Saturday, August 24, 2019

Westborough EDC rolls out new Small Business Grant Assistance Program - Community Advocate

Westborough EDC rolls out new Small Business Grant Assistance Program - Community Advocate


Westborough EDC rolls out new Small Business Grant Assistance Program - Community Advocate

Posted: 06 Aug 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Westborough – The Westborough Economic Development Committee (EDC) officially approved the Small Business Grant Assistance Program at its meeting held June 21.

The EDC established the program to provide financial assistance to businesses and to stimulate investment in vacant or underutilized commercial space in the town of Westborough. The EDC is authorized to expend funds collected from the Electronic Billboard fees in the amount of $25,000 each fiscal year.

The program offers grants that cover approved project costs and rental assistance for new businesses for their first six months of rent, with the possibility of additional funds being awarded on a per project basis.

Approved uses of grant funds include:

  • Interior renovations (e.g., walls, flooring, ceiling, lighting, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.)
  • Merchandising components (e.g., shelving, counters, menu boards, displays, etc.)
  • Retail and food service equipment (e.g., grease traps, cash registers, computers, ovens, etc.)
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Rental assistance reimbursement (only applies to new locations, not expansions of existing locations)
  • Sign and façade improvements (e.g., accessibility improvements such as ramps, exterior signs, awnings, energy conservation for windows and doors, painting, planters and landscaping, etc.)
  • Parking lot surface improvements
  • Code compliance

The Small Business Grant Assistance Program Overview and Application is available online at
edc.town.westborough.ma.us/services/pages/financial-incentives

 

10 Tips for Juggling the Elements of a Startup - Small Business Trends

10 Tips for Juggling the Elements of a Startup  Small Business Trends

There are a lot of little things to consider when you're getting started in the business world. From cash flow to marketing strategies, all of these moving pieces can ...



Hey students, launch your startup this year with this special Extra Crunch discount - TechCrunch

Hey students, launch your startup this year with this special Extra Crunch discount  TechCrunch

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and nowhere is that more true than on college campuses. Students are ditching boring office jobs to seek out their own ...



Seven Security Measures Small Business Owners Often Overlook - Forbes

Seven Security Measures Small Business Owners Often Overlook - Forbes


Seven Security Measures Small Business Owners Often Overlook - Forbes

Posted: 23 Aug 2019 10:15 AM PDT

New York is a locale that can be both lucrative and dangerous. But while crime in the Big Apple has been on a steady decline, problems do still arise, and business-related crimes know no zip code.

Security is of significant concern for any business anywhere because breaches, physical or digital, can have a devastating effect on an organization and its employees. Below, seven members of Forbes New York Business Council discuss some of the security measures they think small business owners often overlook, and how they would implement those security measures, given a small business budget.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Documented Processes And Procedures

Creating and maintaining documented processes and procedures requires an investment of time and money, but there are multiple benefits. It helps identify gaps in internal controls and reduce opportunities for fraud. Documenting the "how we do things" can reduce liability associated with employees "winging it." It also establishes backup and disaster plans for any sudden changes or breakdowns in staff, technology, etc. - Jennifer Katrulya, JenKat Advisors LLC

2. A Plan For Adverse Situations

With natural and human perpetrated (data hacks) disasters becoming more common, it's important to plan for adverse situations to ensure that these disasters don't break business viability. Handling these adverse situations effectively and maintaining business continuity also provides a competitive edge (gaining new customers). A business continuity plan is an insurance that protects one's hard work. - Karthik Krishnan, Britannica Group (Britannica, Merriam Webster, Britannica Knowledge System and Melingo)

3. Security Cameras

What you can't see can hurt you. It's important to have your eyes on the ground when it comes to running your operation. Personally, it was critical in terms of managing theft in general, and unfortunately sometimes you can't be on site and still need to be able to check in. Security cameras that allow you to view what's going on remotely are one of the best investments you can make for your business. - Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, Molly's Milk Truck + F'in Delicious Beverages + BAḴT Global

4. Protection For Your IDs And Passwords

As business owners, we work at lightning speed and the "remember my login" feature seems like a great way to not slow things down. In today's environment of hackers, this is one of the worst things we can do to protect our confidential information. Using tools like Dashlane can help you protect your accounts by auto-creating new passwords every time you log in. Having a secure online presence is critical. - Frank LaRosa, ELITE Consulting Partners

5. Your Own Employees

Most people envision a hacker staying awake all night trying to break into your systems to steal data. The truth is, most data breaches and security threats occur because of internal employees' negligence. Make sure your own team understands how to keep their physical and digital workstations secure by always locking their stations and keeping passwords secure—the small stuff adds up! - Maurice Harary, The Bid Lab

6. A Company-Wide Confidentiality Agreement

With the rise of social media it is more important than ever that all of your employees understand what information is confidential. Explicitly stating, stamping and talking about the confidential information that your employees are working with on a daily basis is a great start. It is also wise to create a full company policy regarding confidential information and social media use. - Jeanne Hardy, Creative Business Inc.

7. A Secure Business Website

Often small businesses think they are too local or too unknown to attract the attention of bad actors who may hack their website and/or accounts. The reality is hackers abound and the ability to automate their efforts poses a new level of risk. At a past organization, our site was compromised, but we quickly resolved the issue by purchasing website security for a couple hundred bucks a year. - Kaivan Shroff, Institute for Education

Tips For Starting a Small Business With Staying Power - Prescott eNews

Posted: 24 Aug 2019 08:09 AM PDT

Great tips for starting a new business.

Many Americans dream of owning their own business or creating an additional stream of income. Whether they are attracted to the flexibility, the adventure or the earning potential there is something mesmerizing about being your own boss. The process, however, is not for the faint of heart and should be navigated carefully. Statistics from sba.gov indicate that if you can survive the first few rocky years, your business can grow and thrive. Here are some top tips for starting strong so your small business has staying power.

Step One: Identify a Need

No matter how great you think your idea is if it doesn't solve a problem or fulfill a genuine need, you could be in trouble. Slow down and research your idea. Ask yourself:

  1. What problem are you solving?
  2. How many people need your product/service?
  3. How much competition do you have?
  4. How big is your target market?
  5. Is your market saturated?

If you can answer these five questions and still feel like you have a viable idea you can move to step two. If you find yourself stuck on one of these questions, don't give up. Your idea may just need a little tweaking to pass the need analysis.

Step Two: Intention and Investment

Intention

Now that you know what you want to do, it is time to figure out a structured plan for your business idea. Don't get bogged down here. Oftentimes, creative minds don't want to sit down and create a long detailed business plan, but initially, you need at least an outline of what you plan to accomplish. Things to consider include:

  1. What is your primary goal?
  2. What values will this company have?
  3. How will your company be organized?
  4. How many employees will you need initially?
  5. How will you get financing? 

Investment

New ideas come with excitement and an eagerness to get started but as hard as it is to think about logistics, capital is an absolute must. Whether you need $5,000 to start or over $100 million in funding, you will need to research your possible funding solutions and find what resource will work best for you. 

It helps to choose to partner with a financial resource that has a history of working with small businesses. It is important that you have financial support from a company that can appreciate the challenges a new small business will face.

Step Three: Pick a Name

This may seem like an obvious step, but not just any name will do. Your company's name should be memorable and appealing to the masses. Once you establish your name and brand it is not always easy (or prudent) to change it. So pick wisely. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Does the name make sense? Does it communicate what the company is about?
  2. Is it easy to say and spell?
  3. Does someone already have this name?
  4. Is there a domain available? (Choose domains that can be remembered if someone is driving on the car and hears it on the radio. No dashes!)
  5. Is the name limiting in any way?

After you've selected your name, make sure you register is with your local and state offices.

Step Four: Gather a Team

You will need some help to build your business. From financial tasks to day to day tasks, you can't do everything by yourself. One sign of a true leader is their ability to surround themselves with a solid team. Here are some team members you should consider:

  1. Accountant or bookkeeper (If you're bootstrapping it, try online accounting services, such as FreshBooks or QuickBooks. These can easily be handed over to an accountant in the future.)
  2. Legal advisor
  3. Partner or investor
  4. Employees
  5. Mentor
  6. Social media and communications director

If you want to start your business strong you'll need to ensure you are meeting all the legal and financial requirements. Getting help from an accountant and a legal advisor right from the start can save you major headaches down the road. You might also want a working or silent partner. If so, select someone you trust who compliments your strengths and weaknesses. Employees are a vital force behind any company. Start small and add personnel only as needed. A business mentor is a valuable resource, especially for young startups. If you'd like a mentor to bounce ideas off of, there are multiple online sources.

Step Five: Set Up Shop  

Whether you have a brick and mortar storefront or a 100% online business there is some set up involved in starting a successful company. From a website to a physical storefront, you 'll want to get yourself organized before you officially open. Don't forget to set up social media accounts, too! Think through all the "what ifs" and do your best to anticipate potential issues so you are ready to handle whatever comes your way.

Being proactive and structured with your business set up may take time in the beginning, but you will find your initial investment will pay huge dividends down the road. 

Cash Flow Issues: Nine Strategies For Helping Small Businesses Make Adjustments - Forbes

Posted: 23 Aug 2019 05:15 AM PDT

Cash flow isn't always consistent. No matter how hard you work to meet your financial goals, odds are that at some point, you'll fall short. When this happens, it's important not to panic—there are ways to recover and to avoid the problem going forward.

To find out more, we asked the experts of Forbes Los Angeles Business Council to share some tips for addressing cash flow issues. Here is what they advise you consider:

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Start With The Costs Of Your Top Business Priorities

First, I'd identify my top business priorities and the cost associated with those priorities. Next, I'd look at variable costs to see if the business is incurring any unnecessary costs that can be cut. From there, I'd look at my fixed costs to see if there is any additional spend to eliminate. Are there other alternatives available that can serve as a resource, but at a lower cost? - Susan LevineCareer Group Companies

2. Cut Expenses By More Than You Think You Should

Run out of cash, and you might as well drain the blood out of your body. When short on cash, cut expenses deep. In fact, cut 50% deeper than you think you should. It hurts bad, but it feels much better even two weeks later. This buys you time to find revenue. - Benny TraubStudent Marketing Agency

3. Analyze Your Day Cycles

I would recommend that all business owners analyze their day cycles to understand how they convert working capital to cash. In addition, try to analyze your inventory valuation techniques. You carry manpower costs in your inventory that you may not know of—particularly in manufacturing. Industrial business can carry up to 50% of the value of their inventory in overhead. - Christopher AltschulNS Corporation

4. Charge What You're Worth

Often times when starting out, a small business is afraid to charge a high fee out of fear of losing the business, or feeling like they don't "deserve" it because they're not big enough. I had a client tell me once they never negotiate down someone's proposed rate because they feel it said they don't value you as much as you value yourself. Game changer. Know your worth and charge accordingly. - Kelly HowardEightSixtySouth

5. Prioritize Customer Satisfaction

Are you spending money wisely? Too often, small businesses spend money on the "obvious" things, but they don't look for ways to improve customer satisfaction. My first business struggled. People were stuck in line while waiting their turn. I couldn't afford more registers and staff, so we started offering free cookies and coffee while they waited. Our online reviews soared and so did overall sales. - Nicole Connors, Saku Cannabis Inc.

6. Maximize Your Highest-ROI Opportunities

Small business owners naturally want to maximize all revenue streams and accept all opportunities along the way. But some opportunities pay off more than others. Focus on ones with the highest ROI only, even if it wasn't part of the original business plan. The rest of the time should be spent on minimizing costs. In essence, run a minimum viable product until you can afford to spend more. - Anna NguyenovaCablato

7. Revamp Your Invoicing Processes

When a small business owner is having trouble with cash flow, it's time to review supplier contracts, revamp invoicing processes, reduce expenses and elongate payables. Ensuring client commitment by offering incentives for early payments as well as only starting any project or installing a product with a signed quotation and receiving an upfront deposit also helps cash flow on the back end. - Heather NewmanContent Panda/Creative Maven

8. Pay Close Attention To Account Receivables

Depending on your business, you may have a moderate to a large number of account receivables. If the average account receivable amount is small, then simply connecting to the client and requesting expedited payment may be sufficient. In other instances, you may need to look for financing available, based on receivables. Ask your banker for it and they should guide you in the right direction. - Beth WorthyGMR Transcription Services, Inc

9. Borrow Money To Tide You Over

Often times the best solution is to start close to home. Friends and family may be one option to consider. Another would be a line of credit from an existing bank relationship or, if the business is sound, seek equity investors. Generally, these three groups are a good way to measure the business's viability. If they all say no, perhaps it is time to reconsider the business altogether. - Tibor KelemenKelemen Company

Local grads bring startup to community - WPEC

Local grads bring startup to community  WPEC

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Pitch your startup for funding at the NES Startup Pitch - Techpoint Africa

Pitch your startup for funding at the NES Startup Pitch  Techpoint Africa

There is nothing more frustrating than coming up with great ideas only to get stuck at the point of execution due to limited capital. From recruitment to equipment, ...



No angels and demons for startups - Fortune India

No angels and demons for startups  Fortune India

The dreaded angel tax, levied on capital raised by unlisted companies, is now not applicable for startups registered with the DPIIT.