Category: SME

 
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Forms Of Organizations

When writing a business plan, you need to decide what type of organization you are going to have. There are many types. Marquez discusses what they are.

There are many types of organizations. We can separate them into two major divisions: organizations existing to create profits (profit organizations. Includes business entities) and organizations that exist primarily for another purpose (non-profit organizations. E.g: charity organizations).

3 Types of Business Entities and their common characteristics:

1. Sole Proprietorships.

Sole proprietorships are business that are owned and operated by one person: the sole proprietor. The owner and the business, is then the same. For tax purposes, a sole proprietorship is not a taxable entity, and any profits earned by the business are taxed on the return of the individual. The proprietor must develop an accounting system that distinguishes between his/her personal affairs and that of the business.

2. Partnerships.

Partnerships are businesses that are owned by two or more individuals. For small partnerships, the agreement is often an oral agreement between the partners but it is highly recommended that the agreement be formalized as is done in bigger partnerships like public accounting firms and most law firms. In partnering up with individuals in the past, I felt it was important to outline the division of profits and expenses, as well as the expected responsibilities of the partners in a written agreement.

3. Corporations.

A corporation is an entity organized under the laws of a particular state. That means that it can get into contractual agreements into its own name. They are identifiable by the existence of shares.

There are advantages and disadvantages of each of the above types of business entities. And each is suited to the same business under different stages of its growth. For most, arts and entertainment independent contractors, it is probably Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships that are most common for their use.

Non-Business Entities

Most non-business entities are organized to serve the needs of various segments of society. Examples of these non-business entities are public hospitals, public schools, the police and the army. All of these entities are distinguished by the lack of an identifiable owner. Because of this and the non-profit motive to these organizations, their accounting systems are modified to fit their activities. The type of accounting they use are referred to as fund accounting.

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This article was written for OrangesAndLime.com, to help creative individuals ó artists, musicians, designers, illustrators and entertainers ó build their own freelance businesses. Please note that this article serves as a guideline only. You should still seek professional advice regarding the matter because laws and practices change over time and they differ from country to country.

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Joining The Conversation

Brand marketing is all about enhancing the mindshare of one’s products or services. The aim is for your brand name to be at the top of the consumer’s mind at the mere mention of generic terms relating to your company’s services. Arguably the best way of keeping that mindshare is by having a constant presence where your customers are. In this day and age of electronic commerce, there’s no better place to turn to than the World Wide Web.

Markets are conversations, so it is said. And the Web is perhaps the biggest conversation taking place, with exchanges of information going about the world in lightning speed, as people please-whether they be in email messages, forums, chats, or blogs. How people talk about your brand on the Web can make or break your reputation as a company, or your brand’s reputation as a product or service.

This is where blogs come in handy. The advent of the so-called Web 2.0 ushered in a concept previously unheard of in media and related industries-the massive democratization of content. Web 2.0, among other things, basically lets the consumers of information become the creators of content themselves. The Web is moving away from content with central editorial control, such as newspapers and magazines. Today’s most popular websites are not those controlled by one central group, but include mostly community- and enduser-managed sites, such as Wikipedia and DIGG.com.

Blogs let any individual or group join in on the big conversation. You write about anything online, and someone will eventually read your posts. That person can choose to talk back, and if so, a conversation is started. What’s great is that this conversation is open to the public, and anyone can join in or at least read what’s been going on.

In starting a blog, you can talk about your company’s services, or about the industry you are presently in. It would be fantastic for people to read what you write, and to respond by writing on their own blogs, or commenting on yours. You now have a direct line to your consumer-base. Isn’t that great? You are now able to get a feel of what the consumer wants. What’s more, your presence on the Web boosts recognition of your brand.

Consider adding more people to your army of bloggers-employees, partners, clients (or even hired freelancers), and the effect is multiplied. Your company is no longer represented by a stone-cold establishment. Your brand is represented by names, by faces-that of bloggers!

One notable success story in a “brand” blogging endeavor is Microsoft, the software giant considered by many people to be the “evil empire.” For so long, Microsoft has been the epitome of the stone-cold establishment. It had no human face, save for key persons like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer-executives and officers whom people don’t really know. Microsoft’s brand name had also been suffering because of anti-trust lawsuits being filed here and there. Something had to be done, or Microsoft’s brand might be further associated with “evil.”

In its desire to shift away from all this, Microsoft, in 2004, decided to let employees blog publicly-about their work, about technology trends, about anything under the sun. One mid-level manager by the name of Robert Scoble, stood out, with his profound views and innovative ideas on technology. He was able to successfully communicate with the rest of the world about the inner workings of his company, and along the way dispelling myths about the company. He is now considered to be the persona of Microsoft in the blogosphere. Blogging has now become part of his job description. He is also one of the world’s most popular blogging personalities.

Any business enterprise-no matter how big or small-can use blogs to the advantage of their brand. Whether you’re a startup needing exposure, or you’re an established company that wants to better relate to shed its stone-cold faÁade in favor of a more human approach to doing business, blogging will definitely help your brand go a long way.

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You May Have A Successful Small Business Idea

You surely know that a small idea can lead to a great business success. The first movement is to think of an idea that would be suitable for the business market. After coming up with the idea, the next step is to put that idea into action. Of course, this is a very difficult step and having the idea is only the start of the journey. After that you will have to face many obstacles before being able to carry on with your business project. This is just the beginning of this process and there is a lot of questions you will have to answer before even start.

Some of the main aspects you have to concentrate on when you have business ideas are the abilities and gifts you can pour into the business. It is very important for you to be identified with your business project. Those ideas should be based on activities and actions you take pleasure in doing. For example, if we suppose that you dislike working in the open, landscaping business would not suit you. On the other hand, if you like working with children, setting up baby-sitting or tutoring business would be an excellent idea. In this case, without any doubt you business will be more successful because you will have put your mind, effort and also your heart on it.

Another vital step is to analyze the needs of a specific product or service in your region before setting up your business. Do people of your area need your product? Are there other business like the one you are planning to start? You should ask yourself whether or not you are the only one offering that service or product. If you are not, you will have to analyze the competence you will have to face. You have to think whether the service you are offering is one that customer would repeat, or if it is a one-time specialized service. Obviously, the former are more likely to succeed than the latter.

There are other aspects you have to take into account. These aspects are described below:

– One of them is that if the idea is unique, you will reign the market. But if there is much competition, it will be difficult to enter into the market.

– A second point would be if you can offer quality from the very beginning, otherwise, you won’t succeed.

– Finally, you have to think about your capital to start your own business. There are many business ideas that require little investment and bring great profit. Some demand research, such as daycare service, and others need a large amount of money to begin the business. So take this recommendation into account before investing all your money in a small business idea.

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How To Get Working Capital For Your Company

Do you own a business? If you are like most business owners, you probably have a lot of responsibilities. First and foremost, you have to meet payroll. Every time. You also need to pay rent and suppliers – on time. All this requires working capital.

However, if you are selling products or services to commercial clients or to the government, you are probably painfully aware that they can take as many as 60 days to pay their invoices. Why? Because if you want their business you have to conform to their terms. There is no other way around it.

But this also leads to an impossible situation. You have bills that need to be paid quickly but customers that want to pay slowly. Unless you have a lot of money in the bank, it’s not a sustainable situation. Sooner or later you’ll miss payroll, delay a supplier payment, or turn a large opportunity away.

The solution is simple. You just need working capital. One way to get working capital is to get a business loan. However, business loans are hard to get and can prove to be inflexible. A better solution is to factor your invoices.

Factoring, or invoice factoring as it is most commonly known, is a type of business financing that is ideal for owners who cannot wait up to 60 days to get their invoices paid. It provides you with the necessary working capital to pay rent, suppliers and meet payroll. And, as opposed to a business loan, factoring is easy to get.

Invoice factoring eliminates the usual 60 day wait to get paid by your customers. The factoring company provides you with an advance on your soon to be paid invoices. In effect, it accelerates your invoices. By accelerating your invoices, you get the working capital you need to run and grow your business. And, unlike a business loan, there are no arbitrary limits. The amount of financing you get is only limited by your sales. If your sales increase, so does your financing.

If you are running a business that is growing ñ and you can’t afford to wait up to 60 days to get your invoices paid, consider invoice factoring.

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How to Finance Your Small Business Start Up

It all starts with a great idea, an idea that has probably been in your mind for a long time. You have the product sorted out, how you are going to deliver your service, where you are going to set up your office and how you are going to market your new business. But the stumbling block always seems to be the finance to get you going.

Finding the finance to get a small business off the ground is a major issue for any potential small business. Some new businesses lend themselves to very little start up capital because the main selling point is the ownerís skills and knowledge, for example consultants, web designers, PR specialists. Businesses which require stock holding, plant and equipment and other investment, face the real challenge of getting their start up finance together.

So what sources can you tap into to ensure your business gets off to a solid start?

<b>Your Savings</b>

The first port of call! If you have been in employment for some time then before going it alone you should hopefully have some spare cash behind you. Whether this be in the form of cash in a savings account or shares and unit trusts, this is a good start to your fund raising exercise.

You can be more focused in saving cash if you have had the goal of setting up your own business for awhile. Knowing you need to save to get your business off the ground will make sure you donít spend your future nest egg on unnecessary items. Whilst a new Plasma TV or the latest DVD Recorder may seem to be an essential purchase, knowing that you have a business to set up in the future will be sufficient a deterrent to keep the cheque book firmly locked away!

<b>Keep Your Job</b>

Some business owners are lucky enough that during the early days of the business they can keep the day job while working on the business during the evenings and weekends. This has two benefits. Firstly, they are still earning thereby allowing more time to build up a cash reserve. Secondly, itís an opportunity to test out the business to make sure there is a market.

Make sure that you can realistically keep both balls in the air at the same time otherwise you will end up doing justice to neither your job or your new business. The support of your family is also essential if you are to follow this strategy. They have to accept that what used to be ëfamily timeí may have to take a back seat until you decide to concentrate on the business full time.

<b>Family and Friends</b>

These can be a useful source of finance for any start up. If you have harboured ambitions to run your business for some time, then many of your family and friends are already likely to know about your idea. You should therefore have an indication who is for it and who is against it.

If you havenít shared your secret desire then itís time to be slightly devious! If you are in the early planning stages start drip feeding your ideas to key people whom you think are likely to support you. Tell them your ideas, share your ambitions and goals and on a regular basis update them with your progress. The plan is to get them sold on you and your future business at an early stage.

Once you get to the point where you are ready to start asking for contributions hold an Investor Evening. Prepare a presentation outlining your plans, the business, the market etc. Show the potential investors what their return will be in recognition for supporting you.

Invite as many people as you can and promise an interesting and fun evening, Be bold at the very start; tell them exactly why they are there, so there are no misunderstandings. After you have done your presentation gather all the names of the people who may want more information or even a one-to-one with you.

Whilst this group are people who know you and so are more likely to trust you, donít forget that you are developing a very different relationship which can quickly turn sour. Be prepared for rocky times!

<b>Bank Line of Credit or Loan</b>

Now youíre getting into the serious stuff! Getting support from a Bank for a new business is tough, as many entrepreneurs will testify. One sneaky way is to apply for an unsecured loan while you are still in employment. If you have planned things right you will know when you are starting up, so a few months before you pack your job in, apply for a loan based on your salary. However, make sure that you can comfortably meet the repayments. There is no grace period; you will be expected to pay back immediately, so your business will have to start earning very quickly.

The alternative is a business line of credit facility. There is no fixed repayment date, although they will be for periods from 6 to 12 months, and all you have to do is ensure that you keep within the overdraft limit. You will have to write a business plan to present to the Bank which outlines your idea and the business.

<b>Mortgage or Equity Release</b>

With the way house prices have been increasing over the last few years, the vast majority of people now have substantial equity in their homes. The cheaper alternative to a Bank overdraft or loan is a mortgage. The interest rate is lower and, as the repayments are spread over a longer period, the monthly repayment is less (although you will end up paying more interest in the long run).

The disadvantage of raising cash this way is that your home is potentially at risk. If meeting the monthly repayments is dependent on what the business can generate then a slow start could cause cash problems. So be very sure you can meet the repayments even during a lean period.

<b>Credit Cards</b>

If you havenít got any savings, canít get support from family or friends, or a Bank loan or mortgage, then there are your credit cards! However, whilst itís easy to draw down on your card, be wary! Credit cards are the most expensive form of debt.

They are ideal because all you may have to do is pay the minimum amount but card debt, as most people have found out, can be a long term burden. But, if you need a cash lump sum to kick start the business and you know you can pay it off within a few months, then itís an alternative source of finance worth considering, if somewhat unorthodox!

<b>Business Grants</b>

Business grants are available for specific industries, sectors and reasons. Grant providers will usually only give a portion of your requirement, so they cannot be used to totally finance a start up. However, they can be useful in filling a funding gap.

<b>Business Angels</b>

A popular way to fund a business are Business Angels. These are people, usually retired or successful business people in their own right, who are looking for opportunities to invest in new businesses.

In exchange for an investment they will typically look for a shareholding in the business and some hands-on involvement. They will have a vast business experience and so are useful people to have on board. However, you will have to accept an element of loss of control but that needs to be balanced against your desire for funding.

Getting finance for your new business can be a challenge but there are a number of avenues to explore and so with dedication and focus you could soon be on your way to launching your own small business.

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Local Businesses and Web Sites

It seems that most successful businesses these days have web sites, even businesses that service only certain geographic areas. On the web, where the market place is global, localized businesses can be at a great disadvantage.

A Local Business Web Site Example

Lets use the example of a car cleaning businesses. The business only cleans cars in a specific city, yet wants to use their web site to create more business. Time and money is invested in marketing the site in the search engines, paying particular attention to marketing the site for the specific geographic region the service provider covers. Nonetheless, many visitors from around the globe are likely to stumble across the site if it is well marketed.

Offer Non-Geographic Specific Products and Services

If a local business does not offer some sort of product or service that is available to the global market, than these web visits are wasted. The solution is simple. Local businesses that expend effort marketing their web site should also consider offering additional products or services that can be purchased by the global market.

Product Options

Options for our example – a car cleaning service – could include T-shirts, hats, cleaning cloths, wax and/or soap. Even just T-shirts could be an additional source of revenue, whereas the seller benefits not just from the direct sale, but the advertising the wearer of the shirt will provide.

Drop Shipping Makes Offering Products Easy

To the busy business owner, offering additional products for the sake of web sales may seem like an extra burden rather than a hidden source of revenue. Yet adding products to your web site can be very easy. By using a drop-shipper, inventory is not required. Services such as CafÈ Press allow products to be made as they are ordered.

Affiliate Systems

Also, if the site owner does not wish to deal with inventory and stocking products, affiliate systems can be used for revenue. Affiliate systems allow site owners to signup for revenue sharing programs with other companies. An affiliate program allows site owners to offer the products or services of other companies while getting a commission on sales generated from the site ownerís site.

In short, if you run a business that operates on a local basis only, and also maintain a web site, it may be well worth your while to expand to the global market by adding products or services that can be sold around the world.
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