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Consider Monetization Programs
Business Advisor
Business Advisor in Eugene OR helping small startup companies succeed.
You will never have your business or service at 100% as there is always something left to do. Do not let this stop you from generating cash flow as quickly as possible. Also, in the early days it is highly important to try to monetize aspects of your business. Most successful businesses have come up with innovative ways to monetize business processes that are often left alone.

For example: If you provide a product that includes a warranty – monetize faster ways for your customer to get their item repaired or replaced. Shipping and handling can often easily be monetized as a small profit center (as opposed to a consistent money loser). Wherever possible monetize as a “benefit” as this process should never appear punitive.

The key is to monetize things in ways that offer options to the customer they would not typically have. Bad monetization of services can also hurt a business. Examples of bad practices would be restaurants attempting to charge for ketchup or breaking with the common practice of free refills etc. These offer no upside for the customer and are obvious and totally punitive. On the other hand, valet parking at a restaurant gives the customer an upside for a fee and at the same time turn part of the parking lot into a money making endeavor.

Once you create business marketing programs like the ones described it’s important that you to perform a cost analysis once they are established. Such an analysis is simple to do, just break out the program out from your standard accounting and keep a running tabulation on it’s level of success. Just remember when you do to compare it fairly against what your hypothetical expenses would be without the business program.

Free Excerpt from the Rapid-Fire Startup Guide You can buy the full guide for just $20 and get free updates for 1 year! It really is filled to the brim with useful information on getting a business going.

Business Analyst
Business Analyst Consultant in Salem OR helping new startup companies succeed.
There are many ways to save time during the day. Every minute counts when you run a startup business – so much so that things that cut down your time usage or raw expenses will help. Here are some tips:

A. Think about using a virtual phone service for your primary office phones. You can easily route services like grasshopper, ninja number and others in professional time saving ways to your cellphone. They even route voicemails to your email.

B. If you need a physical phone a VOIP service like Vonage will let you connect a real office style phone to each line and you can still route from your virtual phone service to that phone (or a group of phones).

C. Services like Ruby Receptionist and MoneyPenny can answer your phone with live friendly type operators. If capturing each customer is valuable this sort of service can be essential. (you can mix this type of service with your virtual phone service by forwarding extensions to your virtual receptionist).

D. Smartphone software. In todays age your smartphone is your office away from your office and it’s essential you have the right apps installed to maximize benefits. Everything from tracking expenses (with apps such as Expensify) to managing groups of engineers (Apps like Slack), unified numerous email boxes with BlueMail, group meetings with GoToMeeting, appointment management with Outlook and much more.

Free Excerpt from the Rapid-Fire Startup Guide You can buy the full guide for just $20 and get free updates for 1 year! It really is filled to the brim with useful information on getting a business going.

Optimize Your Office
C Corp, S Corp, LLC, Partnership? Which is best?
Business Consulting Company
Business Consulting Company in Portland OR
This is a fundamental start-up business decision and once chosen is hard to undo. Your options typically are a corporation, an S corporation, an LLC, partnership (general and limited) and a sole proprietorship. Lots of tax implications involved with your choice here but take it from me the liability drawbacks of partnerships and proprietorship’s are so high that I would say in most cases they should be avoided.

a. Determine the state you plan to legally start your business in. This does not necessarily need to be the state you actually operate the business. I’ll get into NEXUS implications in a later article but here is a hint – LLC’s and S Corps formed in states like Nevada and Delaware have considerable advantages over most states. One thing to keep in mind are the fees for creation of entities in Nevada and Delaware. In recent years they have increased their formation fees as well as the dreaded annual report fee typically provided by your registered agent. These can be $400+ for formation and $350/year for annual reports from your registered agent.

Here is a little-known fact. Wyoming is an alternative state to start a new business. The laws are similar to Nevada and Delaware but both the registration and annual fees are just a fraction of other popular states. It’s important to remember your business does not need to actually be located in the state where your sales occur. In most cases it is best to choose an entity state based on the protections you are afforded.

b. You will need a federal EIN or Employer Identification Number in most cases to get a bank account. This can help in other ways as you can use it instead of other identification in some cases such as your SSN. Here is a link to the IRS to get your EIN: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online

c. Some businesses require a license or licenses. Federal, state, county and local all might require you to have a license. Trade organizations can assist with advice on this as well as the Small Business Administration or SBA. They now have a website that can often assist with this at: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/apply-licenses-and-permits

Free Excerpt from the Rapid-Fire Startup Guide You can buy the full guide for just $20 and get free updates for 1 year! It really is filled to the brim with useful information on getting a business going.

Business Consulting
Business Consulting in Pittsburgh PA helping small startup companies succeed.
There are few actions you can take with your new business start-up decision making that will benefit you more than cutting down your monthly cash flow. Every dime you can save is another day you have to find success!

It’s always a good idea to save money wherever possible in a startup business endeavor. My advice is if at all possible in the early stages designate a portion of your home as your base of operations. Think seriously about this even if you are well funded as it will take some time to work out the kinks of any new business. Once you are comfortable find the smallest space possible that can suit your needs.

Carefully calculate your storage costs and once again if you can store your initial products somewhere for free you should do that. Office location costs and storage expenses are one of the biggest reasons businesses fail. Operating in a painfully small spot will give your business time to grow.

Best Uses for “virtual” offices.

Virtual offices can provide you with a very inexpensive and often wise option in the early stages of business setup. This method will give you an office address, a meeting place when needed and much more professional more professional “optics” for your business.

Often virtual offices range from $100-$250/month. Pay extra attention to the fee schedule of the company providing the virtual office. These extra fees can include mail collection, mail forwarding, appointment scheduling and much more so make certain you get a list of all the fees before you sign the deal.

One major advantage of virtual offices is once you have procured the address you can change the address of your company from your home to your virtual office. This has many benefits- one of them is you will receive some free advertising because as a business address you can list your location in local listings which can be beneficial if your business can make use of the extra exposure.

Another benefit of virtual offices is clients (and others) can mistake your home address for a physical business they can visit (which is usually quite undesirable). If a client attempts to visit you in a virtual office it is usually located in an actual office building. The front desk will contact you when this happens and you can then make an appointment with the client.

Saving money on location and storage (and your initial labor costs) early on may be more important than many realize… If you DO wind up looking for 3rd party capital the first thing they will analyze is your burn rate. All but a very rare few balance sheets for startup businesses look ugly in the early days but cutting those early expenses can make an investment in your idea look a lot more appetizing than others.

Free Excerpt from the Rapid-Fire Startup Guide You can buy the full guide for just $20 and get free updates for 1 year! It really is filled to the brim with useful information on getting a business going.

Saving Money on Your Business Location
Protecting your intellectual property with copyrights, trademarks and patents
Business Consulting Jobs
Business Consulting Jobs in Allentown PA
It’s natural to worry about your business ideas falling into the hands of a competitor. No doubt that happens every day all around the world where businesses scoop up ideas and run with them without even the slightest thought about who thought it up in the first place.

I have seen many entrepreneurs literally obsess over the thought their ideas are either being or going to be stolen. It can easily take over your life and become the only focus of the business if you are not careful.

So the question is how does a startup balance protecting it’s idea base while at the same time rapidly moving forward towards the revenue stage. It’s a question that has baffled many and if often the very reason startups don’t become genuine producing concerns.

One thing I noticed about IP protection is that the costs are insidious as they are often very low in the beginning and then increase rapidly. Ultimately they can potentially soar into ruinous territory while you maintain, enforce and refine your protections.

Here are some notes on how to quickly and cheaply at least get started with IP protection without breaking the bank.
  1. Include protection of your IP in literally any agreement you sign. This includes agreements with contractors, freelancers, manufacturers, hires, consultants and anyone you pay money to in order to advance your business. This can take the form of Non-disclosure/Non-Compete agreements or it can be simply included as a set of clauses in other agreements.
  2. Copyrights are cheap and easy. They protect effectively anything fixed in a recorded medium. That means written works, music, software, photos and much more. Filing is not difficult and usually ~$35 to $60 or so. If done by an attorney it’s as much as ~$300.
  3. Trademarks are low cost and easy as long as you use a graphic rather than a word or phrase. Trademarking words and phrases can become expensive quick. Doing your logo can be as low as $100.
  4. Low cost patents occur and are possible but getting a cheap patent through is rare so beware. These fall into two types – design and utility.
    1. Design patents revolve around the way your product “looks”.
    2. Utility patents revolve around the way your product is used and works.
    3. Provisional patents patents are used to establish your filing date and are just $130. More on that below.
The fees to file with all the adders if you do it yourself is up to around $1,000.

My advice for a startup is to think about option number 3 – The Provisional patent.

Provisional patents are used to cheaply establish your filing date and usually costs $130. This gives you 1 year to get your business going without spending any money on the patent process. Just mark that deadline on your calendar when you use this method.

The patent type to AVOID is the famous “The Poor Man’s Patent” where you draw up your invention and mail it to yourself in sealed envelope. Why? Because in 2013 the United States altered its patent system from “first to invent” to a “first to file”. This means it does not matter if the idea can be proven to be someone else’s therefore you must file before they do.

Free Excerpt from the Rapid-Fire Startup Guide You can buy the full guide for just $20 and get free updates for 1 year! It really is filled to the brim with useful information on getting a business going.