Archive | February 2017

Entrepreneurs Are Looking Everywhere For New Money

loansTimes have been hard for entrepreneurs of late. Take Rick Stender, the founder of a bike company. He wanted to borrow money to pay for bike part imports from China so that he could build a bunch of bikes in the US and then sell them on to his customers.

Unfortunately, thanks to ongoing financial repression by big commercial banks and the government, he was unable to get credit, despite having a viable business plan and a customer base.

A random investor in the local community took pity on his business and lent him the money that he needed when the banks wouldn’t. Stender bought the parts he needed, made back the money to repay and loan, and made the investor more than $4,000 in the process.

Entrepreneurs need to realize, therefore, that the people in their local neighborhood are a great resource when it comes to setting up their own businesses. Most people should forget about banks unless Trump does something to completely overturn the existing financial order.

According to Colbeck Capital Management, one of the problems that institutional investors have is that they overweight idiosyncratic risk while they underweight systemic risk or the risk of excessive leverage.

In practice, this means that banks will quickly find fault in individual business plans and use that as an excuse not to lend money, but they’ll have no problem lapping up highly-leveraged assets, like mortgage-backed securities. It makes for a totally skewed market, and it’s not fair.

Neighbourhood Banks

Because of this unfortunate phenomenon, local communities themselves are returning to their traditional role of offering finance. Instead of putting their money in massive companies halfway around the world, many communities are recognizing the value of having successful entrepreneurs in their own areas and are adjusting their investment portfolios to match.

According to advocates of the system, everybody wins. Wealth stays in the local area, jobs are created, and investors still get a return for putting the money in.

Flexible Lending

Entrepreneurs are also benefiting from this new trend. Rick Stender’s loan wasn’t rigid, like a loan from the bank. Instead, it was flexible because he was able to constantly negotiate with the person making the loan. Entrepreneurs will frequently run into trouble, as was the case for Stender. But even when things were tight, his creditor allowed him to go without having to pay interest for a couple of months, because he wanted to see his business succeed.

According to software engineer, Sallie Calhoun, local investing is key to the success of businesses in the local area. She says that it offers greater flexibility and it makes it more likely that the loan will eventually be repaid.

You’re much less likely to walk away from the person you’re borrowing from if they’re a valued member of your local community. In turn, this has the effect of lowering interest rates overall, simply because it is less risky to lend to a person you know.

 

 

 

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Green Business: Making Green From Building Green

 

green-business

Starting a business is a challenge in itself, but starting out with corporate responsibilities on your mind can be even harder. That doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it because, well, what could be more rewarding than launching a startup that, at its very core, is concerned about the environment? Making green while going green; it’s cheesy but it is more doable than ever before, and that is because trends in consumer behaviour have shifted.

People are looking for more environmentally-friendly alternatives to a wide range of products and services, which is one of the reasons entrepreneurs are looking to go green. They have seen an opportunity to do something worthwhile and make it a financial success story.

One of the most popular areas is eco-friendly construction, which has seen sustainable energy become a big factor in the final product. But is it possible to launch a business that makes the process of construction greener? The answer is yes.

Waste

One of the big areas in which your construction company can become greener instantly is in the way it recycles. The bottom line is, the less that goes into landfills the better, and the construction industry is no exception to that rule. As such, the first step you should take is to invest in front lift bins for business waste management, this way you will make the whole recycling process smoother, more efficient and less wasteful.

It may not seem like a big deal, but a waste truck uses a lot of energy, so making it easier for them to collect and go will reduce the effects on the earth. The next thing you can do is update the rules on each of your sites that state the importance of separating materials into different skips. This has already begun to change with plasterboard having to be separated, but the more proactive you are the more green you will be.

Materials

One of the big trends that we hope will become mainstream in the next decade is the use of recycled materials, and there are already certain suppliers that are selling eco-friendly products to the infrastructure industry, companies like Axiom. Instead of peddling the traditional materials of steel and concrete, they are supplying companies with recycled plastic. But that is just a niche area.

In Colombia, there is an architect that has found a way to build entire houses out of blocks and bricks that are made up with a wide-range of recycled plastics. In the UK, hempcrete is now being developed to meet industry standards, while others are using cardboard to construct houses, once more pushing the boundaries of what is doable.

Machinery

Forecasts have predicted that electric vehicles used in construction, mining, and agriculture will be worth about $80billion, which means the big manufacturers have realized the need to develop in this area.

As such, you should look at exploring this market too because there are a lot of hybrid and all-electric tools and vehicles already out there, all of which will help make your construction business be far greener than your competition, and that can be a real selling point for developers.

Tips on How to Wrap Yourself Up In The Packaging Game

 

packaging

Packing suppliers have seen the game change recently. What was once a matter of boxing and shipping has now become an art form. The way an item or a product is packaged can tell you how special and how luxurious an item is.

Amazon is a great example of a company that places little regard in the way their items are boxed, and they often come under fire for their excessive waste in using a huge box for a tiny item. On the other hand, when you receive something from Apple, you get a shiver roll down your spine and all you can do is smile in undeniable anticipation. It turns it into an experience.

But the need for this type of packaging is rare, and if you are considering starting your own packaging business, you will probably want to start in a more generic niche, like bubble wrap or bottle tops and expand from there. But don’t despair, we are here to help you better understand what you need to do and how you can achieve success.

Know Your Niche

Why is this at the top of our list? Well, by knowing your niche you will know which specific market you should be targeting instead of spreading yourself thin by trying to attack what is an immensely diverse industry.

By attacking a niche, you will be able to focus all of your energy on it, which will see you better use your time and more effectively spend your money. If you are unsure of what niches are available, break the possible markets down into chunks.

It could be you sell packaging to the cosmetics industry, or drinks industry, or specialize in biodegradable packaging.

The Basics

Whatever it is you decide to go into, you are going to need to have the correct equipment. It could be that you lease this equipment at first to reduce the financial burdens and risks, and then buy everything you need at a later stage when you have the capacity to do so and know what it is you will need.

You are then going to need a space in which to start manufacturing, so look at warehouses that are available. We recommend leasing and, remember, a postcode should not be about luxury it should be about efficiency. The location should be done with cost-efficiency in mind, so pick somewhere near your target audience and where you can easily ship to all corners without sacrifice.

The Equipment

Once you have a space to work out of, it is imperative you lease all the equipment you will need. It could be that you invest in 3D printers, or robotics, or a myriad of other things. But don’t stop there, because while these will boost your efficiency, you will need a workforce that knows how to get the best out of them. For example, if you have injection moulding equipment then make sure you invest in injection molding training. It is that simple. Having the right equipment is critical, but it is not enough.

Correct Permits

You are going to need to register for permits if you are going to operate in the retail sector, that is a matter of fact. Which exact permits you will need is not clear, so always contact the small business development office to ensure you know exactly which permit you are to have as stipulated by law.

Business Scenarios That Demand Sensitivity

business

There are some occasions when your business just needs to tread carefully. Having some sensitivity and discretion can keep your business in the good books of the people that matter. And you can avoid any potentially embarrassing situations. On other occasions, it’s all about showing some compassion and handling situations in a way that does as little harm to people as possible.

If you are wondering which scenarios I’m talking about, you will find some concrete examples below. Each of the scenarios mentioned presents challenges for you as a business owner. Things can go badly wrong if you handle any one of these situations in the wrong kind of way. Read on to find out some more.

Fixing PR Disasters

Fixing a public relations disaster can be a real nightmare. You need to minimize the damage that is done to your business and maintain a healthy image. To do that require a sensitive and careful kind of approach.

You need to know how to handle the media, which is something that is notoriously difficult to do. It’s a good idea to build solid relationships with the media figures that matter most in your industry and in your local area. If you can do that, dragging your business out of a PR disaster should be that little bit easier for you.

Dealing with Employees on Long-Term Sick Leave

When you have employees who have been off work for a long time due to sickness, broaching the issue can be pretty tricky. How do you find out when the person can come back without coming across as insensitive to the situation.

It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. The dismissal process when long term sick is involved can be difficult to understand. Talk to a lawyer and make sure that you are able to do it properly and legally. If you don’t, the business will find itself in legal trouble before too long, which is not what you need.

Handling Sensitive Client Information

Sometimes, when you work with clients, they demand a level of privacy. You need to be able to guarantee them this privacy if your business is going to be taken seriously. Clients won’t use your business if it has a reputation for not respecting privacy and handling sensitive information in the right kind of way.

Of course, there are many ways to do this. And what level of privacy your business has to be able to offer depends on what kind of business you run. But it’s something to keep in mind when formulating a plan for the future of your company.

Dealing with Accidents That Occurred on Your Property

Accidents do happen, but when they happen on your property, you have to act quickly. Even if you don’t think that you were to blame for what happened, you have to deal with the issue very carefully indeed.

Because it all happened on your property, you have to take some level of responsibility and deal with the problem. If you were to blame in some way for the accident happening and someone getting hurt, you should try to offer compensation to the person involved as quickly as you possibly can. When you do that, you can make sure that no one takes legal action.

Delivering Information About Redundancies

Redundancies are sometimes required. Of course, no one likes telling people that they have to lose their jobs. So, when the time comes to deliver this information to people. You should be very careful about the way in which it is done.

You should sit people down and explain the reasons for why this action has to be taken. If you don’t, people will be much more likely to feel like they are being treated unfairly by the company. There is no way to make this kind of thing easy, but you can make it slightly less painful than it would otherwise be.

Clinching a New Investor

If you want a new investor to put money into your business, you will have to work hard to persuade them to do so. You need to make sure that you handle the process very sensitively, though. Investors can pull out quickly if they want to.

And your business could be left looking very silly indeed if you make an announcement before all the documents have been finalised. Never jump the gun and let things leak before everything has been signed on the dotted line. This is the simple and sensitive way to clinch the deal with a new investor.

 

 

Hiring Mistakes, And How You Can Avoid Them

hiring

With the exception of your customers, your staff members are the people who have the most sway over the success of your business. You might have a pretty clear vision of what your brand represents and where it’s going.

However, if the people who work for you are disconnected or apathetic to this, you’re not going to go anywhere fast! Here are a few common recruitment mistakes, and the best ways to avoid them.

 

Failing to Engage with the Recruiter

Hiring isn’t the most thrilling thing you have to do as a business owner, so it’s understandable that many entrepreneurs treat recruitment as a checklist exercise, view recruiters as a necessary evil, and strive to keep them at arm’s length.

Any good recruiter, whether they’re universal or have a specific niche like a credit control recruitment agency, will need access to your hiring manager to do their job effectively, usually requiring more than one face-to-face meeting in order to expand on the job brief you give them.

If you list an opening with many different recruiters, and request applications and CVs back in a short period of time, it can result in a very low level of engagement, and a poor end result.

Focusing on Skills, Experience, and Nothing Else

A lot of hiring managers, particularly those in the public service sector, put a candidate’s previous experience above all else, which often leads to bad hires. Sure, when you have urgent or short-term contracts to fulfill, then a distinct ability to hit the ground running needs to be in the criteria.

This is pretty much all down to the candidate’s experience in a similar role. However, when it comes to long-term roles, then you need to look past their more quantifiable assets and think about how well their personality will mesh with the office culture and the department they’ll be working in.

Yes, they’re not going to be all that helpful on their first day of work. However, when you train them into the role and they get used to the way your business works, they’ll turn out to be much more valuable in the long term.

Lack of Efficiency

One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make when running a recruitment drive is failing to move through the whole process efficiently enough. As soon as you’re certain that you’re going to advertise for a role at your business, you need to set the wheels in motion.

This means making sure that all the key decision makers will be available to do their jobs and make the recruitment process happen with maximum efficiency.

If you draw out the recruitment process, you’ll run a significant risk of letting top candidates slip through your fingers. They’ll either lose interest in the position or get snatched up by one of your competitors who placed more emphasis on efficiency.

If you’re doubling as a hiring manager and CEO, then you may feel tempted to place other tasks over your recruitment drive. However, the more you concentrate on hiring efficiently, the better the result will be.

The Perks That Will Snag You The Best Team

gift-packageWhen you want to get the best people on your side and you want to create a happier, more motivated workforce, you have to give a little more. Creating the best employer and employee relationship isn’t just about paying them for their services. It’s about hitting their needs with the perks that can really transform a role into something worth coveting.

 

Offering more freedom

Far too many people are pegged in by their jobs. They have no say over when, where, or how they work. By being able to offer more freedom, you give a sense of autonomy that allows employees to find their most comfortable and productive circumstances. It can be as simple as offering a diversity of spaces in the office to help them better settle into their role. It might involve allowing some remote working. Even offering flexible schedules is a lot easier with the right management software.

Taking health seriously

As one’s job takes up a lot of time, it makes it harder to balance other parts of life. Their health and fitness needs are just one of those parts. Many businesses offer health assessments that help people access sound advice without any cost themselves. Others offer counseling to take care of their mental health. Some will even offer therapeutic services like spa visits to just let employees relax.

All about the green

Let’s make no mistake, the shiniest of all perks to offer are those that involve some money. But there are a lot of different ways you can implement it based on the needs of the business and the employee. Using the best 401k plans for small businesses shows a long-term commitment if you want long-term employees. Incentivizing success with bonuses is great for seeing people excel. If you want them really invested in the company, you can even offer profit sharing setups.

Morale and unity

Feeling a fit with the company culture and the team is important as well. Even seemingly simple perks like a ping-pong table in the break room or a bi-weekly meetup for drinks and a meal can have a tremendous effect in making people feel at home in their work. You can go even further with big annual business trip/strategic meetings/get-togethers, which is particularly useful if you run more than one location or have remote workers that could use the opportunity to meet colleagues they’ve been emailing and web meeting.

Education, education, education

Everyone wants to invest in themselves. They want new qualifications, new skills, and new experiences. Getting on the front line and helping them access education in your time is a great way to show that you are dedicated to the future of your employees.

The perks you offer are going to depend on the kind of business you want to run, but it’s never a good idea to just not consider them. Offering perks doesn’t just add a little extra to the job offer. It shows an employer that cares about the wants and needs of the individuals, not just the whole.

What Are The Safest Investment Ideas?

No investment is entirely risk-free. However, there are some options in which the odds are certainly much more favorable. Whether you have a small amount of money or a large sum to play with, you’ll want to invest wisely in order to get the largest return possible. This means doing a lot of shopping around.

If you have the funds, an investment broker may be worth investing in – a professional who can do the shopping around for you and place money into the right stocks at the right time. Of course, hiring a broker does take trust and many may prefer to save the money by taking the gamble yourself.

business-idea

If you’re currently unsure where to put your money here are some of the safest bets that might be worth researching further.

Property

Getting on the property ladder is hard work, but once you’re on the first rung, moving onwards and upwards gets a lot easier. Most property naturally appreciates over time, so if you have the funds to pay off a mortgage you can sit on a property a few years and slowly get your return.

Of course, there are faster methods such as renting out property – in which your rent covers the mortgage. This entails a lot of work as you have to ensure there is always a tenant and that various laws are always met and that repairs are always carried out on time. However, if you eventually decide to stop renting and sell, you will earn the entire value of the house plus any appreciation value it has gathered over time.

Renovating property is another popular option – which involves doing up a house to increase its value and then selling. Other techniques can include buying big and downsizing, buying a house in an upcoming area or flipping property. With new properties being built all the time and interest at an all-time low, there has never been a better time to invest in real estate.

Gold

Gold is never going to become worthless, unless we uncover a massive gold mine on another planet one day. Prices tend to fluctuate but will always return to a steady incline, many considering it a ‘safe haven’. Political tension is currently causing many investors to turn away from company shares in exchange for gold.

You should always research gold firms to make sure they have a consistent A + rating. This investment is suitable for any amount of money, although you should make sure the gold you’re buying is something you can sell when you need to.

Social Media

Only recently has this become a big area for investors, largely because the forecast has been difficult to read until now. Sites like Myspace proved that a social media site could become hugely popular and then fade away in a few years.

Many worried this may be the case with Facebook and Twitter, however, they have proven their stability and only seem to be growing, making it unlikely that a new social media giant will come along and seize the day anytime soon.

In fact, like Google, these social media platforms have almost wiped out all competition (although Instagram and LinkedIn are also still relatively safe bets). Having a good understanding of how social media works, and where to invest is important. This site offers more information on the matter.

Cloud technology

Investing in new technology can be risky, especially in this fast-paced digital age. You may find the next big thing, but another next big thing may come along eventually and swallow it up (for example vinyl being replaced by cassettes and then CDs and then downloads and now streaming services like Spotify).

Right now, cloud technology appears to be the next big thing – growing at a rapid 28% year by year. More businesses are seeing the potential of cloud storage – a technology that allows you to work on information remotely from any location without using storage spaces on your personal devices – and this seems to be the forecast for the next few years.

Perhaps a new intangible technology will replace it in years to come, but it’s unlikely to just be a fad. As a short-term investment, it may be the most profitable right now.

Cybersecurity

Digital security is much needed in this constantly growing digital world. Software is constantly having to evolve to protect against new viruses and hacking methods. This makes it a good source of investment, that’s likely to be profitable for years to come.

Whilst investing in startups can be risky, new businesses in the cyber security industry may be some of the most profitable. Creating digital security software may cost some money, but maintaining it doesn’t (unlike other companies that may require office space or large workforces to pay for). This means the profits will always be larger. It’s one of the few investments which benefits both the startup and investing firm.

As with all other investment plans, you should do your research first. Get to know the startup owner and their background to ensure that their business plan won’t be a flop.

Renewable energy

Oil prices have started to bottom out as more and more people are becoming environmentally aware. Businesses are going all-renewable as a way of marketing their business and even homeowners are starting to fuel their homes on renewable sources such as solar energy in order to cut their electricity bill.

As a result, there’s never been a better time to invest in renewable energy. With the demand constantly growing, more and more wind farms and solar panel companies and electric car manufacturers are springing up.

Wind farms have become a particularly popular option due to how lucrative they have proved to be. Once set up, wind farms require hardly any funds to keep running resulting in a huge profit.

Of course, you should always gather background knowledge before going down this avenue – you don’t want to invest in the construction of a wind turbine, only for it to be ripped down by a local council two years later because the neighbours found it an eyesore and petitioned for its removal. Get to know the location in which you are investing your money and whether the people there are behind environmental projects.

Foreign currency

Due to today’s political climate, you could argue that this is very risky investment strategy. However, as a short-term money-making scheme, it can gain you a healthy return, so long as you keep abreast of foreign news and currency exchange rates.

Track the history of a foreign currency so that you can get an idea of where it’s headed and how volatile it has been in the past. Find one that seems to have a fairly predictable curve to it and make this your currency of choice.

Unlike other investments, you can pour pretty much any amount of money into this from several grand to £10. Of course, you will have to take into account the transfer cost, which varies massively from company to company. Transfer companies will often provide different rates for different amounts, so bear this in mind.

ETFs are generally a safe bet as you don’t have as much leverage-related risks. CurrencyShares and WisdomTree are two of the largest and most reliable ETF providers. Those that want to invest in foreign currency directly should look into Forex trading.