5 Questions To Answer Before Starting A Business

Starting a business is every bit as stressful and exciting as it sounds; even after you compare product ideas and decide which direction you want to take your business, you’re still going to have a huge number of questions about setting yourself up for success. While even the world’s most respected and well-established entrepreneurs make mistakes in their businesses and failure will inevitably be part of your process at some point, too, there are some things you can do to avoid making mistakes in your startup as much as possible.

  1. What Idea is Best for You?

Some people are going into business because they have a passion project they want to pursue. That’s not a bad reason for going into business, but if you don’t have a product, service, or idea you’re feeling super enthusiastic about, don’t despair. Just as many businesses are started by owners who just did their research and picked a safe bet.

You don’t want to have any second thoughts about whether you selected the right idea for your business, so should spend as much time as necessary comparing ideas. Business News Daily shares a long list of in-demand business opportunities for 2018. If you’re struggling to decide what to do, one of these ideas could be perfect for you.

Even if you have the perfect idea in mind, it’s likely you’ll still have some doubt in the back of your mind, which is natural and to be expected. The important thing is to move forward with confidence knowing you researched your idea thoroughly and are doing everything in your power to make your concept a success.

  1. What will it Cost?

It can be a challenge to work through the costs associated with starting a business. Even so, this is a step you need to take both early and often. If you don’t, you could find yourself starting (or eventually maintaining) a company that sucks you dry.

According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the average cost to start a business from scratch is $30,000. Even though this is a lot of money, you may find you can get your company started for much less. For instance, if you choose to run an online store from the comfort of your home, you probably won’t spend anywhere close to that amount. With the advent of the internet and the increasing demand for online shopping, it’s possible to establish a business with little more than a smartphone and internet access.

  1. Where will You Turn for Funding?

There are people out there who have all the money they need to start a business, and more power to them, but most of us are going to need a little extra help to keep things moving in the right direction. If you require outside funding to launch your business idea, take the time to learn about the many different types of business loans available to you. There are traditional term loans, business lines of credit, equipment loans, and many more to consider, each with their own pros and cons.

Alternatively, you may be able to use other funding to keep momentum; many entrepreneurs find friends and family are willing to pitch in, and platforms like Kickstarter have made it easier than ever to crowdsource funding for a great idea.

  1. Do You Need to Hire Help?

This is a big question you need to tackle early on; while many entrepreneurs will be able to keep their business afloat for a period of time without any extra hands on deck, almost every business is going to need an employee or two at some point in the process. In fact, many business owners find they need to bring on help from day one.

Monster.com shares a variety of tips for hiring the right person for your open position, but the most important thing to remember is never to make the mistake of hiring just anyone. Be patient and wait for the right fit, as employee turnover is expensive and time-consuming.

  1. Will You Work From Home or a Traditional Office?

There are pros and cons to both options, so you’ll want to carefully consider your decision. For example, working at home provides you with a high level of flexibility. That’s why there are approximately 38 million home-based businesses in the United States alone.

On the flipside, it can be hard to get into a “work groove” when you never leave the house, and many people struggle to be productive at home. This may push you toward renting traditional office space. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, so make the decision that’s best for your personality, your new company, and the way you want to work.

What burning questions do you have about starting your own business? Ask them in the comments!

Do you own a small business? Here are 10 questions you should be asking your insurance agent.

If you own a small business one of your largest expenses is commercial insurance.  In most states general liability and workers’ compensation are required by law.  Other coverages are dependent upon the industry you operate in and the amount of risk your business is willing to take on.  There are many aspects that go in to this decision and partnering with a trusted and experienced independent insurance agent can help you save immensely on commercial insurance.  Taking some extra time to speak with this agent about all aspects of your business is important as well.  Here are 10 questions you should ask any potential insurance agent.

What is your experience and do you have any credentials? 

Experience and credentials can be used not only as a litmus test, but they can tell you a little about the experience and the knowledge of your broker.  You should not discredit a young or inexperienced agent automatically.  An agent with limited experience can make up for that with enthusiasm and energy.  A more established agent might not be as hungry for your new business and as a result they may not give you the specialized attention you need. The main thing is to get to know your broker beyond the basic information on her card or website.

Do you personalize policies?

Depending upon your industry this can be extremely important.  Many insurance carriers offer cookie cutter business owner packages and they do not deviate from those packages.  This is good for some businesses because carriers have insight through their history of claims what policies each industry may or may not need.  If you are a start-up or you have no employees this may not be necessary.  For instance, if you are a photographer who works from home you may not have a need for workers compensation coverage.  If you are in another industry where you do not own or operate any vehicles you do not need commercial auto.  Some agencies and carriers are more flexible with you when it comes to adding or subtracting coverages.  This is important to know before you purchase coverages you do not need.

Are there flexible payment options?

Pay as You Go Workers Comp Insurance Coverage is one option that can help businesses pay for their coverage monthly based on payroll instead of in one lump sum.  Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation benefits businesses by freeing up cash for more immediate business needs, by preventing over or under paying and by drastically lowering the likelihood of a mid-term audit by your insurance carrier.  This is especially helpful for cash strapped or seasonal businesses.

How much does my policy cover?

What you are actually asking your agent is, “What are my policy limits?” A limit is the total amount your policy can pay out. For General Liability Policies there are two ways in which limits are paid:  Aggregate limit is the most your policy will pay in a single year for all claims.  Occurrence limit is the amount your policy can pay for any single claim.  Which type of policy you want for your business really depends on the types of risks you face and how much risk you are willing to take on.  Taking on more risk will help lower your premium, but will make you have to foot more of the bill when a claim does occur.  This is why it is important to take some extra time to speak long and honestly with your agent about your business and what types of risks you are comfortable with.

Can I get more coverage?

An Umbrella Insurance Policy is the best way to supplement your General Liability Coverage.  This policy will kick in when the limits of your other policies have been reached. You can purchase Umbrella coverage in increments of $1 million, and it’s often a cost-effective way to fulfill liability insurance requirements in client contracts.  It is crucial to understand that an umbrella policy only kicks in for a covered loss.  If you live somewhere with a common risk of natural disasters, like hurricanes or tornadoes, those disasters have to be covered separately. An umbrella policy will not kick if the claim is not covered by the initial policy.

Is it worth my time to implement an in-depth safety program?

The simple answer to this question is yes, it is always worth your time and effort to implement and effective safety program.  Having a safety program in place will cut down on the number and severity of injuries to your workforce.  The safety of your workforce should always be at the heart of your businesses mission.  A healthy workforce is a happy and productive workforce.  This program can also keep down what your business pays for workers compensation premium.   The program does not have to be excessively time consuming.  Including this in a weekly or monthly huddle can make a difference in the injury outcomes of your employees.

Do I really need Commercial Auto Insurance?

The answer to this question really depends on the operations of your business.  If you own and operate cars as a part of your daily business than yes, you absolutely need commercial auto coverage.  If you have employees who use their own cars for work or who drive rental cars from time to time you can cover them with a hired and non-owned auto policy.  If you have employees who drive their own car as part of their job duties, their personal auto policies will cover the damages to their car, but not the liability to other cars if the accident is there fault.  That liability falls on the business because the reason the car was at the location of the accident was because of an action of the business.

Do I really need Cyber Insurance?

Again this policy completely depends on the operations of your business.  It is important to speak long and honestly with your insurance agent about all of the electronic devices any of your employees use.  There may be risks hiding in places you might not realize.  The great thing about a good insurance agent is that they not only interact with small businesses when they purchase insurance for their business, but they also speak with business owners when bad things happen.  They can use those experiences to help you prepare for those times when bad things happen to your business. They should be able to prepare you for risks you do not even know you face.

Am I classified properly for workers’ compensation?

This is extremely important for your business cash flow. Especially, if you operate in an industry with several different areas of operation.  If you do, you need to ensure the agent classifies your business properly.  They are in the business of analyzing risk.  If you do not tell them all of your risks, then it is in their best interest to assume your business is taking on more risk.  If you do not give your agent enough information they may place your business in a riskier classification code.  This can have an enormous impact on what you pay for general liability and workers compensation insurance.   Taking just a few extra minutes to explain exactly what your business does and does not do, can save you immensely when it comes to premium.

How can I lower my premium?

If lowering your premium is a priority than tell that to your agent.  Agents interacting with a lot of people who operate in a lot of different industries and who have a lot of different priorities.  Some business owners just want their policy and they want it quickly so they can get back to running their business. To that business owner price may not be at the top of their priority list.  Other business owners may want to insure their business to the absolute largest limits possible, while other business owners are comfortable taking on more risk.  Where ever you are on this spectrum, tell that to your agent.  Let them know what is important to you and they can better serve your needs.

Bio

Mitchell Sharp is a Marketing Associate for Workers Compensation Shop.com. Mitchell is a Missouri Boy and a Carolina Man. He has a deep passion for social media and content marketing. Mitchell would like to use his knowledge of these subjects to benefit small business owners.

How to Generate Passive Income?

With the ever-increasing prices that we experience nowadays, it is now more important than ever to have another income stream.

Did you know that you can generate income passively while you’re doing your main work? A lot of people want to invest in something that will help them make more income so that they can get by through life.

If you are interested to know how you can generate passive income, then you’ve come to the right article. I am here to tell you how you can do that!

Sell Your Stuff

One way to earn money is to look at all of your belongings and see if there is something that you can sell. Most, if not all, people have some things that they really do not need anymore and it is only collecting dust.

After you’ve acquired all of the things that you can sell, you can then go to a flea market and sell your wares there. The money that you will get from selling in flea markets ultimately depends on what you sell.

To make better profits, ask the other sellers in the area to see how much they’re selling the stuff that you might also own as well so that you can adjust your price accordingly.

Join in Affiliate Marketing

If you own a blog or a website where you place all your thoughts into writing, then you might want to sign up for affiliate marketing.

Basically, affiliate marketing is where you allow companies to place ads on your blog or website. Each time someone visits your site, you will generate some profit.

The cash that you will earn will depend on how much traffic you get per day. So, do all the things necessary to make sure that people will flock to your blog so that you will continuously earn more money!

Get into Real Estate

The Real Estate business has been booming as of late and it would be wise to join in to generate a fortune! You can either bid on houses and get it fixed to sell for profit, or you can buy buildings and homes and allow it to be rented by other people.

Of course, it would require capital to buy buildings and to also beautify them. If you need more cash, you can get more if you avail a cash advance scheme.

Answer Some Surveys!

Researchers are always available out there. They hand out surveys that you can participate in order for you to earn some money.

Even though this might not be as lucrative as the other options, answering surveys can be quite fun and you might also learn a thing or two about yourself and other subjects as well.

Conclusion

Generating a passive income stream allows you to save up more money for the future. Whether it is saving money for your retirement or you’re planning to buy something that you’ve always dreamed of, getting more money through other means is always a great choice!

6 Tips for Safely Evacuating During a Natural Disaster

Natural disasters are a frightening concept for all people. Pretty much every part of the world is susceptible to at least one form of disaster. This means that you need to have some idea of what you’ll do if you need to evacuate in an emergency situation. Here are six tips for safely evacuating during a natural disaster.

Create an Evacuation Plan Beforehand

The best way to safely escape a natural disaster is to be prepared for it. You should try to create an emergency evacuation plan for yourself and your family. The first step to putting together an emergency plan is to identify what’s mostly likely to affect you. Your geographic location will play a huge role in this. For example, if you live in Florida or the Gulf Coast, you will want to be mindful of hurricanes. People in California should have a plan in the event of an earthquake or wildfire. Once you have identified the main dangers, you can create detailed plans for how to get out in various scenarios.

Stay Informed on Emergency Updates

You will want to get continual updates during the evacuation process. However, if you’re without power or cell service, you might not be able to use your phone for this. It’s a good idea to have some sort of backup information source in case you need to evacuate. Battery-powered radios are a great option for people looking to stay in the loop.

Prepare Your Home Only if you have Time

You don’t want to leave your home exposed to the natural disaster. But you need to remember that your home is not more important than your life, or the lives of your loved ones. Sometimes, there will be time for you to prepare for the worst. For example, boarding up windows and doors can help prevent wind damage. You may also save family valuables by getting them to high ground in flood waters. These things, however, can’t be your first priority. Compare homeowners insurance quotes online to see how different policies will cover you in the event of a natural disaster.

Bring Your Personal Documents

Personal documentation is the key to your identity. Things like social security cards and other IDs should be brought with you in the event of an evacuation. First, you don’t want these things to be destroyed. It can be difficult to have them replaced. Additionally, people might try to break into your home while you’re away. If they find crucial documents, they may be able to steal your identity.

Bring First Aid, Food, and Water

There are a few things that are especially useful during an evacuation scenario. These are first aid, food, and water. All three of these can mean the difference between life and death if you’re in a dangerous situation. Clean water can be particularly difficult to come by in the aftermath of a disaster. Make sure to ration your emergency supplies so you don’t run out right away.

Know Your Escape Route and Destination

It’s wise to know exactly where you’re going to go when disaster strikes. You might not want to take the major highways, as these will probably be congested with other people desperately trying to escape. Take some time to identify the best route for arriving at your predetermined destination. This will greatly improve your chances of a safe evacuation.

Natural disasters can strike at any time. There’s no way for humans to negate the damaging effects of these catastrophes. However, you can prepare yourself by knowing how to safely evacuation during a disaster.

How Can I Find a Tax ID Number?

Your company’s tax ID number is necessary for many reasons. In addition to allowing you to obtain business permits and hire employees, you protect your personal identity and can create separate bank accounts and credit card accounts for your company. Depending on the situation, you may even benefit from an estate tax ID number.

Finding the ID Number

If you already have a federal employer identification number but can’t seem to remember it, you can find it in several places on your business or personal documents. If you are an organized person — and you should be if you hope to run a successful business — you can find the number in the original file that the IRS sent you when you applied for it. If you aren’t particularly organized, don’t worry. There are several other places you may be able to locate your tax ID number.

  • It may be on your business license
  • Your bank may be able to provide it for you
  • It should be on your tax returns

If all else fails, you can call the IRS. If you can prove you are authorized to have the number, the IRS can provide it for you.

What to Do if You Don’t Already Have a Number

If you don’t have an EIN and aren’t sure how to get a tax ID number in VA or any other state, don’t worry. The process is quite easy. In fact, it’s so easy that you can complete the application online. Choose the type of business you have or situation you are in and answer the questions that follow. Once you submit your application, you will be able to track its status online. In most cases, you will receive your federal tax ID number in a matter of a few business days. Depending on when you apply, you could even receive it the next business day if you apply via IRS-EIN-Tax-ID.

Find out more about how a federal tax ID number can help you create a better business. Contact IRS EIN Tax ID Filing Service today.

5 Vital Things No One Thinks About When Starting a Business

Starting, running, and owning your own company is the American dream. Do what you love, be your own boss, work on your own terms: what could go wrong? Well, as you probably know, many small businesses fall short of their founder’s goals for them. For one reason or another, a new company might not flourish as expected. The good news is, if you’re interested in starting your own business, there are measures you can take to guard against early troubles. Here are five important things few consider when starting a new business, but can give you an early advantage all the same:

Location, Location, Location

You might be thinking that where your business is located shouldn’t really matter very much. Especially if your company isn’t a customer-based enterprise (restaurant, bar, hair salon, etc.) However, with the advent of mobile phones and the ever-rising number of people who exclusively use their phone to access the internet, where you set up shop is nearly as important as what you do. Ensure that your business has high visibility in the “real world,” and on search engines, if you want sustained success.

Scrutinize the Competition

Smart business people aren’t arrogant. Instead, they recognize what their competitors do well, and try to learn from them. Don’t become so enamored with your own product or service that you close your eyes to outside ideas

Financing is Paramount

Passionate entrepreneurs sometimes skip over one of the most essential aspects of their business: financial viability. There’s nothing wrong with believing in your project. But before any serious work can get done, you need to have the funds available to cover your expenses. Secured business loans and merchant cash advances can be helpful tools in this endeavor, but no matter your fiscal situation, you need to be honest with yourself about it.

Hire Smarter

It’s difficult enough finding people who share your vision and are willing to work as hard as you are to make it come true. And hiring the right employee can prove one of the most difficult tasks for any new business owner. However, truly great employers find coworkers who can bring different skills to the table. Hiring people who think just like you do won’t help your company grow, it’ll just add another voice to crowd.

Get Comfortable with Working

Everybody likes orange juice, but few are willing to go through the trouble of squeezing oranges to get it. Starting your own business is like squeezing a thousand oranges every day. When you’re the boss, everything at your company reflects back on you. So prepare yourself to work harder than ever before. Just remember though, those long hours will pay off in the end.

5 Benefits of Using Reusable Bags to Promote Your Business

Reusable bags have taken the grocery business by storm right now, and for a variety of reasons. People are more environmentally conscious nowadays, and they’re asking the same from the companies they do business with. This is why there is such a huge trend towards eco friendliness, and you can’t afford to fall behind. Here are some of the benefits of using reusable bags to promote your business.

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Effective Promotion Tool

Branded reusable bags work for promotion on so many levels. First of all, they are a prime tool in increasing your brand’s recognition and building brand awareness. Not only that, but every time someone decides to use one of your bags for any reason, they will be reminded of your brand. Your bag will work as a sort of portable billboard that will advertise your brand wherever your clients go. And not only that, it will work as a sort of endorsement; your friends and family will see this bag as a personal vote for the brand, and might form a more positive image of that brand as a result.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Since you’ll be using sustainable materials, you will be reducing your carbon footprint on the planet. Many reusable bags come from recycled materials, such as old bottles for instance, reducing our reliance on natural resources. And once the bag has served its purpose, it can be easily recycled and repurposed, or even composted in some cases.

Show Your Commitment to Going Green

Using reusable bags shows to your clients that you are actually willing to walk the walk and really do your part in protecting the environment. While this may work on a superficial level, you also have to follow through with actual measures if you want to be consistent. But this alone will do a lot to improve your image among your environmentally conscious clientele.

Allows You to Stretch Your Marketing Dollar

One of the great things about reusable bags is that they are a fairly cost-effective marketing tool. You could buy reusable bags wholesale and have them printed with your company’s logo for pennies. Not to mention that you’ll often charge clients for the bags themselves. So in a clever way, your clients will be paying to advertise your business on your behalf.

They Have Various Uses

Reusable bags are by far the star of the promotional item world. As a matter of fact, they are some of the most sought-after items at trade shows and people will literally make lines for them in some cases. So much so that they’ve become genuine items now, with Ikea’s iconic aqua reusable bag which has become sort of a pop culture cult. Because of their usefulness, people tend to hold on to them for many years, allowing your brand to gain even more visibility over time.

 

Recycled reusable bags have tons of benefits every business owner should consider. They’re cheap, convenient and are one of the most powerful and understated marketing methods you can use to build awareness for your brand.