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#Entrepreneur: The First Step

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#Entrepreneur

The First Step

By Karan Chopra

 

#Entrepreneur: The First Step

Copyright © 2015 Karan Chopra. All rights reserved.

This book is licensed for your personal use only. No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any form except in the case of brief quotations for articles or book reviews.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in this book but the author is neither responsible for any errors and nor shall be liable for any loss of damages caused directly or indirectly while putting up the best of his knowledge.

The Author

Karan Chopra is the founder and CEO of G2OneNetwork, the conglomerate that has a number of banners under it ranging from self-help blogs to online marketing sites, publications and even, recently launched line of designer shoes and T-Shirts. What started off as just a web development company in 2011, G2One Network has come a long way since its inception.

 

So where did it all start

 

Hailing from a business family, venturing into business was not new. After completing his post-graduation from the University of Aston in the UK, Karan decided to start something of his own. Karan returned to India in 2011 backed with a degree in Distributed and Network Computing as well as experience that he gained in the European market, and launched his first business venture – G2One Network.

 

G2One Network dealt with web development and design, which although was Karan’s background, didn’t excite him that much. This led him to establish I2Mag, the publication he is best known for. With I2Mag, Karan saw an opportunity in the market, a niche that demanded the presence of good content that was informative as well as entertaining. The success of I2Mag came with a lot of hard work, experience and knowledge which was Karan’s forte. After completion of his degree Karan had spent his time freelancing as a web developer, taking care of content management as well as content generation. During his stay in UK, Karan got exposed to the international market and learnt the intricacies of dealing with clients from all across the globe.

 

With the core principle that revolves around maintaining a good work ethic, a keen eye for venturing into new business opportunities and maintain a lasting relation with clients, Karan has managed to kick start 16 other brands under G2One Networks.

 

The Journey So Far

 

While 2011 saw the launch of I2Mag, he consecutively came up with JustWP, another publication site that deals with everything related to WordPress and hosting. 2013 also saw the launch of 99Books and 99Dollarwebsite that deals with web designing and development.

 

2014 – 15 was a busy period with the launch of seven other publications, as well Brand99, the site that took the G2OneNetwork into the world of e-retail. By 2015, G2One Network was making headway in the internet communication and publication world, and Karan also launched four new consultancy-cum-service sites namely – Business123, Blogging123, Entrepreneur123 and Hosting123.

 

Through these four years, one can see G2One Network grow from strength to strength making inroads not only in digital communication and publication but also networking, designing and consulting. Karan has taken what was just a one man station and made it into a network that has a clientele spread across the globe and a has over the years put together a dedicated team that helps the running of his empire.

 

What is in store for the future?

 

While Karan has made a name for himself and his companies, in the world of publication and design, he is now all set to foray into product design and sales. Having recently launched designer shoes and T-Shirts, Karan is all set to capture the world of advertising and marketing by storm as well.

Foreword

So, you too, have found yourself in the same run as others who are looking for ways to make their debut in the world of entrepreneurs? Sounds interesting, but do you know starting up is not just a cake walk, rather a cluster of steps that you have to start with and once you accomplish them, only then you can think of reaching high, making it to the big leagues.

Let’s start with asking ourselves a few important questions. Probably, you should write down the answers to these questions on a sheet of paper to review later on.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Why do you look at yourself as an entrepreneur?

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p<>{color:#000;}. The idea that you have, does it fit in this frame of time? Is it too old, is it too futuristic?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Finances – Do you have enough money yourself so that you can fuel your venture yourself? Or do you need external help?

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p<>{color:#000;}. The perfect team – Whether you are going to work alone or have people around you who will be part of your core team?

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p<>{color:#000;}. What kind of people do you want to hire?

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p<>{color:#000;}. How are you going to market your venture?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Is your venture aimed for the local market? Or are you catering to a more global market?

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p<>{color:#000;}. How will your organisational structure look like? Will it be privately held, LLC or Sole Proprietorship? What do you think suits you the best?

Congratulations, if you were able to answer these questions at your first go. If you are thinking that knowing the answers to these questions, means that your business will perform superbly, well, then you could not be more wrong. Business is not about getting your strategy right the first time, instead you have to think and rethink each and every strategy in the light of new information that you obtain. For now, each of these points needs to be thought about in greater depth before you even get started. But don’t get too worried. This is what this book will help you learn.

There are many little things that you will discover along your journey that will shape your business. It is your ability to learn from your mistakes and keep faith in your abilities that will determine the course your business. But before you get there, there are some important decisions that you need to make to start off and this book will help you do exactly that! Take the First Step.

Index

The Author – 3

Foreword – 5

Chapter #1 Considering Starting-Up – 8

Chapter #2 Business Planning – 12

Chapter #3 Business Structure & Naming – 15

Interesting Facts – 16

Chapter #4 Money Matters – 16

Chapter #5 People – 20

Fun Facts: Businesses & Their Names – 22

Chapter #6 Sales & Marketing – 23

Chapter #7 IT & eCommerce – 25

Resources – 28

Want More? How About Business Setup Help – 31

Annexure: Handy Checklist – 33

Chapter #1 Considering Starting-Up

Glad you are thinking of starting up, but what next? Does only a “thinking” of starting up make you stand and let you start your venture; the answer is big “NO,” then what will be the common traits you have to consider while starting up or what things you need to consider at this very first step. The common questions that definitively come in your mind at this stage include:

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p<>{color:#000;}. Find out whether you can work for yourself

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p<>{color:#000;}. Develop your business idea

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p<>{color:#000;}. Starting a business

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p<>{color:#000;}. Research and develop your business ideas, new products and services

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p<>{color:#000;}. Common mistakes when starting up – and how to avoid them

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p<>{color:#000;}. Starting a part-time business

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p<>{color:#000;}. How do I survive until my business is off the ground?

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p<>{color:#000;}. Thinking about starting a social enterprise?

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p<>{color:#000;}. When economic conditions are tough

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p<>{color:#000;}. Think about the money

Long listahh… but it is not as this is just the starting, running a Startup isn’t a small thing itself, it’s not only about the “big idea” that you have, but it’s also about measuring the things on right values, thinking beyond the limit, take all precautionary measures from the day one and start building up the things in right manner.

Mix Bag Discussions

Find out whether you can work for yourself If you have employed somewhere, then, I am sure, you must have felt the joy of your life, when you worked on something for yourself. It may or may not have yielded any monetary benefit, but have you given working for yourself a thought again? It is just an idea but it can be profitable too. Starting something of your own offers several advantages. For instance, it’s a chance to do something that’s really close to your heart and interests you and not many people get to do so. Plus to top it off, it gives you the freedom to work completely to your priorities and working hours.

Develop your business idea A business requires an idea, and if you are thinking to start up, means you already have an idea with you. That’s good but having an idea does not mean that you are halfway there. Rather, your real journey has just begun. Ideas can range from spotting a problem in the current market structure to coming up with a whole brand new product (or service). Say, for instance, you believe that you have an idea; you need to develop it considering all its pros and cons and how it will benefit everyone.

Starting a business Working for yourself – Check, IdeaCheck, so now what next, you already have some basic level ingredients ready with you, then what’s next in line to come up, there are number of factors that you need to consider in order to ensure the best chance of success. To start off, you must know your mission, what you really want to set out to do, form a vision and set up objectives for yourself. Once this is done, you craft small little achievable goals and start working and keep reviewing all these in the wake of developments that your end.

Research and develop your business ideas, new products and services Developing your business idea into a successful product (or service) is a critical part of building a business. Through number of options like market research and assessment at an early stage will help you to understand better that whether there is a market for your product or service. Once you are into the business, launching of new products (or services) will be very important to you and investing both money and resources can lead to the growth and profitability of the business (but do note here that the development process can be risky and needs proper planning and implementation as one wrong step can take lead your whole business idea into Stone Age). Common points to consider:

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p<>{color:#000;}. Designing–turning an idea into full fledged product or service that actually can be sold.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Prototyping –creating an example first of your whole product instead of working directly on the mains.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Protecting–applying for patents (if applicable and require) in order to safeguard your idea.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Financing – raising the money to let you started and running the business.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Operations–setting up the structure of your whole business i.e. location, hiring, technology.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Marketing–designing marketing structure on what makes your product to sell in the market.

Common mistakes when starting up – and how to avoid them It’s not necessary that whatever you plan is implemented perfectly in the first go; the chances of making mistakes are always aplenty. But since this is not your school or graduation, you are here to run a business, a single and small mistake will be very much dangerous in both short and long terms. Even the businesses in the early years are more failure prone, with almost 20 percent of new ventures folding within the first year, while 50 percent within the next three years. The figures are not to scare you, but just to ensure that you stay alert. Many make simple mistakes when it comes to starting up, like poor or bad market research, weak financial planning, setting very high to begin with, not thinking/ misreading competition, poor stock and asset management above all, hiring the wrong people

Starting a part-time business It is pretty common that instead of starting with full-time business, you think of taking the plunge with starting on part-time basis. Starting with part time is not a bad idea, as it will give you a glimpse of what you are getting into with both the positive and negative sides. Even, if you are employed part-time, or you have kids or you think that you can’t afford to work full-time, then a part-time business may be a right option for you.

How do I survive until my business is off the ground? It is a given that your business won’t make it big in the first few months when you start, but you have to prepare yourself in advance that any condition can come on the way. You can’t plan your starting months on just the estimation instead you may need alternative sources of income for the period in order to keep running. And, even to note, if your business has started making profit (for instance), and then better consider re-investing instead of saving in the banks, the option of investing again will give your business an extra wing to fly.

Thinking about starting a social enterprise? We live in a very social world, whether real or virtual and starting a social enterprises helps us not only give back to the society we live in but also as a good business venture, if worked out perfectly. Businesses in the social arena range from recycling, renewable energy to social care etc. to name the few.

When economic conditions are tough Certainly there comes a time when market conditions worsen every single second, starting the business at that time may be worth examining in such low times. There are more chances of business failures due to the deteriorating condition of the market, because of which businesses could experience falling sales, cash-flow problems, less hiring etc. But, doing the business in such environment sometimes is also full of opportunities that need to be explored. There are some things you can do when the going gets tough. Like work again on your business idea and see what better changes you can bring to your business structure and business plan. Spread the word and try to access that can get you more finance, if required. Minimise costs and maximise efficiency of your organization that would mean getting rid of the frills and concentrating on fundamentals, which will help you develop an effective survival strategy and never under estimate the power of your own connections to help you out.

Think about the money Small or big, every business needs capital to start up, then no matter what business you are planning of, money is one of the key factors that needs to go in. Say, for example you are planning to start an IT consulting company, you might need computers, software and lot more stuff, what you require first in order to purchase all this is, Money. Plus, in order to keep your business running, money will work as a fuel for you, so make sure you have all finance sources available with you well in advance.

Chapter #2 Business Planning

The very first question over here is, do I really need to plan ahead of, or do I plan as I start working on the start up. The answer is “YES,” you need to prepare a proper plan in the first place before you start up. You may review and improvise on it as you go, but to start off you need a plan.

 

Okay, now let’s understand what business plan actually is? A business plan is something that explains your business goals and how you plan to achieve them. If, I say in short, it’s a mirror that helps you understand the steps you will need to take to start and develop your business.

 

Business plan can be use it as a “route map” for you to define what has to be done in order to make it profitable and big. It will help you guiding from every prospective, even bring your attention in thinking what potential problems your business will face during the initial stages and/or when it comes into existence.

 

You can write the business plan yourself or can hire someone who can write the one for you. If you are planning to hire an outside person, just make sure that s/he is a real mastermind, because there is no space for immaturity here.

The basic steps you need to take at this stage are creating your business plan, how you are going to formulate it and developing your sales and marketing strategy.

Mix Bag Discussions

Create your business plan Seems like you are on door step of your dream start up, but have you realized the importance of creating your business plan. Without a proper business plan, you can definitively make your debut in the world of business, but chances to succeed reduce automatically.

Starting with a business plan you need to be careful for lots of things, it can be as simple or as complex as the one you can make – or the audience you are going to share in front of, then it would be either your stakeholders i.e. banker, employees, or even investors.

 

There is always confusion on what to include and what not in the business plan, but if you plan properly thinking in much greater depth about what a new business requires (step-by-step), you will soon realise that making the business plan is not a hurdle at all.

There are a few basic things without your business plan cannot be complete and here is a list. It might seem a little long, but unfortunately, it is the bare minimum that needs to go into a good plan.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Executive summary

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p<>{color:#000;}. Business details

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p<>{color:#000;}. Key personnel

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p<>{color:#000;}. Vision

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p<>{color:#000;}. The business idea

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p<>{color:#000;}. Business goals

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p<>{color:#000;}. What the business does

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p<>{color:#000;}. What makes the business different

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p<>{color:#000;}. Legal requirements

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p<>{color:#000;}. Sales and marketing

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p<>{color:#000;}. Market research

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p<>{color:#000;}. Profiling customers

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p<>{color:#000;}. Profiling competitors

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p<>{color:#000;}. Managing market risks

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p<>{color:#000;}. Pricing

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p<>{color:#000;}. Promotion and advertising

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p<>{color:#000;}. Running the business

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p<>{color:#000;}. Staff

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p<>{color:#000;}. Premises

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p<>{color:#000;}. Suppliers

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p<>{color:#000;}. Equipment

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p<>{color:#000;}. Managing operational risks

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p<>{color:#000;}. Finance

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p<>{color:#000;}. Start-up costs

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p<>{color:#000;}. Profit and loss forecast

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p<>{color:#000;}. Sourcing finance

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p<>{color:#000;}. Managing financial risks

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p<>{color:#000;}. Cash-flow forecast

Plan to run your business By now, you must have planned out which business you want to work on, but more difficult must be thinking about how to run it. Tasks like finding premises, managing cash flow, employing people, etc. require both, different skills as well as commitment. You need to be well organized as well as be a competent manager to achieve your business goals.

To run your business effectively and efficiently, not only do you need to be the master manager who takes the business forward but also be the person who critically looks for weakness in the business in order to address and overcome them. Whether full-time, part-time or on contractor basis, working as an employer for the first time is a big step and what all you require is that you will put up your best efforts.

Develop your sales and marketing strategy You started your new business with say some product, but unless and until you have some proper sales and marketing strategy at the back, your business will not able to survive. Rather it starts falling apart in a day or two. So, what is needed to help your business succeed is an effective sales and marketing strategy to find and keep customers in a loop.

Opting for market research is also a good way to find potential customers for your product or service, allowing you to focus on what you are looking for. Also, you need to keep a regular check on your competitor’s and understanding their weakness, i.e. on what point they are missing and whether adding that extra bit to your business setup will help you to succeed.

Advisable here is to complete SWOT analysis of your business that will help you identify your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and even possible threats. Once you know who your customers going to be, all you need to do is to promote and sell your product or service in the right manner.

There are some simple questions that you might ask to get this information. Such as what are my customer needs, what is my target market, have I researched this area, who are the competitors, what do market trends look like, what is their impact on buying decisions, etc.

Chapter #3 Business Structure & Naming

Decided on what you want to start with, but still far away from choosing the right legal structure for your business. Choosing the right business structure is critical since this will affect your decisions regarding registration, reporting, personal finance liability and the taxes you have to pay. A start-up can opt for either of legal structures: sole trader, partnership and private limited, while franchising and social enterprises are popular business models these days for newbies in the industry.

Once you have decided which business structure suits you the best, you may consider choosing the appropriate name for your business, since it will create a first impression for your customers. While choosing the name, try to be creative but also look for something that best fits all your potential marketing material. You must be aware that business names must meet certain rules and cannot be something that has been taken up already.

Further, even if your business is not internet based, consider registering an appropriate domain name at least, which is available and registered through a domain registrar for a small annual fee. You should also considering protecting your business name identity by registering for a trademark.

[* -- Interesting Facts -- *]

Apple’s iPad retina display is manufactured [+ by Samsung+].

McDonald’s first menu items were hot dogs, not hamburgers.

The Rubik’s cube is the best-selling product [+ of all time+].

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Chapter #4 Money Matters

Your entrepreneurial idea might sound to you like “an idea that can change your life,” but without any fuel to let it grow, your business will not head anywhere. Apart from the time and energy you will put in, money, too, matters a lot. Starting a business is not just about coming up with innovative ideas but it also needs proper planning & implementation and fuel of monetary resources to lead to fruitful action.

Money can come in any form, your own, loans, equity, share holding, grants, government support, venture capital, anything. Most businesses use a combination of these alternatives, according to their specific needs and requirements.

Deciding on which type of finance are right for your business plays an important role here. There are a few questions that you ask yourself here, before taking the decision such as, what are the main reasons for seeking support, do you have access to the Credit finance, Debt finance, have you exceeded your overdraft limit or missed a loan repayment in the last 12 months, how much funding are you looking for, would you need to provide some security in order to borrow money, how much share would you have to give away, to an outside investor to raise the necessary finance?

Additionally, you can always use the option of borrowing to cater to the financial needs of your business. Borrowing offers you the number of options that you can think of and can opt for starting with non-bank finance, raising long-term funding through debt capital markets, government guaranteed lending schemes, financing from friends and family, factoring and invoice discounting, commercial mortgages and lenders, acquiring assets and borrow money tax efficiently and/or bank finance.

Clearing this hurdle of “being financed” is not the last thing here, but the real big picture starts now for you, you have money for your business or you have proper cash flow through which your business can survive, but you need to manage your finance more effectively and efficiently as if in case you have taken money from investors or borrow from someone, you need to return to them with (definitely) the profit figures. Here are a few important points to consider to after your finances are sorted.

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p<>{color:#000;}. Business budgeting

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p<>{color:#000;}. Financial and management accounts

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p<>{color:#000;}. Set up a simple profit and loss account for your business

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p<>{color:#000;}. Investment appraisal techniques

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p<>{color:#000;}. Debt recovery

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p<>{color:#000;}. Insurance

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p<>{color:#000;}. Exit strategy

Mix Bag Discussions

Business budgeting So you have finance in place, but unless and until you have a proper planned business budget in your head and then on paper, the money that you have to run the business will not be used efficiently. Creating a budgeting process is the most important way to keep your business and specially the finances on track.

The business you are running or about to run is a roadmap for all future development, it describes you, your business, its vision, objectives, and lot more. Budgeting is something that keeps you running your business in control manner, allowing you to invest in new opportunities at the right time.

Financial and management accounts Based on your business size, type and sector, accounting needs might differ. However, as the business chief of the company, it’s your primary responsibility to keep all your business records and accounts accurate.

In order to make this work in right manner for you, you can employ an accountant, either full-time or part-time based on your requirements to prepare financial statements for your end-of-year tax return, auditing, book keeping and for other services. Keep a note here that your business needs to be audited on every financial year.

Set up a simple profit and loss account for your business Keep a record of every transaction your business makes, either debit or credit as it all adds to profit and loss account statement of business transactions for a given period, which is of 12 months. Doing so, it shows whether your business making a profit or a loss at the end of that period.

The information is mainly used by country’s Revenue and Customs department to check your tax calculation although the statement help owners, shareholders or even future potential investors on analyzing how the business is performing.

Investment appraisal techniques Making time to time investment in your business, then whether it would be a key investment or buying new assets for the company, or spending the money on research and development, all can help and open up exciting new growth opportunities. But, while taking decision on where to make investment, keeping the focus on right place is an important job, so different appraisal techniques will let you assess the investment that you are going to make and help you analyze well that how much expected return you will achieve.

Debt recovery No doubt being in business you will get a chance to meet with “Debt.” Conditions arise one or other times, when your business comes into such crisis, but yes, once that crisis gets over, the important thing to consider is how you can recover your business from debt. A few methods by which you can recover your debt is by ensuring that customers pay you on time, sending formal requests for payment: statutory demands, recovering debt through court, recovering money from a company in liquidation or in the worst case scenario dissolving company assets.

Insurance Insuring your business is the best way to keep yourself away from crisis. There are different types of business insurance available, but the one you need, what for, which should you have plays an important role here. You can insure anything ranging from your business premises to contents, and even business insurance if in case you work from home.

Exit Strategy Well, sounds like the difficult part of your business, but comes a time when you have to call the liquidator & call the curtains for your business. Here also, if you have a well planned exit strategy you will still be able to maximise value from your business, and can successfully market your business to potential buyers or investors, ensuring your involvement with the business will be as little as possible. There are many things to consider here such as the need for an exit strategy, what you expect from your business, options for exiting business such as family succession, selling, float or closing your business.

Chapter #5 People

There are many books, ebooks, talks out there that tell you how to start a business and run it successfully. But why is this book different. The reason is this chapter; I like to call ‘People’ as we often forget the most important part of a business, the people. You cannot conduct business without clients. So, you will agree that people are important. But I am not talking about clients alone, business involves people you work with, whether inside or outside your organization.

For example, you cannot conduct business without your own team. You might start off working by yourself and out of your living room, but as your venture grows, you will need staff and getting the right people in the right place is paramount to running your business well. So, let’s start this chapter with the kind of people you must hire along your entrepreneurial journey.

In a start up, you either have bursts of activity or sudden lull. You need people who can quickly switch gears and enjoy working under high pressure as well motivate themselves when there is none. Somebody with a multi-national company experience, unless is really eager, is not the kind of a team mate you are looking for. S/He might have a great reference with great experience but without the appetite to handle the chaotic nature of a start up, s/he won’t stick for long.

So, ideally the people you are looking for are the ones who have worked 2-3 years in smaller businesses, handling multiple responsibilities and who like to throw themselves out there and see how they fare. These are the guys who will take up responsibilities well and share your burden when you come across unexpected situations as you grow. Job descriptions don’t mean anything to such brave hearts but make sure that you do not mistake a yes-boss for someone like this.

You might also come across some ambitious folks who are looking at your venture as a stepping stone for their own entrepreneurial journey. Your start-up might be their lab where they want to experiment. And to a certain degree, it’s okay. At times, a start-up needs to take some risk; a leap of faith somewhere and these are the guys who will back you up, when the time comes, because they are never afraid to experiment, to try something new. There is an element of risk, the guy might not stay for very long with you but there is a chance, s/he might stick around as well and either ways, that, would be a great asset to your team.

As a new venture, you need to spread the word out and there is one better way which is even better than paying media people to talk about you in print or on the web, i.e. real people talking about you/ your business to other real people and that we call social media. Hiring a person who is active on social media might be a great bonus to your company. Typically, you are not looking for a ‘selfie-posting’ user, but someone who engages in conversations, connects with people and likes to tell the social world, what they are currently doing. It need not be Facebook or Twitter, but even LinkedIn works great, because you are seeing just the professional side of the person.

But it’s not just your staff, where people matter. Outside your office, you will meet lots of people and not everybody will become your customers. But meeting a dead end at a business level does not mean you do not connect with the person at all. Considering the person’s experience, designation or simply their willingness to give you time and hear out what you have to say, you might want to connect with them on a different level.

Somebody with tons of experience can be a mentor on your entrepreneurial journey, someone with good contacts can open new business avenues for you, and somebody with a keen interest in your business can be a useful critic or even a friend in times of distress. But, you will never know this, until you invest some time and effort to connect with them, even after your financial transaction meets a dead end.

Making connections does not mean having their business cards or email address in your mailing list. A connection is a person who is ready to dedicate some of his time to you, in case you call. Different people do this for different reasons. Somebody on top of the business pyramid might do it just to mentor a new entrant like you. S/he expects nothing in return and probably, you have nothing that you can offer to him too. But the person’s vision, his experience is invaluable and even his two cents might be the difference between success and failure of your business.

Somebody who is on the same boat as you or working for a larger company in the same area of expertise might open new business opportunities for you but will also expect you to open the door to something s/he desires. This is more of a symbiotic relationship and therefore, works well when information sharing is a two way street.

The third category of people is tricky to handle. They are neither mentors nor friends but mere acquaintances you have gathered and can pretty large circle. You might have interacted with them once or twice and found some common ground but don’t consider them worth investing with your time and energy and that’s fine. Occasional meet and greet is okay until the time, someone with potential leaps out of this pool and heads to the other pools of people you have.

Since your entrepreneurial journey is going to be a unique one, you also have to make sure that the people you surround yourself with are also unique. You need visionaries, you need critics, you need experimenters, you need reckless people, and you also need people with stabilizing tendencies along your entrepreneurial journey. So, if you meet any of these, make a contact, make a connection, they might be contributors to your success in the future.

[* -- Fun Facts: Businesses & Their Names -- *]

Sharp: from company’s first product, the ever-sharp pencil.

Pepsi: named from the digestive enzyme pepsin.

Adidas: taken from the nickname of founder Adolf Adi Dassler.

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Chapter #6 Sales & Marketing

Plan is prepared, your business has a name, and legal structure decided you have some people on board, now what next? A business means certainly you do have products or services to offer, and then it’s important for you to be clear what your business is all about. What will your business do, what you are going to offer and what makes your business special? Questions, but generally, if you are able to tell your potential customers what you think, then you and your business is “ON.”

Knowing the answers to all the questions will help you get to the next and very important step of understanding your market. For your business to grow and prosper, you need to have a very clear idea of what your potential market or customers look like, or who your competitors are. To do this, you need to research your potential market and decide what the strengths and weakness of your competitors.

In business, it is quite common that you and your competitor offer completely similar product or service. It is just that your approach to sales is different. One might offer the product at a lower price, while other might give away some free promotional stuff along with the full order to gain customers. Although this tactic might work in at first, it is not necessary that such tactic will help you retain the customer. What you really need to do is to deliver the level of trust that what s/he (the customer) looking for, even give the customer the reason so as s/he will come back and again conduct business from you only.

Second core aspect value here is that you do understand the importance of brand value. Branding is just not only defined from having one good logo, that’s it. In actual it is more than that as in the world of today where everyone is competitive, you need to offer customers something special and even making the customer consider him/her-self special. That’s what the term branding really encompasses.

This raises the question about how one can achieve the core branding values. Start by thinking what the pros of your product / service are and if it has any cons, consider thinking of turning them into pros. You can even think of certain parameters that you might be uniquely offering, such as affordable pricing or the image of your product/ service in the eyes of customer or the emotional connect your product has with the customer. Define your brand with such series of questions and you will be able to reinforce the brand and remind the customer who you and what your business are.

Third core aspect is the pricing. All other factors for your business sorted, you have to seriously thing about your strategy of pricing well, otherwise you will not be able to get customers and make any profits. Try to charge too much and customers will simply buy from someone else, charge too little and the impression it creates is that the product is inferior in quality. So, a balance needs to be struck to ensure good pricing.

You need to keep a major focus on understanding what the customers’ mind is thinking the time s/he planning to make a purchase. The purchase might be for a single dollar or for thousands of dollars but as a business you need to ensure that your pricing has to be such that it can cover your costs and still make at least some profit for your business. In order to make this workable for you, you need to put an emphasis on understanding the value your product is adding to your customer and also what your competitor is charging.

You are done with your research now but now the question is how you can turn the leads into sales. This is where your marketing skills and strategies will bear fruit. In the age of technology, one simply cannot forget to market products online. I mention it purposely, here, because some traditional businesses assume that selling online is not the right thing for them.

As soon as you start to sell, all you need to put your strong foot holds on your most valuable customers as these are the accounts that that will help you get a better return on your time and money invested in selling the product. It is also important to note here that selling to these customers will not only help you monetarily but also help you gain more contacts in the market and thereby help in generating more sales.

Most businesses forget one major tactic of marketing; promoting their businesses. If your business is on the track of succeeding, make sure you put more money into in it by promoting through different means like advertising, marketing, asking bloggers to write for you and much more. Also, doing promotion on regular basis will also help your potential customers become aware about your brands and products.

If you continue to work on promotion of your products, your customers will definitely consider your product, when they have to make a buying decision. Promotional campaigns can be small or big but they need to run almost on monthly basis and within your planned budget help you business grow.

Chapter #7 IT & eCommerce

So far we have discussed planning, researching, legal worries, money talks, taxes, sales and marketing, but in this modern setup, an entrepreneurial start-up can’t be completed unless and until it integrates technology with it. Whether you are running a restaurant or shopping store, your business requires technology at one stage or the other to succeed and become big.

It is extremely important that you choose the right IT system for your business. You have to make sure that the system you incorporate will cater to all your needs and requirements and is capable of doing everything your business may need on a day-to-day basis. The right IT system will save you money in the long term and will improve the effectiveness of your business. Common points to consider:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Create your first website

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Get started with e-commerce

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Choose and manage your IT supplier

Mix Bag Discussions

Create your first website An individual running a small business or whole big brand, having a website is must and can offer major benefits to your business. For instance providing your customers valuable information on your products or services and inform them what your business is all about, increases your brand value. In short, a website will be your business’ online visiting card.

Starting with creation of website is not an expensive proposition, if you think of it. All you need to do is purchase the domain name that comes at a nominal cost of few dollars and is charged annually. Also, if you are not a web developer yourself or do not wish to hire one, you can select the website builder service that includes both your internet hosting and a cost of your website template.

As long as you put the right set of information on your website, it will result in enhancing your brand’s value while it does not matter that whether your business website looks fancy or not. All it really requires is proper, well organized information for its visitors.

Get started with eCommerce Creating a website is one first step, but you can do even more. You can use the internet as a medium for selling your goods or services, which can help your business, make more profit and even offer an entirely new channel for your potential customer to buy from you. Also, interesting to note, selling online means you are running your business round the clock, the whole year around.

But the most important thing to consider is that running a store online means taking care of your website and ensuring that it does not go offline. This is all technical stuff but as the entrepreneur you have to stay on top of this vital requirement at all times. Further, you also need to think about how payments are being made, how orders will be fulfilled and delivered to your customers and how are you going to keep your customer’s details secure.

You can also even consider using the online well-established marketplaces like eBay or Amazon for your business. They are secure, have been running for long time and increase your chances of selling your product dramatically. The benefit here is that you need not to create a separate website for your business but you can still get a whole new white-labelled store for yourself.

Choose and manage your IT supplier Once your shop/ site goes online with the entire infrastructure, it is very much important to keep an eagle eye on it. You need to have somebody on board who will keep a check whether everything is running fine or not. For this you need to select an IT supplier that specializes in supplying, managing and maintaining IT system. This means choosing such a company is an essential part of selecting an effective IT system for your business. If you believe in making the transition for long term, then you need to have a good professional relationship with the company who manages your all IT supply.

Resources

Accounting Terminology Guide: The guide will help you learn about accounting terms.

AccountingWEB: The site offers accounting industry news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight.

American Association of Franchisees and Dealers

Backpack: A web-based service that organize your company’s information with an ease.

Better Business Bureau: Browse or search for a business or charity’s reputation.

BizBuySell: The site will help you buy a franchise.

Bizwomen: An online community for women business executives and entrepreneurs to connect.

Business Owner’s Tool Kit : The tool kit offers 5,000+ pages of free tips on cost-cutting, step-by-step checklists, case studies, startup advice, and business templates to help small-business owners and entrepreneurs.

Business123: The Biz Guide

BrandChannel.com: BrandChannel.com offers global perspective on brands and the art of branding.

Chief Marketer: Chief Marketer offers marketing executives with insights into key marketing issues.

CPAdirectory: CPAdirectory is the largest online database of Certified Public Accountants.

Direct Marketing Association: The Direct Marketing Association is the largest trade association for businesses.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Intellectual Property

Entrepreneur123: The Entrepreneur Guide

Federal Trade Commission: Franchise and Business Opportunities: The site offers Guide to the FTC Franchise Rule, consumer alerts, Before You Buy pamphlets, and state disclosure requirements.

Franchise.com: The site offers available franchise opportunities.

Franchise Expo: The site offers detailed information on nearly every franchising opportunity known.

FreshBooks: FreshBooks is an online invoicing and time-tracking service.

Fundability: A marketplace where entrepreneurs and investors meet.

Google Checkout: Online payment system by Google.

Google Docs: Google Docs allow you to share and collaborate online.

Hoover’s: Hoover’s offers you up-to-date information about industries, companies and key decision makers.

I2Mag (Business): A well versed publications which offers tips on business along with other things.

Internal Revenue Service: The place where business owners can get all of their federal and business tax information.

LinkedIn Jobs

Microsoft Small Business Center

Mint: Mint helps entrepreneurs with personal finances, money management and budget planning.

National Association for the Self-Employed

National Association of Women Business Owners

NextBigProduct: A website which offers reviews as well as ideas about different businesses over the web.

PayPal: PayPal allows web sites to receive and send money electronically.

Salesforce.com: Salesforce offers online solutions for sales, service, marketing, and call center operations.

Small Business Administration: SBA helps you learn how to start your own business and finance it.

Survey Monkey: Create and publish custom online surveys to gather data you can use.

TradePub.com: TradePub.com offers extensive list of free business, computer, and engineering trade newsletters and magazines which you can subscribe to for free.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Copyright Office

U.S. Department of Labor: Office of Small Business Programs

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Yelp: Yelp works as yellow pages for businesses where one can list their business as well as people will review businesses too.

Zoho: Zoho offers a suite of office productivity tools online, including a word processor, spreadsheet program, invoicing tool, presentation creator, web-conferencing functions and calendar organizers.

Want More? How About Business Setup Help

With now-a-days, it is uttermost important to have an investor-grade business plan with you. Despite it is somehow a difficult task as both in terms of things which come in between as well as on time constraints, BUT the team here at with us will help you with that. We don’t just bring our expertise in helping you out BUT also will prepare the b-plan for you (the one which you are looking onto).

Our business planning services include:

Executive Summaries: The first step which every (almost) investors wants to look onto. Executive summaries are nothing but one or two page executive summary of your business. The aim for such a summary is that one can persuade investors onto considers requesting a full business plan from you. [Service starts at $69 all inclusive]

Business Plan Development: The second (and most important step) for any business who want to pitch an investor. With the expertise we got in hand, we will help you plan your strategy, research as well as analyzes the market you are targeting, leading towards creating a compelling business plan to articulate opportunities for you. Moreover, hiring us for the job means you will be able to save you hundreds of hours of precious time which you can probably spend on other important things in your agenda. [Service starts at $149 all inclusive]

Pitch Decks: Since with huge time change in the recent era, more and more equity investors now prefer to look onto a stand-along pitch deck instead of whole business plan. While a great pitch deck is considered to be the one which tells just the right story with all important relevant ingredients into it, which one will get only after doing thorough research, analysis and strategy. [Service starts at $99 all inclusive]

Business Plan Review: If you have already written your plan, we can provide an objective third party critique sharing about all potential pros and cons which you have to work upon before you send it to investors. [Service starts at $69 all inclusive for (per) 10 pages]

Presentation Design: Most of the time these days investors (as well as partners, customers and/or new hires) are looking for (your business plan) presentation too. While one can consider on making itself but the one such presentation requires huge clean and clear ingredients which will speak up everything in one go. So whether you are looking for capital, partners, customers or even hiring new talent, we will help you out with the same. [Service starts at $129 all inclusive for (per) 10 pages]

Entrepreneur Coaching & Tactical Guidance: Questions like how should you organize your company? Or where should you incorporate? Or what capital structure should you opt? Or can you patent your potential business ideas? Like this, there are hundreds of questions out there which you get puzzled by. To make all such things easier for you, you can hire us for a one-to-one talk (through Skype). [Service starts at $129 all inclusive per two hours]

To Start, drop an email at [email protected].

Annexure: Handy Checklist (Tick either YES or NO)

Yes No

Considering Starting Up

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Find out whether you can work for yourself

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Develop your business idea

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Starting a business: the basics

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Research and develop your business ideas, new products and services

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Common mistakes when starting up – and how to avoid them

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Starting a part-time business

#
p<>{color:#000;}. How do I survive until my business is off the ground?

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Thinking about starting a social enterprise?

#
p<>{color:#000;}. When economic conditions are tough

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Think about the money

Business Planning

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Create your business plan

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Plan to run your business

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Develop your sales and marketing strategy

Business Structures & Naming

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Business structure decided

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Legal name taken

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Hire Chartered Accountant (for discussion purpose)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Domain name purchased

Money Matters

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Business budgeting

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Financial and management accounts

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Set up a simple profit and loss account for your business

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Investment appraisal techniques

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Debt recovery

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Insurance

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Exit strategy

Tax, Expense & Benefits

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Understanding Tax Requirements

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Expense and Benefits (for employers)

Sales & Marketing

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Research

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Branding

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Pricing

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Marketing Strategy planned

IT & eCommerce

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Create your first website

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Get started with e-commerce

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Choose and manage your IT supplier

Once you are done with selecting (YES or NO), count how many numbers of yes and numbers of no you have got and according to that you will able to know what and how much work still left before you actually starting up with your business.

40 | Page

 


#Entrepreneur: The First Step

So, you too, have found yourself in the same run as others who are looking for ways to make their debut in the world of entrepreneurs? Sounds interesting, but do you know starting up is not just a cake walk, rather a cluster of steps that you have to start with and once you accomplish them, only then you can think of reaching high, making it to the big leagues. Let’s start with asking ourselves a few important questions. Probably, you should write down the answers to these questions on a sheet of paper to review later on. • Why do you look at yourself as an entrepreneur? • The idea that you have, does it fit in this frame of time? Is it too old, is it too futuristic? • Finances – Do you have enough money yourself so that you can fuel your venture yourself? Or do you need external help? • The perfect team – Whether you are going to work alone or have people around you who will be part of your core team? • What kind of people do you want to hire? • How are you going to market your venture? • Is your venture aimed for the local market? Or are you catering to a more global market? • How will your organisational structure look like? Will it be privately held, LLC or Sole Proprietorship? What do you think suits you the best? Congratulations, if you were able to answer these questions at your first go. If you are thinking that knowing the answers to these questions, means that your business will perform superbly, well, then you could not be more wrong. Business is not about getting your strategy right the first time, instead you have to think and rethink each and every strategy in the light of new information that you obtain. For now, each of these points needs to be thought about in greater depth before you even get started. But don’t get too worried. This is what this book will help you learn. There are many little things that you will discover along your journey that will shape your business. It is your ability to learn from your mistakes and keep faith in your abilities that will determine the course your business. But before you get there, there are some important decisions that you need to make to start off and this book will help you do exactly that! Take the First Step.

  • ISBN: 9781311200280
  • Author: Karan Chopra
  • Published: 2015-10-27 09:05:09
  • Words: 8559
#Entrepreneur: The First Step #Entrepreneur: The First Step