ABCs of Small Business Industry: C is for Construction

The construction industry has had a rough few years. After the economy dipped and the Great Recession began, a lot of construction and housing projects were suspended or shut down, and the industry was easily one of the hardest hit. Because of this, many are apprehensive to start their own construction firms, and while construction is slowly picking up, one of the biggest concerns entrepreneurs in this industry have is how to protect themselves if the economy dips again. Construction IndustryBut if you start off on the right foot, and take a few precautions, you can run a successful business in the construction industry.

How do you start a construction company?

Construction is a bit different than other industries. For one, you can’t just file for a ‘Doing Business As’ name and start building houses. Continue reading

Six Tips for Working with Designers To Get Awesome Results

Website DesignGood design can do so much to communicate complex information about your brand or company. It serves a purpose, sells an idea and can cut straight through to the target audience. So how can you ensure you get great results on your next design project? Well, being a great communicator is a great place to start.

At DesignCrowd – the design community I help manage – we’ve launched thousands of design projects and the most successful ones were a result of clear, concise briefs and regular feedback. Here’s how you can work smarter not harder with a designer to get a great result for your design project!

 Don’t miss the mark, get clarity - If your goals are not clear and your requirements are confusing, designers will find it hard to decipher what you want and you’ll end up with a design that misses the mark. Share as much as you can about your business or organization (describe your products or services), who your target market is and what key messages, ideas, emotions or attitudes you want the design to convey.

Get technical – You’re crowdsourcing design online so be as precise as you can about specific branding colors (CYMK, Pantone); and where your design will end up being viewed – is it online or in print? Tell the designer your requirements for size, format, resolution/pixels, file types, font types. If you want it, ask or it.

Be present and responsive – The best client-designer relationship is reciprocal. Try to give regular, concise feedback about the designs you receive. You can use email, instant messaging, Skype or online feedback tools to give feedback on style, color palette, typography, and layout of the design concept. If you don’t like a concept than eliminate the design so that the designer can move on and you can focus on getting the design you want.

Visualize your ideas – Designers are hyper-visual. Talk their language by getting ‘moody’.  In other words knock up a quick presentation that displays samples of design concepts you do like. Include patterns, shapes, colors, styles to packaging design, logo design, imagery and more that captures your idea. Useful presentation tools include apps like Pinterest, or you can go old-school and create a PowerPoint to share your ideas with designers.

Communicate concepts to avoid – Telling designers what you don’t want seems counter-intuitive but if you think about it there are probably a bunch of design trends, colors, styles, and more that you want designers to avoid. State this clearly in your brief or include a section in your mood board that includes ‘don’t likes’ – and don’t worry, constraints are good for creativity and innovation.

Leverage the talent – Your designer should be the first port of call for advice and tips if you have hired them directly.  If you’re crowdsourcing design, email or phone the client support team for support, and utilize these support channels if you get stuck.

If you want to refresh your brand or perhaps you have a new design project in mind, following these six tips will ensure you get a design you’ll love.

We also encourage you to take advantage of the special deal that we have prepared for MyCorporation members.  Click here to unlock the deal!

Josephine Sabin is the community manager at DesignCrowd, a crowdsourcing marketplace with offices in San Francisco, Sydney and Manila offering professional logo, web and graphic design – powered by over 400,000 designers and artists from around the globe.

Business Basics – Estimated Tax Payments

Estimated tax payments are one of the biggest shocks for new business owners. They know that they have to pay taxes, they just don’t realize they have to send in a check four times a year! Most businesses that expect to more than $1,000 – or $500 if the company is incorporated – in taxes have to make estimated payments to the IRS. And, since the next quarterly payment is due on September 15th, we thought it’d be a good idea to do a quick rundown of what estimated tax payments are.

Estimated Tax Payment

What are estimated tax payments?
Exactly what they sound like. These payments are simply what you’d normally owe on your income. However, since you don’t have an employer to withhold and send in what you owe, you have to do it instead.
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CRM Solutions and Your Business: A Story Retold

CRM Solutions and Your Business: A Story RetoldWhat does CRM mean anyway? Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is essentially a system that enables businesses to manage data and information pertaining to clients. The aim is to increase sales and offer clients a better service and this goal is achieved by storing information, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities in a central database so that it is easily accessible by all members of the company, especially sales and customer service reps.

But isn’t CRM only available for the use of large firms? Not at all. Not only can small firms afford CRM solutions, but they can also easily integrate them with their existing operations (customer service, sales, and marketing) too. Once customer relationships start to improve, you will automatically generate a greater ROI in the process.

If your small business is ready to take on CRM, read on to find out which tools are the best bet for your business.

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ABCs of Small Business Industry: B is for Business Services

This week we are looking at an industry very near and dear to MyCorporation – Business Services! This is a fairly broad industry, but essentially companies in it help other businesses. That could mean filing paperwork, providing tech support, processing data… the list goes on and on. Businesses helping businesses – what could be better? If you’re considering forming your own company in the business services industry, we’re here to help you out!

business services

Where do you start?

Since business services is such a broad category, it’s kind of hard to answer this question. At the very least you need a ‘Doing Business As‘ name, and should consider filing for an Employer Identification Number. You’ll also need to have all your permits and licenses in order. Unfortunately the ones you need really depend on what other industries you fall into. A tech support company, for example, would need different permits and licenses than a remote office administrator service.

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7 Ways Social Media Can Take Your Business from Good to Great

7 Ways Social Media Can Take Your Business from Good to GreatIn the early days of the internet, the extent of digital marketing for most businesses was deciding whether to bother setting up a company website or not. These days it’s rare to find a business of any size without its own website and the rise of the social media has brought with it a new way to engage with existing and potential new customers. Make social work for you by using these 7 tips to take your business from a good online presence to a great one!

1. Spread brand awareness

According to research from the Pew Research Center, 73% of online adults now use at least one social media site. Facebook remains the undisputed leader with almost one and a quarter billion monthly users – more than 1 in 6 of the global population. Other sites like Twitter and Instagram are also huge and 42% of adults online now use multiple social networking platforms. A social media marketing campaign or presence offers the potential customer to reach a vast new audience across a range of demographics and expand your customer base.

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Why Are Your Designers Leaving You?

Why Are Your Designers Leaving You?Whether your firm is small and speaks to niche-based needs or you are a large company that is trying to be everything to everyone, you won’t get far if you lose designers along the way! A good UX designer is hard to come by, and if you find them and keep losing them, you may need to consider some of the factors going into play as to why you’re losing quality professionals.

You’re Not Paying Enough

Everyone likes to talk about how a great work environment and perks really matter in the workplace, but at the end of the day, it’s all about money. If you are not paying a competitive wage, you are going to find that great professionals may end up at your company, but aren’t going to stay there. Design is an industry that is notorious about underpaying the people who work in it, and if you are guilty of this, word will get around. Make sure that you know what the industry standard is. Depending on the designer that you hire and what their experiences in the field might be, you can be looking at anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 a year. Good designers expect to get paid for their efforts, and if you do not step up, they’re going to step out!

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6 Ways New Business Owners Can Save Money When Starting Up

6 Ways New Business Owners Can Save Even More Money Starting UpIf you’re a brand new small business owner just bursting out of the starting block, how you decide to save money matters. Even if you’ve gotten off to a good start, and revenues are flowing in, every dollar you save goes directly to the bottom line. In order to maximize your savings, keep the following six tips in mind.

1) Score Free Office Supplies

If you typically pick up your office supplies from your local office supply retailer, understand that there are ways to score supplies for free. Enroll in the store’s rewards program and wait for 100% cash back sales. You buy the supplies at full price, then receive the amount you spent in the form of a rewards certificate, usually issued the following quarter. Common free items include printer paper, pens, notebooks, folders, staplers, and scissors.

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How Quick Business Loans Can Encourage Business Turnaround

How Quick Business Loans Can Encourage Business TurnaroundIf you need quick business loans to help you out of a short-term cash flow crisis, what you don’t need is hassle when making these loan arrangements. We know all too well that any delay in making those funds available can lead to an operational headache, or threaten the survival of your business.

Reasons you may need a quick business loan

There could be an unexpected interruption in sales such as a delay in the delivery of stock that slows the flow of money coming into the business. It could be that you need quick business loans to pay for expensive new equipment or machinery in order to maintain production or cope with a sudden increase in demand. In difficult trading conditions, the customer has also become savvier, and more reluctant to make an immediate purchase, if they even make a purchase at all. As a result the retailer is late in paying you, the distributor. They, in turn, seek extended payment terms in order to assist their own cash flow. Suddenly, your usually strict 30 days terms of credit are being extended to 45 days or even 60 days. You will be paid, eventually, but later than you were expecting.

A short term business loan does not always have to be used to plug cash flow; it can be used as a tool to speed up business turnaround. Taking the right loan at the right time can be a great tactic to help you take advantage of business opportunities that come your way. The speed in which you can secure funding may determine how quickly you can push out in front of your competition or equally ensure your business does not plummet further into uncontrollable cash flow problems.

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