| Website Woes: Easy Mistakes People Make When Setting Up Their Site

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 4:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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Building a website is a great challenge for most people. It takes years to learn the skills required to build a site from scratch. And, even with help from other companies, it’s still hard to make something great. A lot of people make mistakes on this journey. And, these mistakes can cause huge issues in the future. Ideally, when you first build your site, you want it to last for as long as it possibly can. So, to help you do this, this post will be going through some great ways to make sure that your website is good from day one.

The ease of modern website building tools makes them very tempting for people new to this game. They allow you to make a website in a very short space of time; all without having to touch a single line of code. But, despite their promised ease, it can be very hard to create something that actually stands out from the crowd. Ideally, you should be using a professional to make your website. Of course, this will cost some money. But, the end result will be worth it. You can save money here by using a developer that uses a service like WordPress to make their sites. This will make it much cheaper, but you’ll still get a good product at the end of it. Having a beautiful website is the first step to having a good website.

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A lot of people also make the mistake of choosing a bad host for their website. The host is the company that stores your website on a server so that customers or clients can come and see it. The companies that offer these services don’t go by the same rules as each other. So, their pricing varies dramatically. But, their price is only half of the story. Different hosts will be able to have more people use your site at the same time. And, others will give you more storage space. So, you have to think about what your business will need. Most companies allow you to upgrade your services, in the future. It’s important to consider this when you’re choosing the service you want to go with. Your web developer should be able to help you when it comes to choosing this.

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There are other services you have to think about, as well. If you have an online store, you need to look for the only online ecommerce software you will ever need. And, other services need to follow the same rules. It’s a waste of time researching loads of services if you have to replace them just a few months down the line. So, it’s important to get this stage done right. This will involve a lot of work. But, in the end, it will be worth it. Looking for the best possible options when doing something like this can save a lot of money and even improve the way that your business works.

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Hopefully, this will inspire you to start working hard when it comes to making your site shine. It’s easy to make the very best of a website if you put the right amount of work into it. For the most part, this sort of work can be handled by a professional. That way, you just have to watch as your website is born.

| Points to Consider for a Creative Design Business

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Creative design is an industry dominated by trends, fads and of course, fancy work. It’s something that is hard to predict and fairly difficult to get involved with due to the volatile value of products that are created. As a result, your great startup idea could become extremely popular, or it could fall flat on its face and be buried under the mountain of failed creative design ideas.

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Have the Passion

A creative design business isn’t created from a business idea and a team of freelancers; far from it, in fact. You have to be passionate about art if you want to have a creative design business. You need to have an eye for fine arts, modern masterpieces and things that will sell. You need to constantly update yourself on trends and you need to keep up with all the latest fads. In short: be passionate about this industry if you want to succeed.

 

Low Barrier of Entry, High Chance Of Failure

A creative design business has one great advantage: a low barrier of entry. Depending on what type of products you wish to create, it doesn’t take much money, equipment or supplies to get started. For starters, think about the materials you’ll be using. If you want to use plastics to create design objects, plant pots and house furniture, all you need is raw plastic materials and some equipment that can do things like rotational molding, hollowing, stretching and forming.

 

With a couple of tools, raw materials to start production and some great ideas, you could turn a low-cost entry into a high-profit business with unique ideas, trendy products and expert marketing skills.

 

Failing Faster

There’s a saying that many business owners go by; fail faster. Whether or not the saying is true, it certainly doesn’t work for a creative design business. This is because creative products, as mentioned before, are valued depending on the consumer. Something like a wooden table could sell for ridiculous amounts if it is sold from a luxury furniture store, but most people wouldn’t be able to tell if the quality was worth the money or if you’re simply just buying a brand name.

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Because of this, the creative design industry is extremely volatile and your products have a wide range of possible price points. Since the prices can fluctuate depending on quality and craftsmanship, your products may or may not sell for your intended price. Since it’s so unpredictable and there’s a low barrier of entry getting into the creative design business, you can afford to fail faster for both financial reasons and to ride the wave of trends and fads.

 

Advertise On the Right Channels

Showing off a painting or a sculpture isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t go to art shows and set up your own exhibition. If your creative products can be physically touched and felt, then you want to show them off in the physical world because a digital picture, no matter how detailed, cannot do it justice. It’s recommended that you try and get involved with art communities and industry figureheads in order to evaluate your products. This can help to price them, advertise them and generate hype around your creative designs which will further your business’s exposu

| Want To Ensure Start Up Success? Read This

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 10:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Starting a business can be both rewarding and dangerous. You can lose money with ease, so it pays to be careful and do your utmost to succeed. Technology has advanced the way in which businesses, and indeed the world operates, so there are more things to take into consideration now than ever before. Ensuring the success of your start up is not an easy thing, but with hard work and determination you can really give it the best chance of succeeding. Here are certain aspects to focus on which can get you started in the best possible way.

 

Website

Whether you’re a business based in a physical store or whether you conduct all business through your website, you need to ensure your Web Design is on point. If there are any glitches then your customers are just going to return to Google and choose one of your competitors. The same applies if it is hard to navigate. You need to put work into your website to make sure it is perfect and there are no problems, this way it can launch with your business and do you proud instead of garnering you bad publicity. Make sure the design is exactly how you want it before going live, otherwise you’ll have to take it down, potentially losing clients, to make the necessary changes.

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Solicit Reviews

If you’re selling a certain profit or service then you want people to know that it is of a certain quality. If they don’t they may not buy it. The answer to this is by ensuring you solicit reviews for your services and post them on your website. Whether a post about how good your service is or individual ratings and reviews for each product it can make a huge difference and build consumer confidence in your product. They can sometimes be hard to come by, so if you want reviews consider sending up follow up emails and asking for them. They will not only increase confidence, but give you feedback to improve your products. On the same line, you could offer free samples to industry professionals in the return of a review. Reviews by impartial pros can really help build your stock in the eyes of the consumer.

 

Stay Visible

Visibility is hugely significant on the web these days. If no one can find your website then how are they going to purchase the products on it? You need to take steps to ensure your website is visible, this is doubly important for business who only operate in virtual space. Search Engine Optimization is the term used for increasing visibility. You can do it by writing for relevant blogs and placing key links within the text, and doing the same for social media by posting from your business page. Using Google Analytics can also help you ensure you’re making the right decisions. If this is beyond you, you should consider using professional help.

 

Solicit Reviews

If you’re selling a certain profit or service then you want people to know that it is of a certain quality. If they don’t they may not buy it. The answer to this is by ensuring you solicit reviews for your services and post them on your website. Whether a post about how good your service is or individual ratings and reviews for each product it can make a huge difference and build consumer confidence in your product. They can sometimes be hard to come by, so if you want reviews consider sending up follow up emails and asking for them. They will not only increase confidence, but give you feedback to improve your products. On the same line, you could offer free samples to industry professionals in the return of a review. Reviews by impartial pros can really help build your stock in the eyes of the consumer.

 

Stay Visible

Visibility is hugely significant on the web these days. If no one can find your website then how are they going to purchase the products on it? You need to take steps to ensure your website is visible, this is doubly important for business who only operate in virtual space. Search Engine Optimization is the term used for increasing visibility. You can do it by writing for relevant blogs and placing key links within the text, and doing the same for social media by posting from your business page. Using Google Analytics can also help you ensure you’re making the right decisions. If this is beyond you, you should consider using professional help.

| New Business New Approach – Take Up The Reigns With These Helpful Hacks

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

So you want to start a business, do you? Well, you’re joining a lot of people out there with the same sort of ideas and concepts. Many people these days make a decision about their working future and decide they would like to start their own company. This is something that a lot of us want to do, but many of us don’t think too much about it.

 

The thing is, starting a business is not as simple as just coming up with the idea of doing so. You need to be dedicated and passionate, and you have to look at how you’re able to run the company successfully. This is something you have to make sure you sort out right away because it will help you in the running of the business. Here is how you can take up the reigns and create the perfect startup.

 

Make Sure You Are Fully Financed

Financing is one of the key areas of running a modern company. Everything costs these days, and you need to make sure you have the money to cover these costs. That is going to involve doing as much as you can to ensure that you have the right money and financing as a company. There are a lot of different ways you can secure the cash you need to run the perfect business. Firstly you will need to understand and work out how much you need as a business owner. Then it’s time to think about how you’re going to raise this money. The best way is through a business loan, which you can secure by making sure you have the perfect business plan. Sometimes it might be necessary to bring investors on board for financing purposes. Think about all the different financing options available to you as a business owner.

 

Get All the Machinery You Need

No matter what business you run, the chances are you’re going to need machinery of some kind. It could be equipment like computers, or it might be construction equipment that requires a hydraulic motor. Whatever the reason, you have to be aware that machinery plays a big role in the world of business. You have to make sure you have all the machinery you need, and that means assessing what is necessary. Some people like to buy machinery directly for the company, while others prefer to hire or rent it. Make a decision about what works best for you, but bear in mind that you need to understand precisely what sort of machinery you need before you get started. This is crucial in the future development of the business and will help you run the company better.

 

Stand Out

The key thing to remember when you want to take up the reigns of a new business is that you need to stand out. There are a lot of things you can do that will help your company rise above the competition and stand out. And this needs to be a major focus for you as a business. You’ve got to look at how you can improve as a company and what you can do to get the edge over your rivals. This is something that it’s really important to ensure you get right. Too many people these days don’t consider how competitive their rivals can be. You need to come up with a way you can stand out and help your business thrive in spite of the competition.

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Starting a new business is never an easy concept, and the best thing you can do is come up with ideas that will help your company grow. It’s important to consider what you need to do to make your startup successful from the word go.

 

| The Vital Steps to Getting Your Business Off the Ground

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Getting your business off the ground is never easy. And many entrepreneurs never even manage it. You’d be surprised at the number of businesses that sink before they even get started. I’m sure you don’t want your company to become one of those, so find ways to ensure that your business is able to get started and sustain interest from the public. There is no sure-fire way to success in this world, but here are some vital steps that will certainly help.

 

Make a Plan and Find the Cash

First of all, you need to get the business started. This part matters more than any other. If you start the business off in the wrong way, it can have an impact on it for a long time to come. One thing that you definitely shouldn’t skip is the process of making a business plan. If you don’t have a good plan in place, it won’t be long before you lose track of what you wanted to achieve. That’s the great thing about strong business plans; they give you something to refer to and stick to. You will also need to get business capital to get the business started. It’s not cheap to start a business, unfortunately.

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Respond Rapidly

Responding rapidly to things that happen is vital. If you are slow to react to things like customer complaints or even changes in the market, your business will be left lagging behind. You will either leave customers unhappy and disappointed or you will limit the business’s chances of growing. You don’t want to be left behind by things like technological changes or new trends that are sweeping through your entire industry. Finding ways to ride those waves and stay at the forefront of the industry will help your business progress a lot.

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Show Enthusiasm and Get Your Face Out There

Showing a bit of enthusiasm can make the world of difference when you are trying to run a business successfully. If you are not prepared to show people why you’re excited about what you have to offer, they probably won’t be excited either. This means that you need to get out there and become the face of the business. Having a human face that people can associate with a company can have a real impact on how well it does. If you are not a naturally outgoing person, this can be difficult, but it’s worth trying and working on.

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Have Fun and Interact with Customers

Lastly, you should make sure that you have as much fun as possible when you are trying to progress your business and get it off the ground. People like to have fun, and fun can also be very infectious. If people see others having fun, they want to get involved. It might sound simplistic, but having a fun and relaxed image for the business might really help it to connect with people and get off the ground in the way you want it to. Try it out and see how it goes for you.

| Setting Your Business Up To Succeed

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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We’ve all read those fear-inducing facts about how 80% of startup businesses fail within the first two years. But while there is no denying how hard starting a business can be, it is not impossible. A lot of it is simply down to preparation, and ensuring you have everything in place to give your company the best chance of succeeding.

Below are a few things to consider before launching your business:

 

Money, Money, Money

This is the most obvious point to make when it comes to starting a business, but it is still worth mentioning, because money is the number one thing every startup needs in order to succeed. Raising money can be challenging, but there are different routes you can take. It could be government funding, spending your life savings, finding private investors, raising S-EIS funds or seeking out business loans. Different routes suit different types of businesses. What you will need though, is a business plan and a good understanding of how much you’ll need. This could be as little as thousands, or as much as millions, so save yourself a lot of hard work and pointless agony by doing the math early on.

 

Be Disciplined, Really Disciplined

This means across the board. When it comes to money, make sure you have a well-planned budget in place and make sure you stick to that budget; you spent hours scrutinizing over the budgets for a reason. The other important area of disciple worth noting is time. Don’t just say you’re going to work such and such hours. Plan out your time as thoroughly as possible; plan for each day, week and month if you can. Your business will demand a serious amount of your concentration and energy, and you don’t want to let all your efforts go to waste simply because you were negligent with your time. Saying that, a work-life balance is extremely important too.

 

Launch at the Right Time

Ensuring you release your business into the world at the perfect time is hard to do, and that is simply because so much can be outside of your control. The industry could hit a sudden low, the economy could crash, your competitors may find traction or indeed start struggling, or maybe unforeseen personal issues could arise. So many things can become a factor. The best thing you can do is make sure everything within your control is as ready as it can be and then watch the marketplace.

 

Know Your Marketing Options

These days, there are so many avenues to choose from. Once you have a website up and running, the world is your oyster and you can start getting the word out. You can blog, boost your SEO, harness the power of social media platforms, embark on email marketing strategies, send out press releases and more. If you can though, leave this part to the professionals. As a startup, money tends to be tight, but if you can pay a professional content marketing agency for example, then do; it will take the pressure of you and allow your time to be spent elsewhere.

| Growing Pains: Supporting Your Small Business Through Transition

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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Growing a business takes a lot of time, energy and resources. There’s also a balance to achieve. Growing too slowly may result in planning issues and loss of business. Growing too quickly is also likely to cause a few headaches.  While you’re going through this transition, there are several interim steps you can take to ease the burden.

 

New Premises

Many sole proprietors and small enterprises start life in a back bedroom or garage. This is a sensible way to begin as you immediately save on expensive rental costs. As your business grows, it becomes necessary to move into professional premises. This could be due to running out of space, attracting new clients or simply to achieve a better work/life balance. However, if you can’t afford a big fancy office, there are a couple of interim steps you can take.

 

1 – Virtual Office with Meeting Space

A virtual office will provide you with a postal address and a mailing service, often in a desirable location. This provides a positive impression of your business, without the expense of renting. Some services will also provide a reception service, answering telephone calls in your name and forwarding messages. They also often hire out meeting rooms so you can meet with clients away from your home.

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2  – Shared Space/Hot Desking

Another option is to rent shared office space. This is sometimes known as hot desking. Many organizations are now offering this service to small businesses. You pay a fixed weekly or monthly fee and use the space for a set number of hours. Instead of having your own desk, you use whathever is available. This service usually provides an internet connection and sockets for your laptop, phone, etc.

 

Office Supplies

If your home printer is no longer up to the task, but you can’t afford the expense of buying a new one, many organizations offer printer rental services. You can pay for the services you require without a large financial commitment. As well as printers, it’s possible to rent other equipment and even office furniture.

 

Outsourcing

If the everyday burdens of running your business are preventing you from growing it, it’s time to take on new staff. But what if you’re not able to afford permanent salaries and all the associated expenses? An interim step is to outsource work. External businesses will take on the tasks that you no longer have time for. You will pay a fixed fee for the work to be completed. You don’t have to worry about HR contracts or possible legal issues.

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Remote Working

If working from home is preventing you from hiring new recruits, consider remote working. This is desirable to many employees as they can work from the comfort of their own homes and avoid the daily commute. It is certainly worth keeping this in mind until you’re ready to move into new premises.

When you first launch your business, that first year can be tough. You’re starting from scratch and building an enterprise from nothing. The challenges never go away. They just change. As a business owner, you must change with them. Fortunately, there are interim steps you can take to ease the growing pains and smooth your transition.

| SEC Issues Alert on Crowdfunding for Investors as May Effective Date Nears

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) crowdfunding rules are drawing closer (May 16) and the SEC has issued a bulletin for investors who are interested in crowdfunding.  The bulletin highlights what individuals are eligible to invest via crowdfunding as well as the risks associated with this method of capital raising.

To see the net worth and annual income requirements for individual investors, see the SEC bulletin. It also highlights that crowdfunding for capital raising will only be allowed via online platforms through a third-party and cannot be offered directly.

Loftis Consulting is a CFO service provider based in Chicago.  Loftis Consulting helps start-ups to grow and stabilize their business with financial management as well as strategic planning services including financial modeling.  To learn more about Loftis Consulting, call (312) 772-6105 or visit LoftisConsulting.com

| Illinois Series B Funding Taking Longer to Secure

Posted in Business Finance Lessons, Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

A recent article in Crain’s stated that Series B funding is taking longer to secure.  According to Crain’s, it took 3.7 years on average for a start-up to get Series B funding in 2006 but took 4.4 years in 2011.  With this in mind understanding cash flows and profitability are keys to the successful startup.  In order for your start-up to survive, it is critical that profitability is achieved sooner than later because Series B funding may take longer to achieve.  If your key managers/owners don’t understand the differences between cash flow and profitability then it is critical for them to learn now.  This lack of financial knowledge can be the undoing of the business in the long-term.

| Is VC Funding Right For Your Business by Cole Sadkin LLC

Posted in Business Financing, Finance, Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Cole Sadkin LLC makes some great points to consider when deciding if venture capital funding is right for you and your business.  Check it out “Is Venture Capital Funding Right for You?


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