When you make the choice to jump into small business ownership, it can be tempting to try to get your new venture up and running as soon as possible. But just like the choice to start a business should be carefully considered, there are certain steps in the business timeline that require a thoughtful approach long before you open your doors. Whether your dream is to start a frozen yogurt franchise or a green construction start-up, here’s a step-by-step timeline of how to take your idea from a hazy concept to a thriving business. (more…)
When it comes to small business financing options, it’s usually traditional funding methods that come to mind: working capital loans, SBA loans, business lines of credit, etc. But did you know an alternative option exists that’s allowed thousands of entrepreneurs to launch businesses debt-free? It’s called a Rollover for Business Start-up (ROBS), and it enables you to leverage your own retirement assets to buy a business without having to pay any tax penalties or get a loan. (more…)
Baby boomers are the nation’s second-largest living generation, overtaken only recently by millennials. Even though many boomers have technically reached retirement age, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to stop working just yet. More and more individuals age 50 and older are choosing to embark on encore careers instead by starting their own small businesses.
As a leading provider of 401(k) business financing, my company, Guidant Financial, has seen its fair share of boomers making the jump from employee to employer. We’ve found that the market is exploding with niche opportunities that not only jive with boomer interests but have the ability to be extremely profitable. Here are the top five business industries in which we’ve seen boomers thrive: (more…)
They say timing is everything, and nowhere is that phrase truer than in the world of small business — especially when it comes to business financing. If you’re relying on some type of funding to get your business off the ground, your opening date is completely dependent on when you’re able to secure start-up capital. So before you commit to a deadline, make sure your expectations are realistic by understanding the small business financing timeline: (more…)
Everyone knows Black Friday is the largest shopping day of the year for consumers to snatch up deals at big box retail stores. But for too long, small businesses missed out on the flood of customers. In an effort to remedy this, American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, encouraging shoppers to buy from small, local stores on the day after Black Friday. (more…)
For entrepreneurs in all stages of the business lifecycle, finding funding to jumpstart your business is an integral part of the journey. Not having access to enough capital can quickly derail even the most well laid-out plans, and it’s a problem many entrepreneurs still face, in spite of improving consumer and business confidence. According to the Federal Reserve’s Joint Small Business Credit Survey, 50 percent of small businesses received none of the financing they had applied for in the first half of 2014. (more…)
Customers and clients are at the backbone of any small business. No matter how worthy your products/services are, a business can’t succeed if no one’s buying your goods. But once you’ve established your customer base, the next question becomes how to retain them and get them to refer your business to friends. That’s why how you thank your customers is so important. (more…)
Entrepreneurship comes with its fair share of perks — the freedom to create your own schedule, call the shots and be in charge of your own destiny is enough to make any cubicle worker drool. But it’s no secret that being a small business owner also has some heavy duty pressure; at the end of the day, you have ultimate accountability for your business’ success or failure.
Stressful? It can be.
But while there’s no cure-all for stress as a business owner, there are a few things you can do to ‘keep calm and entrepreneur on.’
Be flexible with your business plan.
Embrace that the first few drafts of your business plan will be wrong, no matter what. There are bound to be details you didn’t think of, or maybe your sales strategy just isn’t working the first time around. That’s okay! Once you’ve gathered enough data, you’ll be able to validate and/or rewrite the plan to better reroute your course.
Who doesn’t love summer? The long days, sunshine, pool time, barbecues and relaxing vacations are a welcome break from the hard winter most of the U.S. experienced earlier this year. Some seasonal businesses, such as ice cream shops and pool salesmen, thrive during warm months, but for others, the sun-filled season comes with a sense of anxiety. Dipping sales, sinking productivity and low morale all contribute to the dreaded summer slump. But by being proactive and making some changes in the way you approach business, it could turn your seasonal slowdown into a sunny success.
1. Modify your outreach times.
Many people spend summer days outdoors and don’t go home until later in the evening. If you want your marketing messages to be seen and heard, send them early in the morning or later at night, when more people will be home.
2. Embrace the good weather.
No one likes to be cooped up inside on sunny days (especially here in Seattle, where such days are fleeting). Encourage employees to enjoy the weather and go outside for breaks or walks. You can even host meetings outdoors, or entire company outings. The more you let your employees spend time outside, the less they’ll dream of it while inside.
When my business partner and I started Guidant Financial back in 2003, we said we wanted to change the way people view retirement investing. Over a decade later, I believe we were a driving force behind the way self-directed IRA investing (or at least the marketplace) developed.
In August, we sold our real estate IRA (or more specifically, our self-directed IRA business unit) because our vision has changed drastically over the past five years. Up until that point we had helped thousands of entrepreneurs deploy billions into small business and franchising through rollovers for business startups, SBA loans and more. And, we want to double our efforts in small business so our broader vision has become to increase the number of entrepreneurs who succeed in small business. We’re approaching it in a number of ways:
- Our company culture. We’ve built a strong team of passionate employees who embrace the vision of helping entrepreneurs. So much so that some of them have even made the jump themselves. In fact, one of our former employees used our services to purchase an existing business and left his role in our company to pursue it. We were okay with that!
- Our presence in the alternative financing marketplace. We’re the leader in rollovers as business startups (ROBS) and undoubtedly the driving force behind the arrangements maturation. I liken it to HELOCs. In the ‘90s, people said “never risk your home to buy a business,” and then it became one of the most common ways people bought them. We brought ROBS to the masses and look at what we’ve done! Over 8500 clients have used our services, $3 billion in retirement funds have been invested and 60,000 U.S. jobs have been created by the businesses our clients have started.
- Our additional financing services. There are many ways to finance a small business and we work with entrepreneurs to determine how and where they can access the capital they need. Our programs include, but are not limited to, SBA loans, unsecured credit, rollovers for business startups, merchant cash advances, equipment leasing, and asset-based loans.
- Our ability and desire to expand. Really, we’re just getting started. As the leader of retirement fund financing, we’ve grown (and will continue to) into a full suite firm that offers more products and services. Put simply: We want to make entrepreneurs lives easier.
It’s exciting to start a business, full of ideas and dreams for what could be. It’s intoxicating to arrive at a place that far surpasses that vision, and realize that there is so much more to do.
David Nilssen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Guidant Financial. Read more tips about becoming a successful entrepreneur in his book, Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership. He can be found on Twitter at @DavidNilssen. The advice in this column should not be considered legal tax advice.