Please meet guest blogger Rae Steinbeck, freelance writer for Funding Circle. In this article, Rae shows us tips for business loans.

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing. 

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It’s a great feeling getting approved for your first business loan. With the money now available, you are eager to move forward with plans to grow your business.

While it is true that you can now further develop your business plans, you should take note that the manner in which you handle this first business loan can significantly impact the financial future of your company.

With your first loan being crucial to the success of your company, you should take some time to make sure you handle it appropriately. If you handle the loan well, it can open up more financing options in the future and even lower the cost of borrowing the next time you need a loan.

To help new business owners start their borrowing record off on the right foot, the following are five things you should do after receiving your first loan.

Schedule Your Loan Payments

With financing approved, the first thing you should do is make plans to ensure you make your payments on time. Late or missed payments can damage your credit record while also increasing the cost of borrowing in the future. It could also come with penalties that will increase the cost of maintaining the existing loan.

By setting a schedule for loan payments and accounting for it in your monthly budget now, you can take steps to prevent the consequences that come with being late on a loan payment. You could even consider setting up automatic payments from your business bank account to make the process easier.

Watch Your Credit Score

As you probably learned through the process of acquiring this first loan, your business credit score plays an important role in determining which financing options will be available and the interest you will have to pay on your loan. Since your first business loan is going to have an impact on your credit score, it makes sense to keep an eye on this number. Wait until you have made a few payments and then start checking your business credit score with some of the major agencies.

Consider Prepayment Options

You should be aware of any prepayment options that come with your loan. In some cases, the lender might let you make a lump sum payment on the anniversary of the loan or they might allow for extra payments at specific times.

If you can prepay on some of the principal, it could save you a considerable amount of money on the loan. Just be aware that some lenders charge penalties for early payments. Check your loan documents to see what prepayment options are available and plan to take advantage of them if you can.

Think About Refinancing

If you plan ahead and make your payments on time, it might open up opportunities to refinance your loan for a lower interest rate or for a longer term. The actual refinancing would come later, but it is good to plan for the possibility right away. If you take care of your payments responsibly and maybe even grow your business, there will be refinancing options in the future. You might even be able to do well enough to get approved for an SBA loan.

Make the Most of Your Loan

As a final point, you need to think hard about how you use the money you borrowed. Develop a plan that is going to convert the money into added value for your business. Whether it is hiring employees, developing your product, buying new equipment or making your operations more efficient, you need to make sure you are spending the money in a way that will grow your business or make it more profitable.

Please note: No affiliate links appear in this post, and it was not sponsored in any way. The advice and opinions belong to our guest blogger, who we thank kindly for her contribution.

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Your First Business Loan: What to Do Next - #startyourownbusiness #career #perfectlyemployed

It isn’t easy when you are out on your own. Sometimes you can feel like a very small fish in a large pond. In order to stand out, you need to look the part – as well as deliver what you say you will. But there a couple of ways that you can make your business look more professional. You don’t need a huge budget to make your business look much larger than it really is.

Website

Having a website is a must in this day and age. You need to make sure that it has all of your information on and that it is accessible to your audience. It should be clean and tidy. Easy to navigate with a great use of white space. Your logo should be easy to see, and a contact form should be a priority for you. Your mailing list can be your crowning glory – because it is your own personal set of hot leads. Although you must remember that your mailing list should ideally contain your contact details, including your address. If you don’t feel happy having what is likely your home address on there, then you should think about using something like https://physicaladdress.com. You own domain is a must.

Images

If you can’t afford to have your own photos taken, then you need to think really carefully about what you use. Often things that are online aren’t free to be used, but rather they are being shared on a photographers website. You can use sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, or Pexels and find an aesthetic that works for you. Try to get photos that relate in some way to what you do and/or how you do it. If you are a writer or an accountant, you will find simply by searching those terms, you are given plenty of well-fitting options. Try not to go for the ones on the first page though. They are the most commonly used.

Clothing

Your clothing says more about you than you might like. If you have Skype calls or face to face business meetings, it is a good idea to make sure that you are dressed the part. Invest in a smart suit, and some lighter business casual wear. Blazers are typically always a good idea, and they appear professional almost all the time. You can create a small business capsule wardrobe that can be used for years. Pinterest has some great ideas about what you should have in a capsule wardrobe to maximize your investment. Looking polished is simple when you have less to choose from too.

Social Matters

Your social media channels should all match up. The display pictures and the headers or banners should all have your logos and information on. And ideally, in all of your information, you will have a link to your point of sale or website. Ensure that all of the sizes are correct to prevent them from looking stretched

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How to look professional as a solo entreprenuer - #soloprenuer #career #startyourownbusiness

How To Create A Great Personal Brand - #career #careeradvice

Personal branding is one of the most important things that you can focus on as a professional. It’s not so different to having a business brand. What it essentially means is that you have a good reputation. It means people know you for being associated with something positive within business (or whatever it is that you do). A personal brand also extends into your online presence. It’s about how you present yourself across the various platforms on the web. There are some things to keep in mind if you want to have a strong, impressive personal brand, and we’ve noted them down here for those looking to secure one!

Be Honest

Whilst it’s important to make sure that you’re selling yourself well, there is nothing more vital to your personal branding than being honest. In fact, being false and not delivering what you’ve promised could lead to the complete ruination of your personal brand. Think about the traits that you pride yourself on, and how you want people to see you as a professional in light of this. The worst thing that you can do is adjusting your personal brand depending on who you’re talking to. Make sure that you’re consistent and honest in everything that you do. This will make or break your reputation!

Do It Now

You may look at the personal brands of your peers, and those higher up than you, and think, ‘how am I ever going to be able to create something like that?’ However, when it comes to forming your image online, it’s never too late to start putting the work in to make it happen. Buy a domain name and everything necessary for a personal website, and get to work on it. If you’re using a platform like WordPress, it’s not hard to do these things yourself (as they offer themes that are easy to use), and giving your LinkedIn profile a bit of TLC is also a good idea. Ultimately, the sooner you start on your personal brand, the better.

Be a Team Player

The biggest thing that will help you to build your personal brand is your ability to be a team player, and to help other people to build up their reputations, too. Perhaps you’ve worked with somebody who did a great job for you, and you could help them to grow their personal brand by giving them an endorsement through LinkedIn, or a reference for them, so that their potential clients consider their services. Although you shouldn’t solely do it for this reason, it also means that they will give you the same support in return, and you’ll be able to build up your personal brand with the help of others.

Be Careful What You Post Online

OK, so this is probably the most important thing to note about a personal brand. Building one up over time is relatively easy, but ripping one down extremely quickly can happen within a flash. One inappropriate photo, or an article that’s pretty damning, can ruin your personal brand in a matter of hours. You need to be extremely careful about what you’re posting on the web, so that you don’t live to regret it in the future. A politically-charged tweet may not seem like the worst thing in the world at the time, but it can ruin your reputation. Old, drunken photos should also be kept out of the public eye.

Get Negative Content Taken Down

If there is content out there that isn’t exactly desirable or useful for your personal brand, then do your best to get it taken down. If it’s on Google, you can either ask Google to remove it (which is the harder way to go about this) or you can ask the site that posted it to take it down, which is the best way to get rid of it quickly. Assuming your friend has posted the picture or comment somewhere, then get in touch with them and ask them to delete it. You’ll find that most people (and sites) will remove the image if you request this. Some may be more difficult to reason with, and you may need to use legal action.

Don’t Focus On Too Much

Creating a personal brand is all about what your main marketing point is, rather than putting a wide range of skills out there to entice an employer. It’s a lot better if you just focus on a few things, rather than trying to make yourself an all-rounder. Let’s be honest, most people know a wide range of skills to a basic level. However, there are a few select skills that they can really use to make a big difference to a business. Think about what your top skills are, and what you can do to really showcase them throughout your personal brand. Don’t try to spin too many plates here, or you could live to regret it.

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Show That You’re Consistent

Something else that employers look for is consistency, and this is an integral part of your personal brand. If you have the commitment to show that you’ve tirelessly worked on building up your brand for the last few years, then it means that you’re going to show a similar commitment to the next stage of your career. Perhaps you’ve posted regular and professional updates across the various platforms? Or you’ve made sure that you’re always posting a well-informed commentary when something big happens in your field? Whatever it is, be consistent and show your commitment.

So, if you want to create a good personal brand, both online and in person, make sure that you keep these things in mind. Building up a reputation, and a profile of yourself online, can be a difficult task. It takes time, but it is certainly rewarding in the end. When your potential employer looks you up, they should see a professionally branded individual. If you follow these tips, then this could be you! Good luck!

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How To Create A Great Personal Brand - #career #careeradvice

3 Things That New Construction Businesses Get Wrong Pinterest - #career #careeradvice

People often say that the construction industry is one of the safest options for people that want to start a business of their own. It’s true that there is always going to be demand for construction companies. You can make good money once you’ve got a base group of loyal customers, but a lot of people underestimate just how hard it is. Starting a construction industry can be a great idea but only if you get it right.

It costs a lot of money to get started in construction. You have to invest so much before you can even start taking on jobs and seeing any kind of a return on that investment. A lot of construction companies fail before they even get to that point because they get some fundamental things completely wrong. If you’re thinking about starting your own construction company, make sure that you avoid these common mistakes.

Not Getting Insurance

The startup costs are so high for construction companies. You need to find a way to manage that properly if you’re going to survive long enough to start making a profit. But there are some things that you can’t cut corners with, especially your insurance. It’s important that you have liability insurance to cover you if anything goes wrong. Liability insurance will pay out if you make a mistake and accidentally damage a customers property. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to cover the cost of that damage yourself and that will probably sink the business entirely.

Liability insurance is also important if somebody is injured during the job. There is a high chance that somebody will try to make a compensation claim against you and the payouts for those cases can be incredibly high. If you’ve got liability insurance, that will cover the settlement. If you don’t have insurance though, you’re going to have to pay for it yourself and, chances are, you won’t have that money. Insurance is an extra cost but it’s a necessary one so don’t try to cut corners.

Spending Too Much On Equipment

It’s important that you do good quality work because word of mouth is a powerful thing. That means you need to invest money in good quality tools and machinery. However, if you go overboard, your costs will spiral out of control. If you need to buy any heavy machinery, you should always look for plant machinery finance options rather than paying for it all upfront. That way, you can spread the cost out and start paying it back once you’re bringing more money in.

A lot of companies struggle because they try to buy all of their tools at the beginning. There are a lot of basic tools that you’ll need for most jobs. The more specific tools that you only use for certain jobs should be bought on a use by use basis. If you take on a job that requires specific tools, you can fund them with the deposit that you get from the customer. By doing it that way, you can build up your equipment over time when you can afford it, rather than spending all of your money right at the beginning.

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Expanding Too Quickly

Most construction companies will start out with fairly small scale residential work and then eventually graduate on to larger projects. That business growth is important if you’re going to succeed in the long term, but you’ve got to make sure that you do it at the right time. One of the biggest mistakes that construction companies make is trying to expand too quickly. They finish a few jobs and start making a bit of money. They decide that they’re going to expand their operation and start taking on much bigger projects. The overheads for those projects are so much larger. They end up putting all of their money into new equipment and material costs. In some cases, it might work out if you get enough jobs to sustain those increased overheads. But more often than not, it doesn’t happen that way and they can’t earn back the money that they’ve spent.

If you want to expand, you should start putting money aside from every job. Wait until you can comfortably afford to take on those large projects without putting yourself in financial difficulty. You should also look for investment to help you cover some of those increased overheads.

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Things new construction businesses get wrong

When it comes to growing a new business, the options can feel overwhelming. New businesses often struggle to find steady cash flow, so you must spend wisely. Knowing where to focus your efforts is the key to smart expansion.

Over the past 16 months, Jarell and I have experimented with many ways to grow our business. We spent money on classes, software, seminars, memberships—you name it. What we’ve found is that when it comes to growth in the early days of starting a business, your efforts must be laser-focused on what will not only grow your business, but grow it in the right direction. 

Define Your Business’ Purpose before You Grow

So, what is the “right direction” to grow your business? Your business should have clear goals and a clear purpose. If your business’ goal is simply “to make as much money possible,” you are going to struggle. Narrow down your playing field to a specific sector. 

If you are going to run an online retail business, you will do better if you specialize in a certain genre of products than if you sell anything and everything. In a service business, you will do better if you offer a specific genre of services. Remember at the beginning of Hello Dolly! when Dolly tells the whole town she can solve any problem, “Just leave everything to me?” Here’s the soundtrack for reference:

 

Well, that “I do it all” idea may have worked in 1900, but in 2019, it just makes you look like a mess. 

In our business, Jarell and I offer very specific services: We build online learning materials. Everything we do in our business supports that goal. This blog is even used in one of our online college courses (Hello to Mr. Beers’ students!).

With that in mind, we can focus our business growth on supporting that business goal. Once you have defined your business goal, here are a few areas where you can focus your energy on growing your business:

Invest in Your Own Learning

While my graduate degrees are focused on education (MS Instructional Design, MA English, MFA Creative Writing), my undergraduate degree is in business management. On the surface, you would think that would have prepared me well to be an entrepreneur in the education field. I assure you, it did not.

We had–and still have–a lot to learn. It’s humbling just how much we have had to learn in this first year of business. From updates to tax laws to even how to figuring out how to start an online K-12 private school, we learn every single day. 

If you are looking to grow your business, start by growing your own knowledge. Learn everything you can. Take a (reputable) online course about human resources. Go to a conference for people in your field and network with presenters. Sign up for a community college course in accounting. Get a new certification. 

Whether you are learning about launching a successful microgreens business from Microgreens Farmer, or you are simply attending a local WordPress users meeting (they are in every major town, BTW—we attended one last year in Orlando), there is plenty to learn. If you don’t know where to start, go on Meetup.com and see what like-minded people in your area are doing to expand their businesses. In Orlando, there’s even a group for introverted entrepreneurs!

Hire the Right People

Jarell and I have been working to build and grow our team for years—long before we took the leap to start our own business. We’ve invested a great deal of time and resources into turning talented interns into exceptional employees. Our hiring pool for any given project is comprised of people we have known a very long time. 

But, if you aren’t as lucky as we are to have a wide hiring pool, you can still hire the right staff for your business. If you don’t have a great deal of money, start by hiring freelancers that you can try on for size without make a huge hiring commitment. You can also run an advertisement for an intern at internships.com.Interns work for free or for cheap just to gain experience, so make sure you have plenty of tasks that will help them gain experience.

Knowing the right people to hire takes time and savvy. The best advice I can give you is always follow your gut instinct. If the person with the prettiest resume and best credentials is a total jerk when you interview, don’t be afraid to hire someone whose credentials are a little less but makes you feel at ease. You can always fill in knowledge gaps, but you can’t change a person’s personality.

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To grow, you must refine the way you market your business. You may have started your business with word-of-mouth referrals, but eventually, you will need to invest in promoting your business. Small expenses like business cards are no-brainers, but in a world where most people search for services online, you have to position yourself so that your intended audience can find you easily and at the right time.

With marketing, start with the free stuff, like creating social media pages. Google picks up Facebook pages, so at the very least, start there by posting important information like your hours, contact info, and services offered. Of course, you should have a website. Most bloggers recommend BlueHost because they have huge referral bonuses. We, however, like InMotionHosting because they have stellar customer support, excellent up time, and amazingly simple tools.

Once you are ready to invest in promotional advertising, try Facebook where you can strategically target specific demographics, or Google Adwords, where you can set very specific spending limits. 

Walk before You Run

One of the biggest mistakes new businesses make is trying to grow too fast. You want your company to grow and thrive organically. However, it takes time to build a business. It takes time to learn how to run your business effectively and how to give your customers precisely what they want. Money trickles in slowly at first—don’t spend until you have a good, solid safety net in the bank.

As far as our business, what I wish I had known in 2017 when we made the jump to strike out on our own, is this: You are going to work far more than you ever imagined you would. All these “internet millionaires” who are telling you that you can run a business in four hours per week are full of you-know-what. We expected a lot of work, but we didn’t expect we’d be working months on end without any sort of time off, or even a moment to go to the grocery store. Running your own business is hard work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Believe me, it’s worth it.

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Where to Focus Your Efforts to Expand your Business - #startyourownbusiness #businessowner #grow #career

If you’ve taken the courageous step to start your own business, there will come a time when you need to hire your first employees. It can be a little scary because the stakes seem high–whoever you hire will help set the bar for your company’s culture and image. 

When you start your search for the perfect employees, there are two things you should think about first:

1. What Makes an Employee a Perfect Fit for Your Business?

When you’re hiring for the various roles that your business requires, you need to take into consideration both qualifications and personality. As a small team, people that are unable to work closely with one another, and do not slide into the identity of the brand, may cause tension and their working relationship with your company could fail as a result. Interviews are the perfect time to get to know a candidate on a personal, and even informal, level, so you can gauge whether or not they are a good match for the rest of your team members and if you will appreciate their presence in the workplace.

Ask a variety of questions, which are related to your business, in order to decipher whether they should get the job. Working out the importance of the job role to the interviewee is crucial; at this stage, your business needs people on board who are dedicated and are there for the long run. Therefore, you should avoid those who are applying simply for the salary or wages. For niche and specialist jobs, you can utilize places like Eightfold.ai’s Talent Acquisition Platform – Online Human Resource Tools for Businesses and ensure that you have access to the right people for each role in your company. Make sure you get the right help and assistance regarding your hiring processes; this will save you valuable time, effort, and money in the long run.

2. What Can You Offer your Employees?

To have the best employees, you have to be the best employer. Benefits like healthcare are expected by most employees, and that isn’t what we’re talking about here. Think about how you manage your staff. If you’re a micromanager, you can expect a lot of employee turn over–good workers will not put up with it. Instead, be careful to hire people who are good at what they do, and then let them do it.

Even if you don’t offer the highest salaries in your business, if you are a good boss, you can still retain great employees. Strive to pay them what they’re worth, though. 

Can you offer your employees flexibility, like working from home or a flexible hourly schedule? Today’s best employees appreciate your efforts to support work-life balance. 

Can you offer extras, like memberships or conference fees? How about tuition reimbursement? The more your employees feel you are supporting their careers, the more likely you are to keep them. 

Rewards and bonus schemes are another way to keep staff motivated and momentum high. If somebody is going to receive a treat for reaching your targets, they’ll be more inclined to push for it in the first place. Reward your team with a regular social event outside of the workplace. If your staff members are getting on well and enjoying each other’s company out of the office; they are more likely to successfully cooperate as a team when they’re in the workplace.

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Hiring the Right People - The first two things to think about - #hiring #career

Starting a business has genuinely never been easier or cheaper than it is today. Thanks to technological developments like the internet and social media, there just exists so much opportunity to create whatever we want.

Although it may be easy in some respects, it doesn’t mean that starting a business isn’t going to be hard work. You’ll need a lot of passion, a real talent and valuable skill that you can turn into a product or service that people will pay for.

You’ll also need a thick skin and a lot of patience. One of the biggest drawbacks of things being so easily available nowadays is that we’ve almost become a society that expects instant gratification in all areas – not to mention so many people out there who make business look like a breeze and sell the idea of making millions almost overnight.

Yes, you can make big money online and have a truly successful career doing something you genuinely love, but you’re not going to have it happen overnight and if you do want to become a millionaire then you really need to prepared to put in the ground work that it will take to make that happen.

In this post, we’re going to share with you some of the top reasons you should start an online business.

1. Online Businesses are Easy to Set Up

Setting up an online business is, today, one of the easiest things to do and there are endless amounts of resources available for free to help you out along the way. If you have a smartphone, laptop and an internet connection, then you already have the building blocks for starting an online business.

2. They’re also Cheap

Unlike with a brick and mortar business, to start an online business, you don’t need to apply for a business loan, rent an office or deal with inventory – depending on the industry you’re getting into, of course, but if you have the things mentioned in the first example, then you really can start a business with very little or even no money, especially if you want to offer professional services, such as copywriting, web design, starting a blog or coaching, for example.

3. You Can Run Your Online Business on Your Own Time

Even if you work full time, the chances are when you get home, you spend a good portion of your time online, so why not put your time to good use and start a business in your spare time. Plenty of the best side hustle businesses have been started this way, and since you get to choose when and where you work when you have an online business, then you can run it in your spare time without committing yourself to a physical office or schedule.

4. Your Online Business Will Give You Freedom

One of the very best things about having an online business is the freedom it allows you to create for yourself. If you want to spend more time at home with your kids whilst also following your passions, or you want to be able to travel the world whenever the mood strikes, then building an online business is one of the best ways to enable you to do this.

5. You Owe it to Yourself

If you’re reading this post, you’re already thinking about starting your own business. You’re wondering whether or not you have what it takes to succeed. Here’s the answer: Of course you do!

Think about all the people selling stuff online right now. What do they have that you don’t? Well, other than a product… 

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5 Reasons to Start Your Own Online Business - #startyourownbusiness #career #sidehustle

We live in a time and a place where women and girls can do almost anything. We can go to school, get a job, vote in elections, and choose exactly how we want to live our lives. That being said, there are still some unfortunate and often overlooked advantages that men have over women, especially when work and pay are concerned. For this reason and plenty more, many women turn to the world of entrepreneurship and decide to start their own business. This is no simple task, so, before you make any commitments, be sure to look for these vital signs.

1. You Have A Support System

Starting a business is far from easy, and there are going to be any number of struggles to face along the way. To ease this burden, it’s vital that those around you support you and the decisions you make. After all, they’re going to be the ones to pick you up after a bad day at the office. You may also want to consider finding yourself a business mentor, to offer advice and guidance from the knowledge they’ve gathered for their time in the entrepreneurial world.

2. You Have The Financial Means

Money is the fuel source that keeps the world of business moving, which is why you need to ensure that you’ve got the cash you need to get your startup up and running. If you have any major debts right now, you should get those sorted before you go borrowing any more money. A debt consolidation site, like https://debtconsolidation.co, may be able to make this easier for you. Before borrowing from the bank, consider your own savings and borrowing from angel investors.

3. You’ve Written A Business Plan

Whether you intend to borrow money or not, every smart businesswoman needs a plan. This will serve as a support to keep your company on track and prevent you from making any avoidable financial mistakes. This business plan doesn’t need to be particularly detailed or long, but it should contain all of the information you need to know on every area of your company. You can visit https://articles.bplans.com/ for help and advice with this task.

4. You Understand The Risks Involved

Before you jump into your business planning, you need to make sure you do your research and understand all of the potential risks involved. Read business related books, check out a few business blogs, and speak to other entrepreneurs in your field. If you can, have a chat with individuals who have made huge mistakes in the past so that you know what to look out for and how to avoid them.

5. You’re Passionate About Your Ideas

Businesses might exist to make money, but, if you want to succeed, then yours needs to be about so much more than simple financial gain. Running a business is an exhausting and complicated challenge, and, because of this, there are going to be times when you want to give up. Unfortunately, in these moments, money alone won’t be enough to keep you going. This is why you need to be passionate about and emotionally invested in your company and ideas.

Quitting your job to go and become a businesswoman is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before you make any huge commitments, make sure you look for signs that you’re ready for the challenge.

5 Signs You're Ready to be a Businesswoman - #entrepreneur #Career #bosslady #businesswoman