On the internet, it might seem quite easy to start a business of your own. In most cases, all you need is a domain name, web hosting, and an idea for your business. However, if you’re going to start a much larger business where you might be hiring employees and need investment money, you might be considering your different options for funding the company or even taking out a business loan.
While there is nothing wrong with investing in your company and getting funding for the necessary start-up phases, it is wrong to not have a clear understanding of what you should know beforehand. Not all business loans are the same, nor are the methods of getting funding for your business. Just like the internet has changed the rest of the world, it definitely changes the way people can create a business, get access to investment money, and build a successful brand in the process.
To help with this process, below you will find a list of resources and key data points that you should know before applying for a business loan.
Review Online Lenders and Banks
Not only has the internet completely change the way business is done in the world today, it’s now offered the opportunity for anyone to get started with an online business of their own. At the same time, it’s also eliminated the need to walk into a bank and apply for a loan in person. Now everything can be done online, along with the necessary research and due diligence to find a quality lender or bank that is right for you or your business.
With this in mind, it’s important to read through online reviews of top lenders and banks, while also searching what the best small business loans are. Not only will you find ratings for each lender, you will also find real reviews from customers and clients who have already gone through the process. No matter what type of loan you might be looking for, it’s likely there is already a resource guide online covering that exact topic and focus. Once you’ve found a selection of top lender that fit your needs, you should narrow down your list to just a few and then make your final decision based of each of the key points below.
Explore Your Funding Options
As mentioned earlier, there are many different options when it comes to borrowing money. Gone are the days when you have to dress up in a suit, throw together a huge business plan and walk into a local bank and pray they will accept your idea. Now it’s all about filing online and finding the right investor or bank for your loan request.
For those in need of getting their hands on money fast, cash advance and payday loan websites are an opportunity (though they usually come at a higher cost), while PayPal also has their own working capital borrowing program as well (which has proven to work well for many existing online businesses). The benefit to having so many options is having the ability to find the right borrowing method that not only fills your need but also has a wide range of payment options to choose from.
Know Your Credit Score
One of the most important factors when getting any type of loan is going to be your credit score. Individuals have a personal credit score and businesses actually have a credit score as well. Depending on the quality of the score and your financial history, the amount that you can actually borrow will vary along with the interest rate that you will have to pay the loan back.
A high credit score is anything above 700, while a low credit score it would be anything below 600. The higher your credit score, the more success and lower fees you will find when borrowing.
A recent article in HuffingtonPost had the following to say in reference to credit scores and loan financing:
FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850. Higher figures represent greater creditworthiness. Anything above 600 is typically considered all right, but you ideally want a score in the 700-850 range for optimal borrowing capability.
As Experian notes, credit scores are calculated using the following formula:
- 35 percent: Payment history
- 30 percent: Amounts owed
- 15 percent: Length of credit history
- 10 percent: New credit
- 10 percent: Types of credit used
Have a Good Idea on How Much You Need
Before applying for a financial loan, it’s best to know why you are going to need the money in the first place and also how much you are going to need. Based on your personal and business history, along with your credit score, the amount of money you can apply for it and be accepted will vary. Another consideration here for how much you should be borrowing will also come down to your repayment plan and interest rates charged by your bank or lender. There is also a big difference between a credit line and a bank loan, as one will charge interest on the total amount borrowed versus the other which will only charge interest on the amount you actually take out.
Understand Loan Repayments and Interest Rates
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you are very good at what you do — which is running your business. However, this doesn’t mean that you will know everything there is about business financing and the terms and conditions that might be placed into your potential long. This is why it’s extremely important to take the time and research all loan repayments and interest rates before applying for your next loan. with so many different options now available online, not all loans are built the same way as traditional bank loans. Some might have upfront costs, others will have interest rates that you can pay over time and some will have a combination of both.
After reading through each of the resource guides and key points above, you should have a much better understanding of what it takes to get a loan for your business, while also knowing how much to request in the process. For more resources and business funding options, be sure to read through our six ways to fund your startup idea article.
How to Find Products and Work with Dropshipping Suppliers in 2018
Drop shipping has recently become one of the most effective ways to launch a successful business online, while also needing a minimal amount of funds and investment to get started. With more people trying to make money for themselves and starting a business of their own, dropshipping is now more in demand than ever before.
Much like we’ve seen in the world of content creation and blogging, it’s quite easy to get started — but there seem to be only a select few who have mastered the process and gone on to make millions of dollars from their online stores. One of the many benefits of starting a business based around dropshipping, is that you don’t need to re-invent the wheel or come up with that next million dollar idea. Instead, you just need to pick the products you want to sell, go live with an online store, and start promoting your business.
It sounds easy enough, but there is some time, work, and effort that will be involved. This is just the first of many factors that comes into play when looking at those who succeed, and those who fail to find success.
To help with this process, today we are going to take a look at the world of dropshipping, what seems to work best, and how you can get started with your own dropshipping business — or being your existing one to that next level.
Dropshipping 101: What is dropshipping and how does it work?
The concept of dropshopping is quite simple and easy to understand. Oberlo, one of the worlds top dropshipping solutions, has created an excellent explainer video that shows not only how dropshipping works, but also why and how their platform makes it so easy and effective for anyone to start a business online.
This can also be summed up in three simple steps.
- Find Products to Sell
We offer thousands for products from trusted suppliers. You can easily import them into your Shopify store and start selling.
- Fulfill Orders Automatically
When you receive an order you can pay for it with a few clicks. The supplier ship orders directly to customers.
- Focus on Growth
With access to thousands of products and automatic fulfillment, you can focus on growing your sales.
In fact, dropshipping is quite similar to affiliate marketing — in the fact that you don’t need to hold inventory. However, one would need to market their store, connect with a dropshipper, and also process orders. In short, you are running an online store the same way any product-based business is, except that you don’t need to actually hold the product, ship it out, and have a massive upfront investment to spend on inventory.
To learn more about the process, be sure to check out my dropshipping 101 reference guide.
How to find the right products to sell?
As with all business ideas and concepts, you need to know what you are going to sell. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something you are familiar with, but instead something you know how to market and get in front of the right audience.
You should also consider how saturated the market is, what your profit margins are going to look like, and how competitive and pricey it will be to start running paid ad campaigns to promote your online store.
There are actually several tools out there that can help with this process:
- Google Trends allows you take a look at the interest in a product, service, or keyword over time
- Amazon and eBay will give you ideas, sales numbers, and customer reviews
Using these free tools and resources will make it easier for you to find a winning product to sell — which is quite important before launching your site. To also help with this process, I recommend you take a look at this article on how to find the right products to sell, which outlines the following key points.
Most good dropshipping products share similar attributes. When researching potential dropshipping products, keep in mind these five criteria:
- The product’s cost allows for a healthy markup.
- The product is intriguing, unique, or eye-catching.
- The product is difficult to find elsewhere online.
- Consumers find it difficult to guess how much it costs for you to buy the product.
- Consumers are happy to purchase the product without too much research.
Assuming you can walk through this process and find a few products you might be interested in selling, how can you then find the right supplier or dropshipper to start working with?
Where and How to Find Reliable Dropshippers
As someone who has had experience with dropshipping, this process is not only the most important — it can also be the most time-consuming.
I can’t stress this enough. If you are going to build a business of your own, where someone else is fulfilling the product, they need to always be on time, reliable, and trustworthy. Back when I ran my first dropshipping site, I actually acquired an online store and got the direct information for the dropshipper. Nowadays, it’s much easier to find dropshippers online, but finding a good one is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Again, Oberlo has not only created a platform and solution that makes it easy for people to start selling online, they’ve also simplified the process of finding a high-quality dropshipper as well. As the company continues to make big waves in the online business space, they’ve recently come out with their own list of “Oberlo verified” suppliers to work with.
In short, if you want to sell a product and need a reliable dropshipper, just go through their list. In fact, you can pretty much “just pick one, we checked them already“, as they say on their site.
However, this isn’t just a simple hand-selected and verified list, there is actually a whole lot more that goes into it. Take a look at how Oberlo Suppliers stacks up against the competition, and the many factors that go into this verified decision process.
With such data and verified information readily accessible, Oberlo has quickly eliminated one of the most time-consuming and frustrating components of starting an online business.
Best Ways to Effectively Promote Your Online Store
As mentioned earlier, it’s quite easy to go live with a website, blog, or even an online store of your own. The real work and challenge is promoting your content and generating sales.
This will all come down to how you effectively promote your online store, optimize your ad campaigns, and learn to correctly price your product for the best conversions and margins possible.
Some of the best working methods for promoting your dropshipping store are:
- Using Coupons – Everyone loves to save money online. Start offering coupons through your site and not only will you see increased sales, you will also likely see free promotion and traffic coming from various coupon sites and forums as well.
- Affiliate Program – Increase sales and traffic to your site by going live with your own affiliate program. Best of all, you only need to pay out money when new sales come in!
- SEO and PPC Marketing – Online stores will always do greats with organic search rankings and using PPC to get high-quality customers to their site. Each method has their own advantages, but as a store owner, it’s up to you to see where your time and money is best spent.
- Social Media and Remarketing – With more than three-billion users on social media, how can you not take advantage of it? A great way to get started is to place a tracking pixel on your site, then delivering remarketing ads to visitors that didn’t convert on their first visit. Facebook Ads is super easy to set up for this.
- Building a Mailing List – A mailing list is one of the best ways to increase sales and grow your business at scale. Always try to collect the email address of users on your site. Offering a 10% coupon is a great way to get users to submit their email, while also possibly increasing the chance for a sale as well.
If you are still sitting on the sidelines and have always wanted to start an online business of your own, right now is the best time to get started.
Just like we’ve seen how WordPress has made the process of building a website or blog so fast and easy, we are seeing that same transformation taking place in the world of online stores as well. There are little-to-no technical or design skills needed to get started. All it takes is the willingness to put in the time, work, and effort… then follow all of the steps laid out for you above.
9 Ways to Lead a Healthier and More Successful Entrepreneur Lifestyle
You know what I’m tired of hearing? We are always told being an entrepreneur is the toughest to start but the easiest to thrive in.
Guess what? It’s not like that at all. I have gone through hundreds of contents about the lives of successful entrepreneurs and here is what I found:
Becoming successful is easy. All you need is discipline and a strict daily routine.
My advice: Don’t study what made them successful. Study what they do on a daily basis.
Below are a number of tricks and strategies I collected and adapted in my own life from several prosperous people in the world.
Come to think of it. Nobody wants to be customers or clients to organizations that are entangled in bribery, fraud, false promises and bad delivery. As an entrepreneur, you must ensure that the products, services, and culture you demonstrate to others are as authentic as possible.
Alexi Panos, philanthropist, television presenter, producer, author, actress, and model believes when we expose our true selves to others, they can relate to us more effectively. By sharing your own story, you attract stakeholders towards yourself.
Do What You Love
Let’s ask ourselves this question: why do we want to be successful? Steve Jobs thought it’s for personal fulfillment. Basically, he believed in finding work that drives our passion provides us with excitement and fulfillment.
Before you become an entrepreneur, decide if it’ll give you what you truly want in life. Mark Cuban, whose net worth is US$3.8 billion, says that people must know what they love and what they’re good at to be successful.
Set the Right Goals
I tell you, be very discrete about this. Not all goals are what we want or what we can achieve. You have to be clear about your goals at all times. Create a Vision Board of all the things you would want to accomplish, and place it somewhere noticeable.
Don’t expect immediate satisfaction. Everything takes time to come to be successful. Relax and know that what you visualized will become a reality.
Henry Ford said, “when you don’t believe in yourself, you are believing in excuses”.
It is common for people to lose hope and become frustrated when things don’t go their way. Don’t do that. Believe in your ambitions. Trust life that it will make it happen.
This is a great way to promote your brand image. When you help others, others will help you. Also, this will ensure you build meaningful, long-lasting relationships.
Co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman notes that you can improve yourself by associating with people who you want to become. Even the people you partner with and employ for your organizations should reflect the best standards.
Promote other organizations and collaborate with them instead of competing, and you will create a harmonious exchange of giving and take.
When you create products or services that help people, they want to be your customers for life. Moreover, when you deliver more than their expectations, they pledge loyalty to you.
Learn from Criticisms
One of the most important lessons is taken from customer feedbacks. You have to tweak your delivery according to your customer’s needs. Unsatisfied customers are the end of an organization.
Don’t be offended by criticisms. Use it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Co-founder of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington recalls that a critic once wrote to her that ‘The Huffington Post was an unsurvivable failure’.
Failures are not the bricks that we carry on our shoulders, but the steps that we stand on to climb upwards. Sophia Amoruso, a self-made millionaire says that those who rejected her once approved of her later on. So failures are never the end.
Time and Stress Management
What you choose to do within 24 hours is crucial. Be proactive. Don’t ever wait for tomorrow. What needs to be done needs to be done now.
Be creative when it comes to fear and stress management. Practice yoga and meditation. Find natural remedies for anxiety such as herbal tea, relaxing wine, and relaxing herbs.
I say this everywhere and I will say it here too. Switch to an organic diet. Your life will change drastically.
Be flexible. Adapt to situations as they come. Don’t be a slave to your past beliefs. If you have an opportunity, analyze it. If it’s favorable, take it.
Take Care of Your Health
You cannot multi-task or run an entire company when you are not doing well in the health department. You need a strong body to perform at your best all day, every day.
Wake up early in the morning. Go for a jog or work out. Exercising your muscles and bones lets your body stay active all day long.
It also reduces the chances of abruptly falling ill. Because if you fall sick, who’s going to run your company?
You don’t have to do everything all on your own. Outsource what you can, delegate tasks to your managers and focus on your own tasks.
Don’t follow the crowd. Do your own research and analyze opportunities wisely. Just because others are making money out of it does not mean you will. Ensure what is safe for you.
Never spend unnecessarily. It’s best to construct a personal budget and record everything daily.
Keep Yourself Motivated
This is the key factor in pursuing goals. If you lose the interest to chase, you will also lose the game.
How can you keep yourself motivated? Subscribe to newsletters and blogs that mentor about motivation and success. Hang out with people who are motivating and energetic.
Don’t just subscribe, but also read and practice the habits that will keep you driven to go on and reach your destination.
Habit is the key. Follow through all of the above tricks and hacks to make the most of your climb to career success.
Be authentic about what you say and do. Know what you want and follow through. Make sure to help others and demonstrate a safe, humanitarian company culture to all your stakeholders.
It is okay to take help from others when you need it. It is okay to be stressed and anxious. Just know what relaxes you and makes you feel better, so that at times when you are not feeling well, you can do something about it.
Keep yourself healthy, fit, motivated and educated. Do this every day because success starts from within first.
17 Growth Hacks to Help Your Startup Scale Faster
Startups are everywhere on the internet today. It doesn’t matter if your expertise, service, or focus is on technology, business, social media, content creation or even applications — this space is extremely saturated! Everyone has ideas, but only those who know how to implement them and turn their efforts into actions will see real results. Just like it’s easy for anyone to start a website or blog, it’s not so easy to get real traffic and make money.
The same is true for starting any type of business online. It’s all fun and games in the beginning, as you are likely starting from zero… but how long can this immediate growth last?
Rapid startup growth is a common goal for many business owners, but it’s one that is tricky to achieve. You need the right marketing tactics, customer support and operational infrastructure — and you need the resources to sustain it all until the sales start rolling in. This is where the opportunity of running an internet-based business really comes into play.
So, what’s the secret to scaling up with speed? Members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their best growth hacks for businesses looking to expand quickly. By following any of the growth hacks for businesses below, you should start to see improvement across the board in a matter of a few short weeks.
1. Create Your Brand
Start creating your brand as quickly as possible. Your brand is an important asset for a startup. People need to know what you do and why you do it in order to use your product or service. The faster people know your brand, the faster you will be able to scale up your business.
2. Learn How to Delegate
The fastest way to scale is to optimize your time. Start with the things that are taking up the majority of your time and find someone to manage them. Hire, outsource or create daily efficiencies, and scaling will feel easier than it should.
3. Focus on Your Processes
Experiencing rapid growth can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how prepared you are. We experienced and are experiencing this growth currently, and it helped expose areas of improvement in our processes. If your processes are broken and you grow fast, it will only emphasize those weaknesses. If you focus on shoring up processes first, you’ll be prepared for fast growth.
4. Draw Attention to Your Brand and Product
Ride on your competition’s research through SEO and advertising. Use Quora as a platform to answer questions related to your product. You will get immediate traffic. Use video marketing on LinkedIn to draw attention and increase followers.
5. Keep Reminding Your Audience About Your Brand
You have to get out there and get your name out. The more people you know who keep seeing what you do, the more they will think of you when they need what you do or know someone who you can help. This is a big reason why people buy from top brands — their marketing is all over the place reminding you.
6. Grow Your Team
The rate-limiting factor of growth of any organization is leadership. Entrepreneurs need to scale themselves as well as their teams. When the team is more effective and growing, the business will automatically grow to greater and greater scale. Nothing matters more than human capital.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Accept Help
If you insist on rapid growth, you’re going to need help. And once you get that help, you are going to need to trust their abilities. Too many entrepreneurs think they can do it all and they end up exhausting themselves/failing. Let those around you help you.
8. Put the Customer First, No Matter What
The bigger your business, the greater the need for a solid customer support infrastructure. Prioritize customer communication early on. Each interaction is an opportunity to showcase your brand’s voice and values. Cultivating loyalty and customer satisfaction is a result of having the right solutions and experts to guide your customer service strategy.
9. Know Your Sales Funnel
Sustainable, fast growth requires every part of the acquisition funnel to be in top shape. This will look different for every business, but it’s always important to pinpoint exactly what isn’t working, whether that’s acquiring leads, converting them or upselling them.
10. Learn How to Get the Right Traffic
You’re great at what you do, your service is wonderful and your prices are well worth the value you provide. The only thing is, nobody knows you and they can’t find you. If you know how to generate foot traffic or web traffic at a good cost, you’ll be able to scale up quickly. Find the right help, or roll up your sleeves and figure out how to do this for your industry.
11. Build a Strong HR Team
Most entrepreneurs do not pay enough attention to HR. To scale up quickly, you need to rely on people. You can’t do everything yourself and let your department heads rely on you in order to move forward. HR comes into play and lets you hire people that you can rely on.
12. Aggressively Network
My advice to startups looking for quick growth is to get the word out about their business or service by any means necessary. Spending a lot of money on marketing and promotion may not be possible in the early stages, but one of the cheapest and most effective methods of doing so is to connect with other professionals. Foster healthy relationships with professional peers.
13. Focus on SEO
SEO is still one of the most effective growth strategies, but it’s hard for founders to execute because it requires content development and the ability to build systems and processes effectively. Double down on content and guest blogging to get backlinks. Stick to it for a couple months targeting niche keywords and you’ll see exponential growth. Most give up too early, but it requires time.
14. Make Time for Strategic Planning
Every year, I make a vision board of what I want in my life. Then, I break it down to the top three goals that I feel I must accomplish for growth. Furthermore, I break it down into weekly actions and daily activities. Once a week, I outline my priorities for that week. I analyze what last week’s activities were, and if I find that I was off track or started another project, I cut it.
15. Get to Market Quickly With Your MVP
It’s critical you get to market as fast as possible to test your assumptions. The concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) is the fastest way to support rapid scaling. It allows you to quickly test your assumptions, iterate your product and accelerate the never-ending work of building a product that remains a must-have to your target consumers.
16. Create Value
Nothing ethical and good is done without creating real and meaningful value for another business. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you a bottle of Uncle Tom’s magical formula. Focus on value and how to make that something that can be shared and promoted.
17. Proceed With Caution
Scale up based on demand, not just because you want to. If you scale up too quickly, you run the risk of overextending your resources and potentially losing your company. Concentrate on the quality of your product and look long term. If what you provide is really worthy of massive growth right away, the market will dictate that naturally and you won’t have to force it.
How to Start Your Startup in the Right Direction
Having read through each of the actionable and expert tips above, you likely already have some good ideas for launching or improving your startup. With all of this in mind, it’s important to take advatage of the many benefits the internet has to offer — especially in terms of connections and online tools.
Take some time to run through our list of recommended business tools and resources, and if you are currently having a hard time with raising the necessary funds for your business, this is also a great resource. No matter what direction or method you take, just be sure to take action daily and always progressing in the right direction.
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