Category Archives: Start Ups

How to Gain Financial Stability for Start-Up Entrepreneurs

Category : Start Ups , Startups

As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to balance business and personal finances, especially when you are on the brink of a big business idea. To secure financial stability for both yourself and your business, read on to discover the best ways to do this and ensure that you can maintain your finances for the future.

  • Consider Personal Finances

Although you may be focused on the finances of your business, it is just as vital to focus on your personal finances to ensure that you can maintain security through the trials of the first business year. If you are struggling to manage your personal finances, you should aim to speak to a financial advisor who can help you to establish the best ways to invest and balance your personal finances to protect your family, such as taking out credit starter loans.

  • Create a Business Plan

One of the best ways to look after your finances in your businesses’ first year is to create a comprehensive business plan which can help to track and predict your business expenditure and profits. Business plans should not only detail the start-up costs of the business, but they should also make predictions as to the expected profits in your first year and how you will manage your money. By creating a business plan, you can then establish goals and targets to work towards improving your financial situation. 

  • Separate Personal and Business Finances

Another option that you need to fulfill in order to protect both your finances is to separate both your personal and business finances in terms of bank accounts and credit cards. This will help you to budget for your business and your personal life by enabling you to see how much money you have to spend and reinvest in each at a glance. Not only this, but this can greatly help you when it comes to your tax returns as you will then be able to easily check your expenditure.

  • Keep Up With Global Finances

To secure financial stability, you should also keep up to date with financial news websites and periodicals from around the world. This will help you to make predictions on the financial outcome of your business and ensure that you can implement changes that can help you to succeed in terms of financial hardship and recession. Through keeping up with the situation in terms of the exchange rate and stability of the banks, you will be able to make changes and prepare for the effect on your business.

  • Track Your Expenses

You can also gain financial stability through tracking your expenses, as this will help you to establish how much money you are spending and how you can cut down on this. Finance tracking apps are excellent for this purpose as this allows you to make a budget, store all of your transactions and can even make predictions on your financial situation in the future. If you are spending more than you are bringing in, then you need to implement changes immediately to secure your business’s future.


6 Tools That Will Bring a Digital Transformation to Your Small Business

Photo by Maria Agudo López on Unsplash

When you started your small business, writing out your daily to-do list and using a simple spreadsheet for most tasks was probably fairly simple and expedient. As your business grew, however, and you added staff, it wasn’t enough anymore to do what was easiest for you. Now you had staff, contractors, vendors, clients and suppliers to think about. Customers are also living in a digital world and expect the ease and convenience of digital tools.

There is no doubt of the need for even the smallest of businesses to embrace digital tools, but making the switch is not quite so simple. Just using digital tools is not enough, you need to make sure you have the right tools for your business. Here are 6 digital tools that can help make your business’ digital transformation a smooth one.

1. Trello

Trello is a visual project management app that can help keep your entire team on the same page and allow you to see at a glance where different projects stand. With Trello, you can create lists and quickly move items from list to list. Trello allows you to quickly see where bottlenecks are happing and move tasks to get things moving again.

2. Slack

Slack is a robust team communication and collaboration app that allows you to quickly search for keywords or phrases, create different channels for different projects, teams or conversations. Individuals can be notified of important information on a different channel they may need to be aware of without being bogged down by a lot of details they don’t need. No matter how small or large your team, Slack can keep everyone in the loop.

3. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the most robust programs you will find to handle all of your email marketing needs. From newsletters to campaigns, Mailchimp allows you to sort and filter lists to tweak, hone and fine tune your campaigns or set it up once and forget it. Mailchimp is one of the very best tools for busy small business owners.

4. SocialPilot

Social media may be one of the best things to ever happen to small businesses. Even the smallest of businesses can run effective social media marketing campaigns and use their social media accounts to create connection and build a loyal following. But keeping up on social media can be a challenge. Hootsuite is one of the most well-known social media management apps but it can also be prohibitively expensive. SocialPilot can do almost everything Hootsuite can do at a much more pocket friendly cost.

5. Office 365

Not all the best tools are new tools. Some of the best tools you may have been using for years, but don’t fully understand their full capacity. Most people are familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, but Office has expanded to include an entire suite of business tools including OneDrive, Exchange and Microsoft Teams. With low monthly subscription Prices, today’s Office may have all the tools you need at a price you can afford.

6. Zipbooks

Quickbooks has, of course, become one of the biggest names in accounting software, but that doesn’t always make them the best. In fact, many small businesses do not need all the features that Quickbooks has to offer or the price tag that comes with it. Zipbooks is a free accounting program that gives you all the tools and analytics you need to take your business to the next level and it’s made just for small businesses. Not only will Zipbooks help you keep your books, but it will also automatically send invitations to clients to leave reviews and provide smart insights about your most loyal and profitable customers.

One of the challenges of digital transformation is creating a smooth streamlined system from all the many tools that are available. In many cases, there are multiple apps and programs you can use that will accomplish the same thing. The important thing is to find the right one for you. If you use Office 365, you might find it more convenient to use Yammer than Slack, but you may prefer MailChimp over Outlook. You will, of course have to choose between a number of paid and free programs, but ultimately the goal is to find the best solutions for you. In some cases, it might be better to pay a bit more for one program that can accomplish 3 or 4 tasks than to use three different programs to accomplish those same tasks.

BIO: Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters


Useful Money-Saving Tips for Startups

Useful Money-Saving Tips Suitable for Startup Mode

Getting a business off the ground is an important first step once the planning and fund-raising aspects have been completed. Once you know how much cash is in the bank for business expenses ahead of future sales or another funding round, it’s time to economize to make the funds last. This can be the difference between having to take on debt or give up another 10 percent of the company due to spending too ambitiously in the early weeks and months. Here are some ways that a startup can save money.

Edit Images Using Free Software Apps

You don’t always need an expensive Photoshop software package to edit photos ready for publication on your company’s website. There are plenty of mobile apps on iOS and Android that let mobile users adjust photos to remove red-eye, deal with blurring, handle overexposure, and other teething issues with hastily-taken shots.

Whether you wish to use a free online editor like Pixlr.com or an app where you can process existing photos on the Android OS, it’s easy to do. There are also plenty of iOS apps that offer filtering features to adjust how photos look or to edit them outright. The editing tends to work better on a larger canvas, so an iPad is perhaps a better choice than an iPhone for detailed mobile photo editing. Click Here to learn which apps would be suitable depending on your mobile platform of choice.

Remote vs Office vs Outsourced Staff

When in startup mode, conserving available funds is important to give your business more time between funding rounds and giving away part of the ownership into the bargain. One cost-saving measure is to consider the benefits of using freelancer’s vs remote workers. Freelancers are available per task, if necessary, rather than hired as full-time employees. Remote workers don’t require an office to come to five days a week which can be beneficial too.

Office staff work well and have reasonable productivity levels, but it does force a move to the initial office space earlier than some might prefer. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it must be factored into the financial calculations. For this reason, it’s a good idea to weigh up all staffing options carefully first.

Consider Previously Used, Not New

Most startups want to dazzle visitors with everything being new and fancy. This is an expensive proposition for a company that hasn’t turned a profit yet. Whether looking at office chairs or work desks, cabinets or drawers, there are certainly places where companies can economize on what they need to get the office looking ready.

When you consider how many companies start and later fail, there are plenty of places that receive almost new office furniture and other items at knockdown prices when the failed businesses had their liquidation sale. Avoid overspending in places where potential clients won’t care and respond to anyone questioning the cost-saving move to provide competitive pricing against the competition.

One of the biggest mistakes of new businesses is spending too much in the early days. It can be a mistake if sales fail to materialize as quickly as the financial projections indicated and this will cause hardship as a result. By moderating the cash burn rate, startups can avoid encountering problems later.


9 Ways to Validate Your Startup Ideas

Having your own business might be something that you envisioned for a long time. Now that you have an idea on what business to pursue, should you jump in right away and get started? No matter how excited you are and how good you think that idea is, it’s still best to pause and validate if your business idea.

Validating your startup idea doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk of failure. However, this will tell you if it has a bigger chance of succeeding. Plus, it will help determine if you are on the right track when it comes to your plans.

One of the things to ask yourself is what problem you are trying to solve or eliminate? Your product or service must be useful for your target audience. It should be the solution for their specific issues or it must make their lives easier.

Know your market. Decide on which group of consumers you will be focusing on. Do your research to find out about their needs, wants, and expectations and see if your idea meets them.

There are more ways on how to validate your idea for a startup business. We compiled them in an infographic to make the process more convenient for you. Find out if your idea is something that is worth pursuing or not with our gorgeous and informative illustration below:

9 Ways to Validate Your Startup Ideas

Guest Blogger: Scott D. is with Start Blogging online: www.startbloggingonline.com

 


Books I recommend by J.R. Atkins, MBA

Every time I do a workshop or presentation I end with a list resources including a list of books. At one of my recent talks, someone asked what other books I would recommend for business owners. I have a long list on my website but here is the short list by category.

Social Mediasocialnomics

  1. Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman

“How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business “

  1. Social Media 2.0 by J.R. Atkins

“A cliff notes version of the Big 5 of Social Media “LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and Video”

  1. Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah

“A guide to increasing online visibility and engagement”

Starting a BusinessJ.R. Atkins recommends a lean start up

  1. Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

“Explains your role as an employee, business owner, self-employed and investor”

  1. eMyth by Michael Gerber

“E is for Entrepreneur. Learn how to work on your business, not just in your business”

  1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

“Before you start your business, know what is important and what is fluff”

Building your BusinessJ.R. Atkins Recommends Blue Ocean Strategy

  1. Crush It by Gary Vanerchuk

“Shows you how to use the power of the Internet and social media to grow your businesses”

  1. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

“How to create uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant”

  1. Failing Forward by John C Maxwell

“Taught me how to convert past failures into future success”

Personal DevelopmentJ.R. Atkins recommends Elon Musk book

  1. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

“The power of thinking without thinking”

  1. Strength Finder by Tom Wrath

“Discover your strengths, use them and surround yourself with others to cover the gaps”

  1. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

“An inside look at a visionary, entrepreneur and billionaire”

I’d love to hear what your favorite books are and why. Drop me a line sometime at

jratkins@SomethingDifferentCompanies.com

J.R. Atkins has been working with individuals, executives and small businesses since 1993 and on Social Media since 2008. He has a BA in Marketing from Texas A&M University and an MBA from The University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus. J.R. serves as an adjunct professor at Temple College and CTC. He has published 3 books Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Road Map to Success.


Are You Getting Your Share of the $25B in Mobile App Sales

The Wall Street Journal today summed it up well stating that the Mobile App business is booming 5 years after Apple launched the App Store. Read the some of the details below or see the full article at the Wall Steet Journal.

Apps Rocket Toward $25 Billion in Sales

Players in Quickly Growing Business Scramble to Figure Out Best Ways to Attract Users and Turn a Profit

By JESSICA E. LESSIN and SPENCER E. ANTE

The mobile apps industry is booming, with Google and Apple now offering more than 700,000 applications each in their respective stores. But for every Instagram, there are thousands of duds. The WSJ’s Jessica Lessin tells us what makes an app successful in today’s competitive market.

Nearly five years after Apple Inc. AAPL -2.42% kicked off the mobile-apps craze, the industry is booming.

App stores run by Apple and Google Inc. GOOG +1.90% now offer more than 700,000 apps each. With so many apps to choose from, consumers are estimated to spend on average about two hours a day with apps. Global revenue from app stores is expected to rise 62% this year to $25 billion, according to Gartner Inc. IT +2.27%

The apps industry has matured in some respects. Some of the Wild West tactics of five years ago—like scams to accrue more downloads—have given way to more order as Apple and others tighten their rules. App developers are more methodical about marketing their apps and focusing on the few apps that work best.

What’s Your App?

Business leaders, athletes and entertainers share their favorite smartphone and tablet apps.

WSJ’s Spencer Ante takes a look at the explosive growth of smartphone, tablet and smart TV apps and how Google’s Android apps have given Apple a run for its money. Photo: Google, Inc.

How big of a money maker are apps? What country’s GDP is the size of the global app economy? How does app use compare to TV in terms of time spent per day? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has answers.

For every Instagram, the wildly popular photo sharing app that Facebook Inc. FB -0.22% bought for $1 billion last year, there are hundreds of thousands of apps that don’t catch on.

As the battlefield shifts to new geographies, new categories and new devices, developers are still trying to figure out which business models are the most profitable.

The apps industry “is like cars at the turn of the last century,” said Simon Khalaf, chief executive of mobile analytics firm Flurry Inc. “You see the growth of roads and know they’re going to be big. But it is still early days.”

TinyCo Inc., a San Francisco-based game maker that released its first mobile game in 2010, is experiencing both the promise and the perils of the apps industry. Today it has 13 mobile games and revenue is doubling. But every day is a battle to acquire users, said Michael Sandwick, manager of strategic partnerships.

The cost of acquiring users through advertising continues to rise by double digits year-over-year, he said, sometimes more sharply when bigger companies seek to introduce a new game. That has forced the startup to better tune its spending based on data about how people are discovering their games.

“There’s an incredible amount of saturation,” said Mr. Sandwick.

Just a few years ago, the apps industry was simpler. In early 2010, Apple’s App Store had a commanding lead with around 140,000 apps for phones. The market was heavily focused on the U.S.

Apple and Google Inc.’s Play store are today neck-in-neck in terms of smartphone apps catalogs and usage, said analysts. Apple still dominates in terms of money made by more than three to one, according to App Annie.

And there are others also offering app stores—to different degrees of success—including Microsoft Corp., MSFT +0.72%BlackBerryBB.T -3.60% -maker Research In Motion Ltd., and Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +2.77%

The app boom has spread to markets such as China, Japan and South Korea. That has led to some apps like social-networking service NHN Corp.’s Line leapfrogging U.S. app-makers in revenue by selling virtual items like stickers.

image

And apps are expanding their reach on devices. They’re no longer just for phones, but tablets and televisions too. The apps are taking advantage of hardware improvements like sensors that can tell an app how fast a person is moving.

In the past two years, consumers have doubled the time spent with apps to about two hours a day, according to Flurry. Yet people churn through apps fairly frequently, making it hard for developers to retain users.

About 63% of the apps used daily now differ from those used daily a year ago. Moreover, consumers focus on a handful—roughly eight apps—at a time.

Michael Duda, a New York-based marketing consultant and investor, said he regularly uses about 12 of the 70 or so apps on his Android smartphone that make his life easier, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Sonos, AmericanExpress and J.P. Morgan ChaseJPM +0.39% .

“A bunch of the apps I downloaded sounded cool,” but he said but most don’t add “utility to my day-to-day life.”

App makers can have a difficult time breaking into a business dominated by incumbents.

Only 2% of the top 250 publishers in Apple’s App Store are “newcomers,” versus 3% in Google’s Play store for Android apps, according to research firm Distimo.

“The bar is so high to build something that is special and valuable and easy to use,” said Jake Mintz, co-founder Bump Technologies Inc., a four-year-old app that lets people share media across phones by touching them. To be more useful, the Mountain View, Calif., company has branched out to share media across laptops too, he said.

Others app makers are coping with the shifting landscape by being more selective about what they build and how they promote their apps.

Michael Bayle, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at Walt Disney Co.’s DIS +0.85% ESPN, said the company recently decommissioned 23 of its 30 Apple apps it had been maintaining, and kept alive its most popular ones.

ESPN dropped an app for Los Angeles sports but kept its popular ScoreCenter app that publishes scores, news and standings from sports leagues, teams and players world-wide.

“It’s easy to make an app but the real expense is in maintaining it,” Mr. Bayle said.

Some app companies are scrambling for new revenue streams and expanding beyond the current leading money pots: ads and in-app purchases.

When music-discovery app Shazam Entertainment Ltd, introduced its first cellphone app about seven years ago, its main revenue came from deals with mobile operators and licensing its audio-recognition technology.

Today it has five revenue streams, including selling ads in apps, a paid premium version of its app and charging television advertisers to integrate Shazam campaigns.

“We have seen revenue drivers change over the years,” said chief revenue officer Doug Garland, declining to comment on its results. “We are figuring out where the best opportunities are and doubling down.”

Write to Jessica E. Lessin at jessica.lessin@wsj.com and Spencer E. Ante at spencer.ante@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared March 4, 2013, on page B1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Apps Explode Into Industry Ready to Hit$25 Billion


How Successful Startups Hire

Check out this short video on “One Minute MBA” on how to hire people for your successful start up. Thanks to Emily Stewart for shaing the content. Please add your comments below.

 


How would you like unlimited storage on your DVR?

Check this out. Unlimited Cloud Based storage for a DVR. So it is your personal “On-Demand” solution?

Professional speaker J.R. Atkins comments on Boxee Cloud Based DVR

Here are the details as published on “No Camels – Israeli Innovation News”

Israeli-American company Boxee has unveiled a new product, called Boxee TV, a digital set-top box which incorporates cloud-based DVR capabilities with online video content from Netflix, Youtube and VUDU, and online musical content from providers such as Spotify and Pandora.

Related articles

Boxee TV has a $99 price tag, similar to Apple TV and other internet-TV providers. One of Boxee TV’s prominent advantages over its competitors is the internal digital antenna, which enables TV reception, such as the Israeli “Idan+” system. Boxee TV also has the processing power of two digital converters, one for streaming content and the other for recording content while watching, similar to what you would find in standard DVRs such as Tivo or the Israeli Yes MAX.

Unlike regular DVR devices, content is not stored locally on the actual unit, but on Boxee’s digital storage. The cloud storage is available for Boxee Tv owners for a monthly fee of $15 and has no storage limit. Users can stream their stored content onto any device that has internet connectiion, including tablets and smartphones – not unlike services offered by Amazon, Google and Apple.

“I like comparing it to the transition from film cameras to digital ones,” says Boxee CEO Avner Ronen. “You don’t need to overthink it. If, for instance, you wish to save six seasons of Seinfeld, go for it,” Ronen added in in an interview with technology blog The Verge.

The Boxee TV is based on the company’s experience with its previous streamer, the Boxee Box, which was commercially unsuccessful. In Ronen’s opinion, the cause for the commercial downfall was due to the fact that they did not have an understanding of business moves done behind the scenes of the content industry. For that reason, he believes that the television industry saw Boxee as a device to be used for streaming content downloaded illegally.

“We didn’t understand the ploys and interests [back then], today we are much more sophisticated,” says Ronen, “I believe that internet providers will love us now, since we give them a reason to offer their customers more bandwidth,” he says with a smile.

To read this article in Hebrew, click here.
Via Calcalist
Photo by Boxee


Foursquare introduces Explore feature, Does this make it better?

Mobile App consultant J.R. Atkins like the Foursquare AppI saw this on “The Next Web Apps” and thought it worthy of discussion. Do you think these recent changes to Foursquare make it more relevant?

Foursquare has just delivered on the promise of what it’s been doing with Explore for years now. It is making its Explore feature available directly on Foursquare.com, even to those who do not use the service.

Foursquare says that Explore is used over a million times every day. And its now making that feature available even for those who don’t check in or have ever even signed up for Foursquare. This, it says, is part of its efforts to ‘reinvent local search’.

“When we first launched Foursquare Explore, we knew we could make great, personalized recommendations for the 25,000,000 members of our community,” said the company in a blog post. “If a person had checked in at ten places, we could recommend ten more that we knew they’d be happy with.”

Founder Dennis Crowley has always been hot on the idea that Explore has significant advantages to those that don’t even check in or use the apps, and this latest move is in line with that position. Just last week at a Pando Monthly event, he said that Foursquare was “the best local search tool in the planet” and that they were just starting to use the service’s data efficiently. Moving Explore to its website opens up that data to everyone, leveraging the power of Foursqare checkins regardless of whether or not you use the service.

Crowley has said that a key moment in the app’s history was when it figured out that Foursqare was being used to “look for where their friends are, to find things, and as a recommendation service,” adding, “It’s almost like it doesn’t occur to them to check in.”


Why do Time, Money & Relationships matter?

Consultant J.R. Atkins discusses time, money and relationshipsVery simply, these are the only three things that matter. I assert that all other issues, goals, solutions, answers …can be boiled down to one of these three. Let’s go through each one and see.

Time is often considered the most valuable commodity. After all, you can get more money, love, people, cars, books …but you cannot get more time. The closest thing to getting more time is to leverage your time or other people’s time. Time is the first commodity we are given to manage. As a young salesman with E&J Gallo Winery, I was taught to manage my time first, then I could manage others, and this held true.

“Too often, when we have money, we don’t have time and when we have time, we don’t have money.” Jim Rohn

Professional Speaker J.R. Atkins address money, time & relationshipsMoney is held in high regard in most of the world. It represents power, accomplishment, wealth, knowledge, wisdom, and even love is often expressed in the form of money or gifts. With money, you can do almost anything. Without money, there are so many obstacles to overcome that most people cannot do anything without money. When I consider the issues I face in life; most of them would either go away or be less important with the addition of more money. Not all problems can be solved by money which brings us to people or relationships.

Money is not the root of evil; “the love of money is the root of evil.” 1 Tim 6:10

Relationships affect us in both our work and personal lives. I have heard many people joke that their life would be so easy without these darn people messing it up. While comical, it is also true. We are made to be in relationship with each other, some more Author J.R. Atkins points out that Relationships Matterso than others, and relationships create issues. As leaders, we are asked to get people moving, creating results. As workers we are asked to follow our leaders and get things done. It is a two way street. Gone are the days where one person orders and the other person complies. We all have to work together, get along, collaborate, avoid confrontation … to generate results and keep the peace.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” 1 Cor 13:13

With these three “commodities” addressed, let’s look at an example of Starting a Business.  To start a business you need all three: time, money and relationships. For example, I connect with many people wanting to build a mobile application for smart Author, Speaker & Consultant J.R. Atkins is a member of Startup Americaphones. Most have little or no money so they put in time and strive to find others that will contribute their money, in exchange for future earnings. Relationships are key in this environment as the entrepreneur must interact with people in order to get them to support his/her idea. They must attract talent, investors, customers, mentors … and all of these require some level of time, money and relationships. Can you think of an issue an entrepreneur might face that cannot be addressed by these three?

The model below represents a “Balanced Approach” where time, money and relationships are seen as equals. Yet, most of the entrepreneurs I speak with would rather have more money and less time and relationships since they can “buy” time and relationships with money. I call this “A Money Centric Approach.” Without enough money, even with plenty of time and relationships, the road to success is very, very steep.

Consultant J.R. Atkins comments on the intersection of time, money & relationships 

How do these concepts and ideas fit into your world view? Do you have an idea of your “hourly billable rate?” Claiming an hourly rate that you desire will help you choose what task you will do and what task you will hire others to complete. Your hourly rate will also help you compute the dollar value of your participation in a project or business.

I look forward to reading your comments, please post them at http://somethingdifferentcompanies.com/blog/

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