Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Choosing a Business Name that Works

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Are you starting a business and are stressing over what to name it? Or do you have a business but the name just isn’t working and you are wondering if you should change it? If so, you are not alone. Choosing a business name is an important exercise because the right name that sends the right message can have a tremendous impact on whether your customers take your business seriously, view it as a successful entity or shy away from your brand entirely.
Choosing a Business Name that Works
Many small business owners don’t realize the long term implications of naming and may choose a name without much thought. Not getting it right the first time can cost your business a lot of money and effort later if you have to change the name. Think of all the time you spent on creating brand visibility that is now wasted and how much more you need to invest in doing it all again.

Read: 10 Tips for Choosing The Best Name For Your Company, Partnership or Business

I personally have gone through this exercise when I renamed my business from Vista Consulting to Masterful Marketing and although my transition was not that painful, I have seen others that truly were. Luckily for me, the switch was relatively painless and happened long before my business was thoroughly entrenched in social media.
If the name you originally chose is not the right fit for your business (as was mine) and is causing confusion about what you do, you should make the move to a name that helps to simplify your marketing. The process takes planning and execution, but in the long run, choosing a business name that projects the right image is more than worth the effort.

Benefits of Choosing a Strong Business Name

Choosing a business name that works for your business has many benefits:
  • Sets the tone for your business
  • Helps people understand what you do
  • Attracts the right audience for your products and services
  • Makes your marketing easier
  • Increases memorability
If you need to change your business name because the one you have is not working, assess the areas that will be impacted by the change and have a plan to address those changes before you begin the process.
  • What about your business filing with your state if you are incorporated? Do you need to submit a name modification? What about your town?
  • Do you need to change your domain name and your email?
  • How about social media? Changing your Facebook business page name, Google+ page name, LinkedIn company name could be problematic.
  • Do you need to research and update directory listings? If you are a local business, how much time will you spend claiming all the business listings, changing the name and verifying that you are the business owner?
  • Do you need to change or modify your logo, website design, brochures and business cards? Is the name change significant enough to make the cost to change worth it?

How to generate name ideas for your business

Many small business owners handle this exercise by either picking a name without much thought or using something they like but doesn’t offer the benefits of a really descriptive name. If you are not sure what would be a good name for your business, go through this exercise.
  • What are your goals for this name? Set the ground rules of what image you want to project. Then create a list of adjectives that describe your business. List terms such as strength, expertise, playfulness, energetic or flexible.
  • Choose a word that describes what your business does such as marketing, consulting, electrician or remodeling.
  • Take the word that your business does and combine it with the adjectives you chose. Examples could be “agile remodeling” or “energetic healing”. These word combinations may not be the exact name for your business, but they can lead you in the right direction.
  • Use that theme to come up with a list of potential names. Spend some time searching for synonyms to the adjectives you chose to describe your business. Sometimes the work combination comes easily. Other times not so. Don’t give up and don’t rush the process.
  • Once you come up with a list of viable names, make sure you check to see if they are available – search for the domain name and check with the US Patent and Trademark Office to see if it is trademarked. Then search for the name in Google to see how it has been used. Given other ways the phrase is used, you may not want to use it for your business name.
Tips to remember when choosing a name:
  • Stay away from names that are so generic that it makes it hard to differentiate you. Go to Google and search for “Computer Services, Inc.”. With 440 million results, do you think you’ll ever rise to the first page?
  • Avoid names that can really date your business. As with everything, there are naming trends that will go out of style.
  • Avoid industry jargon in your names. If your clients are outside your industry, they won’t get it and you are back to explaining what you do.
  • Choose a name that is descriptive enough to help people understand what you do but also gives you some flexibility to expand your offerings in the future within your respective niche. If you want to expand to an entirely different area, start a new business – it will be easier to brand and market!
  • Avoid names that don’t clearly relate to your line of business as they may cause confusion with clients and probably won’t show up in Internet searches for your type of product or service.
  • Combine real words in a way that is catchy and can be easily branded. If you can include something descriptive as well, you’ve hit the jackpot. Besides making the name memorable, the combined words may make it easier to trademark and get the domain name.
  • Make sure the name is easy to pronounce, is pleasing to the ear and easy to spell.
  • If you are a global business, make sure the name you choose is not offensive to any culture or translates into a negative word or slang in another language.
  • Keep the name as simple as possible – one-word names are the best, two word names are fine. Three short words if you must.
  • Avoid initials as they are meaningless and boring. Big brands who have spent millions on branding can adjust (such as IBM and CVS), but a small business with minimal dollars doesn’t have the same advantage.
  • If you want to someday sell your business, avoid using your name as the business name. If you don’t think you will, that may be an option but again, decide whether you are your business or you want something else to brand. (I’ve actually done both with Masterful Marketing!) Either works but that is up to you and what you are trying to accomplish.
Coming up with an appropriate name and getting the domain name to match is a challenge, but with some thought, brainstorming, and creative thinking, you can create a short, catchy name and a domain name that works and can be trademarked. Getting it right from the beginning makes building awareness and brand recognition more effective. Don’t get discouraged. You will arrive at a name that can become a great brand.

What is your business name and why did you make the choice you did?
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10 Step by Step Guide: How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy

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Without a doubt, digital mediums for information, communication, and entertainment now rule every aspect of our lives and businesses. The ease, affordability and effectiveness of digital marketing make it a very powerful medium. And one that all business cannot ignore.
With more than half of the global population making use of the Internet 24/7, brands have no choice but to focus their attention on winning their audiences on a platform their customers love to hang out.

So where to start on how to develop your digital marketing strategy for your business?

10 Step by Step Guide: How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy
Truth to be told, creating a marketing strategy, whether for digital or the more traditional route, simply just going back to the basics.
  1. Why You Do What You Do?
First know the Why of your organization. Knowing the reason for your business will help you create a brand story and content that your target customers would be able to relate to.
  1. S.M.A.R.T Goals
As stated, get back to the basics. And the way you set down your goals should be such that: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART).
In all your digital marketing efforts from Google Adwords, Facebook ads or other social media ads, SEO, email marketing, content marketing strategies, always have smart goals.

This is all the more critically important especially when you’re handling the marketing for your clients. Clients will always want to know the end-results, and almost always it is stated in numbers (i.e. how many sales, how many attendees, how many new subscriptions, etc.)
One tip: state everything clearly and make sure the client understands each step of the SMART goals.
  1. Create a Compelling Brand Story
Before you lay out to the world your brand story, always ask if the story that you’re telling will matter to your audience.

As Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba, once said, create a business or company that will help to solve people’s problems, or something to that effect. This is the same also for your brand story, people will pay attention to your brand story when they can clearly see how your company can help them with their ‘problems.’
So ask yourself, what ‘problem’ are you solving with your brand story?
  1. Develop Audience Personas
Whenever you develop your content for your blog, social medial channels, always try to picture in your mind the audience personas that you’ve created for your business.

Audience personas are basically your ideal or target customers for your company. Develop about 2 to 3 personas and make sure that the people within your organization or those working for you know this important piece of information.
Sample Checklist of Audience Persona:
  • Photo (Sample picture if possible (male or female or family)
  • Career or job status
  • Age
  • Civil / family status
  • Goals / Ambitions
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Values
  • Decision-making tendencies
  • Income
  • Place of residence
  • Place of work
Don’t try to do this on your own as management or as the marketing manager, brainstorm with the people within your organization. You can even conduct interviews or poll surveys to get a more detailed picture.
Once you’ve created your various personas, post them on your office wall or desk board for everyone to see and as a reminder to whom you should craft your content.
  1. Create a Client Journey Map
A journey map is a way for you to visualize how your current audience interact with you online, and how your potential customers will do so also.
In creating your client journey map, begin with these questions:
  • How did they (user) find your business online? Or is it offline?
  • What are the important trigger points when the client makes a decision?
  • What makes them leave your page or site and what makes them come back?
Remember, creating an effective and powerful Client Journey Map all begins with how well you’ve researched your target audience, including habits, behaviors and interests.
  1. What’s Your Key Channels
One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is to try to cast a too-wide a net in the ocean hoping to catch everything that happens to be there.

Always keep in mind the Audience Personas that you’ve created when choosing the right social channels for your business. If your target audience is more on LinkedIn, then your strategy should focus on paid ads and creating connections on Linkedin.
  1. Content Marketing Strategy
So write for your audience, not only for yourself. If they’re interested in a particular topic or discussion, then give them what they want to see or read on their Newsfeed or on your blog.

Aside from knowing what to content, make sure you’re being consistent with your writing style, brand tone, and even the type of images that they expect from your brand.

So how to know what type of content to develop?
There are many ways, but one great way is to take at your past content or posts that became a hit amongst your audience. You can either repost the same content or craft a similar post. Doing a part 2 or a series is not a bad idea if it’s applicable.

Another way is to brainstorm again with your team. Of course, nothing beats directly asking your audience what do they want to read about? It’s a wonderful way to engage them also while advertising in advance what you’re up to.
  1. Calendar Writing on the Office Wall
It may seem sound a bit outdated in the digital age, but having Calendar of Activities posted on the wall for all to see should never go out of style.
With just a glance or one look at the calendar wall, everything that is important and planned for the month should be seen and understand by everyone who has a stake on the digital marketing efforts of the company.
Planned posts/content topics, major events, benchmarks, etc..should be up there. Of course, this is not to say that a great project management software should be discarded altogether. They should, in fact, complement each other.
Assign someone in-charge to update the calendar wall as the company’s project management tool being used by all the people involved are updated or edited.
  1. Plan Your Finite Resources
With so many options and resources available in the Internet age, it’s so easy to digress or take a detour from your planned digital marketing goals.
But it’s so critical to plan for your finite resources. Be realistic and be practical, especially with your or your employees’ time and capabilities. Calculate the amount of effort it takes to achieve a goal, and make sure that that effort is well worth the effort.
  1. Data Measurements
Data measurements or Google Analytics are like your compass to know how well you’re doing in your digital marketing efforts.
Whether you’re doing it for clients or for your own brand, this last step may be a tedious one to do, but it’s the only way to know with certainly whether you need to adjust, change or do away with your current strategies.
You’ll also need the numbers and info gathered here for reporting to your client or top management.

In the end, bear in mind in order to be a digital marketing strategy to become successful, it needs to be collaborative, fluid, and data-driven.
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4 Ways to Help Build Employee Financial Wellness in Your Company

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We’ve been in the business of financial wellness for about seven years now, but there was a time when I barely knew what went into a budget, let alone how to manage one. Even starting my career at a top financial institution didn’t change that. The company had a great benefits package, but nothing they offered helped me understand, in any practical way, what I should be doing with my salary or bonuses. 

That’s why I started aStartup. I wanted financial planning to be simple and affordable for everyone, regardless of his or her financial know-how. And when we launched LearnVest, it was crucial that everyone in the company walked the talk. That’s why each of our 200-plus employees is given a dedicated Financial Planner who helps them figure out how to make progress on their goals.
Seeing how this worked with our own employees gave us the idea to launch aStartup in 2015, so that we can be a resource to other companies across the country who care as much about their employees’ financial health as they do their physical health. As a business leader myself, I know the feeling of wanting my workforce to thrive, and I believe that helping people feel in control of their finances is part of that. So here are four things you can do to help your employees feel more empowered about their money.

1. Meet Your Employees Where They Are

Knowing what sort of financial needs your employees have is largely tied to their life stage. That’s why it’s important to keep a pulse on the changing demographics of your workforce and choose benefits programs that are tailored to their needs or that can grow with them.
For example, when aStartup started out, the majority of our employees were young and single, with no kids, and their money lives reflected that. But as we grew, so did our workers’ families—and their aspirations. Our employees were getting married, buying their first homes, having children and supporting their parents. Their finances suddenly became a lot more complicated, and our Planners had to help them recalibrate to meet their new money goals.
Now we understand that everything we provide for our employees has to be beneficial for them and their families. This includes not only health and work-life balance benefits, but also the financial benefits and advice that can help them meet life’s milestones with confidence.

2. Encourage a Culture of Money Conversations

Money, for so long, has been considered a taboo topic. But the more discomfort there is around talking about it, the less opportunity you have to help people feel in control of it.

As leaders, it’s important to think about how you can foster a culture of conversation when it comes to money. Aside from encouraging employees to take advantage of the financial advice available to them, you could, for example, share educational content or set up financial workshops or other expert-driven programs where employees can feel free to ask questions in person.

Finally, encourage an open-door policy so workers can give feedback. Maybe they need increased access to different kinds of savings accounts. Maybe they want more encouragement to up their retirement contributions. Your employees are the best source of knowledge for what the workforce needs to thrive. And when in doubt, over-communicate about the resources you already offer—and not just during benefits season. After all, how effective will your programs be if no one is taking advantage of them year-round?

3. Have Executive-Level Champions for Financial Wellness

Employees look to their management team for guidance and support, so if you want to promote a culture of financial wellness, it has to flow from the top down.

For starters, have your management lead by example by actively promoting and participating in financial wellness programs. Make sure that the executive ranks understand that financial wellness isn’t just a perk for employees—it could have a real business impact, too. Did you find that employee satisfaction went up or worker retention improved after new programs were introduced? Share those stats with your teams so they know the trickle-down effects of good financial health.

It’s also important to see what ideas your exec team may have to encourage regular good money habits. At aStartup, for instance, we encourage all of our employees to schedule a daily Money Minute, basically a quick review of your finances so you’re always current on what you’re spending and saving and where you are with your goal progress. Your execs may have ideas for seminars or events that could help spread the word on financial wellness, or they may know subject-matter experts in their networks who could give a lunch-and-learn session. Seeing how involved the managers are may encourage their reports to participate in these activities.

4. Stay Current on Financial Wellness Solutions

Just the way your eyes and ears are always peeled for new types of health benefits for your employees, so should you be open to what’s new in the financial-wellness space. Ask yourself: What pain points do our employees have—whether it’s debt, saving for retirement or paying for college—that we can help them with? What solutions are out there that we could scale for our workforce? What financial products do we think our employees would be interested in—or perhaps never even realized they may need to help reach their money goals?

And don’t be afraid to take a chance on the innovators. There were times I was told that affordable financial planning wouldn’t find a place in the market. Without the early adopters willing to take a chance on that concept, we wouldn’t be used by more than hundreds of thousands of households and nearly 20 companies today.
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Monday, August 29, 2016

10 Steps to Starting a Business

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Starting a business is exciting—but also demanding. This how to start a business guide addresses some of the most common startup steps to ensure that your company is ready for success.

Prepare a business plan and materials

10 Steps to Starting a Business
1. An important first step is preparing a business plan to define your business, products and services, and outline your goals, operating procedures and competition. If your company needs funding from a traditional loan or venture capitalists, a business plan will be required. Make sure your plan includes a marketing approach, so people are aware of what you're selling and how to find you.
2. Create a business logo, cards and stationery. These items establish your company’s identity and help potential customers find and remember you.
Meet legal requirements

3. Of course, incorporating your business or forming an LLC with the state is important because it protects your personal assets from business debts and liabilities. Other benefits of forming a corporation or LLC include tax advantages and greater credibility with customers, vendors and business partners.

4. Select an accountant and attorney. Many small business owners seek advice from accountants and attorneys. As you search for an accountant and attorney, get referrals from friends or family, and look for professionals who have worked with other small business owners or companies in your specific industry.

5. Get necessary tax identification numbers, licenses and permits. A federal tax identification number, or employer identification number (EIN), acts like a social security number and is required for corporations and LLCs that will have employees. Contact your state's taxation department to learn if a state tax identification number is required in your state. Also keep in mind that most businesses need licenses and/or permits to operate—in your city, municipality, county and/or state.

6. Insure your business and investigate other requirements. Some industries have specific insurance requirements. Discuss your needs with your insurance agent to get the right type and amount of insurance. Remember to look into any other government tax and insurance requirements that might apply to your business, particularly if you have employees. For example:
  • Unemployment insurance 
  • Workers' compensation 
  • OSHA requirements 
  • Federal tax 
  • State and local tax 
  • Self-employment tax 
  • Payroll tax requirements (such as FICA, federal unemployment tax, and state unemployment tax)
  •  Sales and use tax

Prepare yourself financially

7. It is crucial to separate business finances from personal ones, so open a business bank account. Most banks require company details, such as formation date, business type, and owner names and addresses. If your business is not incorporated, most banks will require a DBA (doing business as or fictitious business name). Contact your bank about requirements prior to opening an account.

8. Arrange your business accounting and apply for loans. You may want to use an accountant, or handle finances yourself with a small business accounting solution. Either way, properly account for all business disbursements, payments received, invoices, accounts receivable/accounts payable, etc. And if you don’t have enough capital to start a business, this is also the time to seek funding from banks or through Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs.

9. Establish a business line of credit. This will help reduce the number of times your company prepays for purchased products and services. It also helps establish a strong credit history, which is helpful for vendor and supplier relationships. Getting a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS (or D-U-N-S) number for your business is advisable, as it is often used to check business creditworthiness.

10. Ready your workspace. For home-based businesses, ensure you are meeting city zoning requirements for your area. For non home-based businesses, you'll likely need to lease office space. Don't forget to purchase or lease furniture and office equipment to get your business up and running.
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Digital Marketing For Startups – Why You Should Start Now

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Startup Thinking and Common Approach

Bringing a new product or service into the market requires a lot of effort. Many startups decide to delay their marketing efforts until they’re more established and have the budget to hire marketing staff.

Startup founders lead very busy lives and can’t fit everything into their schedule. Because of that, often times, necessary work never gets completed and they put off marketing tasks until they feel the time is right. However the right time for startup marketing is from the very beginning.

Many successful startups start getting the word out and creating awareness even before launching their product! It’s quite common for some startups to start pitching and building email lists prior to the launch.

Many startup founders also tend to go by the ‘Build it and they’ll come’ approach. You may build an awesome product but no one will purchase it if you don’t spread the word because no one will know about your existence.

Reasons Your Startup Needs Marketing

  • It helps increase awareness and sales, which is vital to the existence of any company. Marketing allows more people to find out about your business which results in more sales. The more the people find out about your business, the more prospective customers you have and the more chances for actual sales. 
  • The more well-known your company becomes with the help of marketing efforts, the more trustworthy you appear and people are more likely to buy from you. 
  • Marketing allows you to build a powerful brand and increase brand awareness, making your product more memorable and appealing. 
  • Digital marketing for startups allows you to build powerful lists of potential customers that you can market to, any time you need to. These can be followers on social media or email lists. These are people interested in your brand that you always have at your disposal to send off a message to about promotions, new products and more. 
  • Starting the marketing process before you launch your product allows you to build a potential customer base you can immediately market to at the time of your launch, allowing you to send your product out into the market with a bang. 
  • Having an audience you’ve built to reach out to and a following online allows for feedback. The feedback, product requests, feature requests from your audience allow you to improve your product. 
  • You have extra showcase materials to potential investors. This leverage is based on evidence of your audience engagement and community growth from marketing efforts.

Marketing Channels and Strategies for Startups on a Budget

For many startups, avoiding marketing is due to budget concerns. If your startup is on a budget but you still want to get the word out, you can look into the following marketing approaches.
  • SEO: Even though search engine optimization can initially take time to show results, it has minimal costs and can produce valuable organic traffic in the long-run. 
  • Social Media: Social media again doesn’t have any costs associated with it, unless you run social ads. Like SEO, it is the case of slow and steady. Don’t expect to build a huge following fast, but little by little you’ll start gathering followers and building an audience that is engaging. 
  • Content Marketing: Putting out good quality content will help you rank and also show authority and prove that you’re knowledgeable about your industry. Read more about content marketing basics here.
Having a small budget doesn’t mean you can’t perform effective marketing. There are plenty of channels and strategies that require little to no cost to promote your products. Most of these channels do require time and effort though. If funds are not an issue for your startup but you’re limited on time, you can go for methods that show results faster but are paid, such as pay-per-click marketing.

Startups should forego attempts at doing their marketing themselves, unless they have marketing personnel on board and time to fit it into their workflow. If not, outsourcing digital marketing for startups to an agency might be the answer. Whatever route they decide to take, marketing needs to be ingrained into the company’s processes from the very beginning, even before launch.

At what stage did you launch your startup marketing?
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

19 Essential Start-up Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

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Starting a business won’t prove the silver bullet for all, but the support available has certainly never been so good. So, without further ado, here’s our 19-point checklist to guide ambitious and courageous young people through the start-up process.

1. Be inspired and learn from others’ mistakes

Read the start-up stories of others on websites, in books, or at events for people starting a business. Every successful entrepreneur makes tons of mistakes and they’re often prepared to talk about them with the benefit of hindsight.

2. Get some experience

Gain an intimate understanding of the sector you plan to launch a business into. In his early 20s Nicko Williamson, the founder of eco-friendly private car hire business Climate Cars, worked in the call center of an established private car hire company. He learned how the business operated from the inside and discovered areas where he could make small, but critical, tweaks to differentiate what was on offer.

3. Know your customer

Researching the market that you are thinking of entering is essential and will tell you if you are on the right track. Talk to people within your customer demographic and get an idea of how they would react to your product or service. Very few ideas are entirely original, so you may not need a non-disclosure agreement – and by asking questions about the merits of existing products or services you don’t have to divulge what you plan to do differently anyway.

19 Essential Start-up Tips For Young Entrepreneurs
4. Know your competition

Market research also enables you to get to grips with your competition. What other products and services like yours are out there already? Not all businesses stem from a revolutionary idea and many successful businesses are borne out of an improvement to an old concept. However, you need to offer customers something noticeably better, cheaper, easier than what they are used to if you are going to draw them away from the familiar.

5. Write a business plan

Having a great business idea does not mean you have a great business. Write a business plan to encourage yourself to evaluate your idea in detail. Use it to make realistic targets for your business and consider all the costs of setting up and sustaining your company.

6. Find a mentor

Try the government-backed mentoring service on web, free service set up to provide businesses with experienced support via a network of quality-assured mentoring organizations. Failing that, talk to people you know with experience of what you’re planning to do, attend relevant exhibitions and conferences, and speak to  friends or family members who have started businesses.

7. Be lean

Buy or download Eric Ries’ seminal book The Lean Startup. Start from home. Grow the business step by step and keep overheads to a minimum. Don’t employ before you have to. Don’t take on premises before you need to. See if there’s a market for your product or service by testing on a smaller-scale. Create a rough and ready website first and build on it. Go to friends and family, or crowdfund, for seed finance. Keep some cash in the business.

8. Don’t over-extend

A common mistake of new companies is to believe revenues equals success. Those companies often find themselves overlooking the need for net profit and working capital. By leaving themselves without cash in the business they can quickly become unstuck, with higher fixed costs such as salaries than they can afford and debts they can no longer afford to service.

9. Research and learn for no cost

Spend time in the British Library’s Business & IP Centre in London, which offers free access to market research reports from all the major analysts, industry guides and journals, company data, grants and intellectual property databases, workshops, resident advisers, and events. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone starting up or in the process of establishing a business and has centres around the UK in through the central libraries in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

10. Contact support organizations

Youth Business International provides access to financial support, mentoring and technical training through a collaborative network of partners, which in the UK includes: Start-Up Direct for talented 18-30 year-olds in Greater London; Virgin StartUp, the not-for-profit organisation to help entrepreneurs access funding, resources and advice; and UnLtd, a provider of support for social entrepreneurs which runs an award scheme to back social enterprises at seed stage.

11. Look for an accelerator

Some major organisations have created private start-up accelerators, which often have a specific focus such as technology, finance, healthcare or eco-friendly start-ups. Many universities also offer space and support for student or local entrepreneurs keen to take advantage of the expertise available. When the time is right accelerators often have access to a network of angel and venture capital investors keen to spot the next big thing.

12. Join an Entrepreneurs’ Society at university

Student enterprise charity NACUE (National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs) was created by members of these societies from a number of prominent universities. It received a further £1.3m in government funding in 2012 to support its initiatives and now works with 260 institutional members and enterprise societies, government and corporate partners. The organization offers training, provides peer-support, and hosts competitions for start-up entrepreneurs.

13. Apply for the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy

The youth enterprise organization was set up by Dragons’ Den’s Peter Jones CBE. The academy offers a BTEC in enterprise and entrepreneurship and offers masterclasses and workshops. The academy works with around 30 UK colleges and specifically caters for teenagers and students.

14. Apply to a graduate scheme

Entrepreneur First hosts an intensive six-month graduate programme to encourage university leavers to start a business. Apply to their scheme and receive support all the way from the development of a business idea to product launch. The scheme claims to have created 20 start-ups now worth over $100m, including Emily Brookes who started cycling laserlight product Blaze, and has funded by prominent investors such as Y Combinator, Index Ventures, and Octopus Ventures.

15. Apply for a Start Up Loan

The government-backed Start Up Loans scheme was started to champion young entrepreneurs aged 18-24, but has broadened its remit to anyone over 18 and has a budget of £310m, with start-up loans of up to £25,000 being approved and the average loan size standing at £6,000. David Cameron’s government enterprise advisor Lord Young believed it should be the right of a start-up to secure a loan from the government and by early 2015 around £130m has been lent to 25,000 new businesses with more than half of that figure going to those aged 18-30.

16. Look for grants

If you’re a social enterprise, organizations such as UnLtD provide awards to businesses with social aims and a solid model. The Prince’s Trust provides practical and financial support to 13-30 year-olds who struggled at school, have been in care, have been in trouble with the law, or have been unemployed for long periods.

17. Get a name

Find a business name that’s available and a suitable name by making a list of contenders. Then, draw four columns with headings for ‘Companies House’, ‘Domain name’, ‘Trading as’, and ‘Copyrighted’. Work through your list to find one available in every column. There are common name types, so think laterally about what you can call your business: 1. Something that says what you do (e.g. Shout Media); 2. Your name (e.g. Smith & Jones PR); 3. Something conceptual (e.g. Fizarro.com); 4. A play on words (e.g. A Cut Above). Try different combinations and see which one fits and makes a statement about your business. It is important to choose a name that will be easily remembered by your customers. Once you have the name, it’s time to build your website.

18. Design a business logo

A well-designed, relevant logo can have an instant impact on your customers and leave a lasting impression. It is important to choose a logo that suits the tone and role of your business and to have a clear idea of the message you want to convey before approaching a designer.

19. Promote your company

Hiring an expensive PR company can come later, but for now it is important to self-promote in every way possible. Social media is an essential tool for this, so get to grips with how to use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to maximum effect. Entering competitions can also help to get your company noticed and branding yourself as an award-winning company is a great way to appeal to customers.
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9 Tips to Startup for Student Entrepreneurs

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As a young startup, it is important to understand some of what you will be getting yourself in for.  While each "journey" can be quite different, following a basic set of hints and tips will give you a better chance of success.  Here's a couple of ideas to help you on your way:
1. Be inspired and learn from others’ mistakes
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. . . learn about others’ mistakes, then learn from them.

2. Get some experience
Understand your market.  If you want to sell bread, make sure you know not only what type of bread people buy, but how it is made and when the optimum time to sell is.  Work in the industry you want to sell in.  First hand experience is crucial.

3. Understand your customer
So important!  Have you actually talked to potential customers? How do you know your idea is good? Or have you assumed you now what they think?  The only way to know if your idea is saleable is to ask complete strangers if they would pay for your product.  Look for potential customers, and ask. 

4. Learn about your competition
Who else is out their doing what you’re about to do?  Find their strengths, find their weaknesses and exploit them.  Find your niche.

5. Draft a business plan
Doesn’t have to be super formal, but at least go over each aspect of your idea to ensure you have covered all the important parts.  Business model canvas can help you with this.

6. Find a mentor
Find someone who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about.  Mentors can be extremely valuable, and many entrepreneurs are more than willing to offer advice to young startups.

7. Be lean
Start small.  Work from home, or from a free co-working space.  Boot strap (raise money from friends and family only) first, and for as long as you can.  Don’t hire until you have to. 

8. Be cautious
Make sure to save for a rainy day.  Just because you have sales today doesn’t mean there will be sales tomorrow.  Forward plan and ensure you put money back into the business for when you need it.

9 Tips to Startup for Student Entrepreneurs
9. Learn for free
Find places where you can learn about the basics of business.  There are many places locally, which provide this sort of service, including the Launchpad, the Oxford Hub and Oxford Entrepreneurs.  There are also plenty of Accelerators or Incubators for extra learning and support.
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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Successful Business Plan

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Writing a business plan can seem a daunting challenge. However, this skill is a vital requirement for any entrepreneur or business seeking to increase their chances of survival. Here is a list of my top ten tips for writing that winning plan:

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Successful Business Plan
1. Write from the audience’s perspective

The starting point for any business plan should be the perspective of the audience. What is the purpose of the plan? Is it to secure funding? Is it to communicate the future plans for the company? The writer should tailor the plan for different audiences, as they will each have very specific requirements. For example, a potential investor will seek clear explanations detailing the proposed return on their investment and time frames for getting their money back.

2. Research the market thoroughly

The recent Dragons’ Den series on BBC 2 reiterated the importance prospective investors place on knowledge of the market and the need for entrepreneurs to thoroughly research their market. The entrepreneur should undertake market research and ensure that the plan includes reference to the market size, its predicted growth path and how they will gain access to this market. A plan for an Internet café will consider the local population, Internet penetration rates, predictions about whether it is likely to grow or decline, etc., concluding with a review of the competitive environment.

3. Understand the competition

An integral component to understanding any business environment is understanding the competition, both its nature and the bases for competition within the industry. Is it a particularly competitive environment, or one that lacks competition? How are the incumbents competing—is there a price leader evident? Finally, including a thorough understanding of the bases on which you intend to compete is vital; can you compete effectively with the existing players?

4. Attention to detail

Make the plan concise, but include enough detail to ensure the reader has sufficient information to make informed decisions. Given that the plan’s writer usually has a significant role to play in the running of the business, the plan should reflect a sense of professionalism, with no spelling mistakes, realistic assumptions, credible projections and accurate content. The writer should also consider the format of the plan, e.g., if a business plan presentation is required, a back-up PowerPoint presentation should be created.

5. Focus on the opportunity

If you are seeking investment in your business, it is important to clearly describe the investment opportunity. Why would the investor be better off investing in your business rather than leaving money in a bank account, shares, or investing in another business? What is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for the business? Why will people part with their cash to buy from you?

6. Ensure all key areas are covered in the plan

Undertake research on what a business plan should contain; one good place to find this is at Bplans . Include sections on the Company, Product/Service, Market, Competition, Management Team, Marketing, Operations and Financials. The plan should also take on board the readers’ various preferences for viewing data. While many plans are predominantly textual, the plan should include some simple colour charts and spreadsheets.

7. Do the sums

The numbers will be subject to particular scrutiny. Costs should be documented in full and sales predictions should be both conservative and realistic. While costs are more certain and predictable, a crucial factor in the success or failure of the business will be the level of sales. If you are not particularly comfortable with maths, have someone assist you in preparing a simple cash flow and break-even chart. This will help the reader understand how many sales you must make to cover your costs, and also how much financing you must raise to start up successfully. Remember, at the beginning, there are a lot of start-up expenses in a period of uncertain sales volumes. If sales are on credit (including via credit card) it may take up to four weeks for you to receive the cash.

8. Executive Summary

Arguably the most important component of the plan is the Executive Summary. This is a summary of the entire plan and is usually contained at the start of the plan. It also tends to act as a key qualifier for time-pressed investors—if they like it, they will read on, if not they will go no further. It should be completed at the very end of the business planning process and should have a “wow factor” that entices them to read further. In tandem with this, the writer should also prepare a short “elevator pitch,” a five-minute overview of the key benefits of the new product/service.

9. Review process

Once you have completed your plan, have it independently reviewed. Select someone detached from the process who can offer constructive criticism on all aspects of the plan. Your local Business Link or Enterprise Agency should be able to assist with this. This review should prompt further questions that will need to be addressed in a revised draft.

10. Implement the plan

Finally, a plan should always be viewed as a living document and contain specifics regarding dates, deadlines and specific responsibilities. It should be constantly reviewed and updated, as well as being used in regular “plan versus actual” discussions. Business relies heavily on people taking actions and being accountable for them. A winning business plan will help to ensure that the business is fully focused on what is required to achieve the company’s goals.

This article was originally first appeared on bplans.co.uk.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

7 Tips Girls On How To Find The Right Person Marry

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Finding the right person often seems impossible. It seems these days all the girls trying to find the right person for them. And good men seem to have less and less and are becoming more rare, but let me assure you they are there. We know many girls who have found true, sincere men who love them and support them. And let me assure you, they are there for you! It may take longer than you want, but sometimes the best things take time. But although there are many men, they are not all suitable for you. So we made a list of 7 tips to help you in finding the right person.

7 Tips Girls On How To Find The Right Person Marry
1. Men want serious relationships

I think one of the mistakes that make girls is when they go to look for guys thinking that men do not want a serious relationship. So eventually they agreed to entertainment and flirting overnight, thinking that this is all they will ever be able to get. We are here to refute this theory! Guys want a serious relationship, as far as you're the type of girl for them and not one which flies around and they never respected enough. So stop thinking that men do not want to be with you for longer than overnight and begin to restrain someone who is worth it! Thus is the right person.

2. Mr. Wrong probably knows Mr. Right

Another tip for finding the right person is keep the phone number of the former. Do not throw as soon as "all over." One thing that many girls ignore is that just because one person is not for you, it does not mean that his friends are! Mr. Wrong can be friends with Mr. Right! Keep in touch with your male friends and go out periodically to see if they have any hot friend with whom you want to know a little better!

3. Do not try too

If you want advice on finding the right person, here you are: Stop trying so hard to make it happen. Desperation often leads to satisfaction with whatever gets in your way, and that is never good. This will happen in due time, and not before. You do not have to throw every man you see no ring on his hand to find the right one. Just be patient and wait. Good things come to those who wait will see!

4. There is nothing wrong to have standards

Always tell our friends singles, there's no need to put up. A good idea is to have a "list" with "benchmarks" that you would like to meet the man. And it need not be limited to - someone who is unemployed, has no interest in finding a job or craft of any kind and loves to play on the computer all day and partying all night. But at the same time not nice and not overdo. If you have such high standards that person will never be able to meet may eventually be alone forever! Remember that boys are people just like you and you give them some space to life. Also, do not pass up a nice person, just because you think you deserve a prince or king.

5. There are many fish in the sea

Another helpful tip for finding the right person is to remember that there are many fish in the sea. Yes, broken heart takes time to heal and relationships that ended with a bad note and may hurt for a really long time. But there are other men, men who will treat you well and love you very much. Not checked out all the men of the world, like fools because there are some pretty cool dudes out there waiting to be discovered!

6. Be girl that men would liked

If you are really serious about the search for the right person to keep in mind: You must be kind girl that a man would want to have. This does not mean that you should be someone who you really are. But if you constantly have a bad attitude, sour face or critical words, no one who wants to be around you. And most men who seek lasting relationships will not want a girl who does nothing else but to party all the time or lost femininity and tenderness. Try to be kind girl that a man would like to longtime girlfriend if you're serious!

7. Look in the right places

One big mistake that women make when it comes to finding the right person that they are looking at the wrong places. Bars, clubs, online dating sites and neighborhood pubs are not ideal places to find serious guys. This does not mean to ignore every man in these places or disparages anyone who has a relationship with a man from those places! Just say that overall the guys who are serious and looking for a girlfriend / wife will not hang around these places.

We know that finding the right person takes time and sometimes can be quite discouraging and frustrating when you get results. But we advise you to stay optimistic and never settle for less than what you deserve! You will be so happy when you finally find the right person. We hope that our advice on this will be helpful. If you have any tips you want to share about finding the right person ... please comment below and thank you for reading us!
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Monday, August 8, 2016

Talking About Sex With Your Partner: How Easy or Difficult?

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Do you talk about sex with your spouse? To step up your relationship to an intimate stage you should be friendly with your partner. If the current chat room is not as expected, one of the main ways in which you should try to speak directly to their wishes. Psychologists recommend that frank talk about what you want or do not want is a great solution to sublimate sex.

Talking About Sex With Your Partner: How Easy or Difficult?
Why do we need to talk about sex with your spouse?

Each person will have a hobby and different conceptions of sex. Therefore, the risk of conflicts or dissatisfied when sex is not excluded. However, if you do not express the thoughts and feelings of their opponents, they may not know what you're expecting to be able to meet. This greatly affects the relationship, because the silence endured the chat rooms are not like that will make you love losing inspiration, even bored her mate.

So, your communication is playing a big role in the relationship between two people, because only in that way will you be able to share feelings and solve problems together, in sex, too.

Silence as conflict increases

If there are problems that arise in life do you get tired or two unfulfilled sex, the best way is that you should speak out instead of trying to hide. Because increasingly ignoring conflict, the distance between you and the greater the problem will become more difficult to resolve.

Silence makes opponents misunderstood

If you want to reduce the frequency of love down but did not specify the reason for the enemy, he may assume that you no longer love him or her as before. If you clear about what it wants and make a logical reason, such as work pressure or simply reduced demand, then surely he can fully understand and do as you

How to be more open about the "sex"?

Choose the right time
Do not mention your frustrations within the love, because then your emotions are being dominated. Instead, you gently suggested to talk about and then select a romantic night, relaxed to talk together.

Set aside a separate time periods

You should prepare a talk seriously and only two people. Do not let the conversation was interrupted by the ringing phone, email or by the main job of your kids offline.

Preparation before content

It sounds very rigid, but in truth, everything should be prepared to get the results you want, love story, too. Moreover, the chat rooms is a problem is a delicate and sensitive, so you should prepare in advance for the content and wording, the result will be better. This makes it possible to actively control the conversation and do not say the words he misinterpreted or injury.

People used to easily communicate with each other on many topics in everyday life but afraid to talk about it. Partly because Eastern culture has yet to open on this issue should talk about the topic of sex is a very difficult job, especially for women. However, you should know this is a very ordinary job and needed to marriage always harmonious, happy.

Hopefully, you and your partner have a great sex life.
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You Know Nothing About The Spiritual Exercise?

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The exercise to have a healthy body is essential to health. However, practicing the spirit of playing a role no less important. This habit will help you maintain a clear mind and a positive attitude every day. Along Hello Doctor learn about some good mental exercise for memory and emotions offline.

How is the mental exercise for?

Mental fitness is the mind power training, help for your mind to be purified and stronger in order to increase the ability to handle and withstand the challenges, impact on morale. At the same time, understanding and adapting to the opportunities laid out in life.

The benefits of exercise for mental

Train to get healthy spiritual health can help you improve your ability to focus, using effective stress management. At the same time, the exercise also helps your spirit can enjoy life more fully and strengthen the connection between you and everyone.

How to exercise the spirit?

Improving mental health and brain also requires a process of training with the appropriate method, here are some tips to help you can train the spirit:

Do not do many things at once

Sometimes, the pressure from work and life that make you make many things at once or even if you feel you can work more efficiently if they are pressed in time. In fact, this is not good for your morale. Instead, learn to focus on one task at a given time. This not only improves your concentration but also help you see the problem in a general way and in more detail, from which the best orientation in accomplishing it. Therefore, do not restrict the circumstances "placed to the new dance", because when working in such a pressure situation not only affects the quality of work but also harmful to the spirit.

Positive thoughts about yourself

You tell yourself to yourself about the positive things of yourself, this is one very good way to raise your spirits. Also, think about the positive things will bring confidence, happiness and satisfaction.

You make a list of the good qualities of yourself and remember that you are a normal human being, you are not perfect and can still make mistakes. Also, if you find yourself with the need to repair defects, then set goals for what you want to improve and begin to take steps to become a better one.

Try new things

The new experience is one of the best exercises for the spirit. Cook a new dish, read a book or traveling to an unfamiliar location, ... These experiences can help you increase knowledge and expand our understanding of life. So, try to do something new every day offline.


Try playing these games require the presumption of the brain, which will help you to increase their ability to think quickly to the brain. The games for the brain as crossword, sudoku and other games require the use of logical possibilities are very suitable for exercise for our brains.

The reading is good for brain health. Whenever you read about a certain thing, your brain will quickly process each word, and copying and learning how to use them immediately.

In addition, the reading will help you visualize the subject you are looking for, stimulate the imagination of images, sounds, context of the work that you read. Whichever way you choose, the books can be a great tool or relaxation exercises help a imagination ignited and burned a lot of different parts of the brain. Most importantly, you will not feel reluctant because of the inexhaustible source of knowledge in any field you are interested and desire to know more.
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Learning How to Overcome The Pain Of Losing Loved Ones

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Be smart, be strong from the heart! In life there are many beautiful things, besides the loss still exists. The loss of someone you love will make you extremely painful, maybe even make some people depressed or cause depression becomes worse. Let's learn how to overcome this pain a powerful way.

The difference between grief and depression at the loss of loved ones

After the loss, each one expressed sorrow in different ways. Some may have the same symptoms as depression, as sought to avoid social activities and always feel extreme grief. However, grief and depression have different points following essentials:
  • Time spent manifestations: depressed people always feel depressed. Grieving people have mood changes or changes in waves an erratic manner. 
  • Sincerely itself: people with depression often do not respect ourselves. They always feel myself unworthy or even hate themselves. But those who grieve without these feelings. 
  • Hallucinations: people with depression may have hallucinations. Sometimes, they feel like a sound heard something, seen something that does not exist, or believe things that are not right. But the grief is no such symptoms. 
  • Accept the support: the depression often isolate themselves from society or even alienate others. However, those who grieve can dodge social activities but they still accept the support from the people they love.
Grief can lead to depressive disorders, but not all those who grieve are severely depressed.

Complicated grief

Grief is a normal feeling that occurs when you lose someone you love. However, some people experience pain that lasts more than normal sadness. It called complicated grief attacks. Complicated grief can be boundaries grief and depression. It can cause depression or make people with depression becomes worse.

Symptoms of complicated grief include:

  • Hard to think of anything except the death of their beloved; 
  • Feeling always remembered the deceased standing against them; 
  • Difficult to accept the departure of who they love; 
  • Long and painful feeling after losing people they love; 
  • Feel life is no longer mean anything anymore; 
  • Difficult to trust others or blame anyone for the death of loved ones; 
  • Difficult to remember the good memories of the people they love; 
  • Grief worsening, even wanted to accompany the deceased.
You should see if your consultants go through the complicated grief after losing someone you love.

What should you do now?

After the loss, you should give yourself a suitable period for recovery. Take care of yourself is not a selfish act when you go through the grief. Instead, it can be part of the process to help you feel better physically and mentally.

Here's what to do to help you through the pain of loss:

  • Dining and full workout. You can exercise by walking, biking, gym or join an aerobics class; 
  • Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night; 
  • Learn a new skill such as cooking class participation, the club who like to read books or attend lectures at local schools; 
  • Meet and chat with friends or the people you love, they will help you through the pain, you should avoid looking to alcohol or drugs as a way to divert yourself because it will make your mood Day worse; 
  • Find a support group of people who experienced the traumatic loss of loved ones; 
  • Trying to maintain daily life and forgive yourself for mistakes or what you've done for the deceased.
Some of you because I want to forget the pain often eluded the anniversaries related to the deceased. However, according to the doctors Hello, the organization of the anniversary can be an effective way for you to feel less sense of grief.

When should you see a doctor?

If the pain is not only signs but also reduce become so severe that exceed tolerance and affect your health, this is an alarming situation. You go to the doctor if the loss makes you have the following symptoms:
  • You difficult to perform daily activities in a normal manner; 
  • You feel guilty conscience or blame yourself for the death of someone you love; 
  • You lost your sense of purpose in life; 
  • You no longer want to integrate into social activities; 
  • You feel you can not continue to live as losing someone you love.
However, although in any case, do not think of suicide or self harm themselves. Remember, you are responsible for your life and the people around you offline.

Losing someone you love does not mean that your life will end that will be the beginning of new things. Seek help and support will help you feel better. Your pain can be healed over time and you will continue to step forward, brave recognize and organize the holidays of your memories with the dead.
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