So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur

So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur

Many people dream about becoming an entrepreneur. A life of controlling your own finances, creating your own schedule and running your own business seems much more luxurious than working for someone else. Especially now with more and more companies laying off employees, there’s no real security anywhere. Although lots of people try new ventures, many of these initial ideas fail due to a number of reasons. The biggest one is improper planning for your future financial stability.

Analyzing the Competition 

Any way you start out, you really have to know what you’re up against. Understanding the difference between your business and everyone else provides the foundation for marketing your product. Think about how your service compares to other companies offering the same type of thing. How will your business be different in the way it serves its target market? Write these answers down— make a Venn diagram chart if you have to. Just make sure you know where you stand in the market. It means everything to how you will advertise and pitch your product or service. 

Business Plan Basics

What kind of values do you want to embed in your company? This is the creme of your morning coffee. A brand that knows what it stands for adds a sultry attraction to your product. Ever call a company 15 times and never get an answer or a return call? Ever deal with crooked “professionals” who abscond with your money? That type of service chases new business away. Understanding what values you want to present to your potential clients helps set the precedent for business building.    

Finding the Perfect Name

The name of a business is the first thing new customers and clients see. Make sure it stands out. To begin, do a brainstorm of all the words that represent what you’re selling. If you’ve been writing thoughts down from the last two paragraphs, you’ll already have words to chose from. Pick descriptive words from the business product itself and from the morals and values the business represents. Write as many words as you can. Ask friends and family to help, too. More brains are better than one. Then start piecing words together. Eventually you’ll find the perfect match. 

Types of Business Ownership

Choosing what type of company you register as depends on your particular situation. The 4 main types of ownership are:

  • Sole Proprietorship: The easiest form of ownership. There is no difference between the individual and the company. Both are equally responsible for the business debts and income. 
  • Partnership: Two or more people who share in the responsibility and income of the business. There are different types of partnerships as well, such as a General Partnership, Limited Partnership, a Limited Liability Partnership. In a General Partnership, everything about the business is equally shared. A LP has one main partner with unlimited liability and others with limited because they don’t have equal interest in the business; a LLP protects every owner from the mistakes of the other partners. 
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): A LLC provides protection to the business owners by bearing the brunt of any legal action while offering the flexibility of a general partnership.
  • Corporation: This is the most complex form of ownership, yet provides many tax perks while acting as a completely separate entity from the owners. There are different types of corporations such as an S Corp and a C Corp. A C Corp is pretty basic; it operates as a business separate from the owners, and can be extremely large with owners internationally. An S Corp is a smaller corporation, with finances passing through one or more owners like a sole proprietorship. There is a 100 person limit on ownership and all owners must be citizens of USA.

Filing a Fictitious Business Name

Do a search for fictitious business names in your county. If the name is taken, it’s back to the drawing board. If not, shoot over to Legal Zoom and register your business with the state easily.

Create an Elevator Pitch

At any given moment you may be called on to explain what it is your company does. Having a prepackaged 30 second pitch that encompasses how your business can help a potential client is key to maintaining interest. 

  • Begin with your overall goal: For the sake of this post, let’s say it’s someone who can benefit from what your new company offers. Your goal, then, will be to show value in doing business with you. 
  • Tell them what you do: And tell them specifics. Anyone can make bath bombs and lotions. But making SLS free bath bombs, hemp lotions, or a type of specialty is more succinct to the brand.  
  • Identify the unique selling proposition (USP): This is the item that sets you apart from the competition.
  • End with an engaging question: Avoid “yes” or “no” answers. If you’re selling a line of soaps, ask what soaps they use and what their experience with it is.

Price your product or service correctly

Many new entrepreneurs low ball their pricing and undercut themselves and their product. You don’t want  to make your business seem less valuable than others or come off like you don’t know what you’re doing. People are vultures who can smell weakness. It seems to be human nature to take advantage of people when they obviously don’t know any better, so get some quotes, find a happy balance, and push your product with confidence. 

On the Cheap 

Conduct your business for cheap as long as you can. Too many new entrepreneurs think they have to be all in, spending money they don’t have or offering too many products when they don’t have a demand yet. Unless you absolutely need a storefront location, don’t sign a lease anywhere until you know the customers will come. There are plenty of ways to get your services or products out there without spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily.

We all know of the person who jumps right into a business venture without a plan or a system in place. It’s great if an opportunity presents itself! Always accept a good offer, and always be prepared to protect yourself. When doing business with anyone, make sure there is a business contract drafted to plan out clear guidelines of the service offered and how you’ll get paid. Rocket Lawyer has free trials where you can get some pre-made templates!

Now that you have an idea of where to begin, get out there and make some boss moves.

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When to Dump His Ass

When to Dump His Ass

It’s happened. His presence annoys you more than it satisfies, you’re curious about other men, and where there was once a deep, longing look has now been replaced with constant eye rolling at everything he says and does. More than likely your relationship has hit a wall. If you’re unsure, read on for some tell-tale signs that it’s time to dump him and move on with your life. 

You don’t want the same things for the future… or even now.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about 10? If his vision doesn’t fit yours, then this relationship needs to end asap. It’s a huge waste of time. People who are vehement on not wanting kids, or staying financially complacent, or living in a certain area don’t change their mind miraculously just because you want them to. What happens it that you stick around sacrificing while they stay living in some fantasy land that you’re going to stop wanting the things you want. A financially complacent person doesn’t become ambitious; people that don’t want children might have kids and be neglectful, resentful parents (which sucks even more), and those who are rooted in a neighborhood you don’t want to live in and have told you multiple times they won’t move aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste your time. Find someone who wants the same lifestyle as you. 

You close your eyes during sex and picture other men just to get off. 

LOL! How many of us have been here at the end of our relationship? Ladies, if you have to picture someone else then it’s time to go. It’s not fair to you, it’s not fair to him, and why live life in a lie? Sure it’s not cheating, but your relationship is at a point where even the sex can’t keep you together… that’s bad. You’re kicking a dead horse here. This is the type of feeling that turns into that god awful regret later on where you think about your ex and are disgusted by the thought you ever let him touch you. Don’t let it get bitter. Do the right thing: set this fool free. 

Everything he does annoys you, and not in the cute “we’ve been together so long” type of way.

Mad at how sloppy his house is? Annoyed at his mannerisms? Can’t stand the way he carries himself? Well, guess what— this is him. Nothing you do is going to change that. And if he does change, it will be temporarily. Besides, changing someone into who you want them to be isn’t love. His crudeness will be cute to someone meant for him. His disgusting house will be great for someone equally gross… or someone who wants serious mother duties. If you feel more embarrassed than compassionate to his behavior and lifestyle, run away. Dump him now for the sake of both your sanities. 

There is emotional and/or physical abuse in the relationship. 

This is a no brainer. If he’s hitting you or you’re hitting him, not only should you both be in therapy but this relationship is toxic as hell. It doesn’t matter what he did or you did that was annoying or pushed boundaries, no one deserves abuse. Codependency issues are real, and life is short. Be the bigger, stronger adult. Get some help, but first: dump him.

You (or he) has cheated.

Another no brainer. I get that it’s easy to find affection elsewhere when things are going sour in the relationship, but save this for your teens and early 20s when your still trying to figure out life. Cheating is a direct insult to a partner and really shows a lack of respect and utter disregard to the relationship. If you, or your partner, has cheated, you may want to reconsider the relationship. Especially if this has happened on multiple occasions. Some marriages make it through an infidelity and when you’ve already tied your lives together it makes sense to work through it. But if you’re still dating and sleeping around (or vice versa), chances are this isn’t the person for you. Don’t waste your life seeking the attention of someone who desperately needs validation from everyone else. This isn’t your problem. It’s theirs. Dump him.

Life is too short to stay in shitty relationships. Trying to change someone into who you want them to be isn’t going to work, but will fester a strong resentment in the relationship that will only grow with time. Do everyone involved a favor and know when to call it. It’s not quitting, it’s knowing that your time and energy can be of better use elsewhere. 

What was your tell-tale sign that a relationship was over? 

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Bae and I have gotten into some pretty heated arguments. And like most couples, when the shit storm is raging, words start flying around that can bounce between the walls of our minds for longer than we’d like to remember. This can happen in any relationship, whether with our parents, siblings, friends, or lovers. What’s important about these moments is that after we’ve cooled down and said our apologies, we reflect on the situation to better understand ourselves.

Reflection is probably the best tool I was ever taught. Most of us do this naturally, but it comes in the form of anxiety about what we could’ve done or said differently, how we were perceived by others, or wondering if how we acted was good enough in some way. This pattern of thought can become dangerous if it consumes too much of your mind. 

Reflection should lead to some revelation of self discovery. Instead of replaying what went wrong over and over, focus on why it went down the way it did by concentrating on your reactions. Ain’t no one in charge of you but your self, and it’s foolish to think otherwise. Tracing feelings back to the root of their cause reveals a lot about ourselves, what makes us tick, and the types of personalities we should avoid. 

Sometimes this is going to suck. Sometimes it’ll be you that’s the asshole and needs to change. No one is perfect; we’re all flawsome. Apologizing when we’re wrong is a sign of maturity.  Changing the problematic behavior is even better, and is a sign of successful adulting. It won’t happen overnight, but becoming aware of an issue through reflection is the first step to rehabbing your salty ass self!

Seriously though. If you’re serious about growing, becoming a better person, and getting what you want out of life, reflection is a necessity. Soon after you’ll realize all of your relationships will have become much stronger, and most importantly, the relationship with yourself will grow exponentially. 

Here are some reflection tips to try:

First, go somewhere and do something that feels safe and calming. Go jogging, sit under tree, take a walk around town; take a bath or treat yourself to the spa! Distraction should be minimal so avoid TV and cell phones. 

Allow yourself to FEEL. Pay attention to what you’re feeling, where it stems from, and how you handle negative feelings (hence the safe space). Sometimes this is some scary shit. Proceed with caution—  this can lead to some major self discovery if explored honestly. 

Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. What is working and why? Sometimes the answer to our problems are things we already do. Maybe there’s a whole lot not working and you see the same problems popping up time after time. If this is you, explore why. If something you’re doing isn’t working then figure out what that is and take ownership of it. Then change that shit. You’re smart. There’s no reason to chase your tail when you already know it can’t be caught. 

Be honest with yourself. Explore the depths of your childhood. It’s a psychological fact our parents are the #1 reason we’re fucked up. As grown adults, we have the power to change our behavior. If delving into childhood trauma is too painful, consulting a licensed therapist is the best way to overcome it. 

You are in control of yourself now. Don’t let you down. 

The How to Reach Your Financial Goals Starter Kit

The How to Reach Your Financial Goals Starter Kit

Let’s face it— money sucks. People stress because they don’t have it; people who have too much stress to maintain it. We’re all searching for ways to meet our personal and financial goals. Money is a necessary evil, especially when the economy in America is so challenging. In the SF Bay area, a person must make an average of $80,000 a year to qualify for a one bedroom apartment. As a nation, money has been cited the number one cause of divorce.

Some money situations are challenging, but it can still work. The first step is to remain focused and …

Set a financial goal

How much money do you need or want to make? Whether you’re trying to start a business, live solo because your roommate is driving you crazy, or continue growing your wealth, setting a financial goal is necessary. Make sure it’s one you can reach in a certain amount of time. Be specific when setting your goal. For example, I had a goal when I was 21 to buy my first house at 25. To do that, I had to pay off credit card debt and save around $20,000.00. It was a very boring period where my life was consumed with bills, bills, bills. It had to be done. Whatever your financial goal may be, make a plan on what you have to do to get there.

If you feel you’re in over your head with debt, research some consolidation programs that can help or credit cards with 0% APR where you can transfer a balance. There are options for tackling debt so you have money to save.

If your financial goal is to make $10 million dollars, that’s awesome! It can be done. Just remember that millionaires save their money, not spend it. Especially after learning in their younger years that frivolously spending just leaves you back at the beginning. Sure, you can treat yourself… eventually. If you land a lot of money for the first time, trust that it’s better spent on investments to maintain growth and stability.

Make an investment

To reach your goals, you must make an investment of time and money. My initial investment was the first house I saved for. I wanted to get out of the 9-5, and I knew my goal was to be real estate investor, so I invested in real estate. Maybe your dream is to own a business, or get a degree. Whatever the case, make sure you are building credit. This is a necessity.

Make your dream a reality by getting started on your goal. If you have no credit, get a credit card. Utility bills, rent, and cell phones do not build credit. Starting any business takes capital, which means you’ll need a loan unless you have money waiting on you somewhere. To get a loan you need good credit and a job on the books. That’s it. Once you have those two things, you’ll be on your way.   

Prepare for roadblocks

In any great endeavor, there will be unforeseeable circumstances that will tip you off balance. Life is a series of ups and downs. Sure, you make a plan and expect because things are going great now it’ll always be that way. It’s like the balloon you see floating in the sky. It seems like it’ll float forever, but we know this isn’t true. Sooner or later that balloon’s gonna pop and come crashing back down to earth. 

Taking another direction typically requires more money. And if you’ve lost all your money, that’s a problem. Money in the bank is necessary for when life decides to toss a pin in your balloon just before breaching the atmosphere. There’s no secret to making it around a roadblock: save your money. It makes everything easier.

If you don’t have money, you’ll have to borrow it from someone, which usually causes conflict; or a bank, where you’ll need good credit at minimum. There are loan options for bad credit, but the interest is very high which could lead to more trouble. Sometimes that’s the only way and you have to make it work. If you find yourself at a roadblock, just slow down and prepare to turn.

Always expect for your investment to take longer than you think.

With the roadblocks of life, nothing ever works out exactly as we plan. When we make a goal, it’s good to have a timeline of when you want certain events to happen. It keeps the day to day hustle moving which doubles down your efforts on meeting your goal. But life always happens, and unexpected necessities will pop up, especially if you’re new at something. My first investment took so long, but landed me a quarter million! To the 1%, this is nothing. But to get something bigger and better started, it’s everything. The saying is that the first million is the hardest to make. Be patient and try not to become frustrated when things don’t go as planned. Stay your course and…

Have a backup plan.

The plan B, C, & D are extremely useful when taking the plunge into a new endeavor. Perhaps the most interesting backup plan I’ve ever had was to move to Argentina and become a jazz singer. Guess I wasn’t meant for that life. However wild your plan, it helps to know that if all else fails, there’s something to fall back on. Some people just move back home. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed; failing is giving up completely. No matter the situation, backup plans are there to support continuous movement towards the goal.

Our journeys are unique. Life is easier for some than others, yet the principal remains the same. Focus on the task at hand; make it a priority. Prepare for challenges along the way. And always, always have a back up plan. 

Not ready to invest? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Financial Security.

What’s your financial goal? Post it below!

The Secret to Success

The Secret to Success

“I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work,” said Thomas Edison after inventing the light bulb. Some people tend to think that success is easy. That if they do their best, or think about winning, fame and fortune will fall into their laps as easy as rain. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Finding that sweet spot of success comes only after tripping over yourself a few times. Like Edison, we must first find the ways that don’t work before we get the one that does. 

The only real difference between success and failure is giving up. Some people give up before they even start. Whether it’s lack of drive or fear that motivates stagnation, there are plenty of hard workers that prefer to stay in the safe zone. If you never start college, then you can never fail. If you never attempt becoming a business owner, then your ego won’t be butt hurt when the first run doesn’t work out like you expected. It’s not that successful people don’t feel this sting. Our ambition just doesn’t crawl into a hole and die. 

If one way doesn’t work out, it’s not a hopeless cause. Reevaluate what went wrong and try again.  Keep in mind, it takes a long time to truly understand a process. That’s why a bachelor’s degree takes four years, most companies promote at minimum one year of employment, and more often than not, a new company takes a few years to make a real profit. 

People tend to think that simply showing up is good enough. It’s not. If you really want a job or business to work, you have to research how to make that happen, implement advice from those who have done it, practice, and not throw your hands up if things don’t go your way. It won’t more times than it will. Reevaluate and try again. 

The saying “team work makes the dream work” ain’t playin. Any big success story never happened with a single person doing everything solo. Sorry to burst your bubble, but success takes time. More time than many allow for. It takes a team and excellent leadership to keep the ship sailing forward. If a leader is unorganized, unwilling to train, or feels their superiority over employees means the team will take whatever abuse is thrown at them, it’s not going to work. Your team will leave and laugh when your ship sinks. It’s that simple. But it’s not hopeless: learn from the error and do better next time. Don’t just say it, do it. Denying the problem only makes it worse, and prolongs financial stability.

The same goes for trying too hard to please employees. They work for you, you don’t work for them. Set clear boundaries. It’s ok to be liked, but when boundaries are crossed into the friend zone, problems rear their ugly heads. Just like a bitch boss can suck the positivity out of a job, a soft boss can sabotage the business by allowing employees to take advantage of your kindness.  

Successful people understand that employees are a resource. Great leaders respect their team and their efforts while quietly demanding the same respect in return. They encourage, motivate, provide support, and reward accurately. And why not? These are the people making it happen. Without a team, you are nothing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all alone. 

So what do we do if our great idea crashes and burns? Most people will slink away in a cloud of defeat, promising to never expose themselves like that again. Better safe than sorry. Some will pick themselves up out of the mud, evaluate what went wrong by blaming others, and hit it again by stubbornly using the same method that didn’t work the last time. I doubt I need to tell you how that ends up.

Successful people pick themselves out of the muck, brush themselves off, evaluate what went wrong, and hit it again with a different strategy. And maybe this will be the time it works. 

Having problems getting started? Check out Overcoming the Fear of Failure.