance is not at all an easy job if you are living with tags like insolvency, county court judgments, arrears, foreclosures, non payments or late payments, individual voluntary arrangements or defaults. However, with this loan facility even they can grab funds without giving a second thought.

Business loans tend to carry a high rate of interest. It is, therefore, suggested that you avail this loan after conducting a proper research. Make sure that you spend the acquired amount carefully so that you have sufficient funds at the later stage. Compare online quotes before making any decision. Funds to start a new business are just a few clicks away.

Is Mortgage Refinancing Right for You?

These days, it�s hard not to be enticed by the historically low mortgage refinancing rates. Now could be the perfect time to refinance, but is refinancing your loan right for you? Here are a few points to take into consideration if you�re thinking about refinancing your home loan.

The Benefits of Refinancing

Beyond potentially saving you thousands of dollars, refinancing your mortgage can also help you consolidate debt and pay off other bills. Your life has probably changed from the time you first got your home loan. Perhaps you got a better paying job or you have a new baby on the way. You may have new expenses that never existed before, or you may be making more money than when you started. In many cases, refinancing your home loan could save you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars � money which could be well spent in other areas of your life. Ideally, your mortgage should not be costing you above one third of your total gross income. If you�re dealing with a high interest rate, you�ve been hit with an adjustable rate that has skyrocketed, or you�ve experienced a drop in income for whatever reason � it�s a good idea to consider refinancing and locking in a better rate.

Working with a Trusted Lender

Working with a trusted lender is one of the best decisions you can make when you decide to refinance. Trusted lenders, like Aurora Bank (Equal Housing Lender, member FDIC) for example, understand a multitude of product options and can explain those options to you as well as the costs that are involved in the refinancing process.

Know Your Options

There�s no shortage of lending companies vying for your business. But it pays to do your own research as well.Take advantage of online mortgage calculators and run different scenarios based on your income, property tax, and extra payments you can afford to make.See exactly how much home you can afford and create a spectrum of possibilities for refinancing. Then, speak with a home loan consultant who can help you with your financing needs.You may be pleasantly surprised at just how much money you�ll save by refinancing at today�s low rates. Overall, honest, exceptional service and a dedication to customer satisfaction are what make the best mortgage refinancing lenders stand out.