Caliber Capital

Business Start-up & Planning

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Money Secrets that 9 out of 10 Businesses Don’t Know

Money Tips Starting Online Business

Not all entrepreneurs have enough capital to start an online business, but many do so anyway, and go on to realize success. If you are one of the many who have the vision and drive to go for it, here’s four things to know before you start a business with no money.

1. Persona

Define the persona (image) of your brand and make sure that your customers can relate to it. Your success depends on your knowledge of the market place as well as your understanding of your customer base. As a small business you must be intimately aware of your customers needs, as well as having an educated idea of how to reach and motivate them to choose your product or service over another. You need an image, or persona, that your customers can relate to and instantly recognize as well as one that conveys the idea of trust and dependability. The culture behind the persona must reflect your buyer and your ability to serve their needs. Establishing a solid persona will help you gain leverage in the market place.

2. Agility

Throughout the life of your business your success will depend on your ability to remain flexible to the changing needs of your customers. This agility is very important in the start-up phase when you must stay focused on your goals but nimble in how you work to achieve them. While some opportunities might present themselves quickly others will disappear just as fast. You will inevitably hit stumbling blocks and may even realize failures, what is most important is how quickly you bounce back and continue to move forward. Agility is something big companies fight to maintain, take advantage of your small size and don’t be afraid to explore alternate avenues.

3. Quality and Quantity

While many entrepreneurs strive to reach a point where the quality of their work is more important than the quantity, those coming fresh to the market place are reminded that customers and investors both want to see what your hard work produces, and the more they see the more likely your future success. Hard work, long hours, and pushing yourself to complete tasks even when you don’t want to shows investors that you produce more than just promises. If you find yourself spinning your wheels then take stock of the quality of your work, and brainstorm new ways to convey your message.

4. Profit and Control

Every small business wants to be in control of its success and profit is perhaps the best way of achieving that control. The digital landscape has made it easier than ever to introduce your product or service to potential customers. It also allows investors to see real world data of customer adoption which, is far better than any best-guess spreadsheet scenarios.

These few principles are the foundation of the money secrets that nine out of ten businesses don’t know, and they will start you on the right path when you are trying to figure out how to start a business with no money.

4 Big Brand Marketing Ideas to Use in Your Small Business

Small Business Marketing

When brainstorming new small businesses marketing techniques, consider the attempts and successes of big brand strategies. Small companies have the ability to be flexible, agile, and to take creative risks that big companies aren’t always able to procure. That being said, it behooves small companies to study the marketing strategies of the big brands and adapt their tactics to fit their own markets.

Reaching your intended audience means defining demographics develop marketing strategies with clear goals and setting yourself apart from your competition. Understand your market and learn what they need and figure out how to give it to them. The following four marketing ideas are based on big brand ideas and will start you on the path of successful small business marketing.

1. Ripples Can Make the Biggest Splash

The doors of creative marketing are wide open for small businesses. While big brands have scale, small businesses can connect with consumers by providing an experience that reaches the emotions of their audience and motivates them to talk, click, and share. For small brands the biggest splash may be made simply by ripples that continue to spread.

Mashable writes that ad firm SapientNitro Chief Creative Officer Gaston Legorburu, gives the examples of American Girl and Build-a-Bear as highly successful consumer experiences. These experiences are often shared across social media channels increasing brand awareness for basically no cost.

2. Real Time is “Real” “Time”

Keeping up with current trends, has never been easier, and neither has increasing brand awareness. Getting the message of your brand into the main stream is done in real time with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google +. These platforms allow the consumer to garner the attention of the brand on a one-on-one-to-many basis, while at the same time affording the company an opportunity to increase brand awareness exponentially.

3. You Be You

Major brands create their marketing content, small businesses should commit to doing the same. Over the past few years, businesses of all kinds have realized how important it is to use experienced, professional writers to create high quality, compelling marketing content and to harvest and curate relevant content that is beneficial to potential clients. The words and images that you use to convey your story to consumers will become your brand. For something this important you must invest in hiring those that have the skills and experience to know how to represent your brand the best.

Data analytics tools like Kissmetrics and Google Analytics will help you ensure your message is reaching your target audience and how effective your message is. Use them.

4. Build Your Foundation

As we’ve seen small business marketing strategies include-

  • Intentional decision making based on clearly defined goals,
  • Creative brainstorming,
  • Accessibility and connection, and
  • Compelling content.

Building your foundation also includes creating a strategy that sets you apart from your marketshare competitors. Once you have started building that foundation it is then time to start building your community. Through social media platforms, blogging, and video creations, you can reach out to your audience, engage their emotions, and motivate them to share your message.

8 Things to Know Before You Start a Business

Things To Know Before You Start A Business

There are times when nearly all entrepreneurs wished someone had told them the secrets of how to start a business in the most efficient and effective way. Surely there is some formula that if followed will nearly guarantee at least a shot at success? What real life teaches is that every business venture brings its own set of challenges, and there is no formula that guarantees success. What there is though is the experiences and lessons of those business that came before and carved a path to success.

1. The Buck Stops Here

You are the chief executive officer, the president and vice president, the board of directors, the partner, the associates, the administrator and laborer of your business, and as such, your business must always be your first priority. There is no one who can cover for you while you figure out how to juggle your commitments. 

2. Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses

You must be a brave commander-in-chief because being an entrepreneur will bring you face to face with your doubts and limitations, your excuses and justifications, your lack of organizational skills and your failed attempts at time management. If you can accept your weaknesses and learn how to make good use of your strengths, you will stand a better chance at continuing the process of success, as it can be a very slow process. 

3. It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Patience and a well-funded budget should be considered a rule in the game of success, but both can wear mighty thin before your business gets off the ground. Odds are, you have set aside enough money to sustain you for a set amount of months or even years, yet no matter how diligent your plans, odds are your piggy bank will bottom out at some point in the journey and your patience will nose-dive straight into the void that is your financial cushion. There isn’t some magic time period in which you have to become successful, so make sure you really love what your business, because you are going to really want it to be worth the struggle you are probably going to face. 

4. Cash-Flow Is King

Maintain a stream of income, no matter how well-prepared you think you are. Creating a stream of income, be it from a part-time job or offering services based on a skill you have but don’t necessarily want to use as a career. This secondary income can help keep your financial stress to a minimum so you can focus on your business. 

5. Mind Over Matter

Learn how to step past your insecurities and doubts, and quiet that little, inner voice that seems determined to criticize you into failure. As an entrepreneur you have to know how to shut that voice off and continue to work towards progress while maintaining objectivity and ambition.

6. Time Is Your Most Valuable Commodity

Your time is money and money provides the entrepreneur with control, so use your time wisely. Don’t get sidetracked by research, little details, and interruptions like email, text messages, and social media. Set realistic daily goals that keep you moving forward, but remember to schedule in some breaks so you can refresh your brain and body before starting a new task. You will have to complete boring and tedious tasks on a regular basis, so be sure to schedule them as priority items that you complete first thing during your work day, which will reduce your daily stress load.

7. Keep Your Business Visible

You must continually work on your marketing strategies and tactics, while studying and analyzing advertising and promotion campaign effectiveness. Sure, tools like Google Analytics makes evaluating keyword strength easy, but only if you understand the principals of analytics and keyword efficacy. Learn everything you can about marketing and don’t be afraid to be creative in how you apply what you learn. The best teacher will be experience. 

8. Minimize The Incoming Clutter

Learn when to say no and when to say yes, and how to manage everything in between. As soon as you go live online you will begin receiving inordinate amounts of email, direct mail, and even marketing calls. Organize your daily agenda to include a set period of time for returning these communications. Once you are able to organize your daily schedule, you will find it easier to be objective when taking on new clients or completing an administrative task.

5 Incredibly Effective Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Work Smarter

Where once the belief was that technology would allow us to manage our time in a more productive way, what we have realized is that most of us have been spending our work days caught in a web of multitasking and mindless productivity, not getting nearly enough done even though we work longer hours. What we offer here is five incredibly effective ways to increase productivity while reducing the amount of time spent on individual tasks.

1. Focus on Crucial Tasks

Eliminate all distraction from your work desk by shutting off your email, your text messages, and your social media accounts. Identify two or three of your most crucial tasks, and do them first. Once these tasks are completed, the day is yours, to start tomorrow’s tasks or do something outside of work.

Allow yourself to completely focus on each task as you do it. Open only the browser tabs and documents that that you need for your work, (you can check your email and text messages when you are done with each task). By simplifying your schedule and not squeezing in as many tasks as possible, you will reduce stress, perform better, and begin to enjoy your work again.

2. Forget Juggling and Get Some Sleep

When planning your work week, commit your time to tasks that you care about, that mean something to you, that you enjoy spending your time on, instead of committing yourself to obligations purely for financial gain. You have to learn how to be objective, and say no to tasks that you don’t enjoy, or that won’t further your goals.

When you focus on work that you enjoy, the quality of your work is usually better, and the sense of your accomplishment greater. Imagine how good it would feel to end each day on time and feeling proud of what you accomplished, instead of having to stay up late to complete tasks that you don’t enjoy.

3. Put off Procrastination and Getting Lost in the Details

Overcome procrastination by starting your work day early, before the pressures of the day take precedence over your work. Don’t let the little details of your task slow down your productivity. You can always add details later, after your motivation to complete the task has taken over. And because you approached each task in a mindful manner, you will completely avoid the stress of an approaching deadline.

4. Set Time Limits and Buffer Zones

Keep to your schedule by setting realistic time limits for each task. Be sure to include short breaks between tasks for rejuvenation. Make use of these “buffer zones”, by doing something productive and completely different from your work tasks. You can meditate, walk, exercise, or do anything that you enjoy and that will help clear your mind.

5. Get Into the Habit

By getting into the habit of…

  • Scheduling tasks
  • Saying no
  • Starting your work day early
  • Setting time limits and
  • Creating buffer zones

…you will be working smarter not harder, and perhaps rekindling the excitement you used to have about your work.

Choosing a Registered Agent in Virginia

Registered Agent Service

The law requires that entrepreneurs and small business owners choose a registered agent in Virginia when forming a corporation or limited liability company in the state. Foreign corporations who do business in the state must also have a Virginia registered agent. You must select an agent prior to filing your corporations Articles of Formation. A corporation can be represented by only one registered agent.

What does a Registered Agent Do?

The duty of the registered agent is to provide their name and registered address in corporation documents and to forward to the corporation any notices, demands, or processes that is served against the corporation, such as if a lawsuit is being filed against it.
In short, a registered agent and their office address is used in corporation documents in place of the personal data of the owner/management of the business. The registered agent filters mailed documents and forwards to the corporation any and all state and federal correspondence, Internal Revenue Service documents, and legal paperwork.

Who Can Be a Registered Agent?

Virginia has several rules regarding who is able to serve as a registered agent, including that a business entity may not serve as its own agent, though it can serve as the registered agent of a different corporation. The registered agent must be a resident of Virginia, and a member of the corporation itself or of the Virginia State Bar. Keep in mind that when serving as the registered agent of your own corporation you will run the risk of being served in front of your customers and your employees. Also, using a registered agent can keep your personal information from public databases.

What is a Registered Office?

According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, an agent’s registered office must be located in Virginia, and available to during normal business hours to accept notices and processes. A Post Office box may not be used unless the office is located in a town with a population of less than 2,000. The county or independent city of the registered agent’s jurisdiction must be included on filings that use the registered agents address.

Choosing a Registered Agent in Virginia

There are many third-party private business that offer registered agent services for an annual fee. These businesses provide other beneficial services also, including-

  • Compliance: corporations are tasked with an inordinate amount of government filings to remain in compliance with the laws of Virginia, and any state in which they represent you.
  • Document management: corporations have a plethora of documents that must be tracked and filed. Some registered agents will copy and maintain documents for you, including the Articles of Organization, Operating Agreement or Bylaws as well as your minutes and reports.

There are many situations in which a corporation would greatly benefit from choosing a registered agent service provider in Virginia, especially when:

  • Your business uses a Post Office box
  • Your company does business in more than one state
  • You have no set business address or it change frequently
  • Your business is based out of your home
  • Your business does not operate under normal business hours
  • You want your business endeavors kept quiet

Some registered agent service providers operate in multiple states if not nationally. These providers handle changing laws and evolving processes of each state so corporations that do business in multiple states don’t have to have hire separate agents for each state.