Five Great Reasons to Start Your own Business in 2014

20 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb and Have Fun with Your StartupFor many people, owning their own business is a dream they’d really like to make into reality—sometimes, all that is needed is a little more information. We’re halfway through 2014, but there is still time to get the ball rolling. If you are still reticent in making that final decision, here are five great reasons to start your own business this year. 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.

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!

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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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Business Basics: Return on Investment (ROI)

Welcome back to business basics! In case you’ve forgotten, every week we take a look at a basic business concept in order to try to help new business owners better understand it. This week, we are covering Return on Investment, or ROI – a fairly straightforward, but often misunderstood, part of running a business! Though you may think you know all about ROI, you could be using it incorrectly. But first… ROI

What is ROI?

Return on Investment, or ROI, is pretty easy to grasp – heck, the definition is right in the name. It’s whatever return you get after your invest in some part of your business. So if you hire 2 new salespeople, a basic measurement of ROI will be the money they bring in, minus their wages. Continue reading

Why User-Generated Content Matters for Businesses

Why User-Generated Content Matters for BusinessesUser-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that is produced by consumers or users. It can take the form of social media updates, reviews, blog posts, Q&A forums, photos or videos. Many businesses use different kinds of UGC as part of their overall marketing strategy and the benefits getting involved with UGC provides are nearly endless for your business.

  • Enriched user experience – UGC allows your customers and prospects to interact with like-minded people and share their opinions – this could be through posting comments on a blog, on discussion forums or status updates.
  • Enhanced understanding of your audience – User-generated content offers you an excellent opportunity to listen to your customers and be able to better understand their needs.
  • Established trust – Consumers usually base their buying decisions on what other people are saying. Having positive reviews on your site enhances the chances of prospects using your service or buying your product.
  • Search engine optimization – Search engines like Google rank sites based on how unique and relevant their content is. Having user-generated content on your site can play a major role in improving your search engine rankings and even make your site more visible.
  • Cost effectiveness – Hiring designers and writers to create content for your business site can be very expensive, but if you work with an in-house team instead, it’ll help you save on money and time.

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ABCs of Small Business Industry: B is for Banking

As we enter week four of our series, we decided to look at a slightly different industry – banking. Now, focusing on banking may seem a bit odd. After all, most people don’t consider banking as something an entrepreneur can even get into. And while there are loads a regulatory loopholes to jump through, plenty of entrepreneurs do start their own bank! And running a bank can be quite lucrative. So if you have experience in the financial industry, and are looking for a change, this could be just the post for you! banking

How do you start a bank?

Like any business, you need to identify a need. Most communities are served by big-name banks like Chase or Bank of America, and people gravitate towards names they recognize. But even if it feels like your community is over saturated with corporate banks, there could be a place for a small, community bank, like if you decide to focus on serving a particular section or area of the community. Some people also like being able to meet face-to-face with a high-level executive to talk about loans or their account – something they’d never be able to do at a corporate bank.

If the market looks good, you then need to work on getting everything organized. Most states require banks to have multiple directors, who then put in an initial offering to get the bank started, usually around 25% of the bank’s starting capital. Since banks need a lot of capital to run, this is usually a substantial amount of money. Most banks sell off shares to raise the rest of their capital.

When your ducks are in a row, you file for a state or federal charter. Filing this form typically costs thousands of dollars, and requires a substantial amount of preparation. You’ll need to include information like feasibility studies, applications for the directors, projected costs, projected salaries – the state or federal government effectively needs to decide whether or not you’ll be successful before granting a charter. After this, you apply for deposit insurance from the FDIC, which requires banks to prove they have enough capital to cover any risk and losses. It will take a few months before the charter application is processed and, once it is approved, you normally have about a year to start the bank officially.

What business structures are best suited for banking?

Because banks are required to have directors, executives, and shareholders, a bank has to be some sort of corporation. However, in some states, a bank is an entity in itself. Though it is run in the same way a standard corporation is.

How stable is the banking industry?

Very. Because banks have to apply for a charter, an outside organization effectively reviews their business plan and target market, and determines whether or not the idea is viable. Banking costs a lot of money, but if you get a charter, you can usually bet that you’ll be successful. The rate at which banks fail has also slowed substantially as the economy has recovered.

Interested in community banking? Have any questions about the banking industry? Leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772!

What’s the Easiest Way to Resolve Work Conflicts?

What’s the Easiest Way to Resolve Work ConflictsHave you ever witnessed – or even experienced – a workplace dispute that seemed to get worse any time somebody tried to intervene? Even good intentions are not effective in resolving work conflicts sometimes. Trained managers who have the focus to mediate have demonstrated time and time again that they can succeed in supporting the aggrieved parties to reach an amicable agreement.

If your managers know how to handle problems between employees, they will find it much easier to motivate their teams and protect against hits to productivity. However, according to a 2008 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), 66% of respondents reported that their managers needed to improve interaction levels with their staff and 27%  stated that their managers had received no training whatsoever in dealing with workplace conflict. This suggests that there is definitely room for improvement within UK businesses on the use of mediation and skilled practitioners in managing difficult situations.  A study in the U.S. found that an overwhelming majority ( 85% ) of employees at all levels experience conflict to some degree.  Furthermore, it was found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, so these issues are proven, not surprisingly, to be affecting workplaces all around the world.

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Come Hangout with Us on Google+!

Have any questions about starting your own business? Not sure where to even start? Not to worry! We are proud to announce that, in conjunction with the Google Small Business Community, our CEO Deborah Sweeney is going to be fielding any and all questions about the legalities of starting your own business this Thursday. The Hangout starts tomorrow at 12:30 PM, and if you want your questions answered, you’ll need to RSVP and submit them to the moderator here.

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So don’t forget to tune in! We’re really excited about this opportunity, and look forward to a great discussion.

 

How to Build a Solid Sales Team

It can feel odd hiring a sales team after you start your business. You were probably the only salesperson for the first few years of your company’s life, and giving up such an important responsibility can be jarring. However, if you want your business to succeed, you have to learn how to delegate and grow. Sales Team Actually having a sales team is very different than doing sales yourself. You need to trust them, and their skills, implicitly, even if how they sell is different from how you sold. With that in mind, when you first begin to hire and train your sales staff, remember to…

Look for personability

Friendliness and personability are two of the most important qualities of a successful salesperson. It doesn’t matter if someone has three decades of sales experience – if they’re pushy or irritating while selling, they’re going to lose clients. Sales has changed a lot over the last few years. Cold calling is a wash, and the best way to bring in customers is actually through inbound marketing. Your sales staff has to be able to connect with your customers and talk them through the sale, rather than throw pitch after pitch at them.

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4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team Efficiency

4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team EfficiencyOn a regular basis, you probably know by heart that team spirit is very important and that your employees need to come together as a team in order to be successful in whatever branch of business you may be. Even when job applicants submit in a resume, they’re always careful to include a mention that they’re team players and consider what they can bring to the business to be imperative to the team’s overall success. But simply being supportive within a team is not enough. You also need to be able to step up and take all the necessary steps to make the team efficient. Every team has many members and personality types and leading and managing this kind of team isn’t easy to do either. If you want to be successful, you need to inspire your team to reach that point along with you.

Know how to put the team together.

How do you know what kinds of people will best work with you and what characteristics you need to have on board to help out? You can’t compose a team consisting solely of just managers – everyone would be fighting each other to take the reins of the project at all times! If you aren’t even sure of what you should be doing within a team, try taking a test with Belbin.com to find out more about what role is perfect for you and then give the same test to your employees to take for themselves too. You may know your employees well enough already to ensure you don’t need to take this kind of test, but be sure to note that when you assemble the team everyone is able and willing to work together to meet the same goal.

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