Business – NuvoDesk Coworking
Indian Entrepreneur

How to Become an Entrepreneur in 2022

Key Points

Resources to find ideas, funding, and more on starting a business

 

For many people, entrepreneurship is the ultimate career goal. And we love entrepreneurs at NuvoDesk!

Starting a company can be one of the most rewarding and interesting opportunities you’ll ever get. When 90% of startups fail, we want to give you the tools you need to succeed! If you’re aware of the risks but you’re still determined to be an entrepreneur, start with the information in this article.

How to Become an Entrepreneur

how to become an entrepreneur checklist

1) Identify Profitable Startup Ideas

A successful startup begins with an idea. Here are some techniques for thinking of a product or service:

Ask your friends what frustrates them. 

How could you solve this problem for them? As you brainstorm, ask your friends to keep track of the day-to-day things that annoy them. Then go through their lists and look for problems you might be able to solve.

Get inspired by other emerging startups. 

For instance, if you go to Product Hunt, you can find a constantly updated curation of the newest apps, websites, and games, for digital inspiration. Meanwhile, Kickstarter is great for physical products.

Identify trends to future-proof your idea.

People need different products as the world continues to change. For example, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing apps created a demand for a third-party app that will tell you the cheapest fares when someone needs a ride. Read trend predictions for your industry or market, or check out universal trend forecasting publications like Trend Hunter and Springwise. Then ask yourself, “If these predictions come true, which tools will be necessary?”

2) Identify and Focus on a Growing Category (or Categories)

Pick a category that interests you but isn’t overly competitive.

  • After you’ve picked a category, study all the products/services in that category.
  • What are each product’s benefits, and how do they vary?
  • What’s their packaging and marketing strategy?
  • What do reviewers say?
  • What are the potential improvements?
  • What services are people taking advantage of and why?

Once you’ve picked a product/service, consider questions like:

  • What can be done to improve it?
  • Can I add a new feature?
  • What about a different material?
  • Can I personalize it somehow?

3) Fill an Underserved Demand

Many people start successful businesses after noticing a gap in their market. For example, perhaps you learn there’s a shortage of high-quality sales outsourcing. Since you have experience in sales development and account management at early-stage sales companies, you might decide to offer this service to tech startups.

4) Make Something Better (or Cheaper) than What’s Out There

You don’t always need to develop something brand-new or even reinvent the wheel. If you can offer an existing product at a lower price point, better quality, or ideally, both, you’ll be able to attract plenty of customers. 

5) Validate Your Startup Idea with Buyer Persona Research

Once you’ve got an idea, you need to know other people will actually want your product or service. Start by understanding your buyer persona, i.e. the real people you plan to sell to. 

Once you’ve identified your ideal client, interviewing people who fit the bill should be an important component of your research. Show them a working demo of your product, ask what they like and what they don’t, how much they’d pay for it, how often they’d use it, and so on.

6) Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

An MVP is the simplest, most basic version of your tool or service possible. It’s functional enough to satisfy early customers and get a sense of what you should improve.

Starting small with an MVP keeps your costs low to start but allows room for growth as the product continues to be validated.

7) Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a formalized document that details your business goals and the steps you’ll take to achieve them. This may include marketing strategy, budget, and financial projections and milestones.

Your business plan also includes your company’s mission, vision, as well as long-term and short-term goals. This strategic planning helps guide the growth of your startup.

8) Continue to iterate based on feedback

Keep in mind that your MVP will not likely be enough to stay competitive in the market categories you choose.

Optimizing your flywheel: Generating interest and demand (marketing the product), securing customers (selling the product), gauging satisfaction, improving the product based on feedback. Repeat.

Gaining Experience as an Entrepreneur

There are two main ways to approach gaining experience as an entrepreneur: doing the work yourself or hiring for it.

Acquiring Experience Yourself

You can acquire experience as you develop your new business by:

Networking with other professionals.

Professional networking will expose you to more professionals you can learn from or even find a willing mentor. You can join online professional networks, like LinkedIn, to find out about virtual or in-person networking events to connect and meet other entrepreneurs.

Conducting independent research.

Conducting personal research from reputable sources and other entrepreneurs will help you better understand your responsibilities.  Behavioral research helps you find resources to simplify your business operations and grow your business as you scale.

Take entrepreneurial courses.

Exploring entrepreneurial studies through a college institution or certification course can offer more in-depth knowledge about breaking into the industry than typical internet sources.

Hiring for Experience

Oftentimes an entrepreneur beginning a business will hire for experience to guide them in the right direction.

Work with a business coach.

A paid option to gain experience is to work with a business coach or consultant. 

Business coach – This coach leads an entrepreneur toward solutions. This means that the entrepreneur is actually improving their own competency.

Business consultant – A consultant will solve problems for the entrepreneur as a contractor.

Add experienced individuals to your team.

Learn from people you add to your team. Their talents may fill the gaps in your own knowledge as time progresses. 

Ways to Finance Your Business

Many entrepreneurs typically grow their startups by bootstrapping (securing funding on their own), through small business loans, or by securing funding from investors. Here are some resources to check out:

SBA Funding Programs – The SBA offers resources to help you find lenders, secure investment capital, win grants, and more.

Incubators – A startup incubator provides resources to help grow the business in exchange for equity. 

Angel Investing – An angel investor uses their own money to invest and focus on helping entrepreneurs build and grow in exchange for equity. 

Venture Capital – A venture capitalist does not use their own money to invest and therefore takes fewer risks and has less agreeable terms, which is why you may want to avoid VC funding until you’re more established in your business. 

Counseling & Advocacy

Training, counseling, and advocacy can help you fill knowledge gaps.

SBA Learning Center – The SBA offers a learning platform “designed to empower and educate small business owners every step of the way.” This includes business guides, courses, and development programs.

Business Hubs – Some local governments cultivate business hubs that combine low-cost office space, networking, and other resources to support small businesses and develop the local ecosystem. These are location-specific and more common in urban areas.

Trade/Professional Associations and Business Groups – Membership in a professional association may help you build trust with your customers, but it often comes with additional perks such as job boards, legal resources, training courses, and more. These are location- or industry-specific.

Support Networks – You don’t have to go through the trials and tribulations of starting and running a business alone. Try entrepreneur networks, groups, and events where members share experiences and learn together.

Here’s how you can build your support network:

Find and attend entrepreneur events – The SBA offers both online and in-person events for entrepreneurs. Simply use their search engine to find the ones that make the most sense for your situation.

Join existing organizations and peer advisory boards – Organizations such as the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the Tugboat Institute, and Vistage offer membership and resources to entrepreneurs.

Get a mentor or business coach – Personalized attention from a mentor or coach can help you work through issues one-on-one and help you develop as a leader.

Get Started

Starting your own company has pros and cons (as with anything we do in this life.) Success doesn’t happen overnight. Now that you know what it takes to become an entrepreneur, gain experience, and fund a business, we hope you can find a place at NuvoDesk!

By Leslie Radford
scheduling concept

Four Group Scheduling Tools to Use in 2022

Key Points

Take a look at 4 group scheduling tools and the features that make an ideal scheduling app you can use to create a more effective scheduling process

 

Finding time in your schedule can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to find free time both in your own schedule and those of your team, especially if you work remotely or with third parties.

A group scheduler will enable you to mitigate unnecessary back-and-forth emails and ultimately reduce friction in your workflow.

Here, we’ll go over the features that make an ideal scheduling app and explore the best group scheduling tools you can use to create a more effective scheduling process.

 

What to Look for in a Group Scheduling Tool

digital calendar on tablet

Before you begin comparing, it helps to know what makes a good group scheduling tool — simply having integration with your calendar apps isn’t enough.

Let’s take a look at the most important features of a scheduling app.

App Integrations 

A good scheduler offers powerful app integrations that allow you to engage with and sell to prospects. Your tool should integrate with:

  • Calendar apps (e.g. iCloud Calendar, Outlook, Google Calendar)
  • Sales automation tools (e.g. lead generation, growth, email, etc.)
  • Customer relationship management software (CRM)
  • Email providers (e.g. Gmail, Outlook)

These integrations remove points of friction from your workflow and streamline the sales process. Ideally, your scheduling app would also integrate with video call software, automatically providing the option to include a link in the invite.

Private Scheduling Page or Meeting Link

The app should allow you to create private scheduling pages or links to sign up for already-scheduled meetings. Most first-rate schedulers also feature some customizable elements for those pages, including color themes, the ability to select available time slots, and the flexibility to create custom meeting lengths.

Additionally, these pages allow you to cater to invitees in different time zones by automatically shifting your availability to fall in line with their work hours.

Optimized for Mobile

Your prospects likely check their email, browse the web, and accept invites by phone. The best scheduling tools are optimized for mobile, allowing prospects to easily book time on your calendar or RSVP for existing events without having to access a desktop browser.

Privacy & Transparency

Your scheduling app will probably require a lot of information both from you and your invitees, especially if it needs access to their calendars and contacts. You don’t want to risk exposing that information — or worse, make your prospects feel like they’re vulnerable to cybersecurity threats if they share their information with you. A group scheduling tool should offer privacy settings and options. 

Intuitive Set-Up

A top group scheduling app should be easy to set up and use. You should have a private scheduling page or unique RSVP link within minutes of signing up without a fuss.

Best Group Scheduling Apps

Let’s take a look at 4 different apps that are easy to use, offer security, and integrate effortlessly.

1) HubSpot Meetings: Best Overall for Scheduling Group Meetings

HubSpot Meetings simplifies and automates what used to be a very arduous and often manual process.

Fully integrated with HubSpot’s CRM platform, the Meetings function allows you to:

  • Cut out back-and-forth scheduling emails
  • Provide transparency and flexibility for your team or prospects to schedule with you when they see you’re free
  • Smooth out the lead-capture process by asking key client questions before the meeting even happens

The tool can be embedded in your site and set to reflect your branding for both client and in-team communications. Once a client inputs their information to create a new meeting, their data is collected into a database, which you can use for future contact with them and to grow your clientele as you get more connections.

HubSpot Meetings also offers the option for group meeting links. You can alter the settings so that you receive notifications once new meetings are created and include critical meeting information within the link, such as meeting length and subject matter.

Highlights

Seamless integration with the HubSpot CRM platform and all of its sales tools

Seamless integration with your preferred calendar app

Personalized group scheduling link that you can send to anyone

Ability to create group meetings based on group availability or round-robin availability

Stringent security standards for both inviter and invitees

Ability to choose team members within the app (no need to enter their email if you’re in the same organization)

Best For

Because of its robust CRM integration, HubSpot Meetings is ideal for creating group meetings with prospects and with external stakeholders. It’s a scalable tool that can accommodate the needs of freelancers up to enterprise businesses.

Pricing: Free

2) Doodle: Best for Scheduling Quick Group Meetings on Mobile

Doodle is arguably one of the best schedulers available for smartphones. Currently compatible with iOS and Android, Doodle relies heavily on the polling function to crowd-source available meeting dates.

Doodle first lets you set up a MeetMe page, where you can display your free times and choose your designated branding. You can set up a poll of your available dates and times and let people vote on time slots that are convenient for them by sending them a link via email or directing them to a URL.

It offers several response options — not just the yes or no binary — and allows choosers to rank or explain responses. You can see who has responded and who hasn’t and keep responses to a limited number if needed. It’s also compatible with most calendars.

Highlights

Integration with popular apps, such as Zoom and Zapier

Personalized group scheduling link that you can send to anyone

Ability to create group meetings based on group availability even without logging in

Stringent security standards for both inviter and invitees

Ability to invite team members within the app if you’re on a Team subscription

Best For

Because of its quick “Create Doodle” button and mobile app, it is recommended for those who need to create a quick group meeting on mobile. However, Doodle is still a powerful tool for more formal meeting scheduling, especially if you upgrade.

Pricing: Free; $6.95/month (Pro, 1 user); $44.75/month (Team, 5 users)

3) Bookeo: Best for Scheduling Group Activities and Services

Bookeo is a booking system and scheduling app that allows you to schedule appointments and meetings. While it’s designed to function as a reservation platform for small businesses, the tool allows you to provide a self-scheduling link to prospects and customers using their advanced scheduling feature.

The app syncs with Google Calendar, iCloud, Outlook, and Office 365. It also gives you the ability to create recurring bookings. If you and your client would like to speak every week, this would be the app for you. It also allows you to embed a user-friendly appointment scheduler on your website, with support to include multiple sales reps and staff members.

Highlights

Integration with popular apps, such as HubSpot and Gmail

Ability to create recurring group meetings and appointments

Personalized round-robin scheduling link that you can send to prospects

Ability to establish calendar availability on the scheduling page

Stringent security standards for both inviter and invitees

Best For

Bookeo is primarily an appointment scheduling tool for services, classes, and activities. It is recommended for service or activity businesses that need a strong group scheduling tool.

Pricing: $14.95/month (Solo); $29.95 (Small, 3 users); $39.95 (Standard, 20 users); $79.95 (Large, 40 users)

4) Calendly: Best for Automating Group Scheduling

Calendly is a well-known scheduling app. It has a very simple and aesthetically pleasing interface. It’s user-friendly and offers cross-software compatibility, making it a popular choice for external clients. It connects with Outlook, Microsoft Office 365, iOS Calendar, and Google Calendar.

To use the tool, you simply enter your availability into Calendly, which then provides you a link to your calendar. When communicating with people you need to set up a meeting with, just send them your link, and it will show the times you are available.

They can then choose a meeting name, time, length, and location. This will generate a meeting on your calendar, and a notification will be sent to remind you and your invitees before the meeting begins.

Highlights

Integration with popular apps, such as HubSpot, Zoom, and Zapier

Personalized booking page or form for individual team members

Personalized round-robin scheduling link that you can send to prospects

Ability to establish calendar availability on the scheduling page

Stringent security standards for both inviter and invitees

Best For

Calendly offers built-in workflows that will allow you to follow up with attendees and send reminders — all with a single click. It is recommended if you’re looking into automating elements of your group scheduling process.

Pricing: Free; $8/user/month (Premium); $12/user/month (Pro)

Use a Group Scheduling Tool to Grow Better

Ultimately, the options are endless for group scheduling tools. The choice is up to you which one fits your workflow. Whether you value privacy, efficiency, or transparency, any one of these services would be worth investigating for your business. With the tools listed above, you can create a scheduling workflow that improves your sales process, allowing you to exceed quotas and delight your customers.

Get tips to organize your business.

By Leslie Radford
think like an entrepreneur graphic

How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Key Points

Learn 7 key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur

 

There is no magic spell that can transform you into a rich and successful entrepreneur overnight. However, for those who are prepared to work hard to succeed, there is an almost formulaic blend of entrepreneurial skills that can help set successful businessmen and women apart from the rest:

7 Key Characteristics of an Entrepreneur

Fall from the saddle

No matter how many refusals successful entrepreneurs receive, they are always prepared to dust themselves off and find an alternative way to get a “yes”. It’s this kind of tenacity that is required to take a business from idea to fruition and growth.

Fear of failure is one reason that many entrepreneurs don’t succeed. Great entrepreneurs view failure as a positive experience – something to learn from and overcome. All entrepreneurs inevitably make mistakes along the path to success. What matters most is that you own those mistakes and learn from them. You’re going to get bucked several times; Get back on the horse and ride.

Invest in a coach or mentor

Even the very best entrepreneurs of our time worked with other experts in their industry before going it alone. Finding a mentor or coach is a great way to learn more about your industry and yourself. Your mentor may even have made mistakes in business themselves, but that makes them the perfect person to learn from, giving you the chance to understand where they went wrong.

Coaches can help you get past roadblocks and inspire you to take calculated risks you wouldn’t normally. Sometimes we just need that little push to get us on the right track. Coaches can guide you on your journey to success.

Stay hungry and ambitious

Running a successful business is not an ego trip but rather a desire to grow and provide a better product or service for customers that keeps entrepreneurs hungry and ambitious. The moment that a business owner stops wanting to learn new things is the moment that complacency sets in, allowing others to overtake you and leave you behind. 

Evolve with the times

Any successful entrepreneur requires business agility, with the ability to learn and adapt to new methods, processes, or technology that can make their business stronger and more efficient. Market needs have always been dynamic: both the business and consumer worlds are ever-changing and what worked years or even months ago might not work tomorrow.

There are always new opportunities to enhance your offer and satisfy the needs of your customers and the market as a whole. A product developed strictly for your own needs would be classed more like a hobby; however, a product developed for the market must be designed to satisfy evolving market needs.

Nurture long-term business relationships

Business relationships matter. Your ability to nurture long-term working relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs within your industry will be one of the key factors in the long-term success of the business. Most entrepreneurs would agree it’s far easier to secure work from repeat customers than it is investing time and money into securing new customers.

Business relationships also include access to finance too. Every entrepreneur wants the very best opportunity to see their business proposition become an established company. This means entrepreneurs have to become highly investable. By nurturing relationships with angel and seed investors, venture capitalists, private investors, and even banks, you can set the wheels in motion to secure that all-important entrepreneur funding.

Be an inspiration

Even the richest, most experienced entrepreneurs cannot be good at everything! All entrepreneurs require a team of people around them that complement their skills. The real skill is not only hiring the best possible team to support you, it’s about hiring people who share your vision and passion. By inspiring and investing in your team, not only will they succeed but the business itself will too.

Trust your gut instinct

In some cases, your gut instinct and heart are still your very best guide for decision-making. Ultimately, no one knows as much about your business as you do. Listen to that voice inside your head. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If something feels off, it’s probably not the right choice. Let your gut guide you.

Key Characteristics of an Entrepreneur infographic

By Leslie Radford
business startup concept

Tips for Starting a Business in an Uncertain Economy

Key Points

Learn what industries were affected during the pandemic along with tips for testing the waters for your new business venture.

Starting a small business is hard work in any environment, but it’s even more challenging in a tough economy. Small business owners must hone their business plans. If you create a thorough business plan for starting and growing your company you can stay focused on your goal when things inevitably get tough.

If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, consider the following tips for successfully building your business in a challenging economy.

Tips for Starting a Business in an Uncertain Economy

1) Be Real with People.

Don’t gloss over the realities people are facing. Offer support.

2) Prepare to adapt.

Prepare for business to be slow, but also be open and willing to adapt. You may have to broaden your horizons or niche down.

3) Track your expenses.

Keep track of your finances. You need to know where every dollar goes. Cash flow is crucial in times of uncertainty.

4) Get clear on your audience and their problems.

Know the problems they face and how you can solve them. Don’t start a business if there is no need for your product or service. 

5) Build an audience first.

Network and build an audience before launching. You can build an audience for free through a blog and on social media. Make sure to collect feedback — it will tell you whether or not you’re heading in the right direction.

6) Get moving.

Crises inevitably end. If you start moving now, you’ll be the one standing while others take time to get back up and running. Start small and grow over time.

7) Do your research.

Nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. That number jumps to almost two-thirds by 10 years. There are plenty of reasons why a business fails, but CB Insights found that 35% of startups fail because there’s no market need.  The way around this is to research your target audience before starting a business. Look into economic trends, consumer behavior, audience demographics, and competition.

The Truth About Uncertainty

Economic Uncertainty Headline

While uncertain times surely make it harder to build a business, the truth is that there truly is no certain or perfect time to do so. If you’re considering starting a new venture, evaluate your life, relationships, and bank account and decide if they’re sturdy enough to ride the waves of entrepreneurship. 

Be prepared for the ups and downs of business-building. Add safety nets before starting your business (whether that’s having X months’ living expenses saved, a healthy pipeline of leads, etc.), and know that there’s always risk involved.

Data from several sources continues to support those looking to start a new business. The Census Bureau reported that more than 4.4 million new companies were created in the U.S. during 2020 — a record-setting high. This is a 24% increase from 2019 and 51% higher than the average from 2010-2019. 

The influx of entrepreneurial activity during 2020 didn’t just set records in the US. It was also the largest increase of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or the G20 with available data.

Before taking the leap, consider which industries have been most affected by the pandemic and which may be the most profitable. Retail, food service, and logistics have seen major losses. However, finance, construction, and eCommerce barely slowed down. 

Your chosen industry plays a part, as well as the amount of additional funding you can get from the government and private stipends. But it’s clear that the economy is getting back on its feet, and more people than ever before are setting up their own businesses.

When Is The Best Time to Start a Business

Ask any entrepreneur when is the best time to start a business and they’ll probably tell you “there is no perfect time.” Every business takes dedication, strong leadership, a great product or service, and a little luck.

Research from the Kauffman Foundation found that 30% of new entrepreneurs in 2020 were unemployed when they started their companies. Some entrepreneurs had ideas brewing for a while and took advantage of downtime during lockdown to create their own companies. 

See what the experts are saying.

The Bottom Line

There are unique benefits associated with starting a business in any economy. If you do your homework, think strategically, and take advantage of every opportunity to minimize costs while maximizing the value to your customers, you can build a foundation for long-lasting business success.

 

By Leslie Radford
business hand clicking expert advice button on search bar

What the Experts Say About Starting a Business in Uncertain Times

Key Points

Get inspiration and advice from experts about starting a business in a tough economy

 

Starting a new business is one of the most unpredictable, tumultuous adventures you can embark on — but it also has the potential to be one of the most gratifying, lucrative ones as well.

Let’s explore whether starting a business in these uncertain times is worth it in 2022.

What Industry Leaders Have to Say

HubSpot spoke with a handful of entrepreneurs about their personal experiences with launching businesses back in 2020. Their feedback is detailed below.

Brendan Hufford, founder of SEO for the Rest of Us

Hufford founded SEO for the Rest of Us as a community dedicated to helping people stop learning (and start doing) SEO.

“If these times have taught us anything, it’s that our world is farther out of our hands than we may have ever imagined. Multiple income streams can provide security and a level of freedom that, in a way, make things more certain,” shared Hufford.

Hufford learned that, while starting his new business was stressful, he was also able to bring a bit of certainty and peace to people looking to learn SEO. “It’s been a privilege to help others grow their business during the pandemic,” he shared.

Should everyone start a business during uncertain times? Hufford says no. “You shouldn’t start a business if you’re gambling on more than yourself,” he said. “Adding that level of stress to your relationship with your significant other or children isn’t something I’d ever advise doing.”

Melissa Pedigo, CPA, founder of A CPA Writes

Pedigo is a CPA who writes tax, accounting, and finance content exclusively for CPAs, tax accountants, and financial advisors — she’s also dubbed herself Chief Nerd Officer and tax-writing wizard.

“If you already know what you want to do and are sure there’s a market for your product or service, then starting a business in uncertain times is no different than starting one in certain times,” said Pedigo.

However, she warns that if you’re not certain of the demand for your idea, you should wait until a more stable time when consequences may be less impactful.

Moreover, with a solid support system (like a spouse, friends, or business partners), you’re better suited to start a business during uncertain times. “Having a supportive spouse, both financially and emotionally, is underappreciated and under-recognized in providing the security to make big decisions like starting a business,” Pedigo shared.

Doug Davidoff, founder and CEO of Imagine Business Development

Davidoff and his team enable companies to orchestrate all elements of their sales, marketing, and customer success efforts to generate more impact.

“Asking if one should start a business in uncertain times infers that there’s an option to start them at certain times,” Davidoff countered. “In my experience, there is no such thing as certainty, especially when it comes to starting and running a business.”

In fact, Davidoff believes that uncertain or difficult times are, in fact, the best times to start a business — for three reasons:

Tough times (like recessions) have a greater impact on larger companies. If you’re a new company, there are still plenty of opportunities available for you.

Companies and people alike are more likely to be actively considering a change in turbulent times than they are in smooth times.

Good decision-making pays off far more in difficult, uncertain markets than in good, solid ones. Companies don’t become great when times are good — they become great when times are difficult.

“Businesses should be started in uncertain times because if they weren’t, they would never be started,” Davidoff stated. “I do believe there are exceptions for who should start a business in uncertain times, but it would be the same answer if times weren’t uncertain — starting a business is not right for everyone.”

Dr. D’vorah Graeser, CEO and Founder of KISSPlatform

Graeser founded KISSPlatform as an agile competitive intelligence toolkit to help you innovate and validate your ideas to bring them to market faster.

When asked about starting a business during uncertain times, Graeser said, “Times of crisis offer unique opportunities to take control of your future. [During crisis], only the companies that ventured to do something new were available when things calmed down.”

According to Graeser, crisis provides a novel scenario in which we can succeed while other companies fail. To reach that success, she encourages new entrepreneurs to make decisions quickly and take chances. “Limitations and constraints make us think better and faster,” she shared.

She agrees that while starting a business in uncertain times isn’t for everyone, it can be a smart move. “[Starting a business] will test you … but I’ve worked with many companies that look back to uncertain moments and are thankful for taking bold actions, making plans for the future, and investing in their businesses.”

What’s Your Plan?

In business, success rarely comes from winging it. Instead, you need a well-devised strategic business plan. This outlines how you’re going to execute your ideas and maintain your business over time.

A strong business plan utilizes research on your competitors and target audience. It considers competitors’ offerings, pricing models, options, KPIs, delivery, timelines, customer feedback, marketing channels, and areas for growth. The goal is to understand where your industry is at, where it’s heading, and how you can set up your business to succeed in the space.

Check back next month when we discuss tips for starting a business in an uncertain economy.

By Leslie Radford
small business saturday tag on canvas

Small Business Saturday Ideas You Can Use To Sell More This Year

Key Points

Small Business Saturday – what it is, how it came to be, how to support a small business, and some ideas you can implement into your small business to help it grow.

 

If you think about it, every business started out as a small business. Even Amazon started in a garage as a small business! Small businesses become larger businesses because consumers like what they had to offer. 

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 27 this year. Let’s take a look at what it is, how it came to be, and some ideas you can implement into your business to help it grow.

What is the Purpose of Small Business Saturday?

SBS encourages consumers to keep it close to home when buying gifts this holiday season. Spending money locally helps everyone in the community prosper.

History Of Small Business Saturday

American Express, a U.S. corporation with $37 billion in revenue in 2018, started Small Business Saturday in 2010. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) joined as a co-sponsor five years later. SBS has become an important part of how many small businesses launch their busiest shopping season.

According to the 2018 SBS Consumer Insights Survey, the total reported spending among U.S. consumers who said they shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on the day reached a record high of approximately $17.8 billion. The same survey reported that more than 70% of consumers are now aware of the Small Business Saturday initiative. Based on this annual survey over the years, SBS spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began.

 

Most Popular Things To Buy Local

According to one study, the following are things consumers are most likely to buy from a small business.

Most Popular Things To Buy Local  bar chart

Small Business Saturday Statistics

99.7% of all U.S. businesses are small businesses

64% of new jobs created in the U.S. between 1993 and 2011 were from small businesses

Small businesses donate 250% more to non-profits and community causes

Small Business Saturday Activities

Here are some things you can do to support small businesses:

Go On A Local Shopping Spree

Many shoppers opt for big box stores on Black Friday, knowing that there’ll be sales on common holiday gifts. Small businesses sometimes offer many similar discounts — but without the marketing dollars to display the price cuts, they’re often left out in the cold. If you were planning on purchasing a TV this holiday season, try calling your local electronics store to see if they’re offering any discounts first.

Talk About It

Social media is a wonderful way to share our daily lives with friends, but sometimes, letting them know about a good deal from an e-commerce giant or a big box store can feel like advertising. With small businesses, it’s different: Instead of contributing to some corporation’s bottom line, you can rest easy knowing that you’re helping a neighbor succeed.

Make It A Habit

Small Business Saturday only lasts for one day, but you can get acquainted with your local shops. Don’t let another year pass before your next visit! For small businesses to succeed, they need our support throughout the year.

Think Big Shop Small signage

6 Small Business Saturday Ideas You Can Use To Sell More This Year

According to one survey of 5,000 consumers, 72 percent of people said they will make more of an effort to support small businesses this year. Use these simple ideas to make sure you’re a part of the big day.

1) Own your identity as a small business

Customers want to shop small this year so highlight your identity as a small business. Tell your story of how and why you got started. Remind your customers of ways you’ve gotten involved in local community efforts. Share what makes your products or services special and personal. Don’t be shy about talking about what makes you different from the big box stores. 

2) Craft a compelling Small Business Saturday offer or discount

It’s so important to have a great offer to help your business stand out from the crowd. Start thinking about your audience and what would appeal to them. What is your store known for? Has anything worked particularly well in the past?

Here are some examples of offers you might want to consider:

  • 15 percent discount on all new items
  • Free coffee and cookies for guests while they shop
  • Free gift with any purchase over $50
  • 20% off your next purchase when you spend $40 or more
  • Free gift wrapping

3) Send out an email series

Email marketing is a tool that helps you reach your customers and prospects, directly in their inbox. (Click here to learn who NuvoDesk recommends for help with email marketing.)

When people sign up to your mailing list, they’re interested in what your business has to offer and are interested in supporting your business. Let people know why shopping small is important for your community. You can include a special offer or exclusive content to promote Small Business Saturday.

Consider partnering with other local businesses in order to promote each other. Let your email readers know where they can shop local on Small Business Saturday. It’s recommended that you use a series of 3 emails to remind people to shop with you. This time of year is busy, so these emails are a great way to remind people and get them to take action to support your business:

Email 1:  Send an announcement email as soon as possible. Let them know that Small Business Saturday is coming up and why they should shop locally. Include the details about your offer.

Email 2: Send a reminder email a week before. Remind them of the deadline and your offer so they don’t forget.

Email 3:  A day or two before Small Business Saturday, send a last-chance email so they don’t forget to shop with you and use your offer.

4) Reach interested customers on social media

Social media is a tool that will help you expand your reach to even more potential customers. Start by sharing similar content used in your email series on social media. Use the content and offer you’ve added to your email campaign to promote the idea of shopping small.

Create a series of three social posts, just like you did with your email series; an announcement, reminder, and last-chance reminder to keep the buzz going. (We partner with these guys to make sure our social media makes an impact.)

5) Prepare your physical store (if you have one)

Now that the word’s out, make sure you’re stocked and staffed for success. Think about your staff and what their strengths are, then assign tasks to each member to cut out any confusion when your store is filled with eager shoppers.

You could also print out an email sign-up sheet ahead of time and encourage shoppers to share their email addresses to stay in touch throughout the rest of the holiday season and into the new year. Don’t forget to snap a few photos to capture the excitement in your store. Share them on social media.

6) Keep the momentum going

As exhausting as the day might be, don’t overlook the importance of follow-up in the week after Small Business Saturday. A small thank you can go a long way, and it will only take a few minutes to create. Depending on how many photos you took, you could share an album on Facebook, or simply pick the best one to share with your fans via SMS.

You can keep your text simple — try something like, “Thanks to everyone who stopped by to #ShopSmall this Saturday. We appreciate your support and hope to have you back again soon!”

Next, add your new email subscribers to your list and send out a quick email.

In any follow-up message you send, your goal should be to remind your customers of their great experience with you and entice them to visit again soon. Include an image to make the thank you more personal and include an offer to bring people back into your store before the end of the year.

 

Encourage Your Customers To Shop Small This Year

Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store, you can take some of these ideas to use for your service or products. Partnerships can go a long way. Referrals are extremely important, so start telling your friends and neighbors to #ShopSmall.

 

NuvoDesk supports small businesses just like yours!

advertising graphic

6 Major Digital Advertising Benefits for Small Businesses

6 Major Digital Advertising Benefits for Small Businesses

In this Article –

 

Reach your target market

Flexible cross-promotion

Mobile engagement

Get faster results

Easy to track metrics

Stay top-of-mind

 

Digital advertising is a new weapon in the struggle of small businesses for survival. If you’re not promoting your goods and services online, you might be missing a huge audience that could benefit from your business.

Ways of promoting are diverse and give different results, depending on the type of activity you go with. The growth or decline in your sales directly depends on the types of advertising you use on the Internet. There are many platforms to choose from, but sometimes it’s a trial-and-error sort of thing to see what works best for you. And you don’t have to spend a ton of money to try different advertising techniques. Moreover, small businesses earn an average of $3 in revenue for every $1.60 they spend on Google AdWords.

Let’s take a look at why you should be advertising digitally:

advertising graphic

Digital Advertising is Targeted

You can create ads that are seen by qualified prospects and target audience members. Because you can be specific about who sees your ad, you’ll know you’ll be piquing their interest and can probably convert them.

Traditional advertising is hit-or-miss, but digital platforms are changing the game. SEO and PPC can put your brand name and your content marketing in front of customers at every stage of the buying cycle. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn offer flexible ad options that allow you to segment by geographic location, demographics, interests, and more.

Digital Advertising Provides Flexibility Across Channels

The keyword for success in digital advertising is “multi-channel.” With digital advertising, a piece of content can be shared across a variety of platforms, which means that you are no longer confined to one page, 30 seconds, or whatever format your traditional ad was designed for.

Videos are a great way to promote in a way that your buyers want to listen. And they’re sharable which means you can reach more potential customers on various platforms. According to Forbes, videos are shared 1,200% more than text and links combined.

Digital Advertising Invites Mobile Engagement

Digital and mobile marketing go hand-in-hand. Digital advertising allows you to reach your audience on the go, wherever they are, whenever they are online. It’s an especially great place to reach Gen Z and Millennial customers. According to a study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), mobile phones are the place Gen Z and Millennials are most likely to see relevant ads. Nearly half of all typical smartphone users have taken action based on seeing relevant ads on their mobile phones.

Digital Advertising is Faster to Market

Market conditions and trends change quickly, and that requires agile marketing. Digital campaigns can be executed much more quickly than traditional advertising, and they can be modified on the fly if needed. 

Digital Advertising is Easily Measurable

Digital campaigns metrics are built-in. You know exactly who clicked on your content, opened it, referred it, shared it, etc. You also can trace the source of your traffic from entry to the shopping cart and eventual purchase. This will help you determine which platforms and strategies yield the best results, and which deserve more investment.

man analyzing digital marketing efforts

Digital Advertising Maintains Top-of-Mind Awareness

A study by Baymard Institute revealed that the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.53%. And that’s where digital advertising has a major advantage. Through remarketing and retargeting, you can stay in front of the customer to suggest one more time that they liked your product, so go ahead and purchase it. Abandoned shopping carts can be recoverable by retailers who use marketing automation software to offer a sweet deal, like a discount or free shipping. Digital advertising can keep that sale from slipping away.

Digital Advertising is the New Norm

When you consider the myriad of benefits digital advertising provides compared with traditional advertising, it’s easy to see why big brands continue to utilize all forms of digital advertising platforms as an integral part of their strategies. But it isn’t just for big brands, it’s for your small business, too.

job description typewriter

How to Write a Professional Job Description

How to Write a Professional Job Description

In this Article –

 

Job description definition

How to write a job description

Job description essentials

 

Your business is growing and you need extra hands. How do you write a job description that will get a qualified person in the position you’re seeking to hire?

Here are some things to consider when writing up a job description.

job description typewriter

What Is a Job Description?

A job description is a medium by which hiring managers communicate their needs to both external and internal candidates. 

For the employer, the job description lays out essential information about the role, the candidate’s experience, skills, and readiness.

For the employee, the job description describes the responsibilities, tasks, and related duties of a position. It will often include additional information such as education, qualifications, and skills required for the role. You can also expect important details like working conditions, compensation offering, physical demands, and tools or equipment required.

 

How to Write a Job Description

It can be as short or as long as you like. As descriptive or vague as you want. It can also have hidden instructions to gauge people’s attention to detail. Most importantly, it should be clear and concise. You can use it briefly when posting a job offering and give the candidate more details during an interview.

Ideas to Get You Started

1. Jot Down the Position’s Responsibilities and Duties

Some critical questions to ask yourself as you write this are:

  • What does their day-to-day look like?
  • What tasks do you expect they own and complete in a timely manner?
  • Who else do they interact with day-to-day and how are they accountable to those people?
  • If they were to provide reports or updates to someone what metrics are included?

Be as specific as possible here to make their day-to-day and your performance evaluations easier.

2. List Experience and Skills Required

Now that you’ve specified responsibilities and daily activities it is time to create your wishlist of skills, experience, and education. Who is your ideal candidate? 

Take another stab at your wishlist and order it from most important to least important. Finally, add in what’s required and what’s optional.

3. Include Desired Soft Skills and Personality Traits

Describe their education and experience that fit your culture. Do they have the soft skills to pull off their job function? Here are a few questions to consider when dreaming up the right candidate:

  • Do you need a self-starter or someone who can simply follow directions?
  • Will they work independently or as part of a team?
  • How flexible is the role? Do they follow checklists or is a lot of it creativity?

Describe the current team’s personality or the company’s culture. Jot down what you want and what you don’t want.

4. Determine Compensation

How much would you have to pay that ideal person and how likely it is to find that person? Decide if it’s an entry-level position or a higher tier that requires more experience and a higher starting salary.

A fair salary is a must, but how else can you entice a candidate to apply?

Consider adding monetary and non-monetary benefits besides salary. Sometimes people will take a lower-paying role if the health, dental, and retirement benefits are excellent. Or if they know there’s a lot of opportunity for growth at the company.

Determine ahead of time if there’s a salary cap or a merit increase schedule and what you’re comfortable paying year over year.

5. Write the Job Description

You now have everything you need to write your job description.

Start by writing the job title and a brief introduction to the company. Explain what the company does, how many employees you have, and your overall mission.

Next, add position details, including job requirements and day-to-day responsibilities. Ensure that they understand both the opportunities and the challenges of the role. The more transparent the better so nobody wastes their time.

Add in miscellaneous details like work hours, location, compensation, and start details.

Finally, list out the attributes that the ideal candidate would possess, ranging from education to prior work experience and soft skills. Ensure that they know what’s required and what’s optional.

 

Job Description Essentials

We’ll leave you with some best practices for writing an effective job description:

  • Transparency is key – Glassdoor and job review sites are widely used so it’s better to disclose any and all rough aspects of the job or the company upfront.
  • Limit industry jargon – It will only discourage candidates from applying.
  • Help them do research – Link your website, social media pages, and relevant press releases so they can easily do more research on your company and its values.
  • Talk about your customers – Give them industry insights so they have a better understanding of what they’re signing up for.

The last and best piece of advice on writing job descriptions is don’t start from scratch. There are countless jobs out there just like the one you’re posting. Use them as inspiration and adapt them to your needs.

we are open sign

Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC: How to Choose

Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC: How to Choose

Key Points

 

Define Sole Proprietorship

Define LLC

Pros/Cons of Both Entities

Making a Decision

 

So, you’ve started a small business. You know what you’re going to do and how to do it. But have you determined your business entity structure? Not sure what to register? 

New business owners are often confused about the difference between a limited liability company (LLC) and a sole proprietorship. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the differences.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business with one owner, and it’s the simplest and least expensive type of business to form. 

As a sole proprietorship, the owner’s name is the business’s name, though sole proprietorships can also operate under a brand name or trade name. The main characteristic of a sole proprietorship is that there’s no legal separation between the business and business owner, so the owner is personally responsible for the business’s debts.

Here are some key takeaways to think about when considering a sole proprietorship:

  • No required paperwork apart from industry-specific licenses 
  • No annual state filings
  • Simplified tax filing
  • No liability protection
  • Difficult to obtain financing in the business name
  • Harder to build business credit

What is an LLC?

An LLC (limited liability company) is a legally separate business entity that’s created under state law. It combines elements of a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation, and offers a lot of flexibility for owners. This structure is popular with many business owners due to the ease of setting it up, its cost-effectiveness, it’s also easier to maintain than other business structures such as S corps or C corps, and it can provide asset protection. One person can form a single-member LLC, or multiple people can form a multi-member LLC.

Here are some key takeaways to consider when forming an LLC:

  • More market credibility
  • Liability protection in the case of certain lawsuits and commercial debts
  • More financing options
  • Some paperwork
  • Annual state filings
  • Tax advantages and disadvantages

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Benefits:

  • No required state paperwork, unless there’s specific licensing such as an occupational license and/or business license. 
  • No required annual state filings to complete, unless there are specific industry filings required by your industry.
  • All profits/losses are passed through to the owner’s personal tax return. These are typically reported on a Schedule C tax form that is filed with the owner’s personal tax return. 
  • May enjoy the tax benefits of being self-employed, from deducting certain business expenses to utilizing self-employed retirement plans.

Drawbacks:

  • There’s no liability protection against commercial debts, lawsuits, and other obligations. This means you can be sued personally for commercial activities, putting your personal assets at risk.
  • Many investors choose not to invest in a Sole Proprietorship, making it difficult to secure financing.
  • Many financial institutions will refuse to establish business credit and will categorize loan requests as a “personal loan” rather than a “business loan.” 
  • You will have a lower amount of market credibility by not operating under a trade name. You can create a “Doing Business As” name (DBA) with your state’s department of revenue or the secretary of state, but this will require fees for the establishment and ongoing fees to continue to use the DBA name.

sole proprietor takeaways

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of an LLC

Benefits:

  • When you form an LLC, you are creating a business entity separate from yourself; you are not your LLC and your LLC is not you. 
  • You will have a higher level of market credibility.
  • Liability protection against commercial debts, lawsuits, and other obligations as long as you set up and maintain your LLC properly, do not commingle personal and commercial assets, and avoid personal guarantees.
  • It’s much easier to obtain equity and debt financing if you have a separate business entity as well as an established business credit score. 
  • You can combine the “best” of the incorporation worlds, by electing your single-member LLC to be taxed as a Sole Proprietor (which is the standard election), an S-Corporation, or a C-Corporation. Electing tax treatment as a sole proprietor just means all profits/losses flow to the owner’s personal tax return. Electing to be taxed as an S-Corporation means the profits/losses flow to the owner’s individual return, but you have the chance to reduce FICA taxes by establishing a “reasonable salary” and receiving the remaining profit amounts as dividends, with only the “reasonable salary” being subject to FICA (Social Security and  Medicare) withholding.
  • You can enjoy the tax benefits of being self-employed. 

Drawbacks:

  • State-related paperwork will be required, including any specific industry licensing.
  • Annual state filings (and the associated fees) will be required as well, including any specific industry licensing fees that are required. 
  • Besides paying personal federal, state, local, and the self-employed version of FICA taxes, you might also be required to pay State Business Taxes and Unemployment Taxes.
  • Costs for completing the tax return of an LLC may be higher than that of a sole proprietorship.

llc takeaways

LLC vs. Sole Proprietorship: Which Should You Choose?

Many business owners, particularly freelancers or consultants, start as sole proprietors because it’s easy and it’s attractive for new entrepreneurs, particularly those testing a business idea. 

The best business structure for you will depend on many factors, and it’s best to consult a business lawyer and tax advisors before making this important decision. Make sure you take the right steps to establish your business.

 

By Leslie Radford
video conference

Tips for Professional and Productive Video Conferencing

Tips for Professional and Productive Video Conferencing

By Leslie Radford

Key Takeaways

Productive Video Meetings Tips
Video Conferencing Etiquette
Using Video Calls for Sales Meetings

Video conferencing seems to be the new norm. The global remote workforce increased by 140% between 2005 and 2019, and that number accelerated even further in 2020 when COVID-19 hit.

It’s a useful tool for communicating with remote work teams. But, between poor internet connections, annoying background noise, participants not knowing what is being discussed, and off-topic conversations, a video conference call can quickly become a frustrating mess.

Here are a few tips to help you host productive video meetings:

Set an agenda

Provide a plan before the video conference. Video meetings can be most productive when everyone knows the purpose of the session and better able to keep focused on the outcome. This will also assure the meeting doesn’t run too long and everything gets addressed.

Be engaging

Use shared visuals to accompany your agenda, like online whiteboards, shared screens, slide shows, and spreadsheets to keep participants engaged. While it’s nice to see everyone’s faces during a meeting, you need to switch it up to keep everyone’s focus. Use a conferencing tool with a chat function or poll to keep participants engaged with the material being covered.

video conference

Use the right tools to make video calls

There are many different tools available that can make your conference call a lot easier. The quality of call you offer participants is essential for a professional image and an effective meeting. A number of professional tools with which we have had good experiences are:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Skype
  • GoToMeeting
  • Cisco WebEx
  • Join.me

Video Conferencing Etiquette

Just like there are rules at the dinner table, there are etiquette rules for video conferencing as well. To respect everyone’s time and effort, you need to be aware of the following to host a productive meeting: 

  • Mute yourself when not speaking
  • Be on time
  • Ensure your technology works correctly
  • Use technology to fully engage remote participants
  • Choose the proper software and hardware
  • Wear work-appropriate clothing
  • Frame the camera correctly
  • Have the right light
  • Look into the camera (not down at your phone)
  • Pay attention (avoid multi-tasking)
 
meeting

Increase Productivity with Video Calls

Video calls aren’t just for remote workers and connecting teams. According to PGI, companies who use video calls for sales and customer support can save 30% from their transportation costs. And because your client doesn’t have to come to you, or visa versa, the easier it may be to schedule a meeting with them.

Call Now ButtonCall Now